The Protectors

Nia's world as she knows it is about to crumble down around her, everything she knows is a lie and she doesn't know who she can trust anymore. Can Nia and her friends stop before humanity itself is wiped out, or will the secrets push Nia too far?

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2. Chapter One

     The day was like any other in the beginning, I woke up to my usual annoying ringtone and the sounds of children’s feet thudding against the wooden floor as they rushed from room to room waking each other up before they all piled outside of my door, whispering loudly to each other as they tried to surprise me. Every year they would do this on my birthday, they would try to be silent as they opened the door but like every year the room was filled with their giggles as they tried to quiet them with their hands.

I remained on my side with my back to them, trying to bury my smile into my pillow as I pretended to sleep. It was silent for a minute before I was suddenly jumped on by an army of screaming and giggling children as they bounced on the bed screaming for me to wake up. That was when I acted, I jumped upright in bed, my blanket pooling around my hips as I reached my arms around and hugged as many of them as I could, their surprise shrieks causing a smile to spread wide across my face.

Once they had calmed down they made themselves comfy next to me, Molly a four-year-old, was sat next to me on my left nearly falling off the bed causing me to wrap my arm around her shoulder to keep her on the bed, her messy brown hair still knotted and crazy from where she was sleeping, her brown eyes filled with happiness as she rested her head on my body, her pink nighty was crumpled and the picture of Rapunzel was fading from all the washes it had been through.

George a six-year-old, sitting on my right, his legs crossed underneath him, his small hands holding onto my free one. His blonde hair was sticking up in different directions and he kept rubbing his eyes showing just how tired he was. His bright blue eyes looking at me every now again and a smile would show exposing his teeth.

Sitting on my lap was a little girl named Lucy who was three and just learning how to talk. She had brown hair that had red streaks in the sun and was loose down her shoulders, I couldn’t see her face but I knew she was making faces at Molly to wind her up, like always.

“Good morning Nia” they cried together as they hugged and bounced on me, laughing loudly I pulled them all closer to me and kissed each on their head “Good morning munchkins, did you sleep well?” I asked resting my chin on top of Lucy’s lightly, I felt her nod under my chin “I had a nightmare” George whispered quietly to the side of me, looking over at him I could see him looking at his crossed legs like they were the most important thing in the world, his eyebrow pulled together and his lips pouted together making him look younger than he was “What about sweetheart?” I asked him softly giving his hand a small squeeze, his shoulder shrugged and he wouldn’t look at me but I already knew what it was about.

George had only been with us for three months, his family burnt in a house fire accident and he was the only one they were able to pull out in time, poor baby had been having nightmares every night since he arrived, it drove our foster Mother Helena crazy, she was constantly yelling at him for waking her up. Pulling him to me I let go of his hand and wrapped it around his shoulders instead hugging him close “Next time George, I want you to come to me ok sweetheart” I whispered before lightly kissing his forehead feeling him nod once in agreement.

“You better be up, breakfast is ready and if I have to come up there you’ll spend an hour in the naughty room!” I heard the dreadful noise of Helena shout up from the bottom of the stairs, her hallow and cold voice bouncing off the walls before it found us in my room. The three children flinched slightly hearing her threat, sighing softly I unwrapped my arms from around the children. I placed Lucy on the floor first so she wouldn’t hurt herself, then I helped Molly slide off the bed and then held onto George as he climbed over me, all three stood by the bed each with the same look on their small and innocent faces. Dread and fear for the women downstairs waiting for us.

Helena hated children, she was only a foster Mother so she could collect on the benefits she got, her and her ‘boyfriend’ were rude, heartless, monsters who would happily lock children in the cold, dark basement for hours without food for even speaking back with a slight attitude and believe me I’ve had that punishment many times.

 “Go on munchkins, I’ll meet you downstairs in five minutes” I promised before pushing them towards the door to encourage them to start making their way downstairs and reluctantly they did. Running my hands through my light blonde hair I cringed when I felt the knots in between my fingers.

