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“Wait, you want me to join the army?” I asked, still confused that he would suggest that.

It had been a week since August’s last visit. A week of life trapped in a warren of narrow halls with locked and barred windows. A week of guards and escorts everywhere I went. It surprised me they didn’t come to the bathroom with me.

I suppose it didn’t matter too much, I had a lot more on my mind. Namely that I wasn’t the only ‘Changed’ out there. ‘Changed’. That’s what they called us. I suppose it was better than ‘freak’, ‘mutant’, or ‘weirdo’. Though, from the sidelong glances and whispers I was getting, it was obviously that it was simply a polite way of saying ‘monster’.

Now he was sitting there telling me the military wanted to gather all the Changed for some program to fight the angels. Fight the angels. I had a hard time believing that I was even thinking words like that.

Or thinking that I wanted to wrap my hands around the neck of that bitch that killed Debra. When I lay there every night, crying or just wishing I’d been the one who died, I would fantasize about what I’d do to her if I had the chance. Sometimes, the things I wanted to do her were so bad I scared myself.

So, here we were, after another week of boring tests that only proved I was getting faster than their machines had the capability to test. A week of pokes and prods and blood tests and peeing in a bottle.

And then August swaned in with an offer that would get me out. Only it came with a catch. Of course there was a catch.

“Would it help if I said your country needs you, Peri Delaney?” His grin did not waver.

Bewildered, I shook my head. “You can’t be serious. This is some kind of joke, right? Look at me. You know my history. I don’t like taking orders from anybody, which I’m pretty sure is a requirement for being in the military.”

“I know what you were, Peri, but no one knows what you will become. That’s for you to decide. I know you come from a difficult background and you’ve had trouble with authority figures.”

That was putting it mildly.

Continuing, he said in a quieter voice, “But honestly, they are scared shitless. Things are bad out there and everyone is just doing their best to try to keep a lid on things. I think they are more interested in having the Changed on board than any potential disobedience. And,” he said, leaning forward slightly and lowering his voice, “it would give you a shot at a chance to get back at them.” He sat back and let that sink in a bit before continuing.

“What if I say no?”

August frowned. “Well, I wouldn’t be able to get you out of here. I’d hoped you would consider it.”

There it was, the carrot and the stick. “So, I’m stuck in here if I say no, but get to leave if I say yes?”

August’s eyes narrowed and he glared a moment in the direction of the door guard. Then, with a sigh, he said, “Those are their rules, I’m afraid.”

“Why am I being kept here?”

“It’s only till they know more about what has happened to you. For all anyone knows, you might be a threat to yourself or others without knowing it.”

“Yeah, but I’d still be a threat if I joined the military.”

He nodded, chuckling. “True, but they would have you in one place where they could better observe what, if any, effects there might be from your change. So the government is willing to take that risk.”

“What if I go and it’s not for me?”

“I’m not entirely certain. I imagine you would be returned here, or if at that time they are confident that you are not a danger to yourself or others, they’d maybe let you go back to civilian life.”

Something in the way he looked at me made me think he didn’t believe that any more than I did.

I was not a big believer in the government, specifically the military, looking out for my best interests. The government had let me down too many times in the past: putting me in unfit homes and generally failing me while I was in care. Sure, individuals tried and cared, but the government that controlled those people was corrupt and didn’t give a shit.

But maybe things were different now. Maybe being attacked by ‘angels’ would wake people up and make them care about more than making a quick buck.

I doubted it.

What choice did I have though? How else was I going to get out of here?

August leaned closer to me. When he spoke, his voice was a hushed whisper that was hard to hear, but his breath across my ear gave me chills.

Or maybe it was what he said.

“They aren’t going to give you a choice.”

When he pulled away from me, his blue-grey eyes were large and intense, like haunting shapes that peered deep into me. Fear gripped me and I realized how trapped I was.

Hell, did anyone even know I was alive? I could literally disappear and nobody would even know I didn’t die in New York.

Oh shit, oh shit. August was warning me, trying to get me to take the plunge pretty damn quick.

“Ok,” I managed to get out, trying not to let my voice be too shaky. “I’m in.”

“You made the right choice,” he said. He reached out as though to take my hand, but stopped and pulled back. “Trust me, this is for the best.”

I wasn’t so certain about that.

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About the author

Localforeigner

Bio: Though born in the United States, I am now living in bonnie Scotland. Been writing most of my life and though I have some non-fiction (gaming) published, I have never had any of my fiction published in any format. I've written a few novels before but never tried sharing them with the world. My interests are primarily fantasy and urban fantasy. I appreciate any feedback, good or bad.

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