PROLOGUE - And So It Begins, Sort Of
The young woman was standing in a soft, early spring rain on the corner of an apparently deserted street of a small downtown waiting for the traffic light to change. In a somber mood, she viewed her surroundings and wondered if there would be a witness for what was about to happen. As if by magic, or at least an odd coincidence, she became aware of another person braving the elements on this gloomy Saturday morning. A small, round, balding man, wearing a dark gray full length trench coat, was standing under an umbrella across the street and a few shops down from her. He blended into the shadows and stood completely motionless, as if he was one of those faux statues that she had noticed when she had once visited London. Thinking back, she could have sworn that he had not been there a few minutes ago when she emerged from her lawyer’s building. No matter, the woman had recognized him as an Arbiter of the Change and knew that he was there to observe a significant incident, which confirmed her ominous feeling that her time here was at an end. Resigning herself for the inevitable, she waited patiently for the traffic light to change knowing that her life on this world was reaching an unwelcome, but long expected, conclusion.
If the woman had the luxury of a future, she would have looked back at this moment and thought her actions at that time were rather silly. The street was completely devoid of traffic, and with the exception of the almost-a-statue man across the street, no one would have noticed her crossing against the light, but it was just in her nature. Ever since she was young enough to walk, her mother had ingrained in her to obey the rules, no matter how outlandish or impractical.
To look at her, a casual observer wouldn’t think that the woman was too young to be a mother of an almost eight-year old daughter. This woman, Diane, if that casual observer had asked her name, was tall and thin, with long shoulder length light brown, almost blond hair parted down the center of her head. She wore no makeup on a face which most would call pretty, though not beautiful. Even in the rain, the woman wore dark wraparound sunglasses which made her look mysterious and possibly, slightly sinister. She wore them whenever she was outside the comfort of her home to mask her uniquely shaped eyes. Not that anyone but close friends ever saw them, but her eyes beneath were a subtle greenish blue color with unusually shaped lids which were not quite Asian but definitely not Western European. She wore a lavender raincoat which protected her from the cold and the rain that had showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. Underneath her coat was a comfortable blue and white plaid dress which she liked to wear when she was out and about in public, although that was quite rare as she preferred a quiet life in seclusion with her daughter.
Her daughter had a similar dress at home in her closet. The last time they had worn the dresses together was just the week before, when the of them went to the park just outside the town on an early morning before the dawn. The two had gone to watch the sunrise on a secluded bench which was situated on a small hill overlooking the lake near their home. It was the mother and daughter’s favorite spot.
At that bench, lessons were forgotten, lectures forbidden and the mother and daughter just enjoyed the company of each other, telling each other stories, joking and laughing together. Times like that were very rare for the two. Normally, at the end of their outings, when the weather was obliging, the mother and daughter would leave the bench, walk over to the park’s open area and lie down on the soft, fragrant grass at the top of a relatively steep sloping hill. Together, they would roll down the hill for the sheer enjoyment of it all, giggling all the way down. Unfortunately, Diane reflected, because of the dresses that they had been wearing on that day, and the decorum which was demanded by society, they just strolled down the hill, hand in hand, greatly disappointing her daughter.
Diane’s mood was pensive as she thought back on that day in the park. Her mind then wandered back to this morning. The day had started out with so much promise when her daughter surprised her with an enormous feat of mental dexterity. Diane relished the moment, that is, until her daughter woke up in a dismal and dark mood. Somehow, she must have known about her mother’s fate. When Diane was leaving for a boring errand to run with her lawyer, she had told her daughter that she loved her. In reply, her daughter, in tears, replied in kind and hugged her mother fiercely.
Diane’s mind came back to the present when she realized the traffic light was taking an awfully long time to change. Wanting to make it home to her daughter before the inevitable, she finally decided to cross the street on the red but took another look down the street to be safe. There, appearing almost out of nowhere, a lone, large, white paneled van appeared. Diane reasoned to herself that she had been too distracted and just hadn’t noticed the van turn on to the street from a nearby alley.
Waiting patiently for the large van to pass her by, Diane inadvertently glanced at the bald driver’s eyes, or, to be more specific, his lack of them. Where the driver’s eyes normally would have been, empty flesh colored sockets stared directly back at her. Rather than being shocked or horrified, she immediately understood the deadly implications. Her enemy had selected the method of her execution that would be carried out by her underlings, the Mymbaux. Microscopic organisms with severely limited intelligence, which possessed the capability to form reasonable facsimile of multifaceted composite shapes but were incapable of creating the minor minutiae, such as eyes, hair, toes, etc. which were not critical to their mission. Mymbaux functioned together as one unified entity under the control of a dominant outsider, her enemy. Separately, they could not function independently, but each individual entity possessed the entire collective memory of the hive. The Mymbaux had amassed into a basic human form which drove the truck directly at Diane. She knew that it was now her time to exit this world, never allowed to return and that she would not make it home ever again to see her daughter. The conflict part of the Change had begun and she was the first casualty.
As the van suddenly veered toward her, Diane’s last conscious thoughts were of her daughter. She hoped all the years of preparations would be enough. Diane deeply regretted that she had heeded her societal inhibitions and rolled down the hill that one last time with her daughter. The young mother succumbed to her fate and let the van crash into her now unresponsive body.