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Loren J Presley

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Captive Wings
By Loren J Presley
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Veronica knows she isn't supposed to go near her father's portfolio. But she has to know who she is...

Captive Wings

Loren John Presley

The warm fire was burning out.

In front of the hearth's diminishing warm glow, the silhouetted figure of a woman...with wings protruding from her shoulders...sat hunched over a desk with papers in her hands. As the thick darkness in the room slowly engulfed her form, she pressed the papers closer to her face. She was trying to make sense of them, all while the shadows stretched creepily across the room. She wondered if...

“Veronica!” Lennard's voice yelled from the basement. “Are you in bed?!”

***

The pink morning horizon glowed mellowly, resting comfortably under the sky and the clouds. An autumn breeze brushed the dark green plants of the wide plains. Whitney paced acros the side of the ramshackle house in her bare feet, letting the breeze run through her long hair as she calmly faced the sunrise.

The ruined door to the house opened, and Whitney turned to see her twin sister emerge, recently awoken.

“Good morning, Veronica,” Whitney greeted.

Veronica's eyes winced as she turned toward the east to meet eyes with her sister. She ran across the deck, leaped over the rail and her wings sailed her gently to the ground next to her sister. The twins looked down at the grass together.

Whitney looked into her sister's face, somehow different today. Veronica kept staring at the grass, watching as the wind brushed it all around.

Whitney felt something ominous. She was suddenly uncertain of whether she should talk to her sister or not. Shortly, however, Veronica faced her.

“Whitney?” she said softly, then held her tongue, thinking twice.

“What is it?” her sister asked.

“Can we get farther away from the house, just a little?”

Both jumped and sailed twenty feet before their feet met the ground again. They stood in the face of the sun, poor and meek, dressed in withered ragged gowns.

A flock of white birds migrated overhead, catching the twins' attention. The two young ladies looked at them in some gentle, humble envy, something they had done at the sight of birds since they were very young.

“Whitney...” Veronica began, gazing up and taking a few steps, suddenly seeming like herself again, “wouldn't in be fun if we could stay in the air as long as we wanted to, like the birds? Wouldn't it be fun to fly?”

“But we can't fly, Veronica,” Whitney objected. “Our wings are clipped. Remember?”

“But don't you ever wonder what that means?” Veronica said, and faced the sun again.

Whitney bowed her head for a moment, then knelt down in the grass, Veronica kneeling down afterward. The sun's radiant, golden glow lustered them as they sat dreamily. They watched the birds flap away in the distance.

It was forbidden, Veronica knew, to look at her father's portfolio. But the years had gone by and she had seen it sitting on her father's desk ominously time after time, calling her to go and open; to see what was really inside.

Veronica swallowed, gathering courage to speak. When she was finally ready, she looked at her sister. “Whitney...I looked at Father's portfolio last night.”

Her sister's eyes widened in terror. “You did what?! Did Father catch you?”

“No, I don't think so. I put it away and started running up the stairs when he came out of the basement.”

Whitney exhaled quietly, and seemingly fell into relief.

Veronica pointed to the wooden shed many yards away. “I saw a picture of the shed in Father's portfolio,” she said.

“The shed?” her sister asked, becoming a little shaken. Neither of the two knew the contents of the shed. They ha always been strictly forbidden to go anywhere near it.

“Do you know what else I saw?” Veronica went on. Both sister's now conversed with stirred feelings. “I saw a picture of mice, with ears on their backs.”

“...Ears?” Whitney asked, wondering if she'd heard her sister properly.

“Ears.”

“You mean the kind we have?”

Veronica nodded.

Whitney stared off with insecurity, then faced her sister again. “What else did you see?” she asked.

“Just some papers with words on them, the cards he writes on. I think there were other pictures, but I didn't have enough time to look at them.”

“Don't do it again, okay?” Whitney pleaded.

Veronica's eyes looked down. After a moments of silence, she bit her tongue, then nodded. “Okay.”

They looked back on the birds, flying away into the distance. They tried to put the portfolio behind them, be it wasn't easy. There was some compulsion, even, to think more about it, and this is what frightened them the most. They must forget the portfolio. They should never have discovered anything about it in the first place.

