“Danae,” a voice whispered, echoing in my otherwise blank mind. “Danae, what happened?” I opened my eyes and groaned. My eyes weren’t doing me any good open, as the room was dark- pitch black. At least I assumed that it was the lighting in the room and not that I’d gone blind.
“Danae,” the voice said again. It was familiar, and yet there had never been that note of terror in it before. “Danae, are you awake?”
“Dan,” I whispered weakly. I was getting a headache, and it was a dull throbbing like a death knell tolling in the distance. “I’m awake. I’m fine.” I managed to sit up, and I suddenly felt nauseous. I threw up, contradicting the word “fine”.
“Where are mom and dad, Danae?” I heard movement, and then felt Dan’s warm hands on my arms, trying to find my shoulders. “What happened?” he demanded, gripping my shoulders tightly. I gulped, remembering the horrors.
“Dan, they’re-” I broke off, swallowing again, trying to keep control of my voice. Tears flooded into my eyes and slowly began to course down my face. I hid my face inside of my big brother’s chest and began to cry.
“They’re not-?” he asked in a quiet voice. I moaned slightly as I cried. His arms slipped around me in a calming manner, every inch the protective and caring elder sibling. That simple embrace reminded me of my daddy’s hugs, which made me cry harder.
“Dan?” I whispered, my voice small. “I’m scared.” We had been in this prison since the Greek government had sent soldiers to round up the mutants last year. Although we weren’t sure that it had actually been a year, as we had to rely on our captors for any information of the outside world.
“They won’t touch you,” he whispered to me. “I won’t let them.”
“I’ll kill them if they tried,” I said, my anger back with a vengeance. “I’ll kill them like they killed mom and dad.”
“Danae, you will kill no one,” Dan said firmly. “I will not have my little sister become a murderess.”
“I’ve already killed one,” I whispered, my hatred burning inside of me intensely. “It was easy.” Dan clamped his hand over my mouth, somewhat roughly.
“You won’t talk like that,” he hissed vehemently. “They may wrong us, but we will not stoop to their level. Understand?” We were both breathing heavily, and I was shocked by the sudden change in his moods. “Understand?” he asked again, shaking me slightly. I nodded. “Alright.” He removed his hand from my mouth. Silence fell in the room for a couple of minutes, and I took the chance to dry my eyes.
“Danae, we have to get out of here,” Dan said suddenly. “You’re becoming like them. I have to get you out. you deserve better.” I sat there, as still as a rock.
“I’m cold,” I said quietly, changing the subject. He sighed slightly.
“Close your eyes,” he said, rubbing his hands together quickly. “I’ll get a fire going.” I did as he told me to, and felt a wave of warmth. I opened my eyes to a squint, and was nearly blinded by the light.
When my eyes had adjusted to the light, I saw Dan kneeling beside my cot, the fire cupped in his hands. His hair was now shoulder length, much longer than it had been when we were captured. His face and clothes were dirty, and I knew that I was at least as dirty as he was.
Each of us had manacles on our ankles and a long, thick chain connected us to the wall. The floor of the cell appeared to be hard packed dirt, but we knew that there was a thick layer of cement under it, perhaps two or three feet beneath it, making it impossible to dig our way out.
“Dan, why’d they take me? And mom and dad?” I asked, hesitantly. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to know the answer, but something in me needed to know. Dan exhaled sharply, and the fire flickered slightly. I continued, a tiny part of me terrified of what he would say. “I mean, you’re the only one with a power.”
“It was because-” he paused, and taking my hand in one of his, he changed tracks. “Danae, you have the extra gene, too.” I jerked away from him, shocked.
“But I don’t have a power! I’m not different or strange or any of that!” I protested. He just shook his head.
“No one knows what your power is, yet. But you are a mutant,” he said, before sighing. “There are ways to guess, but I don’t want you to try.”
“What? What ways?” I asked eagerly.
“It’s nothing,” he said. He looked down at the fire that he was holding, and I knew that it would be pointless to try to get the information from him.
“So what about mom and dad?” I asked. “They’re not- they weren’t- mutants.”
“They took mom and dad to make sure that they didn’t have anymore mutant kids. Kids like us.” I took in this information in shock.
“Why do they hate mutants?” I asked sadly. “Why won’t they ever give them a chance?”
“I wouldn’t say ever,” Dan started slowly, looking thoughtful. He had set the fire down, and was feeding it bits of trash from the floor. “But they do hate mutants because they fear us. Fear does funny things to people, Danae.”
“I know that,” I snapped before continuing with my questions. “So why do they fear mutants? They’re people too.”
“They don’t really fear us,” Dan said, speaking meditatively. “It’s our powers that they fear. I mean, I could do a lot of damage with this flame and my power. That’s what they fear. But they don’t want to know the person who has the power. They’re trying to remove the power, forgetting the person.”
“That’s just not right,” I whispered, rubbing my arms. Dan looked up at me. “Why do they have to do this?”
“I don’t know,” Dan said, his voice dull. “I suppose that someone, somewhere, thought that it was the best course of action.” I snorted and he stared at me sadly.
