Someday we will | Teen Ink

Someday we will

June 5, 2018
By Mrhee8, Madison, New Jersey
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Mrhee8, Madison, New Jersey
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As I wake up, I feel butterflies in my stomach. I know it is time. The choosing. All 15 year-olds on this day get tested to the limit. The ones who survive will get to see their families again.

“Bella?” My little brother called.

He thinks this is a game. The winners don’t go home and the losers go on a special trip.

“Is it today? Do you get to go on vacation?” His brown eyes shining up at mine.

“It’s today but I don’t want to go on vacation, I want to stay here with you!”

“Yeah, stay. I’ll miss you.” He hugs me around my waist, and I try not to let my tears fall onto his dark brown head. As he leaves my room, I realize how much I’m going to miss him.

I change into some casual clothes and braid my long, auburn hair. I take a deep breath and go downstairs.

There is a feast waiting on the table. My mother cooks when she is nervous. Since my dad left, my mom hasn’t been the same. I have two other siblings who went through the trial. My sister, Steph… didn’t make it. My brother did make it, but he is working for the city to provide for our family. I will make it through. Somehow.

“Eat your breakfast, you need energy for the training,” My mom says sounding worried.

Usually, my mom is good at hiding her emotions, but ever since Steph failed, she gets worried. The bell rings and I answer the door. “Hey, Chris,” I say

Chris has been my friend since we were little. Both of us are going to the event together. I hope he helps me. He is strong and I am not.

“Bella, I hope you make it through. I just came to say good luck. Bye,” He leaves, leaving the door ajar.

I sigh closing the door. I go upstairs into my room. I look at the picture of all of us. All of us in it. Where no one is dead. Before all of this happened. Before the government declared only the strongest and cleverest would win. When there was peace. I change into a dress, a beautiful one. It took a long time to get. Steph also wore this. I can still smell the perfume she wore. Wiping away a single tear, I quickly do my hair again since it got messed up, get some shoes and help get the rest get ready.

“Bella. How do I put this on?” Zac, my little brother asks. He holds out a dark blue tie to me.

“Here,” I put the tie on him, making sure it's tight.

“Do I get to wear that, too?” my sister Mia asks.

“No, but I have this pretty bow to put on you,” I say hoping she would not have a tantrum. We can’t be late.

Her lip starts to quiver and I feel a storm brewing.

“How about this?” I asked showing her an old costume necklace.

She grins big and takes it happily.

“Mom!     Let’s GO!” I shout, knowing it won’t help.

Since I’m the oldest in the house now, I need to do everything around here. I wonder what will happen after this? Will Mia take care of the house? Or Zac? They are only 8.

As I’m pondering, my mom comes down the stairs looking beautiful. She comes over to me. “No matter what happens, I love you.” My eyes well up again and I respond, doing my best not to choke on my tears.

“I love you too. No matter what happens”

We walk to the car. I am starting to sweat, biting the inside of my cheek, which is what I do when I get nervous.

We start driving and I know we won’t be there for a while. Every family with a 15-year-old are going to the same place. I start to wonder, Will I make it? If I survive what will  I do? I know some of the jobs are to train us 15-year-olds, preparing us for the trial. A job in the city, which my oldest brother has. Or I could just go home. Just living like nothing happened. My eyes start to dwindle when the car stops. We are here. At the training camp, where I will be spending my time in for a month

“Alright, everyone out of the car. Out of the car.” Zac and Mia scramble out as I slowly exit, mind still full of thoughts.

We head in with the sea of people into a huge room with seats.

“Please fill in the front and head towards the back!” A voice calls probably through a microphone.

We find some seats somewhat close to each other and sit.

“We are going to wait for a few minutes. After that, those who are late will not be tolerated and will have to miss the training.”

I gulp. Chris isn’t here yet. I hope he will make it in time.

“Ok let’s start, shall we?”

Chris and another girl walk in. Right on time. I don’t know why but I feel pain inside of me. I mean I never liked him. Did I? They sit behind me. The girl says, “You’ll protect me right?”

I clench my fists and I am tempted to turn around and slap her, but he was never mine.

“Ok, all 15-year-olds please step forward,”

A boy runs in and gasps “Please… Let … me … in.”

“I’m sorry you are late, but you are not eligible to be apart of the training. You will have to wait for the competition to start in a few weeks.,”

The boy’s eyes start to well up and he slumps and walks away. I feel bad. Our population has increased too much. That’s partially why this event was created. It’s a cruel, cruel world.

“Ok families this will be the last time you see your children before the competition. Say your final goodbyes and the children will exit the room while one of us will explain what happens.”

Everyone seems to get up at once and go to their child. Zac and Mia run over to hug me and I almost fall over by their strength. My mom walks over calmly and hands me a ring. She whispers “This ring will help you when you are in danger. If not, it will be useless.”

“What?” I say confused by what she had said.

She just hugs me and takes Zac and Mia away.

I take a breath and walk through the door into all of the beds. I see that a lot of people took bunks close to their friends and it was almost filled up.

“Hi, my name is Olivia, but you can call me Liv.” I turn around and there is a girl there, with brown hair, lanky and very pretty.

“Hi, I’m Bella. Do you want to get a bunk together?” I asked expecting a no.

“Sure. You know I don’t have a lot of friends, ever since I moved here.”

“EVERYONE OUT OF THE ROOM,” the same voice booms.

I quickly scramble out along with Liv. We follow a man and we go into some sort of training room.

“This is where some of you will be training. If we think you can not handle it, we will send you home and you will attend only the competitions .”

There are some gasps around the room. I gulp and squeeze Liv’s hand harder and she squeezes back. He then lets us go back into the sleeping space I take out my necessities like some toiletries and a pillow. My bunk is right across of Chris’ with her, whose name I found out, that her name is Nicole. One of those annoying girls. I sigh and look away.