Whitney tried to rush to another topic. “What do you think is past all this grass?” she asked, looking out onto the plains.

The flat vegetation spread as far as the eye could see and then seemed to flow into obscurity and drear in the distance under stormy clouds, where it almost looked like it was going to snow.

“I don't know,” Veronica replied.

They discussed what was beyond the plains often. Lennard had told them there was nothing beyond them. The twins were forbidden to try and escape the plains. If they should, they would risk something terrible happen to them.

“What other kind of people do you think are out there?” Whitney asked.

Veronica beamed. “I'd like to see them. What do you think they look like?” Then she returned to a thought they had also discussed before. “Don't you ever wonder why Father doesn't have wings?”

In the past they had regarded the fact that Lennard didn't have any wings as a normal thing, but now, with age, their eyes did not see the same Lennard. Then they were little, nothing ever needed to make sense. Fact was fact and there was no need to worry about it, but now the twins' questions cast a shadow over their home.

Whitney replied after a moment of sitting and thinking, “He also just...looks different from us doesn't he?”

“Veronica replied, “He does, a little.”

Veronica faced the sun again. “He's a lot taller and heavier than we are. I feel his footsteps and they shake the floor. Neither of ours do that.”

Veronica turned away and looked down again. There was another long pause between them.

“Whitney! Veronica!” Lennard called. The twins turned to see him standing on the ramp to the front door. “Come in! Get your breakfast!” he uttered hardly, with a subtle impatience.

The twins glanced at one another and obeyed him.

***

The following night was dark, cold and moonless. Veronica knelt on the dining room floor, watching the flames roar in the fireplace. She stared like a dying fairy, her eyes bleak.

Lennard came up the stairs from the pitch dark basement. He carried his portfolio in his left hand. “I sent you to bed, Veronica,” he reprimanded. He threw his portfolio onto the piano just outside the dining room. He glanced at his watch. “Its after ten.”

Veronica was almost afraid to look at him. She'd known him for as long as she could remember. Now she found herself wondering who he was.

“Father,” she said nervously, hardly moving, “when will we fly?”

Lennard gazed at her taciturnly. He took off his glasses and threw them on top of his portfolio. “Your wings are clipped,” he said.

Veronica bowed her head slowly, hiding her frustration. That was always his first answer. “But when will we fly?” she asked.

“Veronica, we've been through this, hundreds of times. Now go to bed,” re replied emotionlessly.

For a moment, Vernoica was afraid to turn around, as if to turn around in bed after a nightmare for fear of what might be there behind her back. Lennard was silent during that moment, but Veronica knew he was standing behind her, watching and waiting. When she could, she turned hesistantly and met Lennards stressed eyes. Nervousness evenomed her tired muscles. “I want to know why we really can't fly,” she said, almost expecting herself to regret it, and she braced for what might be Lennard's answer.

Lennard sat on the piano bench. “It's not time.”

Veronica's patience gave out, after so many years of hearing the same replies over and over. She rose to her feet and disregarded consequence. “How much longer. How much longer is it going to be! You're always telling us 'not yet' and that our wings are clipped. When will we fly!” she exclaimed.

Lennard shot up and pointed a violent finger. “You will fly when the time comes. If you stay inside the plains and do as I say, I will give you the halo!”

Lennard always talked about the halo. Veronica only knew that it would be able to make her and Whitney fly. But he never talked about what it was.

“Then why do I feel like I was always supposed to fly! Like I was always meant to!” Veronica retorted.

Lennard grabbed onto Veronica's shoulder and began leading her to the stairs. Aggressively, he pushed her onto the steps. “Go to bed, Veronica. You're tired,” he said, blocking the way back.

A hurt and weary Veronica scrammed up the stairs to her room. Lennard turned to his portfolio.

Whitney was waiting on the mattress on the floor when Veronica entered. She watched as he sister came in and laid down next to her, afraid and staring.

“Veronica,” Whitney whispered shakily, “What are you doing? We can't think about our feelings!” Some terrible air lurked like a secretive menace within the darkness in the twin's room.

