Sometimes being alone, 'free' from the constant demands of society, isn't freedom. Living in the wild, with no rules, requests, no superior and inferior except for predator and prey, isn't freedom.

No, freedom is being able to live in a society with fair demands, a society where a girl is equal to a boy, a disabled person to an able person, a child to an adult. Where everyone matters, where shame and honour doesn't. Yes, you'll always wish something different, but that's part of being human. And is being cast out, living like an animal, being human? Or are we all just animals, savage predators, hiding behind false fa├žades of beauty and kindness and intelligence?

I'm only a child. But I've seen and done and learnt more than most 'experienced, clever, always-know-more-than-children adults' ever will. I deserve freedom. But I don't have it.

Three. That's how old I was when I was abandoned in the wild. I caught a fatal disease, one I eventually overcame, but which cost the loss of two fingers on my right hand, and two fingers and a thumb on the other. This, by law, deemed me - Disabled. Mutated. Dangerous. My mother knew that a life of hardship and discrimination followed, and she preferred that I die rather than she watch one of her children go through that. I was only three, but I still have the memory. My father telling me. My pleas, my constant crying. The thrust from the house. The door slamming. The cold. Oh, the bitter cold. I shivered there, standing in my loose cotton shirt and trousers, tears pouring endlessly down my face. Knowing that they loved me. Knowing that I would die.

Thinking that they expected me to die made me determined to live. I raged with a shallow hatred mixed with sorrow, to the point where I wanted to defy them in every way possible. I still loved them, really, but that coating of severe rage was what made me survive. The tears stopped flowing. The grief subsided. Determination dominated. I took a running start at the low fence around our garden, and leapt over it. I scrambled into the branches of an orange tree, plucking until not one orange was left. That night, I slept in a dusty hollow beside the road.

Weeks, then months passed. I lived off the scraps that I could find. I survived in the wild. I became a small, savage animal with a strange determination. The little vocabulary I possessed faded from my mind. The rage never subsided, but it was no longer aimed at my family. It was aimed at the government. My thoughts, without vocabulary, consisted of feelings. Grief, rage, misery. Determination. At the end of the seventh month of living like this, I came across a smallish red cave set in the side of a dusty hillside. It was almost perfectly spherical, although still clearly not man made. A tiny water stream trickled and at times, droplets fell from a part of the ceiling at the back of the cave. I leant branches against the front of the cave, a three year old's pitiful attempt at camouflage from wild beasts and little disabled savage three year olds. Over the course of a year, I made it my home.

For nine years I lived like that, losing more and more of my human demeanour. I was soon a primal predator, stalking the dusty plains beyond the cracked concrete of the city. I would hunt, and although I still couldn't stomach food raw, I wouldn't 'cook' it as such. You don't normally find whole, charred animals on your plate, and if you did, I highly doubt you would attack it with your teeth. I would fight the other predators at the waterholes. Yes, I still wore clothes, because human skin isn't nearly hairy enough to provide the right amount of warmth. So, naturally, I wore the skins of my prey. One day, when hunting, I discovered another cave on an identical mound not far away. I entered the black space warily, and crawled along a twisting tunnel that the cave opened into. I could have walked upright if I still remembered how to walk, but I didn't. I reached the end of the tunnel. It opened into a cavernous chamber filled with stalactites and stalagmites. And there they were. My new family.

"She's gone completely wild. She's savage, Aria's already gained a broken arm from her. Apparently she doesn't know how to walk, talk, hasn't washed in forever and has lived off other animals. When we found her she was wearing the skins of at least ten different species. We've had to tie her up to stop her from attacking us, apparently she sees us as dinner."

"Wow. How long has she been living out there?"

"We managed to track her back to her family. About ten years. And to think we never knew."

"Well, she's safe now. We just need to convince her we're neither prey nor predator, just friends. She's found a home." The first person snorted.

"Yeah. A home. A cave system filled with over three hundred disabled people, cast out from society, trying to stay alive in the harsh wilderness. Yeah, we're special and all, what with our-"

"Shh! She can't know about that, and although she can't speak that isn't to say she doesn't understand us!"

I opened my eyes, finding myself roped to a wall in a small cave. It contained a chest, gas lamp and a single bed, upon which two girls were sitting, deep in conversation. They looked about my age, and both looked normal. It was later when I found they had disabilities too, it was just that they weren't obvious at the time. I was starting to pick up the gist of the conversation, listening to the language I once knew, but it would be a while before I would be able to fully understand them.

To exhausted to fight the ropes, I observed them, too immersed in their conversation to notice me.

One, slightly taller than me, had lost her left leg from the knee downwards. Her hair was in a low ponytail, and she was slightly taller than me. She slouched. The other was even taller, and had light brown hair, so light it was almost blonde. She had no visible disability in sight. They both looked like they could be good fighters, but were way to tired to fight. I could have taken them down, so long as I got the ropes off. There really was no point though, they didn't have much meat on them.

Unlike that other girl from earlier.

I started to fight the ropes again, and accidentally kicked a pebble, which hit the girl-who-was-a-darker-blonde-than-me in the chest. She looked at me in surprise, and suddenly a gale burst into the cave.


The gale stopped, but suddenly I had no air, and blacked out.