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HYBRID 165

By Evelyn Lupton


To all the readers, and young writers that someday wish to become authors and bless the world with their words.



Prologue 

The scientists in the room all yelped in unison. What had they created? The two shadowy figures in the glass case seemed to spread their wings at the same time. But their wings weren’t normal, one of the sets of wings was angelic and fluffy like a cloud on a clear sky and the other, it looked like it belonged to a monster. Maybe it did, for both of the creatures had demonic horns.


Reverse it! Reverse it!” one of the scientists had said, referring to the procedure which had just taken place. He looked around at scared faces and then he realised, this was something that couldn’t be reversed. 


The scientists had been working on a project to create two creatures, one demon and one angel. They thought that if they could create these two, they could create an army. Except, someone must have messed up the coding in their creation. Now they had two hybrids.


“All the other workers ran to the alarm and pulled it down, sending the whole building into utter panic. The new figures must’ve been spooked as well, because they began to pound on the glass together and soon, it cracked. They ran for their lives along with the crowd of other workers, rushing through doors screaming in terror,” the storyteller said, and with that, the story had ended. She looked up and saw all the children, clinging to each other with trembling hands and horrified faces. “It’s okay! It’s only a story, all right?” she assured them. They relaxed, but only a tiny bit, still sitting very close to each other. She sighed loudly, then decided to tell another story, much calmer than the last one. She reached down to the floor to grab a storybook.


But then, she saw the little children curl up again. Confused, as she was telling the sweetest story you had ever heard, she grinned. Until one of them slowly pointed behind her. She turned around swiftly, a little bit anxious herself, and then realised. The stories were real. There, standing behind her was a real hybrid, just like the stories. The lady screamed and ran and ran. “Run children! Run, run away!” she yelled, leading them towards the exit.


The hybrids had returned…


Chapter 1

I look around, wondering exactly where I am. The last thing I remember was… darkness. My memory is gone. The room around me is a bright white, burning my eyes. What was this place? Slowly, somebody creeps in through the door. It clicks as he closes it and comes closer to me. I sit forward in my chair and lay my hands down on the desk in front of me. The chair screeches as he pulls it up and sits down in it. Slowly, he tucks it in. 


The man’s white shirt is almost camouflaged with the background, hiding behind a white suit and topped off with a white tie. As well as all the white, I could earlier see his white pants and boots, until he sat down. I notice a small crest or symbol on his suit. It looks like a light bulb. There is small writing underneath, but it’s too blurry to read. Even if I could read it, the parts I can barely make out look like another language. His face is covered by a white mask and protective goggles. He crosses his arms, making white gloves visible. Why do they have all of this protection? Am I… sick?


At first, he begins to mumble something, looking up at the roof. “One hundred and sixty-five, one hundred and sixty-five. Number one hundred and sixty-five.” he utters.  He clears his throat and talks louder. He states, “We have come to inform you that a virus has broken out. It mainly affects hybrids. If you do become infected please call this number and we will… help you.” He sighs. “Please, be careful,” he says, guiltily, and glances at me before looking down at the ground and reaching into his pocket. He shuffles his hand around for a while, nervously looking for something in his pocket, before finally handing me a small business card with a number on it and a small message down the bottom. ‘We will help you’. How can they help me?


He stands up from his chair and scrapes it away from the table, before standing up and opening the door. Before he leaves, I quietly ask him, “Are there any symptoms?” He looks over and replies, “Coughing, hallucinations and fatigue to name a few,” he says quickly. “I see you ran from home…” he mumbles, glancing at his records,“...why?” I won’t tell him anything.  The door silently closes behind him and someone else comes into the room. He is dressed in a white hazard suit and every time they walk, the plastic ruffles, making an annoying sound. He walks over and says something through the suit. The sound is muffled and I can’t tell what it is. He places a bag on the desk and pulls out a mask with a tube attached to a gas bottle. He puts it over my head and I don’t have time to think so I can’t say anything. I feel helpless and stressed. Will this kill me? Am I sick? I shake my head vigorously.


