SPLITS

""Thats her!" Someone shouts and suddenly Im on the run."

In a world where the colour of your hair determines your social role and personality, having more than one colour is dangerous.

The colour bandits, the Splits, all have powers associated with their hair colours, and more often than not, bad attitudes.

Kat is a rare Pink Orange split- will she ever find another?

Honour has no place in survival.

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2. Theres Something Dangerous On The Horizon

"This is Raymond. Ray, this is Pinkie." Frank pushes me towards a strong looking brown and... Just brown. "Shes still a bit scared."

I turn around to look at Frank in fear and he laughs.

"He dyes his hair so he can walk around the city."

"Pinkie?" Ray asks, laughing a little. His laugh doesnt victimise me. I suddenly like Ray.

"She doesnt know her talent yet."

"Wow." Ray nods, stepping closer to take a closer look at me.

Keeping up the visage of being weak is incredibly difficult. They all seem to be like me, which is a new atmosphere for me.

"Shes certainly real. Take her to the bunkers and show her a bed?"

"You know, Ray, I was on my way there right now."

Ray laughs and we continue walking.

Outside is just sand, for miles. It kind of shocks me, but I really dont know what I was expecting. "Lets get back in the van and Ill show you the bunker in sector C."

I nod and trail after him.

/////

The bunker is pretty much explained in the name. A room with bunk beds circling the room.

"Sorry, you pulled the short straw here, you- uh- you got Gerards top bunk. We can swap sometimes if you want but... Uh... Only if youre desperate. I sleep there." He points up across the room and I nod.

"Whats so bad about sleeping top bunk to Gerard?" I ask.

He shrugs before looking around for something. "Oh... I forgot you dont have any possessions... We can share those for sure..."

He looks around the room for a moment as if to say 'this is it' and then my phone rings. I cant believe I get reception out here. I pull it up out my pocket before seeing the contact name. I excuse myself outside, wondering around to the back wall. Only then do I answer it.

"Hello?" I call down the line.

"Kat where the fuck are you?" I take my phone away from my ear for a moment to brace for his next words. "You promised 8pm sharp and now the suns setting."

"Oh Im sorry!" I yell defensively. "Its not my fault I got kidnapped!"

"We had a deal, get back here and give us a lock! Rumours will spread about you... I bet theyve already started-"

"Dont you dare start bitching about me- I could fucking beat you down in a moment." My voice cracks from yelling so loud. "Just take my old base, I dont give a rats ass!"

"Im tracking your phone currently, Ill be over soon to take my part of the deal."

I put my hand in my pocket, shuffling for a lighter. "Its a shame my phones on fire then, huh?" I flick the lighter on and hold my phone over it. "Good luck getting your shitty orange hair now, asshole!"

As my phone starts blazing I throw it as far as my arm will let me, and it flies like a comet across the clear blue sky.

I turn to walk back inside but I meet Frank with his mouth wide open. I panic for a moment before coming up with something to say. "They say I do great customer service... Where now? Is there a food hall or something?"

He doesnt move and I take a deep breath.

"He wants my hair."

He still doesnt move.

"Theres no fucking way he is taking advantage of me."

Franks voice wheezes out. "You were so vulnerable looking- I- you were so soft."

"Jesus Frank, Im sorry, I tried to keep it up, but what can I do? Fake who I am?" Thats exactly what I did. I laugh before passing him back inside. "Is there a food hall?"

"Yeah, yeah, lets go..." Frank looks down at the ground for a moment.

I snap back into my innocent looking shell and follow after Frank into the van again. We drive in silence for a few moments until I decide that the awkwardness shouldnt be there.

"Who was that?" Frank cuts in before I can speak.

"A friend." I reply plainly, looking into the plainness desert.

"I dont believe you."

"Fine, my friends are pretty thin on the ground..." I cant help but laugh again. "Its a guy who was keeping me alive in return for giving him snippets of my hair. Good deal, right?"

Frank laughs. "Thats why youve got layers? That such a bad idea..."

"I dont really care how my hair looks..."

"No, me neither, but the longer hair you have, the stronger your powers are. Talking of, thats the food hall on the left, but we are going to the training centre."

"Wait no I want to see the food-"

"We can grab some food once we are training or something."

I roll my eyes and lean back in my chair. "Can I at least drop the weak innocent persona now?"

"Gs gonna be threatened!" He laughs, swerving the van a bit.

"So no?"

"Were chill."

I nod. Theres another silence as we turn a corner to see Ray standing outside a massive building. He stands strong. Id call Ray a strong and confident person, but not confident with that of the opposite sex Im sure. Ill test that later.

I jump out the car after Frank and follow after him, putting on the shy persona again.

"Hey Ray!" I greet him with a cute smile and a wave. I hear Frank puff frustration from behind me.