I go around with Liv and introduce ourselves to others. Soon we have tons of friends.

After a while, the man along with some other instructors come in, probably going to introduce themselves.

“You may have seen me instructing all of you. My name is Aaron,” His sharp brown eyes get caught in the light and gleam. His jet black hair shines with health and looks to be in very good shape.

“Hi I’m Jennifer, but you can call me Jen. I have been teaching for 3 years now. This seems to be the biggest group we have ever had! I can’t wait to be teaching you,” she had a smile like the nicest person in the world, but her eyes said otherwise.

She had the smile of the sun, but the eyes. My mom had told me that even though the person may seem nice, the eyes give it away. Another man steps up.

“Hey, I’m Xavier. This is my first year being a teacher but I have also been working at home to take care of my siblings.”

I glanced into his eyes. Pure blue, almost wrapping me in. While looking into his eyes, he looks right at me and I want to sink into the floor. My cheeks turn red and I quickly look away. Jen sees this right away and quickly interrupts.

“By the way, do not get too close to the counselors. It will ruin your chances of benefiting  from the training.”

I look at her knowing that she purposefully said that because she obviously has a crush on him. I look down not paying attention. I stand up and follow Liv as we are heading to a different room. We get some free time before dinner and I chat with Liv. It turns out that she also wants to be a counselor if she makes it,  and she has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. She is exactly one month younger than me. We talk about a bunch of other things, too. A bell rings, probably to announce that we need to go to the cafeteria and so we get up and start walking towards it. Some of us have agreed to sit next to each other so my table is me, Liv, Megan, Samantha, Max, Chris, and Nicole. I walk over to the line to find out that the dinner is some kind of meat, a drink with some salad for me. I go over to the table and find that two more people have joined so there is no room for me.

“Whoops, I forgot she was with us. l. Well sorry. Hehe,” Giggles Nicole, trying to act innocent, but I can see right through her.

I fume away while Chris is saying “Wait don’t g----”

“Just leave her Chris she’s just jealous,”

I sit down. Alone. I open some ranch and start to eat.

“Hey, Bella! I noticed you weren’t at the table. There is tons of room there,” Liv says

“I uh, Uh Nicole kind of kicked me out of there,” I say unsure of how she will react.

“What?” She screams, making the room dead silent.

“SHHHH. I can just sit here by myself. I don’t really mind.”

“No! I’m staying here,” Then she shouts “Hey guys! Over here!” Then all but Chris and Nicole get up and walk over to our table.

I must have looked surprised because Liv hugs me and says, loud enough for Nicole to hear. “We would never betray you.” while the rest are nodding.

Nicole screams in anger and storms out of the room. Chris just sitting there awkwardly. I laugh and eat dinner.

The next morning, I groan hearing the annoying bell and get up. Yawning. Just in a tank top and shorts, I get up, while the others try to fall back asleep. I quickly walk to the girl’s bathroom in order to get there first. I start to get ready and when I’m in a stall, showering, I hear someone come in. I stay quiet and the footsteps leave. I open the stall and my clothes are gone!

“OH MY GOSH,” I almost scream.

Liv walks in seeing me in a towel and laughs

“Did someone steal your clothes? HAHAHA Let me see if I can get extra clothes from anyone,” She is still giggling as she leaves while I’m still standing.

She finally comes back with some baggy clothes. I sigh and slip them on. When I come out, Nicole laughs obnoxiously and points.

“Look at that idiot!! HAHAHA, She can’t even dress right!” Tears well up in my eyes, but I refuse to be bullied by this girl. I walk calmly over and take my clothes back. I walk back into the bathroom when Chris enters too

“Chris get out. You know you are not allowed to be here.”

“Look I just want to say so---”

“Stop. Your actions have proved that you would rather support her than me so go run off to your  girlfriend”

I don’t turn around but I hear the door so I change out of my baggy clothes.

I turn around, facing a boy, grinning who just walked in after I turned around.

“Hey what’s your name? Mine is Liam,”

“Hey Liam, I’m Bella. Nice to meet you.”

“So. Nicole, she seems to hate you.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why. Probably cause her boyfriend was my childhood friend.”

RING! The bell rings probably announcing that we need to train.

We all walk to the room and some of the equipment is set-up, like boxing stuff and a boxing ring. I know a few punches and I think I will do fine. There is a list of people that are grouped up. I look at it and I’m grouped with Liam. Ok not bad. Liv is with Nicole, and Chris is with Megan. I walk over to Liam and he says

“Guess we are partners,” He grins and we walk over to the punching bag.

“OK!” Aaron says “Start with punching and then kicking. After that, we will go outside and run 3 miles. Come back in and start by fighting your partner.”

I punch a couple of times, timing it, jumping around.

“Stop bouncing up and down, it ruins your timing and gives you less power. It looks like most of your power is from your legs. Work on your kicks.” Jen says

“OK,” I kick the bag, moving it a lot, almost hitting Liam with it.

“Woah! You got some serious strength there!” he says.

I grin kicking it over and over again. We later have to go and run the miles. I start off strong and while heavy breathing, I see a foot stick out and I fall. I hear Nicole snickering along with some others. Wiping the blood off of my face, I run even harder. If Jen was right, then I could run fast too. As I pass the group, I can see Nicole mad and Chris giving me a guilty look. I ignore it and run even harder. I end up finishing 10 minutes earlier than anyone else. Legs burning, I jog over to Liv who is panting hard.

“Nice run huh?” Liv says gasping.

“Yeah, I guess.”

My face starts to bleed once I lean over to get my water. People look concerned and I just ignore them. I take a swing and get a mouth full of blood. I cough it out. The trainers come back and Jen gasps. Xavier takes a breath and Aaron commands Xavier to go fix up my face.

