Lost in the Stars

Jaz lives in a world split in two. The stunningly beautiful, wealthy and cunning Modified to one side and the lesser Unaltered—the people like her—to the other.

But after tragedy strikes, Jaz decides to take action. The crew of the infamous Stormer have taken an interest in her, and a trip through the stars with the notorious criminals could earn her enough cash to become Modified.

Getting on board is nowhere so easy as it seems, though, and her troubles don’t end after she’s secured her place in their ranks. Suddenly, the crew is faced with a terrifying supernatural force that makes Jaz question everything she’s ever been told about the Unaltered— and herself.

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Author's note

Hey! I’ve always had an interest in science-fiction, but I’ve sort of stared away from writing it for fear of failing when it comes to accuracy. I would greatly appreciate anyone who would like to point out any hideously innacurate details, or if someone could loan me some motivation to actually research what I’m writing about. XD

So yeah— just warning you, this probably won’t be all too realistic. But hey, what that I’ve written ever has been?
AA

1. Chapter 1

  

Chapter 1

 

 

  The night air was heavy, humid. It was quiet, excluding sound of Vee’s laughter. She had a way of finding humour in every situation. We ran, our bare feet slapping against cool pavement. Vee was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe, her face red and eyes moist.

Shouts echoed behind us. Deep, harsh, grinding up the thick night air. Vee was panting, out of breathe. She was a blur of black against the night—black hair, black clothes, black mask—except for slivers of moon-pale skin and the glittering emerald of her eyes. If we didn’t find somewhere to hide, the Mechanisms would catch us. 

I grabbed Vee by the wrist, ignoring her disgruntled squeak, and tugged her off the barren stretch of road. Diving between two glass trees, I released her wrist. She stumbled behind me, no longer laughing. Our survival could depend on her ability to stay quiet, and it seemed the gravity of our situation was finally settling over her. Her steps landed heavy on the hard earth, a steady rhythm of thumps as she wove her way through the towering glass sculptures in the likeness of trees. 

The glass forest stretched on for kilometres, the smooth, glittering structures reaching for the clouds and extending so far as the eye could see. It was a treacherous place, where one wrong turn could lead you down a sloping ravine or into a frothing river where you’d be swept under and never scene again. The dangers were multiplied tenfold by the fall of darkness, when the terrain was steeped in shadow and the only light was the stars reflecting off the twisted glass. It was beautiful, in a sinister way. 

The sound of footsteps and enraged shouts faded as the Mechanisms were lost in the labyrinth. Vee and I were lost too, and unsurprisingly, Vee found this hilarious. I watched straight-faced as she tried to retain her laugher, her pale lips pressed into a thin line. 

“Jaz! What— what did you do that for?” she whispered, desperately attempting to suppress her guffaws, which escaped in the form of a trembling hiss. 

“They would of caught us,” I replied smoothly, hoping my serious expression would calm her down. Luck was not on my side, as Vee only laughed harder at this. “I’m serious!” I snapped, my voice rising to a low, harsh shout. 

Vee sighed, wiping the moisture from her eyes. Now that we’d stopped running, I noticed more clearly the world around us. Vee’s breath fogged the air, and her dark lashes were clumped together. Sweats glistened along her hairline, and the mask she’d tied around her eyes was coming loose, the one she’d pulled over her mouth off completely. Her lips quirked in a faint smile, but she managed to hold her composure. 

“Oh, Jaz! It was all in good fun!” She clasped a strong yet slim-fingered hand on my shoulder, extending her other arm out into the shadows like she was showing me something great. I shivered, my own breath rising in a white-silver cloud before my eyes, the fine mist catching the starlight like a billowing cloud of smoke. 

“Yeah, I’m sure everyone was enjoying themselves.” My sarcastic muttering fell on deaf ears as Vee began to recount what happened as if I hadn’t been there, right at her side. 

“You should have seen their faces! The last thing they were expecting was a stink-bomb! Oh, Jaz, it was glorious!” she spluttered, clearly forgetting to keep her voice quiet. “That Mary’s Gourd worked brilliantly!” 

“Marigold,” I corrected, to which Vee rolled her eyes. “Though I must admit, it wasn’t so noxious as I thought it would be.”

