Astra Inclinant

I am Isabel Santoro. I'm twenty-five. I am a mass murderer. And I'm sitting in prison. I'm being forced to write my story. Here is Book 1.

Seventeen-year-old me is getting ready to graduate from high school. But I'm not like other kids my age. In fact, I am not like most humans. I have a super power. The twist? I don't want it. That is, until I learn that there are others like me in the universe. When I am at the end of her rope, ready to give up on this world, I am suddenly confronted by a mysterious agent for an agency called Gold Star Rising. He tells me that I need to be trained in their academy with other Gifteds, (humans and aliens with powers) to become a force to fight evil in the galaxy. Then he tells me that my father, who I haven't heard from in years, is in danger, and that I am the only one who can help to save him.

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2. Disappear

My name is Isabel Santoro. I'm sitting in a high security cell because I am one of the universe's worst criminals. This is how my story starts.

September, 2016

Kenosha, Wisconsin

I finally woke up to my phone's alarm clock one obnoxiously sunny morning in September after pressing the 'snooze' button half a dozen times. It was 7:28. I would be late for school. But I didn't rush. I listened for a moment, staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars that my seven-year-old self had decorated the ceiling with, and which were still there ten years later.

The house was still. My older sister, Marlena, had surely gotten up hours ago and was probably already in class at her beauty school. My mother was probably asleep after working the night shift the previous evening.

I sighed and heaved myself into a sitting position. My room was an explosion of clothes, papers, books, and other miscellaneous items. A row of glasses and mugs lined my windowsill, a dead fly floating in one of them. My mom had long since given up on trying to get me to be neater. I crawled out from my cozy nest and stumbled into the hall and then into the bathroom that Marlena and I shared. 

The image of myself in the mirror never ceased to disappoint me. I stared back at myself and struggled to mask the pain that was always in my light brown eyes.

Come on, I thought to myself. How many times do we have to go through this? Put on the mask.

I purposefully ignored the post-it notes and printouts of inspirational sayings that my sister had tactfully put up all over the mirror after she had found my diet pills.

"Your body is perfect the way it is," said one of them. I rolled my eyes and tried to brush the snarls out of my long red hair.

After another thirty minutes of makeup (foundation and concealer applied as heavily as possible in order to hide my numerous freckles), I walked back into my messy room and hastily pulled on the cutest outfit that I could find from the pile of clothes on my desk chair. I quickly surveyed my overflowing desktop, and after rejecting an old sandwich and a half eaten apple, spotted an open box of raisins which would have to do as breakfast.

I heaved my heavy backpack onto my shoulders. The sharp corners of my textbooks jabbed into my back through the bag's cheap material.

Walking wearily out the door of our small, ramshackle, town house, I jammed my headphones into my ears. Class had surely started by now, but it didn't bother me that I was late. It took me about fifteen minutes to walk to Bradford High School. I found my favorite playlist, filled with sad pop ballads and angsty punk rock hits.

I tried to ignore the sick feeling in my stomach as I came closer and closer to my high school. I had been going there since ninth grade. You think I'd be used to it now, but I wasn't. I hated every minute in those stale classrooms, just waiting for the bell to ring. Its not uncommon for a teenage girl to hate social interaction, and to feel invisible like I did, that I knew. But most teenage girls weren't like me. You see, I was different. Not different in all the regular ways: goth, punk, hipster, etc. No, I was different. As in, some days, I even doubted if I was human.

I passed through the parking lot filled with used cars and trudged wearily up the steps to the front doors. They were always locked during class hours, for security reasons. I pushed a button on the buzzer next to the door.

"Good morning," came a bored voice through the small speaker. I looked into the camera.

"Hey, sorry. Can you buzz me in? I'm late." This had become sort of a regular occurrence.

After being let in, I walked with all the motivation of a slug through a couple empty hallways. I reached my locker and glanced at the clock on the wall. 8:25. That meant ten demerits. I was already at 50 this semester, which had just started. I smiled grimly to myself. Wonder if I'll get kicked out before or after Thanksgiving.

"...and that brings us to the next category: velocity and its effects on-" my physics teacher broke off when he saw me enter the room. A couple heads turned, but most of the students were gazing off sleepily into nowhere and hadn't noticed me come in. I was used to not being noticed.

"Good morning, Miss Santoro," Mr. Johnson gave me a quick smile. "I assume you have a good excuse for being late today?"

