Chapter 1

Have you ever had one of those days where you woke up in the morning and knew that everything would go wrong? Ever just think, "Wow, today is going to suck," and then had your gloomy musings turn out to be scarily prophetic? Well, I have never had that feeling, but I still had a strange and tripped out day afterwards, when my perfectly normal, chilled and calm existence was turned irretrievably upside down. Well, now that I've got you all interested with my gloom-and-doom, I'll tell you my story. Which, strangely enough, didn't start with any crazy premonitions, or feelings of doom. Hell, it didn't start with any feelings at all. Craziness, and emotions were reserved for later that day. And, on second thought, the rest of my lifeā€¦

I woke up that morning exactly the same way that I always did, half falling out of bed with my head on the floor and legs still on the bed. It was, as always, the cold that woke me up, not the blood pooling in my head. I always seemed to wake up cold. There could be a war raging right inside my bedroom and I wouldn't stir if I was warm. I dragged my bottom half out of bed and hauled my sorry carcass upright, preparing for my two constant companions to realise I was up. Mornings were definitely not my strong point, for one simple reason; Headaches always accompanied standing up. In fact, I thought as I stumbled out of the bomb site I considered my room and into the hallway, headaches follow me around everywhere. It was the first time I'd noticed in years, after all, when you live with pain for long enough, you forget that it's there. As usual, I was met with a frosty reception the moment I walked out of the hall and into our cramped kitchen, which backed directly onto the lounge room. Maybe I'd been dropped on my head as a baby, I ruminated to myself as I stumbled to the fridge, my muscles refusing to co-operate with the orders issued by my aching brain. My mother bustled about, cleaning everything and studiously ignoring me. I could practically feel the disgust and disapproval rolling off of her as I took a swig out of the milk bottle that my parent reserved for me. My mother disapproved of my habit, glaring at me hard enough to raise the hairs on the back of any teenager who was less jaded than me. I simply shrugged it off and returned the bottle to the fridge. I immediately felt the pounding in my head slow, just a fraction but enough for me to notice.

This was why I drank out of the bottle and also why I did a myriad of other things that most parents assumed their teenagers did just to annoy them. Like arranging the posters on my walls in geometric patterns designed to confuse the eyes; mother really loved it when I locked myself in my quarters for two solid weeks in the centre of what appeared to be a paper explosion cutting and gluing posters into patterns that gave her a headache every time she looked at them hanging on the walls (after I hung them of course). At least they give me some relief from the constant, throbbing pain. At that moment, my mental wanderings were interrupted by an intensifying in my head pains. I straightened up and pulled my head out of the fridge, turning towards the hallway as quickly as I could; I ignored my mother tensing up as she was used to the conflicts that were common place in our house and she knew this would be a big one.

I urged myself to move faster, but again my muscles, coupled with my natural clumsiness slowed my progress to an unbearable crawl. My mother turned away and busied herself preparing breakfast for the creature that we both knew was about to enter the kitchen. She could probably hear him coming; I couldn't hear anything over the blood rushing through my ears and the pounding in my head. I tried as hard as I could to move across the tiny floor space between the kitchen and the safety of the hallway, but in the end I just wasn't quick enough, and he walked into the room, mouth already open, ready with a booming command.

"Cyrus!" My stepfather commanded. His voice was loud enough to echo within the confines of the house. I stopped in my tracks and slowly turned around. He was an imposing figure, standing at least six feet tall, my stepfather had to hunch to avoid hitting his head on the roof. Something about his appearance screwed with my head, possibly the way the light reflected off of his bald head, or the way that the air around him often appeared to blur and shift in a way that I just couldn't understand. It was almost as is something was happening around him that my mind and eyes just couldn't handle. But then again, I was an impressionable teenager at the time with more than my fair share of eccentricities, so I dismissed the blurs as a side effect of the super-sayan level intensification of the aches in my head. Again, maybe it was because he was bald, or because I instinctively knew we could never agree on anything. We had an argument one day on what the colour of the sky was in the middle of the day, which resulted in me copping a backhand in the end because I was correct and refused to back down (the sky at the time was absolutely and totally blue, not orange tinted). This was the final thing I needed to rationally decide that I hated him. Sure, I had hated him from the moment Mother first introduced us, but it was the violence that finally justified my hate. He never hit mother once, but as an unruly teenager, I was a different story.

"Yes," I answered him tentatively. I looked at my watch and hoped that he wouldn't want an argument. I only had five minutes to start my long walk to school and I couldn't afford to be late to maths again, especially because we had a test tomorrow and our teacher wasn't halfway through showing us the required information for passing and I had to pass. It made my head feel a little better when I failed to fail.

"Say good morning to your Dad" he boomed. Both he and mother gave me an expectant look, not seeing the inherent problem with that request, as Dad had six years ago, when I was ten. I could tell from the light creases that were developing around their eyes (which were almost scarily similar, especially since Mother never had them until she remarried) that I wouldn't get out of the house unscathed if I refused, so I stammered a quick "good morning" and shuffled around the corner into the hallway. As was usual, the moment he was out of my sight the pain in my head and behind my eyes subsided, the blurring that seemed to float around him like a thick fog gone the moment I turned around. My muscles felt more responsive too. I could hear Mother talking to him as I hustled up the hallway to my room. I sorted through the mess of clothes to find my school uniforms. I changed quickly, pulling on a T-shirt and long pants. I dragged my bag down the hallway to the back door and pulled it open silently, hoping to avoid further conflict. And further headaches, not that my Omni-pained head ever stopped aching. I looked back at the diminutive house that Mother insisted I call home. The walls looked weathered and the front door ancient. The dim light of dawn seemed not to be reflected by my house, so much as absorbed by it, or drank in by the accumulated grime that coated the walls.

"Well," I muttered to myself, "at least with that many layers of dirt it looks like it should be that colour.