(For the City of Bones competition) It's a world where most of the population are Primals. Half animal, half human. Abominations that society wants dead. Lauren lives in the crumbling remains of Old London, her life forever on the edge.


1. A New Dawn

It was the screaming that woke me up.

I sat up in bed, back straight as a board, the cool night air utterly still, silent. But no, there it is again- some poor soul being ripped from their bed as they slept. A family, maybe, torn apart.

One more Primal was dead. Or at least, as soon as they reached their destination, it would be their last one.

No one made it out alive.

There’s a snort from the other side of the room now, my elder brother’s snoring in his sleep again. He looks so young with his mocha colored hair in his matching eyes. I’d been pestering him for a month to trim it, but now it had grown to a good length below his ears, it looked good. I gave up.

With quiet, careful steps, I moved over to the window, pausing for a moment before placing a palm flat upon the glass, a shiver running down my spine at the coldness of it. Silently, I gazed out of the slightly frosted over window, staring at the back of the sleek black van as it sped off down the street. The person inside who was torn from their bed was probably still screaming, but I thankfully couldn’t hear them. If I did, I was afraid of crying. Not the quiet, secret tears that you could hide easily, but loud, choking ones that caught in the back of your throat, restricting your airway and making it next to impossible to breathe. These days, you had to be strong. Show no fear, or be branded a weakling.


It seemed I hadn’t been as quiet as I’d thought. There was a light groan in which I turned around to see my brother laid on his back, the thick midnight blue duvet pulled around him as he muttered, seemingly to the ceiling. “Another?”

I was quiet, but then nodded, muttering out in response. “Yes.” Ethan said nothing for a start, but with a creak of bedsprings, his low, tired voice spoke, “C’mere.”

Without hesitation, I hurried across the room and slipped into the bed, letting his strong and muscled arms hug me into his chest where I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath and inhaling that comforting scent of my elder brother. It was a smell that reminded me of spiced apples for some reason. When I was a young girl, before my parents got taken as Primals five years ago, we had this little hut up in Canada. Ethan would go out with my father for hours on end to pick apples. He’d always give me the most red, the rosiest one he’d found. Then we’d spice them together, me giggling as we did so.

But those days were gone. Well and truly over.

Ethan seemed to fall asleep almost instantly with me in his arms, and I let myself drift off as well.




School was more like a chore than anything for me these days. Thankfully, since I was eighteen I was in my last year of compulsory education. No matter where you were, you had to be in school. Have your name wrote down upon the list. If you weren’t on some list, they would think you a Primal and take you. Sometimes I wished I’d been born before the Great Rebellion, for the children finished school at just sixteen. How different life must have been back then. We’d seen pictures of the Old World in school books, a world that wasn’t so full of fear, but light. Life. The teachers were hand picked by the Government, which ensured that we were taught to think this world was a much fairer way of life.

“A hundred and thirty eight years ago, one age ended and another began.”

This was what they often said. Although, for the good or bad they never elaborated, which amused me and Ethan. If you were human, or thought to be, it wasn’t too bad a life.

“I doubt people a hundred and thirty eight years ago turned into animals, huh?” He’d snorted with laughter over dinner, spearing a roast potato on his fork then proceeding to shove it into his mouth, adding quietly after he’d swallowed with his brows slightly furrowed. “I doubt back then you’d have to live in fear that overnight, you could have your life torn apart. That this way of life is considered normal.”

Ethan was so full of anger that it scared me. Plus the reason I knew why; he was a Primal. For three years now, since his eighteenth birthday he’d been changing into the form of a midnight colored wolf. I remembered it clearly, the first time he’d Changed.

I was barely fifteen at the time, returning home from school with my backpack bouncing behind me and a big grin upon my face- it had been the Harvest Festival. I’d been playing the role of a tomato. Yes, a funny thing to get all excited over, but being in a school play was a big deal to me since I was the shy girl who just sat at the back of the class with her rare few friends. This was when we lived in Birmingham.

