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Coming of Age Science Fiction

Author's note: As some of you know I am British and therefore used the British school system. For Americans here, Year 10 is equivalent to Grade 9 (Freshman). Also the end may seem quite short, and maybe lacking detail, but I came up to the word limit. Please read and enjoy.

“Today’s the day, son.” I wake up groggily, to find my parents opening the curtains and pulling me duvet off, despite my loud protests. “Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for. You’ll finally be a proper adult now. Come on, get up, ya lug” Slowly, very slowly, I emerge out of my pit. Slowly, very slowly I stand up and walk out of my bedroom, without saying a word. I go to the bathroom, and when I return to my bedroom, my parents are still there, with excited smiles across their faces. I suppose I am excited too, but is this really as big a deal as everyone thinks? Surely the Glasses aren’t as amazing as everyone says. How many pairs of glasses can be 3D, X-ray, allow people to immediately communicate and accurately predict the weather? I mean, I know that the communication is true, but X-ray vision? Seriously? And the weather thing has gotta be a lie? No one can ever predict the weather!

But still, in 4 hours time at 10:00 (yes, my parents did wake me up at the ungodly hour of 6:00 am in case we are let for the ceremony 10 minutes down the road) I will be walking up to collect the Glasses, which will magically transform me into a proper adult!

“Come on, Cam! You need breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day! Do you want pancakes? Bacon? Eggs? A bit of each? Anyway you need to have something. It’s a big day today!” Mum practically screeched at me.

“Yes, it’s a big day of me sitting down for 3 hours, with a 100 metre walk somewhere in the middle of that. I’m sure I’ll be exhausted and dying of hunger from that.” Mum gives me the look, which says she does not appreciate my sarcasm. I look down, knowing I have lost and begrudgingly take a piece of toast and bacon. Dad wanders in and takes 3 pancakes and a heap of bacon. Clearly, someone is hungry.

“Okay, Cam, today is-” He starts but they’ve already given me the speech.

“Today is a big day. I think you mentioned it this morning. And yesterday. 7 times. You also mentioned it 2 days ago, and 3. In fact, you’ve been reminding me for the whole buggin’ month! So, yes I know what today is.” I reply snootily.

“Actually son, I was going to say, it is your Aunt Maybelle’s birthday and she’ll be joining us so she can watch. It’s very important today.” I roll my eyes. “If you roll those eyes any more, you might find a brain back there.” 

“I’ll just find out later with these all powerful glasses which will change my life. I’ll go get ready now, so I won’t embarrass you later. Don’t worry, mum, I’ll be down at half nine so you still have 15 minutes to nag me for things I’ve already done.” I flash a smile and bolt up the stays before they can protest.

***

I clamber out the car, carefully so as not to get dirt on my uniform so mum doesn’t screech at me. I see my classmates doing this, with equally eagle-like parents. I see Hugo, my best friend, and wave at him. I was planning to sit next to him, but I can already see signs for each letter of the alphabet. Me being Cameron Miller and him being Hugo Aldy we sit nowhere near each other, and can not communicate through 13 rows of seats. Shame.

Dad pushes me forward, and we locate our seats. Of course, the teachers were concerned with our comfort so they gave us the plastic chairs to sit in for three hours with no cushions. Can’t wait. 

Gradually the seats do fill up, with enthusiastic parents and grumpy kids, and beady teachers keeping a watchful eye on us, incase we do anything stupid in front of the MP. Eventually seats are as full as they are going to get, with only a few lucky people missing. Ms. Everna- the MP- steps forward and takes her place at the microphone.

“Good morning, everybody!” Her voice rings out, loud and clearly. It’s slightly tinny, but our sound system was broken last year. “Here we are again, when yet another year has passed. The next generation is upon us! I’m sure your parents have told you already but today is a big day. I- we- will be giving you your Glasses, which is your first step to becoming proper members of our society. At the end of Year 10, when all of you are 15 or almost there, we feel that you are mature and responsible enough-”

“Just shut up! We’ve been told this by our parents like a million times” A voice interrupts, and the teacher’s glares dart around trying to find the culprit, but to no avail. Personally I have to agree with them and I think some others do as well for a quiet chuckle broke across the audience. Ms. Everna’s cheeks are now tinged with pink. She carries on regardless.

