Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.
Before we begin, some words:
Wow, it's been a long time guys! 2011, if I remember correctly. It's been an adventure since then, a lot has changed and I still fondly remember this place and give it so much thanks. I grew up here and it helped me not only as a writer (not just stories but grammar in general) but as a person too. So here I am, back at it. I've never done any writing other then here on YWS and I've always felt drawn to return. Long story short, I've had some mental blocks for quite a few years now but everything is looking up and my inspiration is back. Take it easy on me, I haven't written anything in years. Anyway, I'll let you get to the first chapter of my unnamed novel, don't go easy on me, hope you enjoy!
P.S. I'm already aware of some issues with framing dialog (I love dialog but it's not my strongest point), descriptions of characters (I'd like to include them in a more natural way), and ultamitely some lack of a narrative because much of the story is being made up as I go because I'm a terrible author. Feel free to include any way you can think to help with any issues but those in particular. Also sorry for any bad formatting, I've copied this and it was on mobile. Thanks!
Chapter 1: The Barn
The sound of the morning alarm threw me out of my slumber. Though, to be honest, I haven't had a good night's sleep for as long as I could remember. My bare feet hit the cold hard flooring, a feeling that was all to familiar. My hands rubbed my face, telling myself to wake up for another day in hell, even though a part of me wished I could just fall back asleep and never wake up. My dreams were the only place I was free, where everything I hated was dead and everything I wanted was just a inch away.
My eyes finally opened, revealing the dungeon I called home. Bare rock walls, nothing but a bed cot and a small basket filled with dirty clothing which were nothing more then tanned sacks. No blankets, no lights, no bathroom, just a bed and a door. I always wished for more, even though my mind was unable to envision what exactly that would look like. This place was all I'd ever known or at least all I could remember, despite living in this place for the last twelve years. I focus on my memories, trying my best to remind myself what life was like before this place.
An electric shock permeated through my body. I instinctively grabbed the dark metal collar surrounding my neck, my head and torso beamed with pain. "Breathe, Coen, breathe". The pain subsided, leaving a tingling residue behind in its place. Even after all this time I still haven't gotten used to the feeling of the shocks. They didn't seem to be random but I'm still not sure what causes them, other then disobeying or wandering into unauthorized areas.
A hand, or maybe a leg, pounds on the pathetic wooden door to my cell, the sounds of it splintering heard clearly over the pounding.
"Get up, you freak, the Commandant is ready for his breakfast." A oaf posing as a respectable guard said as he forcefully slammed the door open. I could smell his breath from here, alcohol and something fowl, like a dead possum was stuck in his throat. The patchy facial hair and unkempt hair matched his personality. He wore a typical guard uniform, light leather slacks, a leather tunic with a breastplate over it, a sword at his left side, steel greaves and steel vambraces. The insignia covered the front and back of the breastplate. I still have no idea what it stands for.
"Well? Come on! He doesn't have all day!" He roared, a little spit spewing from his mouth, filling the room with a stench. I wasted no time getting up and walking out of my cell, lest I get a jolt from Sir Assmouth.
There was no shortage of other prisoners on my way to the kitchen. Skinny, tall, fat, muscular, varying ethnicities and hair color. The only things they did share were the colars around their neck and the blank expressions on their faces. It seemed like, from what I've seen, people were brought here from all around the world, a world I've never seen or known, only read or heard about. Emotions were a nonentity here, expressing emotion was a sure fire way to get a shock, a way to keep people placid, perhaps.
Going to the kitchen was the closest thing to joy I had ever experienced here. For one, it was clean, bright, organized, beautiful. Red marble floors, wide windows where the sunrise would flood the room in a light that was rare to see. Of course, there was also Michelee.
"Coen! Time for the arse's morning meal already?" Her voice was like pure sunlight, warming my skin and bringing me a sort of peace, even as vulgar as it was.
"Lower your voice or you're gonna end up in a hole the ground." I said with just a bit of sarcasm. She laughed, a sound that I would bottle and keep with me, if I could.
"A bloody hole in the ground is better then this piss pouring dump, int it?"
"Says the girl who works in the kitchen. Try chasing the Commandant around with your nose up his ass and then complain." Michelee was the only person in the kitchen, a small bit of freedom that other prisoners rarely ever had, but she was 19 now, already a year done with her Rite.
"Who's fault is that, aye?" Michelee sat a plate in front of me, filled with prime meats, corn, vegetables, and a glass of milk.
