The air train ride seemed to drag on, now that I'd caught my new brother doing that. It was the way he glared at me right before he spat in it that rattled me even through the Happy stigma running through my veins. Plus how he mouthed something at me right before he did it. What had he mouthed to me?
The awkward part was definitely avoiding my glass of elderflower that Jay had spat in, without making it look like I was avoiding it. If my new parents noticed, I'd have to explain about Jay spitting in my glass, and that would not make for a good first impression if I got my brand new brother in trouble. My new parents may have said they believed Glacials were still people, but I would bet their attitude would change if I told them about Jay.
The sun had set by the time the air train slowly came to a stop, so the carriage was lit only by the soft lamps above. My new mother, Lana, told me that the manor had its own private air train stop, so I wouldn't have to walk far. I admit it was annoying, as I used to like walking back before I was made into a Glacial, but at the same time I didn't want to walk for too long in the dark with Jay.
"Violet, we're here." My new father, Blake, announced suddenly, as he got up and the doors slowly hissed open. I'd been trying to distract myself with listening to a preserved album on an entertainment projection system, as my new parents had allowed me to settle in and Jay kept sending me cold looks over the top of his own EPS, sending cold shivers down my spine every time our eyes met, despite the powerful influence of the Happy stigma.
"I'm coming." I replied, immediately turning off the EPS and taking out the earpieces, slipping them into their compartments as I got up, obediently going to Blake's side. Though he told me I was a part of the family now, I still didn't want to risk it. Family or not, I was still a Glacial, and I still wasn't a person.
"You don't have to worry, Violet, you're safe with us. We're your family now, remember." Lana added, as I shuddered. Jay's empty eyes glared at me from just out of his parent's gaze, and I could feel his stare boring into my back, chilling me even despite the Happy stigma.
"She's probably just tired, love. I'll show her where her room is." Blake replied, leading me off the air train and onto the cold concrete platform. It was lit by ornate gaslights, that must have been altered to carry electricity, and the light shining was a delicate blue. A narrow path lead the way up a hill and around a corner, lit by blue lights embedded in the ground. I certainly didn't feel comfortable walking up that path alone with Jay.
"How far is it up the path to the manor?" I asked, desperate to shake off the feeling of Jay glaring at me. I knew that as a Glacial, I shouldn't ask questions in any way, especially not ones that questioned authority, but I was sure that this one wouldn't matter.
"Not far. Only a few hundred metres to the actual building. The path kinda curves at an angle though, coming from around the back, so it's about double that to the front door." Jay replied, sending shivers through me despite the happy stigma. He'd clearly tried to look like he was being nice to his new little sister in front of his parents, but I could feel the distinct pains of fingernails digging into my back, as he pretended to be showing me where it was.
"Though...you should be the one coming in around the back." He hissed in my ear, a distinctly menacing tone to his smoky voice as he pretended to be pointing up the path. "We don't want anyone thinking we're on friendly terms with the lowest rung of society's ladder, let alone that have one of them in the family now, do we?"
His fingernails dug deeper into my back, scratching down an inch or two. "No...no of course not." I stammered, earning myself a hard pinch to the skin in the crook of my left arm, right over the inch-long scar there. It felt like having a needle impaled in there, going through my skin and piercing a hole clean through.
"No of course not, what? Remember, you're the lowest here. Your place is at my feet, so from now on, you're gonna call me 'Sir' and nothing else when my parents aren't around. Are we clear?" He hissed.
"Yes...yes, Sir." I replied quietly, making him let go of my arm, and take his nails out of my back.
"Good. Glad we have an understanding." He hissed, grinning nastily just out of the corner of my eye, before he straightened up and his smile changed dramatically. "Mum, shall I give Violet a bit of a tour? Her room's closest to mine, so it'll be no trouble."
I see what he's doing. I saw this trick used on the newly-processed Glacials, by those who had been there a few months. Get them on their own, then show them exactly where their place is in the pecking order. The bruises on my face and arms had faded long ago, but the memory of the night a week after my procedure, when I woke up to six of the Glacials with the longest terms of stay standing over me, will definitely be in there for a very long time.
It helped me know my place though, so it wasn't that bad, and the healing gel I had smeared over my cuts and bruises was wonderfully soothing. It was a kind of blush pink colour at first, but it blended to match my skin if I rubbed it in enough, and smelled like some sort of sweet fruit. The whole medical wing smelled of that healing gel, as there were so many fights that broke out, and so many Glacials were injected with the Depression stigma as punishment.
The Trihearts probably didn’t have any of that here. If Jay did end up beating me black and blue, I’d have to deal with the pain and bruising for several days. I might even have to deal with going to my new school with a black eye and a split lip, which wouldn’t be the best first impression.
“Sure, Jay. Make sure you take care of her though. She’s your little sister.” Lana replied, as I felt a stab of pain in my heart. I was gonna be completely on my own with Jay, and nothing could stop him from doing whatever he wanted to me.
“I will. Come on, I’ll show you what the house looks like.” He replied, before taking me by the arm, and leading me up the path.
