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Giant eyes. Giant blue eyes. Elongated skull. Translucent hair. What the hell?
The woman tried to move her body, to even blink, but her mind would not respond. The body pushed against hers, a glow emitting from the body.
Why was she paralyzed? Was this some kind of dream? What was it called? Sleep….paralysis? Was she just dreaming?
A rough hand brushed against her face, moving the curly brown hair out of the way. It felt like sandpaper. How did she have such an imagination in her sleep, but crap without it?
Scream! Scream! Why couldn’t she scream? Where had her voice gone to?
The giant eyes got closer, studying her, covering up the fear, or just masking it like an old smell of BO.
A rough hand lifter her up, the other one caressing her side. What was it doing? What did it have in mind for her?
A strong emotion came through the giant eyes, something she wasn’t expecting. A strong sense of ambition.
“Sleep. There is nothing to be afraid of.”
And just like that, the blackness took her, swirling around her consciousness until it was there no more. The last thing she saw were those giant blue eyes turning white. A small mouth opening. A black hole.
Why and How?
“It seems that you’re pregnant. That’s why you haven’t been having your period.”
The woman sat in the chair in shock, not able to comprehend the truth. Not a moment sooner, she came back to the present.
“But that’s impossible! I’ve never had sex! I’m still a virgin!” she protested. The doctor gave her a look of detest.
“If you’ve never had sex then how are you pregnant? Try explaining that to your parents.”
A Few Months
Pain. Cold. Hunger. Imprints. How were there imprints? The baby was only a few months now, not even fully a fetus yet. The doctors’ explanation was that she was some phenomenon. A baby leaving imprints at a few months? That was impossible. But yet, her baby was doing it.
She stood up, sighing and gazed down at her stomach.
“I’m getting it, baby. You’ll soon get your food.” She said, coddling her stomach.
Her baby’s groaning roared through her mind.
She wasn’t sure how it worked, exactly. Her baby had begun talking to her during the first few weeks, startling her at work. She had accepted it now. Though, the question about how the baby spoke English did arise. It hadn’t even been born yet. Her only explanation was that her mind was converting what the baby said or wanted into English words.
She walked into the kitchen and opened the cupboard doors. Barren. A wasteland.
She bit her lip.
“I’m sorry, baby. We’re going to have to go out to eat.” She murmured to her stomach.
A sharp pain erupted through her stomach. The baby was angry. She doubled over in pain until it stopped a moment later. She swore that one of these times the baby would tear a hole through her stomach.
She searched for the keys, hoping that it wouldn’t attack again. The little piranha.
Push! Push! Now breathe. Breathe before the baby explodes from inside your stomach.
She laid back in the bed. The nurse forced a smile her way, trying to comfort her. But she didn’t need it. Her parents weren’t there. And they wouldn’t be there for the baby’s birth. They had practically disowned her when they learned of her pregnancy.
But she was strong. She had dropped out of college, already forgetting of her dreams to become a lawyer. The baby was more important. The baby was hers. The only thing she had left. The baby was her gift from God.
She wished she could do something to help. She wanted to hug the baby, to assure him that he would get used to the air. She wanted to reach across her baby and cover him with warmth. A mother’s warmth.
He was getting angry. Push! Be strong! Push! The baby is cold! Protect!
Soon, she felt as his head popped out, following with his torso. Pain. Relief. Push! Breathe!
She relaxed as soon as his legs were pulled out, relief pouring through her every crevice.
“What the hell?”
She sat up, trying to figure out what that was for. And then she saw it. The baby. He was pale, very pale. Not like a normal baby. More like a vampire’s skin. And he wasn’t crying. Weren’t babies supposed to cry when they were born?
The doctor held him, his look of perplex and surprise stopping him from doing his job.
And then he opened his eyes. The doctor gave a shout of disgust and dropped the baby in the crib.
White. Very white. Like there were no pupils. Except for the blue glow that glistened in the light.
A very unusual baby with his giant size. Much longer than a normal baby. His head at least three times the size of an ordinary baby.
But what to give an unusual child for a name? She wasn’t sure.
Yes, that was the perfect name for him. A perfect name for a nowhere near perfect baby.
Pain. Hurt. Tears. Anger. Helplessness. He was calling for her. She sighed. She’d hoped that he could’ve dealt with it on his own. He’d already been pushed away from people a lot in his life.
“They’re being mean, Momma. Why are they mean? Why do they hate me?”
She gazed around the room. She was sitting at her desk at work, trying to finish a report. No one was around.
“Why are they calling me mean names? Why are the adults staying away from me?”
She huffed, “They’re just not used to you yet, Thadd. They don’t know how cute you are yet. And the adults…well, they’re just stuck in their own ways, okay?”
“What’s wrong with my eyes, Momma?”
She rubbed her eyes, exhausted.
“Nothing, Thadd. They’re just different. And people don’t deal with different. Your eyes are beautiful, Thadd. Never forget that. I love you.” She whispered.
“I love you too, Momma.”
Anguish. Embarrassment. Loneliness. He sat in the corner of the room, his hands covering his eyes. Scratches lined his cheeks.
“I don’t want them, Mom. They make me ugly. They make me different.”
She pulled his hands out of the way and grimaced. Cuts streaked down his eyes. Like he had tried to cut them out.
“Oh, Thadd. Don’t worry about being different because we’re all different. Every one of us. I don’t have the same eyes as Carl, do I? Doesn’t that make me different?” she assured.
He nodded. She was different. She was a lot different from the others. She was very understanding of him. All the other mothers were horrified with him. Because of those putrid eyes. And his dreadful white skin, white as a piece of paper.
“Where’s my dad, Mom? Why don’t I have one like all the other kids?”
She gritted her teeth. She couldn’t lie to him. She’d learned long ago that Thadd could hear her thoughts. It was as if they had some sort of connection. She’d heard that mothers and their kids had special connections like no other, but this was taking it to a new level.
“I don’t know, Thadd. But I’m sure he’s out there searching for you. Telling himself that he’ll see you again soon.” She frowned.
“But you don’t know for sure, Mom. He was a deadbeat, wasn’t he? That’s what the kids say.”
“No, Thadd, you mustn’t listen to those children,” she sighed, “I’m gonna tell you something that will help you in rough times, okay?”
He nodded. He would listen to his mother.
“Things will always be hard for you. You’re different. But when people hurt you, think of our family memories. Think of the beauty in life. Think about the world opened to you. The world’s wonders. Think of how you can shape the world. Of how you will always be loved.”
Misery. Burning. Crackling. Heartbeat now lost. Heart splitting in half. A tornado tearing to shreds everything that was once in his life. Life leaving her eyes.
He lurched up, the death still clear in his mind. The sweat caked the back of his neck and dripped down the side of his face. Another nightmare. He wiped the sweat with the back of his hand and took a deep breath. Something he’d kept doing after his mother’s death.
The marker screeched as he marked the piece of calendar paper. Five times this week. He was really going downhill.
The clock recorded four hours since the last time he awoke. The nightmares constantly plagued him, hunted in search for more tragic memories, but there was really only one. The death of his mother when he was fourteen. But he couldn’t rely on her death forever. She’d never wanted him to. He’d heard it one of those times when she locked herself in her room. When she couldn’t take his misery any longer.
The thoughts escaped her mind and bounced off the walls like sonar, right to his ears. They never failed to reach him. Something that tormented him as a child.
There were two things he had thought about when his mother had died in his arms. A feeling beyond sadness. He had lost his mother, the only one that understood him, but then there was relief. His mother was finally taken to prosperity. She would finally fly up into the sky. She was free of his dark presence. There was no need to worry.
The cool breeze swept over him until he made his way to the bed. There were three fans that shot cold air at him. It helped him sleep and for the most part, kept the sweat away.
He closed his eyes as the cold lulled him into the deep black hole that sucked away his consciousness.
