“You won’t believe what I found under there!”
A stream of boys rushed into the room, one by one colliding into each other till there was only the one, the original. Tucker eyed him. The handlers said he was a gift for Tucker’s behavior. They said it was because every eight year old needed someone to learn from. They said it was good for him, but Tucker only eyed the boy, the boy they named Grackle.
Grackle inched the chair he plopped in closer. He grinned wider, laughing as the legs scraped against the hard floor. “Everything is just like they said! I can play with anything I want! The other birds, the weather, the sky, the sea, the animals and trees. I’m the mighty Grackle! God of Play!”
Tucker looked away as Grackle’s fists pumped the air. Each one made a part of him cringe. He stared down at his hands, curling and uncurling his fingers, his fingertips raking over his palms.
“Mags! Mags! You’re not playing.”
Tucker felt the heaviness of Grackle’s body slumped against his. He hunched forward but Grackle prattled on and poked at Tucker’s cheek.
“Time for the Magpie song! One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, and four for a boy! Five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told! Eight for a wish! Nine for a kiss! Magpie! Magpie! Sing some more!”
Tucker grit his teeth. He ignored the pulsing pain from over-clenching as Grackle’s tone-deaf singing worked its way under his skin. His palms were raw and his blood felt hot. Grackle suddenly shot up, allowing Tucker to slump back in relief, only for Grackle to haul him up and twirl with him.
“Now we dance as we go again! I’ve got a Magpie! I’ve got a Magpie! I’ve got sorrow, I’ve got joy, I’ve got a girl, I’ve got a boy!”
Tucker stared at the cold hands around his as Grackle made him dance. He didn’t notice the familiar stains of red before but there they were. Grackle’s hands were covered in it. Tucker followed the trail and splatters till he his eyes met with Grackle’s. Tucker stared into the universe that made up his eyes. The white flecks in the shades of blue, the ring of orange, red, and gold, and the slow churning of that ring. He wasn’t like the others. His eyes were cosmic, his emotions were unstable and high, and his blood lust was insatiable. The collar around Tucker’s neck quickly tightened.
“Let me go! Let me go!”
He looked down at their joined hands. Grackle’s were still stained red, but so were his. Letting go, he watched as Grackle scrambled to the door, half crawling, half running the length of the way, all the while crying out.
“The Magpie tried to kill me! I don’t want to be friends with him anymore! I don’t want him!”
The door didn’t open. Tucker looked up at the camera. His collar tightened and loosened as if giving him permission, but the longer he waited, the tighter the pressure got.
“Let me out! I hate him! I hate you all! You’re all going to die! Everybody who keeps me trapped will die, I mean it! Do you hear me?”
Tucker gasped, his sight blurring, as he watched Grackle bang angrily at the door. The air around Grackle looked hazier than the rest of the room but everything felt hotter.
“I’m a God!”
Tucker clutched at the edges of his collar. It had yet to let up on the steady increase in pressure. He tried altering his genetic make-up so his throat and bones would withstand it but it drained him. He looked at the camera again. It was a test, just like all the others. Shutting his eyes, he focused on the Grackle and his tantrum till the yells turned into screams and then to silence. The collar stopped crushing his throat and when Tucker opened his eyes, he hung his head. The handlers were already in the room hauling out their latest experiment.
“You were stubborn today, Magpie. I expected more from you, especially after we were so kind to give you a gift for your birthday.”
The flat voice made him glare up at the camera still on him.
“Don’t look at us like that. You know as well as we do that you feel the best when you kill others, others like you. Have you realized it yet? The reason we keep you alive isn’t because you’re unique, it’s because you inherently hate your own kind.”
His eyes widened but soon narrowed again and he dropped his head. “I’m nobody’s weapon.” He was careful to whisper it as if it were a secret between him and him alone. He kept his head down and his back against the wall. The room was stained but it was silent and although it pained him, he knew the scientists were right. And he knew he deserved to be locked far, far away from the others.