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A Fisher's Sacrifice
Doris lived with her mother and father on Island Eight of The Hundred Islands. They had all been named in sequential order and were arranged in close proximity. Bridges had been built to connect them together, except for Island One, which loomed by itself at the very top. It was the largest and also home to the elders. Completely secluded and seen only from a distance, the island was made up of lush mountain tops that scraped the skies and hosted giant majestic birds that could sometimes be seen gliding over the waters. Since it was forbidden for anyone to visit, Island One played host to many tales and legends. It was said to be a home for prisoners sent from The Lands who had been made slaves to the elders. Another was that colossal squids lived deep beneath the surrounding waters and would devour anyone who tried to enter or escape.
Each island had equal populations, and the law permitted for arranged spouses to conceive only one child during a specific mating season each year. This was for the purpose of population control and to make sure an equal amount of males and females were born. Any twins or triplets would be separated at birth and were either killed or given to mothers who had miscarriages. After every woman had given birth, a final count would determine the total surplus of infants that would be discarded. If any woman had been caught pregnant outside of mating season, the unborn baby would be aborted immediately and she would be trialed for death. If a man was accused of rape, he would also be trialed for death.
A handful of younger elders, also known as leaders, lived on each island and governed the people. Each citizen was chosen for specific fields based on their age, sex, and build, ranging from farming, knitting, fishing, smelting, and so on. Work schedules ranged depending on the industry, but each citizen was granted one day off for rest. Every worker, no matter their age, sex, build, or profession, was compensated equally. Every home was measured to be exactly the same size. Every household was provided with an equal amount of food and water that was delivered each week. Rule of law applied equally to everyone, and each citizen was entitled to a trial in front of a panel of leaders for a chance to plead their innocence.
Ever since Doris was a young child, her father would teach her boating and fishing on his days off. Boating was permissible to citizens in limited waters of their own island, and any fish caught would need approval by an elder to bring home. Doris had always been an adventurous and mischievous child with a cunning ability to evade trouble. She would secretly take the boat in the middle of the night to paddle out and practice fishing. Doris would catch trout, sea bass, and even rare anglerfish. Whenever she was caught, Doris would bribe the leaders to take fish home for themselves instead of taking her to The Island of Detention.
The Island of Detention, also known as The One Hundredth Island, was in the center of all the islands. It was nearly impossible to escape since prisoners would have to pass through many island territories separated by surveilled waters.
Doris turned fourteen years old—the transitional age to evolve into being assigned a life-long profession. If workers claimed to have special skills in a field, they would be tested in front of a panel that would deem them fit or unfit for their requested profession. Doris excelled in her tests and was accepted as a fisher.
A few years had passed, and Doris became widely respected by her male colleagues who dominated the field. She became especially close with one in particular named Xander. On days off when the sun would set, they would meet at the boats and paddle out together. For hours, they would catch fish, tell stories, and spill secrets. Their intimate friendship blossomed until one summer moonlight, they decided to share their bodies as one.
A few weeks had passed and Doris had not bled. She also felt her belly become more swollen as each morning came. She hid it from her parents until her mother found out, to which Doris fully confessed of the night spent with Xander. Tears filled her mothers eyes as she explained to her daughter that if she did not claim rape by a man, she would have the baby aborted and herself trialed for death. Doris would not accept any of these fates as she loved Xander and wanted to birth their child.
That morning, Doris met with Xander before work and explained everything. She told him her plan to escape, leaving Xander speechless. He then confirmed his love for her and planned to meet at the boats so that they could escape together. The day went on normally, as they did not wish to raise any suspicion. Doris and Xander met later as planned and paddled away.
Since they lived on Island Eight, they only had to pass the territory of Island Nine, which would lead east to open waters. As they slowly paddled out, a boat nearby illuminated with softly lit candlelights and drifted towards them. Xander began to panic, but Doris thought ahead of time and prepared ten freshly caught sea bass to bribe the leader. The two boats floated close enough to each other for the leader to begin yelling that they were past their limit. Doris yelled back while raising the fish, but he ignored her and threatened to signal for reinforcements if they did not turn around. Doris kept waving the fish in the air and started to desperately plead. The leader took hold of his burning candlestick and sparked a flame on a rope tied around the base of the jib topsail. A flame shot up and lit the fire signal in the shape of a triangle, causing other boats in the distance to emerge from dark silhouettes to glowing orange, making their way towards them.
The two boats finally collided, which caused the nervous leader to frantically search for his weapon. Xander grabbed Doris and yelled for her to keep paddling and to not look back. He kissed her lips as hard as he could and then jumped onto the leader’s boat. Doris took hold of her oars and begun paddling towards the open sea, gasping for breath. She looked back to see Xander wrestling the leader to the base of his boat. He saw and yelled for her to keep paddling. In a panic, she whipped her head around and disappeared into the open sea without ever looking back again.