There is something terrible about knowing the fate of everyone I meet. Don't get me wrong, I used to love it. One look at a person, and instantly their whole future flashes before my eyes. I used to love the happy times to come; the weddings, the birthdays, the love, the happiness. But then ultimately, I know how they will die, who will hurt them, the everyday torture they will go through. That is the part I hate. Soon the happy memories become washed out by pain, and I can't stand looking at a new person.
I don't see my own fate, or myself in other people's fate, a fact that I should really have been grateful for. Had I known what was coming, I wouldn’t have taken my future as it was set. I would have gone, unable to stop it, but kicking and screaming. Of course, I see the effects of the parts of someone's life that I'm in, but I don't see the parts I am in. It’s like I’m a ghost, passing unseen in and out of people’s lives, a phantom that not even I can vanquish.
The day I was born, I knew how my parents would die. The first face I saw, my Mother's, came with the knowledge that she would commit suicide when I was six. Of course, knowing someone's fate doesn't mean you have any ability to stop it or change it. Believe me, I've tried. But try as I did, no matter how I tried to change the effects of that day, fate had already accounted for my efforts, that I would change it. I was condemned from the start, just like you all are. Nobody escapes unscathed by fate.
Only then, with my Mother’s death heavy on my conscience, did I tell anyone about my ability. My father didn't believe me - my poor, grief stricken father thought his son was just blaming himself, telling stories. He even tried committing suicide himself, but of course I knew he wouldn't succeed. He won’t die until he’s old and grey, he’ll pass peacefully in his sleep.
Once I had convinced him, by telling him every single event before it happened for two days, he took me to a doctor. None of them could explain it, and after running many tests, decided that given that it didn’t seem to be killing me, they could give up on me, other than weekly therapy sessions. They soon stopped - I couldn’t stand seeing the way the Doctors would die, knowing that while they examined me, they secretly longed to know the terrible secrets that I had been cursed with.
Until I was fourteen, I was homeschooled by my father, who resigned from his job as a professor of psychology at the college in favour of many smaller jobs. Of course we both missed Mother - that hole would never be filled - but my father was there, all through my depression and my anxiety, the night terrors and the equally terrifying daydreams. He never got angry, never cowered away, and that was exactly what I needed from him. I never became close with anyone else, as I tended to avoid people. I should really have left it at that. A monster like me should have been kept locked away, before they could wreak havoc on the world. But cruel fate had other plans.
When I turned fourteen, my father went back to work. I dedicated my days to my art, something else I had a talent for. I sold my work for small sums of money, in an effort to contribute to the income. That is where we still were, three years later, in an old house in the countryside, appearing to any passers by to be an average middle aged man and his troubled seventeen year old son.
My name? My name is Fate. I wasn’t christened Fate - no parents as kind as mine would imagine that their child was as destructive as I. My father says as soon as I could talk, I insisted that everyone called me Fate.
It seems fitting that I named myself after the cause of my undoing, the one thing that I could never have defeated.
There were very few times of day where I could actually go outside, due to how easy it was to come across people around here. I usually went outside around 10pm, as most people were at home at this point. Living in the wood had its advantages - I could get the exercise that I constantly craved by climbing trees, and swinging from branch to branch, monkey style.
I flexed my shoulders back and forth, getting ready to jump for a high branch, and taking deep breaths. Once I was up there, there would be no room for distractions, or I could be killed. Springing up, I grabbed the branch and swung myself forwards, reaching for the next branch and the next, the wind pushing my hood off my head. I breathed in, loving the feeling of almost flying, only the branches and the burning muscles in my arms keeping me from falling to my death. I climbed higher and higher, letting go of the tension from being stuck in all day.
I caught sight of a shadow below me, a future clamping down on my vision. I gasped, grabbing for the branch again. A life flashed before me - he was young, with a fiance and a daughter on the way. The daughter would die - she would be born months too soon - then the wife would leave him… And then he would die in a car accident, aged only twenty nine. All this I knew in seconds, just from looking at him. I dropped to the ground, my head between my knees. All that suffering… I let out a dry sob. I usually cried at some point every day, a fact that I resented, but the world had so much pain yet to come to it, and I could do nothing about it.
My vision wobbled, but I pulled myself upright. I refused to be knocked down this time. I swung back up onto the branch, determined to get past it. Swinging higher and higher, I tried to shake the image of that tiny baby, born stiff and cold….
I could stop the image.
I couldn’t believe it had never crossed my mind before. Reaching the highest point in the forest, I let go, falling further and further down. The tears stopped, and I felt nothing but relief that it would finally all stop when I hit the forest floor.
Something hit me, hard, knocking me off course. I hit the floor, but with nowhere near enough force to kill me. I opened my eyes in shock, looking down at myself. There was no blood, barely any pain… I could move...