“How could anyone think that this-” I motioned to our cell “-could be right? And they wonder why we hate them.”
“Danae, I shouldn’t have told you this. You’re too young to understand.”
“I’m old enough!” I protested.
“You’re just ten.”
“But you’re only four years older than I am! And you know all of this stuff and more!”
“You’ll learn soon enough,” he said calmly. “Besides, once you know something, you can’t un-know it.”
“Maybe not, but I still want to- need to- know.”
“When you’re my age, maybe I’ll tell you. In the mean time, we need to come up with a plan.”
“A plan? For what?” I asked, distracted.
“Escaping,” he said, like it was the most natural thing in the world. I stared at him, flabbergasted.
“Escape?” I asked. “Are you insane?” Just then there was a tap on the cell door. Dan quickly put out the fire and scooted away from me.
“Prisoners back!” a gruff voice barked. It’s like they think that we’re dogs, I thought, offended. The lock rattled, and then the door swung open. Two guards walked in, each carrying a tray, and another two guards stood in the doorway with tranquilizer guns in their hands. The guards with the trays set them down and left, shutting and locking the door behind them.
I started picking at the food on the tray, which happened to be my supper, when Dan slid over to my side. He must have brought his tray with him, because I heard him eating.
“I’m not insane,” he said finally. I had finished my meal, which was far from satisfying, and tucked my knees under my chin, listening to him. “I know what needs to be done. And-” I heard him rubbing his hands, and a moment later a flame appeared. “I don’t seem to have much of any choice but to do this, if you won’t believe me.” I saw that he was holding a sharp stone, and that the fire was on the floor again. “Hold out your arm.”
“What are you going to do?” I asked him, hesitantly.
“I’m going to see what color your blood is,” he answered. “Hold out your arm, please.” I did what he said, sure that he had lost his mind. I winced slightly as he scraped my arm hard, leaving a scrape about an inch long, then watched as the blood began to flow. It was red, but there were flecks of gold and silver mixed in. That’s not what it used to be like, I thought.
“Why’s it different?” I asked in a hushed tone. Dan tossed the stone to the other side of the room.
“As you get older, that extra gene is getting stronger, and it changes your body. Your blood is changing colors because your power is getting ready to appear,” he explained. I stared at him in shock, and then carefully sucked off the blood, wishing for something to stop the blood. “The color of your blood supposedly shows what your power will be.”
“And what will my power be?” I asked, terrified that he was right and that I was a mutant.
“I don’t you. For you to have two colors-” he hesitated. “Whatever it is, I’m sure that you’ll be fine.”
“Great,” I snapped. “So I’m a weird weirdo.”
“You’re not a weirdo,” he snapped back. That startled me. He never seemed to get angry at me.
“I’m not normal!” I retorted, a note of hysteria slipping into my voice. “Did you expect me to be happy about this?”
“Danae, why don’t you just go back to bed?” he muttered. “All of this is just too much for you.”
“Who made you my father?” I asked irritably. I lay down on my cot, feeling absolutely rotten. I heard Dan go back to his cot, and then the fire was extinguished, and shortly after that he started to snore.
I sighed and rolled over, thinking about what Dan had told me. There was no denying that I was different, my blood showed me that much. But I couldn’t have my power yet. And how-?
I sat bolt upright at the thought. It couldn’t wait until morning, or when the guards said that it was morning.
“Dan,” I whispered. No response. “Dan!” I repeated, this time a little louder. He gave a snuffly snort and stirred.
“What d’you want, Danae?” he asked, groggily.
“How will I know what my power is?”
“You just will. You get angry, upset or stressed, and something that can’t be explained will happen.”
“Something?” I echoed doubtfully. “What?”
“I don’t know,” he said slightly irritably. “It depends on your power.” I sighed, no more enlightened than I had been when I had asked the question.
“Thanks for all the help,” I snapped, and laid back down. Uneasily I let myself drift into a deep sleep.
I sighed as I finished my meal. I didn’t know what time it was, but I was guessing that it was afternoon, as this was the second meal of the day. I slipped my soft prison shoes off, and wriggled my toes absentmindedly, thinking about my upcoming powers.
There were noises in the hall, which wasn’t all that unusual, but this didn’t sound normal. Of course, normal was the occasional footstep or screams of agony, so normal voices were an exciting change of events. And by exciting, I mean that heads would be rolling, literally.
“These are the orphan monsters?” a new voice said, just outside of our door. Dan and I sat silently, listening.
“Yes, commander,” one of our guards said.
“Bring them out,” the commander said. “I find that mutey children always tend to be the most exciting to torture.” I gripped at my blanket tightly as the lock rattled.
“C’mon, you,” the guard said loudly, shackling my hands in front of my. Quietly he whispered to me, “I’m sorry, child.” I stared at him, shocked and terrified. He led me out of the cell, and brought me to a halt in front of the commander, who really reminded me of a pig.
His face was a reddish-pink color, and he was very plump. His eyes were tiny and dark, looking much like sparkling beetles, and he looked like he was constantly squinting. His turned up and bulbous nose didn’t help matters either.
