“Attention!” A young man at the door to our room is dressed in a junior officer’s uniform. I’m startled out of my blissful sleep. “My name is Officer Dalton, if you pass Training School you’ll end up like me. But let’s face it that’s not going to happen.” His arrogance is repulsive. He walks up to me. “Hey, how you doing?” he flirts.
“No, not going to happen” I crack. He directs his attention to my unfortunately gorgeous bunk mate Flora. He catches her eye so she smiles and bats her eyelashes. I must look a mess, I check my clock. Goodness, it’s half five in the morning. Why is it so early?
“I need you all in your training outfits and lined up by the door in ten minutes.” He commands.
We all rush to take our training outfits out of our lockers and go to the changing rooms. We’re all back in eight minutes and forty five seconds. “Attention!” Dalton says, we repeat what he says. “Relieved!” We change to a formal stance.
“You will be going to the nurse for your injections this morning, before a training game.”
Everyone sighs. Injections? This was the cleanest, most hygienic school on Earth. Would we really be prone to disease? We file down the long winding hallways. Dalton and Flora leading. Flora giggles at everything he says regardless of whether it’s funny or not. She’s like a little lap dog soaking up the attention. We arrive at the Medical Room where a young brunette greets us. “Hi, I’m Nancy.” She says politely. “First in line is Flora Arkansas”
Flora looks to Dalton with pleading eyes, she doesn’t know what is going to happen behind that screen door. He gives her a harsh shove towards the screen door. We wait five minutes and hear a shout. “Ouch! You couldn’t be more gentle could you? Stupid Nurse.”
She stomps out the door holding a bandage to her arm. More and more people go in. My stomach twist in knots. “Perrin Sanders, please come with me.” Nancy takes me towards the screen door.
Inside the walls are grey, glass screens block off many rooms. She takes me towards Medical Room 6. Where a young man greets me. His badge says Giger Malcolm. His gruff voice tells me to sit down. I perch on the chair, unwilling to lie back. “Lie back please” he instructs me.
“No.” I mumble.
“Now” he growls.
“What are you doing to me?” I ask viscously.
“Standard military procedure” he replies.
I try to jump back off the chair, he holds me down. The veins in his arms throb. Two chains come out of the chair and close around my wrist. I try to push them but it’s no use. Giger puts a piece of cloth between my teeth. “Bite down.”
I bite down until I see an injection in his hand. The needle as long as my finger. He injects it into my left arm, the pain sears through me. I thrash around wildly, my body on fire. He has to push against my chest so that I stop trying to hit him. When the pain begins to die down, tears run down my face. The chains loosen and I slide my wrists out. Blood runs down my arms, I tried so hard to get out the chains had sliced my wrists. Giger turns to me. “That’ll be all.” he says bluntly, then shoos me out. He tells Nancy to bring in another person. I walk outside slowly, I feel really weak. My head hurts and then my vision blacks out. I can feel somebody picking me up. I drift off into unconsciousness. My last thought is, I hate Giger.
I’m back on my bunk again when I float out of unconsciousness. It’s more like crashed out of unconsciousness. I’m startled awake, drenched in sweat and shaking. When my eyes roll into focus, there’s somebody at the end of my bunk. Xander. I look at my bandaged up arms. Did Xander do this? He smiles at me. “You took the injection pretty tough.” he says the smiles. “You’re a wild one, Giger couldn’t even keep you down.” He looks at me. He pats my covers and smiles. “We’ve got to go now. Training game in ten minutes.” He smiles and gets off the bed. As he goes out the door I notice his limp. Did I do that? Did I fight him when I came out of the medical room? I ponder on this, throw back the covers, stand up and follow after Xander.
As we come to the Training Room I see Giger, His left eye swollen and purple. He frowns at me so I frown back at him. Cypher stands by the door, greeting each one of us as we go in. As I get to the door Cypher stops me. “Perrin” He says eyeing me up and down, “I heard you had a bit of a kerfuffle with Mr. Giger this morning, please may that not happen again.”
“Yes, sir.” I say politely, bow my head and file in through the door. We all crowd round Cypher whilst he talks. “I have matched you according to your abilities, Xander and Perrin I have matched you together. Xander, you are amazing at field work and have great test scores in Combat. Perrin, you are not so great at field work but you are a strategist and your IQ is outstanding. You will help Xander and Xander will help you.” I look at Xander who grins cheekily and flexes his muscles. I scowl at him and then giggle back. Shay smacks him in the arm and whispers something in his ear. Xander’s face becomes pale but he then blushes. Are they talking about me? I really hope not. I begin to feel self-conscious and I tug at my training suit. When Cypher continues talking, pairing other people together I walk over to Xander. “I’m good at field, Cypher just doesn’t know it.
