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Enid Origin Sample Chapter

Updated: May 1

I’m little more than a silent observer in the tumultuous world of Elpis. My life is a shadow cast upon the poorest borough of this sprawling city, a place where poverty hangs like a heavy fog in the air and the streets are dangerous after dark. In the heart of Pax, my family struggles to make ends meet, but the relentless burden of the Directorate tax weighs us down, suffocating our hopes and dreams.


While I may barely be fifteen, I’m no stranger to hardship. My parents, hardworking and determined, toil from dawn till dusk, their brows forever creased with worry. Yet, no matter how many hours they dedicate to their work, it’s a pointless task. The Directorate’s grasp tightens around us, squeezing the life out of our modest existence.


Every month the Department of Military Affairs sends enforcers to collect back taxes from those who still owe. Those who manage to pay are few. I’ve watched the overwhelming relief as they had over their meager wages to avoid the worst—even if it means no food on the table for another week. That isn’t the worst of it. No, the worst is watching those who can’t pay back taxes get dragged away. Few return, and those who do often find themselves in further debt. It’s like the Directorate is plucking our very souls in a cruel game of taxation, one that ensures we remain forever in the shadows.


I’ve gone hungry more times than I would like to admit when my parents pay every last cent to their names to avoid back taxes. It isn’t sustainable. At some point, they will fall behind and get dragged away like our neighbors, never to be seen again.


I’m their last hope for a better life—their only hope.


I sit by the dimly lit window, staring out at the narrow, winding streets of the Pax borough. The setting sun casts a warm, melancholic hue upon the cracked concrete. The district is a labyrinth of decay and despair. The dilapidated buildings look as weary as the souls who live within them. I’ve always been content to hide in the corner, a wallflower untouched by the chaos outside.


But I know that my time of obscurity is limited. In Elpis, everyone has a power from one of the Four Branches of Powers: Divinic, with their divine powers of healing and cosmic abilities, stand as the healers and the bringers of hope. Naturalists manipulate organic matter with grace and finesse, coaxing life from barren soil. Psionics, masters of the mind, wield telepathy and telekinesis like a second skin. And Somatics, with their superior strength and senses, offer physical protection to the fragile souls of Elpis.


For most, the day their power manifests is a momentous occasion, a defining chapter in their life story. It can happen as young as ten or as old as sixteen. I’ve never heard of anyone going past sixteen without something to show.


I, however, am still a blank page, waiting for my story to be written. The uncertainty of which branch of power I will belong to is a constant source of anxiety. I’ve witnessed the awe-inspiring capabilities of others in the city. Yet I’m paralyzed by the fear that my power will be too feeble to lift my family from the mire of poverty. If my power manifests strong enough, I could support my parents and maybe, just maybe, we can move out of this dangerous, impoverished borough of the city.


I’ve watched it happen before, though not often enough. A boy down the street who’s six years older than me ended up with a Cass Scale Rank Psionic 77. That’s pretty high for anyone from our borough, where most people are well below Rank 50. Once he graduated, he moved his entire family to another borough.


My heart aches with longing, but I cannot choose among the branches. The power is already inside of me waiting to break free. I feel the weight of my powers and future pressing down on my chest like a boulder. I must have a power inside of me somewhere. Everyone does. But what is it and when will it reveal itself to me? The uncertainty looms like a storm cloud on the horizon.


As the days slip by, I cling to the hope that my dormant powers will burst forth in a blaze of brilliance, powerful enough to rescue my family from this grim existence.


My life in Pax is a series of predictable routines. The first rays of the sun filter through the grime-streaked window of our cramped, one-room apartment. The rusty hinges on the door groan as I ease it open, slipping out unnoticed.


The morning air in Pax is muted in silence as people move toward work or school. The distant hum of the Pax factories is louder than the people. The stench of refuse permeates the air as the sewers here are less maintained than the rest of the city. Bags of rotting garbage sit on street corners waiting for a pickup that only comes once every two weeks. I weave through the labyrinthine streets, keeping my gaze downcast, avoiding eye contact, as I make my way to the nearby market.


