The Mutants of New Malia (Short Story)


The Mutants of New Malia

Mila | Foster Secondary College |
Secondary English | Term 4 2023


I remember the tales Opa used to tell. Extravagant stories of rich adventure from the old world. Stories from when the air was clear and you could frolic amongst the grass, feeling the wind through your hair. Stories from when you could sit at the edge of clear, unpolluted water, dipping your feet in and watching the setting sun in rays of gold pink and orange. When he told his stories, I would be taken to a world where only we were allowed. We would climb mountains, trek through barren deserts, sail vicious seas and be washed up on deserted islands. He enjoyed telling his stories almost as much as I loved hearing them, but there was one story that he didn’t like telling. The story of how a terrible thing split the history of mankind into two halves, and there was only before and after.

Before, Opa said, life was peaceful. There was no control, no corruption, no evil. That was his world. But freedom is never enough. A secret group of scientists that worked for a corrupt government discovered a chemical that could modify human DNA, to make innocent people obedient slaves. But only after the mandatory pill was released out to the world did they realise the deadly side effects. Those who didn’t die within a week, suffered horrible mutations. Soon, the entire world spiralled into disaster. Nuclear power stations exploded, devastating the land and burning everyone within a 1000 km radius, reducing the earth to a desolate wasteland where we thought nothing could survive. Opa’s family was killed in one of these explosions, but somehow he found safety, and on the way, he found me as a baby abandoned in the rubble; helpless. Something that he could cling onto, a beacon that helped him get through hard times, and in doing so, he saved me.

After it all ended, governments from all over the world came together to build a city of the remaining people, and around it, a wall. They tell us that they built the wall for our own safety, to prevent radiation from getting in, and people from getting out. But there are things that they don’t tell us.

“Opa, why can’t we leave the city?” I would ask.
 “My little rabbit,” He would reply, “The government keeps us in so we stay safe and sound, away from the radioactive wastelands and the mutated survivors.”
 He would continue, “It’s a secret.”
 “What do you mean?” I would ask.
 “My little rabbit,” He would sigh. “There are things that the government doesn’t want us to know.”
 “They tell us that there is nothing behind the wall, that no living thing could survive. But that’s not true. There are survivors of the infection that were not killed by the bombs. We call them The Mutants. These mutants live and breathe radiation, so they thrive in the wastelands that the rest of the world now is.”
 “Whoa.” I would gawk.
 Opa would continue, “They roam the outskirts of the city behind the wall, and every day they look for a way in so they can fulfil their immortal hunger…for human flesh!”

He would jump scare me and I would squeal and squirm while he tickled me all over. Suddenly his face turned serious, and he told me that I could never tell anybody this, because if the government found out, we’d both face the consequences, and they are always watching.

I guess I’ve never really thought to find out if his stories were true, or if he just had a gift for making things up. But there is one thing I do know. And that is the government wouldn’t build an impenetrable wall around the city for nothing.


I am awoken by a sharp ray of light piercing my eyelids. Of course, it isn’t natural light, the artificial ray is sourced from one of the many street lamps positioned around the city that forever illuminate us. I lay back on the hard concrete roof that is my abode, and stare up at what once was a blue sky, but is now just a grey abyss of cloud and smoke. I roll over onto my side and glance at where Opa sleeps, when I realise that he has vanished. I stand up and frantically look for him, nearly having a panic attack, but come to the conclusion that he would have just gone for a walk. Out of the blue, a cold, robotic voice echoes through the air: “All citizens of block 109 please report to the city square for an announcement.” I sigh. Another day, another assembly. Like many other things, they don’t tell us why, but everyday is different, some days it’s a search, others it’s the voice of an unseen person projecting from the centre stage in the middle of the square. I take the shortcut down the side of the building, scoffing at passing windows where the richer people in their privileged apartments are preparing for the day ahead. When I reach the ground, I join the snaking procession on their way to the square, keeping my eyes peeled for any sign of Opa, or where he could have gone. We are led by pushy soldiers baring futuristic looking guns into a large space where numerous soldiers give us pitying and disapproving looks. Everybody knows the drill. I tap a burly looking stranger in a grey vest if he has seen an old man about 5 ‘4 with a grey beard but he just shrugs me off and tells me that lots of people look like that. I ask again to a humble looking woman but to no avail.

