Colette couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t loathe her entire existence, but at this very moment, she felt lower than she ever had before. Please let him be done. They let out a sight of relief at the same time, Jax having released his disgusting nut into her and Colette in relief that it was finally over. Jax pulled out of her, bracing the top of the headboard for support. His breathing was heavy and Colette could feel his stomach inflating and receding as he panted like an animal. Colette finally opened her eyes just as Jax brushed his lips across hers in an attempt at a kiss, but Colette turned away.
“You are beautiful.” Jax rested his lips on Colette’s sweaty head instead.
“Great,” she said. “Now get off of me.” Colette shifted under Jax’s weight. He didn’t let up at first. Colette pushed him hard as she could in his chest in an effort to move him. His hand quickly found her throat making Colette jump.
“Don’t put your hands on me,” he said in a low voice as he pulled her into a deep stare. Colette let out a stifled breath. Her eyes were bulged wide as she looked at Jax, the look on his face stern and serious. She knew what it meant.
“I’m sorry,” she said quickly, a great amount of edge in her voice. She tried to pull her face from his grasp but he held on tighter. Colette signed heavily and locked onto eye contact with Jax.
“Do you know how many Boors like you would love to be in my bed right now? You should be showing a little more appreciation or I should just throw you out of my domicile and let your ass freeze under the Black Moon.”
Colette sucked in a dry breath.
“I said I was sorry,” she said quickly. Jax groaned, took his hand off of Colette’s face, and rolled over to his side.
“The Community didn’t want you, the Triunity didn’t want you, the world doesn’t want you, Colette. You’re a Vaporless, you’re worthless.” Colette struggled to keep eye contact with Jax as he spoke, his eyes cold and unblinking. “But I want you,” he said finally. “I chose you, remember that sweetness.”
Jax leaned in once more, only this time Colette was too afraid to pull away. His eyes were still caught in hers as he pressed his lips to her own and kissed her in a very strange, and delicate way. Very much unlike the bestial brute that had raped her almost every night since she had met him six quarks ago.
Jax pulled away from her. He let out a heavy groan, tucked Colette firmly and possessively under his arm and fell right to sleep. Colette exhaled. Her position at the Community, the world—Jax wasn’t wrong to say that no one wanted her. Why would they? She was nothing more than a Vaporless after all. However, just as she seemed to have reached the point of no return, Jax was there and although he had been downright decent to her, she hated him with every ounce of feeling that it was possible to feel. Colette wiggled her hand free from under Jax’s weight and touched in between her legs, cupping it. Her eyes shut tightly around the throbbing pain that failed to quit. Damn. How could anyone ever consent to this barbarism? The feeling of being penetrated and nearly shredded into two halves was unbearable, but it was undeniably necessary as Jax had so plainly pointed out to her. She needed him to survive…no matter what the cost to her own body.
Jax shifted in his sleep bringing his massive arm more tightly around Colette, across her chest, pinning her down to the bed. Colette groaned and curled up her long legs in an effort to wiggle free. She was definitely thin enough to get out, but her height was making the task an absolute nightmare. Though, she had to admit, living with Jax was actually the only highlight of her life. At least under Jax she had a warm bed and food. The next Black Moon was coming soon and the entire Province of Eliam would be bathed in perpetual night, darkness and cold. She’d be an idiot to think that she could survive outside of a Sector.
Colette rolled her head over to look at Jax. His mouth was hanging open as he slept, blowing spurts of hot, moist breaths on her face, make her loose black bangs stick slightly to her skin. The whole room was full of the stench of sweat and fluids. It was a disgusting smell that made her stomach turn. Jax had been satisfied enough, flailing and grunting like a wild boar as he was on top of her, tonight, forcing her to go for hours on end. She studied his face. It’s hard lines and sharp features making him what “normal” women may call handsome, but Colette had never seen anyone more hideous. Her eye sight moved from his facedown to the arm that was draped over her body. A jolt in her stomach sent a twinge of jealousy flooding over her. By the Tree, they where beautiful. The Vapors. So colorful and plentiful as they danced in misty spirals around Joe’s body. They were the thing that separated people like Colette, the Vaporless, from the normal people of the Land. The Vapors were symbols of their greatness and conformity to society. They were the symbol of everything that the Triunity envisioned when they had created this race of people, and Colette had been born a defect. Vaporless. Born without any clue as to what the Vapors truly are and how, if there were any way at all, she could get them.
She absentmindedly rubbed the spot on her arm where the microchip would have gone if she had had one. In response to feeling nothing there, she touched Joe’s arm where his chip was buried underneath the skin. This tiny chip made life so much easier. Without it, no one could work, buy, sell or even eat. Without the chip there was no existence. She remembered how her parents would always teach her how to survive without one, but Colette was finally tired of just surviving. She needed a new way. Colette wrapped both of her hands softly around Jax’s arm and hoisted it up carefully, so as not to wake him. She slid her body out from under him, landing with a soft thud on the floor below.
Colette had to move fast. She got to her knees and scanned the dark room for her satchel that held her small pile of belongings. The carpet was soft under her hands as she groped the floor. Her hand hit the familiar smooth suede skin and she pulled it quickly toward her. Colette stole a look over her shoulder at the sleeping Jax as she pulled out her pants, undergarments, and tunic. She pulled on her clothes, quickly and hoisted her satchel over her shoulder, crawling to the door.
Supplies. She’d need supplies and lots of them. Food, water, weapons, warmth. Everything. Colette gasped, her head whipping backward to look at Jax again when he mumbled and rolled over in his sleep again. She’d have to work faster if she was really going to get away. Colette tiptoed to closet and grabbed a wool blanket, rolled it into a ball, and stuffed it in her satchel. Also at the bottom of the closet was a small javelin. Colette strapped it to her back. After taking another look around the room, Colette slid the door open and closed it carefully behind her.
Colette’s fingertips caressed the wall as she walked down the long hallway toward the kitchen. A tightening knot was growing her chest and crippled her breathing. She tried to keep one ear trained behind her, listening for any sounds of movement coming from the bedroom. Once in the kitchen, Colette flicked on the light and raced to the cabinets, throwing back the door. A small breath escaped her lips when the cabinet door crashed loudly unto the door of another. She froze. Damn it. It was over. She was caught and Jax would beat her…or worse. The silence was deafening. Colette stood rigid, too afraid to even breathe too deeply, but there was no sound from the room. Maybe he hadn’t heard. Colette let out a slow breath and turned back around, busying herself with filling her satchel with food, careful not to make it too heavy. She’d be carrying it for awhile. Who knows how long she’ll have to journey before she settles down again. There. That should be everything.
Colette shifted the bag and the javelin to a more comfortable position on her back. Suddenly remembering her pain, Colette went to the bathroom and grabbed several of Jax’s capsules, placing them at the top of her haul before closing the bag again.
She clutched her hands around the strap and walked as silently as she could through the house, stopping at a window, she unlatched it and opened the double doors. Colette hoisted her body upward and pulled her long body through the window and landed on the ground below. The chilling air whipped her hair around her face, stifling her breath. She turned around, reaching up, and closed the window behind her. Colette started to back away slowly. This was it. It’s all over now. Flashes of memories from inside the walls of Jax’s domicile played over again in her head. Colette closed her eyes and shook her head. Push them away. Like a true creature of the shadows, Colette turned and ran past the neighboring domiciles and into the darkness, toward the River Eleazar.
The streets of Eliam were eerily quiet. Her footsteps echoed on the glass streets. Colette kept her head down and pulled her tunic up around her face. She didn’t want the cameras to see her. Finally, she had passed all of the domiciles and was approaching the tree line that separated the Province Eliam from the treacherous Outlands. The sound of rushing water caught her ear at the same time the smell hit her nose. A sense of hope washed over her. Without another look back, Colette took off at a run, weaving through tree after tree as she tried to follow the sound of the water of the River Eleazar. The sound of the rushing current was getting louder the faster she ran. A small smile started to creep up on her face. Colette trotted over to the bank of the river, pulling the satchel over her head and tossing it to the ground beside her. Colette bent down and cupped her hands in front of her and dipped them into the cool rushing water. She brought her hands to her lips and drank, happily.
“You little bitch.” Colette’s head snapped up in attention. Her hands clenched and she could feel the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She didn’t want to turn around. There was no mistaking Jax’s cold, icy voice. He followed her. He actually followed her. Why couldn’t he just let her go? But what had she really expected? He was demented and deranged. She was apart of his game and apparently he wasn’t done playing yet. Colette grabbed her satchel off of the ground and slung it over her back before standing up and turning around. Her chest tightened when she saw the familiar, bestial look in Jax’s eyes. She watched as he stared her up and down, eyeing the satchel bursting at the seams with items she had stolen from his domicile.
“I give you food,” he starts slowly, letting his tongue linger over every word.
“I let you sleep in my bed. I gave you value!”
Colette jumps at the sound of his voice. She started to back up. Jax rushed toward her. Before she could react, Jax’s massive hand closed tightly around her thin arm, making her knees almost buckle out from under her. Colette’s body knocked into Jax’s as he twisted her arm toward him, bringing her face just inches from his.
“You worthless sack of flesh,” he whispers. “Is this how you repay your master for his kindness?” By the tree, he really was delusional. Her master? Colette needed to survive, it was as simple as that. She didn’t owe him anything. Besides, he had already collected his payment and the remnants of it were stained into the sheets of his disgusting bed.
“Let me go,” she whispered through clenched teeth. Jax grabbed her face under her chin with his free hand. He pressed his mouth against her ear.
“Are you trying to making me crazy?” Colette trembled at his hot breath entering into her ear through her long black hair. Jax nuzzled at her ear, using his nose to push her hair away. He suddenly grabbed the lobe of her ear in between his teeth, biting and sucking almost to the point of drawing blood. Colette mustered what little strength she had and hit Jax square in the chest.
