The one thing breaking my concentration beyond my caregiver lying on the ground was her daughter. I immediately thought she had also fallen unconscious and would tumble down the stairs at any minute. I flashed into the stairwell just as the front door latched. Scarlett looked dizzy at first but soon shook off the imbalance.
Junk had already gone toward Eva while Rook stood above him watching with an older-sister scorn from his incompetence. Scarlett looked past me and saw her mother on the floor. In sheer panic for her mother’s safety and her own she bellowed out a scream.
It rang through the house and each of us with such a pitch that some of the picture frames cracked. The ringing Junk had sent through our ears moments ago was nothing compared to the drill bit destruction Scarlett was releasing. And it didn’t stop. It was a note carrying on non-stop and each second that passed started getting harder and harder to stay conscious.
“Mo,” I squeezed from my vocal cords. I reached down to touch her hand and as we touched I could immediately relay my thoughts. A small nod told me she was on board.
I flashed Mo into the staircase with me as the little banshee in front of us was destined to liquefy our eardrums. As Mo reached for her, the sound got shriller and when her hand touched Scarlett’s pale forehead, her wail stopped. Mo dove in and told her mind to go to bed and forget about seeing her Mom at the bottom of the steps.
Mo scooped her up into her arms and wearily made her way up the last few steps to put her back into bed. By morning, she would have thought she had a bad dream.
Eva moaned a little as she was making her best effort to hoist back onto her hands and knees from the floor. Junk’s caffeinated ability was supposed to last a few days. Is it possible Scarlett woke her up?
Junk removed his cupped hands from both of his ears and noticed a little red spot of blood on each. “Holy s-”
I flashed and put my own cupped hand around his mouth before he inadvertently made Eva go comatose again. Rook was initially defensive and then saw I wasn’t trying to harm him, just gag him.
“How long does his caffeine high last for?” I question Rook.
“Usually?” she tries to clarify.
“No, surprise me with a random occurrence.” I came off a little pissed, just as Mo was coming back down the stairs. Points for me I guess. Mainly, I was upset because Scarlett got frightened. A child shouldn’t have to see their parents like that.
“I don’t time them. Before, he had to sleep it off,” she explains.
“Mo, give me a hand here,” without question, she comes to me and places her hand within mine and puts her other hand on Junk.
“I can fix it with your help,” Mo says to me.
“Hold up, what are you doing to him?” Rook sparks. The protective vibe was very evident within her. My guess was she must have been raising Junk since he was a small child and because of that, a motherly influence superseded the sisterly one.
“His allergic reaction causes adrenaline to mix within another chemical in his bloodstream activating a portion in his frontal lobe which doesn’t know how to calm down. I can find the area we need to disrupt temporarily and remove the chemical,” Mo elaborates.
Mo was now showing off slightly. She had been studying the human anatomy in great depth for the past few months and learning how different bodily functions influenced temperament, performance and possible abilities in others.
I decide to step in and translate. “Mo is locating the area and chemical I need to teleport out of his bloodstream and into his bladder in order to stop his enhanced and rather out of control ability.”
Without saying anything, Rook nods to go ahead, but I sensed her bringing her thumb and forefinger closer together as if to stop us if she needed to. What would a snap of her fingers do to a person?
Before Eva started gaining some sense of where she was and what happened, Mo and I mentally agree to get started and a couple seconds later, we were done. I carefully remove my hand from Junk’s mouth as if a bomb was just defused.
“Your hands are clammy,” he says.
“Well, you kept breathing through your mouth,” I mention as it wasn’t a picnic for me either. “Say something.”
“Something,” he adds with snarky undertones.
“Something with an s – h in it, smartass,” Rook chimes in.
“Shomething,” he blurts out with a small squint of disdain. Ah, a kid after my own heart.
We all look down at Eva still making her way up to her feet. Not helping her like good people would, but staring at her like a placebo monkey who may or may not show warning signs again.
“Thanks, I’ll get up on my own,” Eva states as she stretches her back out. Mo went over to her side offering an impotent gesture of help.
“Sorry Eva,” Mo states while giving her a little space to catch her breath.
“What the hell happened?” she asks while rubbing over some of the sore spots she acquired by losing body control and hitting the floor.
Rook steps forward again. “Yeah, that’s our fault. I should have told Junk not to speak, if I thought that simply telling him would work.”
We moved from the entryway back into the kitchen which was past the stairs and through an archway. Eva lasted in our explanation as long as it took for us to mention Scarlett. After that, she was heading up the stairs in Olympic hurdler fashion.
After a long bout of silence as a collective group, Eva came back down. There was fury in her eyes but it was being restrained by knowing what had to happen in that moment and because Scarlett was unharmed.
“What happened?” she managed to puff out.
Before her uncomfortable stare became hostile, I offered my theory. “I think the act of seeing you collapse and a rush of adrenaline from fear caused her mind to spiral into a defensive state. I think she just showed her ability.”
Tears welled up in apprehensive angst, but there was something more in the way she was trying to cope. I had seen it on the faces of parents who used to come to our school at Pemberton Academy in Lincoln Center, the ones that had no abilities either. They were afraid of their child.
Mo stepped forward to comfort Eva, “It’ll be okay. She is just going to think it was a dream after she wakes up.”
“And if it happens again? What if she gets upset and has a fit over something while you two are out or in public for heaven’s sake?”
Eva was not ready to see her toddler exhibit an ability just yet. No parent is truly ready when it happens, but the younger they are, the harder it always seems to be. It was almost cruel, for both of them. Scarlett would never remember and Eva could not forget. I thought aloud so Mo could pick up on it. I suggested something to try and bring some peace, at least for the here and now.
