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The Androgynous Strain

Novel By: Toni Roman
Young adult

Nothing else matters.
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Submitted:Apr 1, 2011    Reads: 15    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

The Androgynous Strain 3
One way boys (and girls) were looking better was holding in their stomachs. Others were dealing by hyperventilating to get more oxygen.
There is no hope.
"I don't understand what I'm feeling or why."
"Give up."
"Everything from the way I was raised to my DNA controls my life."
"You are powerless."
"I'm weak."
There is no way out.
No friends. Obstacles.
"You always come home late!"
"You never do what I want!"
Rolling of eyes.
Read the same paragraph over and over and just don't get it. Déjà vu. Read the same paragraph over and over and just don't get it.
The words above the main entrance were Camp de Cahuenga High School. Some teens entering were rubbing their backs and grimacing. Some were holding their stomachs and talking about butterflies. Some could not breathe. Some asked to be excused to the rest room every few minutes to urinate. Some dragged their feet down the halls and sat in class yawning and trying to keep their eyes open.
Little children spin until they fall down. These teens did not need to spin.
Some snapped at friends. Some didn't talk as tears ran down their faces. Some had wrinkled foreheads. Some held themselves as stiff as a board. Some yelled at anyone nearby.
Some sluggish fat kids had dry skin, dull hair, and were not very smart. Some skinny kids were excited, restless, and seemed to have diarrhea. Some hyperactive kids could not sit still.
"Where's your paper?"
"I don't have it."
"Please don't tell me the dog ate it because only little children use that lie."
"I did it but I left it at home."
Some students no longer laughed at that line in the TV commercial: "I've fallen and I can't get up." Because when they fell, they couldn't get up. Some never found the commercial funny in the first place because they had grandparents or because they were in wheelchairs.
Some hadn't fallen down physically. They had run out of ways to help themselves.
"Are you listening?"
"I asked you a question."
At bedtime when the rest of the family went to sleep, Cameron usually powered down when there were no chores to do. Powering down conserved her batteries. For all practical purposes, it was sleep. This week, Cameron's bed was never slept in. Other students were not cyborg but still could not sleep. Some could sleep but woke up every night screaming.
Some could not pass a blood alcohol test or breathalyzer test when stopped at night by the police. Some could not pass these tests during the day at school. Some tested positive for other, illegal substances.
"I need more muscles."
He took something to build his body.
"I don't look like the model in the magazine." said one girl.
"Of course not. She's a grown woman and you're a teen girl." said her mother.
The teen pointed to the article about the model.
"She's the same age as me."
The mother had no answer to that.
Some students blacked out. Some clutched their side and spat up blood. The paramedics took them to the ER.
Some bit their nails. Some perspired even though they were not in Phys-Ed. Some held their forehead and then swallowed pills.
Many, like John Baum, left their bed unmade in the morning. Some left the water running. Some left the refrigerator door open and came home to a parent angry that all the food was spoiled and, in some cases, water all over the kitchen floor. Some left the door to their house open. Most of these were lucky that they were not robbed like the Baums and wiped out financially. Some left their locker open at school. Few wanted to rob you but you risked someone planting drugs in your locker and then calling the narcotics squad.
The blasé rich kids had seen everything and would rather watch paint dry or watch grass grow than watch the clock as they waited to transfer to private school with the other rich kids. What a life!
Some teens just stared at the floor or into empty space. Some moped and brooded. Some stopped seeing friends and stopped talking to parents or siblings.
Some picked fights. Some tended to overreact.
Some girls had to see the doctor more often. Some boys had to see a male specialist. Some had inflammations.
Some had an idea how the teen with progeria felt when their hair fell out and it wasn't chemo. Some had to see a periodontist.
Thwarted, some ground their teeth and had to see an endodontist.
Some shook and it wasn't epilepsy. Some thought everyone was out to get them. Some lost the ability to trust others.
"What's wrong?"
"My chem classroom was here yesterday.
"You're on the wrong hall." said the principal.
Cameron was not the only one who forgot who she was. Some zoned out. The doctors called it a "Transient Dissociative Episode." Some forgot their medication and freaked.
Derek Reese had survived what Skynet Forces had called a work camp. He now had a condition worse than simple PTSD. Derek disliked going near the high school. It reminded him of the adolescence that was taken from him by Judgment Day.
Some, like Cameron, felt shame. Some self-blame. Some felt permanently damaged while others really were permanently damaged.
"Nobody understands me."
In the future, the machines sent a cyborg on a mission to destroy the leader of their enemy. She was captured and reprogrammed by Doctor Katherine Brewster to believe herself evil and The Resistance good. Do good people engage in torture and brainwashing? Cameron even began to idealize the one who ordered this experimentation upon her -- John Connor. Then she met his mother.
"There is no meaning to life."
Sarah never understood why Cameron never protected herself by taking cover when bullets were flying. Sarah never told Cameron to duck because Sarah didn't care.
Food, feathers, dust, and pollen. At school, some had eczema or broke out in hives. Some had blackheads, lesions, and pus. Disgusting! Dermatology bills were high.
"You're too sensitive."
"Maybe if you didn't criticize me I wouldn't be."
Sarah came home late. Derek was not there. Laundry was piling up and Cameron had not done it yet. John's room was a mess.
"Do I have to do everything myself?"
Some students were annoyed. Some were agitated. Some were overwhelmed. Some numbed themselves.
The school nurse earned her pay but she wasn't a doctor.
Inspired by the show Jackass and the game Grand Theft Auto, some took to street racing, car surfing, and daredevil stunts. Some jumped from bridges into water. Some jumped from rooftop to rooftop. Some sought thrills in other ways. Boys succeed at suicide. Girls just want attention and are ineffective at suicide. A girl named Jordan Cowan succeeded. She jumped off the roof as other students chanted: "Jump! Jump! Jump!"
No one thought it was fun afterward.


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