You wake up and you know straight away that you’re not who you’re meant to be.
You used to know exactly who you were or at least you were getting to know who you might end up being. Grow up to be. I mean you knew you were tall for your age, that your skin was perfectly grey and unblemished, that most males at lessons wanted to be your truemate but you had a truemate, you had Kallos and every day after lessons you and Kallos would go to the Red Lake and sit beneath a yappay tree and kiss. You were happy. How unfair is that, for all of this to happen when you were happy. You even told your mother about Kallos and she made you promise not to mate with him until you were ready. You promised her you wouldn’t even though you had no idea what ready meant. You loved your mother so much you would promise her anything. Then everything changed didn’t it. Everything really messed up and got bad.
You were fourteen when the Darkening came to your planet, to Fell.
It was summer and you were on holiday in Hashan when the news flashes started.
Noorava City Outbreak: Hundreds Killed.
“Will it be ok, daddy?” you asked your father. Why did you call him daddy? You never did that anymore. You were scared weren’t you? You’d been connecting with Kallos all evening and he’d been describing to you how mad everything had got in Noorava. Even as you connected with him you could hear screams and distant explosions. You were scared for him.
“You should leave,” you told him, “why doesn’t your dad take you all somewhere. It sounds bad.”
Kallos just laughed though.
“Nah,” he said in that languid, laid back tone. He was always too laidback. That’s why you wanted to truemate with him. Everyone else at lessons was so uptight, so into their career prospects, how they’d get to the top of the Dominus before they were thirty. To be honest so were you. Your father had drummed that into you. But Kallos was different. He didn’t care what he ended up being.
“I’ll just go live in the Half Mountains,” he told you once beneath the yappay, “I’ll play my lat and I’ll get fans coming from miles just to hear me play. I’ll be a god.”
You never got how he could be like that. It seemed so alien. If you were like that your father would have sent you to the Academies.
It was just as the sirens started to shriek that your connection to Kallos broke.
He was about to say something.
“You know I…” he’d said and then his voice was gone forever.
You kept trying to connect with him but nothing happened. It was like he wasn’t there. He was gone.
You ran downstairs to your mother and father as the sirens wailed. They were staring at the screen. The High Dominus was transmitting an emergency message.
All Major Population Centres Overrun. Highly Infectious Disease. Advise To Stay Indoors.
Your father wouldn’t take that advice.
“I have to help,” he said.
Your father is the greatest doctor in the whole of Fell. That’s what everyone says about him. When you were newborn he would sit you on his lap and tell you that too.
“There is nothing I cannot fix,” he would say.
Then he would pretend to drop you, you’d laugh and he’d tell you not to worry, that if he ever dropped you and you broke then he would just fix you. That was what he did.
“Please don’t go, daddy,” you said, hugging him. His gills were blue. He was worried. Your father’s gills never went blue like everyone else’s. He was always calm. Certain. Seeing that just made you more scared.
“Come on now, Glaya,” he said. His voice was so cold. He was already in Doctor mode.
“Please, daddy,” you said, hugging him tighter.
“Glaya I need to go,” he said sternly and he pushed you away. It wasn’t a gentle push. He pushed you hard. That’s how desperate he was to help everyone else. That’s how desperate he was to get to Noorava, to get to the Dominus and solve everything. Even he didn’t realise then how bad things were.
“Everything will be ok, Glaya,” he said as he put on his coat and hat.
“Do you promise,” he said.
“I promise,” he answered.
He lied didn’t he? Look at you now. Look at your hands, your legs, your whole body. You have hair. Touch your head, it isn’t smooth and hairless. Reddish hair falls about your face. Hold out the strands. Look at it. That isn’t you.
You’re not who you used to be. You’re not a Fell anymore. You’re a human and there’s something growing inside you.