Last One Standing

Intro & Prologue

The air was leaden as I climbed up the small flight of steps that lead to the meeting room. I felt bare, stripped of everything that made me, me. The guards had made sure of that.

Luckily, the whole place was automated, so I didn't have a guard accompany me up here. The door opened as soon as I extended a finger, letting the sensor scrape off a few skin cells and test my DNA.

Then, as soon as I walked in, it closed behind me and I could hear the sound of the locks clicking into place. Both automatic and mechanical. They weren't taking chances.

The meeting room was all white and shiny, perfectly polished and horribly bright. Were all the rooms like this? I wondered. Were all the prisoners kept in this bleak place?

I couldn't help but see my face, reflected in the shiny white. Its curved surfaces made my eyes look huge. And my black hair seemed to escape from my head, every stray tendril multiplied by a thousand.

I would have examined myself further if a door on the opposite end had not opened. Instantly, I jumped backwards. I hadn't know what to expect, but certainly not this.

The man before me was dressed all in immaculate white. And that only made his scars stand out more. There were thousands of tiny lines, etched into his arms, his wrists. Only his face was clean, though it was covered in a coarse beard.

And then my shock left me and I flung myself at him. His arms, still strong, caught me and held me close, while I breathed raggedly, trying to hide sobs. Finally, he pulled me back. "Chari," he breathed.

I bit my lip and looked at his face, drinking in everything. His tanned skin, his black hair, his dark eyes. "Gared." I was sure that he would hear my voice shake.

"What did they do to you?" He asked, looking over my clothes: a thin white dress that was open half way down my back, tiny paper shoes.

That made me smile. "I guess you're important. I can't come in with any sort of weapon, you know."

Gared raised an eyebrow at me, knowingly and pulled me back into his arms. "I've missed you," he whispered.

And it sounded so natural, coming from his lips. Even a week ago, it would have sounded strange and made me blush, but now, it sounded right. "I've missed you too." It was the truth. I had missed him with an ache that wouldn't go away, no matter what I did.

"Chari," he said again. Then, leaned in and kissed me. It was slow and soft. There would be no passion here, not when we were being watched all the time. "I'll miss you."

That was different. In the future. He would miss me. I looked at him sadly. He acted like he would be here for a long time.

"You know why they let you come here?" He asked me gently.

I shook my head, in all honesty, I had been shocked that I had even been allowed in the prison.

The look on his face made my stomach churn. It was almost agonized. "Chari, they only let visitors in before an execution."

"Executed?" I squeaked. Surely he didn't mean himself. There was no way they would kill Gared. "No. Not you?"

But his face confirmed the worst. "I love you," he whispered, placing a hand on my cheek.

No. No. NO! I let lose a terrified scream, that bounced off the walls and evolved into a horrified wail as soon as it reached my ears.

And then hands were there, pulling at my clothes and yanking me away from Gared. I felt that dress rip and I knew that I was probably naked. But I didn't care. Gared could not die.


A month earlier.

I picked up my pen and quickly wrote my name on the screen. It was really quite archaic. There was no reason that I needed to sign my name. There were so many better ways to affirm identity. That quick finger prick certainly guaranteed that I was indeed who I was claiming to be: Chari Sahal.

"Sahal?" Someone called from the front of the classroom. Of course, it was an automated voice, but it was still grating and irritating.

"Yes?" I called out, as clearly as I could.

"Your presence is requested in the office." The tinny voice had no emotion in it.

I bit my lip. In the office? I knew that it had to be trouble. I wasn't an angel after all. Far from it.

Slowly, I stood, and reached to grab my screen and pen, but the voice interjected. "No possession will be needed."

And reluctantly, I set down the screen and moved towards the front of the classroom. Around me, I heard murmurs of my fellow classmates. Some were mocking me. Some were indifferent. A couple whispered my name. "Chari."

But, as I left the classroom, I didn't even bother to look back at them. It wasn't as if I liked any of them. And they certainly didn't pretend to like me.

"Bitch," I thought I heard someone hiss as the door closed behind me. But that didn't matter. They could hate me all they wanted.

It took me only a minute to reach the office, since the halls were almost empty. The oppressive stone walls towered over me reminding me that here, I was prisoner. Literally, the school officials had complete control of me. Since the Loco Laws (as they were called) had been passed, students lost all rights as soon as they entered school doors.

The office was set up to be as technical as possible. It looked out of place in this old stone building. The door sensed my arrival and opened, a breath of wind on my skin.

I closed my eyes and stepped inside. Right into something very, very solid. I opened my eyes d stared straight into the face of a very severe looking man. He had very close-cropped hair and wolfish eyes.

"Sorry," I choked out, but he pushed past me, leaving me staring into the empty office.

The normally bustling place was deserted. The seats that were home to scowling secretaries now were vacant. The lights were dimmed and the place looked uninhabited except for the a strip of light under the door.

I heard voices. "Sahal." "Training." "Attitude problems." "Immediately." "Transfer." "In loco parentis."

Transfer me? I didn't understand what was happening. What sort of trouble was I in? I considered what to do. I could stay, but that meant accepting my fate. Or I could run. I had a chance. Plenty of kids did it.

Impulsively, I turned and ran head on to the door which was mercifully open. I flew out but only made it a few steps down the hall before something tripped me.

And then I was sprawled on the floor. Blood was gushing from my split lip, making me feel sick. And then, I saw a face above me.

Surely, I was dreaming, for this was an incredibly good-looking man. Black hair and eyes, tanned skin, muscular—everything a girl could want.

And then the man leaned forward, very close to my face. "Night." He gave a heart-fluttering grin. But maybe that was only because I felt the sharp pain of a needle on my right arm.

"Good work , Low," I heard someone say as I drifted off into nothingness.

AN: Review?

Anyways, I really hope you liked this. Let me know what you think please.

also, I'm a judge at La Campanella Awards, it would be great if you could go to the site and nominate some stories (http(:)//campanella(.)overloaddd(.)com Minus the () of course