November 12th, 2079, the first day of training.
Mornings start with a cup of coffee or a bite of the piece of pancake for breakfast. That’s the ideal, but for the moment, our morning isn’t ideal at all. They haven’t lifted their faces off their phone screens since we all sat down, not even bothering to look up while sipping their tea. I sigh and turn my attention back to the paper map in my hand. The problem with looking for a secret or a hidden place to train in on the map is a lot trickier than I thought, for whoever drew this huge thing in front of me never pointed it out empty or vacant places. Yes, I’m being stupid, looking at it for the past forty five minutes instead of getting up and actually driving for a search.
“Guys?” I call for them.
I could’ve sworn I heard fireflies when none of them budged, still texting their friends on Polina furiously tapping on the screens.
Fine, play it that way.
A smirk plays on my face when an idea hits. I grab the half empty bottle by my side and aim at Edward’s head.
“Ouch! What was that for?” he grumbles, massaging the part of his head the bottle fell on.
“Yes, Zoey, what was that for?” Jo asks.
“Well, I had to do something before your faces sink in those little devices of yours.”
“And you didn’t think of anything softer than a bottle to throw? Really, Zoey?” Edward complains again.
I shrug. “It was the closest. Anyways, get up, we have lots to do.”
I slide off the chair and unlock the door, turning around to check if they are following behind and heading for the car I burrowed yesterday.
“What’s this thing doing here?” Jo asks upon seeing the car.
“Just get in.” I say.
“Whose is it?” she asks still giving me her you-didn’t-steal-it-did-you look, not moving from her spot.
I sigh in impatience, and push her into the backseat, amazed to find Edward and Peter already sitting inside even before I do.
I hop into the driver’s seat and start the engine.
“It’s Mr. Garfield’s” I answer Jo’s question and press on the pedal.
“And, who is this Mr. Garfield?” Edward asks.
“He’s our neighbor from a few blocks down. I burrowed it from him because it’s easier to search this way than on foot.”
“I don’t get it,” Peter snaps, “Why are we hiding? We’re saving this planet for goodness sake, why are we hiding in the corners like some fugitives or something?”
“Peter,” I call for him, glancing in the rear mirror, “because it’s the only way to keep us safe. No matter what the reason is for us being here, we’re aliens to them. They can’t trust us unless we prove our intentions to them, and that’s getting this hell of a mission done as soon as possible, all right?”
I get no response but shrug it off, I didn’t expect one anyway.
We seem to be on our way out of the city limits; the buildings are getting shorter, fewer and more distant away from each other. The air from the opened windows hit the back of my neck, I risk a glance out at the view. Fewer houses, more little shrubs and trees, and then a few feet ahead, I spot an old building that seems to have been abandoned for the past decade, which indicates nobody comes to the area anymore. I drive a little further then stop the engine and hop out, slamming the door behind. I hear two more slams and turn around to face them.
“I guess this is it.”
“Really, Zoey? If we die here, no one will know we ever existed.”
I roll my eyes at Jo. “But that’s exactly what we need.”
“Whatever. Don’t complain when our bodies rot out on the road.” Jo mutters.
I let out an exaggerated sigh. “Why do you even think we would die now and here? Don’t be dramatic and focus.”
Edward squints at me, and I narrow my eyes at him until his gaze turns normal again, “I’m sorry, I was trying to focus.” He says, a smug look playing on his face.
I stomp away from the road track and closer to the building.
“So, “ I start, “Just follow my lead, I’m not good at vocal instructions.”
“Great, Zoey, I’m so comforted now.” Edward comments, his glittered with sarcasm.
“Right, at least I’m not the one passing out sarcastic comments like a teenager.”
“Zoey, I am a teenager, we are teenagers. Are you dumb?”
“Oh,” I respond awkwardly, realising how the turn of events made me forget my own age. It’s awful.
I shake it off and flex my arms before standing in a fighting stance. They follow, readying themselves too. Taking a breath, I start with the first move she’d taught me and spring my whole left leg in an angle of 90° degree with my body, while the rest of me stayed straight. Jo tried to do it but stumbled and fell, Edward did it, and Peter succeeded on the second try.
“Jo, it needs practice. Do it again.” I address her.
She gets up, shaking the dust off the jeans and blowing her hair off her face. “Do it again, I need to see how you do it.” She requests.
I nod, then a bit slower than the first time, I spring my leg up, but somehow to my own surprise, it hangs in the middle, barely making the straight angle. The world goes spinning, and I unbalanced my fists absent minded, bringing my body to a normal pose. I try to push away the dizziness, shutting my eyes hard but nothing happens.
“Zoey?” I hear Edward call. “Are you okay?”
I make an attempt to nod but the effect is awful. I brush against the hot ground with my fingers, my back aching from the impact of the fall. I can hear them yelling something, their eyes looking down at me in concern, their blurred faces, slowly turning into colours. It looks funny, I would’ve laughed if my throat weren’t so dry. I try to grasp the few ounces of energy left to concentrate, refocus on my senses, but instead I find myself saying, “I guess you were right, Jo.”
And then my eyelids win the battle and shut down.