“Although clearly not in some cases. Obviously you all know about the glasses, because you live on planet Earth, but I think there have been rumours about what they can and can’t do. I will clear those up for you. The Glasses are 3D and X-ray- the two most well known features. However, the X-ray vision does not go through clothes now, even though some of the originals did. That had to be quickly altered. You can message others through the Glasses as long as you have their Glass number. Each one is unique. A popular rumour I have heard is that they can easily predict the weather. This is only in the really expensive ones. You are getting the basic ones which can be updated and modified, but it does cost. And no, they do not control your mind. They are not a government ploy to find out all your secrets. After all, your parents all use them, and no negative consequences have come because of it. Now I will call you up one name at a time, starting with the ‘A’s. You will walk up the left side of the stage, collect your Glasses from me in your left hand and then shake with your right. You will then proceed to shake Mr Wilner's hand and Miss Hapes'. If your parents so wish, you may pause at the end to smile and take a photo. Thank you.” Mum immediately turns to me.

“You will have your photo taken. Try to smile, dear, because this photo is going to be framed and displayed!” Great. Just great. 

“Aldy, Hugo, come on up!” I watch him, hoping he doesn’t fall. He can be extraordinarily clumsy sometimes. He doesn’t. He practically grabs his Glasses with anticipation, and forgets to shake. He’s called back, which he does so reluctantly. I can tell he wants to get off the stage as quickly as possible. I don’t blame him.

The names are called out, one by one and it seems to take forever. I knew my year group was big, but my God, are they slow? 11.00 rolls by and I think they have reached the ‘F’s. My foot starts tapping, like it does whenever I have sat down for too long. Mum gives me the look again, and I try to stop, I really do, but I can’t. It just keeps tap, tap, tapping.

And look, in the sky, a grey cloud is coming. I wonder if it is going to rain? Is that a flock of birds? It looks like seagulls. They probably want food. I know I want food. Maybe mum was right and I should have eaten more at breakfast. On the side, I can see food stalls are being set up and the scent of burgers and onions are drifting towards me, making me oh so hungry and oh so sleepy. I’m not sure if I can stay awake much longer. I can’t concentrate on-

“Miller, Cameron, come on up!” She calls, breaking me out of my reverie. Hastily, I stand and try to reach the end of my row, without squashing too many people. I succeed- mostly. 

When I reach the platform, Ms. Everna wide smile, with impossibly white teeth that surely aren’t natural, greets me. I think it’s meant to be friendly, but it’s slightly sinister. She also looks impossibly young for 43, so maybe she is a vampire after all? I mean, they don’t age. But then again, maybe I’ve just read too many books and watched too many films.

The next couple of minutes pass in a blur of me being pushed about, with my hand grasped and shook by many different people, but by the end of it, clasped in my hand is a shiny, new pair of Glasses. We were told to wait until after everyone has been given theirs to put them on, but no one will notice if I put them on in the audience, will they? I am sat right in the middle. Quickly I stumble off stage and retreat to my seat, with dad looking at me proudly, and my mum looking slightly narked. Ah, I think I forgot to stop for the photo. 

I slump slightly in my seat, and start fake coughing. A few people shoot angry glares my way, but it masks the sound of the crinkling plastic wrap of the Glasses. Dad hears, looks at me, notices the packet, and winks. Well, if he didn’t mind, I might as well.

In my hand, the glasses are smooth, and a glossy black, with an orange stripe up one side. I think the colour signifies age and where I live. It will change slightly each year, morphing slowly from orange to red to yellow to green to blue to purple. I wanted to start with purple, ‘cause it looks the best, but I have to wait another 70 years. My hands shake slightly, and I slowly raise them to my head.

I put them on.

Everything looks the same except a column of buttons have appeared on one side. One at a time I go through them. First 3D but that only works for films, so it just makes my visions slightly blurry. 

Next the messaging system. Because I have no contacts at the moment, it just appears with all the ones closest to me, starting with my parents. I send a quick ‘hi’ to my dad, who replies with a waving bear GIF. This is seriously cool. I scroll through the others trying to find Hugo. HA15121224. I think that’s him. Initials. Age. Birthday. I sent him the GIF dad sent me. I’m not sure if he has looked at his yet, but a reply of ‘this is dead cool, isn’t it?’ comes in less than a minute later. 

Now for the X-ray vision. I switch it on and I reel back. Can’t have this on too long, otherwise it’ll just make your eyes go funny. I can see everything. Through seats, through the stage and table. Through all the food stalls. Through the people! But, like Ms. Everna said not through the clothes. In front of me, I can see brains. And eyes. Inside people. Freaky. I turn to look at mum and dad, just to make sure they have a brain, ‘cause you can never be too sure ,right? 

