Professor Victor James stuck the last syringe into the IV of the twentieth baby. All twenty began to seize.
“What’s going on?” Professor Victor James exclaimed. “This shouldn’t be happening!” Half of the twitching babies lay still, with their cold, glazed, eyes looking forever on into nothingness. Three more lay still. The seven living babies stopped twitching. An official looking man walked through the door, and stared with complete malice at the horrified professor.
“What. Happened?” the man spat.
“I don’t know! Everything was going perfectly fine until a few seconds ago. They didn’t start seizing until I injected Empathy Smith! She must have caused the seizures!” Professor Victor James cried.
“Why would they have started seizing because of this Empathy? She’s only a newborn. Get the IVs out of them, and contact all of the parents. I need to have a long discussion with all of them. Especially Empathy’s parents,” the threatening official walked out of the door. The Bureau couldn’t afford any more mistakes from Professor Victor James, but they couldn’t just release him into the outside world. Anything that the Bureau did was top secret. They were the Alien Bureau of Investigation after all, and hysteria over 13 dead babies was the last thing that they needed.
*about 15 years later*
Empathy Smith woke up to a constant beep from her alarm. Jumping out of bed as quick as a rabbit, she pulled on a t-shirt and her yoga pants. She ran down the long staircase, and tripped over the last ten steps onto the main floor.
“Ow, I really need to stop doing that,” Em muttered.
“Are you alright honey?” Mrs. Well shouted with worry.
“I’m fine, um, mom! I just fell down the steps again!” Em shouted back. Em didn’t catch what her new mom said next because she was distracted by the big purple bruise slowly shrinking away on her arm. She touched the spot that had been throbbing moments before and didn’t feel any pain. Confused, Em stood up and walked into a large closet turned office/weight training room.
A wave of gratitude flew over her as she saw a new computer with a blue bow sitting on her desk. Her eyes change colors with her emotions, and they were a bright yellow now. She was glad that she had been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Well, not just because they were her parents’ old friends, and that they gave such good birthday presents, but because they were kind to her and understood how hard the natural gas leak explosion that had killed her entire family was on her. She remembered her real mother singing to her, and reading to her. She remembered her father playing basketball with her and her older brother. She remembered her siblings laughing while they played in the garden. Her eyes changed from bright yellow to a deep blue. Why did her family have to die?
This was Em’s second birthday without her family, and the day before her 14th birthday had been the day that the explosion happened. Her entire family had been trapped inside as Em had watched the walls burn and crumble. She started to cry silently. Em walked over to the weights and started adding them to the bar. Em got onto the bench, and without waiting for Mr. Victor James, the 41-year-old butler, to come spot her, she began doing the bench presses, squats, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, etc. Em pushed, pulled, lifted, and stretched her grief away. After about an hour of constant repetitions, she was drenched with sweat and went up to take a quick shower. Em pulled her hair into a ponytail and ran downstairs for breakfast.
“Happy birthday darling!” Mr. Well said giving Em a quick peck on the forehead.
“Thanks Mr. W... I mean dad.” Em said sitting down at the table. The table was laden with all sorts of breakfast foods, but Em just grabbed some eggs and a piece of sausage, and shoveled them into her mouth. Tommy, the Wells’ twelve-year-old biological son, walked into the room yawning. After the Wells had adopted her, Em and Tommy had become the best of friends, and they were nearly inseparable.
“Ha-Happy Bir-Birthday!” Tommy yawned.
“Hey Skippy,” Em said. “Stay up late?”
“You bet!” Tommy exclaimed.
“Hurry up! Your new tutors are going to be here in ten minutes,” Mrs. Well said pushing Tommy into a chair. Em was already finished, so she strolled into the living room to help the maids with the early morning rounds. James was already in helping the maids. Every time Em saw Mr. James, she was reminded of her older brother, Chase. They were both very protective, and Em had the sneaking suspicion that the Wells had hired James to be her bodyguard as well as the butler. (The Wells got a lot of threats because the company they owned recently had to lay a few people off.) James, Em, and the maids worked side by side and the room was clean in less than five minutes.
