HEYYOOO! It's been a while since I posted (notice what I said last time... and the time before that... *cringe*) but I'm back for now!!! It doesn't exactly fit the prompt, but this is the first chapter of the new novel I'm writing called One Shot. Tell me in the comments what you think, if you think I should continue writing it, and above all IF IT MAKES SENSE!!!!!
Thanks, y'all, and just keep on livin' and lovin'!
The walls are closing in on both sides, and all I can do is run. Run down the hallway that is getting thinner and thinner by the second and pray that I make it out alive. The light shines at the end of the hall, and I can just barely hear the sounds of the market. I’ll make it. A few feet from the exit, I stretch my arm out, desperate to reach the sunlight. Fresh air.
I’m almost there, almost free of my bondage when I feel something thrust through my back. All thoughts in my mind halt and I look down in complete shock.
The tip of a dagger is poking out of my chest and the faint metallic taste of blood rests on the back of my tongue.
“You have no idea,” the boy that stands behind me whispers into my ear, pulling the dagger out of my body as I slump helplessly to the ground. He steps over my limp body and jogs to the exit, the crowd cheering as he emerges.
That was my last chance.
The walls halt in their positions, allowing the Watchers to haul the rest of us up and return to Executionary. I feel sturdy arms under my armpits as I'm dragged away and handcuffs are slapped over my wrists.
This is not how I’ll die. Not at their hands. I curl my hands toward the hem of my sleeve and carefully slide out the knife my mother gave me on her death bed. With a single prayer muttered under my breath and a silent count to three, I stick the knife through my stomach. Blood immediately gurgles in my throat and ours through the crack between my upper and lower lips. It’s getting harder to breathe, but this is what I want. I shove the knife further in and cough, spattering blood on the dirt of the passageway. Who wins now? I shut my eyes tight and smile faintly.
Me. It’s always been me.
I stand in the midst of the market crowd, desperately trying to fit in as I keep a watchful eye on the Watcher overseeing this section of the market. He’s looking straight at me, waiting for me to steal something so he can flip out those handcuffs on his belt and send me to Executionary. I shudder at the thought and shake my head, It’s too risky. Raising my chin slightly, I stare at the cat of fresh buttermilk bread. I stick my hands into the pockets of the dirty and worn-out red jacket wrapped tightly around my thin body, swirling them around to search for change for the tenth time.
“You hungry?” someone whispers to me, and I turn slowly in the direction of the sound, It’s a tall boy with hazelnut hair and deep blue eyes who looks about my age, and just as broke as me too.
“So what if I am? Feed yourself before you go looking for a girlfriend,” I say in a low voice, glancing at the Watcher by the streetlamp to see if he heard us.
The boy simply grins as if I hadn’t just insulted him and extends his hand for a shake. “The name’s Jackson, but people call me Jax.”
I roll my eyes and sigh, heading in the direction of the abandoned apartment where I’ve been sleeping for the past few months. “Good for you," I say over my shoulder, already walking away.
“Where are you going?” he asks, a hint of sadness in his voice that makes guilt pang in my chest.
“Somewhere over the rainbow.” Sarcasm drips from my voice and I hope he’ll get the message and leave me alone.
“I can get you one of those loaves of bread over there.”
My feet stop dead in their tracks and I hurry back to him. “How? I—you’re not going to steal it, are you? Because there’s a Watcher right there, and I don’t want—”
“Relax, alright? Just keep your head down and be ready to bolt on my say-so.”
I nod once and he strolls to the stand, hands in his pockets. He exchanges words with the young girl behind the table and laughs under his breath at something she said.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up just as Jax slips two loaves of bread into a small bag slung across his chest, and I know I’m being watched. We’re being watched. Even though Jax told me to keep my head down, I can’t help but look. TIlting my head up slowly, I hold my breath and turn just a bit to face the Watcher. His eyes are wide and both his hands fly to his belt, one grabbing a pair of handcuffs and the other reaching for a gun.
I spin back and pretend not to have seen him, walking quickly past Jax and whispering “Go.” But he must not have heard me, because the Watcher is closing in on him and he’s taking yet another item — a lemon pastry.
Why did I say yes to this? “Jackson, run!” I glance over my shoulder as his head whips around in the direction of my voice, watching only for a second as I sprint down the thick, slimy cobblestone of the marketplace before running after me.
