The Curse – Part 4

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“A long time ago, a comet made a close approach to Earth and the earth passed through the comet’s tail. Shortly after that about 2% of all humans on earth started developing changes in what they could do. Scientists from all over the world started studying why these were happening for a while. They called them the Altered.”

“Is that why we call them Alties?” said the boy.

“I suppose so, boy. It was easier than saying the Altered every time.” I replied.

“Then what happened?” asked the boy.

“At first, everybody was fascinated by all the different things that Alties were able to do. Until the world was plunged into a world war when an eastern European leader developed mind control from being Altered. He was already an evil and twisted man and with this new found power decided he was best to rule the whole world, not just his little section of hell. They called it the Altered war and it lasted over 30 years. Almost all the people that developed any type of change were hunted down ruthlessly and killed. Even the ones that the change didn’t confer any special powers. There was a certain group that their eyes would change color depending on what mood they were experiencing. Those poor fellows were exterminated just like the mind readers, mind controllers, telekinesis and teleports.”

Through this telling, the boy’s eyes just got wider and wider. “Were you there at the beginning?”

“Yes, I was. I fought on the side of the Allies against the Alties.” I replied.

“Why wouldn’t you have fought on the side of the Alties?” he asked.

“I had no idea I was an Alty, until that fateful day when a fanatic Alty jumped into our foxhole and detonated a bomb.”

“How many times have you died?” the boy asked.

“Way too many to count.”

From the kitchen area, the man said, “Tell him what happened afterward.”

“It looked like the Alties were going to win the war, until a General in China launched about 10 nuclear missiles at the leader of the Alties capitol while he was there. After that, it was just a matter of hunting down any and all Alties.”

“I guess the biggest question for me and the boy, is how you have survived?” asked the man.

“Well, I’ve learned over the years to keep a low profile. I keep moving around and changing my name. For the first 100 years, it wasn’t that hard due to the massive upheaval that occurred from the war. Ironically, the war did cause the world to finally come under one government dominated by the old United States of America. This eventually devolved into the State. They said it was to protect everyone from the Altered, which may have been true to a certain extent. Most of the original Altered had died off in the Altered war, but it turns out that almost everyone was affected, they just didn’t know it. They passed on their latent mutation to their kids or grandkids. And that’s why the State scoops up all kids to monitor them in case they have become Altered.”

“So how did you end up on the chain gang?”

     “Simply put, I screwed up and bought fake papers and identity from an undercover policeman. You would think after all these years I would be more careful, but I got lazy. Sentenced to 5 years on the chain gang which the State had instituted 30 years ago.

     The man brought over three plates heaped with beans and cornbread, “Enough talking, let’s eat.” 

     The three of us had the best meal I’ve had in a long time. As night fell, I shook the man’s hand and wished him luck with his son. I thought of the boy at times during my trek north. Knowing the odds were against him. I slowly made my way from South Texas to New Canada. Avoiding towns and people whenever I could. If I couldn’t, then I would act as if I was a homeless bum. This landed me several stints in jail for vagrancy, but I could handle that.      It took over two years to reach the ice pack. By this time, I had developed a tremendous amount of patience. Hard not to when you are immortal. Heading due north using an old-fashioned compass I had stolen in Calgary, I felt the cold seeping into my bones. My feet quickly became numb, but I kept on going. I’m not sure how far I’ve come, but it was days before I could not move another inch. As I lay there on the ice, most of my body had lost all feeling. I hoped and prayed that my Altered state would allow me to be able to completely freeze, including my mind. I don’t know how long I lay there, but it took a very long time. My mind was slowing down and darkness was approaching. Finally I thought, I can be at peace if only my mind would simply quit being alive. This was heaven to me. My last thought? “REST IN PEACE.”

Note: I see now that this section is heavy into info dump. I’ll be putting a rewrite on my to do list.

All current parts of The Curse are now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to follow along in order.


The Curse – Part 3

I froze at the sound of the voice coming from behind me. Slowly I turned around expecting to see someone with a gun pointed at me. Surprisingly this was not the case. I tightened my grip on the hammer in case I needed it as a weapon. I couldn’t see him clearly in the dark barn, but he wore an old cowboy hat and had on a long coat.

“You must be one of those two convicts they shot a while back and buried up near the road.”

What could I say? It was obvious that he recognized me. “Yessir, I am. I don’t mean you no harm, I just need to get this shackle off and then I’ll be on my way.”

He turned his head and spat juice at the floor and then nodded, “I think I can help you with that.”

“I appreciate it, but why would you help me? Obviously, I’m an Alty.”