"Kat." He nods with a smile. "Frank, you shown her around?"

Frank laughs sarcastically, he must still be in shock. "Yeah I have, havent I Pinkie?" He slaps his hand on my back, making me stagger a step forward. "Lets get started then, see if shes hiding anything." He laughs again and Ray starts to walk towards the building.

"Piss off." I mutter jokily at him.

We step into the building. There are different rooms, Ray leads me into a room with a machine in it.

"Whats the plan?" I ask.

"Just a few tests, we can try some more another time if we dont find anything today..." Ray nods to himself. "So if I set it up correctly..." He looks at his watch. "You have about 4 minutes until this bomb goes off."

Ray must be a nutcase. I look back at him in shock. I have never touched a bomb in my life.

I kneel down in front of it and press one of the buttons, nothing happens. I have to think logically about this. My mind swims and Ray tells me a minute has passed. I have no clue what Im doing, am I meant to know?

"Am I meant to know what to do?" I ask, turning around.

"Keep going." Ray says.

I throw up my hands in a strop and start pressing random buttons in the hope of an answer. It beeps every time I press something, but I dont know what that means. I pick it up and shake it.

"One minute."

"What the f-" I start, but stop myself. Think innocent. Think child. I breathe. "What am I meant to do?"

Tears well in my eyes and I try trapping my hand in one of the dips of the bomb to top the tears over the edge. If I cry at them- I turn to look at it properly and roll my eyes at it before throwing it at the far wall. It explodes into smoke, not enough to harm someone, but enough to shock them completely if they happened to be holding it.

"Did I pass?"

"What do you- no. Lets move on." Frank says.

Theres a gun range. Im sure I have good aim. Its not hard... I pick up a gun and wait for instruction.

"Just hit the centre of the target. You have 4 bullets." Ray states, suddenly holding a clipboard.

Hes marking me on this. Goddamn Ray.

"She wont get it." I hear Frank mumble.

I hold the gun up and point it towards the target, far down the end of the room. I shoot it and stagger back at impact. It hit on the edge of the target.

I try again, stepping forward and positioning my feet. I aim again... And fire.

I dont hit it. Again.

The final shots seems like a waste of bullets after that. Just a line through the centre yet never hitting it.

"Told you." I hear Frank whisper.

That really works me up. I storm after Ray to the next room. Frank must be purposely trying to get me angry. Ill show him angry. Ill show Ray talent. Ill-

There are dummies scattered across the room. They look really creepy...

"Just take them down. Fight them." Ray says.

I turn around and see Frank smirking. Im going to pretend each one of these dolls is Frank and Im going to fucking take their heads off.

I run at the first doll and swing my leg over towards its head. Franks head. Franks teasing face. My foot collides with the head, taking it straight off. I stick a landing before kicking it over, straight in the chest. My foot goes straight into the doll and I end up standing in its chest as it lies on the floor.

"Kat!" Rays voice suddenly hits me.

"Huh?" I turn around innocently, dragging the body with me.

"Dont kill them, goddammit! Just kick them over or something!"

I pull my foot out the carcass and laugh a sorry before moving on.

I slowly make my way through the dummies, beating them up quickly. Some are on a ball and bounce back up but I manage to completely take them all down.

I turn around at the end, breathing heavily, and give Frank the finger.

"Howd I do?" I ask.

"I- uh... Yeah. I think we found it." Ray says.

"Can we test her on the last one anyway? I want to see her struggle at it." Frank laughs to himself.

"Gees Frank, youre feeling sadistic today. Fine, we shall continue."

We walk to the next room and I wipe my hand over my forehead. A running machine? Easy. I like running.

I jump on to the machine before inviting Frank to test me.

"For this... Just keep up." Ray says.

The wall behind is padded. Id hate to see someone fail this.

Frank takes a remote and presses a bunch of buttons. Im still tired from taking down an army, but as the machine speeds up I keep up.

I start to edge into running and eventually I have to start pushing myself.

"In a few seconds we could discover a second power..."

Suddenly it speeds up further and I have to pay attention on running as fast as my body lets me.

"You can stop now, youve certainly proved a second talent... Wait, one last thing... Lift up Frank?"

I walk over to him and grab him before he can protest.

"Now get back on the running machine..."

I get on the running machine and it starts moving again. With Frank I start to jog and eventually run. Frank kind of ruins it, yelling profanities so that Id drop him.

"Thats all I need to see really." Ray cuts in suddenly, stopping the machine. "Weve got a new runner."

"A new what?" I ask.

The machine slows and I throw Frank onto his feet.

"A runner." Frank says. "The people that go and collect the splits? Im a runner."

I nod.

"Also, can you lose this bullshit sweetie pie persona?"

"Suck my ass Frank, I can do what I want."

