He was walking back from the convenience store at around midday when at a busy crossing, he saw a woman faint. He knew a little first aid, but since he let his qualification expire, he’d let someone else handle it. While he looked away from her and everyone looked towards her, he noticed that one of the people that went to help had left the break off on their pram. The carriage moved slowly at first as it quickly started to move out onto the road.
He moved as fast as he could, he muscles that had grown accustomed to disuse flared with pain as he tried to move himself even just a little bit faster. He could see a car was turning the corner. It was speeding. The driver was looking the wrong way. He reached pram before the car did and pushed it out of the way with his momentum. Thinking that the child was safe, he based himself for the incoming car.
As the impact shot through his body and he rolled heavily over the car, impacting with the ground on the other side. As he shut his eyes grew blurry and feeling fled from his body he took one last look at the child he saved.
He failed. When he pushed the pram out of the way of one car, he pushed it into the path of another. The car that hit the child swerved afterwards and crashed into a pole. It was an old car, without airbags, and the driver’s skull had been broken open by the steering wheel. A wry smile fixed itself on his face as he passed; he tried to save one person and resulted in three deaths. The people around him seeing his smile assumed that the deaths were intentional. He would never know it, but he gained some fame amongst children as a haunting ghost that would throw them into traffic if they didn’t behave.
When he next opened his he found himself in the embrace of a giant woman. Not a giant woman, a normal sized woman. He looked over his body and saw that he was a baby. Shock and fatigue filled his body and he quickly retreated back to sleep.
It wasn’t until a year later that he truly reawakened. During the first year of his life his body automated everything and acted on instinct. It was like being completely drunk, with blacked out sections of his memory and a vague notion of what happened. As he slowly started to piece together his mind he came to realise what had happened. He had died and been reborn. He didn’t know the language that he could hear around him, but he focused as hard as he could to try and pick up as much as he could. After another half a year, he understood a lot of the language, but his underdeveloped throat and tongue couldn’t physically say the language well.
From what he had learnt in that time, he didn’t think he was on earth anymore. Or at least was in a really remote community in a European country he hadn’t heard of. Their lack of electricity could be explained by them choosing to live Amish and his not recognising any name he heard was just him being bad at geography. His mother’s pale skin and pure blond hair felt really European also, so there was that.
A strike against that, however, was when his mother showed him magic. Not just making a coin disappear, but making a ball of snow floating in the air. He had mixed thoughts about that. On one hand, magic existing seemed to fill him with excitement. On the other hand, the snow was super cold and he felt like there had to be a safer way to entertain a child with magic. That said, she had demonstrated several times that she wasn’t completely capable. Had she tried to give hot soup to a normal baby, that child would have gotten burns. Her intentions were clearly good, but she didn’t have anyone to show her what to do.
His mother’s name was Alma, and there seemed to be a custom where he would receive a name when he became an adult until then his name would be Almason, though this mother endearingly called him Allie. He wondered what parents did if they had multiple children. From the way the rest of the language worked, he imagined they called each child the same and implied which one they meant.
They lived together, just the two of them, in a wooden cabin in the middle of vast grassland. The food they ate was grown in the farm behind the house, and occasionally she traded crops with hunters for meat. The farm work seemed to be hard on her, but there were frequent rainy days, that lowered her workload. She also seemed to stock up a large amount of preserved food in a hidden cellar. He wasn’t sure why, but there was probably enough food in that vast underground space to last them until he was ten.
When he tried asking her about it she simply said that it was better to have it than not. The way she said it sounded strange, like there was some greater reason implied that he was simply not getting. He pushed that out of his mind, thinking that she would tell him when he was older.
When he was two, his mother took him to a town for the first time. The town was more than a day’s walk away, and with a toddler with her, the trip took three days. During those nights he looked up at the sea of stars and was reminded again that it wasn’t Earth. The three moons were called the jealous sisters and although each one was smaller than Luna, they had more vivid colours. The first sister had a slight green tinge, the second blue. The third had a slightly ominous red colour and the predominant religion held that the souls of the cruel dead found their way to the third sister.
