Deep Red, Chapter Eleven

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Fragonard_Confession_of_Love

March 21, 1790: Despite my unwillingness to do so, I have married. Mary called me a coward, but soon after married her cousin. The Residents seem to be embracing this notion of romantic love, but Otherworlders are not so lucky. I know my grandfather had the same problem when he first arrived in the East and have recently discovered–when I told her we could not marry–that Mary’s great-grandmother once loved a volemic. The attraction between Otherworld species, despite our inability to procreate, would be stimulating to me were I not the victim of false biology, and if I had nothing better to do with my time … April 23, 1807: My new wife is with child. I hope for a boy to give my legacy to. The Cayce women have their customs (Mary is going to pass her legacy to her first daughter, Meg), as do all Otherworld tribes. I wish to have one line in our culture that celebrates the abilities of males, especially since it creates greater balance on the Counsel, to which only Margaret’s kin and the kin of her acolytes are invited, and which continues to swell with women. The dream must live on. I fear the dream. Even if we had the means to implement it, I have recently uncovered a part in Walker’s journal that indicates that the whole plan has begun to hinge on the existence of this hybrid … January 20, 1808: My boy, Jonah, was born, and my wife has left. I am not surprised, nor am I sad. She seeks this Resident dream of love, and I wish her the best. Meanwhile, my work must continue … November 12, 1810: I have begun to translate the old scientific and philosophic works of the Otherworld. I feel close to something, though I am not certain of what….

excerpts from The Notes of Jacob Shinab, 1790-1810, ed. by Jonah Shinab, 1849

Broken_Hands_by_AngelAlwaysChapter Eleven

Strange Blood

Zoe spent the last week rifling through Marlo’s blood, which included the most bizarre cellular and genetic results she had ever seen. The last person to have even remotely strange genes was Adam, and since his twin did not also carry the oddities, he was slated as the hybrid. For years, the powers-that-be groomed Adam, until they realized that he possessed no latent powers, no separating spirit, no blood magic. If they had seen Marlo’s results, the case would have been closed years ago, but, given what her blood looked like when she was a child, Zoe believed that Marlo’s body began to change only after the first night she turned. What was infuriating, however, was that every test contradicted the next, and Marlo’s DNA contained more than just the genetic combination of two different species.

The samples from a week ago had already mutated and were continuing to replicate and change at an unusual rate. Today’s samples looked different from yesterday’s, but operated similarly. Zoe had seen some of this behavior in the cells of sick or diseased Otherworlders, but Marlo’s old cells were not being attacked by the new, stronger ones; the new ones simply absorbed the old, becoming stronger, stranger cells. When Zoe applied different toxins to the blood, the blood attacked and destroyed the toxins. With a few, however, the blood cells absorbed the toxin and grew even stronger. On a hunch, Zoe applied a sample of the drug the human used on Marlo. The drug was one of the toxins her new blood cells absorbed, which explained why Zoe had not found any of the poison in Marlo’s blood, though Marlo’s urine carried a strong amount of it.  Zoe took both verbal and written notes of all her findings, hoping that she might stumble into an explanation with each new medium, but none came.

The cells of adolescent changelings shared some characteristics with Marlo’s blood, but, largely, her blood was unique and dizzying. Every time Zoe marked something on her chart and returned to the microscope, the sample changed. She switched the microscope to the large screen above her desk so she could record it more acurately. For who, she did not know. No Otherworlders besides her had the expertise to sort through the rapidly accumulating anomalies. She figured that Victoria would understand, at least in part.

Zoe picked up the phone. “Drew, it’s me. I need Victoria to call me as soon as possible.” He asked for a more specific message for Victoria. “I can’t say. Just give her the message. Thanks.”

The full moon was tomorrow. Marlo would need to go with the rest of the group to the cabin. Though Zoe still had no idea what she was looking at, the doctor in her begged for precaution. Marlo would have to use Adam’s old room. Any other room in the cabin would be insufficient, given the probable strength Marlo would have if she changed. On the other hand, this entire part of the world would be insufficient to hold the consequences if Marlo did not change.

Chapter Twelve→