My nose pressed against the cold glass pane, watching as the fields that were once filled with such life and vibrancy, fresh green grass and over-sized sunflowers turned into open brown spaces, nothing but mud hills and trenches.
We were miles away from civilization and yet the wheels of the car kept turning, taking us further and further into the abyss.
“Shall we make an entrance Harper?”
I pulled my gloomy eyes away from the window and stared at my uncle in his rear view mirror.
There was a hint of amusement playing on his face, he was enjoying this - my suffering. I narrowed my eyes and kept my lips straight, not adding to his satisfaction with a reaction.
He, however took my silence as a yes.
Within seconds his finger had flipped the switch located on his dashboard and the car came alive, thundering my ear drums with loud siren sounds.
My gaze diverted away from his vibrating laughter and focused back on the road. This time against the bleak tarmac floor flashed the reflection of a continuous blue light, it followed us all the way to the Bootcamp.
As my uncle drove along a dirt road we past by a troop marching in a straight line. Not a single body was out of place, not even slightly. The pack remained tight and uniformed. I cowered down in the back seat of the patrol car, but my uncle purposely slowed down just to take a good look.
“Jesus Harper, you got yourself in a right pickle here. There’s no way you’re gonna survive this. You will end up in prison in no time.” My uncle clearly had no qualms expressing his opinions and inner doubts.
He pulled up next to two men, one of them was fairly aged but you could clearly see his physical fitness was intact.
The other seemed around my age, perhaps a little older but again his whole body screamed that he was athletic.
Both men were dressed the same, green camouflage trousers, a muscle tight green T-shirt and tan boots.
My uncle released the lock on my door and pulled it open for me to step out of. I fumbled to my feet and stood staring at the older guy who appeared powerful enough to be in charge.
“Harper Williams, newest recruit.” My uncle said, shaking the hands of both men.
The older man circled around me, he looked me up and down, all around before returning to his place at the front location.
His hair was grey and short, combed back to sit exactly in place, his features were sharp and his scowl seemed permanent.
He radiated power and authority, his dark eyes ceasing of all humanity. His demeanor alone probably had grown men crying.
The younger guy stood completely still.
His eyes pointed out front, his hands remained tightly pressed behind his back.
He was like a robot, the most beautiful robot I had ever laid my eyes on.
He had a sharp jawline and light brown-almost blonde hair, the style was short and tight, not a single hair out of place.
“Lieutenant Commander.” Older guy nodded towards the younger guy who didn’t move a muscle, not even a flicker of his eyes.
“Commander.” He poked his firm, strong thumbs into his own chest.
His voice was deep and projected loudly.
“Cast your eyes down Williams.” He shouted, spluttering saliva with how harshly he pronounced his words.
I looked down at my white sneakers they had already accumulated dry dirt from the floor. My mouth twitched in annoyance and I sighed under my breath, careful not to let either man hear.
“Un-cuff her.” He spoke directly to my uncle who finally turned the small key in the lock that bound my wrists together and released the grip on my hand.
Naturally I clutched each of my wrists, rubbing away the numb feeling that the heavy handcuffs caused and pulled my eyes back up to meet the commander.
“Eyes down Williams.” He shouted making my whole body jolt with a startle.
I looked down immediately.
“You must not look directly at any ranking officer unless instructed to do so.” He blew on a whistle which instinctively made me want to look up again but I fought my urges. “Lieutenant will take you to your housing.”
“Okay.” I spoke to my shoes.
The commander sighed deeply.
“Look at me Williams.” He shouted. I brought my eyes to meet his. He had his four fingers resting against his forehead, like a salute. “You answer ’Sir, yes, sir. Do you understand?”
I spoke without confidence, his face was growing more furious with each passing second and I swear the other guy had the tiniest twitch of amusement to his lips but it disappeared as fast as it appeared.
“Sir.” I added nervously.
My uncle sniggered beside me and I shook my head.
“Sir, yes sir.” I corrected myself.
The commander shook his head at me exasperatedly.
“Move out.” He shouted stepping away.
The younger guy, who at this point I had convinced myself was a statue, semi relaxed his position and started making uniformed strides away from the commander.
I followed behind, jogging a little to keep up with his footsteps. I kept my head low but that didn’t stop me stealing sneaky looks at the handsome statue.
His exterior was ultra hard, not just physically but everything about him seemed impenetrable and off limits. He showed no emotion through his eyes, his face remained blank and cold always. His posterior was stoic and unreachable. For sure he was a robot.
He brought me to a large wooden shed but before going inside he flipped over some charts stuck to a clipboard on the front of the building.
“Shower block” he muttered pointing with two strong fingers across the way at a small brick building.
“Your allocated time is at four hundred hours. You must only shower at the time your schedule allows because showers are shared on a rotation of living quarters.”
“Okay.” I replied not really listening, I’ve never been one to follow the rules - hence the bootcamp. He banged his heavy tan boot on the floor and peered at me with bewitching eyes.
“You have just earned yourself five extra laps around the track tomorrow Williams. Straighten your posture, cast your eyes down and show your Lieutenant some respect.”
The urgency of his voice galvanized me into action, I remembered the stupid phrase I must use in reply to the ranking officers.
“Sir, yes Sir.”
“Cafeteria.” He pointed towards a larger brick building located not too far from the shower block.
I lifted my eyes to view it for a few seconds before lowering them again.
“Ladies toilet block.” Again I looked to see the direction he was pointing.
“And finally the staff quarters, that is strictly off limits to the criminals.”
“Criminals?” I questioned lifting my head up to meet his, my eyes twinkled with amusement. Sure that’s exactly what we were but I never expected to be called it so openly especially when thus far he had remained so professional.
“Soldiers.” He corrected, then his expression hardened once more. “You just earned yourself another ten extra laps tomorrow for questioning me and looking at me. Eyes down solider.”
Oh my god, I hated him.
He pulled open the shed door and stepped inside. It was a longish room, undecorated. Eight single beds lay in a row, four against each of the side walls. Each bed was dressed with a brown fiber blanket that looked both uncomfortable and itchy.
At the bottom of each bed stood a girl, they all wore the same uniforms, camouflage trousers, a green T-shirt, black heavy boots and a thick belt. They stood straight and motionless, staring blankly into the space in front of them. Each one not moving their eyes to look at us. Their hands rested against their foreheads in salute.
The lieutenant walked into the room, stopping in front of each girl briefly to look their bodies up and down before moving onto the next. Not one girl changed her stance or looked directly at him, not one of them challenged him.
“Your boots need to shine more Rodgers.” He shouted at the last girl.
“Sir, yes Sir.” She replied instantly.
He then took his place at the end of the room, raised his own hand into a salute and shouted “at ease soldiers.” The girls dropped their arms and relaxed but only barely. They still kept their eyes glued out front.
“Harper Williams, newest recruit.” The Lieutenant informed them in a strong voice. He grabbed a freshly folded uniform pile from the bed and handed it to me. “Uniform. Bed. See you at five hundred hours.”
I watched as he practically marched out of the door, slamming it closed behind him.
That is when all the eyes fell on me.