Greg Staleson pulled himself up, out of the darkness. The jagged rocks scraped his arms slightly, leaving tiny white marks where they touched.Though he had just climbed the walls of a cave, his breath came easily.
The beams of sunlight made his pupils constrict as his eyes adjusted. He shielded them from the sun as he ran toward his car that was sitting in a McDonald’s parking lot, about 15 miles away from the forest. He had to get home before Trish and Avorie.
He ran, faster and faster, through the forest, not paying attention to his surroundings, so he didn't notice that someone was there until they were running with him.
"Greg," a familiar voice called. Sheena.
He cursed under his breath and turned sharply to the right, attempting to lose her.
"You're not getting rid of me that easily," she called, not far behind him. She advanced quickly, a much faster runner than Greg, until she was right next to him.
"What do you want, Sheena?" he asked, never breaking stride.
"Just to talk. There's something you need to know."
"Yeah, just like how I needed to know about the Specials who attacked me." He glared at her.
"Look, I'm sorry," she said, looking at the scar that ran from his right eye down to his chin. "I was bound tightly then. You have no idea."
"Hmph," he huffed as he turned sharply to the left.
"I couldn't just run! They have much more advanced Specials than us," Sheena tried to explain.
"So you sided with them?" His question sounded more like an accusation.
"No! Of course not!"
"Yeah, right." Greg made it out into the McDonald's parking lot as he ran to his car.
"Look, are you going to listen? This is important."
Greg sighed as he slowed to a walk. He couldn't run as he normally would...not in a public place. "What is it, Sheena?"
"It's about your daughter."
Greg stopped walking and looked Sheena in the eye for the first time. "What about her?"
"Avorie, right? Such a beautiful name..."
Greg glared at her. She was stalling. "Look, Sheena, you said it's important. Now stop beating around the bush and tell me what I need to know."
"Okay, okay," she gave in and twisted her long blond hair around her index finger. "Do you remember David Lester? He works in the hospital..."
"Yes." Greg thought about the brown haired, green eyed Special who had a gift in healing.
"Oh..." was all Sheena said.
"What about him?" Greg pushed.
"Well, he called me. He said that one of his colleagues saw Avorie today."
"Yes, I knew that. What else did he say?"
Sheena sighed. "Well, he said that he looked at the doctor's charts on Avorie. All the doctor's notes.... He said that all the data he's seen says that Avorie is showing signs..."
"Signs," Greg whispered. He had hoped that Avorie wouldn't have inherited this gene from him. He had hoped that, when his completely human wife said she was pregnant, Avorie would take her mother's gene...Patricia's human gene.
"I'm sorry," said Sheena.
Greg stared at the ground, trying to decide what he was going to do. How he was going to explain everything to Avorie. "What do I say to her?" He hated asking Sheena for help, but he didn't know where else to go.
"I'll help you, if you'd like. I could help you explain."
Greg thought it over, then opened the passenger door for Sheena. "Thank you."
Sheena slid into the large black Ford Expedition and Greg shut the door for her. He then walked around the front of the vehicle in a daze and got into the car.
He began to exit the parking lot and then remembered why he had parked in a McDonald's lot in the first place. "Crap," he said has he made a wide U-turn to enter the lot again.
"Woah!" Sheena said and buckled her seat belt. "I forgot how you drive."
Greg chuckled. "Sorry. I forgot to get Trish and Avorie lunch. You want anything?"
"No, thank you."
* * *
Avorie stared at her eyes in the bathroom mirror. They were a deep purple now, and she could tell they were changing to indigo. Her pupils continued to grow and then shrink. Avorie sighed as she thought about what the doctor said.
Freak. She thought the word bitterly to herself. But then the bitterness changed into joy, just as it had in the hospital. She was different, and she saw that as both a good and a bad thing. She wasn't some boring, drab, everyday girl. She was unique. However, being different came with its hardships. At times she felt as if she didn't belong anywhere. The kids at her school marveled at her eyes while she often grimaced at the attention.
She wondered for just a fleeting moment, as she stared at her eyes, whether or not she could control the constant size and color changes. The thought only passed through her mind for a second, but it was long enough to drill it into her head...to get her to want to try.
She gritted her teeth in concentration, leaning closer to the mirror. She didn't know how to do it, but she had to try.
Come on, she thought to herself, her breathing heavy with exertion. Stop growing...
A knock on the door made her jump and knock her toothbrush into the toilet. "Oh, crap," she muttered.
"Avorie," her mother called from the other side of the door.
"What is it?" Avorie said, not taking her eyes away from the mirror.
"Your father is here. He would like to speak with you."
Her mother's tone confused Avorie. Why did it sound so strained? Avorie listened closely, trying to pick out clues. She heard voices from downstairs. Her father's voice...and a woman's voice. It wasn't someone she knew. "Uh, okay," Avorie called as she turned her attention to the toilet. "Give me a minute."
She heard her mother's footsteps go down the stairs and she reached carefully into the toilet so she could throw her toothbrush into the garbage. "Ew," she muttered as her hand touched the cold water. "Nasty."
She pulled the toothbrush out and brought it to the trash can in her bathroom, careful to not let it drip onto the floor. She then went to her sink and washed her hands vigorously....Twice.
She walked downstairs to see her father waiting for her with a pretty blond-haired woman by his side. She saw her mother behind them, glaring at the woman.
Avorie was confused for a moment. Her mother wasn't usually the jealous type....Then again, her father never brought home another woman.
"Avorie," the woman spoke first, her melodic voice soothing the tension in the room. "My name is Sheena. There's something you need to know."