This is the story of Adonis Wells’ peculiar life. But his was not always a life which was peculiar, and the peculiarity of his later life can only be fully imagined when set against his before-life, before the ‘peculiar’ aspect was brought into it at all, when the word ‘peculiar’ was so distant from Adonis that he would have had to sprint to the nearest coastline (difficult in London) and squint into the horizon in order to even catch a glimpse of so foreign a word. But it would take a peculiar kind of person to do even that, so instead this peculiar story starts with the very ordinary — an ordinary boy, in an ordinary bed, who very much liked it that way.
Adonis was asleep. He had slept through his alarm clock, he had slept through his mother’s yells and he was currently sleeping as the stubby fingers of his second youngest brother plunged into the crevices of his face, pulling and tugging handfuls of flesh. Some would call the ability to sleep through this remarkable, but all others who have encountered teenage boys would not. So Adonis snored quietly as his second youngest brother used his face as Play-Doh.
When Adonis awoke ten minutes later he did not pause to query the throbbing pain or the red blotches across his cheeks — he did not even notice them. His room possessed a mirror but he did not use it. He knew he was late because he was always late. In order to combat this, long ago (fresher’s year) he had set his alarm clock half an hour early, but this proved rather unsuccessful when oversleeping and Daylight Saving Time were brought into the equation. Late as he was, he swung his legs over the bed, wincing as his feet touched the carpet and attempted to balance his full weight. His feet wanted to return between the warm sheets, but their protests, and that of his other body parts, were not heard by his mind — a mind which had evolved to ignore anything that the body told it. The closest it came to acknowledging the aching muscles was the command ‘put on socks’, and that was always first, every morning — two feet smothered by two odd socks.
Minutes later and he was downstairs, faded jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt and a glazed expression, bronze eyes bleary beneath wispy strands of hair. He staggered through the pandemonium of the kitchen. There was a tradition in the Wells’ household. There was order, but one would not think to look at it. Juliette Wells sat at the table repeatedly forcing spoonfuls of indiscriminate mush into the protesting mouth of Adonis’ youngest brother. She was a woman who, although possessing a face thrust uncomfortably into middle age by unfortunate wrinkles and greying hair, still maintained an odd air of youth — wide hopeful eyes between the crow’s feet. She had never particularly wanted any children, but simply went ahead and did it because it was ‘the thing to do’, yet she didn’t mind half as much as people believed that all of her five offspring possessed male genitalia. She never really understood the ‘value of motherhood’, so adopted the style of ‘hands-off parenting’. As Adonis was the eldest in the house and thus ‘required no attention’, she used his repeated daily movements as a kind of clock, and so the entire Wells household functioned within a different timeframe from the rest of the world — the timeframe mapped by Adonis’ dull repeated mind and the body which, while occasionally twitching in rebellion, mostly did what it was told. His movements were the hands of the clock: Adonis is brushing his teeth, Adonis is putting bread in the toaster, Adonis is leaving — a nod of the head and a slice of buttered toast hanging from his mouth. Adonis — her portable clock is moving as predicted, but in the real world Adonis was late, and so were Juliette Wells and the three youngest boys, every single morning.
Lateness was not a problem. Lateness was only a problem in regards to the others it affected, and no other living being cared if Adonis wandered into the lecture hall twenty minutes into a discussion of human resources management. In fact, because he did the same thing every Tuesday morning the lecturer did not even pause to cast him a disappointed glare or to point out the time he should have arrived, and nobody shifted as the door slammed behind him. He climbed the stairs and slumped into an available seat.
Five minutes in, he glanced at the boy beside him and said, “Have you got a spare pen, Martin?”
“No. I’m Adonis.”
The boy was staring at him perplexed. “I’m not Martin.”
“I’m pretty sure…” Adonis glanced at him and shifted in his seat. “Martin… Mc… What’s your second name?”
“Martin McConrad?” Adonis muttered, scratching his head. “No that’s not right.”
“It’s not right because I’m not Martin!” he hissed and threw a pen at Adonis’ chest. “There you go, Hercules.”
“It’s Adonis, Martin.” For some reason Martin had turned away from him and was scribbling intently, so intently that he didn’t hear Adonis at all. Adonis leant across Martin and said to the girl sitting beside him, “Hey Susan, tell Martin thanks for the pen.”
She gave him a long look and said, “Mother of God, Adonis, the only reason people remember your name is because it’s so ridiculous.” And then Susan was taking notes too.
