We live in a world where things can be easy. Tablet computers that fit in our pockets and make calls for us and tell us where we are. Globalized digital networks that connect us effortlessly, all the time. Modern medicine that works wonders. News that arrives the moment it happens. Food that stays fresh forever.
This isn’t science fiction. This is reality. And in the American Union, all you need—for any of it—is the Mark.
So what’s wrong with that? The Pledge unifies us, does it not? Just as its Mark protects us? No one could argue that it hasn’t brought us together, that it hasn’t created peace . . . that our allegiance to the Chancellor hasn’t bound us and given common ground from which all our ideas and ideologies may grow. Together. Compatibly.
After the years of slaughter, after the decades of political and environmental devastation that forced more and more of us to fight over less and less land, water, food . . . was this unity not a welcome change for all of us?
It isn’t even compulsory. No one has to Pledge. But who wouldn’t? In the years since its implementation, the Mark has rightfully become the capstone of a childhood well spent, the crowning achievement in a young man’s or woman’s life, the opened door to citizenship, adulthood, independence . . .
Every schoolchild knows that in the wake of the Total War, this Mark has become the very symbol of our commitment to patriotism and peace. It is the constant reminder of our loftiest intentions.
To be Markless is to reject these ideals. To be Markless is to be different.
So why would anyone choose to be different? In a world of absolutes, of black and white, of right and wrong, why would anyone choose “wrong”?
My name is Evan Angler. I may have answers to these questions. But I can’t risk writing them. Not here. Not on the Internet, for anyone to see.
And you wouldn’t risk reading them.
But if you are determined . . . if you are determined to learn the truth, no matter the cost, then what I can tell you is this: I’ve put what I know onto paper. Old-fashioned, obsolete—paper. Where it can’t be copied and pasted with the stroke of a stylus, where it can’t be sent around the world at the press of a button, where it can’t be recorded and stored forever in a million irretrievable pieces across cyberspace and time for any watchful eye to see. Paper is intimate. It is between you and me. It is fragile. It can be destroyed.
And when you find it, if you find it . . . once you’ve read it . . . I do encourage you to destroy it.
I wrote their story for everyone. But if you are not yet thirteen, if you have not yet Pledged to the Chancellor in exchange for his Mark of citizenship, if you have not yet made that choice to conform to given definitions of what may be easy and what may be “right” . . . then I have written this story especially for you.
For I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m still afraid of the dark. And if you too have ever turned out the light only to feel that tinge of panic, that inkling that someone, somewhere, might possibly be watching . . . I’m here to tell you that they are.
At its heart, Swipe is a book about friendship against the odds. It’s a book about a group of boys and girls who stick together to stand up for one another and for what they believe in.
But why would they choose to be different? Why would they choose “wrong”?
Are you ready to learn the truth?