“Time to get up, Sunshine! First day of school!”
He groaned as soft hands pulled him off the bed. And a good thing too, because he would have gone back to sleep had he been left alone.
“Okay, Christi, you win. I’m up.” He moaned. His gaze flicked to her as she jumped up and down in triumph.
“The infamous Thaddeus, harbinger of sleep and downcaster of diseases and demons, defeated by his foster mother!” she exclaimed, shaking her hands as though she were rolling a die.
He rolled his eyes, “okay, all great and powerful Christi, I need to get changed.”
Her mouth opened in a big ‘o’.
“Okay, big man, I’ll let you get changed.” She smiled.
He shook his head. He wasn’t sure if he would ever get rid of that long title. Or was it a nickname? He wasn’t sure anymore. She used it too much.
“Hey, Thadd! How’s it going my pal, my bro!”
Thaddeus snorted and watched the jock hold out his hand for the shake.
“It’s going fine, Frank.” He said, shaking the bulky hand.
“So are you gonna try out for the football team, Thadd? Tryouts are tomorrow!” Frank questioned.
Thaddeus opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted.
“Hey, Thaddeus! Football tomorrow at four!”
Thaddeus sighed. Another jock. He wasn’t sure when he’d gotten so popular. When he moved there two years ago no one really talked to him. Now it was like he was part of the group.
He guessed that it was when he played football in gym and earned them that ‘no jog’ day.
“Hey, Thadd! Didn’t you hear me? We need to get to the commons!” Frank shouted.
Thaddeus shook the thoughts away and followed Frank into the school. He was getting more and more lost in his thoughts lately.
“Help! Help my mom, please! She’s stuck!”
Thaddeus spun around on his heels, his stomach churning. A little girl stood in front of a tall, rickety looking building, soot covering her face and clothes. The building was burning down.
He thought of his own mother and tears filled his eyes. He couldn’t let that little girl lose her mother like he’d lost his! He couldn’t turn his back on an innocent child like they did him! He knew what it was like to lose a mother at a young age and he didn’t want anyone else to have to go through it.
He dropped his backpack to the ground and started for the building.
“Wait, Thaddeus! You can’t go into that building! You’ll die!” Frank shouted from behind him.
“I’ll be back soon, Frank. Call the ambulance!” he hollered over his shoulder.
The little girl gazed up at him as he approached the building.
“Are you going to save her?” she asked. He nodded.
“She’s up the stairs in my room on the right. The ceiling fell in on her!” she exclaimed. He clenched his jaw.
“I promise you that I will save her. I will not let her die, even if it means losing my own life.” he promised. Tears filled her eyes and she nodded.
His eyes watered as soon as he entered the building. The fire was spreading around the building in record time, devouring anything in its path.
He rushed up the steps before a step gave in under his weight. He spotted the woman, walking into a tiny little room. The woman was wedged in between a pink little bed and the wall. A huge slab of drywall pinned her down.
“Help. Please, someone help.” A mumble came from her battered mouth. He rushed into the room. Prepared to lift with all he had. He’d learned that from a young age he was able to pick up things he shouldn’t have been able to. Like the day of his mother’s death. He had been able to lift the front of the car off her. Something a normal man wouldn’t have been able to do.
Surely, he could lift a slab of drywall. His fingers gripped underneath the slab, the corners fitting under his fingers. And lifted. Pain shot through his hands. The slab was cutting into his hands with heat radiating off its top. But he couldn’t quit. He backed away a few steps and chucked the slab a few feet away, his shoulders relaxing.
The woman stared at him in awe, “how did you do that?”
He shook his head, “no time for questions. We need to get you out of here.”
And then they walked out of the room, her weight burdening his shoulders. She was a frail woman, but not exactly light.
Cracking echoed throughout the room, just as they got to the stairs. A huge slab swung at them, nailing Thaddeus in the ankles and knocking them both off balance. They tumbled down the stairs, the slab following behind them.