“I'm thinking about what we're really doing here!” Veronica breathed. She bowed her head in confusion and terror.

They consoled one another back to sleep, shedding tears of dismay. They did not sleep in a room that night, but in the heart of an abyss of discouragement, separated from time and deprived of faith.

***

Darkness immersed the world. Nothing could be seen anywhere. The wind agitated the drafty windows and drove the weak walls to groaning.

Veronica awoke, anxiety providing all her body's energetic needs. She lay still for a long while, her eyes filled with the pitch darkness everywhere in the room, the house, and outside in the world, listening to the wind and the eerie walls.

A shaky force was calling her from downstairs, like a silent voice. She lay still, moving her eyes about and listening to the eeriness possessing the house. Her mind listened to the silent beckoning downstairs and for about an hour, she let the force tickle her with its ominous air. In that while she wondered what she ought to do as she lay on the mattress, no blanket covering her from the intimidation.

After mere lying, listening and feeling, she slowly rose from the mattress, alert and shaky. She breathed slowly and shallowly and gazed in the darkness for a moment as she sat up. She hesitated to go any further, and wondered if she should really risk what she was about to do.

She wondered if she should risk convincing Whitney to go this time. She turned in the direction of the other side of the mattress and for another while she stood quite still and hesitated. Then she stretched her arm out into the darkness until her fingers touched her sister's soft hair. For a moment she hesitated to speak.

“Whitney,” she finally breathed, not expecting her to wake up. She nudged and whispered the name of her sister once again, but Whitney lay as if she were a corpse in the dark.

Alone then, Veronica decided.

She turned her head in the direction of the door, remembering she had left it opened. For another long while she sat and waited for herself to get up and proceed. She wasn't even sure she would even go on, and for a brief moment she ever considered just going back to sleep. After that while passed, she decided to go, and after a minute, she moved her feet onto the floor, leaned forward, rose and stood up quietly in the darkness. She breathed silently, and stepped carefully onward.

The ominous force made her feel rather stiff as she walked. A sour feeling pulsed in her legs and wings. She trembled nervously.

She walked carefully out of her room and turned to the staircase.

Temptations tried to drive her back inside. I don't have to do this, she thought. She could have abandoned the risk she was about to make, but she wanted her desires satisfied.

Don't look at the portfolio, Lennard had said, it is dangerous.

She stopped at the stair—the old, creaky steps would be menaces to her cause. She turned to the handrail, lifted her watery leg and lightly hopped up, silently flapping her great wings to boost her until she stood on the rail. She quickly leaned forward, stepped off the felt her pumping wings breaking her fall. Her feet gracefully met the floor and she crouched quietly. She then let out a slow, silent exhale of relief.

Far from her room and nervous, she rose up on her legs. Smoldering embers glowed in the fireplace like a pair of watchful eyes, barely lighting the kitchen. She quietly felt her way to the piano for the portfolio.

A familiar terror ran up her arm when she felt it in the darkness.

She weakened as she clutched it tightly in her hands. The fire stared at her as if she were guilty.

She knew of a lamp in the basement. She tread into the kitchen and felt for the door to the basement. Her fingers were soon touching the cold metal of the knob. For a moment her hand could not move.

She looked over at the door to Lennard's room. It stood in the wall, shut and silent.

She bowed her head weakly, suffering under a burning temptation to put the portfolio back and hurry up to bed. How humiliating it would be if Lennard should come out and find her. The temptation ran through her arms and legs and wings. She felt the energy to hurry and carry out the temptation, but her concerns would not be satisfied and Lennard would never answer them.

Ever so carefully, she turned the knob. Her insides sank as she slid the door to the basement opened.

It was pitch dark inside.

She stretched out her leg and felt for the steps leading down into the basement. Her foot met the cold, smooth stone. Step after step carried her deeper into the dark basement. She could hardly even see her way back, but by now she was driven forward more than ever. To go back to her room now felt even more difficult.

She stepped down until she felt the flat cement floor under her feet.

She hurried forward to the other side of the basement where the lamp stood. She reached out her hand as she hurried and felt for the desk lamp. She touched its cold metal, felt for the switch, and made a little light in the darkness.