 My room was a simple bedroom; it wasn’t very big or very posh. It was an ugly yellow colour that was chipping in certain places on the walls, there were no family pictures hanging on the walls, no home touches to make you feel welcome, instead it looked bleak and sad when you walked through the door. The Chester draws were falling apart and the top door never opened unless you pulled with all the might you could muster and even then it took an hour to put back. The bed was old and creaked when you moved, the blanket was thin and didn’t fit on the bed properly.

Helena refused to pay for anything to help us decorate our rooms, she would punish you if she found anything hanging on the bedroom walls before ripping it up in front of you just because she could, her boyfriend would always watch from the door in case a child needed to be slapped around for extra measure, a sick smirk plastered across his ugly and podgy face.

My outfit for the day was simple, a pair of old black skinny jeans that had purposely been ripped across the knees, a grey thin long sleeved top that had a deep V-neck and material in a criss-cross style, a grey hooded jacket and my leather jacket over that.

I brushed the knots out of my hair before leaving it in its natural state which was a mass of blonde curls all the way down my back, my eyes were my best feature I thought because of how weird they were. They were a mixture of brown and green put together, around the pupil of my eyes was a hazel brown, around the outside was a light green. They changed colour depending on my moods, sometimes they showed more green in them than brown, other times there was only a thin but noticeable green outline to them. Today they were half and half, showing both brown and green in them.

Happy with my appearance I picked up my bag filled with my school supplies and made my way out of my room, my phone is hidden away in my bag so Helena didn’t find it because I knew that the minute she saw it she would take it off me and accuse me of stealing it.

As I got closer to the kitchen I could hear the silence, the sound was deafening and even though I couldn’t hear anyone talking I knew that every child was in there, sitting in the correct seat trying to eat as quickly and as silently as possible so they didn’t upset Helena or Robbie, her boyfriend. Pushing the door open I walked into the kitchen, ignoring the look Robbie threw my way when he saw that I was late, he loved when someone got into trouble, often he’d bait someone to argue back just so he could jump in and ‘punish’ us the way he wanted, with his fists and his feet.

He sat at the head of the table, a plate filled with bacon, eggs, beans, sausage laid out in front of him. His white t-shirt looking far too small for him as his belly pushed against it and I feared that if he took one more breath out it would rip. His had a podgy face, a crooked nose from being in way too many bar fights, his brown hair was slicked back due to all the grease in It. His hairline was receding and thinning out and that was something you didn’t want to mention. His green eyes were always filled with anger as he waited for the chance to hit one of us.

Next to him was Helena who was giving me a deadly look as I silently took my seat at the table, she wasn’t a young woman at forty-five, she had chestnut coloured hair which was always pulled back into a very tight and neat bun at the back of her head, she never had a hair out of place. She had tanned skin that I would be jealous of but she always covered it up with her high neck jumpers and her black smart trousers. She always tried to give the impression she was posher and more sophisticated than she was but she wasn’t fooling anyone.

Ignoring the deadly look, she was giving me with her dark brown eyes that seemed to stare right through you I gave a smile to the children sat around me, there were seven children other than me in this foster home. The oldest of the children was 15 and it was a young boy called Max, he had dark skin with chocolate brown hair that was in a messy afro, he had dark brown eyes that were always warm when they looked at me. He was tall for his age, standing a head taller than me which wasn’t that had really, he was muscular as well seeing as he was on the football team at school.

Then there was Ashley who was 9, he had a mop of blonde curls on top of his hair that even when he brushed it, it still didn’t help. He was a sweet boy who was shy at first but when he warmed up to you he was the sweetest boy in the world, he was really into reading and comic books, every time I went shopping I made sure to buy him a new one just to make him smile.

Then it was Harriet who was 7 and she was a handful to deal with, she was the loud and energetic one of the group and to make matters worse she was an early bird. She had a short bob to her chin of raven black hair that matched her ivory skin, she had brown freckles across her cheeks and nose which made her look so innocent and welcoming. Her dark blue eyes were piercing and made you think they could see past every lie you told. Next was my little munchkin George who was 6 like I had already mentioned and was glued to my hip after I came here a year and a half ago, he wouldn’t sleep unless I put him to bed, he refused to talk to anyone until I got here and then he finally opened up and started talking.

