Prologue: My Secret
THINGS were not always what they seemed when I was young.
Peeking around a doorway, I spotted my dad working at his desk. A musky smell lurked in the air. Would he brush me off again?
I slipped into his office holding a model kit, hoping today would be different from the others. “Can we start building my jet, Dad?”
Displeased eyes crept up to find me as he released a long sigh. “Sorry, Ian. Duty calls.” His gaze fell back to his all-important work, silently dismissing me.
Duty called a lot.
Particles of dust danced through beams of light streaming in from the window behind my dad, so free, yet so insignificant—just like me.
That’s when I felt it. Something frighteningly abnormal welling up inside, like tiny wicked roots inching their way out of my bones. It felt horrific, as if it were sucking the life out of me and fueling me with power at the same time. I didn’t care.
Heat rose in my chest as my forearms flexed behind balled fists. The model airplane box gave way under my crushing grip.
Dad leveled a confused stare at me.
I threw the model to the floor with a burst of energy that sent shrapnel splintering everywhere.
A low guttural shout came from deep within. “Why won’t you play with me?”
An invisible force crept out from me in all directions, like a predator stalking its prey. My body flexed and the walls around me bulged outward as if the room could not contain my presence. Creaking boards threatened to buckle under the pressure. Objects in the room vibrated and slid back.
The force burst out, shooting everything away from me. Dad clung to his chair as it slammed against the window and shards of glass sprayed onto the lawn. Coffee mugs and pictures shattered against walls. Trails of electricity cracked and surged through the room. As they dissipated, everything fell eerily silent.
Dad stared at me in horror.
Abruptly, my legs gave up their strength, dropping me to the floor. I curled into a ball, clutching at a wrenching pain in my stomach and whimpered.
Was there some kind of monster inside of me?
Or worse…was I the monster?
What was Dad going to do with me?
Something caught Dad’s eye. His arms and legs slipped against the carpet as he scrambled out of the room toward it.
Mom rushed in, slack-jawed, looking back and forth between me and Dad. She crouched to the floor and wrapped my shivering body in her arms.
My neck ached as I angled my head toward what Dad had caught sight of. I blinked a few times to clear my tears. Then I saw it.
I wished I hadn’t.
My little sister, Ally, slumped in my father’s arms, unconscious. He peered at me over his shoulder.
He was protecting her…