The small girl stared at her glowing hands to her older brother’s, her voice shaking as she spoke. “Are we monsters?”
John’s throat closed up at her question. What could he possibly say? Hadn’t their neighbor been taken away just last night due to a “mysterious illness”? Everyone knew the real reason. The Human Protect Agency kidnapped colonists that started developing strange abilities. John was sure that glowing hands was one of them.
“No, Stacey, we’re not,” John forced out.
Stacey stood uncertainty by the bed. The glow on her hands illuminated the frown on her brow. John pulled her up and sat her next to him.
“But the videos,” Stracey insisted.
“We’re not bad people,” John reminded her. “We fill our daily quota and pay our taxes on time. Those other people do bad stuff. We don’t.”
“But what if – ”
“Stace, listen.” John grabbed her hands. The combined glow of their hands illuminated their faces completely. “I know this is scary, but don’t worry. I’m going to figure this out, okay?”
“What if the HPA finds out?”
”But what if – ?”
John squeezed her hands. “Stacey, they won’t find out. I’ll make sure of that. We’re going to keep this a secret, okay? Let’s act like we normally do. It might go away.”
Stacey didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t say anything else. She looked down at her hands. A lot of the glow had somewhat dimmed. It wasn’t exactly bright, but it was noticeable.
From what he remembered from the videos, people with glowing hands were sick. They needed to be retained by the HPA.
“Go back to sleep,” he told her.
“Can I stay here with you?” she asked. “I don’t want to be alone.”
John sighed. “Alright,” he said.
Stacey joined him in bed.
That night, neither of them slept. Stacey latched on to his arm. He felt her dozing off a few times but never stayed asleep. John stared up at the dark ceiling. His stomach was in knots.
The day had been normal. They’d went to work like always, ate at the cafeteria, cleaned. It was close to 1 am now. The glowing hand started half past midnight. At least, his had started. Stacey knocked to his door closer to 1 am.
No one knew where this glow came from or what caused. All they knew was that once the HPA found out, they were never seen or heard from again. There were rumors of experiements going around.
Both orphans, he and Stacey lived at the community house in the city. It was one of thousands. The Madam wouldn’t care if two more mouths left.
John turned over and pulled Stacey closer. He didn’t want to lose her. She was the only family he had.
One thing became apparent to him, the risk of exposure was too great. They couldn’t stay here any longer. What if he and Stacey were separated? He’d rather risk traveling to a far away colony where the HPA was lax than stay in the city and risk getting caught.
John had saved up a few credits on the side. If he took extra shifts, he might be able to pay their way out of the city. Just maybe they could get out of here before anyone noticed their glowing hands.