She wasn't looking to become a hero, but what's a reject to do?
|I looked into the mirror. The scar marred my cheek. I knew I wasn't beautiful, not like my sister. But I definitely wasn't ugly. I brushed my hair to cover the twisted flesh and turned away. I had a new lease on life. Now I felt like killing someone.
I went to what amounted to the motel’s pool, which was filled with algae. It was late afternoon. Several guys were hanging around. I set my towel down and sat down on a beat up lounge chair. The guys watched me. I didn’t smile at them… Only one frowned as his friends headed my way. It wouldn’t be long now.
“You want to score?” one asked.
His friend showed me the pills. “How much?” I asked.
“Doesn’t look like you have much on you,” he replied, then chuckled.
“Not on me, no,” I said. Bikinis don't exactly come with pockets.
He smiled, “Perhaps we can take it in trade.”
His friend, who had been hanging back, heard that and realized he was going to hell. He trembled, came over, and made the decision that would likely give him one last chance at heaven. “Leave her alone.”
His buddies turned and glared.
“Don’t be a fool. We can all have some fun.”
The kid shook his head, knowing he could die arguing with them. “No, Mace, we’re not. Get outta here, Girl! They’ll mess you up worse than the drugs!”
“I know what I want and I’m really looking for a party,” I said and concentrated on doing my little trick.
The guys laughed. The first guy reached for my hand, then pulled back in horror as his hand passed through mine. “What the –“ he rasped as he pulled his switch blade and his nearest pal pulled a pistol from his waistband.
I leaped forward and ghosted through Mace, who gasped. I turned, solidified, then punched him in the back of the head with all the strength I could muster. He fell forward even as his pal turned to aim his gun and fire at me.
That’s when something big dropped from the motel roof and landed so hard on the would-be gunman that the fool barely had time to grunt before being slammed flat to the concrete and losing consciousness. Then my boyfriend rose off the concrete floor and half ran and jumped – sailing through the air as if he were a bird about to launch himself into the sky.
I ducked aside and Mace found himself hauled off his feet and over the pool, then slammed against the brick wall of the motel. My boyfriend pushed off his unconscious target and glanced at me. “You alright?”
“I’m fine, Eddy,” I replied, turning to the gaping kid. “You’re destined for a better life, Daryl.”
“Uh, um, what, uh… How do you know my name?” He stared around at his former compadres twitching on the ground, as my boyfriend took the drug dealer’s wad of cash before he leapt the width of the pool, then floated down to the ground beside me.
I smiled. “It’s a gift… You have the keys to the van, don’t you?”
“Time to go, Carrie,” Eddy said as our other friends rushed down the steps. Two girls, one ten with long blond hair and another, who had a very serious look on her face. She was about my age -- and rather stunning.
Daryl glanced at his unconscious former friends as Tease knelt beside first one of them, then the other and said, "Daryl, my boy, don’t worry about these guys, they won’t remember a thing.”
“Uh, but I will?” he rasped.
Tease chuckled. "You'll be just fine." Then she glanced my way and said, "Your boyfriend?"
Damn, she'd overheard my thoughts.
Eddy glanced at me, his thoughts shielded. But the look in his eyes told me he didn't mind at all me thinking of him as my boyfriend. If anything that seemed to make Tease angry until ten year-old Finder took her hand and said, "We need to get going."
So we left with a rather stunned Daryl and over five grand in drug money. Daryl drove the truck and we never looked back, but that didn't mean I didn't looked back, thinking about the changes in my life.
I had awoken groggy on the side of the road. The night was cloudless, boasting a full moon and plenty of stars. I stood up, then heard a vehicle approaching. I squinted as I stood there outlined by the lights of the truck. Its breaks squeaked as it came to a stop. The doors of both the driver's and passenger side opened. “Hey, young lady, you lost?” the driver asked.
His friend crushed the beer can in his hand and tossed it on the ground. “Shit, man, looks like she escaped from some hospital or sometin'.”
I knew running wouldn’t be a good idea. The drugs still fogged my mind a bit, which limited my options. They’d given me a rather heavy dose, considering me a trouble maker. If only they knew, but then again I was finally free… if this wasn’t all some kind of trick.
The man had a gun. “We can make this easy or hard, Babe. It’s up to you.”
I took a deep breath, tried to concentrate but couldn’t, which wasn’t good at all -- then glanced up.
"Carrie!" They looked up at the shout out from the sky.
“Eddy?” I muttered and gaped.
The men stared as something came down on top of them like a boulder in an avalanche – that something was Eddy as someone small leaped off his back as the gun went off.
“No!” I shouted.
Eddy rose. “It’s alright, the bullet hit me.”
“What?” I rasped.
The two would be rapists didn’t stir.
