The year was 2099.

The place was the United States.

There were two castes, the rich and the poor. The rich ruled the country, and they lived in one city called Nirvana. The poor lived in other parts of the country. 

It was 9 pm, lights on the street had been broken for a long time since the government wouldn’t bother fixing them. 

Moon was the only thing that cast light upon the road. 

The boy walking in the dark was Noah. He was sixteen years old and a genius. Noah had been miserable recently, thinking about whether he should take the Nirvana Entrance Test. His family could only make a thousand dollars a year, but the ticket to the test cost three thousand dollars. He felt guilty spending his parents’ life savings. 

The rich created the “Nirvana Entrance Test.”  People from wealthy families took the NET to stay in Nirvana, and poor people who passed the test could get into Nirvana. 

Noah stood before the door for a long time, thinking about how to talk to his parents. Then, finally, he opened the door. The loud creak of the door sobered him up. 

“Noah, why did you come home late today?” Noah’s mother, Sarah, asked.

“The moon is dark today,” Noah replied. “Do you know the NET test is coming?” 

Noah pulled the chair and sat near the table with his parents. 

“Your mother and I want you to take the NET because we know you can pass the test, Noah,” his father, John, said.

“Dad, our family can’t afford it, and I am not a hundred percent sure I can pass the test,” Noah replied.

John suddenly stood up and stared at Noah.

 “I am your father, so you have to listen to me!” John yelled with anger. “Get out of this house if you say that shit again!” 

Noah looked down and began eating again; he didn’t dare talk to his dad again. Tears fell on the food. 

He went back to sleep without saying anything.

The next day, John bought the ticket to the test for Noah. 

Noah felt uncomfortable with the stress. If I screw up this test, I will waste my parents’ whole life savings. What will everyone think about me? 

Finally, the test day came.

Noah walked to the test center.

It was 8:00 a.m. The test began. 

The test booklet was composed of pages of touchable screens. Noah looked through the booklet, and it had three parts, Math, Reading, and Writing. Noah scratched his head; this was his first time struggling in a test.

The test was easy for students from Nirvana because their parents had the money to tutor them. But students from outside couldn’t even afford to go to school. 

“You have 5 minutes to complete your test,” the proctor said. 

Noah frowned and kept working. 

Suddenly, everything on the booklet disappeared, and the test ended.

Noah went home.

“So, how was the test?” Noah’s mother asked.

“It was the hardest test I’ve ever taken in my whole life, but I completed every question,” Noah spoke in a loud voice so John could hear because Noah wanted him to know he tried his best.

“When will the result come out?” John spoke in the kitchen. 

“Fourteen days from now on,” Noah replied. 

They both spoke in a loud voice so they could hear each other.

John went out of the kitchen and walked toward Noah. He put his hand on Noah’s shoulder. 

Noah didn’t know what will John do next. He was so nervous that his heart was jumping out of his chest. 

“You can take a break now, Noah. We know you did your best,” John said as he pulled his hand away from Noah’s shoulder.

“Thank you, father,” Noah said and took a deep breath. 

Finally, the test results came out.

Fortunately for Noah, he was the only child who passed the NET outside Nirvana.

The family held a big celebration dinner. 

“That’s my son!” said John. 

John and Sarah hugged Noah deeply. They had both smiles and tears on their face. 

“Alright, that’s too much,” Noah said. “I can’t breathe anymore.”

They let go of each other and burst into laughter. The family cavorted the whole night.

Noah went to bed and started thinking. He was not prepared to go to Nirvana yet. But Noah immediately got rid of this thought in his mind since he knew his family got high expectations of him, and he didn’t want to disappoint them.

A shiny black car slowed down in front of Noah’s house. Two men got out and walked towards the door.

Knock-Knock. Sarah went to open the door. They were from Nirvana; she could tell it by looking at their luxurious clothes. They both wore black suits and yellow ties; only people who worked for Nirvana could wear yellow ties. Their outfit looked refreshing compared to Sarah’s.