"Thats more like it."

/////

That evening I climb into bed and await for Gerard to return so I can work out why sleeping over him was so bad. I mean, whats the worst that could happen?

Gerard is the last to come in that night. He stumbles in with a girl and collapses on the bed. I can hear lips smacking and I turn over in disgust. Is this whats so bad? I can deal with this!

Then bed rocks and squeaks for hours. Im thrown around and I resort to sleeping under the covers. Fucking Gerard.

My eyes feel like theyre still open when I regain consciousness and I practically fall out of bed.

"Can you stop making such a racket or Ill slice you in practice and call it an accident." Gerard groans, turning over.

He told me to be quiet? I could just cut him up right now...

I ignore him, for now, and storm out the room into the desert landscape. Ray is standing outside, leant against the wall.

"Morning." He states, not looking in my direction. "How did you sleep?"

I laugh, walking next to him.

"I know, Gerards an asshole sometimes, but after what happened, we kind of give him the benefit of the doubt."

"What happened?"

"Like Im going to tell you this early into your stay here." Ray laughs, crossing his arms and leaning back onto the wall. "Sand heats up soon, Ill get Mikey to take you to tech to get you some gear. I expect youll be in the briefing later?"

"Briefing?"

"Before you go get another split... Back in the city? Youre still in right?"

"I never originally agreed-"

"So you dont want to go?"

"No, no! I mean... Yes, yes! I want to go."

"Okay, well Ill see you at 4 then." He says obviously, pulling a phone out his pocket and texting something. "Mikey will be over in a moment. Ill see you at 4, unless youre gonna chicken out?"

I roll my eyes.

Ray climbs onto a motor bike and takes off into the desert, and in the other direction I see the van approach.

I met Mikey briefly yesterday, he seems quite... Quiet, maybe. I mean, he didnt exactly say much...

I see Mikey jump out the car and I wave at him. He looks down at the floor before looking up and walking slowly over. Behind me I hear sand shuffling and then see a lock of orange hair hit my vision.

"Mikey, take me to the food hall?" Gerard says.

Mikey looks at me and then at Gerard before nodding. I follow after the pair to the van and end up getting in the back, as Gerard gets shotgun.

The journey is practically silent. Mikey is too meditative to say anything of frivolous value and Gerard is too high strung to talk to newbies.

"Are we going to get me kitted out after this?" I ask.

Mikey nods and I sigh, frustrated, giving up and leaning back in my seat.

"He doesnt speak a lot. I think hes just dumb." Gerards voice bounces off the walls and I can practically feel Mikeys hands tighten on the wheel.

"He seems perfectly capable to understand me." I try and defuse the situation before we crash or something.

"He just pretends he does, he isnt even human anymore, just a tech absorbed robot."

With that Mikey lets go of the wheel and unbuckles his seatbelt, jumping straight into Gerards seat. His hands move so fast on Gerard and soon theyre fully fighting each other. I watch in shock as Mikey goes ham on Gerard. The slapping sounds are unbelievably close together.

As the car starts to swerve I realise I need to grab the wheel if we want to stay alive. I unbuckle my belt and grab the wheel as we start to swerve onto the sand. The car is bumping over rocks and I struggle to control the cars grip. This is where I start to panic slightly.

I swerve so that we at least go in the direction of the road.  We go across the road onto the other load of sand and so I swerve it again, less violently. As I swerve I start climbing over the seats. The car drives in tight circles as I try and get into the drivers seat. I can see the building in the distance, meaning help is near. Although... Theres a small crowd outside and someones pointing. Great.

I completely ignore the gear stick and most of the buttons as I try and direct us towards the building. I dont understand how anyone can drive one of these things... I try out the far right pedal and we go speeding forwards, making my head slap against the head rest. My left foot tries the far left one and nothing happens. We are practically a hundred meters from killing a group of people. I need to work out how to use a car right now. I slap down the middle pedal and the car screeches to a stop, not 20 meters from an aghast Frank.

I turn the key on the car, turning off the engine supposedly, and open the door. I stumble onto the sand and trip a few steps before collapsing on my face. The sand is so warm and solid. Solid ground. I laugh to myself, I just stopped a car from crashing. I dont know how a car works.

"Katherine, you okay?" Frank asks from over me.

I roll over onto my back, and cant stop laughing. "I- I- dont know how to drive!"

Frank kneels down next to me and I put my hands over my face, trying to stop laughing.

"They were fighting and- and- I had to take the wheel-" I burst back into laughter. "I cant drive at all- I-"

"Can you stand?" Frank asks, holding out a hand.

I take his hand and he helps me up. My legs shake but I can still stand safely.

"I count that as mechanical talent." He nods. "Im going to talk to Ray..."

With that he turns and leaves me standing alone by the car.

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