What happens when everything you love changes for the worst?

Danielle Miles wants to be normal. She wants to feel normal.
And yet she can never be normal because of her secret; the one thing she despises about herself most of all.
But what happens when she if forced to use her secret to help others who are just like her?
Who are... different.


4. Thirteen: Chapter Three

I stretched my sore muscles and my palms brushed against cold wall. I yawned and shivered, turning onto my stomach. If I could get a few more hours sleep-
    "Danielle!" Naida yelled. I shrieked, fell off the bed and onto the hard floor. I clutched my stomach and opened my eyes to see Naida's smug face. "Oh good, you're up. Listen, I'm gonna have a look around so you do whatever you want," She skipped to the door, seeming to be in a good mood, grabbed the door handle but hesitated. "Just... don't get into any trouble"
    "I wouldn't bet on it" I grinned and she rolled her eyes and walked out the door. Pulling myself into an upright position, I lent against the side of the bed and rubbed my eyes. Do I try and get more sleep or do leave before they come to get me? I wouldn't want to be asleep if they did come. Shivering, I jumped up and examined my clothes.
    My jeans were splattered with mud and my shirt was frayed at the edges. Someone had stolen my favourite jacket and my trainers were no longer white.
    I looked around but the only things there were two beds and one nightstand. Yanking each draw out, I found a pile of clothes in one and a pair of shoes in another. When I got out the orange jumpsuit and investigated it. A black number Thirteen was printed on the breast pocket. Sighing, I dragged my clothes off and pulled the black t-shirt over my head. I tugged the jumpsuit on, tied the arms around my waist and slipped into the black chunky shoes.
    Once I'd shoved the dirty clothes under the pillow I grabbed a brush from the nightstand and dragged it through my tangled hair. I caught my reflection in a mirror hanging on the wall and my mouth fell open.
    My hair was black. It was a crazy mass of black mess abstracting with my pale face and a fringe that fell into my red eyes. My eyes had changed from brown to red! I held my breath and concentrated on the image of my real look but my appearance didn't change. I tried again, shutting my eyes and picturing my look so vividly I could've been thinking about someone else. Opening my eye slightly I saw I still looked the same and heaved a huge sigh, glaring at my reflection as if it had personally offended me.
    "This isn't my day" I groaned and stepped out into the hallway, my shoes thudding on the floor.
    I paused outside the door. What do I do? I didn't know how to get around without being pulled on chains and I didn't know what was here in Nova; I'd never even heard of it and I wasn't going to be asking scientists for directions.
    "I should look around" I decided out loud. I started walking down the hallway and made mental notes on everything around me. After the incident I realized these guys were prepared for anything so I knew it was a good idea to get used to every twist and turn so I was ready for anything they threw at me.
    I stalked down a corridor slowly and shivered as I stared into the cages embedded in the walls. Each cage held odd-looking bright creatures and but one cage caught my eye in particular.
    There was a guy.
    He had light brown hair long enough to cover one eye and was sat bent over in the middle of the cell. The veins in his arms stood out against his pale skin and his jumpsuit had a number nine printed on the breast pocket. His jaw was clenched and his palms were flat on the floor. I got closer to the bars and his head shot up, revealing large turquoise eyes that burned into mine with curiosity.
    I took a deep breath to pull myself together and smiled at him. "Hi" My voice still shook slightly as I spoke and he shot forward, grabbing the bars in his iron grip. His knuckles turned white and he growled deep in his throat when I jumped back.
    "Why are you here?" He released his grip and let his arms fall to his sides, never taking his eyes off mine as if he were searching for something. I took a cautious step forward and he flinched.
    "I-I don't-" I gulped. "Why are you in a cage?" I shoved my hands into the pockets of the jumpsuit and stepped an inch closer. His eyes took on a darker edge and an odd sound escaped his throat.
    "I eat people" He grabbed me through the bars and yanked me towards him, burying his head into my neck. I gasped and held my breath, paralyzed by fear.
    He was actually going to eat me. I was going to die being mauled by a guy behind the bars for a reason. Why did I have to trust him? Why did hope in everyone I came across?
    And now I was going to die because I was stupid.
    Just as I shut my eyes and went limp he released and threw me to the floor.
    "You're a shapeshifter" He sighed, rather disappointedly. I tried to calm my beating heart and breath normally as he stared at me with his big blue eyes.
