Odd One Out
Professor Torus sat at his cluttered desk, with his hands clasped together and simply staring at me. I had settled myself into a sinking chair when the headmaster continued his introduction.
“Your reaction to our school’s name is quite,” he hesitated, “unusual. Not many people tend to think twice about our name, which we aim to do, so as to not raise any suspicion to those who don’t know about Tedalia. You were raised without any knowledge of the Forgotten Ones, correct?”
“It’s what we call ourselves. Long ago, we were considered great among the humans, they even wrote thousands of stories about us. But now, they pretend that we don’t exist. And it’s much better like this.” With this, he proceeded to pull out a number of thick files from under his desk.
“Anyway, I am giving you a week to settle in, to get used to your surroundings. These papers include school rules, a brief explanation of the Forgotten Ones and summaries of the classes we offer, things like that. I assume that Mr Incaen was very helpful to you today, despite the fact that you arrived late and the pod burst into flames. Although that did allow his to present his abilities to you. He is one of our strongest here. He will help you catch up on your classes for the next few months, turn to him if you have any questions.
“Since you’re a pwasoon, I will need to test you for which element you’re dominant in soon, don’t worry, it’s not hard or painful.” Just like doctors or teachers trying to calm me down, I didn’t believe him.
“You should get going to dinner, Mr Incaen will show you the way. The pod should be replaced by now. Do you have any questions for me before you leave?
Everything I had been wondering since last night ran through my head. What is happening to me? Can I believe all this? How can all of this be true? Finally, I settled on a simple, three-worded question and barely whispered, “Who am I?”
Almost immediately, Professor Torus spilled out all the information. “Well, Kathryn,”
“I prefer Kat,” I interrupted.
With a confused look, he looked down at the little slip of paper.
“Oh, yes, I see the name change,” he continued. “Such a shame though, Kathryn seems like such a pretty name.”
“So, Kat,” he forced emphasis on my preferred name, “You are a pwasoon. The offspring of a human and a sosye, or a pwasoon and a sosye. There are more combinations but I won't go into too much detail. It is more common to see them as the offspring of two Forgotten Ones nowadays. A sosye is a cross between a vampyre and a spider, not necessarily the offspring as neither of them can breed, but a sosye can.
"It says here that you are part of the Delpinna clan. The Forgotten Ones are split up into five clans: Dracauda, Lepugo, Tigrisdem, Delpinna and Thalastro. You will learn more about them in History class or with Mr Incaen. You should go to dinner now, surely you must be hungry from all your travelling.” I was burdened by the amount of files piled onto my hands.
It took me a while to intake all this information. But still, I felt like something was missing. I didn’t find out anything about me. Why was Tedalia kept a secret from me? Why spend sixteen years away from my own people and in a world full of lies? I asked again, “But why me?”
"I don't know what you mean by that. Now it’s time for dinner.” He dismissed me.
Still confused, I slowly made my way to the ligneous door and hesitated just in case he had anything to add. I looked back at the weary professor, scribbling something down with his finger, just as I had seen Adrian do before. Despaired, I turned the knob and stepped back into the unknown, only knowing a little more than I did before.
With one hand, I fiddled with the knot at my side to release the binding of the levis. I poured in the stack of notes, not caring how they landed at the bottom.
My eyes scanned the room for Adrian, but he wasn’t in the spot I had last seen him and neither was the pile of smoking pod fragments. Everything was cleaned up. I suppose it was the work of Kaeley.
A soft ‘ding’ echoed through the chamber, shortly followed by someone shouting, “You were here all along‽ I looked through the entire tower just for you. Let’s get to dinner already, I’m starving.”
An exasperated Adrian was standing in front of a brand new, working pod. Relieved at his presence, I waddled towards him, feeling some of the weight of the levis tip to the side each time I took a step.
Cautiously, I stepped into the pod, afraid that it would burst into flames again. The same scanning process commenced and when the familiar fiery red warning screen popped up, I winced, bracing myself for flames to shoot out, but I felt nothing. I glanced back at the screen and saw Adrian casually tapping in codes, his fingers naturally knowing where to go.
“Your ID really needs to be set up soon, I can’t keep on doing this every time you use the pod,” he said while working with the screen. As he was working, I glanced towards the tip of the pod. A large, intricate emblem was plastered there, looking over us. A glistening black spider centred the insignia, with a large abdomen and stick-like legs emerging from each side. Protruding from its mouth were two, unusually large, gleaming, white fangs, both dripping with shimmering blood. It seemed a little too gruesome to be a crest for a school with children.
In the middle of its abdomen was a rufescent dragon’s head with dark opalescent eyes that seemed to switch between brown and green. The intensity of its piercing glare captured my attention and created the illusion of power and ferocity.
