Divergent evolution

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divergent evolution
the process by which a species evolves into two or more descendant or different forms

The doorbell was right there. All I had to do was press the button and she'd answer the door. My dad had already gone out to work. I wondered where Cal was, and whether he'd find me here.

We'd gone to the library, all the way to the back of the building where newspaper cuttings were kept. It was all very old school - they even had one of those big microfilm devices, which was basically the world's most disappointing slot machine. Even after we'd realised we weren't being watched or tracked the sense of tension never went away - there was still something evidently wrong.

Everything was archived by subject and date. I flicked back a couple of weeks to when we'd gone into the Aviary, but there was nothing. No reports at all. Going back another few weeks I finally found a relevant report:

The manhunt for the dangerous terrorist known only by his face and the alias Bomber One was killed by police marksmen yesterday evening outside the Aviary compound. Wanted for several terrorist incidents and the recent murder of Perlyn resident Kaysaleen Rodata—

Yeah. I didn't really read much beyond that, right? Cal didn't tend to do surprise: he did righteous, and angry, and inspirational, but not outright surprise. I looked away from the article to find him staring open-mouthed at the words on the projected screen.

"You killed me," I said, quietly and a little pathetically.

"No I didn't," he said. We sounded like a kid's pantomime.

I pointed at the article, while keeping my eyes on him. "Then what the hell?"

"You're not the only one that's apparently dead," he pointed out, covering his mouth with one hand. "Go back. Find what happened with the...the murder."

I manipulated the clunky controls, searching now by the tag of my own name, and found the related article.

19-year old student Kaysaleen Rodata was murdered on Friday night by unknown assailant. Her body was only discovered by her parents in a garden shed over 24 hours after police estimate she was killed. Early reports suggest a tusked attacker, with wounds indicative of—

"You killed me," I repeated.

Cal said nothing.

"That night when I first discovered you in the shed. You just killed me."

He walked away from the microfilm machine and paced up and down on the old, patterned brown carpet. "We don't know that," he said, "we have no idea what actually happened. This could all be lies."

"And if it isn't?" My mind darted back to that first encounter: tip-toeing across the garden, smelling blood in the air, peeking my head into the shed and seeing Cal sprawled there with his wings bent and stained red. "When you first saw me, when I came into the shed. What was your first thought?"

"I was barely conscious. You didn't seem dangerous, though."

"And if I had seemed dangerous? Then what?" I thought of all those whimsical ideas that had run through my head about how to deal with the stranger in the shed. All those abandoned or ignored paths.

Cal stopped pacing and shrugged. "Then I'd have defended myself. Maybe." He pointed at the display. "I don't know, because that's not me."

"This is you! This is exactly you, two months ago."

He came closer and pressed his finger on the headline. "But I didn't do this. Whatever this is, whatever happened here, it isn't what I chose to do."

I shook my head and slid down, slumping against the machine and gripping my knees. "You don't get it," I said. "You had the potential to do this. You still do. That's the kind of person you are."

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