72 Hours

We were a threat: Violence and Destruction embodied in physical form. We didn't realise what they would do. How could we ever have imagined this? That Activation was our future? That our minds and bodies would no longer be our own?
They control us.

But change is coming. Activation will fail, and when it does, there won't be a force on earth to stop us from taking our revenge.

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2. Chapter 2

I don’t know how long I stand there, staring at the fractured reflection in the mirror. The words ‘not working’ keep echoing around my mind, but it can’t be true. Everyone knows that if you act on any violent thought, if you dare to deny the Rage lurking inside of you, the Implant will punish you.
And yet, I’ve just smashed a mirror with my fist and experienced anger fiercer than I’ve ever allowed myself to feel since arriving in this city…and I’m still standing. Unaffected. Unharmed. As though it never happened.

“Kathy?”
My mother’s voice finally makes it through the fuzzy haze that has settled around me. My hands are shaking as I brush my wet tendrils of hair away from my face, but I can’t force myself to look away from the mirror. It’s proof that what happened really did happen; that I’m not making it up.
“Kathy? Please answer me.” My mother’s voice is laced with panic.
There’s no way I’m going to be able to hide the broken mirror from her, but I don’t even know how to begin explaining what happened… and what didn’t.  
“Katherine?”
I wince, hating the sound of my full name. Taking a steadying breath, I force myself to turn away from the mirror and unlock the door. It immediately swings open, revealing the pale face of my mother.
“What happened? I heard a crash.” Her eyes dart around the bathroom behind me, but the door conceals what I’ve done.  

Suddenly it hits me that I can’t tell her everything. She cannot know that the Implant didn’t work. If the Orderlies ever found out and discovered that she knew and didn’t report me, they’d punish her.
“I lost control.” My voice is quiet, and still tinged with the confusion clouding my thoughts. I clear my throat, forcing myself to speak normally. “I smashed the mirror.”
She brushes past me to look at what I’ve done, and the moment her eyes land on the cracked surface she freezes. When she finally drags her eyes away, her skin has impossibly paled even further.
“If you had to rate how angry you felt, what percentage would it be?” She grips my hand tightly and I shake my head, lost for an answer. “Katherine, this is important. If it was high enough it will flag up on their systems. They could be coming here right now to take you back to the Ward, or worse, Activate you early.” She put a hand to her mouth. “I can’t lose you too, Kathy.”
Her desperation sends waves of guilt ricocheting through me. I don’t want to lie to her, but I know I have to. “I just wanted to feel something.”

Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn’t that. A frown creases her forehead. “What are you talking about?”
“Every time we’re Deactivated, I feel empty, like I’m not even a real person.” My words sound convincing even to myself. That’s what happens when you feed truth into a lie. “I smashed the mirror so the Implant would go off. When it did, it reminded me that I’m actually here; that I’m awake and in control.”
My mother’s eyes are brimming with tears and she closes the space between us, hugging me tightly. “It’s going to be okay, honey.” She leans back and cups my cheeks, relief that Orderlies aren’t going to be coming for me written clearly over her face. “What’s done is done. Come to the kitchen, we’ll get you a hot drink; you must have a pounding headache.”
I nod and give her a small smile when she releases my face. I gesture to the towel still wrapped around me. “I’ll be there in a minute. I’m just going to get dressed.”

It’s only when I can no longer hear the sound of her retreating steps that I allow my true emotions to show again. I may have reassured her that everything is okay, but I know damn well that it’s a lie. The Implant didn’t work. How could it have just stopped working?
What about the re-testing?
“Shit.” The word is a breathy whisper as the realization hits me. My surname is ‘Eventide’, meaning my testing is scheduled for the morning. Fear takes root inside me, giving birth to ugly thoughts.
What if my Rage has progressed too far? What if that’s the reason the Implant isn’t working?
“They’ll kill me.”

