Eagle Perfect: Legend of the First is a parody of dystopian young adult novels, in which two ‘chosen ones’ vie for the status of world-saving protagonist.
It is also competitive fiction, told by two authors. We will write alternating chapters, working together and against each other to create the story while promoting our own chosen one’s agenda. There are strict rules.
New chapters will generally be published every two weeks until the story is told.
It could turn out okay. It could be disastrous. Either way, we hope you enjoy it.
Charlie Wolf and Athol Birtley
Chapter One - Too Important to Die
Every one of the 512 Agricultural Operatives in Pastoral Sector BZ4 was special, and Eagle Perfect was no different. And yet he was. That was why he had decided to climb the tree.
His little sisters, Fawn and Collie, had no interest in joining the climb. Unlike Eagle, they were put off by the risk of injury and punishment. They were content to watch Eagle try. Their voices carried annoyingly to the high branches.
“Is Eagle gonna die, you think?” Fawn asked, hopefully.
“Don’t be unusual!” Collie chided. “Eagle is important and has important feelings, just like us. He will probably die, but it isn’t nice to be too excited about it.”
Eagle had waited all week for Sunday morning. The adults would be listening to Coordinator Nice read the weekly encouragement from The Administration, so the time was right. And he’d told his sisters to stand lookout, just in case. If they dobbed, he would make sure the Coordinator learned they’d been dabbling in the illegal practice of imaginary fun-making.
What he hadn’t counted on when deciding to climb the tallest tree in the Sector - in fact, the tallest thing he had ever seen - was just how tall it would turn out to be. From the ground, it had an ancient, steady quality about it. That was the tree equivalent of a lie. At the top, it swayed and snapped and threatened to drop Eagle with every movement of his slight frame.
He pulled himself onto the uppermost branch and looked out. He was high. Higher than the roof of Mooney McWonderful’s barn. Higher even than the concrete wall that encircled Pastoral Sector BZ4, just as he had hoped. At last, he was about to learn what was on the other side of that wall. Maybe the adults believed that the apparently arbitrary Sector Code and The Administration’s violent punishments were for the greater good, but Eagle felt something was being hidden from him.
He shaded his eyes and saw farther than he had ever seen, to a place beyond the wall, a place The Administration had forbidden him to see. A strange place he had dreamed of, but that nobody else in Pastoral Sector BZ4 ever dared to imagine.
Pastoral Sector BZ3.
The triumph was followed by immediate disappointment. Despite its radically different name, Pastoral Sector BZ3 looked much like Pastoral Sector BZ4. Red barns. Green fields. Cows. Pigs. Was this all there was? If he could see as far as Pastoral Sector BZ2 or even Pastoral Sector BZ1, would he just see more of the same? Were there no other varieties of livestock?
No other varieties of livestock. The disappointment suddenly felt heavier.
It was Fawn, whisper-shouting.
“We’re running away!” Collie added, in her own whisper-shout.
“Why?” Eagle asked.
There was no reply. He cursed silently, wishing The Administration had assigned him more loyal sisters.
There was no time for a careful descent. Eagle half-climbed, half-fell. He wanted to vanish unheard, but as anyone who has done it knows, crashing toward the ground is hard to do quietly. He halted flat on a bough, and saw the first man reach the base of the tree. Eagle had been caught. But worse, he saw the man heave up an enormous axe and swing it at the tree trunk.
“Stop!” Eagle shouted, almost involuntarily.
THWACK! The axe landed.
“Sorry, lad!” the axeman shouted. “We’re to chop till you come down.”
A blue beetle landed on Eagle’s nose. What a time for that! He shooed it away.
The tree’s amazing height put Eagle in a bind. On one hand, he loved this tree. It was too tall and beautiful to be cut down. On the other hand, he loved himself, and he was still too high to jump safely. There was nothing to cushion his fall. Unless—
THWACK! The axe landed again. Eagle cursed his own stupidity and jumped toward the axeman, hoping he would be as soft as he looked.
As soon as he jumped, four words entered Eagle’s brain: what a terrible idea. The axeman saw him coming and, in self-defence, raised the axehead to shield himself. Eagle’s selflessness was going to get him impaled.
He shut his eyes. He’d made a fatal, embarrassing error, he knew. Snap decisions were not his strength. He waited for the final moment.
Eagle heard the axe land again. It was still below him. That couldn’t be right.
He realised he was no longer falling. Opening his eyes, he saw he was again lying flat on a bough. The same bough. Impossible.
