I sat in the dark cell wondering if my dad was going to come to take me home. I spent most of my time here pondering my life choices. I don’t know why I steal, only the fact that I need to feed my family. I get arrested about once a week. I’m here so often that it’s become more of a habit than a crime. I’m friends with all the Watchmen and they only arrest me as a formality. They don’t even charge my dad to bail me out. If I really wanted to I could talk my way out of here. I’m an Entrancer, I can make anyone do what I want by only asking. I’ve kept my ability a secret from everyone because if anyone were to find out they would ship me away to the war front with the other Gifted.
Most people don’t have a gift as I do, and you’re lucky if you don’t. When someone has a Gift they are sent to fight in the Gifted War. It’s hardly a Gift. It is only called that because it is a fight between Gifted individuals and only the Gifted. We are forced to fight for the Commoners because they are too useless to do so. Commoners like the rest of my family get to sit back and watch the destruction unfold. I could never tell my family of my Gift. They would surely throw me to the wolves and send me to fight in the war. There is only one person in the entire world that I trust and that’s Hunter. He is my best friend. He is the only one who knows of my secret and I the only one who knows his. He is Gifted like me and we have kept each other’s secrets for years.
Hunter is a Scorcher, he controls fire. I’ve seen him do it before and it’s honestly breathtaking. I remember the first time we met. I was thirteen at the time and had just found out that the tax was being raised for everyone in my village and I knew that my parents didn’t have the extra money. I was too young to get a job so I had to find another way to help out my family. I didn’t think about what I was doing. I just reached my hand out to meet a small coin purse hanging out of a boy’s back pocket. I had just closed my hand around it when the boy suddenly grabbed me by the wrist and turned to look at me. He wouldn’t let go of my wrist. He looked me straight in the eye and took the coin purse from my hand, “You shouldn’t steal you know. Some people actually need money to live.”
“Let go of me!” I yelled as he tightened his grip. And to my surprise, he listened. He let go of my arm and just stood there.
“Why did I just do that?” he asked with a frightened look in his eyes.
I shrugged, “I don’t know. You tell me.”
His eyes glowed with panic as he tried to move and failed. “What are you doing to me?” he asked. I started connecting the dots and tried to prove my hypothesis.
“Give me your coin purse,” I demanded. He slowly placed the coin purse in my hand. “What is happening to me,” he exclaimed. I started to shake as I realized what was happening. I was controlling him. He gave me his money because I made him do it just by telling him to. I looked away from him and he seemed to relax. He looked at me more in amazement than in horror, “You’re an Entrancer. You’re one of the Gifted.”
I shook my head in denial and sunk to my knees, “No...no...NO, NO, NO! I can’t go to war!” I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes as I processed my situation. This boy was going to report me. I was going to be sent to the Tower and trained as a spy. They were going to send me across enemy lines to try to Entrance the enemy and I was most likely going to die. Just as I started to spiral into a complete panic, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. I took my head out of my hands and opened my eyes. That same boy was kneeling beside me trying to comfort me. I didn’t understand why he was being nice to me if I had just tried to rob him. I looked into his eyes and what I saw unsettled me. His eyes were full of sympathy. I didn’t understand his actions. Commoners were supposed to be repulsed by the Gifted. But for some reason, he was not.
“Listen, I won’t report you but you have to follow me. I can help you,” he told me. I was so distraught that the only words I cared about were “won’t report you”, so I got up and followed him. He took me to an alley in between a bakery and slaughterhouse. He led us behind a dumpster, “I understand what you’re feeling right now, but you can trust me,” he looked around as if to check if anyone was watching and then opened his palm in front of my face. Instantly a small flame danced above his palm. I gasped in amazement. He was one of the Gifted too. He closed his palm, making the flame disappear, “I’m a Scorcher, and I promise to keep your secret if you keep mine. Deal?” I nodded in agreement, unsure of what I had just gotten myself into. He extended a hand in my direction and I shook it. He looked me up and down and said, “My name’s Hunter, what’s your’s?”
“Iris,” I replied, “Nice to meet you, Hunter.”
“Nice to meet you too.”
* * *
I woke up a few hours later in the cell. My dad was standing over me with a look of disgust on his face. “Get up,” he said sternly. I yawned and took my time getting to my feet.
“Yes, sir,” I said mockingly.
He closed a hand around my wrist and dragged me out of the cell, “Come on. We’re going home.”