Chapter Thirty-Nine: Glen
Glen paced the floor of the abandoned hotel. He was sure he must’ve been wearing holes in the carpeting, but no one bothered him. He was left to his thoughts in peace. Unless someone felt he was close to a panic attack, which happened often, so he’d be forced to stop and breathe for a bit until he calmed back down. The group—he dared not call them grunts anymore—watched him with a mixture of interest and fear.
“Sir, are you okay—”
He slashed a hand through the air. No, he was not okay. Not only was he holed up in an empty, old hotel with a group of kids who came from god knows where, but he was there without Saige. The one job he’d had, and he failed. What was wrong with him? He was so stupid—
“Glen, I know you don’t want to talk right now, but remember I told you I would explain. I think you’ll feel a lot better if you let me explain.”
He ignored the green-eyed girl completely, continuing to pace the carpet. But she blocked his way when he turned again, and he scowled down at her before lifting her and depositing her behind him so he could continue. She sighed, and sat back on the bed.
“You would feel so much better, I know it,” she repeated. You really don’t know what’s happening, and what’s happening will help you get hold of your emotions.”
“Then tell me, but don’t expect me to sit down.”
“Glen, do you even know what happened to you the other night on the beach?”
This made his steps slow. He hadn’t thought about that night in so long.
“Everyone there claimed you turned into a black puddle in the sand. The bystanders said it was as though you were a popsicle and you just melted. But then you came back, somehow. Does that sound familiar to you?”
The kids murmured among themselves before the green-eyed girl spoke up again.
“The same thing happened to Saige not too many months ago, didn’t it?”
He stopped dead in his tracks. It had happened to her, and she’d come back blind and overwhelmed, but what did that have to do with him? He hadn’t returned blind. Or... Had he? Yes he had. He couldn’t see, but he could hear that horrible wailing. He could still hear it if he focused hard. It would haunt him for the rest of his life.
“I don’t understand.”
“Glen, you need to sit—”
“If you tell me to sit down one more time, I’m leaving. I’m not a child and you can’t tell me what to do. Now what is this that’s so important that you need to bring me with you all the way out to this abandoned hotel to wait for Eavan who is some magical—”
“You were discharged. Did you ever stop to think about the only reasons that could be?”
“No, because I did nothing to be discharged. They were upset that I was with Saige and they didn’t understand why, but once I explain... I mean—”
The next voice that interrupted him was male. The leader of the group.
“You didn’t get to explain, and when you tried to ask what was going on, they wouldn’t tell you. No matter how many times you asked, they just kept right on going as thought you’d never existed. So let’s assume you did absolutely nothing. You broke no rules. What is the only other thing that they would legally be able to terminate your contract under?”
“If I’d lied about something from my past and they found out. But I didn’t do that either.”
“Not on purpose,” someone whispered.
“What are you talking about now,” he snapped.
“You didn’t lie on purpose. But you did lie. And it was a lie they couldn’t overlook. And one we couldn’t either. It doesn’t make much sense, honestly, but the test results always tell the truth...”
He stood exactly where he was, looking over the face of every last person in the room. They looked terrified to tell him, and some even gathered by the door. As though they had something to tell him that would make him lose his cool, lose control and flip the tables and beds over.
“Just spit it out.”
“Glen, you aren’t Namai. You’re Xinaan.”
He didn’t speak. Couldn’t speak anymore. He just stood where he was and stared at the green-eyed girl.
“I know it’s confusing. I know it doesn’t sound like the truth, and you might think we’re just messing with you, but think about it. Since you woke up, you’ve felt different, right? You haven’t been able to focus as easily. The sounds must be very intense, because you haven’t been hearing the same way as you used to. Everything is sharper. And your body is confused by it. Your body doesn’t like it. Your body wants to shut itself down because it’s afraid.”
“You had a panic attack for the first time in your life. You couldn’t process the outside world. In hindsight we shouldn’t have introduced you to the elements so quickly, but we were in a hurry. You’ve been shaking ever since.”
He swallowed again, shaking his head, and moved to the window on autopilot. What they were saying made little sense. What they were saying had to be a joke. And yet they said he’d think just that. So what did he have to say to that?
“I can’t be Xinaan. Saige is Xinaan. Xinaan are only females.”
“That’s what everyone has thought, because a male has never been found. But research has proved—”
“What research? You’ve never seen a Xinaan woman, so how could you have done research? None of this adds up. You’re telling me that my family isn’t even my family. Of course they are. I look just like them.”
“Have you looked in the mirror lately?”
