Zoe Fletcher, Moreton Bay College
I was never supposed to be alive. At least that’s what I was told. I was supposed to be dead, a lifeless baby compressed under soil and dirt in a grave. I was the so called, ‘Miracle Baby.’ Anyone and everyone knew who I was. The girl who was posted in every newspaper around the country the minute she was born. I was born, still and lifeless, but then I took in a breath, even though I was born dead and no operation had been bestowed upon me. I am sixteen year old who happens to be one of the smartest sixteen year olds in the world. The sixteen year old who discovered how to breathe underwater. I am Aubrey Carter.
I remember when I took my first breath underwater. It was so strange and inhuman, I thought I might have been one of those teenagers from books who aren’t really human and can do things that others can’t do. I remember the tingling sensation that I felt spread throughout every part of my body. I remember how puffy and sore my eyes were, bubbles swirling around my head. I had paddled through the water, surfing the currents, not inhaling any oxygen for hours on end. I remember the thrill, the pleasure, the joy. The joy of feeling free without having those prying eyes following my every move, looking at me as if I was some person who spoke another language to them. Knowing that I was different. But, I did something that no other teenager had ever done. I brought on a new evolution. I evolved. And soon, I wasn’t the only one. I was the evolution.
We sat next to each other on the train, pretending to be strangers. My face was flaming and I felt my friends shoulder pressed up against mine. His head was twisted away to look out the window facing him on the other side of the train. I twisted my fingers together anxiously, “Jacob look...”
He stood up, his face was contorted into a look of pure fury, “I’m going.”
His words were forced and his teeth were gritted tightly. His words left an awkward feeling in my chest, as if it were to explode. The train had stopped. Slouching his shoulders, Jacob walked out the door of the train. I sat, depression and longing clawing at my insides. My eyes were bleary and wet from tears threatening to expose themselves. The train’s doors screeched closed before the train jolted forward. It was then that I realised that I had missed my stop. I would be late for school that morning.
Mrs Hadkins, the lady who worked at the front desk of the school’s office peered down on me through her spectacles sitting on her nose. I grimaced, her bug like eyes were almost popping out of her head. I was never late. Her frail, lipstick smudged lips twisted into a small smile, “Sign here.”
She thrust a sheet in front of my nose and held a pen out for me to use. I seized the pen and she pointed to a section down the bottom of the page. I scrawled my signature down. She withdrew the sheet and pointed at the door, “You may leave now. I believe that your class is currently midway through drama.”
She handed me a late slip and I quickly headed out the door, feeling Mrs Hadkins eyes on the back of my head.
I crouched behind the car, trying not to make a sound. School had finished an hour ago.
Her eyes were pale blue, of the ocean’s seas. She was the heir to many more than what can be seen. Her hair was silver, cascading down her back in a river of curls. A voice, “That’s you.”
She twirled and danced, becoming a blur in my vision. Her face was petite, sun kissed and bare. Not a single flaw, just soft edges and curves. And that’s when I noticed the ears jutting from the side of her head, pointy.
I gasped, recalling the dream from the night before. My heart was beating a million miles a second. A rustling noise brought me to alert. Chelsea, my seven year old sister came crawling towards me from a nearby bush. She had a twig suspended down from her forest of hair, “What are you doing?” She asked, clearly oblivious to the scene around her. I glared at her, her voice was amplified and loud. I felt my hands go clammy with anxiety, “What are you doing here?”
She shrugged, “I wanted to see what you were doing hiding behind Mr Curtis, the drama teachers car.”
I clapped my hand over her mouth, “Shh! Someone is coming!”
She squirmed before going still, like completely still. Her body went rigid and she went deathly cold. Her eyes shut and she fell face first onto the ground, body like a statue. I stared at her before whirling around, Mr Curtis stood behind me, his face serious but calm, “We can’t have her listening can we?”
I felt myself whisper, “What did you do to her?”
Before he placed a hand on my back, I went rigid, and toppled face first onto his gravel driveway. Pain exploded through me.
