GUEST BLOG: C. DARWIN DECAY PART TWO by J.C. Eickelberg
“What are you telling me? I’m a freak?” Logan asked. He was visibly upset.
“No. You’re not a freak,” his dad said. “You had genes spliced into you to correct a genetic abnormality. You’re as normal as I am.”
“What kind of genes were used? Monkey? Dog? Slug? What am I?” Logan didn’t like hearing he wasn’t truly his parent’s kid.
“You are as human as I am. Every piece of DNA used came from a person. You don’t have to worry about turning into a fish, or growing a tail.”
“Yeah right.” Logan rolled his eyes. “I’ve seen pictures of people with tails, and little kids with enough hair for three people. I even did a report on Werewolf Boy. Is he a cousin? Or is mermaid girl?”
“Nothing of the sort. Your genetic anomaly was corrected with valid strands of DNA. A flu virus was used to get the DNA into you and do what was needed. It didn’t make you sick. It made you better.” His dad reassured his son as best he could.
“If anything, your eyesight might be better than anyone else in the family.”
“Great. I won’t need glasses. What about me not wanting that treatment? Maybe I didn’t want it.” He glared at his father, disgust evident in his voice.
“Then we wouldn’t be here having this conversation, and you wouldn’t have become the healthy young man you are,” his dad said. He looked at his son, tired of the conversation.
“Is there anything else?”
“When can I expect to start howling at the moon? Or should I make arrangements to catch a flight south to keep up with the flock? Are my wings going to start growing soon?” He chided his father.
He didn’t believe all his father had said about the source of DNA he was given as a child. “I’m pretty sure I remember the desire the hang out in trees.”
“You always were a bit of a climber,” his dad admitted. “I’m going to say it again; only DNA from a family member was used. What do I have to say to convince you of that?”
“Convince me? When half our family is built like gorillas? I don’t think that’s going to happen. I may as well be a gargoyle.” He shot this at his dad.
“Darwin would roll over in his grave, messing around with a person’s genes.” Logan couldn’t help thinking this was a Lovecraftian conversation.
“That’s not true. You’re not a gargoyle. Those reflexes of yours are more cat-like than a gargoyle’s.”
“If not a gargoyle, then what am I? A snake like you for doing this to me?” He glared at his father.
“Why do I feel like I want to chase birds?” Not waiting for a response, he continued, “Come to think about it, I’m going out to go get something to eat. Do you want me to bring back a mouse for you?” He didn’t wait for a reply.
As far as he was concerned, he didn’t want to hear any more about what benefits he ‘inherited’ from the donated DNA. He just wanted to be like everyone else he met. All human, no mixed DNA. As much as his father said about getting nothing but human material, who’s to say the source didn’t start with the non-human material.
He stormed out of the house. Looking around the yard, he found the massive oak tree he spent so much time in as a kid. It had massive limbs reaching over the roof of his parent’s two story house. The lowest branch was head high. He easily leaped to this lowest branch, claws digging into the bark. Chirping birds fluttered through the neighborhood as a squirrel chattered farther up the tree. Nothing in sight calmed him. Friends down the block playing soccer held no interest. His tree companion kept yelling at him for joining it in the tree. A shadow moved over the tree. Warbles filtered down, announcing the hawk looking for something.
Logan moved silently up the tree. His movements sleek and quiet. A flurry of movement brought his attention to focus on his target. The squirrel darted passed him, moving toward the house. Its movement was too spastically for him. A better target presented itself as the squirrel made the leap to the roof. Making adjustments while moving through the tree, Logan made his leap as the hawk streaked toward the ground. Logan landed on the roof. The squirrel raced over the peek. Logan heard the door close.
“Logan, what are you doing up there?” his dad said.
“Like I said. I wanted a snack.” He held the hawk out to his father, still embedded on his claws. “Want some?”
“Get down here,” he demanded. Logan landed next to him, as light as a cat jumping from a countertop. His father lowered his voice. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. No hunting in the neighborhood.”
“Fine. You get the grill out. I’ll get this cleaned.” Logan smiled, showing off long canine teeth.
“Good catch. That’s a big one. I’ve been wanting to catch that one, myself,” his dad said.
Logan went to the backyard to begin the task of dressing out his catch. A shadow sailed across the ground. He dismissed it as another predator scouting the neighborhood. His father made a grunting sound in his throat as another shadow passed, a larger one this time.
“Dad, have you talked to Grandpa Everson lately?” Logan asked, mind lost in thought.
“Not for a little while. Why do you ask?”
“I’ve been thinking of him lately. I don’t remember much about him.” His dad watched his son carefully. “I was hoping to talk to him about our family.”
“Why the interest? Anything your mother and I can help you with?” He watched as Logan began the task of preparing his catch for the grill.
“I know all the stories you told me. I want to know what it was like for him growing up in the old country. Why did he move? Where does he live now? What did he do for a job at your age? What does he do now?” A shadow of doubt and a recriminating looked aimed at his father wasn’t lost as feathers fell to the ground.
“Odd you ask about him. He just contacted me about coming for a visit. In particular, he wants to talk with you,” his mother said from the backyard. Her lithe figure, cat-like in her movements as she soundlessly crossed the deck.
Logan started at her voice. He hadn’t heard her open and close the back door, or walk across the wooden surface. “Mom, you’re too quiet.”
“Not when I want to be,” she purred. “And I wanted to know what’s up with you. Why so much interest in knowing about the family? And why the hostility about being a healthy young man? Too many girls in the neighborhood chasing you home, wanting a boyfriend?” She reached to take the bird’s carcass and continued to prepare it more gently. A few bones were clearly dislocated from Logan’s efforts.
“No. I just want to know what anomaly I inherited from the family.” He walked into the backyard toward the statuary his parents kept there. “What was it?” He demanded of the statues as he turned to his parents. He sat on the plinth of his favorite statue. An angel with wings hanging to the side, face looking down in concern.
“I believe your grandfather was wanting to talk to about just that topic,” his mom soothed. She deftly finished with the bird as his father got the grill warming. A smile stretched across her face, white teeth set off by her sable complexion. He couldn’t help notice his familiar smile used on him. Even down to the canines.
“That’s right,” came a baritone reply.
Logan turned to see a figure nearly taller than the statue behind him. In the growing shadows, he walked forward wrapped in a nondescript cloak. The width of his grandfather seemed just as impressive as the last time he visited. It was clear where his father inherited his size. Fear and awe settled on Logan as the immense figure walked into the yard. The chiseled facial features warmed with a smile in return of his mother’s…….
J.C. works and lives in Wisconsin. He has a beautiful wife and two active boys. He enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, time permitting, writing. Haunted and spooky places have always intrigued him.