The world might be sunny-side up today.
The big ball of yellow might be spilling into the clouds, runny and yolky and blurring into the bluest sky, bright with cold hope and false promises about fond memories, real families, hearty breakfasts, stacks of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup sitting on a plate in a world that doesn’t exist anymore.
Or maybe not.
Maybe it’s dark and wet today, whistling wind so sharp it stings the skin off the knuckles of grown men. Maybe it’s snowing, maybe it’s raining, I don’t know maybe it’s freezing it’s hailing it’s a hurricane slip slipping into a tornado and the earth is quaking apart to make room for our mistakes.
I wouldn’t have any idea.
I don’t have a window anymore. I don’t have a view. It’s a million degrees below zero in my blood and I’m buried 50 feet underground in a training room that’s become my second home lately. Every day I stare at these 4 walls and remind myself I’m not a prisoner I’m not a prisoner I’m not a prisoner but sometimes the old fears streak across my skin and I can’t seem to break free of the claustrophobia clutching at my throat.
I made so many promises when I arrived here.
Now I’m not so sure. Now I’m worried. Now my mind is a traitor because my thoughts crawl out of bed every morning with darting eyes and sweating palms and nervous giggles that sit in my chest, build in my chest, threaten to burst through my chest, and the pressure is tightening and tightening and tightening
Life around here isn’t what I expected it to be.
My new world is etched in gunmetal, sealed in silver, drowning in the scents of stone and steel. The air is icy, the mats are orange; the lights and switches beep and flicker, electronic and electric, neon bright. It’s busy here, busy with bodies, busy with halls stuffed full of whispers and shouts, pounding feet and thoughtful footsteps. If I listen closely I can hear the sounds of brains working and foreheads pinching and fingers tap tapping at chins and lips and furrowed brows. Ideas are carried in pockets, thoughts propped up on the tips of every tongue; eyes are narrowed in concentration, in careful planning I should want to know about.
But nothing is working and all my parts are broken.
I’m supposed to harness my Energy, Castle said. Our gifts are different forms of Energy. Matter is never created or destroyed, he said to me, and as our world changed, so did the Energy within it. Our abilities are taken from the universe, from other matter, from other Energies. We are not anomalies. We are inevitabilities of the perverse manipulations of our Earth. Our Energy came from somewhere, he said. And somewhere is in the chaos all around us.
It makes sense. I remember what the world looked like when I left it.
I remember the pissed-off skies and the sequence of sunsets collapsing beneath the moon. I remember the cracked earth and the scratchy bushes and the used-to-be-greens that are now too close to brown. I think about the water we can’t drink and the birds that don’t fly and how human civilization has been reduced to nothing but a series of compounds stretched out over what’s left of our ravaged land.
This planet is a broken bone that didn’t set right, a hundred pieces of crystal glued together. We’ve been shattered and reconstructed, told to make an effort every single day to pretend we still function the way we’re supposed to. But it’s a lie, it’s all a lie.
I do not function properly.
I am nothing more than the consequence of catastrophe.
2 weeks have collapsed at the side of the road, abandoned, already forgotten. 2 weeks I’ve been here and in 2 weeks I’ve taken up residence on a bed of eggshells, wondering when something is going to break, when I’ll be the first to break it, wondering when everything is going to fall apart. In 2 weeks I should’ve been happier, healthier, sleeping better, more soundly in this safe space. Instead I worry about what will happen when if I can’t get this right, if I don’t figure out how to train properly, if I hurt someone on purpose by accident.
We’re preparing for a bloody war.
That’s why I’m training. We’re all trying to prepare ourselves to take down Warner and his men. To win one battle at a time. To show the citizens of our world that there is hope yet—that they do not have to acquiesce to the demands of The Reestablishment and become slaves to a regime that wants nothing more than to exploit them for power. And I agreed to fight. To be a warrior. To use my power against my better judgment. But the thought of laying a hand on someone brings back a world of memories, feelings, a flush of power I experience only when I make contact with skin not immune to my own. It’s a rush of invincibility; a tormented kind of euphoria; a wave of intensity flooding every pore in my body. I don’t know what it will do to me. I don’t know if I can trust myself to take pleasure in someone else’s pain.
All I know is that Warner’s last words are caught in my chest and I can’t cough out the cold or the truth hacking at the back of my throat.
Adam has no idea that Warner can touch me.
No one does.
Warner was supposed to be dead. Warner was supposed to be dead because I was supposed to have shot him but no one supposed I’d need to know how to fire a gun so now I suppose he’s come to find me.
He’s come to fight.
A sharp knock and the door flies open.
“Ah, Ms. Ferrars. I don’t know what you hope to accomplish by sitting in the corner.” Castle’s easy grin dances into the room before he does.
I take a tight breath and try to make myself look at Castle but I can’t. Instead I whisper an apology and listen to the sorry sound my words make in this large room. I feel my shaking fingers clench against the thick, padded mats spread out across the floor and think about how I’ve accomplished nothing since I’ve been here. It’s humiliating, so humiliating to disappoint one of the only people who’s ever been kind to me.
Castle stands directly in front of me, waits until I finally look up. “There’s no need to apologize,” he says. His sharp, clear brown eyes and friendly smile make it easy to forget he’s the leader of Omega Point. The leader of this entire underground movement dedicated to fighting The Reestablishment. His voice is too gentle, too kind, and it’s almost worse. Sometimes I wish he would just yell at me. “But,” he continues, “you do have to learn how to harness your Energy, Ms. Ferrars.”