Chapter 2: Taken

Five years ago, 2085

Whispers surrounded me as I tread lightly down the school corridor, brushing my fingertips against the plain white wall as I moved, quickly taking note of the numbers above each room as I passed by. I could feel the wandering eyes of curious students warily jabbing at my back as I walked towards the principal's office. I have no idea why I was being called down for; the secretary had only announced that there was an urgent matter at hand, and that my presence was requested immediately. Although the hallways seemed calm, the anxious tension in the atmosphere seemed to oppose that idea. An uneasy feeling squeezed at my stomach as I slowly dragged my feet, one after another, towards the office.

I bit the bottom of my lip in a disquiet manner, took a few deep breaths, and nervously glanced back at the various people staring at me. Holding back the temptation to glare at the spectators, I continued down toward the office, wondering what consequences would await me in the office. I shivered and wrapped my arms around myself, ignoring the unusual quietness. Something was wrong; I could feel it in the air.

It was as if the usual noise-filled hallways had been replaced with a chasm of whispers. I could feel my hands clench automatically into two pale fists, caused by a feeling that had been showing up in my life quite regularly in recent days: terror. Walking down a student-filled hallway in utter silence really didn't help with the anxiety either. It is like walking into a museum filled with statues that followed your every movement with their lifeless eyes.

I despise attention; I always have. Yet it seems like I always find myself in the center of everyone's mind. I hate how people peer out of their classroom doors to whisper my name amongst themselves, assuming I can't see or hear them. I hate how people nervously skim around me, flinching at every small motion of mine. I hate how everyone attempts to befriend me as if it were a game of do or dare. I simply wish to be treated normally and given a normal life, but I don't expect that to happen anytime soon. Even when I try to act normally, people still tend to be wary, over-friendly, or even fearful around me, as if I have an aura that creates their strange behavior.

I blinked twice and paused as Felicia rushed by, giving me a quick wave and flashing me a warm, cheery smile. Of all the people within this school, Felicia seems to be one of the only people who don't act oddly around me. She may not be the smartest person, but she's the closest friend I have, and the nicest person I've ever met. She's the kind of girl who gets along with everyone and makes everyone happy by shoving handfuls of rainbows and sunshine down their throats. I waved back, replacing my nervous expression with a shy smile, and advanced forwards, only to be stalled by another person.

I stopped and looked over my shoulder as the sound of dress shoes tapping repetitively against the flooring sounded behind me. I turned to face the owner of the noticeably loud footsteps and found myself face-to-face with Cooper's father, Daren West, and a few armed bodyguards standing next to him. I've never seen him in person, but anyone could tell who he was by the strong father-son resemblance. In addition, his political position as the new president of Cellendor had greatly increased the amount of newspaper articles and pictures released to the public.

"Hello, young miss," he said, looking down at me with a cold hard expression. I could tell that I would dislike him, just by the tone of his voice: a deep, soothing voice of a narrator or an experienced councilor, a voice that makes you want to believe every word you hear. "We've been expecting you to join us at the office for some time now. Please explain your lack of haste."

I stared up at him open-mouthed, surprised at his sudden appearance. "I... I was packing up my things sir," I managed to stammer, cautiously backing up away from the towering adult.

"Sir? There's no need for formalities, young miss, as this is not a feudal kingdom filled with knights," he grinned mockingly. "Please follow me." His response irked me, but I quickly nodded and obliged, following him into the principal's office without another word to avoid any further conversation.

I scanned the office upon entering, catching sight of Mr. Harkins, our school principal, sitting behind his hardwood desk with a panicked expression on his face. Slowly, I raised my hand and waved at the unusually quiet principal, ignoring his facial expression, and attempting to smile. I hesitated for a moment and shuffled my feet before speaking. "Mister Harkins?" I asked shyly, looking back and forth between the president and the principal. "What's happening?" He looked at me and blinked a few times. I heard the president heave a sigh of impatience behind me as I approached the principal, and I noticed a small red dot trained on the back of his head, trembling slightly.

"A single move, Mr. Harkins, and your head will be riddled with holes. Sit quietly, make sure she answers truthfully, and maybe I'll let you go," Mr. West instructed, pulling on a pair of black leather gloves. "As for you, young lady, I expect you will answer all my questions?"

I nodded, feeling my heart begin to pound my chest with powerful strokes of fear.

Thud

The president looked out the window and held his hand up to his ear, turning on a microphone.

Thud

I could hear the school's lunch bell ringing out in the school hallways.

Thud

After a moment of hesitation, the president spoke into his device. "Bring in the captives along with the two half-witted sons of mine." He turned, facing me with a calm expression. "Now... please answer my questions truthfully, or the consequences will be somewhat... severe." He took a seat on a swivel chair and gestured for me to sit as well, but I remained standing where I was. "First, how old are you?"

"I've managed to skip a grade, so eleven," I answered slowly, gently plopping myself onto a near-by stool. Mr. West raised a brow and pulled out a pen from his pocket. "Why are you asking me this?"

He cleared his throat, ignored my question, and continued. "Please don't include any unnecessary details this time. Second question. What colour are your eyes?"