“Whatever, it worked!” Vee smiled, mischief lighting up her yes. They glowed luminously in the starlight. Her skin was pale as fresh snow, stark against the dark backdrop. We were polar opposites, Vee and I. She was careless and full of laughter, dark hair and pearly white skin, while I was quiet and serious, silver-white hair and skin tanned from long months of labouring under a glowering sun. She spent her days causing chaos in the name of fun, while I worked myself to the bone trying to earn an honest leaving. 

Needless to say, her way of life was starting to win me over. 

It was easier, and in rare moments, I found myself smiling and laughing right along with her. Most of the time, though, I was pretty sure Vee only kept me around for my random assortment of knowledge. For example, how to turn the unpleasantly scented marigold flower into an oil that when ignited, filled the air with rank smoke. 

I’d worked many jobs, and therefore accumulated many skills. I could recognize most plants on sight, or in some cases, scent, from the month or two I worked as a gardener on the outskirts of the City. I could pick a lock thanks to my upbringing and brief weeks as a thief’s apprentice, and pass through throngs of people without attracting a second glance. When I’d tried street performing a few weeks before meeting Vee, I had quickly learned how to subtly draw attention to myself and keep it pinned there, even if I was never a good enough singer or dancer to earn any cash. Now, working maintenance on the wall and wreaking havoc with Vee, I was learning how to repair—and incidentally, disable—computers and avoid run-ins with Mechanisms. 

“—do we get out of here?” I snapped back to attention, turning my gaze to Vee. “Hello? We’re lost, Jaz.” 

“I know,” I replied, squinting through the darkness at the rows and rows of shining, artificial topiary. “But at least we’re alive, right? We didn’t go that far, we should be able to find our way back.” 

I sighed, trying to ignore Vee’s barely veiled displeasure. 

The ground beneath us was ruddy, dry, loose soil. At night, it was blanched of colour but seemed to absorb our long shadows, staining the earth with ink-blots black as the sky above. 

There. They were faint, but I could make out our footsteps—or likely, Vee’s footsteps—imprinted on the fine sediment. A strong gust would wipe them away with little effort. We would have to be fast, before they were gone forever. 

I never bothered to tell Vee what I was thinking, or even to follow me. I trusted she would follow me, my pale hair flashing through the night like a beacon. Footsteps clonked along, Vee’s dark shape moving just at the edge of vision. I kept my eyes trained on the ground, carefully searching for the faint trail of footprints. 

Time stretched and expanded, so it could’ve been hours or minutes before we reached the edge of the glass forest. Vee chatted amicably, seemingly unaware I was tuning out her words the same way she usually tunes out mine. 

The trees don’t thin or grow smaller. There’s simply uneven rows of trees stretching forever, then suddenly asphalt. The roads outside of the City are ancient, the farther away you go the more cracked and pockmarked they become. There is little use for roads anymore, ever since the natural gas reserves dried up a few years back. No oil meant no fuel for vehicles, but it also meant no tar for paving roads. Which makes the glass forest useless as well, it’s purpose unclear. 

The glass trees do what real trees once did, before they were all chopped down. The statistics were hazy in my mind, but I could almost recall hearing they were ten times more efficient than natural trees at converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. 

Vee whooped with joy as she stumbled onto the pavement, once again bursting into laughter. 

“You did it, Jaz! I don’t know how, but you did it!” A wide grin stretched across her face. It took her stunning features and pulls them into something childlike, juvenile. Her hair whipped in the wind, the masks she’d discarded flapping around her neck. I couldn’t help but grin as well, amused by her childish, careless attitude. She ran in circles, arms tossed in the air, laughing like a maniac. 

Then she flopped down, lamenting her exhaustion. 

This coaxed a laugh up from my gut, one which quickly died. The wall surrounding the City was but a dimly glowing smudge in the distance, and the realization sat heavy in my gut. Confusion swam in my head, my brain having turned to runny mush trying to think up a reasonable explanation. 

We’d followed a set of footsteps back to the road, but they weren’t our own. Which explained why there was only one set, instead of two. 

But the rest made no sense. Whoever left the tracks had to be a heavy walker, or else they wouldn’t have left a mark in the dirt. They also had to have passed by recently, or the prints would have been erased in a gust of wind. It didn’t add up. We should have heard someone stomping around through the trees, or even seen a shadowy form moving through the shimmering glass. 