The minute he’d worked out we were out of sight, he dug his nails hard into my arm, then shoved me over, so I landed hard on the gravel path. The palms of my hands were grazed by the hard landing, and I could feel my stigma-tainted blood leaking out of my palms, and the small stones digging into my back, as he put his foot on my stomach and pressed his full weight onto it. “Much better.” He hissed, pressing his foot down even harder. “Now you’re in your rightful place.”
I barely had time to focus before he took his foot off my stomach to kick me hard, making the sharp ache of the impact resonate through my body, forcing out a groan of pain from right at the back of my throat. “Why did mum and dad choose to adopt a fucking Glacial, eh? Out of all the possible choices they had, they went for you, a Glacial. The scum of the fucking earth.” He spat, grabbing me by the hair and pulling me upright. “Well get up then. If I get in trouble because of you, getting made a Glacial will be the least of your worries.”
I shakily did I was told, my stomach still aching from the hard kick. My scalp burned from how he’d pulled me upwards, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist anything he did to me. After all, I was lower than him. I was a Glacial, so I was no longer a person.
"That's more like it. Now come on, move it!" He yelled, grabbing me by the wrist and dragging me further along the path. "This will be the only time you can use the front door like the rest of us. I catch you doing it, and you'll regret the day you came here." He spat, his grip around my wrist tightening.
It was a relief when he dragged me around to the front of the house, as that was when he let go, and brushed his hands off. The lack of pressure on my wrist meant the Happy stigma had freedom to carry on pulsing through my veins, and could twist my mind accordingly into thinking everything was ok, and that I'd been through nothing but another installing of the pecking order, but this time with my new family. Just a little reminder of how my new brother was higher up than me, and I was nothing at all.
"Go on in then. I'm not wasting my fucking time with you. Find your own way around." He spat, giving me a hard shove so I fell onto the front steps. They were dark granite, so they were very cold, and very hard, and I could feel my shins being scraped through the fabric of my leggings. Still, I forced myself to ignore it, and pulled myself to my feet, as Jay gave me a cold look just out of the corner of my vision.
I'd barely gotten to the top of the steps before he grabbed the back of my shirt, threatening to pull me off the steps and force me backwards onto the cold granite. "Haven't you forgotten something? After all, I was the one who showed you to the manor." He hissed, gripping the back of my shirt and threatening to pull me off completely.
"T-T-Thank you, Sir." I stammered.
"F-F-For showing me t-to the manor."
"And what else for?"
"A-And for reminding me of my place."
"That's what I thought. Now go on in before I get in trouble!" He spat, before shoving me hard off the steps, so I staggered onto the front porch. Quickly, before Jay could do anything else to me, I turned the handle of the front door, and made my way inside the manor.
The entrance hall was open plan, with the stairs to the upper floors sweeping down from a single pair of double doors made from dark wood, with the banister made of what looked like real silver. The walls were papered in deep blue with some sort of ornate pattern in black, and soft carpets in a delicate dove grey. A few ornate tables in the same dark wood were pushed against the walls, with silver vases full of green leafy plants, and a few chairs upholstered in blue silk were scattered around. It was calm here, lit by soft blue light from a chandelier above. Beneath the staircase was a long corridor that must lead back to the rest of the manor, and a pair of soft velvet curtains hung in midnight blue either side of the corridor, held back by silver rope tie-backs.
Well my room is probably upstairs, so I might as well try there first. Hopefully it'll have a lock on the door, so I can keep Jay out, especially after today. The Happy stigma can convince me it was just playful banter and establishing my position in the pecking order all it likes, but I know better. That was him taking the chance to beat the crap outta me, just because he could.
My footsteps echoed loudly on the wooden staircase as I made my way up, hoping Jay wasn't taking the chance to get me again. The door creaked very loudly as I pushed it open, slipping through and shutting it quickly, just in case Jay had been following me.
The upstairs corridor was long and wide, carpeted in deep blue with soft grey walls. Several side corridors lead off to other parts of the manor, and I could see another set of stairs at the far end, that probably lead up to the next floor. I didn’t get a proper look at the outside of the manor in the darkness, but I guessed it had about four or five floors, not including an attic. There’s probably a ton of rooms here, and I had to search through them until I found my room, without Jay catching me and beating the crap out of me again.
It took a lot of searching, but I finally found that my room was up on the sixth floor, right at the top. Unfortunately Jay's room was directly at the opposite end of the corridor to mine, so he was far too close to comfort. Still, at least I could lock my door, and the key was small enough to fit in my pocket. Plus my new parents had left a letter for me on the bed, welcoming me to the family.
I hope you like it here, as part of our family. We thought we'd make your room nice for you, and we hope you like it. Your mother chose purple to go with your name. I love you, our daughter.
Your new dad, Blake.
It was pretty sweet, the note my new dad had left for me. Though the part about love…that just felt weird. I’m a Glacial now, so I don’t deserve love at all. Being loved…no, that’s just wrong for me.