"Same as always. Eight am is a fucking bad time for a physics." I felt a small spark of satisfaction when one of the jocks in class, Tyler, gave a snicker. Mr. Johnson sighed. He was one of those kind types who saw the good in his students (whatever that meant) and so rarely punished me for my attitude.

"Please no cursing in the classroom. But I agree with you. Take your seat," he gestured to the neat rows of desks in front of him. I silently took my place amongst the flock of other dead-eyed seniors. Every molecule in me wanted to explode. I hated it here. I hated the way that I felt so ugly, so small, so worthless, so invisible, and yet so hopeful that Tyler would notice me. It was pointless. I had been in love with the athlete since the tenth grade. But he hardly knew my name. Even if I didn't use my special ability, I was still invisible.

I made my way through the day without making any conversation. I had long since given up trying to fit in anywhere. The popular girls were way out of my league. The nerdy group had started to ignore me as soon as I admitted that I wasn't into reading books or playing video games. I wasn't athletic enough to make it onto any of the sports teams, and thus wasn't good enough to be noticed by the jocks. There really wasn't a place for a scrawny, red head with no special talents. Well, no special talents that I could show anyone.

That's another thing. I had a secret. Something I could never tell anyone, mainly because no one would believe me. And if for some miracle, someone gave me a chance to convince them that my story was true, I would be shipped off to some research lab and turned into meat on a petri dish. No, I could never show anyone what I could do. I was alone among these people. Among these regular, humans.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"You're looking a bit thin, Bel." Marlena cast a concerned look in my direction, her blue eyes shocking in the sunlight.

"You should keep your eyes on the road." I turned away from her and stared resolutely out my window. It was Marlena's habit to pick me up after school, no matter how much I insisted on walking home from school.

"Well, how was today?" she asked in a conversational tone. I glanced over at her.

"Oh, you know. Got an A on my English essay, enjoyed cheerleading practice, got a date this weekend. The usual." Despite my attitude, I felt a bit guilty when I saw the light smile on my sister's face disappear in a second.

"Bella..." she sighed.

"What? You know the answer is always going to be the same. I skated by. No one said a word to me, and I got maybe a few C-'s."

"You have a lot to look forward to," she gave me a doubtful smile. "Things will change when you find out what you want to do in life. College, or technical school, whatever it may be. You'll find your way. Please don't throw it away. You're almost done with this place."

"I know what I want to do." I mumbled. This was true. I had always known what I wanted to do. But the only people who could help me with my dream were either gone from my life or would move hell and earth to stop me.

"Bella we're not talking about this." Marlena's tone was dangerous. "We're not talking about him again."

"Who?" I taunted. "Oh, Dad? I think I'd like to talk about him very much, thank you."

My sister didn't answer but kept her eyes on the road.

"Where are we going?" I asked as she drove past our house. She didn't answer me.

"Bella. You have to forget all of this about chasing after Dad and you're dream of 'finding other people like you'," she held her fingers up in quotation marks while she said the last bit.

"It's easy for you to tell me this. You don't even care that Dad disappeared. You're not a freak like me!" I shouted. Marlena abruptly stopped the vehicle, parking on the side of a random street. I jerked forward in my seat and nearly hit my head on the dash.

"What the f-" I started but Marlena looked at me so intensely that I fell silent.

"Dad didn't disappear. He left us. As soon as you get that into your brain, all of this will get easier. I did it years ago and now I don't even think about him. And I never want to hear you say that you're a freak ever again." Her black curls were nearly bouncing with rage.

"Dad didn't leave us," I whispered, then got out of the vehicle. I heard Marlena get out of the car after me.

"Bella," she said in a warning tone. "Don't you dare turn."

But I didn't listen. I was a freak, and I was finished hiding it. I closed my eyes and let the pent up frustration flow through me. When I opened my eyes, nothing was different, but when I looked down at my body I nodded with satisfaction. I was completely invisible.

Yes, this was my special ability. My super power, if you will. I could turn invisible at will, not that I needed to half the time. No one had ever explained to me why I was like that. No one had ever come looking for me. I was just some weird freak of nature.

"Bella Santoro, you get back here!" commanded my angry sister, looking around in all directions.

Sorry, Mar, I thought as I walked out into the darkening street, no destination in mind.
 

 

 

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