By Mira Dente, TIWP student
The first thing I recognized was darkness. Suffocating blackness, surrounding me on all sides. Then came light, a blinding wave of brightness, forcing my eyes to open. One by one, my senses returned to me. First touch, the realization that I was in a bed, on top of sheets, under a thin blanket. Then smell, sterile, clean, and then taste, the taste akin to something like ammonia. Finally, hearing, the woosh of air conditioning. Not hindered by the physical limitations of whatever the heck happened, my brain was able to come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be here! This revelation caused me to sit up straight, an action that came to a halt as my head came in contact with a substance about 3 feet above my head. A hard substance. My grumble of ‘Ouch’ was drowned out by a teenage girl’s voice.
“The heck?” The realization that I had another human being with me made me sit up straight again, causing my head to hit what seemed to be the bottom of a bed.
“Is someone down there?” the girl asked again, her voice taking on a defensive tone. Carefully, I extracted myself from the covers and stood up to the best of my abilities, making my legs scream in protest.
“Hello?” I called tentatively. The girl responded with a yelp of surprise, and a question.
“You got any idea of where we are?” her blurry voice called back to me, nearly lost against the noise of the air conditioner. It took me about 25 second to comprehend the fact that I didn’t know where I was, and reminded me that I had no clue how I got there, which meant a search of my memory, which was fruitless because I didn’t remember anything. My eyes widened at this realization, and I sat down on the bed, dumbfounded.
“Do you remember anything?” I asked tentatively, scared of the answer. The 10 seconds of silence and the muffled curse word that followed gave me my answer. The sound of suffering followed and I got my first look at the girl as she descended the ladder. She was about 4’5’, with medium length brown hair, and an angled face adorned with chocolate brown eyes. I stood up and further assessed my surroundings. There were two dressers, one on each side of the room, with a bureau next to them. I headed to the left side in the room, and looked in the mirror suspended on the wall. I have wavy hair descending to my chin, and piercing blue eyes centered above a small nose. My light olive skin had freckles sprinkled here and there, one particularly large one on my chin. Opening the dresser, I found several outfits, mostly consisting of t-shirts, as well as yoga pants and shorts. I chose a patterned top and denim shorts, then went behind a partition and changed into my new outfit. I saw that the girl had also done so, as she had changed into black shorts and a matching black and white shirt.
“So, do you want to explore, or just stay here?” I asked, a question that was immediately answered with a nod.
“Oh, by the way, I’m Opal” The girl extended her hand and I took it and shook it firmly. I don’t know how this piece of information had entered my mind after my memory loss, but it was still there.
“Hi Opal, my name is Leah.”
I put my hand on the doorknob and twisted, surprised when the door swung open silently. Looking up and down the hallway, I saw that we were at the end of the hallway, with two doors on my right, leading to a larger room. We quietly tiptoed down the hall, and passed two doors, the latter one slightly ajar. When we made it to the end of the hall, we walked into a cafeteria-like room, with sterile white tables and chairs. After a quick inspection, Opal and I were promptly scared out of our skin by a voice originating from the door behind us.
“It took you idiots long enough,” said a 14-year-old girl with dark olive skin, long black hair, and a bored look on her face. Pushing off the wall, she sauntered over to us, and although she appeared to be older than me, she was still 2 inches shorter than Opal. Despite this fact, she faced off against me, staring at my face with a look that could kill. I returned the look, but our staring contest was interrupted by a yawn. A girl with the worst case of bead head that I had ever seen walked in, her brown frizzy hair stretched every which way. She was still in the clothes that I had woken up with, thin cotton PJs. She had the same eyes and face shape as Opal, but her hair was considerably longer.
“Who are you?” her voice slurred, clearly half asleep.
“I’m Leah, and she is Opal, and this is..?” I looked at the new girl expectantly.
“I’m Izzy,” she said. “And you are?” Bedhead replied with “Ruby,” and then proceeded to rub her eyes for the fifth time in the 2 minutes I had known her. After we stopped staring at each other, we split up and went to explore the room. Ruby and I went towards the kitchen, while Izzy and Opal went toward the far wall. The kitchen was a blinding white, much like the room where I woke up, with a fully stocked pantry, a pantry that was currently being raided by Ruby.
“I’m hungry, okay,” she told me through a mouthful of cereal, when I decided to check out the crunching noises coming from the cupboard. After she had emptied out half the box, we both went back to the room with the tables, where we were both met with a question.“Do you guys remember anything?” Izzy asked.
