Part III: Conflict
The third black blood’s name was Rowan. I spent the evening watching it from afar, I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a male or female as it didn’t change back to its human form.
The more I thought about Rowan, the more questions I had. It didn’t act like it should have been, it wasn’t taken over by this overwhelming predatory instinct that accompanied the manifestation of black blood, instead perfectly content to sit around and watch a film with the others…
The only aggression Rowan showed had been toward another member of our assigned class who had called the small orange extraterrestrial an ‘it’ and insisting she use ‘they’ when referring to the alien. For safety’s sake, I made the mental switch of Rowan from an ‘it’ to a ‘them.’
Come morning, I decided to introduce myself, maybe pry information off of them… As they weren’t around when one of the other, a girl with long white hair, served breakfast I found their room and knocked.
“What is it?”
“May I come in?” I asked.
I opened the door and went through, closing it behind me. Rowan was still in bed, lying down much like a cat would have on top of their bed sheets.
“Hello, I’m Yikaru.” I began
“Rowan. Pronouns are them and them.” They answered, confirming my change of pronoun had been right. I wasn’t familiar with English rules on pronouns usage but I didn’t question their reason. “Anything I can help you with?” They asked, more out of politeness than genuine desire to help.”
“I just thought I should introduce myself. If I may ask, where are you from?”
“Fort Jackson.” They said.
“Where’s that? I haven’t heard of it.”
I blinked. Although I couldn’t place it on a map, I knew South Carolina was part of Earth Aleph, but there wasn’t supposed to be any black blood on this earth, the comet carrying the dormant infection hadn’t hit them…
“How did you get to be like you are?”
“I’m a mutant.” They answered flatly, their cat like ears turning away in annoyance. Still, I knew they were lying, I could sense the black blood coursing through their veins.
“You’re not like the others.”
“I’m a paramorph, So what?” They snarled. “leave me alone.” They took a step toward the door but I blocked it.
“Get out of my way.”
“You’re a black blood, I can feel it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It’s what you are, it’s what I am too.”
“You sure don’t look like it.”
“We of a different strains, but both black blooded. How did you get infected?”
They tried to pass by me but I summoned my shield, blocking the way. Their brow frowned as I did.
“I’m not letting you go without an answer.”
Their tail lashed wildly behind them, I saw their hind leg muscles tense, as if ready to pounce. But then they relaxed.
“Fine, whatever!” They snarled. “I was coming home from softball practice when something jumped me, bit my leg. I didn’t see what it was and I transformed during the night, satisfied?” They pushed me aside and went for the door. “Now leave me alone.”
The answer surprised me enough that I couldn’t react before they had left the room. Transformed during the night? Could they really not change back to their human form? How could that be? If anything my brief conversation with them had only added more unanswered questions…
I didn’t have the chance to ponder them any more as we were called to attend school, something I hadn’t done before in my life… Although my parents before their death had taught me to read, write and count, I felt lost in the class. The teacher, a man called Mr. Martin was kind enough to explain to me the workings of a classroom and the functioning of the technological slabs they used. He had apparently been informed of my unique conditions. Although Yougen had shared the same world as I had, she did not seem as lost as I was.
After as second class where an ape-like extraterrestrial being explained the history of paranormal individuals and happenstance within Earth Aleph, my new classmates and I were released for a free afternoon. But first was the question of lunch. Behind the administration building was a long open building called the ‘Cafeteria Galleria’ which served to feed the students, a half dozen or so counters offering this world’s varied cuisines.
A side effect of my infection had been the reduced need for sustenance. On most days I would only require one meal and only two on the most physically demanding of days. As such, I hadn’t partaken in the morning’s breakfast with the others, but now found myself hungry.
I explored the cafeteria, looking at all the different options. So much of it was alien to me. After a moment I opted to try the ‘Mexican’ cuisine, enticed by the mix of spices whose aroma came to me. The knowledge that Erna had imparted me told me Mexican was the ethnicity of a nation but who they were, where from and what they looked like was not part of what I’d been given.
A boy from the group I’d been assigned came to me. Although I didn’t know the nations and ethnicity of Earth Aleph, like me he looked like a Yamato Imperial.
“Hi, I’m Mace.” He said.
“Out of curiosity, are you Japanese, Chinese, Korean, something else?”
“I’m yamato…” I answered with a shrug, I wasn’t sure which was accurate to this world. My grandparents had fled the Great Yamato Empire long ago, wishing to avoid the war of liberation that raged across the colonies and the mainland. They had settled into Correia, which I knew now that the humans of this world called ‘North America.’
He kept talking and I had no idea what he wanted from me. I did my best to avoid his questions, asking where I was from as I doubted answering truthfully was a good idea. So after a minute I just left him there, taking my meal outside to enjoy the sunny day while I could. As once winter would be there, I would be forced inside…
Mr. Martin had mentioned going to the administration for paperwork and I reported soon after my meal was done. It took a long time for them to explain everything as it was all so unfamiliar, but I now had a plastic card which if I tapped on certain machines would exchange currency. After that I was asked to report to the medical offices for an examination. The doctor there was yet another extraterrestrial. I’d yet to get accustomed to how this world worked so I could not tell if that was normal or not.
Once I finally came back to my class’ shared housing, I went into my room and sat down to note the events of the day in my journal but as I reached for the pen holder on my desk, I found it empty. I looked around for my pen but couldn’t find it, having been removed from the cup holding it. After a minute, I found it under the desk. I picked it up and tried to write but no ink would come out.
A moment later my roommate came into the room, carrying her sword which she carelessly tossed onto her bed. Scabbard or not, it was truly poor handling of her gear.
“Did you use my pen? It’s out of ink and wasn’t in its place.” I asked.
“I didn’t give you permission.”
“Dude, it’s just a pen.” She said with shrug.
But it wasn’t any pen, it had been my pen, the one the captain had given me, one I didn’t know if I could even refill on this world…
“It was mine, and I didn’t give you permission to use it, much less waste the remaining ink.”
“Jesus, what’s with the raging pms, all this over a stupid pen?” She said rolling her eyes at me. “I’ll get you a ten pack from the commissary if you just chill.”
Before I could answer she left the room. Rather than chance after her, I decided I needed to find a quiet place, somewhere alone and far from people. The day hadn’t been good when it came to people and I needed a break…