Compensation of Spotlight by luckynamegame, Chapter 3, Fantasy

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Compensation of Spotlight by luckynamegame, Chapter 3, Fantasy

Post  luckynamegame on Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:02 pm

Like I said, the plateau was shorter than I thought.

I fell with a feeling of panic and shock shooting up through my chest, finally hitting the other side of a wall thickly. I lost my balance momentarily and fell on my bottom on the ground. I was a bit shaken up that I had just fallen about twelve feet from above, but you would be too, right? And the fact that I hadn’t been sniped yet was still surprising. Usually by now I was sniped once or twice. Maybe the snipers were asleep—or they were actually babies. That would be nice.

I shut my eyes tightly to stop myself from the childish urge to start crying, took a deep breath, and stood up. I wasn’t done yet; I had to get out of this mad maze. But I wish right then that I was a Defyer or a Destroyer, and that I could like, pull chunks of the walls around me and throw them everywhere, just because I could.
But no—I was stuck with my little eye trick. It wasn’t the worst gift in the world—I don’t really want to think about the worst Unknown, though I know about some pretty disgusting/creepy/scary gifts—but it surely wasn’t the best. I was basically a normal human, like most of the Unknown. Just a few don’t actually look like humans, and those are usually Manipulators or Destroyers.
At that stupid thought, a blinding white flash slapped me in the face and a startling pain rippled up my spine. It was familiar, of course, but it sure scared the crap out of me. I fell to the ground again, too shocked to start running. That was the first time I had been Cometed since I had entered into the maze, which was pretty good. Wasn’t all that good considering the standards, but at least I knew now that the snipers weren’t infants. I gasped for air in a tight voice for a moment before the shocking pain faded away and Spotlight was back in business. And boy, was I mad now.

Once I was back on my feet, I flat out bolted in the direction I remembered drawing my imaginary white line through. I needed to go three fake walls to the right, two ladders up, and then four walls to the left. Well, I think. I mean, I was just Cometed—don’t expect me to remember every little thing. Those zaps are pretty nasty.
And I wanted to get out of that crazy maze as soon as possible, no doubt about it.

My strides became longer and stronger, my adrenaline peaked, and I managed to keep a survey of the room and light trap give-aways pretty easily. This was the few moments of these tests that I was in tip top shape—which was exactly what those idiots were hoping for.
See, the whole reason they do these tests on us is to use us for something. I mean, what super wealthy group would be able to use the gift of light-resistance and natural night vision?
That would be the U.S. Army.

My tests are specially made just for that sole reason—they want to use my gift to give to the army. That’s kind of sickening in my opinion, but what can I do but run and dodge?
I tell you, if half the groups get a hold of the powers that the scientists—for lack of better words—are trying to ‘harvest’, Earth’s pretty much freaking doomed. How’s that for your apocalypse?
Crazed jealous humans get mutant powers—yeah, that’s pretty scary.
And what’s worse is that it’s coming true.
You guessed it; the scientists are harvesting our powers. Because each one of us is completely different from the next and no two powers are the same, it differs on how long it takes to harvest, what tests are needed, and what level of difficulty. So, next time you want to figure out where your tax dollars are going to, rest assured that they’re going to a super secret mutant facility that’s trying to kill the world.
That’s super comforting.
Anyway. Focusing back on the task at hand.

I couldn’t really tell if the maze was halfway over or halfway through. Or maybe I wasn’t even that close.
But did it really matter? These mazes were only made to see how fast I could get through, using my abilities as an upper hand most of the time.
The only thing that got me through that stupid maze—the only thing that got me through each and every terrible day—was the thought that I wouldn’t be able to talk to Sam again if I failed. Sandbuckle, as they called him. But he was Sam to me. Always Sam.
I remembered, in a strange feeling of nostalgia that I shouldn’t have had, a memory of Sam in particular.

“Hey, Potli,” He said, rapping his knuckles on the side of the hard gray walls. I knew that rapping knuckles against it hurt a lot, but he seemed to not care. I suppose that Sam thought of it as the only other way we knew that we were beside each other. Or, on the other side of the wall.
“Stop that, Sam, you’re going to hurt yourself.” I scolded him, but listened intently as I sat cross-legged on the floor. Even though the scientists put cots in the cells, the floors were more comfortable. How’s that for ridiculous?
“It doesn’t hurt,” Sam replied in his I’m-a-man voice. He wasn’t a man, I knew that much by his voice and the few rare times I had seen him. At most, he was about seventeen, but then again, that was about the same age I was. “You’re just too fragile, Potli.”
“I dare you to say that to my face,” I responded shortly, smirking up at the air vent. I was not fragile—you couldn’t be an Unknown and fragile for very long in Foxtrot. It just wasn’t possible. And I, like almost every other Unknown that I could hear, had cried myself to sleep many a times. After a while, tears become rock and form a kind of mental armor.
“I wish I could.” Sam said sadly.
It was moments like that when he said something so emotional that it jerked the conversation away from trying to pass the time and forget the world we were stuck in—heck, forget the cells we were stuck in—to remembering that we couldn’t even see each other’s faces. And if that wasn’t sad, I don’t know what is. I couldn’t even see my best friend’s face—even after all the years we had been side by side.

