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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1. The Right To Kill

 

I'm being watched. Not by the security cameras – I know where they are – and I can’t see any Peace Keepers that are on night patrol. No one is awake either; they're all snug in their hard bunks and thin sheets. Yet all the same, I have this unnerving feeling that someone or something is watching me. I feel exposed and violated under this invisible eye. Maybe I'm nervous? I stand not two hundred metres away from the fifteenth century fortress turned Leader Headquarters. It is rigged with the highest quality of security. Hundreds of cameras and Peace Keepers are on the lookout every second of every day and night for rogue Mutants. Watching me. Seems daunting to the untrained eye but this is much easier for me – I've lived here my entire life. I know every single inch of this camp.

            Slowly, slowly I close the door to bunkhouse seven as to not wake my bunk mates. I turn to face the Leader Headquarters. I take a deep breath, crouch down and cover the two hundred metre distance in a fraction of a second. I stop when I get to the fence. Not because I’m tired – I’m not – but to prepare myself mentally for what I am about to do. I shake off all feelings of doubt. I've been waiting my entire life to do this. Sixteen years of conjuring up many ways – in my mind – to kill my guardian.

            Breathe. I take off into a run again. I slip into a side entrance to the Leader Headquarters. I know exactly where his apartment is. I go up the staircase and enter a rather extravagant room on the first floor, where the only light source is a coal fire blazing in a stone grate; warm naphtha light glowing on carpets, leather chairs, polished wood. The wide windows overlook the camp that is blanketed in darkness. A man, a murderer, lying insentient on a black leather chaise lounge, has a bottle of scotch dangling from his fingers; its amber coloured contents drained and engulfed by the white rug. This man, this sorry man who desperately seeks the company of alcohol, happens to be the same man who had not showed any mercy to my best friend, Ryley, only two weeks ago. I close my eyes and shake my head to rid those too vivid images that are fresh in my mind.

            I scrunch up my face in disgust before kicking a bottle out of the way, the glass clanging against the polished rosewood leg of the oval table in which I have sat at in the past, promising to change my disobedient ways whilst crossing my fingers behind my back. I bite my lip and hold my breath, hoping that the man will not wake and find me here. If he does, then I will be in serious trouble - possibly flogged for the suspicion of being an undercover spy or assassin. He stirs. He groans and rubs his head against the arm of the chaise lounge.

            A sound. Very slight. Just a scrape of foot on carpet.

            Someone is here, someone other than me and the drunk. My eyes dart around the room. No one. Blood pumps hard in my ears and alarm bells ring inside my head. I have to act fast.

I dig deep into my combat trouser pocket and retrieve a gold ring engraved with the words 'The Final Solution'. I kiss the ring's smooth, shiny surface. “Activate,” I whisper, and the small gold ring turns bright red and then turns orange, orange to yellow, yellow to green.

            I balance the ring on the arm of the chair.

            “Goodbye, sir,” I say.

            His eyes open. The washed out blue eyes bore into mine with an expression that I cannot comprehend. I take a step back and hit my hip against the oval table.

            Nine

            I back into the large, ostentatious window and bang my head.

            Eight

            I step onto the windowsill.

            Seven

            I place one foot out of the window and balance it on the outside ledge.

            Six

            The other foot joins it and I make sure that I have a good grip on the drainpipe.

            Five

            My knees hug the drainpipe and once I am sure that I won't fall, I begin to descend.

            Four

            Adrenaline pumps around my body.

            Three

            Almost time.

            Two

            My feet make contact with the ground for only a quarter of a second before I am running, my surroundings becoming a blur – I am just the strong wind that is gone as fast as it appears. I am the Bullet. Nothing but light can surpass me. I lean against the brick wall of a bunk house, waiting.

            One

            The Leadership Headquarters explodes. Fire spawns erratic drafts in the still night. A moment later the glass shatters outward. The night grows bright. I never knew that there are so many colours in fire. I tremble slightly; reality sinking in. I begin to walk away from the scene but something or rather someone is waiting for me. Levelled with my forehead is the barrel of a gun.

