Into Darkness: Part Four
Four Years Ago
I woke up late that night. I was still in Roxanne’s bed. Roxanne was lying beside me, still fully clothed, having let me drag all the covers in my sleep.
“Roxanne? Are you asleep?”
“Jaime?” She said, rising up.
“I must have fallen asleep…” I said, stupidly pointing out the obvious.
“How are you feeling?”
“I don’t know…” I muttered. Even though the memory of that morning was still fresh on my mind, the pain and horror had given way to emptiness.
There was a long moment of silence as we both tried to think of something to say. It was Roxanne that broke the silence first.
“You missed dinner,” She began, “so why don’t we go out and get you something to eat or drink, anything. It’s my treat.”
“Are we allowed to go outside?”
“They don’t mind, we get some slack in what we do since they know we can’t go anywhere.” She said with a shrug. “But if they call, drop anything and run back, don’t make them wait.”
I nodded and we went outside into the snow covered town. It had been late in September when Mr. Neville had taken me in. Somewhere around two months had passed, trapped in a cell.
“Has nobody come to check up on me, noticed I was gone?” I asked. I knew there wasn’t really anyone. Although my mother was alive, she wasn’t allowed anywhere near me…
“The foster system sent someone but they were prepared, they have a doppelganger on call.”
“Someone who can look like you. It was hard to listen to, seeing it talk about how well you’d adjusted there. And how sorry you were they had to wait because you were ‘hanging out with your new friends’”
“What are you in the mood for? There’s a strip mall a few blocks ahead they have a decent fast food, a late night grocery and a twenty-four hour pancake house”
“Pancakes sounds amazing right now”
“Again?” She said, raising a brow. “I’m starting to think you’re an addict, it’s like eighty percent of your diet girl.”
For the first time in forever, I actually laughed. Which brought a smile to her lips.
“I just like them.”
“Pancakes it is.”
We went to a local pancake house in the strip mall she’d told me about, taking a quiet corner and letting me order whatever I wanted; gorging on pancakes and bacon. When we were done, the server came to pick up the check. When Roxanne opened her wallet I saw a few hundred bills in there.
“Where did you get all that money?” I whispered, making sure nobody would overhear.
“The organization gave it to me.”
“They pay you?”
She nodded. “And it’s not bad, money’s not a problem with the organization that’s for sure. Carrot and the stick y’know. They hurt us if we don’t comply and give us whatever we want if we do.”
“What do we do exactly?”
“There’s a park we passed on the way here, there’s never anyone in it. We can talk safely there if you’d like.” She answered back.
I nodded, she finished paying the bill and we walked halfway back to the house only to stop in a small park filled with invasive blackberry bushes.
“What do they want from us?”
“Whatever we can accomplish. With my power, they typically want me to steal things, hurt people discretely or spy on them. I got it easier than most I guess.”
“What can you do?”
Rather than tell me, she showed me; disappearing before my eyes.
“I can’t be seen, not even by infravision.” She said, still invisible “I can’t be heard unless I want to be, I have no scent either. Only thing that can detect me is touch. It wasn’t always like that. At first it was just sight, but when I came here they changed it.” Her explanation over she became visible again.
“They did they experiment on you too?”
“Yes, although. It was probably different from you. From what I’ve gathered Alcastiel, that’s the local director is trying to improve the formula. While it made my powers stronger, if I use them for more than a few minutes, I get terrible migraines. I know someone else who bleeds the eye and nose since his treatment.”
“I thought the director was Circe, they called her that.”
“You saw Circe? Are you sure?”
“Yes, why? Isn’t that normal?”
“Heck no, she’s an urban legend. A mysterious figure who gives powers to those who seek them, offering them in exchange for whatever she needs. It’s very faustian.”
“It’s from a fairy tale, nevermind. If you really saw her then they must have sought outside help…”
“The drug, they gave us. Is it real? I’ve felt withdrawal, but how do we know it’ll be fatal.”
“I’ve seen one of the others who decided to try to get off. Fuckers even rounded us up to watch. He made it to the fourth day after he was due before his heart gave up, even begged them to dose him again…”
“Jesus mio…” I muttered, echoing my father and how he’d always slip back into his native Spanish whenever he’d be upset or surprised… “Wait, you said someone else? There are more of us?”
“From the people I’ve met, I think there are at least a half dozen places like ours. They take in superpowered kids from the system, make them disappear. I think the treatment works best with young people, it explains why they are using us as more than test subjects. But that last part just speculation on my parts.”
“Who are they?”
“I don’t know. They’re always on the move, always changing. From what I understand, whenever the authorities get anywhere close they shut down everything, burn the evidence and take on a new name.” She sighed. “I don’t know much else, only what little I could piece together and overhear. They’re preparing for a war, like humans versus mutants they believe is coming…”
There was a moment of silence as I processed everything she’d said.
“Can I ask something personal?” I asked.
“I guess you can.”
“How did you get here?”
“My parents died years ago in a car crash.” She said with a sigh. “I was so young that I don’t remember them much at all, but not young enough to be adopted I guess.” She said. “I did the circuit of shitty foster parents but every time I kept running so eventually they put me in a cell. The universe must have had a weird sense of humor and wanted me to get away because it’s there I developed my powers. What about you, do you feel like sharing?”
“Dad’s dead, mom’s not allowed to be near me. Did the abusive fosters too until my power bashed my foster dad’s head in. That got me to juvie, then the Nevilles got me.
“How did you father die?”
“Same fire I got my burns from… I never thought I’d miss him, but here I am…”
I bit my lips hard, bringing my knees to my chin. “He… did things to me…” Was all I could make myself say. She didn’t need to hear anymore to understand… Why the hell was I even telling her that? I’d never told anyone, not the dozens of shrinks they’d made me see… Then again they were always more interested in what my mom had tried to do to me…
“Oh crap, shit man, I’m sorry.”
“At least he didn’t lock me up in a dungeon and torture me, right?” I joked.
She didn’t laugh at that, instead putting her arms around me but I jerked her away.
“I don’t like being touched.”
“Oh of course, sorry.”
“Let’s just go back.” I said.
She reached out to give me another hug but stopped herself before she did, instead just getting up and taking the lead.