Chameleon --The IntroductionsA Story by Alexis Raine
The main characters of my current novel, Chameleon, are introduced: Tempe, Jules and Cameron.
We are all the same.
We are all the same; and maybe that’s what I’m trying to escape from. I want to become something ghostly and ethereal, something that watches the world grow and swell with life. I want to die, but I want to live too.
I don’t want to be human.
But I don’t want to be anything more.
I step in front of the television and click it off; the light from the screen slowly dims, and the blue screen flicker slowly fades from the room. The only light source is the streetlamps shining in through the window. They cast long black shadows through my apartment, making it seem bigger and emptier than it ever was.
I have to get out of here. The sudden, violent urge to run overtakes me and I realize there is nothing in this town for me. There is nothing I am going to amount to. If I ever want to be happy, I have to run away so fast I leave my skin behind.
something about a catalyst. something about setting the world into motion.
For some strange reason, the universe always seems to shift the second you take your eyes off of it. You can sit at a desk for seventy years, aging much more than you ought, until your hair goes gray and your blue eyes dull and you feel you just might curl up and shrivel away. You can try to journey the ache away, or try to replace it with a dear friend who will also bore a hole into your heart and make the one that already exists worse, or you could simply just stop. Stop running, stop fighting.
Seventy years ago she left me, and when she tried to come back, I was gone. I had already run away from the rejection and betrayal, and when I learned she wanted to find me again, I hid, hoping to shred her soul just as much as she had shred mine.
Revenge doesn’t get anyone anywhere. After a while, revenge simply becomes a feeling of guilt and loss. I drop my pen and glance around my office, taking in the grey walls, the metal paneling. A large window sends a shaft of light onto pristine white carpet; the entire thing is sterile and generic, save for the blast of color given off by the vase of red poppies sitting on a cold metal filing cabinet.
1929 is a long way into the past. That was when I last saw her: white blouse, newsboy cap; dark auburn hair pinned up behind her ears. I close my eyes and hear the soft sounds of my own breathing. Seventy years is nothing. When you’ve lived and seen and simply been since the beginning of the universe, a handful of years are nothing. But I’ve found time is relative, and you only feel it when it most hurts. That’s when it ages you.
They say I’m too cold.
I rub my bleary, red swollen eyes and stretch out my muscles. I can feel my old-new bones clicking into place. I glance to my left; Clementine is asleep in her hospital bed, hooked up to wires. The snaking cord of an IV wraps around her wrist before finally biting down and plunging into her vein. I turn away.
Outside, the hallway is bright. I can see the light seeping in from under the crack in the door; it blinks as squeaky nurse shoes pass by the room, blocking out the outside. Clementine stirs beside me and I gingerly step out of the chair I have lived in for the last three days and grab my backpack. Tiptoeing towards the door, I turn the handle just a crack, and then…
“Kiddo?” Clementine is suddenly sitting up in bed, squinting. Her sight was never very good in the first place, but it’s worsened over the years with her health. “Where are you going?”
“To make myself presentable; I’ll be right back.”
“Go home, Cameron,” Clementine whispers. Her voice is clear as a bell; glancing at her, I cringe again. Her long fingers are bony and her cheekbones curve at an angle that is much too steep. She winds her long white hair around a knuckle joint and bites her lip. She’s too pale. She’s much, much too pale.
“No,” I say, and glance at her. Blue eyes are boring into my head. “No.”
Clem closes her eyes not in exasperation, but in pure exhaustion. She licks her chapped lips and nods a few times.
“Rupert can take you home. He gets off call in an hour or so.”
I pause and look at her. I don’t want to argue, but I don’t want to leave.
“Fine,” I say, and walk out the door. The brightness of the hallway assaults my eyes and I have to pause and walk with a hand out in front of me. A few nurses pass me in the hall, giving me odd looks. I ignore them and find the wall, feeling my way to the bathroom. I see the nurse that has been tending Clementine the last few nights; she and I stop and stare at each other for a moment, before she looks away and walks off. I can tell I make her uneasy; I have that effect on people. They back away before they even know what to be afraid of. It’s something about nothing that scares them.
My eyes begin to adjust to the bright light and I reach the bathroom door. My hand touches the cool metal handle and I begin to wonder: how am I real? I am made from elements and matter and magic, yet there is a part of me that simply does not exist; nothingness, a bubble. I run my fingers over the liquid glass of the mirror and stare myself in the face. My eyes are lined with red and my hair is twisted in strands that seem to defy gravity. I am here. I am real. I have to be: I live, I breathe, and I eat. Yet, how did I know it wasn’t a mass hallucination? For all I knew, I am trapped somewhere dark and airless…
© 2010 Alexis Raine
AboutYou can call me Roo, or any variation upon my name. I live in a land of trees, where it is possible to drown by just looking at the sky. I enjoy writing, mostly prose, and some screenplays. I al.. more..