"It's not my fault he likes me, or loathes me, I can't really tell." I put my hands on the plate, ready to take off but instead I took a minute to examine my best friend. Her hair was dark, not like the night but more like the bottom of a lake at the height of the moon, it shimmered. Her tunic was special made to be longer, not just because she was cook and needed more protection from flying grease, but because of her large bust, stomach, and hips. The brown of her eyes were like a window into another world, not blank and expressionless but strong and happy.
"What're ya lookin at?"
"Oh come on, you know I find your irresistible." A smirk slowly crawling up my lips.
"Alright, ya love birds, knock it off! The Commandant is waiting for his breakfast so get your ass in gear!" Sir Assmouth barged into the room.
"Oi! Get yur stench out of er!" Michelee shouted at Sir Assmouth, waving a knife toward him. Her colar reacted, she screamed, clutching it tightly and falling to her knees.
"Michelee!" I knew my mistake before the words even finished coming out of my mouth. The shock took over my body, the plate in my hands shook violently, throwing food and milk across the floor. This was a stronger shock then I had felt in a while, my body couldn't hold itself up, I fell to the side, my face hitting the ground. Under the table I could see Sir Assmouth grab Michelee by the hair and pick her up.
"Oh, looks like chubs as lost a wee bit of weight, eh?" He let out a horrifying stream of laughter. The shock was wearing off, my hands grabbed onto the table and lifted myself up, almost standing. I could feel the anger in my veins, like lava rushing through my arms and legs, like it was about to erupt, making it's way to my head. Michelee just stayed still, lifted by her hair, knees just high enough off the ground so she couldn't sit. I could hear the sound of her hair ripping out slowly.
"Garland! What in blazes are you doing" A voice came from behind me, I tried to turn around but I couldn't keep my eyes off Michelee, I recognized the voice though.
"She mouthed off to me! Jus cause she's a cook now dudnt mean she can talk to me like that!" He shouted back. The voice from behind me moved around to Sir Assmouth.
"Let her go, Garland." The man insisted, authority in his voice. His short blonde hair was rare and made him stand out, as did the emerald color of his eyes. His jaw was lean and scruffy, much like his stature and build. It was Aiden.
"Bah! Wait till the Commandant ear's bout this." He grumbled, letting go of Michelee who thumped to the ground with a wimper. He left the kitchen, slouched with defeat.
"Are you all right?" He asked Michelee, grabbing her hand and lifting her up off the ground. My anger left me, for the moment, worry and relief settling in to replace it. I scrambled over to her, supporting her back with my hand.
"Better now, thank ya, Aiden." She responded, catching her breath.
"That worm, he'll regret doing that Michelee, I promise you that."
"Coen." Aiden looked at me, I stared into his eyes, feeling calmer as a result. I don't understand how or why, but it was like a waterfall washing over me, suddenly I was composed. "You'll do no such thing, unless you want to forfeit your life and hers." All I could do was shake my head in agreement.
"You need to get the Commandant his meal, or Garland will be back and I won't be able to stop him next time." Michelee stood up on her own, glancing over at the food laying across the floor.
"Good thing I made extra, eh?" She smiled, back to her usual deminor, just like that.
"I'll take care of her, Coen, please go."
"Thank you, Aiden." I smiled, grabbing an empty plate and refilling it with the Commandant meal.
The walk to the Commandant room was like going from a dungeon to a palace, probably because that's exactly what it was, a palace. Everything in the halls was either marble, silver, gold, or silk. Small electric lights beamed on either side of the hall, adding a red tint to it. Wooden doors were replaced with metal ones that opened by emitting a light on the persons body, either allowing them entry or not.
Two monstrous sized men, if you could call them that, stood in front of the door. They moved out of the way, one of them stepping in front of the door, which scanned him and a blue light signaled, letting us know he had premission to enter. The door slid open, disappearing into the wall.
The Commandant's room was one prisoners rarely saw, until their Rite. It was a masterpiece of architecture. There were statues made of sapphire and ruby, rare and valuable stones that were reserved for the rich and powerful. Curtains made of fine silk and animal skin rugs. The one he had now was what they call a lion. They're supposedly powerful and dangerous creatures, how fitting.
"It's about time." He declared as I walked into the room. "Garland told me about what happened in the kitchen. Tell that girl to keep her mouth shut if she wants to keep using it."
"Yes sir." I said, shifting into a docile state to ensure that he wouldn't retaliate. His beard was his defining feature. It was clean, combed, long. A status symbol. His eyebrows were large, giving his brown eyes a striking look. The cleft chin and broad shoulders made him even more impossing. A long sword sat on his desk, you could hear the sort humming of it as it vibrated the table.
I set the food down and bowed.
"Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?"
"Yes, a boy is coming in, his Rite is today but considering what I've heard, it's not likely to go well. I want you to stay and watch, maybe it'll teach you what happens if you defy me, maybe you'll learn a valuable lesson about what to do when it's time for your Rite."
I simply bowed my head in acceptance and took a seat next to his desk. The chair was soft, like a cloud. Is this what he sleeps on? Material like this? I can't imagine how someone could be so angry all the time with a bed this soft.
The metal door opening interrupted my thought. A boy, who looked more like a man, tall and muscular, stepped through the door. Something was off about him, his eyes weren't blank or expressionless. They were wild, angry. This isn't going to end well. Aiden stepped in behind him. He gave me a sharp look, something was defiently off. He stepped up in front of the Commandant's desk.
"#156285, given name, Illand. Your Rite is to take place now. As customary, you may request a station and that will be taken into account. Should you be chosen for a Rite you will then enter the Trials, if you pass you will have earned your station. If not, you will sent to the mines or killed, your choice. Now, what station would you like to request?"
"Boy, what station do you request?" He demanded this time.
"Shove it up your ass." The boy said, gritting his teeth, disdain in his voice.
The Commandant stood still for a moment, no one in the room was sure what to do. He gave a quick look to Aiden, who fumbled with something in his pocket. An electric shook exploded over Illand's body. He screamed in agony, falling to his knees, his head in his hand. I've never seen a shock so powerful. The Commandant stood up from behind his desk, grabbed his sword, and walked in front of Illand.
"One more time, what station do you request."
Illand lifted his head, the shock still sending pulses across his body, and spit on the Commandant. The monstrous body guards ran toward him, Commandant's hand lifted, stopping their approach. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the spit from his ruby red coat.
"So be it." He unsheathed his sword, the humming growing louder as it slide out. The blade looked metal, except it was emitting a light shock, I can feel the vibrations from here. Blue lightning wrapped around it, pulsating and moving along it, like a dancer. I've never seen anything like it, none of the other guards had swords like this. It was beautiful.
The Commandant raised the blade in the air. The room grew tense, feelings of dread overwhelmed me. With a quick, almost unnoticeable motion, the sword dropped and sliced through Illand, shoulder to leg, cutting him in two, the lightning blue jolting across his body, arching into the ceiling and walls, spreading blood across the room. It was silent for a moment except for the humming of the blade, then the two halfs of Illand fell to the floor, pools of blood staining the lion rugs mane.
"So sad. Get him out of here, clean this place up. Coen, Aiden, with me." I sat there, stunned, eyes wide, unable to process what I had just seen. I've been here a long time, I've seen people die, guards stab prisoners, hang them, but nothing like this. No, this was gruesome.
"Coen." Commandant's words brought me back to reality. His hand was on my shoulder, he was on his knee. "Now you understand. Do not fail your Trials, declare your Rite, or end up like him." He lifted me onto my feet. "You have a bright future, if you're willing to take it."
I nodded, purely out of habit, because I didn't hear a word he just said. All I could see was a replay of what just happened, over and over in my mind. It wasn't fear though, it was something else but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
"Boy, snap out of it!" The Commendant yelled, his large rough hands making contact with my cheek. Shit, that hurt.
"I'm so sorry sir" is what I should have said but instead I said nothing, just turned my head toward his and stared into his eyes, they were dark but reflected like a mirror.
"I'm dissapointed. I thought you could handle seeing that. No matter, we are done for the day. Your Rite is in two weeks. I guess we'll see how this showing effects you, does it make you stronger or does it break you?"
I think he expected me to answer.
"Aiden, take him back to his cell." He growled followed with a huff and a sigh.
"Yes sir." Aiden bowed then walked behind me, putting pressure on my back with his hand, leading me out of the room.
The walk back was quiet, it was all I could muster just to keep from crying or screaming. I've seen bad things before, why is this effecting me so much?
"I got you something" Aiden said softly, his voice bringing me back from the depths of my mind. "It's called Brave New World by Aldous Huxley." He handed me the old and battered book.
"What's it about?" My words working again. We had just reached the outside of my cell.
"A world, a not so unfamiliar one." His eyes turned down and to the left, away from me, eyebrows pulled together and down. "It's old, very rare. Please take good care of it." He smiled, unconvincingly.
"Thank you, Aiden. I will." He opened the door to my cell.
"I'll come by and bring you some food soon. Read a bit, if you wish, we will talk later." He nodded and closed the door.
I sat on my old cot, this old book in my hands. I wonder how old it is? I opened it and began to read.
A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories...