Alarm sirens wail above the ration line in the town center. The breathy shriek pierces my ears and a shudder slides down my spine. I should stay in my place. I should act like the rest of the Commoner puppets.
Doing what I should will be the death of me.
People in the city square freeze mid-step, identical looks of fear spreading across their faces. Life snaps to a halt, arms clutching packages to chests, mothers reining in children on their wrist strap leashes. Good little marionettes awaiting the Mentalist Guild Operative announcement over the loudspeakers. I was born without puppet strings, and with a healthy self-preservation instinct--not to mention the knife I have sheathed in my boot and the blue-steeled contraband tucked in the small of my back.
A week’s worth of ration stamps crinkle when I curl my fist around them and shove them in my pocket. I duck my head, hiding my face behind a curtain of hair, knowing it won’t shield me from an Operative. Motion soothes my nerves, gives my mind a chance to plot escape routes while I put distance between me and the Commoner crowd before the siren above runs out of breath. After the siren comes the proclamation, then comes the Operative. There is no hiding from a Seer, and I can’t risk being seen.