His eyes were full of menace. My eyes fluttered open and I stared at Mr Curtis. He was no longer the nice, old drama teacher I remembered, but a criminal. A criminal who somehow by touching me made me fall face first onto the ground. I was taped up against a wall in an eerie dungeon like place. Yes, it was a dungeon, I was in a cell, bars and everything. I was held against the wall, with chains around my wrists. My wrists were searing with pain. The cuffs were tight, and rubbing against my raw skin. Mr Curtis stood in front of me, arms crossed.
My voice came out cracked and croaky, my lips felt big and sluggish, “Where’s Chelsea?”
He chuckled, shaking his head, “That is not of your concern.”
I glowered at him, going rigid with pain as my right hand cuff slit through my wrist, leaving a gaping cut. I squinted my eyes shut, looking away before I heard Mr Curtis’s footsteps retreat out of the cell, slamming and locking the barred door behind him.
I felt a splotchy tear roll down my face. I had only been crouching behind Mr Curtis’s car in the first place because he was acting suspicious after Drama. I didn’t think that I’d be locked up for it. I didn’t even know he had a dungeon. A foul smell prodded at my nose. I opened my eyes. Immediately my eyes started to sting and water as if I was cutting onion. I bit my lip and stared around me. The air felt chunky to breathe and I could barely think. My word blinked out like a light.
My vision was blurry and my wrists seared with unrecognisable pain. It all came back to me.
She stroked her dress, it was different from the time before. High waisted with flares of silk jutting from the waist creating a dress bottom. The dress was a light baby blue, matching her eyes. Her hair was to die for. Her silver hair was wrapped around her head in a river of curls which was held together by a blue satin ribbon. Her face was lit up with joy, her nails sparkled with nail polish. She breathed in an intake of breath before exclaiming, “Stop.” And then she looked right at me, her eyes hard and expressionless. Screams pierced the air.
I struggled against the cuffs wound around my wrists. The dream had come back more real than before and the temperature had changed dramatically in the cell which set me on edge. I peered through the darkness, it had enclosed around me, a mist sifted through the air, looking strikingly like a transparent handkerchief. It weaved between the cell door bars and danced towards me. It toyed with my hair, yanking it and pulling it before freeing its grasp. They bounded away, every movement sounded like a child’s laughter.
“So you met the silkies.”
I twisted my head upwards. Mr Curtis stood behind the barred door, arms crossed protectively over his chest, his lips were pursed. I nodded, unable to speak. He sighed, pressing his fingers to his head, “I guess I should tell you the truth.”
Mr Curtis threw open the door and strode towards me, every step was forceful. He thrust a miniature key into a keyhole on each of the cuffs around my wrists. I collapsed to the floor under me. It was gravel and scratched against my knees and hands, leaving sleek cuts upon them. My heart was beating a million miles a second. I stood up hurriedly, dusting down my jeans with my hands. What was a pastel blue was now tinged brown. Unfortunately, I wore ripped jeans and they ripped around my knees. I pressed one finger to my knee hesitantly. It seared with pain and I removed my hand in an instant.
Something clapped down against one wrist. It was a handcuff. Without hesitation, Mr Curtis shoved me against the wall, slamming my head down against a loose chain on the wall. I let out a bloodcurdling scream in my agony and thrust my hands out to shove Mr Curtis off me. His hot alcoholic breath made me wince. I cried out as he yanked my hands out behind my back and cuffed them together with handcuffs. He seized my shoulders and steered me out the cell door. Another set of hands grasped my shoulders from behind and my eyes were covered by a mask.
Why does everything always end up black? The sleeping mask was removed from my eyes. I stared around me, blinking my eyes to adjust them to the light seeping around me. I was seated at a table in which I was handcuffed to, Mr Curtis was on the other side. A bulky man, obviously a security guard, guarded the door on the other side of the room. Somehow he reminded me of a pigeon. Mr Curtis clasped his hands out in front of him on the table and cleared his throat. I watched him intently until he finally declared, “Aubrey, you are here for a reason.”
