Chapter Five

Chapter Five

A Chapter by Hollie

Cole is the one to wake me, gently shaking my shoulder and murmuring my name. I moan, half-heartedly slapping his hand away from my shoulder until I open my eyes. He is kneeling next to me, looking utterly exhausted, his eyes holding a trace of fear deep within. He has strange looking eyes, I notice. They are brown but dotted with golden specks, and the intensity of his stare seems powerful enough to suck out my soul.
Then I remember where I am, and his eyes lose their beauty in an instant. Nothing is beautiful anymore.
“Come on, they’ll be in here soon. We need to be ready.” Cole says softly, and I sigh. He helps me to sit up and I wince from the aching in my muscles.
Tilly is staring blankly at the ceiling of our room, still in the bean bag, seeming lost in thought. I really look at her now, seeing her properly now that my head is clearer. She looks almost like a pixie, her face sharp and her body built for speed and nothing more. She has a nose that looks a little too long for her face, a chin a little too pointy, but that doesn’t make her unattractive. Her skin is lovely, a pale bronze colour, and after her shower it now looks smooth and clear. I also notice that her hair is chopped short, barely reaching her shoulders. It’s uneven, but it adds to the sharpness of her face.
DJ is pacing. His hands in his pockets and his face twisted in a state of anger, he puts me on edge. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth before the door. I can see faint drops of sweat working their way down his neck, dampening his hair. I wonder how long I have been asleep.
“How long have I been out?” I ask, standing.
“Over two hours.” Cole answers, but pauses. “You were dreaming about something bad, though.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever dream about good things again.” I say, rubbing my eyes. I had been dreaming, reliving the Line Up with different outcomes. I was shot, it was my blood spilt on the ground. Jake had laughed when I went down, and then he shot my screaming parents. I shiver.
“I know the feeling.” says Tilly from where she sits. She scowls at the ceiling. “Can’t believe we are living in here, like it’s some kind of holiday dorm. It makes me sick.”
“Just wait until training.” DJ says. “That will be far from a holiday experience.” I see that he has his hands in his pockets as he paces, and I remember my pebble. Slipping my hand in my own pocket, I clench it in my fist and silently sigh.
Then I say “Can you stop pacing? You’re making me nervous.”
“This is my way of calming down.” he snaps, but he does stop pacing.
We are all silent for a while, absorbing the reality that we are in. The carpet it white with brown fragments in it, and I am suddenly fascinated by it. It’s better than thinking about what awaits us.
“My friend died in that Line Up.” Tilly says quietly after a few minutes. “She thought she’d get through. She thought she’d make it, and they killed her.”
“My girlfriend died in mine.” JD retorts, and I can hear the faint break in his voice. We look at him, and I finally notice that he has tears in his eyes that refuse to fall.
“I’m sorry.” I murmur. He nods. I think about what Segments they came from. There are many Segments, all scattered, but a few stay abandoned. My Segment was from the North, so of course there are the East, South and West Segments, as well as a few more. One I know of is the Rocky Segment, where the ground is never even and is surrounded by rocky cliffs. I know nothing about the others.
As if reading my mind, Cole says “What Segments are you from?”
“I’m from one of three Forest Segments.” Tilly says.
“Mine is�"was the West Segment.” DJ says, and Cole tells them where we are from.
“How many Segments are there?” I ask, trying to distract all of us in turn.
“Does it matter?” DJ says, but answers anyway. “Ten, I think.” It doesn’t matter, but it’s the only form of conversation I can come up with. I respond with a simple ‘oh’ and sit on the edge of my bed.
That’s when I spot the camera on the far wall, up in the corner, and I stare at it for a long, long time.


