Just one more day of normalcy, just one more day till being gifted. Just one more day till turning eighteen. I couldn’t believe I was going to get extraordinary abilities, one which normal humans couldn’t think of having.
I wonder what gift I would get. It’s all random, our teacher says. But I disagree, thinking of the numerous rich and powerful people getting whatever gift they wanted. It’s all a conspiracy.
My mother wakes me up and looks at me with concern.
“You’re still thinking of the gifting ceremony tomorrow, aren’t you?” She asks. Mom was gifted with mind-reading abilities when she turned eighteen. But so did many other people, so instead of getting a job in secret agencies, she ended up being a school teacher and exams invigilator.
“Well, it’s difficult not to think about it.” I confess, “It’s a matter of my abilities in life. Tomorrow will decide my whole future.”
“There’s no need to worry about it, Elise,” Mom says, stroking my hair gently. “Your dad’s waiting for you outside. You know, you still have to go to the oath-taking ceremony.”
I climbed out of bed, brushed my teeth and long black hair, tied the latter into a ponytail and went outside.
I wasn’t nervous, because I knew that the oath-taking ceremony was just a day where people who were going to turn eighteen are made to sign some forms, which stated that they agreed to use their powers for the betterment of humanity and not to exploit them.
Dad was waiting in the car in the parking lot. He smiled at me.
“Had a good night’s sleep, Elise?” He said, teasingly.
When it came to getting a unique gift that will help one get a good career, Dad was luckier than Mom. He could never get tired. So, naturally, he took sports as a profession and was a major star of the city, a champion in more than ten types of sports. His never tiring ability made him a light sleeper and he slept for three hours for maximum. He was always teasing me and Mom for sleeping in late, though that was natural for us.
“Yeah, Dad. What gift do you think I’ll get tomorrow?” I asked him, getting inside the car.
“I don’t know,” He said, shrugging his shoulders, “But whatever you get will be for the best, my girl.”
I tried a smile. We drove to the university. Upon entering the university, I made it to the official documentation section.
There was a long line of students, waiting to sign their oaths. We all didn’t have the same birthday, of course, but we all were going to turn eighteen in October, so we had our gifting ceremony on the 15th of the month.
I remember how a month ago, my friend Jack got a gift of seeing other people’s age, and this ability brought him fame. He was now invited by TV shows, where he told the age of numerous celebrities who hid their age.
All of us were seated in a hall, where a projector showed us a presentation.
It was everything we already knew. How mankind started evolving. How we can now use our brain’s capacity to up to 50%, each of us acquiring a new gift at eighteen, how the world changed with those gifts.
After signing fifteen pages of legal papers, we met with some government officials. A brisk lady in a blue suit told me about the consequences of our gifts, how they came with a responsibility. We were not meant to hide our abilities, and if they meant something life-threatening, we’ll have to go through some juvenile detention procedures.
I come back home exhausted. I turn on the TV, where Jack is guessing the age of a pop-singer. I turn it off.
The gifting ceremony. A day where a computer database will tell us how our mutation-effected gene has turned out, how it had evolved.
At the university, a medic takes my blood sample. An hour of waiting follows. Mom and Dad are beside me, along with some of my friends.
My heart is thumping, almost reaching my throat. I have difficulty breathing, and my body aches with the tension of each passing moment.
They start alphabetically, my hands are almost wet with sweat.
Atmos, Albert, Angela, Borden, Braddock, Bella, Ciro, Cyara, Delphy,
“Elise Tristan” They announce. I lose consciousness of everything that surrounds me, my mind focusing on the thing that awaits me. The announcer’s assistant leads me to a room. I feel relieved. The assistant was gifted with relieving the anxiety of people.
On entering the room, a bald man smiles at me, congratulating me.
“Elise, you have a gem of a gift”
They give me an envelope. I open it hurriedly.
Parents: Laura and Chris Tristan
Ability: Seeing people’s past
I smile in relief. Not a bad ability at all, I say to myself. I look at the bald man who gave me the envelope and I know that he lost his parent at a young age.
I make my way out of the room. I look at my parents. Looking at my mother tells me that she owned an insurance company. I remember my grandfather owned an insurance company and some shares were given to her. My grandfather can persuade almost anyone.
It works, I think.
I look at my father. My father had lost a marathon championship; one he didn’t tell us about. My father had also gambled in the past. He had also helped a little girl in the past, though I couldn’t make out how or why.
Looking at the faces of the parents and the students seated in the hall, I know more about them than their dear ones know. I know that the woman behind me had survived a train accident and that she was an illegal immigrant.
I am powerful. I am dangerous.
Making my way home, I wonder what secrets of the past I can uncover about my friends. Though I’ll not see them for another month or so, which happens after every person is gifted.
I make my way to the bathroom, where I look at the mirror. I step back in shock.
I am adopted. But not only that, but I am also a killer.
How could I have killed somebody? Okay maybe my parents had adopted me, kids get adopted now or then, but me being a killer, it didn’t make any sense at all. Amid the confusion, I start crying.
I go out of the bathroom. I decide that I’ll tell my parents about my adoption part, but not that I am a killer.
I cleared my throat. “I know I am adopted,” I say.
