Pretty on the Outside... Ugly on the Inside ~ Original Story

I need a better title! XP This is for fireworks356's story contest. :)

Chapter 1

by: Bastille
Karelia Jean Blue stepped away from the platform. She didn't need to go to The Place right now. She needed to find out why her parents weren't home, and why they hadn't said anything.

The Place was her family's emergency house in case anything happened to their current house. It had never been used before, and Karelia had always longed to see it. She envisioned it as a large underground house, with intricately carved wooden doors, plush, luxurious furniture, soft, thick carpets, and a feeling of something else- something she didn't really know of.

Karelia lived in an utopian society- there was no starvation, homelessness, or shortage of anything. Even the people were perfect. Everyone was slim and fit, and had faces that were flawless. Of course, this was because of Scanning Surgery. Scanning Surgery was a new method of making people perfect, it would simply scan your face, and then scan on a holographic projection to perfect any flaws or blemishes.

Karelia herself planned on using this when she was of legal age. She was 14, four years too short of having Scanning Surgery. There was a certain age necessary for this because of a huge accident happening when a 15-year-old girl had tried using it.

For some reason, something inside of her skin had reacted horribly to the bright scanner that projected the holographic image, and the result was a grotesque, mutilated face for the poor girl. Her skin turned an unnatural color, her eyes became an odd color and she lost her ability to see, her cheeks became hollow, her lips became thin, and her skin hung off of her bones. She was the image that everyone feared, because beauty was valued in this society.

Beauty mattered so much, that trees had been replaced with metal ones that didn't drop leaves, grass was replaced by fake grass made from a material that felt exactly the same, but didn't need water and didn't grow. Giant invisible domes were placed over each city so that weather could be controlled. All animals were strictly trained to look and behave perfectly. And people were forced to either become beautiful, or be outcasts, no longer welcomed in society.

Karelia struggled with beauty; mostly physically. She often still felt hungry after her carefully measured meals, and her daily exercising often left her sore and tired. She hated having to buy all of the latest trending clothes, getting fake tans because of her pale, porcelain skin, and wearing make-up. It made her feel fake; as if no one could really see her.

But in a way, she was glad. She pulled out her phone, the latest model, and tapped on the camera icon. She quickly took a picture of herself and stared at it. Her fiery red hair fell just above her shoulders, and Karelia fingered it, wishing for it to grow longer. Her eyes and nose were small, and her lips and forehead were large. She had a messy splay of bright, orange-red freckles that she hopelessly tried to cover up, and her tan was wearing off. She made a mental note of getting a new one, and sat down near a wall.

She was at the Speed Station, a mode of transportation for those who couldn't drive yet. This was a "train station", but instead of trains, they had trechs. Trechs were like 'trains', but much more technologically advanced. They ran on solar energy, like most things in Karelia's world, and were far more efficient in travel. They were faster, covered more ground, and sleeker, made with bulletproof steel and windows.

Karelia found it kind of fun to ride on a trech, it was almost like a mini adventure. They sped so fast and had so many passengers, that she often had to stand off to the side and hold tight to the self-sanitizing handles. She pretended that they were off to an unknown place, one filled with adventure and mysteries.

Karelia sighed and looked around the station. It was nothing but metal everywhere, everything from the trech rails to the walls built from metal.

She glanced at her phone for the time. 4:24 PM on September 17, 2186. Time for her to meet her brother. Karelia stood up and approached the platform, waiting for the speeding trech to come to a stop. The large mode of transportation silently slid to a stop, and the doors noiselessly slid open. As she stepped in, she felt the familiar beam of light descend from her head to her toes; analyzing who she was. This would go on a record that counted how many times she rode a trech each day, though Karelia never understood the point of it.

She gripped the handle tightly, already have graciously given her seat to a woman that was at least five years older than her.

Karelia thought of her family. Her father; Marcus Blue, a tough, very Her mother; Janelle Wisby, a kind, hard-working business woman that Karelia saw for only a few hours a week. Karelia shared her straight, fiery hair with Janelle, but she didn't understand where her freckles came from. Janelle was easily considered beautiful, with glowing skin and a smile that lit up the room.