“We are here to take Noah Smith,” The taller men said.

Sarah nodded and went back in.

“You are our family’s hope, Noah,” John said. “Contact us once you get there.” He was trying his best to control his tears. 

Sarah kissed Noah on the forehead and looked at Noah. The way she was looking at Noah was like people looking at the savior of the world.

“Mom and Dad, I promise I will make out family rich one day!” Noah said and walked toward the two men. 

Noah got in the car. 

Noah opened the car window once the car started moving.

“Mom and dad, I love you!” Noah yelled.

Both Noah and his parents burst into tears.  

Finally, Noah arrived at Nirvana. He was overwhelmed by everything in Nirvana. Noah walked from block to block without knowing where to go. Passers were also shocked to see an outsider. They could tell Noah was an outsider through his messy hair and dirty clothes. The last time they had seen people from outside of Nirvana face to face was several years ago. People’s gaze on Noah was stressing him out. Finally, after two hours of purposeless walking, he found a garden to sleep in. At least this place has no mosquitoes. He fell asleep after this overwhelming day.

At the same time, the president’s secretary rushed to the president’s office room. 

The president was drinking his coffee. He was satisfied that he came up with a new way to make poor people work harder. But, unfortunately, the plan would also affect Noah’s family.

“What’s the matter?” the president asked.

“An outsider came to Nirvana,” the secretary said. “He passed the NET test!”

“Then let him in!” the president said. “And I will also assign a job for him!”

The next day, the two men that brought Noah to Nirvana came to Noah again. 

“You are assigned a job in the government,” the shorter one said.

“What?” Noah was surprised. 

They drove Noah to the government and took him to the office. The taller man gave Noah the suit and tie only government workers could wear, a new ID, and a pistol. 

“You will start working with us right now,” the taller one said. “Get changed and come with us.”

“But where are we going?” Noah asked. He was befuddled.

“Get in the car after you change your clothes,” said the taller one. “You’ll find out once you get there.”

Noah changed his clothes and got in the car.

“So, can you tell me what we are going to do now?” Noah asked.

“Collect money from those who didn’t pay taxes,” the shorter one replied. 

“What if they don’t have any money?” Noah asked again.

“You’ll find out soon,” the shorter one replied.

Noah fell asleep on this long trip.

The taller one slapped Noah’s face to wake him up. 

Noah opened his eyes and saw his house. 

“Why do you bring me to my family?” Noah asked.

“Collect taxes,” the taller one replied. “Didn’t you just ask?” 

Noah couldn’t believe what he had done. He had worked so hard to get in Nirvana, but now his job was to exploit his people, his own family! Why is it me? Why do they choose me to do this shitty job? It’s all because of me. If I didn’t take the NET test, they’d have money to pay taxes. What if they get in trouble?

“What are you waiting for?” the taller one yelled. 

They went toward the front door.

Knock-Knock, Sarah opened the door. 

“We are here to collect your tax,” the shorter one said.

“But we don’t have any money,” Sarah replied.

Bang-bang, the taller man shot Sarah. Sarah fell to the ground. Noah stood there staring at his mother’s body; he was too scared to do anything. 

John heard the gunshot and rushed out. He saw Sarah lying in a pool of blood. 

“What did you do?” John yelled. 

He ran towards the taller man. 


He kept moving. 


He fell to the ground and kept crawling.


Finally, John stopped moving.

Noah pulled out his pistol and pointed it toward the taller man. 

Both of them jiggled. The taller man walked toward Noah.

Noah burst into tears. He didn’t have the courage to kill yet.

The taller man moved closer and closer. 

Noah’s body was shaking hard.

“Stop Moving!” Noah yelled. 

“Or what?” the taller man said.

Once the taller man was close enough, he suddenly took the gun from Noah and pointed it at him.

“I won’t give you a second chance,” the taller man said.