A/N: Well, this has taken me 2 weeks to write, but I finally finished it! It wasn't even really supposed to be a story, just a short paragraph. (The first paragraph is written in my notebook for chorus.)
Please review, favorite, whatever.
A gun firing could set me off. A knife whizzing past the top of my head could start the chain reaction. A close friend or family member getting injured at the fault of another could trigger me. If I was triggered, the person responsible could only be described as dead meat, as nearly no one then would be safe around me. The injurer or the shooter or the knife thrower had set loose the monster in me.
It had been a bad day to start off with. It was the middle of my second year here, and at times- but much less than before- I would still smile and laugh. Thanks to some annoying and moronic trend-setters, at this Academy of Assassins people other than the adults were punched in the stomach if we so much as smiled. It was the worst.
There was a different between smiles, and grins or smirks. A smile was a sign of simple pleasure. A grin or a smirk typically came to surface at someone else's expense. Laughing at another's pain was accepted too. It was definitely hard to get used to. Sometimes fights erupted because of these "differences" and the unnecessary violence made it worse.
You would think that my being the best student in the school would keep me from being punched, but no. Everyone was equal, in terms of chances of being hurt. I'd been punched twice today, but that was me saving my adopted sister Fiona from being hit. Well, the second time anyway.
"Does it still hurt Rose?" Fiona continued to dote on me. She'd even gotten my lunch for me. I shook my head and appeared bored, but my side was throbbing. That one kid hid hard.
"Are you sure? Double sure?" she checked again, and I didn't stop nodding. She sighed and I knew that it was for two reasons. She felt guilty, and she wasn't sure I was telling the truth- because I had a hard time doing that.
The truth was, I was really just sort of depressed and I didn't mind the pain. The winter seasons and all of its little elements of cold and dead branches made my depression go deeper. Today was the first time I had been punched in a month and a half. Inflicted pain brought by others doesn't help the depression, obviously.
I "felt" another presence- Xander, I presumed- and picked up my gym bag, only to accidentally drop it to the floor. I shoved the bag under my chair with my feet. Xander sat down in the empty seat.
"Butterfingers, Rose?" Xander asked so flippantly you couldn't believe he was actually interested. I thought back to the locker room before and after gym and realized that I had dropped it twice in there.
"Yeah," I answered. Fiona let out a noise that more than just resembled a high pitched mouse squeak, and it was in sympathy and worry. I paid that no mind because really the symptom I was showing was just a warning, and a much appreciated one too.
"Chill out Fi, I'll tell one of the professors what's going on and I'll go to one of the private rooms. It won't even be that soon. I'll last till the last class is over," I reminded her of what happened periodically at least ten times a school year. I couldn't help but feel a little annoyed at her, but that quickly faded away. I could never hang onto emotions long, especially during the winter, and I loved her. I appreciated her concern for what would course through me in no more than a few hours.
I looked around the lunchroom to find some sort of interesting sight that I could be transfixed on. Our lunchroom was different than any other lunchroom in the U.S. (although we're almost all American, we were in some remote country) and do you know why? When it's absolutely filled, at least three people to every table made for five, it was quiet, and no one but the professors smiled and laughed. The students themselves held monotone conversations. You already have enough information to figure out why.
I looked at these same faces every morning during the debriefing that happened at seven-forty-five sharp. As the top student I stood on the right flank of our headmistress while she stood at a podium, on a platform above all the students, giving us the same bundle of crap that she did everyday. We never needed to be told these things over and over again, but I was sure that her repetition was strengthening our skills of tolerance and maybe building our ability to endure verbal torture. Despite the fact that I was implying that listening to her was torture, the headmistress smiled when I shared this with her, and the next day I was standing with her on the stage.
I had the same expression as everybody else I observed, and I knew this without looking in a mirror. None of us had frown lines, and any beginnings of laugh lines had already faded by this time, because our expressions were dull. Our hearts were hollow, only beating for the purpose of living. Our eyes were empty, sad, and lightless. I knew my posture, when standing behind the headmistress, was immaculate, not matched. My hands were folded neatly behind my back, and at times I was surprised I didn't sway when I stood so still.
Sometimes it would occur to me that we were this close to being actual zombies.
"Excuse me, I'll be back in a moment," I muttered so clearly it was hardly a mutter. Fiona let out a silent sigh as soon as I had turned my back, but out of my peripheral vision I had seen it, and in my heart I had felt it.
I walked across the cafeteria to the differently shaped elongated rectangle table that reminded me of the ones in elementary school.
"Professor Alvarez," I whispered to a Hispanic woman, meek and beautiful and secretly a killer at heart. (Weren't we all?)
