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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
In this world, destiny is easily discovered. The beginning of adolescence is marked by the arrival of a naturally forming mark. This mark, or tattoo, will continue to grow over the entirety of that man or woman's lifetime. It acts as a visual reflection of not only who they are, but what they will become. Once somebody can decipher the clues hidden in their tattoo, their destiny can be predicted. Tattoo's are bright, colorful, and meaningful, but one young man's mark grows to be the exact opposite, leaving those around him worried for what this may mean.

Submitted: April 04, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 04, 2017




The clouds slowly began to part ways as the sun broke through their lines to announce the arrival of a new day. Light crept into the world, eliminating and creating shadows as it went. Samuel promptly woke and removed the blankets from his form. Glancing out the window, he saw the sun rising over the mountains. He sat up and slid his legs off the bed, leaving his feet dangling above the floor. The clock read 6:59. He stood and the lights came on automatically. Today was Thursday. He would go downstairs, eat a small breakfast, get dressed, and meet with Amelia. He was always excited to show off his progress, but today he had nothing to show.

Samuel threw on a shirt and opened a drawer to find his comb. He reached inside to take it. Before he reached it, he paused. Something was on his right forearm. A small, dark, irregularly shaped mark had appeared. Curious, he stared at it, then touched it. It was a bit sensitive, but felt like normal skin. He inhaled heavily and a smile leaped across his face. In an instant, he was filled to the brim with joy. Samuel let out a small cry of excitement and sprinted out of his room without bothering to put paints on.

“Mom!” he shouted as he bounded down the stairs. He leapt from the sixth step and landed with a lout thud on the floor. “It’s started!”

“Samuel Johnson, calm down this instant!” he heard his mother shout from the kitchen. He hardly heard her. He ran into the kitchen, stumbling on a dining room chair as he went.

“Samuel!” his mother scolded again. He ran in to find her stirring a pot of something while looking over her shoulder.

“It’s here, it’s here!” he shouted again as he approached her. He held up his right arm to show her the dark spot that had formed overnight. Instantly, her expression calmed from anger to excitement. She wiped off her apron and walked to meet her son, and picked him up and spun around with him.

“Now, now, let me see,” she said. She put the boy down and knelt beside him, taking his arm in her hands to inspect the mark. A black smudge was all it was with a small hint of color on the edges. She smiled. “It’s so small! But don’t worry, child. It will grow.” She released him and sat wither back to the cupboards and placed Samuel in her lap. She pulled her sleeve on her right arm back and held it out in front of him. “Soon, it will be just like mine, but it will be yours. Oh, and it even started in the same place as mine!” her arm was an explosion of color and blurry images. She pointed to each one and explained its meaning as she had dozens of times before.

“Here is the ring your father gave me,” she said, pointing to a golden band with a pearly diamond at the top. The image was on her lower bicep. “And here, these bright colors, a reflection of my youth. My behavior supervisor said this shape here might be a house, it was the first picture. And look at me now, a husband, a house, and the most colorful life. Oh, Samuel, I am so excited to see what your tattoo tells you.” She hugged him tightly, but let him go abruptly. “We must tell your father!”

“Do you think dad could come home early today?” Samul asked, hardly containing his bliss.

“Oh of course dear, father’s company will let him come celebrate with us, they always do when an employee’s child finds their mark for the first time,” his mother said, crossing the kitchen to grab the phone.

“I can finally be like my friends!” Samuel thought aloud.

“Don’t be silly, Samuel,” his mother replied. “They’d never treat you differently, that behavior isn’t allowed. Oh, hello? Mr. Swanson?” She quickly covered the mouthpiece with her hand. “Get dressed, Amelia will be here soon!” she put the phone back to her lips. Samuel ran back up the stairs to get ready for the day. He considered taking an early shower. It would be in strict violation of his daily schedule and he would risk getting his parents into trouble, but he also found himself wanting to make the best possible impression on Amelia. The last several months had been odd ones for him. He was growing, his father would say. He was experiencing an unexplainable attraction to Amelia, but tried to pay no attention to it and kept it a secret.

As with all boys, his behavior analyst was a woman. This was meant to offer children experience with the opposite sex before transcending to adulthood. It was a confusing system to Samuel but he knew all he needed to. And what he knew was he needed to follow his schedule. He avoided the temptation and decided if he stank a little, Amelia would have to let it slide. He dressed in the selected style for children his age. Black pants, a soft cotton shirt, and a durable grey jacket. It was simple, but that’s all it needed to be. Everyone dressed the same way. It was just another small loose end to keep an orderly world.

Having dressed on time, he walked back down the stairs, calmly this time. While descending, he stared at his small tattoo. It was a small thing, but he was confident it would grow as he did. He was excited to begin his life. He heard a knock at the door. Presumably, it was Amelia.

