“You saved me!”
I felt my eyes prick with tears. “I’m so glad you’re okay, Pi. Now we have to get out of here.”
We broke pieces off the treehouse and Whap! Bang! bashed those EMOs until they let us go. Running down the street, we laughed for joy.
“The cure is sunshine,” I explained to Pi.
He said, “Of course! The sparkling is caused by the mutated melanin escaping from the system.”
Here, at last, are the facts (and yes, this is real science – who’da thunk it?):
The sparkling is caused by a built up of Silicates in the epidermis.
EMO is a Retrovirus (i.e. a DNA-altering virus) which infects the outer layers of the skin. Like most viruses, it can be destroyed by ultraviolet light, and hence it modifies the cell’s Melanin genes so that the cell produces Silicate Crystals instead of normal Melanin.
This has three effects:
1. It makes the infected very pale and sparkly (kind of like if they were coated in countless tiny beads of glass)
2. Since Silicates reflect light very effectively, it gives the virus a large degree of protection against sunlight (unless the person is heavily exposed).
3. The Silicate crystals produced pass into the bloodstream and build up in the Brain – particularly in the Hypothalamus, Amygdala (Dysfunction of which is associated with Photophobia – aversion to light – and sometimes with compulsive biting behaviour), and the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (disruption of which results in extreme apathy and emotional blunting).