The lecturer, a Professor John Hinckleberg, was a famous management studies writer, though Adonis had never heard of him until he started the course, and seeing as none of the books he had written were on the course, Adonis doubted just how ‘famous’ he actually was. But when he brought this up with Professor John Hinckleberg, the man had little to say on the issue, no matter how hard or for how many weeks Adonis queried it. For whatever reason the good Professor always seemed to have something dreadfully important to do when Adonis approached him. Maybe all his bugging had spurred him to write another book. Yes, they shared a connection, that Professor John Hinckleberg and he. He was now talking about the methods in a book that Adonis had read but could not remember.
“I swear to God—”
“What book is this on?”
She glared at him and turned sharply to the front.
“Nobody knows, Adonis. Nobody cares,” Martin muttered.
“Oh,” Adonis stared down at his empty piece of paper. “Is this Human Resources Management?”
Martin stared at him. “Every damn time, Adonis. Don’t sit next to me and Amber again, okay?”
“Amber? I don’t know any Ambers… Hey… Martin?” Martin had a kind of odd sense of humour. Like today he had shaved his beard and dyed his hair black. That was such a Martin thing to do.
He was whispering to Susan, “How does he even pass?”
The reason Adonis had asked if this was indeed Human Resources Management was that a week ago he had spent 50 minutes (discounting the usual 10 minutes missed) sitting in a lecture dedicated to William Shakespeare, before he was informed by a bewildered teacher that his usual lecture had been moved upstairs. This had happened numerous times before, and he had known in the back of his mind that the room had changed, but his body was set to automatic mode and his mind was silenced as soon as his feet touched his carpet that morning. So he followed that same path he had walked all year. Professor John Hinckleberg seemed to enjoy changing rooms for some reason.
Adonis was a fully average student. He turned up late, but at least that was to every single lecture without fail, and luckily all the essays were submitted anonymously. Seeing as he had no extra-curricular activities he had a habit of attending to all the work two days before it was due. Without much effort he passed each year and would most likely graduate with a stable 2:1. Then he could get an office job in the medium wage bracket and stare relentlessly at a computer screen for seven hours before going home and doing it some more. Yes. Life wasn’t exciting, but it was certainly acceptable, and that was all he ever wanted.
It was for this reason that what happened next was, to Adonis, rather unfortunate. It wasn’t that he loved his un-peculiar life, but rather that inside its confines he found that he only had to use approximately 20% of his brain power, and to be lurched out of that state of being was briefly startling — an altogether uncomfortable experience for a being who had walled off the emotional centre of his mind.
Professor John Hinckleberg had been talking about the differing strengths of males and females in the work place when the doors of the lecture room swung open dramatically. He did not stop his lecture, but merely rolled his eyes in annoyance at what was obviously a tardy student. And neither did Adonis’ gaze avert from the shining head of the professor. It was Martin who hissed to Susan, “What’s he doing in here?” But apart from that the lecture hall was silent, save Professor John Hinckleberg’s droning voice.
“And you see, as the great management genius Kevin Eton said, the key to real success when working with varied people is—”
“Adonis Wells!” A deep booming voice filled the hall, and a few people stirred. “Adonis Wells! I have come to claim you!” But said Adonis was lounging in his seat, his chin in his hand, eyes transfixed on Professor John Hinckleberg as if he was still talking about Kevin Eton’s great work.
It took several moments of silence and a sharp jab to the rib by Martin to get him to blearily turn to him and say, “I’ll give you the pen back after the lecture.”
“Your boyfriend wants you,” Martin muttered and pointed down.
“Sorry, Martin, I’m not gay. At least I’m not aware of being so,” Adonis said slowly.
With that Martin took hold of Adonis’ head in his hands and turned it forcefully towards said ‘boyfriend.’
He was an imposing figure indeed; he stood in the middle of the hall, a smart black suit over his large muscular frame, his dark hair slicked back from his forehead. The grey eyes stared relentlessly forward, his face absent of any expression. A pale and somewhat sickly presence in the yellow light of the lecture theatre.
“Adonis Wells!” The voice came again, but his lips did not even twitch.
Adonis let out a low whistle. “Without even speaking?” He turned to Martin who looked thoroughly bored with the entire situation. “Did you hear that? Maybe it’s telepathy? Like that old guy in X Men?”
“Professor Xavier,” Martin sighed and returned to his notes. Adonis shifted in his seat and attempted to picture the muscle-bound suit in a wheelchair. “Err… are you Professor Xavier, big guy?”
“What? Oh! No! Pay no attention to the man in the suit!”
