Reality is perfect.

The Citadel is the ideal world. With the five values being soul way of life, supplied to the people through compulsory vaccination and then the ultimate procedure, society runs smoothly and efficiently. The government claim it is the way forward and in this perfect, logical society everyone agrees. That's only logical. On the eve of her sixteenth bithday, Avilon awaits the ultimate procedure, but she's different and she knows it. Soon she discovers why she is set apart from others and what she alone must do to overcome this sinister world.
/for the hidden power competition :) any constructive criticism is welcome please!/


5. 5


The humming of The Track resonates throughout the cavernous, underground chamber as I wait for the train to arrive.

Around me other children talk meaningfully to each other, their conversations filled with only the pressing matters of The Citadel. They don’t know what I face today. There is no way they could because, even though I’ve seen their perfect faces and heard their matter-of-fact voices almost every day of my short life, I’ve never spoken more than two words to any of them. All they know is that I’m different – in a bad way, they’ve been warned.

They have no idea how different.

I catch a few curious, blunt stares directed at me from my fellow students and I look blankly back into their unabashed, inquisitive eyes until they become otherwise occupied. I am their most confusing puzzle. I don’t follow any of the rules. Nothing explains me and to them and I must therefore be a mistake. From my experience earlier, I can hardly think differently.

Sighing, I turn to search the crowd. It’s the same doubts every day, the same prying looks all around me, the same silent observations. But today they mean so much more. Today they could be right. I could have an answer.

Eventually I find Robin, engrossed in an animated conversation with a few other young people taking further education. That’s why he still joins me at the Track in the mornings; he passed his exam for further education and now attends the final stages of learning. He doesn’t glance at me. I wonder if he even realised I came in after him. Has he already blocked out what happened earlier? Or has he found a viable explanation.

The humming intensifies and a cool, expressionless voice announces that the train shall be arriving shortly and that we should have a prosperous day. With that the sleek, white body of the train slides into the chamber, through the yawning gap at the far end, and stops smoothly in front of the patient crowd. The protective, transparent wall that encases the Track and train, flashes passively three times before disappearing to allow us to board the pulsating vehicle.

As the doors slither open, the crowd moves in unison towards them, people fitting easily in orderly lines like stacking paper. The conversation around me is paused. Footsteps clatter throughout the wide space, bouncing back to my ears while I watch everyone confidently pass me to enter the train. I stand still in the middle of a moving mass of bodies, unsure of whether or not I have the guts to enter the train. Would it be braver to face my end or dodge it?

In the end I decide to face it, mainly because I look even stranger standing here as the Track station empties and the train fills. With as much assuredness as I can manage, I stride through the doors and into the full interior. Finding a seat proves to be thankfully easy as there is a vacant one right next to the entrance and so I sit down quickly.

I clench my fists and press them against my knees. But I still shake.

Turning away from myself in disgust, I try to find distraction in the elongated room and its passengers. To my left sit two sisters, talking avidly about what must be the current political affairs. Logic will win as usual, according to eldest, pretty, flaxen haired sister, however younger, pretty, flaxen haired sister disagrees profusely, arguing that Intelligence will claim the position as prime Value of the Citadel.

Holding no real interest for their subject of conversation, I shift my gaze towards a cluster of boys around Robin’s age. They lean forwards, heads almost touching, eyes alight and lips moving faster than the train. I can’t hear what they’re discussing, however I can guess – something imperfect about their perfect lives. I’ve seen Robin with them before.

But he’s not there now.

I stretch my neck, searching the carriage for his familiar dark hair or bright blue eyes but he’s not here. Evidently found somewhere suitably less awkward to sit than near me. I can’t help but wallow in a lake of self-pity. I more than qualify to; my final ride on this train will be over soon.

So deep inside myself, I almost miss the uncomfortable feeling that sends a shiver down my spine. Someone’s looking at me. Immediately I blink back to the train, searching for the source. Two sets of brown eyes in front of me meet mine.  Coming into focus I see that a boy and a girl, my age or round about, sit opposite me. They look at me with indiscrete, brazen interest. Just like the rest. My mouth puckers and my eyes narrow at them in an uninviting glower, before I fix my stare on my knees. One of them shifts in their seat, leaning forward, and I brace myself for their agonizingly honest comment.

But I’m surprised.

“Are you going to the Central Science Unit today?” enquires a deep voice. My head snaps up so fast that I hit it almost painfully on the seat. The boy looks at me with an open, intelligent and mildly inquisitive expression. His elbows rest on his knees as he leans toward me. Does he expect me to answer?

I flick my attention between the pair, noticing something so obvious I don’t know how I missed it before. They are extremely similar. Twins, without a doubt. That’s strange – the Citadel doesn’t usually allow twins. 

They share extremely soft looking chocolate curls, the boy’s framing his face longer than the approved style and the girls wavy and free on her shoulders. They’re different – like me. Suspiciously I access them: note their near identical spattering of freckles that occupy their noses; glance at their clear, olive skin and wide, warm brown eyes. While the boy continues to stare at me expectantly, his sisters appears to be more wary – chewing her lip and concentrating.  