“Just… stay… still!” he says, although I can hardly hear him. He sounds very annoyed. But I don’t care. I won’t stay still.


What if my family never sees me again? Will they know what’s happened to me? I begin to breathe quickly and shallowly, trying not to breathe in too much. Do I want to slow it down? I hold my breath, deciding what to do. I take a deep breath in and out. It tastes funny. The man muffles something again. I hear it echo and fade out. The world blurs, brightens, then darkens once again. I don’t know how long I stayed like this. I’m half zombie. My heart has stopped, my eyes flickering. Some shouts around me sound miles away. 


I’m not breathing, start breathing. My head begins to throb. I begin to feel a heart thumping in my chest. I open my eyes a little, then blink a lot. It’s too bright. It sounds like I’m rattled around by a faulty truck. I widen my eyes fully and see that I am correct. I am in a truck.


My wings barely fit into the container, I realise as I try to sit up. I pull my hair to one side and sit up completely, leaning against the longer side of the van. I am constantly swayed from side to side and curiosity pulls me to a crack in the truck. I shuffle over to it slowly trying not to get dizzier than I already am, then finally arrive. I peek through the hole for a while, trying to spot anything I would recognise when suddenly… BUMP! The container rides over a pothole and my head is knocked onto the side, hard. Ouch. I groan in pain and pull myself away from the side, moving back to my much more comfortable spot. I sigh, wondering how much longer I’ll be in here. It can’t be too long, can it?


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After hours, I feel the truck come to a sudden stop. Am I home? Someone yells something grumpily and I hear a door slam shut. I pick up noises, like shuffling around the truck until the doors are pounded open. The man is short and stubby, that’s about all I can tell from him since he is also wearing the same suit as earlier. Nothing else about him looks any different than the others. I wouldn’t know if it’s the same person because I was more focused on whether or not I was going to die. The short man gestures for me to exit the truck and I look down at the ground, then side to side. How am I supposed to fit through this door? I try to pull my wings down as best as I can and it is just enough to fit. I jump down, my wings brushing the bottom and sides of the doorway and once I am on the ground, I spread them out again.


“Thank you,” I say quietly as he walks away. He stops and turns around. The little man pauses for a while, he opens his mouth, but doesn’t say anything. Then shrugs it off and continues to open the door to the truck. He jumps up and in, closing the door behind him and driving away. I look around at the forest. This is like home, but it isn’t. I must begin the search. I need to find my home.


I walk for hours, in search of home. I thought I knew this forest. Is it the same one I’m thinking about? It must be. Maybe I just need to look a little longer. It’s fine; everything’s fine. I take a deep breath in and then out. Something funny rises in my throat. I cough hoarsely to try to get it out. It isn’t working. I cough again, this time more intensely. It won’t go away. Hold on, is this what that virus is? He said the symptoms are… coughing, vomiting and fatigue. I cough once again and my throat burns. I realise I haven’t drunk anything since I was last at home. I need water. I feel dizzy and my head feels like it’s spinning. Everything hurts, my head, my throat, my legs. I sit down slowly and lower myself into a sleeping position. The forest floor isn’t perfect for sleeping, but I’m so tired, I don’t even care anymore. I don’t want to believe it, but deep down I know. I have the virus. 


How could I, though? I haven’t come in contact with anyone who has it. And why is it only for hybrids? It can’t be a coincidence. I need to find out. The government is doing something. I never trusted them, and I still don't trust them now. I’m going to get better. I’m going to find my family. I’m going to stop them, once and for all. Whatever they’re doing, it can’t be good. 


I begin to doze off after lying there for a while. I fell asleep in the daytime and I woke up at nighttime. Not good. When I wake up, I hear whispers around me. A low thumping sound comes nearer. Tribe hunters. I sit up but not too quickly. I rise up and look around, seeing if anything is close yet. “Hello?” I yell, my voice cracking from my sore throat. I cough intensely and clear my throat. “I only want peace.” I sound hoarse and not like myself. I begin to breathe heavily, scared for whatever is behind the trees. “Show your face–” I cough once again, more fiercely than I ever have before. The one cough turns into a series of coughs, and my throat feels like it is being ripped out. Tears fall from my eyes and down my face. Blood splatters out of my mouth as I cough again. The red liquid flows out of my eyes too. It runs down like a river. I stop and wheeze, out of breath and out of patience. There’s nothing here. Suddenly I remember something. The man didn’t say vomiting, he said hallucinations. I shudder, cold, tired, and hungry. I cough weakly, my hand over my mouth to catch the germs. My eyes widen at the sight of the blood. At least blood tears were just part of the hallucinations.


