Chased by the Past
Part XII: Restless Night
Harley was still laughing when we reached my room. I shut the door behind them and pushed them into it, quickly stifling their laughs.
“Oohh, you look mad,” they murmured at my annoyed expression. “You gonna punish me?”
“You just never stop, do you?” I asked.
“I thought you liked the sass?” they threw back.
“I do,” I laughed. They grinned and pulled me closer to them. We kissed for a few moments before their phone buzzed in their pocket.
“As kinky as I can be, I think you should answer that rather than using it as a toy,” I said, breaking the making out session. They huffed a breath and picked it up. They began speaking in Romanian so I assumed it was their mother. I sat on my bed and waited. After a few more sentences they ended the call.
“Sorry, I gotta go say goodbye to my mum,” they explained, leaning over to kiss me goodbye. “How about we pick this up another time?” they suggested.
“Sure,” I replied. I showed them to the door and we passed Allen in the downstairs hallway.
“Oh my, you’re a cutie,” Harley purred as they passed each other. Allen’s eyes become saucers and he shot me a panicked look. I was just covering my mouth and trying to stifle a burst of laughter.
“If you ever get bored you hit me up, okay?” Harley finished with a wink. They sent me a wave bye and left the house.
“What the…” Allen trailed off, struggling to find the words. I could see Caroline behind him was also amused.
“That’s just Harley, don’t worry,” I explained. I left Allen alone with his confusion and went back to my room. I slumped back onto my bed, focussing on the ceiling. I didn’t feel like going back downstairs to socialise with the others. I knew Allen and Ahti were going to be watching horror movies this evening. Maybe others with join in. I wasn’t really interested in those type of movies. I wasn’t scared or anything, the suspense was nothing compared to a real stake out. And torture scenarios are boring when you’ve carried out the real deal. I shook my head to clear the thoughts and instead grabbed my tablet. I may as well try to do some homework.
I managed the English and Science okay then an hour later I began mathes and immediately hit a brick wall. I peered out our window and saw the lights were on in Sanjay’s little lab. I wouldn’t disturb while he was busy though. I gritted my teeth and stared at the screen, wrecking my brains for the knowledge I knew was there somewhere. I let out a defeated sigh and decided to go downstairs for a snack. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed an apple. I paused in the living room doorway and saw Allen and Ahti were watching films along with Tyler. I turned to leave and found Sage on the landing, frowning.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Is it just me or…” they trailed off.
“Allen is a prick, is that the confirmation you were after?” I asked. They laughed and shook their head.
“Don’t worry about it,” they said, shaking their head. “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” I shrugged, taking a bite into my apple and joining them in leaning on the bannister.
“You know if you ever need to talk to someone, I’m right here,” they said. I hesitated, narrowing my eyes for a second. I didn’t know how much I could trust Sage at the end of the day. They had mental manipulation abilities. Maybe now they wanted to genuinely help people, but majority of the time parahumans like them always slipped to darkness.
“Or not,” they said, backing away with palms up. I realised as they turned and left that I’d been glaring and internally cursed. I rubbed my eyes and sighed. Everyone wanted me to feel ‘safe’ here. Everyone just wanted to ‘help’. I didn’t feel like either were possible.
I returned to my room and continued to try and solve the problem. I heard Caroline call for dinner and ignored it. I didn’t feel very hungry right now. I managed to finish one, I think, but the next one was just as hard. I muttered a curse and plopped onto my back on my bed with the tablet lying next to me. My eyes were sore and tired and my brain was too fuzzy for this. What use was this mathes going to be anyway? I’d gotten by fine without it before Ravenhold. I shut my eyes, exhausted.
White walls, red liquid floor. It the was up to my knees but no source was in site. I fisted my hands and walked forward, making the red water splash onto the walls, leaving veined lines tracing back to the water. I kept walking, taking tight corners as they turned up, trying to find my way. I glanced down and realised the water level had risen to my waist. I muttered a curse and started to increase my movement. It was more difficult to keep going now, the water’s resistance was getting stronger and I could feel solid masses in the water brushing against my legs.
That’s not the best way, let me show you
I froze at the sound of his voice and looked around me, but I was still surrounded by white and red. I shook my head and kept walking, the water level was approaching my midsection. I lifted my arms up and watched the liquid drops fall lazily from my palms.
Try this one, it’s more effective
I felt a shudder run through my being as I realised what memory my ears were reliving. I broke into a sprint. I needed out. There was a door here somewhere, an escape. A way to wake up. I just needed to wake up.
Wow, you’re a natural
No, no, no, no, no. I repeated the word like a mantra in my head, covering my ears with both hands as if that will somehow keep his mental words from reaching me. I squeezed my eyes shut and kept running. The water was up to my chest and was it my imagination or was the ceiling lower than before? I ignored the growing fear and kept moving. One more step. Another step. I just needed to get out. That’s all.
What happened, where were you?
I slipped at the sound of Kellen’s words, yelling out as I did. I immediately choked and coughed as metallic tasting liquid filled my mouth. I resurfaced, now swimming, gasping. There was little point pretending anything other than blood was dripping from my face.
