Fishing a sock out of the back seat of a sinking station wagon is a lot harder than it seems. Flashing under water is next to impossible at this point. Dick, I mean David, would later explain how flashing requires concentration and open space. I started nodding off when he explained the physics of it all. Basically, molecules are traveling at some insanely fast speed and when they realign they have to have enough space to push unwanted debris out of the impact zone. So, underwater, I would have to try and force a pocket of air around my landing point. It was just easier to dive.
As I deduced, I only needed enough air to go down. Once I recovered the sock, I could simply flash to the surface. And sure enough, a fishy outfit and a case of hypothermia later and I rescued the evidence.
Later on in the morning, we were transported by David to a warehouse similar to any evil lair in a super hero movie. There was a boxing ring and people sparring around us as we walked in. I wouldn’t qualify them as mercenaries by any means though.
They were kids younger than me mostly and had literally no idea what they were doing to connect they’re gloved hand to any portion of their opponent. Older kids that looked like they were out of high school were putting on quite a show. One gentleman with lots of distinguishable muscles caught Mo’s attention as he was teaching his sparring partner how to free himself from a grip.
If Mo was a cartoon, big hearts would be pulsing from her eye sockets as a puddle of drool gathered below her open mouth. I promptly eased her out of the gym to where David was walking to in the back. Past a set of closed garage doors was an empty space, lacking weights or anything exercise related except for blue mats all along the floor and covering the walls.
“Is this our play pen?” I ask whimsically.
“No,” David replies sans whimsy. “I will do my best to train you both how to defend, flee and pursue if needed. We’ll use a lot of Mo’s conduit ability to save me from hours of explanation. But first, we have to train her to use it.”
And that was the last audible sentence David spoke for the next two and a half hours. Everything else was using telepathy and trying to help Mo channel certain things through him into me. I got to play bucket the whole time, catching whatever he felt like throwing my way. Needless to say, David is apparently an accomplished chef as I now know about 50 different recipes for making chicken.
In the midst of being transferred the proper way to roll sushi, I pick up on the presence of another in our room. After I get the notion, Mo is siphoned off and David stops training.
“Ray, how are things?”
“Good, good. How are our protégés doing in here?”
“We’re acclimating.” An awkward silence hung in the air as neither said anything for enough time to be recognizable. “Anything else I can do for you?”
Oh, there was tension that’s for certain. I’m trying not to think too much in case either of them can hear my thoughts. But I am betting Lord Ray is a little sick of our trainer’s attitude and doesn’t like him much.
“You going to keep Carter from getting kidnapped or are you going to push him too far and get him killed too?”
Timeout! What the hell?
“Quiet! Now!” David’s voice pumps through my head.
“Ray…Lord Ray, you may run these Lost Boys and Misfits you find on the fringe of society and train them to do your bidding but don’t come in here and assume that I am your subordinate.”
Ooooo, I smell a fight.
“David, I put up with you simply because Alba has a soft spot for you. I don’t care how much talent you have, I will still be willing to kick your ass to the curb should it dare to take a shit in MY house.”
Well, Lord Ray doesn’t appreciate David making himself at home here. Makes me wonder just how appreciative he is having Mo and I here. I’m guessing less than enthused.
David never loses his superior grin. “Lord Ray, you have a house because of me. Let’s not forget or choose to overlook that. If it weren’t for me stepping in and saving you, you’d be long buried.”
“You saving my life once does not make me indebted to you forever.” The grimace on Ray’s face is describing their relationship perfectly.
“I don’t need you indebted, merely appreciative. You may be Lord Ray around these parts, but if that’s the case, you might as well call me King David.”
If looks could kill, Ray has David in a murdered pile beneath him. He huffs once like an animal and instead of walking away, flashes to some unknown location. I don’t know about David, but I’m personally sweating after that confrontation.
“Well, let’s get back to it.” And apparently we’re not privy to a background story at this time.
The remainder of our afternoon was spent polishing Mo’s ability and teaching me to flash more precisely. Not to toot my own horn, but by mid-afternoon I was getting pretty good. I was comfortable flashing around the room with a couple of seconds notice, speed drills as David called them. Then I could flash between my bedroom and back with ease. TOOT-TOOT
David sat us both down after he started perfecting Mo’s telekinetic ability. She had to learn things from the ground up. Her conduit powers worked only if she channeled information through to another person, she couldn’t channel directly into herself.
As David sat on the blue mats with us, he looked more humane somehow. He kept a stern expression locked in place throughout the day; now it was released he looked tired or sad.
“Carter, they are going to come for you tomorrow morning.”
Fun-killer. “How can they do that? I mean, the Hunters wouldn’t do anything without first knowing that an alteration occurred. And they aren’t activated until a leap is made. Well, I’ve learned to control leaping so what could it possibly be?”
