I didn’t know what he was when
I first saw his blue eyes. He looked like a cherub, out of place in a world
that was bleak and harsh. Pink rosy skin marked his small figure, and a mesh of
platinum blond hair topped his head like frosting. The blond locks curled up on
his forehead, but hung in a mish-mash fashion atop the rest of his head. His
face was round and perfect, completely handsome; appealing.
The rest of my neighbors thought he was handsome too. They made sure to include him in their street games, even going so far in asking him over for snacks. I was never invited to these functions, but then again I wasn’t thirteen. I was much older than they; an adult who resembled twenty-something yet had the mind of an elder. But even in my young life, the child was attractive to me which I found oddly disturbing.
He had to be at least thirteen or fourteen in appearance. Despite his childish looks I couldn’t tell exactly how old he was, because his figure was too perfect. He didn’t come around to this part of the city often, but when he did spirits rose in the vicinity of the area he was in. Children grew lively, and the adults grew wary. The boy didn’t look normal, to those that were different from him. But the neighborhood kids didn’t care about his features or his attitude. Some of their parents didn’t care about it either. They let the boy play in their street games, not noticing that he was a stranger to this part of the district. But as to the rest of us, we noticed the drastic change his presence caused.
The particular day where I met his other side, the hidden life he led, I’ll never forget. That’s when I realized that he wasn’t like all the other kids, and that he wasn’t really a kid himself, but something else entirely. Until that moment, faerie stories weren’t real in the world we lived in. Apocalypses were.
Our world was hit by numerous amounts of chemicals in the latter years of the Old Age. The two biggest Empires were in conflict with each other for a few years, struggling for power; they attacked using biological warfare combined with nuclear weapons. For the first two years, once the bombs went off, the world drastically changed from the massive damage. Most of the people died. Those of us that survived either grew immunities to the poisonous gas that plagued the air, or we hid ourselves in basements until the remainder of the toxicities receded.
My family did the latter. My parents, both sets of my grandparents, and my great-grandparents on my mother’s side hid away in the bomb shelter of my grandfather’s house for the duration of the war. However, I wasn’t at home during the first strike, but despite where I was, I survived. I grew immunities to the poisonous fumes; it was like I didn’t need air anymore, though I still breathed on a regular basis. But my body’s changes weren’t all tied to the toxin levels in the air I breathed; there were other immunities that developed. My skin hardened like stone. No sharp object could pierce it and the medical authorities found this out when they tried taking my blood for the mandatory diagnostic test all citizens received. The other odd thing about my new body was my sight had realigned to near perfectness. I used to have to wear contacts or glasses, but once I underwent the change, that imperfection went away. I now had extra-exceptional vision.
I used these new abilities to help out my neighbors in any way I could. With the new world order, not many of us could stay outside for extended periods of time without taking extensive damage to our lungs from the leftover fumes. We were all on regular doses of oxygen that were pumped from the city’s plant into underground tubes that fed directly into our houses. The oxygen was recycled into our air purification system for deployment at night, when the gas, along with other essential vitamins, would regenerate our bodies and fix the damage from the day’s activities. Even then people were restricted to emerging from their homes only during the daylight hours, when the toxic fumes were at the lowest levels. During the night the levels peaked, and could be dangerous to those caught out of doors.
But I was the only exception to these rules. The fumes never bothered me. In fact, I couldn’t quite smell them anymore. They used to be potent, but now they were not. My parents knew this. My grandparents knew this, and my great-grandparents knew about the changes as well, since they had survived the Old Age to live in the new. Other than the Grand Council’s leadership and a few members of the military, my family was the only set of people who knew my past and what I endured.
They all lived here in the town, next door to each other. Our houses were connected by a series of portals that we could enter at all hours of the day. My great-grandparents lived with my mother’s parents. And my other grandparents lived with my mother and father. I bunked with my parents as well, since most of the time I was gone on an errand of the state. But my room was separate from the house complex. I added it on, with airlocks in case I had midnight errands.
Since I acquired my unique abilities, the government thought it’d be best if I handled some of their affairs since I could withstand the toxic fumes at all hours of the day. That was how I got the job I currently held. I was a liaison, a medical professional, a detective, and sometimes a negotiator, when other forms of espionage had failed. The two Empires still battled one another, but since the catastrophe brought on by their chemical warheads, they fought in secret ways. Assassination attempts were the most common, with diplomatic espionage coming in close second.
The day I was home on a vacation of sorts from work, was when I first caught sight of the boy. Several weeks later, was when my world changed forever.