The waiting area was eerily silent except for the labored breathing of some aged folks sitting anxiously on the uncomfortable chairs. The small space was cramped with desperate people who wanted to get done with it as soon as possible.
While everyone kept glancing around, tapping their feet on the smooth, polished floor, a little boy clutched his mother’s hand tightly. He was seven and was the only young boy amongst that throng of grown-ups. Understandably, he seemed afraid of being left alone in that sea of unknown faces.
The little boy was a redhead, with freckles on his small face and even smaller eyes. Even so, the color of those eyes was unmissable. They were not the usual black, or blue, or even gray. He was heterochromatic. One of his eyes was a combination of blue and green, while the other appeared to be a fine blend of black and brown. The pigmentation was quite visible, and the boy was hard to miss, even in a crowd as huge as that. His red hair only added to his uniqueness.
However, what made him truly peculiar was that he was the only young boy on the planet to survive this condition. All other kids would pass away within six months to an year. Nobody knew the exact reason for this strange phenomenon.
The boy hid behind his mother and kept peering at the people around him from time to time, who would then stare back at him.
“Mom, when can we go home?” All those gazes were adding to his discomfort, though he had become fairly used to them since the age of three.
His mother spoke only one word. However, that was the only assurance or answer that he was going to get. He knew that. Yet, he tugged at his mother’s coat and tried again.
“Mom, I want to go home. Please?”
His mother rubbed at her temples and tried to answer in a gentle voice, “I know, dear. I know you want to go home and complete your essays. But we got this appointment after waiting for months. It will only take an hour.”
The boy’s face fell. “I don’t write essays, mom. I write stories…”
His mother got down on her knees and held her son by the shoulders, “Shhh… I’ve warned you, son. I’ve told you that lying is a sin, and we aren’t sinners, are we?”
The boy kept looking at the floor, clutching at the crumpled piece of paper in his small fist. “But mom…”
His mother’s heart broke to see his son struggle. It had been bad enough to have a heterochromatic child, but it was even worse to see him think about imaginary places and things, scribble about non-existent landscapes, and talk to the furniture.
The little boy was an anomaly. He was not normal, at least not in the world he inhabited. The world he lived in was governed by certain laws, and an unknown entity. It did not differentiate between the rich and the poor, the young and the old, or the healthy and the sick, as long as everyone was tame.
Every human living on the planet was docile, walked with their heads bent down in a straight line. Their intelligence was limited to listening to orders, and to doing as they were told, day in and day out. The race was destined to work as slaves for their ruler, their great master, whom nobody had seen.
But the boy was different, for he did not like to follow orders and he certainly did not want to be a slave.
He could imagine things; he was capable of visualizing a different future for himself and his family. That was a rarity, and that was certainly what no one before him had been able to do. All of the brains had been wired to obey orders and praise their great master.
Not the redhead, though. His mother had noticed his ability early on and tried to seal him from the outside world for as long as she could. However, as her son grew up, it had become more and more difficult. When he had been four, he had written a story of a horse that had flown away into the night, trying to catch the moon.
His mother’s face had drained of all color to see the words written by her son, who had looked at her with hopeful eyes. Tearing the page from the book, she had crumpled it, burned it to ashes, and buried it in their backyard as the little boy watched with tears streaming down his eyes.
His mother had hugged him hard and muttered over and over, “I’ll keep you safe. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
He had been too young to understand what transpired that day, or the days that followed later. To get the situation under control, his mother had gifted him an old, battered computer where he could play some games.
However, the redhead did not enjoy the handful of games that were basically related to completing the household chores, slaving it away in a factory like a robot, or singing the praises of their master.
He had asked his mother, “Why are there no other games?”
His mother had given him a blank look. Nobody had asked that before. Nobody was supposed to ask that, or even think anything that was not prescribed.
Questioning the authority or the way things were was forbidden and could well mean capital punishment.
His mother was worried sick for her little kid and did not want him to be turned into a guinea pig. She did not want people to learn about his rare ability. This had compelled her to book an appointment with The Guild, the institution meant to ensure that the masses continued to work as slaves by providing them with basic healthcare.
Of course, the fee was astronomical and the waiting time even greater. But her son needed to be cured, to be healed. His brain needed to be tuned to the likes of everyone else if he were to survive in this world. That is why his mother had saved for two years, before she could book a slot to get him checked.
However, she had not informed the authorities about her son’s mental illness. Nobody except her knew that he could think differently. She had only booked an appointment to get his eyes checked and hoped that the full body scan would not reveal that his brain was unique.
She had no other way of knowing. So, hoping against hope, she had walked up the large stairs of The Guild, only to be redirected to the waiting area outside the white room.
A nurse dressed in all white from head to toe walked out the huge glass door with a notepad and a pen in her hand. She scanned the room to locate her patient. However, when she could not, she asked aloud, “Jonas Branson?”
Hearing his name, the little kid came out of hiding, though he was still clutching his mother’s coat tightly.
The nurse looked at the boy and nodded. She walked inside the white room without uttering another word. Jonas’ mother pushed him ahead, “Follow her. I’ll be waiting for you here. Go.”
Jonas’ face was blotchy as he had tried to hold back his tears. He did not like being there and certainly did not want to leave his mother.
“Go sweetie, you’re my strong boy. Mommy will be here,” his mother kissed his forehead and wiped his cheeks, dusting his clothes to make him look neat and presentable.
Jonas nodded his head meekly and walked into the large white room behind the nurse as the large doors closed behind him.
The awestruck redhead surveyed the room. Everything in it was white. It was as if no other color existed in the world. Jonas stuck out like a sore thumb, all colorful against the white backdrop.
The nurse directed him to a large room, where a man, presumably the head of the doctors, was seated, waiting for his next patient. He did not smile or give him another look. He simply sat in front of a large machine that was next to a white chair and muttered, “Sit.”
The little boy did as he was told and occupied the chair. The large machine next to the chair whirred as a lot of screens suddenly popped up in front of the man displaying the boy’s statistics.
“There’s no problem with his eyes, but why is his brain function so high?” the man mumbled, without changing his emotionless expression in the slightest.
He looked at the little boy before glancing at the on-screen stats. Not accustomed to any new occurrences, the doctor’s analytical skills seemed to have gone blunt. However, this unexpected occurrence had caught his fancy.
“Tell me about yourself and what you do at home!” The man’s face was still bereft of emotion, but somehow one could perceive an infinitesimal change in his eyes, which gleamed lightly, as if he were thinking about something.
The little boy, who was unsure of what to say, began to narrate his story with detailed explanations. He did not want to leave out anything crucial.
When the boy had finished his lengthy story, he looked up, only to look into the man’s face. His expression had undergone a noticeable change. If it had been emotionless and cold before, the boy would say that it appeared to have been touched by something profound.
“Your mother is called… Mary?”
The boy nodded his head in a faint “yes”.
Suddenly, the man jumped up from his chair as he blurted out, “She’s still alive?”
However, before he could think of anything else, he looked at the boy’s date of birth. “7 years….”
His emotionless face underwent a complete change. He was consumed by the only thought that echoed in his mind.
“Mary is alive… and I have a son?”
…now that you’re here
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Anagha likes to make the most of her creativity to come up with intriguing stories. To know more about her, feel free to get in touch with her over her Upwork profile here.