The First Installment can be read HERE.
The Second Installment can be read HERE.
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
The service road was a quarter mile through the woods and progressively denser brush. They were fifty feet from it when Lena stopped, raising her hand signaling Kurt to do the same.
She looked behind them, then up, her head cocked, as if trying to hear something. She started to speak, but instead staggered, put one hand to her head, and held her other arm out, as if searching for support. Kurt’s reflexes were better than most, and reached her before she fell to the ground.
The moment he touched her, he felt a jolt, as if he had touched a live wire.
“I’m sorry; I’m so sorry.” Her body went limp, but she continued, “I did not mean for this to . . .” He waited a few seconds, but she remained silent. He wondered how she was doing this. Lena had had not spoken; Kurt had “heard” her thoughts. And then he heard something else; humming, coming from two people approaching from opposite directions.
Other than the humming, he could not see or hear them moving through the brush, which meant he still had a few precious seconds. Grabbing her arm, he hoisted her onto his shoulder, and resumed walking as fast as he could. He was shocked at how light Lena’s limp body felt. She looked substantial, but weighed no more than a hundred pounds or so.
The humming was drowned out by his footsteps, but Kurt knew they were following. His Aware quotient was higher than most, and adrenaline enhanced it. Had anyone asked, he could have told them the exact distance of the two people tracking them. Seventy-three and seventy-five feet, respectively. Moving through dense brush, Kurt did not have visual contact with the pursuers. He thought that was a good thing.
Pushing through the last of the brush, Kurt broke through onto the service road, aware of two things. One, even unconscious, Lena emanated tangible power. Two, he had not formulated a plan of action for after he reached the road. Out in the open, they were sitting ducks. He gently set Lena down, squatting to provide support as he leaned her against him, and trying to think of something.
Forty-one and thirty-seven feet now, but they had stopped. Focusing on the wall of brush in front of him, Kurt missed the movement to his side, and was unprepared when Lena was stripped from his grasp. Turning, he tried to stand, but was pushed off-balance by a shove to his back.
He kept rolling, and jumped up a few yards away, reaching for his Focus. His holster was empty, and he saw an Elder he did not recognize toss his gun into the ditch. To his side, a big man held Lena up, one of her arms wrapped around his neck. Still unconscious, she looked so frail hanging from the big man.
The Elder smiled at him; a smile confined to his mouth.
“So, you are Kurt. You worry a lot of people, Kurt. As much or more than that young lady worried us.”
The Elder looked over his shoulder, and nodded to the large man. The man hoisted Lena off the ground, went down on one knee, and with a quick move brought her down swiftly over his other leg. Kurt heard the sickening noise of her back breaking, and before he could move, the man also twisted her head violently to one side, leaving it at an impossible angle.
A noise from the brush behind him made him look back. A pair of twins emerged. They too were smiling, but their smiles were genuine; they had enjoyed the show.
They walked past Kurt, and went to stand between the large man and the Elder.
“You know, it’s a pity,” the Elder began a gesture as he spoke, “it would have been fun hunting you down, but she ruined all that.” His other hand joined the first, and Kurt saw the beginning of glow forming between them.
He wanted to move, but a voice in his head suggested otherwise. “Wait,” is all it said. There was no mistaking Lena’s “voice”.
To his credit, Kurt’s expression did not change.
“Please, don’t fight what’s about to happen,” the voice continued, “I’ll never do this without your permission, but you must let me take control.”
The voice was not really a voice; it was more like a thought not his own . . . and while it had no sound, it was Lena, he was sure of it.
Kurt’s questions flooded his consciousness, but Lena interrupted. “Please, I’ll explain everything, but right now we have more immediate concerns.”
The exchange had taken a fraction of a second, and the Elder was still speaking.
“He’s monologuing; he’s toast!” Kurt’s involuntary though drew a response from Lena.
“Stop that! I need to concentrate.” There are no visuals in thoughts, but Kurt got the impression of a smile from Lena’s comment.
“. . . not had so much potential, you might have made a fine Elder. But so much power is a threat to the rest of us.” The Elder spoke as he completed his gestures.
Kurt saw the swirling lights inside the shadow between the Elder’s hand. He had never seen anything like it, making him realize just how far down the rung of Casters he was.
“Go for it!” Kurt’s out loud permission was borne as much out of curiosity, as concern.
“You’re much closer than you think,” and with that, Lena took over.
It was what Kurt imagined an out-of-body experience would be like. Or, like being the back-seat driver to his own body.
He saw his hand come up, but could feel no connection to it. He saw the quick movement it made, like catching a fly. The shadow between the Elder’s hands compressed as if grasped by an invisible hand.
Kurt noticed the shock on the face of the twins, and the rage in the face of the big man.
Kurt’s other hand also rose, pointed in the general direction of the three. He registered his forefinger and thumb coming together as if pinching something, and saw the necks of the twins crushed like drinking straws. By then the big man was moving, and Kurt saw his forefinger flick toward the man.
Kurt had experienced the flick, but not like this. The chest of the big man caved in, and he folded in half as he was flung backwards, landing ten feet away, absent of life.
The Elder was trying to pull his hands away from the shadow between them, but they were locked to it. As Kurt approached, the Elder’s look of anger changed to one of fear. His hands immobile before him, he tried to kick at Kurt, now stopped just out of reach of the Elder’s feet.
“Rankant, I had warned you what would happen if we met again.” Kurt’s words stopped the Elder’s efforts.
“Lena? How . . . no, it can’t be! They do not allow it!” The Elder paled, and was now trying to back away, pulling as is willing to separate himself from his hands.
“Times are changing. I’ll make sure to inform Socrat of your fate.” With those words spoken, Kurt’s arm drew back and over his shoulder, dragging the Elder off his feet and above Kurt along the same arc as his arm, as if the Elder were the head of a mop attached to an invisible stick connected to Kurt’s fist.
And then Kurt’s arm swung swiftly downward, as if swinging a mallet.
The impact broke a number of the Elder’s bones, but Kurt’s arm did not stop. It continued swinging as if pounding a nail. By the eighth or ninth impact, there was not much cohesiveness left to the now lifeless body.
Kurt’s hand opened, and he felt in control again.
He spoke without thinking, a habit some admired, but many despised.
“Puny Elder!” The Elder’s body bordered on being gruesome, but the words brought a smile to his lips.
“?” Lena’s unspoken question interrupted his moment of self-congratulation at his cleverness.
“Sorry; it’s a reference from a movie; I’ll explain later.” Kurt’s only disorientation with this thought sharing came from not having a person to address while conversing; he did not know where to look. “Right now I have a ton of questions.”
Even as his thought formulated, an image appeared in front of him, that of a semi-transparent Lena.
“And I’ll answer those I can, but we need keep moving.” The apparition spoke in Lena’s voice. A voice he “heard” as if spoken out loud.
The End (well, not really, but The End for now)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.