I´ve heard stories of how it used to be. Freedom of speech, democracy. Most people who were alive then are dead now, but when I was a kid there was this old woman who used to tell stories about how it was before The Pravus took over. People used to vote for leaders, she told us. I thought it sounded like something out of a fairytale, that people used to be able to criticize the government without fearing arrest, or worse. The Pravus calls them the dark ages. They say that there was no order, that the people back then just killed each other left and right. I guess in a sense they´re right.
There were freedom fighters of course, but after a while they all stopped trying. Or died. The Pravus saw to that.
And me? I don’t know. It´s been over a hundred years since we had democracy, I wonder if we could ever get back to it. Not that I really care much, my main concern is staying alive. And for someone like me, that’s hard enough.
“C´mon c´mon! Work you stupid bike!” I muttered. In
the distance I could hear voices closing up on me. Frustrated I looked at
the engine. It was a patchwork of different parts, the consequence of constantly
having to repair or replace stuff that broke. Angrily I looked at the regulator
I had, hm, gotten back in Rove (the guy didn’t need it anyway, so it wasn’t
exactly stealing more like, relieving him of a burden).
I could hear the voices getting closer and swore quietly. In a fit of desperation I hit the regulator with the metal rod and recoiled as the engine came to life with a loud crack. For a second I just stared at it.
“I cannot believe that actually worked” I whispered to myself. Without wasting anymore time I jumped on the bike, my backpack hanging insecurely on my right shoulder. The voices were now just outside the storage room I had been hiding in. There was no way in hell I was getting out without them seeing me. Praying to whatever divine creature interested in listening, I rummaged through my backpack trying to find…
“Aha!” I whispered triumphantly. My night vision goggles, thankfully still intact despite the slight skirmish I had just escaped. Putting them on, I braced myself and started up the bike. Just as I expected, the door immediately flew open and four Wardens burst in wearing full uniform. They looked around in confusion, their stun-guns not even unholstered.
Honestly, I was almost a bit insulted.
“You! Stop right there!” one of them ordered. I sighed and raised my hands.
“Well, you got me.” Not. Sparks flew from my hands into the electrical cords in the ceiling, instantly making all the lights go out. Ignoring the yells of the Wardens as I sped by, I gave myself a pat on the back for casing the facility in beforehand. Making a sharp right I sped by three other Wardens and up on a road. It didn’t take too long to loose them. Obviously they weren’t prepared for me having vehicle nearby. Idiots.
I zigzagged through the city for a while until I was absolutely certain I had lost any possible followers. Sighing in relief I made a turn on the main road, going into what might be called the city slum. Five minutes later I stopped in front of a large, grey building that had clearly seen better days. I parked my bike in the garage, but not before activating the cloaking tech I´d designed to keep it hidden. Since it was a camo it didn’t really work in broad daylight, but in the dark garage it was practically invisible. Making my way up the stairs I groaned. Stealing food was necessary, though I didn’t exactly like it. Working small jobs didn’t pay very well and food is the easiest to steal. Unfortunately this store had better tech than I´m used to. Seriously, what kind of grocery store has thermo-scanners? I was going to have to find a new place to get supplies.
Tiredly I took out my keys and opened the door to my apartment. The place consisted of one room; there was a bed, a kitchen (though most of the kitchen supplies were missing) and a small bathroom. The only positive thing about the place was the view, which displayed the entire city. Though, I usually kept the curtains closed. Safer that way.
Safe. Safe was the reason I lived in a place like this, were no one ever asked who you were.
Safe was the reason I left my home.
No, I reprimanded myself, don’t think about that.
I quickly took off my torn, brown leather jacket and threw it on the slightly moldy couch before walking into the bathroom.
There, just like the rest of the apartment, there was… room for improvement. The toilet was fine, but I tried to avoid the shower as much as I could. The water never got warm, and showering in cold water was never a pleasant experience. Especially when you had to keep a lookout for cockroaches.
