They call us the Close-Minded. Ironic. Considering that’s far from what we truly are. And by we, I mean my friends and I. My family and I. The only family I have consisting of people I’ve hardly shared a word or two with. Up until now. My name is Evelyn. Just Evelyn. I was never aware of my last name, well, because we weren’t allowed to have one. “Having last names is what makes you different from the others around you. And we can’t have that. Everyone is the same. We. Are. One”, the Government told us. I remember hearing those filthy words when I was six. At that age of course, seeming like one big family with the strangers around me didn’t seem so awful. But now that I’m eighteen, and can think on my own, I know otherwise. But I’m part of a small fraction of my society that knows otherwise.
There’s also Jack; The one with the exceptional Pineal Gland. He can foresee the future. Anything that’s going to happen within the next two minutes, five days, three months or even ten years, he can see. Jack is a menace to the Government because he’s able to plot against such laws and restrictions the Government doesn’t even know they have up their sleeves yet.
His twin sister, Jane, is just as mischievous. She has the old way of communication. And no, I don’t mean typewriters or handwritten letters with inked feathers type of old. I mean Telekinesis, the most powerful form of communication to ever grace this domain we call Earth. She’s able to hack her way into other’s heads. Similar to the Government, except she doesn’t need wired machines and chips to be placed in our ears. She does it all on her own.
Then there’s Tae; A sixteen year old boy with the Cerebellum like no other. He can break down his bones, cackling and twisting them in order to fit into small spaces. He’s also the strongest sixteen year old I know; Being able to lift a solid 400lbs all by himself.
Additionally, there’s Storm. The youngest of our prevailing group; At only nine years old, she’s the one who controls other’s Parietal Lobe. She can cause people pain with just a look at them. She’s one hell of a little girl. The last one you want to argue with over the last chocolate chip cookie.
Lastly, and certainly not least, there’s Carter. My lover. The missing piece to my already fractured and disoriented self. Carter, with his pale white skin combined with the control of his Occipital Lobe is able to see things from great distances. Pointing out the simple pattern on a monarch butterfly or the obscure shape of a leaf from three miles away. He’s able to see everything within anything. Except for me. He can’t read me like a book which is why he’s intrigued by me. But who isn’t? I’m the one with the power people long for. The one people would kill for. I’m Ambidextrous. I can write with both hands, each compelling of similar handwriting and sequence. Cool huh? But wait, it gets even crazier. I know you’re probably thinking, “Who’s crazy about a girl who can write with both of her hands?” Here’s the catch. It’s not just my hands. It’s my mind. Growing up, each person is labeled and sectioned to only manufacturing with the right side of their brain or the left. But for me, I manage to establish both sides. I am the power one seeks to have. I am the one many fear to confide in. I, am the Close-Minded. Or as I like to call it, Liberal.
I’m running. We’re running. So hard that I can no longer feel my faulty legs or feet. However, I keep pushing, hitting every staggered tree branch and stomping into every drenched puddle that’s in my way, knowing it’s the only way I’ll get as far away as possible from the Government. If it isn’t clear already, Jack, Jane, Storm, Tae, Carter and I are on the run. We’ve escaped the hell hole we used to call home, though it wasn’t easy. Our society, Embron, is made up of strictly eight to eighteen year olds. There was no such things as adults in Embron, unless you were part of the demonic Government that kept us from our parents. I don’t remember much from the day I was taken away from mine. It was all a blur. Despite the incoherent memory, a small part of me only remembers my parents shouting my name as my six year old self stood there, watching as Patrol took my parents away. Dead or alive? I don’t know. But even if I did, there was no way to reconnect with them. I have no idea where they are.
Growing up, I was raised by my older brother, West. He never talked much about our parents after they were taken. He couldn’t. If the Patrol heard the slightest whisper of the word “parent”, he’d be beaten until his bruises had bruises. When the Government took away our parents, all of us kids were left in the small town of Embron working day and night for whatever the Patrol wanted us to do. It was similar to a concentration camp, with little to no food, dirty water to drink and full work. Every three weeks, the Government gave us a one week break. Those weeks were always the best. We were allowed to communicate with one another, meeting new people with the made up games we’d play, rather than operating machines or working in the fields. It felt nice to have a pause and stabilize ourselves. But at the same time, we weren’t exactly ourselves.
