There was no alarm or morning announcement this morning. Nothing made a sound and the eerie silence was what woke me this morning. Fei was already up and was getting dressed into some fresh clothes, a fine black dress made from velvet. She didn’t say a word to me as she trudged over to my closet and pulled out a dress similar to the one she wore. She placed it onto my bed and flopped down next to me. There was a slight scraping sound but I ignored it as I observed her. Fei was pale as she focused on the empty space in front of her. Her golden hair knotted and tangled from the week’s hard work and no available hairbrush or comb to smooth it out. Her eyes were red and her cheeks were streaked with dried tears causing her skin to become blotchy. Her knuckles were white from gripping the skirt of the dress tightly. She then leaned against me and gripped my hands tightly; she cut off my blood circulation at my wrists.
“What’s going on Fei?” I asked but before she could answer Raven burst through the door. She too was wearing a velvet dress. She gave us one quick look before she snatched my dress and shoved it into my arms.
“Get changed now.” She ordered full of authority. I silently got up and slipped on the dress while Raven dragged Fei to her feet.
“What’s up with these dresses?” I asked quickly. Raven looked at me sternly then sighed thoroughly exhausted. She dragged me to the side away from Fei’s range of hearing.
“No one told you huh. This is role call; the solarites do this at the end of every two weeks. They come and collect whatever it is we are forced to mine up and check if their workforce is fully functional and fit for the job. Any who are below their standards or lack the qualities they need are taken and ‘transferred’ to another location to extend their usefulness.” She looked down at the dress and tinkered with the trimming.
“Well I guess this means we’re going to stick together. The dresses signify if you’re selected to be ‘transferred’ or not. Ours are black so we are in the same group for now. They slip them into a person’s closet at night so we don’t know if we’re selected until it’s too late and we can’t escape. Different colors signify different groups and status in the town the lowest being the selected. They’ll take the fancy clothes back after this is all said and done.” Each time she said selected and ‘transferred’ I saw Fei wince at the words and a cold shiver went down my spine.
The announcements came on but it wasn’t the girl this time. This voice sounded flat and unemotional, almost mechanical.
“Now, shall we begin? First of all we shall start with all of you lined up in your designated areas within the next minute. Anyone who is not before time runs out is automatically selected. Do I make myself clear? And go.”
Everyone scrambled out of their rooms and out into the hall rushing to get to where they need to go. Fei snatched both mine and Raven’s arms and dragged us out of the door like there was a bomb in our room set for three seconds. She ran right out the door hauling us like we were nothing but paper weights. Everything was in big blur that I barely noticed when Fei planted me in one spot Raven right next to me and got on my other side.
I felt the whole world spin around me then I felt Ravens hand on my shoulder as she tried to steady herself. The dizziness faded after a minute or two and I looked around to see what everyone else was wearing.
There were a few other people in our group, Grave being one of them. I searched for Ace and saw him standing with some very scared people in red silk clothes. He seemed very uncomfortable and stiff in the clothes that he reminded me of a vintage toy soldier that you can find in antique stores. All he needed was a cork gun and a black helmet to complete the look.
Then the whistle came signifying time was up and several guards kicked down the doors of each building searching for any stragglers that may be hiding and sure enough they dragged out a couple of guys. One of them was a punk from yesterday who acted all tough but now he was shivering uncontrollably as tears streamed down his face as he was dragged to the front of the groups. They were shoved down to their knees as the guards shouted at everyone else to kneel. I dropped to my knees along with everyone else and side glanced at Raven who glanced warily back at me.
We snapped our faces forward in reaction to a loud bang. There was the thug halfway across the clearing attempting to get to the tree line. He stopped suddenly and shuttered turning around to face his demise. He looked down where his stomach was touched his chest then collapsed as blood flowed out onto the ground forming a big black puddle. I turned to the one who killed him and shuddered with fear.
