The Imprisoned She was so close. All she had to do was jump out that window, and she would be completely free, free of everything. She walked to the window and crouched on the sill. Taking a deep breath, she launched herself out into the cold night air.
There was a loud whooshing sound, and large feathery wings unfolded from her back. She turned around to see the place she had left behind. Men were sticking their heads out of windows and shouting at her. She smiled and stuck her tongue out at them. None of them could get her now! She could do whatever she wanted; she could touch the stars! She did a loop in the air and flew straight through a cloud, where she inhaled the little droplets of water that made it up. She emerged coughing.
She flew down low alongside a river where a fisherman’s boat was bobbing gently up and down. The fisherman stared at her. She smiled and waved. But then something unexpected happened. The fisherman opened his mouth and spoke to her. “Skye! Skye, please! Wake up!”
Someone was pushing her. She rolled over and opened her eyes. As she did so, the fisherman’s boat disappeared. Her wings fell limp, and the sense of freedom faded. It was all just a dream. Skye squeezed her eyes shut again. It wasn’t fair! But she was tough. She knew she could find the dream, whatever it took.
Someone was shaking her again. She turned towards her attacker. Crouching next to her was a girl about her age. The girl had lavender eyes and curly brown hair. When the girl saw Skye looking at her, she breathed out in relief. “Good, you’re awake. You better hurry and get yourself presentable, because today isn’t just an ordinary drill.”
Skye looked up in surprise. “It’s not?” she asked.
“No,” the girl answered. “The Warden himself is visiting us.”
Skye leapt to her feet. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” she asked fiercely.
The girl’s face grew indignant. “I did! I’ve been trying to wake you up for the last fifteen minutes!” The girl began to fade, and then she was gone altogether. Skye sighed.
“You’re such a stubborn sleeper, Skye,” came the girl’s voice from behind her.
Skye turned. “Sorry, Lily,” she said. “I was just having such a wonderful dream… also, you know you’re not supposed to faze unless instructed!”
Lily put her hand on her mouth, and her eyes grew large. “I fazed?” she gasped.
“Yep,” Skye answered. “You were right there – ” she pointed with her finger to a spot opposite from where Lily currently stood, “– and then you were there.” She gestured to the ground on which Lily stood.
“Oh, no, I’ve got to get that under control!” Lily moaned.
“Yeah,” Skye joked, “not everyone can be as good at controlling their Oddities as I am.”
Lily narrowed her eyes. “Oh yeah?” she retorted. “Did you know that you fly in your sleep?”
Now Skye was shocked. “Really?” she gasped.
“Really,” Lily confirmed. “Anyway, tell me about this wonderful dream.”
Skye opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, a Guard entered the room. “All right, you useless bunch of freaks, make yourselves presentable!” he shouted. “The Warden is coming, so you better show some respect. Now GET IN LINE!”
There was a rush as everyone tried not to be last in line, because to be Last In Line meant that you only got half your porridge. Being Last In Line meant you weren’t Punctual, and that meant you were Lazy, and you didn’t deserve a big breakfast, and then you had to do extra work to make up for your laziness.
Skye was not going to be Last In Line. Out of curiosity, she looked around to see who was. Her heart sank. It was a small girl named Robin, a girl who also had wings, but instead of powerful wings, she had small ones to match her skinny body. Once, when Robin was being bullied, her arm broke. The boy who did it swore that it felt hollow, like a bird’s bones. Robin needed every bit of breakfast she could get, and she probably wouldn’t survive too much work. Skye was a survivor, and she would never give up her place in line for anyone.
Anyone, that is, except for Robin, because she was so small.
Skye stepped out of line and watched as Robin took her place. Skye hurried back in line, hoping she hadn’t been spotted. She looked forward to find that she was face to face with the Guard. He didn’t say anything, but the look in his eyes told her that she was Last In Line, which meant she wasn’t Punctual, which meant she was Lazy, which meant less porridge and more work. Usually, she would be yelled at, but the Warden was here, so the room was completely silent. Turning her head slightly, her blue eyes met Robin’s brown ones. Robin’s face was blank, but the little girl’s eyes were filled with thanks and relief. Skye supposed it was worth it.
Lily poked her arm. Skye’s eyes slid towards her. Lily’s face was filled with pity. Skye turned away. She didn’t need that.
The Warden began to stroll down the line, his beady gray eyes staring into the faces of the children, waiting for someone to crack. Skye knew that if anyone was going to crack, it wouldn’t be her.
The Warden had reached her. He glared into her face. Skye had a reputation as a rebel, and the Warden was set on breaking her. It wasn’t going to happen, so she glared right back. Their faces were inches apart. The Warden was breathing heavily, snorting like a wild bull. Skye was defiant, wishing at that moment that instead of wings, she could shoot lasers from her eyes so that she could bore a hole in the Warden’s face. After what seemed like hours but was only minutes, the Warden moved on, and Skye knew that she had won that particular battle. She was good at that. She won many battles, but somehow, she always lost the war.
“You, as you all know, are Special Cases,” the Warden began. “Meaning of course, that you are dangerous. We are keeping you here for the safety of the human race, and for your own safety.” The Warden gave this speech often, and Skye hated it. It was so false!
When Skye was little, back when she still had a mother and no one cared that she had large, feathery, iridescent wings, back when she was happy, she read stories. Or rather, her mother read them to her. They were stories about children who had something different about them, something special. Someone would come, and in sugar coated words tell them that they needed to come where they would be safe. The heroes of the books always believed the stupid fakers and went with them willingly. Before the Government discovered her, Skye always thought that it was sad. Now she thought it was dumb.
Skye used to pretend that she was one of the heroines in the stories, but now she scorned them. They were stupid and idiotic, and just plain way too trusting. Skye knew better. When someone says, “You have wings. You’re different. Come with me where you’ll be safe,” you don’t say, “Okay! I’ll leave behind everything I’ve ever known or loved and come with you, a total stranger, to a place where I’ll never come out again!” At least, Skye didn’t. She was smart enough to know that it was all lies. That was who the Warden was. One of those cruel men appointed by the Government to tell lies to people who were different from them.
As the Warden continued his speech about the Oddities of each and every individual Special Case and why it was dangerous to the world, Skye started to drift. In her mind, she made a list. She loved lists. This particular list was how different the Facility was from the places in stories.
·People treated terribly
·Not welcome in the world
·Oddities taken advantage of. Put to work
·People treated well, if they behave
·Sugar coated lies about Protection
·Not allowed to use your Oddities
Just as she finished her list, the Warden finished his speech. “And so,” he said, “you will be given your normal Chores and will be expected to begin work immediately after you receive your breakfast. You,” he said, indicating Skye herself, “I believe were Last In Line. You are Lazy, and so will receive less breakfast than usual, and, to make up for laziness, you will have extra work. Don’t be Lazy again.”
Skye was going to get out of here somehow. She just had to.