“Jaz?” Vee was staring at me with concern, jolting me out of my confused haze. My brain promptly solidified once more, as I decided I didn’t care. The footprints had led us out of the labyrinth, for which I should be grateful. I’d never meet their owner, so I had no practical reason to worry. 

“I’m fine,” I said. Vee, unconvinced, wove a hand in front of my face. I caught a glimpse of the identification code tattooed on her wrist, her sleeve momentarily pealing itself away from the skin it clings so desperately to. 

V96463, set against her pale skin, in harsh lines and ink black as the night surrounding us. I keep my own code in the open as a brazen insult to the world. JZ4895. 

Most are ashamed to show they are Unaltered, but not me. I’ve decided to bare my mark to everyone day after day, when even people like Vee are filled with shame. Admitting to being Unaltered is tantamount to plainly stating that you are fundamentally flawed, lesser than the rest of the population. 

I almost wish I could say the Modified—the rich, the glamorous, the fortunate—hate us. I do, because it would make it easier to hate them. But instead, we receive their pity as the swat us away, afraid the breath from our inferior lungs will taint their precious air. 

“Alright,” Vee replied, sounding entirely unconvinced. “We have a long walk ahead of us, we best get going.” She paused, tilted her head inquisitively. “I thought... when you dragged me into the glass forest, I thought we were closer to the wall. We must have ran farther than I thought. Huh.” 

I grunted my agreement, before striding confidently towards the imposing blockade. Dim orange glowed against the silver-blue of the City beyond, penetrated by the occasional flash of blinding white or red. 

To pass the time, I counted my footsteps. After about a hundred, I lost track, the numbers getting jumbled about and falling apart. 

“Those Mechs never saw us coming!” Vee declared after a while, trying to break the heavy silence that had fallen over us. I didn’t want to talk, my mind was occupied with the mysterious creator of the footsteps that led us to safety. “What are we going to do next?” 

I stifled a sigh. This was the way things were with Vee— she lived from one moment to the next, bouncing from place to place, executing prank after prank. She never reminisced about the days of the past. At the end of each day, she put its events in a box and sealed it off with industrial-strength tape, then threw the box as far as she could, off to some dusty corner of her brain. 

I lived my life like a river. Days, weeks, months flowed into each other, each moment connected to the next, pushed forward by a current which was sometimes swift and violent, sometimes so still and quiet. 

Time trudged by as we walked, mostly in silence. After far too long, the road broadened into a stretch of dark asphalt, forming a ring outside the wall like a moat around a ruinous castle from ancient times. The pavement bled into stiff, dry grass, dotted with tents and the occasional crude hut. No one cared what the Unaltered did outside the wall—we were out of sight, out of mind—so people did whatever they needed to survive. 

Vee broke away and heads towards her tent, one of the few not illuminated from the inside. The other tents glowed like drying embers, shades of red and orange and gold, dulled by the dreariness of their surroundings. 

I headed straight for the wall. The maintenance workers had apartments within the metal-and-glass monstrosity, or a bed in the common—the cavernous lodging beneath the entrance to the City—with a cubbyhole for storage. I envied the people with their own private accommodations, but my contract ended in less than a month. I hadn’t been around long enough to earn my own space, and neither would I be. 

Though my legs throbbed with a burning ache, I quickened my pace. My gaze remained trained on the ground until I reached the entrance to the City, when I couldn’t help from looking up to take in the massive, arching gateway. A frame of elegantly twisting metal reached for the sky, filled in with glass panes that made up two massive doors. Within the colossal, showy doorway was another set of smaller doors in the same format, square metal border and glass gates which were illuminated a stunning cerulean. 

Despite the late hour, the small room within the wall was alive with activity. Voices bounced and clattered off one another, filling the air with a cacophony of sound. Doodads buzzed, hummed and chirped, each noise driving needles into my ears. 

I nodded a quick hello to the woman manning the bureau and collected my key from its peg on the wall. 

Not wanting to spend another minute within the jostling crowd, I bolted for the stairway which led me down into the belly of the earth. The heavy metal door swung open with a silent whoosh of air, the sensor above it blinking to acknowledge my presence. Hastily, I threw myself over the threshold and sighed with relief as silence washed over me. 

I passed another girl on my way. She nodded wordlessly, and I offered her a tight-lipped smile. 