The basement lit and crept with shadows.

She looked back and saw the door leading out into the kitchen. She was afraid she would hear Lennard's door open, but it did not. She nervously turned to the portfolio again, a rough idea of what it contained haunting her mind.

The words, Files: Homo Penna Project, were printed across the cover.

A bitter sensation swelled within her as she opened the portfolio. A page filthy with words was a familiar content, but quite useless to her, being hardly able to read. She nervously flipped through different pages, though she was continuously driven to keep looking back at the door, just to make sure she wasn't about to get caught.

Two familiar pictures appeared as she put aside th worded sheets of paper. The picture of the shed, sitting darkly on the grass. The other of the hideous mice with ears growing on their backs, which grabbed her with its horrible scene.

Turning the page she ventured into unknown regions of the portfolio.

She found another picture that puzzled her. A picture of a wing...just like her own...lying in a tray of what looked like water. Why didn't the wing have an owner?

She hungrily turned to the other pictures labeled Ultra-sonic imaging: Specimen-A “Whitney” and Specimen-B “Veronica.” They puzzled her even more. She thought she saw some sort of creature, and its wide, dark eyes and unbalanced proportions almost frightened her. She put them aside.

The last picture, labeled Project Staff, won her preoccupation. She found so many people standing together, people who were wingless just like Lennard. She even searched for Lennard amongst the people, but she didn't find him...

She looked up from the portfolio and stared at the wall, thinking about all those people. Why were they all...

Then it came to her, like a revelation. A vile feeling coursed through her whole body, almost throwing her off her feet. Lennard wasn't the one who was different.

The entire universe shifted and churned from behind the walls of the basement. Reality alternated. Veronica now understood who she was, and her sister.

Was this the danger Lennard had spoken to her about. He didn't want her to know who she was?

So many years of faith, faith spoiled with a sudden blow of discovery. She gazed around the shadowed basement, trembling in dismay, her heart broken and her mind lost in darkness. She fixed herself on the hideous concept that Lennard would forbid her to know something so important about who she and Whitney were!

She turned back to the portfolio. Then she wondered how long she had been down here. She could somehow feel morning within her sense of time.

She then decided for certain that she had seen enough and that she had used all the time she could spare down here. She closed the portfolio, took it in her hands, and with anxiety souring her feet and legs she hurried back up into the kitchen.

A feeling of emancipation was urging her to use her wings and fly away from the house, but she could not fly.

She dropped the powerful portfolio on the piano, finished with it being in her possession. She turned back to the basement door and carefully shut it. She approached the stairs to her room and hurred up, as if Lennard was chasing her.

She quietly closed the door to her room, turned and flopped on the mattress next to her sister.

She breathed the peace in the air, hardly believing she had succeeded. Relieved, she rested in the darkness, listening to the sound of soft raindrops on the window.

***

Silvery sunlight glowed heavenly from behind the clouds above that morning. Whitney awoke to find it illuminating her room. Veronica was out of bed.

Whitney rose from the mattress and stretched her arms and wings, beautiful in the morning light. She turned to the window, just to see if she could find her sister.

***

Veronica turned around at the sound of the door opening behind her back. Her sister emerged, relaxed and alive. Whitney ran up, jumped a simple four feet over the rail and sailed down next to her sister. The grass was a little wet and the soil quite moist.

Veronica eyed her sister, but she would never look at her the same way again, nor herself. Whitney looked concerned suddenly and asked, “Veronica? What's wrong?”

Veronica looked down at her sister's feet, then turned away, lost and a little frightened of what Whitney might think of her if she admitted she did not trust Lennard anymore. “I...” Veronica began to say, and bit her tongue, looking back into Whitney's eyes.

“What?” Whitney asked. “Are you sick?”

“No! No...It's just that...” and Veronica paused, took a deep breath of anxiety, but then decided she didn't have to tell. Not yet.

“Veronica, what is it?” Whitney asked, puzzled.

Veronica slowly looked away, not knowing what else she could say. Nothing else would come to her mind.