“True, but I’m the type to live and let live. Also I had two kids become Alts and the State executed them. So, I’m not too fond of turning over Alties to the State. From what I can tell, you are the modern day equivalent of Lazarus I suppose.”

I nodded. The man turned to the corner of the barn and opened a cabinet I had missed in my search. He brought out a pair of heavy duty bolt cutters. I looked pointedly at him and then turned my head and stared at the door. He cocked his head for a second and then swiftly reached out and whipped open the door. A young boy stumbled inside.

“Boy! I told ya a hunnert times, do not come out of the house while it is light. Do you want the State to snatch you up and send you to the education camps?”

The boy stammered, “I… I … I just wanted to get a closer look at the Alty. Ever since I saw him come up out of the grave, I’ve been curious. Besides, I looked for patrols before I come out.”

The man shook his head, “That curiosity is what is going to get you skinned alive by the State. They’ll lock you up until you reach puberty to find out if you are one of the Altered and then kill you if you are. Let me get this gentleman’s shackles off and then we’ll sneak up to the house and have dinner. It’s the least I can do.”

I couldn’t believe my luck. It was almost unheard of for anybody to show sympathy to an Alty. The man cut my shackles off and then wrapped the boy under his long coat. He beckoned me to walk near him and we made our way to the house. Once inside, it definitely looked abandoned. Trash strewn everywhere and busted furniture laying here and there. The man led me to the kitchen and opened an old rusty refrigerator. The shelves inside had been busted out. He reached in and up to the corner and I heard a click. Like magic, the back of the refrigerator fell back revealing lighted steps. One by one, we went inside and down into what looked like a one room studio apartment. It had a kitchenette along one wall with a small open pantry. There was a small table with four chairs around it and a sofa along the other wall.

“Sit right down while I get the food ready.”

The boy sat with me and with a wondering look in his eyes asked, “Why does the State hate Alties?”

I paused and wondered what I could tell the boy. The man turned and said, “Go on ahead and tell him everything. I suppose getting it from the horse’s mouth so to speak would be better than the guesses I’ve given him. And speak up, I would like to hear the real history too.”

I cleared my throat and thought for a minute, then I told the story. 

to be continued . . .

All current parts of The Curse are now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to follow along in order.

The Curse – Part 2

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Damn that hurt, I think he blew out my heart along with my lungs and a portion of my ribs. The boss didn’t know that it was anything but painless to me as I was one of the Altered also. Just couldn’t read minds, that’s all. Seems that whenever I “died”, my body would regenerate itself. Now, this wasn’t an instant sort of thing, though that would have been handy as all get out. Nope, it took time to regenerate. From the shotgun blast to the chest, it would easily take six months or so for me to draw my next breath. Meanwhile, I would be paralyzed but aware of everything that was happening. 

     This strange ability of mine seemed to have more drawbacks than anything. I considered it a curse. Yes, I’ve tested it out. Got in more fights than I can remember. Been shot, stabbed, burned, drowned and blown up. Even got partially eaten by a tiger in India once. That was definitely a bad one. In a moment of despair, I even blew out my brains with a .44 magnum. I at least got some peace from that one, but once my brain had regenerated enough for me to come back to consciousness I was again aware of everything around me. Usually, some soul would bury me and that was the worst. I’d have to painstakingly dig my way out of my own grave. I was cremated once, and regenerated inside an urn molecule by molecule until the urn burst open. 

I had finally regenerated enough to begin my gruesome climb out of my grave. Turns out they had tossed both me and the mind reading kid in the same grave. Thankfully, it was shallow and not that hard to dig out. Unfortunately, they had left the shackles and chain that joined us together. It wasn’t a problem slipping off the shackle of the kid as he was mostly bone by then. However, I couldn’t get them off of me. So the first order of business was to find some tools to either strike off the shackle or just cut my foot off. I wasn’t looking forward to doing the latter as it would be painful and make it hard to walk until my foot regenerated. My plan was to walk to the North Pole and try to freeze myself to death. I hadn’t ever tried that before and even though I had faint hope that it would succeed, I needed to try. Living forever was too damn painful. The few times I had met and fell in love with a woman were great at first, but when I didn’t age then it inevitably would turn out bad.

I found an abandoned house with a barn nearby. Scrounging around the barn, I spied an old claw hammer. I really needed an anvil or punch, but neither were available. After a few strikes on the shackle, I realized it was going to take a long time to bust it open.

“Well, what do we have here?”

To be continued . . .

All current parts of The Curse are now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to follow along in order.