But lately, Karelia had seen the tiredness in her mother's eyes and the way that her smile wasn't quite as cheerful. She missed the times that her, her father, her brother, and her mother all sat in their living room and talked, their laughter filling the air. But with those happy moments, sad ones came too.

In those memories had been another person, a person that filled Karelia with grief and pain. That person had been Karelia's twin sister, Katelia. She remembered her mother telling her the story of how they got their names as if it were yesterday.

He mother and father had been debating a name for Karelia when she had still been in their stomach, and they had pondered for a while, because they hadn't known if they were getting a girl or a boy. They wanted it to be a surprise. So when a baby girl was born, they already had a name for her. But they were surprised when a second baby girl was born only minutes later.

They already knew that the first girl's name would be Karelia. They had thought for hours, and when they finally had only ten minutes to choose a name before the doctors chose one for them, Karelia's father had frustratedly thrown up his hands and yelled, "Katelia!"

Of course, her mother had accepted the name, even though it was almost the exact same as Karelia's, and they had happily asked for approval of the names from the city. Then, the girls had been taken home, and a couple of years later, a baby boy was welcomed into the family; Jiro, Karelia's little brother.

Karelia smiled at the image of Jiro, a kicking, constantly smiling baby who often giggled and squirmed. She remembered herself and Katelia always arguing over who got to play with the baby, and their mother telling them not to fight. Jiro had grown up smothered in love, and he became naturally closely bonded with Karelia, Katelia and their parents.

The trouble had began when everyone realized how dangerous Katelia could be. She had been brought home one day by two city Guarders, the people who protected their city, with her head bowed down. They had caught her climbing a tree, one of the most illegal things in the city. She was given a strike, after three, she would be moved to a sort of prison where she would be monitored closely.

After the Guarders handed Katelia over, her parents had a talk with Katelia. They all noticed that one of her teeth had been chipped. It was the top left one, and because of Katelia's age, they weren't allowed to fix it. From that day on, she became know as Katie, because of her own insistence that her name be changed. Her stunts only got bigger, like going illegal bungee-jumping. Karelia had found out, and Katie had made her promise not to tell anyone. Karelia knew that she never would be able to; she couldn't betray her sister.

Everyday since then had been torture to both Katie and Karelia. Because perfection was valued, Katie's imperfect teeth were easily loathed and made her an easy target for bullying. Karelia hated listening to the rude remarks, unable to do anything for fear of creating a scene and making them both even more hated. Katie never showed that she was upset by these horrible comments, and was always cheerful and happy.

But that was what surprised Karelia. When Katie had been so kind and not at all affected by the snide remarks of others, why had she mysteriously disappeared just last year? She had gone to school like any other day, with Karelia, of course, and at the end of the day, she wasn't seen. The family had been informed that she wouldn't be seen again, and had all been swiped clean of their memories of Katie.

But for some reason, Karelia didn't forget her when everyone else did. She remembered every moment that Katelia had shared with her. No one else thought of her or mentioned her; even Karelia's parents forgot their other daughter, but Karelia didn't. She supposed it was their strong bond, made even stronger by them being twins. But she was still confused by it.

Karelia snapped back to the present, realizing that tears had been streaming down her face. She quickly swiped them away, hoping no one had seen them, and rushed out of the trech as it slid to a stop.

The station was overflowing with people, especially around this time, since people were released from work. Jiro would be done with school and waiting for Karelia. He was 12, so he didn't need Karelia, but she had been scared ever since Katelia's disappearance. She didn't want Jiro to go missing, too.

Jiro didn't understand why his sister insisted on meeting him everyday after school, but he had grown used to it, and didn't mind anymore. He usually anticipated Karelia's appearance, and was slightly worried because of her lateness on this particular day.

"Karelia! Where have you been?" Jiro called, as Karelia approached their school.

