“Survival of the Chosen, 9”

by Brianna G. Harte

We all knew that Herold didn’t deserve that kind of punishment. In truth, no one did. The instructor though, he wouldn’t care if we all died of smoke inhalation. Through his smug face, grinning like a wolf just as he choses his prey, we all saw. Until dirt smudges on that pristine face, the work was nothing more than work.

None of us could say a word, especially since Drew wasn’t in line today. Letting that detail slip by the instructor’s notice, while unlikely, would ease the loads we would have to carry. It nearly came true too.

“Eighteen!”

I jumped, my nerves rattled. “Yes?”

“You’re not zoning out on me, are you, eighteen?”

Shaking my head, I responded, “No, Instructor.”

“Hmm.” After staring at my face for an uncomfortable few seconds, he strode off to the left. A breath was released from my chest. A moment later, it was held in once more. The instructor had turned back in my direction.

“What is it, eighteen?” His eyes narrowed on me as he approached.

“Nothing.” I had to force myself not to let my chest heave, as my heart began to race. Beads of sweat ran down my face.

“You want to join 10 in the mountain?” His expression was dead serious.

I shook my head.

His arm raised high. Muscles contracted, as though to remind me how weak I was in comparison. A fist tightened as words bellowed out. “Respond to me, eighteen!”

“No, Instructor!” My voice became much smaller than usual.

“Good. Continue with attendance!”

Only until we were out working on the second layer of fencing could any of us dare to speak again.

“I can’t believe he didn’t notice Andrew was gone,” Reen murmured as she dug into the ground with a sharpened rock.

“No kidding,” Estan snorted.

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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