I walked down the steps into the kitchen, the smell of my Mom’s breakfast drifting into my nostrils. It was intoxicating in its delectable scent, so much so that I had awakened earlier than I originally would, so I could get to it quicker. Now, here I was, walking down the white tiled stairs that led into the equally white colored kitchen. Mom was staring out the window at the gorgeous countryside and sunrise. It was so realistic, you had to squint to notice that it was, in fact, a holographic screen.
My mother, Anna Johnston, was a beautiful woman. Her orange and red dyed hair fell down her shoulders where its hue always reminded me of the aforementioned sunrise. She still wore the pink nightgown she sported the night before when we indulged in our nighttime tradition of watching old television shows from two centuries ago. They were better than the drivel we got nowadays. Can’t beat the classics, is what she told me.
She was a biologist, a damn good one at that. Though if I was being honest, I had no idea. Dad said she was, and I was in no position to doubt him. Not that I ever wanted to or could do. Dad demanded respect. A lesson he taught me from an early age that involved a lot of stern talks, of which I’d rather not remember.
“You’re up early,” said my mother. Her tired blue eyes were a comfort no matter what time of day.
“The lovely smell of breakfast woke me from my deep slumber,” I reply. It was a lie and we both knew it. Most nights I had nightmares or were spent thinking about things. She knew, tried to help even get rid of them, but they always came back. I never could escape from the confines of my own mind.
My slumber “joke” made her chuckle. Not that that was a hard thing to do. The woman would find a squeaky sneeze funny. Plus, she knew her laugh made me feel better, so she laughed often. Strangely, I never found it annoying. Her laugh was one of the first things that come to mind when I think of her.
I took a seat on the dining table. Everything about the “house” we lived in was normal. The floors and walls as white as snow. Not that I ever actually seen snow in person. Home schooling and the television programs that Mom managed to get permission for me to see are what taught me most of what I know now.
My mother placed the plate of eggs, bacon, vitamash, and pancakes in front of me along with a glass of starfruit juice. I dug in, not leaving time to even breathe.
“Slow down, Adam,” Mom said with an amused grin.
“Fine but only because you asked so nicely, and I have to leave enough for Dad.”
Her grin disappeared, leaving a frown. The morning easiness evaporated in an instant, my appetite now long gone. My dad, a general, wasn’t here most of the time. Not even on a day like today where he promised he would be here. The disappointment was apparent on my face, but it was my fault for getting my hopes up. Dad was a busy man which is what Mom told me whenever I asked why he wasn’t here. She could never tell me what General Henry Johnston did. Classified is what she would say. I’m sure whatever it is was important, considering it caused him to become more and more busy as the cycles went on. I’m sure he will tell me in due time.
Mom didn’t say anything afterwards. Instead, she sat in the chair in front of me where she stuck her fork into her own breakfast. Seems we’d both lost our appetites. Not a rare occasion in this place.
“How about we see what’s on the news?” I say deliberately. I knew what day it was. Mom knew what day it was as well which is why she shook her head.
“Are you sure?” She gave me a of concern. Putting on a brave face, I nodded to her. It was a face that I used often, so often in fact that I might as well have it surgically lasered on. My doctors would never go for it though. No chance in hell.
Mom pressed a button on the table and up popped a holographic image of the Galactic News channel which was broadcasted all over the Ocean of Stars. The Galactic News had two reporters. One was a male Elfay and the other was a female Anjelcan. On semi rare occasions, the doctors who oversaw my weekly “check-ups” talked about the reporters and their species in general. They always chatted about the Elfay and how he was so well spoken. Whenever they spoke about the Anjelcan, it would always devolve into talk about them being slimy or something along those lines. Terrans sure liked to gossip.
The Elfay was an attractive man, sure, with his sharp ears and distinct facial features. But the Anjelcan, with her two tentacles protruding from her head, eyes that resembled the Ocean of Stars itself, and pearlescent skin always drew my attention. She had two arms and legs like all Terrans. The only major difference were her eyes and her tentacles. Not weird at all if you asked me. Though I feel not many would care what I have to say.
“Welcome to Galactic News. I’m Belfor,” said the Elfay in a suave tone.
“And I’m Jewel,” said the Anjelcan. Her voice was sweet and easy to listen to. Anjelicans had the most soothing voices. Leave it to Anjelcans to make a rudimentary language like Universal sound good. “Today marks the twenty-cycle anniversary of the destruction of Poless and the extinction of the despicable Terrow race.”
My heart skipped multiple beats. I was expecting this, I was, but still it hit me harder than it should have. The Terrows were a species of highly advanced monsters that declared a one race war against the entire galaxy. If any of the other four major species or even the multiple minor species did such a thing, they would have been laughed at. Heck it was even funny to me and I haven’t even left this house since I was born. But the Terrows were no laughing matter. Especially considering that I was one of them.
The Terrows followed some crazy mantra of superiority and purification. They decimated countless solar systems and rendered hundreds of species extinct. The war with them was devastating. My dad was one of the generals who lead the last battle where the Alliance used a weapon to wipe them off the star maps. Mom taught me all this. Dad didn’t even want to talk about it.
