The Wanderers

Jason Mori always did the right thing. He spoke only when spoken to, recited his allegiance pledge every day, never missed a class, and always did his homework. He was a perfect little sheep in a perfect little herd. Except for one thing: Jason Mori liked boys. With Jason's matching ceremony rapidly approaching, he tries to rig his compatibility test so he can match with a boy.
Unfortunately for Jason, that is against the rules. [Inspired by Peter Pan] [3rd in the Beauty and the Beast Competition]

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4. Chapter Three: Fugitives

Chapter 3:

Fugitives

For a brief moment, the blood in my body ran completely cold. Of course, I was expecting to see a guard—instead, I almost ran right into a girl. She was my age, with long, wavy black hair that stretched all the way to her waist, and striking ember-colored eyes. She was tall and lean and wore our school uniform. Our school was fairly small, and everyone knew everyone, but it didn’t take a genius to know that the girl I had almost run into was none other than Lillian McGregor. “Jason Mori?”

“Lillian McGregor?” I don’t know how many seconds passed of us just staring at each other in shock. It didn’t really matter, though, because we didn’t move until we heard voices echoing through the corridor. Lillian grabbed the collar of my shirt and yanked, causing me to stumble into the room and crash onto the floor. She closed the door quickly and turned, pressing her back against the metal as she tried to calm her breathing. She clutched something to her chest—a memory disk, and an old one at that. Why would she need one of those? “Damn it.” She cursed under her breath, and I noticed that her hands were shaking.

The voices grew closer and faded back down the corridor, but both of us knew that we didn’t have much time left. If the guards were circling the halls, that meant it was almost time for the ceremony to start, and someone would be coming to send the matches up to the main screen. Lillian looked at me, her gaze practically burning through my skull. “What are you doing here?” She tried to make her voice come out like a threatening hiss, but I knew that she was scared, I could tell by her voice.

I pushed myself up off the ground slowly, brushing off my pants. “If I had to guess, same as you.” I pulled out my flash drive.

Lillian’s eyes widened. “You’re one of them too?”

I blinked, and confusion settled back into my chest. “One of them? Who is them?”

Lillian walked forward. “You know who! P.A.N.! If you’re here to get information, then you have to be—”

The door rattled beneath the sound of someone pounding on it. “Who’s in there? No one is supposed to be by the computer until the matching is complete!” A gruff, low voice pierced through our hearts at the same time. We turned to the door in horror—at least, I imagined Lillian was just as horrified as I was. I could hardly breathe, the air felt like sandpaper in my throat. I hadn’t even had a chance. I hadn’t even been able to plug in my program.

I had already failed.

Lillian braced herself, looking like she was about to break into a sprint. “Ok, Jason, listen up. As soon as they open that door, I’ll knock them down. Then, we’re going to run as fast as we can out of here.”

“What?” I didn’t have time to process because as soon as the word left my mouth, the door swung open. Lillian sprung into action, knocking the two guards down with a punch and a kick, and then she started to take off. Honestly, I hesitated. There was no telling what would happen if I ran. It wasn’t fair. I hadn’t even had a shot. And with the guards unconscious on the ground… I only had one chance.

I’m not the best in a crisis.

Without thinking, I turned around and shoved my flash drive into one of the ports. Lillian stopped. “What the hell are you doing? We have to get out of here!”

“Not yet! I have to do this!” I pulled up my program. All I had to do was plug in the number. 002… Crap! Think, Jason! You knew this! 00207… No, 57. 0020457! The screen blinked as the program ran, and for a brief moment, I hope swelled in my chest. It was working. I could really do it—I could be happy. Even someone like me, who had no place in the Inner City, could take fate into my own hands.

I didn’t notice one of the guards wake up and press a button on his belt.

Everything around us turned red, and an alarm blared in our ears. “We need to go!” She called, but I couldn’t bring myself to pull away.

“Not yet! I’m so close!” 40%... 45%

“It’s too late! Just leave it! We have to get back to the arena before they find us!”