I feel horrible. I’m weak, I’m sweating, I’m cold. My eyes sting and water wells inside them. Eventually, tears flow down and I begin to sob. I can’t get better, I can’t find my family. I can’t stop the government. I’m helpless and no one is coming to save me. I’m basically lying in my grave and I’m probably going to die alone. There’s something about this virus. It’s more than being sick from germs. It’s like it’s a… poison.

Was that the gas? I pull out the small card the man gave me in the room from my pocket and glance at the front and back. Quickly, I notice writing on the back. ‘Don’t trust the…’ and I can’t read the rest. It looks like he ran out of ink in his pen. What should I not trust? I already don’t trust the gas, government and, well, a lot of things. I need to find out but I don’t know how to get back to that place. I don’t think I want to anyway. I don’t trust that place either I guess. What should I do? I’m stuck between two options and I can’t get out. I shut my eyes tightly, trying to squeeze away reality. When I open them, I’m stuck.


Four walls surround me and everything is grey. I run up to one of the walls and pound on it as hard as I can. My fists are red but I don’t care. “Let me out!” I scream. My throat still burns. I breathe deeply and pound harder. I yell but no sound comes out. My pounding slows down and is weak. 



“You are weak. You are weak.” I turn around and see a crowd of people. “Who would love you?” I don’t know. No one. No, stop! I love myself. My family loves me, I don’t care if you don’t. I shake my head and try to get rid of this dream. It isn’t working. This is a dream, this is a dream. It must be. 


At this point, I don’t even know what reality is anymore. Is this all a dream? Or are dreams all real? What should I believe? And how will I get an answer? I close my eyes again, hoping this will work. 


Finally, I see the real world. Hopefully, this is the last time this happens. It’s scary and not helping my hunt for my family. Like I said, I need to get better before I go to my family so that I don’t give them this virus. Hopefully that will be soon. I don’t think it will be though. Suddenly, I smile, but I don’t know why. I’m laughing hysterically but I’m crying inside. I’m scaring myself. I must be going insane. I shudder and I’m cold but hot. My body is heavy, and my head is light. I hate this virus. I want to fly away. Far, far away from anything that could hurt me.


I lift off and rocket towards the sky. Soon enough I’m up with the birds. I spread my wings out and glide above the trees. Every once in a while I flap my wings to keep me afloat. I look down at the forest below. As the trees move by so fast, I realise how quickly I’m travelling. This is working perfectly. It’s distracting me from being sick and I’ll find home in no time. 


My smile goes away. I’m supposed to get better before I find my family. Maybe it’ll encourage me to get better if I can find my family first. This will work. I hope so, at least.


Chapter 2

Dawn is coming and I begin to lower down for the day. It’s safe down there in the daytime, and safer in the skies for nighttime. Once I reach the ground, I continue my journey on foot. I don’t know if I have been travelling in the right direction for ages but I just have a gut feeling that this is the right way. I can feel it.


I hear the crunching of leaves beneath my bare feet and the tickling of little ants crawling on my lower legs. A small breeze flows through the trees, blowing my skirt up. I use my hands to smooth it down as I continue walking. My hair is moved around by the gusts of wind. I feel empowered almost. I must keep going. I need to, and want to. 


Except, it isn’t the same as flying. I’m already bored of walking. Why can’t I go to the skies? No one’s telling me not to. I begin to flap my wings and glide up to the clouds. There we go. I can see so much more from up here. I’ll find my home much quicker this way and I can tell them about what happened to me. I have so much to tell them in so little time. 


