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Contagious - Chapter 5

Is there something the commander is hiding?
After getting settled in and discovering everything in the room (two beds, two dressers, two lamps, one TV, and a very spacious bathroom, complete with toiletries and clothes in both Rae’s and my sizes), I take a seat next to Rae on her bed. She cradles her cheek and I remove her hand to see an ugly bruise beginning to form. I sigh. "Why did I have to say that thing about the guillotine?" I muse aloud to myself. I should’ve stayed quiet like Red said. Now, because of my stupidity, Rae got hurt. I curse myself silently.

"It’s okay, Trin. Really. If you hadn't said that, I probably would’ve anyway," she beams at me. "Besides, it’s my first battle wound. Momma would’ve been proud. She always told me - before she died - ‘Stick it to the man, Rae. Don’t you ever let them control you.’"

I giggle, smiling softly, "I guess you’re right. And thanks for sticking up for me."

She shrugs, "No big deal. That’s what friends are for, right?"

I nod, realizing that Rae actually is my friend, despite the relatively small amount of time I’ve known her. Probably the closest one I’ve had in a long, long time. It’s nice to know that if I’m going into battle, at least one person has my back. It’s comforting.

"Hey, why do you hate that one guy so much? I think he’s kinda cute," she giggles girlishly, her rosy cheeks darkening.

"He’s an Immune. They’re all awful. Skye, him, the soldier - they all brought us here. Against our will. It’s not fair."

She nods slowly, "You have a point, Trin, but I don’t think they’re all bad. He did try to save us, after all. I mean, that’s like them saying that all Contagious are nasty, poor citizens."

I ignore her, my stubborn side winning over.

"Trin? Maybe you should give the Immune a chance."

"No, Rae. They had a chance to fight alongside with us. They had a chance to let us volunteer to fight. They had a chance to take us kindly, not forcefully prying us from our homes. They don’t get any more chances."

She stares at me, her eyes big and unblinking, "I see your point. But just you watch. One of them is going to prove you wrong."

I look up at her, startled by her innocence. How could she believe that? They did all of this. They ripped us from our families. One hit her. After just one day, I’ve had enough anger built in me to cause a revolution. And still she’s defending them? I just don’t understand.

The dinner bell sounds. I stand, holding my hand out for her. She takes it and stands to face me. "Just think about it," she bargains.
I nod dully, "Okay."

Together, we leave the room and head toward the dining hall, leaving behind all the promises I plan to break.

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Flynn looks up as Rae and I take the seats across from him. He gapes open-mouthed at us, his eyes glancing from Rae’s bruise to my tangled hair. His fists clench. "Who," he begins, trying to control his temper, "did this?"

Rae puts a hand on his arm, soothing him instantly. "It’s alright," she says calmly, "an officer tried to shoot Trin and I tried to stop him."

Flynn stares at me, "What?"
I look down. "I said something stupid," I mumble.
He touches my shoulder. I jump from his touch. He doesn’t seem like a guy who likes contact with other people, "What did you say?"
"Nothing important."

He holds my gaze, waiting for an answer, but I give him none. Eventually he gives up and turns to Rae, "What was his name?"

Rae raises her eyebrow, "Actually, Flynn, I think we’ve just proved violence is not the answer around here. So let’s just forget it and move on." She starts to take a bite into her sandwich. "Mm, delicious."

Flynn looks down at his hardly-touched tray. "Why aren’t you eating?" I ask.
He shrugs noncommittally, "Not hungry."
"Oh-kaaaay."

Rae glances between us, her expression shifting between curious and angry, "Will you two just warm up to each other already?!"
"It’s not my fault he doesn’t like me!" I say. I clap a hand over my mouth. I didn’t mean to say that aloud.
Flynn looks at me. "I like you," he says, expressionless.
"Well, you sure don’t act like it."
"I think it’s been a long day," he says to me softly, "I’m just tired. Please don’t let it get to you."
"I’m sorry. I’m tired, too."

He nods, then stands, "Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be getting back to my room. As I just said, it’s been a long day." He turns to Rae, "if anyone else touches you, I swear to God, I’ll kill them." He turns back to me. "And Trin?"
"Yeah?"

He smiles, "Keep saying ‘stupid’ things. Just not around Rae. We need to show these people they don’t own us."
I smile back at him, "Okay."

And then he walks away.

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Lying in bed that night, staring at the ceiling, I think about everything. I think about what Rae said to me earlier. And what Flynn said. I know it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be really hard, but maybe I can get through it. I will show them they don’t own me. I’m not one of their little puppets that does their work for them. I will fight, yes, but I’m not going to let them take away everything that’s mine.

