December 13th, 2016
“Good Morning!” A soft voice dripped into my ears, causing warmth inside. A shiver elevated up my spine as my eyes fluttered open. Still drunk with sleepiness, I couldn’t help but smile at the picture my eyes painted me. Scott held a tray with eggs, some toast, bacon and a glass of orange juice. A little pink flower in a glass cup of water sat awkwardly but not out of place on the tray as well, and for a split second, my world felt as lighten up as the sky on an August night. Following the
lovely plate of food was Scott dressed in civilian clothing. A loose but tight navy blue, V-neck t-shirt rested on him, looked like cashmere as it outlined his strong core, chest and arms. Worn grey jeans clung to his legs but not too tight that itmade you wince with every step. Old skate shoes slept on his feet, black with some white logo I did not recognize. His outfit looked as if it was mid spring, though his eyes were still cold and dark, lost; the smile doing nothing to warm his expression. Even I felt warm, pushing off my blanket I sat up. Blanket? I thought. My confusion scribbled across my face, but I quickly erased it when worry flickered across Scott’s. Setting down the tray on a table, he sat down beside me on the couch. Couch? My brow furrowed as I looked at Scott. I know who he is, I know his name and he felt like a childhood friend, but how did I meet him? Metal warmer than my skin slept on my chest over my heart, slowly reaching up, I hesitantly rubbed the tag. Letting in a quick gasp, realization slapped me in the face. “Jess?” Whipping my head in a painful movement, my focus sharpened.
“Where’s Matt….?” I chocked. His eyebrows furrowed together in confusion, his left ear moving in the attempt. “Who’s Matt? You cried out his name a few times while you were sleeping…”
“Matt is my boyfriend…”
“Was?” That was the final blow, thank God I was sitting down, my knee’s felt wobbly and weak, and I had no desire to trust them. It all came back now, in a huge rush. I bit my lip, drawing blood.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered, looking up to meet my gaze. His dark irises were so big and lonely, looked like an abused puppy for Christ’s sake. A more navy blue burst from his pupil fading out to the ice of his eyes, all weaved together with the same dark navy colour outlining his irises. Slowly, as if I were hopelessly reaching out to a deer like a child, I stroked his matching metal beaded cord tucking into his shirt. He sat still and with a tug, I pulled up his tags like a card from it envelope. The letters were all stamped perfect distance in professional lettering.
D.O.B. October 5, 1997
Blood Type. AB
Doing quick mental math, I recalled the principle recording how many survivors, plus himself, Scott and myself came to a total of 34. I softly dropped his back, it swung and jumped with a twirl as it rebounded off his chest, he silently sat there as I looked at mine.
D.O.B. August 13, 1999
Blood Type. O
I am the last survivor. No pride came from it. Why would I be proud that we have to say there are survivors? “You should probably get ready,” Scott smoothly changed the subject, “Class starts in 20 minutes.”
“What time is it?” I asked, covering my mouth to mask a yawn. “Close to 1?” He guessed, looking out the top right corner of his eyes in concentration. “1?!” I almost yelled, “In the afternoon?!”
“No, in the morning.” He rolled his eyes, the scent of sarcasm strong, “You can wear what you’re wearing now, or grab something from the old lost and found,” Disgust must’ve shown on my face because he added, “It’s all be washed.” I let out a silent breath. Horse biting me, he told me, “Be ready in 15, I’ll show you too you’re class.” Still folded over from the unexpected jolt, I caught his eye in the doorway. Giving me a two fingered salute, he silently slipped past the door. Letting out a shaky breath, I stood up, my body light on my longer feeling legs. Twisting awkwardly in the direction of the window, I groaned at what little reflection I had of myself. Sticky, damp wool socks and leggings clung to my legs and feet, a run elevating up the inside of my left thigh. My grey sweater sat awkwardly on my body, crumpled from lying in a bed over half the day, little of my flat belly showed. No idea where my jacket is, nor do I care at the moment. Nibbling on a piece of toast, I made my way to a laundry bin full of clothing, all loosing thrown in with no attempt of folding or organization. With one hand, I casually went through the clothing. Roughly in 5 minutes I found a pair of comfy, Lululemon yoga pants, a yellow, boyfriend styled shirt and a green American Eagle hoodie. Very comfy, it felt slightly like pajamas. Shoving on my soggy boots, I just decided to suck it up. Life ain’t no joy ride.