“I’m going to go outside and wait for the tutors,” Em said to Mr. James. Mr. James just nodded his head. Em nearly laughed at how serious Mr. James looked. Em stepped onto the large porch and watched for any cars to come up the drive. Em’s eyes turned a purple-gray as a needle was shoved into the side of her neck. Em felt rough, strong hands lift her limp body from off the porch, and a heard a bang and shout before drifting into a cold, black, nothingness.
Em drifted back into consciousness, but out of habit, kept her eyes closed, and her breath steady. Constant beeps and ticking noises filled the room. It sounded like a heart monitor and a wall clock. Opening her eyes an infinitesimal amount, Em looked around the cold, metallic room. It was small, and as she had guessed, had a wall clock, heart-monitor, and surprisingly a mirror. Em was on the floor, with nothing restraining her, but unable to move. A sudden jolt shook through her body, and she was forced to open her eyes, which were a deep maroon. She was furious and afraid. Out of the corner of her eye Em saw an official looking man walk into the room.
“I see you’re awake,” said the man. Turning to the mirror he shouted, “Turn off the magnet!” Suddenly, Em could move again. She tried to sit up but an agonizing pain shot through the arch of her back. She was shaking violently.
“What’s going on?” she said through clenched teeth.
“Your bones might have been a little bit misplaced, because of the magnet. Roll over, I’ll fix it,” the man commanded. Em rolled over obediently. The man grabbed her shoulder and pushed hard on her spine. There was a sharp spike of pain, a pop, and the pain disappeared. Em sighed with reluctant relief.
“Why would a magnet have held me down let alone misplaced bones? Is some part of me metal? Are my bones made of metal?” Em asked already guessing the answer.
“You are fast aren’t you?” the man grinned as Em shoved herself into a sitting position. “Well, your bones are made of a metal known as Fortis Tacitum. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you this, but you’re a Mutant or Pollentia, whichever you prefer. Mutants or Pollentia used to be normal humans, but were volunteered by, well, by your parents to be injected with an experimental serum that was supposed to increase bone durability. Instead of doing that, it killed over half of the twenty tested babies, leaving only seven alive. You were one of those seven. Due to the tenuous situation, the Bureau was forced to make the parents sign forms saying that the babies would be in Bureau custody if any “side-effects” became apparent. As you can probably guess, neither of your parents signed the form, and certain, er, measures had to be put into effect.”
“What? That doesn’t make any sense. What side effects? What measures? Why did you kidnap me?” Em asked hysterically.
“Slow down! It’s quite simple really. With the Pollentia, faster healing time, increased brain matter, and increased muscle density, are a few of the side-effects, or benefits. And there are other things, but the rest of the Pollentia just started experiencing new side-effects which I’m definitely not allowed to tell you. And as for the “measures” and why we kidnapped you, well, you see, that is also classified information,” the man said.
“Since everything simple has disappeared from my apparently fragile world, for some reason, I want to know your name. What is it?” Em asked.
“I’m Amlici.” the man said.
“Alright Amlici, what is the Bureau?” Em asked.
“It’s the Alien Bureau of Investigation,” Amlici said slowly.
“I’m not an alien!” Em exclaimed.
“Oh, we are well aware of that, but what was injected into you was,” the man stated. “I’ll just leave you to your thoughts for now. Sophie should be here soon to show you around.”
“Who’s Sophie?” Em inquired. Amlici had already walked through the door which immediately shut behind him. Em was so confused. Em lay her head against the cold metal wall. I’m never going to escape, she thought.. She was no alien. Em was being punished by the very people that had done this to her. Clicks started to reverberate inside of her. It was Morse Code. Somehow, she knew exactly what it meant.
In her mind Em sensed something. It sounded like, “Are you alright?”