The spider legs created a small archway with the bends of its legs, making room for more animals. On the left was a proud, noble tiger sitting up on its haunches, with its chin perked to the right. Facing it was a docile, snowy rabbit, calm and serene. Above the tiger was a dark bird, its feathers having the sheen of the perfect midnight blue. The last symbol was a dolphin arching over the legs, also facing the bird. Its grey skin seemed dull compared to the outstanding colours of the others, but its eyes sparkled with intelligence.
Adrian noticed my intrigue and explained. “That’s actually the oldest part of our culture, the crest of Tedalia. Everything else is modern.”
The pod shuddered to a stop and I glanced up to find a hall filled with the rumbling of people.
As we entered the hall, Adrian continued explaining “Dining Hall, level 5."
The hall just seemed like a ordinary school cafeteria with people lining up at the back, eager to get their food. The room was filled with people, most of them were humanoid, but there was always that one odd feature, like a sleek tail among the few I observed.
I followed Adrian as he weaved amongst the crowd, navigating his way to the canteen. I felt stares pricking the back of my neck as I excused myself while bumping into people. I didn't notice Adrian had disappeared until I realised I wasn't following him anymore. I frantically twisted my head to the side searching for the familiar messy brown hair.
I spotted him at the end of the queue, waving in my direction. A sleek blonde girl abruptly left the line as soon as she noticed me. She probably wanted to give me some space. I replaced her spot and fidgeted with my fingertips as I waited to be served. “What kind of food do they serve here?” I asked, my mind racing with the thought of blood drenched food.
“Well, it depends on your species. Since you’re a pwasoon, it’ll probably be something normal like what humans eat. They’re too lazy to make us anything special because there’s so many people here who require a special diet, like the vampyres and sosye.”
In the canteen area was a plethora of food despite what Adrian had said.
On one side there were organs and water dispensers with blood pooling at the bottom. On the other were rare steaks, pasta and an assortment of salads.
A gnarly grey stick with a spatula dropped a steaming pile of lasagna onto my plate that almost drew my drool from my mouth. Despite the gruesome-looking servers, the food was enticing enough for me to forget about the other options and twisted face of the Forgotten One.
"What are they?"
"What? No, I meant the people."
"Oh right. They're goblins."
"Why goblins though?"
"Best cooks in the world."
"We'll see about that," I said as Adrian left the line while I trailed behind.
We arrived at a table with two other pwasoons chatting animatedly without pause when I sat down. They barely gave me a second glance. Next to Jaime was a guy with shaggy blond curls and thin-wired glasses perched at the top of his nose, enlarging the hazel of his eyes. His freckles were randomly scattered around on his face, like a cluster of stars.
"Hey, I'm Sam. Third generation pwasoon." He proffered his hand and with my mouth full, dropped my fork and stuck my hand into his.
"I'm Kat. Uhhh, I think I'm a pwasoon, at least that's what everyone told me." I didn't know what Sam meant about "third generation" but I assumed it didn't matter.
"And your generation?" prompted Jaime. Confused, I smiled back with my eyes darting between them, as everyone on the table stared back at me, looking forward to a response.
"Generation?" I said after a few seconds of silence.
"What species your parents are. Are they pwasoon and sosye, human and sosye?" said Adrian.
“Uhh, not sure.”
"That doesn't make sense," Sam said while staring at me. "Everyone's parents are bound to their children until they're ten. Are you saying they didn't even raise you? That's just impossible."
“Well, then I guess that I’m just impossible.”
We continued eating our identical dinners, but my attention was caught by a flash of white that I couldn’t stop staring at.
“Checking me out?" Adrian said.
"Don't be such a pretentious prick," I muttered, not daring to break my gaze.
It was a protruding tooth, sharpened at the tip. It lightly brushed the sides of his mouth, threatening to cut his lip.
“What is that?” I gestured to the tooth. Adrian rubbed at the side of his mouth with a perplexed look on his face.
“What? There’s nothing there?”
Unable to further explain myself, I lightly touched my canine tooth. “Huh? Oh, that’s my fang. Why are you so surprised? Don’t you have a pair?”
I ran my tongue along the top row of teeth. I shook my head.
Adrian’s eyebrows furrowed together, creating a fuzzy caterpillar perched above his eyes.
“Weird,” he murmured under his breath.
“Why do you need fangs if you only eat normal human food. Wouldn’t your teeth just look the same as mine?”
“If Saskia were here, she would be able to tell you.”
“It’s not only Saskia that know these things, Adrian,” interrupted Jaime. “They were just passed down from the sosyes and so on, they don’t serve much use and the lengths vary from person to person, but they’re usually always there.”
