The Focus

What if there was a world with no choices?
If you were born with a certain gift, you were scarred and scolded.
Your two choices were to live a poverty and pain, or survive and rebel.
One choice can change it all.
Break a rule and it's death, unless you get away.
Learn to focus, survive, and keep the flaw in the system


5. chapter 5

The alarms rang throughout the corridors, yet I did not sense any danger. I rushed up behind Cadarn and Phoenix who were walking quickly down the hallway.

"What's going on?" I asked in a small state of panic. "It's just a drill, Cathal. You can follow us." Phoenix answered. "What drill?"

"Us mutants can sense any type of danger even if it's just a second before, but it fails to kick in sometimes, right?" Right. "Like a barrier is blocking our minds out of whatever it is, so we have a drill every week to make sure we stay alert and to make sure the alarm system is alert too." Phoenix continued, "We go through three different procedures, bunker, air, and field."

"So you have three different escapes. You go into the bunker for bombings and air raids, air for flight in a quick getaway, and a last resort is to run like hell and pray to God someone doesn't put a bullet in your back? Sounds a bit cowardly don't you think?" I reply.

"Cathal, this place isn't running off the retaliation of a young child and fighting back. We're trying to survive and build up enough to strike back. You can't just fight through your problems." Cadarn replied to me in annoyance. I glared at him, "If they ever figure out where you're hiding, they're going to try their hardest to destroy this place, you know that, right?"

"Yes, I know. That's we have people like Jug and Tushpa." He gestured to two of the boys I had met earlier today; they were working on computer systems when I saw them. "They're the brains of the technology here. Which I am sure you don't know much about since you spent most of your time dining on raw carcasses or Tawny Eagles that you shoot out of the sky with a crossbow."

"I'll take that as a complement Phoenix, so I don't have to hurt you."

Phoenix grunted with a laugh, "I like her."

"She's a pain in my back." Grunted Cadarn.

We arrived to a T with a ladder that jutted up into a ceiling on the first floor of the campus. I peered down the hallway to see people lined up in front of identical ladders that had been concreted into the walls. They were all boys that were 15 to 25.

"Phase one!" Cadarn yelled at the top of his lungs as other boys in front of the lines repeated what Cadarn screamed out. "Drill number 10403 in order! Begin procedure!" The next thing to happen was every leader of each group, including Cadarn climbed up to unlatch the sealed tight door above them. They peered their heads out and took quiet yet alert looks around the base before coming back down into the crowded halls and giving the clear for PHASE 2.

The phases continued with us all cramming into the lowest bunkers possible and fitting ourselves into fighter jets with parachutes and other flying equipment. After the drills, I found myself back in the cafeteria after the groups finished their dinners. I did not allow myself back into the cafeteria when it was filled with the others. I went through the lines associated with different types of foods: soups, meats, and vegetables/fruits. It wasn't a large selection of foods, just stuff stolen from the city, game, and wild grown plants. I looked through to see just sliced hen and the same broth I had from Cadarn the previous night. I jumped over the counter and began looking through the fridges and cabinets.

Something sweet I thought.

I continued rummaging through every shelf possible when I heard a voice from behind me, "Roman and Greece keep a stash of dried apricots on the third shelf under the skillets."

I stood up and turned to face Cadarn who sat in a pair of black trousers barefoot and his hair dripping small droplets of water. He clearly had just taken a shower and water trickled down in bare chest every few moments. I rolled my eyes, "Am I in trouble for intruding the kitchen too?"

Cadarn chuckled, "No, but you can learn to walk around instead of just hopping over the counter."

"It's quicker and unexpected." I replied.

"Quicker, yes. Unexpected, not from you."

"Whatever." I answered before turning back around the pluck the straw bag from the pantry shelf that contained the golden dried apricots. I ate one at a time while leaning against the counter.

"That was interesting," I said.

"What was?"

"The drills today."

"And why's that?" He asked running his hands through the dark brown mop of hair he kept in a cut that was short on the sides and longer in the top.

"I don't know. I'm used to planning on the spur of the moment. Y'know, when I'm being chased by capital guards."

Cadarn chuckled and shook his head.

"Toshiro was right. You ARE insane."

"Listen, I'm not insane, I'm creatively active." I answered with a small smirk that edged onto my lips as I bit another apricot in half.

"Well, it's 02:00 and curfew was two hours ago, so maybe we should be heading back to our cabins." Cadarn stood and stretched making his back muscles ripple along with the traces of scars from being tortured from the government and the tattoos that tried to cover them.

"I don't think-" I stop myself before revealing anything.

Cadarn knew though; he nodded and peered down at me. "I understand, it's the flashbacks and nightmares. We get them the worst."

I nodded, "I really don't need sleep. I'll be okay-"

"Cathal, at least come back to your cabin. I'm next door to you, if you get scared just knock on the wall." Cadarn shoved his hands into his pockets and nodded his head towards the door. I followed him down the halls to our rooms and I shoved the door open.