My first stop is the water pump. The line is long, but I wait patiently, clutching our empty buckets. The water is a treasured resource in Pax, and I’ve learned to appreciate the value of every drop. Most people use the city pump water over what comes from the taps because of toxins in old pipes or just the cost of using in-home water. Once I’ve returned the water buckets home, I move on to the market, navigating through the throngs of people in search of affordable vegetables and grains. Not that the produce on display is terribly enticing. Everything is either too small or already limp or going bad. But it’s all we have. This product made by local Pax Naturalists is the most affordable source of food for most of us.


As I barter for the best deals, I can’t help but overhear the conversations of the people around me. The talk of taxes, the Directorate, and the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the poor is a constant undercurrent. It’s a grim reminder of our place in this city, where the elite revel in their powers, while the rest of us struggle to survive.


My father, Elias Marshall, works in a sprawling factory that dominates the skyline of Pax. He is a Naturalist, and his abilities to manipulate organic matter have ensured our family’s survival. My mother, Shara, toils in a nearby textile mill, her Psionic talents put to use in maintaining a steady flow of cloth from the machines. But despite their skills, they can’t escape the vice-like grip of the Directorate’s relentless tax.


Our family’s earnings, like those of our neighbors, disappear like water in the desert, leaving us parched and desperate. My parents have tried everything to improve our situation, from taking on extra shifts to searching for side jobs. I try my best to earn a little extra where I can. Yet, the gap between what we earn and what is demanded of us grows wider every month.

As I head back home, I eye the distant downtown skyline with its towering structures and prosperity. Why can’t they share a little of that wealth with us? The only difference between the people in those shining towers and the people on these dirty streets is the strength of each individual power. And in the center of them all, the twisting helix of Paragon Tower—home of the biomedical research company that will save us all from this poverty and illness. Once they find the cure for the illness that plagues some citizens, that is.


I’ve only been to Paragon Tower once, on a field trip last school year. We were given a tour of the lower floors where all the students and teachers oohed and aahed over everything.

Now, as the sun moves beyond the horizon, that tower glistens like an otherworldly thing in the sunlight, a stark contrast to the crumbling structures of Pax. I glance up at it for a moment, the weight of my future powers settling heavily on my shoulders.


The long shadows of Pax stretch into the evening, and I return home, weary but resolute. The sun is dipping below the horizon, and I know it’s almost time for dinner. My parents are exhausted, yet they put on brave faces, trying to shield me from the harsh realities of our world.


We gather around our small, rickety table, a simple meal of rice and beans before us. The meager portions serve as a reminder of the sacrifices we make daily. As we eat in silence, my parents exchange worried glances. The Directorate tax is due in a few days, and our savings won’t be enough to meet their demands this time. They don’t say it, but I know it by the way my father’s brows knit together and my mother picks at her food while chewing her lip. The worry is evident. The silence deep.


After dinner, I retreat to my corner by the window, the evening’s darkness cloaking the district in shadows. The only source of light is the flickering candle on the table, casting dancing, distorted silhouettes on the walls. The fear that has nestled within me like a parasite gnaws at my insides.


I clutch my hands together, fingers trembling, as I close my eyes and focus on the one thing that keeps me going: the hope of my impending manifestation. It’s the glimmer of hope that pushes me to endure the everyday suffering of Pax.


As the night deepens, I remain perched on my windowsill, gazing at the stars above. The universe is a big mystery, and I wonder if my powers would allow me to understand its secrets. The questions swirl in my mind like constellations, their patterns eluding me.


The next morning, I stand in front of our bathroom mirror and close my eyes, willing a power to flow through me, to fill the void that has tormented my heart for so long. But seconds turn to minutes, and still, nothing happens. The room remains as still and silent as a tomb.

I turn away from the mirror, tears threatening to spill from my eyes. The darkness of my corner embraces me, and I feel like a wilted flower, denied the chance to bloom.


As the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months, I continue to exist in the shadows of Pax. My power remains elusive, like a whisper that refuses to be heard. I watch others in my district, my peers, as they manifest their abilities. My parents reach out, comforting me with their presence, but the weight of their unfulfilled dreams presses down on us all.