Molly who was 4 and is my adorable little bunny, she always carries a little pink rabbit around with her that I bought her from a fairground. She is the friendliest out of all of the children, she’ll welcome anyone into the house with open arms without hesitation and she’s always the first one to welcome me home by showing me her drawings from school.

Lucy who was 3 and is only just starting to talk, she can say words and she knows what she wants but she struggles to put sentences together and every time she struggles you can see the frustration on her face, her little eyebrows scrunch together, her mouth frowns and you can see how annoyed she gets, honestly it’s the cutest thing in the world.

 Lastly is Sam who was 8 months and the most recent to join our little group here, Helena barely gives him a glance and I’m always the one who has to look after him, but that’s the same with every child she brings in, they’re dumped on me because otherwise, she will barley raise a finger to help them. “You’re late” I heard Helena’s voice speak over the table, rolling my eyes I looked up from my bowl of grey sludge and looked over to her “I was getting ready” I muttered swirling my spoon around the sludge not wanting to put it in my mouth, honestly I wasn’t that desperate for food.

“When I tell you to come down I mean come down straight away, not come down whenever you’re ready” she snapped, her fork dropping to her plate noisily, biting my tongue to hold back a sarcastic answer I grinned happily “Well I had to, unless you want me to be late for school and have to speak to the principle?” I remarked, titling my head to the side in a mock-confused look. I could see her dark eyes swirling with anger and honestly it amused me knowing I was annoying her so much.

“You better fix that attitude girl or I’ll fix it for you” Robbie chimed from the head of the table, his smirk plastered across his face as he watched the interaction between Helena and I. Looking over to him I gave him a nasty look, his green eyes filling with anger but something happened as I stared at him. I watched as his green eyes turned pitch black, the whites of the eyes disappeared and instead it looked like I was staring into a black abys. Filled with hatred and anger and I could feel those emotions fill my body, it made the air seem cold, made goose bumps appear on my skin under my jackets and my hair stand on end.

It was only for a moment that I saw his eyes turn black as coal but it seemed a lot longer than that. He blinked before the green returned and I saw his face twist into a shocked look, diverting my eyes away from him I cleared my throat to distract myself before looking over the children’s faces “Right everyone, I think we should get ready to leave don’t you? Max help Molly and Lucy with their shoes please and I’ll go and get Sam ready” I instructed before standing up without looking towards Robbie or Helena.

I helped Lucy out of her chair and watched as she skipped happily over to Max, holding his hand in hr tiny one before pulling him through the kitchen doorway and disappearing into the hall, Molly following after behind them smiling as she listened to Lucy pointing to things and saying what they were called.

I picked up my bag feeling the weight on my shoulder before walking out of the room, I saw Max sitting with Lucy on his lap by the front door as he tried to get her to sit still long enough to put her little black shoes on while Molly sat next to him concentrating hard on doing the laces on her trainers. I climbed the stairs feeling my bag hitting my waist with every bounce, my art supplies dragging down my shoulder every second.

Sam’s room was down the hall way from mine. Directly in front of the stairs was a bathroom, the first door on the right of the bathroom was my door, opposite my door was Sam and Lucy’s bedroom because they’re the youngest. Next to their room was a smaller bathroom that Robbie declared as theirs and banned any children from going in. The last door on that side of the wall was their bedroom which I had never been into before and I wouldn’t want to. Opposite their room was Max’s at the very end of the hallway.  On the left side of the bathroom, there were two doors, the door next to the bathroom was Harriet and Molly’s bedroom together and then opposite them was the last bedroom and is where Ashley and George slept.

 Walking into the youngster’s bedroom I smiled when I heard Sam wriggling around in his cot, he was always such a smiling baby, he was sitting there in his cot a big grin on his face when he saw my head poking in through the ajar door. He had mousy brown hair that was so soft and the brightest blue eyes I had ever seen before.

“Come here then munchkin” I whispered as I gently picked him up and balanced him on my hip, I made sure to pack his bag the night before so I wouldn’t be late this morning, if I got another detention I would be in serious trouble. Sam giggled and clapped happily before he tangled his hand in my hair and played it with it as I walked out of his room, my school bag on one shoulder and his baby bag on the other one.  At the bottom of the steps, I could see Max standing there with all the children around him, all of them waiting for us to join them before we left. We always left together and walked to school, dropping the children off at their school before we carried on walking, I didn’t trust the children to walk on their own and I always picked them up.

