Here's Part Two of my short work: Animas. If you missed Part One, you can read it here: http://www.writerchics.blogspot.com/2014/07/animas-part-one.html. (Sorry, I really tried to make it a nice looking hyperlink, but I'm not as savvy as I pretend to be.) Enjoy the story.
I stare at her now, my eyes growing bigger than ever before. She knows about Sy-Nu. If I’m a Corda and the Animas want more Corda bodies to inhabit, and they put me and Charlyt together to have babies, then that must mean Charlyt is a Corda. She’s an alien.
I scramble away from her. “What’s your alien name? Are you human or not?” Had I been married to an alien this whole time? The woman I love, is she nothing more than a manipulative Anima trying to use me to make more Corda babies for Animas to control?
“Her name is Mai-Li. Roa, I’m still me. She and Sy-Nu made a pact before they took over our bodies. They would let us live our lives. The Anima doesn’t have any part of my personality, just like Sy-Nu doesn’t make you who you are. We are still individuals. Very few of us left in the city can say that.”
She comes toward me. I’m numb. I don’t know what to say or do. She has an alien inside of her. But I can’t really hold it against her. I have one living in my brain too.
“Roa, I’ve known about Mai-Li for a few months now. She told me about Sy-Nu and about what’s going on with the Corda and Animas.”
“How? How did you find out? Why didn’t you tell me?”
A ghostly look comes over her features. I’ve seen that look before. It is the same look she wore for nearly two years. We tried everything to have kids. Charlyt felt like a failure, like it was all her fault. I didn’t know what to do or say. We were married when she reached puberty at fifteen. I was older, nineteen. Men aren’t selected for marriage until they reach certain physical measurements and achievements. I had the physical characteristics and genetic code the city leaders wanted for Corda children. Charlyt was the top of her class. She had the intelligence and genes that made her an ideal candidate for marriage. People only marry for one reason: to have Corda children.
We went through all of the same intrusive tests we had before we were put in the marriage pool. They came back exactly the same as before—we are physically capable and compatible. We should have four kids by now. Instead, we have none.
“After the last round of fertility testing, I didn’t think I could do it anymore. I wasn’t good enough for you. I made plans to leave you, let you marry someone who could give you all the children you deserve. The night I packed my bag before you came home, I heard a voice. It was Mai-Li. She told me not to leave you. It was her fault that I hadn’t been able to have children. She prevented all my pregnancies.” She laughs without humor. “So not only did I learn an alien had been living inside my body since I was born, but all of the depression and heartache and feelings of failure I’d been struggling with for years were all because of this Anima.”
I know when she needs me and this is one of those times. I pull her into my arms. She clings to me, just like she did then. Knowing that the alien that lived inside her brought her so much misery made the blood rush to my head. If there was a way I could strangle that Anima, I would until she was dead. I watched Charlyt sink deeper and deeper into depression. I knew she was ready to do something drastic. The light in her eyes had gone out. I hardly left the house, then. I had to keep her safe from herself and the demons inside her. Now we know a real demon did live inside her.
One day, everything changed. Charlyt was back to herself. She smiled and laughed and shone like she had before the infertility nearly extinguished her.
She talks into my shoulder. “I didn’t know what to do about Mai-Li. I thought I would go to the city leaders and turn myself in. If they didn’t believe me, I would be too crazy to be with you and at least you would be free to marry someone who could give you children, someone who wasn’t living with an alien in her body.
“That’s when she told me about Sy-Nu.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you keep it a secret?” I’m not upset. I think I know the answer anyway.
She looks up at me, strong and sure of herself again. “Mai-Li and Sy-Nu can communicate with each other. As long as you and I are in the same area of each other, they can talk together. Mai-Li talked to Sy-Nu and asked what we should do. He told me to wait. He wanted to talk to you when the time was right.”
“The time was right today.” Sy-Nu speaks up. It’s disturbing to know he hears and experiences everything I do.
“I liked it better when you were quiet all the time,” I say outloud.
Charlyt laughs. “You only have to think for them to hear you.”
Her laugh is contagious. “How have you been doing it all this time? How have you stayed sane? I’m ready to pound my head in just to get rid of him.”
“I figure she’s been there all my life so I could just go on like I always have. I kind of like her.” She quickly responds to my scowl. “If I have to have an Anima in my body, I’m glad it’s her.”
“Aren’t you mad at her for keeping us from having kids?”
A somber look crosses her face. It’s the look she has when she wants to say exactly what she’s thinking. “I was at first, but now that I understand what our kids would be used for, I’m glad she stopped us.”
We both want kids. Our marriage is immensely happy, but we feel like there’s even more happiness we could share if we could have kids.
“Roa, if we help them, everything will be different. We won’t have to give up our kids to the Corda facilities. They won’t be used as anchor bodies for aliens to inhabit and control. They can grow up with us, in our home. We can teach them and love them like we would never be able to the way the city is run now. This is our chance to change everything so we can have more than we ever thought possible.”
