3.4: True Hunger

Though I’m done eating birds of any kind, especially the grilled owl.

     Every other breath forces a strain upon his lungs, having to work double time to compensate for his mouth, nose, and gills. Norris sits hunched over, his body reacting poorly toward his attempt to stay calm. Not only do his gills refuse to close but his muscles bulk up and shrink erratically. However, his muscle definition doesn’t change, only inflates. He checks himself constantly by cradling his elbows, lumpy growths rising and receding repeatedly. Worst of all are his teeth. Norris expends so much energy to control the rest of his body that his teeth are beyond him. His serrated teeth gnash and grind against each other as he struggles.

     Do you want to eat or not?

     His father’s words taunt him. They weren’t just a question but a challenge. His father only respects people he considers true, unyielding predators, like himself. And Norris’s sister. His father’s idea of a predator is more than just some carnivore. It’s someone at the top of their game, respected or feared by others. His father is the foremost archaeological authority in all of Vanu, largely due to his underground influence. Whether there or in the public eye, his father employs ruthless tactics to further his own ends. No one crosses his father. If they do, his teeth are the last things they’ll see.

     His father had hoped to turn Norris into his heir but upon learning his son did not have the same mindset, he turned his attention to his daughter, Norris’s older half-sister.

     God damned bastard thinks she’s so hot! As if

     His muscles jump in weight so suddenly that he nearly falls forward, crushing part of the bench to brace himself.

     As if she can transform any better than I can! She’s only a pawn to expand his reach to younger, up-and-coming tycoons like the Sallows.

     Norris’s growing rage calms him down gradually. The slits for his gills close when he imagines wrapping his sister’s dark hair around his fist. His muscles deflate as he stares into her obnoxiously proud blue eyes. His elbow protrusions shrink when he caves her nose in. His teeth and gums normalize at the sweetest part when he sinks them into her jugular.


     Norris freezes and scowls, annoyed he couldn’t get to imagine ripping her flesh off her bones. He glares at the interloper, ready to do the same to him. “Careful, Hughie. I’m at my most dangerous right now.”

     Hugh marches into the locker room, hands in his pockets. “You’d never reach me in time and you know it. So, be a good boy and listen.”

     “Go to hell.”

     “I’ll take that as “yes, sir” and move on. Your little tryst with Nuria was not appreciated.”

     “As if I care. It’s old news, anyway.”

     “Do you care? You skipped more than a few meetings to sleep with her.”

     “You ever have sex, Hughie? Probably not, so let me tell you, it’s amazing! And I didn’t have to work for it!”

     “Do you work for anything?”

     Norris bolts to his feet and Hugh removes one hand from his pockets. The two lock glares. Norris’s elbows quiver. Hugh’s fingers dance.

     “What do you want? Spit it out and leave!” Norris orders, bored of their standoff. And Nuria’s earlier tit-for-tat has his patience on thin ice.

     “I’ve been instructed to check your commitment to the mission. Given your habit to run from challenges, it was a concern. Are you capable of doing what needs to be done?”

     “More than the rest of you fools. I’ve been ready this entire time. All those times I slept with the girlie, it was a perfect chance to dispense with her then and there. And she asked me to bite her during, just FYI! I’ve held back longer than I ever have just so this stupid plan works! It’s your fucks holding everything up! Dev was supposed to blow the doctor girlie up while she was still inside the fucking lab. And don’t forget who had the fuzzball ready to spill blood. You and eyeballs were supposed to have Shuri primed. What the hell happened there?”

     “He was too reclusive or covered at all times. We couldn’t find any time to get to him without Lauron or Neth around. Our reports said he hated his grandfather.” Hugh utters the last line crossly, frustrated by the oversight. His job is to act as their “leader” on campus and it requires impeccable intel.

     “Sounds like everyone’s fucking up.”

     Norris bumps past Hugh to leave the locker room but halts in the doorway. He would groan but not one muscle fiber is under his control. He feels his feet lift off the ground. His body rotates slowly, his anger rising swiftly. Hugh’s stretched digits hold him hostage and pull him closer. Norris wonders if his powers would still work if he bit off his fingers.

     “You leave when I dismiss you, understand? Stand completely still if you do.”

     I will fucking kill you!

     “Good. Now, I’m sure one of us will receive a VIP ticket tomorrow. The professors won’t want only one of us news kids there because they are slaves to being inclusive. Everyone else knows this already because they show up to meetings but we are going to turn it down. The next stage of our plan is upon us and it may require all of us to attend. That includes you. Deviations this time will reach your father.”

     Norris’s muscles cramp as his body terribly wants to shiver but can’t. He can’t even breathe under Hugh’s intense telekinetic grip.

     “If you don’t want him to come to campus and do your job for you, then shape up!”

     A volcano on the verge of eruption would be less volatile than Norris. As he stays stuck in the air while Hugh leaves his sight, he recalls the last time he was left chained and alone.

     The small cell Norris was chained up inside was composed of stone walls that echoed every one of his stomach’s growls. He couldn’t escape his hunger, under the control of his father’s targeted starving. One piece of broccoli was all he gave daily, his father’s plan to starve him of all meat in hopes of triggering his Sudita faster. The thought was that no predator would ever let themselves starve and that Norris’s latent instincts would kick in before long. Norris held no victory other than the fact he proved his father’s hypothesis wrong.

     Norris falls so suddenly that by the time he notices he just lets himself face plant.

     Until I didn’t…

     He chooses to stay on the floor as long as possible, in no mood to be around anyone else tonight. He’s had it with their misgivings and their orders. So, what if his father scares him? Hugh doesn’t. And he awaits the next chance he gets to put the fear of god into Nuria.

Lauron won’t be there next time. Nobody will!

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