Xavier fixes up my face and I wince when he puts on medicine.

“I’m guessing you tripped yourself?” He grins

“NO. Umm” I know that if I say that Nicole is bullying me, he will treat me like a little kid and I will have a rival in the competition “Um someone ran in front of me and didn’t know I was there.”

“I saw everything. You don’t need to lie.”

I blush looking away.

“Hey, Bella. Ready to fight me?” Liam comes running in, red-faced.

“You bet. I am going to crush you.”

We wait to go to the boxing ring and I gasp. If I thought that my face was bad, you should have seen Nicole’s. Liv seemed to be super angry, kicking and punching over and over. I smile the tiniest bit, knowing that Liv will stand up to me.

“OK! OK! Match over. Get off of her.” Aaron says seriously.

Liv calmly walks over to me and says, “They made it so that the winner will verse the winner to have a champion. The champion gets to skip a round of the competition.”

“Oh, I really need this. I’m so weak, I’ll probably lose first.”

“It’s ok. As long as you try your hardest.”

“I agree, she will probably fail and die.” Says Nicole, clearing ruining the moment.

I sigh watching Chris easily beat Megan. These groupings were a little unfair. It’s time to verse Liam. I start off by kicking him. He dodges and punches me in the face. Bleeding again, I pretend to kick him, and while he dodges, I punch him in the stomach. Not doing too much damage, he gets back up and is bouncing with energy. I try doing the method again, but he quickly learns my methods. I try doing a funky kick and end up hitting him in the face. He stumbles and falls.

“I’m done. She beat me.” He gasps.

I pant feeling tired but happy. Everyone looks at me in surprise, since I am pretty small. Liam is not small either. He looks super muscular. I guess the adrenaline helped me. Liam goes to the room where they fixed my face. I need to go too because my face is so bloody. We head down

“I’m sorry,” I say now feeling bad about beating him.

“No worries, we both had to try our best.” He replies smiling.

We walk down and Xavier is already there with some supplies.

“Oh, my. Ok. I have to get some people to help me because of this. This is not good.” He then picks up the speaker thing and speaks into it.

Liam looks into the mirror. “Bella, you absolutely crushed me. I’ll have to watch out next time.”

Some other people come in with the equipment to fix Liam and mine’s wounds. I wince when the put the strong medicine on me. I am not used to medical care. Our family was not that rich, compared to others. I may have to also work in the city if it is not enough for my family.

“Alright, we got you guys all patched up. BE Careful.” We nod and leave.

I take a swing from my water bottle and offer it to Liam. He takes it and drinks it. We get back to the room and I can see some other people fighting. I don’t really know them so I just hope they take longer. I am tired and want to sleep. The boy beat the girl and they both go back to the hospital. I sigh. We get lunch. Finally. Food. We get some food and go to the table. I notice that Nicole nor Chris is there. I look around and I see them in the far table. I feel a tiny bit bad for them. I mean Chris is not even doing anything, but he just follows her around like a puppy.

I gobble down the food. I almost choke, but I still go on.

“Woah, calm down. At this point, you are going to die!” Liv laughs.

I ignore her and keep on going. After a few minutes, I am stuffed.

I watch everyone eat. Some eat elegantly, some eat messily. Many types. The bell rings, bringing

me out of my thoughts.

I get eliminated so I watch the others. The finalists are Chris and another boy. Chris beats him up easily. I grin. When we were kids, we would wrestle. He would always beat me, but let me sometimes almost win. Nicole screams in delight

“AHHHH! Now in case I fall, you can save me,” Her voice sweet as syrup.

I groan and look away. Liv whispers “C’mon let's go,” She takes me to the bathroom to chat.

“So, you know. Chris? You know him?”

“Umm yeah, he was my neighbor. Was much nicer than.”

“So cool. But that Nicole. Ugh, what a jerk.”

“Yeah. I guess,”

Megan walks in.

“Hey, guys! We get some break time. Do you guys want to come and join me? I’m going to explore.”

“Ok,” We both say.

I look at her seriously. She got beat up by Chris. She doesn’t look that nice. She is naturally pretty, and the fight only seemed to set her back.

We walk around giggling and looking around.

“They have a spa?!”

“Yes but trainers only.” Jen’s voice booms. “By the way, what are you doing here? This is a trainer only site.”

“Oh we were just looking around,” Replies Liv.

“ Yeah now please leave. BUH BYE”

She pushes all of us out and into our hallway.

“Wow, rude much?” Megan says.

I frown. I wonder why she wanted us to get out of there so fast. I just shake off the feeling and we go to the opposite wing to find some more room. They look like supply rooms. Then the room starts spinning. I feel weak and drop to the ground.

“Bella?” A voice booms even though its almost a whisper.

“I..I….I” and then the room goes dark.

“Bella?” A familiar voice calls but I don’t respond.

I try to move, but I can’t.

“Relax Bella, take a break,”

“I,”

I can barely move, mouth dry.

“Get her some water,” I realize the voice is Aaron.

I feel a cool liquid enter my mouth, I swallow and open my mouth for more. I open my eyes and see Jen, Aaron, and Xavier staring at me. The door pounds

“I HEARD HER VOICE! LET ME IN!” Liv screams.

“Let her in,” I whisper.

“Are you sure?” Xavier asks.

I nod and he opens the door. Literally, everyone except Nicole is there. They all rush in. Liv hugs me and I wheeze.

“I’m so sorry,” she says

“She was dehydrated. What did you have during meal time?”

“I don’t remember.” I ate too fast.

Gingerly getting up, I notice I am in different clothes. Very high quality too. However, this is not mine.

“Um. What am I wearing?”

“Sorry it was to best we could do considering you locked your suitcase,” Xavier grins

I blush and say “Whos is this?”

“Mine,” calls a voice.