His armor was different than the others. A blood red cape tailed behind him and dragged at his feet. He held a large gun with one hand and three more guns were located on his belt. His armor was silver instead of black and across the chest plate was four or five tear marks from a large beast’s claws.
He turned to the rest of us and asked “anyone else care to join the pitiful creature over there?” everyone was silent in response “no? No one wishes to run? Well then this must be the smart group then. The last place four or five on them attempted to run; such a waste in work force.” Then he laughed coldly and I felt a shiver run down my spine. I silently prayed to myself to never be the one on the receiving end of his guns.
I watched terrified as he charged his gun in front of our faces; the high pitch buzz blaring in our ears. He purposely walked closer to the groups to get any reaction from the noise. People winced as he passed them shaking uncontrollably in attempt not to move to cover their ears.
He passed me by and I felt my nails dig into the ground as my ears went numb. Then he put his gun away and turned to address us again. His expression completely concealed by the mask so he could be scowling at us with pure hatred or smiling like one of those psycho-killers.
To be honest I don’t think anyone cares about what’s behind the mask, it’s scary enough so no one even looks at his face to wonder what’s behind it. No one except Raven because when I peered at her she was staring him down.
There is no doubt that she hates him with passion. He turned and noticed her glare and approached us.
The heat radiating from the sun stone increased in heat with each step closer he came to us. He stopped right in front of Raven and knelt down to our level.
“Raven my dear, still holding a grudge I see.” He then stood her up with his hand under her chin. Her eyes shifted to the side to avoid eye contact but he held her face steady with his own.
Raven was quite tall but he towered over her by a foot at least; that made him even more intimidating. His fingers looked as sharp as talons as he traced the side of her face. She averted her head away and shrugged off his hand, keeping her composure. He drew his hand away then back slapped her across the face.
I winced at the cracking sound that was made as his armor made contact with her skin. She staggered back a few paces but quickly regained her ground. She fiercely glowered at him concealing her eyes from him with her bangs.
“Oh, you are a defiant little lass now aren’t you?” He whispered something else into her ear but quietly enough that only she could hear.
Her hands clenched together then released weakly as he left her standing there side glancing at me and Fei as he passed. Raven trembled and didn’t even attempt to move back to her spot next to me.
Two guards noticed her standing and came over reaching for their guns. Her eyes flitted to them and back to the Solarite leader then slowly got back down to the ground. The guards watched her for a few moments to make sure she wasn’t a threat to them then went back to inspecting the rest of the groups.
After awhile they began to shout out names and we were to respond quickly once our name was called. ‘They must really love their quickness and efficiency,’ I thought to myself as I watched some Solarites cluster together and began marking their fancy computer things.
About an hour passed by and the head Solarite reappeared and pulled out a list. He cleared his throat as if he was catching the attention of everyone which he already had once he came into view. He glanced at the list at chuckled amused then stuffed it away where ever he got it from.
He strolled over to one group that began to shake with terror. He knelt down to their level and told them “Congratulations your group has been selected please stand up and make your way to the sun stone.”
He sounded so nice that it was hard to believe that he just shot a man in cold blood. Yet all the people in that group silently stood right up and stepped forward some of them who seemed no more than 13.
“Move faster!” he ordered and the people rushed to the sun stone. But then one child tripped and fell and was now on the ground. She attempted to stand up and keep moving but the leader stepped on her back to keep her down. He then took out a gun and shot her as she was pinned down. “Is today off or what two people disobeying my orders. Me, Cain, will not stand for this incompetence in my workers.” He sneered at everyone not masking his loathing in his voice. “Work them harder from now on. I don’t want anymore valuable working time wasted by slacking off.”
The solarites bowed in response and began shouting out their orders to us. The people who were selected were left there and eventually escorted away into the forest.
The rest of the day no one said anything no one looked each other in the eye. I asked no questions but instead kept to my own thoughts.
One thought in particular continuously rose above the others; the most important question that blocked out the rest. ‘What’s my escape plan?’