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Chapter 8

I remain silent during the rest of the car journey, as there is nothing else to say, and no straight answers I will receive if I do. I’m not sure where we are, I just know that we’re not in California anymore, and everything around me screams country.

We’ve been driving for the entire day, and my legs are beginning to feel stiff, and my back is beginning to ache, and my arm from the fall last night is starting to display thick, purple bruises that leave me wincing in pain every time I move it.

But worse than that, I’m severely dehydrated. My parents don’t feel thirst and hunger like normal people do, they eat and drink when needed, but they could go hours if not days without it. It’s something that they have tried to thrust upon me, but it doesn’t work. Whenever they surrendered to bed, I’d just sneak downstairs and pour myself a glass of water. Fasting is part of their strong beliefs, and they believe that if a person cannot fast, they cannot handle the word of God.

I wish that they could take the passion that they extract from the Bible and put it into something useful--like loving their daughter, or even loving each other. I’m not sure how they met, or what direction their lives were headed in before they did, but something must have sparked between them. Whether that be a shared interest in being Martians or maybe they enjoyed each other’s silence, I don’t know.

What I do know, is that at some point eighteen years ago, they did interact and they did have sex. Otherwise, how else would I be alive?

They can put on this hilarious sin resentment all they like, but the truth is, both of them have sinned themselves. But with no evidence or photography of their wedding or the date they were married--it’s unclear if they actually have. So I can’t point out the contradiction, I can just think it.

My mother suddenly jerks awake from her long sleep, and she gently stretches out her arms like a cat. She glares at the darker sky, admiring the visible moon that camouflages within the plain clouds.

“Ready to switch?” my father says quietly.

“Yes, pull over.”

As the car pulls over and they both trade places tiredly, I remember the location of Cross Academy on the internet page, and I realize that we have an even longer drive ahead of us. We probably won’t reach it until morning, and that’s if they don’t make any stops. We stopped at the gas station a few hours ago, and they allowed me to briefly use the bathroom, but the thirst is beginning to irritate me.

The only way I can quench it is to sleep myself. So I rest my head against the window as the car starts moving again and I fall into the quiet darkness.

I awake to the sound of a truck beeping its horn beside my window. I let out a small yawn and I turn my head, glancing at the truck that is waiting at the same set of lights. The sun is up and the sky is a radiant blue.

I rub my eyes as I sit up, my mother is still driving and my father is sitting up straight in the passenger seat, his eyes glaring forwards.

The car roars to life and my mother turns us away from the junction and onto a country road that is in the middle of beautiful, over-grown trees. The car turns around many bends, picking up speed as though we’re in a race. And as we manoeuvre towards a large tunnel up ahead, I brace myself for the awkward darkness.

It comes quickly, and we travel through the tunnel for a matter of moments, and then the car turns left abruptly.

I glance out of the window in awe as we speed down a long, dirt road that is placed between two forests. The car travels for a few miles before slowing to a stop outside a giant, steel gate that is attached to a line of high fences that create a perimeter, shielding whatever is inside.

Above the gate is a metal sign that reads: Welcome to Cross Academy.

I hold my breath for a few moments before the gate automatically slides open and I catch a glimpse of a security camera that beams a red light into my eyes.

And then we enter.

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