The Trials

When an insane Prime Minister reads The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, he gets inspiration from them and creates the Trials for every Year 11 student to face. Every year, one is held in every school. 240 go in, and 1 comes out.
200 years later, Tamara Hensworth has a good life. She has good grades, good friends, and her heart set on a cute boy. But as the year begins, her life falls into ruin. The Trials bring destruction, despair, and most importantly, death, meaning Tamara is most likely going to end up dead, along with her friends and her boyfriend.
Tamara needs to fight for survival, but it's hard against people she's known her whole life. But what can she do? Die saving someone else's life or live and be responsible for many other's deaths?
This Movella was shortlisted for Movella of the year 2012 :) thanks to everyone who nominated me or voted for me!
Cover by Zoe Nightshade from World of Covers :)


17. Wand

The ‘Wand’ is a long, thin, circular piece of metal. It is sleek and silver and cool to the touch. The surface is reflective, so in this hall it has warped images of other students as its decoration. In the middle is a black screen, and next to it is an assortment of buttons. I decide to wave it around a bit, like an actual wand, to get a feel for it. It is surprisingly light. It’s sort of like the batons we would use for relay races.

“This is your own, personal Wand.” Roberta says to us. “That is right. You get to keep it! It is yours now.” We smile at her sadly. Yes, that is quite cool, but it doesn’t compensate for the fact that misusing it will most likely kill us.

“I would give you a tutorial, but instead we have decided to dedicate today to having you explore the functions of the Wand yourself. What is the point of me telling you how to use it when you can work it out for yourself? Well, I should hope that you can teach yourself about it. If you cannot, then I do not see your survival as a likely occurrence. The Wand is highly important for the tests ahead. Anyway, you should begin. I wish you luck.” And with that she dismisses us. All the friendship groups immediately form around the hall. Working in groups is a good idea, right?

Our group sits down as soon as we are all together. I am squished between Carolyn and Clarissa, who seem eager to discover the secrets of our machinery.

Phoebe takes charge immediately. She starts by saying “Who wants to –” but then she is cut off by an electrical buzzing and a scream. The room falls silent as we all turn to the source of the noise. Felicity Macias from room F17 has one hand over her mouth but has the other on her Wand, which is sending out an electric current. The current is hitting Felicity’s friend, Saskia McCables from F8, who is letting out the most horrific scream into the air. Nobody rushes to help her. We all stay in silence, watching Saskia suffer. But, just as suddenly as it started, the current shuts off and Saskia stops screaming and freezes in place, occasionally twitching. Her already frizzy hair is sticking up wildly and her jumpsuit is still buzzing with the current.

The NurseBots then come in from the side and drag her away. She still is silent and still, only shaking slightly. Her eyes are hazy and more white than usual. The door closes behind her and we keep silent too. We are stunned. Does the Wand really have the power to do that? It suddenly makes sense to me why they didn’t give us a tutorial first. It’s yet another torture the school has developed.

“Saskia is not dead.” Roberta says finally. Every head turns to stare at her. “She is just in shock. She will be fine. She will be back later.”

I should hope so.

“Felicity...” Roberta starts with disappointment and anger in her voice. We all know what’s coming. Felicity is shaking, still with her hand over her mouth. She hasn’t moved at all. “The stun mode is a feature of the Wand. Outside of training it is not permitted, so I suggest you use it while you have the chance. However, we are not teaching how to use this feature just yet in the course. Well done for finding the feature so quickly, Felicity.” None of us move. Did Roberta just... congratulate Felicity for electrocuting her friend? I stare at the Wand in my hand, realising what kind of power it contains. I turn it over in my hands once more; thinking about what other features will be discovered. “There are many destructive features on the Wands, and you will learn to use them all. In normal lessons and out of class they will be disabled. Today every mode is enabled. Good luck trying to find them. Good luck trying to avoid them.” I freeze. My friends exchange worried looks. We have no idea what kind of killing these Wands are capable of, and we could activate these modes without even trying today. We could easily hurt a friend.

