Friends were a luxury I did not have. My judgmental and rude attitude did not exactly help either. I didn’t even know if there existed such a thing as a friend. Perhaps before you found your consort, but after that, everything changed.
To be frank, I didn’t want any friends anyway. They were all fake, plastering on a big smile and swooning at the mention of their consort.
Inside, those were the ones most like me. They knew the truth, but they were too weak to fight back. They’d accepted their damned fate and hoped to make the best of it.
Unlike me, they still had a small kernel of hope. They still prayed to get a kind and loving consort that would make it all worth it.
Nothing was worth it.
No consort could possibly be worth the complete submission that was required of us. We weren’t our own person. Females became an extension of their consort. We weren’t allowed to have our own thoughts and opinions. We were a second voice to the male that owned us.
For the other females, such as the one chatting my ear off, finding your consort was the most exciting thing in the world. They gushed about love at first sight, about how someone would love them completely in a matter of seconds. I’d given up long ago trying to pull their heads out of the clouds, but they all told me that I would see one day.
“He’ll be blonde, I just know it. With the clearest blue eyes and dimples…” her voice trailed off in a sigh, “and he’ll be at least a Two in rank, of course.”
The fork in my hand was bending as I bit my tongue to keep from lashing out at her. Not only had this stranger invited herself over to my quiet corner where I was trying to eat in solitude, but she also didn’t have the slightest care that I was not interested in her day dreaming.
She played with a lock of her red curly hair, fluttering her lashes, expecting me to tell her how beautiful she was and that no one less than a Two could be her consort. “And when I see him for the first time it’s going to be like fireworks.”
The fork in my hand snapped.
I couldn’t listen to anymore from her.
Throwing my fork on my plate and pushing my chair back, the sound was like nails on a chalkboard as it dragged across the floor. I glared down at the girl. I felt many eyes on me as I hissed at her in a cold and lowered tone, “Not another word.” Her mouth instantly popped open to object but with a growl and flash of teeth from me, it snapped shut. “Consorts are not something you get to pick and choose. You get whoever the hell is dealt to you, and you get no say. Instead of wishing for a Two, you should be praying for an un-ranked. The higher ranking your consort, the less control you get. Threes are violent, never mind a damn Two.” My words were spat harshly at the girl, making her flinch with every word. “This shit you are spouting about love at first sight is a goddamn fantasy. Your consort isn’t thinking about anything other than breeding you. Love doesn’t exist, the soul bond is a joke. It’s a brand, not a fucking instant love potion.”
The soul bond was the biggest farce of the century. It was a term used to describe the love between consorts, an ideology that instant affection was offered at first sight. It was a lie to cover up the suppression of males over their consorts, a way to brainwash the females into believing the domineering ways of the males were out of love and protection.
The girl couldn’t hold my gaze and dropped her eyes to the table, playing with her fingers as she whispered, “You’re only saying that because you’re ugly and your consort couldn’t ever love you. You don’t have to be so mean to everyone else because of it.”
My claws came out as I slammed my hands on the table, raking them across the surface with a loud screech. I knew I wasn’t attractive, but I wasn’t ugly. I was as flat as a board and as straight as one, lacking any curves save for the small flare of my hips. My claws were sharper than blades though, the only thing I cared to maintain.
I had them out more often than not as well as my sharp incisors. It was considered inappropriate for a female to maintain a pure state, the teeth and claws considered threatening and unattractive. The real reason behind it was they didn’t want us to be anything more than human. They didn’t want us to be able to master our sight, smell, hearing, agility, strength, and instincts. They wanted us weak and helpless, completely dependent on our consorts.
The males, however, were always in the pure state. Their claws were not out as often as mine, but all of their pure form attributes were active as well as their incisor teeth.
Our race known as wights, had two forms. What we referred to as ‘human’ was our most basic and vulnerable state. Our senses were dulled, and we lacked bodily weapons such as claws and sharp teeth. We were also weaker and slower in the human state.
Then there was the pure state gave us retractable claws and teeth and boosted our senses and changed our bodies. Muscle was easier to develop and maintain, and our skin became the hardest armor that very few things could pierce. Our bones were lightened to handle impact in a different way, much like that of a cat’s feet. It also made for higher and longer leaps. Not every wight could maintain a pure state for long intervals of time since it required energy. Our pure state was our genetic design for fight or flight, but it had turned into a status symbol within our society to identify males of ranking.
“Want to say that again?” I challenged the terrified female who was now trembling as I hovered over her, forcing her back to flatten against the tabletop as she turned her head away from me, squeezing her eyes shut. Her neck was now completely borne to me in submission. Her soft and delicate flesh was vulnerable to my sharp incisors ready to tear out her throat in a moment.
She whimpered and shook her head. I waited a few more seconds before withdrawing, snarling out at her, “Your consort will be pleased with your submission, you are just as pathetic as they desire.”
Tears burned in her eyes as she squeaked, “You’re feral, and when your consort realizes that you’ll be euthanized as you ought to have been a long time ago.”
