My name is Ava Sharpe and I’m 26 years old. I’ve always lived an ordinary life. I was always a top grades student from elementary school until high school, both located in my hometown. The only time I left was when I finally went away to start college. MIT, more precisely, having graduated top of my class as a Computer Programming major.
I now work at a Web Security company based in Washington DC as a Computer Programmer. I’ve been working there for two years and I love it. Or at least, I thought I did.
I always thought that working as a programmer was what I has be born to do. Ever since I was a little kid I always had a knack to find out how things worked, how were they build to work. I loved puzzles and games where I had to find the best process to reach a solution.
So when I finally had my own personal laptop at the age of 14 - the one I didn’t have to share with the rest of my family - I started to look into coding by designing websites using HTML and CSS out of fun. And that’s when it happened. It started slowly, bit by bit. My laptop screen started to change. What was usually a mixture of black and white started to morph into something new. Suddenly, in the characters I had just finished typing, a different shade appeared. But I couldn’t pinpoint its name . All I could tell was that it was similar to black and also similar to white, but at the same time it was neither of those. So, adding to the fact that those were my very first languages, it was also the first time that I had seen what I would know later was called ‘grey’.
Then I remembered my grandma telling me something as a kid. It was a story about another world not too far from ours. In it people were different, they had developed an extra ability. They didn’t just see black and white like me, my family and the ones around us did. They saw a whole spectrum of what they called colors .
That night I laid in bed wondering why I could suddenly see grey. Was something wrong with me? Could it be that I had a tumour growing in my brain? I ended up not getting much sleep even though I tried. I thought that maybe the situation would fix itself if I just closed my eyes and let myself fall asleep until the next day .
When I woke up early in the morning, I felt scared of opening my eyes. What if instead of only the grey, more colors would now have appeared? So I sat there against the headboard, bracing myself for what was about to come.
After five minutes I finally got the guts to open my eyes. Once I did it, I climbed out of bed and looked around the room. A huge breath of relief came out of me once I realized I was simply seeing black and white. All was as good as before, thank God. I came to the conclusion that last night I was probably just tired and my mind must have had been playing tricks on me.
I got dressed and ready for school and the day went by as normal as a day in high school could go.
When I got home I immediately ran up the stairs that led to my bedroom and dropped my backpack on the floor, sitting at the desk to turn on my laptop and practice some coding.
I did a little victory dance when I realized the grey definitely wasn’t there anymore.
After that experience, sometimes the color would still appear but only at certain moments. Mostly when I would finally figure out a more complicated piece of code that I had been working on for a while or when I would finally finish a whole website and feel accomplished for it.
As I later moved on to more complicated programming - dabbling in languages such as C, JAVA and Python – the grey remained. But at that time I had matured as a person, I was older so that helped. I simply decided to not let myself be bothered by that. The truth is, it wasn’t really harming me in any way, so why be preoccupied with it? Besides, I had other things to think about. I was soon going into college and my focus had to solely be my studies and future career.
And above all, I felt good while programming. It was the one thing that willed me to keep moving forward, the one thing that made me feel alive compared to the rest of my very boring life.
But as I was saying earlier, I would end up being proven wrong about thinking programming was my true passion in life. I really thought it was the only thing that taught me what commitment and real love were...
However, the truth was that I had yet to meet my so called true love. And it certainly wouldn’t appear in the form of a computer language.
WEDNESDAY, 12TH JUNE 2019 – WASHINGTON DC
Ava was quickly making her way to work. The digital watch on her wrist showed 9 o’clock sharp which meant she was already late to start the day. She fastened her pace, running through the busy streets of the crowded city. All around you could see people much like her, most of them in suits - seeing as it remains the part of the city with the majority of technology companies and business corporations - making their way to their destinations.
She lost count at how many times she excused herself when she would accidentally bump into another person. And to be honest, she was getting quite fed up of bumping into so many people. One more reason as to why she hated being late.
Ava was just about to go over another crosswalk when she accidentally bumped into a woman, shorter than her. She was about to turn around to apologize when suddenly everything around her seemed to go by in slow motion. Her mouth fell slightly open as she fully faced the stranger in front of her. She was different, completely different than anyone Ava had ever seen. Her hair was a lighter shade but definitely not white and her skin was covered in small dots that immediately grabbed Ava’s attention, making her cast her eyes downwards to the woman’s chest that was also covered in those. She suddenly felt the urge to trace them with her fingertips, feel them under her touch. Are they smooth or bumpy? She wondered.
“Ahm... Hello?” The stranger spoke, making Ava snap out of her trance, “My eyes are up here.”