I stretch my head groaning and I see Chris.

“Thanks, I guess.”

All the trainers shoo everyone out the door and I get to sleep for the rest of the day.

When I wake up it's dark. I get out of the bed and go back to the beds. I go and lay down, groaning because of my headache.

“RISE AND SHINE!” Jen roars in my ear.

I stumble out of my bed and look up. Everyone else is up and I am the only one in bed. Muscles sore, I go into the showers, with my clothes and shower quickly. I can feel all of the dirt and blood washing off. I quickly change and put my hair up.

I come out and apparently, we are doing exercises today. I walk with Jen to a new room. It has much equipment. I can only recognize something called a treadmill. My older brother showed it to me once. Before he left for the city. Apparently, people used that kind of things in the olden days, but now, it is super rare.

“Ok the groups are in the piece of paper,” Aaron says.

I walk over and my group is with Chris and Megan. Not bad at all. Megan and Chris come over talking a million words a minute. Nicole glares in our direction and we lock eyes. I stare her down and she looks away. I grin and start talking with them. We start off with a bar thing where we have to lift ourselves above it. I can only do around 2 while Megan does 1, and Chris does 11. Yes, 11. We then have to do these things called push-ups and sit-ups. I am really good at the leg stuff. Like running on the treadmill, and other exercises. By the end, everyone’s water bottle is drained, we are all red-faced, and panting.

I walk over to Liv and we start to talk. The bell rings, and we enter the lunch room. They have some good food, but I don’t really feel like eating. If I want to win, I need to exercise more, and not eat fattening foods. Liv glances at what I am eating.

“Bella, we just exercised, eat some meat. You only have some apples and bread.”

“I’m ok. Really I’m fine,”’

Liv glances a look of disapproval and resumes eating.

I’m ok. Right? I just can’t eat too much. After lunch, we go back to training. I feel weaker but still exercise as hard as I can. Once we are done, I feel dizzy, but decide not to tell anyone. I was just in the hospital room, and I don’t want to go back.

We then have dinner. I decide to eat some fruit and some chips. Once again Liv inspects my lunch.

“Really?” She says eyes narrowing.

“I’m just not that hungry,” I say, even though my stomach is growling for food. I need to get into shape.

The same routine goes on for a few days. I think I am getting into shape. I feel better, even though I don’t eat much anymore. I don’t need to. I don’t want to either.

“Today we will see where your stamina is at.” Aaron’s voice booms. It always has that effect that makes everyone silent.

“Everyone go to one of the treadmills.”

I, of course, grab one next to Liv and Megan.

“And…. go!” The treadmills start and we start off my walking.

The pace gets faster and we start to jog, then run, and so on. By the time we are running, I feel horrible. I wonder why? I have been exercising for a few days. I should be stronger! Not weaker! I stumble and fall. I try to get up, but I can’t. I can see the trainers surprised by my results. Jen walks over to me. “All of us trainers think this is not your day. Bella, you have done so much more, yet you fall at running speed? We will test you again in a few days. Be ready.”

I nod and try to get up. I still can’t so I just lay there, thinking. A few seconds later Nicole gets off.

“Nicole?” Xavier says suspiciously.

“What? I don’t want to get sweaty. Eww,” Xavier chuckles and Aaron facepalms.

One by one, they start to fall. The last ones are Chris and Liam. I could have been there. Liam sneezes and gets off balanced so he has to get off. Chris wins. I guess he is pretty strong overall.

“I could have totally won that. I just needed to sneeze.”

“Yeah right,” Liv says.

We have a break after this so people start to leave.

“You coming?” Megan asks. I am still on the floor.

“Um. I will catch up with you guys later.”

“Ok,” and they leave.

I feel so tired and everyone has left. I get up when the lights go out and the door clicks. I walk over to the door and knock.

“Hello?” I call, but there is no response.  “I need to..” and I stumble to the ground and don’t try to get up. I fall asleep. I don’t know when I wake up, but I hear some noises and I try to sit up. Even though I just slept, I’m so tired, and I feel like my insides are being burned. Someone is talking and I press my ear against the door.

“We can’t have her here.” A voice sounds like Aaron.

“I don’t see why she has to leave.” That is Xavier's voice.

“She is passing everything, along with Chris. We can’t have that too good and clever people here. They will find out, but men always do good in the training. But a woman?.” I wonder to find out what?

“So what? It’s for a stupid cause anyways,”

“BY the way you are talking about her, I feel like someone has a little crush.” and I hear a chuckle.

“I do not. She is not even my type. I like pretty ones,” Xavier laughs

My heart cracks a little on the inside. I know I am not pretty, but am I ugly?

I think their conversation is over and I hear footsteps. This is my only chance to get out. I scream a blood-curdling scream. I hear nothing in response. After that I feel so tired, I fall asleep automatically.

I wake to the sound of a faint bell. Am I that far away from the bunks? I get up, but the room spins so much, I sit. I want to get out. I hear someone screaming that sounds like Liv

“BELLA?!” I try to respond, but my voice is gone. “GUYS LOOK FOR HER! Get partners and look around.”

I hear the door on the opposite side open. I see Nicole. She stares right at me as if getting revenge. “No! No one in here.” She grins and shuts the door and it clicks.

How could I be so stupid? Of course, there was another door. Does that mean this door goes to the trainers? I hear footsteps near the door. I try once more. I scream as hard as I can, and the room starts to sway and I can’t move. “Bella?” The door next to me opens and I see Xavier.

“Please. help.” I whisper.

Jen enters “Oh my gosh,” I can’t even open my eyes anymore. I black out.

I wake up again in the hospital room. However, I don’t open my eyes. I hear Xavier and Aaron.

“Do you think she heard us?” Xavier asks

“Probably not. She blacked out. She was probably sleeping.” Aaron replies.