My lips peeled back from my teeth and she instantly cowered away, but instead of lunging at her like she expected, I just laughed. The wicked sound making all the females around me tense. I gave the redhead an aggressive smile. “I have no intention of ever finding my consort, and if such an unfortunate thing were to happen, be assured I’ll kill him before he has the chance to kill me.”
Wasting no time, I took my leave from the café that was becoming more crowded as noon was nearing, grateful there hadn’t been any males around when my temper had snapped. I was too tired to fight today. I was worn out from the years of running and constantly having to be on my guard. My irritable mood was dangerous for me because of the attention I would draw from lashing out.
Now I needed to find someplace else, knowing rumors of a female walking around in the pure state were soon to spread. It had been a bad move on my part to lose my temper and show them since instances like these were one of the reasons my trackers were following me so closely. Usually, I could last a few weeks before I had an outburst, but I was on edge.
I had evaded my consort for nine years after my first consorting season. I was nearing my eighteenth season, still without a consort. Most females bonded between their first and third season, their fifth at the most. Eighteen was unheard of. I doubted that finding a consort would have been a common thing before the law was passed two hundred years ago stating that every female going on to their fourth season unbonded, was required to attend The Finding.
I hated it. We were rounded up like cattle to be brought to the males that couldn’t even go through the trouble of looking hard for us. The least they could do was put in some effort before they took our freedom away. Now we were handed to them on a silver platter. It was revolting.
I hadn’t attended The Finding even once, but there were repercussions for my actions. Zeta was hunting for me for two reasons. One because I broke the law every time I missed another Finding ceremony, and two, because word about a feral unbonded female was sure to be floating around the Wight Council.
Zeta was the law enforcement of the wight community, and they were relentless. They’d been on my tail for the past year, but I was good at hiding and covering my tracks. As of late though, the stress I’d been under had been tripping me up when I couldn’t afford mistakes.
I didn’t have many options left. I’d been to too many territories already. Normally, I could sneak in without detection, no one sparing a cowering female a second glance. As long as I kept my head down the One wouldn’t even know I was taking refuge in their territory. After an episode like today, news quickly got around and I made sure I was never around when a One found out a feral female had been residing illegally in their territory.
As for the feral part, well, I wasn’t really feral. I had a horrible temper, enough of one to befit that of a One. I was a female though, and having a temper was a big no, no. Ferals though, were insanely and overly aggressive wights whom had lost all humanity. Their animalistic tendencies consumed them, and everything resorted to violence. A feral would never be able to live within a territory unnoticed for several weeks. They came with the intent of bloodshed and a massive pile of bodies would follow in their wake.
There were few cases of ferals and even fewer that were legit. Fifty percent of the cases were females who’d refused to conform and submit to their consort. It was just a legal way of killing strong willed females without question. If they were proclaimed feral by their consort, the female would be euthanized.
Your consort was the one who made the final call. If you had yet to find your consort and were thought to be feral, your consort had to be found and brought before you. If change in behavior was impossible, then the execution would go through. If your consort was dead and you were feral, that was the only way you could be euthanized without consent from your consort.
There were fewer and fewer females these days who even thought about fighting against our flawed society. While it angered me, I couldn’t blame them. After all, resisting meant a life on the run and perhaps that was more exhausting and soul draining than just accepting a consort.
As I was crossing the plaza, I felt the sudden need to run and hide. Stirred from my thoughts, I slightly turned my head around looking for the source of my anxiety. I kept walking, my eyes scanning around me as to not draw unnecessary attention to myself. It was impossible for me to know who was a Zeta agent since the plaza was packed with other wights walking to and from the various buildings.
Dimming all of my senses except for my smell, I tried to see if I could get a scent.
There was nothing, just the smell of dirt, food and people. Then I caught a slight scent of pine and sap.
My heart froze in my chest.
The nearest evergreen forest was at least two hundred miles away from here. There was one thing that always smelled like evergreen though.
The head tracker of Zeta.
He was the one who always seemed to find me, no matter what I did or where I went. But he had never gotten this close to me before.
He was probably in this plaza right now.
Overwhelming relief that I had covered myself in my homemade honey scented elixir that changed my scent flooded through me. Every month I made a new elixir to disguise my scent. The one I was wearing now I had just made last week, and the fact that it was so new was probably the only reason Zeta hadn’t cornered me yet.
My iusual routine would have me heading to the border of the territory and slipping away but if the head tracker of Zeta was here that meant he would have the outskirts of the city watched for a lone female trying to slip away, so that was no longer an option. Still, I certainly couldn’t stay here any longer. It wouldn’t take long before news of a crazy female showing her teeth and claws to threaten others spread. With the added element of Zeta being right where the scene had occurred, I was beginning to think I’d reached the end of the road.
Then I caught sight of my one way out.
A bus was being loaded full of the unbonded females going to The Finding. I had forgotten that the next season was only a few days away. My heart plummeted at the thought of getting on that bus. If Zeta caught me, I would be forced to The Finding anyway. At least I might have a chance to slip away if I loaded the bus now. There was sure to be at least one bus transfer.
Making up my mind, I made my way to the bus stop and got in line. I walked up the stairs of the bus unable to shake the feeling that my life was about to take a turn for the worse.