*Ten years later*
A woman’s voice called out and a tall boy poked his head out of the car he had been working on.
“Lunch is ready and I’m starving, so hurry up!”
Jonas dusted the dirt and soot off his hands. He was dressed in unclean overalls, his heterochromatic eyes now hidden underneath the sapphire green color of the lenses he wore. His red hair was tied back by a headband, which he removed while wiping the sweat off his forehead.
He shouted before closing the garage door. That was his favorite place to be, apart from spending time writing stories on his computer. Nobody could find fault with him because there simply were no kids his age for him to socialize.
The ‘intruders’ – a term he used for the authoritarian bunch that had taken over the planet and ruled it with an iron fist – had controlled the population, keeping it from exploding beyond a limit they deemed acceptable. They had injected every female of the human race with a medicine that rendered them sterile for a span of five years. During this time, they could weed out the ‘weaklings’.
Jonas had luckily been born before them taking over and had been deemed a weak offspring of the human race by the Guild. Little did they know that it had been his father who had hidden his true powers from them.
Walking out in the sun, Jonas stretched his arms and arched his back, which had begun to ache a little due to the hours he had spent bending over the engine and tinkering with the car’s parts.
The aroma of freshly-cooked chicken hit his nostrils as his stomach began to rumble loudly. Mary, his mother, stood beside the dining table waiting for him. She flashed a smile at him. However, she told him off the moment she spotted him run toward the table. He was, after all, covered in grease and soot.
“Don’t even dare to come here! Off to shower, now!”
Jonas made a face, but his mother did not budge, so he quickly showered and changed into fresh clothes while the water was still dripping from his hair.
Satisfied with his clean appearance, Mary served him the chicken with some rice and salad as he gobbled the food down.
Meanwhile, Mary only took a bite of her food and spent most of the time playing around with her spoon.
Jonas noticed it and asked, “What’s the matter? Why are you not eating?”
Her eyes kept flitting to the landline placed on the small corner table in their living room. She did not answer him.
Jonas followed her gaze and reached out for his mother’s hand. “He might be busy. It’s just afternoon. Relax,” before squeezing her hands gently.
Mary nodded before taking another bite. They finished their dinner while he tried to distract her by cracking nonsensical jokes. Even he was beginning to worry, but he did not let his expression give it away, for he needed to be strong for his mother.
His father would give them a call on the first Sunday morning every month and talk briefly to let them know that he was okay. He would also inquire about their well-being. Save that, they never met or contacted each other.
Dr. Walt Branson had done this to ensure that the existence of his family and the fact that his son, Jonas, who was an anomaly, would remain a secret. This was the price he had paid to keep his son alive all these years. So far, the plan had worked, which is why Dr. Branson’s wife had little choice but to follow her husband’s instructions.
Jonas had went back into his room and begun typing on his computer whatever came to his mind. Of course, he wrote it on Word and was never allowed to post anything online so that nobody would know about his creative mind. This restriction had obviously not gone down too well with him. He thought it was an oppressive regime that took away and brutally crushed people’s freedom.
“I wish I could do something about it,” Jonas grumbled as he weaved a story to vent out his frustration. His eyes darted to the clock. It was almost evening! His sharp ears had been trained on the phone all this time, but it had never rung.
That had also been one reason to stay back inside the house instead of going back into the garage. He wanted to be around to speak to his father as well. Miss his call and he would have to wait another month!
The clock struck 6 P.M. and Jonas heard a loud clatter in the living room. Feeling worried, he rushed outside to see that a vase had fallen off the center table. It was a metal vase, so luckily there were no broken pieces of ceramic all over the place.
His mother had just bent over to pick the vase up when suddenly the door flung open as five soldiers, all dressed in black and carrying guns, stormed into the hall. They looked around. As their eyes fell on Jonas, the soldier at the front said, “Raise your hands in the air and follow us!”
Mary’s face paled to see the soldiers. She stood in front of her son and spoke angrily, “No, go away! What do you want from my son?”
Nobody cared to answer her while he asked the other soldiers to search the place. Mary let out a horrified cry and tried in vain to stop them from walking into her son’s room. However, she was a frail, middle-aged lady, who was no match for the soldiers’ brute strength.
One of the soldiers pushed her aside, toward the wall, where her forehead hit the corner of a table.
Jonas gritted his teeth and asked her worriedly, “Mom, are you okay?”
Mary took a breath. She then nodded her head. Turning around to face the soldiers, he spat, “What the hell do you want from us?!”
Again, nobody answered him, but a moment later, the soldiers emerged from his room and spoke to their chief, “Sir, there was a document open, where this lad has written something that is full of lies. Also, his room is filled with paintings, some odd machines, and a lot of weird stuff.”
The chief gloated as he leered at Jonas, “Take all of it along. Take him as well. He needs to be taken to the Capitol.”
The Capitol was famous, or rather infamous, for only one thing – it was the planet’s supreme torture chamber, where humans who dared raise their voice against the ‘Monarch’, the being who controlled the entire planet, would be sent to die a painful death.
Nobody had seen the Monarch or knew what he looked like. He would give audience to only a handful of his ministers, but even that would be through a veil and a huge screen that blocked anyone from taking a close look at him.
Hearing the word ‘Capitol’ made his mother’s eyes grow wide in shock. She looked around and found a huge rod, which she swung at the nearest soldier. However, her blow missed its mark. The soldier looked at her in distaste and slapped her once before her head hit the same corner of the table for a second time. But this time, she fell unconscious and did not get back up again.
Jonas had been quiet the first time, but this time he could not contain his anger. Rage consumed him as he turned around and landed a solid punch in the soldier’s back, catching him unawares.
He turned around but Jonas clenched his fist and punched him square in the jaw, making the soldier lose his balance and collapse. Jonas had advanced toward the soldier and was about to kick him when the other soldiers lunged at him, trying to hold him down.
Normally, a single soldier would be competent enough to hold back 2-3 humans owing to the energy rich foods and supplements they were provided with. However, even three soldiers were finding it difficult to contain a 17-year-old teenager.
Their chief was shocked to see the teenager shake off his strongest men. Jonas had comfortably subdued the soldier who had hit his mother. He watched in a daze as Jonas landed blow after blow on the soldier’s face. Blood soon began to flow out of the soldier’s nose and mouth.
After overcoming his initial shock, the chief ran over to the old woman and held her at gunpoint. Then he turned to Jonas and announced loudly, “If you don’t want me to pull the trigger, you’d better come with us without playing any tricks.”
…now that you’re here
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