Written by Audrey Francis-Plante
Art by Plaidbowties
DEAN & LILY
I sneak out of the house wearing black pants, sweater, and running shoes. The subway doesn’t work this late, which means that if I want to make it to the Nuclear Lake on time, I have to run.
I race through puddles and rain, laughing. First stage is Colors. I can’t wait to see what the Troupe has planned for us. Water seeps into my shoes when I run across downtown. Sixteen centimeters of water is way too much for my old running shoes.
Then the smell of chemicals hints that I’m approaching the Lake. Near the wide fence framing it, I slow down, reaching a girl I remember from the Ceremony.
She smiles at me and we walk together. “You’re Feisty Lily,” she says, panting.
I snort, catching my breath. “Am I?”
“Every initiate has a nickname ready for the girl who punched our Host of Ceremony.” The moon shines on her black hair. “Be ready.”
“Oh, I’m not ready for whatever’s ahead.”
Something like relief twinkles in her dark eyes. “That makes two of us.” She stares ahead at the fence. We’re just about a hundred meters from it now. “I’m Sierra.”
We can hear yelps and drums from the other side of the fence. My mouth goes dry.
“So what’s your skill?” Sierra asks.
“Why did the Troupe recruit you? Or is it just your stud of a boyfriend that wanted you in?”
“Dean is not my boyfriend.”
She winks. “Got it, Feisty. So what is it?”
“Oh. I guess I can draw.”
I shrug. “What’s yours?”
Sierra grins. “You’ll see soon enough.”
The drumming and chants are louder and fiercer now. Sierra whistles. “Why do I get this feeling like we’re heading to war?”
“Maybe we are,” I say.
We’ve reached the fence.
To be continued
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