Chapter 2:

sceNe 2 - ʀeᴛurN to ʏour ᴘasᴛ

ᴋraCᴋeᴅ ᴍooN / Kracked Moon

My life has rarely been completely under my control. My parents find every chance they can to control my life. Even after sending me away as a child, and living without their support for years now, if I do anything they do not approve of, I am immediately guilted into meeting their will. My name is Nai-bu. I just finished getting my bachelor’s degree in political science, but I’m still working as a server at a restaurant. I live with my coworker Sandra in a pretty okay apartment. I hope to find a job in my field of study, but my parents tend to be overbearing and get in the way, not that I don’t understand why.

I am a member of Homo Sap-Catus, or HSC, which is a subspecies of homo sapiens who were victims of a mass genetic alteration attack using chemical warfare during the second world war. I’m third generation, both for my species and as an American citizen, as many of us were welcomed as refugees. Because of our immutable traits such as cat-like ears and furry tails, HSC received harassment for many years, though public opinion quickly evolved by the time I was a kid to be generally positive and trusting. But because my parents grew up before this modern era of trust, they can be quick to make decisions for me.

One such decision was ending my acting career. When I was a little kid, I really liked playing pretend with my friends, and we took it pretty seriously. This was so clear to my friend’s dad that he invited us to act on a show he was working on called Forgotten Station. For a few years we were genuine TV stars! But when filming new footage for the next set of seasons there were issues with the two main lead actors Emmett and Eva, a pair of boy-girl twins who refused to work together. This combined with a number of other problems made my parents decide that acting was not paying off as a career option. So they decided I should go to an elite boarding school instead and prepare for college, even though I was still in middle school.

Since then my life has been fairly planned out by my parents. They chose my classes in high school. And they almost chose my college major, but I made a pretty good pitch about why political science was the right answer. I actually chose it because playing a princess on TV made me realize that there was a lot of interesting stuff to consider when making decisions for the wellbeing of others. But even then, my parents chose when I took what classes. This is what had me working at the same restaurant all these years, because I needed to be sure I could pick up shifts between classes.

Now that I’m done with school though, I plan to begin my true rebellious phase! The idea has been in the works for years, and had some false starts, but I’m finally in the right position to do it. I made sure my first car was an older VW Beetle so they couldn’t use modern technology to track my location. I bought a second phone they don’t know about that can receive calls from the one on their family plan. And I secretly opened a bank account that I put half of my tips into so I have some private money! So what big plan have I made with all this?

I’m going to crash the reunion party for Forgotten Station!

My parents didn’t want me to stay in touch with anyone from the show, so I have no idea how everyone is doing. But I was able to find out about the reunions and where they were being held. I really want to see my old friends and catch up with them! Even if the plan is a dud, it might still be fun and my parents won’t be there, so they’ll never know! It is perfect!

That morning I got up early and drove out as soon as I was ready. I actually seemed to get there pretty early, as there were very few cars, and the venue wasn’t entirely set up. As I got out of my car and looked around, I started to recognize some of the former staff. I asked myself when they became so old, but then I realized how long it had been. Would anyone even recognize me? I mean I was the only HSC kid pretty much, so probably.

I walked into the venue and I was immediately greeted by an older woman.

“Is that...Nai-bu? Oh you’re so grown!” She said, smiling and holding out her hand.

“Uh...yep! It’s sure been a while!” I said, nervously shaking the woman’s hand.

“Oh dear, you probably don’t remember everyone very well. I’m Pam. I was part of the costuming department!” She was nearly shouting. “We rarely see anyone new here, so we stopped using name tags! I should put some out!”

As she left to figure out the name tag situation, I found a table to sit down at. Apparently I didn’t look too different from when I was a kid, because people continued to recognize me from afar and approach me. Surprisingly no one asked about my parents. They just seemed happy to see me and hoped I would stick around. I almost felt like this wasn’t very rebellious after all, since it was more like a meet and greet with people I met when I was a kid.

“Jason! About time you got here! You’re never this late!” A voice shouted from behind me.

I turned around to look, and Jason was arriving and immediately being swarmed. Did these old folks just like young blood? Given that Jason used to wear superhero costumes even when he wasn’t on the show, it was weird how recognizable he was without them. And people definitely were excited to see him. But the people who didn’t rush to Jason started to murmur about something else.

“Did you see that just now? Behind Jason?” A woman loudly whispered.

“That girl who walked in with him? Is she his girlfriend?” A man responded.

“No, no. Jason is definitely still single. I think that was...the double agent.” She said.

“Really? I guess even a small-time show like ours will have child actors who grow up eccentric.” The man said, sounding disappointed.

The double agent? Did they mean Craith?

Quietly I looked around to see where the person they were talking about went, and noticed someone on their phone in the back of the room. I got out of my seat and decided I should approach. I had to know if it was my friend or not! And unlike Jason, there wasn’t a crowd of people to compete with! I walked right up and blurted out…

“You wouldn’t happen to be Craith, would you?”