“That’s kind of difficult when you’re talking to me…” Adonis sighed.
“Please, go and take him to mutant school,” Martin muttered beside him.
“HE is not talking to you! I am!” The deepness of the voice was replaced by a much higher pitch. Then there was the sound of a throat being cleared and the deep voice returned. “It is I who asks for you, Adonis Wells.” Adonis lowered his gaze and finally noticed that there was not one figure, but two. In front of the man with her hands on her hips, head thrown back and grinning triumphantly was a small child.
“Mr. Wells, please escort this child out of here. You obviously know them,” Professor John Hinckleberg yawned. All around the hall students had begun to casually talk amongst themselves. The girl looked around the rows swiftly, her smile fading,
“I, the great Robyn, have come to make you mine, Adonis Wells!” she yelled, causing the chatter to lower. She grinned again. “Now, come along.”
“Come along?” Adonis repeated.
“Yes. You are to come with me,” she said matter-of-factly.
“No,” Adonis replied immediately.
But this did not seem to faze the girl, as she simply nodded and said, “As predicted. You’re right on track as usual.”
Adonis observed her for a few seconds, then turned to Professor John Hinckleberg once again. “So the secret to success is…?” He didn’t even look up to answer him. He seemed to be suddenly very interested in his notes.
“Tell me Adonis,” Robyn began, walking casually in front of the row, hands behind her back. “What are your friend’s names?”
“Who? Susan and Martin?”
“They’re not our names.”
“We’ve never spoken outside this hall,” Susan said slowly and Adonis could feel her eyes upon his neck.
He nodded. “They’re pretty funny guys.”
“Seriously,” Susan was looking at the child now. “We have no idea who he is, he keeps talking to us.”
“He did that to us last week,” came a disembodied voice from the back of the hall. And then there was another. “He borrowed my pen and never gave it back.”
Adonis turned and studied the row of faces behind him, as he was unable to discover who the voice belonged to he directed his question to the entire room. “Who are you?”
“My name is Martin,” the voice replied.
“Outstanding,” Robyn grinned, clapping slowly.
“Two Martins? I had no idea,” Adonis said softly to Martin who shifted in his chair with great effort so his back was now turned to him.
“You are to come with me, Adonis Wells!” Robyn said and pointed dramatically at him, her short blonde ponytail bouncing with the force. “You are the only one appropriate for the position which has opened in my organisation!”
“A job offer?” He blinked. This wasn’t right at all. He had to finish the course first, get his degree, then he would apply to the offices which advertised any available positions before then going on to the interview stage, thereafter —
“You seem to believe that I am asking you, Adonis Wells.” She slowed her pace and stopped beside the suited figure who had remained in position throughout. “But in that you would be mistaken. I am a courteous person, but in this you do not have a choice.” The chatter had begun again; a girl in front of Adonis had brought out a nail file while the girl beside her was texting casually. As Robyn looked at them her right eye began to twitch. “THIS IS A KIDNAPPING! DO NOT BE SO CASUAL!” But now one girl was showing her phone to the other and the two giggled. Robyn watched them with venom, fists clenched at her side and back straight. Adonis heard her mutter something that sounded awfully like, “When the revolution comes, destroying you will be a pleasure.”
“Wait...” Adonis sat up and scratched his chin with Martin’s pen. “A kidnapping?”
“Yes. This is me informing you that this is officially a kidnapping,” Robyn announced, spreading her arms wide.
Adonis sat back and then looked around the room without moving, then his gaze returned to her. “Who is kidnapping you?”
Her arms fell immediately and she muttered, “I will end you, Adonis Wells.” She turned to the suited man who towered over her and commanded, “Number Two — escort Mr. Wells to our humble abode!” The man moved immediately, he climbed the stairs with ease towards Adonis.
Adonis followed his progress before returning his gaze to Professor John Hinckleberg. “Sir… the book for next week — is that ‘The Management of People’ or ‘Managing People’?” But Professor John Hinckleberg simply glared at him with loathing from above his notes.
“Why is it that your lecturer is looking at you like he hates you, Adonis Wells?” Robyn asked slowly, as the suited man stopped at the end of the row in which Adonis was seated.
“He doesn’t hate me,” Adonis shook his head. “We have a connection.”
But Professor John Hinckleberg chimed in immediately, “No. I do hate him.”
“See?” Adonis nodded and smiled.
Robyn stared at him, then ordered sharply, “Seize him, Number Two.” And Adonis watched as the students moved their legs and bags to let the tall man past, then he felt a sharp pain and everything went black.