Behind Yellow Eyes: Chapter 1

Story by rhenthar on SoFurry

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Chapter 1.

Marcus winces as his grandfather sticks a needle into a vein in his arm, the third time this week. At this rate, they'll need to switch locations soon, otherwise he'll start looking like a tetrameth junky.

"How are your studies in math going?" his grandfather asks, placing a ball of cotton over the site. He bends his arm at the elbow to hold it in place, while the site clots.

"Eh," he exhales. "Ok. Trig wasn't a big deal in high school, but calculus sure sucks," says Marcus, shaking his head. He doesn't understand the need to learn so much about numbers when computers take care of everything involving them. He had asked his grandfather about that, once, and was only met with laughter. The world is to be understood , he had said. Not merely lived in. Whatever.

"Calculus!" his grandfather declares. "You should enjoy that, the ability to compute orbits and planetary masses, gravities. I remember my lessons from when I was your age..."

"Did you hate them as much as I do now?" Marcus pops a few food pellets into a large aquarium bubbling next to a wall. A deep-sea diving figure slowly rises and lowers inside, exotic freshwater fish dart to the surface and scoop up the food.

His grandfather smiles at that. "Maybe. But I had a lot on my mind, back then. I was worried about survival. The Dee-eight wasn't as well understood as it is today. I lived each day as if it were my last. I had no idea at the time that I was immune, so toughen up, young man. You've a full life ahead of you."

Marcus stares at the fish, lost in thought. It definitely is different, compared to most of his friends. They all have a death sentence, with an unknown date of execution. He can't even imagine what that must feel like. Knowing your days are numbered, that it's all going to end, sooner instead of later.

His grandfather takes the handful of vacuum-sealed vials, samples of his blood, and drops them all into a machine. It's about the size of a laser printer, and it's analyzing the way his body fights Dee-eight, adapting as the virus changes. There is hope that one day a vaccine can be made from his research, but it's probably going to be too late. More likely, the remaining humans all wind up immune, like the both of them, effectively breeding out the disease over time, instead. One by one, the vials clink into an output tray at the front of the unit, evacuated and sterilized, ready to be used again.

"What about the upcoming dance?" his grandfather glances at Marcus with his bushy white eyebrows high. "Spring break, I presume?" Marcus had thought that the pressure to mingle with girls was bad enough in high school, but now that he's a freshman in college, it's ten times worse.

"I don't have a date... I think I'm just gonna skip it."

His grandfather shakes his head. "Come now," he says. "A handsome lad such as yourself, having trouble getting a date? I've seen the way Stephanie looks at you. And you already know, she's immune, too. I've talked with her parents, she's got a great future, a high IQ, and Bardex psych reports all in the high six's."

Marcus covers his face with his hands. "Ugh! I can't believe you guys discuss things like that! We're not slaves, don't you get it?" Marcus holds his arms out, as if he's embracing something huge. "Whatever happened to freedom and the ability to decide what I want to do?"

His grandfather pauses, taking that in. "You're always free to make choices, of course," he cautiously admits. "But you have a responsibility to our society, too. Your education hasn't come cheap," he reminds. "Your generation is our last hope; don't you realize how lucky that makes you? All of humankind might depend on your blood, and your genes. And the few others that we know of."

For his whole life, he's been aware of his immunity. The pressure to take a part in saving his race has steadily increased, the older he's grown. Yet nobody has ever asked him what he wanted. And nobody would understand if he told them.

"Yeah. Fine. I'll ask her out. Ok?" His attention shifts to the digital time displayed in the upper right field of his vision, where his wetware is configured to keep a transparent readout. It's flickering. "Crap. My shift starts in fifteen minutes. Can I borrow your trike?"

His grandfather is intensely staring at a screen showing detailed results of the most recent blood analysis. He nods to the latter. "Don't forget. Ask Stephanie out on a date..."

"Yeah, right," he says, hoping that sounded more enthusiastic than he is.

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