This extract was written about five-years ago and is part of a short novel entitled, The Story of Adam. It is a first-time scenario for Adam, but not for Evie. I hope it is done with taste.
On getting back to my room, I found a note that had been slipped under my door. It was reassuringly handwritten, something that reminded me of my mother. I opened it quickly and read the contents.
They were brief: Please be at the main conference room at 11.30 for a meeting with Mother. My heart leapt until I realised that it was their Mother and not mine. With a wave of disappointment still washing up around me, I undressed and went for a shower. It had not occurred to me to lock the door to my room.
It seemed that every muscle in my body was now screaming out against each movement that I made. The act of washing my hair was a ritual of torture, but the steam and hot water provided allies against the aches and pains. For the first time in my life I luxuriated, dawdled and let the world carry on without me. By the time I had finished, my skin was red from the hot streams of water and my fingers were beginning to wrinkle. The air inside the cubicle was thick with steam and I had to reach out, near blindly, to grasp the towel that I had hung on the door.
Soap, not the sweetest smelling stuff, had collected around my eyes and I sought vainly to dab it away. I did not quite succeed. With eyelids fighting a rearguard action, I just avoided the worst of the sting but ended up leaving the shower room as naked as anyone could be. With the towel still dabbing my eyes, my shock at seeing a figure sitting on my bed was exacerbated by the realisation that this form belonged to Evie; and Evie had a mischievous smile dancing across her features.
“Evie,” I half screamed dropping the towel to my midriff, “how did you get in?”
The smile was still there, perhaps more so in the light of my obvious embarrassment.
“You left the door open. It was like an invitation.”
I was dripping onto the wooden floor, a pool forming about the base of my feet. I’d managed to place the towel around my newly found shyness but I had not managed to tie it. Evie did not hide any of her curiosity and continued to talk.
“So, how was the gym?”
“Oh, good. No, tiring is more appropriate. That’s why I was in the shower.”
An assessing gaze ran over my body followed by the faintest of smiles that rapidly turned to something that could only be described as concern.
“You’ll need to do a lot more of that if you want to get through this.”
“Get through what?”
“War,” she replied blankly. “We’re at war. The Family has declared war against us. The Founders say that it will not be over until every last one of us has been cleansed.”
“Yes, that’s what they call it. They prefer to purify us, wash us away, get rid of the stain of our being. I think you were the last straw.”
Her look had changed once more, and this time it suggested admiration. I was confused and far from dry. The cold air was causing goose-bumps and I shivered.
“Do you mind leaving for a while?”
Her head suddenly became alert with odd enthusiasm.
“To go where?”
“Just leaving my room so that I can get changed. I’m cold and wet.”
This brought about a creasing of her forehead that was ran before a reluctant realisation.
“Oh, yes. You feel embarrassed. Sorry,” she said nonchalantly and got up to leave. Just before she reached the door, she turned with another cheeky grin. “You haven’t got much to be embarrassed about though.”
I began to dry myself and then remembered that the door still wasn’t locked. I walked over to it and dropped the latch. There was a sense of excitement bubbling within me, a feeling that I actually enjoyed what had just happened and the more i thought about it, the quicker my pulse began to race. I breathed deeply, a way of clearing my head. Then I returned to the task of drying and dressing.
After a short time I was opening the door. Evie was leaning against the opposing wall, her foot angled against it for support.
“You ready now?”
“Yes,” I replied opening the door in invitation. “You can come in now.”
As she was walking past, her body accidently brushed against me. My heart jumped wildly but then she was inside the room, perched indifferently on the bed.
“I just came around to tell you that whatever you’ve heard about me and Jamie is not true,” she halted as if considering her direction and then continued. “Well it is true to an extent. We did have something, not much, not for long and it’s over now. The problem is that Jamie will not accept it. He’s an alpha, has to be seen as the leader, has to have the best cuts. For him I was just a trophy. It added to his strength.”
“God, you’re slow aren’t you?” she laughed. “Is it not obvious that it’s you I am interested in? Can you not see that?”
She raised herself from the bed and came towards me. I held my breath for a moment, unsure of what she was going to do. When it happened, I was confused. She put her arms around my neck and lifted herself up slightly so that her face was level with mine. Then, well then she did something that seemed to come from a near-distant dream. She pressed her lips to mine. Ordinarily, this would have revolted me. ‘The best and worst way to pass germs and infections between two human beings’ was what she was doing; but I liked it. I pressed my lips back and ran my arms around her. Her body was warm and firm and alive with a crackling of fission.
I once learnt that the mouth has twelve major nerve-endings that connect to the brain. On top of that, there are numerous sensors. The mouth is situated close to the nose so that a person cannot taste food without scenting it at the same time. Aromas are just as important to the eating process as taste. The food back home and at the academy was always uniformly bland. Processed meat, processed vegetables and processed bread never challenged the taste-buds too much.
In the short time that I had been at the library, I had tasted food of the like that i had never had before. Indeed, such was the taste of it that, at first, I actually found it difficult to eat. I never realised before that bread was supposed to have flavour or that potatoes still harboured some memory of the soil from which they were picked. My initial response to such sensory overloads was knee-jerk revulsion; it was all too much. Later, after a few mouthfuls, my palate became accustomed to the strangeness of it all; it not only became accustomed, it craved it.
Kissing Evie, that absurd meeting of our lips and mouth, was the same. She presented me with a feast of sensory delights that I could not refuse. My lips pushed against hers with a force that was difficult to control. At one point, it felt as if our faces would morph into each other. There was an urgency, a pressing need to sample all that this kissing had to offer. I could hear her breathing, deep swathes of it dredged up as if from some dark ocean. I could smell her scent, clean and pure and lacking in that industrial harshness of all family cleansing products. In it was something so very…natural, something that reminded of a dream I may have once had.
“What’s wrong?” Evie asked.
I pulled away from her, out of the congruence of our faces. My arms still encircled her but not as tightly. It was as though the breeze that had been whipped into a storm had dropped; as if its power had worked itself through and had weakened.
“My mother. She’s still back there; on her own. God knows what they will do to her. She’ll be punished for what I’ve done. I can’t just sit here and let it happen.”
I had turned away from Evie now, tears welling to the brims. It would not take long to break the dam.
“I know how you feel,” she sympathised. “They made my own family disappear-a punishment for me escaping. They wanted me to blame myself. It was the last little gift they gave me; guilt.” Tears were now in her eyes too. “And I did blame myself. I did think that it was me.” Her anger rolled upwards, a wave promising to explode upon the shore, but then it broke and dissipated. “And I did blame myself,” she continued quietly, “I did think that it was me. But that was in the beginning before I knew what they were doing.”
Something significant was going to come next, a piece of the jigsaw, the bit that explained it all. It was a knock at the door that stopped it. It was Smithies.
“Mother wants to see you,” he announced when I opened the door. He saw Evie and gave me that almost imperceptible nod of respect. “She asked me to take you to her. It’s urgent.” He looked towards Evie. “You too.”
“How did you know I was here?” she asked.
“Didn’t. Just called on Adam first. This saves me a bit of time. But, we haven’t got much of that.”
We were out of the room and down the hallway almost instantly. Smithies was setting a pace that my legs wished to argue with. There were vague sounds of rushing feet, doors being slammed and voices raised. The building seemed suffused with nervous anticipation.
A low, but definite siren was sounding somewhere.