I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Even if we had kids, we would only get to keep them for a year. Then they would be weaned and sent off to the Corda facilities to be trained in protecting our city. No, that’s a lie. They would have been filled with an alien essence and never have a life. Yes, it is better that we haven’t had kids. It’s still a little hard to not harbor negative feelings towards Mai-Li though.
“So will you help us?” A female voice echoes in my head.
I look at Charlyt in alarm.
She laughs again. “She can talk to you if we’re close enough together. And yes, I’ve talked with Sy-Nu before,” she says before I can ask the question.
I sit down hard. She kneels next to me and pushes a strand of hair from my forehead. “You have the most precious pout I’ve ever seen.” She has a certain smile when she’s teasing me.
I grab her hand and rest my face against it. “I feel like I’m the last one to the party and I’m two steps behind everyone else.”
“She’s right. Your pout is really funny.” It’s Mai-Li again. Now she’s insulting me. “Whenever she’s depressed, Charlyt imagines your pout and it brightens her mood.”
“Can you hear what Mai-Li is saying when she talks to me?”
“I can hear what she lets me hear.”
“What was the last thing you heard?”
“She said your pout is really funny.”
Mai-Li didn’t let her hear the last bit. I like that she shared that secret with me. I smile. “Okay, What’s the plan? How do we get rid of these Animas and have some real privacy?”
She climbs into my lap and kisses me hard. “Who needs privacy? They’ve seen everything at this point. What do we have to hide?” She kisses me again with more passion.
I respond because I can’t resist. I love this girl with everything I have.
Moments later and breathless, she rests her head against mine and whispers in the voice that sends shivers down my spine, “I love you, Roa.”
“I love you too, Char.”
“Sorry to interrupt things, but it sounds like everyone is on board with the plan of freeing the humans from the Animas, right?”
“Ugh. Why would you break in right now? It makes you seem like a pervert,” I say to Sy-Nu.
“Like Charlyt said, we’ve been here all along. You can’t do anything to shock me anymore.”
Red burns on Charlyt’s cheeks. I feel my own embarrassment rise.
“Your relationship is beautiful. It is what finally pushed us to want to give your species its freedom.” Mai-Li tries to make us feel comfortable again. It doesn’t help much. Charlyt slides off my lap and sits beside me. I wrap my arm around her.
“What do we have to do?” The sooner I can get these things out of us, the sooner Charlyt and I can have the life we’ve always dreamed of together, a life with more than we dreamed—a life with children that we get to teach and love and watch grow all of their lives. Whatever Sy-Nu and Mai-Li need us to do, I’ll do it.
“Have you ever heard of the virus Hepatitis B?” Sy-Nu asks.
I haven’t. Charlyt is the brains. She also works in the Disease Control Office so if anyone knows what Sy-Nu is talking about, it’s Charlyt. “It used to be a world disease until vaccination efforts eradicated it. After a century or more without a reported case, doctors stopped vaccinating against it because it was no longer a threat,” she explains.
Mai-Li starts. “Charlyt has been working with some of the few remaining samples of the virus that have been preserved. Through her eyes, I’ve seen something the Animas leaders have overlooked. Hepatitis B is, in most cases, a non-lethal virus. However, it’s a retrovirus, which means it rewrites the DNA code of the infected person. With those changes to the DNA sequence, our ability as Animas to adhere to the human body vanishes.”
Charlyt’s eyes go wide. She stares at a point beyond me, calculating. Then her focus snaps to me. “It means the Animas can’t use our bodies!”
“But we’ll all be living with a virus? Isn’t that bad, somehow?”
“Some people, those few who have severe reactions to the virus, may die. This is the best solution we can come up with though. There won’t be a war. There won’t be murders. There may be some deaths, but considering other options, this is the least offensive.” Sy-Nu tries to convince me.
“How have the Animas not seen this before?” Charlyt asks.
“That’s the reason we’re going through all of the diseases. You’re the first person to do research on Hepatitis B since we arrived. If I was in control of you like other Animas, I would have immediately reported its danger to the authorities and they would have destroyed every last vial of the stuff. Since I’m not like other Animas, I haven’t reported this to anyone,” Mai-Li says.
I don’t know why I’m the only one picking up on the dangers of a virus infecting everyone. “Isn’t there a reason why people were vaccinated against this? There’s got to be some reason why it was eradicated from the earth.”
“We’re open to other suggestions,” Sy-Nu says. “We don’t have much time though. The final phase of colonization is set to take place in one week.”
“What’s the final phase?” I don’t want to know because it is probably worse than releasing a virus to the whole city and eventually the world.
“There are enough human bodies making more Corda children for Animas to live in. Still, some people remain without an Anima in their body. The final phase of colonization is the elimination of those who aren’t useful to us.”
“What are you going to do?” Charlyt asks.
“I’m not going to take part in it, but if you’re asking what the Animas are going to do, well they’re going to release a virus of their own. Unless an Anima controls the body that’s been infected, that body will die.”