“Sorry, lad!” the axeman shouted, again, with the exact same intonation as before. “We’re to chop till you come down.”
A blue beetle landed on Eagle’s nose. He shuddered and reeled back.
He was so busy trying to figure it all out that he slipped and fell to the ground again.
* * *
Eagle couldn’t dislike Coordinator Nice. He enforced the Sector Code with callous, inhuman brutality, but he was a terrific listener. Eagle thought the sickbed conversation about his punishment was going well, and he was confident the Coordinator would see his perspective. Of course, he had taken enough Comfort Formula to make his serious head injury feel like a pleasant spooning, so he knew he wasn’t the most reliable judge.
Somehow, Eagle had almost forgotten the stranger who had entered shortly after the Coordinator. He watched Eagle now from the darkest corner of the room, underneath an affirmation poster reading “THE ADMINISTRATION LOVES YOU FOR YOU”. Even when Eagle remembered the man, it was as though he had to concentrate to see him. Eagle wanted to form a description, but the stranger seemed immune to adjectives.
The Coordinator had forgotten the stranger, too. Or maybe he hadn’t noticed him at all. He sermonised to Eagle alone, and he was veering onto the topics of fairness and equality. Eagle decided to keep him on track.
“This story’s about me,” Eagle said firmly. “So I want to talk about myself.”
Coordinator Nice hesitated like a man unaccustomed to interruptions. Eagle continued.
“ Normally, you’d punish me for breaking the Sector Code. But I think you’ve got a great reason not to.”
“And what’s that?” the Coordinator inquired.
“I’m too important.”
The stranger suppressed something, either a chuckle or a hiccup. Eagle had forgotten he was there again. Odd.
“Why do you feel that way?” Coordinator Nice asked. “Consider me. I’m the Sector Coordinator, am I not? But I wear the same shapeless grey tunic as you. I don’t act important, do I?”
“I’m not acting. I think I actually am more important than anyone else. I jumped off a branch, nearly died, then magically went straight back up on the branch.”
The stranger leaned forward. The shadows obscuring him leaned forward, too.
“Now I’m no Magic Knight,” Eagle continued, to both men. “So all I can figure is someone - or something - thinks I’m too special to die. Meaning I’m surely too special to punish.”
“That was…” Coordinator Nice searched for the word, “incomprehensible.”
“It’s simple,” Eagle replied. “I have this overwhelming sense there’s a big saga of events coming, with me at the very centre of it, and all of these other insignificant people revolving around me. It’s like I’m the Sun, and everyone else is little tiny chunks of rock or dust.” The Coordinator looked increasingly uncomfortable. “This is sounding a bit arrogant, isn’t it?”
“I’ve heard enough,” Coordinator Nice said, shaking his head sadly. “What you need is a lengthy, yet vague, explanation of The Administration’s philosophy and methods.
“We don’t know exactly what life was like before The Event. But we do know that many people believed they were in some way superior to other people. In their own minds, this justified greed, oppression and name-calling. Some used devices called ‘Twitters’ to broadcast their feelings of superiority. All of this made other people feel inferior and sad. Those people also resorted to evil acts like protests and name-calling. The mutual name-calling escalated into violence, and then the Final War, which concluded with The Event.
“Rising from The Chaos that followed The Event, The Administration ensured peace and order by protecting the feelings of every person. They ensure everyone knows how important they are, but that nobody is hurt in the process. That is why The Administration bans anything that will make others feel inferior. When you climbed a very high tree and looked into the next sector, other people felt like inferior tree-climbers.”
Eagle had to interject. “I don’t think that’s true—”
“I can see that. And that’s why I’ve decided to recommend a course of corrective affirmations.”
Corrective affirmations? Eagle had expected a nice, sane response, like a heavy flogging. He knew of a girl who did two whole weeks of corrective affirmations to adjust her excessive self-esteem. She now spent her days trying to get her eyeballs to point the same way.
“It won’t happen again,” Eagle said, his voice weaker than he expected. “I promise.”
Coordinator Nice seemed relieved. “Isn’t that nice? You’re a good lad. I think one month of corrective affirmations will be sufficient.” He patted Eagle on the head and left.
One month! Eagle could have screamed. But the stranger in the corner suddenly came into focus, as though he now wanted to be seen. At last he spoke.
“Everything you just heard is wrong,” the stranger said, mysteriously. “About The Administration. The Event. Everything.”
Eagle was thrilled by the implication. “So that means I am really, really important?”
“More than anybody other than you knows. And you need to come with me. Right now.”