The distinct aroma of mozzarella mixed with roasted mince drew me away from the conversation, giving me something else to focus on. Immediately, my stomach grumbled in eagerness of the available food, with my hand automatically reaching out to snatch my fork. I stabbed the sheets of pasta, eager to devour it. Just when the delicious slice entered my mouth, warming it up with its radiating heat, I was interrupted. Again. There was something that just felt odd in the room, a disturbance in the air.
A few tables away, a boy with dark skin was sitting alone, seeming to be muttering to himself. His eyes looked downcast upon his body, and I felt an urge to comfort him. A glass with a bright red liquid, almost like wine, sat in front of him, barely touched.
“Don’t even think about talking to him,” Adrian growled under his breath. It was quite a strange sound, almost animalistic.
I ignored his warning and instead found my legs picking myself up and leading me towards him. I plopped into the seat across the outcast and dropped my plate on the table.
"Hey, are you feeling alright?" I asked.
His muttering ceased immediately and his head shot up, revealing two pools of blood-red eyes. I sucked in a mouthful of air as my eyes connected with his.
"Vampyres are not to be trusted." I felt someone hiss next to me, loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. A hand grabbed my arm to tug me away while every pair of eyes fixated on me.
“What? Don’t be so rude. And you just made me leave my lasagne lying on the table, barely touched,” I whined as I was dragged from the table. My hand reached for the half eaten pasta, lying uselessly on my plate.
Once we were alone in the pod, Adrian advanced on me. "Cezar is a vampyre. Vampyres are not to be trusted. They are known to carry the spirit of evil throughout them, no matter what they say to you. They can’t be trusted."
“How would you know that? You can’t just base it off something you heard from someone else. Cezar could just be wanting to fit in and you just discarded him like a piece of trash. I know that vampyres used to be human. Don’t you think they could still have a glimmer of emotion in them?”
“They don’t. Maybe you should pick up a book.” We didn’t talk anymore after that.
The doors slid open to reveal burnished white walls running straight ahead until I could no longer see them. A golden number was stamped on each door we passed, marking the room number. The eerie silence between us hung thick, a gelatinous curtain separating us. We halted in front of door 111. I was almost relieved that we had stopped.
“Yours is that one,” he nodded towards the door opposite him. And without another word, he disappeared into the room opposite mine. The shutting of the door was the sign of finality.
I turned and found myself facing a door emblazoned with '112'. Exasperated, I flung the levis at his door, wishing he was standing there instead. As the shoe crashed to the ground, a small button rolled out, crashing to the ground at my feet. Intrigued and distracted from Adrian, I bent down to inspect it. The front showed an intricate design of waves, created so beautifully they seemed to roll over one another. I started to look away, but something on the badge caught my eye. A flash of grey jumped out of the water and splashed as it re-entered. I rubbed my eyes but when I looked at it again, only the still swirling waves remained. Wanting to keep it safe, I tucked it into my pocket, hoping that I would figure out its meaning later.
My room was both simple and luxurious, although that might just be the result of my fatigue. A neatly arranged bed sat against the back wall, inviting me to come and lay in it. Shopping bags were perfectly placed beside it, giving me a full view of how much we'd bought. All of it for me. My mind darted back to Adrian. Trying to block him from my thoughts, I firmly shut my door, ignoring the giant screen encompassing the back and headed straight towards the bathroom.
A face stared back at me. One that was constantly jeered at. People had said I didn’t deserve to live, to this face. Because there were too many of us. Dark brown eyes gazed back at me. Dark hair of an average length lay lifelessly around my shoulders. I couldn’t see anything wrong with this face, but apparently everyone else did. Constantly mocking me, because of what I was. How unreasonable was that?
The memory of sneering faces peered at me through the mirror, all towering above me and Tara, huddled in the corner of the playground. My hand desperately held Tara’s, helping the both of us deal with the bullies.
That’s why I detested everyone who treated Cezar with resentment. I couldn’t just be a bystander to something that happened to me most of my life. Even though Tedalia seemed much more technologically advanced than back home, their societal values were still the same.
And still, here I am mocked. Only in a different context. I was still considered a freak, just not because of how I looked. I’m the laughing stock of the whole academy because I’m a late starter and have no parents. It’s practically the same thing. I could feel my throat and chest constricting as the back of my eye burned. But I refused to cry. I made a promise to myself that I would never cry over this sort of thing again. I broke my promise. My knees buckled underneath me and I slid down the dusty tiles lining the walls.. The coldness from the floor seeped through my pants, chilling my legs. The cold continued through my body until I lay down shivering.
Did you enjoy my ongoing story so far? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, maddi9Write a Review