At long last, the door opens. I stand almost instantly, and the four of us huddle together for what I think is protection. We are all stiff, poised for an attack which won’t come�"yet. I focus on the warmth that radiates from Cole at my side, clenching his fist while Tilly snags mine. DJ stands with his hands in his pockets, but I know his hands are clenched.
Ethan walks in, followed by three others. Two women and a man. They are all dressed casually, but they all look sinister. Ethan smirks at us, crossing his arms as he eyes each of us up. Green meets blue, and I glare at him furiously. He stares at me for the longest, his smirk vanishing from his face. Anger flashes in his eyes.
“Glad to see you all awake.” says one of the women, her voice like velvet. Her hair folds over her chest, bloody red and choppy. She has a scar that forms from her earlobe to her chin, which distracts me easily. She’s muscular, and I know she’s built like a lion rather than a cheetah.
“They’re not exactly powerful looking, are they?” says one of the other men, a tall guy who looks like some kind of wrestler. Short hair, bulky limbs and a face like some kind of savage.
“A good blend with the others, though.” the last one says, a small woman with straight brown hair, a silver streak on either side. She doesn’t look menacing like the others, but her eyes say otherwise. She looks at us with a criticizing gaze, as if her words are not her actual thoughts.
“Just get on with it.” I snap. Four pairs of eyes latch onto me and Ethan chuckles.
“Alright. We are your mentoring group, one of three.” Ethan tells us. “We will be training you and two other dorm members, but unfortunately, you are the smallest group. The others consist of seven and eight dorm members, but they are all built for brute force rather than reflex skills.
There are three groups all together. Normally there would be more, but with there just being fifty six of you there is not much more we can do. The other two groups consist of seventeen and twenty members, and yours with nineteen. Training will start in two days, so you will be able to get acquainted with the others then.
The next two days will be about forming you new identities, which means new appearances and possibly new names. You’re name could be changed all together or simply shortened, or perhaps you will simply be addressed by your surname alone. You are to call one another this new name and nothing else. As for appearances, Silver here will be in charge.” He points to the woman with silver streaks. “She decides your dress sense, hair styles, and markings such as scars, piercings or tattoos.”
“That will start today.” Silver says, stepping forward. “As of now.” Her eyes rake from one face to another, before landing on mine. “You. Follow me.” I don’t move.
“Come on, Harper, move it!” Ethan scolds. I glare at him.
“That my new name, sir?” I say, frowning.
“As it happens, yes. Oh, and none of you call me sir. This may be a place of breakage, but we are all equals if you cooperate. So if I were you, Harper, I’d get a move on.”
Cole and Tilly squeeze my wrists in reassurance and I step forward. Silver’s hand circles around my shoulder and I do all I can to not pull away from her touch. She leads me through the door, which closes behind us as Ethan carries on speaking. She turns right down the corridor, and the left down another, but this one narrower than the main one. We pass three doors before we reach one with her name on it, which she opens a guides me through.
Inside the room is small, but not too small. A chair sits in the centre, plain and wooden. The walls are painted dark blue, apart from one, which is made from glass from floor to ceiling. I see buildings beyond the glass, tall and proud as they reach for the sky, but there appears to be no life.
“One of the abandoned Sectors.” Silver says, and then she gestures to the chair. I sit, and I realize I am shaking. “Give me your arm.” she orders.
“Why?” I demand hotly. The walls are lined with cupboards and drawers, similar to a doctor’s room. She walks around the chair and opens a draw, pulling out some plastic gloves, a small packet, tweezers and a scalpel. My palms begin to sweat, and I clench the wooden arms of the chair as she slips on the gloves. “What is that?”
“A monitoring device.” she answers curtly. She grabs a chair from the corner and places it in front of me, sitting. “It transmits your pain levels and your emotional levels. Myself and the others will be monitoring you and the other recruits. It will help us identify your stronger and weaker points.”
“But there are nineteen of us, won’t you get confused?”
“We can activate which device we want to monitor and however many at a time. Any that we don’t focus on will be recorded to your profile, anyway, nothing goes amiss. Now, give me your arm.”
I give my arm with hesitation, but her fingers snag my wrist and yank it towards her, outstretching my arm. She doesn’t warn me, and the pain shocks me. She uses the scalpel to slice through the skin before the bend of my elbow, slicing through all the layers of skin. I yelp and grit my teeth as blood trickles along my arm, pain souring up to my shoulder and down to my wrist. Silver quickly frees the device from its package, which is nothing but a small square with a red light. It is no bigger than a memory stick and is paper thin. Using the tweezers, she inserts it through the cut in my arm, and it disappears with the blood.
She grabs more props from a draw behind her and begins stitching the wound, which is the width of my little finger. Once she is done, she cleans my arm and wraps a bandage over the stitches to conceal it.
“Sorted.” she says, mostly to herself. I am gritting my teeth, glaring at her. “Oh, don’t look at me like that, it’ll get you nowhere.”
“Something tells me that you can be a b***h.” I say before I can stop myself. I expect her face to twist with anger, or for her to glower at me, but instead she laughs.
“I like you.” she says, giggling as she stands. She takes some scissors from the top of a counter in front of me, but I barely notice. A fraction of my arm is flashing red through the bandage. “Ah, it’s been activated. Ethan doesn’t mess around.” Silver says, now standing behind me.
“How old is he?” I ask. I am generally curious.
She laughs again. “Got a bit of a crush?” she says.
“Okay,” she giggles. “He’s nineteen, he’s an admiration around here. Arrived when he was fourteen, and reached Sector Five by the time he was seventeen.” Three years. That’s nothing.
I say nothing. She pulls my hair back away from my shoulders, flexing her fingers through its strands. I hate to say that it feels nice, relaxing even, and I close my eyes. But my heart pinches when she makes the first snip, a chunk of hair falling by my feet. My hair is part of who I am, and she is killing it. I chew the inside of my lip until I taste blood, and my hand finds the pebble in my pocket.
She snips away for what feels like years. Every cut is excruciating, strands of myself falling away, causing me to feel as if I don’t have an identity anymore. Everyone always said I looked beautiful with long hair back at home, it was the only thing that ever made me feel good. Mum used to play with it, humming songs as she did. That is all beings taken away from me, just by a pair of scissors.
When she’d done, she messes my hair with her fingers, the strands now reaching my jaw. A fringe falls over my forehead now, which feels strange to me. Everything feels thinner, too, no longer a weight that falls from my scalp. Silver sighs.
“Much better. You don’t look like a little girl anymore.” she tells me, looking me in the eyes.
“What do I look like?” I croak. Crap, I’m crying.
“A fighter.” she smiles, but then scolds me for my tears.


