Prologue - A lot to say
There are four symptoms of the start of the Change. Firstly, the sufferer will experience sporadic headaches, occurring at random points in time. These go on for several days, perhaps a couple of weeks, and in some cases, months.
Secondly, a large alteration in physical stamina, the weak and non-athletic may become stronger and more able to exercise for extended periods of time, or an extremely athletic individual could become weaker and less able to do exercise for as long as usual. For the majority of cases, these changes often happen overnight, though some may occur over the course of a few days.
Thirdly, the sufferer will undergo a change in eye colour, hair colour, and in rare cases, the colour of the blood. Eye colour can change drastically, or it can change slightly, for example; an individual with brown eyes could have bright blue, or red, or even yellow eyes, or they could simply have hazel instead of chocolate brown. The eyes will always glow with an unnatural light when changed. Hair colour can change from mousy blonde to platinum, or from deep brown to black. Blood can change to any colour, and is always luminous if changed. These changes can occur from overnight to over the course of up to two months, but never beyond that.
The fourth and final symptom is intense drowsiness and an unresolvable need to sleep. The sufferer usually succumbs within two days and cannot be woken for another three. When they awaken, they must be taken to the nearest Centre.
Nobody really knows what the Change is, or what it does to you in the end. But nobody returns from the Centres once they're taken there, and it's a mystery as to what happens to them. Why am I telling you this? Why would you need or want to know? These questions are of little importance to me at this moment. I'm reading the letter, the one issued by the leaders of my country, the one about the symptoms of the Change. I'm scared, no, terrified about it. I've been getting headaches recently, just like the ones described on this piece of official looking paper in my shaking hand. I just hope I'm getting a cold or something. We were issued these letters today in school, everyone in their final year of education gets one. Not everyone goes through the Change, and nobody really knows what it does to you or why it's called the Change. Maybe it's to do with the second and third symptoms.
Nobody ever comes back from the Centre, and nobody knows what happens in there either. It's pretty 'hush, hush' when it comes to the Change.
My best friend Carly is already on the third symptom, her hair's turned black and her eyes are now a bright, glowing blue. Her blood hasn't changed colour though, thankfully.
My mother has always told me that if I Change, I'll be in the Centre before I can say 'wait'. We've never really had what you call, a 'loving relationship', and my father died several years ago, he was crushed under a falling tree in a storm. The only thing I have left of him is a small cord necklace, which I never take off. It has a 'lucky stone' on the end, it's a purple one, and held fast by the cord. My brother James, he's my mother's favourite. She loves him more than she ever loved me, but I don't care. Though she treats him nice, does practically everything for him and gives him anything he wants, even if it's mine, I'm happy to let her coo and cluck around him like a mother hen. He's the one who will always need looking after, not me.
Again, why am I telling you this? I don't know you, and chances are you don't care about what I have to say. Oh well, even if I don't know you, even if you don't care, I'm Layla, and this is my life.