“Why are you acting so peculiar?” Whitney inquired. “Wait...you didn't...”

Veronica, waiting to hear the accursed question from her most loved sister, turned away.

Whitney was looking at her with suspense in her eyes. “Did you look at the portfolio?”

Veronica winced, then boldly admitted, “Yes.”

“Veronica!”

Veronica looked toward the house. “Just let us get a little farther from the house. You must know what I saw this time,” she asked.

Whitney's eyes shifted nervously. She suddenly seemed afraid too. After a moment of hesitating to speak, however, she nodded graciously.

The twins ran off from the house, leaping and gliding, covering ten to twenty feet swiftly with every bound.

They stopped and held onto each other's arms anxiously. “This time...” Veronica began.

“No! I don't want to hear it!” Whitney yelled.

“Quiet! Please listen! You have to listen. It's serious this time.” Veronica insisted.

Whitney breathed quickly. “The portfolio is dangerous!”

Veronica thought over a reply, and then said, “If its so dangerous, that why does Lennard look at it himself?”

“Maybe because he can-” Whitney began. But just as she did so, she seemed to freeze up for a moment, as if her mind hatched a realization of Veronica's point. Veronica felt her sister's arms shivering.

Whitney took a deep breath, “What did you see?” she asked.

“Some pictures didn't make sense, but I found one that really scared me this time. I saw a picture of one of my own wings lying in a metal tray.”

Whitney gasped at the horror. Both sisters now trembled. Veronica became weak in telling her story.

“I also found one with other people,” Veronica said.

Whitney calmed down a little, breathing easily, though much of the anxiety remained. “Other people? What did they look like?” she asked.

Veronica swallowed and said, “They were all like Lennard.”

Whitney stopped breathing. A deafening silence rang throughout all the spaciousness of the plains. “People...don't have wings?” she said. She looked off, stunned and afraid. Suddenly what did Lennard's plan mean?

Life had become a devastating nightmare.

Something moved Veronica that moment. She had to go to the shed. She had to know about the Halo...

Hesitant to make an attempt she just stood where where was, holding hand with her sister. If Lennard caught her...

No. Lennard was not worth obeying.

Veronica tightened her muscles. Energy accumulated in her wings and her legs became light. Then, taking in a deep breath, she let go of her sister and took off toward the shed, the one most abominable thing for them to see.

“Veronica!” Whitney called out.

Veronica hurried on, feeling that Lennard would emerge out from the house any moment.

“Veronica!” Whitney cried, pursing her sister.

Veronica leaped a great ten feet high over the wired fence that encircled the shed, covering over thirty feet.

“Veronica stop!” Whitney called.

Veronica ran up to the shed door, turned around and waited for her sister to catch up.

“What are you doing?” Whitney said running up to her sister.

“I have to see what Father's hiding in here,” Veronica replied. She reached for the shed door, but Whitney grabbed her arm.

“Let's not,” Whitney begged with frightened eyes.

Veronica gently took hold of Whitney's hand. “I won't go in without you.”

“I don't want to go in. Let's get out of here please!”

Veronica looked down. “What about what Father's already kept from us?” she asked.

For a moment Whitney looked like she couldn't make up her mind. Finally she looked up. “I still don't want to go!”

Veronica gritted her teeth with concern and said weakly. “Whitney...please.”

Whitney looked into her sisters eyes. There was a tense pause.

“Please Whitney,” Veronica begged.

Whitney looked up graciously after a moment of hesitating. “All right, let's go in,” said, trembling.

For the first time in her life, Veronica touched the door to the shed. Courageously she pulled it open and beheld its dark interior. It reminded the sisters of the basement. A staircase led down into the ground. Below, two white shelves leaned against the walls, filled with glass jars and tubes. A long box sat atop one the shelves.

Bravely, the twins entered. The anxiety seemed to clear somehow. They stared at the shelves, slowly descending the staircase in fantastic curiosity.

Veronica looked at the box sitting atop one of the shelves. There was something written on the lid. Hardly able to read, she pondered on the four mysterious letters flowing ominously on the lid of the box.

Then her heart jumped with incredible wonder. Blissful excitement flowing through her whole being.