“I’m not dead…”
“No, you’re not.” The voice startled me, and I launched myself back against a tree.
I looked up at the person. Male, about three years older than me… He worked for people… People with abilities… Like me. He would be the cause of a horrible accident, but survive to feel the guilt. “The name’s Joe. I know enough about you to know that you already know more about me than I do.”
“Yes…” I didn’t quite know what to say to him next. Despite watching TV and stuff, I hadn’t had much interaction with people other than my Dad.
“I’m like you, Fate. Well, kind of. I don’t see people’s future, but I see their dreams. We call it a sight. Creative, I know. But there are a surprising number of us, and we’re here to help you.”
I looked up at him, still unsure what to say. He sighed.
“Fate, come with me. We’re here to help. I know what you were just trying to do, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Wordlessly, I nodded, realising that maybe, he could help me bring an end to what I knew, what I had yet to discover. I followed him through the woods into the dark shape of a truck. Under the lights of the truck cab, I got a better look at him. Taller than me, he was incredibly muscled, and dressed in a tight black vest top and jeans. His red hair was cut short, and must have been barely a centimetre long.
“Where are we going?” I asked. Not that I would recognise the location, it just seemed like something I should ask.
“There’s a centre on the other side of the country where a load of us live. It’s several hours away. You can sleep if you want.”
I nodded, settling against the window. Sleep came quickly this time, despite the knowledge I had of this guy’s death, and the fact that I hadn’t been in a vehicle in about a decade. Something about knowing I would be free of it soon was extremely comforting.
In my dreams, I saw her again. She pinched my cheeks and kissed my head, tears running down her cheeks. I tried to reach for her, but my chubby arms were too short. “Goodbye, Fate. You’re better off this way, One day you’ll understand.”
She didn’t know I understood perfectly. She didn’t know that I knew exactly where she was headed, to the frozen over lake in the park, to almost instant death as she fell. She didn’t know that I knew why, too. She didn’t know that I knew it was about the special pills the doctor was giving her, the ones that were supposed to make her happy but her paranoia said wouldn’t.
As I had at the time, I tried to tell her this, that if only she would stay, we could make it better. But she was already through the door, the one that slammed shut, the one with the handle I couldn’t reach.
I was alone again, my Dad still at work, and powerless against the future that I knew had to come.
I awoke to Joe shaking me.
“Fate, we’re here. You need to follow me.”
The truck was parked in a white room, with no windows and several identical black trucks. With Joe stood a woman, about my age. She had black hair, cut sharply against her bare shoulders, and violet eyes that almost glowed. “Tara.” She said simply. I was tempted to reply “You have three years to live, after you destroy a perfectly good relationship”, but I couldn't quite bring myself to say that much.
“Fate,” I replied.
“Tara sees the number of lies you have told. We have several people with her sight.”
I nodded, not really listening. “What am I doing here?”
“Like Joe has told you, we’re here to help.”
They led me through more white corridors, and into a small, bare room with a sliding door. An aged man sat in a large metal chair at a desk, looking expectantly at us as we walked in. The white hair had clearly been receding back across his speckled head for years, now a thin, feathery layer that barely brushed his ears. He would die soon, I knew even without my sight. I just couldn’t tell how.
“Fate.” His voice showed his age, sounding weak. “Finally. How slowly did you drive, Joe?”
“I drove at the limit, sir, but he lives a long-”
“Nevermind that now. Harry has a situation that he needs your assistance with.” There was an awkward pause as I stepped forward into the room, the white tiles squeaking painfully against my shoes. The thud as Joe closed the door behind me echoed through the corridor, causing me to jump slightly. If the old man noticed, he ignored it.
“Now then, Fate, I know all about you.” He looked me in the eye, talking slowly. The crystal blue of his eyes was unsettling, glassy even. “I first found out about you when you were about six years old, when you saw a doctor. But then your father took you and hid you. I see he did you no favours, but we’re here to try and fix you.” I nodded, inviting him to continue. “But you have to understand that, in exchange for our help, you have to use your gift to help others.”
Annoyance flashed through me. Weren’t they going to get rid of it?
“But… I don’t want it.”
“Fate, it’s extremely rare.”
“I don’t care. There’s probably a reason for that.”
He sighed. “Fate, listen to m-”
“No, you listen to me.” I raised my voice. “I was told I would be helped, and this is not helping me!”
The man looked confused. “Surely you would have seen our plan?”
“I cannot see my own fate!”
“There is no getting rid of it, you stupid-” He steadied himself, forcing a smile. “You think you know what you’re dealing with, but you have no idea.”
I kept my mouth shut, waiting.
“We have a trial. You start using your ability to help people, and I’ll do my best to make this easy on you. Is that ok.” It wasn't a question.
I dipped my head once, in a slight nod.