I nodded, a lump had settled in my throat, preventing me from speaking. He continued, “I capture those with magic potential and try to remove the taint from them through an efficient school. Why, you didn’t think that you were the only child here, did you?”
I had but I bobbed my head in a polite gesture to let him know that I didn’t.
I worked up the courage to speak, my throat was dry and my voice came out cracked, “How did you make me fall onto the ground?”
He chuckled and rubbed his two pointer fingers together in an amused gesture, “Science.” Mr Curtis cackled with laughter before clearing his throat, he then looked me right in the eye, “Mark, take this young girl back to her cell would you please?”
A hand clasped around my wrist, unlocking the cuff from the table and clicking it onto the other un-cuffed wrist. With a grunt Mark/the guy guarding the door, shoved me towards the exit. Mr Curtis’s laughter echoed in my ears, creating an unwelcoming buzz. I clenched my eyes shut.
Something was prodding my arm. It was blunt but obviously a pencil.
“Is she alive?”
A set of hands pressed down on my chest, “Yeah.”
I felt two small chubby hands grasp a strand of my hair, “She has pretty hair.”
My shoulders were flaring with unrecognisable pain. I flinched and rolled onto my side. The chubby hands pressed on my eyelids, the hands felt sticky, “I’m gonna lift em.”
Another voice, “Mavis…”
“You wouldn’t…” The voice took on an edgy tone.
“Just you watch.”
“Don’t,” I startled myself by speaking. I shoved the hands off my eyelids and opened my eyes, “I’m awake.”
Three curious faces peered down on me. I squinted, “Who are you?”
The youngest of the three pressed a chubby hand onto her chest, “I am Mavis!” She announced gleefully, glancing at the other two unimpressed faces glaring at her standing beside her. Mavis was a small person with a rounded face and brown puppy dog eyes. Her skin was still fresh with baby fat. Her straight brown hair hung in piggy tails. Mavis lowered her hand, “I’m six in two months.”
She seemed proud of herself. The other two girls continued to give her sour looks before one cleared her throat. She too had brown hair which was let down over her shoulders. Her eyes were a dark blue and she had teenage pimples faintly dotting her face. Excluding that, she was pretty, in a kind of gentle way. Not up in your face attractive that would leave you gaping afterwards but just generally pretty. She raised her voice, “It’s Fay. I’m sixteen, so’s Melissa.”
She pointed at the blonde haired girl beside her who smiled, “Hey. So, what’s your name?”
“Aubrey,” I croaked out, “I’m sixteen.”
Mavis grunted in what seemed like a disappointed gesture. “Why are we here?” I asked, “Sure, Curtis said that he captures people with magical abilities but, they don’t exist.”
The three girls gaped at me and I shifted uncomfortably in the bed before sitting up and leaning my back up against the wall next to the mattress, “I really don’t want to hear what you’re about to say.”
Fay looked down in sympathy, “Magic most definitely exists.”
I pressed my eyes shut. I could hear the three girls shifting anxiously around the room before I opened them, “What are your abilities?”
I stared pressingly at them, encouraging them to speak. Melissa brushed a lock of her hair behind her ear and began to speak when no one else did. Her voice was smooth as if dripping with honey, “I read minds.”
The thought of her able to read my mind both intrigued me and frightened me at the same time. I turned towards Mavis and her face lit up with childish glee. She squinted her eyes shut before her body evaporated into thin air. There was but an empty space where she had been standing. She appeared a moment later in the same spot, “I can go invisible!”
I nodded, that ability wasn’t as scary but at least it proved that I wasn’t going psycho and magic did exist. Fay jumped into an explanation about her power, “I can levitate and make other things levitate.”
As if to prove it, she abruptly lifted off the ground. Her face was red with concentration and she stayed there for about ten seconds before plummeting back down to the ground. I wondered when I would discover my ability. Although, it was unlikely because Curtis was trying to force the magic out of them. The thought left me feeling empty and slightly depressed inside. It would be cool to have a magical talent. Even if it meant losing it afterwards.
Suddenly the door to the room was thrown open. Chelsea stood in the doorway. And she was glaring right at me.
(To be continued…)