The following is a writing prompt that I was given by a coworker (and my response).
“It’s your 18th birthday and, upon it, your parents deliver some pretty shocking news: You’re not really human. They admit that they’ve been covering up the fact that you are actually a” (and here begins my imagination) genetically modified Martian spliced with human DNA.
“What do you mean, I’m a Martian? There’s no life on Mars!”
“Yes,” says your mother, “but there WAS life and it was preserved, deep beneath the icecaps.”
“You’re telling me, you grew me in a lab or something? What the hell, haven’t you ever heard of adoption? There are babies in Russia and China and Africa that are already bred and everything! No splicing required!”
“We didn’t want to have to tell you this way, but our hand has been forced.” Your parents glance at one another. “We need you to pack a bag, without any electronics. No phone, no ipod, no laptop, no game boy. We have to leave quickly and we can’t risk being tracked.”
“What’s really going on? Is this some stupid new reality T.V. show? Trying to see how gullible I am?”
“You – we – but mostly you – were part of an experimental team put together by the defense department, for the purpose of colonizing Mars. Last week, some of the top scientists of the team went missing. Just this morning one of them turned up -” Another glance crossed between them. “Dead. The thing that was most disturbing-”
“Aside from being told you’re half Martian?”
“- the way the body was found. Totally by accident. If it hadn’t been for a kid that wandered away from his campsite, the body wouldn’t have been found…in time.”
“In time for what?”
“To finish what was started. Now get packing.”
With your head reeling, you numbly begin shoving clothes into your backpack, leaving your homework on the desk where you had been frantically scribbling down answers. By the time you finish zipping up your pack, you hear the horn blast from the garage. On a last minute whim, you grab the family photo from the hall and tuck it under your arm. The garage door is open and the car seems to already be loaded to the gills. You open the back door and shove yourself in with your backpack on your lap as your Dad pulls into the street like it were any other day.
“So, um…are our lives in danger?”
“It is very likely.” Your mom doesn’t glance back at you.
“Shouldn’t we, like, go faster then?” You lean forward to see the speedometer is holding at 35 MPH.
“We don’t want to let on that we know anything is amiss. Plus, we don’t want any trouble from the local authorities.” Dad answers with the patience he gives a slow freshman. This shouldn’t irritate you at a time like this, but it does.
“Who wants us dead, exactly?”
“I will feel a great deal better when I have an answer to that question.” He responds.
This is not the first time you wish your parents were less scientific and more emotional. Not only are they no fun to argue with – staying so calm you just want to punch them in the face (not that you would, but it would be interesting to see if they reacted any differently)- but they give you only the information they are sure of without offering much in the way of speculative guesses.