Part II: Play Ball
That’s how long I managed to stay at the jail – or whatever the place I was being held up was – before giving in and asking for Columbia. Oh, I didn’t want to be a hero, that I knew. No way I would ever put on something so tacky and garish as their costumes and I couldn’t care less about ‘doing the right thing.’
But I was starved for sunlight, edible food and space to move about now that I could walk around by myself without one of those damn walker. I figured it was worth playing ball to make things ever so slightly more tolerable. Beside, it wasn’t the first time I’d sell myself for survival, doing whatever someone else wanted in exchange for comfort…
When Columbia stepped into my room the day after I’d asked for her, I could tell she was grinning. I couldn’t see it, but she had that air about her; she was radiant about having prevailed over my stubbornness.
“You said you could get me out.”
“Indeed I did.”
“What’s the deal?”
So she went over it all; She wanted me at Ravenhold, a well known superhero school in the ass crack of Maine. She wanted me to be an obedient puppy in exchange for some freedom and maybe a potential chance of being completely free one day…
“Do you understand the terms of your parole, miss Santiago?” She asked once she was finished with her little exposé.
“My name’s Jaime.” I snapped at her. She frowned at my behavior. “Don’t call me by my dad’s name. It’s just Jaime. And yes, I understand.”
“Well, let me repeat everything just so there’s no misunderstanding; There’ll be no unsanctioned fighting, no drugs or alcohol, no leaving academy grounds without permission, you’ll take your studies seriously and you’ll obey the academy staff without giving them attitude.”
“I said I understood.” I grumbled. Did she think I was dumb?
“Alright then. I’ll be back in four days, that’s when Ravenhold opens. You’ll be joining the influx of the new first year students and as far they’ll know, you’ll be a perfectly ordinary member of their class.”
I nodded and she left me alone. As she said, She came back four days later in the early morning. This time however she was in civilian garb, wearing what I think were jeans and a black top. She gave me some clothes to change into, meaning I could finally lose the uncomfortable itchy gray jumpsuit I’d worn since they’d caught me. When I was dressed, she and another man brought me out of my cell and into a seemingly ordinary car down in the garage which was located a few levels above my cell. Columbia sat with me in the back while the goon took the driver’s seat. We drove through what I assumed was the city, I could hear a lot of traffic and people.
“How are you feeling?” Columbia asked.
“I don’t know. Glad to be rid of that itchy jumpsuit, I guess.”
“Not the answer I was expecting.” She answered with a chuckle.
“Don’t worry, I’ll play ball. If only for the chance to wear jeans again.”
“You’ll be glad to hear that we’re taken the liberties to get you some personal items, just the essentials though; some basic non-itchy clothes, hygiene products and et cetera. What little you owned is also in the bag.”
“Oh, hey gratitude! I was beginning to think grumpy was your only mood.”
“Don’t push it.”
“You really are no fun.”
I rolled my eyes and focused on the blurry decor outside of the car. Eventually we arrived at whatever location we were supposed to get to and the car stopped.
“This is it. Terminal eighteen.” She said. “There’ll be a bus waiting for you. Here are your admission papers.” She placed some papers in my hand and I held onto them as best I could. My hands weren’t what they used to be; not only weak but I struggled to feel much of anything, just like if I wore gloves.
“Alright.” I fumbled around with my free hand and found the door handle.
“Wait, one last thing.” She said. I stopped and she took my arm. I reflexively tried to jerk it away from her but her grip was ridiculously strong. “We better get those cuffs off.”
She seemed to fumble with it for a moment and the cuffs opened, getting off my hand. The second it was off, I felt an explosive flash of pain in my brain. When it calmed down a moment later, I felt something I hadn’t felt in ages; the prickling of my power.
Around me I could feel the metallic frame of the car, the contour of the leather seats, the strands of Columbia’s clothes.
“Good luck Jaime.”
I got out of the car and the driver took out a duffel bag out of the car’s trunk and gave it to me. He pinpointed the Bus’ location but even if he hadn’t I could’ve found it easily; with my mind I could touch everything around me, see things even my still intact senses couldn’t, I felt the bus, tellings its occupant by their clothes, I could feel the plastic bottle and lunch bag they’d packed within the duffel. With my powers, I could feel anything around me except for three things; liquids, gasses and living beings. And just like I felt them, I could control them if I wanted to; move them, push them and send them crashing as I desired them to. I was free, I could’ve done anything; lash out or even escape.
But I didn’t. Instead I did as I was supposed to do. I went to the bus, showing my papers to the driver before sitting down. Part of me felt sick at what I was doing; letting myself being herded like a sheep and controlled again… But the other part of me was just too damn tired to fight back anymore.
Rather than think about it too much, I did my best to focus on an audio play, Dr Wallace seemed to love those and he’d loaded the MP3 up with them. I didn’t mind, they were something to take my mind off. In the corner of my vision, I saw someone come up to me and stand there.
“Been awhile, hasn’t it?” He said, his voice instantly familiar. I looked at his blurry shape, it wasn’t that familiar, I’d still had most of my sight the last time I’d seen him, but with my powers I could sense the case on his back and the abnormal sword it held within. Of all people, HE had to be there. I cursed my luck, there was only person I wanted to see less than him, but thankfully he was dead.
“What do you want, Mace?”
Mace had been one of those people; who wanted to save me, help me and all that crap. He hadn’t been the only one, but he’d been the most persistent during those weeks we’d spent together the previous summer. Those days were a haze. I remembered all the fighting, the arguing and in a drunken stupor letting him touch me, although he hadn’t taken the opportunity to do anything. He was like that; always chivalrous, helpful and disgustingly nice. It only served to make him even more unbearable… Everyone had motives, something they wanted from me and they were easy to figure out, Mace on the other hand was an unending source of frustration.
“I know things didn’t end well between us, but that’s in the past. Can we at least try to be friends again?” Of course he wanted it to be all sunshine and rainbows between us. That was just like him.
“You’re so fucking clingy…” I spat out.
“I’m just trying to be nice, you know.”
“I didn’t ask for that. Now leave me alone…”
“A-Alright…” He muttered.
Thankfully he didn’t protest and fucked off to the front of the bus, leaving me alone to try to lose myself in those audio plays, but that didn’t work out, instead my thoughts wouldn’t just quiet down. After a seemingly unending journey the buses finally stopped and everyone got off. Some guy in a stupid bird costume welcomed us with a speech but I didn’t listen. When he was done, he assigned us to several groups.
I stepped through the thinned crowd and faced the birdman.
He pointed a blurry hand and I went toward the group he’d assigned me to. There were other people with me, but I didn’t pay them much attention just yet. I had something else in mind;
“Guess we’re in the same class.” Mace said, coming up to me.
Of course we were in the same group… That was just my fucking luck… This whole parole thing was going to be impossible.