Torrance is as ordinary as anyone can be. That is until she finds out what she is; an experiment. She is one of the mindless Machines that were designed to kill and fight each other for entertainment. But she is different; half of her heart functions on technology and the other half is beating and alive. And that is why she is wanted dead. After her uncle disappears, it’s up to Torrance to find out the truth about her world, the Machines and more importantly their purpose before it’s too late. But by finding out the truth, Torrance will have to make choices that could change her entire world.


5. Chapter Four

Chapter Four:

When I leave my aunt alone in the kitchen, she is no longer crying, but back to her usual stoic self. I can faintly hear the tap water running and the radio being turned on, as I close the door and run up the stairs, remembering that I have school today.

I'm still worried about whether the memories of last night were a dream or reality, but my aunt has enough on her shoulders as it is. I decide to pretend that everything is okay and talk to Amitra about it. She is the only one right now who could help me. I could talk to Oscar, but he'll think that I have gone out of my mind.

I pass by the second floor and Oscar walks out of Prue's room, with the door being slammed against his heels. He sees me wide eyed on the steps and ruffles my hair.

"Do you do that to everyone?" I hiss, fixing myself. He chuckles and stands a step higher than me.

"Only those who I hate," he whispers into my ear, "Come on, Tor. It really can't get any worse," he grins up at me, the sun catches on the golden strands of his hair and makes it seem like it's glowing.

"Oscar, don't cross the line," I warn.

"Race you to the shower," he replies and I only realise what he says, after he takes off and plummets up the stairs. I propel my feet as fast as I can and catch up to him on the last few steps that creak and groan under our weight. His hand pushes me aside roughly and I am dodged into the wall.

I growl and just as he reaches the bathroom doors, I dive in the air and fall to the floor, grabbing at his ankles and ignoring the pain. I yank him off his feet and he falls too, laughing in hysterics and panting.

"Jesus!" he gasps, "Let go of me! What the hell, Torrance?!" he wriggles his foot and realising that I am still gripping onto his ankle, I let go and swiftly try to get up.  I notice how hard my fingers feel, but I forget about it as quickly as I realise it.

I push him back down to the floor and slam the door in his face, victorious. Smiling to myself, I turn the water on full and change out of my clothes. When I notice that my shampoo is all used up, I let out an irritated growl. He will pay for that.

"I told you to stop using my shampoo!" I yell through the water that falls down on my skin like hot bullets.

"Sorry, Torrance! I didn't make any promises!" his laughter is drowned in the water and I hear it so loud that my eardrums might burst. What is up with me? I never had such sensitive hearing before. I must be sick or something. What if one of those hearing disorders that people have when every little sounds annoys them? I try not to stray to those thoughts, because it only frightens me more.

Mentally, I curse at him and having no choice, I take his bottle and squeeze out all of his shampoo onto my hair, smiling gloriously. It doesn't smell so bad; something like strong mint and lavender mixed in together. I just hope that not too many people will notice that I have the aroma of a man.

When I am finished showering, having made sure that there is no hot water left, I cover myself with a towel. My hair drips wet and plasters with the steam to my back. In the mirror, I notice that the lines are still faint down my cheeks and I wonder if they are really there. Why am I the only one that notices them?

Quickly, I gather up all the towels and tip-toe out of the bathroom. Before Oscar notices, I hide them all under the laundry stack outside Aunt Maggie's door.

With a smug smile on my face, I stride into our room, hoping he won't notice that I am up to no good. I try to act normal, as I stand with both hands on my hips and give him a glare. He props himself up from the bed and claps a hand to his eyes.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" he howls, "Torrance! Other guys might appreciate this, but I'm your cousin and this is killing my eyes!" he falls to the bed, groaning.

"Out of the room. Now. I need to change," I say in an lethal voice, "Or else I'll take it off,"

"Okay, okay. I'm leaving, but can I take a picture? The guys would want-" he starts, but I push him out of the door and slam it into his nose.

A smile creeps up my mouth when I hear him yell my name in anger. Sniggering to myself, I pull on some jeans and roll up the hems, pushing my black Chucks onto my feet. I put on a faint yellow t-shirt and begin to rub my hair with the towel. Now that I notice it, I smell too strongly of Oscar's shampoo and it makes me feel a bit sick.

