Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Summoning 2

Zalia Thorne walked through the long corridor of the train, passing compartments as she went until she finally settled into an empty one. She placed her shoulder bag beneath the seat and settled her head against the side of the compartment her eyes staring out the window at the fog covered platform. There were no parents, family members to wave good bye just more children filing onto the train. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to feel about it, leaving home. Sad perhaps maybe a little bit frightened and yet she simply felt numb.
"Excuse me is this seat taken?" a quiet little voice pulled Zalia from her thoughts and turned her attention towards the compartment door. There was a girl standing there, her hair was blond and in the dim light could have been mistaken for white, her skin was just was pale, almost sickly looking and her eyes the colour of the darkest brown. She looked as though one gust of wind would snap her in two and the thought amused Zalia.
"Go ahead" she said simply her voice showing her lack of interest in the concept. Whether or not the girl took the seat across from her held no bearing for her trip.
“Welcome Students” a shrill and overly enthusiastic voice echoed through a static filled intercom. “The train will be departing for The Academy in precisely ten minutes, we ask that you take this time to change into your supplied uniforms and someone will be by to inspect you shortly” as if on cue another boy appeared at the compartment door. He didn’t ask permission to enter he simply did so pulled up the input screen on the side panel. Zalia watched as he entered his size requirements and moments later it spat out a uniform. Grey slacks, white shirt, grey sweater it was extremely lacking in the colour department though she supposed that was the point. Turning her attention to her own side panel she followed the instructions as he had and within moments held a similar outfit, only in place of grey slacks she and the tiny girl across the compartment from her had grey stockings and skirts. Pulling the curtain around her seat Zalia changed from her long white summoning dress and into the supplied clothing before, with the simply wave of the hand the separation curtain retracted and she slummed back down into her seat, her eyes returning to the platform view.
“I’m Ilandra” the small little voice broke the silence again and both she and the boy to her side turned their attention to the girl across from them. “I’m from Sector E” There were seven sectors across Westwell mostly divided by land type or produce. E, O, I, S, R and finally A.
“Rykel, O” the boy spoke. The roughness of his voice surprised her, or perhaps it was the fact that he could speak at all, he had certainly seemed more like the silent type than a conversational one. Both their eyes fell to Zalia now as they waited for some form of introduction and she turned away before she added.
“Zalia” I stated “Sector A” I admitted not that it mattered anymore. These sectors were no longer their homes. Some of them might be sorted back home eventually but many of them would not be likely to see our homes again. The blond girl went to open her mouth again when the compartment door flew open. A chill settled over the space as a grey looking man stood there. He was large enough to block the entire door, tall enough to cast a shadow over all of them. “Up” he demanded his tone cold and harsh. The three of them wasted no time getting to our feet as he looked us over through dark rimmed squared spectacles. “Right arms out, forearms up” he instructed next and they quickly slide up their sleeves and outstretched their arms. “Names and Sectors”
“Rykel Reese Sir, Sector O” suddenly the man pulled out a long silvery device and held it down to the boys arm she watched as Rykel flinched for a moment and as it was lifted away a black array of numbers appeared across his arm with a small circular symbol above.
“You!” the man stated to her and she turned her attention from the marks to him.
“Zalia Thorne, Sector A” and within second the burning pain had carved a set of numbers into her arm as well. Her eyes settled on them and knew it was now her identifying factor
070990 she reached to run her fingers across the raised skin before she was stopped by his sharp tone.
“Don’t touch it you’ll get yourself an infection, you girl, your name”
“Ilandra Rollins Sector E” the other girl spoke meekly and it caused Zalia to roll her eyes, that was a good way to get walked over for sure. Zalia watched as she too was marked before the man continued.
“These marks are now your means of identification you must scan your arm each time you enter in and out of any classroom, or building during Academy hours of operation, after hours you will be require to check into your dormitories by the same methods is this clear?” and the three of them nodded in unison. “Now check in by means of your screens so the Academy can be assured you are on board” he said and moved to leave before stopping “and for the love of Westwell straighten your shirt” he stated to Rykel before slamming the compartment door shut behind him.
“Well someone forgot his happy juice this morning” Zalia commented before turning to the screen on her panel and allow the mechanism to scan her arm. “let’s hope they’re not all that miserable” Her eyes turned back to the other two now, Rykel seemed unshaken but Ilandra looked close to tears. “Look you better toughen up sweetheart because the Academy is designed to find and prey on your weaknesses the best way to beat them is to not show them any weaknesses at all” technically she knew the Academy was designed to discover their strengths, and to pair them with those who had likeminded or complimentary traits to reproduce, but they also watched for your weaknesses as a method of division.
“And you’re perfect?” Rykel growled at her.
“No” she stated simply. “I’m just trying to be a realist here”
“No you’re being a pessimist and the compartment could do without the negativity don’t you think we’re all scared enough as it is” It was a thought that had never occurred to Zalia, that the others might be frightened of their journey. The realization silenced her quickly and her violet eyes turned to the ground as she thought through that idea. It seemed absurd, to be afraid when they’d all known since birth that the day was approaching but maybe she had just been hardened to it.
“I’m sorry” She spoke suddenly, not to Rykel but she lifted her eyes to the small girl before her. “I didn’t mean to sound so harsh but I don’t know about you I don’t want to end up in the Otherlands” but even with her attempt at an apology she could hear the words came out forced, she sounded so insincere no matter how much she actually meant it. She was so focused on surviving the Academy, not only surviving but excelling and hopefully gaining a place of nobility, with a higher income and better perks. She hadn’t been destitute, but her family had struggled on occasion to make it by, she wouldn’t do that to her own children and if she didn’t have control over who she married she was going to have control over something. The Otherlands was the place the selectioners sent the undesirable candidates, those who had been born unusual, that didn’t fit into the textbook image of human perfection. The infertile, the mutated, the deformed and sickly were all sent to the Otherlands to die and Zalia would be damned if she, or anyone else in the compartment was banished there. The screechy voice returned to the intercom as she demanded that everyone take their seats and Zalia returned to her place, her gaze fixed out the window as she watched the train move down the track and the place she once knew as home disappear forever.


