October 31, 2012 by Vee Villarreal
Kopi – Memory
Kopi’s mother and sister were separated from them just before they were taken to the showers. He was pushed, along with his two older brothers, in a large group of young boys toward a strange room. Kopi didn’t recognize any of the other children around him. It was uncommon for children in the mutant sectors to go to school and most families couldn’t afford the expense even if one was available; many of them spent little or no time with other children besides their families and close neighbors. He clung desperately to his brother, Danny, as they moved forward with the tide of bodies. They were forced to strip and crowded into a large room with many other children; the smaller ones weeping inconsolably. Kopi felt Danny, pull him and Kai against his body so that they wouldn’t be separated in the madness. There were no words with which to comfort each other. A shower of water, like a heavy rain, fell from the ceiling onto the children beneath. Sobs, turned into shrill squeals, as the biting cold jets poured down upon their naked bodies. The stream seemed never-ending. Many of the children stood shivering on the chill, gray floor; clutching their arms around their bodies.
Danny tried to warm Kopi; kneeling on the floor grasping the bare skinned six-year-old to his body. Kopi felt a mysterious warmth emanating from Danny’s body and there was a faint glow to his skin. They both shivered violently, teeth chattering together uncontrollably. As fire Elementals, like their father, they were hot-blooded, running five to ten degrees hotter than most humans; they were incredibly sensitive to the cold, and still too young to control their abilities fully. Danny grew cold soon enough and they both collapsed to the floor, weakened. Kopi fell into a frigid sleep.
When he woke the first time, he was in a bed; pillowy warmth surrounding his body. He opened his eyes, but a blinding light above him seared them, blurring his sight. He fell back asleep; his eyelids heavy.
The second time he woke he was in a cell with Danny and Kai. There were small bandages on the backs of his hands, when he touched them they ached like a bruise. He sat up in the cot and it squeaked in protest. The cell smelled earthy and moist; it was comfortably warm to him, but Kai’s skin was glistening with sweat. The room must have been hotter than it was outside, because the muddy gray walls beaded with condensation. The room was small, just large enough for them to walk between the three cots, and dimly lit. A strip of lighting running along the walls above them, just out of reach, cast an eerie green tint to everything in the cell. There was one tiny, barred window high on the wall across from the steel door; its top edge bordered the ceiling. In the center of the room was a metal drain. The floor like the walls around them was cold concrete and suspiciously moist.
Danny was pacing in front of the cots, a space not even large enough for him to lie down in. When he heard the cot creak he looked up at his brother. Danny had striking blue-green eyes, almost aquamarine; translucent, but vibrant and reminiscent of water in a deep tropical caldera. Kopi had the same eyes, as did May. They were their father’s eyes. Danny was lean; even at twelve he was tall and lanky, but well-defined. He usually wore his hair long, but somewhere between the shower and the cell it had been shorn off. Danny’s head was now covered in coarse bristle. Kopi reached up tentatively to tough his own scalp and felt stubble where his soft curls had been.
“Good, you’re awake; you worried us, little brother.” Danny tried to smile, but fell short.
“Where’s mama?” Kopi sorely missed the soothing feel of Lana’s arms and her kind, patient voice.
“I don’t know, Kopi, with May and Suza,” Danny paused, “maybe.” Danny looked as confused as they were, and mad too. Danny had a formidable temper and he was in one of his moods; he began pacing again, furiously. Kai broke the silence that had fallen between them, watching Danny.
“Will we see them again?” His soft brown eyes, so big you could see white all around them, were wet with tears.
Danny stopped, his body turned away from them. “I don’t know that either.”
Kai – Memory
He shared a cell with his brothers, Kopi and Danny; though the hall guard told them that any day Danny would be taken to the men’s hall, now that he was too old to share a cell with them. The truth was Danny was getting too hard for them to control on the first level. Each day that passed Danny grew stronger and more rebellious; the drugs only served to calm him long enough for the guards to get him back into the cell. After he woke from an hour or two of intoxicated slumber he would be just as riled up as he’d been before the sedatives were administered. They hadn’t seen their parents, Mario, or their sisters in all the time they’d been there.
Life in Compound 17 had been ritualized since the first day .The guard always woke them early to dress and get the first meal of the day in the mess hall. Everyone’s meals were delegated by their genetic profile, which was attached to a bar code on their wrist bands. Everyone had a band: prisoners, guards, doctors; imprinted with a bar code on a small chip inside the black rubber band. The band was scanned at least twelve times a day, Kai had counted every day for over year: once upon waking, again at first meal, once more in the yard, then after returning from the yard, at second meal, before midday training, after midday training, at third meal, then at mandatory recreation, before and after night training, and after their shower in the evening, but that was just a rough guideline. Any time it struck a guard or trainer’s fancy they could have you scanned again, and of course, you were scanned prior to every procedure in Mezrahii’s ward. If you tried to remove the band, they’d inject the chip inside you. That’s what happened to Danny when he melted off his band one night in a rage. They came in the middle of the night, two guards and a white coat. The sound of the door opening had woken them up; the guards pulled Danny up and out of bed and the white coat stabbed a huge, thick needle under the skin of his collar, below the base of his neck. Then they dropped him back in his cot and left, locking the door behind them.
