I never revealed that her conception was a near catastrophic meltdown.
I managed to spare her one secret, one small piece of my true identity, after she unmasked me — and even that act was only a formality. She had determined my identity already. That’s what brought us here, to this moment, this precipice, her fists knotted in my cape, crushing the carbon in her diamond-white grip.
Lapses in good judgement. Unforeseen circumstances. Accidents.
A night in the lab, my DNA carelessly discarded in an ill-tended ionization chamber. Klaxon sounds, and I’m faced with the choice of fostering life or throwing out the soup.
My first reaction was to vitrify it in borosilicate glass, encapsulate it in stainless steel cylinders, then bury it under a playground. But the cost of disposal materials, a macabre inquisitiveness, and no small amount of egocentricity made me reconsider jettisoning the primordial wretch. The standard motives behind procreation.
I set my current projects aside and devoted six sleepless months to her design.
Days would pass as I watched her incubate. I took great pride in my creation. Her physiology could alter itself to adapt to surroundings that my own never could. But, like me, she would thrive in high-pressure, low oxygen atmospheres. Like marine life and other species suited for deep space travel.
Being a single parent is challenging, especially when your toddler can lift a school bus over her head.
I used to take some evenings off to spend time with her. Keep up the charade of an overworked yet caring parent. I would sometimes douse myself in used cooking oil before coming home, for legitimacy. That odor never really washes out.
She made friends. Early on, when I first began to socialize her with humans, I made friends for her. It’s easy to pretend to be a little girl when you’re a an extraterrestrial shapeshifter. Even easier when you’ve seen almost every single episode of the Little Ponies and the Rainbow Brats.
She kept an aquarium. Plastered her walls with those posters and notebooks of dolphin — whale — seals — intelligent marine life swimming through space. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would reply in a sombre tone “a narwhal princess”.
I had to give her The Talk when her goldfish started shooting eggs all over the tank it shared with its mate. When she approached, the mother fish would circle the space, tail fins flared in warning. She watched from a distance as the two goldfish ceaselessly cleaned the eggs with their mouths.
Then she asked about her mother.
I told her how her mother was the most beautiful, kind woman in the world. How the doctor warned her that giving birth would kill her. But her mother loved her so much, she couldn’t bear to live in a world where she did not exist for one second. I lifted the story from one of her favorite books.
I told her that she had her mother’s eyes.
In reality, I mirrored my features to hers in a manner-like reverse inheritance, to construct for her a father suit. A false impression. Like pouring white paint into a glass instead of milk, or applying wood varnish to steaks on commercial sets— to make food look more like food. Extra garnish to appear extra human.
But, underneath, in my true form, both of our eyes glow with the exact shade of bioluminescence. A phenomenon neither of us can actually see. Like the Malacosteus niger, which dwells at a depth of one thousand metres in the Mesopelagic zone — the twilight zone — that emits a unique red glow, but is itself blind to the wavelength. Invisible to the light of ourselves and one another.
She winced when she ripped away her father suit’s face and beheld my face. I laughed (maniacally) and delivered unto her a backhand that sent her crashing through ten inches of reinforced concrete wall, to show her that I would not be defeated so easily.
And neither would she.
For assurances, I implanted in her medulla oblongata a kind of psycho-cerebral-transmitter that served two functions:
The first being that I could, at any time, view the world through her optic nerves. The second was the Kill Everything Trigger, which I was saving for a special occasion.
When she went into business as a Social Justice Warrior, she tried to hide it from me. And it was easy to pretend to be oblivious when we hardly saw one another. We both had secret identities to maintain.
She joined a ‘debate team’ that would keep her out all hours and required extensive travel. I still have all of her trophies from fake competitions on a shelf in the hallway. Garnish.
Her partner, Levity, could crush a skyscraper, or create a black hole in a gas station bathroom, if someone could just remove the inhibitor nodes from her spine. I approved of my creation’s tastes.
She came spiraling back from the debris and dealt me a punch that would vaporize the ribs of any amorous sixteen year old. “I quit SJW’s six months ago, dad! They were all Levity’s friends, and Anti*Matter is paying me to write some articles.”
That villain-science magazine?
No. No. No No No No No No No No —
She even wrote a piece about the break up with Levity on the Medium. Under the name Miss Anne Thrope. Like so many before me, I was out-maneuvered by the Twitter. The only hive mind half as diabolical as my own.
I log in to the database I have implanted in my brain.
SELECT FILE; REVENGE; MANAGE NAMES
Perhaps I’ve been slightly preoccupied this year. Haven’t checked her transmitter as often as I should have. “You’d rather crowdsource pseudo-scientific ‘life hacking’ for the Facebook?”
Tears. “And what am I supposed to do? My life is one big fucking sham!”
Maybe she’s exploring the Indian Ocean. Or Prague, or the Alamo, or the rings of Saturn.
She could be in a different galaxy, finding herself, immune to every environment. Perfect. Invincible.
It was simple to remove the transmitter — only a small scar was left by the operation, on the base of her skull, shaped like a star or an asterisk. By now, even that wound should be healed. Though, there is a chance that it will cause her some discomfort whenever she thinks of me.
I hope it doesn’t.