Sticks and Stones

"By the end of this book you are going to hate me. Scratch that - By the end of this blurb you will sincerely hate me." ********* Akilah Ackerman and Asami Akuhei are step-sisters. Both share dark pasts and both have created dark futures for themselves. One is suffering from a mental illness and one is a manipulative back-stabber. One is trying to gain approval from the living, while the other is trying to gain approval from the dead. One is Psychologically Efficient whilst the other is trying to keep themselves sane. One is about to rule an entire nation and one is going to lose that and their history. This is no ordinary story about sibling rivalry...


3. 1. Broken Bones


The problem with trying to define a paranoid person is simple - you really can't. Unless you can really get into the mind of a broken mind, you will only get as far as speculating and no one likes a guess when they wish for the facts. Truth be told It was only natural that I would end up receiving treatment for my broken brain (my family has a long and tragic case of issues when one ignores their power-lust) however the difference is they could easily hide whatever was occurring inside by means of calculated planning and careful, well -thought of actions, I am not that lucky. The whole system is simply against anyone who has what I have, suffering from what I have often resulted in immediate banishment to the outer walls (the least developed of all our land) I was just lucky.

I was born into comfort and prosperity, no worry about what occurs outside of my home and it is just so much a blessing as it is a curse. The world in which I am growing up in is a twisted one, whereby your mental state decides everything - where you live, how you will eat (whether that is with the pigs or with the splendours of three , five-star dishes) , the overall treatment you will receive from our rule and how one is valued in society in general. So fate decides whether you will grow up a pawn or live to be a knight - just never a king. That power will never go to the people.

By now I will have hoped that you can guess where I lie in the scale of life, but if you haven't yet, all I will say is this. I am a prisoner of my own mind, living in the freedom of my own reality and I detest it. We all live in a dome, divided and powerless meanwhile, there is an entire world out there most likely living in some form of calamity that we will never know about. A dome and rings of walls - very welcoming. I have a whole history to back me up in case of any problems and that is the problem.

Dear reader (I don't really know you and you don't really know me so I can hardly call you my friend now can I?) I would like to introduce you to my history that has now become my present and future; The House of Ackerman.

This is the family who created this new society, moulded and sculpted to remain separate from the terrors that lie outside - we are the reason for every great thing to have ever occurred in Imperia. The family consists of me, my father (and current ruler) Tobias Regis (or King Tobias of Ackerman), my step - mother Suki and my step-sister Asami.

When I see my father, I only see Black.

The colour of all things corrupt.

His eyes are full of deception, I could see through his façade. To be quite honest with you, I could only see a corpse when I saw the man within, slowly withering in pain as he unwillingly welcomed his old demons - I speak of this, not in regards to a physical corpse (for the man is still very much alive) but that his compassion and humanity has sunk in with other remnants in his dire earth. My father has a way of words, he is able to make anyone comply with his wishes due to his charismatic aura and flair - something Suki must have picked up on when cheating on her ex. I don't hate them for it, I loathe them for it and so does Asami who joined our family at age 8 - when I was 10- from a regular child living in Douglas (the mid- wall) with her parents to waking up one parent short and moving in with the royals (any child would be happy at the change of lifestyle, but not Asami) not even before hearing about why she had to leave, did her eyes only show distaste in what was before her.

My first official meeting with her was on a Monday, I believe, on Boxing Day 8 years ago. Father had called me to the dining room early in the morning (I hadn't seen him during the holidays at all so I assumed it was he was coming with an apology gift) never would I guessed that I was welcomed to my new family.

Sat on both sides of our dining table was a Japanese woman with her daughter, scouring the room with her eyes as to most likely avoid all that was occurring around her. The woman said some things to her child in Japanese (along the lines of "It's nice, isn't it?") I just stood there, attempting to process the situation (with little success). The girl saw me eventually and gestured to her mother to look behind her- upon seeing me she had a slightly perplexed look on her face, which she quickly got rid of with a nervous smile. The woman bowed and said her greetings before finally introducing herself

"My name is Suki, Suki Akuhei and this is my daughter Asami," she gestured towards her daughter who at this point sat up very tentatively before turning back to me

"You must be Akilah, his daughter..." She had a look on her face that  seemed like this was just as much of a surprise as it was to me

I couldn't say anything that wouldn't sound rude so I just told her to sit down again, she looked very frail, almost famished. I knew that father wouldn't just allow anyone into the castle so why her?

"So, have you eaten anything yet?" I asked Suki

"No but we're alright, thank you"

"I wasn't offering you my food; I was asking if you had eaten yet." I snapped back.

Suki looked down at the table and began playing with her raven black hair.

"What are you doing here anyway, citizens are not meant to enter the castle. And for the record, it's Al'amirat Akilah for you." I stated with acid tone to my voice

Before she could answer my question my father waltzed into the room with his phone to his ear. After finishing the call, he sat down on his seat.

"Why are there no plates? Where is the breakfast? H56!" H56 was a servant in our house. He came quickly

"Yes, your majesty?"

