The following is an excerpt of a world being labelled Prototype. The story’s tags would be: m/f, romance. The genre is sort of caught between sci-fi/fantasy.
This world, if explored would be open to all genders and sexualities. Which is why I kind of want to play with it. Other stories ‘suggested’ by the muses would follow this one in timeline and involve: m/f, m/m, m/m/f, m/m/m, D/s. The only thing they haven’t tossed at me yet is a f/f but just mentioning it, they’ll probably conjure six of those to explore as well.
It was like any other morning. Suzy was in her high chair at the table eating. A little old to be in a high chair and a little smaller than her peers of the same age. No one could tell me why Suzy was smaller than others, just that she was. Despite her size, she was bright-eyed and intelligent. She could already read her own bedtime stories and showed an interest in mathematics. Her favourite thing to do when no one was watching was to rip off all her clothing and grab her finger paints, creating murals in the living room around the television set.
I could explain how she got up so high, but I never told my husband how. Pretending to be baffled and have him think of her as some kind of parkour master was much better than the alternative.
“No shenanigans at daycare today,” I said to Suzy, jabbing my finger at her and giving her the ‘mommy is being serious face.’ She just watched me, then grinned widely. “Or with daddy in the car.”
“He’s not supposed to be my daddy.”
“I need to talk to Miss Lews about that, what did you watch that makes you think that’s funny?” I asked.
“The news,” Suzy said with all the seriousness she could muster.
“The news?” I asked, turning to the television set.
It was true, Harry didn’t like us watching the news without him there. He said half of it was propaganda nonsense, the other half was overreactions. He was probably worried I’d overreact to whatever was on the television and have another anxiety attack.
Which wasn’t true at all, since going on the anxiety medication, I had stopped having panic attacks. I had stopped feeling like I was out of place. There was no longer a pressure on my chest anytime I found myself in a difficult conversation.
It made getting to work when late a little more difficult. Considering I now had to drive like a normal person, but I just planned a little better. It was fine, it’d be fine.
Unless Suzy starts having them too.
To distract myself from that fact, I turned on the television set and went about making my lunch for the day.
“Aurora’s constitution was signed into effect early Thursday morning, giving the world complete independence from both Wellington and New Haven. The world will begin producing its own currency, which travel advisory boards strongly suggest visitors exchange for, as general currency will no longer be accepted there as of August eighteenth.
“Many Aurorans are maintaining an account with general currency, leading many to believe that they hold no respect for the new currency.”
I looked at Suzy and made an annoyed sound.
“Is ’cause exchange,” Suzy said.
“Though visitors should be warned that exchanging from the Auroran dollar to real currency will incur a fee of ten percent.”
“Bet the Aurorans aren’t charging the fee,” I muttered bitterly.
Though I’m not certain why I was still bitter.
Years before, I had been found wandering aimlessly in a field. I don’t recall a lot of that time, but I certainly remember nothing before that. To that day I had no memory of who I was before, or who Harry had been to me before that point. He had grown on me, which was why we had married and had Suzy.
Before I had settled for Harry, I had planned on moving to Aurora. The world had an open immigration policy at the time.
Wild, barely explored, Aurora was a symbol for all explorers. Virgin ground where companies were all but blacklisted and most explorers got eaten for ignoring key tenets of the world.
Thou shalt not be an asshole.
I slipped my sandwich into the brown back and turned to the television set. The newscaster looked very serious.
“According to officials, the first ticket issued by Auroran police was to Dorian DeSadie, the last surviving follower of Sadie. The fine was issued when DeSadie stepped into a fight between Raul DeLoraine, and a member of the public over his son Michael’s position in the new world.
“The Lady was remarkably silent during the celebration, watching the fireworks and then disappearing. She made no comment on the new constitution, though we have reached out to her offices for comment. Though the Lady hasn’t spoken to anyone outside of her close circle of followers in almost ten years. There have been rumours of the woman spotted and identified as the Lady not actually being her, as this woman has been seen laughing, smiling, and even sharing small talk with regular people. Her dresses are lighter in nature, her hair wilder, and her shows of strength.”
“She’s babbling, mommy,” Suzy sighed.
As if I could call the news station up and tell the reporter to cut it out.
“She’s babbling because it’s propaganda,” Harry said, stepping into the kitchen.
He spoke a little slowly, as if he thought Suzy couldn’t follow otherwise. Perhaps that was where Suzy’s annoyance with her father came from. She also strongly disliked Harry’s aunt Margret because it was all baby talk, all the time.
“News?” Harry asked, motioning to the television set without looking at it.
I found it irritating when he walked into the room and spoke to me like that in front of our three-year-old daughter. He was a good man with a stable job and an extended family.
I was an orphan whose remaining family members couldn’t be found and were suspected to be homeless with serious psychological problems. My job had only been offered to me because of Harry’s networking skills. Everything I had was because of Harry and what he had done for me. I had no place else to go, and couldn’t keep my job if I left him.
Still, he was a good man.
If he talks to me like that one more time, I’m going to light the house on fire again.
He didn’t know I started the fire, though, so don’t tell him. The amount of trouble I’d be in? About as much trouble as I had been in when he had caught me cheating to get home one night. Thank goodness he had been drunk and hadn’t recalled in the morning.
Don’t take that as meaning he was an alcoholic. A high school buddy had come around after five years away and Harry had tried to keep up with his friend. The only reason I had been out was because they had been making so much noise that Suzy couldn’t sleep, so I had to take her to a park.