What’s happening to me Kellen
My young voice sounded quiet and scared. I gave up walking, sinking under the bloods surface. It was dark and putrid down here, but it was calmer. My body felt numb, emotions distant. It was easier to exist.
I don’t know, but we’ll get through it
When I woke up the light burned my eyes. I could feel tears on my cheeks which I quickly wiped away. I glanced at the clock and saw I’d been asleep for two hours. Not that it helped, I felt more exhausted now than I did before I fell asleep. I looked back at my tablet but wasn’t any closer to figuring out the last question on the homework. Nor did I feel inclined to go back to sleep yet.
It was cool outside with a light breeze blowing. I knocked on Sanjay’s lab door. I knew the code but he tended to be cranky if I just let myself in and took him by surprise. Especially if he was working on something delicate. I heard footsteps and Sanjay opened the door. He took one look at my face.
“Nightmare again?” he asked.
“Something like that,” I replied. He waved for me to come in and I did, tablet in hand. He cocked an eyebrow at it and I sighed.
“I tried, really hard. I even managed to answer some,” I explained.
“Sit down,” he said, an amused smile playing on his lips. I sat next to him and listened as he explained the steps I needed to take to figure out the equation. Sanjay didn’t just ever give me the answers. Homework completed I looked around at his latest project. He was creating some kind of blueprint, not that I understood a lot of the notes or the parts detailed. I watched him work for a bit while I checked my emails. There was a notice that we would need a medical tomorrow. Great, just what I needed, more doctors poking at me. Although Doc Venus was pretty nice, far better than the police medic.
“Is something on your mind?” Sanjay asked while he worked.
“Yeah,” I replied. He sent me an enquiring look but didn’t push. I tried to find the safest words to use, a way to ask without telling him everything.
“If you had to choose between two things you really cared about, what would you do?” I asked. He stopped what he was doing and thought about my words. He scratched the back of his head before resting both on his hips.
“I… don’t know. I guess you would have to decide which one mattered more,” he said.
“You’re meant to have all the answers, Mr smart guy,” I muttered before letting out a laugh so he knew I was joking.
“There are different types of smart. You’re not as dumb as you think you are,” he shrugged in response. I felt my cheeks blush a little and looked away from him. I changed the subject and kept him company for a little more time before going to bed. Hopefully this time I would get some decent sleep.
The next day when we walked into our first class, Parahuman Combat, with the Rook Doc Venus was also present. Allison was on religious leave. I also noticed Mr Martin was observing from the far corners of the room.
“Hello everyone. You’ve been with us for four weeks now and it’s time for us to get an idea of how much you’ve been learning. Today is a basic physical exam. I want to see how well you can carry out the techniques I’ve been teaching you. Mr Martin and myself will observe and we will let you know when it is your turn to go to the Medical Centre for some physical checks to make sure you are fit to carry out the exams over the coming days,” he explained.
“Miss Yeun,” Doc Venus immediately called out. Annabelle followed her and I could tell by the nervousness in Amber’s movements that she wanted to follow. They went out of the classroom and to the clinic I assumed.
“First things first, you will do some basic fitness. You’ve done this enough time in the classroom that I expect you all to manage this fine. Run three laps, then do twenty push up and hold a plank for twenty seconds. Rinse and repeat three times.” Didn’t sound too difficult. Although I could sense some of the other’s apprehension.
“Are you waiting for me to sound a horn? Go,” he commanded. We immediately as a group began our laps. Push ups were easy but the difficult part was the plank. The first set was fine but the second set was more difficult. The third one I’m pretty sure I just about managed it. Most people can’t hold a plank for more than ten seconds at most, not that I was really watching any of the others. I needed to pass these tests and stay in the school or the mission would fail. And worse I’d be back in jail. Annabelle didn’t return but during the first part Amber, Rowan, Allen and Tyler were called. Just as we all finished Tyler returned and Sage was sent off.
“Not bad,” Rook said as his only comment on the first part. “Now get into pairs. You’re not fighting but I want you to show me the techniques I’ve been teaching you. First, throwing and blocking a punch, throwing someone over your shoulder and breaking out of a hold.” Out of habit more than anything I paired up with Sanjay. He went first throwing a punch which I easily blocked and it was the same when it was his turn. Sanjay thankfully wasn’t wearing his armour so throwing him over my shoulder and onto the mat was easy. He’d be a couple pounds heavier with that suit otherwise. When it was his turn to throw me over his shoulder he didn’t quite get the technique right and struggled.
“You need to use your hips when lifting, not your arms,” I reminded him.
“Right,” he said, and tried again, this time managing it. He smiled his thanks and helped me stand. Next up was breaking out a hold which again I managed no problem but Sanjay struggled with. Without his suit and the extra power behind it he was handicapped. He tried three times and managed it though. During this time Charlie, Caroline, Yikaru and Ahti had been called. Next up was me while the others finished up. As I was leaving the Rook told me to grab a shower and head straight to lunch afterwards. The next part would be this afternoon. I felt sweaty when I got to the clinic but imagine Doc Venus expected this.