I stared at him weirdly, slightly surprised at the stupidity of his question. "Are you colour blind? I'm pretty sure that if you look at my eyes closely, you can make out the colour," I blurted out, pointing at my eyes. Mr. West glared at me. I admit my reply sounded a bit bratty, but the president obviously found it more than just annoying.

"No I am not colour blind, nor do I have time to deal with your humor," he growled, tapping his pen impatiently on the armrest of his chair. "Answer me seriously. I don't want to remind you of the consequences. Anyways, you do realize that violet is not a natural colour to be born with. Right? Having violet eyes can mean either two things. One, you have been genetically mutated somehow, or two, you're not human. I am not entirely certain right now, but I strongly believe that you are of the second option."

I blinked and looked at him with a raised brow. "Wait what? I-I don't get what you're trying to say..."

"It doesn't matter if you get what I'm saying. What matters is if you're what we are looking for. So far, with the little evidence you have given me, it seems likely." The president leaned back in his chair and turned to face Mr. Harkins. "Do you know if this child has any metal or physical disabilities? You are permitted to speak for now."

"N-no... no. This child doesn't have any disabilities that I know of, though it is possible that I haven't been informed. Wait! I think she might have ADHD... might," he replied rapidly, shaking his head.

Mr. West paused for a moment and sighed. "Useless... you're useless I tell you, you understand that? Back to the questions. Do you believe in God?" he asked, pointing his pen at me.

"No," I replied instantaneously, shutting myself up, nearly slipping out another combo of unwanted words.

"Ah! There! The last answer I needed to answer my question. You have confirmed the rudiments of my suspicions, thank you. Now for the actual test." He sniffled, tapped his mic a couple of times, and turned his swivel chair to face the door. "Bring them in."

The door flew open, revealing four figures: Two blood-covered, bound, and hooded prisoners in front and two fully armed guards behind them, blocking any means of escape for the two captives. I watched silently, as the two prisoners struggled uselessly against the soldiers' firm grip, a one-side battle.

"Shall we un-hood them?" one of the soldiers asked.

Mr. West rubbed his chin before replying, gesturing for them to proceed. "You may. And next time, please enter without causing a ruckus."

Once they removed the hoods with seemingly unnecessary roughness, they forced the two prisoners onto their knees, pulled out execution revolvers, and pointed the weapons towards the heads of their own target. I tried to get a closer look at the two prisoners by stepping around the guards that blocked my view for a clearer view, but I quickly realized who they were before I could take another step: my stepfather and brother. "Dad? Oliver?" I murmured, silently hoping that it wasn't them.

Although my stepfather had never truly treated me or acknowledged me as their own daughter, it still terrified me to see someone I knew in such a broken state. My heart froze still as my stepfather raised his head to face me. I stood there startled, staring at him. Bruises, burn marks, streams of blood, and countless scabs covered his face, leaving only a few spots uncovered. Crimson red bolts of lightning ran through his frenzied eyes like that of a madman, and his emotionless, yet eerie smile, showing his desperate attempt to hold onto sanity. The remainders of a tortured mind. "Run Pixie, run," he stammered, his cracked lips trembling at every word spoken. "J-just run... don't come back. Just run."

"Where's mom?! Where are Granny and Grandpa? What happened!?" I cried out desperately, attempting to push past one of the guards to reach my stepfather.

"Flown up high. Shot. They are all dead. Gone," he chuckled, grinning hysterically and looking directly at me. "Run Pixie, run. Fly away. Escape."

Mr. West sighed and raised a hand to regain the attention of the two soliders. "Where are my sons? Did I not ask for them?" He then turned and glared at the two guards. "And why is this prisoner going insane?"

"They're right outside Mr. West," one of the guards quickly answered, opening the door behind him. Cooper and his older brother entered, scrambling to their father's side like obedient minions trying their best to avoid punishment. "As for the prisoner, we had him tortured for a full day along with his son. Unfortunately, we were not able to gain any information out of the two, other than the fact that the girl is different." Mr. West snorted and tapped his chin with a gloved finger.

"As if I did not already know that. Now please if you will let me give my two boys a short speech."

"My apologies, Mister President," the guard quickly replied, standing back with the revolvers still aimed at my step-father's head.

Cooper stood a good distance away from his father, looking at his surroundings with terrified eyes, and shaking with nervous energy. His brother, on the other hand, seemed filled with excitement. Blake stood right beside his father, grinning at the opportunity to watch someone die.

"The two of you will learn to take lives today, a 'skill' you will need to learn for future use. Our world is filled with corrupt creatures, and you cannot trust anyone but yourself. In order to continue in this wretched world, you must learn to kill anyone who blocks the path towards your goal. Life is never fair, and will never be fair. Unless you take advantage of others and to dispose of trash, you will never get ahead. I want the two of you to choose a prisoner, point a gun at your target, and pull the trigger. After that, you may leave; otherwise, you will both stay here until you have both claimed one of their lives." I stared at the president, feeling nothing but disbelief.