Karelia smiled and ruffled Jiro's hair. "I got stuck on the trech, no big deal. Hey, do you know where mom and dad are?"

"No, but they'll show up soon. We're allowed to stay home alone, you know that. Come on, they're probably caught up in 'important business' again." Jiro said, leading her to the trech.

They both climbed on, and Karelia thought of how Jiro didnt even remeber Katie, and how no one besides her ever would.

"Katelia," she whispered, unaware that she had said anything.

"What? Did you say something?" Jiro asked.

"What? No. Nothing." Karelia quickly responded. But she thought she saw a brief flicker in his eyes.

The rest of the ride home was silent.

* * *

"Ta-da!" Karelia's parents leaped out from behind a pillar.

Karelia rolled her eyes. Sure. They couldn't pick up her anxious phone calls, respond to messages she sent via robots, and couldn't have warned her that they were busy, but they could certainly decide to surprise her like nothing was wrong.

"If you're wondering why we were gone so long and not telling you where we were, here's the reason," Karelia's mother said.

"Your very own robot!" Her father exclaimed.

And they produced a robot from behind the pillar. It was a rather large, bulky thing, and Karelia immediately knew that her friends would hate it. It whirred and beeped noisily, and it was slow and slightly rusted.

"Um, thanks?" She said hesitantly. Was this large piece of junk what her parents were really happy about? Surely they brought her something better, and they would shout, "Just kidding! This clunky trash can isn't your real present!"

Karelia looked around casually, trying to see if she could spot her real present.

"What are you looking for, honey? Don't you like it?" Her father asked, looking confused.

"Oh, um, sure I like it. It's... unique and different and... cute!" She tried to sound like she actually liked it, but Karelia knew that her face betrayed her real emotions.

"Your father and I went through a lot of trouble to get this for you, sweetheart, so, we hope you like it," her mother said gently. Karelia was confused; did she just hear exhaustion in her mother's voice?

"Of course I like it, why wouldn't I?" She exclaimed, a little too loudly. Jiro cast her a funny look before turning back to the machinery and gently running his fingers over it.

"It just needs a little cleaning up and fixing, then I'm sure it'll work perfectly!" She said. Karelia smiled widely, hoping that her parents didn't notice her clear distaste for it.

"Ok. Well, here's a little video you need to watch, it'll show you how to take care of C.A.T.," Karelia's father said, not looking convinced.

"C.A.T.?" She asked.

"Caller And Transporter," he explained. "You can call us or whomever you'd like to call with her, and she can transport you to any place that you'd like to go. She works with voice control," he smiled.

Karelia looked C.A.T. up and down before smiling a big, fake smile. She didn't know if this big, loud machine would work or not. Her guess was that it was defective.

"I suppose I could start using it from tomorrow onwards, I don't see how it's hurt." She said, hoping to get away and be alone in her room for a while.

"Sure, hon, just be careful with her, C.A.T., like any other robot, doesn't always function properly. And you should try and make her look better, we don't need people casting nasty glances at you," Karelia's mother said.

Karelia knew how horrible people could get if you didn't fit in. She knew from being around Katie. If people were so cruel over a chipped tooth, how would they react to a large, bulky, noisy machine like C.A.T.?

"Can I use her, too?" Jiro, who had been silent until now, asked.

"Of course, you can!" Karelia exclaimed, ruffling his hair. This earned her a look from her mother, appearances were important and even a hair out of place could earn people a lot of snide remarks.

Karelia ignored it and mussed his hair further before grinning. She could just dump the stupid robot with him for a while! He seemed to enjoy it!

"Jiro, you can have it Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, Karelia, we got this present for you some you've been doing so well in school and in maintaining yourself. As a growing lady, it's important, an it can be hard. So, you get C.A.T. more days than Jiro."

Karelia tried not to show her disappointment at her mother's voice.

"Uh, thanks, I'm going to go to my room now." She said, and jogged off before her parents could stop her.

After safely locking herself in her room, Karelia collapsed on her bed and fell into a deep, dreamless slumber.

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