Archive for June, 2014


Her neck was still throbbing with tenderness from the incision when the bus came to another stop and the latch on her compartment popped open. Every time the bus had stopped Sophia had held her breath and waited for the metallic click of the lock releasing, but until now it hadn’t.

She’d lost track of how much time had passed, the entire ride had been spent cloaked in darkness. The windows were covered over so you couldn’t see out or in. No passing of the sun to tell you how long it had been since the last stop. You could barely tell if your eyes were open or closed. She had a feeling from the stiffness in her arms and legs that they had been traveling for the better part of a day if not longer.

Soph didn’t even know if she was the only one on the bus or if at every stop they had let someone who wasn’t her off. When the light came in through the crack in the door it was all but blinding. Soph took a moment to let her eyes start to adjust; a moment to wonder and fear what would lay on the other side of the door.

Finally, she got up the courage to open the door and step outside. The sun was high in the sky and blindingly bright. The ground under her feet was rocky and uneven. There was little shade in the area, few trees, little plant life other than grass.

Just as she was beginning to realize that she was being left in the middle of now where, just as the panic started to sink in, she head the door of her compartment click closed behind her and the engine of the bus start again. Before she could react the bus was pulling away, kicking up dust behind it. Soph was in too much shock to cry or scream, still trying to process everything that had happened in the last 48 hours or so. When the dust finally settled and the bus had faded into the distance Soph took a proper look around.

For the first time she noticed that she wasn’t the only one abandoned in this… this..wherever they were. There were a few other figures scattered in a line long where the bus had stopped. A couple of them were sitting on the ground. A couple had started to wander towards the few trees in the distance. A couple, like her, were just standing there, like her, staring at the disappearing bus.

Altogether there were maybe 10 people here. She wondered where the others who had come and gone had ended up. Where they all on the bus and just let off on earlier stops? Had they been forgiven for their transgressions? Had they been sent down a different hall to a different fate? She didn’t think she would ever know the answer.

“Fancy seeing you here,” his voice was a shock to hear, both because her ears were not used to the sound and because there was no way she should have been hearing it again. No way should the man from the hall be here with her now.

She turned to face him, “How long have you been standing there?” he looked, adjusted… the only person in the whole group who wasn’t in total shock. Though there was a little worry in his eyes.

“About as long as you.” He replied. “We should get going, find somewhere less exposed before nightfall.”

Soph looked around at the others. A few still seemed to be in shock, those who weren’t still more or less where the bus had dropped them had all headed out towards the distant trees, trying to find somewhere to get out of the sun that was beating down on all of them. “Should we get the rest of them to come with us?” Soph didn’t know if she wanted his answer to be yes of now. She didn’t want to deal with the burden of caring for anyone but herself, yet she couldn’t bring herself to leave these people here in silent tears.

There was a long pause before he answered, “I suppose we should try at least.” And together they headed over to the nearest person. The first and the second didn’t seem to hear them, or realize they were there. The third looked at them dumbfounded as they talked and covered their ears. Based on their dress Soph wondered if they had ever communicated on anything other than the link. They opened and closed their mouth as though trying to talk but nothing came out. After a moment they stood and followed them.

About half of those who had not headed out already ended up joining them. The rest had just stared back blankly, unmoving, uncaring. They had done all they could, probably more than they should have. They started walking towards the nearest tree where most of the others had headed before them.

“We should head west.” There was something about the sureness with which he said it which shocked her.

“Why west?”

“Just trust me.”

“Why should I trust you? I don’t even know your name.”

He stopped walking for a second and turned to smile at her, “I’m sorry I thought I told you, or at least that you knew Sophia. I’m Jace Acher.”

Soph didn’t know what shocked her more. The fact that he knew her name or the fact that despite everything she had ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere with the last man that her parents had try to set her up with. If only they knew how perfect he had actually been for her, at least so far. Soph started to laugh, and kept laughing until she cried.

“What?” Jace asked.

“You don’t find this funny? That we end up here together after all this?” Sophia gasped out between rounds of shocked laughter.

Jace smiled slightly, “I suppose it is.”

“Well then, I guess you just have to convince the rest of them that we’re headed in the right direction.”

“I don’t think it’ll be that hard” Jace replied.

Looking around Soph thought he was probably right. Most of the people with them had followed with little or no fight; they were all in too much shock to really do anything or think past putting their feet one in front of the other. Even Soph was still shaken, part of her had followed Jace blindly too. Yet, there was something about Jace’s presence, his calmness and sureness that had put Soph at ease. To some extent Jace’s presence before things was the reason she was here at all. His words to her in the fall beforehand had been the whole reason she had stuck to her guns. Soph had no doubt that Jace could have the same effect on the others. The only question was why was he so calm?

Soph wracked her brain to try to remember everything her mother had told her about Jace and his family, everything that she had so blissfully ignored earlier. They walked as she thought and missed the link for the first time. Had she still been connected she would have been able to draw up and re-play the conversation. She would know everything that she was forgetting in a few seconds, know exactly how much faith she should put into Jace and exactly why things were so easy for him.

Without it Soph was struggling to remember much more than his name. She knew that he was from one of the upper-level families. This didn’t explain how he got here though. The higher up the rungs you were the more likely you were to continue on your family legacy, give in to your parents’ wishes. That being said when people of the upper class did turn they tended to, like her, turn harder. They had more information and resources then the lower classes. When Soph was just a girl one such youth had led a protest in the square. Few joined in; all those who did hadn’t been heard from again. Had they ended up out here like the sorry group here now?

The only other thing about Jace and his family she seemed to remember was that his father worked in the government offices, but that wasn’t abnormal for someone of the upper classes. Her own parents worked in the lower level offices. She assumed his father worked in the capital building, but that didn’t tell her anything.

Soph looked at Jace and watched him walk. She watched the sureness in his steps, the glances he made over his shoulder to see who was keeping up, the adjustments he made to his pace to be sure not to lose anyone. Jace seemed to know the area, as though he had been here before. But that couldn’t be. No one would be out here, it wouldn’t be habitable. They must be miles from the nearest city. Still, there was a sureness in Jace that made her feel as though it would be okay in the end. Without the link she would have to trust her gut on this one, and her gut was telling her to trust him.

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