Chapter 1 – Tex's POV
It must have been around twelve AM last night that I felt something happening inside me, something I couldn't describe. We had been worked really hard that day and I had been far too tired to shower. And hadn't I told Carolina, “You don't get anything out of getting yourself talked to n the field. You owe yourself some self-respect, and these schmucks can't give you any of that.”
Besides, I already knew enough about the Freelancer Program, and more importantly about the kinds of people they accepted. And then all the drinking I did – it was hard enough getting back to my room after that, and it's never been easy for me to say “no” in the first place, especially to someone who looked as good as he did (oh, Jesus, I don't even know his name! Illinois? Michigan? Even so, it's not like that was his real name anyway). “The day after next, I promise,” I told him, “after I've done enough sobering up.” But god, looking back on it now, what was I thinking? He had long, ghostly fingers and a British accent. I could tell he had smoked long enough, his teeth were a telltale sign (unless it was just that limey dental stereotype) and he was drinking cheap whiskey. Definitely wasn't Church.
Oh my god, Church. Sometimes I totally forget about him. Poor guy, I wonder how he's doing sometimes. They brought me to a whole new facility, one with higher walls and more security. I think my chances of seeing him are smaller now than they were when we first shipped out to basics.
And I had to get a physical today, and that old man of a doctor of mine. I don't know, he seems kind of off to me, like he feels like he's afraid he's going to lose his job any day. Maybe they didn't realize how much funding this program required. I mean, how much do they need to pay the security guards? How much training did those guys need? And I heard we are to get special armor and special attributes of some kind. They did not tell me much, they are afraid we might drop out (even though they told us it was a one-way-ticket when we signed up and this whole thing was very confidential). They worked us like dogs and made us run until I was sure my lungs would cave in, made us do so many push-ups and pull-ups until I was sure my arms would give out, made us do so many psychological tests that I was sure my head would explode.
So tonight I went straight to my bunk and into bed, and I didn't take a shower or wash my hair. And I lied there with my whole body asleep but my eyes still open, looking out my small-as-sin window and something wondering if Church were here would he still call me beautiful. Not that it matters all that much to me, but sometimes I feel as if he were the only person I ever could and ever would love. I heard some of the others in the next room over uproariously laugh, something that told me I knew there was somehow camaraderie, and that was when I started feeling what it was that was growing inside my soul. Like I wanted to get up and join them, or that I wanted to grab my own bottle from my nightstand, or that I wanted to write and somehow get my thoughts somewhere, anywhere. And I knew there was something different about me, and Church knew it too, and so did that limey guy from last night after he followed me to my bunk and I knocked him to the floor. I'm not like Carolina or any of the other girls here, or any other girl I've ever met, who never seem to have anything wonderful about them like I do, and at the end of the day look in a mirror and do not need reinforcement that they are lovely women. And to boot, I find I speak a bit more eloquently than most of the people here (particularly Maine, who is a walking stereotype in so many ways) and although I can embrace this fact I find the collective personality of the others here nothing short of embarrassing. How am I to find brotherhood and camaraderie in this place if I cannot relate to a single one of them, if I am not a man or a woman, if I am neither eloquent nor stupid nor rambunctious nor introverted.
And so I decided I would begin to write things down, because of how unusual I feel in comparison to the rest, perhaps above and perhaps better. Not like a diary or anything, I'm not twelve. But I want to write like my mind flows. I want to write like I feel, because the only confidant I ever had I don't anymore. I feel bad now for shutting him out like I did. But when I read this later, maybe I will feel like there was something about me that I maybe didn't like after all and something about them that I did. So now I'm sitting on my bunk in my pajamas, and I just looked at myself naked in the mirror, and everything about me is just the way I would like it to be. Except, my right bicep is slightly bigger than my left, but only a little. And the tattoo I got my first day is beginning to peel because I keep forgetting to get lotion for it.
And I guess it will be good for me to write without censor boundary for a change, not that ridiculous stuff they make you write in high school – my high school composition teachers would always tell me I didn't know how to use transitions or punctuation very well, and that one time it came from a guy that you could tell was cheating on his wife – he acted so dodge-y all the time, but I never thought much about my teachers or anything like that, it's not like I ever knew one personally in my family or anything. More importantly it's not like being a teacher these days does any good for the family pocketbook – I saw the kinds of clothes they always wore, and not that I'm a fashionista by any means but I can't help but notice.
And that Midwest guy? I'm thinking about him again, but he was so charming in the way that he talked, if I remember right. And he was attractive, and there's something about men with an accent. But if he's in this program, too, there's no way I'll get what I need out of it. Oh, I can smell trouble for Alison already, especially if he keeps winking at me and giving me sensual looks the way he does, and I'm already kind of tired of it. I think if I give him another punch to that jaw of his I can keep him off my back for another few weeks, tell him I have Church to think about and he is so strict that there are no excuses for deviating. Certainly not the case, but I don't even know this guy's name so there's no way he knows anything about me in the first place. And besides, I don't think it's a good idea to get any kind of feelings for any of the guys here, knowing that they have a process for selecting people for this program like they do and I'm sure the type of guys here are not the best. And like I told Carolina, “Ther has to be something in your heart, otherwise it throws our dreams right out the window.”
But that Carolina, she's that type, I know what I'm talking about, and she's sure to do something stupid. Get drunk and have sex with a number of the guys here. And she's so pretty I fear she's got something going on like I do with that limey guy, and she's just that lovely to where she would actually give in ton an assortment of advances.
I'm very tired. So, at this point I think I will go to bed. Ah, but I seem to have forgotten the most obligatory things to write in this sort of writing. My name is Tex, that's what they've been calling me here, and that's what I go by. And I'm red-haired and a Christian, and here by choice which isn't something that a few of the others here can say. And this is a cute little book I found in a quaint little shop (which had really good coffee, if I remember correctly) and it's black like my armor, and that's the way I like it.