“Samuel, watch where you’re going,” his mother scolded from the kitchen. Apparently, she had been watching him. He hadn’t looked up since he was upstairs, and now at the final step, he realized his excitement has caused him to be clumsy. As he walked towards the door, careful to pay attention, he realized he hadn’t eaten breakfast or brushed his teeth. Two strikes in his schedule. Adulthood wasn’t off to a good start. He opened the door and Amelia stood there in her grey outfit and tablet. She smiled, and before she could offer a greeting, Samuel had his sleeve pulled down.

“Amelia! Look, it started! Look, I woke up and it was there!” he shouted.

“Samuel!” his mother scolded once more. “Save your energy for play!” Amelia pretended not to notice.

“My goodness, Sam!” she exclaimed. “This is so exciting! Let me take a look, inside, though.”

“Oh, sorry,” Samuel muttered. He made sure to stand straight when she was around. He was so distracted imagining this meeting that he nearly forgot to close the door softly behind her. That would’ve been another infraction on daily etiquette, especially considering the cold weather. The cold was unexpected. It was the first day in months that it hadn’t been cool and sunny.

He followed her inside and sat in the living room across from her on a cushioned seat. Amelia sat on a plain white sofa beside a small stand that held a lamp. Samuel made sure to sit up and to keep his shoulders back.  She adjusted her glasses and rested her tablet on her lap. It flashed to life and for a few moments, Samuel watched her tap and swipe the screen with her index finger. Finally, she found her documents on Samuel.

“So, Sam, for the last several days you said you were feeling sad?” she began, using a question as an invitation for him to expand on the thought.

“Yes, I guess so, but not anymore,” he replied.

“Because of your tattoo?” she asked, smiling. He grinned and nodded. “Well, I did have some plans for the day but it looks like we won’t be needing them. You’re ready for the next step in your life.” Samuel’s mother walked in the room carrying a tray with two steaming mugs and offered one to Amelia, who thankfully accepted. She sat down in a chair adjacent to her son. Normally the presence of a parent during these daily meetings was forbidden, but today was, of course, a special day.

“What’s next?” she asked Amelia. “It’s been so long since I was in his position, I don’t know if anything has changed.”

“Very little has,” Amelia said with a matter-of-fact tone in her voice. “What’s next is to send him through general education until his mark has developed enough to determine his place in the world. We will need to send an application as soon as possible. Luckily, the window for applying for this quarter is still open.”

“What does that mean?” Samuel asked timidly. “I’ll be in a school with other kids?”

“Yes, exactly,” Amelia answered. “In fact, there is nothing more to discuss today. I should start the process immediately.” She set the full mug down on a coffee table in the center of the room, clicked off her tablet, and stood. Samuel and his mother stood as well.

“Thank you so much, Amelia,” Samuel’s mother said. “You’ve been so good with him.”

“Oh, it has been my own pleasure,” she replied. She turned to Samuel and knelt down. “I will see you exactly once a week to keep an eye out, Mr. Grown-Up.” Samuel’s eyes watered. “Oh, sweetie, I know this is very fast. But you’ll get used to it. Your life is about to begin.” She hugged him, and he held on tight. He wasn’t sure that was allowed, but he did it anyway. Amelia stood. “Well, I’ll be off then.” They all exchanged smiles, except for Samuel who was clearly distraught. He said a pleasant goodbye before she turned to leave, completely forgetting to open the door for her. The door shut and a silence fell over the house.

“Did you feel the need to embarrass me?” his mother scolded. Samuel was caught off guard.

“What did I do to embarrass you?” he asked emotionally. A tear made its way out of his eyelid.

“Crying!” she shot. “Tearing up in front of our guest! Samuel, you are to be more in control of yourself, you understand?” he slowly nodded and wiped his eyes.

“I am sorry, mother,” he said with more confidence in his voice.

“I should hope so,” she replied. “Now, go about your daily activities, you may start early. Your father will be home soon, so get yourself ready for him.




“Remind me again, how long ago did it begin to form?” the tall woman asked. Her black hair was swept up and carefully bound behind her head. Thick gemstones weighed down her ears and her ruby red lipstick, applied rather heavily, made her mouth seem to move slowly as she spoke. Her aging face revealed cheek bones beneath slightly wrinkled skin. “Samuel.” He looked up. He was seated in a soft sofa on the opposite side of a small office from this woman who called herself his therapist. He was leaning forward on the edge of the seat with his elbows resting on his knees and hands over his mouth as if he was ready to bolt out the door. 

“Five years ago,” he replied eventually. “When I was thirteen.” She sat cross legged with a note pad resting on her knee. She looked down as she wrote a few notes. The pen strokes were loud and beat against Samuel’s eardrums. He felt like she was recording his final words.