Carter, we can’t fix everything by going in and rewiring people to forget.
“What is it?” Eva asked. She had been around us long enough to know when we were speaking to each other without words.
Mo turned and asked Eva plainly, “Do you want to forget?” She was offering to steal the memory of the past fifteen minutes as if it was an offering to bestow upon her. There are times when ignorance is the true gift.
A tear fell down Eva’s cheek in shame as she couldn’t look at anyone. She simply nodded her head.
Mo understood; hell we all did to some degree. She placed her hand upon Eva’s brow and took the pain from her. The memories of collapsing and waking to her daughter’s piercing cry were gone. She would find out in due time and with a better venue. At least we hoped. Everyone should be lucky to have such a do over.
When Eva raised her head up again, Mo implanted the false memory she answered the door and we had some chit chat and introductions before coming into the kitchen, bringing us up to the present.
After that debacle, it was on to finding out more about our new guests and what happened to David. Eva made her way into the heart of the kitchen while the rest of us gathered around the dining table off to the side.
“So, how long has it been since David was…awake?” I began.
“It’s been about five days.”
Good grief, bad news apparently doesn’t travel too fast for us. The next question was mainly to understand the level of care my grandson was receiving. “So, you guys are making sure he’s still getting water and everything, since I assume no one has taken him to a hospital yet?”
“We have a couple of people looking in on him and making sure he’s okay,” Junk interjects. “One of the girls has a sister who’s a nurse and helps us with him for now.”
That’s a relief. Now on to the how, which Mo beats me to asking, “So, how did this happen?”
Rook squares off to Mo for one of the first times since entering the house. Hmm, I guess she can see her. “David has been helping as many kids like us as he can. Most of his time has been devoted to the ones that have certain issues, socially.”
“Delinquents?” I ask, mainly to simplify.
Her smile to me was not so well-received by Mo. In fact I am pretty certain Mo’s new ability is shooting daggers from her eyes. It is a shame Rook seems to be immune to them.
“Just some kids getting into a little trouble from time to time,” she says playfully as the small raise of her eyebrow indicates the kind of trouble she was thinking of getting into.
“Well, I mean …” Did my tongue get fatter?
Mo, who was a prime advocate for not using her powers in any manner of vindictive behavior, reacted.
“Ow!” Rook cried out while briefly motioning to her eyebrow. After a small deduction of possibilities, she whips her head at Mo. “Did you just do that?!”
Coyly, she runs her fingers through the small amount of hair from the top of her developing pixie hairdo. “Me? Oh no, of course not.” All the while, that little vixen was pushing to me the memory of what she did. She actually implanted a false memory of waxing Rook’s eyebrow so it suddenly felt like each follicle was plucked. She’s evil, but she’s my little pocket full of evil.
Making sure to laugh only on the inside, I move on. “What happened after he started helping those certain kids?”
Rook’s eye was watery and a scowl rested in the corners of her mouth. “That hurt, y’know?” she stated as if to announce Mo’s immaturity aloud before continuing. “Once David started spending more time with the kids who needed more help, the rest of us started losing contact. Benny started filling in for David as best as he could, but it was hard to fill that kind of void.”
Benny? That’s familiar somehow. “Did anyone see anything strange before this spell happened? And you might have to explain what you mean by a ‘spell’ to begin with.”
Junk wanted to tell this part so he spoke quickly to secure his spot, “Spells are what happen when you get a couple of Eventuals working simultaneously on making somebody do something.”
“So, there were two people working against him?”
Rook raised her hand up illustrating with her fingers to signal that there were actually three. “There was a lady with a long braided ponytail and a girl about our age both working the spell that made David collapse. I saw them in the backroom before the other guy got them out of there.”
“Does anyone know why he was targeted? And there was a guy helping them too?” I’m trying to figure out exactly what David might have got himself into with a terrorist group like the Pirates going after him.
Both siblings wiggled their heads side to side not knowing much more of the story beyond the brief details they saw. “The guy was really creepy looking, but I don’t know why anyone would want to hurt David. He helped anyone that asked for it,” Rook ended.
Last time I spoke with David, he seemed overly stressed and happy at the same time. I simply figured he was finding his calling to help train others and keep them from entering into the fray of society. Now, I think there must have been more to it he was holding back.
An itch in the bottom of my brain box had me needing to scratch down a little further. Something about the third person there the night he fell under his spell. “The guy,” I directed “how exactly was he creepy?” I almost was afraid to hear the answer.
“I dunno,” Junk gutturally huffed. “Like a creep.”
A slight pursing of my lips and a no shit glance stopped Junk from answering any further.
“He had a huge scar on his face, like right in the middle. It crossed most of his forehead and cheeks,” Rook states.
Oh God, please no. “Was it in a shape?”
“Yeah,” Junk piped up. “Like a big X.”
You have got to be kidding me! That little cockroach is back?! I don’t even think about it and suddenly I am back in the gym where David last said he was going to start housing the orphans. It was not a large open air warehouse like before, more like the get-together found in church basements.
When I flashed in, I had only one name on my mind. Raymond Lord. I was going to find that ass hat and end his miserable existence for good. Some of the younger kids with nowhere else to live camped out there and bunked in some of the spaces they made into rooms.
Children gasped as I flashed into their area unannounced with the scorn Ares across my face. I started looking around for where they were keeping David when it donned on me.
“Crap – !” I forgot my Mo in Temple Falls.