“Of course I have. Because I’ve had every reason in the world to look in the mirror and stare at my reflection instead of finding out why I’ve been demoted from my position as Commander. Speaking of which, I need to get back to the base, because it’s obvious all of you have wasted my time. You’re lucky I don’t arrest every last one of you.”
The green-eyed girl pressed her hands into his chest. “Mr. Mykel, you’re panicking again.”
He fought his instinct to push her, balling his fists and stepping back.
“I don’t know if you’ve realized it,” he shouted, “but I am not someone you can mess with! I am not weak and gullible. If I wanted to be treated like a fool, I would’ve... I would’ve...”
He put his hands on his knees and sucked in a fresh lungful of air.
He coughed, and lowered the rest of the way to the floor.
“Why is this... happening to me...”
“If you know you aren’t Xinaan, why are you on the floor,” the boy asked. “You’re panicking because you know it’s true. Your body knows it’s true.”
He shook his head. No, it couldn’t be. There was no way.
Everyone gave him space, still hovering by the door, and he buried his head in his hands. Why was his life turning upside down? He couldn’t even blame Saige at this point. He made too many stupid decisions that lead to this. Of course they’d all started with him rescuing her to begin with, but if he went back to do it over he’d choose the same thing.
Murmuring started up within the group and they parted to let a smaller figure into the room. He jumped to his feet, hoping—praying—that it was Saige, but of course it wasn’t.
“Are you okay?”
He shook his head, wanting to sink back down to the floor. He wished it and the 20 floors below him would swallow him up and bury him alive.
“They told you, didn’t they?”
When he didn’t move or nod, Eavan walked up to him and pulled him down into her arms. He didn’t respond to her touch, his entire body and mind numb.
“I know this is a heavy burden to bear. And I know it’s going to take some time to get used to the idea, let alone the feeling. But you’re going to be okay.”
He disengaged himself from her. A new pain filled his heart.
“I can’t go home. I can’t see my daughter, or my ex wife. They’re going to be—They must already feel so betrayed. Oh my god.”
“Family is always there, and they will always love you. Don’t think for a second that this changes their minds. Especially since they must’ve known beforehand.”
He stopped and turned. “What?”
“Glen, you were completely camouflaged. You look so different. Not at all like your family. Have you looked?”
He shook his head. No he hadn’t looked. She gestured to the bathroom.
“Go look. Maybe then you’ll believe us.”
He walked past the group of teens to the adjacent bathroom, brushing aside spider webs to get to the mirror. The surface of the mirror was dingy and covered in water droplets but he could still see the stranger looking back at him.
His hair was no longer ginger. It was bright white. Or silver. He turned his head to tell which, but couldn’t. It was both. And his eyes... they were amber. No longer black. His freckles had disappeared completely. His facial structure had completely shifted. He wasn’t himself anymore.
When he turned his head, another development caught his eyes and his hands flew to his ears. The backs were pointed at all angles. Just like Saige’s.
“Who am I,” he whispered to himself.
His trembling hands brushed through his hair and he shook his head. This had to be a nightmare.
The first things he said upon exiting the bathroom had nothing to do with himself, however.
“Where is Saige? You were supposed to bring her.”
Eavan leveled sad eyes on him. “I couldn’t get to her in time. They found her and took her back in. Under a new guise.”
“It seems as though the execution was just a cover up for what they really wanted. They’ve brought in another man who is helping to ‘examine’ her. She’s being turned into one of their experiments.”
“Why didn’t you help her?”
“Because I know the government and that it will take them a few days to actually begin. We have time. And those who move with undue haste always get the short end of the stick. If they don’t wind up dead.”
He sank down to the bed. “I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like being helpless to help her. We have to go back and get her.”
“Of course we do, child. But we need a good plan first. One that, preferably, ends with all of us still alive.”
“Who are you people?”
She smiled at his question. “Finally the real question appears.”
“Are you going to answer it, though?”
She sighed, and looked over the kids at the door. When she beckoned to them, them all went to her and stood around her in a crowd. Almost like they were protecting her.
“We are part of an organization dedicated to helping Xinaan. No one knows we exist, and that’s obviously crucial to our process. We find the ones who are at risk and take them in. We train them, and give them new identities before they go about their lives like nothing happened.”
“But... there are barely any Xinaan in the world, right? They’re very rare. How could their be an organization for them?”
“There are more than you think. We are everywhere.”
He paused. Squinted at her.
“Why do you say ‘we?’ You’re all Xinaan?”
“Only one of us.”
She smiled again, but there was sadness in her eyes.