In the month and a half I’d worked here, I’d spoken to so few people, I could count them on a single hand. Everyone would whisper when I’d enter a room, yet none were brave enough to say anything to my face. 

I knew it was because of the scar on my cheek, because of my short-sleeved clothes and pale hair. Most everyone had dark hair, in varying shades of black and brown. I was an anomaly, and outlier. So every day, I kept my head low, undeniably flawed featured partially hidden from the world by a veil of my hair. 

Vee had remarked to me once how strange it was that I would bare my identification code, but tried desperately too hide the puckered slash of silver that stretched from the side of my eye to below my cheekbone. 

She didn’t know my past. The years I’d spent within the wall, passing for a Modified, before being found out and given a permanent reminder of my inferiority. 

The Modified were beautiful, intelligent, perfect. They lived a life of exuberance and luxury. I was undoubtedly, unmistakable flawed, my one taste of that life fading on my tongue until there was nothing in my mouth but bitterness. 

I wanted nothing more but to curl up in the corner and fall asleep, to forget about the night I’d just had. But that wasn’t possible, as every time I closed my eyes images of the Mechs flashed and their shout echoed around in my head. Regret was a pungent emotion, and I was swimming in it. I felt the same way every time I parted with Vee. Consumed by guilt, fear piercing my chest. It wasn’t that the Mechs hadn’t deserved the mostly harmless prank, it was that I’d put myself in danger unnecessarily. I was going against my every instinct by spending time with Vee, committing these outrageous acts, but I couldn’t stop myself. 

She was infectious. I knew I only went through with our pranks because I was afraid. I was terrified that without Vee’s endless supply of humour in my life, I would never find cause to smile again. 

The commons was a single room with a high ceiling, metal walls and cots strewn across the floor. Everyone within its confines was Unaltered, either working maintenance or janitorial duties. It was kept rather clean, if not ideal, and warm in the cool months and chilled during the long, hot seasons. There was a roof over my head and a thin mattress beneath me, so I considered it adequate. 

One wall was lined with small compartments where we kept our meagre possessions. Mine was abysmally empty, with only a few changes of clothes, my uniform, and an onyx and steel pendant in the likeness of a hawk. 

The pendant was given to me by my birth parents, whom I’ve only meant once. They gave me up for adoption, but I spent most of my years in a boarding school, parentless. When I turned fourteen and still hadn’t been selected by some poor couple unable to bear children themselves, I got one chance to see my birth parents. My mother gave me the pendant, then I was tossed out of the City. 

It was pure luck that I managed to weasel my way back in, which ended only ended in more misery then if I’d been able to resist the urge to return, to stay far, far away. 

Everyone was asleep, and I tiptoed over to my storage compartment, using the key to unlock it. The pendant glittered at my from its nest of grungy, faded rags. It taunted me with the memories of better days that it held. 

I slammed the door closed and locked it again. I would sleep in the clothes I’d been wearing since the previous morning. 

I searched desperately for an empty cot. There was one over in the far corner, somewhat isolated, and I crept over to it. The clock on the wall glared down on me with its crimson gaze, it’s piercing stare informing me dawn had almost arrived. 0527h. It blinked, then reappeared, the seven turned to an eight. 

Exhausted, I threw myself to the floor shamelessly. The cot was thin and lumpy, but I had no reason to complain, as it was far better than sleeping outside. I pulled the cotton sheet up to my chin, turned so that I was facing away from the red haze of the clock, and sealed my eyes shut. 

 

Wake up call was at 0730h. I could barely manage to peel my head from the pillow, the black tendrils of sleep slowly loosening there hold on my mind. 

The other workers were already awake, buzzing around as they prepared for the day. I was undeniably envious of their ability to wake up so cleanly, so brightly. It took several minutes after the alarm had finished blaring its electronic tumult in my ears before I could even manage to stand, which only went to prove how unfit I was for this job. Or any job that required me to wake as soon as dawn brushed the sky, that was. 

On unsteady legs, I teetered over to my storage hole and unlocked it, attacking the slot with my key. It took minutes of jumbling before I finally managed to get the door open, and several more to remove my uniform and seal it shut. 

I changed my clothes in the corner, as far away from the thickest of the crowd as I could get. Vee enjoyed teasing me, calling me old-fashioned when it came to my displeasure surrounding getting undressed in front of others, to which I would snort and grumble my disagreement. 

