Anthony sat and stared at his screen. His mother had cried. He’d never seen her cry before and it had scared him a bit. He typed in “ghost” in the search box and waited for the results. It occurred to him then that he’d never actually considered what was happening to him a bad thing. Yes, he knew it wasn’t normal, but that word wasn’t really something that pertained to his family. He didn’t suffer any pain and there were no ill, long-term effects. It was one of the reasons he’d kept it to himself for so long.
But knowing that his mother had died and he was going through this because of her, comforted and made him realize how truly anxious he’d been. After dinner on the night he told them, his parents had sat him and his siblings down and explained a few things to them. His dad’s family were wolves, but only the first-born became a werewolf – until Connor anyway – and Dre was following that line. They had all known that part. But they also shared that Dre had essentially died on his first birthday and Rae had brought him back. His mother had died as a child and Dr. Gates and Nyema brought her back. That was where Eva got her powers from and apparently, he’d inherited his mom’s ghostliness. That caused some excitement.
Anthony got upset at being kept in the dark and Eva was pissed in general. They both asked more questions than he had. He’d just watched his parents. That was when his mother had started to cry. It shut everyone up immediately and when she got up and walked out of the room, it officially ended their family meeting.
Anthony heard a loud honking coming from the window and Dre’s shout to haul ass. He turned the computer off and grabbed his jacket and bag, hurrying to catch up.
“One…two…three…” Anthony counted while staring at his reflection. He’d been in the middle of a conversation with a teacher when he started to feel the numbing sensation that meant he was going to change. He hated this but was grateful that at least he received some warning. Now to just wait and hope it didn’t last as long as last time.
He had counted up to 342 when the door to the boy’s room opened and someone walked in. Anthony closed his eyes and lost count. Why didn’t I lock the door? He started to inch near the stall closest to him, intent on passing through and hiding, when a boy suddenly appeared in front of him.
Tony could do nothing but stare at him and wait for the screaming to begin. Instead, the boy said, “Anthony?”
Tony blinked and narrowed his eyes. It was one of the Sawyer triplets. “Riley?”
“Dude…you’re a ghost!” Riley reached a hand out to him but stopped before making contact. He did not look scared or disgusted, just curious.
“Riley, don’t be scared okay? This isn’t what it looks like.”
“You mean, you’re not a ghost hanging out in the boy’s locker room? Because – that’s what it looks like.”
“Okay, so maybe it is what it looks like.”
“Did you die?” Riley looked around the room, searching for Anthony’s body.
“No, I didn’t die! I just, change into a ghost, from time to time.”
Eyebrow raised, Riley scratched the side of his head. “I know I should be freaking out, but this is so beyond cool. I just saw you in Biology, man. You were all normal and stuff.” He looked like he just thought of something. “Can you walk through walls?”
This was officially the weirdest conversation Anthony had ever had. “Umm, yes. Sometimes.”
“So cool! Can you show me?” Anthony shook his head and stuck his hand through the side of the nearest stall. He watched Riley’s face as the boy broke into a grin.
“Holy crap!” Riley shouted. “DUDE! Do that again.”
It took another five minutes for Anthony to change back to normal. Riley stayed with him the entire time, asking questions about how it felt and how he knew he was turning into a ghost and planning pranks they could pull with Tony’s ‘special powers.’
Anthony didn’t particularly think it was a good idea to let Riley know about how he’d become this way, especially since his parents thought it was such a big secret. But it was fun to get a positive reaction to his little problem.
Riley’s enthusiasm made him feel normal. Ironic since he was anything but normal now. Tony could only assume that Riley was used to strange, since his family were werewolves themselves. He’d been lucky that it wasn’t some other kid that had walked into the locker room.
Sitting on the bus on their way home from school, Tony contemplated telling Dre about his day. His twin hadn’t spoken to him since he found out about the ghost thing.
Looking around to make sure they were the last ones on the bus, Anthony said, “So, funny thing happened in the boy’s locker room today.”
Andrei continued to stare out the front window, not making eye contact. “Did you flash someone and make them laugh?”
Rolling his eyes at his brother, Tony said, “Something like that. He didn’t laugh though.”
That made Dre turn to look at him, his mouth agape. “Shut up. You flashed someone?” Then he seemed to catch himself and looked out the window again. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“Are you going to be like this forever?” He was getting annoyed. Why was Dre so upset?
“Anthony, can I ask you a question?” Dre still wouldn’t look at him. Anthony tensed. Dre never called him by his full name.
“Okay,” he said, warily.
“Why don’t you trust me?” Dre asked quietly.
That question shocked him. He didn’t not trust Dre. He was Tony’s twin and his best friend. “I do trust you, Dre. Why would you ask me that?”
“I don’t know. You don’t talk to me anymore. You’ve been keeping things from me.” Andrei finally looked over at him and Tony frowned, looking down into his lap.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you. I just, I don’t know.” He hadn’t known how to tell his twin. It’s not like he could become a ghost at will and Dre would have demanded proof. He didn’t want to seem like he was making things up just to be special like his siblings were. He was supposed to be the normal one!
“You didn’t tell me you were gay. You didn’t tell me you were turning into a ghost. And those are HUGE secrets Tony. Like, what the hell!” Andrei was agitated now and his eyes started to glow.
“Dre, calm down. I’m sorry, all right? I didn’t even think about it. I mean, yes. The gay thing I didn’t talk about because I was worried you wouldn’t understand, but this,” Tony lowered his voice, “ghost thing…”
He shrugged. He hadn’t meant to hurt his brother’s feelings. “I’m sorry.”
