“What do you mean they aren’t real?” I demand.
“They’re not real. They’re fake.”
How is that even possible? Inquests are not an optional event. Everyone has their Inquest on their sixteenth birthday willingly, or they’re hunted down and forced into it. I knew a boy dying of cancer who was bombarded by Inquisitor Moore in his hospital bed.
“How did you get out of having an Inquest,” I ask feeling slightly dazed. Could I have done the same thing?
“I thought for sure I was going to be named a member of the Guardian class. I wanted it more than anything,” Milo says, “so I went to my Inquest eagerly.”
Milo doesn’t answer right away. He lifts the hand I’m holding and stares at the marks on his wrist. The most jagged of the lines deforms even more as he clenches his hand into a fist. “When the Inquisitor started, it was obvious something was wrong. He said my full name…and then nothing. No talents, no name, no class. There was simply nothing for him to tell me. I was nothing.”
“I…I’ve never heard of that happening before,” I say.
“Neither had I.”
I knew what was coming when I stepped into Inquisitor Moore’s house. I knew there was going to be rejection and possibly death. It was horrible, but at least I’d had time to prepare myself for it. Milo was blindsided. His dreams were ripped away in an instant. Memories of the day I finally put the pieces together and realized my own horrible fate crowd painfully into my mind. I know how that feels very well.
“What happened?” I ask.
“The Inquisitor tried again and again. He spent hours trying to make something happen, but my wrist never changed. When he finally gave up he started panicking, raving about the Guardians coming. It was only luck that the resident Guardian was sick that day. I had no idea what he was talking about, but my parents were pretty freaked out too.”
“Why were they so scared?” I ask.
He doesn’t seem to hear me. His eyes harden as his grip on my hand tightens. “They just kept screaming at each other. Celia started crying, but I was the only one who noticed. I didn’t know what to do. She was always just the little snot who bugged me before. Mom and Dad took care of her. I was too busy. Suddenly the roles were reversed,” Milo says. Rolling onto his side lets him bury his face in my hair without disturbing my leg. “She was so scared. I stumbled over to her and held her. We listened together as my parents argued with the Inquisitor about what they should do. The Inquisitor kept shaking his head and saying he had to turn me over. I was upset before, but I started shaking as I listened to them. Turned over to the Guardians. Horrible images of what they were going to do to me blocked everything else out.”
Forget my leg. I roll, gently, onto my side and press against Milo’s chest. The pain of moving stings my eyes, but Milo’s whole body curling around me helps to soften the hurt. I don’t ask him to go on. I just hope that when he’s ready he will. I know better than anyone how difficult it is to hold a secret inside for so long, and how torturous it is to finally let it out. The room dims in the faded pink light of sunset before he speaks again.
“The next thing I knew, I was being pulled away from Celia. She grabbed for me but my mom held her back while my dad and the Inquisitor pinned me to the ground. I fought back but my dad clocking me in the head ended that pretty fast. I was too out of it to see the knife, but I felt it.”
YOU ARE READING
For Libby Sparks, turning sixteen means only one thing…death. Guardian rule demands she attend the ritualistic Inquest that will unveil her talents and secure her place in society. But that isn’t all that will be revealed in Libby’s case. The more t...