“You too?” Me and Opal said, seconds after another voice. A girl with blonde ringlets tied in a braid crown walked into the room wearing a purple pantsuit. “I’m Eva.”
After that short and sweet introduction, Izzy cut straight to the point.
“Now that we are all here, let’s decide on a leader. I think it should be me.”
“And why is that?” Opal countered.
“I woke up first,” Izzy replied.
“That’s not you being better than us, it’s about your circadian rhythm,” Eva had joined the fight now. “And at least I’m more presentable than Bedhead over here,” she said, gesturing to Ruby.
“Hey!” Ruby snapped back. After that, our conversation turned into a shouting match. Ruby and Opal were bickering like siblings, and Izzy and Eva were at each other’s throats. Their arguments went up in volume until……… My jaw dropped.
“Um, Izzy,” I said, my voice hesitant.
“Yes Leah,” Izzy returned, standing her ground. A fact witch was kind of ironic, considering she was hovering 2 feet in the air.
“Um, look down.” Izzy did this, and then promptly freaked out.
“WHY AM I FLYING?” she cried out, and then fell the 2 feet back down to the ground. Doing this triggered something, because on an adjacent table, a hologram appeared.
“Congratulations. It seems that at least one of you has unlocked their powers. Please proceed to the training room.” The hologram winked out, and a concealed door on the left side of the room opened.
“That wasn’t there before,” Opal pointed out, with no snarky response, as Izzy was still in shock.
“I can fly, I can fly, I CAN FLY!” I ignored Izzy and entered the room, followed by Ruby. Once we are all inside, the door slammed shut. Although I didn’t remember anything, that motion seemed ominous in a way I couldn’t understand. An unspoken question hung in the air, “who goes in?” Our decision was made for us, as a disembodied voice echoed throughout the room.
“Opal Anderson.” Well, it looked like we had our choice made for us. Opal exited the “viewing room,” and as soon as she stepped on a tile, a complex maze complete with spikes and lasers appeared.
“Your task is to cross the room, and power off the maze with the red button.” The aforementioned red button appeared. Opal took off running, but after two feet, ran straight into a laser, surprise playing across her face as she disappeared.
“She got vaporized!” Ruby cried, hands banging on the glass.
“No, she didn’t,” Eva said, somehow still maintaining an aura of calm. “Look.” Our eyes widened as quite literally, an invisible hand pushed down on the button, deactivating the maze.
“Opal?” Ruby’s voice cracked.
“Yes?” Opal appeared next to me, giving me the second jump scare of the day.
“You’re alive,” Ruby exclaimed, stunned.
“What gave it away,” Izzy deadpanned.
“Ruby Anderson.” The voice was back and the door swung open again. Ruby was pushed out said door by Izzy, and the door clicked shut. This time, she made it to the center before the room changed. Balls of metal began to fall down, like metallic hail. Ruby froze with wide eyes as a ball hurled down towards her head. The second before it made contact, there was a red blur, and Ruby stood on the other side of the room. My jaw dropped and Eva noted down something in her notebook that had appeared out of nowhere. The door opened yet again, there was another red blur and Ruby was standing there, with worse bedhead, something I thought was impossible. The voice in the walls didn’t give us any time to celebrate, calling a new name.
“Leah Shade.” I took a deep breath and walked out the door. Like Ruby’s, it did not activate until I made my way to the center. When I did, the walls became spikes, heading toward me, trapping me. I’m not proud of this, but I froze. I couldn’t move until the spikes were close enough that I was trapped. My eyes affixed themselves to the spike eye level with me as it closed the distance between me and death. I flinched away as best I could, as the spikes closed in. But instead of stinging pain, I only felt numb. I looked down to see that my hand was transparent. Where the spikes had pierced my skin was only a tingling sensation. It was only about 15 seconds until the spikes retracted. I shakily made my way back to the door. The reality had not set in yet. As I entered, I saw the notepad that Eva had set up, with a 7 letter word next to my name: Phasing. Eva and Izzy went next, super strength and flight respectively, even though we already knew Izzy’s. Over the next few weeks, we learned how to control our powers, at least somewhat. We still didn’t have complete control over our powers, like when Eva literally flipped a table after losing a game of cards, and how Ruby kept making wind tunnels when she was excited. I didn’t do any of this, unless you count the time I accidently faded into the crawl-space during a game of hide and seek, but I don’t count that. The building, which we nicknamed “The Compound,” became our home. Eva was an excellent cook, and we all adjusted well to our shared rooms. Our era of peace was interrupted by another holographic message.