As the old order of things had slowly collapsed, the decide between the sexes had also collapsed. In the past century, everything had changed. Instead of men’s and women’s bathrooms, there was Unaltered and Modified restrooms. As opposed to men running big companies and women working as their secretaries, their assistants, their waitresses, it was the Modified on top and the Unaltered serving beneath them. 

I kept my eyes on my own body, away from the people surrounding me. My uniform was the opposite of flattering, a spinach green scrubbed out in the knees and elbows, too large on my bony frame. 

The zipper hissed in displeasure as I yanked it upwards. It hitched several times, but I managed to wrestle it free and pull it all the way to the end of the track. 

A groan escaped as I turned to the boots. They were black and clunky, and by now I’d managed to scuff the toes nearly white. They were impossible to pull on my feet, which meant I wasted precious minutes fighting to haul them on.

Finally dressed, I sprinted out of the commons. All but two people had already left. The clock was leering at me, proudly announcing the time to be ten minutes past the time I was supposed to start work. I took the stairs two at a time, hurling myself upwards, my arms waving frantically to keep my balance. 

I bursted through the doors, returned my key for the day and collected my rations from the kind woman behind the table on my way out. She was Modified, but age had worn her down into someone unashamed of her flaws and compassionate towards the less fortunate. 

The layout of the bureau never changed. The main desk was on the left wall, the door to the commons on the right. The entrance to the City was perpendicular to the wall with the desk, the exit opposite. Every morning and every evening, a table was set up parallel to the exit, passing out food, water and sometimes fresh uniforms to the workers. 

I wanted to drag my heals and eat on my way, but I was already late. There was a voice in the back of my mind, nagging me forward, telling me that procrastination would get me nowhere—certainly not back to the Modified life I craved so badly. 

No one knew of my secret desire to be flawless, to live the life of luxury I’d been thrown out of. Most Unaltered despised the Modified, or were to proud to want what they had. I hadn’t even confessed my desire to Vee, knowing she loathed the Modified with every fibre of her being. They had, after all, arrested her parents for treason while her mother had been pregnant with her elder sister, who had been born in the prisons, where she’d died only hours later. 

When her mother got pregnant again, the baby—Vee—was taken from her and raised at a shelter for orphaned children. At age ten, Vee was thrown out of the shelter for insulting one of the Mech guards, and sent to live outside the wall. 

I knew little of Vee’s backstory other than that. She was a year older than me at eighteen, and had spent nearly four times the number of years on the outside that I had. It amazes me how that experience had not shaped into someone callous and bitter, but someone who craved chaos and found a way to laugh at any and every situation. 

“You’re late,” the Mech technician operating the elevator announced. I ignored his displeased town and showed him my wrist. He scanned a piece of paper, then after a moment, nodded and allowed me to enter. I stepped out of the gelid morning air and into the warm elevator, wincing as it shot me up into the sky like an outdated rocket. When I’d started this job, I couldn’t help but imagine the elevator was a shuttle wrenching me from this wretched planet, ready to deposit me on an alien world or one of the renowned space-voyaging ships. Those fantasies had died out quickly, within the first week. 

No one else commented on my tardiness as I stepped off the elevator and into the computer room. There was only one empty desk and I bolted for it, glad I wouldn’t be stuck on cleaning duty today. 

I fired up the sluggish peace of technology, the bright pulses of light stinging my tired eyes. Words and numbers hurled themselves at me, and it took a while for me to make sense of the message. 

It was asking for me to select what I’d like to work on today. 

I clicked the first one, groaning when I realized my inadvertent choice. I would be stuck sorting through files and programs, deleting the outdated ones and reorganizing the ones which remained. A complaint rose in my throat, but I bit my lip and swallowed it. 

A couple more days and I would receive my pay. I would be one step closer to my goal. 

It’s the only way I feel alive. Vee’s voice run in my ears, something she’d admitted to me once. That she only ever felt anything when she was creating havoc. I had sympathized with her then, thinking of her as someone damaged beyond repair, empty on the inside. 

How wrong I’d been. Despite my best efforts to stay as I was, she was leaving an impression on me. I was starting to agree with her. 

I got down to work, and the day dredged on in dreadful monotony. I was craving Vee’s presence, craving the sensation of adrenaline lighting up my veins as we ran. I knew afterwards I would collapse, exhausted, consumed by guilt and worry, but I couldn’t shake the itch. It crawled under my skin, the desire to run free, to scream at the sky for no reason at all, to dance under the stars and laugh until my sides ached. 