He coughed. The smoke was finally getting to him. Finally tearing up his lungs. But the door was only a few feet away. And he had to get the woman out of there.
He crawled over to her unconscious body, his body screaming in pain. But he couldn’t let her die. He pushed open the door and shoved her body out. Just before the ceiling collapsed. He was still inside. And the fire was closing in on him. But he had gotten what he wanted. The mother was safe. The girl was safe.
Throat swollen. Breathing rough. Throbbing all over. Piercing pains. Crying. Voices.
He groaned, alerting the voices to his presence. Christi sat in a chair a few feet away, tears glistening on her cheeks.
Where was he? Why was she crying?
Beeping. Wires. IVs. Cool breeze. He gazed down. Hospital gown. Man with white jacket. He was in the hospital.
How long had he been unconscious? What happened to the woman? And her little girl? Were they all right?
“Don’t you ever go playing Superman again! Do you hear me?” Christi snapped. She stood up now, wanting to hug him. Her jaw clenched and unclenched.
“I’m sorry, Christi. I couldn’t leave her. I couldn’t let her die like my mom did. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.” Thaddeus mumbled.
Tears filled her eyes again, “I love you, okay? I love you so much, Thaddeus. I know you miss your mother, but you’re not invincible.”
She hugged him, tears soaking his neck. He mentally kicked himself for being such a jerk to not think about her in the first place.
Her son had died in a fire at the age of six. He was stuck inside of his room. All alone. The babysitter had left the house for just fifteen minutes. But it had only taken ten minutes to kill him.
“I’m sorry, Christi. I hadn’t thought about you. I hadn’t thought about what would happen if you lost me.” he whispered.
She pulled away, wiping the tears away.
“This is not about me. It’s about you. About the life you’re supposed to live.” She said.
He licked his lips. The IVs were pumping through him, but he still felt extremely dehydrated. He needed water.
“Christi, could you get me some water?” he asked. She forced a smile.
“Of course I will, Thadd.” She said, before leaving the room. He winced. The nickname given by his mother was used all the time. But it wasn’t meant to be used without her. He hated when other people called him that.
The doctor cleared his throat, finally bringing attention to himself. Thaddeus studied him. Lean build. Bifocals. Brown eyes. Baldhead. Thick mustache.
He looked like the average old guy. He felt bad for him because even though he was alienated because of his eyes and his pale skin, he still had a lot of life left in him. He had a lot left for him to change the world with. To enjoy the world’s beauties. But this guy’s journey was coming to an end.
“Thaddeus, I’ll say this plainly because I know no other way. You shouldn’t be alive. Let alone awake. You took severe blows to the brain and your body. Your leg was fractured in several different places. Your right arm was broken. And your hands were burned all the way around. Cuts lined your fingers.” He blurted.
Thaddeus furrowed his brows. He couldn’t have had all those injuries. He didn’t feel like a piece of burnt toast. Or a flattened piece of chicken. He felt fine. Almost perfect.
“But you must be mistaken. I feel great!” he exclaimed.
The doctor shook his head, shoving a file into his lap.
“X-rays. Of me? How is that possible?” he questioned. The doctor shook his head.
“It isn’t possible. You’ve only been here for three days, but almost all of your injuries are gone. And your brain is unaffected by all the damage caused. You function normally, as if you had never been crushed by hundreds of pounds of drywall.” He sighed.
Thaddeus sat in shock. How could he have healed that fast? It was impossible. Yet, his mother had told him that he did some unusual things. Like communicating to her through their minds.
He had just thought that was normal for sons and their mothers. But his mother told him otherwise. She’d also told him that when he was only a few months old, that he was giving her messages like saying he was hungry. And then there was his photographic memory. The doctors told them that only about ten people in the world had photographic memories.
But yet, his mother told him not to let anyone know about these gifts. She had said that it could get him in trouble. That people would want to take him away. That he would become a big experiment.
So he would keep his mouth shut. Not letting the doctor know anything more.
