Mutant

Not every adolescent is accepted by society - especially if you have developed 'wrong'. From the age of eleven, children begin to do things that were thought to have been impossible. How they could read their parents' minds and make things move without touching. Banished to camps in the middle of nowhere, they learn to control their Powers and undergo intense combat training.

Zaida Hunter is the only exception. She has lived at this camp all of her life - she was born with her Power. For years she has seen Mutant teens beaten and executed for going against the rules set by society. But she's willing to do just that.

If it means that she can kill her guardian.

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5. Bull's Eye

When the bell rings to signal the end of a draining Engineering lesson, a sudden surge of energy runs through me. I am out of that workshop before the teacher can dismiss the class. Sixth and last lesson of the day: Training.

           I am not the first person to arrive at the Training block despite leaving as soon as the bell rang and running faster than the speed of sound. Spike and Flick are already in the entrance part of the building. Arguing.

           “You're lying!” Spike growls.

           Flick laughs unkindly. “And why would I lie about something like this?”

           “Because Blondy is desperate for attention.”

           “Well if you don't believe me then fine! Don't say that I never warned you, though!”

           “I won't.”

           “Fine.”

           “Fine!”

           I approach them with caution (and curiosity). “Seriously, how old are you two?”

           It is as if I am not here. Spike and Flick don't even glance in my direction; they're too busy staring each other out.

           “What's going on?”

            Flick flinches as if Spike has slapped her right across the face. She breaks their intense stare and wraps her arms around her. Flick straightens her posture and holds her head high.

            “Get out of my head, bitch!” Flick tries to sound harsh but her voice breaks a little, as if she is in pain.

           Spike's lips turn up into a menacing smile. Flick cringes. Spike turns away and sits on a chair in the corner, crossing one leg over the other.

           “What's going on?” I ask Flick, lowering my voice although I'm not sure why.

           Flick shakes her head and refuses to look me in the eye.

           “Flick?” I extend a hand, about to place it on her shoulder, but she flinches like a skittery rabbit.

           “Just... Just leave me alone!” Her eyes well with salty tears but she wipes them with the back of her sleeve roughly. She pushes past me to get out of the Training block.

           I start to walk towards Spike to ask her what had just happened, but fingers drum against my shoulder. I turn around and all the anxiety washes away – well, most of it anyway.

           “Ryley!” I wrap my arms around him and bury my face in his chest. There is nothing more comforting than having your best friend close to you.

           “Hey,” he holds me at arm's length and raises an eyebrow, “what's happened?”

           “I'm so glad that you're here!”

           “Again I ask: what's happened?”

           The smile on my face is wiped away. The anxiety returns.

           “Something... Something happened last night -” The loud chattering of Mutants filling up the entrance part of the Training block interrupts me. Before I can spill all to Ryley, five Peace Keepers appear and we follow them into the target shooting room.

*

           “So,” Ryley says, dragging out the word as he inspects a couple of air rifles, “what happened last night?”

           I stall, picking up a random air rifle and then loading it with pellets. When it's loaded, I catch Ryley raising one eyebrow.

           “Well... I'm not too sure.”

           “You're not too sure?” He says, obviously confused.

           “Well,” I sigh. “Well I was sure this morning but now I'm confused and not sure if it actually happened. There is proof that it didn't happen but it just seemed so real.”

           “What seemed real? If you're confused then how do you expect me to understand what you're talking about?” Ryley's lips lift into a small smile.

           “I... Last night I, um, blew up the Leader Headquarters.”

           Ryley's eyebrows lifted and his eyes widened in disbelief, but then his face cracked and he started laughing.

           “Don't laugh,” my voice is flat and that only seems to make Ryley laugh even harder.

           “Oh Zaida,” he says, wiping the tears from his bright green eyes, “you're funny.”

           I suck in air, ready to burst but then a Peace Keeper comes over and indicates for us to head towards the targets. I walk ahead of Ryley and stand with Spike. I don't look behind me as Ryley walks past, still laughing.

           Spike looks past me and her brown irises follow Ryley. “He's in a good mood.”

           My throat makes a primeval grunt in reply.

           “What's up with you?” Spike asks.

           I roll my eyes at her and join the line for a different target. Ron, the small new boy from my sociology lesson, looks at me slightly curious (but more afraid). I ignore his stares and bite back the temptation to shoot him. It is only an air rifle, but the pellets will hurt you if they were to be fired in certain areas.

           “Right okay Zaida I'll listen and try not to laugh at you this time,” Ryley's voice drifts from behind me. I turn around and although his voice sounded sincere, his smirk proves that it was all a sham.

           “It doesn't matter anyway,” I mutter, about to turn away when Ryley puts his hand on my shoulder.

           “Why did you think that the Leader Headquarters exploded?”

           “When I woke up this morning, the clothes I was wearing were covered in mud from running from the Leader Headquarters during the storm.”

           Ryley sucks in his cheeks and narrows his eyes: the face he does when he is contemplating on something. “Maybe you hurt yourself last night - ”

           “Yes!” I interrupt him. “I was shot last night and it was really painful but when I looked at my leg this morning there weren't any fresh wounds.”

           “No, that's not what I meant.”

           “What did you mean then?”

           “You might have hurt yourself on the way back to your bunk house and forgot about it in the morning. It could have been late and you didn't realise how muddy your clothes were so you didn't change before you went to bed.”

           “I think I passed out and you carried me back to my bunk.”

           Ryley shook his head. “No, that didn't happen.”

           Now I am really confused. “Maybe a Peace Keeper carried me?”

           “No.”

           “Then who?” I yell, finally tipping over that line of self-control. “It doesn't matter if you didn't carry me but somehow I got from your bunk to mine.”

           Ryley let out a sigh of exasperation. “No one carried you last night because you were never in my bunk house. The Leader Headquarters didn't blow up and you didn't get shot. You probably tripped and hit your head last night – not running away from Peace Keepers or whatever – but when you went for an evening jog or something. You fell, knocked yourself out and fell into a load of mud. And then you didn't remember anything the next morning.”

           “Zaida, you're up next,” someone says and I tighten my grip on my gun and march to the firing line. I raise the gun up to eye level and my finger rests on the trigger.

           “You're not going to get a good shot if you hold it like that,” Ryley says and he moves the gun slightly to the left.

           “I'm doing it right!” I snap, pulling the gun away from him.

           I pull the gun to eye level again and fire. The electronic score holder illuminates a big, stupid five.

           “I did tell you so,” he says in a sing-song voice and he tries to aim the gun for me again but I yank it from his grasp.

           “You're not going to get a bull's eye today if you don't aim properly,” Ryley is so full of himself. So matter-of-fact. Making me feel so stupid in front of our classmates.

           “I know how to use a stupid gun, you know!”

           “Well try and score a bull's eye then,” he says and he laughs.

           I pull the trigger. Ryley stops laughing and doubles over. Bull's eye.

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