And we can’t just sit and not use it either. If we don’t attempt to use the buttons then we’ll get executed! We’re being forced into using them and risking the safety of our friends.

The chatter from the other students begins again, but it is uneasy. I look to Phoebe. She gulps.

“Well, I think the best thing to do would be to press a button each, one at a time. We can’t press them all randomly. We just need to hope that we don’t get shocked by the person next to us, or worse.”

“So this is basically a sort of Russian Roulette?” Sophia comments, slightly angry.

“Hopefully without the death, yes.” Phoebe answers, surprisingly calm. “We’ll go clockwise, and I’ll go first. Are you ready?” We all nod; some of us bravely, some of us shaking with fear. “Good. There are 12 buttons. That’s one for each of us, and then we can press more than one at once. I’ll do the top one, and then we’ll go down systematically.” She then presses the top button quickly, making both Helena and Hilda quiver. Fortunately all that happens is the screen turning on. A flash of blue light illuminates Phoebe’s face. Helena and Hilda let out a sigh of relief.

“If it’s any help at all,” Carolyn suddenly interjects. “I think if the Wand is going to shoot you or anything like that, it’ll only be from the right side. There is a slight opening there. So basically only Hilda had to worry about that shock.” We all examine our Wands and we realise that she’s right. I guess that makes it a little easier to bear. Only Carolyn has the chance to maim me.

There is another shriek from the other side of the room. This time it’s Madison Powell from room F18. She too has been shocked and she is quickly wheeled from the room with glassy eyes. We turn back to our own game and we continue.

Helena’s button makes a small knife erupt from the end of her Wand. Luckily Phoebe’s arm is nowhere near it, so it doesn’t cut her. I see other groups have not been so lucky, as Caleb Graham and Jasper Kenny have both got tiny pools of blood below their arms. Stephanie’s button shoots out the beginning of a thread, and Clarissa’s doesn’t do anything at all. Then it’s my turn. Shakily, I press my thumb into the fifth button down, and the screen turns to one with a picture of Clarissa. I realise that whoever you point it at when you press it makes a data sheet come up all about them. The others are intrigued, but it doesn’t put me at rest. Now it’s Carolyn’s turn which puts me in the line of fire. I tense when she taps the small, silver button. Nothing happens. I breathe out and my tension decreases briefly. She grins at me uneasily before Sophia can have her go.

Yet another scream. It’s Desmond Thorn from room M20. I smile. He is rude and a general bully, so I find his pains a little more tolerable.

But then I realise the circumstances.

Connor Trapnell from room M11 is, sort-of, my own personal enemy. He has always felt in competition with me academically. Me, Clarissa and Carolyn were all academic high scorers, with M*E scores in the 900’s, a rare occurrence. Conner was like us too, except he did everything in his power to make himself look better than everyone else I our classes. He was a teacher’s pet, and very charismatic, so he had a lot of friends. Because of his attitudes, however, he was still hated by many. He genuinely believes he’s above everyone else! He still thinks this, especially now he is 3rd highest scoring in our year.

Desmond is screaming in immense pain, arched over on the floor. His back is covered in blood from a stab wound. A random setting on our Wand couldn’t have caused it; it would have had to be done on purpose. There are drops of blood leading back a couple of steps before ending at Connor’s feet. His wand is coated in the same blood. He still has the knife extended. He grins at us all with an evil glint in his eyes. We stare at him in shock. How could he do this? Why would he do this? He’s going to get killed for it, literally.

“Roberta did say that we could use the dangerous settings if we wanted.” He says casually, still with a disturbing grin plastered on his face.

“Outside of training these settings are not permitted, so I suggest you use it while you have the chance.”

She did say that. Holy shit.

Desmond is still screaming as he is dragged away by the nurses. Connor looks on smugly. I don’t know how quite to react. I dislike Desmond, but that still doesn’t give Connor the right to attack him.

After a moment of silence Roberta finally reacts.

“You are Connor Trapnell, correct?”

“Yeah. You shouldn’t need to ask.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You should have been told about me. I’m obviously one of the highest predicted students for the Trials.”