I silently slipped out of my room, hoping for the best as I found a nearby wash room. Blinking several times, I stared in disbelief at the blue eyes I once knew. They looked dead. Slightly red and swollen, my whole face looked drowsy as if morning punched me in the face. With a hair tie I found around my wrist, I threw my blond, limp hair into a messy bun. Quickly splashing water on my face, some life came to it. Huge bags lined my eyes, the dark bruises causing my once milk chocolate colored skin seemed pale and ghostly. I decided it’s the best I’ll get, keeping my head down, I opened the door and hoped for the best. “There you are!” My heart jumped in my throat at the sudden guilty feeling I got. My cheeks burned something fierce. Forcing my face up from my disgusting choice of footwear, I found the fake smiling eyes of Scott Hazel. “You look nice.” He commented on my change of outfit and attempt to look normal. “Thanks,” I mumble as Scott quickly spun around on his heel in direction of Orange wing. I obediently followed, staying a rough 5 steps behind with a guess that we are going to class. We took a turn, still in the Orange wing to the familiar door I looked forward to everyday, my old English class. With synchronised deep breaths, Scott held the door handle as if he was shaking his first employers hand, nervous. Softly, he turned the knob, and pushed it open, having to apply a little bit of force from a new paint job. Behind Scott, I snuck a look at our peers; scared voices hushed and stared like a deer in headlights. Mentally I counted the survivors. Only 31. Just enough to fill the dimmed room, I guessed, considering all of us was in a single classroom, everyone comfy and mildly satisfied.
Awkwardly, we shuffled in, obviously interrupting some sort of presentation. A man stood at the front, a white Powerpoint slide projecting onto a screen pulled over the chalkboard. Sitting down in a desk I usually didn’t sit in; Scott lamely sat on the ground. In the same position as yesterday, I thought, swearing at myself for being so creepy. Everyone still had timid looks, as if they were tattoos. I caught Emma’s shining eyes looking more aquamarine but still breath-taking. She flashed me a toothy grin while Brielle’s usually warm, melted chocolate were as cold as stone, avoiding my sight. At least they’re still alive. Scott quickly slapped my leg with his backhand. I looked at him in confusion. Pointing to the front, I gave the man my full, undivided attention. Looking at me, he cocked his head as if to ask me if I was ready. With a quick nod, he gracefully turned away, as if our unnoticed communication never happened. “As I was saying,” He started, giving Scott a mocking smile. I heard the silent chuckle Scott let out with a soft smile on his face, shaking his head. “The lack of food is causing people to, uh,” Eat other people. I thought. The man at the front nervously tried to find a definition that wouldn’t emotionally destroy people, “to do unnatural things.” Well done. I thought sourly. It was silent, the only thing we could hear were people’s hard breathing. A young, pregnant woman breaks the silence, “What kind of unnatural things?” She asked, obviously clueless. She was quite young to be pregnant, about 21 with styled chestnut curls and a fair pale face, a soft blush in the apples of her cheeks. Holding her swollen belly, she looked so tiny and innocent with a determined look etched into her face. The man started sweating, looking for appropriate words, “well uh,” he stuttered, “Their need for survival causes their bodies to be infected with adrenaline. Run faster, lift heavier things, their feeling of pain either totally, or somewhat, goes away, allowing them to be the best predators existing.” A few murmurs whispered in my ears, sending goose bumps to crawl up my spine. An old man held up his arm. “Mr. Schnider?” The leader motioned to the retired man. Mr. Schnider had on a green and black plaid sweater with a white t-shirt underneath. Leather suspenders rested on his shoulders, hooked onto worn, light jeans. He had shocking green eyes with a snow white, full beard attached to a bald head. An aged gold ring sat on his finger, nervously rolling it. “What do you mean by predators?” Mr. Schnider asked in a strong Scottish accent. Now the man at the front was lost for words. A loud bang echoed throughout the hushed room. In the one sudden moment, the sound of soft breaths minimized to the thumping of silent heartbeats. Everyone turned their attention to Brie, her fist resting on the desk was so tight her knuckles were white. She was looking at the chalkboard, her eyes set hard forward, her jaw clenched. Emma sat awkwardly looking at her feet, not embarrassed by her friend but hurt by the pain that her friend was feeling. Whipping her head at her peers, her eyes were wild and angry, “How stupid are you guys?!” She yelled, few people holding in their tears. She emotionlessly continued, “Their cannibals! They eat us!” She hissed. Everyone looked at her blankly. Some of us already new, others never even imagined the possibility. The pregnant lady held her hand over her mouth, her hand over her stomach. Red lining obviously showed the shock in her eyes. Brielle was oblivious to the starring worry she has caused, and with a mocking laugh she questioned, “What? You must’ve suggested the idea!” When no one commented, Brie got annoyed. Forcing herself up, she marched out of the room, slamming the door on her way out. Even then, it was silent besides the stifled cries people held. Even I became irritated at how quiet these people can be. Seconds ticked by, giving birth to minutes. Finally, an older, middle aged lady started bawling, loud. She screamed, sniffling as she cradled her head into her arms. “My sister, my husband, my daughters and son……” she cradled the words like an infant, repeating them afraid to let go the familiarity of the titles given to her loved ones. Softly, another woman, looking much taken care of, carefully led out the destroyed woman out. Beside me, a tear slipped down Mr. Schneider’s cheek as he balled the ring in his hand. People didn’t hold it in anymore; they wailed and sighed, sniffed and attempted to comfort each other with tasteless words. My eyes pried open, mouth split a gap in a little ‘o’, realizing. My father, my mind whispered, my brother. In shaking hands, I held my head, propped up on my elbows. I awkwardly sniffed every few seconds, letting in and out shaky breaths like people rushing in and out of a gate to Disneyland. Sucking in a breath until my lungs were full, I looked up, making my hands in to a cone around my nose and mouth. Scott watched me with worried eyes. I wouldn’t even dare to look at Emma. If someone’s sad, her eyes are laced with their pain doubled. As if she feels every drop of their hurt.
