Cladogenesis

2.5K 161 12

cladogenesis
ˌkleɪdə(ʊ)ˈdʒɛnɪsɪs,ˈkladə(ʊ)-/
noun
BIOLOGY
the formation of a new group of organisms or higher taxon by evolutionary divergence from an ancestral form.

You ever see one of those horror movies where everyone in the town just goes batshit crazy and the hero has no idea why and wonder if she's going mad? That's me right now. We snuck out of the Aviary gardens without any problems and hopped on a tram to take us far from the nerve centre of all our problems.

Looking out at the streets drifting by it was like none of the past couple of months had even happened. People everywhere, going about their business, doing their shopping, heading to and from work, crossing the road, sitting on benches, pissing in alleyways. It was all incredibly normal.

At first I'd worn my hat pulled down and kept as low a profile as possible, trying to look super normal. Turns out trying to look super normal creates the exact opposite result, as Cal pointed out. Apparently I kept sighing really loudly, without even being aware of myself doing it. I guess that's what my brain thinks being nonchalant is all about, when it actually just sounds kinda weird and suspicious. Who knew?

Cal was pretty much in the clear as long as nobody saw him change, which obviously wasn't going to happen. I, on the other hand, was completely identifiable, at least by genotype. They had to be on the lookout for squamata of my birth date. I started to think I should have stayed in the desert and hid there for the rest of my life, crouched behind that damned rock.

"Stop looking so shifty," Cal repeated quietly.

"I can't help it. It feels like everyone is looking at me."

"Nobody is looking at you."

"I know that. I can see that. But it still feels like I'm being watched."

"Follow me," he said, ringing the bell and hopping off when the tram creaked to a halt.

We were outside one of the new malls. It was a sprawling complex, half underground, with a gaping maw of an entrance. I'd always avoided the soul-sapping horrors that are malls. It occurred to me now that having an opinion on things like the inherent evil of malls was largely a thing of the past for me now. My life didn't allow for that kind of idle thought anymore. I was a fugitive. Fugitives didn't get to have fun.

The mall had several pharmacies and Cal made sure we went to one he hadn't visited previously. We took turns buying medical gear that would help Marv - painkillers, bandages, a whole load of skin creams, sedatives, more painkillers. Outside the pharmacy, beneath the jaundiced lights of the windowless mall, we reconvened and took stock.

"This stuff will help," I said. "We need to get him stable and awake so you can bring him back here to a proper hospital. Even if they arrest him, at least he won't just die."

"This will help him heal physically," Cal said, shaking his head, "I'm more worried about his reaction when he comes to and realises he's only got one arm left."

"Yeah. I guess I'd freak if it were me."

"I wish I could share my powers somehow."

"Why?"

"I met an axolot back when I first started travelling."

"Oh, wow. Limb regeneration. Yeah, that'd be handy, right?"

Cal was clearly already thinking about something else, staring as he was right over my head. He had always been easily distracted, either by an idea or something he'd seen, and that side of his personality had only got worse since the Aviary. It's like his mind was always in a thousand different places.

A Day of Faces (complete novel)Read this story for FREE!