There was a planet once. Some say it was called Terra. Others call it Earth. It's gone now, incinerated until every last bit was turned to dust. The human race wouldn't have survived long anyways. We learned to cure cancer, we developed weapons fit to destroy an entire continent. But not even we could stop the will of a star.
"Cynthia, come downstairs this moment, you'll be late for work."
"Ungh." I sat up for a second before realizing that I probably had another good minute before anyone came to actually physically wake me up. So I leaned back and propped a pillow over my head.
I let out a small shriek before jolting up from my sprawled out position on the bed. Water. Freezing cold water. And it wasn't in my mouth or in my stomach where water is supposed to be, it was all over my head.
"Mom!" I complained, "Now I have to go to work looking like a drowned cat!" My hair was thick and red-brown, it didn't dry easily. But I had no time to dawdle, I had to get to work to help pay the bills. So I pulled on my leather, ankle high boots and my uniform and walked down to the local bar that I worked at.
"Cy!" The owner greeted me as usual, with a kiss on both cheeks and a loud exclamation of my embarrassingly boy-like nickname.
"Gunter," I mumbled back, "You know I told you not to call me that."
"Ah, but you don't really mind do you, Cy? You just pretend to," was the response I always got and today was no different. The same, like every other boring day. Except it wasn't like every other day. Because half way into the day was when the fight broke out.
It all started when this man walked into the bar. He seemed nice at first, but then I saw his face. It was perfect. If there's one thing I've learned during my 17 years on this horrid planet, it's that perfect things, they're never real. So I guess it's a good thing he wasn't perfect. You could see it in his eyes. They were the haunted eyes of a scared child, even though he had to be at least a year older than me.
He was 19. He walked up to the bar, flashed his ID, and ordered a drink. I delivered. I was a damn good bartender, even at 17. Drinking age was 16, and I had been working at the bar since then. It was a good job. Pay was decent, my boss was a kind older man. But it was times like this one where things really got risky.
The man introduced himself as Dustin Hemmings. Not to me, to the guy who ended up smashing his face in with a thick beer glass. They had gotten into some stupid political argument about the current ruling family. Hemmings got defensive, and your stereotypical "I come to this bar every single night to drink away my sorrows" guy got... offensive. To say the least. But that wasn't what made my day a not so boring day. It was the blood.
On our planet, Kepler, there are two types of people: dark blood, and light blood. The people who are native to this planet have dark blood. Their blood is so dark that if you painted it over the midnight sky you wouldn't even see it. And the rest of us, we have light blood. It's about as red as a maraschino cherry; we'd blend right in with Pina Coladas. And the dark bloods don't mix with the red bloods. We're two separate groups of people. They have their tribes, and we're just a big group of slaves and servants to answer their beck and call. We never mix. Never integrate. They never even talk to us, unless they absolutely have to. Or in this case, if they're really desperate.
When the man, Dustin, got hit by the glass, it looked fine at first. He had some glass that got lodged into his cheek though, and when he went to pull it out the blood started pouring down his face. I rushed over to help him, rag in one hand and alcohol in the other. But as I poured alcohol over the fresh wound, I realized that his blood was dark and sticky, like paint. Like black paint. So I jumped. I didn't know what else to do. I was scared, dark bloods could do terrible things. Things that shouldn't even be possible, like controlling fire. So I stood back and just stared. And he stared right back, daring me to do something, to yell and scream out so all the light bloods could come crashing down on him, fists swinging. And I saw the fear in his eyes, a reflection of mine. And I looked over and saw the recognition in his opponent’s eyes, and for a second, I couldn’t move. All I could do was stand there and watch as the other man slowly came to realize who and what was in the bar with them. He deserves it. They think they’re so much better than us, he deserves it. But they’re not better than us. And I think that’s why I helped the man with the midnight blood. Because we are better than them. So I scrambled to my feet, as I had somehow made my way down to the tiled, dirty floor, and yanked on his hand roughly. I tilted my head at the back door and excused myself from work.
They never knew. I patched up his cut, and when it dried I put a new one on. And as we walked he became more sober. And as we walked he became less of a nightmare. He was a person, the same as me. He spoke the same language of course, and I managed to gain some secrets from him, but not without spilling secrets of my own.
“Tribe Yael,” said the man.
Windspillers. I noted mentally as I nodded my head.
“I come into this town when I feel lonely,” he said sadly.
“Often?” I asked curiously.
He glared at me before replying, “Yes, a fair amount. At least the people here are mentally sane. But I still have to use a false ID.”
I tilted my head in acknowledgement and whispered, “Hemmings.”
He nodded before speaking further. “The only other person I really talk to back at home is my brother, Jackson.” He spoke quietly, like the trees had ears and the bushes snatched at your secrets, “He’s my twin. But I’m taller.” He grinned slightly, still a little intoxicated.
“I have siblings too,” I said. I don’t know why I’m telling him this. We’re not friends. “Three brothers and a sister. I’m the oldest though.”
He smiled and asked more questions. I felt my control slipping away silently as my need to spill my thoughts to someone rushed over me. Like a waterfall reaching the edge. I can’t trust this man. Dustin Yael is not to be trusted. But we kept going. Questions back and forth, what’s it like to control wind, what’s it like to work, what’s it like to be part of a noble family, what’s it like to have so many siblings, what’s it like to have a twin? And then he got too comfortable.
“Man this war is so stupid. It’s so pointless, you know?”
War was a touchy subject for my family. My father is in the war right now, along with my brother, risking their lives, and this man knows it’s a pointless risk of human life and he pretends there’s nothing to be done. Nobles don’t understand the full impact of the war though. They send thousands of light blooded troops to fight on the front lines and throw in a couple dark blooded Generals here and there. Some bombers, some incinerators. And they joke about it.
“Is it now?” I replied steadily, “If it’s so pointless then why is my brother there, trekking through minefields? If it’s so pointless then why is my father there right now digging trenches and manning tanks?” I was almost yelling at this point. And Dustin had realized that he had made a mistake.
“I work every day, Lord Yael, so that my family can have food, electricity, rations, and water. Have you ever worked in your life? Have you ever been to the front lines?” The Yael Tribe was the second wealthiest Tribe in our continent, below only the Royal Family.
He flushed a deep red colour as he replied, “Ok, ok, I’m sorry! Geez Cy-” I held up a hand to stop his excuse, his telling me to calm down.
“Lord Yael, I think you should just leave. Go back to your palace or whatever.” I said with as much calm as I could muster.
And then I turned my back on him. I heard him open his mouth, a sharp intake of breath, and then I heard the crunch of gravel beneath his smartly polished shoes as he turned to walk away. The sound stopped not a minute later. “I’m sorry,” he said sadly. And then his shoes resumed their journey down the road. I sniffed quietly and turned around to watch him go. I almost considered him a friend. Which is stupid because he’s a dark blood. We aren’t compatible. We’re not allowed to be compatible. And so I watched the man with the midnight blood walk away, towards his sad little castle, with its strict set of rules, and his family that didn’t really love him. I let the lonely windspiller go. I never knew he would play such a crucial role in the story that was my life. Maybe if I knew I would’ve been more understanding. Who knows.