Fiction On Odyssey: The OutBound

Fiction On Odyssey: The OutBound

“I don’t sleep. My mind has the scary capability of being dark and demented.” “You’re afraid of your dreams?” “Yes.”
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"I don't sleep. My mind has the scary capability of being dark and demented."

If we were anywhere else, my instant response would be, "Same!" followed by some sort of half-joke about the severity of my workload. As it is, I just do the curious-head-cock thing and say,

"You're afraid of your dreams?"

"Yes."

Her quiet, haunted voice fills the cozy library nook that I've claimed for my sessions. She sounds so… tired. Her tone is a careful deadpan, but she still manages to exude a world-weary fatigue.

Not to mention her appearance; the gaunt face caked in grime and smudges, the scabbed over cut streaking across her cheekbone, the faded and stained hoodie that she's shoved her hands into, and the alarmingly thin frame all make it obvious that she's not in desirable circumstances. She's probably an OutBound, which means I could get arrested just for talking to her. I don't care.

Despite her rank odor, I've never wanted to hug anyone more than I have Ally Orwell.

Yet, after doing these little peer counseling sessions for so long, I'm at least halfway decent at reading people. Ally seems like the last thing she wants is pity.

"You know something, Ally?" I say. I relax in my chair and opt to go the laid-back route. It feels kinda weird, to be saying my name and not be referring to myself, but Ally is a pretty common nickname.

(Though, I'm sorely tempted to ask her if she's related to my favorite author. If I could have any last name, it'd definitely be Orwell.)

"Hmm?"

I paraphrase a WebMD fact. "The thing about scary dreams is that they're just that: dreams. You know?"

"Right," she says. "Because no matter how scary a nightmare is, it's not real and most likely won't happen to you in real life."

Woah. That's kinda weird. It's almost like she took the words right out of my head, verbatim. Coincidence, I guess. Even though WebMD is borderline outdated, it's still a reliable source of information, especially for those like me who can't afford those fancy MediKnow things. Ally probably uses it just like I do. Though, her voice is... odd, when she says it. Almost cynical-sounding.

She tucks her hair behind clunky black glasses reminiscent of the pair I keep as backup if I lose my contacts. I do the same thing whenever I feel nervous, which probably means I just made her uncomfortable by taking too long to answer. Great job, Ally. Some psychologist-in-training you're turning put to be.

I open my mouth to respond, but—

"What's your happiest memory?"

I blink, surprised. Her eyes expression is really intense. It's kind of creepy, to be honest.

"Who's counseling who here?" I try to joke.

She doesn't bite, instead staring at me expectantly through the familiar-looking glasses. I sigh. I guess some of the students I talk to are bound to be a bit on the weirder side.

Then again, I guess "weird" is just another way of coping in this messed up world. It's not like anyone can put trust in the government anymore, not after the whole "sacrifice for the greater good" stunt they tried to pull on the OutBound. Just because you've been marked as a potential carrier of a population-destroying disease doesn't mean you're any less of a person.

Ally's totally living proof of that! She's probably marked, but I don't see a deadly killer. I see a scared girl, just a couple years older than me, who wants nothing more than —

"You gonna say anything?"

Oh. Right. The conversation I was in the middle of before spacing out. Whoops. I tend to do that a lot.

"Sorry. If I had to pick, I guess I'd say my fourteenth birthday party."

Just the thought of it made me smile. As far as birthday parties go, it wasn't "perfect" in any sense of the word. Regardless, it was my favorite. I guess because it was the last major event where my family was all together and happy. My dad died in a hovercycle crash a week later.

"Mom accidentally ordered the wrong cake. I guess that didn't really matter because Dad ended up setting it on fire while he was trying to light the candles. My best friend Roland got me a copy of 1984, which has been my favorite book ever since, and my older brother gave me his lucky jacket. It… kinda looked just like the one you're wearing, actually."

I stare. The faded and dirty blue hoodie she's wearing looks really similar to the old hoodie Davie gave me before he went back to college. Davie's, though, had a little white patch on the right sleeve from the one time that Mom spilled bleach on it...

Something draws my eyes to the right sleeve of Ally's hoodie. There's the familiar, lopsided spatter.

I feel Ally's gaze on me. I look up into watery green eyes identical to mine.

"I'm sorry," she whispers, jaw clenched and hands fisted. The tears making tracks in the grime on her face and revealing freckles that I've had since childhood.

But that's impossible. Right? This is too weird.

Ally's crying, though, and my stomach sinks.

"Ally?"

"None of us should have had to deal with this," she says with a strange, resigned anger. She stands up and starts to leave.

"Ally? Wait, wait, you can't just leave-"

The intercom crackles to life. I recognize Principal Fields's breathless voice calling some sort of code, one that I'd never heard or read about before. What's going on?!

"Do me a favor?" Her voice is raised over the intercom. She continues before I can muster a response. "Try not to wait so long before telling Roland you like him."

I bound after her, but she slips out of the library. I try to follow her, but the hallway outside is complete chaos. People are panicked, running around, and I can hear screaming and crying and... growling? As I lose sight of my brother's hoodie, I realize that my last patient wasn't coming to me for help.

She was coming to me to say goodbye, to get one last look at the girl she was before everything went horribly, irrevocably wrong.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Image Credit: ClaudiaRae

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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