My eyes snap open to the sound of thunder. I sit up and glance out the window. Forks of lightning illuminate the night sky. Creating an aerie glow over my faction. My hands tremble slightly, I always hated thunder storms. I run my quivering fingers over the soft quilted fabric strewn across my legs. I inhale deeply through my nose and exhale out of my mouth.
I lay back down and fold my arms over my chest, in a protective manner. As if my scrawny arms will do any good against the powerful strikes of lightning. I close my eyes and let myself drift back into sub consciousness. After what seems like only minutes, daylight is streaming through the thick glass pane of my window.
I groggily roll out of bed and slip on my blue attire. I take a step toward the long mirror in the right corner of my bedroom. The storm last night kept me tossing and turning so my black hair looks like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket. I try to pat it down with no avail. My appearance has never been something I cared much about. I don't really look like anything special. Green eyes, black hair, tall lanky frame and lips that had never kissed a girl. My mother says I look a lot like my father. I wouldn't know.
My thoughts are interrupted by a soft knock on my door. I turn and see my mother standing in the doorway. She is, of course, dressed in blue as our faction is supposed to. She smiles at me. Her smile has always been so lovely and kind. She's the nicest lady in the world.
"How are you feeling?" She asks. A sweet smile still gracing her lips, but concern flashes in her eyes.
"I'm fine." I lie.
I don't want her to worry about me.
"Good, because you have nothing to worry about." She steps forward and gives me a warm embrace. "I promise."
"Okay" I say softly into her shoulder.
She pulls away and gives me smile. "Now come on, you don't want to be late."
I nod in agreement. Even though I do, in fact, want to be late. Today our classes with only go until lunch, the other half of the day will be used for the Aptitude Test. But that doesn't change the fact that I hate school. I live Erudite. The faction for those graced with knowledge, the only problem is I'm not very smart. I'm not stupid either. But I just don't have a passion for learning like all my peers do. I can barely pay attention in class and I very rarely hand in assignments and homework. Instead of spending my time trying to memorize the dictionary or doing long division, I like to stand by the train tracks.
Sometimes I stand there for hours hoping to see some Dauntless jump off, whooping an laughing. I watch them curiously and enviously. They are so intriguing. Other times, when a train rolls by I'll imagine myself jumping onto it. I never actually do.
I've always been rather confused about where I belong. I know I don't belong in Erudite, but at the same time I don't think I'd ever be able to leave. It's just me and my mother now, I don't think I would be able to leave her all alone. As I look at her now, I can't bear the thought of leaving her behind. But today the test will tell me what to do. And for the first time I'll know.
"I should head out." I say.
"Yes, you should." She gives me one last hug before shooing towards the doorway.
I stride towards my bedroom door. I glance back and see my mother making my bed. I turn and walk down our narrow hallway. My feet slap the cold blue tiles as I make my way to the door. I shove my shoes and jacket on and slip out the door.
People all dressed in blue bustle across the straight walkways. Chatter buzzes in my ears. Everyone carries books, laptops, and tablets with them. As if waiting for any chance to start spewing facts at rapid fire. My hands are empty. The large glass buildings loom around me creating dark shadows. Erudite has the most advanced living space. Filled with high tech security and the most forward architecture.
I stroll over to the bus stop and wait among a several others for a few moments before the big hunk of machinery pulls up in front of me. I hop up the steps and slide into one of the empty seats. This bus was designed by Erudite to travel fast and efficiently without causing discomfort to its occupants. To me it doesn't seem much different that the other buses, but if I ever told an Erudite that, they would probably give me a twenty minute argument.
I gaze out the window, watching Chicago slide past outside. We make a few more stops and more people clamber on and the bus becomes more and more crowded. Before long we arrive at school. I let everyone else go in front of me before I step off myself. Not necessarily out of kindness, but more because I want to take as long as possible to get to my class.
I drag my feet all through the small courtyard situated in front of the school, staring at the mosaic of stones. Only when I hear a loud do I lift my head. I turn and see a train barreling along the tracks. Soon enough blurs of black start jumping out of the carts, laughing and yelling. The Dauntless have arrived. I watch them playfully shove and run around chasing one another.
I whip around at the sound of my name. I see my best friend Grover hobbling toward me. I flash him a wide grin.
"Hey." I say and then avert my attention back to the Dauntless.
"They are so crazy." Grover mutters. "Literally insane, all of them"
"I think they're awesome." I reply without looking at him.
He chuckles softly. "I guess that makes you insane too, Jackson."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Come on," he says nudging my elbow. "We're gonna be late"
Reluctantly I turn away and follow him toward the school.
When my last class of the day is finally dismissed, I feel a wave of relief wash over me. It only lasts a moment though. I know that know I am that much closer to the Aptitude Test. A queasy feeling starts in my stomach and for I brief second I think I'm going to vomit. Luckily I manage to control myself before I do. That would have been terribly embarrassing. I take deep breaths and try to slow my heart rate.