When I return to the dorm, I don’t feel like myself. My skin is no longer pure like it used to be; Silver dragged the scalpel along the shape on my cheekbone, deep enough that it would leave a scar in its place. Right now a square piece of cotton covers my cheek, which throbs in pain. My arm also throbs, but the red light has stopped flashing. The final bandage on my body is across my palm, but this is more of a mark than a fake memory of battle.
A mark that I am now a recruit; one of the Selected.
In the dorm, Ethan is perched on my bed, watching the others who are waiting anxiously in the middle of the room. The other two mentors are nowhere to be seen.
“Oh my god, what did you do to her?” Cole exclaims, rushing to his feet with Tilly. They rush towards me, DJ staring at me with wide eyes from where he sits. Ethan also comes forward, waiting until the others stop fussing over me. Tilly stares at my arm while Cole examines my covered up palm.
“Leave me alone, please.” I croak. Silver’s hand is on my shoulder, but she lets go as she beckons Cole to join her. They leave, and Tilly is suddenly pushed out of the way.
Ethan holds a pad in his hand, one that the Watchers at home possess, and he taps it against my head. “Your pain levels are poor, as are your emotions. We’re going to need to work on that.”
My heart pounds with anger, my bloody pumping with burning hot rage. “You’ve already robbed me of who I am, you’ve already prodded me and made me your own, so you know what? Do as you please, I have nothing left anyway.” I push past him, hard enough that he drops the pad, and collapse on the bed. I pull away the bandage from my hand, staring at the cross that embeds my skin. The blood doesn’t run, but it glistens. I feel sick, yet I have nothing to throw up.
A part of me wants to go home, but I know that this is my home now. I may have wanted this, but I never wanted my identity to be changed. I never wanted my skin to be marked or my hair to be changed. I never wanted my name to be vanquished. Everything I was has died, and I know that next they are going to kill my personality.
The door clicks shut, and I see that Ethan has left the room. Tilly comes towards me with DJ at her heel, both of their expressions reflecting sorrow.
“Mum always told me, that should I end up here, I needed to strip myself of who I am.” Tilly says.
“I know, I know loads of people who’ve said that.” I mutter, sitting up and pulling my knees to my chest.
“Then I guess we need to forget about who we were and let them create who they want.” DJ suggests. “Break, shatter and rebuild, remember?”
“Are you telling me you’re willing to forget the people they killed?” I ask. “Our friends they murdered? Are you willing to change into who they want, no questions asked?”
Tears glisten in their eyes, and DJ turns away. “Yes.” he mutters.
“Yes.” Tilly whispers.
I take a deep breath, release it, and fall back so that my head rests against the wall.
“Or,” Tilly quickly says “We can have two identities. Be ourselves in here, where we can grieve and miss our families, and then be the killers they want us to be in training.”
That sounds exhausting, but it’s the best we have. We look at one another, and then nod in unison.

© 2013 Hollie

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Really, all I can think to say here is that I am curious. Curious to find out more not only about the system into which these people are being put, but about the people sharing Connie's dorm. The dialogue here reveals something about their thoughts, but more so piques my interest.

Good work again.

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Added on August 20, 2013
Last Updated on August 20, 2013
Tags: Roommates, Room, Change, cut, transform



Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom

I'm Hollie, 17, and an aspiring writer. I am outgoing, love to read, and am just a typical girl with a life long dream. more..

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