The wild was ruthless. Anything could kill someone. Animals, accidents, natural disasters, starvation.

I was different.

I was the predator. Handling predatory animals was child's play. I could easily outrun a rock slide or flash flood, find or build my own shelter against the elements, my stomach could digest almost anything.

I was built to live in the wild.

I was wild. No one could tame me.

Faith yawned and stretched. Two more days and she could leave this bogus dorm forever. She looked out her window, across the river and smiled. Soon, she'd be one of them, pretty and ready to party.

She turned back to her wallscreen and observed her face. There was nothing remotely special about her. She had flat blonde hair, small brown eyes, a wide nose and thin lips. She was nothing more than a plain Jane, and that's what everyone called her.

It was better than most Ugly nicknames, but she hated being plain. She wanted everyone to stare at her in awe and kiss her feet. She wanted boys to fall for her. She wanted girls to admire her. She wanted to throw parties and drink champagne and to play around with the giant hole in the wall.

She sighed and gathered her dorm uniform, popping a toothpaste pill in her mouth while slipping into the plaid uniform skirt. Just two more days of this.

Faith Grayson would no longer be a plain Jane ugly.

She barely paid attention to her classes, cleaned autonomously and skipped her meals. As soon as she returned to her room, she went to sleep.

Later that night, she stuffed a winter jacket under her sheets and switched the heat setting on it to body temperature. She smoothed out the sheets and peeled off her jacket and skirt, pulling on her black tights and slipping a cap over her hair. She needed to leave little tracks. She had to see this group of uglies and she couldn't get her hair or clothing caught on anything.

Besides that, she was scared of what the wardens would do if they caught her. She pressed the smart matter mask to her face, then looked in the mirror. It was the face of a Rusty fashion doll. It was creepy.

She grabbed her hoverboard, and slowly opened her window, gently pushing the hoverboard outside of it and climbing out. She cautiously looked around her, then took off, crouching low and riding slow.

After a few minutes, she saw the ugly girl with three long brown pigtails in a group of other uglies. Faith knew the girl to be named Shay. She crept close, still riding crouched and slow. She was hiding from the uglies as well as the wardens.

"I can't believe David is gonna take us to the Smoke! I'm so excited!" she heard Shay squeal happily.

"Yeah, Skinny. We know. We're all excited."

"I know I talk about it a lot, Stretch. I mean, this is the first time we've seen something real, something outside of the city's control. The surgery isn't real."

Of course the surgery was real. How else would there be pretties running around New Pretty Town?

Faith urged her board forward as the uglies began to pick up speed. Soon, they reached the real Rusty Ruins, the place few uglies actually knew about. Faith had never really been a tricky ugly, she didn't see the point of being a constant trouble maker. All it did was make you alienated from the other uglies, who wouldn't want to be friends with you when you became pretty. Tricky uglies caused too much trouble.

Faith made it a point to not make friends as an ugly, so she wouldn't have to dread someone else's surge date. It was hard enough dreading her own. She knew a lot of uglies, but she refused any offers of friendship. She was going to wait till New Pretty Town, when people could see her new beautiful face.

She closed her eyes and pictured her favorite morphos she'd made just the night before. Curly strawberry blonde hair, big blue-green eyes and full lips, like every other pretty. It was the first time she'd ever made a morphos she truly liked.

She was still smiling about it when she smacked right into a tree branch. It knocked the wind out of her, and before she knew it, she was falling.

I coughed and leaned against a tree. I was getting weaker, and I was sore all over. I was starving, and I couldn't even find any lousy fruit trees. I had eaten my last protein bars days ago. There was no sign of civilization anywhere.

I couldn't turn back. They would not take me again.

When Faith woke up, her arm was in an extreme amount of pain, and she was strapped down to hard plastic. Razor-laced voices filled the air around her, and she couldn't speak.

She grimaced, and could feel the smart plastic still on her face. She sighed and coughed, still struggling for air.

"Faith?" one of the razor voices shouted. She tried to focus on it, to keep from passing out again.

"Faith Grayson? That's your name?" the razor voice shouted again. Faith struggled to respond, her arms hurt too much to try to make a thumbs up, so she tried to move her head. She managed a slight nod.

"Identity confirmed. Returning to hospital now." That was the last thing she heard before she passed out once again.

The pain takes over me, and I know I am no longer on this plane of existence.

Faith opened her eyes and squinted. Harsh light filled her vision, adding to the already extreme amount of pain she was in. Her arm throbbed, and she felt something hard around it. Her legs felt weak, her chest still heavy as she breathed through the plastic oxygen mask strapped to her face. Gone was the smart plastic fashion doll mask.

Her door opened, and she heard several heel clicks coming in her direction, each one sounding like a gunshot to her now sensitive ears. She smelled a harsh soap-ish smell, and her nose tingled. She held back her sneeze, as her visitor began to speak.

"Hello, Faith. I am Dr. Cable, and this is Special Circumstances."