I fall in and out of sleep for a while. I have these have real, half dreams.

I am little again. Oh no. This is the day my dad left.

“Dad?” I call hoping he would respond.

“Yes, my belle? He replies.

“Where are you?” I call.

“Here.” He suddenly appears in front of me. I go to hug him, but he backs up.

“Daddy?” I call eyes welling up.

“I need to go.” He starts to run

“NO! Please don’t go!”

“Don’t forget the ring! It’s the only thing that can save me! Because someday we will. ” He calls. I scream when I feel a hand shaking me awake.

“Bella?”

“Dad?” I whisper.

“It’s Aaron.”

I scream again and I try to get up.

“NO! Bella don’t get up.” I struggle.

“I need to get to dad,” I say tears rolling down my face.

“ I need backup!” Aaron shouts and I wince. It sounds like he is screaming directly into my ear.

Jen comes rushing in. “Get the sedative!” He yells.

“NOOOO!” I scream. I can’t even control my body anymore. I feel like someone else is controlling me. Then something sharp stabs me. I instantly relax and I feel my eyes drop.

I can’t even move anymore. I am just looking into the darkness. There is a faint figure of my dad. I can’t even chase him anymore.

As I am falling asleep, I say “Save my dad.”

I wake up. Jen is there, surprised.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah,” I say, voice scratchy.

“Hey, Aaron and Xavier!” Jen shouts into her device thing. “She’s up!” I wince at the loudness of her voice. I try to get up. “Don’t,” she says. Both Xavier and Aaron rush in. I see Aaron’s face and I gag. It was scratches and marks all over. Did I do that?” The worst is the black eye. “I.. I’m sorry Aaron,” I say.

“I think you are ready for the competition if you fight like that,” Xavier laughs. I ignore him and focus on what happened.

“Wait. How long have I been asleep?” I say

“2 days and You have been missing for 3 days! You could have died!” Jen says.

“Someone locked me in,” I say closing my eyes.

“Who?” Aaron demands. I don’t answer, but I see Xavier lean over and say something to him. He quickly looks angry. He leaves and I am left with Jen and Xavier.

“Can I go?” I ask, expecting a no.

“Be careful.” Xavier says “You can go for now. Wait!” I stop “Do you know why you acted like that?”

“I don’t know,” I say. Then I realize. Maybe it was the ring, but I don’t say. Then they would take it away.”

I walk slowly back to the beds. Nicole sees me and laughs her annoying laugh. “Look at that creep. She wants all of the attention, I assume.” Liv, Megan, and Liam run over.

“WHERE WERE YOU!?” They all demand.

“I don’t exactly know.”

“What?” Megan says

“It’s hard to explain,”

“We have all day,” Liv says.

I try to explain as best as I can. I leave out the ring part.

“That's so horrible,” Megan says. Then I notice Chris was right behind me. He walks past me to Nicole. She sees this as a good thing and smiles sweetly. Chris talks to her quietly and she gets angrier, each time he speaks a word. “I CAN’T  BELIEVE YOU!!!!!!!!” She bursts out crying and rushes into the bathroom. Even though she tried to kill me, I still feel guilty. I almost walk over to the bathroom to talk. But she has tried to kill me, many times, bullying me. Maybe there is a reason. Maybe I did something wrong. To my surprise, Nicole walks out and takes Chris into the bathroom. I wonder what they are saying.

After a while, they come back out and Nicole looks happy. Chris is stone-faced. I kind of ignore Liv while she is talking.

“Bella? BELLA?” She says. I snap back into reality.

“Yeah?”

“Have you been listening?”

“Uh no sorry. What did you say?”

“You have the stamina test again tomorrow. Do you want me to help you?”

“Uh sure.”

Then we head over to the training room.

I start my training. I still can’t last long. I sit heavily breathing.

“C’mon you gotta do better!”

“I’m trying!” I say exasperated and that’s when I realize. “Liv.”

“What?”

“I know why I haven’t been doing good at all. Liv, I have an eating disorder!”

“WHAT?” Eating disorders are rare. They used to exist, but they found a cure. A shot that you take every year. But we couldn’t afford that. Ma made sure that we would eat. But with all the stress. I guess.

“I know how to get rid of it. There is an extra shot in the hospital room.”

“I can’t go back in there. I literally live there.”

“I can sneak it to you. Stay here.”

I wait for what seems like hours. Liv comes back with the shot.

“ Ok stay still,” She stabs me in the arm.

“Ow!” I yell.

“SHHHHH!”

“Sorry, you hurt me,” I feel something happening. I feel super hungry.

“When is lunch?”

“Right…. Now,”

“Let's go!”

I make sure I don’t eat too little or too much. I am full.  We have some more free time and then the next day, I am ready. I step up on the treadmill.

“You ready?” Jen asks. I nod and it starts.

I make it all the way to sprints. I keep on going. All of the trainers are literally staring, eyeball nearly popping out of their heads so surprised. Soon the whole group comes. Liv cheers and Megan claps. I keep on going. It gets faster and faster until I get so tired. Please, I need to stop, my brain says. I feel a shock and the treadmill,…. It breaks! The noise it makes is awful. Somethings pop out and it stops. Everyone is quiet for a few seconds. Liam cheers, sending an erupt. Xavier and Aaron step out. I wonder if it is about me. I wonder if they will kill me. I pant and wait for one of the trainers to say anything. They come back and I am worried.

“Due to mechanical problems, Bella will get the highest score ever possible. Ever.” I stare at Xavier who just said that. Everyone starts to cheer again.

I find out that tomorrow is the last week of staying in the camp. I had gotten so used to the bells. To be honest, I had forgotten most of the things I would do in my house. I glance down and look at the ring. Why do I have this? I find a tiny clasp on the ring, so I open it. There is a neatly folded note in there. I open it and read it.

