Part II: The VNG Test
“What the fuck?” gay girl yelled. She raced over to her partner and cried out herself when she placed a worried hand on her cheek. She cursed under her breath while waving her now red hand in the air. “What the hell did you do?” she cried, pointing an accusing finger at me.
“I’ll get help,” Harry said, taking off quickly. I looked down at my own hands. My skin looked exactly the same but my clothes had holes in them as if they had been burnt. The smell of smoke emanating from them. There was a disturbing smell of cooking meat coming from the mutant girl. I stood up and walked over to see her eyes were rolled back.
“Is she?” I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence. The gay girl had curled into a ball next to her, water falling down her cheeks.
“No,” she replied. “No, Steph wouldn’t go that easy. Not from some homophobe,” she pushed, her voice edging on hysterics.
I gulped back a retort, now wasn’t the time for arguing about sinful acts. Harry reappeared, a teacher on the phone and the school nurse close behind. The school nurse took one look at the girl and her face paled.
“Get an ambulance now,” she said to the teacher on the phone.
I stayed near the girl, hovering uncertainly. What on earth had just happened? Had I just- No. I wouldn’t think that way. There’s was no way I was anything other than a normal human. Harry was watching me carefully now and I felt oddly self-conscious under his blue eyed gaze. There was some noise in the corridors now, classes finishing. I pulled away from the girl, wishing I could disappear into the crowds slowly forming. The teacher hung up the phone to yell at students to get back. I spotted Zoe’s brown eyes, which widened at the site of the girl.
“Allen, what’s going on?” She asked, ignoring the teacher and breaking through.
“I don’t know,” I said, gulping. “She just tried to attack me and then–” I cut myself off as I looked over at her. Her eyes were blinking slowly. I’d never felt so relieved in my life at the sign of life.
“Steph, baby?” the other girl whispered, gently pushing some hair out of her face. The mutant moaned in pain and she pulled away her hand. The sound of sirens reached us and we all looked up as the student body parted to let the paramedics in.
“Parahuman incident,” one said immediately into his radio. They did some quick checks before speaking a code into the radio and walking over to the teacher. He sighed, rubbing at the lines on his face before turning to face everyone.
“Right, everyone get in an orderly fashion. We have a radiation incident on our hands. You will all need to be cleaned and processed for your own safety,” he explained.
“Radiation?” Zoe gasped. “How on earth did she manage that?” I watched as the paramedics administered medicine to the mutant and carefully moved her onto the gurney. She whimpered at every physical contact.
“It wasn’t her that caused it,” Harry muttered, his eyes focussed on me.
“N-no, I’m not-” the teacher yelled instructions, cutting me off. Harry didn’t look willing to budge on his position though.
“Let’s go,” Zoe said, pushing me in the direction the teacher was sending us. She yelped, pulling away quickly. Her palm looked red and sore where she’d touched my arm. “Jesus.” She whispered, eyes wide.
“Told you,” Harry said. I squashed the urge to yell more ‘no’s’.
“It was an accident if it was me,” I murmured.
“Of course,” Harry replied, “You looked way too shocked for that to be on purpose.” Oh. He cocked an eyebrow at me as if it was the most logical conclusion in the world. Except a conclusion where I was a weirdo was not one I was okay with.
More paramedics turned up, this time wearing white hazmats suits. They washed Zoe, Harry, Jenny – the gay girl – and me first. Steph had been washed first and was on her way to a special treatment unit in a helicopter. I never thought I would find myself praying for the life of a mutant but here I was in the school chapel. We’d all been given basic clothing as our old clothes would have to be destroyed. Zoe had lent me the cross from her locker since they had taken mine. I clung to it now, wondering what was going to happen next. I reached over to the bible before me in the pew and flicked it to a familiar page. It was the quote that ran through my head now as the revelation I wasn’t really human hit me.
Matthew 19:26: But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
I’d done something I shouldn’t have been able to do, and in doing so I had hurt someone. Even if they were an abomination it was not my place to cast judgement on them. Did I have a right to call Steph an abomination now that I was one myself? I let out a tired sigh and shut the bible. When I stood up and turned I saw mum was at the chapel entrance watching me.
“Mum-” I began.
“Don’t bother. They already filled me in. What do you plan to do?” she asked, crossing her arms. I’d never seen her look at me like this before.
“I don’t know mum. It’s all pretty sudden,” I said.
“Don’t give me attitude young man. Just what were you doing to get like this? It wasn’t dust was it?” she asked, her voice wavering up and down with emotion.
“What? Of course not,” I replied. My mum had always had always hated anything associated with the aliens. We both agreed they probably caused the mutants. I’d never encountered one before in my life though.
“Well then how? This doesn’t make sense Allen,” she sighed, disappointment evident in her features.
“Actually from a genetic level it can. You and his father could’ve carried the VNG gene and as a result he developed a mutation although we have yet to test this,” A voice echoed from a large armored grey containment suit with an atom logo on its chest. My mum turned and watched the stranger with outright contempt.
“And who are you?” she asked, clearly losing all patience at this point.
“I’m here to assess your son Mrs Elster,” they replied. Now that I was paying attention I realised there was an automated tone to the voice, like it came from a machine and not a person.
“Mrs Reynolds. I recently re-married,” she replied. “And there will be no assessment of any kind. Allen is coming home and we’ll deal with him accordingly,” she insisted.
“With all due respect ma’am, this is a matter of national security. Your son will be sent to Ravenhold to learn control over his abilities if he does in fact have a mutation. I’m here to determine the extent of his powers. It’s up to you if you remain present or leave him in our capable hands,” the suit responded calmly. I saw my mum think over the words carefully, frowning.
I didn’t pull away when the suit pulled out a needle. I winced a little as it slipped under my skin. The suit then dropped another substance in the vial and we all watched. The blood started to clot and the suit nodded expectantly at the result.
“This test confirms you have a mutation Allen,” the suit said. I stared at the vial for a long second.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“I can repeat the test if you would like, but this test never produces false positives,” the suit said.
“Leave him in your hands,” mum murmured, interrupting us. Her eyes softened for a moment as she studied me and I wondered what was going through her mind. She sniffed once and turned. “Bye honey,” she said. I blinked as her back disappeared. Why did that goodbye feel final?