“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.