<><><>


Finally, after ages of searching, I spot a small hut in the distance. I begin to gracefully head down to the ground and pursue the rest of the journey like a normal human. I’m tired and a nervous wreck. I haven’t visited this house since I was 15. It’s been 6 long years since I ran away. What are they going to say to me? Have they forgotten the past? I shake off the thoughts and continue walking to the house. 


Eventually, I see the path that leads up to the house. I inhale and exhale deeply, preparing myself for whatever will happen next. I slowly walk up the steps and stop at the door. I pause for a moment, and then, with all the courage I have, put my finger up to the doorbell and…


The door opens quickly, before I can ring the bell. “Agnes? Come in, before they see you,” a voice whispers. Dad rushes me inside, not giving me time to do anything but follow his instructions. 


“Dad? What’s going on?” I ask confusingly. As I step into the living room, I spot Mum on the couch, biting her fingernail.


“Oh Agnes!” she exclaims. She stands up and gives me a hug. I reluctantly pat her back until the awkward hug ends. “God knows what could’ve been behind that door. Hopefully not the government. Have you heard about the virus? Did they take you, too?” she asks with concern.


“Well, yeah,” I reply. I look down as Mum gasps. They overwhelm me with questions about the gas and if I’m okay. Continuing, I say, “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. And yes, they gave me the gas.”


Mum and Dad gasp again and hold their breath. They rush to the kitchen and open a box of fabric masks. They put them on their face and begin to whisper things. I hear my name mentioned a lot. After a while, they finally explain to me, “The gas is what causes the virus. You have it.”


“I know that, and I’m better now,” I say calmly, releasing some negative energy from the air. I breathe deeply to stay chilled out.


“No. You must quarantine yourself in your old room. Go on, now.”


“You can’t be serious, I–”


“Not another word. We will bring you food and after two weeks, you can return.” They gesture at me to go to my room and I nod, knowing I can’t beat them. They are still my parents and always will be. Accepting my fate, I walk down the hallway and enter my room. I stare at the posters of angels and demons on the wall. Above the angel poster I wrote ‘Dad’ and above the demon poster I wrote ‘Mum’ in thick red marker. I remember that.


Mum isn’t a bad hybrid demon, in fact, she’s the nicest they get. 


She separated from her family at a young age because they treated her badly because she was nice. I separated from a young age because I wanted to see the world and didn’t want to be contained any longer. Not smart. Look where that got me, back here, worrying if I’m going to survive another month. 


I collapse onto my bed, smoothing my hands on the warm fuzzy blanket. I sit up and wrap myself in it as if it is a cocoon. It reminds me of when I was young and innocent. I had no idea I was going to abandon my family five years later. 


Suddenly I remember the night before I left. It seemed like every thought of regret was swirling in my head. I shudder at the thought of that endless night. It felt like an eternity before the next day. I never knew what my parent’s reactions were because I began to gather my stuff at dawn. It’s been so long, I can barely remember why I fled in the first place. Maybe I was just tired, maybe I… don’t know.


I can’t believe they thought that I was a danger to them. I get that they’re trying to protect me, but I’m not a little kid anymore. They need to realise that I don’t need a bodyguard or need to quarantine. I’m fine now. I’m safe. But they don’t realise that.


I stare at the decorated ceiling, thoughts swirling around, much like that night. My left wing is bent by the wall, and the other is free, spreading out openly. I’ve grown so much since I was last in this room. I might even grow more by the time I leave, seeing as I’ll be trapped here for two whole weeks. I can’t believe them. I’m not sick. Honestly, I thought visiting my parents would be much more helpful than this. Hang on, what if I…


I sit up and walk over to the window, trying to push up the old wooden frame and I punch the flyscreen. I try to fit through, releasing I don’t fit. I curse under my breath at my wings and sigh heavily. I guess there really is no escape. This is going to be a long two weeks.


After the first few days, things were going pretty well, until the last couple of days. My parents have informed me, from the door, that I’m going to have to spend another three days here after my two weeks are over. I can’t believe this. First, they quarantined me for two whole weeks, and now they want me to spend even more time in my bedroom. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m surprised. My parents are so overprotective, I should’ve seen this coming from a mile away.


