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Manipulated

By @writeastory4

Five

Weak, hungry, and thirsty, I drag myself towards that door. Towards my ticket to freedom.

I can only hope the door leads to the outside world.

The ceiling gets higher and higher until I am able to stand up and walk- or should I say limp- towards the door. That Manipulation was the strongest I have ever played, and it really took it out of me.

I finally stumble towards the door, so exhausted and pained that I can almost see two doors.

Weakly, I turn the knob and step outside.

The first thing that hits me is the sunlight.

It is blindingly bright, causing me to squint and strain my vision. I have never seen something so bright.

The next is the smell.

Oh, the smell.

It’s so sweet, so fresh. The Misery reeked with the scent of tons of dirty, bloodied people.

I feel something wet roll down my cheek. A tear. I haven’t cried since I was little.

Andi taught me not to cry, that crying makes you weak.

Do I feel guilty for not taking Andi with me? Granted, a little. But do I shove it down and ignore the guilt? Heck yeah. Self survival is all that matters. Look out for Number One- me, and only look out for Number Two- Andi- if possible.

I am standing in a narrow alley between two tall buildings. Odd sounds of “bleep” come from moving, four wheeled vehicles. Gillian described them as “cars.” Normal people sit in them as a method of transportation.

“This is… brilliant!” I mutter, running across the alley and onto the sidewalk.

I run straight into a boy with light saffron hair and steely gray eyes. He scowls at me as I apologize. “I’m so sorry! I was just walking, and…”

My voice trails off. I am suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to stop talking and walk away. I feel my feet tingling, wanting to move away from the boy. My mouth hovers open, the words unsaid on my tongue.

No.

Just like that, the feeling is gone.

The boy smiles.

“You just Manipulated me!” I shout. “What the… how did you do that?” Manipulation is an inherited gift. A child with two Manipulator parents will be a Manipulator. And, because any and all Manipulators are locked up in the Misery, no child has one Manipulator parent and one regular parent.

At least, that’s what I think.

The boy’s smug expression turns to one of alarm. “Manipulated?” His voice is a bit raspy, as if he is recovering from a cold. “What’s Manipulated?”

“Don’t play dumb with me! I can recognize Manipulation when I feel it!”

The boy doesn’t give up. “What the hell are you talking about?” His expression of confusion is so convincing, I almost believe it.

“I’m going to seriously hurt you if you don’t drop the act right now!” I snarl through gritted teeth. “And if you try to Manipulate me again, so help me, I will…” My voice trails off once again. For a few seconds, I stand motionless and thinking.

The boy is smiling once again.

“Stop that!” I cry, mentally shaking off the Manipulation. I involuntarily curly my fingers into fits. My nails bite into the palms of my hands.

He laughs, slightly hoarse. “Who are you, anyways?”

“Who are you?” I retort. One of my greatest talents is the ability to answer a question with a question. It’s a gift, really.

The boy raises a pointed eyebrow at me.

“My name is Wolf, and I come from the Misery. I managed to escape. I can make strong Manipulations of my own and I can resist other Manipulations.” The words pop out of my mouth against my own will. Color rushes into my cheeks. Manipulated again, I think. He’s good. “Not fair!” I protest. “You can’t keep Manipulating me like that!”

“Oh?” The boy smiles again. “Why not?”

“Because! You can’t just keep toying with people like this! It isn’t right!”

“Who’s to stop me?”

I lower my voice to a snarling whisper. “I am going to murder you.”

“With what?” questions the boy. “Two tired hands and a bloody leg?” I am suddenly aware of the occasional flares of pain being sent up my leg, at the spot where the guard struck me with her whip.

“I think you underestimate my willpower,” I snarl, desperately resisting the urge to lunge at him.

“It takes more than willpower to purposely kill someone,” he says. “It takes brutal cruelty.” He studies me for a moment, then adds, “I don’t think you have that.”

I say nothing. What is someone supposed to say once they are told they don’t possess brutal cruelty? Thank you?

“Come on.” The boy seems to have decided something. “We’re going to my place.”

I don’t know if there is anything to do but nod.

“By the way,” says the boy, “my name is Atlas.”

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