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It was hard. It was hard to be back in society, in a populated area. To be around people who didn’t know the peril of life or death, normal people with normal lives with normal problems. It should have been easy, but it was harder than learning to be a survivor.

I was given my own wing in Leanne’s palace, since her father was president of the world. Or at least my world. I had a plush, puffy bed with a million and one pillows, a bathroom big enough for ten plus me, and a closet bigger than my bedroom. I had make up and glitter and clothes that I had never even thought of before and a vanity table the size of a desk. I had guards to escort me anywhere to ensure my protection, and I could go out to see my friends in the city any time I wanted.

I hated that the most. Being able to leave. Leanne couldn’t open her window. The whole country knew that the beautiful and talented Leanne, daughter of the president, single handedly took down the wicked and insane secret government program to take over the world. Except she didn’t do it single handedly. I was there. I was a part of the solution. I was supposed to be a hero.

I know, it was petty of me. It was petty and childish and wrong for me to think those things rather than be happy for my friend’s success. It was wrong of me to look around the room she so selflessly gave to me and want to burn it all. It was wrong of me to want to take all the fame for myself. And I didn’t, really. I just wanted to be noticed.

Leanne wouldn’t have understood even if I had dared to tell her. She was not only the president’s one and only heir, but she was beautiful and smart and nice and had saved the world. She would never understand how hard it was to stand by her side while everyone asks her how it was to be heroic. To stand right there, pressed right up against the spotlight, and never be in it. She would never be able to understand that because it would never happen to someone as perfect as Leanne.

Worse, I loved her enough that I knew it was wrong to feel that way when she succeeded. It felt like I was a black pit of evil. A horrible friend, an incredibly awful human being. I knew that. I also knew I wouldn’t stop, couldn’t. Jealousy was too strong. That yearning, that burning want. It was too hard. I needed out. I needed back away from society and from living. I needed the thrill of immediate danger and the possibility of sudden death.

I needed the Outlands.




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