Sam, Lucy, and Molly were the first to be dropped off at our neighbour’s house Mrs Jones who looks after them while we’re at school, she never complains about it and is always happy to babysit them for us when we need her too.

The schools were roughly close; they were only a fifteen-minute walk away from the house which made it easier to walk seven children there. The walk to school was quiet but it always was, Max would walk with his headphone’s in holding onto one of the younger children’s hands to make sure they didn’t run over. I would walk with the other children all of them chatting about nonsense that they found funny.

The walk to school wasn’t a pretty one, the area we lived in West Englewood in Chicago and it was a rough neighbourhood to live in, the houses were spray painted with graffiti, some of the windows were boarded up due to people breaking into houses, cars were robbed if they were parked on corners of the road, most people expected to come see their cars with their windows busted or their wheels slashed every morning.

When we came up to the school building Max took George, Harriet, and Ashley to their grades in the building next to the high school before he went to the changing rooms and got ready for his football training. He gave me a hug quickly which turned into a group hug when each of the children piled onto us and hugged us tightly, like every morning.

Watching them walk off, I saw George turn around slightly and gave me one last wave before he followed after Max into the Middle School building. Chuckling softly, I hitched my bag on my shoulder higher and braced myself for the day ahead of me. Walking into the building I looked around the corridor trying to find my best friend, she always waits outside our home room so we can see each other before the day begins.

It took me five minutes to make my way through the busy corridors, everyone rushing from their lockers to their friends before the first bell rang wanting to make plans for the break. Normally I would feel the same way but I had this weird feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t right, everyone seemed to be moving in slow motion around me, they’re voices drawled out and low. Conversations were blurring into another one making it impossible to click onto what someone was saying.

 It felt like I was watching everything happen around me, the time seemed to slow down, I could see every movement made as they walked, every hair strand on their head. I was brought out of it by feeling a hand grip onto my shoulder lightly pulling my body to the side, everything sped up too normal, the voices becoming sharper and clearer than before.

Startled I looked at the person who had turned me and saw Lexis standing there, a confused and curious look on her face as her eyes searched my face “You ok babe?” she asked giving me a curious look pulling her hand slowly of my shoulder. Shaking my head and letting out a fake chuckle “Yeah just had a bad morning with Robbie” I muttered rolling my eyes at the mention of his name, Lexis understood what I meant because of the bitch talks we’d had about him over the last 9 months of him being around.

“Tell me again why you won’t just come stay with me?” she whined as she entwined her arm with mine and pulled me towards her as she started walking down the corridor, dragging me with her. Laughing slightly, I looked to the side before I looked over at her again “Because I couldn’t do that to the munchkins, you know that” I told her before I pulled my arm out of hers and turned to face my locker.

Punching in the key code I pulled the door open and grabbed my art books from my bag and placed them into my locker. I had Fine Art class after the break and those books weighed a tonne to carry around all day. For my first lesson of school, I pulled out my French text-book and work book and also my Social Studies books from my locker before shutting it loudly, the sound echoing down the corridor.

Lexis was leaning against the locker next to mine, her long chestnut hair curls down her shoulders, her brown eyes looking over the at the mass of students trying to spot the familiar faces in the crowd. Lexis was stunning but she never used it for her own good, boys would constantly try to flirt with her but she never went for it, she always said they were only after one thing and she had no interest in a little boy.  She had an amazing body although she could never see it and would always disagree until she was blue in the face but that was what I loved about her. She was taller than I was and never let me forget about it no matter what we were talking about but she wasn’t the tallest either, standing at 5’5.

She was wearing a pair of black leggings, her white Nike trainers, a blue cotton button up shirt and a leather jacket that almost looked like mine, we bought them together as Christmas presents for each other. I clutched my books to my chest and turned to face her properly, leaning my shoulder onto the lockers only to see a wrapped box in front of my face. Looking up at her face I could see her lips spread into a massive grin as she watched me “Well come on, take it” she mocked as she pushed it towards me, rolling my eyes at her I ripped the present away from her and opened it, ripping the paper from the box in seconds.