The pros of being on the top level is having the small bulletproof window that was about a foot wide and half a foot tall. The rain was pouring outside making it easy to fall asleep in no time, yet I found myself screaming and thrashing from the same nightmare from the night before. I gripped my pillow and began to sob into it. As soon as I could speak, I began counting again. 1…2…3…1…2…3…

My door opened. In the dark I could hear footsteps and I didn't look up from the pillow in which my face was buried into. I continued sobbing and counting to calm myself. I then felt a large hand on my arms and I flinched. "Cathal, it's okay." Cadarn's voice whispered soothingly.

Why was he calming me down?

It was working though; my breathing became even and my tears were drying. I opened my eyes and peered up at him. His hair was messy from being asleep, but he was alert and somewhat concerned. "What are you doing here? I didn't knock." I asked with a still shaky voice.

"You were screaming bloody murder. Kept me awake, so I thought I'd come shut you up." Cadarn cracked a small smile. I rolled my eyes and looked down at my arms that were bleeding from scratching myself in my sleep; Cadarn noticed too because he grabbed my arm and looked it up and down. "C'mon, we need to doctor that."

He tried to help me from my position, yet I stayed and shook my head, "no,"

Cadarn placed his hand on my chin and moved my head so I was looking up in his eyes with my teary ones, "It's okay, Cathal, it was just a dream. You're safe. You can trust me."

"Okay." I barely mustered the voice to say. His hands were a gentleness I've never experienced from him. He opened the door and led me to his room. It was much different than mine; my room was a plain boring room with gray walls and blue bed clothes, but his was a black and the walls held drawings with what seemed to be chalk. There were maps and lists that had been marked. A picture of the president, Mortem, and knives were stuck in both eyes, the mouth, and the centre of his head. Cadarn's bed was a mess of different colored quilts and clothes were strewn randomly along the floor. In one corner sat an open gym safe overflowing with rifles and automatic weapons. His room was much larger than mine and looked as if they combined two rooms.

"Sit." Cadarn said pointing to the large king bed unlike my small twin. I obeyed and slowly inched my way down onto the creaking mattress. He disappeared into his bathroom and quickly returned with a glass bottle filled with a clear liquid. He pulled a roll of tape and a clump of bandages.

I stared up at him as he fiddles to pull the tape into a strips. I take a moment to observe him. His darn brown hair was sticking up from running his hands through it and his face was concentrated yet stressed. His dark brown eyes scanned over each object he held. My eyes directed to his muscular structure; it was clear he was fit by the definition in his stomach and arms. He wore a pair of worn gray pants that set loosely on his hips. He chewed on a wooden pick and somewhat bit in a pattern of 2,3,2,3… Finally his eyes caught mine and I looked down at my scratched skin as if observing the marks I accidentally inflict on myself.

Cadarn sat on his knees atop the bed and he took the clear liquid. "Alcohol." He said as if reading my mind.


"This will hurt a little." He then took the soaked cloth and held it on my skin. The alcohol caused a small burning sensation that soon subsided and turned to a cool misty feeling.

"Bug has some medication that can help you sleep, but it's too strong for you to not be left unsupervised. You'll have to sleep in here for the rest of the night." Cadarn continued to speak while wrapping my wounds.

"That's okay. I'm not that tired anyways. I'll just wander the halls or something." I began to stand up before Cadarn roughly grabbed my arm. "No, you're sleeping. You've had poor sleep over the past week. Not enough sleep can cause someone to go insane. And you're already crazy enough."

I glared at him and he cracked a small smile, "don't take things so seriously, Cathal."

"I'm only insane upon moment that either my heart is touched or I am in extreme anger and/or annoyance." I replied.

Cadarn stood up and threw a pillow onto the head of the bed.

"I'll go get the sleeping pills. You stay here, just don't steal anything."

I raised an eyebrow and said I couldn't promise anything. After he left the room I leaned back onto the quilts that were shoved over in a pile. I breathed in the smell of the room; pine and honey filled my nose, and I could sense Cadarn was about to come in door. The latch of the door clicked open and I felt his presence towering over me as my eyes were closed. I peeked open and saw the tall boy digging two different sized pills from pouches. "Chew the small one and swallow the oval one," he said handing me the medication. I peered down at them and plucked up the large oval one that was a grayish blue and swallowed it with a swig of water that Cadarn had given me. I them chewed the small red one that tasted like mint and a poor substitute for cherry. "Why two different ones?" I asked.

"One's for the dreams, the other is for sleep." Cadarn yawned, "I take them every night, they work."

I half nodded and stood up, "I'll take the floor." I threw down a pillow and began to sit on the floor before he stopped me, "take the bed. You're in worse shape that me."

I rolled my eyes, "Cadarn, I have been sleeping on dirt, under rocks, and in trees my whole life. Sleeping on a rug floor is a luxury to me." I then pulled one of the quilts from the bed, but he jerked it back causing me to stumble.

"You have a bullet hole in your side, your arms and legs have scratches. Take the bed."


"That's an order." Cadarn growled these words that even made me somewhat frightened of him.

"Whatever." I rolled my eyes.

Cadarn and I probably are never going to get along.

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