At 1623h, I shut down the computer and made my exit. The computer room was a simple space, the elevator being the only entrance and exit, with desks lining every other wall. Two with computers, one without. 

I hopped into the metal box and said a mental goodbye, banging on the buttons until it brought me down. My gut pitched itself into my throat as I dropped, not settling until after I’d said a hasty farewell to the Mech and found my way back to the bureau. 

I ate in the commons, having begged ill to the man who’d been manning the front desk for the afternoon. He was hesitant, but eventually returned my key and agreed not to take the hours I’d be missing out of my pay. I thanked him relentlessly for several minutes, then staggered over to the stairs, farther enforcing the lie I’d told 

The commons were deserted at this time, so I ate in relative peace. I’d been given the scraps of what had been provided, a pouch full of dehydrated meats, cheeses and fruits, with a handful of bland grains. 

I threw it all into my mouth at once, chewed, then washed it down with a gulp of water. 

Once finished, it was relatively easy to sneak out and even easier to find Vee. She was sitting at the edge of the glass forest, sorting through wadded up bills of cash and small, shiny odds and ends. 

Vee was a shameless thief and priced herself on her keen eye for valuable things. Not many people on this side of the wall had anything worth stealing, so it meant she must of ran across some unlucky Modified who’d decided to go sight-seeing. Even though she did steal, usually keeping most of the money for herself, she gave the shiny chains, dainty brooches and other useless, glittering things to parentless kids she passed by or anyone who looked like they needed it. 

I cleared my throat to catch her attention. She didn’t look up right away, finishing whatever she’d been doing, before raising her eyes to meet mine. 

“Hullo, Jaz,” she mumbled. Her eyes were lacking their usual sheen and her entire demeaned was empty of its lustre. “You just missed them. A young couple, maybe in their twenties. I wasn’t going to hurt them. I was going to let them pass by, without a second glance. But I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Then the man grabbed me, called me a piece of filth, pulled up my sleeves to leer at my number. So I thrashed until I got away, then I swiped his wallet and his girlfriends purse.” 

“Good.” I sat down next to her, examining what she’d snatched. The experience had evidently rattled her, but she was Vee. She’d bounce back from it in a minute or two, moving on to whatever antics she’d planned for tonight.

“But it did give me some good ideas for new insults,” she added, peeking up slightly. “What do you think of ‘defective scum?’”

“Pretty generic,” I replied, raising my eyebrows slightly. “Are you alright? That sounded pretty brutal.”

“I’m fine,” she answered without hesitation, and I knew it was true. If something bothered or upset Vee, she didn’t try and hide it. She never said she was fine if she wasn’t, so I knew I could trust her on this. “But I’d like to get the, back. Too bad they just kept on walking. I should have followed them, taught ‘em not to mess with me.” 

I nodded in agreement then stood, offering her a hand. She took it, wincing as I pulled her up. 

Something struck me in the gut, a frigid bolt of fear. 

Vee wouldn’t wince, not unless she was in pain. She wasn’t a complainer, not like me. 

I looked at her harder. Her black shirt was torn at the hem, the fabric stained darker. I clenched my teeth. I could see the corner of a gash just above her collarbone, the rest hidden by her shirt. 

“Vee!” 

She pulled away, lowering her eyes. The wound wasn’t large, but without proper treatment it would without a doubt become infected. 

“I didn’t want to worry you, Jaz. Really, I’m fine.” She laughed breezily, stooping down to pluck up her things. “I was thinking, tonight we could go big. Bigger than we’ve ever done before.” She paused, excitement reigniting her spark. “Do you think you could ready several gallons of paint by sunset?” 

“Why?” I asked, wary of what she might have planned. 

“We’re going to paint a mural,” she replied. Some of the tension in my shoulders loosened, but not enough. There was something about the way she said it that unnerved me, giving me an inkling that she might be implying more than she said.

“What kind of mural?” 

“I’ve got a few ideas for the design. I’m thinking we could have a blue and white colour scheme.” 

“And where will we be painting this mural?” 

Vee cracked a wide, mischievous grin, her eyes brightening with fervour until they burned like green fires. “We’re going to paint the wall.” 

 
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