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Screech. Screech.

I yawn and sit up in my bed, the blanket creasing under my weight. A blue light flashes in the corner of the ceiling, and awful hiss emitting from it. Rae moans. "Oh, what is it?"

I flop back down on my bed, using my pillow as a muffler over my head. "The… alarm… time to get up, Rae."

Rae chucks a pillow at me and I get up, stretching. I yank open one of the dresser drawers and search for something not too horrid. There’s one dress, three pairs of casual clothes, two pajama sets, one bathing suit, anything extra we’d need and then the uniform. The horrible blue and silver military uniform. I groan. I know we’re not supposed to wear those to the training sessions, but still. I have no intentions of ever intentionally putting that on. Instead, I pull on a t-shirt and some jeans. I notice a hole in the knee, but I ignore it. It’s better than the stuff I have at home.

After I’m done dressing, I shuffle into the bathroom and finish getting ready. By the time I exit, Rae’s leaning against the door. "Ready?" She asks.
"Ready as I’ll ever be," I say.

The next half of the day shuffles by slowly, but not too painfully. It reminds me of school. Rae and I have the first session together, but then we don’t have anything else together. The first session is History of Warfare, then Strategy, then Weapon Studies, then Battle Practice, followed by a free hour before dinner. I’m headed to Battle Practice now. I’m definitely not sure I’ll like it. After all, all the other sessions were easy pen-and-paper classes. Battle Practice is fighting. Which I’m not too good at.

By the time I reach the room for Battle Practice, most of the others have already arrived. There are no desks or chairs, so I linger by the wall near the door. Military officers stand all across the room, too, so I can only assume they’re a part of the class. Somebody slides in behind me just as Skye enters the front of the room. She’s wearing her uniform. She regards us with utter formality, tinged with nearly unnoticeable disgust. I gnaw softly on my lower lip.

"Welcome to Battle Practice," Skye begins. "This is the most important training session you all will have. It will show you how to fight, a necessary skill for those in the army. Each of you shall be assigned a partner, one of those more skilled than you. They shall help you and be your main teacher, aiding you in your studies of Battle Practice. Your identity bracelets will show you who you are assigned to. After that, it is up to you whether or not you choose to succeed." She claps her hands together and the room erupts in chatter. I sigh and look down at my identity bracelet - something I found in the room last night. All of us are forced to wear them because they show us our sessions, our meal slots, our ranks, etc. I hear the squeal of some happy girl as she realizes she got assigned to Skye.

I roll my eyes, pressing another button in my bracelet. How do I find the assignments? I just can’t find where they’re stored. I glance up, watching as people find their officers and begin to get acquainted. I realize that I’m just standing in the middle of the room alone.

Somebody taps my shoulder. "Hey, don’t worry. I’m your assignment."

I turn with a friendly smile on my face, though it quickly drops and shatters on the floor, as does his smile. No. Way.

The blonde Immune. Out of all people, why did I have to get assigned to him? Why me?

He puts a hand on the back of his neck, looking kind of nervous. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to be partnered with me, either, "Hi. I’m Calix."

I raise my eyebrows, "I don’t want to be your partner. Why don’t you switch with someone else… say, Red?"

Calix frowns, "We aren’t allowed to do that. You’re stuck with me."
"Yippee," I say sarcastically.

The rest of Battle Practice passes in a blur, mostly Calix talking to me about types of attacks, me daydreaming or snapping back sarcastically, and then him getting frustrated. By the end of the two hours, Calix and I are both itching to get released. It’s clear that we aren’t going to get along very well.

"Tomorrow we’ll start actually practicing the attacks," Calix says to me, glancing at the clock.

"Can’t wait."

Two minutes pass and then Skye’s up on stage, dismissing us to our next lessons. I’m one of the first out of the door. For a minute I remain there, regaining my composure, and then I realize that I have an hour of free practice until dinner. I know I won’t be practicing. Skye walks out and I duck behind a column, trying to keep myself unseen. She strides down the corridor, then turns at the end of the hall, leaving my line of sight. I hear a heavy door open and shut, and then the whole hall is quiet. I glance back down the hall and, upon seeing no one, hurry off in the direction she just went in.

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Hi Guys,

Wow, how long has it been? ...a year or more? Pffft, shhhh, noooo, nope. But I'm back. And hopefully I'll continue to be back. Please comment. All comments encourage me to continue!

Love you guys!
By
Published: 11/22/2013
Bouquets and Brickbats