The Government constructed and manipulated each of our brains. How? Good question. I’m still trying to figure that out myself. The Government was able to make everyone do whatever they pleased. Whenever they please. And were even able to make everyone feel a certain way. I, nonetheless, could not be controlled. Neither Jack, Jane, Storm, Tae or Carter. Patrols can’t tap into our heads whenever they wanted. They can’t control us, for we are the close-minded. We are believed to have the significant power of a shield on our brains. Anyone found to have that shield, however, is killed on sight. And now, they know who we are. And that’s why we’re running.
“We’re almost there!”, Carter’s low voice booms through his six-foot stature. I turn my head, feet steadily running as I do. My brown eyes meet Carter’s emerald green ones and he frowns, reading the slight discomfort on my face. “I can see it not too far from here”, he adds, using his zooming power while batting the tree branches from his face. “Just a little bit longer, I promise.”
I don’t say anything, due to my lack of breath, which makes me question how Carter was able to speak so easily. I turn my head over to the rest of our small group. Tae holds Storm in his broad arms as he runs, her legs clearly too weak to keep going. I divert my attention to my right side to see Jack and Jane, arm in arm, sifting through the tall grass that grazes their legs. Jane struggles to keep her long, thin, blonde hair out of her face and she looks over at me, aware of my staring. She sends me a flashy, wicked grin. Quit your worrying, E. We’ll be okay, her voice projects through my head. I shake my head irritatedly, trying to eliminate her echoing voice. Christ, I hate when she does that.
I heard that.
Of course she did.
After about ten minutes, of running through the abyss forest, we finally approached a small craggy house that looked as if it was standing on its last legs. We slowed down, our eyes taking in our temporary home that practically belonged to Carter. He told us that his mother used to take him here when he was younger to get away from the drama of her pathetic husband. A long journey away from Embron lays this humble home and after running from the Patrol, Carter said this would be the perfect temporary place to hideout. He almost had forgotten about the place after not coming here for so long, but thankfully he remembered a meager amount of the route, but even better, he was able to zoom with his Occipital Lobe to see exactly where this abandoned house lied.
Our chests were heaving and I noticed how Jack wiped away the thin layer of sweat that caressed his forehead. Tae loudly huffed suddenly, stretching his long arms out before contorting his body in an unbreakable hold to ease any slight pain. “Phew”, he sighed, bending and twisting his body back into shape. “That felt good.”
I always wondered how it was possible for him to feel tensed when his body could fold out of shape like that. But I shrugged away the thought as we all began to take steps towards the front door of the raggedy house. Carter opened the door first, and I smiled at the gesture of him peeking his head in to make sure there was no harm to be found before letting the rest of us follow. I couldn’t help but notice how protective he is of us, but him and I being the oldest of the group, it was part of our jobs to keep the group intact and well, alive.
We slowly walked inside the dimmed home with very few windows, although it was stored with plenty rooms, including a small living room. Our eyes staggered around the dusky building, taking in everything and examining the unopened food and water that was probably expired by now, but we’d have to make do with what we have. I’ve learned that the hard way through the years of growing up in Embron. From six years old, running around with West with a big happy family to suddenly, nothing; A parentless kid who had to learn how to survive on her own when the Government didn’t give us much.
A sudden raspy voice snapped me from my thoughts. “Wow”, Carter chuckled in awe, looking around. “It’s just like how my mom and I left it and it’s been eleven years since I was last here. I’m surprised no one found this place”, he added. “Do you guys like it? I know it’s not a mansion, but it’s better than nothing, you know?”
“Um”, Tae spoke up first after clearing his throat. He scanned around uneasily, a forced smile etched to his defined face. “Yeah, man...it’s uh...nice?”
Jane scoffed and rolled her eyes profoundly. “He actually finds it trashy”, she notes.
Tae snaps his neck at her in annoyance. “Get the hell out of my head.”
She bats her long eyelashes over her bright, sky blue eyes innocently. “I can’t help it. Your thoughts are so loud and filled with so much stupidity and nonsense. I couldn’t ignore them if I tried.”
“You know what?”, Tae barks before suddenly cutting his sentence short and wincing in pain simultaneously with Jane.
I look over to Storm who stands with her fist balled by her sides and her eyes swiftly diverting from Jane to Tae. “Stop fighting”, she hissed before ceasing her pain control.
“Jesus, Storm. You have got to stop doing that to us”, Tae pleaded, causing Carter to chuckle.
