She sat against the fountain, eyes closed, listening to the sound of the water splashing behind her. It was quite soothing. Her legs were crossed at the ankle and sticking out in front of her, clad in a pair of jeans, her arms folded across her chest. She wore a light blue t-shirt, her long black hair tied into a loose ponytail. Her skin was tanned, a rich colour signalling strength, vitality and youth. Her skin was clear and blemish free. Along her ears sparkled the silver of metal, bars and studs decorating them. To anyone she looked like an ordinary seventeen year old. That was both a blessing and a curse. She had been seventeen for three years now. Ever since the walls came down. She wasn’t sure what that meant, did she still age but just at a slower rate? was she immortal? These were questions she pondered, mostly whilst she was bored. What ever the solution was, it worked in her benefit, people were thrown off by her, surprised to find someone so young, and usually expecting no kind of fight from a girl. She had a slight frame though she was tall, no one expected her to fight back, or to be strong. She used that to her advantage quite often after the walls came down. Made it easier to scavenge for food or fight off attackers. The change happened quickly for her, within the first few days. A shadow fell across her, she opened her eyes and squinted up at the person, it was her father.
“Samantha, are you still lazing about out here?”
She didn’t bother to respond, what else did it look like she was doing?
“You have to come inside.”
“It’s safe there.”
She rolled her eyes,
“It’s safe everywhere in here. That’s the damn point.”
“Don’t speak to me like that.”
“Then don’t say idiotic things.”
She closed her mouth, then took a breath, “I’m sorry. I know it’s difficult for you and mom, but it is safe here. It really is.”
“I know but I, we, would both feel better if you came inside. Please.”
She looked at her father again, she could see now how worried he was, how he kept looking around the small garden, how pale his skin was, she could feel it, the fear radiating from him.
“Alright dad, I’ll come inside in a minute ok?”
He started to speak, then stopped and nodded once. He turned and began to walk back to the house. She saw one of the curtains twitch aside and saw a thin sliver of her mothers face, eyes bright and frightened. She had explained it to them, again and again, but they didn’t believe her. They hadn’t changed. Not yet. She knew they would some day, but for now this was still a frightening place. She had shown them some of the defensive features she had created, but if anything that made them worse, they seemed to fear that the traps would activate at any moment, that the creatures would attack them. She shook her head and stood, looking at the outside of the house. It was not very inviting.
Thousands of barbs stood out from the wall, all at different lengths, all sharp as a knife. The edges and the points were sharp, making it impossible to climb them. It gave the house a sort of fuzzy outline from a distance. The windows had bars across them, thick chunks of metal that quivered with restrained life. If anyone who wasn’t allowed to touched one, it would immediately transform into a snake and attack. The windows were solid glass, none could open. At least none that her parents knew about. Samantha had created her own secret ways in and out of the house, mostly to stop her parents from worrying about her. The place was like a prison, built of fear and a touch of rage. The gardens were the only place that was beautiful to be in and they were small. The lands outside were barren and filled with deadly traps for any who dared try to cross it. She looked up at the blue sky, watched as birds wheeled about. All was well. She could see the barren stretch of land from her room, the only visible life were the ever circling birds and the gnarled and twisted trunks of grey trees. She plucked an apple from a tree on her way in, enjoying the feel of the grass on her feet. The servants were allowed outside, they could harvest the gardens at least, so it wasn’t going to waste. She had made the garden for her mother, hoping she would come out of hiding, her mother had liked gardening before. Samantha planned to expand the garden soon, add more plants, maybe a pool. It was dreary looking at the barren wasteland all the time. Sighing she closed the door and watched as it melded into the wall, leaving nothing there. Another security feature. Sure it would come back if she or anyone else wanted it to, but that wasn’t the point. Her mother stepped away from the window, smiling a little, that was something at least. Her mother never really smiled any more. It was always a small sort of thing, it made Samantha uncomfortable and a little afraid that she’d do something to accidently crush it.
“You know you really shouldn’t go out sweetie, it isn’t safe out there.”
“Ok mom, I’m going to go up to my room.”
Her mother nodded and sat down again, around her were piles of books, wool and some crochet hooks. Samantha was thankful her mother had the hobbies, her father didn’t really do much these days. Sometimes he read, sometimes he yelled and that was mostly it. She understood they were upset, that they were grieving, but she was upset too, however they had to make some attempt to move on. Occasionally Samantha regretted bringing them here to this place, away from the real world, but they were doing better here than in the outside, here they talked to each other and to her, they didn’t have panic attacks or crying jags. Or rather, they didn’t cry as often. Samantha climbed the stairs, walking past a few doors before reaching her room. The rest of the house was decorated similar to their old one, the same styles and colours, but her room was her own. Where she could relax and be herself. She closed the door and was plunged into darkness, she could feel the exhilaration as pinpricks of light started to appear, looking as though she was speeding past, a faint puff of wind blew at her face. Grinning and marvelling at them until the stars started to slow, the darkness receded until it only covered the ceiling, giving the view of a starry night. She walked over the thick carpet and lay onto her bed, looking up at the night sky. The room itself was large, with a writing desk that held a computer which was turned off at the moment, and a few books. Against one wall was her bookshelves, which stretched along the wall, filled with hundreds, if not thousands of novels. She liked to change things up a little, but lately she had been feeling minimalist. It was nice that she could change it when she wanted, she had little control over everything else, her parents had been very protective before the change and now the situation seemed to have reversed. She listened to them, not because she had to, but to try and protect them. A part of her suspected that her parents thought they were having some kind of joint hallucination, perhaps caused by the death of her brother. She didn’t really know how to deal with either of them. They didn’t seem to want to fully acknowledge that he was gone, she had suggested she create a small memorial area for him, but both her parents had disagreed vehemently. Samantha had recreated his old room, it was a place that she could go to mourn and remember him as he didn’t even have a grave. Her parents didn’t know about it and she didn’t think she would ever tell them. It was healthy to remember and mourn the dead though, she knew that much. Either way, her parents were the only ones she had left and she had to protect them. Her friends had shunned her when the change happened, at least those who were caught behind the wall. No one had known what was happening and she was the first of them to go through the change. It had been the last she had seen of any of them. None had sought her out to try and repair the relationship, Samantha didn’t bother reaching out, that wasn’t her job. She had no real friends anymore. Sure she had people that listened to her, she had others to boss around, but that wasn’t the same thing at all. She wanted that close feeling of friendship, she wanted someone she could gossip and laugh with, she wanted someone to stay up late into the night with, eating ice cream and watching movies, but that was gone.
Samantha let out a sigh and allowed her body to resume its new, natural state. She didn’t wander the house like this, she never let her parents see her as she really was, not after the first and only time. She still sometimes heard the screams of her mother, echoing through her mind. No, it was better if they didn’t know, if they didn’t see, if they were protected. She pushed the thoughts from her mind, she had more important things to focus on, she had work to do.