a year in stories::thirteen

Another new story, second post of the day. It’s pretty short and I might steal this idea and make a novel when I get a chance because I really like the concepts I touch upon here, briefly as I do. I think there’s lot of potential for expansion. Anyrate, it’s a story about nanotechnology.

Hopefully I find something interesting to do with my night now since I’ve been so productive today.

My Body is a Witch

Am I still alive?

Yeah, sure. Of course you’re alive.

I hugged him, my brother, his skin of polyethylene.

My brother wasn’t crying but I think he wanted to. It’s not that he couldn’t, but that he didn’t. There was a time when this would never have been possible and it’s still pretty strange, but no longer inconceivable, though who knows what it means. About a hundred years ago scientists built a cube beneath the south pole to collect neutrinos. A hundred years before that neutrinos weren’t a thing people knew about. We thought nothing got smaller than an atom and then things got quantum and the twentieth century turned upside down. In the twenty first this big cube under ice collected all this data on neutrinos and quantum turned almost magic. M-theory wasn’t just a theory but an actuality and so much science fiction turned into life. I’m no expert but neutrinos were like this key to everything we almost knew but couldn’t, and when we made sense of them it toppled all these barriers in science and technology.

This is about nanotechnology. Nanobots.

My mother died having my brother, which simply doesn’t happen. I was just a kid then but I knew it was pretty unusual. People dying is strange enough, but dying for life–that was nonsense. Pretwentieth century hysteria and superstition.

Turns out mom was allergic or something to nanobots and so when they went in things changed in her body. She wasn’t always allergic or I wouldn’t be here but something between my brother and me turned her blood riotous against NBs and so when they flooded her to ensure safety, they ended up killing her. Her body reacted against them and they turned on her, literally turning her into something else. Realigning DNA, ripping up RNA, seeing her humanness as antiquated, maybe. I don’t know. No one really knows, or at least no one ever told me what happened and why and that level of tech is above me. The main point is that NBs killed my mom and got into my brother real early. Probably too early.

I guess when this happened it was big news and my dad had to be investigated and stuff. They thought he was a biotech terrorist or worse: a Naturalist. We call them Greeners and Fungies but you don’t really hear about them anymore. That was more elementary school stuff.

I remember watching the news at school when I was ten or so and the image of the World Bank overgrown with vegetation, people scrambling from the building with branches and flowers growing out of their skin until it ate them alive. The city streets were covered with these swallowed human bodies made into lemontrees or bushes or gardens or whatever. It was a weird time, but that’s all gone.

Anyway, they thought my dad was one of them, maybe, and he was using my mom’s death as a symbol or something to show the evils of NT, but that wasn’t dad and it wore him down hard. What kind of monster does that to their children’s mother? But it happened and my dad was cleared but it was global news: the first NT death. The Government didn’t want it to be news, of course, but these things have a way of getting out. Even so, most of the details never made it public, like how they didn’t just kill my mom but made her something else.

After all the attention and scrutiny of my dad, we moved out of the city proper and settled down nearer the fringe. He wanted to disappear and leave all that pain behind. I don’t blame him, but I’ve always dreamt of heading back in there, to the city. Maybe for university. My levels are pretty high so teachers tell me I have a chance, and with the sort of fame I accidentally possess, I have a lot of hope of a bright future in biotech and nanotechnology. But, anyway.

Life’s been pretty quiet for the last five years. We went to school like other kids and all sorts of other things. I’ve dated, lost my virginity to a boy then a girl, got drunk did drugs, joined a cult, joined a revolutionary group, left both, tried suicide, found it to be too much work, got philosophical about immortality sprouting around us, how people would soon be older than trees, but, these days, I’m pretty normal. My brother’s younger and would still be in primary school but most of the time things were normal. It wasn’t until a few years ago that profound differences began to emerge.

As far as we or anyone else knows, my brother’s one of a kind, for now. It’s possible Government has others like him, which keeps my dad protective and thinking about leaving the city entirely, risking all of us for my brother because once you leave the city you’re gone: Green or worse.

But my brother began showing signs really early, though we didn’t know then. He walked at six months, talked at nine, started doing math when he was five. Not addition or anything, but quantum magic. We were proud, my dad especially. The boy who almost died because of tech was going to change the world with his little brain, make the next breakthroughs in science and stuff.

A prodigy. The word sounded like hope. We watched lectures at night from universities across the world, all of them over my head and probably over dad’s too, and my brother started speaking Arabic, French, Russian, Finnish: anything spoken around him. He was picking up languages as fast as he was picking up numbers. The lectures bored him and he never paid attention but he grabbed their languages and made them his own. Within a year he built his own language, called it Dragon and started writing books. While the other kids his age were learning to read and write, he was inventing new ways to think and talk and understand reality.

That’s when my dad pulled him out of his school and taught him about secrets. It’s also when his skin began to change, or at least when we noticed. It felt like skin but it had no scent. Even his hair was scentless, though it felt right. His eyes were always black like mom’s but when we looked in them then we started to understand something more about their color. Things happened inside him and when he got hurt he didn’t stay hurt. Cuts closed, he ate enormous amounts for a human of any age or size, and he seemed to just know things, to see things we couldn’t. I remember watching him stare at the sun for an hour. I told him he’d go blind and he laughed at me. When he turned away from the light, he ran inside and filled up a notebook with calculations I don’t think anyone would be able to understand. Before we could even say the words we most feared about him he told us that he wasn’t human, like everyone else.

My dad tried to console him but he wasn’t looking for sympathy. He was looking for answers, for a reason, for a purpose.

You’re my son, dad said and we all just left it at that.

I hold my brother now. I feel his pulse, hear his breathing, but I know he’s not like me or maybe anyone else. If we leave the city, everything I’ve dreamt of disappears, but if we stay he might.

How do you know, he says.

If you’re not alive, then neither am I. None of us are.

Do you think they killed mom when she started to turn like me?

We watch birds and squirrels outside. Leaves falling. I hold my brother and try not to think about everything happening inside him or what he’ll one day become. I just hold him.

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