"Yes, Miss Malana?" she replied nicely and quietly, mispronouncing my last name as "mal-an-uh" instead of "muh-lon-uh". I didn't mind, her dialect messing up names was considered endearing to me. (I had to find something in my life endearing, and this was it.)
"I'm afraid that I'll need a pass for later on today. I wasn't on my game exactly in gym and I've been dropping things frequently today," I explained to her. She nodded and reached forward to the center of the table where the passes and keys to the private rooms were, but Headmistress Harrison shoved a pass into my hands.
"Young lady Malana, as one of our much beloved students, why don't you try one of our newer rooms? I couldn't think of a better person to be the first to use them," she said admiringly and sweetly. The smile she had on was fake, a blind person could see right through her. Still, I nodded in appreciation and I almost gave her a fake smile back. However I stopped myself because someone might mistake mine for a real one, and real smiles weren't allowed by the student body.
"I'm honored, Headmistress, thank you," I said before nearly bowing to the woman. I walked away with my head high- always keep a good posture, always- and sat in my seat. Fiona and Xander stared expectantly at me, wanting to know exactly what the headmistress had said to me and why I had a different looking pass than the rest of them.
"I'm trying out one of the private rooms in the Dark Corridor," I informed them. Fiona's eyes widened and Xander's eyebrows rose.
"So she does favor you Rose," my adopted brother commented. I shook my head, disagreeing. Sometimes I forgot that I don't share my observations that often.
"I think she fears me. I'm the best student in the entire school, and beyond amazing at using my words to take people down. Only a handful of people are good at that at all. If I wanted to, she knows I could kill her, or make her kill herself. This place couldn't become an anarchy could it? She's got an obsession with being in charge. She doesn't want me to take that away from her," I told them. Fiona blinked at me.
"I suppose that makes sense. Not to mention she puts you on a pedestal. Maybe that's her attempt to make sure that you like her enough not to take over," she suggested. I nodded and actually took a bite of my food.
"That's entirely possible. I haven't thought much on it since I'm almost afraid that someone here can read our minds," I mumbled, making sure no one could hear our conversation.
"Man…only a year and a half left of this place and then we are free," Xander sighed, changing the subject.
"We're only a year and a half in," I replied. Still, eighteen months was easy enough to count down from without dying first.
I was gritting my teeth, in the back of the last class of the day, in a stone classroom. I wasn't colder than usual (but my toes and fingers always were) but a dull ache had set in. Waves of restraint came and went, and I had to visualize an actual ocean to calm myself down, along with those waves of restraint. I had to stop myself from rocking consciously a handful of times.
"Miss Malana, why don't you take your pass now?" Professor Alvarez spoke quietly from her desk. The rest of the class had been quiet, thinking about the questions on their fill-in-the-blank test in front of them. (Those were the only tests we ever had in this class.)
"Thank you," I ground out quietly. Fiona chewed her bottom lip briefly as I stood up. She sat to my left in this class, and in most classes. I slipped the fancy lanyard around my neck as I stood up, opened the door, (really without having to leave my seat) and left without another word.
The Dark Corridor was a lightless place in the building, and it was new- well, not totally new. I considered it new, because I was the only student to know that it had been added to recently, about a few hundred extra feet of hallway had been added (to the already one-hundred feet.) I knew this because while most of the walls in the building were soundproof, the headmistress' office was not (I often spent time in there organizing the morning announcements with her). This probably filled my reasoning for thinking she could read minds. She could hear anything, and we couldn't.
I had heard the construction of the hall a few months back, a little further on. I didn't say anything, but I was in the headmistress' office when I first heard it. We shared one look, and I knew if I said anything that my ass would be shipped to Siberia. I didn't even say anything to Fiona, or Xander who could keep a secret better than any other person on the face of the planet (other than me of course).
About seventy five feet into the hallway there was a sharp turn to the left. Ten feet into that, there was a blinking red light in the corner, like an alarm-looking thing.
I froze and stood stock still while the dull ache turned into the worst pain I'd ever felt in my entire life. Red blinking lights always did the final setting-off for me, whenever days like this would come by. I made sure that I was never put in a position where I would have to look at red blinking lights.
This one just crept up on me.
I slowly lifted one foot and put it forward. Then I did the same with the other. I made myself walk, although I felt like I was going at the pace of a grandma on a walking stick. (I was probably going much faster than that though.)
I reached around my neck and pulled off the lanyard, unzipping the top of it and taking the hidden key out. This one was different, it was an actual key, but the other ones, the regular ones, were cards, like the ones they give you at a hotel.
The key was an easy fit, and I had to turn it left then right to see which way unlocked the door. The door itself was heavy, a high security door, and it led into a very large room, which a glass window- most likely a one-way mirror- on the far side of the room. Like every other inch of this place, the room was cold, and the cinderblocks were painted grey like a dirty old school's.