The jolt of a stopping train had shocked her awake and the site of her sitting up in a semi-panic brought amusement to him. Served her right for being a downer. As the announcement game over the intercom they all stood and gathered their things entering the corridor to file off into the receiving dock of The Academy. As he stepped out into the cloud covered sun he squinted his cerulean eyes and lifted an arm to shelter them from the suddenly light as the large building came into view he was left speechless. He’d seen photos of The Academy before, in school it was part of their history of course, part of their culture but to actually see it first hand, was both frightening and invigorating. The building was aged stone, and just a bleak and grey as its surroundings but the size and history it held was enough to urge him forward. Long before the fire had destroyed everything, the Academy had been a castle a place that oozed history and charm, that kings and queens had lived and ruled but as one of the only freestanding buildings left it had been renovated for the program and he hated to think what beauty and soul they had sucked out of it. The only hint of color was the lush regrowth of forestry that held the backdrop of the building itself. It was partitioned from the grounds with no visible access that he could see, at least not at first glance. He had one goal at the Academy, come out on top. He had lived in the farthest and poorest section of Sector O, his father had died when he was five and he had four older brothers to follow after. With their mother’s job they had barely survived, it became a little easier each time of them was Summoned until finally, he’d been alone, and now, his mother was alone until, or unless he was sorted back to Sector O an outcome he didn’t find all that likely.

WELCOME” The booming voice shocked him out of his thoughts and his eyes quickly turned to the front of the building. There she stood, and in person she appeared more frightening than any photograph could have portrayed. Her tall, boney figure and angular features made her appear harsh, even with what could have passed as a slight smile on her thin lips. “My name, as I’m certain most of you already know is Director Tamesis Blake and I am in charge of the program, The Academy and in turn, all of you” the idea was chilling, ownership of their lives had never been in their possession, from birth they were pledged to the program, The Academy had always owned him he’d never been free. “Now for some introductory information, you will each sit a brief written exam upon entering and from there you will be divided into four profiles, you will then be housed and evaluated with those of your likeness for the remainder of your time here” it was really not time to be screwing up together and he felt tingling nerves spreading through his arms at the idea that it was so final. He turned his eyes next to him and found Zalia had taken to stopping there. Typically she looked the same as ever, unthreatened and unimpressed by the building, the events and the finality of what was ahead of them. Maybe she was right, it didn’t really matter what he wanted, he had no control, they’d never have any control.

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