After a few seconds of silence, the boy speaks again, “I’m Fluke,” he gestures to himself and then to her, “and this is my sister Bess.” I wonder should I introduce myself. It’s probably what anyone else would do.

Bess’ fingers begin to curl and uncurl, as though her life depends on me answering. Correctly.

So I respond.

“Yes” I say.

“Yes…”, before Fluke can open his mouth, Bess urges me on. The transformation of her previously hesitant demeanour into one of confidence and enthusiasm is confusing. Fluke casts her a fleeting look, almost too quick for me to see. Nevertheless I catch the warning expression he throws her way, before his attention returns to me.

I can’t help but feel unnerved.

“I am going to the CSU today” I reply blandly. If I’m honest, I really have no idea how to address them.

As though I have pressed a magic button, Bess’ polite smile grows to a huge grin. Her brown eyes sparkle with something like triumph.

“Are you excited?” Fluke asks and I let slip a hysterical laugh. Excited? He could not be further from the truth.

Fluke’s brows lower and I forcibly cough, determined to cover my mistake.  The all too wide smile of Bess’ face does not waver for a second and she continues to stare at me with committed eyes. I feel the urge to shift under her gaze.

Looking up I meet Flukes imploring gaze.  He smiles at me, but it is stretched, seeming to reassure himself – not me – that it was the right decision to talk to me. Tentatively, I smile, and his face blossoms into a genuine grin. He’s rather attractive. Tanned skin, kind eyes, dazzling smile. How have I not noticed him before? But then, when I consider it, I don’t really take note of anyone anymore. They never speak to me so…

This is very unusual.

Keenly aware that no-one has spoken for too many endless seconds and I have just been staring unceasingly at Fluke, I cast my eyes downward. A red tide creeps up my neck. Tension crackles in the air.

Sitting cautiously back in my seat, I watch as Bess’ slender hand wraps around her brother’s clothed bicep and pulls him slowly from his forward position. The assuring smile is ever present on her pretty face.

However her eyes say something else completely; as though she has discovered some covert information that gives her a sparkling new idea, they dance excitedly. I lick my dry lips – my mouth surprisingly arid. Meeting her animated gaze, I force myself to look unruffled by her exhilaration.

Fluke turns to her questioningly, and on seeing her meaningful, giddy expression, an approving look dawns in his eyes. 

Eventually, they break from their silent exchange, both facing me with even enthusiasm.

I take a breath, attempting to ease my increasing unease. Now I know why I have avoided socialising for so long. I cannot fathom as to why they are smiling so consistently. Their pale teeth are identically level and their straight noses crease slightly. Fluke’s earnest eyes blatantly examine my face and I find myself cursing the blush that rises once again.

“I think we should be friends.” He says fluidly.

A pause. “Good friends,” his expression now serious. He turns briefly to Bess, who nods vigorously, like she could think of nothing better.

Fluke leans forward, his elbows resting on his knees. He’s closer than before.

“Friends, Avilon?”

 My heart thumps dramatically in my chest and the temperature of the carriage rises tremendously at the sound of my name on his lips. His eyes are on me. It’s uncomfortable…but also unexplainably different to how people usually look at me. It’s nice.

What…seconds ago you were wriggling with discomfort?

Such silly thoughts. I am no help to myself as I let my mind flutter on trivial, unrealistic notions, when I could be planning some sort of miraculous lifesaving act. The CSU just needs to be convinced that I am susceptible to the ultimate procedure. But maybe a few friends would help…everyone else has them…

I feel the train begin to slow. Soon after, the clear, authoritative voice tells us that, “all those with destination Central Education Unit should depart shortly.” Simultaneously, everyone around me rises as we slide into the CEU station and come to an effortlessly smooth halt. I stay where I am.

The doors open and people start to file out, taking their chatter with them. The twins remain seated, eyes trained on me. Bess chews her bottom lip relentlessly – is she nervous? I meet Flukes gaze. Confidence oozes from him and it temps me. There can be no harm, only benefits, from this friendship. So I hold out my hand.  

“Friends,” I say, mimicking his fluid, composed tone and offering a modest smile. Abruptly he grabs my hand, his grip firm and smooth, while a knowing grin breaks out across his tanned face. At this moment the only thing I know are his eyes burning into mine and my hand securely in his. The whole carriage seems to have disappeared.

Then he lets go of my hand and get to his feet along with his sister.

“See you tomorrow,” he states and with his beautiful smile, he turns, walking towards the exit.

Tomorrow…if I’m still here, I think.

Suddenly it’s surprisingly hard to fight the urge to follow. What would I give for another un-extraordinary day at the CEU. My legs itch, desperate to run after them.

But I can’t; it would only make it worse. Besides I have friends now, maybe the scientists at the CSU can be persuaded. I look up, just in time to see Fluke cast me a final glance. He lingers on my face with an unreadable expression. Then he’s gone.

You’re on your own.

The carriage is empty. I’ve got two more stops until I arrive at my destination. With no one around, I could fall apart. But that wouldn’t do anyone any good. Furthermore, it’s illogical. I will demonstrate the Values and I will survive today. I must.



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