    "Y-Yes, I am," I shook my head, almost believing I wasn't a shapeshifter because of how dazed I was, and scrambled to my feet. "The hell was that?!" I screamed, growing confidence when he was away from me.
    "Sorry," He sat on the floor and crossed his legs. "As I was saying, I'm in here 'cause I eat people"
    "I can see that," I rubbed the back of my neck and tried to smile at him. "So..." I rocked on my heels, feeling awkward. "What's your name?"
    "Merlin" The half smile never left his face and I bit my lip.
    "Merlin? Isn't that the name of a wizard?" I asked. I was probably being very ignorant by asking but I was curious.
    He laughed. "Yeah. I wasn't named after him though. People called me that so I assumed that was my name," His voice went quiet, probably remembering something about his life outside Nova. I opened my mouth to speak but he interrupted me. "Sorry, I presume you just got here so you don't need me ruining the greatest experience of your life," He laughed bitterly and his expression turned sour. "Anyway, what's your name?"
    "Danielle, but call me Dani," I grimaced. "I hate when people call me Danielle. It sounds too posh"
    Merlin laughed. "At least it's better than Merlin"
    "There's nothing wrong with Merlin," I smiled. I remembered what I'd been doing in the first place and sighed. "I have to go," His smile dropped and he stood up and walked over to the bars. I started walking down the corridor and turned to wave. "Bye Merlin"
    "Bye Danielle" He smirked the grin I was already used to and I stuck my tongue out.
    "I'll get you back for that" I smiled and started running down the rest of the corridor. I didn't want to see anymore of the sad locked up creatures. That's when I decided I would get them out. Just like Merlin and anyone else trapped here against their own will.
    I'd get them out.
    I slid to a halt when I came across a white door with a circular frosted window. I peered through the glass and saw it was some kind of lunch room, with a high ceiling and a lunch bar going across the left side of the room. There were seven long metal tables aligned perfectly in two lines and one against the wall. It looked as if no one was in there but I still cautiously pushed the door open and stuck my head in.
    There can't be that many people here. I thought, examining just how long the tables were. I slipped through the gap and went over to the lunch bar. It was empty, shining as if it had just been cleaned. Searching the cabinets underneath I came up with a crushed box of Shreddies and looked inside.
    "I wouldn't do that if I were you," I jumped as someone reached over me and took the box. "Sebastian won't like it if you eat his cereal" I spun round and craned my neck to look at the man towering over me. He looked about eight foot tall, with one huge hand holding the cereal box and the other in his trouser pocket. His hair was long and bright blonde and his soft purple eyes looked at me with amusement. He was dressed in the jumpsuit trousers and a plain shirt.
    "I wasn't going to eat them," I straightened my back, trying to make myself bigger so I didn't feel as insignificant as I did in his presence. "I was just looking around" I snapped, my voice shaking as he continued to eyeball me with large eyes. He raised an eyebrow and put the box back in its original place.
    "You're the new girl, aren't you?" Before I could answer a glowingly beautiful girl waltzed into the lunch room, IPod booming out some unknown song. She didn't walk normally; she skipped as if she were happy and she looked to be a little bit taller than me.
    She went straight for the chocolate Shreddies and poured some into a bowl she found in the cabinet. Her thick curly black hair bounced about as she danced on the spot to her music and her dull grey eyes darted over the empty trays. She wore the same jumpsuit as me, having had the same idea and tying the sleeves around her waist, and a plain white t-shirt. Her trainers squeaked on the shiny floor as she danced about to the song.
    The girl smiled at the guy with bright white teeth and fished around in the cabinet. "Morning Derek," She dug deeper, getting her head right in. "God, there are no spoons in this place..."
    "Good morning Lexi," Derek sat down at the table near the wall and picked up the newspaper that had been left askew. "And good morning to you, honey" He said brightly when a equally beautiful woman walked in. Her beauty was less obvious than Lexi's but it was there needless to say. She looked amazing with intense orange hair and joyful pink eyes behind her round glasses. She sat next to Derek and smiled.
    "Morning sweetie," She leaned in for a kiss but stopped when she spotted me standing awkwardly. "Is this Danielle?"
    "Yes, I'm Danielle. But please call me Dani" I sat down at the table and fiddled my thumbs, still feeling very awkward. Lexi still searched furiously so I got up and helped her, looking in the cabinet next to her. I found the spoons instantly and passed her one and she raised her eyebrow. I sat down at the table again and Derek kept looking up from his newspaper, obviously not interested in whatever he was reading, and the woman stared confusingly at me.