I close my eyes and let my senses lead me through the tight cracks between people. Every time somebody gasps, my heart skips a beat and I look over my shoulder, thinking that they’ve gotten Jax. But they never have and he’s always still there, pushing the hair out of his eyes as it flops onto his face.
The stands beside me blur together and all that matters is pumping my legs and breathing deeply. In my rush to escape, I recognize a blue bike resting against a fence with a few holes in it.
In my head, I can almost hear the sound of the Watcher’s boots slapping the ground as he sprints after us, almost feel the defeat as we’re slammed to the dirt and tied up to be executed. But in reality, I’m almost home and I can only hear one set of footsteps behind me, so I reach my hand into the lining of my jacket, draw out a knife, and spin around.
Jackson raises his hands in mock surrender, a childish grin plastered on his face. “Take it easy. You don’t have to be so…” he pauses for a moment. “Scared.”
Scoffing in disbelief, I shake my head and slip the blade back into the lining of my sleeve. “Why wouldn’t I be scared? You just risked our lives over two loaves of bread and—and a cream puff!” My voice rises until I’m shouting and waving my hands angrily at him and the miniature messenger bac that rests at his hip.
His body sags slightly and his eyes glisten with tears. “So you don’t want the bread anymore? I got the lemon cake for you.”
I bite my lip, cursing under my breath as I take him gently by the arm and lead him out of the street where we’re talking and towards the faded red building a block or two away. “Of course I want the bread, and it’s really sweet that you thought of me. But you’ve got to be more careful next time, okay? That Watcher had a real chance of arresting us, and that would have been the end.”
He grins the way he did in the market and nods. “Us?”
Raising an eyebrow, I shift my weight and cross my arms. “Do you have another place to stay?”
“Well,” his lips bunch up on side of his mouth. “Not exactly. Not a real place, anyway,” he mutters under his breath.
I drop his arm and attempt to run a hand through my tangled, greasy hair as I pull the back door to the apartment building open, leading him past the dilapidated lobby and first floor to an apartment on the second floor with a barred-over door. I turn, see his confused face, and sigh deeply. “It’s a story for another day.”
He barely gives a nod before turning away and staring at a splotch of blood smeared onto the hallway wallpaper.
Pulling a small key out of the pocket of my coat, I give one of the bars over the door a tug, but it wouldn’t budge. That’s odd. I don’t normally push the bars in this far. I plant my feet, grab hold of the bar with both hands, and lean backward. It takes a few seconds, but it wiggles out of its position and I stumble back. Someone has definitely been here.
“Jackson?” I whisper, and his eyes meet mine. “We can’t stay here. It’s not a good idea.”
His eyebrows knit together and he scratches his head. “But—you said—”
“Forget what I said!” I hiss under my breath. “We can’t stay in this apartment. We probably can’t even stay in this sector.”
Eyes wide, Jax’s mouth hangs open. “The sector? I—how—we can’t leave the sector, can we? You can’t leave the sector until you get your first extension, and I’m only nineteen. How old are you?”
I shut my eyes in annoyance and plaster on a very fake smile. “If I answer you, will you shut up and do what I say?”
He nods quickly.
“Nineteen. And I don’t have money for an extension. When’s your birthday?”
Pressing my lips together, I take a deep breath. “That’s two and a half weeks from now. I’m on the 14th.” I lower my head and stare at the ground, trying hard not to think about turning twenty. How it’ll feel when I Phase.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers after a moment of silence. “I’m really sorry.”
I force a little half-smile. “Don’t be. You’re Phasing pretty soon, too. Be sorry for yourself. I hear it hurts.”
His face contorts in disgust and he wrinkles his nose. “Don’t say stuff like that.”
Chuckling, I shake my head. “Quit looking at me like that and let’s get out of here, or neither of us are going to make it to twenty.” I’m about to reach into my sleeve and bring out my knife when the wall to my right is blown apart, clumps of sheetrock sent flying. The impact throws me to the ground, dust stinging my eyes and entering my lungs, forcing me to cough.
The dust begins to settle and I can just make out Jackson’s body a few feet from me and the four-pointed star brands on the necks of the Watchers in front of us.
“Surrender the weapon. Now.”