Chapter 0

Dana's blood carries a mysterious gene - the Panacea - the cure to all human diseases. Researched at the White Lily institute for most of her life amongst the hundreds of children whose lives she is destined to save, Dana craves a life of her own. But when terrorists come after her in the middle of the night, she gets much more than she expected...

When I was younger, I remember my mother having at least five cases of OCD. That made life difficult. If the ironing folds didn't line up, I'd have to start all over again. If a visitor nudged something on the mantelpiece out of place, Mum would nudge it back. That was just the kind of person she was, but she was so proud and so sure that she was completely normal that everybody gave up on telling her it was all a bit strange. The rest of her "probs", as my sister used to call it, were all about germs. I was always a clean child, there was no question about that, but if I strayed more than five feet apart from the cheese aisle, I'd have disinfectant on my hands before you could say "Red Leicester." Mum would make mine and Sophie's lunches even when everybody else ate at school, and we were guaranteed to get clipped on the ear if we walked into the kitchen without washing our hands.

          Luckily for Mum, I never got sick.

I'm not exaggerating. Some children do, of course. They say it when they don't get a day off school, or when they're perfectly healthy in a room full of wrist-wipers. I was like that too, except unlike them, there was never anything wrong with me. No headaches, no runny noses, not even menstrual cramps (okay, I won't complain about that one.)

Mum used to say it was a blessing - though I think she meant more for her. She didn't have to sanitise me every month like she did with Sophie, and on those occasions I seriously looked into buying her a bio-hazard suit for her birthday. But when I turned sixteen, I wasn't the only person who thought it was strange. When I turned sixteen, I gave blood as the High State commands us to do. I wasn't afraid or anything, needles were fine as long as I didn't look, and I was so accident-prone that I'd lost a lot more blood than that in the past. I just remember feeling angry that I couldn't do something moral of my own free will. Three weeks after it happened, when I'd nearly forgotten, Mom had a call from the hospital about my donation, and there was something about the nurse's mumbling that told me something was very, very wrong.

Even though it had happened fast, there were still things that I remember like it was yesterday. How one of the doctors sitting at the conference table had huge sweat patches under his arms, how another was trying to act like he didn't have a toupee, and how I'd sat on the opposite side in a chair, rubbing patterns onto the tiles with the rubber of my Converses. I'm sure if I went and checked, there'd still be a heart shape there. Mom had been so attentive, even though, like me, she couldn't understand most of their scientific terms. There were some that I can't forget though, ones that had made me pay attention, and had changed everything.

"Natural resistance...her white blood cell count is off the chart...panacea..."

To this day, I still don't know how they didn't know before, but after telling me so much that this would change the world, I started believing them. changed the world. I was the answer to all the questions - cancer, meningitis, HIV, TB.

In the end, I don't remember that day - a Tuesday - as the day I found out how much of a freak I was, or of how important I was to the world. I remember it as the day I stopped belonging to myself, and started belonging to the world.

The End

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