My friend Marcus, a Psionic, has honed his telekinesis to an incredible level. He can move objects with precision. During library hours at school, I watch with envy as he demonstrates his powers, lifting a stack of books with a mere thought. He offers to teach me, but I can only offer a polite decline, masking the pain that gnaws at me. The pity on his face hurts.


“It will happen, Enid,” Marcus reassures me, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. “It happens for everyone. You’re just a late bloomer. No big deal.”


Easier to say than to accept, though. Late bloomers tended to be weaker with their power, and I can’t afford to be weak. I need it to be strong enough to save my family.


At dinner that night, I pick at my food, knowing I have to eat it because it’s tax day and it might be a while before I get another meal. But I can’t stop thinking about Marcus’ reassurance. The silence at the table is deep again, each of us lost in our own thoughts.

This lack of power is making me a target for bullies at school. The longer it takes to manifest, the less invisible I become. Today, a Somatic Strongarm pinned me against the wall while his girlfriend, a Psionic Telepath, picked at my mind. Her power hurt more than his arm. Marcus stood back and did nothing. He waited for them to let me go and strut away together before rushing over to pull me into a hug. His reassurances were stale in my ears. He has a power. He could have helped me, pushed them back, something.


But he stood there and watched, shaking in fear. Because I’m alone. It’s better to accept that now than allow myself to cling to any hope that someone would ever help me. Nothing will change unless my Cass Scale Rank is above 50.


It’s in this moment of despair that a knock on our door interrupts my thoughts. My father tenses before he stiffly shuffles over and opens it.


A DMA enforcer. My heart clenches as I watch, a silent witness to our doom.


The enforcer speaks in a cold, emotionless voice, demanding payment in full on our back taxes.


“I just need a few more days and I will have it,” my father reassures the enforcer.


But it won’t matter. I’ve watched this dozens of times. The enforcers never show pity or mercy. My parents don’t have enough to pay this time. But the enforcer is unyielding, his eyes devoid of empathy.


I can’t stand by any longer, watching my parents crumble beneath the oppressive weight of the Directorate. Something within me stirs, a warmth born of desperation that floods my veins. I take a step forward, my voice trembling but resolute, “Please, sir, there must be another way. Let me help. Don’t take my father.”


The enforcer’s gaze shifts to me, a mix of curiosity and skepticism in his eyes as he studies me behind the visor over his eyes. I fight off a shudder, wondering what he sees, what he’s thinking, what his power is. Can he read my mind?


He gestures for me to move closer. I take a deep breath and shuffle toward the door.


“No. Leave my daughter out of this,” my father snaps.


“Step back, Mr. Marshall.” There’s no sympathy in the enforcer’s voice. No emotion of any kind. Something about that tone sends a bolt of terror through me.


My parents both fall utterly still as I stop in front of the man. I can’t see past the visor to judge what he might be thinking, but something about his assessment of me makes my blood heat.


“How old are you?” he asks.


“Fifteen,” I say.


“Power?”


I swallow the lump in my throat. “N-nothing yet.”


He makes a sound of disgust in the back of his throat. “Then how do you propose to help your father?”


I hug my arms against my chest and hang my head. “I…I don’t know. But there must be something I can do.”


No one moves for several seconds. Then he pulls out his phone and taps something on the screen. A full minute passes before he lifts his chin again, watching me from behind his visor. My Directorate-issued tablet buzzes on my thin mattress in the corner. The enforcer’s chin shifts toward my father.


“It looks like you received a temporary extension,” he says flatly. “You have two days.”


“I need more time,” Father says breathlessly.


“Two days.” Once more, the enforcer’s attention shifts to me. “Unless payment is received before then.”


With that, he departs, leaving our apartment in stunned silence. Mom collapses into a chair.


Father eyes me warily. “What did you do, Enid?”


“Nothing. I just…asked.” But my gaze shifts to the tablet that buzzed right after that enforcer put his phone away. Curiosity burns inside of me.


“Enforcers never grant an extension,” my father says sharply.


“Let’s just finish dinner,” I mutter, shuffling toward the table again.


But I can’t stop glancing curiously at the tablet. 




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