Suddenly, something tumbles and crashes to the floor with a loud thump. I whirl around, dryer in my hands and ready to lunge at the intruder, convinced that it's the twins. The window swings open and at the bottom of it there is a blur of a pink dress and brown hair. Amitra.

"Fancy seeing you here, Torrance," her voice is thin and audibly on the verge of loosing its calm. Amitra stands up, brushes down her dress and straightens her back, narrowing her eyes at me. I can see her jaw clench tight and red coming to her cheeks. Not a good sign, especially if her left eye twitches a bit, which is exactly what it's doing right now. I gulp.

"Hey, Am," I croak and give her a shaky smile, trying to look innocent for whatever it is that I have done now, "What's wrong?"

She throws her arms up into the air and huffs out from exasperation, "What's wrong? You did not just seriously ask me that question, Tor. Didn't you even have the decency to call me to say where you were? Or that you were okay? Do you have any idea how worried I was last night?" she is yelling at me at the top of her lungs and I can see that she must have been really freaked out.

Something catches my attention, "Last night? What...?" I begin and wander away, panic rising in my voice. Her shouts are muffled and drowned by my own voice in my head.

So it did happen. I steady myself by leaning on the wall and close my eyes, trying to relax. I can feel my blood rushing faster than a cheetah and my breathing quickens. I flutter my eyes open to see that I have not been listening to a word she is saying. Amitra is still in her hysterics and jabbers on about how ungrateful I am and that it's not what friends do.

I swear to God, sometimes she might even pass for my older sister.

"Am," I call her once, but she is too busy shouting at me and talking to herself. She paces the room franticly and I wonder how she manages not to trip over all of the rubbish on her heels.

"What were you thinking?! You go off with some stranger on his motorcycle and don't come back and then you ask me what's wrong?" her lip quivers and her hands shake.

"Am!" I yell at her and she stops to look at me, eyes wide, "I...I don't even remember what happened. I don't know how I got home," my voice breaks and I pinch the bridge of my nose, sighing.

"You - what?" she breathes and plops down on my bed, bouncing once, "What did he do to you? Did he make you take drugs? Did you drink something?" her face is ashen, but she has the eyes of a killer. This is Amitra in assassin mode. When she sees that someone who she cares about is hurt or upset, she thinks it's her job to destroy the enemy.

"No. No!" I say quickly, shaking my head, "It's not like that. I don't even know his name,"

"Wow. This just gets better and better," she blinks twice in stupor. I leave the dryer on the floor and walk over to her, sitting cross-legged at the foot of the bed.

"All I remember is the race, the light, the water and then...I blacked out and when I woke up, I was back home. I wasn't sure if it all even happened. Aunt Maggie won't tell me anything and she says that I was here all night," I pull on my ear. This is a habit that I have when I am nervous or thinking about something, but I guess it's better than biting my nails.

Amitra thinks for a moment and rubs her temples, "Wait. Hold your horses. Water? As in the sea?" then she realises something and her mouth contorts into an 'O', "You didn't...? Did you?"

"We did," I nod, "The breaks stopped working and we flew off the pier. Then....I don't know. He was trying to untie us, but I saw something. It wasn't...normal, Am," my voice shakes a bit. I squeeze my shoulders and look up at her.

Amitra is trying to process all of this new information, because her lecture escalated too quickly from rage to worry, "The others came back, saying that their engines stopped and then the police came and we barely escaped. No one saw where you went,"

We sit quietly for a moment and think. If I didn't get home on my own, then that means the boy brought me here. When I woke up, the window was open and he could have brought me through there, but it would be impossible to haul me over two stories and he would have woken up Oscar.

The weird part is that Aunt Maggie knows. She must have seen him or talked to him, but why does she trust him? She just let him go? After all, he saw what happened in the water...or maybe he didn't tell her. Maybe she already knew. What is she hiding from me? Is it that horrible? Am I some freak? Some monster?