I follow the steady stream of students headed to the cafeteria. Once I arrive, I spot a few of my friends. Grover sits at a table with a bunch of teens dressed in blue. They are all pouring over maps and books. I stride over and take a seat next to Grover. A few people greet me. To which I respond with a slight nod of my head.
I don't talk to most people. Not because I'm shy but because I usually can't follow what they're saying. So I usually keep to myself. But honestly, who wants to talk about augmented models and the square route of 3967 all day. Not me that's for sure.
My eyes roam around the tables. The Amity, all dressed in bright yellow and red all play clapping and singing games. The Abnegation dressed all in grey, sit quietly only exchanging a few polite words. The Candor talk loudly to each other, simply saying whatever comes to mind. Their black and white clothing represent the truth and lies. The most noticeable of them all though, is the Dauntless. Their loud, playful bickering brings the volume of the room up a few hundred notches. A couple seem to be arguing about something, using large hand gestures, but the smiles on their faces makes it obvious they aren't serious.
Every few minutes a name is called and that person gets up and exits the cafeteria. They're going alphabetically by last name , and they are getting awfully close to me.
A tall girl with long ginger hair makes her way from the Amity table to the door. My heart starts to beat annoyingly hard against my rib cage. I wonder if any of the Dauntless are nervous.
"Joshua Holter." I wait quietly as a few more names are called. I stare blankly down at the map on the table in front of me and pretend to be studying it.
I take a deep breath and start to stand. Grover pats me on the back and gives me a reassuring smile. I give him a grateful look and continue on over to the door.
I walk as slowly as possible. My stomach starts fluttering with butterflies. Except it seems although the butterflies had a double shot of espresso this morning. A talk figure emerges from one of the doors. He has short brown hair cut closely to his head. Stubble lines his jaw. He is dressed all in grey so I know he must be Abnegation. Of course. The Abnegation always do as much volunteer work as possible.
"Follow me." He says in a gruff voice.
He leads me into a room with a large chair in the centre. Floor length mirrors line the walls on either side if me. I look and see a million me's walking toward the chair.
"I'm Jonathan. You must be Perseus Jackson."
"Yes. I am." I reply, keeping my voice steady.
"Well, hop into that chair."
I do as I'm told and sit. It seems a lot bulkier sitting in it than it did just looking at it. And I feel incredibly small in it. I watch as Jonathan readies a needle. He slides a new cartridge of orange liquid in. I notice that not once does he look at the mirrors. Then I remember that Abnegation frown upon vanity, seeing it as self indulgent. He finishes and looks at me. The large needle balanced between his fingers.
"Lean back." He says.
Hesitantly, I do as he says. He wipes my neck with a disinfectant swab. And lifts the needle.
"Ready? It won't hurt."
I don't respond. Knowing he'll do it even if I'm not ready. I feel a pinch as the metal slides into my skin. My eyelids grow heavy and I let them close.
When they open again I am no longer in the testing room. Instead I am in the cafeteria. But it has no students or tables in it. Instead there are two pedestals. On one of them sits a block of cheese on the other is a knife.
"Choose." Says a voice from behind me. I turn but no one is there.
"Choose." It says again, this time more insistent.
"Why? What are-" A loud bark interrupts my words.
I whip around. A terrifying looking dog prowls toward me. It's teeth bared as it makes a low growling sound. I lunge toward the knife just before it disappears. I advance on the dog. For a moment we circle each other. Then, I pounce. I slash its side with my blade. No blood emerges from the wound. The dog simply goes limp and it falls through the floor.
Suddenly I hear laughter. I look over to see a little girl with her hair in pigtails walking towards me. Behind the child, another dog appears and starts toward her slowly but gaining pace.
"No!" I yell.
I drop my knife and run toward them.
I launch myself in between the two just as the dog leaps, with its sharp teeth at the ready. Its cold dark eyes bore into me. The dog's body collides with mine and I fall through the floor just as the other dog had.
All of sudden I'm on a bus. No one seems to have noticed a teenage boy just appear in the middle of the aisle. There is a greasy looking man standing next to me. He holds up a newspaper.
"Do you know this man?" He asks.
He points one of his grimy fingers to a picture of a man who looks vaguely familiar but I can't place where I've seen him before.
"Yes." I say.
"Are you sure?" His voice this time is a lot meaner and louder.
"Yes." I say once again.
The man gives me a wry smile showing off his rotting teeth, and then he disappears along with the newspaper and the bus.
I'm back in the testing room. Jonathan is staring at me. He looks slightly panicked.
"What?" I ask.
"This is not good..."
"What is? What's wrong?" I start to worry that I did something.
"Listen to me, and listen well. You don't tell anyone what just happened. You will go home right now and say that the serum made you sick. I'll manually enter your result." He says as he ushers me toward the door.
"Wait, what happened? What were my results?"
He takes a deep breath. "They were inconclusive.
"What? So what faction do I belong in?"
"Candor and Abnegation and Dauntless."
"That's impossible." I say quietly.
"No. It's not. But it's very rare." He looks me in the eyes. "There is a word for people like you."
"What is it?" I ask not sure if I want to know the answer.