Ava heard her say in annoyance and when she looked up again, her eyes finally landed on the woman’s pale ones and she frowned. Much like her hair, her eyes were also... Peculiar. They held such emotion in them that Ava felt a shiver running through her spine. She wondered if they were possibly a darker shade of white, seeing as they were still very light. Maybe it was the same thing with the stranger’s hair. Maybe both things were a darker shade of white.
Ava wasn’t sure but she did felt herself wanting to find out, wanting to know more about this new woman.
“Excuse me? Are you done ogling at me?!”
“Sorry!” Ava apologized, holding up her hands in defeat, “I was just-”
“Listen I honestly don’t care,” the stranger cut her off, “I was already late to work before you decided to bump into me so apologies if I don’t have time for a chit-chat.” She tells Ava, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Wow! No need to be so rude lady. Besides, you bumped into me! Not the other way around,” Ava talks back.
“Pfft! Really?” The other woman says, crossing her arms, “Why the apology then?” She asks with a smug smirk on her lips.
Plump lips that also look different, Ava noticed as she felt herself drawn to the stranger’s mouth.
The woman shakes her head, scoffing before saying, “Aren’t you gonna answer me?” She asked with raised eyebrows.
“You’re different,” Ava finally mumbled, the words tumbling out of her before she could stop them. She cursed mentally, swearing to herself.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”
“Not – not in a bad way! You’re just... Different,” Ava explained as if it were pretty obvious.
The stranger eyed her suspiciously before her expression turned into one of curiosity, “Hm... Good different or bad different?”
“Good, definitely good!” Ava told her with a small smile on her face that was matched by the other woman’s.
“Thanks, I guess,” she said shrugging her shoulders, “I’m Sara.”
Ava extended her hand towards Sara, “Pleasure to make your acquaintance Sara. I’m Ava, Ava Sharpe.”
Sara accepted her hand and gave it a firm shake, nodding at the information, “Likewise, Ava."
Ava barely heard what she said, her mind was too focused on what was happening to her own hand as soon as she touched Sara’s. She quickly retrieved it and turned it around several times to check her palm as well. Her eyes were wide open with shock and disbelief looking at what was once a white hand, now coated in a different colour.
She was so caught up that she didn’t even notice Sara staring at her like she had suddenly grown an extra head. Her trance however didn’t last long, in a couple of seconds her hand changed back to its typical white.
“Did- Did you just see what happened?!” Ava asked a very confused Sara.
The shorter woman gave her a strange look, “You mean the fact that you just spaced out, out of nowhere? Yeah I did...” Sara said, taking a step closer to Ava before adding, “Listen, are you on drugs? Because if you are, that would actually explain a lot. No judging though, you do you. But you should probably be more careful while crossing the road.”
“What?! No! I’m not on drugs! I was simply on my way to work like I do every single day and then you bumped into me-”
“-Actually you were the one who bumped into m-”
“-And then the change happened!”
Sara looked at her with a frown upon hearing her words, “What the hell are you talking about?!”
“Shit!” Ava let out, her eyes widening in panic after checking the time on her watch, “Work! I’m late for work, extremely late! Oh God I have to go!” She started rambling - mostly to herself – before she started running in the opposite direction of Sara.
“The things I have to deal with...” The shorter woman whispered, shaking her head before letting out a small chuckle.
“Too bad though, those were probably the most gorgeous green eyes I’ve ever seen.” Sara thought to herself, turning around to carry on her way.
When Ava finally arrived at work, it was already half past nine. She slid her ID card through the security panel and entered the office after sending a quick ‘good morning’ to the receptionist who greeted her with a wide smile. Ava greeted all her other colleagues as well while making her way to her desk.
Once she reached it, she took off her blazer draping it over the back of her chair. She then placed her black backpack on top of the desk next to her personal computer.
She had just sat down on the comfortable leather chair when she heard a familiar voice coming from the other side of her desk.
“Ava!” A beautiful woman with dark hair greeted, “I’m glad to see everything is okay. It’s not like you to be late, I was starting to get worried."
“Hey Zari... Yeah I was up late working on a piece of code and ended up sleeping through my alarm this morning,” Ava admitted shyly before turning her head up from the monitor to look at her colleague and friend who standing there facing her. Ava’s expression quickly turned into one of shock at seeing the woman’s necklace, “Your-” she started, cutting herself immediately after.
Zari looked at her with a frown, “What?” She asked looking down at herself, “Oh shit, do I have sugar on my face?” She said while bringing her hands to her own face, trying to clean herself.
“No, you’re fine,” Ava told her, dismissing it with a wave of her right hand, “Don’t mind me, I’m still tired from last night,” she tried to assure by plastering a forced smile on her lips.
Her friend eyed her suspiciously for a couple of seconds before letting it go, “Alright Sharpe,” she said preparing to leave but decided to turn around again, “Oh by the way! Ray summoned up a team meeting for two o’clock this afternoon. He wants to discuss how the software we’ve been working on is going so far.”