And I freeze.

Because you can never be sure.

Because they don’t have a brain.

They.

Have.

No.

Brain.

Instead, their heads are made up of an intricate jungle of… wires. Leaping and looping over and under each other, all different colours, all different lengths, but all meeting in the centre, which looks like a metal lump, but is probably a processor. 

God, I sound calm.

I’m not calm.

I’m panicking.

My parents are androids.

Freaking androids.

Why isn’t anyone else freaking out? Surely they can see it too, because they all have X-ray vision too. Why? Is it my Glasses? Is it my parents? Is it even real? I don’t know.

 I don’t know.

I. Don’t. Know.

What is happening?

Did I mention how hot it is today? I can feel the sweat pouring down my back, my face, my neck, everywhere. I don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s just the Glasses. Maybe everyone feels like this the first time they try them on. It is overwhelming. I think I might pass out. I am going to pass out. I can only hope that my dad can catch m-.

***

“Son, wake up! You’ve been out for almost 6 hours. We had to leave early because you fainted. Thank God. I’m not sure if I could take much more of it.” 

“That’s not the point. Cam could have been hurt.” Mum snapped and hit him on the arm. “You alright now, sweetie? That was some fall.” She looked at me concerned, like a mother should, but I could never forget what I saw. That they are robots. That they aren’t even human

I coil back, but mum mistakes this from the sudden brightness and turns down the light. It does help, but not very much. “I- I guess I’m alright. What happened?” I ask.

“Well, you were playing with your Glasses when you weren’t supposed to might I say and then you looked like you saw some kind of alien.” She smiles to show she’s joking, but is she? Does she know? Or does she think she’s human? But it can’t be coincidence. I don’t believe in them. “Then you fainted. We left early to take you home and you’ve been asleep for the last 6ish hours.”

“Are my Glasses alright? And can I have some water? I’m surprisingly thirsty.” I ask but I’m not sure whether I wanted my Glasses to be broken or not. I do definitely want water.

“Yes, your Glasses are right here, love, and, Adam, go fetch a glass of water for him?” Dad promptly left the room. “You just rest up. I’ll just be downstairs if you need anything, give us a shout.” She departed when dad came back with the water that I heartily drank. Dad left with the empty cup.

And, finally, I am alone. 

I reach out for the Glasses and try them on. I flick the TV on as well to test out the 3D setting, which, it turns out, is seriously awesome. In the corner of my eye, I could see the X-ray button. Should I press it again? Or just hope I imagined it? Maybe I am just being paranoid and it was just a glitch the first time.

I press the X-ray button. 

Have you ever seen inside a TV? It’s full of wire and cables and looks just like the inside of my parents. They haven’t changed. I didn’t imagine it. My parents- are they even my parents? How could they be?- are still androids. 

What do I do?

I can’t live with androids for parents. I’ll never love them the same ever again. 

What do I do?

I can’t call anyone. They’ll all think I’m crazy. Hell, I think I’m crazy

Eventually, I must have fallen asleep, because I wake up hours later, with darkness surrounding me. The Glasses still wedged onto my face, uncomfortably imprinting themselves across me. And the X-ray setting is still. 

And I know I can’t live with them anymore. 

I walk downstairs to the kitchen and find the knives. Two sharp ones. I go back upstairs.

***

I slowly slide each knife into their backs, slowly severing their spines, I peel back their skin, expecting to see a mass of wires, but, in reality, there are human. I can see their hearts pumping, but gradually slowing. I can see their lungs, pink and flashy, but now flat, with no air to pump them up. And I can see the blood. So much blood. Everywhere. It’s pooling round their bodies, round my feet. It’s staining their bed, and the carpet a crimson red, which will stain my dreams. I can’t believe it. It’s sloshing when I move my feet, and I hate that noise, so I don’t move, but it’s already stained my socks, and is now seeping through and staining my feet. Mum and dad’s faces have gone slack and pale. In an hour they’ll be grey. In two, they’ll be blue. In three, they’ll be found. I’ll be found and-.

Oh God.

I didn’t mean to.

But the Glasses. They tricked me. How?

How?

How will I explain this?

No one will believe me.

It was all a lie. 


