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Mutare (Noun. M-you-tar-ray)

Mutare. That’s what they’re called. Mutare.

They say, they all have blue eyes – that in direct sunlight, look purple.

But that’s not true.

They say, they can breathe underwater.

But that’s not true.

They say, that when they die, their souls crystalize into diamond.

But that’s not true.

They say, they’re mind-manipulators. With voices that infiltrate your heart, and alter your views and opinions to be exactly how they decide.

And that is true. Too true.

And we don’t know how to fight it.

23rd of August 1946. Agent Liam Grey reporting for the Department of Misuse of Spiritual and Mental State Alterations. Name of malefactor: Lilia Hale. Name of victim: Adolf Hitler. Gravity of transgression: exceeds measures. Statement of malefactor: …

The silence itself breathed louder than the people in that room. The walls told stories of predecessors; forebears who had defiantly sat on the throne of shame where Lilia currently waited.

“My name is Lilia Hale. I’m 8 years old. And I am a mutare.”

She spoke the words like they were rehearsed. She spat out each syllable as if she’d learned it by rote; like she was a practiced serial killer who’d spent months perfecting the single statement that would convey neither innocence nor guilt. Yet, in reality, she was afraid. The kind of fear that strips you of your defences and leaves you in a primitive state of confusion and vulnerability. So, she resorted to the only thing she knew to be absolutely true. Her name. Her age. And her warped ability to manipulate minds: to shape people’s sanity until they succumb to whatever ideology she chooses to implant in their consciousness. But apparently, she’d done it wrong.

She didn’t say sorry – that would’ve been lying. She wasn’t sorry. She couldn’t be – it would’ve been irrational to expect an 8-year-old girl to be in any way capable of comprehending the damage she had caused. And she couldn’t be sorry for something she couldn’t understand. So, she didn’t say sorry.

“Do you know why you’re here? Do you understand what you’ve done?”


“Should I explain?”

She gripped the sides of her chair. It was wooden. Her fingers nudged and felt their way to the indentations left by previous occupants. Pressing against the gnarled oak - she felt the depth, the pain, the past.


“No. Don’t explain. I know enough.”

“Lilia Hale, you have been arrested on suspicion of corrupting the mind of an innocent with malicious and aggressive intent. Failure to provide evidence in your defence has resulted in a conviction of guilt and a sentence of 10 years. Dismissed.”

Hm. 10 years. I’ll be 18 then. Wonder what that’ll be like.

¨ ¨ ¨

They’re real. He thought.

They’re real. Charlie whispered to his empty cell.

“You’re real!” He shouted at the sentinel approaching the gate.

One short, sharp whistle silenced him. The sentinel stood aside for a young girl to enter, at least 10 years younger than him. As the door slammed shut, Charlie felt his heartbeat in his fingertips. “You’re real.”

“So are you.” Lilia acknowledged.

“Are you…?” Lilia’s eyes widened just a little, as she anticipated the second part of his question. Charlie breathed out. “Are you one of them?”

“My name is Lilia Hale. I am 8 years old. And I am a Mutare.”

He gasped, sucking back in all the air he had just let out.

“Then… Then…” Her awaiting eyes widened yet again. “Why are you here?” He waited. She paused…

“I’m responsible for the murder of 6 million people.” She waited. He paused, and responded meekly…

“I came snooping.”

¨ ¨ ¨

Silence. It hung in the air like dust. Silver dust that floated in the bitter air and surrounded the two bodies, sitting limp in the cold, stale cell.

Intertwining metal bars obscured the light and left a shadow of the framework on the dingy floor. Slabs of granite thrown awkwardly together on the walls, like strangers on the tube. Two frail, splintered wooden benches lined the walls, one of which, the young mutare dared to trust as she reclined and gazed at the ceiling.

“I didn’t mean to” she told him. He looked her dead in the eye - she stared straight through his eyes into his soul. “What I did” she tried to clarify. “I didn’t mean to do it.”

“I don’t know if you’re making me think this, but I believe you.”

He breathed in the silver dust of silence and let it swirl in his mind with his thoughts. These thoughts were still his, she hadn’t touched them.

“There is no other who can do what I can do. They think I don’t know how powerful I am. But I do. I know that if I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t be.”

He widened his eyes. They were blue. Really blue. Blue like the streams of a glacier, and just as deep and strong. She trusted them. And she continued to empty her thoughts into a pile in front of him.

“The only thing keeping me in here is me. I can mould their minds like it’s dough.” She nodded towards the sentinels; they sat in view of the detainees, but not within earshot. She gazed at the oblivious adults, with pity in her hazel eyes.

“Then… Why are you still here?” He’d hesitated, but his curiosity overcame his fear of her answer.

“My name is Lilia Hale. I’m 8 years old. I am a Mutare. And I’m terrified to my very core, of what’s inside my head.”

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