365 Shades of Black

I woke up, sometime in the night. I couldn't tell when, but I knew it was late, because I could hear Max snoring. She snores around 2:30 am, so I thought it was around that time.

"Iggy?" Angel's voice came from across the room. I turned my head that way, and leveled my eyes where I thought her face was.

"Why are you up, Angel?" I asked her.

"I couldn't sleep. I was just watching the stars – not that you can see them, here in Mexico City."

"Yeah . . ." I trailed off. I'd never seen stars in my life. The whitecoats at the School had taken me for an experiment to try to improve my night vision, but it had left me blind. The last thing I saw before my world went black forever was Max's face, anxious and young, staring at me through the bars of her tiny greenish dog cage.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, here's my life and the flock's in about two seconds: we're avian-human hybrids, two percent avian, ninety-eight percent human. We have wings, and we can fly, and the rest of the flock has raptor vision. I can feel colors, but it's still not the same as seeing them. The flock is Max, the leader; Fang, Max's boyfriend; Angel, six-year-old telepath, and fish-whisperer; Nudge, the chatterbox; the Gasman, aka Gazzy, who can imitate any sound perfectly and um, well—uh, make an unholy scent . . .; and me, Iggy, the blind guy who can feel colors.

We were in a nice hotel in Mexico City with the CSM, the Coalition to Stop the Madness, an organization about environmental awareness started by Max's mom, Dr. Valencia Martinez, a vet, and Max's dad, Jeb Baldetcher, a former whitecoat-turned-good-guy-turned-bad-guy-turned-good-guy-again. I was sharing a bed with Gazzy, Angel was with Max, Fang was on his own, and so was Nudge. Nudge kicked in her sleep, and Fang was just Fang, and had gotten his own bed.

"Angel? Iggy? What are you doing up?" That was Max, now fourteen years old, just like me and Fang. Nudge was eleven, Gazzy, eight, and Angel, six. I tried not to think about how pretty Max was now that she was older; or at least I tried not to think about it around Angel.

"I was looking at the stars, then Iggy woke up." Angel said to Max.

I know you like her, Iggy. It's too bad Fang and her already love each other. That was Angel, ever so helpfully reading my thoughts at the worst time. I felt myself blush, and I'm sure Max noticed.

"What's up, Ig?" she noticed.

"Nothing," I said, and closed my eyes. Not that it mattered. It was still the same shade of black. No matter what I did, it was always black. Black 365 days of the year. Black when it was sunny. Black when it snowed. Every day, black, black, black.

Like 365 shades of black.

It never became grey, I never felt some of the darkness go away when the sun warmed my face. I could open my eyes as wide as possible and look right at the sun, and it would still be pitch black. It really got depressing. That's why I like explosions. At least I can feel the heat of the fireball, hear the sonic boom, sense the shockwave as it knocks me a little. Explosions are good.

"God, it's already 6! I am so off," Max looked at her alarm clock. So much for the 2:30 theory. Just goes to show you how much it sucks to be blind. I heard Max jump out of bed and grab Nudge. She went around to wake up Gazzy. I rolled out of bed and felt around for my clothes. I yanked on my jeans and a T-shirt. I was about to shove my shoes on when the windows exploded inwards, throwing Angel into my arms. This time, it wasn't a good explosion.