Globalnetics, the ones behind everything: the mutant registry, the zones and sectors on the outside, and the compounds, had thought of just about everything when they instituted their prisons. The food was highly nutritious, but bland, allowing everyone to grow and fill out healthily. Training and exercise were compulsory every day, so everywhere you looked the prisoners were fit and muscular. They attended classes every day during midday, but were never taught to read or write or do sums; knowledge that might have been useful in sparking a rebellion. Instead, they were instructed in meditation, military strategy, hygiene, and physiology.
They were all being groomed into soldiers, and therefore needed to know how to survive in the field and follow military commands; they were instructed in the use of conventional, as well as, unconventional weapons. The most unusual training sessions involved a mixture of meditation and target practice, specifically tailored to each prisoner’s abilities. The mutants housed and trained on the first level were those that had powers useful in some respect on the battlefield. Every hall categorized by the type of mutants within. The front halls, closest to the guard rooms, contained the most powerful and destructive classes and the ones that were the hardest to control. The first hall was for Statics, mutants that could control or generate electrical currents; volatile and quick, they could kill in a second with just a touch. The second hall, opposite Hall 1, housed the Elementals. Kai and his brothers had a cell on that hall. Most of the cells were empty, about eight out of twelve now, by his count when he was escorted past to the washroom. All of the mutants on Halls 1 and 2 were children, under the age of fifteen, because after that they grew too powerful to house together they were moved to Level 4 solitary cells. Hall 3, located behind the first hall, was for Morphers, those mutants that could take the form of other living things. Most could only change into one or two creatures, but the more powerful ones were rumored to be able to mimic almost anything, even other humans. The hall across the way was for the Healer class, they had a valuable gift, one that Globalnetics coveted; they could repair any wound, though most were only powerful enough to heal a cut or a small burn before taking damage on themselves. The back halls were more isolated and smaller, they wrapped around in two “U’s” on either side of the back guard rooms. Each U had three short halls, two flanking the sides and one directly in front of the back doors, leading to the yards. The west section included halls 5, 6, and 7 and housed a conglomeration of mutants that generally had non-psychic powers: Metalloids, Ghosts, and Shifters. The east section housed the psychics; mutants with powerful control over people and objects, but easily subdued with drugs. Those halls were perhaps the most densely packed; cell after cell with up to six individuals each, Emotives, Telepaths and Telekinetics.
Training took place in small outbuildings across the yard from the main building. Today, they would be practicing meditation. It hadn’t been apparent at first, why the trainers would want to teach them the art of controlling and quieting their minds, but Kai felt he knew now what the purpose was. If they were the weapons for Globalnetics new army, than they had to hone their innate skills the same way they were trained to disassemble and clean their guns. Meditation taught them control and balance. On the outside, no one practiced their abilities per say, you might use them if it seemed advantageous, but only a reckless mutant would use them with abandon, because overuse came with a heavy price. His parents had taught them from a young age not to play around with their powers, mostly for safety, as elementals their powers could be destructive or even deadly when not controlled, but also because of the taxing quality it had on the body. Kai had seen the guards escorting the emotive mutants to and from the medical wards, always returning looking haggard and sickly. Many of them were no taller than him, but looked old, with sagging, wrinkled skin and brittle hair the color of dry straw. With his training, Kai could now use his powers with finite control; sometimes he would practice in the showers, manipulating the water into familiar shapes, even faces. He had tried once to sculpt his mother’s face in the streams of water from the shower head, but he could no longer recall the details of her face, though he recognized her in his dreams almost every night.
That morning, they came before the sun rose, a woman and two big men, not the usual guards; these were dressed in long, white coats. He woke instantly, his eyelids jolting open with the sound of the lock unlatching, he sat up on his elbows to look at who was entering. The light from the hall blinding him from inside the pitch black room; it must still have been the middle of the night. They paid him no attention, instead directing their attention to Danny who was already sitting up and over the side of his cot. The two large, stone-faced men pulled Danny to his feet and bound his hands by the wrists in hard plastic cuffs molded together in the center, they each took an arm and removed him from the room. At the doorway, the woman stopped them and pressed a Med-gun to Danny’s arm, it clicked and in a matter of seconds his head lulled forwards, limp and heavy. The men dragged him down the hall as the white coat closed and locked the door behind them. Kopi and Kai sat in the dark room in silence, neither of them able to fall back asleep; both knowing that unless they were freed that would be their last memory of their brother.