Mutant (Updated version)

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.

*** I've edited these three chapters again and I would really appreciate it if you could read them and then tell me what you liked and what I could improve on. Thanks :)

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2. The Right To Believe

 

My eyes fly open a fraction of a second before the wake-up alarm starts.

            I lie there for several moments, my entire body paralysed. My eyes unblinking. I am on my back, staring up at the dirty white paint that is peeling off the ceiling. The bunk below mine creaks as one of the four girls who share bunk house seven reluctantly pulls herself out of that amorphous place between dreams and reality, responding to the incessant wailing from the speaker on the wall directly above the door. Ignoring the alarm: impossible.

            When my arms feel like they are mine again, I push myself up. I pull the duvet off me and the warmth is instantly leached into the frozen air. I swing my legs out to the side and compel myself to stand up. I flinch as the icy tendrils soar up my body when my bare feet touch the metal ladder.

            The alarm stops and the anthem of the New Order rings out whilst the residents of bunk house seven walk towards the wash room in the room adjacent whilst rubbing the crispy sleep from the corner of their eyes and yawning loudly, urging themselves to wake up. I stand on the wooden floorboards and look down. My clothes and skin are caked in dry mud.

            From last night.

            I fall to my knees and tug at my filthy vest top. I try to take deep, cleansing breaths but I have to stop when my head starts to spin. I will be fine. I will be fine. I will be fine. I will go for a shower. I will face whichever authority figure is waiting for me. I will be fine.

            I am out of the room and into the wash room before the parade of zombies. I claim the only shower. I peel my muddy clothes off me and I scarcely notice the freezing water that I know will never warm up. Dried mud slides off into the drain. I close my eyes and rest my head against the cubical, suddenly finding it very hard to breathe. My heart constricts and refuses to relax. I press my hand to my chest. It hurts. I almost wish that the tears will come because at least then I can feel. But they don’t.

            Breathe. I try and it comes out in short, raspy breaths. My chest aches with each breath but I force the air into my lungs. Focus, I need to focus on my breathing. I raise my eyes to the ceiling. Breathe.

            Someone hammers on the door and the sound makes me jump. My heart no longer feels tight. It’s beating fast.

            “Hurry up!”

            I stand up and almost slip. I turn off the shower and pull a clean towel around me before marching out of the wash room – leaving my clothes in a puddle of muddy water.

            A girl with shoulder-length black, spiky hair that falls into her eyes obstructs my path. She shoves a clean vest top and a pair of combats at me before walking away. I narrow my eyes, not quite sure what to make of what has just happened. I don't know what the girl is called (and I am pretty sure that no one does) but everyone calls her Spike, possibly because of her trademark hairstyle. Or her cold aura that is teamed with a death stare. Anyway, the point is that I don't owe anything to the strange girl so what is the reason for such an out of character favour?

            I find myself blocking Spike’s way a moment later. Spike raises one thin eyebrow.

            “I just wanted to say thank you for getting me some clothes,” I say.

            Spike shrugs nonchalantly and tries to walk past me but I grab her arm.

“Why did you do it? We have never even spoken before and you helped me out,” I can't help it – my curiosity gets the better of me. As always.

Spike shrugs again and tries to push past me, but I get in her way again. In fact, every time Spike makes a move to the door, I am in her face before she can even start to walk. I am aware that every time I do this, I am making Spike more and more irritable.

Then I hear Spike’s voice. Inside my head.

I’m hungry so if you don’t mind, I want to get some food. We’re in the hall for breakfast, by the way. Don’t ask.

She elbows me as she walks past. I don't move, shock paralysing me. This is the first time that I have ever known her to use her abilities on another Mutant outside of training. At the camp, it is compulsory for Mutants to take part in training activities to practise using their abilities in combat. I have seen Spike use her mind reading to know the moves her opponent was planning on doing before they did it so she could avoid getting hurt and attack them instead. But she has never used her telepathy outside of training.

I slip on my clean uniform and towel-dry my hair before taking a deep breath and exiting bunk house seven. I enter the day marked as a murderer.

*

            “And in two days’ time, Zaida will be arrested for murder.”

            I flinch as if I have been slapped. Did she just say what I think she said?

            “Calm down,” Felicity, or ‘Flick’, the blonde socialite Mutant who can see the future, rolls her eyes. “You remind me of a deer that is in a car’s headlights.”

            “What—” I shake my head, trying again. “What did you just say?”

             “Nothing, I just needed to get your attention,” Flick rolls her eyes again. “Why are you so jumpy this morning?”

            Even if I could come up with a reply, Flick starts speaking again.

            “Why are we in the hall this morning?” She grimaces. “Why don’t they just deliver some crappy breakfast to our bunks like they usually do?”

             “How should I know?” I reply, sounding far too hostile than I meant to. At least I’m managing to hide how I really do – my heart is beating so fasr that I want to throw up. Odd. I never thought that I'd care, not after dreaming about my guardian’s death all of my life. I wanted the murderer dead and what’s more, I didn't even give a damn if I was executed for it. But now that he is dead I feel… strange.

“Come off it Zaida,” Flick narrows her blue eyes, “we usually eat in the hall for dinner, not breakfast. Why has the Leader of Combat brought everyone here?”

The man who whipped my best friend is dead... so why am I not happy?

“Well?” Flick leans across the table and rests her chin on her fist. “You’re the Leader of Combat’s adopted kid so you must know what’s going on.”

