Chapter 1

I'm different than other kids. It's not because of my musical tastes or choice of clothing. It's not because of my sexual preferences or my family. It's not even the my name or the fact that I'm home schooled.

I'm different because of my blood.

It's not red, it's orange.

Not to say the other stuff doesn't make me different. I like metal music, which many people give me strange looks for listening to. I wear clothes that match my music too, which gets me called names like "emo" and "faggot". Not that I get called that often, because being home schooled, you don't get out often. Especially when my adopted mother doesn't let me out of the house. My name is different too. My mom could have named me something normal like Billy or Eddy, but no, she named me Hephaestus, after the Greek God of fire and metalwork. The only thing that's not different about me is that I'm straight, not gay (but I don't think there is anything wrong with that).

Anyway, my doctor says that he can't explain what's wrong with my blood. I've suggested to my mother that we go to some other doctors, but she says that's too dangerous. She says that about a lot of things. She won't let me outside, because i could get hurt, my blood could show, and someone would see that I'm different. Whenever I ask why that's bad, she just gives me the same cryptic answer: You never know who's who. This doesn't answer anything.

On rare occasions my mom will take me out of the house to see a movie or eat at a restaurant, but only under her strict supervision. And she's taken precautions to keeping me from leaving on my own: she's nailed the windows down, and she put a combination lock on the door. It can be unlocked on the outside with a key, but to leave you need to know the combination.

My mom isn't a tyrant, though. She doesn't tell me what to watch or listen to. She let's me play whatever video game I wish. She doesn't have rules that are impossible to not break. She's really nice. She also showed a little bit of leniency the other day by letting me get my drivers license. She also bought me a car. Now I can drive around whenever i want, once I'm eighteen. Or if I break out of the house.

Which was my plan.

I've tried to break the combination for years, but I've failed to make any real progress. I only knew the first number: 12. I had been looking over my mother's shoulder. She noticed me though, and adjusted her stance. I couldn't think of any other strategy to find the combo other than try random numbers and then write them down and cross them off. One number down didn't really help me that much. There was still a significant amount of combinations left. Then i thought of something. There was an important date that was significant in her life that happened in December. I tried 12-06-02, the date she adopted me.

Sure enough, the doorknob turned. I opened the door and looked outside. It was a nice sunny day. Birds were chirping and and the grass looked greener without glass between me and it.

I walked to the car, swung the door open, and got in. I left the door open until i turned on the car. I put the air conditioning to the coolest setting, then backed out. Then I just drove.

I knew that I lived in Lawrence, Indiana, but I only had a vague idea of what was around. I mostly drove in a straight line. I figured it'd be less likely for me to get lost that way.

While driving, I realized how much I really wanted to get out of that house. It wasn't hell in that house, but i had been getting tired of seeing the same walls, the same pictures, the same everything, everyday. It felt good to be out of that house. And now I was driving to somewhere new, somewhere exciting. I didn't actually know where I'd end up, but I knew it'd be like that. I don't know how I knew, I just did.

I soon realized I was in a new town. I slowed down, looking out for speed limit signs and looking at shops. I wished I had money to spend. I saw a speed limit sign and adjusted my speed. I checked my speedometer for just a second, and when I looked back up, a girl on a bike was suddenly in front of me. I slammed on my breaks, but it wasn't good enough. I hit her at around forty miles per hour. She bounced off my hood and onto the pavement. I put the car in park and tried to get out in such a hurry I forgot to take off my seat belt. After unbuckling, I stood by the girl's side.

"Are you okay?" I asked her. Miraculously, she was still conscious. She nodded in response to my question. I looked at her arm and gasped. She had some nasty road rash on it, but that's not what made me gasp. It was the color of said road rash.

It was blue.