Dre growled a little. “It’s fine. Just, don’t keep things – especially important things – from me anymore.” Dre suddenly had a huge smile on his face. “So, who’d you flash?”
In typical Dre fashion, he said what he had to say and then was on to the next thing. Rolling his eyes again, Tony answered. “Riley Sawyer. And I didn’t flash him.”
Andrei choked a little before laughing. He pounded on the seat cushion. “Riley? Oh to be a fly on the wall! What did he say?”
“I didn’t flash him! I turned and he saw me.”
That stopped Dre’s laughter. “What do you mean? Like he saw you as a ghost?”
“Yeah. But he promised not to tell anyone.”
Dre frowned. “If he said he wouldn’t, then he won’t. But for the record, I think it’s BS that you showed him before you showed me.”
“I didn’t –” Tony began, but Andrei waved him into silence and turned back toward the window. Sullen again.
When the school bus finally deposited the boys in front of their house, Dre took off towards the backyard while Anthony slowly made his way into the house. He was truly sorry to have hurt his brother’s feelings and remained pensive all evening. Dinner was a tense affair and no one spoke the entire meal. This was just ridiculous. He was the one going through these changes, so why was everyone else freaking out?
After dinner, the entire family scattered. His parents went into their room, Dre went out and Eva went to her dance studio. Tony walked upstairs, deep in thought. Perhaps he should call someone who knew what to do.
He reached the art room and dialed information. An hour later, he was on the phone with a receptionist at uGenex.
“uGenex, how may I direct your call?” A bright chipper voice asked.
“Hello. I would like to speak to Dr. Brian Gates, please?”
There was a slight pause before the woman said, “And what would this be in reference to?”
The woman didn’t sound as happy to speak to him now. He wondered how many people called to talk to Dr. Gates every day. Maybe he should have had his mother call. If she could stop crying for a second he would have asked.
“I need to make an appointment to see him.”
“Please hold.” The line abruptly beeped and he heard elevator music.
After a couple of minutes, another voice, more serious, older sounding answered, “Good evening, Dr. Gates’s office. How may I help you?”
“Hello. My name is Anthony London; I would like to make an appointment to see Dr. Gates please.”
Again, a pause, but this time, when the voice spoke, it was with a curious tone. “Anthony London?”
“Please hold.” Again the music, but the wait was much shorter.
“Brian Gates speaking. Anthony?”
Tony took a deep breath. For a moment there, he hadn’t thought he would ever get through. “Yes, this is Tony. Hello Dr. Gates.”
“Hello Tony. Is everything alright?” Brian asked, concern clear in his voice.
“Umm, maybe. I wanted to see you, if possible.” He took a deep breath, “I’m turning into a ghost.”
“I’ll clear my schedule and see you tonight.”
Tony and his parents arrived in Oasis Landing two hours later. They were ushered immediately upstairs and into an office. Brian was sitting at his desk, typing away. When they walked in, he got up and shook Connor’s hand and hugged Rae. Then he looked down at Anthony and smiled.
“I haven’t seen you since you were a toddler. How’s school?”
“School is fine, sir. Thank you for asking.”
Brian’s grin grew wider. “No need for all that formality. Now, what I would like to do is have you go into an exam room and one of the nurses will take some samples. Hair, skin, blood, etc. Then we can sit back down and see what we find. Does that sound okay to you?”
Anthony was pleased. For all his notations, he’d never had the opportunity to run all the tests he’d wanted to. He probably could have used his mom’s equipment but he valued his life and hadn’t dared.
An hour later, they sat back down and Dr. Gates started to ask Tony questions. Tony took the tablet he’d brought with him and told Brian, “I’ve written down almost every occurrence. I can email it to you?”
Brian raised an eyebrow, but nodded, giving Tony his email. Afterward, he asked him a few follow-up questions and then said, “This is very thorough. I’m impressed.”
Tony beamed. That was high praise coming from Dr. Gates. “Thank you.”
His mother smiled a little.
Brian glanced at his screen again and sighed. “The results are back.” He read what was on his screen for a bit and frowned. “Tony, all things considered, you are perfectly healthy. However, it seems that your body is changing on the molecular level. Your cells are changing. I have never seen anything like it. I have a theory though. Rae is the only person we brought back who wasn’t older and pass child-bearing age. She’s the only one who became corporeal again. She’s the only one who had a child.”
Anthony nodded. That made perfect sense. But it also raised so many new questions. Did this mean death wasn’t an end to life, but just a new life state? Was becoming a ghost the same as becoming a wolf or a witch? Was it something you could be born as – which seemed the case for him? Anthony sat quietly, thinking about this.
“Give me some time and let me see if I can synthesize something to slow down the metabolic change happening to your cells. This at least will stop these surprise changes. Remember, you have a lot going on in your DNA, even though you don’t show symptoms of it, you and your siblings carry the werewolf gene and Fae genes. It will take some time to sort through it all, but I think we can manage.”
Brian smiled at Anthony and his parents.
Two weeks later, Tony came home to find his mother waiting on the porch for him, a package in her hand.
“Hey mom,” both Tony and Dre said.
“Hi boys. Tony, Brian sent you a package. Thought you’d like to open it first thing.”
Dre looked at Tony and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “I’m going to my room, come up after, okay?”
“Yeah,” Tony nodded absently, focused on the small brown box in his mother’s hands.