Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from a faraway planet, craving adventure against her people’s drag existence. She is here to tell us about acid rains, desolate lives, friends, emotional scars, and independence.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

You can’t have much of a life when you’re stuck living in a mountain, ruled under a Committee of Tyrants. Sorry for sounding bitter. But I was bullied most of my childhood because I had two very pale blue almost white eyes. My best friend, someone I cared deeply for, left our mountain to train in another. He was always there for me and when he left my world fell apart. There’s no rule about not leaving the mountain, but who would dare without the proper equipment to protect themselves from the acid rain, that could melt your body within minutes

Were you close to your family? Do you have a favourite memory as a child?

I wasn’t close to my family. We were taken away at a young age and put to work, everyone had to pull their weight to make the running and life in Mount Elta go smooth.

I was forced to move in with Aron, my boyfriend. Although I never wanted the relationship to move forwards, others did. He was a Ranger and would always brag about his explorations and adventures he’d have whilst protecting the Trackers as they searched for the Terra plant. We could not live without this plant, as scientists created a substance called Dozax. This was then used in agriculture, medicines, recreation, protective clothing and shelter, basically in all parts of our lives. As for childhood memories, the only thing that stands out for me was how Marcus, my BF would always know when I was feeling down. He taught me how to survive outside the mountain. We would go on adventures together whilst trying to track the Terra plant down ourselves. But we never strayed too far from Elta.

I never did get to meet a savage face to face. These were Maloks just like us, who used the plant in another way. Boiling the leaves, they would ingest the juice, which gave them a high. A feeling of euphoria. The Committee soon put a stop to that, and they were cast out of the mountain, with no food, shelter, nothing. They would either have their skin and bones melt to nothing from the acid rain or would meet up with a savage and be killed. Those that were lucky enough to survive and find some form of shelter, turned into the monsters that now hunt for the plant and kill Trackers and Rangers.

What do you do now?

I’m a medic. Some injuries can be horrific, especially if the Ranger or Trackers were attacked. My job is to assess the situation and put the patients in order of who needed to be treated first. Of course, Dozax is used in all treatments I just have to decide in what form, where and how much to use. Dozax in its natural form is potent and too much in ones’ body can cause the opposite effect. That‘s why we can only get a massage once a week and even then, we get tested to how much Dozax is in our body. Too much can be a VERY bad thing. What I want to do and what I’ve been secretly training for is to become a Ranger. But Aron lectures me, every time I leave the safety of the mountain. He knows how much I want this and even though there are females Rangers he’s told me plenty of times that I’m not a good fit. But he’s not going to tell me what to do. I will listen to no man except my commanding officer.  Just a while ago we lost him to a vicious attack. We couldn’t save him so now we’re waiting for another CO to come and take over the Ranger Corp. I have my exam in one week. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. But I know I can do this. Marcus taught me everything. I’m not sure if Aron has been informed about my training, being as everyone knows we are together, and although I’ve asked for it to be kept on the down-low. He asked me to marry him so we can move into the West sector where the Rangers, Trackers and Committee lived with their family. But I refused. In fact, I don’t want him to be here anymore. He’s too controlling, and I feel like he uses me for sex, never giving me any satisfaction as long as he gets his. No this is not the way I thought my life would turn out. I have to speak with Aron and kick him out of my life, for now. If I do pass the exam, then I’ll be working with him and he holds a high rank, so I’ll have to put up with him giving me orders again. And I know he’s not going to go easy, but the sacrifice I have to make if I want to leave this mountain and make something of my life.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Only a few days ago, I was out exploring when the sky turned to a glowing red, the sign that it was about to rain. I knew no matter how fast I ran I wouldn’t make it back to the Elta in time. I was wearing a protective suit made of a rubber material from Dozax. I don’t know how they made the material, but it was certainly acid-proof. This wasn’t the first time I got caught in the rain. I grabbed the tent that was folded into a pocket of my backpack, I threw it out onto the floor, and it sprung up into an oval tent, I dived in just as the first drops started to fall.  I laid down and relaxed while hearing the rain splatter on the roof of the tent, I must have fallen asleep as I was having a very good dream 😉 then I woke to a burning on my hand. I sat up and watched the acid burning into my skin. I wiped the residue off my hand using my clothing and then looked up at the roof of the tent and saw a tiny hole where the rain was coming through. I watch it hit the floor of the tent and be soaked up. I’ve never heard of a leaking tent before so I knew that once the rain stopped, I would have to take it to the scientist in the North sector, after getting treatment on my hand which was still burning and stinging, but it’s happened before so I knew what the pain was like and how bad it could get.

What is always in the back of your mind?