The room was nice though, with the walls painted a soft lilac, and the carpets in a deep shade of purple almost like blackberries. My bed was beneath the window, made of white wood with silky covers in light purple patterned with deep green leaves, and I had a small wardrobe up against the far wall, also patterned in deep green leaves. A low table was right in the middle of the room, and I had a desk pushed up against the far wall. The only light came from my bedside lamp – in silver with a deep purple lampshade – so it was quite dark, but it was comfortable, and homely. My new parents must have really tried hard to make me feel comfortable here.
I definitely couldn't tell them about Jay attacking me, now that they'd done all this. I was already pushing my luck as a Glacial by having such a good family, and I daren't risk it by mentioning how Jay beat me up. They'd kick me out if I got their son in trouble.
I jumped about a mile when the door creaked open, fearing it was Jay coming to get at me again, but it was only my new mother, come to check up on me again. "Violet, is everything ok?" She asked, closing my bedroom door behind her. "Did Jay show you around?"
The last remainders of the Happy stigma was still voicing its opinion in my veins, stopping me from biting my lip at her question. "Yeah, everything's fine, thanks. Jay showed me around great." I lied. I know I shouldn't lie, but I daren't get Jay in trouble, in case I'm kicked out for it. My position in the family is only conditional, and I daren't risk losing it.
Lana smiled in response, seeming to sigh in relief. "That's good to hear. Jay's a good kid, he's just shy around new people, but he'll warm to you in time. Now, you all set for tomorrow? I'll be taking you to your new school tomorrow, and I want to make sure you're gonna be alright. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have been through what you did." She replied, going over to me and taking me into her arms. She still smelled of her sweet perfume, and her arms were still warm as she hugged me, her hair tickling me as she hugged me.
Tomorrow? I thought I'd have a few days before I had to go into school. Still, I wasn't complaining, as at least I'd get some time away from Jay, and I wouldn't be in danger of getting attacked or kicked out of the family. "Yeah, I'm fine for tomorrow. I thought I had a few days first though."
"Change of plans, sweetie. Laws around Glacials are tighter than normal. I wish we could let you settle in first though, as you're a really lovely girl. I just don't know why you would be made into a Glacial at all." She explained, still holding onto me tightly. "My sweet girl, I'm glad we have you as part of our family now."
I had no idea what to say, or what to do, so I just let her carry on hugging me. How exactly are you supposed to respond to someone when they just told you that they're glad they have you as a part of their family, after their son, your new brother, has just beaten you up?
She eventually let go, sighing softly to herself, before running her hand through my hair. "You really are quite a pretty one, you know. Anyway, everything's all set up. If you want anything, just let me or your father know. We're right down the corridor if you want us, just past Jay's room."
I stiffened slightly from the thought of having to creep past Jay's room, though I don't think she noticed. I was too busy praying I wouldn't need anything in the night to notice her reactions. Judging by the hug she gave me though, she thankfully didn't notice.
"Thank you for all this, Mrs Triheart." I replied quietly, making her smile. I didn't really know what else to say, and I had a feeling she was waiting for me to reply. I seemed to have gotten it right though, as she grinned and affectionately ruffled my hair.
"It's nothing, Violet. You're my daughter now. And please, call me Lana. Or mum, if that's what you prefer." She replied, smiling softly before she kissed my forehead. "Sleep well, Violet." She purred.
"Sleep well...mum." I replied, making her smile before she left the room.
I was on my own now, and it was getting late, judging by the small, white clock hanging on the wall, adorned with purple flowers. Checking the door was closed, I slipped into the small adjoining bathroom, and turned on the tap to begin brushing my teeth.
I'd forgotten to check in the bathroom.
"You heard my mother. If you want anything, just go past my room." Jay hissed, coming out from behind the bathroom door, and gripping hold of a chunk of my hair from behind and pulling me backwards. "My mother's right, you know. You are quite a pretty one, if you look behind the frozen exterior of a Glacial. If that wasn't there...meh, you'd be about an eight or a nine. Yet you're a Glacial, and my sister, so you're an Undoable."
The Happy stigma was wearing off now, but there was still enough to make me smile as he pulled my hair harder. "Jay...please...don't." I stammered, making him throw me down onto the bathroom floor.
"Don't what? Don't remind you where you stand? Don't remind you that you'll always be lower than the rest of us? Don't reinforce your place? Violet, you know I can't do that." He snapped, gripping hold of my right arm and pulling it up. "Hmm, I think you'll benefit from this. Sleep well, Violet." He purred dangerously, forcing a needle into the muscle in my upper right arm, and slowly injecting me with a translucent stigma coloured a deep blackish blue.
My whole bloody began feeling icy from the stigma injection, sweat starting to run cold down my back, as my stomach began aching; soreness slashing just below my ribs, like I was about to throw up at the same time as having cramps. The cold, moist tiles of the bathroom floor were a comfort to me when Jay let go of my arm, throwing me back down as he drew out the needle. "Yes, a few night terrors will do you a world of good. Night, Violet." He hissed, dragging me through into my bedroom. "Know your place."
He clicked the light off as he left me there, the sickening pain in my stomach getting worse as my room was made dark. All I could see of Jay was this cold, cold grin of his, showing clearly in the envelope of light from my open bedroom door. It was a grin that still haunted me, even after he shut my bedroom door with a loud snap.