“Whitney look!” Veronica exclaimed. “The Halo!”

Whitney grabbed onto her sister's arm, trembling in the awesome sublimity.

“Let's see it!” Whitney exclaimed.

The sisters hurried to the floor and stepped up to the box.

“Girls!” Lennard's voice exclaimed a distance from the shed. Never had it been more enraged.

Terror boomed in the twin's hearts. They were caught. They would not get away with their disobedience.

Veronica turned back to her sister. “Hurry!” she said.

They brought down the box, set it on the floor, knelt and opened it.

In the box was a dusty syringe, and glass vile filled with a dark liquid. On the another side of the box was a pair of rusty surgical scissors.

Lennard hurried in through the doorway. He came down the stairs and stepped up to his captives.

Whitney and Veronica both looked up at the frozen Lennard. He only stared coldly. He looked beaten somehow.

Finally, he took off his glasses and sighed. He folded his arms. “...This will not happen ever again,” he said deeply. He knelt down, closed the box and set it back on the shelf. He turned toward the stairs, but on his way out he stopped and gazed at the twins. “You may never fly,” he said with his eyes.

***

Whitney lied quietly on the living room floor. Veronica, kneeling by the window, stared at the dreary outside world. She had forgotten the time of day. A deadening force held the twins in its grasp.

Whitney pondered on the day. Veronica's terrible claims of what she had seen in the portfolio repeated themselves in her mind, tearing and jabbing at her sensitive heart.

Suddenly, she heard the front door close. She looked up and found a silent, empty living room. Veronica was gone.

The house died. Something had killed it.

She approached the window and found Veronica running away from the house. Whitney hurried to the front door.

***

“Veronica! Veronica!” Whitney called.

A cold breeze brushed through the twins' faces as they glided farther and farther from the house, once after the other. The clouds above were low and thick. It looked like it was going to snow. It was quiet and some great peace flowed in the air.

Whitney called out to her sister again.

Finally Veronica turned toward her sister and waited for her.

“Where are you going?” Whitney asked, catching up to her.

“I'm leaving,” Veronica replied.

Whitney panted in the cold wind. Her heart broke. Was Veronica really doing this?

“But...Lennard's our father.”

“Not anymore,” Veronica said, tears coming down her eyes.

Whitney's tears came faster. “Why are you doing this?” she asked vehemently.

Veronica bowed her head strongly. “Because I want to fly.”

“But Veronica!” Whitney exclaimed.

Veronica's eyes came up. “I always knew somehow that there was a plan for us. I think its a wonderful thing, for people to be given wings, but I don't like what Lennard's doing with us. Something about him just isn't right.”

Whitney cried terribly. Veronica embraced her sister tightly in the cold breeze and under the clouds flowing above.

“Whitney, I want you to come with me,” Veronica asked.

Whitney looked up at her sister. “But...I don't want to leave. Lennard...he gives us what we need.”

“Not for me,” Veronica said. “Whitney...when I first opened the portfolio and saw the pictures...I wondered if...if...”

“...If what?”

Veronica bowed her head again, wiped her eyes and said, “If we can trust Lennard. What if Lennard is wrong about when we will fly? What if we don't fly if we stay with him? What if there is something better for us out there?”

Whitney looked out beyond the plains, then back at the house, then back at Veronica. “I don't want to leave. It's so hard!”

Veronica shakily took her sister's arms. “I know. It's hard for me too. But I can't stay. Not after all I've seen.”

They embraced each other again, consoling one another. Veronica thought and said, “I know there is a plan for us, Whitney, and I was to know what it really is. I want to go and find out, and when we do find out what it I, then we will fly.”

Whitney dried her tears at the good news. They shook and trembled in the cold and in the peace and relief in their hearts. The world turned beautiful again.

Whitney sniffed one last time and looked up at her sister. “Let's go...”

They let go of each other and ran off together, bounding and gliding on and on across the hill's below, toward the tall green mountains that came into view.

They were not afraid anymore. They just ran free, leaping as high as they could, frightening themselves at the heights they reached, trying to reach the clouds above, smiling to one another as they ran and sailed. It only they could defeat the ground and be on with the air.