            I look at its owner who is wearing a black jumpsuit and a round helmet that disorientates my reflection. A Peace Keeper. I take a step back, only to find that another gun is pressed against my spine. I glance to my left and then to my right just so that I can confirm my fears – I am surrounded by armed Peace Keepers, not that any Peace Keeper confronts a Mutant without a gun. I face the original Peace Keeper and tilt up the corner of my lips before running into it, sending it flying.

            I head in the direction of my bunk house but then I notice the Peace Keepers standing there. I halt, sending a spray of sand and stones into the air as I turn. I will go to the Peace Keeper Quarters. This will be the last place that they will expect me to be. I hope.

            I scale the dirty stone wall and roll onto the roof. I watch the smoke laddering up the night. Fumes on fumes, soot on soot, higher and higher into the sky.

            A sound. Very slight. Just a scrape of foot on tiles.

            I clamber to my feet. Keep calm; keep cautious. I've been training for an enemy encounter all my life. My skin prickles. My heart races. I pull my gun from the holster and urge my hands to stop shaking. An invisible enemy. I want to demand for them to appear. I want to put on a façade of confidence. I want many things but my tongue is dry and my throat is like sandpaper.

            He materialises in the darkness. The muscles in his face are tense. In his eyes is nothing more than a reflection of the fire. His grip on the gun relaxes slightly. He avoids my eyes and looks into the distance, watching the Leader Headquarters being consumed by fire.

            He sighs and shoves his gun back in the holster. His intense green eyes are void of emotion, as is his voice.

            “Why?

            There is no need for me to ask him to elaborate. The adrenaline that had pumped through my blood stream is no longer present. I feel cold now.

            “Ryley,” I say, barely above a whisper.

            His jaw locks and his eyes narrow. He pushes past me and stands on the edge of the roof.  I seize his wrist, but he breaks away from me. He bends his knees, prepared to jump.

            “Ryley, please,” I choke on a sob. “Don’t.”

            He straightens his legs.

            “Don’t,” he smirks and shakes his head in disbelief. “Don’t? How many times have I told you that?”

            I don’t reply.

            Ryley grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me. “Why? Why didn’t you just listen to me for a change?”

            “Ryley, I’m so sorry – ”

            “What’s the use of that? I don’t care if you’re sorry or not,” he lowers his voice. “You did it.”

            “I just wanted justice, Ryley,” I begin calm but then my lip quivers with accumulating anger. “How many people has he ordered to kill? How many people have suffered torture for punishments they were innocent of? How many people, Ryley? And I’m expected just to stand here and accept all of it!”

            “But you don’t.”

            “Unlike you. I never thought you to be a coward before now but –”

            I stop mid-sentence for Ryley’s impressive green eyes widen and panic crosses his face.

            “What’s wro-”

            “Get down!” Ryley yells before pushing me down and covering me with his body.

            He raises his right hand and makes a swift movement, just in time to block the oncoming bullet. I move away from Ryley and dive behind the raised part of the roof and take careful aim.

            I fire. The Peace Keepers’ uniforms enable them to be camouflaged against the night, but I hit one of them. A Peace Keeper falls back and dies.

            And then the fight begins. The crack of rifles, the whine of ricocheting bullets, the smell of cordite.

            “Zaida, we’ve got to move!” Even though Ryley is yelling, I can barely catch the words before they drown in the sea of bullets.

            I ignore him and instead pull the trigger, taking down two more unsuspecting Peace Keepers. I am pulled to my feet and dragged to the edge of the roof.

            “Keep hold of me!” Ryley orders and I wind my arms around him. “Now jump!”

            Just as we are about to jump, I hear a girl screaming. It is loud, yet strangely distant, and it echoes in my head. The once deafening wave of bullets is now on mute, the deadly metal pieces now dance to a soft symphony. Then, slowly, slowly, my senses return to me and I become aware of the commotion around me. And Ryley shaking me like a rag doll.

            “Zaida! Zaida!