"Bring the family some food for goodness sake!" my father said before ushering him away

The room fell back into its tense silence. Asami, still staring at everything but the table, Suki still sat quietly now tracing the patterns of her dress and I refusing to sit, just stood there .

It was my father who eventually broke the silence.

"You are all probably wondering why I've called you all down here , well there is no use in beating around the bush , Akilah meet your new step-sister and mother, I've already sorted everything out and so they'll be moving in with us today."

I simply walked out.

I ignored Suki for the longest time and so did Asami (my father was hardly ever around to ignore) and that in turn turned me and Suki's relationship frosty, I despised her for the longest time and she eventually grew tired of my ways and disliked me greatly. It wasn't until quite recently she and I have begun talking again...

Suki is the only one aware of my condition and has been helping me deal with it. She has opened her doors to me and I walk in openly. Suki has gone as far as providing me with a doctor for me to attend sessions to. I spend most days with Suki just discussing mostly what's going on in my head and she would often just listen. My condition is something that like I said before should have sent me to the outer walls but somehow I managed to attain a 92 on my PET (Psychological efficiency Test)


The Psychological Efficiency Test is simply put a series of assessments carried out on all children at the age of 5 which state the current and future calculations of a person's mental efficiency. With that score (out of 100) it is decided in which wall the child will end up moving to (unless of course, their score corresponds with the bracket of their current place of residence. So say a child scored a 46 and they lived in Inner Wall Ricci since the criteria to live in Ricci is between 76 & 100, the child would be required to move to the Mid Wall (Johnson-Garrett). In that case, the child would first need to stay in a relocating home until a family is found to take care of them. And what's the purpose of all this - practicality and order. The ability to decide the fate of every single person living under your rules and having no choice but to comply with the rules that your forefathers swore to comply with decades ago.


I guess that's part of the problem with me and Asami's relationship. She attained a 50 in her PET, whilst I got my 92; one thing I've learnt about her is that she doesn't like to lose. Asami is very competitive and that can often be her downfall - her will to win clouds her judgement. I have won nearly every single Dokimí Thémata (a series of tests in our school curriculum subjects that assess the children from every school in Wall Ricci and Wall Johnson-Garrett each year on every subject we learn at school and the overall score out of 1000) and have received attention from the top scholars in Imperia (not that I really want it) Asami has often come second to me and it turns her frosty. She would refuse to speak to me for weeks until she just so happens to accomplish something and would go bragging to me about it- that's when I know we're on speaking terms again.

Ironically enough, Asami and I were inseparable during the first few years of us living together, we filled the gaps that our parents created and supported each other. I taught her all there is to know about royal etiquette and how to conduct herself- and since I was at the time learning Japanese, Asami brought it upon herself to teach me the language. I would explain the fully how the System operated and sometimes (when father and Suki got into a fight) she'd come to my room at night and ask if she could braid my afro - and I'd happily oblige. We were real sisters - however, that has changed during recent times. Asami has become a lot more distant and honestly we haven't had a real conversation in months. Now when I see her, I only see the colour of crimson - constant anger and restlessness.


"So Akilah, could you rate your day so far for me please?"

Date: 8th August 2118

Time: 13.55

Weather forecast: partially cloudy, precipitation 0%, humidity 62%, wind 18mph

Nightmares: Minimal

"6.2 At the most."

Taking notes.

"Did you sleep alright?"


"The same dream?"


More note taking.

Sitting across me on the burgundy, leather chair is my psychiatrist Dr Esther Days. This is my 62nd session (or something like that) and they don't seem to be improving at all.

I try to answer as vaguely as possible, however not too vague for her to notice and make sure that I completed my assignments (or exercises as she would like me to call them) accordingly.

"Akilah, do you know why you keep having the same dream?"


Dr Days sighs defeated and places her notepad onto the glass table, she tilts her head ever so slightly in confusion, and her eyes only speak worry.

"Is there a problem Dr.?"

"No, no! Honestly, It's just... never mind," Dr Days checks her smart watch "Well would you look at the time, you best be off!"

I leave hurryingly and end up bumping into Asami, who is on her way to her ballet lesson, we greet each other and I am about to go when she asks me,

"Where did you just come from ?" to which I respond with

"Nowhere, why?"

She just laughs ever so amusedly and proceeds to put her gear down for a moment,

"It's funny because mother told the exact same thing. She gives me the same response whenever I ask about where you run off to this time of day... Akilah, where are you going now?"

"Does it really matter where I am going? Hell, do I even owe you an explanation Asami? I mean you've hardly shown any interest in my personal life. "

"Let me guess, of to see my mother again like you do every day, honestly she spends more time with you than she does with me her actual daughter. Last I checked you loathed her!"

I really don't understand her sudden jealousy , Asami is usually one not to display her real thoughts and feelings to anyone so this is a bit off character.

"I don't loathe her , I just want to talk to her is that so bad Asami?"

I turn again to walk away.

"Just because your mum left you and probably is 6 feet under doesn't mean you get to steal everything away from others!"

I take a deep breath and continue to walk away.

When I get to Suki's quarters, I can hear the sound of the TV playing. I knock but no response. After waiting for a while longer, I decide to walk in...


Blood and broken bones.

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