“I see,” she said without looking up. It was odd seeing anyone writing notes on paper, Samuel thought. But it wasn’t the only thing about this woman that seemed old fashioned. “And before that point, did you feel the same as you have since?”

“No,” he replied. His hands slid up to his forehead. He was tired of these interrogations.

“Could you elaborate please?”

“I was just a typical kid back then. I was happy, had friends, followed the system, was rarely sad or down.”

“And is that how you’ve felt since the genesis of your tattoo? ‘sad and down’?”

“Sure. Maybe that’s a little dull of a description but yes, that’s why I was sent here.” She stared at him with that oppressive look once more before writing more notes. Her sleeves on the white dress shirt were both rolled to her elbow allowing and Samuel to study the shapes and patterns on her arms. They were colorful. But where he usually saw a variety of patterns and curves on others, her were straight and sharp. Orderly. He saw a group of eyes near on her left forearm. Some were open and stared straight ahead, some were closed. Tears welled up in one of them which stood out from the rest. A wilted rose came after it surrounded by a field of dark blue. There must have been dozens of stories told her body by now. A little self-conscious, Samuel pulled his sleeve over the dark blur on his right wrist.

“Samuel,” she said in her deep, stern voice. “Understand that your situation is a rare one. I myself have never encountered this before. As such, it is imperative that we monitor you closely. Any loose end in such a sophisticated society is an imbalance. Most of all, we want to help you live a positive life.”

“So, what?” Samuel asked coldly. “Am I going to live with a babysitter all my life?”

“No, of course not. I will recommend to the authorities that you be placed in a secure facility where, upon further investigation, we may come to an understanding of this condition.”

“You’re going to have them lock me up?” he said, a bit shocked that she would suggest it.

“Not like that.

“Then how?”

“You will, of course, be quite comfortable, but somewhat… secluded. Your purpose cannot be clear, and so there is nowhere else for you to go until it is.”

“This is absurd. You can’t do this just because I’m different.”

“I’m afraid we may have no choice. The authorities as you know are very paranoid, as they should be in such an orderly world.”

“And what are my parents supposed to think?”

“I expect they will be compliant. This is for your own good, after all. Anyone will understand that, and I suspect your lack of faith in the decision is a result of whatever it is that afflicts you. This is not set in stone, mind you, it will take up to a week to process this.”

“Well,” Samuel stated, rising to his feet. “Excuse me for being a free thinker.” He picked up his coat off a hanger and walked out the door.

Rain beat against him as he walked to his vehicle. He understood perfectly well why she had come to this decision. This society was an orderly one indeed, and those in power feared anything out of the ordinary. This fact didn’t make him feel any better. His fifth session with Dr. Katherine had been far more agitating than the previous ones.

He closed the car door and stepped onto the walk to his home. The door opened in front of him and his mother stood ready to greet him.

“How did it go, sweetie?” she asked sweetly, smiling. He pushed past her and rounded the immediate corner to the stairs and slowly stomped up to his bedroom. It had gone terribly. Not only did he have no answers, but he would now be treated like a rat in a laboratory until it was figured out. Being a happy, ordinary child, nobody expected him to take a turn for the worse after his tattoo began to grow. Now, he was a silent, reclusive individual who spent his life in the shadows looking in on the ordinary people. The typical citizen was a productive, seemingly happy person, and all of that was proved by their tattoo. But Samuel’s tattoo was different.

He removed his wet coat and stripped off cotton shirt, leaving his torso bare. He looked at his right arm in disgust. What was once a small spot hardly distinguishable from a freckle or a pen mark had grown to a large black stain which consumed his entire arm and had spread past his shoulder and licked the outskirts of his toned pectorals. A smoky black of different shades was all that it was. No images, no patterns, just black like a rotting plant. Thick biceps stretched the mark upward where it had adapted and grown to look natural. The mere sight of it made him angry.  

While slipping on a fresh shirt, specifically long sleeve to cover the tattoo, he heard a knock at the door. He groaned and went to the door. Samuel swung it open and his mother stood before him holding a tray.

“You seemed upset, so I thought you might want to eat in here, alone again,” she spoke softly. He nodded and muttered a thank-you as he accepted the tray and closing the door before the tears in his mother’s eyes slid down her cheeks.

Samuel loved his mother. He truly did. The guilt he felt for ruining her dreams of the perfect child nagged at him daily. His father, now a successful businessman, was also difficult to face. And so, he kept to himself in his room to avoid looking them in the eye as much as possible. This only made his guilt worse, but perhaps at a slower pace than the alternative. They must have been heartbroken to see what he had become. He retreated to his self-loathing thoughts to distract him as he sat at his desk and lifted the lid off his tray.






“Thank you for coming, Amelia, especially on an unscheduled day.

