Chapter 2

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Words do not scare me. Sentences do not phase me. It is how they are said that causes me to perceive them the way I do. The way that the council member said those words made it sound like he was opening up a gift, eager to see its contents and what it posses. Only this time, I am that gift.

The way the examination process is carried out is rather harsh. I am strapped to a metal chair in front of the panel of the twelve members, and wires are hooked all on my chest and head. A projection screen is attached to the wall, and my memories will soon be projected for everyone to see. I am trapped and exploited.

"Let the examination begin!" One of the twelve announces with delight. The lights go dark, I feel the wires come to life with electricity, and the projection screen lights up. Here we go, I think to myself. Every secret you've ever kept, everything you've ever thought was private, every thought you've ever had will now be out for everybody to see.

The screen begins with my first memory from when I was three. My mother and father showed me a bright sunset that put the stars and moon to shame. Bright oranges and yellows and reds illuminated the sky, and I was awestruck. My thoughts from that moment narrate the memory: so big, so pretty, I can hear the panel of twelve stifle their laughter at my little three year old mind. The wires hooked up to me also transmit what I was feeling in that memory, so despite my discomfort, I feel amazed.

On and on my most vivid memories are played, from the first time I rode a bike to swimming in the river on numerous occasions. However, there is one particular memory from when I was thirteen and tried to climb a tree. Needless to say, I fell pretty hard from fifteen feet in the air, thought some very unkind thoughts that were played over the speaker, and the wires gave me the pain I felt in that moment.

As my last memory is played, I start to panic. It is from this morning when I passed the wall. What's over there? What are they like? I want to find out. My palms start to sweat as the panel looks concerned at my thoughts. Even though they deny it to their citizens, we all know that there are people who have opposed the Council that are no longer breathing.

The screen fades to black, and someone comes to remove the wires from me and lets me out of the chair. I nervously approach the panel as I hear them whispering about what to do with me. I can hear shushed conversations between them. "We could give her the power of the elements?" "No! Someone with that curiosity needs something more!" "More? She wants to know what's over the wall! I say give her no power at all, and end her!" "Oh please, let's not jump to conclusions. Everyone we've examined has had those same thoughts." "There is something special about her. She's...different from the others. Do you think she could be the one?"

All heads simultaneously turn towards me, and I freeze. The one? What one? "Julia, could you give us a moment? We have some things to discuss," one of the members says to me. I nod, and they all exit the panel to one of the back rooms, and I am left alone. This is it, now's my chance! I can run from this room and decide my own future! Now's my chance to be free! Even as I think these thoughts, I know that I will never be brave enough to try to get out. I will be stuck in this society for the rest of my life, with nothing but a power to keep me going. I find a corner in the room, sink down on my knees, and sob.

Why me? Why do I have to be so different? Why can't I be happy with my life here? Am I the only one who wants more than this? For what seems like an eternity these questions plague my mind. In fact, I feel myself on the brink of completely losing it until the twelve come back in.

"Julia Lancaster, we have reached an agreement on your power."

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