“Alright, um...Tae come with me, I need you to help me with making a few traps in case someone finds us. Jane and Storm, can you guys sort out any food there is and Jack and Evelyn, you guys can scope out the rooms for us”, Carter directs.
We all nod before implementing our orders and getting to work. Jane and Storm walked to the kitchen, sifting through the cabinets and drawers, removing all of the food while Tae and Carter started to stack up on any equipment they could find around the house. Jack’s eyes lock with mine and he grins happily, causing me to roll my eyes with a small smile. “Did you foresee that this was going to happen?”, I questioned, walking throughout the house to evaluate each area. “Because if so, you could’ve warned me. Think I’d rather be helping with traps than checking out a bunch of rooms.”
Jack lets out a small laugh. “No, I didn’t actually. All I saw was the Government getting ready to come after us.”
I nod slowly, entering a large room before approaching a hefty bed and sitting down softly. “Well I’m glad you were able to warn us. If you didn’t...who knows what would’ve happened.”
Silence fell heavy in the dusty room. Jack pursed his lips, blue eyes falling onto a dirty frisbee tucked away in the corner of the room. I could tell he was trying to brighten the mood when his long fingers reached for the toy and he blew away the thick layer of dust before tossing it over to me. It flopped against my thigh before landing onto the plain white bed with a slight thud. I sighed slowly, grabbing the plastic item with my small, stubby digits. I twirl the frisbee around for a few moments, eyes studying the thin circled patterns.
“Are you okay?”, Jack abruptly asks. My eyes flicker up to his as he walks closer to me. He places a hand onto my shoulder and rubs soothingly as he waits for me to answer.
I shake my head morosely and shrug my shoulders, causing my curly hair to fall over them. “Are any of us?”
Jack pauses and hums lightly. “You’ve got a point there.”
“I mean...you tell me”, I request. “You’re the one with the foreseeing powers. Any trouble ahead we should know about?”
Jack removes his hand from my shoulder and pushes his blonde hair away from his face. “Um...no actually...I uh...haven’t gotten any visions since we arrived. Kind of weird. I usually receive visions every five to ten minutes in situations like these.”
“That is weird…”
“But hey”, he smiles randomly, moving his hand to my thigh. “We’re going to be okay.” His eyes remain on mine and I analyze his face. A few freckles caress his cheek bones and the bridge of his nose as his piercing blue eyes shine even in the dimmest light. I can see why so many girls back in Embron found him so attractive. He’s quite alluring, just as much as his sister and I knew the two of them always used their fine looks to their advantage. Jack ironically sends me a flashy charming smile, but I don’t budge. His smile is not merely as charming as Carter’s.
Jack and I jump at the ruffled noise and we look up towards the door to see Carter’s slender body leaning against the doorframe. Speak of the devil. His arms are crossed against his stone chest and one of his eyebrows are arched in question. From the corner of my eyes I notice the shade of pink cascading over Jack’s cheeks and he quickly rises from the bed and clears his throat awkwardly. I cringe at his embarrassment as I try to hide the smile forming inch by inch on my face. I don’t exactly blame Jack for being so intimidated by Carter. He can be quite an alarming person.
Carter clenches his jaw warningly and Jack hints that as his cue to leave the room. Once he did, Carter looks back towards me. “He’s definitely crushing on you”, he notes.
I roll my eyes unflatteringly and stretch out my slender arms for him. “Well that’s too bad...because I’m kind of crushing on someone else.”
“Is that so?”
“Mhm”, I hum in agreement, arms still dangling out for him.
He takes slow strides to close the space between us and centers himself in my arms. His hands take a hold of either side of my face and he stares down at me in admiration. “Who’s the lucky guy?”, he inquires with a teasing smile.
I can’t help but return the simper. “Oh I think you know him.”
He chuckles and greets his lips with mine in a sweet, simple kiss. The gesture warms my heart and my face almost cramps up from how hard I’m smiling. It’s always been like that when I’m with Carter. Something about him never failed to bring a smile to my face which is something I’ve always needed. Especially with this moment in time. When there was almost no such things as smiles.
Unless the Government forced you to.
Carter noticed the way my face fell in gloom, provoking a concerned expression over his defined features. “Are you okay?” That seems to be the question of the day. But before I can speak, before I can even comprehend a little white lie to convince him I’m fine, he speaks furthermore. “Never-mind. That’s a stupid question.”