“And your lungs are twice the size of a normal human’s. Your heart is three times smaller than normal. Yet, you function better than a professional athlete. Tell me, why is that?” he said.
“I don’t know anything, doctor. Now, please quit questioning me about this.” He spat.
The doctor got in his face, “You’re a freak. I mean, look at you! Your eyes are almost completely white! And I will be sure to report this. You will answer for this.”
Thaddeus clenched his fists, anger sparked in his chest, igniting a wave of fire. He was never good with dealing with his anger. His mother said that it was one of his downfalls. That one day it would lead to some serious consequences if he didn’t control it.
Right now, it was causing serious problems. He’d been hated from the day he was born because of his difference in appearance, but this was much worse. The man was threating to destroy his life. To report his special case to the authorities. But he hadn’t done anything wrong. He’d only saved a woman. Someone that needed saving.
“Get…out…of…my…room!” he shouted. The doctor backed away, fright flashing across his face. Pure terror. Thaddeus was taken aback. He hadn’t meant to scare him. Just to get him out of there.
He didn’t want to go back to people fearing him. He frowned.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted you to…stop.” He cried.
The door opened and the doctor lurched out the door, his face stricken.
“What was all that about?” Christi asked.
Hate. Anguish. Filth. Depression.
The image of his mother still filled his mind. He missed her deeply. Why had she passed away? Why had that driver been so reckless? Why hadn’t anyone helped him save her?
The woman and her daughter brought up memories from his past. The car accident was still fresh in his mind from his nightmare. That stupid drunk sitting in the front seat, staring at his mother’s body. He didn’t call the police or ambulance. He ran. Leaving a young boy to try to get his mother out from underneath the car. On the sidewalk.
The bystanders didn’t help either. Neither did the cars passing by. They just watched as he cried for help, as he lifted the front end of the car. It was a miracle. But no one took notice. His mother died there, the life leaving her eyes as he pulled her into his arms.
“Thaddeus, are you all right?”
He nodded slightly. Frank forced a smile.
“Is it about the accident?” he asked. Thaddeus shook his head. It wasn’t about the accident, per say. It was about the people. About all the people that just sat back and watched a tragedy happen. The people that stood by when someone was killed.
“Let’s just get to tryouts. I’ll feel better then.” He changed the subject.
He was lucky to be trying out at all. He’d only managed to get Christi on board because he told her that it would help him fit in more. She was a softie for things like that. He assumed she was one of the ones that didn’t fit in as a child.
It was true that the activity would help him deal with being excluded from social interaction, but he wasn’t sure that that was why he wanted to do it.
It was more of an outlet for all his anger and depressed state. And that was what he needed. Especially after the encounter with the doctor. He was terrified.
No one had ever threatened him with telling the authorities because he was different. He didn’t understand. Why would the man report him to the authorities for being different? Was it a crime?
“Thaddeus Grey, your turn.”
Thaddeus pulled the cheap blue football helmet over his head. The thing barely covered his head because it was so small. His mother told him long ago that he had a football head. He guessed that was right.
He watched as a big burly kid took his place in front of him, his chubby, but strong arms resting on his knees. He was c***y, he’d give him that. But wasn’t that what made a good player?
“Okay, c’mon runt.” He growled. His brown eyes tried cutting through his confidence, but it wouldn’t work. Thaddeus was c***y too, he had to admit that. Unexplainable amounts of strength would do that to you.
He cracked his knuckles and gave his opponent a wink. The other boy snickered.
“Okay, already! Run, Grey!” the coach shouted.
Thaddeus sprinted for the boy, his arms out in front of him, ready to fight for control.
The boy grabbed onto his jersey, pushing with a little more than half his strength. It didn’t faze Thaddeus a bit. He was ready for a hard shove. He was ready for a car to plow into him. But it didn’t come. Until the boy realized that Thaddeus hadn’t move but maybe a centimeter.
“Just give up, Grey. You’re not going to win this. I’m the varsity linebacker.” The boy hissed.