“I already know what I want you to do first. There is a school down the road. I want you to go into their assembly, and I want you to tell some students that their futures will be ok. Is that alright?”
“How is that helping people?”
“It gives them peace of mind. Teenage years are very hard, as I’m sure you know. Just remember only to give them positive futures, ok?”
Shrugging, I turned to leave, then remembered I didn’t actually know where I was going.
“Tara will show you to your room. I will get Joe to pick you up tomorrow. There will be clothes and food in your room, and you can tell Tara if you need anything else.”
I followed Tara through more corridors, my hands in my pockets, not really focusing on where we were going. Someone would show me out tomorrow.
“So then, Fate.” Tara turned to me. “What’s my future? Do we become the best of friends?”
“I… um…” I was shocked she was talking to me, really. From what TV had taught me, the girls in the tight black tops and even tighter black jeans didn’t talk to the guys like me, especially not in the honeyed tones that she was using now.
“What, like what you see?” She winked at me.
“I… um…” I scrambled to change the topic back. “I don’t see my own fate.”
She stopped walking, frowning. “You still see mine, though?”
“I… er…” She was too close, blinking up at me. The things that I now knew about her… I wanted to push her away, and run as far as I could. “Your boyfriend wouldn’t put up with this.”
Raising her eyebrows, she laughed. “We both know that you’re lying. But good job on predicting the boyfriend, Madame Fate.”
School. Ugh. Not exactly my favourite way to spend a day. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends, and I wasn’t the stupidest here by a long shot, but after seven years of these bland corridors and strip lights, I felt cooped up here. The brick walls weren’t just supporting the buildings, they were blocking out the freedom I wanted. While the majority of people had left by now, with the A level exams behind us, Bu had had the smart idea of signing us all up for the CV building, confidence boosting week of hell. How she talked any of us into it, I’ll never know, but that’s Bu for you.
Flicking her brilliant blue hair out of her eyes, Cass stood next to me, her thin leather jacket held taut against the onslaught of wind. The two of us had been best friends since we started here, naturally joining the others a few years ago. We were fairly similar, I guessed, except for her inability to dress weather appropriately and love for cyan hair.
On the whole, the group dynamic that the ten of us had consisted of us each having our individual zombie apocalypse buddies that we stood with, a collective pool of opinions that we would all add our own to, conversation moving along quickly. It was this repetitive pattern, soundtracked by Bu and Taylor’s constant stream of chattering, that added to the perpetual flow of identical days.
“Why are we friends with these people?” I muttered to Cass.
She didn’t get a chance to answer - we were interrupted by the bell.
For the next hour, we had our old history teacher. Two days into the week, and already I was wishing I’d never come back. The classrooms were as boring as the corridors, except from the addition of tables and whiteboards. Today, the boards had the addition of the scrawl ‘FATE: Real or a myth?’. I groaned. As much as I liked exploring the beliefs of different people, I didn’t believe in any God or mystical concept such as fate, and really didn’t feel like holding hands and sharing our feelings.
“Something wrong, Amelia? Do you not think my lesson plans worthy of your time?” I straightened up, immediately, at the voice of the teacher, Mr Oakley. While a lot of the teachers were more informal with us now that we had technically left, Oakley seemed to think we were still in year 7.
“Of course I do, Sir. I just know the answer to that question already, and this isn’t an R.E. lesson.”
“Oh really? What makes you so sure?”
Taylor sniggered, her sandy brown head shaking where she stood in front of me. I stumbled for words slightly, taking my seat. Mr Oakley continued to look at me expectantly, and so I spoke again.
“The future is constantly changing. We make it ourselves, every day. Fate implies that someone has planned it all out, and if they did, they would stop bad things from happening, and make some kind of attempt to help us, surely?”
The class stared at me silently, nobody moving until Clay raised his hand. I glanced at him gratefully, hoping my cheeks weren’t as pink as they felt. Another of our friends, he was one of the more vocally opinionated people that I knew.
“I agree with Aimee, Sir. ‘Fate’ is far too complicated to be planned, or predicted. It can’t be done, surely.” Clay continued to speak, backing up my point, which I was grateful for. One by one, more people spoke, all giving their opinions. Nobody disagreed with me, thankfully. My mind began to wander, and I began to wonder what would happen if someone did know my fate. I would hate it, the thought of someone knowing every move I would make.
As if echoing my thoughts, the next slide on the board read:
“What if you found a book with your fate planned out? Would you read it?”
A chorus of “mmm hmm”s and nods spread around the room.
“Why?” Sir spoke. “Bu?”
“Because if you know your fate, you are more prepared for it. You wouldn’t have to worry about it, you’d just know it was the way it was.”
I shook my head slightly, raising my hand.
“Go on then, Amelia.” Oakley mockingly sighed.
“You would be haunted by it. Your future… You’d always know what’s coming. Nobody is meant to feel like that.”
