Her eyes flicker over my shoulder as if looking at something behind me. “What is it?” I ask, a smile tugging at my words.
“Excuse me, are you Izzy?”
She giggles as I turn around, my name catching my attention. There, stands a boy. His shaggy brown hair drapes in front of one eye, but a cocky smile sits on his face.
“That depends. Who’s asking?” My friend giggles again, inching closer to me, no doubt peering over my shoulder at the cute boy.
“A boy who can’t keep his eyes off a pretty girl.” His hazel eyes watch me, making it very clear that he’s referring to me. Butterflies dance in my stomach. Once more my friend giggles and I can’t keep a smile of my own from slipping onto my face. Even a blush worms into my cheeks.
“And does this…” I pause, biting my lip. My eyes walk across his face, unable to resist themselves. “Handsome boy have a name?” Behind me my friend grabs my hand discretely. Her excitement flickers through me, or maybe that’s my electricity adaptation lightly sparking into her hand.
The cocky smile drifts farther across his face, dimpling his cheeks. “He does if the pretty girl will agree to walk with the handsome boy.”
“Izzy!” My friend shrieks in my ear. I close my eyes as if to protect myself from the sudden noise, but the smile doesn’t falter.
I turn to her slowly. “Do you mind if I-”
“Shut up and go already!” She squeals eagerly, practically shoving me into the boy’s arms. The backs of her fingers touch her mouth. Excitement clings to her every feature and I nod before leaving her behind, the boy at my side.
Jitters tingle through my arms. “So, what’s your name?”
He laughs. “I’ll tell you in a sec. I want to show you something first, though, okay?” Spinning, he walks backwards, a hand stretched out to me invitingly. His warm smile is contagious. It works through the air and infects me, drawing me after him. He’s just a boy interested in a girl. What harm could possibly come of this?
Slipping my hand into his electricity trickles from my hand into his until he breaks into a run, racing through the quarter with me in tow. “Slow down,” I call, barely able to keep up with his long legs.
“Hurry up! You have to see this!” He shouts over his shoulder eagerly. His smile twinges with something, something… dark. My heart skips a beat as worry creeps around it, trying to encase it. I push the anxiety away.
He rounds a corner and slides to a halt. With a tug on my hand, he releases me, throwing me forwards. I stumble. My arms fly out to protect myself when a set of strong arms catch me. With a racing heart I glance up into a pair of warm, brown eyes.
“Careful there,” the owner of the brown eyes says. He rights me, a small, suave smile on his face. It’s nothing like the younger boy’s. Something lingers behind it. “We wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”
“Izzy! Run!” A voice shrieks behind me, dragging my attention from the two men. Standing there, chained to the wall, is a boy from the factory where I work.
“Wha-” My gaze snaps back to the two men. “What’s going on?” I step backwards, but my foot catches, knocking me to the ground. Hands splayed to catch myself, they land on something soft and warm. I glance down. A body lays underneath me. Blood seeps from the skull. It crawls across the ground, mixing with the compact dirt to make a thick dirt.
Panic constricts my throat. I scramble to my feet. Blood paints my hands. The sight churns my stomach, tormenting it and willing it to heave up its contents.
Glancing around, more bodies decorate the ground. Each one spills its blood into the alley, turning the parched dirt into a dark lake. Horror strikes me.
“Run!” The boy on the wall calls again.
I snap back into reality. The two men inch towards me, dark, threatening looks in their eyes and I break for it. Closer and closer to my escape. Adrenaline rushes through my veins, pushing me to run faster than I’ve ever run in my life, the corner so near.
Rope wraps around my throat. It yanks backwards, digging into my neck and cutting off my air in a gasp. The force snaps me off-balance. My head cracks into the hard ground, igniting black spots across the sky.
“I love when they run.” A dark, sadistic chuckle follows.
“It’s quite entertaining when they think they’re gonna survive,” the younger boy replies. “Though, I wish she’d screamed. It’s always fun to listen.”
“And alert people to what we’re doing? Don’t you remember what the air quarter said?” A growl flares in the elder man’s voice. “We have to keep this secret. We can’t let the weather quarter find out until all the electricity adaptations are dead. Those were the orders.”
The younger sighs heavily. “Yeah, I know.” He walks up, towering over me with a thoughtful look. “Such a shame you were born an electricity adaptation…” His head tips sideways as he glances down at me, a malicious glitter in his eyes. “You really are quite pretty.”
A small giggle slips from around the corner. Lifting my head through the pain, I glance up. Standing there, poking her head around the corner, is my friend. Shock washes over her face. Horror quickly follows.
“Run!” I croak, my throat sore. The rope around my neck tightens with a tug, cutting off my next words and yanking my gaze away from my friend.
“Shit!” The older man says. “Go get her!”
“But she’s not an electricity adaptation,” the younger argues.
The elder’s voice morphs into a snarl. “You think I care?! She’s gonna warn everyone! Get her while I take care of this one!”
With that, the younger slips around the corner, disappearing from view, leaving me with the elder man. He drags me across the warm, sticky ground by the rope. My fingers tuck under the restraint. I gasp for air until he stops tugging, the rope loosing slightly.
The man crouches over me. “He was right.” A blade, still warm and dripping with blood, drags across my cheek. Drips slide down my cheek. I shy away. Shivers race down my spine at the thought of blood, but fear shakes my entire body. It clenches my jaw. Any scream for help dies deep inside my throat, tears emerging instead. “You really are pretty.”
“Please,” I beg. My voice trembles and cracks as the sobs tighten my airway. “I didn’t… do anything wrong.”
“But you’re an electricity adaptation.”
“So?!” I screech, the fear flooding every inch of my body. “I haven- haven’t hu- hurt anyone with my elec- elec-.” The word dies on my throat as he places the knife against my lips, my eyes squeezing closed to avoid looking at the bright red liquid.
“Shh,” he coos. “But you will, Izzy.”
“No!” I gasp, the blade shifting against my lips. “I won’t!” Tears stream down my cheeks as the metal moves, the blade pressing against my tongue between my teeth.
He sighs, his brown eyes no longer warm, but cold and dangerous. “Every electricity adaptation does. A day will come when the rage becomes insatiable. It’ll consume you. You won’t have a choice. The electricity will take control and you’ll kill someone.” All traces of kindness vanish from his face, a darkness settling heavily over his features. “I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”