    "Oh, my name's Saffron. I'm Derek's wife" Saffron stuck out her hand and I shook it. We sat in silence for a while, the only sound being heard was Lexi eating her breakfast.
    "If you don't mind me asking, but what's wrong with you?" I looked over my shoulder at her perched on the edge of the counter with her legs crossed. She'd removed her ears bubs and discarded the silent IPod next to her.
    "Excuse me?"
    "I think what she meant to say was why are you here. You look like a normal human to me" Derek folded his newspaper and put it to one side.
    "I meant what I said otherwise I wouldn't have said it" Lexi murmured. Derek ignored her and watched as I had trouble putting it into words.
    "I'm, well, I'm kind of a shapeshifter" I said, still feeling very out of place.
    "What does kind of mean?" Lexi left her dirty bowl in a tray and put one headphone back in, pressing play.
    "It means I'm not a fully fledged shapeshifter. I can't use a person's or animal's ability while in my human state. I should be able to once I'm older" I shrugged. After that everyone fell into silence again. The only sounds were faint crash's that sounded like a heavy object being thrown.
    "Who's training today?" Saffron asked casually.
    "Sebastian got Rufus to train. He can't leave the guys alone; I'm surprised he hasn't got you to train yet, Derek" Lexi laughed, through the expression on her face told me she didn't like training.
    Derek chuckled but Saffron sighed, not finding it even slightly funny. "He never takes a break," She shook her head and stood up, putting on a exasperated smile. I knew just by the look that she was tired of the way someone was acting. "How about I show you around, Dani? You can meet the other subjects"
    "Other subjects? There's more?" I asked. Saffron didn't answer; she just towed me out by the arm.



I winced when the body hit the gym wall for a third time with a crack. He slid down to the floor and picked himself up sluggishly. Wiping some blood from the corner of his mouth, he grinned and raced towards the other guy. He slammed into him and I felt the pain myself.
    "You can't stand around and let them do this!" I yelled, starting to run towards the two fighting guys. Saffron wrapped her arms around my waist and held me back.
    "The one with the cute face is Rufus, my boyfriend" Lexi pointed to the guy on the floor as if he hadn't just got thrown down like a rag doll. He looked up and grinned at her. I struggled against Saffron's arms and did notice his great platinum blonde hair and oval face with big cheekbones that did make him look cute. His eyes were the same shade of grey as Lexi's. I also noticed the muscles you could clearly see underneath his shirt. Rufus jumped up and tackled the other guy.
    "And the other one is Sebastian" Lexi pointed to the guy hanging upside from one of the ropes attached to the ceiling. He looked at me when Lexi mentioned his name.
    I thought he was too attractive to be in a place like this; he looked like he belonged on the pages of a men's fashion magazine than in a research facility. His hair was thick and blonde and gelled to have cute flicks around his oval shaped face. He looked tall and his body looked perfect and well-toned underneath his t-shirt and his eyes were the deepest green I'd ever seen.
    My fighting stopped once he'd captured me with his emerald eyes, unable to look away from him. He'd stopped too and was letting Rufus' endless calls wash over him as he examined the depths of my soul through his eyes.
    He suddenly jumped from the rope and landed on Rufus. Once he'd released me from his stare I pulled against Saffron's arms.
    "Let me go!" I ordered. Sensing the desperation in my voice Saffron let go at once and I pushed myself towards the fighters. When Sebastian had jumped from the rope he'd had a look that was searching for blood. Whatever I did he wanted to take it out on Rufus.
    But I wasn't about to let that happen.
    I slammed into Sebastian and felt the air leave his chest, forcing him to the ground as Lexi helped Rufus. A large purple bruise started forming around Rufus' left eye and his lip was split, producing red blood. He held onto Lexi for dear life as Sebastian tried to rip my arms from his waist.
    "I don't think I'll be fighting for a while Sebastian. I'll fight the new girl instead," He adjusted his arm across Lexi's shoulder. "She seems to be holding you down" Sebastian growled and tried to lunge at Rufus. He tripped on my leg and rolled me onto my back, landing on top of me and causing a hot blush to creep its way onto my face.
    No boy had ever been like this with me before.
    Realizing what he'd done, he stopped writhing and helped me to my feet, never letting go of my elbow.