Still as stuck up as usual, I see. Why on earth would he try to talk to Roberta like this though? He is only making the situation worse for himself.

“Yes, I have heard of you. I have heard a lot about you.” He smiles again as she says this.

“I’m sure they’re all good things Rob. Can I call you Rob?”

“No, Connor. My name is Roberta, and you have no right to call me anything other.” In any other situation the year would be laughing at him, finally happy that a teacher saw him as something other than a high prospect. But we all stay completely silent, staring at him, or the blood that drips onto the floor beside him. “And I can assure you that the things that I have heard have not been all that positive. Sit down at the side of the room, Connor. I can’t take you to the execution room just yet, so you will have to sit out until then.” His face drops. The Wand falls out of his hand, now pale, and it hits the blood-covered ground with a metallic clunk. He nods and slowly walks to the side of the room with a hanging head. None of us take our eyes off him.

With that Sophia presses her button and Carolyn jumps. I turn to her quickly, to make sure she’s okay. Luckily she is, so I let out a sigh of relief. The button made the end of Sophia’s Wand open. After closer inspection, we decide it is a sort of water container.

“Sorry to make you jump, Carolyn. Just wanted to get that over and done with.” Sophia confesses, so Carolyn simply smiles at her and we carry on.

Lana goes next. This one turns the display round 90 degrees. Belinda’s makes it turn 90 degrees anti-clockwise. Not very exciting, but I guess it is important.

Then Eleanor presses hers. Belinda is braver than us. She doesn’t even quiver when the button is pressed. She even smiles at us when nothing happens.

But something does happen.

We see it on her arm first. A blue blotch has appeared around her skin. It grows quickly, taking her lower arm, and soon it has engulfed her shoulders. I am about to cry out, but as soon as the words appear on my tongue it’s too late. Belinda has been frozen solid.

She is still smiling, despite her obvious peril.

She, too, is hauled away by the NurseBots while we stare in stunned silence. Eleanor is shaking wildly as we watch Belinda join the other casualties. Her skin is turning paler slowly inside her transparent prison.

Even as she is dragged into the medical quarters she is still smiling.


We didn’t press the last two buttons. We didn’t even try the other combinations. We just sat in silence for the rest of the day. Occasionally there would be another piercing scream, as someone else would get the short straw.

Almost as soon as the game restarted after Belinda’s episode it stopped. Elijah Murray was yelling and shaking his arm for a few seconds, before he broke down crying and clutching it. As he was pulled away I saw the bubbling purple liquid festering on his skin. Acid.

We found out that the eleventh and twelfth buttons were the ‘shock’ and ‘acid’ functions, so we didn’t bother pressing them. We didn’t want to see Miranda-Louise and Hilda taken away too. Having Belinda frozen solid was enough trauma for us.

Turns out it was traumatic for everyone else too. No one else was frozen.

By the end of it all, there had been 18 people shocked, 12 people burned by acid, 1 person frozen and 1 person stabbed. An additional 7 people were taken away after fainting or throwing up. The two boys who had been stabbed in the arm were part of this group. 39 students in total.

The shock victims came back in from the medical quarters near the end of the session. The one’s attacked by acid were back quite quickly, as were the one’s who fainted or threw up. Belinda and Desmond both did not return.

“I’m so sorry.” Eleanor says quietly to us as we walked to Roberta in the middle of the hall. It was the first thing she had said since it had happened.

“You don’t need to apologise.” I say back, my voice barely a whisper.

The people called for execution are Connor (for obvious reasons), Regina (who shocked Madison), Evangeline (I’m not sure about why she was picked), Colin (who accidently stabbed Oscar) and, surprisingly, Desmond. He is pulled out of the medical quarters in a panic. Just before he is rushed away, I see that his back is completely healed. Why didn’t he come back for training if he was better?

I don’t care. All I need is to get back to my dorm. With the Wand in hand I run away from the hall as quick as I can.


We get an announcement later about the choice for execution. We all knew it was going to be Connor, so we only half listened to it.

“Today we took Desmond Thorn.”

My eyes open wide.



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