Mom was raised really religious. I mean, nose in a Bible all day long. No TV. Nothing. So when Mom got pregnant she insisted I have a Biblical name. Dad on the other hand didn’t really care much for the spiritual. Said it was too much nonsense. After a lot of debate they came to an agreement. He could pick any name, just as long as it came from the Bible. I know you’re thinking he chose something cool like Abraham, or Jacob, or even Enoch. Nope. My dad chose Abimelech. He’s kind of an asshole like that.
As if that weren’t bad enough they decided to call me Bimmy. I’m not really sure which is worse, but I guess it doesn’t matter too much because most people just call me “Hey you!” or “Harry Potter”. Whatever. I can’t blame anyone but myself. It’s been a while since I cut my long dark hair and I do have round glasses. It didn’t help that I was always reading too.
Everything else seemed normal, bland even, until the day I met Todd.
It was autumn. I was in 8th grade and school had just let out. Everything was wet and cold with a casual rain, turning the asphalt roads and paths into an enormous black mirror. I was walking through the park on my way home.
“Hey you!” a voice called. “Harry Potter, over here.”
“Original.” I replied disinterested. I looked over to see a High School aged boy running over to me. He was athletic and wearing a thick black hoodie similar to mine.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know your name.” He said politely.
“It’s okay. I’m Bimmy.”
“Seriously?” He asked.
I nodded with the same kind of odd grin I give everyone, while cursing at my dad’s sick sense of humor.
“That’s cool, I guess. I’m Todd.
“Okay…” I was kind of curious what an older kid wanted to talk to me about, half expecting it to be some sort of weird prank. “What’s up?”
“There’s something peculiar about you.” Todd said to me, implying more than I could understand at the time.
“Yeah. It’s a name. I’ll get it changed when I’m older.”
“No. It’s something else… Wait! You don’t know do you?”
I stared through Todd as if he was speaking in tongues. I had no idea what he meant.
“ Oh man. This is great. Okay… You are a Peculiar child. Gifted. Think X-Men.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“You have abilities.”
“Abilities? Like what? Please say metal claws.”
“I don’t know. You have something though. I can see it in your reflection.” Todd looked down and I did too, seeing our reflection in the wet surface.
“I don’t see anything.” I said.
“But I can. Your second soul. It’s glowing green. That’s my peculiarity. I can see other peculiars souls in their reflections.
“So you’re telling me that not only do souls exist but that I have two of them.”
“Thanks for the spiritual lesson.” I continued with a passive aggressive tone. “I’m sure my Christian mom and Atheist dad would be thrilled to hear that.” I actually laughed at the thought of both of their heads exploding in one earth shattering revelation that proved both their worldviews wrong.
“You don’t get it.” He said with excitement. “I bet you I can go under there?” Todd pointed down.
I looked at him confused, searching for a hatch or manhole lid. “Under where?”
“Ha! You said underwear!”
Todd’s an asshole.
“I’ll show you.” Todd stood still for a second, letting his body go rigid and in a single moment slipped through the ground into the black mirror below.
And just like that my world was turned upside down. I moved around to see that Todd still existed in the mirror. I couldn’t hear him, but I could see him. He walked around and jumped, making gestures that I could only assume meant “See! See!” He even put his hands through where I should have been, reached through my reflective body. The entire experience sent chills of excitement and eeriness through my body like electricity. It was so unnatural to not be able to feel the thing I was seeing. It was as though he was a ghost. A minute or so later Todd came back through the wet black mirror he passed through.
“WOW! That was incredible. Where did you go?”
“We call it the Underneath. It’s where Peculiars like us go when we die: The Land of the second souls.”
“Like us? Does this mean I can do that?” I asked with dumbfounded excitement.
“Probably not that… but you can do something.”
“I don’t know. I knew a girl once who could make plants grow really big and another one who could make fire.”
“Could you see me on the other side?”
“Yeah. It’s really weird.
“How do you do it? Maybe if I do what you do it’ll happen.”
“I get really still and think about water. Then my body just goes through”
“Sounds simple. Let me try.” I stood still for a minute or so, clenching my eyes trying to think about water; Trying to feel anything change in me. Nothing happened.
“Think of something else.” Todd implored.
“Okay… I got this.” I began looking around at the various things in the park hoping to find something elemental that could bring this peculiarity out of me. Water didn’t work, so why not air? I took in deep breaths of the crisp autumn breeze… Nothing. A man was smoking nearby. I concentrated on the burning embers that grew brighter orange as he took in a long drag… Nothing.
My mind wondered off as I searched through the scenery for anything to bring out this peculiarity. Maybe I could grow plants like that one girl Todd mentioned. I stared at the tree and squinted, trying to use my mind to make the dying leaves transform from the rose colored bouquet it had become back to its vibrant green. I could feel something in my body tingle a little.
“What are you doing?” Todd asked.
“I’m trying to make the tree grow. I think its working.” My whole body felt aware, as if my nerves were extending out of my skin.
“Yeah it is. Look!”
“I don’t see it.” I said , staring even harder at the tree.
“No.. I mean, look!” Todd pointed to the reflection in the water. All at once I could see that the change wasn’t happening in the foliage around me, but in myself. I was becoming a plant. My hands had all but disappeared into a tangled mess of wild roots. Thorns had pricked outward, making holes in my clothes. And moment by moment I was shrinking into an adolescent shrub.
“What? No! Make it stop!” How do I stop it?”
“I don’t know. Mine just goes back and forth easy. It’s not slow like this.”
“What if I can’t stop it? What if I can’t turn back?”
“I don’t know….”
“Well shit, Todd. You better figure-it –the-hell-out.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know this was going to happen.”
My body was transforming and I was freaking out. I was being pulled into the cold wet ground; the roots finding homes in the wet soil. I tried to refocus and calm down. My face went blank for a moment when I realized something had to be done.
I didn’t know if it was instinct or desperation but I knew it was either him or me. I grabbed on to Todd. I could feel my body transform from meat to vegetation, as limbs became vines. He tried to pull away and I held on even tighter, letting my thorns dig into him. He thrashed and screamed as the roots began to dig into his skin. I could feel it all, the draining of life-like liquid as I absorbed the second soul from within him, consuming his skill. I could feel it all as though I were finally able to see the green glow in the mirror world from his eyes. I was taking his ability.
Todd didn’t deserve it. He was only trying to help me find my peculiarity. In a way I guess he succeeded.
“I’m sorry Todd.” I said as his body sunk and digested in my stem. I began to think of water, like Todd did, and I was instantly pulled into the Underneath. There my transformation into herbage had stopped and I was returning back to my normal self. I looked deeply into the reflection of the water between the Underneath and the world of normal people. I could see Todd’s soul blended into my own, hidden behind my new white eyes. We had been fused into a single being.
Turns out I’m kind of an asshole too. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.