Washing my hands in the sink, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. My hair was a mess, long auburn strands hanging loosely from my braid. Not that I minded. My skin was relatively clean, except for the small cut just above my eyebrow I´d gotten when escaping the wardens in the store. I almost forgot to take out the lenses, but the blue eyes staring back in the mirror reminded me. Quickly I took them out and put them in a case. I´d have to replace them soon, I realized, they were way too old to use. Not that I had a choice. Before walking back out I looked at myself in the mirror again. This time bright, almost silver colored eyes stared back at me.
Not really feeling up for dinner, I decided to go to bed immediately. The bed, however creaky and old, was actually quite comfortable. It isn’t even moldy, I thought cynically, before closing my eyes.
“Come on Lecs, keep up” the girl cried, laughing as she ran along the corridors of the orphanage. I stumble after her, my small legs doing their best to move faster, like her. I rounded a corner and almost ran right into her, prompting her to fall over and dragging me along with her. We landed beside each other, both laughing.
The scene changed, colors swiveling around me until they suddenly stopped. The same face, only older, was facing mine. Her eyes stared at me again, but this time they weren’t laughing. They shone of fear. Worry.
“You have to leave, if they find out they´ll take you” she whispered.
“I can´t. Where will I go?” I said. I was doing my best at trying to leep the fear out of my voice, and failing miserably.
“Go to Pana. Find work. Steal if you have to”
“But” my lip quivered “I can´t leave you”
The scene changed again, but her face remained the same. My backpack was in my hand, full of food, clothes and the tiny amount of money we managed to get our hands on.
“Go” she whispered, pointing at the window. But before I could move, she clasped my hand.
“Don´t forget me sister”
“Never” I promised. Then I jumped out the window.
I woke up, sweaty and gasping for air. Tears were running down my cheeks, making my pillow wet. Annoyed with myself I turned it over and wiped my eyes until they were dry.
It´s no use to think about it, I thought to myself, so don´t.
But I couldn’t fall asleep again. It didn’t matter how much I tossed and turned, I was wide awake. Desperate for something to do I went into the bathroom to get some water (the tap in the kitchen didn’t work for some reason). But once I got there I got stuck by the mirror again. My skin was pale, the skin of someone who spent too much time inside. The bags under my eyes were larger than ever.
And my eyes. They glowed like they always did. I guess they were beautiful, or at least they would have been if it hadn’t been for what they meant.
The strangely colored eyes were a sign of a GP, a Gene Positive. Everyone knew that. GP´s were, according to Pravus, highly dangerous and unstable. At the moment I didn’t feel like either.
It had started back at the orphanage. At first it was just small stuff. I got stronger and faster, my senses were heightened. Back then I didn’t suspect anything, it wasn’t until The Incident that I realised.
Every GP has some things in common. The increased muscle density, heightened senses and, of course, the eyes. But we also have this other thing, a… special ability. From what I know, every special ability is different, though some are more alike than others. For some it takes years for it to develop. Me? Two months.
I have to admit, being able to control electricity is pretty sweet. Especially since it´s something you can find pretty much anywhere, and it goes hand in hand with my interest for mechanics. But being a GP, that’s not easy.
Before Pravus, GP´s had rights like everyone else. Genetic mutations were apparently all the rage back then. But then Pravus came along and declared GP´s evil and wrong. They rounded them up to do who knows what with them, but some escaped. I´ve heard of others like me, just never met them. We are pretty rare nowadays.
So I take care of myself. I take small jobs whenever I can, but I never stay at the same place for long. Sooner or later someone starts asking too many questions. So I change my name on a regular basis, live in shady neighborhoods where no one cares about who you are and I move to a new city every six months or so. Always alone, always keeping off the record.
There was a point when all I wanted was to find someone like me, another GP. But it´s risky, and I am doing fine on my own.
Shaking my head I returned to the bed. Brooding won´t help, I told myself.
The next day I woke up early in order to get to my job at the small tech shop down-town. I had a quick breakfast consisting of an apple and some coffee (which was all I had after the failed shopping trip of the night before) before putting on my work clothes and heading down to the subway. The bike would of course be faster, but it would raise suspicion.
The subway ride was predictably boring, taking twenty minutes making it to my stop. The shop was in a slightly nicer part of town than I lived in, but still nowhere near the huge glass buildings of the inner circle. The inner circle was the center of the city, and the further out you came from it the shabbier the buildings got.
