Origins Part I: Indoctrination
Four years ago – March 2012
“Did you scratch again?” Heppenheim asked, looking at my blood crusted nails.
“Yes,” I admitted. He sighed and pointed in the direction of the bathroom.
“Go clean yourself up quickly. We don’t have much time before we leave,” he said. Right, moving day. I left the kitchen and ran upstairs to our small bathroom. I tried to avoid the mirror but of course that never worked.
Ever since puberty had started I’d grown to hate my reflection more, and most of all I hated the chest I was developing. That was before you got to the other bat-like features I had from being a chimera. I clenched my hands to stop myself scratching further and locked the door. I showered quickly, wincing as hot water hit the fresh cuts. I got dressed quickly in plain jeans and a t-shirt, pulling on a baggy hoodie despite the summer blaring outside.
Heppenheim was waiting downstairs with our backpacks already packed. We didn’t have a lot to bring. We were leaving our furniture here. I’d spent the last eight weeks having an intensive short course in English by Heppenheim and I didn’t feel any more confident in the other language.
I didn’t understand why the syndicate were moving us now. They’d left us alone in this house for years. I’d seen the news though. As of March 26th 2012, it was illegal to make any type of chimera, which meant dads work for the syndicate had an entirely new meaning. Not that Heppenheim was able to get by with his birth name. I had no clue what mine was, having been abandoned as an infant. The syndicate had found me and handed me to Heppenheim.
“You ready?” He asked, interrupting my reverie.
“About as ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied. We took two bags each and walked a few blocks to the train station. We were travelling from our home city Gelsenkirchen to Amsterdam where the syndicate had organised travel to England. A country where they had more reach and control.
I watched the German countryside pass by boredly on the train, wondering what to expect in England.
Heppenheim’s phone rang and he frowned. He answered it, keeping his voice quiet. His frown had grown when he hung up.
“We’re stopping part-way in.” He said. I raised an eyebrow but he didn’t elaborate. We switched from a train to a bus and then 40 minutes later we were in Emmerich, a city near the border of The Netherlands. It was only once we’d settled into a cafe that Heppenheim told me what was going on.
“We’re meeting another group here in,” he glanced at his watch, “twenty-two minutes.”
“Why?” I asked, frowning.
“We’ll find out when they arrive.” He replied, his lips pursing slightly. He took this moment to glance at me and I knew he was checking I hadn’t scratched anywhere. Not that he could see my legs or upper arms right now. I avoided obvious areas to avoid the disappointed look he always made when he found out.
“I’m fine.” I replied.
“We will be given new identities in England. They have more accessible healthcare. We can always pass your paramorphism off as a normal mutation and find a therapist.” he said. I’d known it was only a matter of time. My self-harm had only been escalating these past few months.
“And how exactly will that go?” I asked. “Tell me about your family? Dead. Oh, how did that happen? I have no idea. Oh, what about your life since then? Confidential. Yeah, therapy will work great.”
“Sarcasm won’t help,” Heppenheim replied.
I just shrugged, looking around the small cafe. It was your standard bed and breakfast. When the waitress turned up Heppenheim ordered coffee and a lemonade. Outside I could see the river Rhein and further away a bridge. I’d never been to this city before. Had barely ever left the house. I was starting to overheat but I refused to pull my hood down. I could always pass off as a mutant but I hated the stares. Heppenheim thanked the waitress when she gave us our drinks and checked his watch again.
“Should we have ordered for others?” I asked, picking up my glass and drinking. It was so warm outside I nearly downed the ice cold drink in one go. I didn’t, figuring we might be here a while.
“I don’t know how many others there will be,” he shrugged. Sounded fair enough. “Another thing, when we get to England you will be going to school.” I blinked. For the past twelve years of my life I’d been homeschooled, due the fact that until four years ago I was pretty much constantly on immune suppression so Heppenheim could turn me into a chimera.
“Nope.” I said.
“This isn’t up for debate. There will be more demands on my time. I won’t be able to give you the schooling.” he replied.
“Well we could always just not bother,” I suggested. Heppenheim just shot me a deadpan look and didn’t dignify it with a verbal response. “I don’t like people.” I said, shifting uncomfortably.
“I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to go to school and learn things. It will help with your English too.” he said. He immediately switched to speaking in English and I glared at him. He had to repeat himself five times before I understood. “Just don’t get into any fights.”
“Those three were asking for it.” I muttered, referring to an incident a few months back when I’d had to go to the shops and three teenagers had started laughing at me. It’s not like being a chimera gave me added strength. Odds were they should’ve taken a thirteen year old down, but apparently I was stronger than three fourteen year old guys. I know I’m meant to feel bad but mostly I just felt proud.
“They’re here.” Heppenheim said, effectively ending the conversation. I followed his line of vision to a black SUV that pulled up further down the road. Heppenheim’s phone buzzed with a text. “Let’s go.” he said. I followed him outside. We walked up the SUV and the passenger windows rolled down revealing a mixed skin man in a polished suit and sunglasses.
“Mr Gustke was informed you would be travelling into England today. He’s asked that you take very good care of a package for a few months in England. He is already arranging appropriate transport, housing and other requirements. You simply need to follow the directions we will be texting you over the next few hours.” Heppenheim silently listened and nodded as the man spoke.“Protect the package and Mr Gustke will be in your favour. I assume I don’t need to tell you the worth of something like that.” The man added. He looked past Heppenheim, studying me.
“Juliette is more than capable of protecting secrets.” Heppenheim said, mild irritation in his voice.
“I know, just never seen a human chimera before,” the guy admitted. I glared at him. I didn’t care how high up the ladder he was. He knocked on the divider between the front and back of the car and the back door opened.