Today, school was awful. I walked into the form room and some of the other students had drawn scars onto their faces with biro. I turned around to run out of the room. As I ran, I saw a boy watching me from the public area outside the window. He was just walking by, but as his eyes locked with mine. His chestnut brown hair and high cheekbones made him look ever so handsome. He would have looked so much better though if her didn't look so serious. If only he'd smile. People don't seem to understand that I never chose to look like this. Ever since the car incident when I was 7, people cross the road when they see me. I never wanted to have a facial disfigurement. People don't understand that it hurts more when they talk behind my back, than when they insult me to my face. Nobody at school even knows that I'm in foster care, because they car incident that scarred my face left me an orphan, with two dead siblings.
Ever since I was born I've known that I'm special. I'm different. I used to confuse my social workers by telling them what they were thinking about, and how they should deal with it. It's like I can read people's thoughts.
All through my life, (since the car incident) I've been able to read people. Not only is my mind very sensitive to people's tones of voice, but also their body language. However, if that were the only problem, then I would be okay, I would keep it under control. I can read people's minds. I know this sounds stupid, but I can. Not the stupid stuff that you see people do on TV, where they tell you what your cat's name is, but whatever springs into your mind at any moment, I can see. But I am also so much more…
I've never really known who I am, only that my name is Adele Hannah DeWinter, and that I am seventeen years old. Being who I am hasn't been easy. All through my life I have felt a strange sense of being prey. Like in films when everything goes quite as the lion sneaks up on the zebra. The music plays a quiet undertone, then… BANG! The bang moment just hasn't happened yet. It's just that I've lived my whole life feeling watched, as if the predator is sneaking up behind me, but invisible. There is no trace of them. No sound, no smell, nothing to see, just an instinctive feeling of dread.
Is there someone out there watching me? Why can I read people so effectively? Why was I born different? What did I ever do to deserve the scar on my face? Is someone coming for me? Should I be scared?
I doubt I'll ever be able to answer these questions, so I guess I should just try to clear my mind, roll over and try to go to sleep. I have school to contend with again in the morning. And who knows what problems it may bring?
The door slams behind me, and I take a deep breath. They aren't following me. I can tell. The police sirens fade away into the distance. Either they hadn't been looking for me, or they had no idea what I look like. Anyway, my name is Maximilian Galloway. I have been on the run from Unity since I was nine. Now, I'm eighteen, and I don't plan to get caught any time soon. When they capture new Hypersensitives, (I like to call them Hypes) they take them back to their research facility in the heart of London, but I've evaded them for near on ten years. They'll shoot me on sight. The life of a Hype is hard. I'm a Changer. It's useful when you're on the run. As soon as they catch up to you, just find some people, touch one of them, and instantly, you look like them.
I saw a girl with rose-red hair in the school that I passed. I don't know what it was about her that stuck with me, but it's like she's imprinted on my brain.
My breathing is calming down. I'm not too unfit, but running has never been my thing. Put it this way, at school, I was always nominated for the egg and spoon race. I can feel the adrenalin pulsing through my body. At least I'm home now. Well, as much home, as a deserted, run-down shack of a house can ever be. Whenever Unity get on my tail (which is far too often) I have to switch house. Staying in one place all the time is far too risky.
From time to time I have come across another Hype. I met a girl called Maya this time last week. We camped out in what I had thought was one of my undiscovered hideouts. However, Unity had found out about it somehow, and cornered us. She sacrificed herself so that I could get away from them. She was a Concealer. She could make objects (or people) invisible. They stayed exactly where you left them, and if you reached out to where they were, you could feel them, but she could only hide one of us, so she hid me. They shot her dead with one bullet, and I, like the coward that I am, fled.
The first rule of being on the run is the hardest to stick to. Especially if you are running with someone: trust no one.
I only realised a few years ago, that there are so many different types of us. There are Changers (like me), there are Concealers, Readers, Movers, Thinkers, and so many more… The world is so much bigger, so much more dangerous than I ever even considered possible. Normal humans don't understand anything. We are different from them. We are better than them, and that makes them run scared.
I walk into the main room and throw my jacket over the cardboard box that I positioned next to the fire. I sit down on top of it. I need to rest. Already, I have spent too long in this safe house. If it were to be breached, I know not what I would do. I walk over to the cupboard and pull out my sleeping bag and some newspaper. With a deep sigh, I fold up the paper and lay it down. My makeshift pillow isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but it's better than nothing.
I lay my head down and snuggle into the sleeping bag. After nine years running solo, something in my life still hasn't settled down. There's something missing and I don't know what it is. It isn't a proper home, I know that much. I enjoy the freedom of running too much for that to be the case. So it's something else. What is it? Will I ever even know?