    "What you doing there, Sebby?" Lexi smirked and I took the chance to look back up into his mesmerizing eyes. What was wrong with me? I was addicted to them and I'd just met him. "Playing with little Dani, are we?"
    "Shut up!" Sebastian yelled. He pushed me aside, making me fall to the floor again, and stalked away. As soon as he was far enough he pelted it the rest of the way down the corridor and disappeared from view.
    "Thanks for the help Dani" Rufus held out a hand but I waved it away. I got myself up and Lexi put an arm around my neck.
    "That was cool, I'll admit. I've never seen anyone able to keep Sebastian down"
    "Oh, it was nothing" I smiled but I still stared at where he'd run, willing him to come back. He didn't like me and it made me feel as if I'd done something wrong. But that wasn't going to change anything; I was still going to save him.
    I was going to save everyone.
    Rufus stumbled and Lexi grabbed him, holding onto fistfuls of his t-shirt. We needed to get Rufus help before he hurt himself even more. He tried to object but everyone agreed with me that he needed to be treated properly instead of 'healing in his own time' as he'd put it. With that, Lexi helped him out of the gym.
    "Don't worry, Rufus. We'll be at the infirmary soon" Saffron assured him and he grunted in reply. Saffron had put Rufus' right arm around her neck when she noticed Lexi struggling on her own. The bruise around his eye had taken on a darker edge, turning a deep purple, and was spreading across the left side of his face. The blood had dried and was now crackling around his lips.
    What had Sebastian done to produce a bruise like that?
    "We're here!" Lexi breathed a sigh of relief, pushing open one of the shiny double doors. I held the door open for everyone when something caught my attention down the corridor. I squinted, looking into the darkness. I was sure something had been there... "Dani! Get in here!" I frowned and stepped into the infirmary.
    The infirmary was so clean. I couldn't understand how it glowed with cleanliness when there was mold growing on top of mold in the hallway. The floor was covered in shiny white tiles and plastered across the white washed walls were grey posters, telling us to get our flu jab and informing us that cancers kills. I noticed a sign above the door which read, 'Always be the healthiest you can be so we can test on you efficiently'. That was probably Nova's slogan.
    "Morning Pete. Sorry I'm late" Rufus smiled weakly and made his way slowly to the bed.
    "I knew this was going to happen when you agreed to training with Sebastian" The doctor turned around to reveal himself as cute guy who made my jaw drop. Why were all the Subjects really good looking?!
    He looked considerably older than me and yet his skin was perfect and smooth, not a wrinkle or spot to be found on the tanned surface. He wore a white lab coat that hung to his body just right and an orange jumpsuit with a large black four printed on the breast pocket. His brown hair was thick and untamed and glasses were perched on his nose. The weird thing was not just the pupils of his eyes were black; the whites around the pupils were black as well, giving him the look of no eyeballs in his sockets.
    Lexi helped Rufus onto the bed and the doctor went to work. He cleaned up Rufus' lip and applied a plaster. He quickly wiped Rufus' eye with a surgical wipe and carefully stuck a larger plaster over it. He then wrapped bandage upon bandage over the plaster. Once he was finished he scraped the wrappers off the table and into a silver bin.
    "You know I was going to say this but you shouldn't train for a while. Sebastian messed your face up so much that next time he'd probably kill you," The doctor laughed but dropped his smile immediately when he noticed me crossing my arms and looking seriously unimpressed. He raised an eyebrow and slipped his gloves off. "Who's this?"
    "This," I cut in before Saffron could answer. "Is Danielle Miles. But call me Dani" A wide smile appeared on his face at the mention of my name.
    "Oh, you're number Thirteen! Well, I'm Peter Baker. Call me B12 though; everyone does"
    My eyebrows furrowed. "Why do they call you B12?"
    "Just a nickname. So, why are you here?" He asked, sitting down in the desk chair.
    "I'm a shapeshifter" I shrugged.
    His eyebrows rose. "Awesome. Well, sorry guys, I have to get back to work" He started tapping away at the keyboard of his beat up computer.
    "Actually, we need to talk to you. Dani, could you..." Rufus trailed off.
    "I get the hint," I nodded and headed out of the infirmary. "Bye guys" I stalked down the long corridor, already used to the grey paint and the shadows. It kind of reminded me of a very creepy abandoned hospital.
    "Hi" Someone said. I turned around and the first thing I saw was the medium-length bright rainbow hair of a girl around the same age as me. She looked thin and her face was cute and heart shaped, with a side fringe going across her right eye. Her hair was definitely the more noticeable thing about her, compared to her eyes, which were a dull black.