I have an amazing support group of ladies. Who knows everything about my life and are behind me 100%. There’s Bez who loves to gossip and I think she’s into the opposite sex, but she’s never come out and said it. There’s Mavie, who always seems to get into trouble with the Committee, Karly who is a bit slow on the uptake, but we love her dearly. Creed who is so sweet until you piss her off. Oops sorry (covers mouth with hands) I promised I’d keep it clean. Then we have Rayla who is the joker of the group. I wonder how the girls see me. I’ll have to ask them one day. Anyhow back to your question. Although my ladies mean everything to me. I still feel so lost without my childhood friend. It’s been years and I still regret not kissing him goodbye, when he was leaving.  I’m always fantasying about that goodbye hug and what it could have turned into. What it should have turned into. It wasn’t until he left that I realized I loved him. But it was too late.

What was the scariest thing that has happened in your life so far?

When the doctor said there was a procedure, they could try to make my eyes the same colour. It had never been done before, It had never been tested. But they were willing to use me as a Guinee pig and I was stupid enough to allow them if it meant the bullying would stop. I didn’t know how much more I could take. It was mental torture handed to me by Mae, the bully and she made sure her possie of girlfriends said their piece as well. We were told there was a possibility I may go blind due to the overuse of Dozax. Yes, I was petrified, but I was more stressed with the bullying and was willing to go to any lengths to stop it. But it never stopped. The Dozax never turned me blind.  But it left a greenish tint in my iris, which made me look more of a freak than ever. Of course, Mae laughed it up and continued her hounding until she became a ranger and I saw less of her, eventually, she left and was reassigned somewhere else.

What is the worst thing about…?

The Committee. Hands down. Life would be so much happier and more relaxed without the Committee breathing down our necks. It started with the rules of no boiling of the Terra leaves and getting high. Those that were caught were cast out. But then more rules were added and now we’re all walking on eggshells as they are always watching and calling Maloks out. So many have been cast out for what I would refer to as minor mishaps, one too many times, all recorded down until they had enough, listed the charges and cast them out. I’ve always wondered if they have cameras around, even in our residence. Or there were Maloks secretly working for the Committee. Either way, we had to watch what we said and do.

What is the best thing about it?

We have plenty to do when we’re not working, we have the Cube and The Max. The Max had a gym, spa, massage, freshwater spring which you could bath in, cosmetic lounges and sports such as badminton, bowling, tennis. There were so many activities to choose from, but again the Committee made sure we didn’t have too much of a good time and we each had a weekly quote. When it was full, no more Max for a week. Many activities use Dozax as well, so again we have to make sure we haven’t gone over our weekly intake of the substance.

Then the Cube is where I hang out with my ladies. It is called the cube as each cube has different entertaining or food. There are theatres, a comedy lounge, cinema, disco, snack bar, restaurant, and the chill-out Cube which is where we mostly hang out. In fact, we always have a table reserved for us every Wednesday. When I say bar, don’t even think for one minute you’ll find alcohol anywhere. I’ve never tasted it and as I’ve never gone near the juice of the Terra leaves, I have no idea what it would be like to be high or drunk. But we take what we can and grass and vanilla shots or smoothies do the trick.

Any romantic involvement?

Aron is for certain soon going to a past mistake. I’ve never forgotten Marcus and the close friendship we had. I’m sure it could have turned into more, the older we got. But I always wonder what if….

What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

I’m quite partial to the smoothies in the chill-out bar and the Chinese tea is really nice, but it has to be a special occasion to go to that restaurant and you have to book weeks in advance. I love a facial, but as I’m exposed to Dozax more than the average person, I don’t get to take part in that luxury very often. I love feeling water on my skin, the spa and freshwater baths, again are a luxury, but one I look forward to once a month. My favourite colour, —umm well we don’t have much range of clothing, most are dull-coloured tunics. Bez likes to dress up and so alters these dull outfits into something else. But not so much that the Committee will notice, well I hope they don’t. If I had to pick my favourite colour it would be purple.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to be a Ranger and eventually get transferred out of Elta. I don’t know what the Committees are like in the other mountains. But no one can live happily under these circumstances and if I get that opportunity and find somewhere where I can live freely. I’ll go back to Elta, grab my ladies and take them with me. The new commander arrives with another three transfers tomorrow. And I have to do the Dozax inoculations to them, as they have been exposed to the outside and we have to take precautions for the hundreds that live inside the mountain. It will be nice to meet some fresh blood and who knows maybe I’ll find a new friend amongst them. And from what I’ve heard the new commander is single. 😊

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

Okay, I’ve never told anyone about this. But I’ve always thought about being cast out of the mountain. How would I survive? Would I find others like me, Outcast that have not turned savage? I would search for them. They can’t have all died. When I’m finally a Range I’ll always be on the lookout for savages, as it’s my job, but I’ll also be searching for evidence that we are not alone.

Karina is a prolific author of 13 fiction books and 10 non-fiction. She has won awards for her books and is an award-winning filmmaker after winning several International Film Festival awards for her documentary and book trailers. Karina is also the host of the popular radio show Author Assist at the Artist First Radio Network. She’s also a BookTuber, podcaster and runs Author Assist which helps indie authors with their marketing and promotion.

You can find Lexi on the pages of Toxic.

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