Avoidables 6By: Rachel Medhurst
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Layla had gone back to Lower Side and I hadn’t seen her since. William had asked me to help with hunting down the cat rebels who were hiding in the city. We’d managed to capture a few, but I was sure there were more hiding out.
‘Henry, I want you and Jason to go and get Layla today. We need to ask her to speak to Amya and get her to round up her people. This is taking far too much time and I want to move on with it,’ William said.
I was standing in his office. Her name coming from his tongue had made me look up from the floor. I’d been watching my feet as I thought of the way she’d stroked my back the last time I’d seen her. Had she told anyone about me?
‘Yes, sir,’ I replied.
He frowned and smiled gently. ‘I’m surprised you’re no longer protesting about working with an Avoidable.’
I swallowed as I glanced at Jason. He stood beside me with his hands behind his back. His light brown hair was fluffy and he had bags under his eyes. We’d been working hard and I knew I probably looked equally exhausted.
‘I didn’t protest…’ I started, but I couldn’t finish my sentence. I wasn’t a good liar.
‘You threatened to leave the government if I made you work with an Avoidable.’
Jason’s eyebrows rose and I shook my head. ‘Well…Layla is alright,’ I said.
William laughed and Jason joined in. I was a little jealous of the easy companionship the men shared. I was always nervous around our leader, but Jason seemed to treat him like his best friend.
‘I think she’d be shocked to hear you say that,’ Jason said.
I shrugged and clicked my tongue. ‘Can we just get on with it?’
William nodded and gestured for us to leave.
‘One more thing, Henry,’ he called as Jason left the room, ‘I want you to do a test on Amya. I want to know just how much she feels and how it translates into brainwaves. Can you do that for me?’
I nodded slowly, thinking of doing an electromagnetic test. ‘I’ll try to get it done, but it depends how close I can get and if she’ll stay still.’
‘Ask Layla to help you; that’s what she’s there for.’
‘Yes, sir,’ I replied, leaving him to it.
‘What did he say?’ Jason asked as I joined him in the hallway.
When I told him, his eyebrows shot up into his forehead. ‘Good luck persuading Layla to help you with that.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a completely harmless procedure. It just measures a brainwave, that’s all.’
‘Just…good luck,’ Jason said laughing as we climbed into the car and started towards the Lower Side.
‘I’ve noticed something between you,’ Jason said.
I was looking out the window and didn’t turn when he spoke.
‘Between who…?’ I replied.
The people walking around the city caught my attention. A beautiful brunette coming out of a clothes shop. A tall handsome man talking into his mobile phone. These people were great to look at, but they lacked depth. I could see it in their blank faces.
‘You and Layla.’
I glanced at him then, but he was watching the road. There weren’t many cars on Upper Side. Oil was running low, so people couldn’t really afford petrol. The guards were the only ones who patrolled the streets now.
‘You’re mad,’ I laughed.
The noise fell silent as Jason shook his head. ‘William said this would happen, but I’m surprised how quickly it has.’
‘What would happen…?’ I asked, curious to catch an insight into our leader.
Jason let out a long breath and glanced over at me. We were getting closer to Lower Side and I knew he wouldn’t say anything once we were over there.
‘Henry, I don’t know you that well but…’ he paused and I nodded at him to go on. ‘Things are changing in the city and Layla…’
‘There’s nothing going on with Layla and me,’ I snapped.
The bridge loomed behind us as we crossed into Lower Side. The huts and metal buildings made me cringe. I’d only been to Lower Side a handful of times, but every time I did, I felt horrible. There was an air of dirt that hung around this part of the city. It was a slum and a part of me wondered for the first time ever, if I should’ve been sent here. My back itched. It was a phantom feeling, one I had every time I thought of my birthmark. My light brown skin had made it less obvious to others, but I never took my shirt off in front of any Perfect.