An older woman steps out of the bedroom. She checks the mirror to make sure her hair is in place. With a sigh and picking at some cat hair off her business suite. The woman checks her watch. Worry crosses her face. She leans out of the kitchen’s doorway.
“Amy! Amy are you up?”
Silence answers her.
She sighs and stares at the ceiling. The woman starts down the narrow hallway. She comes to the third door and knocks on it.
Silence answers her again.
“Amy? Amy are you up?” She pushes the door open. She flips the switch and floods the room with light. Clothes are piled on the desk chair. Her walls are decorated with black designs. On the bed a small pile of blankets and pillows shifts.
“Amy? Amy time to get up for school.” The woman sits on the bed and gently shakes the pile. “Come on, you need to get up.”
A muffled groan answers her. The blankets and pillows shift aside and a girl appears. The child has shoulder-length dull brown hair sticking out in several directions. Her light brown eyes looking around sleepily. She sighs. Unlike her mother, the girl has a round face with a small chin. Her eyes are large and child-like.
“Weird dream.” The girl answers quietly.
“Well, it is only a dream. But I need you to get up or you’re going to be late for school.”
The girl flops onto her back.
“Stop. You need to get going.” Her mother glances at her watch, “And I need to get going.”
“Bye.” Amy says sleepily.
“Have a good day sweetie.” Her mother glances at her watch again, “Please, be careful okay. Joseph Miller is back and I don’t want you near him.”
The teen groans, “How did he get out so fast.”
“I don’t know. Just be safe.” Her mother smiles, “I love you. You’ll be great.”
Ten minutes later, the young girl is dressed in a gray shirt and a black skirt. Ankle-high shoes complete her outfit. She hurries to finish a bowl and cereal. A clock in the hall rings out the hour. She drops the bowl off into the sink and heads out the door. On the way out the door, the girl grabs her backpack.
The morning air cuts into her skin. She shivers and pulls a hoodie out of her backpack.
The gravel crunches under her feet and a stench fill her nose. Amy wrinkles her nose at the sewage smell. The kid looks around. She walks down the small RV. Several mobile homes are sprawled out in front of her. Rubbish and junk surround most of the mobile homes.
With a sigh, the kid heads out of the mobile park.
The small teen draws the hood over her head just as she rounds a corner. Ahead of her is a school bus stop. Already a half dozen teens are waiting.
Some wear letterman jackets. Others wear regular clothes like the girl.
Several of the teens notice her approach. One teen nudges his friend. A cruel smile crosses their face.
“Check it out.” The larger one says, “The trailer trash finally joined us.”
The teen feels a muscle twitch in her face.
“Do you see her clothes? Where did she get them? Out of a trash can?”
“What do you expect from a rat?”
The young girl comes to a stop a dozen feet away from them. The teen focuses on the ground in front of her. She does her best to ignore their barbs.
After a few minutes, the teens turn to other topics.
The girl turns towards the voice. A dark-haired girl with rich brown skin walks up. She wears jeans and a long sleeve shirt. A bright smile covers her face. Although she is of average height, she is almost a foot taller than Amy.
“You doing okay?”
She nods her head.
Maria glances towards the group of teens. She narrows her eyes.
“Was Edward and Jake being a jerk again?”
One of the boys notices her staring. He gives her a wink and licks his lips. Maria sticks out her tongue.
“No.” Amy says nervously.
“That means they were.”
“Oh great. The two freaks are here.” One boy mutters loud enough for everyone to say. “What are we going to do now.”
“Ignore the freaks.”
“Ignore? What about just put them where they belong. In the trash.
The other teens chuckle. They form a small group away from the two girls. Amy and the blonde girl step down the street. Close enough to see the bus but far enough away not to be heard by the other teens.
The sound of creaking gears announces the arrival of the bus. Amy and Jenna rejoin the teens as the bus comes to a stop. Amy lets out a deep breath in relief. She follows the others onto the bus. The driver shuts the door. The vehicle jerks back into motion.
“Have you heard?” One of the teens were saying, “The Devon Core’s has successfully released artificial blood. And they have successfully tested the stuff.”
“Great.” His friend chuckles, “Great achievement for mankind. Making things happen in the world without some use of weapons or something.”
The kids take their place on the bus. Several teens are already sitting in the seats. Two of them wave a hand. One is a dark-skinned girl with black hair. The other is a short boy with red hair.
“Good morning!” The boy says in a thick accent, “What’s cooking?”
Zoe shakes her head and gives them a small smile. They take a seat in front of them. “O’Connelly. How are you guys doing this morning?”
“Not bad. Got my homework done.” He turns to the girl next to him, “Sara?”
“Not bad.” The brown-skinned girl says with a thick French accent, “I was able to run this morning.”
“You know you like the run too.”
He chuckles as the bus lurches into motion. He points with his chin, “Look there.”
The girls turn out the window. A large building with a glass front stands on a hill. A decorative wall divides the compound from the city. Well kept landscapes and large trees create a beautiful scene.
“I’m going there one day and work.”
“At Ryoka Industries?” Maria says, “Doing what?”
“Genetic engineering.” O’Connelly answers with a bright smile, “I’ll unlock things no one even thought of yet! You just wait and see. I’ll be there. Working hard and unlocking the world! And that compound is the best place to do it. And I am going to work there.”
“As what?” Jake says from the front of the bus, “A janitor?”
He and his friends burst out into laughter.
“At least I’ll have a job. Unlike you.”
The bus explodes into the sound of “ohs” at the reply. Amy turns her attention back out the window as the barbs go back and forth between the two groups.
The brown hair girl chooses to ignore them. Instead, the teen studies her own reflection. Pale skinned and thin as a rail. Unlike her friends and the other teens, she has no muscle definition. Amy sighs as wishes not for the first time that she wishes that she was pretty are at least homely. Or even plain. With an effort, she looks past her reflection.
Amy notices a silver semi truck winding its way towards the Ryoka compound. In front and behind the truck are heavily armored cars. Armed guards walk along the length of the road. The brunette watches the strange procession as long as she can.
“Hey, what is it?” Maria asks in a whisper.
Amy shakes her head quickly.
“Nothing. Just thinking.”
“Oh. Well. Don’t over think.”
To be continued…