I stare at the broken window and sigh heavily. I can’t even remember why I came here in the first place. Was it to see my family? Did I need something from them? I don’t have the energy to think at this point. My parents have been sending me meals for breakfast and dinner. That’s it. Apparently, this household isn’t used to feeding three people, so they’ve cut back on meals. As if three people are a lot.


I just want to get out of here. Every hour I spend in here is another part of my patience faded and disintegrated into nothing. It has pretty much died out completely, extinct. 


Suddenly, I hear lots of commotion outside my door. I quickly bolt to it and rest my ear against the wooden door. I hear footsteps creeping up loudly and lots of talking, sometimes quiet, sometimes… not so quiet. Finally, a knock on the door invites me to open it. Is it mealtime?


I open the door and two faces with masks greet me. They look concerned. “Agnes honey, we’ve been told some… serious news,” Mum sadly spoke as she looked down at the ground. “The virus is killing people.”


“I’m not sick! I won’t die! Why won’t you listen to me?” I exclaimed. My parents can obviously see the rising anger in my eyes.


“This is why we’ve decided, you must leave our house immediately. I’m sorry, but it’s for your own good,” they respond back.


“Can I take some of your food with me at least? Please? There’s no food in the forest anymore. It’s the pollution… I need it.”


“Yes Agnes, of course. We’ve prepared you a basket and… be safe out there. I know it may not seem like it, but we’re only trying to help. This is good for you.”


“I know,” I reply, nodding slowly, looking at the ground, and head to the kitchen after so long in my room. I snatch the basket off the bench and hold it close. I meet my parents at the door and we say our goodbyes. I never realised how much harder it is to say goodbye to someone’s face. Maybe that’s why I left unannounced. 


They open the door. I close my eyes tightly to fight back the tears and walk down the pathway, back to where I came from. With the basket in hand, I walk further into the hundreds of trees around me. How long will I be travelling this time, I think to myself, looking around at the vast area in front of me and to either side of me.


After a while of walking, I’ve already worked up an appetite, but I try to ignore it. I don’t know how long this small basket is going to last me. The sky begins to dim and the forest darkens. I look up at the forest roof through the thick bushy leaves, admiring the golden sunlight streaming through as the sun sets. It’s beautiful, and also one of the few things that I can enjoy nowadays. The world has gone grim.


Once the sun fully sets, the night is awake and I hear murmuring voices, almost silent. The wind blows my skirt from behind me and I swiftly turn to see if anything is there. Nothing. I’m still suspicious, so I turn back slowly.


I thought I was fully cured. Maybe there’s still a bit of the hallucination. Maybe my parents were right about containing me. Maybe. I don’t know when this virus will pass over, in fact, I don’t know a lot about this virus. Apart from it being made purposefully, this virus is pretty vague to me.


But why was it made? Why me? I have a million questions, and I have no idea how I’ll get the answers, but I must start thinking. This virus is rapidly getting worse and more people are getting infected. I can’t let that happen, not my family and not anyone else.


There must be somewhere, someone who can answer my questions. These people, the government, must be in charge. I will find them. And I will stop them. 

I sit down and look at the ground, unconscious of the dark night around me, to devise a plan. I have no idea of what I’m meant to do. Nobody is here to help me. I’m all alone and stuck in this forest forever. My parents will never let me back in, I don't have any outside friends and all my living relatives abandoned our side of the family because of what we are. Hybrids. I wish my parents never found out about the virus getting worse. But then again, I would still be stuck in my room. At least I have this food. 


I sit down and pick up a small bread roll, trying to eat it slowly. I’m deep in thought, wondering what I should do next. I’m unconscious of the world around me. There could’ve been a massive dragon roaring and breathing fire at me and I would be completely unaware. 


I will find whoever was in charge of this monstrosity and end the government. The audacity to start a deadly pandemic for no reason is unbelievable. Their entire company will suffer the consequences of ruining millions of lives. They are meant to control and help all these people. I don’t think they have the heart to help even one person.

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