“Oh, it’s my pleasure, Mrs. Laden,” Amelia replied, and took a sip of a fresh mug of tea.

“He’s just been acting so much…worse,” Samuel’s mother explained. “I know he was a lonely boy before, but his father and I have hardly seen him the past several days. I see him leaving the house at night and won’t see him again until the following afternoon sometimes.”

“This is very unusual behavior,” Amelia thought aloud. “I don’t want you to worry too much, though. You did the right thing telling me. We’re all here to help him, even if that means having him sent to a secure location to properly identify the issue.” Mrs. Laden wiped her eyes with a well-worn tissue. “How long has it been since his last session with the analyst?”

“Two weeks. I know it’s what’s best, but I just stand the thought of my baby being taken away,” she said. “If his mother can’t help him, who can?”

“I know it must be difficult,” Amelia said, relying on professional language to try and calm her. “But there have been some incredible cases like this in which the child was very successfully treated. I’m sure we can help Samuel just as others like him have been.” A knock at the front door sounded, and Mrs. Laden stood and quickly crossed the room to answer it. Two men stood at the door in thick black suites.

“Mrs. Laden?” one of them asked.

“Yes, that’s me,” she replied emotionally. “Come in.”

“Thank you,” the same man said and stepped inside. “I’m afraid we need to make this fast. Where is he?”

“He should be upstairs,” Amelia answered for Mrs. Laden who seemed incapable of speech at the moment as she hurriedly left the scene in search of more tissue paper.

“We’ll fetch him,” the second man said. “I’m sure you should be…consoling her.” Amelia nodded and went after Samul’s mother. The two men ascended and walked down the hall to the bedroom. The door was slightly cracked open. One of them knocked, and after a brief silence, they marched inside. The room was empty.

“The subject isn’t here,” the first man said into a communication device strapped to his wrist.

“The window is open,” said the second. “Did he know we were coming tonight?”

“He may have escaped,” the first said into the communicator. “I’d bet he did.” Amelia and Mrs. Laden walked into the room.

“He isn’t here?” Mrs. Laden asked.

“No,” one of the men replied. “We’ll need to issue a search of the area.”

“Oh, my god…” she moaned. Amelia led her out of the room.”

Thirty minutes later, a dozen men with leashed dogs were sweeping the woods behind the house. The rain fell angrily and daylight had already begun to fade. The dogs seemed to have a scent, and it wouldn’t be long before they closed in. Samuel was now considered a fugitive from the law. His father was notified of the situation and was now being escorted home early from work. Both parents were kept at home in case Samuel snuck back in.

“Sir!” a voice sounded from Lieutenant Bern’s communicator. “The neighbor reported the lock on his toolshed busted and several items missing. Assuming it was our subject, he may be armed.”

“Understood,” Bern replied. He relayed the message to his men. Never before had he heard of such an unusual young person, especially one with the audacity to flee from treatment. For an hour, the men searched the expansive forest. The rain continued to fall and the men were soaked to the bone, despite heavy cover from the trees. The dogs suddenly became alerted to something. They barked and tugged at their chains more than before.

“Pick up the pace!” Bern ordered. They jogged forward, hardly in control of the powerful animals. Soon, Bern saw a light ahead. They quickly made their way to it. As Bern and his men approached, the light took shape. Ahead was a small tent with a bright light shining inside.

“We’ve got a possible location on the subject,” he reported to those on the other end of the radio. They surrounded the small shelter. “Exit the tent and step out slowly!” Bern shouted. He unholstered his weapon and held it out in front of him. He could see a figure inside. It didn’t move. He approached the entrance and handed the leash of his dog to another officer, then holstered his handgun. Carefully, he unzipped the door. A quarter of the way there, the zipper got stuck. But already, Bern could see a pool of red inside the tent. He struggled with the zipper before pulling out a knife and cutting the rest of the way. He ripped off the flap and gagged at what he saw.

The body of a young man, approximately eighteen years old, was slumped over in the corner in a pool of blood. His chest was bare. Bern couldn’t help but stare at the black tattoo that stained his body. But what was worse was the severed flesh. In the boy’s left hand was a handsaw. The flesh above his right shoulder had been severed to the bone.

Thunder sounded above in the night sky. Bern had never dreamed of such an awful scene. Nothing like this had ever been recorded. The boy must have carried an incredible weight on his shoulders for his entire life, and if so, his tattoo indeed told a perfect story of this young man’s life. Bern sensed that his own mark might soon take a turn for the worse after having seen such a disturbing sight.

“He must have tried cutting it off,” said one of the men behind him. “Why would he do that?”

“That’s sick,” said another. Shocked, Bern slowly raised the radio to his mouth and spoke with no emotion in his voice.

“Subject is deceased.”

© Copyright 2018 ChiefKeeffe. All rights reserved.

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