“Dad!” Molly shouted as she burst through the door, her eyes hunting wildly for her parents. The cafe was a mess. All the boxes they’d stacked that morning had tumbled to the floor, along with most of the chairs. A broken light flickered over the debris. “Dad! Clarissa!”
“Back here!” Clarissa’s voice.
Heart leaping, Molly had to climb through the room—over boxes, broken glass, and overturned chairs, and past the counter—before she found her dad, lying on the floor with one bloody leg stretched in front of him. Clarissa knelt beside him, her skirt and heels smeared red. A ladder lay crookedly between them, one rung dented where it had hit the counter hard.
Molly jolted to a halt, her stomach in her throat.
As unplanned break-ins go, this one had gone pretty smoothly. So far, anyway.
Selena knelt under the window and pulled her glove tighter over one hand, smoothing out the wrinkles between her fingers. Of course, she hadn’t actually broken into anything yet, just hopped a couple of fences and avoided a roving security guard in a golf cart. Honestly, she’d expected better security for a university with a rep for technology. After all, they built rockets here. Well, parts of rockets.
A quick peek past the shrubs and trees revealed no late night stragglers wandering past. The patch of sidewalk she’d chosen was fairly secluded—shaded by a couple of nicely placed trees and warded by a spiked garden fence. The most she had to worry about here was someone looking for a spot to make out.
She adjusted her glove again, and sent a spark through the conductive material, feeling out the fit. The metal strip against her wrist felt awkward, and the charge in the capacitor tingled at the contact. Still, not bad for a prototype. She could tweak it later.
Aaron paced the hallway, trying furiously to think through the miasma in his brain. Despite the mental and physical fog left over from his vision, he knew he had to push through it, at least long enough to deal with Leveille and find Ivy.
He pressed the phone to his ear and leaned against the window, resting his forehead against the cool glass. “If he sees us coming, he might kill her,” Aaron said. “Especially if he’s realized she can’t help him. I can probably use my power to sneak past him, but not if I don’t know where she is. I can’t hold it forever.”
“Besides, he knows what you can do.” Over the phone, Selena had to shout to be heard over the noise of the rain and the car engine. She’d still been at the game, and by the sound of it was trying to set a speed record for crossing the distance btween the school and the dam. “He’ll be expecting you.”
Things were happening, but it took Aaron a long time to make sense of the noise. It was like waking up from a deep sleep. He’d been dreaming, but he couldn’t remember what about. Nothing semeed to work; his thoughts were fuzzy and his arms and legs numb and heavy.
“—didn’t do anything to him,” a voice said. Aaron felt like he should recognize it. “We were just talking.”
“How long has he been like this?” Another voice asked. Carter?
“At least five minutes,” the first voice said. Molly. “I was about to call the paramedics—”
“No! No, don’t do that. He’s stopped seizing now. He’ll wake up any second. Aaron! Hey, can you hear me?”
Aaron tried to respond, but all he managed was a grunt. Maybe he should be scared, but it was hard to feel anything through the numb, groggy feeling in his head.
“He needs medical help. It’s been—”
“No.” Carter sounded upset. “No, he’ll be fine. It’s not even a real seizure. It’s—”
“Just because he sees things doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous,” Molly said.
It took some effort, but Aaron managed to open his eyes. Everything was blurry—even more than usual. He blinked, trying to clear his vision. Molly and Carter sat on either side of him, staring at each other with more hostility than the situation really called for.
“How do you know these episodes aren’t causing permanent damage?” Molly continued. “How do you know they won’t kill him some day?”
Molly trudged into school Thursday morning, shoes soggy from yet another night’s rain, and sighed. It was still too early for class, and the courtyard was crowded with groups of kids, hanging out in the few spaces dry enough to sit. She glanced around, and headed toward a corner. No one was going to come relieve her from her isolation this time, not after being kicked out of two groups in as many weeks.
Oh, well, at least she had schoolwork to keep her busy. With a sigh, she settled onto an abandoned bench and dug out her lit book.
“Hey, watcha reading?”
Molly looked up to see Ivy Haley plop into the seat beside her. “It’s okay if I sit here, isn’t it?” she said, but didn’t wait for a response before swinging her ratty bookbag up beside her.
Molly stared at her father’s car with dread.
Okay, maybe not dread. But apprehension, at least. She had gone to Carter’s without explicit permission, was home an hour later than she should have been, and had multiple injuries she couldn’t explain. She’d borrowed a long-sleeved shirt from Brennan’s hoard of clothes to cover the scalding on her arms, even though she had to roll the cuffs under twice. She also had a killer bruise on her side, and maybe a cracked rib. It took some effort to walk without wincing. Continue reading
Hospitals were his least favorite place. Aaron been in them more than he’d have liked, thanks to a few bad seizures and a “psychotic episode” after his powers had developed. So he was used to the cheap armchairs, the stale coffee, and the smell of antiseptic and bedsheets a hundred other people had used.
Lucia buried her face in her hands, sobbing. “Oh, th—thank God you found me,” she said. “I’ve been all alone in the dark.” She reached up and grasped one of the men’s arms, slipping her fingers under his sleeve. “Please help me.”
The man’s eyes glazed over. His hand, which had started to reach for his sidearm, slackened. The others seemed confused too, as if they were catching the echo of her command. Or maybe just convinced by her performance.
Molly doubted Lucia could handle all of them on her own. One, maybe two, but four? She had to touch them to really push them very far didn’t she? Beside her, Brennan and Carter had tensed, ready to leap out of hiding the moment things went wrong. Molly could imagine how well that was likely to go. “Selena,” she whispered, “Can you shut the power back off?” she murmured.
“Okay, here we are,” Mom said, putting the car in park.
Aaron roused from his half-sleep and blinked groggily into the parking lot. Lartech loomed in front of him. “What are we doing here?” he asked. “This isn’t the hospital.”
“You’re just now noticing? The hospital is in the opposite direction.” She ruffled brusquely through the contents of her purse.
“I was sleeping,” Aaron said. “Stayed up late last night.” He didn’t want to tell her how bad his headaches had been over the last few days, especially since it wasn’t his seizures that caused it so much as overusing his power. Besides, she was worried enough. So far, he’d avoided having any intensive tests on his brain, mostly by being intractable and obstinate, but this time his mother was hellbent on having him examined.
She just hadn’t told him it would be here.
“This is a bad, bad idea,” Lucia said, watching the numbers above the elevator door
“Don’t be so negative,” Selena said, admiring her reflection in the metal wall. She’d changed her sweater for a rumpled button-up blouse, rubbed off all her makeup and raked her hair into a lumpy ponytail. The final touch was a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, which she’d practiced squinting through to further obscure her features. She looked like a complete nerd. It was perfect.
Lucia, in contrast, looked surprisingly respectable. A crisp shirt and a lab coat, along with a quick hair and makeup job, almost made up for the fact that her nose was too long, her jeans were stained, and her hair was…pink. But that’s what her power was for.