“Carrie, you all right?” Eddy asked.
“Me? Eddy, he shot you – and since when can you fly?”
“Uh, I don’t precisely fly. It's just that, well, gravity likes me,” he said.
“And, the bullet really felt the gravity of what it was doing and sorta bounced off him,” the girl said. She bent over and picked up the bullet. It was flat like a razor, looking a bit like a misshapen silver dollar.
I blinked and shook my head. I recognized her as one of the younger Lessers that were easy to ignore. She was dressed in an old shirt and skivvies with a rope for a belt. Then I realized something I never had before, she looked a bit like Eddy.
“He’s my brother,” she nodded and said.
“You’re a D-Line?”
Eddy floated over, “She’s a Prime, just like you and me.”
“I'm – I’m not a Prime.”
“Right and they didn’t tell you to breed with me, either.”
I coughed. “We didn’t.”
“I won’t be bred in captivity,” he replied, “and wouldn’t be tricked into revealing myself either.”
We shared a cell for nearly two months and I can’t say I felt bad about having found his lack of interest in me welcome. I was no more interested in having to perform while being watched day and night than he was.
Yet you can’t exactly hide the fact that you’re hiding something when among those watching you is your own twin sister, who was one of the prizes the doctors sought -- a powerful telepath with a gift that was difficult to ignore.
It took me about a week sharing that cell before I realized that the headache I normally had whenever my sister focused her gift on me was only a faint echo. I was more myself than I could remember. That’s when I realized Eddy was much more than he seemed, but never suspected he had a Class A Gift like, well, whatever he had... I kept his secret, knowing he somehow knew my carefully guarded secret as well – and I thought he was kinda cute.
I remember him blushing, not certain how we'd formed a bond, yet I knew I wasn't alone anymore... And Eddy’s disinterest as we lived in what amounted to little more than a cell had been both welcome -- and rather frustrating.
“But you can fly,” I half asked, staring at him that night.
He laughed. “Not quite, but close enough. Now let’s get out of here. I can only blur their memories enough to plant a nasty suspicion that they were so drunk they thought the other was a gorgeous girl. That should make them keep mum.”
Finder giggled as I shook my head. “And what? We just going to walk – or fly away?”
“Can you find any more friends, Finder?” Eddy said. “And us a ride?”
The girl stiffened, then pointed.
“Ohhhhhh,” I mumbled as we drifted with the wind southward and came across an old friend, who had found herself a ride in a old Ford pick-up and begun collecting other former residents of the aslym, who watched us sitting in the back of the truck.
The driver’s eyes were bleary. He was an old man dressed in pajamas. “You folks need a ride?”
Tease leaned out the window of the cab and grinned. “Hi, guys,” she said. “Felt you headed this way.”
I blinked, wondering how many of us Lessers were anything but. We climbed in back of the truck and Finder pointed as if in a dream.
“Thataway it is,” I said.
Tease nodded. “Okay, I'll bite, thataway it is, kid.”
The old man left us at a motel on the edge of town. We paid for two rooms with the cash he handed us before driving off.
An old woman knocked on the door, “Excuse me.”
I kept the latch on the door, opened it and stared, hastily closed it, then opened it wide. Everyone grew quiet as I shut the door behind the woman, who smiled.
“Camille,” I gasped.
The woman’s features, even clothes changed, wrinkles vanished and there stood a grinning fifteen year old girl, “Hi, gang, fancy meeting you here.”
It was becoming quite the family meeting. “So, they must have dumped every Lesser out of Haven’s Rest,” Camille said, “I’ve gathered nine across town.”
“How did you find us?”
“I’ve some excellent T-line friends who felt you coming, Eddy. You are generating a lot of, well, white noise.”
I glanced at the TV, which no one could watch when Eddy was nearby, then I thought about it. “Since when can Teases do that?”
Camille smiled, “I guess being at the bottom of the class doesn’t mean what the docs think it did.”
“The real question is more like: is this all a trick just to find out?” Eddy asked.
I looked at my hands, then clenched them into fists, “If so, they’re about to find out what all of us are really capable of.”
“Okay, we need a plan,” Eddy said to the budding family seated around the motel room.
“Who made you boss, Eddy?” Tease asked. “I collected more kids than you did.”
I glanced at her and asked, “Can you fly?”
“Big woop! He's a mule," Tease replied.
Eddy smiled. “Oh, really? Care to find out?”
Camille frowned as Tease shook her head, “But you’ve never paid us girls a lick of attention, or the boys, either, like some I could name at the Rest.”
“Pissed off the docs, didn’t it?” he answered.
Tease stared at him, assessing him in a way I didn’t like one bit.
“No one could fool them that much,” she muttered as Camille watched.
Finder shook her head, “Really? Or are you just mad he could fool you?”