When I asked what they were jealous of, mother answered with a voice that was rich with laughter, “‘Without a doubt, they were jealous of the golden sister, the goddess of the sun, that gave life to the world so they could watch over it’, is what the book of creation says, but I think that it’s more likely they were jealous of each other.” The sentence ended with a slightly hushed tone. It was clear that mother had something haunting her past.
In moments like that I would do my best to cheer her up. Even if she wasn’t his first mother, Alma was dearer to him then he could have imagined. She had many things that would cause her to drift like that, and had a tendency to bring them up by herself, and through trial and error he found the best way to help her through them was to simply cling to her and let her bring herself back to the present.
When they arrived at the village, Ally was shocked by the cold reception. The people of the village avoided her gaze and went inside until she passed. He could hear the villagers whisper and gossip. It hurt him more than he expected. It was almost like a physical wound, seeing how they treated her. He wasn’t sure what the reason was that they came to town, but he wanted it to be finished so they could leave.
When the stood before a smooth stone rectangle in the centre of town his mother prompted him, “Go on, touch it. When you do, we’ll be able to see if you have any talents or abilities that.”
From what she said, the stone seemed to be a status plate, like from a game. When he followed her gesture and touched it, the dark stone turned a clear blue and writing appeared on the stone. Although he had learned a lot of spoken words that was the first time he had seen the written language. Up until then, he had though there simply wasn’t one. He waited for Alma to finish reading before he removed his hand.
“As expected of my Ally; a brilliant result.” She was beaming with a full face smile. It seemed that the results were good, or at the least not as bad as she was expecting. “With magic levels that high and intelligence that stable, you’ll probably be able to finish the ancestral experiment.”
He had no idea what she meant by that, but the few villagers that weren’t hiding seemed to be shocked. They looked at me like I was some kind of monster. They quickly rushed off. It gave me a very bad, foreboding, feeling.
Having finished what they came to do, they left the village with Alma in high spirits.
When they arrived back home Alma quickly went into the cellar. After about an hour, she collected him and took him down with her. Behind a hidden wall in the hidden cellar were a strange coffin like box and a fridge like box. Giving a brief explanation, Alma said, “These are important parts of our family’s heritage. You see, we come from a long line of magic users who want to see an experiment completed. Unfortunately, in order to even start we needed to have a child with a super high concentration of magic power, and as such have bread carefully for generations. Now that you’re here we can finally begin.” As she said that she picked him up and placed him inside the coffin like box.
“The experiment involves an illness that stops a person from using magic. Our ancestors found that it was caused by a little snake like animal, smaller than a blade of fine grass. When they released their research, the mage association used the knowledge to wipe the species out.” As she said that the lid to the coffin closed. She continued to explain, with her voice muffled through the wood.
“This is an experiment into the practical use of a magically modified version of that animal. The joining will take a number of years to complete safely; therefore you won’t wake up for a while.” She might have continued beyond that but a heavy sleep overwhelmed him.
In his dream he was standing in the house, but the house was without its furniture and features. As he turned around he could see a grey colour cloud that floated in the vague outline of a person. He felt his instincts pull at him, telling him to run from the cloud, that the cloud was a metaphor for death. Telling himself that he was safe, that it was only a dream, he pushed those instincts aside and tried to investigate the cloud.
“Can you hear me, at all? Can you understand me?” he asked, not really expecting an answer. A voice did emanate from the cloud however, a soft, almost lonely, and sweet voice.
“Yes, I can hear you. You’re to be my host, then? Certainly, you have enough magic to keep me from starving, but you won’t be able to use any magic ever again. What was that woman thinking?”
“Host? What do you mean?”
“I’m a creature that’s now living in your body. In other words you are my house now. I’m going to eat any magic that come into contact with you, and reshape your body so that it’s hard to kill. When you wake up, you’ll have control over your body. But if you do anything that could endanger your life, and therein my life, I’ll take steps to control you. Also, you’ll be able to hear my voice, but no-one else will. I’ll be able to hear your thoughts so talk to me that way, looking crazy and talking to yourself could get us killed so don’t do that.”
After saying that, she paused for a moment. He could feel himself starting to wake up. As he started to rise he could hear her add, as if an afterthought, “By the way, my name is Grey.”