He eyes snapped open, and he became aware of the thick, wet membrane that surrounded him. The slick walls dripped fluid into his eyes, and for the first time in forever he couldn't breathe. He heard the tinkling again.
The sweet sound was bittersweet, melancholy, it was a goodbye. But there were no words, only emotions that poured over him. In fact, he didn't know any words at all. He had to sort out his thoughts on emotion and feelings and instinct. Rational thought wasn't there.
And though he didn't even know what rational though was, he missed it.
He forced his way out of the green pod that held him, ripping with his slim arms, and kicking with his wiry legs. It was a struggle. He was still having a hard time getting oxygen to his lungs, and his chest was sore from lack of fresh air. He finally pushed his way out of his man-made womb and breathed in the air.
The air was too sweet to describe, though he was slightly aware of a putrid scent emitting from the now open pod. But that quickly disappeared and he was left, breathing the air in with wonder.
He had black hair, and olive skin. He had a thin frame, but a strong one. He was naked, but he didn't know that it mattered. He saw others, like him, in pods, struggling to break out. First, another boy, he had pale skin and light brown hair. He seemed angry to be caught, and bellowed with rage as he fought to get out. But he didn't want help. As he broke his head through the barrier, the black haired boy noticed that he had wild eyes.
But he never got to see the boy break out fully, he was distracted by another one, a girl. She had brilliant yellow hair and bright brown eyes. He stared at her for a moment, amazed. She looked pointedly where the second boy once stood. He had run away.
He stood in front of the last pod. The girl inside didn't move. She had a slight smile, and seemed comfortable in her surroundings. The boy wanted to stay with her, wait there until she had freed herself. But the blonde girl grabbed his hand and pulled him away, pointing in the direction the boy had ran. He gently kissed the green wall that trapped their fourth, stole one last look and walked into the night.
How long had they been walking? They had no sense of time,
the two searching for the third, but their legs ached and their breath was
shallow. They were holding hands, walking confidently into the night. They had
given up hope of finding their third by now, he didn't want to be found. But
they could feel him, they could sense him. The black haired boy and the yellow
A man and a woman leaped out of the car. They ran to the two children who stood still, cowering. Picking them up in their arms the adults hurried towards the car, and placed them inside.
Just as the doors closed around them, the second boy stepped out of darkness, stepped out of hiding. The girl saw him and beat frantically on the windows, howling. The boy saw and followed suit. The adults stood for a moment, dumbfounded. But assured themselves the children were simply scared. The put a blanket over them, and let them cry softly, wrapped up in each other.
The second boy, still cold and scared in the desert, stared sadly as the car rolled back to the road. A resolute look was in his eye. He wasn't really afraid. He was strong. But he missed their scent in the crisp night air, and missed their presence in the desert.
The dark haired boy and light girl had full stomachs that were covered in the finest clothing. They quickly learned to speak, and understand English. And they knew what was expected of them. They realized they were different, but struggled to hide it. They were afraid they would be sent back into the desert.
They had forgotten they weren't scared there. They had forgotten the reassuring sound of bells in their ears. They had almost forgotten the other boy, they only felt as if a part of themselves was missing, and accepted that.
It wasn't until
The children were given names, "Max" and "Isabel". They accepted this, but didn't understand it. They knew that they had once had names, but couldn't explain to their parents that their language transcends words.
In the beginning, they would sing softly to each other. Hearing the flat, hollow notes that sprang from their lips, they knew it wasn't their language anymore. And accepted the new one. They became Max and Isabel and told themselves they were happy.
A few months later, when they were accepted into 3rd grade they met a boy who hadn't learned to hide that he was different. Max and Isabel told themselves there were waiting for him, he would make them complete. They practiced his name. "Michael." But it was silly, compared to the beauty they knew his name to be.
But because they couldn't say his old name they told themselves that they were being dumb. There was nothing beyond this. The memories were all a bad dream. This was their life. The sooner they accepted it the better. Perhaps that was why Liz, an earth girl, became so important to Max. He had to prove to himself he was normal, human. What better way than caring for one?
8 years later, Max, was sitting in a restaurant on the day he was told was his birthday. It was only a diner, not fancy. His jeans squeaked against the stiff blue material of the seats, his fingers tapped out endless rhythms on the dirty table. He hummed softly to the tune blaring out from the speakers. And he accepted the lie.
He was staring at Liz, the girl he loved. She was beautiful. She was daunting, somehow, even though she was friendly to a fault. He vaguely heard an argument. Harsh, angry words floated over to him from a few tables over. He was still staring at Liz.
A shot rang out. She fell to the floor. Max raced to her without a second thought. Michael tried to stop him, but that was expected. But Max wouldn't leave this pale goddess who lay twitching, fighting the foreign object that entered her body so swiftly.
Michael yelled at Max. This, too, was expected. Max wouldn't leave Liz, he had to save her. As a compromise, Max threw Michael the keys and whispered reassuring words to Liz. As he healed her he was overwhelmed with images from her childhood. He felt a familiar sensation, and remembered it as how he felt when he was coming out of the pods. His body hummed with energy and he was trembling. "Please don't say anything."
And Max dimly wondered if you can be re-born. If you can awaken from a deep sleep and realize you were not really living that whole time, merely dreaming. He knew that was what had just happened to him.
Over the years breathing had become subconscious. He didn't pay attention as his lungs took in and released air. It wasn't important. He hadn't taken notice of the mechanics of breathing in almost 8 years.
And he wasn't afraid.