Books·The First Page

ERROR L0V3 by Victoria Thacker

Victoria Thacker, 17, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2019 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Victoria Thacker, 17, is a 2019 finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Victoria Thacker)

ERROR L0V3 by Victoria Thacker is one of 10 stories shortlisted for the The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category. Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. Nearly 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Thacker, a student at St. Mother Teresa Catholic High School in Ottawa, wonders how advancements in technology will influence human relationships.

00:30:00, my implant reads. Thirty minutes until the moment I have waited for my entire life. In thirty minutes, I will meet my soulmate.

"How will I know it is him?" My stomach knots itself as my mother braids my hair into two beautiful fishtails. The room smells sweet and the knots unravel, House noticed the nervous energy in the room and increased the calming serum in the air.

"Sweetheart, you will just know, the moment it hits 00:00:00 he will be in front of you. It's as simple as that." My mother steps back and lets House finish my makeup. Mother often speaks about the days before the 2144 upgrade that switched the average human life into the technological lifestyle that we live today. I don't understand how humans ever lived without technology making all the decisions for them.

Mother doesn't understand the importance of this moment, how could she when she met my father before the upgrade.

"Hurry! I don't want to miss him." 00:19:34, the implant reads. I begin chewing my nails. House takes my finger away and repairs the polish.

"Marguerite, you know how this works, you can't control it. You can't be late, this has all been planned and predicted! Now calm down." Mother doesn't understand the importance of this moment, how could she when she met my father before the upgrade.

00:05:34. My heart is racing, I scan the street for him.

You won't see him yet. Just be patient.

I look up at the sky, soaking up the sun's rays. Deep down I know this is just an illusion since during the 2144 upgrade the atmosphere was induced with micro technological bots that allow the sky to portray only what we want to see. Still, I let my mind get tricked, close my eyes and feel the warmth on my pale skin.

Suddenly there's a large crash, I open my eyes and look towards the road where people have crowded around a steaming car. I begin to approach the group, pushing my way through to see what the commotion is. I see a man lying unconscious on the ground with his arms mangled around his body. "He could not have survived a hit like that," says someone next to me.

I stare at the unconscious man lying on the street and notice his implant blinking 00:00:00. My body goes cold as if in slow motion I look down at my implant and read 00:00:00, congratulations you have met your soulmate!

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2168. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Kelley Armstrong is the bestselling author of more than 40 books. (Kathryn Hollinrake)

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling YA author Kelley Armstrong, most known for her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series. The winner will be announced on CBC Books on March 11, 2020.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books.


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