The leader chewed on the inside of his cheek. It made it just the more obvious because the gesture was very familiar. I remember it because Matt used to always do it. How can the 3 most important men in my life all disappear in the same day. Quickly, my sadness turned to rage. It’s all pain, just another shade, not cooler or warmer, darker or lighter. Sadness and anger are just as different as the color of your shadow and the shade of the sky on a moonless night. Sucking in a breath, he figured out a plan, “Anyone who is not emotionally stable, feel free to dismiss yourself to your rooms…” After a few hesitated moments, Mr. Schnider got up, gave us all look of apologizing gratitude, and silently left. In a few breaths, Chantey, a humble girl in my science class, stood up and left as well. Then my good friend, Dustin Brown, followed.
I’ve known Dustin since around grade four, not until grade 9 did I have my first full conversation. Same time around, Emma fell madly in love with him, although he will probably never know. Disappointing really, her first love, her only, or so she sounds. Emma isn’t the strongest that way, doesn’t take risks. Technically torchers herself not telling Dustin how she feels, afraid he won’t feel the same. Brie warned her once, If you’re not strong enough to tell him you love him, you better be strong enough to watch him be loved by someone else. Brie’s words must’ve stung hard, although, I was proud of Emma, she masked her shame skillfully.
Half the class emptied out and I felt cold and unwanted. Everyone sat spaced from each other, Scott taking a seat on my right. “You guys good?” The guy at the front asked. He specifically looked at each of us, visually sweeping across the room. “Oh! My name’s Spencer Larson, for those who don’t know.” He dangled his dog tags as he spoke, letting them drop to his chest. Synchronised, we all nodded, giving him the sign to continue. “You will be put into divisions, like in your school; you technically moved around in one group, same will go for here. This is your division. You will train, study, and most likely bunk together…” Everyone looked around to see who they had in their groups. “You’re barracks will be room 400 in the Yellow Wing, you are Division 1-3. A few of your fellow colleagues who dismissed themselves will be a part of this division as well.” It’ll be like a private school. I thought. You could notice by how some people held themselves that they were comfortable and adjusting nicely to the new environment. Emma raised her hand.
“Yes Ms. Elite?” Spencer motioned. My eyes focussing, I realized his dashing, navy blue eyes glint behind his thick glasses. He would make the stereotypical nerd if he wasn’t so buff. A plaid Easter shirt somehow focused his core and biceps more, beige corduroys doing the same to his thighs and calves. Short, blond hair slicked back gleamed in the projector. “How are these groups divided?”
“Well, your Divisions are separated by age groups. The young adults, early parents, middle aged and seniors. There is a group of young teenagers, 12, 13, 14 adding up to 5 Divisions.” He explained to Emma matter-of-factly. Emma just bobbed her head as if in some kind of beat, gazing at the streams of sunlight that bled in through the barricaded windows. A girl with Mailto skin raised her hand. Spencer held out his hand, as if inviting her to dance as a motion to speak. “Sugar Jones?”
“Oh, yes.” She cleared her throat, “where and when do our classes start?” Crossing her legs, she straightened her posture. Spencer smirked. I’m not sure if he was enthusiastic about the question or Sugar’s amazing hourglass curves. Nervously, Spencer coughed, “Think of this as your open house, we will take you on a tour and then you will have the rest of the day off. You know, to collect your bearings and such. Classes start tomorrow at 10 o’clock.” Pressing a button on a small remote, the white screen grew black letters on it. “This is your schedule; first period will be gym, second period the boys and girls will split up. Girls, room 206 in Red Wing, boys, room 406 Yellow Wing. Lunch will be in the cafeteria. After, range will be third period, science as 4th and English as last block.” A knock on the door concluded this lesson as Dustin poked his head in. Looking at Spencer to us, he held onto the door for balance.
“Tour time.” He told Spencer. As we all stood up, Spencer raised his voice, clapping an unsteady beat, “Show your dog tags to either Captain Hazel, Mr. Mor or myself before you go to bed tonight! Get your division printed!” Most ignored him as the current of moving feet shuffled us out the door.
The people who excused themselves were littered across the pod, sprawled over benches, leaning against abandoned lockers. I subconsciously questioned their comfort, betting against myself that half of them only took the opportunity to leave the class as a ditch pass.
(to be continued)