Hello Bella. If you read this, that means you are probably in the training facility. I wrote this to warn you. Look out for a man named Chase. He is causing all of this. Due to this, I am probably not with you right now. Complete the training. BEAT CHASE and help me. I will always miss you. Remember no one knows about this. TRUST NO ONE. Someday…. Just someday.

-Dad.

A tear drops on the note, messing up the ink. “NO!” I say wiping away my tears. I try to fan it out, but the ink has already been smudged.

“No what?” A familiar voice calls. It is Chris. I hesitate. He looks at me eyebrows raised.

“It’s nothing” I say flinching as I crumple the note in my back pocket. He looks at me one last time and then walks out the room. Nicole meets him there and she glares at me. Then. Oh then. SHE STICKS HER TOUNGE OUT AT ME. I groan and flop on my bed. I take the note out and try to put it back into the ring. I end up ripping it. I sigh and stick the note into my ring, forcefully. Liv comes in.

“You okay?” She says.

“Yeah,” I sigh.

“C’mon. They are going to be giving awards to people. I think that's their way of saying sorry about the competition,” I nod and we head down to the same auditorium where I last saw Zac, and Mia. And… and my mom. We sit down next to Megan and Liam. They grin. I smile back and I start to gnaw on the side of my cheek.

“Ok guys! It’s been a long month and soon you guys will get out of this place!” Jen says.

“We want to give you awards for what we have seen this month,” Aaron says.

“The first award goes to….. Liv for the feistiest one. This is because she absolutely mawed Nicole in the fighting rounds!” Liv chuckles and scrambles up the stairs. She plucks the trophy out of Xavier’s hand. She runs back to her seat, cheeks red.

The trophies keep on going, and I am starting to get worried. All of them have at least 1 trophy or even two! But Chris nor I have not gotten one yet. There is one trophy left.

“This one is special. It is the MVP (the most valuable person). Since this is so big, we will vote for this. The nominees are Chris, and Bella. Remember if the other nominee does not win, they do not get a prize. As you see under your chair, there is a voting stick. Click blue for Chris and Pink for Bella.”

I groan. Why does everything happen to me?

“Ok three, two one!” The sticks light up and I can see an even amount of colors. Even the trainers voted! I can see Jen chose Chris, while Aaron chose me. Xavier, for some reason chose me! I thought he hated me. “OK we have gathered up the votes. The winner is. Chris!” My heart sank as Chris went up to get the award. I go out of the room to get some air. I hear footsteps behind me, but I don’t turn around.

“Hey,” A familiar voice calls. It’s Xavier.

“What do you want?” I say. I am still slightly angry at what he said to Aaron when they thought they were by themselves.

“Whatcha doing?”

I sigh “I guess I am not that strong. Maybe I should just be sent home.”

Xavier raises his eyebrows and says “look at me"

I glance up and see him.

“You have undoubtedly been the strongest woman to do this training. If you go home, it will be your loss. So don’t"

I smile and look into the distance. The sounds of crickets are the only I can hear.

“Bella?” A voice calls.. I quickly walk past her and go to the beds. Only some are in there. I lay down and put the covers over my head. Thoughts are spinning. Liv stomps in “BELLA!” She screams.

“mmmm" I mumble.

“Get your butt right into the bathroom.” She goes in and the people look at me. I groan and flop onto the ground. I get up and go into the bathroom.

“What happened?” she asks

“Nothing, just nothing,”

Liv shrugs and walks off. I see Jen and she says that we need to go to the training room. I get Liv and we walk over. I have a bad feeling about this. I should not have told her. I shake off the feeling and go into the room. I shudder when all of the memories come back and I can still feel how crazy I was.

“As you know, training is coming up and soon all of you will have to attend the competition.” Aaron says glaring at each and everyone. I have learned to see that Aaron has many layers to himself. The more he feels comfortable with you, he gets more emotional.

I think about all of the times before. Oh Mia and Zac. My little twins. Mom. I need her. What about dad? Is he still in this world?After that hallucination, I don’t know what is alive or dead. After Aaron stops talking, we are instructed to go back to the cabins and pack. I head back and Chris calls me over. His icy glare gives me enough.

“Are you spreading rumors about me? Don’t do that.”

“Why do you even care? It’s not like you even like me. You don’t even care about me. I have been so supporting, but all you have done is date that stupid Nicole.”

His eyes look sharp and his loses his focus for a moment. Then with those eyes, he leaves the room. I sink to the ground. Do-does he like me? Why did Liv tell everyone!? My sadness turns into anger. I storm over to the room. I slam the door behind me. Everyone stares at me like I am crazy.

“Liv.” I say calmly. “Come with me,”

She then proudly walks over. We exit and I almost punch her.

“How could you? I trusted you,”

“It’s not like I actually liked you. You thought I was your friend? Hah.”

I gasp and take a step back.

“I will beat you in the competition. You have no friends at all. You will never win,” She raises her hand to hit me and I flinch. I close my eyes and I feel a gust a wind and nothing hits me. I look up and see Xavier in front of me.

“Stop,” he says in a stern tone.

“Oh look at that. Your little boyfriend came to save the day,” I can’t hold it anymore. Back in my childhood, I would always get pushed down by bullies, then they took my money and ran away. Liv is just like those bullies.

I feel tears in my eyes and I shove Xavier out of the way and walk back into the room. As I am going, I say “I am not his boyfriend. I will always stay single and fight my way to the top. If you are going to stop me, try. And Xavier? Butt out.” I hear a gasp and I just keep walking on. I pack all my stuff. I look at the necklace Liv gave me. It was a friendship necklace. “All right! Everyone out!” and I stumble out. The necklace shining on the bed.