“Not before I do this!” I called back. 55%... 65… 70…

Lillian cured again and grabbed me, pulling me away from the computer, my program, the flash drive, and any chance I had at a normal life. I stumbled for several moments before I was able to catch up to her speed as she dragged me through the halls. Guards poured into the halls behind us, seemingly out of nowhere. Lillian curved and dodged left and right, gaining a lot of ground between us and the guards.

Suddenly, she pulled us into one of the empty test rooms and forced the door shut.

Please state your name.

Neither of us said anything as we waited for the guards to run passed.

Please state your name.

I looked up at Lillian as soon as the footsteps faded, anger boiling in my stomach. I had a plan. It was working! And I would have been able to finish if she hadn’t been there! Without thinking, I shoved her. “What the hell! I was almost done!”

Please state your name.

“I think you mean thank you! And you’re welcome. If it weren’t for me, we would both be getting sent to the holding cells right now.” Lillian opened the door and peered out the crack, checking to see if the coast was clear. In the distance, I could hear the guards scrambling to find us. They hadn’t thought to check the rooms. Thank God people were still taking the test. Still, it was eerily calm.

Please state your name.

“No, I think I mean what the hell.” Lillian grabbed my arm again and pulled me out of the room, leaving the creepy robotic voice behind. We slipped through the door leading to the arena and joined the crowd. I yanked my hand away. “What were you doing,” I hissed, trying not to draw attention to us.

“What was I doing?” She held up the drive. “My job! What were you doing? You could have gotten us both killed! And then what would P.A.N. have done? They need this information!” Even though she kept her voice as a whisper, there was a sharpness in her voice that could only be anger.

“I have no idea what you are talking about! Who’s P.A.N.? Why were you there? Everything would have gone fine if you hadn’t been there! Now I’m going to be outcasted!”

“What are you talking about? We made it out! No thanks to you.”

“My flash drive, Lillian. It’s still plugged into the computer! They’re going to figure out it was me!”

“Jason? I didn’t know you and Lillian were friends.” Roman’s voice came up behind us, causing chills to run down my spine. I turned on my heals, looking Ro with wide, doe eyes for several moments before I realized I probably needed to get a handle on myself. The last thing I needed was for Ro to get dragged into it because of me.

“Oh, no, we’re not… We just ran into each other on your way out of our testing rooms! It’s not anything…” I didn’t have to look to know that Lillian was slowly backing away. She wasn’t even going to help? It was her fault my flash drive was still back there.

Roman raised an eyebrow and stepped forward. “Wow, ok… I knew you were acting weird earlier, but this… What’s going on?”

“Nothing!” I cleared my throat when my voice cracked on the word. “Nothing is going on, just nerves. The test. Like I said.”

“Jason-”

A loud bell rang through the arena, signaling that it was time for the matching to begin. “Later, the matching is starting.” We didn’t even take one step forward before the alarm rang again, and the room started blinking red. The screen blinked on, and to my absolute horror, my picture was there—right next to Lillian’s.

Warning! Warning! Fugitive students Jason Mori and Lillian McGregor escaped police attempts earlier this afternoon after being caught tampering with the test. Please report information to the nearest guard.

“Jason…” Ro’s voice drifted in my ear, but my eyes were locked on the screen as the reality of what I had done settled in the pit of my stomach. I could have just settled. I could have had a life in the Inner City, with a wife or as Tymael. Either life seemed better in that moment. Hell, anything would have been better. “Jason, what did you do?”

I didn’t realize when my eyes began to fill with tears, but I am pretty sure I was crying when I finally looked at Roman and saw the horror on his face—but it wasn’t just horror. It was disappointment. Disbelief. Betrayal. And something far, far worse: disdain.

I had been outcasted. 

A/N: aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh happy NaNo everyone I'm already dying. So I'm not the most thrilled with this chapter but yolo swaggins at least the plot is going somewhere now. Oh also I did a little world building and some stuff in previous chapters has been updated. Nothing major, but if there's something in this chapter that seems weird (like how the city is not called Inner City and there's mentions of other places and stuff) that has all been updated.

Anyhoops

Hope you enjoyed

Xxo

Quin

 

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