A heavy quiet fell over the room, my words an unwelcome realisation. Somewhere behind me, Bu shook her head again, unable to respond.
Even once the lesson had finished, thoughts of this played on my mind.
“What’s up with you?” Cass asked, poking my side.
“Nothing.” I shook my head.
The number of times I had seen Bu panic about the future was so many that I had lost count, her fears so irrational for someone with grades like hers. If her answer to Oakley’s question had been any different, I would have been surprised, and yet watching her run around at break, it was amazing that one day, her feelings could be realised. Waves of bronze hair danced around her waist, her head tipped back as she laughed at something Taylor had said.
“Aimee!” Cass nudged me again.
“Sorry!” I muttered, coming back to earth. “What?”
The others all shared a glance.
“Are you in love, Aimee?” Bu wiggled her eyebrows. “Does a lucky guy or gal have your attention elsewhere?”
I laughed. “I wish. No just… tired.”
“Shame, your love life is boring as hell to gossip about.”
“Taylor!” Bu lightly slapped Taylor’s arm, failing to contain a giggle. “At least pretend we’re good secret keepers.”
I kept getting distracted for the rest of the day, and it passed surprisingly quickly, like someone had sucked the main flesh out of it. This was a familiar feeling for me; identical days, disorientating and empty. Even when I got home, I escaped immediately, grabbing the nearest book and sinking into my bed.
My older brother Cole had only recently got home from university for the summer, his work for the year all handed in. He had almost immediately reverted into the state he had been in prior to leaving: sat at his computer longing for Ally Valenti. The two of them had dated for years before he left, but uni had broken them up and he had regretted it ever since. At any chance that he got, he would ask after her. If it wasn’t so incredibly soppy, it would have been creepy.
“What do you want?”
“I just wondered if Bu said anything about Ally today…”
I snorted. “Well, other than the fact that she killed in a horrific filing accident, no.”
His face fell for a few seconds before morphing into a glare. “That’s not funny.”
I was already in fits, though. “You actually believed me?”
“I can just see the headlines now...” I had to pause from laughing so hard. “‘Tragic accident as aspiring lawyer killed by paperclips.’”
“You’re impossible.” He snapped, slamming my door.
The next day came with an unexpected assembly, as part of the “Brighter Lives” campaign that the school was taking part in. On the projector as we entered, there was the introduction slide “Fate: Everything will be alright”. Underneath it stood a tall boy, about our age. He was quite slim, but not scrawny, with a mess of floppy black hair that fell down over his eyes.
“So, hello then.” His words, despite tripping over themselves in their hurry to be said, quietened us all. “I am Fate. Not like, fate itself. Fate is my name. I have a gift which means I can see the future.”
I groaned inwardly. Did he really expect us to believe him? Clearly, a hoax.
“I don’t expect you to believe me.” He stopped talking and winced. “But I do. I know what each of you will go through until the day that you die.”
He walked over to the front row and met Clay's eye. “You have years of success ahead of you, just not how you would expect.” Clay frowned, perplexed, but didn’t say anything.
He walked further back, towards Riley. “You’re going to be able to fix everything… Eventually”
That, of course, was laughably vague. A few sniggers could be heard from the back row, all of us doubting Fate’s ability.
He continued round the room, telling various people their “futures”. Eventually, he walked nearer to me, to where Bu sat. For a few seconds, his expression faltered, and he took a breath before continuing. “Don’t panic. It’s all going to turn out ok.” Without stopping, he turned next to her, where Alex sat. “You’re going to be ok, too, as you know. But for your sake, if not hers, don’t let her push you away. Protect her from herself. Everything else, she can handle.”
That didn’t sound like Bu. Successful, of course. But no offense to her, she wasn’t the strongest of people, and quite often needed help, emotionally. They both seemed to buy it, though, meeting each other's eyes and smiling at each other.
He handed out other generic predictions to irrelevant people for the next few minutes, his eyes wide. His whole posture reminded me of a power-crazed supervillain, grinning like a madman and raising his hands to the sky.
What an imbecile.
And then he turned to me. He looked momentarily confused, frowning. His eyes seemed… huge. Beautiful, and emerald coloured, with flecks of gold, but huge. “You…” His confusion faded, and he smiled at me. “Your fate, is me.”
I stopped breathing. I couldn’t work out if I was scared, excited, or if I even believed him.
The room remained silent until Bu broke the silence with a muffled giggle. Trust her to be the one that found this funny.
"I... I'm sorry." Fate took a step back, his jade green eyes still locked on mine.
I searched for words, any words to tell him not to worry, just to make that look of worry disappear from his face… Nothing came. He swallowed, and went back up to the stage.
"Thank you for your time." He addressed the room. "That will be all."
I watched him as he walked towards the doors, and he watched me back, stumbling over chairs as he went.