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Futures

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and into the air above his head. “Have you been possessed or something? I know you and the real you would want to dig that rat out of its hole, not run away because it might be offended if you looked in on it.” He had a voice similar to the other man, so some of his words slurred together and made the statement rather amusing. She clapped a hand over her mouth to avoid making any noise. If she was going to do this, she couldn’t give her location away or she would be finished.

Like a cat stalking its prey, she stood up and balanced carefully on the thin divider. Ever so gently, she twisted her wickedly sharp polearm around on her back so that it could be drawn in an instant. She crouched, calculating the force she would land with and how much bend she would need in her knees….then jumped. She landed just as she had expected, right behind the first man (she decided to think of him as Vlad 1), and within easy reach of the second man (this one she thought of as Vlad 2). She whipped her polearm around, then sunk it into Vlad 1’s back with a satisfying ‘snick’. Vlad 2 shouted in alarm as his companion….vanished. Before she had time to react, he hurled something sharp and shiny at her. It hit right on its mark, just below her heart. She gasped as her whole body went numb, then she suddenly crumpled as if a tiny man had come and hit her in the back of the knees with a baseball bat. Before she passed out, she heard Vlad 2’s mad laughter as he watched her slowly fade away like dust in the wind.


Emma opened her eyes, then quickly shut them again to block out the evil fluorescent light. Her other senses slowly came back and she heard the repetitive beeping of the monitors and felt the sensors that were stuck to her skin like lots of little leaches. Slowly, she opened her eyes again and became accustomed to the brilliant glow of the lights in their little grates. She was slowly aware of a nurse standing over her.

“Oh, good, you’re back, dear. I’ll fetch you some water unless there’s anything else you need.” Emma shook her head, no. The nurse bustled out of the room, absorbed in the ever present task of fetching water as Emma peeled the sensors off of her forehead and neck. She stood up and stretched. Her muscles were taught chords, held by little vices of stress and tiredness. The nurse came into the room with some water.

“Here you go, dear. You died at just the right time. Classes are about to change.” Emma nodded as she sucked the water down her dry throat. When she was finished, she grabbed her bag (which weighed half a ton) and walked out of the simulation room. There were other students gathered in the waiting area, like a bunch of cows in a little paddock. She rested her head against the wall, still a little tired, and rather disappointed that her simulation had ended badly. She’d have to start over again tomorrow and that would set her back, although she was far ahead of the other students. A bell shouted suddenly at the students. If it talked it would have said something along the lines of ‘get your sorry butts out of here. I don’t have all day, you know.’




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