I had had another neighboring cellmate, several years ago. Her name was Sidewinder—she was a strange girl who was very carefree. Sidewinder’s ability was that she could grow her hair to lengths of whatever she wanted. And her other ability (yeah, two abilities! Freak out.) was that she never stopped talking. Ever.
All I heard most of the day and some of the night was Sidewinder’s annoying voice. She just went on and on—and the girl was only about ten. That’s pretty sad; to think that a ten year old girl was in a cell just for being different from other people. Sidewinder was a pretty girl too, with blonde hair and sharp ice blue eyes that were so light they looked like empty mirrors.
I don’t mean to sound rude, Sidewinder had good intentions, and she was just a very lonely, scared girl, but she just…wouldn’t shut up.
Thankfully, Sidewinder didn’t have tests. Scientists would come into her cell every day—I could hear them—and force her to grow her hair until it literally exhausted her.
Sidewinder would sometimes pass out from the stress of growing out her hair. Then, whether she was conscious or not, the scientists took a razor and shaved off all of her hair. She would grow it back while she was sleeping unintentionally, but the poor girl was scarred for life because of it.
And then one day, as I was being escorted back to my cell from a very exhausting test run, Sidewinder was gone. I tried to talk to her through the air vent, but she just wasn’t there. I worried for days if something had happened to her—worst case scenarios happened sometimes, but I never heard Sidewinder’s name ever again.
As Unknowns, the scientists only know a little about us. We’re human, that’s basic, but there’s something completely different about our bodies and systems that kind of just—is different. And sometimes, our ability can actually kill us. It’s very scary. And it happens often. Unknowns can die at any moment from something going wrong with their power.
Destroyers’ abilities could backfire and kill them instantly. Defyers’ abilities could collapse without the proper concentration and just shatter them. And Manipulators—well, one tiny thing could go wrong inside of us while we’re either actively or passively using our powers—and we’re gone.
I worry every day if I’m going to go blind or die. And I worry for Sam too. He could go completely mute one day or die, just like me. I worry for all of us and all of our lives.

“Sam, please,” I said quietly, though we both knew we could hear each other perfectly. My voice was quivering slightly and I was holding back tears from my sudden memory of Sidewinder and Unknowns dying. “Don’t say that.”
Sam didn’t respond to me for about ten minutes after that, so I was left with nothing but the agony of listening to my own doubtful thoughts racing through my mind. Other than Sam, that was my only company.
“I miss you, Potli,” He said after a while.
At first, I didn’t understand what he meant by that. How could he miss me? We were practically beside each other all the time, except for when we were in testing. And he couldn’t very well mean physically seeing each other, which was always a huge shock to me. No one in their right mind could miss seeing me. I know what I look like; hair the color of rope and eyes that were the ugliest shade of hazel and semi-pale skin. I wasn’t much of anything. I wasn’t pretty like Sidewinder, or beautiful, like Snakethorn.
I’ve only seen her three times in my entire time here, but she just struck me as so beautiful that I felt myself cry that the scientists had captured a goddess. I know that sounds weird, but it’s Snakethorn. Everyone in the entire Manipulator section knew who Snakethorn was.
Maybe it was the way that she didn’t struggle when the scientists escorted her down the long gray hallway, past my cell, that really struck me. She was just so—confident, so leader-like. Snakethorn was definitely one of the leading figures of our group, one of the most famous. And I was proud of her, too.
Snakethorn was about twenty in my ignorant eyes, with long, curly and wavy black hair, with skin the color of bright copper, and eyes so light brown they seemed to bore into your soul. Even though she wore the light gray jail outfit that we all wore, she seemed to wear it with some kind of weird pride.
Her chin was raised with dignity as she walked in long strides down the hallway, and every Manipulator that could crowded to their prison bars to watch one of the most famous Manipulators that had ever set foot into Foxtrot go off to one of her notoriously painful tests.
I crowded to my bars too, along with Sam, to watch her go past.
Now, it’s always like a kind of tradition for everyone to chant Snakethorn’s name as she goes by. It gives us all a sense of community that only a few famous Manipulators can pull together—in those moments as she walks with the authority and air of a queen, hundreds of voices flow together as the voice of the imprisoned. It’s such a wonderful thing that I must confess that I always cry.
And one time, Snakethorn looked at me as she passed by Sam’s cell, staring me straight into my eye and into my soul. And she smiled at me in a motherly way. I knew she had read my future—and whether it was good or bad, I never figured out—but it gave me some kind of assurance that I had never experienced.