Walking into the shop, named “The Tech Shop” (Seriously? That’s the best they could do? This city is in desperate need for some creativity), I reported to my boss, sat down at the counter and braced myself for a boring day. Not that I didn’t like the job, it was actually one of the best ones I´d had. The worst definitely being the time I worked at some kind of dump and re-sell business. The smell there was horrible.
The shop was filled to the brim with tech. Most of it were loose parts, but some of it was new. I was just happy to get my hands on any parts that were too old to sell. Some of them were beyond use, but they could always be molten down and repurposed. My boss, Hendrickson, usually let me have anything they were about to throw out.
The morning came and went. Around twelve my belly started to sound like a jet engine and Hendrickson took pity on me and (though he said it was because I was scaring away the customers) gave me some money ordering me to go buy something to eat. I didn’t like having to take money from him, but even I had to admit defeat. For the record though, that is not something I usually do.
I went to a small food joint just down the street. It wasn´t very clean but the food was alright and there was always a free table. From the kitchen I heard the sound of a com, an old school radio. The voices that came out of it were discussing something, though I didn´t really pay attention to what. Soon enough a waitress showed up with my food, setting it on the table without even looking at me. That was another perk of this place, no one cared enough to give you a second glance. Not that there was much to see, my baggy pants and shirt hid all curves and the hood I had pulled over my head was big enough to conceal both my hair and my face. I started eating, listening to the com in the kitchen. The voices were still talking when a jarring noise announced the daily news report. A new voice started talking about reconstruction in the inner circle plus something about the building of a new park (oh, yay). I was just about to tune out when a new phrase caught my attention.
“Finally, a robbery was stopped at the Greens and Groceries food store last night. Fortunately, our brave Wardens managed to fight off the criminal, but were forced to abandon the fight due to concerns about public safety” (Yeah right, as if) “Authorities suspect that this individual might be one of the dangerous mutations, citizens are urged caution.” My fork was halfway to my mouth when it froze. How did they know? Did they see me use it? When I cracked the lightbulbs I didn’t use nearly enough power for it to show.
This was bad. This was really, really bad. If they so much as hunched that there might be a GP involved they would start doing screenings in no-time. I had to get out of the city before it was too late. Panic started to rise in my chest, not that I could show it. Someone might notice and send in a report. It’s a well-known fact that anyone who helps in the capture of a “mutation” gets a reward, a large sum of money. Even though it might not be much to the Pravus, in a place like this people struggle for every penny. Turning in a stranger would not be a high price to pay.
Though I thought all of this, I still ate my food quicker than usual. Leaving the plate for the waitress to pick up, I left the restaurant. For a moment I stopped outside, thinking. If I didn’t show up to work, Hendrickson might come looking for me and if he found out that I was gone he might make the connection.
No, that’s just stupid, I thought to myself. Firstly, why would he think I was the robber? And Secondly, he´ll be busy at the shop all afternoon and most of the evening. He won´t check the news until after that. Meanwhile, the Wardens would be sweeping the city to find me. Making a swift decision I made my way up the street, heading towards the train station.
The trip to Pana was the most nerve wrecking in my life. The entire time I expected someone to point at me and yell out what I was. That the train would suddenly be swarmed by Wardens, dragging me away into some unknown terror.
I clutched my backpack tighter, eyeing my surroundings. My part of the train was practically empty, with the exception of an old woman and some guy who looked to be in his twenties.
I would have liked to sleep but I was too scared to even close my eyes for a second. Every time the train stopped my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.
I took the train back to the apartment. My eyes were closed, giving the appearance of rest, but my body was on high alert. When it finally got to my stop, I had to restrain myself to not run out of the train. That definitely would have drawn attention.
The walk back to the apartment took excruciatingly long, but I knew that running would just be too obvious and with the Wardens probably on high alert I couldn´t afford to make any mistakes.
About ten minutes later I closed the door to my apartment, letting out a sigh of relief. I started walking to get the bag I kept under the bed, but froze almost immediately. Because I wasn’t alone.