We exit the building and I take a deep breath. It's been a long time since I was outside. There is a bus waiting for us and one, by one we get in. I sit alone until Liam walks over. I lift my head and expect him to sit down next to me, but he sits next to Megan and Liv. Right behind me. Great. I sigh and look into my bag. The bus starts and it starts to rumble. I feel drowsy and fall asleep.

In a have awakened state I see my dad.

“Time is almost up to my belle. I’m sorry, remember BEAT CHASE! However, your friends might have betrayed you. Don’t do anything you will regret. It takes a lot of power to contact you. I may not be able to do it again. Look in your bag, there is something important in there. Find it and find me” And he starts to fade.

I rush over, but when I go to hug him, he disappears.

“AHHH” I fall out of the seat.

I hear snickers and I just ignore them. I go into my bag. I find the item. A watch. However, it was not a random watch. It was counting down. Tick by tick. What happens if it turns to zero?

I examine the watch and don’t realize that the group is staring at the watch. Liv snatches it and sneers “A stupid watch I see. Awww a little gift from your little boyfriend?”

I need to stop her. I really hope this works. I focus on her and the watch glows. Liv looks confused for a second and the cloud in her eyes fade. She falls out of the chair and the others look confused. Xavier gasps and I feel dizzy. Liv gets up

“B-b-Bella?” She says

“Liv,” I say coldly unsure of how she is going to react.

“I couldn’t control myself. I could see, but I-i-i- I couldn’t!” She burst into tears and I feel a pang of guilt.

“Umm are you ok?” Liam asks Liv.

“I’m sorry Bella. I felt like someone was controlling me. It was after that stupid bug bit me.”


Liv leaves her group and sits down next to me. “I’m sorry Bella.” She whispers and I can see that she is still crying.

I hug her quickly and reassure her, but I feel like I can’t trust anyone her anymore. They all just turned on me. As quick as lightning. I feel faint and close my eyes. And I enter the dream world.

I suddenly see my family standing in a huddle, even Stephanie. I know this is a dream, but I rush over to them to hug them, but they disappear. I then see an image of my family, but they are trapped, dirty, bloody. I let out a blood-curdling scream and try to get to them, but I go right through it. There is just darkness around. Then a man shows up. I feel like he is familiar, but I don’t know who he is.

“Bella,” a voice booms. I look around but sees nothing.

“BELLA!” the same voice calls.

Bella wakes up to Liv shaking her. “Hmm?” I say.

“C’mon we are here,”

I look around and sees a breathtaking view.

“Wow,”

“I know right?” Xavier is suddenly behind me.

“Umm yeah” I slightly shrug away his hand. Seeing this, Jen fumes in anger.

“Hey, Xavier?” She calls.

“Yes?” He says.

“Can you help me with the bags? I know you are so strong,”

I roll my eyes and walks toward to the building.

“Hey, I heard that this is something called a hotel. We get room to live in. You wanna be with me?” Liv is suddenly behind me

“Yeah ok,” I say.

The inside is more spectacular than the outside. Since some of us are going to die, maybe it’s like you get royalty before…. you know. When we make it to the room, There are two rooms, connected by a door. I go to the bed and sit on it. Very high quality. Smooth as silk. I look back to the watch, and the numbers keep going down. At home, mom taught us as much as she knew, but it definitely was not enough.

I flop down to the bed and put my head down. Thinking about all of the events that have happened recently have been swirling in my head. It’s been only a month and yet it felt like a year. I made friends, enemies, maybe a liking to some people. Before long, my eyes begin to droop. I fall back into dreamland.

This time I am over a sea of lava. Little steps are what I have to pass. I take a step and suddenly Jen is there. She pushes me off and I fall. “THUD” I fall off the bed. I got to stop falling.

Liv is sitting with some kind of thing with papers in it. She looks up and grins. “Guess what? This is something called a book. Did you know that?”

“Hmm? Oh yeah cool.” I wonder what we will do now. Tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day…. where I will either die or not. I shudder and try not to think about that.

“Hey, do you know if there is a room with all of the equipment that we used to get stronger?”

“Um, I’m pretty sure it is downstairs.”

“Alright, thanks,”

I go and start running. I have to keep in shape in order to stay. Sweating and panting hard, I head back to the room and take a shower. It’s been so long since I got to shower in warm water.  After I am done, I find this contraption with a switch. I turn it on and it starts blowing wind. I am fascinated with it, and I think that I have used this before, but no. Never. Hmm, I shrug and use it. I slip into the cover and think about tomorrow’s competition. Never been so nervous ever.

I wake up to the sound of… something. In my mind, it says a TV? I open my eyes and see a glowing screen. “Morning sleep head!” Liv says and I look over to see her eating food.

“Food?” I murmur. Liv chuckles and hands me a plate of food.

I can’t shake this feeling that I am missing something. I must have forgotten something back at the other place. I’ll get it after…. Oh maybe not.

We finishing eating and someone from the other side knocks. We open the door to find beautiful silky uniforms. I guess they are for the competition. I go to the bathroom to change and something falls out as I unravel the cloth. A note. I pick it up and quickly realize that it is Xavier’s handwriting. Hey Bella, I know you are mad at me, but I need to tell you something. It is life threatening so don’t tell anyone. Especially Liv. You are special Bella. The people leading the competition is looking for a particular person. You have been chosen. Look, look for something unusual while running in the competition. Find your father. -Xavier How does he know about my father? I slip on the silky clothes and exit. “Let’s go,” Liv says. Usually she is pretty laid back but this event has gotten everyone tense. We meet everyone in the front with all of their sparkly uniforms. Even Xavier, Aaron and Jen have fancy clothing on. Someone sticks out to me. Chris. He has a … unique uniform. Everyone notices but doesn’t say anything. We ride the bus and for the last time, I look at everyone. At first we were strangers but now we are family. I look at the watch and it’s close to zero. We stop. I gulp and we step out.