Jax stumbled backward but easily regained his footing, grabbing Colette forcefully by the shoulders.
“You owe me!”
“I don’t owe you anything,” she said. “I’m worthless, right? You and everyone like you have made that painfully clear, so just let me go, you bastard.”
Without warning, Jax sent his massive fist colliding with Colette’s face. Colette’s body flew to the ground, spilling everything from her satchel. Colette’s hands clenched the ground. The force of the hit sent her eyes into a blurry haze. Tossing her head back, Colette’s eyes flashed to the spilled contents of her satchel. She scrambled to her knees and tried to quickly snatch up what had fallen. She couldn’t let Jax take it. Jax laughed behind her and grabbed her by the leg, trying to turn her around. Colette groped for the javelin in front of her on the ground. As Jax turned her around, she swung the javelin wildly behind her. Colette’s arm vibrated with the cracking of Jax’s jaw as the javelin collided with his face. He screamed in pain, yelling an array of profanities at her.
Colette tried to seize her opportunity to grab her belongings off of the ground and run for it, but Jax recovered faster than she thought and grabbed her arm again. Just then, a loud siren filled the air, forcing both Jax and Colette to cover their ears in protest at the sound. Following the sound, Jax’s arm popped up at attention and displaying a hologram on the air in front of them, coming from the chip embedded in Jax’s arm. Both Colette and Jax froze automatically in order to watch and listen to the coming broadcast. Colette felt the dryness in her throat. Nothing good ever came following these broadcasts, especially not for the Vaporless.
On the hologram in front of them stood the three members of the Triunity, Eviya, flanked by her husband Adamek, and her liaison, Levi. Colette couldn’t get over the Triunity’s beauty, all covered in an array of beautiful Vapors. A tangible silence hung thick in the air as Eviya stepped forward to speak.
“Greetings Province of Eliam. As you are all aware, there has been a disastrous threat to our livelihood and our beloved Tree of Knowl. For many Black Moons now, the Tree has been steadily decaying. The Triunity may finally have an answer.” Eviya pauses. “Through careful research at our facilities here in Ilan, we have finally pinpointed the cause for the degradation of our beloved Tree. As you well know, during the last Age, a new breed of human was born, known to many as the Vaporless or Outlanders. Previously we have been able to coexist with these barbaric versions of human beings, but no more.”
She should run. Now. Nothing good could come next. However, Colette couldn’t move her legs. She had to hear the announcement. The hologram continues when Levi marches up next to Eviya and continues speaking.
“A bounty has been placed on the Vaporless. Our research has found that they are to blame for the condition of the Tree of Knowl. Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before we ourselves begin to lose this gifts the tree gave us and ultimately–our own lives.”
“In order to appease the Tree,” starts Adamek, “every Vaporless and their conspirators will be sacrificed as an offering.”
Eviya then continues speaking.
“A hefty reward will be given for every Vaporless and their conspirators that are captured and brought alive to the capital city in Ilan. Stay alert for future broadcasts regarding the safety of our Tree. Happy hunting, my fellow humans.”
The little air left in Colette’s lungs made her chest tight and made it difficult to breathe normally. The image disappeared leaving her staring at Jax’s gleaming and excited face. Jax lowered his arm slowly.
“Congratulations Colie. I guess you do have some value after all.” Immediately, Colette began pleading with him.
“Please,” she said breathlessly. She held her hands up as a barrier between them as she started to back away slowly. “Just let me go. You don’t have to do this.”
“Of course I do,” he said, laughing slightly. “Not only for the reward, but the simple fact that your life threatens mine. Thanks to you and your kind the Tree of Knowl is dying. Which means I’m dying.” Jax began walking slowly toward her. Colette had no where else to back up to. She looked down at the rushing river behind her and then back at Jax.
“My Sector has almost figured out how to penetrate the barrier around the Tree of Life. Do you even know what that means? We are that close to discovering the secret to immunity and I’m not going to let a disgusting piece of trash like you mess that up.”
Without another word, Jax lunged at her but Colette jumped out of the way. She picked up the javelin off of the ground next to the bank of the river. Colette took a flying leap off of the edge and landed with a loud splash into the rushing water. Immediately her head went under. Colette flailed her arms in an attempt to stay afloat. She gasped for air as her head broke the surface of the water. Water clouded her vision, but she heard another splash behind her as Jax jumped into the river. Don’t look back. Colette continued kicking and fighting the waters that were continuously trying to pull her under and further down the river at the same time.
“You’re going to get us both killed!” Jax yelled at her from behind. For a split second, she decided to turn around and see where he was. Jax had retreated and swam back to the bank they had just come from. The current of the river was too strong for Colette to keep fighting. The weight of her satchel on her back and the javelin in her hand was weighing her down. Colette’s body gave out in exhaustion and the rush of the current sent her down the river at the mercy of Eleazar.
“This isn’t over,” Jax yelled. His voice was getting farther away. “I’ll find you!”