February 22, 2021 14:05

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27 comments

Ria Mukesh
06:01 Feb 23, 2021

This is a great story! I think some people can find this realistic and relatable which makes it even better😁

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Vibes Blossom
16:56 Feb 22, 2021

This is the best story I've read on Reedsy so far (I've read more than 30)! Firstly you made the concept realistic and believable. And you built high expectations at the start which I can happily say, you nailed! P.s I would really appreciate it if you continue this story or the 'glasses' concept in near future, cause I really enjoyed it!

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17:30 Feb 22, 2021

aww thanks! I'll try but ya never know what prompts will come up

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Vibes Blossom
05:31 Feb 23, 2021

Yeah true that

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Cole Lane
17:37 Mar 21, 2021

Whoa, did not see that coming. Such an awesome ending! I didn't feel it was sparse or rushed (as your author's note indicated), it was just enough to drop the surprise and leave IMO.

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Francesca Mohan
12:44 Mar 04, 2021

I love a twist and this delivered! Francesca Quarto, Author

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Courtney C
06:35 Mar 02, 2021

This was so good! Unexpected twist, well developed characters (I started "hearing" your dialogue in a British accent at some point lol), and a truly horrifying psychological decision. You can't ask for much more. Great writing and great story!

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Saihan Yousuf
13:16 Mar 01, 2021

This was amazing. That plot twist seriously threw me.

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you're such a good writer!!!!!!!

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11:11 Mar 01, 2021

thank you!!! :)))

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L.J Ferguson
23:07 Feb 28, 2021

Great story good twist. As for tea I drink a ton of it, I heat my water up on the stove like a sane person. I take it with no sugar and no milk. And I was taught how to drink tea if I Mr belvedere from the '90s sitcom Mr belvedere, lol

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Cookie Carla🍪
18:49 Feb 24, 2021

I make my tea on the stove. Heat water up, place it in a thermal mug for on-the-go-purposes, and place a tea bag in it. That's just how I do it and I'm from Louisiana XD

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19:17 Feb 24, 2021

at lease it's not made in the microwave :))

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Cookie Carla🍪
20:06 Feb 24, 2021

😂😂

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SpaceHuman 🌌
19:12 Feb 22, 2021

Wow what a twist! I love this theory of glasses. Overall, amazing story although there are a few typos here and there ;)

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Ruth Smith
16:15 Mar 09, 2021

This is a pretty good story.

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Jasey Lovegood
09:38 Mar 09, 2021

OH MY LORD, THE PLOT TWIST- WOW. Anyway, putting aside the fact that I'm shook, here's some feedback. [“Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for. You’ll finally be a proper adult now. Come on, get up, ya lug”] Punctuationnnnnn :)

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09:44 Mar 09, 2021

aahh! but thank you! you are amazing, both as a person and writer! you may have noticed that i have shouted you out on my bio, because you are that great! :))))))

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Jasey Lovegood
09:44 Mar 09, 2021

Awww thanks so much! Anything to help a fellow teen writer! Your work is really good! :D

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D. Owen
11:59 Mar 01, 2021

Interesting story concept.

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AntMan 🐜
23:45 Feb 22, 2021

This is such a great story! That was completely unexpected on my part! also, I read your bio, and I do like tea (I'm American) but unlike others, I make mine in an electrical kettle. I like mint tea with a hint of chocolate. I am writing a story set in Britain (London) but as an American, I don't know all the slang, so I was wondering if you could check over my Felicia stories. You don't have to, but I am trying to make it sound more British. Thanks Again, G R E A T story!💖

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09:08 Feb 23, 2021

thanks! i'll read your story, but I'm not from London. I'm a southerner, so I don't know all the lingo either, but I'll still read it

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AntMan 🐜
10:58 Feb 23, 2021

Thanks! Anything helps, really! 😂

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15:46 Feb 23, 2021

i have read the series and now can NOT wait for the next chapters. as a big fan of percy jackson and magnus chase, I loved it even more.💖 I didn't notice any un-british stuff, but the date in the tea shop is AMAZING. in one of my first stories on here, there was a tea shop date which just shows how british it is. 😂

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AntMan 🐜
15:48 Feb 23, 2021

Thank you for reading those!🥰 Your feedback really helps! Noe I feel more confident in writing the stories!

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Todd Кelly
15:22 Dec 26, 2021

Scaaaary. Although interesting. Easy to read. Applause)))

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Hoor Amin
11:16 Jun 16, 2021

Ooff

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