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His Finger Spoke
“Wow. It’s finally here.”
Jonas laid on my cot, munching on an ancient bagel and acting in other ways that generally showed he was not that wowed.
“Yeah,” I slowly agreed. Running my fingers through my violet hair, it felt like buckets of sweat were housed among the purplish roots. Oh yeah, I was so scared.
“Don’t worry,” Jonas said, spraying his snack in that gross way boys do, “we’ve been training all our lives for this. Think of that! Nearly 17 years of intense training. We will do fine. You’re the best Defender I know, and I’m, well, sneaky.” His lime green eyes glinted mischievously under the mop of midnight that sat on his head.
I half smiled, my hands still wringing themselves to death.
Jonas sat up and stared deep into my eyes. “Lila, you’ll do perfect.”
As he tucked a thick lock of my hair behind my ear, my face burned and tingled from the path his gentle fingers took.
Stop it, I thought, shaking my head ever so slightly. There is no such thing as love. Jonas is just an ally, just an ally...
Suddenly, the siren went off. We dutifully stood up and marched out of the bedroom. Jonas squeezed my hand, ever so soft and gentle, and I felt like puking from the sweet gesture. Oh gosh, oh gosh, love does NOT exist! Not in this world, no.
Jonas, pretending I wasn’t on the verge of regurgitating, dragged me the rest of the way to the Coliseum, being the good ally he was.
The Coliseum was close to filled when we arrived. All of the trainees sat according to position. (Every child was born with one of the four hair Colors, and whatever color you had gave you your position. Purple haired babies (like me) were the Defenders, Jonas and his black haired cronies were part of the many Stealth Squads, orange hair meant Attacker and the neon reds were the Tormentors. It was all part of our War Plan, which was coming in handy right now, seeing that we were fighting some other world and all.)
Jonas walked off to his blackie comrades, while I headed towards my fellow Defenders. Ariel, a Defender with lilac hair cut like a boy’s, waved me over.
“Hey!” she exclaimed. “Oh my gosh Lila! I can’t believe that today’s the day! I mean, like, the Director is here, and he’s like, sooooo recruiting today! Omg! Can you like beeeee-lieve it?”
“Yeah, yeah...” I said bored and nervous at the same time.
“Like, Lilaaaa,” Ariel stretched my name out unbearably long, “Like, ya know you can totally see the Director from here!”
I looked where Ariel bouncy finger was pointing. Down in the center of the Coliseum floor next to Mr. Freeman, the training camp head, stood the impressive Director.
He was very tall, and thick too, for his height. On top of his long, long neck was a large, shiny, gleaming head. His eyes seemed to glow faintly, like a pale mauve. His mouth could hardly be called a mouth; it was more of a straight hard line. Swiftly, he turned and his eyes seemed to meet mine among the throbbing chatty crowd. They seemed to flash as bloody red as as Tormentor’s crazy mane, for just the thinnest slice of a second.
I shivered, half with fear, half with pleasure, for everyone knows that a menacing, formidable Director is a superior Director.
“Trainees!” boomed Mr. Freeman’s voice, “You have your assignments. Your object, as usual, protect the team’s crystal. Colors will be passed out among the seats.”
It was just like any Practice. Except for the fact that my intestines were tying themselves into Celtic knots. Except for the fact that the Director would be watching every move, mistake, and victory. Except for the fact that all of our futures depended on this very Practice. Which wasn’t much of a practice anyway now that you look at it. This was the real deal.
I looked at the silver tube that laid in my hand. Hoping that this tube would place me on Jonas’ team, I clipped the Color Transmitter to my belt and pushed the button.
Yellow light shot out and rolled up across my body. Immersed in the pulsing yellow glow, I searched for Jonas.
I clapped my hand over my mouth to stop myself from crying out.
Jonas was standing in that casual way that I love (no, wait, no such thing as love, remember?) surrounded by blue light.