Ava nodded at the info, “Alright, I’ll start to work on it right away. I still have some pieces of the code that need tuning, so to speak.”
Zari smiled at her words, “Okay! Let me know if you need an extra pair of hands!” She offered with a smirk.
“Will do Zari, thanks.” Ava answered, returning her attention to the screen in front of her after her friend left. She promptly double clicked on the file she had been working on and in a couple of minutes she was going through her lines, editing her mistakes and adding new pieces of code to it. At first all was running smoothly, the program was running well and she was solely focused on the task at hand, but after about ten minutes later her mind started to wander. She started to think about what had happened in the morning before getting to work and then with Zari. It’s true that the color of her friend’s hair and eyes hadn’t change, but the color of her necklace certainly did. Ava was sure of it. What was once a black encrusted stone had suddenly turned into something different, more... Alive.
Definitely prettier as well. Before, Ava had never wanted to touch it, but this morning at seeing it change she really felt a need to do more than just seeing it with her eyes, she wanted to feel it. Much like she had wanted to feel Sara’s skin. Which, in total honesty, Ava was completely aware that it sounded borderline creepy. Why would she want to touch a complete stranger’s skin out of nowhere?
I must be going crazy, she thought, running both her hands through her face.
Maybe I should schedule a doctor’s appointment. But I’m so busy right now, I can’t. The deadline on this project is fast approaching and we need all hands on deck. I can’t miss a single day of work. And anyway, this is probably nothing more than tiredness. Yeah, that’s it. I’m just tired. As soon as we get this software up and running smoothly without any errors at all, I’m sure these strange visions and thoughts will go away on their own. I just gotta focus on work, she told herself, taking a deep breath before resuming her activities.
It was almost lunch time when another one of Ava’s colleagues approached her desk. This time it was a man with glasses and a nerdy look.
“Hey Ava!” He greeted cheerfully, “Do you want to maybe grab lunch with me and the rest of the guys?” He asked with a bit of a nervous edge to his voice. She held up her left index finger without breaking her gaze away from the screen, focused on reviewing the last piece of code she had been writing on the last couple of hours.
“Ava?” The man asked again, “Everything okay?”
Ava frowned before finally turning her head to the side to look at him, “Gary, please take a look at this piece of code will you?” She asked, moving herself to the right with the help of her chair to give her colleague some space.
Gary examines the code for a few minutes, adjusting his glasses like he usually does, “What am I looking at exactly?”
“That’s the part that allows the server to connect to our clients’ database.”
“Oh no, I got that. I meant to ask why do you need me to check it? It all seems to be working perfectly well,” he told her with a confused look on his face.
Ava frowned at his words, “You don’t see anything different with the layout of the program? Something out of the ordinary?”
Gary squints his black eyes at her, “Not really,” he admitted with a shrug of his shoulders, “That part is still black as well as that one,” he said while pointing his finger at the different parts, “And those are white. The program seems to be working just fine. You know that if it that wasn’t the case, the black parts and the white parts would be reversed, which they aren’t,” he added as a matter of fact.
Ava sighed at his logical reasoning, “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she relented, deciding not to dwell on the subject anymore. No way was she telling Gary that she was once again seeing grey and to make matters worse, apparently a new color as well.
“What was it that you wanted?” She asked him after turning her monitor off and giving him her full attention.
“Oh right!” He said with a big smile, “I was inviting you to have lunch with me and the others at that sushi restaurant down the street. I think Zari is coming as well.”
Ava smiled at him, getting up before grabbing her wallet and phone, putting on her blazer after, “Sounds like a great plan! I’m actually starving...” she whispered the last bit, earning a chuckle from him. They met with the rest of the team at the elevator and Zari’s eyebrows immediately shot up at seeing her, “You’re coming? Congratulations Gary! I can’t believe you got Ava to come out of the cave,” she said excitedly, gaining a few laughs from their colleagues.
“Shut up!” Ava answered with a smirk, lightly slapping the other woman on the arm, “You know I can’t resist a good sushi offer,” she admitted while they all got on the elevator preparing to go down.
“I have to agree with you,” Zari said with a nod of her head.
A chuckle could be heard from one of their co-workers, a tall and handsome guy with light brown hair, “You agree with anything that involves food though,” he chimed in and the whole group started laughing.
“Ah ah! Very funny Nate,” the black-haired woman talked back rolling her eyes at his words.
“He isn’t wrong Z, you have to admit,” Ava told her with a smirk on her lips.
And then as if on cue Zari’s stomach started to grumble, its sound echoing on the walls of the elevator, leaving everyone in a fit of laughter and giggles.
“See what you all did? You woke up the monster!” The woman complained shaking her head, before joining them as she laughed along.