***

I stand in front of a mirror, and watch as my reflection repeatedly smashes her fists into the hard surface. Blood pours in steady streams down her arms but it’s me that feels the pain. When she finally stops, I watch as the cracks in the mirror slowly disappear, fading until the mirror is whole once more. And then she starts again.

***

“Kathy? Honey, it’s time to get up.”
My eyes fly open, and I can still feel a phantom pain running through my arms, as though I really have spend hours punching a mirror.
“I let you sleep as long as I could, but the Orderlies will be here soon.”
And just like that, fear of reality replaces the nightmare.

An hour later, we’re both still sitting silently in our tiny living room, waiting for the moment when they will burst into our flat. The tension in the room has been growing steadily higher as we wait, and now I’m nearly at breaking point. My mother’s eyes keep flickering to me and every time she flashes me a reassuring smile I feel like screaming. She has no idea that these are most likely our last moments together, and I won’t ruin them by telling her.
I rise to my feet and walk to the dirty window for the eighth time, looking out onto the street below. Only this time, rather than seeing an empty road, I watch as a group of five Orderlies heading straight for our block of flats.
“They’re coming.” My voice is monotone, and it sends off warning shots to my mother. She makes her way over to me and grips my shoulders.
“You have nothing to worry about. Last night didn’t happen; they’ll never know.”
I take a deep breath and open my mouth, knowing this is my last chance to tell her the truth before they arrive and take me from her forever. But the words catch in my throat, refusing to be spoken.
She frowns in concern. “What is it honey?”
I shake my head and force a smile. “Nothing. Just that I love you.”

Our front door bangs against the wall as it is thrown open.
“Citizens Mary Eventide and Katherine Eventide, report for testing.”
We don’t waste time, not prepared to give them an opportunity to manhandle us. We leave the living room and walk up the short hall, making our way to the open door. The moment we step out we are roughly separated, my mother to the left and me to the right. I’m penned in by two Orderlies, both of them holding one of my arms in grips tight enough to bruise.
I keep my eyes forward while I wait for the Orderly to finish testing my mother, forcing my face to remain blank and not show any fear.
I flinch at my mother gasp, and the Orderlies tighten their hold on me even further, causing me to hiss in pain.
“Shut up.” One of them growls at me, and I swallow down my angry reply.
“Clear.” The Orderly performing the test suddenly announces. “Get back inside while we finish testing.”

I hear her leave, but my eyes are solely on the Orderly now standing before me. I eye the machine in his hand, zeroing in on the needle protruding from the end. I swallow nervously, knowing what I have to do but desperately not wanting to.
The Orderly raises his eyebrow in silent warning, and reluctantly I tilt my head to the side, allowing him clear access to my neck.
He doesn’t waste time, slowly easing the needle into my neck. Tears prick my eyes but I refuse to make a sound. If these are my last moments, I won’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me weak.
The machine draws some of my blood and then the needle is removed. I feel a warm bead start to slowly trail down my neck but I’m more focused on the Orderly as he stares at the machine’s screen.
It’s funny how seconds can stretch into hours, as though your brain is trying to trick you into believing you have more time than you do.  
When the Orderly looks up from his screen and I see the look of surprise flash across his face, I feel like I might be sick.
Fuck. This is it.
And then the look is gone. The Orderly’s face is once again a blank mask, as though it had never changed.
“Clear. Get back inside.”

The Orderlies holding me release my arms and I nearly don’t catch myself. My legs feel so weak they can barely support me. All I can do is stare at the Orderly, knowing that something impossible just happened here.
“I gave you an order.” His voice is hard, and finally I move, darting back into the flat and into my mother’s waiting arms.
The door slams shut behind me and I hear the Orderlies retreating footsteps.
“Honey, it’s fine. It’s over. I told you there was nothing to worry about.”
You’re wrong. There was everything to worry about. But for some insane reason, what should have happened didn't.
Because there’s no doubt in my mind: the Orderly lied. That brief flicker of surprise told me everything. My percentage is higher than it should be, and he lied.
An Orderly saved me.
Why?

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