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by Silva Noir

Chapter 7 : sickness

The woeful moaning reached through the pores of the wall and filled her bedroom. She knew him to keep quiet no matter how sad or angry he became so it was a curious sound for her to awake to. Rather, if it were the case that he was enraged by something or other there would be the sleek iridescent form of some various creature catapulting out the second story window to the driveway off to disrupt traffic of terrify some unsuspecting group of people for its own amusement. “If he were any normal teenaged boy…” she thought briefly but reminded herself aloud “but he’s NOT. He’s barely a boy at all, and far from normal”. It would be a feat of amazement if he made it to his 18th birthday. The other had proven unstable in matter of hours, weeks, or months; he had somehow lived through all these years.

Wrapping a terry robe over her nightgown she went to see what was the matter. She knew the half-human creature was wailing in pain and not anything else. She could only imagine what he’d gotten himself into now. Curiously she cracked open the door with the plastic “keep-out” sign to get a glimpse of her ailing son. Her eyes focused on only one thing in his immaculately kept room. Dark blood soaked threads ran up his arm like railroad tracks. She didn’t have to ask. She knew what he had done, and now, it was infected.

“David, get up. Its time to wake up,” she said anyway in some sort of false hope that this was a dream. No, if it were a dream, she would have never met William. She would never have had a child. She would have never allowed the birth of such a strange thing into the world. “I’ve done everything I can David” she whispered to him, “Everything I can to protect you. With enough time they would have forgotten about you. You’d become unrecognizable. You could be free. All you had to do was be quiet until you were grown.”

He wasn’t really listening, wrapped in his own galaxy of sickness. Reaching for her with the pained and crippled hand, he beckoned her closer to him. She did so. He couldn’t speak; only make a fish out of water gasping. He was choking. She smoothed his feathery hair away from a feverish forehead.

“You cut it, didn’t you? It’s leaking into your bloodstream directly. You’ve poisoned yourself, David.” She scolded.

“Am…I…going…to…die?” He croaked.

“There is something I made for myself that neutralizes it, a powder, but I don’t know how it might affect you”

He labored to form the words “Because…you…were…afraid…I’d…poison…you?”

“No, David. Because there was an …accident,” she lingered far to long on the word ‘accident’ with a tinge of resentment in her voice, “an accident,” she repeated with a bit more confidence, “one day before you were born and it got into me. But never mind about that. Hold one while I get it for you”

Part of it she sprinkled on the wound itself over in infection, and the other she mixed into some lukewarm water for him to swallow. She hoped that it would only dull the Xilvrin from his blood, and not kill it off entirely from the rest of him. Pulling up a chair, she sat and watched over him for hours until he was well enough to speak to. She opened a page in a book and traced her finger along blue and red spidery lines that ran through a solid flat peach colored figure.

“All human beings have two tubed vessel systems that carry blood through them, veins and arteries, but you have a third. It does not carry red and white blood cells, however it carries Xilvrin. Xilvrin is not a naturally produced substance in any living creature, with the exception of you. It wasn’t a mutation in you that resulted in your deformity, it was purposely done with human hands, and not my own.”

His voice rose with a thirst for truth, “Who then? Who did this to me?”

“...It's not important who or why now. But it is important that you let it be. You were born this way. It isn’t only what sets you apart from others, a curse, but one of the systems that keeps you alive. You lack many things that a person should have inside them, some vital, some not so vital; organs to handle the Xilvrin instead replaced them. The vast amount of food and energy and waste gets converted to that. Turning into those creatures is not just fun and games, its necessary to your survival as exercise and sleep. If you cut it away, it’s certain death. You might as well cut out your own heart.”

“Yeah, I might as well….” He lowered his eyes.

“Oh, David, don’t be like that.”

He turned away from her, looking at some invisible spot on the wall “Why not? What purpose do I really serve?”

“This life; you have no idea how good it is… you don’t even realize… you have it so much better! Better than was ever intended for you! I have tried so hard to keep you safe from others and yourself, and yet, all you can do is show me how ungrateful you are by trying to destroy what little peace I manage to achieve!” She screamed out tossing the book at him in frustration. “You can be anything David, anything you want… instead all you do is feel sorry for yourself and I’m sick of it. All you have to do is put your mind to something good and you can achieve it. Or stay in bed and rot, its your decision.”

He gingerly picked it up and placed it on the nightstand next to his cactus. “Why won’t you tell me the truth? You hint here and there… I know there’s more to the story. More to…” he waved his hand referring to what was lurking inside his body unseen, “to this. Who else knows about me that you’re not letting on? You may be a chemist but you’re not a medical doctor. How did you know to make the medicine, and to create me? Tell me.”

“I didn’t David! I didn’t put it into motion… It was an accident. It was thrust upon me. I didn’t even want children, let alone…” She stopped, biting her own tongue for what she had blurted out. It was too late.

He got out of bed hastily pushing his feet into black dress-shoes. “Let alone a mess like me? Well thanks a lot, RUTH.” He spit with such venom in his voice and eyes it made her coil back in fear. “You really know how to make someone feel better. What a wonderful mother you are. Yeah, right.”