Ethan had been ill for a few days prior to the Change, curled up in bed with face flushed red and feeling sick. We’d never imagined in a million years that he was literally a beast. I’d pushed the front door open to face his form writhing upon the floor and before I could speak or even move, the sound of bones cracking rent the air.

I’d just pressed my back against the wall, eyes wide in fear, horror and… I don’t know what the last emotion was. But all I could think was how beautiful, magnificent my brother looked as a wolf. Primals reflected upon your character, and Ethan’s was easy; he was fierce, loyal and a leader.

Just like a wolf.

After getting over the initial shock, fear rose up as the wolf faced me. And I noticed the eyes that were just like sapphires. A light sheen atop his own usually oak brown ones. It was… strange. Primals didn’t usually look like that for they retained their human forms eye color.

The first night of becoming one of… them, you rage out of control. I slept under the stone stairs that led up to our home. Uncomfortable but safe.

But then the fear of someone hearing and telling the Law took over. The rest of the night I spent quietly sobbing into my red polka dot scarf, willing him to just turn back already.

We got through the night without him being heard. A miracle.

The crash of the whiteboard falling from its position upon the wall bought me back to reality, watching in silence as I tapped the table with my pen- it was going to be one of them days.

At lunch, I sat alone next to the window watching the sun shine weakly through the cotton like clouds. It was a gorgeous day for October, for it was usually a grey day.

“Oh my god, did you hear? Tessa Porter got taken last night.”

That got my attention. I didn’t look around, but knew that voice to belong to; a petite blonde girl named Macy Golding. Her voice was hushed, as if she was afraid of being overheard as she told her friends. “She was a Primal. I saw her get dragged into this van by a pair of Laws. She was just… screaming. I swear that image will never leave my head.”

They all fell silent after that, and Tessa was on my mind- she was a year older than me, stunning with raven black hair and blue eyes. She wouldn’t have harmed a fly… and yet they’d taken her. She was dead.

There was no other alternative, no matter how much we all hoped.




Me and Ethan lived in what used to be a little church in the middle of crumbling Old London. It was crumbling away now, ivy reclaiming its weather beaten face, but still beautiful in its rustic red bricked way.

When Primals first arose, people thought them as Gods, which led to new churches being built along the Thames. They were abandoned about a year later, which was perfect for homeless families looking for shelter such as ourselves. Our church home was one of them. But on what they had been built for, what they meant, the Primals… of course they weren’t gods, just nightmares born from laboratories and tests. The first five.

2012, 21st December was when it started. The stories were true- the world they knew it ended. The third World War began, sparked off by an accident. A malfunctioned American fighter jet dropped a bomb upon London, having lost its way and course. It truly was an accident, but it started off arguments, dominoes falling in which the whole world eventually got involved. It was pandemonium. No order. Just senseless violence and the breaking of treaties.

Eventually, things calmed at least a little, but the defiant ones who still insisted that it wasn’t an accident didn’t fade away. Rebels, the last fighters, literally fighting for survival. Not for their country, for there was next to none left by the end of 2013, but for survival. Country lines collapsed and the planet became one big landmass.

With no nuclear weapons, it was stalemate. But giving up was not an option.

But then the Rebels made a new kind of weapon- taking natures predators and hacking human DNA, mixing them. The result was a batch of people, Primals they were called, the first of their kind.

The plan backfired. Sure, they were lethal. They slaughtered any opposition that they were faced with, but then they spread, like a disease. A bite, and you became like them too. Nothing like the first five, but just as bad.

World war was stopped in light of the new threat, a new aim; Destroy these new abominations.

For three years they were hunted down, led by the one that now sits at the heart of the New World, the major five locked away all around the world to prevent more from being made. A pact to never release them created, sealed with blood.

But the damage was done, it did spread. Very nearly all humans had an extra gene, and when they were ages eighteen to nineteen, it would activate, and the new order would take them into custody.  To be killed was the story.

You got taken in, you never came out.

It’s the year 2150 now, 138 years since the war started. And the population all over the world is pretty much in hiding. All born with the gene. You’re fine unless the animalistic side comes out, then you have to run… or die.

Welcome to my life.

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