Dan was apparently having the same thoughts that I was, because he whispered to me, “communist pig”. I glanced back at the commander, and nodded. In his taught old-fashioned uniform, he did look an awful lot like a communist pig. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing, despite the fact that I knew we were going to be tortured.
“These are the monsters?” the commander asked, sounding extremely disappointed. “This won’t be much fun.”
“This is the commander?” Dan mimicked. “He looks like a pig stuffed into a uniform.” I laughed slightly, as did some of the officers. The commander’s face grew even redder as he clapped his hands, trying to appear commanding.
“Silence,” he snarled. The officers fell silent, and he stepped towards me. “She is secure?” he asked the officers who had bound us.
“Yes, sir,” they said together. The officer too a couple of steps closer to me, and I could smell his rank breath and the horrible scent of BO over my own nasty smells.
“Ever heard of a thing called a shower?” I asked, wishing that I could pinch my nose shut. “And maybe breath mints or gum, or toothpaste?” He howled wordlessly with rage, and dove for me. Instinctively I raised my shackled arms. He body slammed me and I staggered backwards, into the nice guard. Whimpering a little from the sudden weight of pig-man, I kneed up, and connected hard with something. Judging by his reaction I had hit a soft spot.
He stepped backwards, and I swung my arms like a bat, clubbing him in the face. Blood and sweat mingled on his face, and tears were glittering in his already moist eyes. He staggered backwards a couple more steps, and the guard gently pushed me back to my feet.
I raised my arms again, and then brought them down, clubbing him again with adrenaline rushing through me. I hit him hard on the top of his head. I never got to see my handiwork, but I’m fairly certain that I had raised a lump the size of my big toe on his head from the force of the impact. At the exact same moment my shackles and every other piece of metal in the room exploded, including the locks on the cell doors
The command had several pieces of shrapnel embed themselves in his flesh, and the guards dove off to the sides,as the shrapnel flew every which way. Mutants began to escape from their cells, cheering.
Everything changed in a heartbeat when some of the guards took out either nightsticks or tranquilizer darts, and the cheers turned into a vicious and animal like war cry. The kind guard got up, uncertainly, moving between the guards and the mutants.
“Please, we don’t mean any harm,” he began, trying to calm everyone down.
“Tell me another one!” one of the mutants called, hostile in voice and mannerisms.
“Honestly,” he said, raising his hands submissively, showing that he held no weapons. “If you don’t hurt us, then we won’t hurt you.” There was a general murmur of agreement from the other guards. A ripple of shock and disbelief ran through the mutants.
“How do we know that you aren’t lying to us?” another mutant called out, less confident than the hostile one.
“Not everyone in uniform is treacherous,” he said. An awkward chuckle rippled around the room. “I, and most of my comrades as well, don’t want to hurt honest Greeks.”
“And why would that be?” someone else asked.
“Because most of these men here belong to the organization known as the M.R.G. and have the paperwork to prove it. We act as under cover agents, removing the mutants slotted for execution or moving and smuggling them out of the country.”
“But the Mutant Rights in Greece organization isn’t that big. Besides, what’s the point of smuggling the very people you’re fighting to earn rights for out of the country?”
“Are you telling me that you’d rather be dead than safe, although admittedly in another country?” one of the guards asked.
“No!” The word was muttered, spoken and shouted by almost every mutant in the room.
“Exactly,” the kind guard said. He sighed, glancing at the other guards before speaking again, look on his face one of worry. “I don’t think we have enough passports prepared for everyone at the moment, but I do know that we have several safe houses, for those we can’t send out of the country.”
“So you’re going to take care of us after abusing us?” the hostile one asked. “You complete-” the names he called the guards were so appallingly crude that many of the mutants blushed and flinched.
“There’s no need for that language, you,” a rough looking mutant growled, looking extremely uncomfortable.
“Maybe you’re content with licking these-” you can insert the worst names you can think of, and they would be nothing to what he called them “-boots, but I’m not going to!”
“We’re not asking you to,” the kind guard said, his voice even, even though he was blushing. “It’s your choice, and there are no guarantees even if we do help you, but we can take care of the paperwork.”
“Sir,” Dan finally spoke up. “Now’s no time for arguing. Will you help me and my sister get to the rest of our family in America?”
“Of course,” he said, returning his attention to us. “And the sooner the better, after what the little miss did to the commander.” The other mutants glanced between me and the commander, with a mixture of sadness, shock, horror, disappointment and respect.
“You did that?” the hostile one said, staring at me. I blushed and nodded, not wanting to be the center of attention. “Nice job.”
“Thanks,” I whispered shyly. I wasn’t used to all the attention, and I didn’t like it. I glanced up at Dan,and saw the look on his face. Not nice, it said. We’ll talk later. I looked away, slightly ashamed.
“What is this world coming to?” someone behind me whispered. “When our children are so casual about violence.”
What indeed is it coming to, when it’s shameful for me to try to protect myself? I thought.