The view is breathtaking. The skies are a colorful blue, there are many chirps here and there as there is something I realize to be birds. We enter and we are put into separate capsules. I hear the roar of the crowd and realize that Zac and Mia would be there. And mother and my older brother.

“HELLLLLOOOOOOOO THIS IS CHASE AND WELCOME TO THE COMPETITION TO SEE IF THE 15 NOW 16-YEAR-OLDS CAN SURVIVE THE BRUTALITY OF THESE TRACKS!!!!!!!!!!! IS EVERYONE READY TO RUMBLE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

A cheer comes from the crowd and a monotonous sound plays

“Three, two one.”

The capsules open and I see ledges. I quickly somehow realize that I need to hang on for dear life. I quickly run over to the sturdiest and biggest ledges. Some seem to be following what I am doing but some just stand there. I see one of the boys. The one who was too late to enter the training. I feel bad and shout “HANG OUT TO THE LEDGE!”

They try to hang on, but the winds start. Oh no. Behind me, a pit opens and the people who were too late get blown. I try to keep my grip and so do others, but some fall into the pit. All I can hear are screams of terror. I try to block out the noise and the winds stop. I quickly get off and run to the door in the opposite side of where we start. Don’t go to close. Something tells me. Hmmm. I wonder how I know all these things. I calmly walk over and wait to the side of the door. The impatient ones try to pry open the door and it works, but once it does, a cluster of arrows get shot and they fall.

I try not to look at the bodies but I take a glance and I see some of my friends. I feel sick to my stomach and try to ignore my body yelling at me to throw up. I enter the next room and there are blocks that we have to jump back and forth on. Watch for the flying tasers. Another voice. I jump and barely make the first block. Don’t look down, my mind tells me, but I look down and see lava. Pure lava. I don’t know how all of these words are popping in my head but they are. I try to jump again and I make it by grabbing the ledge. I look behind me and one of the people that didn’t make the training is there and angry. He already pushed off some of the people and I see Liv. She tries to jump and he stops her. My heart stops as she is about to get thrown off. Time freezes and I scream. So loud the boy stops and angrily glares at me. “We have no pity friends. He says

I hadn’t realized it but that dumb Chase as been screeching into that dumb mic of his this whole time. I try to save Liv but I can’t get there in time. He throws Liv into the lava and she screams the most hurtful scream. I see her sink into the lava and all I see is anger in my eyes. He just killed her. Does he not have any remorse? I quickly pounce over to him using my adrenaline and I push him off with all of my might. I watch him die and plead but all I hear is my heavy breathing as I go forth on the blocks. Then I see it. A yellowish spot on the block. That must be the taser block. I quickly take off the hair tye I had on my hand and I throw it. Perfect shot. The taser go flying on the block and hits no one. I quickly go over it and make it to the end.

On to the next door, I go. I scan the room and it’s too quiet. I glance over to the people that also came in after. Act fast the voice says. I look around and see little holes in the wall.

“WILL THE KIDS BE ABLE TO FIGURE THIS ONE OUT?!?!?!?” Chase’s voice rings.

A gear sounds and I look at the holes once again and there are spikes that are coming out. The wall starts to move in and I try to look for an exit. The back wall pushes us towards the spikes. Some of the people cry out in panic. I calm down and I look around. I look up and I see an opening. I run towards the spikes and I hear a voice “Bella!” That is Chris’ voice I don’t respond and I make it over to the other side. I start to gently climb the spikes and make it to the top. Oh, shoot. I nick my arm on the spike and it starts bleeding. Bad. I keep going and I manage to pull myself out of the room. I quickly go out. I see sunshine. Oh, sweet sun. I look around and then something stabs me. I look behind me and a syringe is lodged into my skin. I start to feel dizzy and dizzy until I can’t move.

Thoughts are swirling inside my head Remember, these are mind games. I wake to see my family tied together dangling on top of the lava. I scream desperately and try to get to them but I can’t. I need to do something. Something clicks and the rope starts to lower. I can’t breathe. I try to see how I can stop this contraption. I see gears and suddenly knife appears in my hand. I throw the knife and it jams the gears. The rope stops and the barrier disappears. I run over. But then I wake up.

“LOOKS LIKE BELLA HAS WOKEN FROM HER GREATEST FEAR!”

I sigh of relief and see the others on the ground that are twitching. I run into the woods and travel. I see a cottage and head towards it. I open the door to see all of the friends and they are safe. I see Liv, Chris, even Xavier. And even Liam. I sigh and I head over to them.

“Hey Bella, how are you?” Xavier asks. I gasp. This is not real. The voice is different. Everything is different but my body won’t move. Instead, it moves to everyone and embraces a hug. I try to move but I can’t move. The watch. I look down and see the watch. C’mon. C’MON. The watch glows like it did with Liv and I exit the strange trace. I run towards the exit, but before I do, I hear a voice. “Don’t forget what I said Bella,” It’s Xavier. I don’t turn around because of the trance but I know it’s him.

I reach a safe spot and I lock myself into a capsule to sleep and eat. I take one glance at the food, and I realize that it looks suspicious. I instead take out the granola bar that was in my pocket from the hotel and eat that instead. I pull the covers to my chin and try to sleep but the thoughts are alive in my head. I hear some of the others come in and I try to act like I am asleep.

“I think product 1253 is the one.” A strange voice says.

“Tom, just call her Bella. Don’t make anyone suspicious. “ Another voice says.

“Product?” I think in my head.

I hear the footsteps again and now I can't focus. What is happening? Why is this happening? I quickly throw the covers down to find myself alone. I can see others sleeping deeply, but I can’t focus. I pounce out of bed and look out the only window. Is that? Is that my father?!

TO BE CONTINUED



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