I look down at my bowl of cold porridge and sigh before pushing it away from me. Unfortunately, I underestimate my Power of speed and push the bowl a little too hard. I watch the bowl tittering on the edge of the table before it crashes into a pool of sharp pieces of ceramic. A few heads from the nearest tables turn towards the crash and stare at me with a mixture of curiosity and surprise before turning back to their breakfasts, their ears still pricked for scandalous gossip. I grab a piece of Flick's dry toast and rip it with my teeth.

Flick, completely unaware of what has just happened, carries on with her babble. “Oh really, I may be blonde but I am not dumb; I know that something is on your mind and that something must be the reason why we’re in the hall at this ridiculous hour. So I’ll ask you again: what has happened and why do we have to meet up in the hall for breakfast? And this time I want the truth.”

I lean my left elbow on the table and balance my chin on a fist. I let my eyes drift beyond Flick’s suspicious glare and almost laugh for I would never have thought that a skinny boy with ridiculously thick lenses would be my saviour.

“Howard!” I straighten my back and wave him over.

He blinks twice, his eyes magnified by ten times their original size, before awkwardly shuffling over to the table, his breakfast tray balancing in his hands. When he reaches the table, he stands beside Flick, his eyes darting between Flick and me, me and Flick.

“Um...”

“Come and sit with us, Howard,” I mean to sound welcoming but to Howard I probably sound like yet another tormentor getting their daily hit from abusing the unfortunate.

“Um... ”

Flick smiles not unlike that of a predator luring its weak prey into its lair. She flings her blonde hair over her shoulder before patting the chair beside her. As she pouts, Howard’s face burns and his breakfast tray trembles in his hands. Howard glances around the hall before sitting down on the chair beside Flick. He looks down at his plate of dry toast and carton of milk, trying to make himself appear as small as it is humanely possible.

“Howard.”

Responding to his name as an obedient dog would, Howard’s head snaps back up. His facial expression displays a range of emotions: confusion, fright and… Curiosity.

            “I need to… I need to talk to you about that thing later,” I say, aware of those sharp ears around me.

Howard blinks and his face is blank. “What?”

“You know what I’m on about.”

Blink. Blink. Blink.

“The Leader Headquarters?”

Blink. “What about it?”

“It… Oh well I bet everyone saw it happening so I might as well say it out loud.”

Blink. Blink. “What are you going on about?”

“Oh don’t act so dumb! You saw it happen; in fact everyone saw it happen: the Leader Headquarters exploded, a bomb was inside.”

What?!” Flick and Howard lean over the table.

“What do you mean by ‘what’?”

“What do you mean by ‘the Leader Headquarters exploded’? What are you going on about?” Flick demands.

At first, I think that Flick is being sarcastic, but I soon dismiss that idea as her face is twisted into such disbelief that I cannot deny or challenge her ignorance.

“Maybe you’re a really, really deep sleeper,” I say to Flick before turning to Howard, “but you must have seen the explosion; you were stood right next to me when we were running away from the Peace Keepers.”

Flick smirks. “You were dreaming, Zaida.”

“No I wasn’t! I’m telling you the truth. The Leader Headquarters did explode.”

“A dream, Zaida. It was all a dream.”

And then it dawns on me. I prop my leg up on the empty chair beside me and roll my combats up my leg, trembling with the excitement at the notion of proving that last night was not a dream, could not have possibly been a dream. But there are no strips of t-shirt binding a gunshot wound. Only a few couple of days old bruises and scars.

“But… I don’t understand. I thought that I’d been shot last night. I was shot last night. By a Peace Keeper.

“Like I said before, it was just a dream.”

“But no I – ”

The New Order anthem comes onto the speakers and drowns out the argument. Everyone clambers to their feet, the screeching from the chairs being pulled back against the wooden floor echoes around the vast hall. People begin to whisper whilst some try to discreetly wipe porridge or bread crumbs from around their mouths. This is it. This is when they'll announce his death and the investigation will begin.

Two Peace Keepers pull the grand double door open and then he is there. The Leader of Combat. Without even a scratch on his face.

Mouth agape, eyes wide: I have seen him pull some rather extraordinary stunts in my life, but never has he cheated death. Especially when he was hung over and couldn't possibly have had a clue to what was happening.

I only realise that I'm the only one stood up when Flick grabs my hand, pulling me down to my seat. My eyes do not leave the Leader of Combat. Bewilderment. Shock. Outrage. It all runs through my blood stream like a drug. My body shakes as though I have overdosed on emotion.

            “Mutants!” The Leader of Combat takes the microphone off its stand. “I know you’re all wondering why I’ve brought you into the hall and I won’t keep you, I promise.” He walks up and down the raised platform. “I need tell you with much regret that I must leave the camp temporarily and return to the Central.”

            On cue, whispers circulate the hall and the Leader of Combat allows this to last for a few seconds before he carries on speaking. “It is nothing to worry about, I can assure you,” he stops pacing. “It is just a meeting that involves the Highest Leader and me to discuss some things, although nothing that any of you need to concern yourselves over,” his eyes linger on mine for a few seconds before turning away. “I shall return in two days and I will leave later today. Thank you to you all for listening and I will not keep you from eating your breakfast for a moment longer.”

            The New Order anthem blasts out of the speakers as the Leader of Combat exits the hall. I watch after him until the Peace Keepers slam the doors shut.

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