    "Hi" I grinned back. Maybe she was another Subject.
    "What's your name?" The huge smile never left her face.
    "My name's Dani" She looked so different to the people I was used to but she seemed sort of familiar. I just couldn't place her...
    "Cool name. Is that just Dani or is your name Danielle or something?"
    "Danielle but I prefer Dani," I shrugged. I had a feeling I'd be telling a lot of people that. "What's your name?"
    "Scarlett," Her smile widened and her eyes seemed to grow a shade lighter. "I haven't seen you before. Are you new?"
    "Yes," I sighed dejectedly. "I just got here"
    "Would it be okay if I asked why you're here?" Scarlett asked.
    "I'm a shapeshifter" I replied. I had a feeling I'd be telling a lot of people that as well. "What about you?"
    Scarlett's expression turned angry and her eyes seemed to change colour. They took on hints of different shades of red. "I can’t do it properly because I'm not really angry, but my eyes change colour when my emotions change" As she spoke her eyes faded back to black.
    "That's cool. At least people will know when you're annoyed" I laughed and she smiled back. It was as if she were staring into my soul, trying to find something and not being able to.
    "Yeah, but it's more fun when I can keep my eyes from changing colour. That way no one can know what I'm feeling," She laughed. I nodded; I saw her point. "Hey, what are you doing now?"
    "Nothing. Why?" I shrugged. I was just going to look around for a way out. And maybe some food.
    "Come with me. I want you to meet someone" Scarlett grabbed my hand and started pulling me.
    "Scarlett?" I asked.
    "Yeah?" She didn't turn around from the way she was determined to go.
    "Why do you call B12 that? It's the weirdest nickname I've ever heard"
    She stopped and twisted round to look me straight in the eye. "I'm not allowed to tell you," I shrugged and she let out a deep breath. "We have been waiting for you but I can only tell you my story; that's what we agreed on. I know it might be frustrating but just wait. The others will tell you eventually"
    "Are you going to tell me your story?" I asked.
    "No," She shook her head and carried on walking. "I don't have a story..."
    "Here we are!" Scarlett smiled brightly. She pushed open a chipped door to reveal a small room with a dirty grey carpet. The room was gross, but then again I should of expected it from seeing Nova. Its walls were plastered with old flowery wallpaper that was peeling and along the back wall were long bookshelves built into it, filled with damp looking books. The only thing that looked good in the room was a huge black leather sofa accompanied by a white leather sofa against the right wall. The odd thing about the room was the ceiling was quite high compared to the width of the room.
    And sat in one of the two armchairs near the sofas was the most gorgeous girl I'd ever seen. She was perched on the edge of the chair very precisely and her skin was the colour of polished marble, unchipped and unruined by blemishes or spots, and her big eyes were a deep golden brown with hints of bronze.
    "Hey Candace. This is Dani" Scarlett gestured to me and Candace rose gracefully from her seat. The way she moved was so perfect. No human could ever move like that, gliding through the air without an effort. Unless she wasn't-
    "Hi Dani!" Candace smiled cheerfully, showing off her amazingly white teeth. Automatically, I extended my hand out. She raised one perfectly plucked eyebrow a little but shook my hand just as enthusiastically as her smile. Her skin felt like delicate ice.
    "I wanted Dani to meet you and maybe plays some games" Scarlett grinned. She couldn't mask her excitement. Candace nodded, tucked the many strands of her bright pink hair behind her ears and danced over to a large locked cabinet. She brought out a silver key from her jumpsuit pocket and unlocked it smoothly. She pulled out multiple white cases and scanned over them quickly.
    "Right, the good ones are 'Just Dance 3', 'Wii Party', 'Mario Kart Wii' or 'The Black Eyed Peas Experience'. I think we should try Just Dance" Candace rocked back on the balls of her feet.
    "Okay, we'll do Just Dance first" Scarlett tied her hair back into a messy ponytail and slipped her jacket off. Candace threw the case towards her and Scarlett caught it with ease.
    Being with them and watching them move like that cooperatively made me feel sluggish and lazy. I went to sit on the sofa and sat silently as Scarlett grabbed a remote from the arm of the chair and pressed a button. A huge flat screen TV emerged from the floor and Scarlett popped the CD into the side. Candace's smiled grew larger as the Wii menu formed on the screen.
    This'll be fun. I thought.

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