I’m getting desperate now, so I tap the nearest person on the shoulder, which just so happens to be a hooded figure that quickly turns around my way. Suddenly I am distracted by another announcement: “All citizens please proceed to the centre stage for a mandatory announcement.”

I manage to catch a glimpse of her face and my eyes turn wide in surprise. Her face is as dull and emotionless as a blank piece of paper. Her eyes are a light purple and her skin a pale grey. Her features are not human, but not quite mutant either. Before I have time to contemplate the impossibility of it all, I am swept into the tide of people heading towards the rostrum at the centre of the square. I shove my way through the crowd to get to what everybody is looking at, and I stop dead in my tracks. There, tied to a steel pole on the centre of the stage is Opa.

My breathing turns ragged as I try to ascertain how it is possible that Opa, my only family, is chained to a pole and being publicly humiliated in front of 2000 or so people. At that moment we lock eye contact and he gives me a sorrowful look. I can tell in his eyes that he is not up there willingly. His face is smeared with sweat and blood, obvious signs of a struggle. His clothes drape from his old frail body and his greasy grey hair sticks up in unnatural directions.

“Ladies and gentlemen of New Malia City,” Booms the voice of an unseen face.

“We bring you here today to discuss an important matter involving this man.” He gestures to Opa and there is silence as all eyes move to him. “Our intelligence tells us that  man has been spreading false information about the government. As of today, a new rule shall be enforced forbidding any misinformation concerning our leaders, punishable by death.” I feel like I’m about to faint. Gasps erupt from the growing crowd but a booming voice yells “SILENCE!” And everyone obeys. A masked figure that has suddenly appeared on the stage reaches into their cloak and pulls out a gun. “Let this be a lesson to never step out of line” And then he shoots.

My ears are ringing from the shot, and the world is spinning around me. Through the deafening cries of petrified civilians, I somehow manage to struggle through to the stage.

His shackles had been cut, and Opa lay face down in a bed of blood, his legs sprawled out and one arm twisted beneath him. I thought surely he was dead. His ragged shirt was soaked with blood, and I tried to avert my eyes from the wound on his chest. For a long moment I just stared and sobbed, a beam of light from a street lamp illuminating us. When I could breathe again I said his name, but he didn’t move.

I sank to my knees and pressed the back of my hand against his back. The blood that soaked through was still warm. I could feel him breathing ever so shallowly. I slid my arms under him and rolled him onto his back. He was alive, though just barely, his eyes glassy, his face sunken and white, blood pouring from the wound on his chest. I tried to pull the rags of his shirt over his wound without looking at it.

I slump down next to the limp body of my last family member and release the tears that have been my burden for so long, letting them carve paths through the grime that conceals my face. Opa warned me. He warned me because he knew that this would happen, and deep down, I think I did too.

All I could think was that grandfathers were supposed to die in beds, in clean places humming with machines, not in a heap on a public stage as punishment for telling his child a story, a scrunched up piece of paper clutched in one trembling hand.

A message. I slid it from his palm and he grasped helplessly at the air, so I took his hand and held it. My nail-bitten fingers twinned with his, pale and webbed with purple veins. “I have to move you,” I told him, sliding one arm under his back and another under his legs. I began to lift, but he moaned and went rigid, so I stopped. I couldn’t bear to hurt him. I couldn’t leave him either, and there was nothing to do but wait, so I gently brushed loose soil from his arms and face and thinning white hair. That’s when I noticed his lips moving. His voice was barely audible, something less than a whisper. I leaned down and put my ear to his lips. He was mumbling, fading in and out of lucidity, shifting between conscious and unconscious.

“I don’t understand,” I whispered.
 I repeated his name until his eyes seemed to focus on me, and then he drew a sharp breath and said, quietly but clearly, “The mutants are here.” I am hit with a flush of realisation, because now I know why that girl was shot, and why Opa was too. “Go to the wall my little rabbit, and escape.” His shaky finger points to the message in my hand. His raspy breathing is declining by the second. “Rabbit,” and he uses his last words to whisper, “It’s not safe here anymore”

Now I’m back at my residence where the day started, except, this time I know Opa’s not coming back. He was my mentor. He raised me, taught me everything I know, and he loved me, the same way I loved him. Now he’s gone. And I’m left with only the breadcrumbs that he’s laid out for me to find how corrupt our government really is. I stare at the crumpled piece of paper in my hand; the only thing that I have left of him. I open it, and find a short letter dedicated to me scrawled in his messy handwriting. It reads:

 “My little rabbit. I should have told you this sooner, but the whole city is in great danger. If you are reading this, they have found me, and my time has come. Back in the days before the wall, I worked as one of the scientists that specialised in the creation of the chemical. I was researching the formula, when I came across some classified documents discussing the possible side effects. That’s when I found out their intentions for it. I discovered that they were planning to release the prototype as a mandatory pill to the world without the proper testing.  I fled as quickly as possible with enough information to compromise the entire government. I managed to get away, but there was nothing that I could do. The rest of the story is history.

They will come for you, but whatever you do, don’t let them catch you.

Stay safe, and I love you


A tear silently slips down my cheek. I glance at the bottom of the letter, and to my surprise, in smaller writing were the words: Destroy this message. I scrunch up the paper into a tight ball around the size of a marble and swallow it whole. This way I know it won’t get into the untrustworthy hands of anybody.

All of a sudden I am grabbed from behind and blinded with a bag that smells oddly sweet.

I kick and scream and thrash, but I’m starting to feel drowsy, and my thrashing limbs are getting heavier by the second. It’s all happening so fast, that I have no time to resist the hard boot as it strikes the sweet spot on my back, sending me crashing to the floor and knocking me out cold.

The next thing I know, my eyes are glued shut. My heart is hammering in my chest, in rhythm with the throbbing of my head. I try to listen for clues as to where I could possibly be, but the room that I’m in is completely silent. I slowly open one eye. Not to my surprise, I’m in a completely empty room. It looks like one of those interrogation rooms that you see in movies, with one way glass and me tied to a chair that is bolted to the ground.
 “Hello?” I yell. My voice seems quieter than It usually is. “Where am I?” I ask politely, trying to act innocent. Suddenly the door at the corner of the room opens with a creak and a man in a tight suit enters the room, closing the door with a deafening thud behind him. He stares me down while I give him disgusted looks.
 “So, does the lady have a name?” He asks me in a voice that seems a little too sweet natured for his aesthetic. I stay silent. “Not talking eh? Well I have something to fix that.” He pulls a syringe with a long, daunting needle protruding from the end. “Do you know what this is?” He asks, with a smirk plastered on his face. I can feel the saliva at the back of my throat begging to be swallowed, but I stop myself, because I know it will make me look guilty. “Ok, so we’re playing the silent game, huh?” He says. “Roxanne?” After he’s called her name, another person in a tight suit emerges, this time a woman. She stares at me, her cold gaze washing over me.
 “I understand that today’s earlier execution was your guardian, yes?” I furiously look away, and notice that while the man continues to prepare a needle. “We have evidence to believe that he was sharing classified information about Experiment No. One, or what you like to call, The Mutants.”
 “Why have you brought me here?” I ask, the tension in my voice becoming more obvious.
 “Well, since you already know about our little experiment before- ” I interrupt.
 “You mean the one that destroyed the earth?!” She glares at me callously.
 “Just a minor mistake in a bigger plan. It turns out that we had missed an important ingredient in the formula, but it was easily fixed. We plan to control the whole city, with a new name. The City of New Malia. In order to do this, we managed to create a new and improved chemical that when injected, causes the victim to be rid of all emotion, with only small and insignificant side effects.” I am hit with realisation, as I remember the woman I saw in the square; and her emotionless face.

“Why are you telling me this?” I ask. Roxanne smirks.
 “You see darling, we need only the fittest to be our test subjects.”

She nods at the man and before I have a moment to think-

I am stabbed in the neck with the needle. I gasp, my lungs feel like they are about to implode and no sound is coming out of my mouth. I can feel the serum pumping through my veins and being transported to every corner of my body. And then it kicks in. It’s almost instantaneous; first my memories disappear, and I cannot remember how I got into this room, let alone my childhood. Then all my emotions start to evaporate, leaving me with only an blind, obedient urge to serve my master: the woman in front of me.
 “Now, how do you feel, experiment number 4?” She says as she looks me up and down, searching for malfunctions.

Now words are coming out of my mouth, but it’s like I am being remotely controlled and I have no control over my body.
 “Ready to serve New Malia ma’am.”

———— The END ————

Or is it?

Mila | Foster Secondary College

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