“Timothy Lord. He was Ray’s cousin. I helped Ray to train him and I also trained him privately. Timothy was exceptional, his leaps were very controlled and like you he could go past his own timeline. One day, he leapt forward. After he came back, he let us know you were detained. Ray was surprised at what Timothy could do, not so much with your well-being.”
I was following, but at this point unsure what was so significant.
“When Timothy spoke to me in private, he told me what really happened. In short, he only let Ray know what he thought he could handle. What he actually saw was almost every known Leaper being taken away. They were rounded up and slaughtered because they saw a threat they pose.”
“They know you rescued Mo. It was their test to see if you were adaptive and powerful enough. And now they know.”
“Well, why kill all of us? It’s obvious we aren’t all like me.”
“True.” David looked down at the ground as if ashamed to say the next part. “But with her, you can make everyone like you.”
Mo? Because she’s a conduit that I saved, now they think I have a plan to make everyone like me? It’s still raising a lot of questions.
“So, why did Timothy go back a second time?” It seemed ridiculous to tempt fate again without a reason.
“I asked him to.”
And let the teeth pulling commence. “And why did you ask him to?”
“Because I couldn’t.” He’s really starting to piss me off at this point. And since I am pretty sure he can sense that, “Carter, I asked him to rescue you and Mo.”
“How did you even know about us?” Mo piped in. But what was odd was her question lacked surprise, she was more asking him in order to clue me in.
“Yah, how…and why?”
“When Timothy went into the future, the three of us had never met. So, you never met Mo or learned how to flash. They simply rounded you up because of other events leading to that day. Timothy saved you and Mo and took you to safety. When he returned, the journey was too much for his heart and he slipped into cardiac arrest. He shared with me what he had seen by touching my arm as he lay dying.”
I have this uncanny feeling I’m going to be hit with a bar of soap in a tube sock. Yet another classical movie reference my mother helped me appreciate.
“Ray was not told the complete truth beforehand, but after he wanted to go back and stop Timothy, I had to let him know. The same way I have to let you know.”
Oh Lord, spit it out. The waiting is the hardest part.
“Carter, I grow old with you. I die a few years after I see your son and his wife deliver their second child into this world. David DeTamble. You see, I am actually your grandchild.”
Paradox ahoy! I’m trying not to laugh outright in his face because a part of me is wondering when the punch line will hit or a cymbal crash in the background. And after a few moments and a confirming look from Mo sitting across from me, I take the next few minutes to ponder. Or what some people call fainting.
David is hoisting me up from my back in a hazy fog as I’m left wondering what my unborn son might have done to make such an asshole. David chuckles as helps me fully upright.
“I’m not always a prick. The car stunt was actually me paying you back for how you taught me in the future when I was your age. I guess the cycle continues.”
My head is beyond spinning. “So, how…?”
Mo takes this one, “David told Ray about the situation with saving Timothy. Basically, if he stopped him from jumping ahead, we would die. If we died, David would never be born and come back to the past and if he never came back to the past, he would never have saved Ray from dying. All connected, so Ray had to leave his cousin to die and blames David for it.”
Oh, well, mystery solved there. Now to the other confusing part, “You’re my grandson?”
A simple head nod answers that.
“And why are you back here? I mean, why send Timothy if you could do the same?”
“That’s the funny thing. I can’t. I leapt so far back I seem to have broken my ability. I went past my parents’ timeline and into my grandparents. Somehow in doing so, I am unable to move ahead or go back any further.”
Well, that sums it up. Now, I only have about 154 other questions to strike off my list. “So, since everything’s been altered, there’s no real way of knowing if anything will happen tomorrow. Right?”
A concerned look replaces the relieved one David was sporting a few moments ago.
“I have a notion something will happen. You see, altering the timeline doesn’t shift its course, just moves a parallel line in place of it. Before, you were actually being rounded up because of actions your father did. Now, I believe it’s because of the actions you did.”
“The Mo thing?” If thing qualifies as saving someone’s life by teleporting them to safety.
“There’s that. More likely they will be acting on you missing school and being down in the wharf district all day.”
“What? How would they know that?”
He taps the locater band around my forearm. Duh, Carter. I had been flashing with it in order not to alert them I was leaping. Well, that proved a colossal waste of effort.
“They know that Lord Ray operates down here somewhere and now assume you are helping him. The GPS in that band will have them coming here tonight I’m sure and when they don’t find anyone, they’ll go to your home next.”
“So, they know about flashing? Is my mom alright?”
His smile is at least reassuring as I pick up on how similar it is to Mo’s now. “She’s aware and already cautious. And I don’t think they have a full comprehension of it but know there are other abilities within each person.”
Crap-tastic. “Now what?”
“Now, you and Mo have to find a way to go to school tomorrow. Get in the principal’s office and find out with Mo’s help exactly what they know. From there, we enter a whole new realm.”
God, first I have to avoid capture, say goodbye to my “normal” life and prepare to be on the run for who knows how long. And on top of it all, I still have to go to school. Looks like fate thinks I cut in line somewhere and is really holding a grudge.