“Sure.” He says trying to remain serious but he can’t help but crack his bewitching smile. Cypher interrupts us, “Let’s get going!” he orders.
We file into our lanes, the woman counting down from ten. I try to prepare myself for what could happen, what are they going to throw at us? When she says one Xander and I run forward. Our glasses begin to flicker on, we are now in a rainforest. The heat is humid, the warm rain beating down on us. Xander’s hair is stuck to his forehead, his glasses foggy with condensation. “Xander?”
“We don’t have any weapons… We need to make some.” I respond.
“Well, Okay.” Xander bends down, picks up a stick and begins to sharpen it with his pocket knife. Maybe he was a better strategist then everyone thought he was? I wouldn’t let that happen. After our weapons are finished, it gets dark. I feel like we’ve been here for hours.
“I’m hungry.” I moan, breaking the silence between me and Xander.
“I can’t really do anything about it unless you would like some rabbit or something!” He laughs and sticks his stick in the air.
“No don’t do that, why would you want to kill a bunny rabbit? There so adorable” I ask.
“All right vegetables it is then, Miss Perrin.” He replies, jumping off his rock and looking for vegetables. Whilst waiting for him, I start a fire. I sit there taking in the warmth as the fire crackles and spits in front of me. He comes back with an armful of vegetables. “See! Look how healthy we are, eating all these vegetables. Our mothers would be mighty proud.”
We sit and impale our vegetables with sticks and roast them over the fire. We both go to talk. “You go first” I say.
“No you go first.” Xander insists.
“Okay, Why don’t your friends like me?” I ask him inquisitively.
He sits there, staring into the sky. “You don’t act normally, you are socially awkward. No offence. You say more inappropriate things than appropriate things. Also, Shay and Flora aren’t that bright, they’re Training School bright, but not bright like you.” He blushes and looks back at me. “They also don’t like authority and you’re a natural born leader.”
“So Xander, what’s you’re question?” I request.
“Why don’t you like me?” He responds. I blush, should I try and make a joke of it?
“I’m not programmed to feel joy or make friends.” I giggle.
“Seriously?” Xander questions, flashing me a look of doubt.
“No, Xander. You are cocky and arrogant, so much so that it’s repulsive.”
“I have other qualities. I’m caring, funny, brainy and I’m surprised you’re not succumbing to my irrepressible charm” He smiles at me. Goodness, I feel like I’m melting. Suddenly there’s a rustle in the bushes, Xander and I freeze. I gently pour water over the fire and Xander picks up our rubbishy hand made weapons. Many men come out, paintings on their faces, spears in hand, completely naked except for a small piece of fabric covering between their legs. They speak in foreign tongue which I try to decipher but I really can’t. They move towards us cautiously, like a fox hunting a little, helpless mouse. One of them shouts and they charge towards us screaming and shouting. I cower and hide behind a tree whilst Xander fights them. Xander kicks one of them in the face making them fall to the floor. Within minutes Xander has taken out most of them except the tribe leader. He moves towards Xander muttering and laughing his spear inches away from Xander’s stomach. Xander is backed up against the tree, no way out. The tribe leader presses the spear against Xander’s skin making him whimper in defeat. The leader pushes a little harder breaking the skin and causing Xander to yelp out in pain. I can’t watch any more, I jump out from behind the tree and kick the leader between the legs.
Our glasses flicker off and were back in the white spacious training room. The men in black suits wander off to the side. Xander sweats profusely, checking his stomach over and over. In a simulation, the pain feels very real but a mark is never there, no proof that the pain ever existed. It was a bit like the illusion of stars, they were there but when the star exploded there was no proof that it had been there. It was an illusion. Cypher shakes our hand on the way out. “You and Xander make a great team.” He acknowledges. Can he see me blushing? Is it that obvious? We walk out of the Training Room and towards the Dinner Hall. “You did good, thanks for saving me. Although… I wouldn’t have needed it.” He tells me.
“ Yeah right. If I hadn’t of saved you he would’ve emptied your guts.” I joke.