Suddenly, before Amitra opens her mouth to ask me something, the door flies open and Oscar stands livid at the frame. He waddles in like a duck and pants heavily. His hair is dripping wet, his face clenched in anger and what I see makes me crack up laughing.

His lower abdomen is environed with the bathroom rug; pink, fluffy and the size of a grape. I guess my plan for hiding the towels didn't exactly have its full effect, but this is way better than I anticipated. Amitra stares, wide-eyed, unable to understand what just happened.

"You, my friend," Oscar says through his teeth, "Are getting coal for Christmas," he growls, but when he sees that Amitra is beside me, he blushes a bright pink and lowers his gaze.

"Nice legs," Amitra comments, stifling her laughs and making Oscar even more embarrassed. I think he might have a crush on Amitra, because he acts so shy around her all the time and he detests Hugo just as much as I do.

"Oh, Ozzie," I clench to my stomach that is sore from the fits of laughing. My eyes well up in tears and my cheeks hurt from laughing.

"Laugh while you can. This isn't over," he mumbles and visibly holds tighter to the hems of the rug, hoping that it won't slip off, "I didn't know you had such an evil bone in your body, cuz,"

"Hey, you started this" I point out, "Never begin a war with a girl," I wink, which I know makes him angrier by the second. He looks like an atomic bomb that is about to detonate.

"Okay, we'll show you mercy," Amitra purrs, "Let's go, Tor. Give him privacy to change," she gets up to leave, but I stay in my position, not ready to give up yet.

"No. He has to beg for us to go," I narrow my eyes and cross my hands over. Oscar's face twists into anger, but nevertheless, he manages to hiss out a lame, "Please".

"Please, Torrance," I instruct in a posh voice, lifting my chin up high and crossing my arm over. He shoots me a glare, but he must have decided that it's better to get this over with than stand half-naked in front of the girl he fancies.

"Please, Torrance," his voice is acid-like. I decide to let him off this time, only because he is on the walk to shame.

I blow him a kiss, as I walk out of the door, but he flicks his finger at my forehead, "That's for using up my shampoo, Banana Head,"

"By the way," I say, leaning in, "Your butt is showing," and he flings the door so it slams, leaving me an Amitra in fits of laughter, "You are one of a kind, Oscar. One of a kind," I say to myself.

We decide to wait for Oscar to finish so Amitra could climb back out the window, because Aunt Maggie doesn't know that she's here and that means her plan to lie to me, has failed.

"How did you climb up the tree on those heels?" I ask, realising for the first time what she had to go through.

"Never underestimate me when I am in rage," she says, shaking her head sideways and leaning on one hip.

I sit on the floor, leaning against the wall, while Amitra busies herself in fixing her hair at the mirror that hangs just between my room and the bathroom, "All your fault," she grumbles, "Now I have twigs in my hair and all those branches and bugs," she shudders and it's all I can do to stop myself from laughing.

Her eyebrows come together in irritation, as she flats out her new dress, "So you really don't know his name, huh?" she asks, without looking at me. I stop tapping my foot and look up.

"No," my answer comes a bit too fast and a bit too loud, earning me a long stare from Amitra, "I told you," I shrug.

"Wow. He tried to save you last night," she swoons and sighs deeply, "Did you feel his biceps around you? What if he tried to give you the kiss of life?" she clasps her hands together and twirls around, dreamy-eyed.

"No, I was more occupied with trying to breathe," I snap, "And as for the kiss of life, I really hope that it never happened. I don't want him anywhere near me,"

She rolls her eyes, "Don't be boring. I thought you learned your lesson,"

"What lesson?" I snort, "Well, I might have learned one; sneaking out during the night from your house will most certainly turn out the wrong way," my voice is sour. I don't know if I am angry at her for brining the topic up again or if I am angry because she isn't taking this seriously.

Suddenly, Oscar walks out of his room and shakes out his hair like a dog, sprinkling us with water. I groan and slap his arm when I get up.

He is wearing some jeans and a black shirt that is creased up. I can faintly see some stubble on his smooth face and he is barefooted, as always.

He makes for the stairs, trying to look to the floor and avoid Amitra's eyes. I grin up at him, but he looks away, defeated, "You are a heartless creature," he says in a wounded voice.

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