My eyebrows furrow at his statement and I stare up at his pretty green eyes. “What makes you think that?”
“Because, Evelyn. With the situation we’re in right now...how is there any possible way to be okay? Especially for you. I mean...your brother turned against you...you’re the biggest target to the S.Z.C.”
The S.Z.C. Also known as the Shellterzod Chamber. Also the “professional” name the Government goes by. Owned by the villain himself, the reason why we’re all on the run, Shellterzod. He’s Embron’s most feared man. Standing at 6 feet with a wicked smile and a crown constructed into a shell that lies on his head as he rules over everyone, ruining the hopes and dreams of anyone who crosses his territory. He’s the ruler of the Government. The one who calls all the shots. The one who controls the society of Embron to keep his father’s legacy alive, though he passed away. He is a devilish man who can manipulate anyone who’s thought of as a target. He’s the one who’s after us with his brainwashed army. And if we’re not quick enough on our feet...well let me put it this way.
We’re already dead.
“Hello? Anyone in there?”, Carter teases with a throaty laugh, nudging his forehead against mine softly to cease my daydreaming.
I giggle and shake my head to rid the thought away. “Sorry, just...thinking.”
“West”, I half lied.
The name instantly angers Carter and he moves his balled fist to his sides, hands clenched so tightly that his knuckles turn white. “I’ll kill him”, he spits.
“Not if I beat you to it”, I scoffed.
I hated talking about my brother, my own defining blood this way. But when a loved one turns against you in a way you’d least expect, some things were just worth saying. And at the moment, he was definitely worth loathing. West, before many others, was the only one aware of my powers. He kept it a secret for a short time; Anything to keep his baby sister safe. But that short time was spent even quicker than I wanted it to be. From nights on end of tucking me into bed and promising me that he’ll keep my secret to spare my soul, to turning me into the Government to give himself a better life and better opportunities to become closer to the Chamber; Something he’s always wanted, figuring that the Patrol wouldn’t be as hard on him if he worked with them. But even if he did, it would be the lowest form of betrayal. To work with the people who separated you from your own family. Who worked you all day and night like a disembodied slave. Who hacked into your brain to dominate you like some sort of machine. Working with the Chamber would be selling your soul to the devil himself and I hoped West was smart enough to see that soon. And if he didn’t, I wouldn’t waste any more time trying to get my point across through his thick skull. He, is the prime example of Close-Minded, yet the Chamber finds my little group and I as the key objective. But in this world we live in, the motive is an eye for an eye. And even if I don’t seek any revenge on him for turning me in, he’ll live with the guilt.
“Such a sorry excuse for a brother”, Carter hisses in disgust, arms flailing up into the air as he paces the dark wooden, creaking floors. “Turning his own sister in...unbelievable.”
My eyes follow his figure for a brief time before I inch further off the bed and my feet carry me closer to his trotting body. I place my hands on his vast arms, a gesture he said always calmed him whenever I did it. “Turned me in or not...he’s my brother. And unfortunately, we can’t pick and choose our family.”
“You chose us”, he notes, a hint-full smile building at the corners of his lips, my mind automatically tracing back to him, Jack, Jane, Storm and Tae.
My real and only family.
“I did, didn’t I?”
He smirks and wraps his arms around my waist, lowering his head to press his lips to mine though a hasty giggle disturbs as it erupts into the room. Carter and I turn our attention to the door to see a wide grinning Storm standing in the doorframe. “Am I interrupting?” She quizzes, a playful grin still etched on her adorable features.
Carter and I pull away abruptly and shake our heads together as if on cue. Carter clears his throat and I sway my hair behind my shoulders. “Not at all”, I assure her.
Her eyebrows raise, almost as if she didn’t believe my statement and she giggles, slowly turning around and leading us towards the living room. Carter blankets his arms around me from behind and rests his chin onto my shoulder before whispering, “She’s seen too much.”
A quiet laugh escapes me and I rest my hands on Carter’s arms as we follow Storm. “What hasn’t she seen?”
He scoffs. “Things most little girls should. Like rainbows and glitter and dolls. I mean, she’s like eight.”
“I’m nine”, Storm corrects, still leading us to the spacious area where Tae, Jane and Jack were also found, stretched out on the two cushioned couches.
“Does she also have some kind of hearing powers we don’t know about?”, Carter asks.