Thaddeus smirked. He hardly thought that just a boy could out due him. He had lifted a car for goodness sakes!
But then the thought of the doctor popped into his head. If he acted too unnatural then the press would hear about it. If they hadn’t already.
The boy exploited this and turned his weight against him for a split second, almost tripping him. But then he regained control. And the anger returned. All the thoughts that had been swirling around his head lately. The stupid doctor. The loss of the woman. The loss of his mother.
He pushed with all he was worth, his anger working more than his will. The boy’s face got red as he fell onto his butt with a loud thwack!
He swallowed as he watched shock envelope the coach’s face. He had not been expecting his varsity player to be taken down by a sophomore. Too bad for him.
“Uh…go on over to the fullback, Grey. We’ll see how you do over there.” The coach recovered.
Thaddeus nodded. What else could he do? Everyone was staring at him.
“Grey, get your butt over here!” the coach exclaimed.
Thaddeus glanced over at Frank. They were going to walk home together after tryouts.
“Go on, Thadd. I’ll wait for you.” He said.
The coach’s hard gaze set on him as he walked up. As though he couldn’t believe that Thaddeus was standing there, in front of him.
“How long have you known that you could do all those things?” he questioned. Thaddeus shrugged his shoulders.
He’d always kind of been able to run that fast and push that hard. It came naturally to him. But it was best to try to stick with the normal answer.
“Probably since a few years ago. Around the same time of puberty.” He replied. The coach shook his head in disbelief.
“Then why haven’t you tried out before? You’re fantastic! The best player I’ve seen in a long time!” he snapped.
Thaddeus frowned. He thought that the coach would’ve already known that reason. After all, he wasn’t someone you could pass by and forget. He looked very unusual with his pale skin and white eyes.
“Well, it’s the kids, Coach. They get spooked by my eyes.” He mumbled.
The coach shook his head, “Grey, to play football you don’t need to be normal. In fact, I look for people that are very unusual. It’s what makes a team good.”
He patted him on the back, “you will be a great player, Grey. You made varsity.”
“He put you on varsity?”
Thaddeus’s smile grew wider at Christi’s shock. They both hadn’t thought of Thaddeus being great at a sport. He had always just flown by. Just stayed as normal as possible. Now he was actually using his unusualness for something.
“Yes, he put me on varsity. He said that I was the best player he’s seen in a long time!” he exclaimed.
Christi gave him a bear hug and then pulled back. Her smile grew bigger by the second. They both thought that he would always be the outcast. It looked like that wasn’t going to be true.
“That’s great! Just remember to keep up your grades and I won’t have a problem with it.” Christi said.
“I promise I will, Christi. It’s a miracle that I’ve gotten this far.” He replied.
Christi winked and returned to her book. A book for parenting a troubled child, ironically.
Dark figures. Pale skin. Rough skin. Bright white eyes. Giant bodies. Fear. Happiness. Sadness.
Another nightmare. This time it didn’t involve his mother. But what did it involve? What were those creatures in front of him? Studying him?
He pulled his jersey over his head. The blue and white highlighted his features. His long cheekbones. His strong jaw and muscular forehead. It made him stand out even more than usual.
But there was a game today and he had to be ready. All varsity players were required to wear their jerseys on game days. So the crowd could recognize him. The only thing was, he didn’t want to be recognized. If he could have, he would have worn his helmet all throughout the day. But the teachers didn’t allow that. And neither did the coach. He wanted his players well-known.
He studied the jersey in the mirror. His sandy blonde hair glistened in the light, mimicking the sun outside.
The number 27 stood out in the jersey in bright white numbers, sprawled across the front and back of the jersey. Their teams’ logo, the Glacier Warrior, stood out on the back of his neck.
“You’re such a cutie.” Christi grinned from the doorway. Thaddeus rolled his eyes playfully.
“I’m a six foot boy, built with a six pack and playing varsity football. I’m not cute. I’m a man.” He protested.
She chuckled, “I didn’t mean offense, silly.”