“You have all adjusted to your powers quite well.” We all glanced at the hole in the wall. “And I think it is time for you to go on your first mission. The training room holds any weapons you may need. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary actions.” The holograph winked out
“Well I don’t exactly like the idea of disciplinary actions, so let’s go.” We all agreed with Opal, so we headed to the training room. The walls were full of weapons, axes, broadswords, and everything in between. Opal chose a pair of obsidian daggers, Izzy picked up a blaster from a table, Eva chose a pair of batons, and I went with a staff. The staff was light, and could be easily twirled. Its white color blended in perfectly with the white jumpsuits on the wall, marked with our names. They fit us perfectly, and they had a strap for all of our weapons. Ruby didn’t have one, as she used something called speed time. When she was running, time slowed to a crawl, and she could use this to her advantage. After we donned our jumpsuits,the wall opened up and we boarded a hovercraft. We all found seats, although there seemed to be double the amount we needed. When we were all strapped in we sped off, hovering over the ground, that allowed us to pass the wastelands fairly easily, and it only took us two hours to reach our destination, the wood forest in what was once known as Africa. The large boulder in the clearing we landed in had a not so secret door, and security cameras. Real conspicuous guys.
“Your objective is to bring the individuals that live here back.” A voice appeared from a hovercraft, which then flew away. With no other option, we headed towards the door, but as soon as we got within ten feet, a warning klaxon went off, and a voice came from the top of the boulder.
“Meinne soldiers stand down or we will retaliate.” We got into battle stances as 4 boys appeared over the top of the boulder. The one in front was presumably the one who spoke, with short sandy blonde hair and green eyes. The other two looked kind of similar, with dark hair and brown eyes, although one’s hair was considerably darker. The boys behind them were as different as the other two were similar, one had light light blonde hair and blue eyes, and one had dark red hair and dark brown eyes.
“Huh, I don’t think that Meinne would send untrained enhanced individuals into battle so soon.”
“Now the heck are you?” Izzy asked. I put my hand on her hood to calm her down, a move that did not go unnoticed.
“Smart move. We wouldn’t want to lose our heads now would we Leah.” My blood froze. How did he know my name?
Izzy, however, did not notice this development, and charged ahead. The lighter brown haired guy retaliated by throwing his hands forward, a pointless gesture, if it wasn’t for the large boulder following the motion.
“Scatter!” my command echoed through the forest as a red blur sped across my vision and the boulder collided with the ground. I was thrown backwards in a spray of dust, my ears ringing as I hit the ground. My brain struggled to comprehend the last 15 seconds, the boy throwing the rock, the shockwa-…. Hold up, throwing? His hands had not touched the boulder. Telekinesis.
“They have powers too!” my hoarse voice somehow managed to reach Opal, who pulled her daggers out, reading through telekinesis. The darker brown haired boy’s fists lit up with lightning as storm clouds gathered in the sky.
“I got him.” Ruby sped towards him, lightning striking in her wake. Izzy flew up towards the sandy haired boy, pushing him off the hill. Okay, now it was me and Eva. Another boy appeared out of nowhere, punching her in the gut. Okay, so just me. The boy who had spoken was the only one left. He jumped down and I met him, fists clashing. I was surprisingly good at this whole fighting shtick, as I was able to perform complex maneuvers as if from muscle memory, including gymnastics. The only problem was the fact that none of the moves were connecting. He seemed to know exactly what I was going to do.
Okay,” my brain reasoned what about backflipping over him? I got a running start, and everything was going well, until he reached up and knocked me out of the sky. I got up, extremely annoyed. How is that possible? It’s almost like could read my mi- I’m an idiot. If they could have someone who could control the weather, why couldn’t they have a telepath. While I made this realization, my body had gone on autopilot, and I had managed to knock him out. Huh. Looking around, I saw that everyone else had succeeded, and had all been able to overpower the boy they were fighting. The hovercraft returned, setting down next to the boulder. We ushered the boys inside. The telepath had regained partial consciousness. They were taken to the back seats, and a divider slammed down, separating the two halves. Looking around, I could see that all the seats were taken, the extra seats on the way there must have been for them. I felt a rumble as we lifted off, and as the hologram congratulated us on our success, I couldn’t help but feel like I had made a huge mistake.