The television shut off. I looked at Suzy without turning my head, the girl was pouting already. In a few minutes, she’d start screaming and throwing things. Thankfully her tantrums were purely physical, but it wouldn’t be that way for long.
“Suzy likes watching it with her breakfast, you know that,” I said, turning back to my lunch as if he hadn’t just upset me.
“And you know I don’t like you watching it until I get here. I don’t need you having an anxiety attack about a cat getting stuck up a tree.”
“It wasn’t a cat and it wasn’t a tree.”
“Then what was it?”
“It was Krae, and they tried to kill him.”
“Maggy, you’ve never even met Krae, why would it even matter to you if he died?”
“Because he’s not just some wild animal, and he was on his land and you tried to kill him—fuck.”
“Have you been taking your pills?” Harry asked.
“Of course I’ve been taking my pills,” I said.
“This is the first time you’ve accused me personally of having action in your delusions, maybe you should set up an appointment with the doctor.”
“Yes, I should probably do that.”
“Good, so why don’t we swap drop off and pick up, so that Suzy can still have one and one, rather than have me both times? We both know she doesn’t like that either. He’ll make space for you this afternoon, I’m sure of it. If he tries to refuse, let me know, and I’ll call him.”
“He’s never refused me before.”
“Tell him it’s an emergency, he has to take you.”
“He’s never refused me before,” I repeated as Harry walked out of the kitchen with a cup of coffee.
I waited a moment, then turned to Suzy and crossed my arms. The girl’s face was already scrunched up, little fists in tight little balls.
“Don’t you dare.”
She screamed bloody murder. Her fists thumped on the table and legs kicked, rattling things loose.
Items shifted on the kitchen counter. I snatched up my own coffee mug before it toppled over the side, then pulled back all the other items. Having saved several breakable objects, I sighed out.
And then I heard it.
Everything in the cupboards rattling, plates threatening to break against each other, cupboard doors bouncing gently, threatening to open and spill their contents all over the kitchen.
“Susanne Elizabeth Doyle, so help me.”
The rattling stopped. Suzy hiccoughed, her eyes wide and locked on me.
“What did I tell you about that?” I snarled through gritted teeth.
Her face scrunched up and she started wailing because mommy was mad. Harry was back in the kitchen moments later, coffee cup in hand as he ignored his crying daughter and gave me a peck on the cheek. He left for work as I sighed at Suzy, not looking forward to my day at all.
Suzy continued to scream and cry as I got her ready for daycare. For some reason, she reacted that way every time I got angry, something I had learned the hard way about and had struggled with for some time. My daughter reacted to my emotions, a lot of children reacted to their mothers, a lot of mothers thought their children were special. It was a mantra that I continually repeated to myself, trying not to look too closely at what I was seeing.
By the time I got her ready to go and looked at the clock I realized the problem.
We were going to be really late.
“Okay, we need to bend the rules,” I said. “Out the house, round the corner to the park.”
That stopped Suzy’s tears. She sniffled, her chest bouncing as she watched me. I could practically see her questioning whether or not I was being serious.
“Yes, mommy is going to take you the super secret way. And what do we tell daddy about how we got there on time?”
“Mommy sped and almost killed us,” Suzy said, then hiccoughed.
She’d say it to Harry in the exact same tone as well.
Teaching your child to lie wasn’t a great thing, but sometimes it was necessary. The penalties for doing what I was about to do were fines and quarantine to figure out if it was a one-time thing. I had a record, no one would believe it was one time, and I didn’t want to be any more involved with the government than I already was.
We made it to the front door, I had just set my hand on my keys when someone rang the doorbell. I stiffened, wondering if the house was bugged, if someone had, perhaps, been watching me because of my past. But then, I had the car, it would be leaving the driveway, no one should have suspected a thing.
I collected my keys and opened the door, determined to ignore the panic that wanted to well up.
“Yes?” I asked the heavily armed men on the other side of the door.
“Mommy?” Suzy whispered. “Run.”
“She watches a lot of news,” I said to the man who raised an eyebrow.
I said it instead of attempting to run because I saw the blue flicker on his collar. He was trained to sniff out and stop lawbreakers. I wouldn’t make it very far if I did try to run, and with Suzy there, I didn’t want to risk it.
“Margret Doyle?” the man asked.
“Yes, what’s this about?” I asked.
“Formerly Margret Elmer of Wellington?”
“Yes,” I said. “Again, what’s this about?”
“We’re going to need you to come with us.”
“Why? I’m supposed to be taking my daughter to daycare, my husband isn’t home. He works for the government, call him.”
That’s what he always said. If anyone ever showed up, ever claimed anything, I was to tell them to call him. No one else. Don’t dial emergency, don’t protest or resist, tell them to call him.
The man turned to look behind him. I leaned around him and gaped at the full squad of armed men who were standing on my lawn as if I might start shooting at any moment. Ever so slowly, the man turned back to me.
“Your blood daughter?” the man asked.
“Of course,” I said. “I had her tested a year ago.”
Because the news said something about snatched babies and I got worried that Suzy wasn’t really mine. She was mine, though the doctor had commented on the male genetic material not quite being right. A lot of things hadn’t quite been right since we had been linked with Aurora though, so the notation was simply logged in Suzy’s medical records in case she needed a blood transfusion or organ donation later in life.
“She needs to come with us as well.”
“Why?” I asked. “We’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Ma’am, please, we aren’t going to harm you unless you resist. We need you to come with us, there’s a councillor standing by to explain it all.”