Knock, knock! There's someone at my door. “Come in!” I call out. Michelle walks in. She looks sorrowfully at me, and at my scar. “It's dinnertime.” she says. I'm really hungry, yet I reply, “I'm not hungry.” The truth is that I'm not up to going downstairs and dealing with their pitying looks when they see my face again. I may be different, but that doesn't give them the right to stare at me like I'm a caged animal in a zoo. I contemplate going down with her when … WHAM! I am knocked out of my own thoughts and into hers. How did I not notice her body language. Everything that I see here adds up now. Images are swirling through my mind, no, her mind, no, my mind… I'm not actually sure which, any more. Pictures, flashes of her life, her thoughts, her ideas flash through our mind. We are united for this moment. In this second, we are one. I see why she was so quiet when she came back from school today. I can see her watching someone, her boyfriend. He is kissing her best friend. She interrupts them. Her best friend looks up and goes red. She hangs her head ashamedly. She runs out of the room. Her boyfriend looks up. “I'm sorry honey,” he says, his voice all sweetness and light. She knows what is coming. “It's us. We're not right together. Me and Grace, we just mesh.” She looks him right in the eye. “Isn't that what you said to me when we were first together. You said you loved me. You said you'd never leave me.” “Michelle, please. There's no point trying to hang onto something that was never real. Let it go. Let us go.” “Adele! Adele! Can you hear me?” she calls. I must have gone quite while I looked through her thoughts. I wish this would stop happening. She turns around to leave. I look up at her. “I'm sorry about your boyfriend,” I say. I really need to get on top of this habit of just blurting things out. Michelle stares at me in horrified silence, her eyes going wide as she makes sense of what I just said. I can almost hear the cogs whirring in her brain. “What the hell?” she replied. “How on earth could you possibly know about me and Mikey?” “Don't ask me how I know, because I cant explain.” I lower my gaze, ashamed...
The sun beams through the tattered lacy curtains that flutters around the window. They are angels, trapped in our dreary world. I roll up my sleeping bag and shove it into the pouch I keep it in. I scrunch up the newspaper into a ball and thrust it onto the fire that still gently burns in the corner of the room. I am always careful when I leave one place to make sure that there are no traces of me left behind, especially not anything a Tracker could use to find me. Unity is riddled with Trackers.
I shove everything of mine into my rucksack and check back through the rooms of the deserted house. There can be no trace of me left here, or my life is in imminent danger. I pick up my penknife which has fallen to the floor as I hear a knock at the front door of the house. Who knows that I am here? Who could possibly know that I am here? Fear chills me to the core, and a spark of electricity creeps up my spine.
Creak, creak, creak, go the floorboards as I try to make my way to the front door treading as lightly as I can. It makes little difference if there is a Sensor outside the door though, they would have known I was here as soon as they stepped onto the street. Even in a busy street or the centre of a crowd, a Sensor can find you, if there are people around, they just have to concentrate a little harder to focus on your individual sense.
I stretch out my hand and the fingers settle comfortably around the doorknob. I pause. I take this moment to steady myself. I adjust my balance so that my weight is distributed evenly between my feet, and I position myself so that I can get my whole bodyweight behind the force of a blow if needs be. My muscles tighten around the doorknob, and twist…
The door opens slowly, and my fist flies out and meets the jaw of the person with a sickening crack. I expected to see many people standing there, many adults, but instead I see a young girl standing there. Her hand flies up to her mouth.
“Are you Max Galloway?” she asks. “I was sent here by Unity to retrieve you for them.” Her frankness makes me stall for a minute, then I take action. She may only look about twelve, but if she's from Unity, she'll probably have some serious training, so I seize the moment and throw out another punch, this one to the side of her head.
A look of surprise mingled with fear flashes across her face as she crumples to the ground. I knew the punch would knock her out for a bit, but the look on her face was of absolute terror. For a moment – just a moment – I really doubt myself. What have I done?
I kneel to the ground next to her. I know she must be in pain from the two punches, but I don't want her to be scared. Once she's out, she won't wake up for another two hours or so. Something about her face rings alarm bells in my mind. Do I know her?
“Who are you?” I ask her. “Why did Unity send you to retrieve me? I thought they had orders to shoot me on sight.”
“I don't know what Unity want you, but I do know why they sent me. This is the first time that I have seen the sun in nine years.”
“But who are you?” I ask her, a little impatiently. “What's your name?”
“My name is Alison Galloway,” she says. “I am your sister...”