“Where are you going? You’re not well enough to…”

“You said I should make my own damn decisions right? So that’s what I’m doing.” He pulled on his coat, clenching his teeth at the pins and needles pain that shot through his injured limb whenever he tried to move it.

She made a barrier of herself in the hall with arms spread, feet firmly planted on the runner rug, and a serious mask upon her face. “Don’t go stirring up a commotion just because you’re mad at me. If you think I’m so terrible, you should see what they would do to you. The world is not a kindly place…”

“Why don’t you let me see for myself,” with his good hand he shoved her to the wall and brushed past with a snarl.

He had nowhere else to go, so he went to school. If they even dared to threaten detention or any other punishment for his truancy yesterday, he would chop their heads off and watch their bodies twitch and convulse upon the hideous dusty tile floors like decapitated chickens. Needless to say, he wasn’t in the best of moods when Sue Hardy collided with him outside.

“Davey!” She brushed her ridiculously long wiry dark unbound locks, newly dyed black, away from her face. He couldn’t imagine how many bottles of tint it had taken to darken the rat’s nest of a mane.

“What the hell do you want?”

“What bit you in the ass this morning?” She put her hands on her hips, or rather, she put her oversized sleeves on hips, her hands weren’t exactly visible. The wind blew her shirt slightly open. She could tell he was staring.

“You like? It was nice weather, so I figured I’d go light and maybe catch a tan. Matches my new hair color” she tugged on a strand and held it to the top that bore far too much of her midriff and upper body. “Is that even legal?” His gaze wouldn’t leave the spot where a heart shape was cut out from the center that revealed a bit too much cleavage to be shown in a public place other than the beach, perhaps not even then.

“Sight for sore eyes, eh?” She grinned at his apparent interest.

He looked away blushing. “No… sorry… I didn’t mean to gawk.”

“Nothing to be sorry about. I’m not ashamed of my body.” She laughed when he put both hands over his glasses to keep from looking back at her. “I’m the one who owes you an apology for leaving you stranded yesterday. I have the brain of a goldfish. You know, no memory, no sense of what I’m doing. I just swim around in my little glass bowl, forgetting everything that happened 3 minutes ago. Every time I turn around its like ‘hey, a castle!’, like it was never there before even though someone put it in my tank years ago.” She paused and let it be silent for a few moments before pointing to the trees at the distant end of the field and shrieking… “Did you see that? It’s a castle!”

Doing his best to hold onto his anger he fought back a smile. He had been looking forward to conceivably decreasing the goose population of the soccer field a bit more, but couldn’t do so with her watching his every move.

“Let me make it up to you? I have an idea for an even better birthday present than the one from the mall.” She said with such honey in her voice it made him nervous to think of just what she had planned.

Stuttering, he asked, “W..what d..did dja you-ou have in mind?”

“Well it’s more of something I have to show you and do for you than a talking thing. You’ll like, it trust me.”

He gulped.

“C’mon, times-a-wastin’” she grabbed his hand and lead him to the gym. This was the third time he’d touched someone else’s fingers, and noticed each time it was the same, yet different. There were varying degrees of warmth, roughness and smoothness. Yet, they all had the same overall feeling of being distinctly human. His own fingers were much too smooth, he lacked the patterns the others had… he lacked fingerprints. Sue pointed it out best…

“What’s up with that? It feels like you’re wearing latex gloves or something.” She tugged at corner of his skin to make sure it was real. “Weird.”

They descended moldy stairs with a musty smell and turned to a heavy door with a bubbling and peeling cover of paint. Many a student had scratched their names, initials, band names, symbols or inappropriate messages on its surface. But most noticeable and important was what the janitor had scrawled in black permanent marker towards the top: boy’s locker room.

“Why are we going down here? Girls aren’t even allowed in here…”

“Oh please I’ve been here more times than I can count” she made a face and giggled at him. “And I’ve haven’t gotten into TOO much trouble…”

He didn’t quite get why she would want to wander in here at all. It was disgusting the condition the dungeon of a basement was in. A mildewed stench permeated of the air of old socks and decaying growths of green and brown. His neat-freak tendencies told him that this was beyond hope and should be filled in immediately with yard upon yard of cement, wrapped in chains and locks, and never reopened. He didn’t; have a chance to react before she planted her lips on his. She tasted of stale cigarettes.

Sue kisses David “What was that for?” His eyes widened at the strangeness and suddenness of his first kiss.

“That’s part of your present” she winked. “You’re always talking about how much you want love, more than anything else. So I thought I’d give it to you.”

“You… you love me?” he inquired quietly.

“Sure, why not, whatever.” She shrugged and smiled, not at all taking the situation seriously. “If that’s what you want to think, go ahead. Whatever pleases ya.”

“No…” he shook his head as she pushed him into one of the plank benches. “No, don’t pretend. That’s not right. You shouldn’t have done that unless you really meant it…”

“Relax. Don’t go all moralistic now. Just have fun, ok?” She undid the buttons of his shirt as quickly as she could with nimble little dirty nailed yellowed fingers.