I sat there and listened to the reporters talk about how disgusting and vile the Terrows were. How they almost destroyed the Anjelcans after they destroyed their planet. How it was a gift from the Ancients that they were finally killed. They brought on people and survivors to talk about their experiences with these heathens. Their penchant for destruction even earned them a lame nickname: Planet Destroyers.
The broadcast was one I watched every cycle. All because I waited and waited for something, anything, to tell me that they did something beneficial for the galaxy. It never came, and I realized that I was once again foolish for expecting anything different. The Planet Destroyers were awful people and they got what they deserved. Although, it still stung to think of people, even my own race, in such a way.
Mom finally turned the broadcast off after they showed a picture of one of these devils. It was a Terrow male, a hulking brute of a beast with a shade of grey skin. Bone spikes protruding from random places on his arms, torso, and back. A spiky head of hair that went down his back into a mane. The monster was frightening. Yet a glance into his sharp and delicate eyes made you realize there was intelligence there, intelligence unmatched by any other species. To most it was the most terrifying aspect about Terrows. A species with incredible intelligence and the physical prowess to go with it was a dangerous thing.
“Adam?” said my mother.
She was giving me one of her signature faces, a look I have seen her give on many different occasions. The look was stern but confident, comforting, and acknowledging all at once. She took my hands into hers and held them so very tightly. Her eyes were blue which reminded me of the sky and what was beyond. My mom always encouraged me. She never let me feel sorry for myself, but this wasn’t one of those times. I’ve been fooling myself for way too long. I had to face reality and as wonderful and caring as she was, my mom couldn’t distract me from the truth any longer, not this time.
Being with her was one of few moments that I felt ok, but the other moments were too numerous. Everyone else, even my doctors, thought of me differently. They didn’t bother to try to hide it. Heck they wanted me to see how much they despised and hated me. It was emotionally exhausting trying to push their thoughts away. Twenty cycles I had to live with the hatred. Twenty long cycles.
“Thanks for breakfast. I’m gonna turn in early.”
The fake sunrise was accurate, so it was early in the morning. But I didn’t care. I stopped caring which is what I should have been doing from the beginning.
“Adam wait-,” I didn’t hear what she said next.
I arose from my chair which scratched against and marked the Terran Research Complex’s white tile floor. The place I was raised and would definitely die in. I walked toward the stairs quicker than I normally would. Mom didn’t say anything more. She didn’t get up and instead sat there and watched me go. She’d gone after me many other times before, but today she knew that I had to be alone.
The stairs led up to the second level which only had three rooms. My room, the bathroom, and Mom and Dad’s room. I walked into my room and shut the door. I would have locked it, but they never allowed me to have a lock on my door.
My room was plain as they never let me have anything to properly decorate it. There was a bed, a dresser, a desk, and a closet. The closet door had a tall holographic mirror fastened to it. This is where I headed. I stomped all over the white tile floor as I stood in front of it.
There staring back at me was a monster. I had whiteish grey skin. Bone spikes protruded from my back. My black hair cut low and so was my mane. I wasn’t muscular, skinny mostly. But there was no mistaking it. I was a monster. A Terrow. A Planet Destroyer.
I looked into my red eyes. My red irises were the color of blood. I lifted my hands to see the marks on my wrists where I tried and failed to cut myself with the laser hair cutter they used to cut my tough hair. Looking at these things was more than I could handle, and I fell to my knees. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as I remembered all the cruel words they called me.
Monster. Scum. Killer. Freak. Murderer. Scourge. Exterminator. Planet Destroyer.
The tears flowed like a river that I saw in one of my shows. The river was beautiful and flowed down a mountain to the ocean below. My tears weren’t like the beautiful clear river and were dark and murky. Even a Terrow’s tears were disturbing. Oh, how I wished they left me on the Terrow planet when they eradicated them. Oh, how I wish they left me floating in space where they found me. I wish they would stop probing me with needles and injecting me with concoctions that made me feel weak all the damn time. I wished and wished they would stop calling me what I already knew I was
I wish my Dad was here, so he could tell me it would be okay. He would say, “We are all much greater than ourselves”. It came from when he was younger and growing up during the Dark Times of the Planet Destroyer conflict. Times that proceeded the actual war itself. The saying was one he would tell me when I was younger after one of my tests by my doctors nearly brought me to despair. He would repeat it whenever it got tough. I followed his example whenever I was feeling down which was a common feeling.
“I am much greater than myself. I am much greater than myself. I am much greater than myself,” I said aloud.
The saying was becoming harder and harder to believe, but I continued to repeat it until I couldn’t feel my own voice. I looked back at myself through the mirror I knew they put here so I could always remember what a monster I was. I looked at the white tiled floor that was stained red on more than one occasion.
Mom and Dad did their best, but I shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t exist. I wish what they said about the Planet Destroyers wasn’t true. I wish I wasn’t one of them. But no matter how many times I wished it wasn’t, it was. The Planet Destroyers were murderers and I was too. They already knew it and I was kidding myself in thinking I wasn’t.
Closing my eyes tightly, I wished once again. But like always it was fruitless. Wishes weren’t for things like me.
Kamal Dobson is a senior majoring in Information Technology along with minoring in Writing. He believes in the power of fiction that can draw you into truly amazing worlds. When he isn’t writing, he spends his time watching tv and movies, playing video games, or reading. Especially reading, the creative mind won’t sharpen itself.