Em sent a message back. “I’m not entirely sure. Who is this? How are we doing this?” More clicking and a sudden translation went on inside of her.
“This is Sophie. I can hear metal and change how much it vibrates. It definitely comes in handy when playing a ridiculously complicated piano concerto, or simply attempting to contact another Pollentia. Just so you know, it is okay not to be alright.” Em’s eyes turned yellow.
“Wait, so you can read my thoughts?” Em could almost feel Sophie laughing.
“Only if you want me to, or if you have your head against a metal wall. It’s nice to have someone to talk to. I can’t speak, and I’ve been the only Pollentia here for months.” Em smiled sadly.
The door opened again and a tall teenager, with blonde, floor-length hair, and eyes the same shade of yellow as Em’s looked down at her.
“Let me guess. Sophie?” Em said grinning. She didn’t know why, but Em really trusted Sophie. Sophie nodded.
“Let’s go,” Sophie sent.
“They’re letting me leave?” Em asked taken aback. Sophie grinned sadly, as her eyes turned a light shade of blue, and shook her head.
“No, I’m supposed to show you to your quarters.”
“I don’t understand. The Wells won’t stop looking for me. They’ll find me. I can’t stay here!” Em was starting to panic.
“They’ll have threatened to take away or hurt Tommy by now if the Wells come looking.”
“How did you know about Tommy?” Em asked.
“Your head was against a metal wall remember?” Em could tell that something was wrong. She could feel the anguish building inside of Sophie.
“Sophie? Where are you taking me?” Em asked warily. Something was wrong. How had she trusted Sophie so quickly? Sophie shifted awkwardly. Em’s eyes changed into an orange-red with anger and worry. Sophie’s eyes mirrored the same colors. Em was confused. How could Sophie’s eyes be the same color as hers? Em was suddenly afraid of what was going on. Again, Sophie’s eyes changed into the exact same shade of purple as Em’s. Em suddenly understood. She could control emotions. Em realised that she could use her own fear against Sophie, and Em was terrified, so Sophie would be too. Em understood why she had always been so empathetic. She was experiencing those peoples exact emotions, and they were experiencing hers.
“Sophie, I know you’re scared, but where are you taking me?” Em said shakily.
“To Professor Victor James. He was supposed to get rid of you. He blames you for all of the babies’ deaths.”
“You mean kill me?” Em asked trying to ignore the feeling of betrayal creeping into her heart at the sound of Mr. James’ name. Sophie nodded, and started to cry. Both sets of eyes were purple and blue. They were scared.
“I suppose they’re forcing you to take me there, and they didn’t just do it at my house because it has to be completely secret.” Em sighed. Sophie nodded again. Em suddenly had an idea. The Alien Bureau of Investigation was done keeping secrets. Em could feel the emotions of every single person in the building. Em concentrated with all of her might, and changed every emotion. She made everyone feel the loss of her family, the betrayal of Mr. James, the death of thirteen innocent babies, the fear of being kidnapped, and all of the confused emotions inside of her. They had created their own worst enemy.
Em grabbed Sophie’s arm and said, “I think it’s past time you got out of this place. Let’s go find the rest of the Pollentia, and stop the Bureau” They ran through the halls as Em searched for the brain of any Pollentia. The guards all lay on the ground rocking back and forth, unable to handle all of the raw emotions that Em had put into them.
“Em, wait! I already told you. The other Pollentia have been gone for months.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” Em said grinning. She couldn’t explain exactly what it was that she felt, but she knew that they were here somewhere. A sort of confidence was flowing through her that she had never felt before. They would make it out of there, and start again. It wasn’t her fault that the Bureau experimented without restraint, and with the help of Em’s newfound friend, she could find the other Pollentia and reverse what the Bureau had done to them. Em knew that she was never alone, and even when it felt like everyone in the world was against her, sometimes you need to be the one to reach out in order to be reached. That is the power of empathy.