The Iron in Blood
device around my neck. They picked up the board, yep, definitely an incline; and slid it onto
the stretc her, where it turns out I had a great view of the tall guys nostrils. As they shut the
doors behind me I tried to see what had happened to the guy that hit me with his car, but
he was nowhere to be seen. The police later told me that he had driven off without
stopping, and as nobody had gotten his number plate, the likelihood was that he would get
off scot free.
They were wrong.
I remember that first call from my brother. I had arrived back at the hotel I’d been
staying at for the past eight weeks. It was five in the afternoon, dark already and cold, and
I’d just finished tracking down a man I’d been looking for for the past three days. He lived in
a medium sized town about fifty miles from where I was staying, and I intended to pay hi m a
surprise visit the following day. England is a beautiful country steeped in history and
tradition, but it was also home to the type of man that I liked to, er, find. Hence my
presence in the country when Ma rcus phoned.
When he told me that a match had been found, at first I did not believe him. He and
Fergus had been searching for decades, and had so far turned up nothing. I thought he was
playing some sort of joke. He has a tendency to do thi ngs like that; his sense of humour can
be a bit peculiar. I suppose it may have a lot to do with hi m being the ultimate academic,
plus the fact that he and Fergus lived in almost complete isolation from other more normal
people. But when he repeated his statement, and I heard the suppressed excitement a nd
elation in his voice, I knew that he was telling the truth, and I was pleased for him. And for
Fergus. They had both worked so hard on this project, Ma rcus the geneticist, and Fergus the
computer whizz. Thirty years spent sweating away at a seemingly impossible task that had
been left to us by our equally frustrated father, and they had just achieved the second major
breakthrough. The first had been when Ma rcus had isolated that little group of genes that
separated us from the rest of humankind, that c ollection of base pairs that sat lurking in our
DNA and that was ultimately responsible for both our strengths and our strangeness.
Marcus and Fergus had decided that I would be the retriever and general facilitator,
mainly because I happened to be in the s ame country as the person with the alleged match,
but also because I did not stand out in a crowd quite as much as they did. There was not
much of an age difference between the three of us, unless you counted a few minutes.
Besides, our father could never remember which of us had been born first, consumed as he
was by the grief of losing our mother. Nonetheless, Marcus and Fergus had always behaved
as if they were the ol der brothers, and ordered me a bout accordingly, and I had gone along
with it. It had seemed too much effort to argue, and I had been far more interested in
learning to use my own specific abilities.
As Marcus read out a name in a slightly breathless voice, I felt our na rrow world
changing and expanding, like a giant stone wall had unexpectedl y morphed into an open
window, and we were stood surveying the possibilities that lay beyond it. We weren’t alone
anymore. A seventeen year old girl was responsible for that revelation, and suddenly I felt
very protective towards this young woman whom I had not even met yet. It didn’t occur to
me to write her details down. There was no point, really. I always remembered everything
people told me. It was one of my talents.