He saw my face and shrugged, as if his shoulders were saying “Hey, Lila. Chill. So what we’ve never ever EVER been on opposing teams. No biggie.”
Ohhhhhh boy, was it the biggest biggie ever.
Mr. Freeman’s primitive broke the tension and created more at the same time as it set the Practice into play. Attackers were instantly locked in hand-to-hand combat, trying to break through while trying to protect their buttons while trying to press their opponent’s button. Tormentors sat casually among the bleachers, flipping and brushing their fiery tumbleweeds while calling down insults and threats and basically, tormenting us (hence the name). You couldn’t see the numerous Stealth Squads (of course), but you saw their damage spread across the field-like floor of the Coliseum. Everywhere, Attackers shrieked at the surprise of black-haired phantasms pushing their buttons. Then, their outcry was silenced as they were instantly transported off the field to the stone bleachers to walk among the Tormentors. The Tormentors then kept them out of the game, sometimes through intimidation, sometimes through hard combat.
I stood in a ready position near the the tall pedestal that was home to our glowing crystal. I focused on two things and two things only: 1)Staying in the game, so I could 2)Protect and defend the crystal.
For the next thirty minutes, the two teams bounced back and forth, gaining and losing distance all the time. Finally, Blue Attackers started to trickle through. Realizing that they were past the initial herd, they ran quickly, jumping and spinning through the back lines.
Easily, I leaped behind a Blue guy, rolled under the unsuspecting Attacker, and reached my hand through his legs to press his little red button. In a flash, his tangerine buzz cut was gone.
My highly trained eyes spotted a raven haired girl, moving so slow, she barely seemed alive, moving stealthily towards our crystal. Flipping over a Defender who had tripped, I saw the cloudy fear in her eyes as I reached for her button. Bam, another gone.
I glanced at the Director. Seeing he had on his poker-face, I focused back to the field just in time to whap a Stealther on the head. He cried out as blood spurted from his nose. I was about to press his button, when I saw his eyes.
Oh. My. Gosh. I cannot not get Jonas out. I will not.
But being the great warrior he is, he didn’t put friendship (ally-ship?) before the prospect of being Recruited. Using my hesitation to his advantage, he swiped my legs, knocking me over. Knowing how sneaky Defenders can be (when they need to), he pinned my arms and fingers and feet. I could still press his button with my hipbone, but...
Jonas eyes flashed with...fury? Excitement? Fear? He leaned down as if to kiss me (if kisses had been deemed legal again sometime in the past 500 years). His eyes said “Sorry” and his finger said “Goodbye.”
If your waiting for my story on sneaking behind the Tormentors, getting engaged in hand-to-hand combat with three, knocking two of them out and having the last one run away scared silly, and breaking through to get back to the game, take Jonas out, and save the crystal by pushing the last Blue Attacker standing, you will be waiting until hugs are seen as something affectionate and not a way to strangle people.
It was quite boring actually. I had never been out, and the Tormentors were so stupefied by my clean record that they just sat all around and stared at me. No way are they getting Recruited.
And Jonas. He, well, he got our crystal. Don’t ask me how; no one knows. One minute, the battle was raging, minus gunfire and tasers, and the next, everyone stood still, watching Jonas on top of the pedestal, yellow crystal in his hand.
All the captured warriors were let out by the cheering Tormentors (they belong to no side). I slowly walked down the steps, one at time, one at a time, one more, and the next. My brain was so fried I had to think about walking.
Do I love Jonas? I thought. What is love anyhow? Frien-no, allies don’t fall in love. No one falls in love.
I held my pounding head and looked at Jonas. He was shaking hands with the Director, a sheepish victory smile on his face. He still clutched the crystal tightly, it’s light barely seeping through his fingers.
I sat down and threw up into my hands. With tears daring each other to come out, I watched Jonas and a few lucky others walk off with the Director and Mr. Freeman out of the Coliseum, out of our life.
And not one of them looked back at the lowly rejects again. Not ever.