Why was I having so many flashbacks at a time like this?
I screamed in my head for them to stop, to get the memory of Snakethorn smiling and Sam staring at me with his green eyes as if I was the sun that he had never seen, or Sidewinder with her curious, empty blue eyes.
I didn’t need to think of any of them right now—none of them mattered at the moment, where if I didn’t hurry up and get out of there, I might die.
Maybe it was the fact that I was just Cometed out of nowhere that had started my string of flashbacks and memories.
I shook my head to rid of the lingering sting and tightened my arm and leg muscles. I needed to get out of there as fast as I could, while still alive. And that last Comet felt like they had upped the zap level a few notches. They were trying to get me moving again; get me to move faster. Those jerks.
After I took a few moments to get back into the real world, call the scientists mean things again, and readjust my vision, I took off to the right, counting off the walls as I passed them. One—two—three. I did a sharp half turn, jumped and caught the bottom rung of one of the ladders I had spotted from the plateau.
Dang, I love being right.

I scrambled up the ladder faster than I had the first time, pulling myself up with my not-wimpy upper body strength. Hello, these crazy scientists make me go through physical obstacle courses for the U.S. Army. I’m physically fit, thank you very much.
As soon as I tackled the first ladder, there was another on the edge of a ledge that the first ladder led to. I jumped again, caught the ladder, and pulled myself up. I was still trying to catch my breath from having the wind knocked out of me by being Cometed, and it came back to me slowly as I climbed up the two ladders. At the end of the second ladder, I noted a four inch thick wall that the ladder was attached to—and then a steep drop on the other side. I had nowhere else to go, so I took a deep breath and jumped, bracing myself for impact.
The impact was rough—like it always was—and pain rippled through the bottom of my feet and my ankles for a moment before it settled with a dull ache. The pain was only temporary and went away after a few moments. After all, I had just jumped about ten feet, what do you expect? The scientists weren’t nice enough to put a nice comfy mattress on the other side of the wall drops.
I shook the familiar pain off and ran to my left, counting off four walls. I was almost to the end of my imaginary white line train. I was going to have to find some higher ledge soon to evaluate what the heck I was doing next. Maybe a ladder would give me the height I needed to see what to do next.
The end of my test was never a giant neon sign that blinked ‘EXIT RIGHT HERE’, which would’ve been extremely helpful. No, I never really knew where the end of the maze was, because it was exactly the same as the entrance to the maze. You guessed it: a blank wall. When I finished the tests, the scientists knew. But it was up to me to find out which wall was the exit. If you think about it, it’s not really that hard. The entire maze is inside a big box room. So if I start on one end of the box, I work my way through the box, so it has to be one panel of the complete other side of the box from where I started. Sorry if I just lost you there—it’s easy to find the exit, let me just say that. I just have to rap my knuckles on a few panels—one eventually lifts up and I finish.
At the end of the four walls to the left, I glanced around for the familiar ladder edge.
Finding it, I jumped for it, but something weird happened.
The ladder freaking shocked me.

And not ‘ow, that stung’ like static, but more like an ‘OW, that really hurt!” reaction. I pulled my hand back instinctively while trying to suppress a yelp of surprise that would definitely give me away to the snipers.
My natural anger to the scientists just doubled when I figured out what had happened.
You know, they really do drive me crazy. They think that I’m so invincible that I can withstand a lot. And I can withstand a lot—but not everything. I’m not immune to pain, haven’t they figured that out yet?
But to shock the ladders? That’s just wrong. I have to withstand being shocked while climbing up a ladder?
These people really are trying to kill me!
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Re: Compensation of Spotlight by luckynamegame, Chapter 3, Fantasy

Post  Firebrand on Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:17 am

"I fell with a feeling of panic and shock shooting up through my chest, finally hitting the other side of a wall thickly"
This phrase feels awkward. I don't know, something about it just doesn't seem quite right.

"I was a bit shaken up that I had just fallen about twelve feet from above"
You'd be more than just shaken up, you'd be in pain.

"But I wish right then"
Should be "wished"

"forget the world we were stuck in—heck, forget the cells we were stuck in"
Personally, I would swap the order of these two phrases for better effect

Onto content... the flashbacks are out of place. You yourself say so in the narration. But really, you should jut focus on the maze, or at least primarily focus on it. As it stands, what could be a very good, very compelling scene, is cluttered up by far too many anecdotes.

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