As relief was about to settle in, the henchmen forced us forward. Silent, staunch men in black. Their humanity suppressed behind bull helmets of tainted brass. No welcome. No sympathy. That was the way of our path ahead so it seemed.
“Hope is hidden behind closed eyes,” a thought teased my mind as I shuffled in line with the other unfortunate kids.
I shook the thought off and all the other nagging, reassuring voices circling in my head. Only the stupid hoped in a world where you weren’t allowed to. Stupid people become dead people very quickly.
“Then what is living?” Another thought stabbed numbers in my head.
The urge to scream was pushed against my mouth. I bite my lip hard to stop noises from coming out. A trickle of blood was released instead.
We trailed a narrow, rocky path where the wind’s howling wrapped our ears and its icy sting slapped our bare skin. No one complained. We didn’t have the energy.
The path opened into a compact anti-chamber. The henchmen herded us into its center circle and gave us a sign to stand silently.
Unexpectedly, we were alone.
The uneasiness from the others was obvious amongst our silence. An expression of shock and horror was clear on everyone’s faces when the pretty-girl, next to me, found her voice. Albeit weak and brittle.
“This is it.” Her words was more of a sighed declaration. It was the most powerful voice I had ever heard; a velvety tone almost hidden.
I felt my heart pounding fiercely; rekindling a spark of freshness in my deadpan life.
“Dun think so,” whispered the ash-blond boy who had also found his voice.
I stared into his green eyes; a spark of life briefly shone through before returning to their dulled state.
He met my eyes with a frown. “Yah strange. Dun see you like us.”
What the hell did that mean? I matched his frown. His face lifted with a wry smile.
"Yah interesting lass. I'm Troy," he said.
The introduction of his name threw me off. It seemed out of place.
"We don't need names," the pretty-girl scolded under her breath.
"Okay then yah be?" Troy challenged the girl.
She peered at him for a moment before carefully whispering her name.
"Kalia." Her voice was barely audible but we heard it loud and clear.
I felt their burning gazes on my face. I gulped and opened my mouth. My name wouldn't come out. A weird feeling came upon me when I stumbled about my brain for a detail that should be embedded in everything that I was.
What is my name? Who am I? My body broke out in a sweat at the questions and I found myself shivering.
Henchmen returned to the room; saving me from the moment. We resumed our unimportant, deadpan identities.