He literally stated that he was going to kill the last little remainder of my family. What should I do? What should I be doing? My mind blanked out as I continued to stare at my brother and father, standing still in stasis, as if my nerves had been completely consumed by fear.

Blake grinned at me, laughed, stuck out his tongue, and ripped a well-polished execution revolver out of one of the guard's hands. He glared maliciously towards me, soaking in pleasure from the sight of my desperate expression, and walked towards my brother. His expression had changed: now, what I see is no longer the face of a bully, but the face of a merciless murderer. A cold-blooded killer. A predator.

I watched as Blake pointed the weapon at my brother, smiling as he slowly drew his finger down the gleaming silver trigger. Oliver turned his head at me one last time and looked at me with his eyes crazed with terror.

Click.

I flinched as the gun fired. The loud bang sounded, followed by an unbearable ringing in my ears and a shower of crimson blood and chunks of flesh. I collapsed on to my knees, covered my ears, and screamed, feeling tears of fear streak down my cheeks as I trembled at the sight of my brother's barely recognizable corpse. My vision turned red and blurry, as I crawled towards my stepfather, choking back the bile that had nearly found its way up my throat.

I've never felt so useless and helpless in my life, nor have I ever felt so disgusted with my own weakness. I watched as Blake tossed Cooper the blood-stained revolver, pushing him towards my stepfather. Cooper stopped, stunned and uncertain about what to do, and he looked back towards his father, only to receive a cold look.

"What are you doing, Coops? Why don't you shoot him and get it over with? I wanna leave!" Blake complained, snatching another gun from the other guard. He pointed it towards Cooper, and threatened, "If you don't shoot that guy on the ground there, I'll kill you. So hurry up and get it over with." The president smiled as Cooper's eyes went wide. Cooper quickly pointed the executioner's revolver at my stepfather, and shuffled even closer to him.

I grabbed onto Cooper's ankle in a hopeless attempt to stop him, but one of the guards just shoved me back, landing a kick on my side. Ignoring the pain in my side, I gave Cooper a pleading look and a hopeless scream, hoping that he would notice and have enough pity to spare my stepdad, but he barely even glanced in my direction. I gave up and sat, watching as Cooper aimed the revolver cupped between his two shaky hands at my stepfather, slowing drawing his finger with obvious reluctance.

Another click sounded as Cooper's finger finally triggered the gun. The loud ring of the gunshot rang in my ears once again, accompanied by the spray of scarlet blood, making me cringe for a second time.

"Good job, you two. Cooper, you may now leave. As for you Blake, I need to talk to you after," Mr. West stated, checking his golden wristwatch. He sighed and then pointed at the two guards, "The two of you, hand-cuff that girl and bring her to the prison lab."

I should have screamed, ran, or done something to resist, but all I could manage was watch the blood spread on the floor. Slowly, but firmly, I could feel my arms being lifted. I could feel the cold metal wrap around my wrists and the quiet click that told me that I had no chance of escape.

Both my stepfather and brother lay of the floor dead. There were no last words, no resistance, no heroic deaths, nothing but the simple pull of the trigger. That simple movement of the finger had rid the existence of the two people I had lived with for as long as I could remember; the two people who I'd always dreamed of living a happy, normal life with. The two that I would have never imagined to die so easily, are now no more.

My entire body trembled as I stood, staring at my family's spilled blood as they slowly dragged me away. I could feel tears landing on my shivering arms as I hugged myself.

I've never truly loved my family , nor have they ever loved me, but why does it feel so lonely? I've always wanted to be alone, yet... why does it feel so cold? Why does it feel so hostile? Why does it feel so bitter?

~o0o~

I sat up, rubbed my watery eyes, sniffled, and inspected my surroundings; a fairly large, but dank and gray room. On either sides of me are two small windows, positioned high up on the walls to allow small bits of natural light to shine through. The room contained a few pieces of furniture, and even a small bar. Heaving a sigh, I sat up, feeling the soft carpet rub against my bare feet, and stared down at the bed I had somehow fallen asleep on.

"Hey," a familiar voice called from behind me. I turned and glared at Cooper, who seemed to be relaxing on a couch with a book in his hand. "Nightmares?"

"Maybe... And where am I?" I asked, lowering my glare and sniffling.

"Welcome to my basement," he answered, placing down his book. He turned to face me, looking surprisingly tired and deprived.

I stared at him for a moment before opening my mouth to speak again. "Wait... why am I in your hou-"

"Are you crying? You look like you've been through shit," he interrupted.

"Crying? I haven't been-"

"So you've been crying. You do realize it's pretty obvious since your eyes are red, watery, and swollen, not to mention the sniffles. Here," He reached for a tissue box and tossed it to me.

It nearly smacked me in the face, but I somehow managed to save myself from the flying tissue box. "Thanks," I mumbled. "Now... explain, please. How did I end up here?"

"Oh, you fainted by the apple tree, and I couldn't just leave you there, so I decided to bring you back to my home."

I stared downwards at my lap, noticing the grey sweatpants and over-sized sweater that I happened to be wearing. "Also, please explain how my clothing has magically changed?"