“Yeah, honey, about that, we thought it’ll be better for you to find out yourself,” My dad says.
“When was I adopted?” I ask.
“About six years ago,” He says.
“But I must be 12 years old at that time, why don’t I remember anything”
“You were the victim of a horrible act of terrorism, and your real parents were killed in the explosion. We had a memory eraser to make you forget about your past to give a new beginning in life” This time, my mother speaks.
“I hope you forgive us, you know, for making you forget,” My dad says, squeezing my arm.
Terrorism? Blast? Traumatic amnesia? My day couldn’t have gone weirder.
I hug my parents and go to bed. I know I should find more about myself, my past, and why a twelve-year-old would kill somebody.
The best place to start was the records archive in the public library because I felt like I had to know about the explosion.
I grab a book and start searching. Six years ago.
An unknown culprit had carefully planted a bomb at the park. The culprit had not been found after weeks of investigation, so the police authorities gave up.
I realize that the unknown culprit was none other than me.
I stare in shock. I had purposely planted a bomb in a park? A bomb that’ll kill my real parents? Heaven knows who they were, but how did I get my hands on a bomb in the first place?
There was so much I didn’t know. I grow desperate with each second, the world whirling around me in a state of confusion.
I didn’t even know who I was. All my life I had pretended to be something. I don’t even remember the things I really did before twelve.
False memories, my parents had put false memories in my head, so that I had a notion of a childhood spent with them.
On the way back home from the library, I am conscious enough to know that someone is following me. In fact, they have been following me for two days.
It’s Jack, my childhood friend.
“Hi Jack, mind telling me why are you following me?” I ask him rudely, not having enough energy to be calm.
“Yeah, I need to tell you something, Elise.”
He sounded scared.
We went to his department.
“Listen closely before reacting. You and I, we were born with far more intellect than others, and we had abilities from the time we were born. We could get multiple abilities at once. And more, we had the minds of an adult even in childhood, because our brains were more developed than any other human beings. If the government took so many precautions with people who get one gift, what do you think they’ll do with children who are multi-gifted? The government took us from our real parents”
“But-” I interrupt him, “My parents were killed in a bomb blast. I wasn’t separated from them since birth!” I scream.
“Calm down,” He raises his hands, “You have no idea how many foster parents you’ve had. When the authorities took us, we ran away, we were barely five at that time. We were taken by kind people. I was your foster brother. We went to orphanages and homes together. But we were smart, Elise, smart enough to find ways to run from everyone. That’s when Socrates took us in”
“Socrates? Who is Socrates?”
“Socrates is a secret society who aims to help gifted individuals harness the real potential of their power.”
“So, Socrates made me plant a bomb in a park? The real purpose of my power!”
“No, it was just an act, a demonstration.”
Something about this conversation was not going in the right direction.
“Real people died in the explosion, so it wasn’t an act! It was brutal murder by the hands of a twelve-year-old!”
“People die every day, Elise! People die of such mediocre causes like flu and falling off a cliff, or taking the wrong pill. Those people didn’t die for a mediocre cause that day. They die for something greater than themselves, so they’re martyrs of Socrates. And you’ll help or you’ll also die for a mediocre cause”
He smiled an evil smile.
“What do you want from me?” I ask, shaking.
“You still are a member of Socrates, you know. You were the smartest of us, could sneak in anywhere unseen, persuade anyone of your innocence. We might need another experiment, you know, to test our new intakes”
“No! I’ll never help you!” I scream.
“Then your secret will be out. You’re a terrorist, you know that?”
I look at him. I know his secret. He has a sword in his pocket, a dagger that he’s going to plant in me. I could hurt him if I am quick.
I am quick. He strikes at my chest, coming closer to me. I snatch the knife from his hands and plant it in his chest. Blood rushes out, filling his shirt. Still, the wound isn’t deep enough to kill him, only injure him partly.
I look at the door. It is open. I run at top speed to my home. I enter my room panting.
Mom knocks at my door.
“Your grandpa is dead, Elise.” I could see that she had been weeping. I would have wept too if I wasn’t too shocked and scared of my past.
“It’s okay, Mom,” I say half-heartedly, “It will be alright.”
“He left the insurance company to me.” She said, sobbing.
Insurance company. I knew she had shares in the insurance company, something she didn’t tell me and dad about for some reason. Now, she is the owner of it all.
We attend the funeral; I do my best to act normal.
Five days later, dad comes home with bad news. He had just lost a marathon championship, something he hadn’t done. Or something he had done before, and never told us, I thought. This time he did tell us. But he had been betting at his win and he had lost horribly. He had lost so much money on bets.
The world didn’t make sense anymore. Whatever I had understood about my parents, it was happening again. It wasn’t a coincidence.
There’s only one way to find out what I was suspecting. I searched on the internet for the bald man who had given me my envelope. I got his name from the department of ability control. Igor Blasinki.
Then I search the internet for Blasinki.
The search was going on when I heard my phone ring. It was another school friend of mine. Jack had died from an attack from an unknown invader.
And, yes, there was an obituary in the newspaper. Basinski's mother had died.
As for the unknown invader who’d killed Jack. I knew it was me. I had killed him
The envelope was wrong.
I didn’t see the past.
I saw the future