‘The Weak Man’ by Benedict Heath, age 16

My mother is one of them now. A Superior. It was the least I could’ve done after all these years. She claims she feels no different – that’s not true. She is safer now, now that the Weakness has been removed from her.

We were born with the Weakness, you see. It’s not our fault – not hers, at least. They said you couldn’t change your genetics, that we should enjoy being who we are. But there is no joy for the Weakened, not since they found the treatment anyway. The rich got it first – they always do, don’t they. They were cured of the Weakness, and now they charge us for the privilege of the treatment too. My mother is one of the lucky ones – right place, right time to sign up. I’m pleased at that.

My name was put on the list last week. Some days I pass the time looking at it, watching it climb, agonisingly. I know it won’t move fast enough, but it is mesmerising. The plague hasn’t reached my town yet, but soon it will. This is the safest place, we’re told. Only the Superiors can travel abroad. The Weakened must stay home.

The Superiors run the country at the moment. That’s good, I think. We need strong leaders to keep the economy stable. Not that it’s doing me much good of course. The economy, that is. I don’t really see how it affects us commonfolk much. All this “disposable income” nonsense – we’re the disposable ones really. The guinea pig pets for their privately educated world.

I might go out to party tonight. Nothing really matters anymore, now that the plague is coming. So long as I have enough left for the treatment, I should be fine. It’s worth keeping it in savings, just in case.

But I can see the list, every day. Even as I watch it, I can see names being taken off, almost instantly replaced. These were people who couldn’t get the treatment in time, and the plague took them. Maybe they’ll call me soon to book an appointment, but I doubt it. Even the treaters are being caught by the plague. That’s why you have to be a Superior now, to treat people. I fear the world will soon be catching up to me. That is the natural order of things: the Weak die, and the strong survive.

It is a strange sensation, waiting for one’s own demise. I suppose that’s why I try not to think about it much anymore. I am isolated; the world seems to have forgotten. I am just a drop in an ocean of people – who cares if I must die for the betterment of mankind? I turn to the hundredth novel, my thousandth TV series. It all becomes one. And as the days turn to weeks turn to months turn to a year, I hold out hope for an ordinary future. A future free from the rules and the restrictions and the endless routine; a future where I can be safe once more. Safe to be myself, not what they want me to be.

Perhaps I’ll see that world one day. I hope. Time for me to rest. I think I’ve earned it.