Origins: Jaime 1

Into Darkness: Part One

Four years ago

The clock ticked loudly as I sat in the corridor next to the director’s office. I’d been in the parahuman detention center for nine months now, ever since my power had manifested. Over my left hand, the stress ball they’d given me floated a few inches above my fingers even though it was just foam, it took all of my will to keep it floating.

“Miss Santiago.” The Director said in his thick gravelly voice, drawing me out of my focus and making the ball fall down. “Come on in.” It wasn’t a suggestion it was an order.

I grabbed the ball from the floor and came into the office with him. A man I’d never seen before was standing by the desk, dressed in a monkey suit with oiled hair. As I sat down, the smell of tobacco, which had long ago tained the room itched my nose, reminding me of my own father… I grit my teeth at the memory.

“This is Mr. Neville, he’s one of the foster parents whom we work with rehabilitating people like you.” The director explained.

“Foster parent?”

“You’re being released into his custody starting today.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Jaime.” Mr. Neville said, giving me an all too wide smile. “I hope you’ll fit in right at our home.”

“Of course, we expect you to behave exceptionally.” The director snapped. “You’re lucky to get a new chance after what you did to your last foster parents.”

“It was an accident…” I grumbled. “I can barely move a stupid foam ball now.”

As much as my previous foster father had deserved it, I hadn’t meant to crack his skull… My powers had just decided to manifest for the first time as he ‘disciplined’ me for dropping the milk carton and had sent a the granite dining table crashing into him…

Because of my non-answer, the director glared at me, all through my stay he’d treated me like a criminal.

“I’ll behave, I promise.”

“Good. We’ll hold you to it.” He said with a satisfied grin. “Go pack your things now.”

I nodded and went back to my bunk where an old sport bag waited for me. I didn’t have much to pack; everything I’d owned had gone up in flames when my father’s house had burnt to the ground, the same night he’d passed away and had left me scarred from all the burns. What little I had was just clothes that my previous fosters and juvie had been generous enough to give me. Once it was all in the bag, I went to the entrance where Mr. Neville was waiting for me past the security gate. The guard let me through without a second thought.

“If we hurry, we’ll make it in time for dinner. Do you like chicken pot pie?” He said putting a hand on my shoulder. Which I jerked away.

“I do.” I lied. There was little more I hated than flaky pastry, but I had to behave.

He nodded and we went out the door and into the large parking lot. He guided us to a boring looking gray car and sat down in the passenger seat while I sat next to him.

As he drove through the suburbs, I examined him. There wasn’t anything remarkable about him; he was tall but not notably so, he wasn’t muscled or big, just sort of there. Everything about him was boring and average. He sort of gave a car salesman kind of vibe.

But what did he want with me? That was what I wanted to know… People don’t do kind things for no reason; they want something in return. At least it probably wasn’t for my body, there was no way he couldn’t be disgusted by the scars… It was probably money, he had to be paid a fortune to handle one of the ‘tough’ kids with a history of violence and superpowers.

“This is it.” He said parking in front of a yellow-painted bungalow. “Your new home.”

We got out of the car and I followed him inside where a middle aged woman came to us. She gave a hug to Mr. Neville and then turned toward me.

“There you are.” She said with a large smile. “You have no idea how happy we are that you’re finally here.”

“Right…”

“We’ve been waiting for months to get our newest foster child. Oh but where are my manners? I’m Matilda and if you let me, I’ll be your mom from here on out.”

I nodded. She was probably full of shit.

“John my dear, why don’t you show her her room? I’m sure Roxanne would love to meet her.”

“Of course.” Mr. Neville answered.

He went upstairs and I followed him. He knocked on the door of one of the rooms and a girl with long black hair opened it a moment later. She was about the same age I was. She wore a baggy hoodie and ripped jeans.

“Roxanne, this is Jaime. As we’ve talked, she’s going to be joining us.”

“Okay.” Was all Roxanne said before stepping aside.

Mr. Neville gently pushed me forward and I went in. The room had two beds and one side was decorated with posters while the other had been left blank.

“This is your bed.” Roxanne said pointing at the undecorated side.

“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes.” Mr. Neville said before leaving us.

I put my bag on my assigned bed and took out my things, putting the clothes in the nearby dresser.

“So… How are they?”

“I’ve had much worse.” Was all she said with a shrug. “Just do as they say and everything’s fine.”

I nodded and took her words in. Soon after we were called for dinner and even though I hated chicken pot pie, I forced myself to eat. Better make a good impression rather than risk being sent back to juvie…

***

Days passed without anything happening. The Nevilles were strict about doing tasks when asked, but that was it. Roxanne remained weirdly distant, answering my questions vaguely, she’d also often disappear in the middle of the day without a word. Rather than send us to school, the Ms. Neville was in charge of teaching us.

After about a week, Mr. Neville had me take a ride with him to the doctor’s office for a checkup, which I didn’t protest even though I couldn’t stand doctors. He drove us to a small private clinic and we sat down in the near empty waiting area, it was only the secretary and us there.

“While we wait, why don’t I get you something to drink? What do you like?” He asked.

“Lemonade?” I said with a shrug. “But anything’s fine.”

He nodded and got up, going down the corridor before coming out a minute later with an open bottle of lemonade with a straw in it. I took it and sipped on it absently as we waited. For an empty clinic, it was taking forever.

After a while, my eyes struggled to stay open. I moved my arms to rub them and my whole body felt lethargic. I stumbled onto my feet but tumbled, Mr. Neville catching me.

“Jaime, are you alright?”

“No I—”

I didn’t finish my sentence that everything went dark.

***

I woke up with my head buzzing, everything in my sight was wobbly or maybe that was just my head. I tried to move, but something was restraining me.

“She’s awake.” Someone said. I looked at the source to see a woman in surgical gear.

“Very well.” A man answered, coming closer, wearing the same medical gown and mask.

“Where am I?” I mumbled, my mouth pasty and struggling to move. I tried to move but the restraints covered my whole body.

“It’ll be easier if you don’t resist.” The man said, putting a hand firmly on my chest to stop me squirming. “I’d say you won’t feel a thing, but I’d by lying. I’m really sorry for that.”

“Doctors. Hurry it up, we have three more subjects to go through.” A third voice said from behind me, this one also feminine.

“Of course, director Circe.” The woman answered.

She came closer with a large syringe and hold my arm with her free hand. I tried to squirm but the man held my arm down. In the panic I didn’t even think to use my power… The needle went into my arm and soon my body burst into searing pain and I lost myself in the screams.

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