Tease shrugged. “Look, okay, let’s say you fooled all of us. Why should that make you boss?”
I heard myself say what no one wanted to admit, “He’s an Adept, not just a Prime.”
“And I’m fully, uh, functional,” Eddy offered with a thin smile.
Tease swallowed hard, concentrated real hard, staring at him, then gasped, “Oh… Okay, you’re boss.”
Camille just looked doubly thoughtful.
I couldn’t explain what I felt. I just kept it as hidden from mental eavesdropping as I could.
“We need to work together, practice together. The Docs thought us useless enough to apparently dump us… Perhaps this is a sick game just to get us to reveal ourselves. Perhaps they were afraid to kill us, afraid their golden boys and girls wouldn’t appreciate it – since it’s not something they could hide from them,” Eddy offered.
“So you think they kept anyone they’d successfully bred to kill,” a teenage boy replied.
Eddy nodded, then I said what concerned me most, “And any of the girls who were pregnant.”
There had been over a hundred of us at Haven’s Rest. The hard cases either were elevated to prime stock status or were pronounced rejects like us. Oh, we still had potential for the Program. That meant we were good for target practice or worse. Oh, yeah, there really were worse things.
I touched my once seared cheek. Rape was not a crime at Haven’s Rest, not if the pair might produce a talented child. My marring was a small price to pay for getting away without having been used as a toy by the docs’ star attraction.
I looked at Eddy, “I’m with you.”
He glanced at me and nodded.
Finder smiled, “I’m sticking with him.”
Then Tease said, her thoughts tightly closed, "Count me in too."
Those words were like a dagger through my heart.
Eddy shook his head, then said, “Fine... Camille, your boys and girls are officially B-Team… The rest of you are C Teams. Each team goes everywhere together. We need money, clothes, safe digs… Spread out, work independently, and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There should be at least a dozen more Lessers from Haven’s Rest out there somewhere.”
“What about the Primes?” Camille asked.
“If they’ve been set loose too, steer clear of them. You all know they’re bad news. If Management really ditched them or sent them to hunt us down, this is an even more dangerous game.”
“They’re megalomaniacs!” Tease said.
“Yeah,” I muttered, my twin most definitely was, and if any of us went up against her, we’d lose ourselves and never even know it.
I watched as Camille talked privately with Eddy. I overhead her tell him he should meet her group before we went our separate ways. They left together and I followed.
Finder and Tease were right behind me. I glanced back at them and they nodded. They didn’t trust Camille either. We’d known she was talented back at Haven’s Rest, but her talents were thought to be minor. Word was the bulk of her gift lay in her ability to blur people’s perceptions -- just not the level she displayed in weaving her old woman illusion. Yet when she came to the door, I knew her instantly. When you're a telepath it's hard hiding you identity, particularly from your bunkmate of five years.
Finder pointed when we lost track of them.
“No,” Tease said. “She’s tricking you – link with me.”
We took hands and Finder’s eyes widened, “That way!”
“We have to hurry!” Tease shouted.
Eddy was unconscious. Camille had a knife to his throat. She had two teases behind her and there were three youngers, a boy and two girls, standing across the room watching blankly.
“Welcome to the party,” Camille said.
I stared at that knife and lost it… I “pushed.” Camille’s eyes widened as she fell backward, then the wall fluxed behind her and absorbed her body, then the flux ended and things went “splat.”
The youngers collapsed as Tease concentrated on the glasy eyed staring teases, who suddenly trembled, then remembered who they were, freed of compulsion.
Tease took a deep breath and looked at me, “That's quite a talent.”
“Yeah,” I muttered as I hurried to Eddy’s side, “a killer one.” I knelt beside him and took his head in my hands. He opened his eyes and I instantly knew what he was thinking. “You idiot! You could have gotten yourself killed!”
He sat up, trying to feign his all to real weakness. “Not a chance, I had you three.”
I'd had enough and shoved him back.
“Hey!” he muttered.
“Idiot.” I stood up as Tease and Finder nodded in agreement.
I woke as Daryl pulled over into the restaurant’s parking lot for dinner. Finder had no sooner gotten out of the van then “found” a hundred dollar bill on the ground. “Just lucky, I guess."
Tease glanced at Eddy, who sighed and looked back at me as Daryl and Finder went inside. “Carrie, wait a minute.”
I muttered, “You’re an idiot!”
He shrugged, apologetic. "It wasn't your fault... None of us knew about Camille."
"I should have... My sister wasn't always around when I had my headaches -- I should have realized!"
"Carrie," he said, reaching out to me with emotions, concern, sympathy, and something more.
Tease harrumphed and went inside.
“Damn,” I muttered, then leapt into his arms and kissed him as our feet floated off the ground.
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Approximately 2,840 words