            I blink once. I feel so, so cold. My hands are numb. I cannot feel the hard metal of the gun in my hands. My grip loosens and the gun falls loose, the barrel aimed at my feet and the safety catch off.

            “Zaida!

            My ears pop and I shake myself mentally and stare into those weary bright green eyes.

            “Come on!”

            “Ryley go; I’ll join you in a second!” I slip out of Ryley’s grasp.

            He does not shout after me. Or at least I don’t think he does.

            I run at the Peace Keepers, dodging the bullets. I can see myself in about twenty directions, the Peace Keepers stealing my face for their own. My fear, my determination, my bewilderment: they are all thrown back at me, taunting me at my recklessness for throwing myself into the unknown. The deep, dark unknown.

            I see it. A glistening silver light stands in contrast to the dark sky with no moon or stars for company tonight. It is a sort of veil, a small waterfall and I stop running without consciously doing so. Squinting, I try to peer through the silver light, but I am not successful.

            Everything comes crashing into me. Before I can take cover, I take a bullet.

            It feels like an explosion in my leg. For a second I am dazed, and then I come to my senses, with a torn ligament in my leg. Trying hard to block out the pain, I run off the edge of the building, but instead of falling several feet, I am momentarily suspended in the air before being gently placed on the ground below. I am greeted by Howard, a skinny pale boy who is blessed with the gift of telekinesis.

            Howard stares at me behind his thick lenses.

            “What were you doing?” Ryley shakes me once.

            “I thought… I did I…” The scream. I did hear it; I'm sure of it. But there is no time to explain anything, not with the Peace Keepers climbing down from the roof and coming after us. Ryley moves towards me but I step away, wincing because of the sharp pain.

“Zaida, you’re hurt, now let me carry you.”

            “No, I can walk perfectly well,” I say, but when I take another step, I gasp.

            Ryley catches me before I can hit the ground.

            “Yeah, so I can see,” Ryley rolls his eyes again before throwing me over his shoulder. “Your pride is worse than a guy’s.”

            We blend into the night and Ryley jostles me as he sprints. I bash my chin against his broad shoulder. Howard opens the door of a bunk house, most probably his and Ryley's, and Ryley rests me on his bed. He kneels down beside me and rolls up my trouser leg.

            “Right, I'm going to take the bullet out now.”

            I bite down on my lip. Hard. I claw at the bedding. Eyes closed and chin resting on my left shoulder. Ryley's deft fingers take out the bullet. A whimper escapes me.

            “Hey, you’ll be okay,” Ryley says, gently.

            I shake my head. “I’m a coward.”

            Ryley laughs and takes off his t-shirt, ripping it into make-shift bandages. “You’re anything but.”

            I sink my teeth into my shoulder, trying to block out the searing pain that travels from my leg and throughout my body, seeping into every crevice.

            “Zaida,” Ryley says softly but when I don't look at him, aggravation laces his tone. “Zaida, look at me. Look at me!”

            My eyes snap open and I scowl.

            “Although it hurts, it could have been worse," he says, his voice soft again. Mournful, almost.

            I see the scars from the flogging for the first time. My pain pales into insignificance. I touch the deepest, nastiest scar gently and Ryley pretends to not notice; he just carries on bandaging my gunshot wound that will not stop bleeding.

“Do they still hurt?” I whisper.

Ryley shakes his head. “No, not really,” he sounds so nonchalant yet I know so much better. I know Ryley so much better.

             “I’m sorry, you’ve been through worse than me and I’m moaning about this,” I shake my head and roll my eyes at how stupid I am. “You’ve been whipped for god’s sake.”

            Ryley does not respond.

            “I am so selfish.”

            Ryley’s face starts to distort and then the rest of my surroundings do as well. I blink rapidly and hold one hand to my head.

            “Ryley?”

            Sleep. Sleep. Sleep...

            A voice. A girl's voice.

            “Ryley? What's happening, Ryley?”

            My surroundings blur.

            “Ryley!”

            And then everything goes black.

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