I let out a scream, a long, deep, tortured scream, and fell to my knees. The blood in my curled-tight fists thumped quickly and on rhythm. I felt my skin warm up a few degrees just by doing this. My muscles ached terribly though, canceling out any good warmth I could possibly have. My back arched back and I felt it crack in a couple of places.
"Crap," I breathed out as I fell forward. I was shaking horribly, and this was a result of my holding in the monster inside me. The monster that wanted to kill, and was the strongest monster in the school. I suppose that's why I was top student. Honestly that's why Headmistress Harrison kissed my ass the way she always did.
"Um, Rose? M-Malana?" a voice sounded from the opposite corner, by the mirror. My head snapped upwards and growled. A smaller, weaker, and younger boy stood quivering by a door I hadn't noticed.
"Black," I growled his name out loud- his last name, anyway. Adam Black was in several of my classes and I was quite fond of him, but that didn't matter because now he was prey-
No. He was not prey. 'Rose, stop it. Control yourself.' I slowly stood up, shaking once again, after having stopped from being startled.
'I'm in this room so I don't have to control myself. He isn't even leaving. He's your prey.' I began to step towards him, but a part of myself was very much trying to hold back. I was half and half, and after having let go of my control, even just a little bit, it was very hard for me to stop myself. It was like he was suicidal, and he was simply in here to be killed. I couldn't be held responsible for it if I killed him.
"Come and get me, R-Rose! See if you can kill me," he weakly taunted. In the back of my rational mind I knew that he didn't really want me to go and attack him. He was visibly scared. However, my primal monster-urge had taken the driver's seat of my mind and I was racing to meet my target.
I jolted to the side as soon as I was within a few feet of him, and tackled him, grabbing his side, my head knocking into his ribs. He cried out briefly when I finally came into contact with him, and I showed a feral grin. I lifted my hand up- my nails were somewhat sharp, I could swipe his neck and he'd be a goner- and then he was gone. He was taken out from under me, and I was held back.
"Presume," an overhead voice sounded, and somehow commanded whatever had held me back to let me go, right as something- it looked like someone- dropped from the ceiling. I pounced and quickly ruined whoever it was who had been dropped from above. He or she had slash marks on their chest from my nails, and I ripped the jugular with my teeth. That's when I realized I had been given a mannequin.
I let out what was most likely a roar of indignation, of anger and disbelief. How dare I be tricked? I turned around, and no one else was in the room, no one was there to take the blame for this. I was still angry, still charged to the point of monster, and the mannequin did nothing to help. Whoever thought it would was surely the most moronic person in the history of-
It was an experiment. That voice that commanded my release was a familiar female's voice. Adam Black had been taken at the last second, he'd been put up to it. The mannequin was given to me to destroy, and they were looking on through that one-way mirror. They were looking through it and seeing how I would respond to the fake human, and they were seeing if it would work as a real one. I was the subject of an experiment and that really annoyed me.
I stood up, and calmly, with full control of myself, walked over to the mirror. I stared through it, knowing that at least one certain person was on the other side. My eyes swept across the ten feet of glass, and I growled, still irritated that I didn't know exactly where to stare at. Where was the headmistress? There was only one way to find out.
I punched through the glass. Shards of it went by my hand, and one nearly cut off my pinky. The picture of gauze in my chest of drawers flashed in my mind, but I focused in on the dark room behind the glass.
"You should've gotten something stronger," I snarled. The woman that sat in a roll-y chair five feet away pursed her lips.
"Perhaps you're right."
"Good morning young students. The schedule today is listed as…" I tuned out Headmistress Harrison and simply stood tall behind her. Maybe two hundred teens stared back at her, a few focusing on my bandaged hand and wrist.
"…and just a small announcement today. As soon as a shipment comes in, and we install what's coming, passes to the Dark Corridor will be open to those who haves passes. These passes will be given to those who would normally be in need of private rooms. The first dozen or so that request a private room will be put in a room with a mirror. Thank you for listening," Headmistress Harrison finished.
No one was smiling, and there weren't even any hints of happiness in the giant room. Eyes all around were empty, sad, and light-less. Everyone's hearts were hollow and only continued to beat for the purpose of living. I stood before the rest of them, my posture immaculate and unmatched. The only signs of anything more than zombie living were hid by shirts. The bruises students inflicted onto another were hidden, but even the headmistress knew they were there. We felt nothing, and the only time anyone ever felt more than nothing, was when they were triggered.
A/N: Does it sound depressing? It kind of is, isn't it? Seriously though, they've got to put up with that crap for 3 years. Good thing it's fictional.
And I had in mind Lithuania as the country they were in, in case any of you were wondering.
Please, please, please, review.