“Stop” he grabbed her wrist before she could do anything else. “Why are you doing this to me… no… why are you doing this to yourself?”

“What’s THAT supposed to mean?” She avoided eye contact instead drinking in the sight of him and reaching with her other free hand “More of that odd skin. What were you a burn victim and they patched you over? Its so smooth…”

He got a hold of her other hand now, with his bad wrist. It throbbed in protest. “Stop. Listen. Look at me. You don’t have to do this to get people to like you.”

“I don’t give a crap what people think.”

“If you did care, then everyone would like you more. You’d be more... beautiful.” He thought of Melanie and how personality made all the difference in how much he enjoyed a person’s company. “This isn’t you… I think some part of you does care. But you’ve been pretending that you haven’t for so long just to avoid feeling the pain of loneliness and rejection…”

“Don’t act like you KNOW me, Davey. I don’t want you to analyze me. You know what? Shut up and enjoy the show before I change my mind completely…”

“…is this really fun for you? Honestly? Because I look at you and underneath everything you say and do there’s immense self-loathing…”

“…I like myself. I don’t know where you get the idea of…”

“…because I know what its like…” he brought his wrist into her vision to let her see the scars, “to hate everything you are…”

“.…hey look, I just wanted to cheer you up and you get weird and start trying to solve everyone’s problems. If you have issues its not my fault. Sorry to try and put a little excitement into your life…”

A panicked cry behind the rows of lockers broke up their squabble. David hastily re-buttoned his shirt and stood up, ready to see whatever it had been.

“Its just that kid getting picked on again, don’t bother.” She called out as non-boyfriend turned the corner. “Idiot. Don’t poke your nose into other peoples business. It only makes things worse.” Just as she was at the graffiti laden door she changed her mind about leaving, “I better make sure they don’t mop the floor with him.”

A scrawny Hispanic youth was being tossed between five of the much stronger members of the varying schools sports team. All the time they were taunting him with whatever fowl insult their adolescent minds could drudge up from garbage minds. David approached in silent steps, nonchalantly breaking up their circle of bullying and catching the victim before he fell.

“Five against one isn’t much of a fair fight,” David said calmly as the bruised one in his arms looked up at him in utter bewilderment.

“Hey, he was asking for it.” Piped one of the muscles-for-brains.

“What’s your name?” David ignored them.

“Palmer,” replied the boy in a hushed and frightened tone. “Palmer Haritzeder.”

“Well Palmer, what do you say I teach them some manners, hmm?” David took off his glasses, now half blind without them, putting them into one of Palmers pockets for safekeeping. “Hold onto those until after none of them are left standing.”

“Yeah right, geek” an aggressor with an army style buzz cut scoffed. “I’d like to see you even try an take us on one by one. You won’t even last halfway through the first.”

“Who said I was taking you on one by one? That wouldn’t at all be fair to you. I’m going to fight you all at once.” David faced them with confidence and a wicked tinged smile. His imagination was filled with thoughts of the alligator that destroyed the birds on the lawn and sent the basketball team running faster than if their shorts had been set on fire, and last to the cougar that had caused the cars to crash. He thought this time he’d take it up a step with a classic symbol of strength among men, an African super predator, the king of the jungle itself. “Sue, get him out of here. This is going to get unpleasant.”

She had jogged up to them only a second before and was tending to Palmer who was more confused than ever. She told David matter-of-factly “Yeah, it’ll get unpleasant for you. You’re a moron for even saying you can do this, complete and utter supreme emperor of all idiots, and you’re going to be eating your words for breakfast.” However, she did as she asked and lead the witness away from a newly forming crime. “I don’t need to see this. I’ll visit you when you’re in your hospital bed instead.”

“The bitch is right” scoffed the buzz cut “You’re gonna get a lesson in ass whoopin’, pansy.”

“I’m scared, I’m sure” David only smiled at their pathetic attempts to intimidate him. Already equipped for a brawl, He didn’t wait for them to throw the first punch. His fist met the side of buzz cuts jaw and sent two bloody teeth flying. Although he was sure it wasn’t the same guy who had bullied him when he was little on the playground, the same method was just as good for getting rid of him.

Buzz cut mumbled and crouched down rubbing where the hand sized metal battering ram had made contact. “Whrg thp flug?”

“He’s got brass knuckles!” One of the other goons pointed out a few moments too late. “No wait, it looks more like a friggin’ knights gauntlet glove or something. Where the hell did he pull that from?”

“Not brass, Xilvrin.” David was quick to correct, then turned the corner so he could complete the morph. Now THIS is fun.

“Get back here punk! You’re gonna pay for messing with Bret like that.” Buzz cut’s buddy thundered after the escaping Morphist.

Exhilaration made David giddy with glee. The process of his new armor took less time than it had before. Just the thought of tearing them apart limb for limb would fuel him for hours. He didn’t even noticed the stitched had torn open on his arms and blood his own blood was pumping out and mixing with the thick reflective element that was covering every inch of him…

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