It began to snow.

The twins sailed on, hieing themselves beyond the plains...to join the birds.

THE END

***

An article presented in the New York Times regarding the discovery of two winged girls appearing just outside Davenport, Iowa...

Sixteen years ago, a secret science project was undertaken in an underground medical laboratory. The project, infamously known as the Homo Penna Project, experimented with human genetics in sought to produce humans with wings, and ultimately the ability to fly. Two years into their experiments, the project staff boldly presented their findings the public.

Needless to say, their project was condemned by doctors, human rights activists, and the Church. Whilst the courts sought a way to deal with the matter at hand, the project staff carried out their experiments on two prenatal twins, codenamed Whitney and Veronica.

Only weeks after birth, Whitney and Veronica disappeared. It was later discovered that a character named Lennard J. Morrow, entered the underground medical labs posed as one of the scientists, and escaped with the twins. Also missing from the labs was a box containing medical equipment and a concoction developed by the project staff called Halo. All files and records have been lost to this mysterious substance, but the staff of the Homo Penna project claimed it served as a resort to amputate the twin's wings, but only safely once they had come of age. Halo could deaden the twin's wings if injected, afterward the wings could be painlessly removed. Morrow's reasons for disappearing with the infants remain largely unknown, but it was believed—as he was defined by the courts to be a idealogical humanist and extreme anthropocentrist—that he likely intended to operate on the twins himself, and bring them as close to 'purely' human as possible.

Two weeks after the disappearance of the twins, the project staff was prosecuted and convicted for crimes against humanity.

Lennard Morrow and the twins' whereabouts have long remained a mystery. But one week ago, two winged girls were seen approaching Davenport, Iowa, calling themselves Veronica and Whitney. After reluctantly accepting to a medical examination, the twins were found to be in good health and, indeed, genuinely winged. The doctor confirmed that there was no doubt that two two young women were the subjects of the Homo Penna Project.

Their full story has yet to be told, but for the time being, the twins have been given a specialized home where they are treated and cared for by a single case manager named Stacy Calvin, an expert on the case and studies of the Homo Penna project. Veronica and Whitney say they are glad to have their manager and they consider her a close friend. Dr. Calvin tells that she is also pleased to work with them, and finds the twins to be “...so full of harmony and courage.”

Obviously, one of the biggest concerns scientists and most all people in general have about Whitney and Veronica is just how human are they? The twins are short of stature and their anatomy has been reconstructed for the ability of flight. Because they have wings, many doctors candidly claim that their brains have been shaped by their having wings: they long for open space and they long to glide together as far as their hearts desire. Despite factors such as these, they seem to have retained a great deal, if not all, of their homo sapien intellect and nature. They speak language perfectly, are capable of a limited amount of arithmetic, and can even read to a limited extent—Lennard, they claimed, never schooled them, but Dr. Calvin is mentoring and schooling them, as she says their learning curve is very identical to that of neuro-typical. “Of course they're human!” she admits. “I can't imagine why so many people out there would doubt or question that. They may not be the same kind of homo sapien we are, if that's what some of the doctors want to think, but they are human! Humans with wings.”

A select few doctors think it would be best that the twins wings ought to indeed be amputated for the benefit of social acceptance and to free them of the tantalization to stay in the air: the twin's ability to fly has a great deal of imperfections. Most other physicians who have examined them disagree, including doctor Calvin. She says Whitney and Veronica don't want to change, and that they feel so accepted already. Contrarily, the twins are asking their doctors to find a way to make them fly “...just like the birds.” Many of the doctors claim that would be an honor, not because it would fulfill the goals of the infamous Homo Penna Project, but because it would be “healing” the needs to two very unique individuals. “We don't approve of the Homo Penna Project for their experiments,” says Doctor Jeremy Gad. “They're in this world now. And they're two very wonderful people with such beautiful souls.”

Whitney and Veronica don't care about how other people try to figure them out. “We're people,” they say simply.

These issues may persevere for some time now, but one thing is definitely for certain: we're looking forward to living, accepting, and admiring our homo penna friends.


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