Walking in Slow Motion

Axi is just a normal girl in a gifted family. She isn't amazingly pretty, or intelligent, or popular. She's just a girl who gets bullied in school because her sister's dating the most dreamed-about guy there: and he's two years old than her. Then she meets Seymour, a friend she never knew was always right beside her. When their teacher walks out of class, Axi begs him to teach her film editing-- a talent nobody in her family has. But Seymour's teaching brings a new responsibility. In the middle of her first editing session, Axi discovers that she has skills. Special skills. Supernatural skills... Who is Axi? WHAT is she? And will she ever be the same again...? NEW BLURB! Do you like it? :)

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11. Specifics

"You're a tractatora, you know that now." Gizzy gazes at me solemnly.

I nod.

"But you're even more special than that. You're--"

"Let me guess," I interrupt, startling Gizzy. "Sorry for interrupting, but-- am I right in saying that... well, that I'm even considered special amongst the tractatori?"

"Yes," gasps Gizzy. "How... how did you...?"

"I watch a lot of movies." I shrug.

"Oh. Right. I forgot you Sibbies practically live in front of your plasma screens."

"If by Sibbies you mean humans or mortals or whatever, then you're mistaken when you think we're all like that," I say defensively. "You just need to watch a few of our movies to know how overproduced and melodramatic they are. Well, most of them, anyway." My curiosity wins over. "What are Sibbies?"

"You were right: It's short for Siibzobpsip," Gizzy says, "which is a slang name for you people who live on the mundicael of Earth. In your language, it would be..." She is silent for a moment, lips moving silently as she translates. "Earthies. And about the movie thing... is that why you wanted to learn film editing in the first place?"

"Yeah. That's half the reason." I can't help giggling a little. "About the Sibbies thing... your slang words are too long to say casually, so you have to have slang for slang? That's..."

"That's what?" Gizzy asks, a little stiffly.

"Just a little strange for me," I say quickly. "I'm sorry, Gizzy, I didn't mean to insult you."

Gizzy relaxes. "That's okay. I can totally see how weird it must be for you." She clears her throat abruptly, becoming all businesslike again. "So... you're really special, Axi, even amongst your own people."

"Awesome!" I say. I'm bubbling with excitement. "Finally, finally I'm special. Finally, it's not my family--" I shut my mouth as I realize I am saying my thoughts out loud.

Gizzy squirms uncomfortably. "Well, Axi, I don't think you're actually any better off. You're not... special in that way. To them! Only to them. I swear, Axi, I don't want to offend you, but--"

"They think I'm a freak," I say softly. "Just like every other person in my life. It's just my luck, isn't it?" I add bitterly. "You and Seym. You're the only ones... Anyway. How exactly am I special?"

"Well... I told you didn't I, before, that all the tractatori of this century were chosen--by us Nutters, no less!-- and born in the year 2000? Well, the girl before you... Amy... she came down with cancer, and departed this world last year. Horrible. Really, really tragic. Nobody expected that. It was a total shock." Gizzy bows her head and I suddenly realize: she knew Amy.

"Is that why you got picked to be my mentor? Because you knew Amy? Were you hers?"

Gizzy blinks away tears. "Er... sort of. Yeah, I knew Amy, but I wasn't hers. We were just friends. We're exactly the same age, you know. Were the same age."

I decide not to press her anymore. "So... Amy-- passed on. What next?"

"You should have seen Iazi when it happened. We were in total chaos. America was without a pax custos! We had to find a new one immediately. Unfortunately, nobody-- not a single child-- born in 2000 was worthy of the place. So... we had to go a year back, to the kids born in 1999. And we found you.

"You were actually Number Two on the list, you know, but eventually you were chosen over Number One."

"Who was Number One?"

"Err... It was only a very recent event, which included the abandoning of her sister in favour of her boyfriend, that decided it..."

"Who was Number One?"

Gizzy bites her lip. "Alexandra. Alexandra Lenet..."

"Lexi?!" She has to be joking. They picked me over Lexi?!

"Yes. The committee couldn't decide, even after the incident in which Lexi forgot her "no boys" promise to you, because her beauty was such an important factor, so they left it up to the public. We voted, and you won! I voted for you, by the way."

"But... the "no boys" promise was so small! We were ten! And... if her beauty was so important, why was I even appointed in the end?!" I realize I am shouting. "Sorry. I'm really sorry. It's just... my life is so horrible sometimes. Well, most times, actually."

Gizzy strokes my arm soothingly. "It's okay, Axi. I sympathise wholly with all of these mixed feelings. You just need to understand that even small promises can make huge differences. Because that is why you won, Maxine Lenet. You won because Lexi broke a promise to you. That is everything."

I nod quite a few times, taking deep breaths, trying to steady myself. "So... what exactly do I have to do? With my powers, and whatever?"

"Over the next half a year or so, I'm going to teach you how to use your powers more efficiently. Slowly, they will increase in strength and amount as well. When 2017 comes, you will be ready to guard America, and prevent it from becoming a country entirely full of completely insane beings. Beings which are as far from human as you can get."

"I don't think so, Gizzy. This is so much responsibility. And, I will never, never be ready to forfeit my family."

"Even though they treat you like you're so different, you'll never be theirs? Come on, Axi."

"No, you "come on"!" I yell. "You don't know what it's like! You have no idea..."

Gizzy grips my arm firmly. "You were chosen for this because you are strong! And even if you think you aren't, you have to be strong! The entire country of America will fall without you! You will see your family again one day!"

"Yes, but they will live the rest of their lives thinking I've died!" I hiss. "There's a thin line between strong and heartless, and I have no intention of crossing it!"

Gizzy just looks at me coldly. I look back at her, rage burning behind my eyeballs, turning my vision red.

Slowly, my anger fades and Gizzy begins to smile again. "We shouldn't argue now," I say regretfully. "Look at this paradise! Why can't we just enjoy ourselves for now? Is time going to pass on Earth?"

"No," Gizzy says, giggling a little. "You're right, Axi. This is a timeless paradise. I won't get many chances to visit places like here, will I?" With a shriek of laughter, she grabs my hand and leaps off the huge rock.

I scream as we fall, sure that once we hit the ground, my neck will break and I will die in an imaginary world. But instead of plummeting to the ground, we float down very gently. I stare at Gizzy, stunned.

"Slow motion," smiles Gizzy, slowly. "Another one of your powers."

I laugh because her voice has become so deep. I close my eyes and enjoy the sunlight on my pale body.

Suddenly, I feel the keyhole sensation again. I open my eyes to see Gizzy and I shooting through a tube that looks like it's made entirely out of light. We're at normal speed again.

"What's happening?" I cry. "I didn't do this!"

Gizzy is looking extremely worried and... guilty? "It's my fault," she begins. "It should have told you--"

Just then, a hurricane-strength burst of wind tears Gizzy's hand from mine. "GIZZY!" I scream as she flies far ahead in the tube, arms flailing, and disappears from sight.

I start to sob, and clutch my arms to my chest. Gizzy is gone... I'm so afraid.

Suddenly, I decide on something so abruptly I stop crying. Gizzy told me to be strong. To stay strong. So strong I will be.

I don't start crying again, even when the tube of light fades and I find myself kneeling on a cold, rough stone floor, in complete darkness.

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