“No”, I deny. “You’re just terrible at whispering.”
Our small group gathers together in the living room, leaning against the ragged walls and sitting on the worn out furniture. We all stare at each other in silence before Tae speaks first. “We’re sitting ducks, man.”
Carter sighs heavily and rubs his temples with his long fingers. I can tell he’s frustrated. He’s been having this discussion with Tae for days now on why the situation is like this. “I don’t know what you want me to say, Tae”, he groans. “At least we’re alive. Can’t you just be thankful for that?”
“Thankful?”, Tae questioned in disbelief, rising up from the shaggy rocking chair before taking drowsy, firm steps towards Carter. “Look, I know you might think you’re some kind of hero or something, but you’re just as trapped as the rest of us are-”
“Tae”, I warn, but he converses furthermore.
“What should I be thankful for? For being on the run for hours, and who knows how much longer, when I’m exhausted and aching for a better life where I don’t have to hide who I am? Being dead is better than this!”, he exclaims, throwing his hands into the air frustratedly. “You can’t save us, Carter.”
I can feel my heart beating through my chest as my patience runs thin and fear takes over my enraged state. I can only imagine what Carter is going to say or do next and the thought makes my stomach twist and drift into an undying cataclysm. But what he says next, takes me by surprise.
“I can try”, he relents in a rather soft voice that was barely above a whisper. I tighten my grip on his hand for comfort and he turns his head to give me a small smile before directing his attention back to Tae. “I know it may not seem like it, Tae, but I’m trying my best...I really am.”
“And you’re doing amazing, Carter”, Jane meddles. “We’re thankful.”
Carter nods slowly, eyes falling to the patterned floor. Tae suddenly rests his hand on Carter’s shoulder and he looks up. “I’m sorry, man. I didn’t mean to get all defensive.”
“No, you don’t need to apologize. I understand. I know we’re all frustrated at this point in time, but we can’t turn against each other. We’re all we have.”
“Agreed”, Jack says, nodding vigorously in affiliation.
“Yeah...”, Storm sings, eyes moving to Tae. “So stop being so negative”, she teases.
Tae pulls Storm into his arms and hugs her brotherly. “I’m surprised you didn’t use your little pain powers on me”, he chuckles.
Her face falls in apprehension. “I uh...I actually can’t use it.”
“What do you mean?”, Jack asks.
“Wait, you too?”, Jane barges in once more.
Curiosity takes over my features. “What are you guys talking about?”
“I haven’t been able to read any of your thoughts since we walked into this place”, Jane confesses.
“Wait, hold on”, Carter assures. He turns around to spot a small item in a further room before groaning in defeat. “My eyes won’t focus or zoom.”
“So it’s not just Storm and I?”, Jane asks standing up and crossing her arms.
Tae frowns and cocks his head to the side. “As much as I love you not being able to get into my head...this is kind of freaking me out.”
“No kidding”, Jack agrees. “I told Evelyn earlier that I haven’t had any visions since we walked in.”
In a pattern, everyone turns their attention to look at me, starting with Jack and ending with Carter. I examine each and every readable expression they give me before I shake my head. “I don’t feel any different...but then again without my powers I’m not sure what side of my brain I use naturally-but before any of us start to freak out, let’s just all calm down. I’m sure it’s nothing”, I try to comfort. “Maybe we all just need some brain rest, I mean, who knows-”
All of a sudden, a loud, powerful crash cuts me off from outside and we jump, startled by the suspicious sound. Bright, beaming lights beat through the dusty windows, every layer of dust visible to our eyes due to the luster. A deafening siren sounds, causing the windows to shatter easily as if they were porcelain. An explosive blows the entryway door down, the impact making the wooden platform glide against the surface of the floor. The light now cascades into the house and we all cover our eyes, squinting our poor orbs to see any kind of answer to this sudden torture. Heavy, strict steps creep through the front door, the light starts to dim, due to the figure that covers it.
I look behind me. Storm has a flood of tears in her eyes, threatening to overflow as Tae uneasily comforts her. The others are kneeled to the ground, eyes peeking through their fingers with such an alarming look of horror and dread as they stare ahead of me. I turn around once more to search out whatever greeted their eyes with fear. And as I do, the figure approaches and kneels down in front of me. A sharp gasp leaves my mouth and his dark, piercing eyes bore into mine.
“It ends here, Evelyn”, Shellterzod monsterly grins.