When the paper was stripped off I saw that it was a charm bracelet, a silver metal band with a leaf or vine design in the centre of the band, the rest of the band had small silver, bronze or golden charms connected to it. They looked like symbols of some kind, like Celtic or something.

 It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t take my eyes away from it, gasping softly I looked up from the box and to Lexis who was watching me with a hopeful expression on her face as she waited for my approval. Without answering her I wrapped my arms around her neck and pulled her closer to me giving her a bone crushing hug in happiness. I could feel her chest vibrating with laughter as she hugged me back just as tightly.

 When I realised her I quickly ripped off my jacket and left it on the floor by my feet, I stretched out my arm and waited for her to put the bracelet on my wrist. She rolled her eyes childishly but she complied and put the bracelet on me before grinning happily.

 Before we could talk about anything I heard the sharp bell ringing out through the school, signalling that the day had only just begun. It was followed by a loud groan coming from every student who was dreading their first lesson and I hated to admit it but I was a part of that group.

“And it begins” Lexis groaned deeply dropping her head to the floor in defeat, chuckling I pushed myself of the lockers and grinned at her “I’ll see you later Fidget” I winked before walking off to my first lesson, trying to avoid getting elbowed in the ribs by other students all trying to rush into their classes before the second bell rang out.

When I got to the classroom I slunk in through a mass of students, walking towards my desk at the back of the room, it wasn’t by choice but I was comfortable back here, without being surrounded by students or up the front and always being picked on to read or join in a conversation.

 My French classroom wasn’t much to look at, there were windows on one side of the wall where I sat, and the other walls were painted a dull grey colour. There were notice boards placed over the walls, each had a different display’s of French communication; Weather and their translations, Numbers and their translations and on the notice board at the back was phrases to help you start off your conversations.

At the very front of the class was a huge white board that the teacher used to write on, start of phrases, the chapter of the book she wanted us to read. There she was, just like every Monday, standing in front of the class with her hands entwined together, her lips pulled up into a disappointing frown as her eyes swept over the classroom, taking in each of our faces and our expressions before moving onto the next student.

“I have to say I have always held a high expectation for my classes, always taught them to do their best and I had high expectations for all of your test results but after spending the weekend marking them I have to say I am very disappointed in you” she growled as she slammed her hands on the desk in front of her causing that student to jump back in her chair.

I wasn’t shocked by her attitude, she was always the overdramatic bitch, always saying her students weren’t good enough, that we never tried to put 100% of our effort into it. With that statement she proceeded to pick up a stack of papers from her desk and start walking up the aisle’s handing out the booklets we completed last week in our lesson, it was a practice of our final exam that was going to happen in the next couple of weeks.

Most of our classes were starting to teach us how to answer exam questions, what some of the questions will be phrased on the test, how we should structure our answers. Honestly, it was the most boring lessons I’ve ever been too, sitting hour after hour and having the same things repeatedly was starting to get really annoying quickly.

I was so busy daydreaming I jumped a mile when I saw a paper being slammed down onto my table, looking at the booklet I could see a bright B+ scribbled in the top corner on the page. Smiling to myself I leaned back in my chair happy with my results, I had never been great at languages and I was glad I had done better than in my last test anyways, I’d have to thank Max for the lessons he gave me for revision. As she returned to the front of the class I could see her stern expression glance at everyone “Right, now let’s go through this one question at a time and those who had it wrong will write down the correct way to answer them” she instructed before sitting behind her desk at the front of the classroom, an open booklet in front of her.

Groaning softly, I pulled out a pen from my notebook and flipped it open to a blank page, the ticking of the clock above the white board echoing through my ears as I heard every sound of the ticking. It was enough to start driving me insane, sitting there and hearing every sound that was made; every annoyed mumble was loud and clear as if it had been whispered in my ear. Every cough had my head flinching when the sound seemed so close to me.

 

 Sighing once more I tried to focus on my work, my teeth gritted as I pushed past the sound of everything echoing in my mind. This hour was about to be hell.

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