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The War Between
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A country destroyed by war. Only two cities have been known to survive, sprung up around the last remaining resources. One is inhabited by humans. The other, as a way to pacify and preserve peace, belong to the superhumans – beings similar in appearance, but in possession of abilities and gifts both strange and terrifying. Years of mutual hatred and fear has brought them to the brink of war. Syra and Draiken, the leaders of the superhuman city, are at odds. Tensions are rising, and with the arrival of a strange superhuman girl with unique and powerful abilities, and a human soldier claiming to have saved her life, the peace of both cities are about to shatter.
Every day more desperate citizens arrived at the store with hollowed, pleading eyes. I couldn’t help all of them and so I started a system – I would make sure that everyone who asked got an extra ration, but this could take weeks as I tried to keep Everton ignorant and myself safe from the stocks.
Something had gone wrong though. I arrived at work to find two soldiers waiting for me. Without a word they moved me inside and sat me down. They loomed over me silently, circling like hunters, eyes sweeping over me as if waiting for me to start wailing my confession. I kept my mouth shut, folding my arms tightly across my body like armour. The silence in the room stretched on and on, the only sound our mingled breaths and the crunching of the soldier’s boots across the shop floor.
Finally Everton broke. ‘Is this your idea of an interrogation?’
One of the soldiers shot Everton a look of pure contempt. ‘Why don’t you go move packages around in your storeroom or whatever it is you do? And let us get on with our jobs.’
Everton sniffed and shuffled away without argument. Once the door to the storeroom had closed behind him, the youngest solider turned to me. ‘Right. We have better things to do than spend all day questioning you, so I’m going to ask you the obvious one – are you stealing from Everton?’ He asked this while pretending to adjust his jacket, moving it in such a way that I got a clear view of the gun holstered at his hip. The other soldier casually pulled up a chair next to mine, leaning close, the blatant threat in his eyes sending a rush of dread through me.
‘No…’ Damn it. My voice was too high. I cleared my throat and looked him in the eye. ‘No, I’m not stealing from him. Why would I? My parents are government officials. We have enough.’
The seated one leaned even closer, his stale breath sweeping over my face. ‘There’s never enough in this city, girl. You could be stealing on behalf of someone. You sure you don’t want to change your answer?’ A knife appeared from the depths of his jacket, the light catching its blade.
Panic beat violently in my chest, battering against my heart. My control was slipping. Heat flashed through me like a moving flame. My fingers tingled with the force of the blood rushing through them. I tried to catch it before it happened, but it pushed out of me with a force that left me dazed and breathless. The knife clattered to the floor. The gun strapped around the other soldier’s waist seemed to unclasp itself from its holster and fell almost in unison with the knife, both skittering out of reach. Before either of them could react, I gave a hard push and, from the way their eyes remained fastened on the chair I’d been sitting in, I could tell they thought I was still there. They were seeing what I wanted them to see – a slip in reality, an image I had put up like a smoke screen. I rose, my fear threatening to spill over. I was shaking with the effort of keeping the illusion in place. I yanked the door open, knowing the moment it closed behind me, the image would dissolve and they would realise I was no longer there.
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About the author
Jennifer Withers has been writing since she was seven years old, banging out stories about dragons and damsels in distress on an ancient typewriter. She went on to earn a BA in English Studies at the University of Pretoria. Since then, she has taken writing courses through Writer’s Write, and Allaboutwriting. Jennifer lives in Pretoria, with her husband, two dogs, and an ageing cat. The War Between is her first novel.