I was the happiest I had been since I first woke up on Frank’s farm. I wasn’t skipping around; rather, I was running as fast as I could. After my little fall, I made my way down the street that the old lady lived on to a secondary road that ran parallel to the main highway. The highway had a good amount of traffic on it, but the secondary road was deserted. As a bonus, the road stretched as a far as I could see, a good three or four miles. Plenty of room to fully stretch my legs.
“Ready…” I said out loud to myself, “Set…” I prepared for the run of my life, “GO!” I yelled and I bolted. Oh man, I was zooming. Flying. I was running faster than I ever had before. Granted, the only time I remembered running this fast was when I was escaping from Frank. But still, the speed that I was running was faster than I had gone before. Perhaps because I weighed less, but it still felt awesome. I’d never felt so free before. The mental bonds just slipped right off.
A car started to back out of a driveway. The driver didn’t see me yet, but I saw him and I got a wonderful idea. At the speed I was running, I was going to attempt to jump the car. I got closer and closer, and then, mere feet from the car, the driver finally saw me and stopped. He freaked, yelled at me to stop. But I didn’t. I kept on running. I reached my launch point and with all my strength, jumped over the front of the car, where the engine was. It wasn’t much, but I cleared it. The guy honked at me and yelled, “You fucking twerp.”
I gave him a look but when I recovered from my landing, I took off once again, never tiring. After a few moments, I looked back to see whether or not the guy had followed me. He hadn’t. Wonderful, so I kept running. I finally reached the point where the secondary road reached the main highway. The highway was busy, forcing me to stop and wait for an opening. While I waited to catch my breath, I looked to see what was around me.
In the near distance, I could make out what appeared to be a church. Not really a place I was interested in visiting, but still, it was something other than that damn house. I also spotted a lot more houses, as well as a sign for a ski resort. I didn’t know what a ski resort was, but it sounded fun. Moving on, there was a gas station, and looking down the highway, I saw a school. Looking at it, the longing came back. I felt a pang in my chest. My thoughts wandered back to my past. I still didn’t remember anything of my past life, but, unlike the feelings I got when Iwas near doctors or police officers, the feelings that I got when I thought about school were pleasant. Maybe the fear that I didn’t even have a life before I woke up on the farm was unfounded. Maybe I did have a life.
But this brought more troubles. If I had a life before this, it meant that I had a family. The real troubling question was who was waiting for me to come back home? Parents? Siblings? These were not comfortable questions to think about while waiting for a break in the traffic. Speaking of which, there was a break in the traffic. I shot across the highway at blazing speed. But when I reached the other side, I decided to take it slow and continue down another road by walking. I had the entire day.
First stop, the church I saw. I did want to walk to the school, but my emotions ran too high when I either looked at it or thought about it. It took me a few minutes to reach the church, because I kept having to jump out of the way so cars could pass me. The road I was walking along wasn’t very wide. Still, I managed to reach the church without dying. Goody. The church was smaller than I imagined it. But it did have a sign for a Christmas pageant. That sounded like something I…. “Holy shit!” I screamed. I happened to glance a bit farther down the road and I spotted a library.
I shot down the street, completely forgetting about the church. See, during my midnight conversations with Lacey, I had told her that I had read every book that the old lady had, which was in the single digits, and how I longed for more. She reminded me of the massive amounts of books held in a library, as well as information that could bring me up to speed on what had occurred over the last few years. And now I knew that there was a library in walking distance of the old lady’s house.
I ran up to the front door. The building was far larger than the church. It was strange that it would be way out here rather than in a city, but who cared. It was a library. I practically skipped through the front door. I was greeted by towering shelves of books I felt pure, overwhelming joy. I had never seen so many books in one place! Heaven on Earth.
My eyes quickly found computer-like devices. Quickly sneaking up on them, I discovered, to my dismay, that I didn’t recognize this device. It was sleek, smooth, and very, very thin. It lacked a keyboard and everything else that I would recognize on a computer. The name engraved on it said ‘iPad’. Rubbing my head, I was beginning to realize how deep my memory loss went. It was quite depressing that my goal to find out more about me and the world ended in failure because I had no idea how to work an ‘iPad’. BUT, there were so many books that called my name. Well, my nickname, but who cared?
Suddenly, I ran into another problem. What was I going to read? There were so many choices. How in the world was I supposed to choose just one book? Perhaps… perhaps I could read multiple books at the same time…
I felt a book get pushed into my arms. Startled, I found myself straining my neck up at the librarian. “I know that look, young lady,” she said. “I recommend you start with a pre-war classic.”
I looked at the book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone?” That was strange name for a book. I gave the librarian a look.
“Yes, oh I was just a teenager when it came out. It's about magic, compared to the ‘superhumans’ our world has,” the librarian said disapprovingly. Hmm… the librarian did look young enough. I wondered how I would look all grown up. Probably ugly as fuck. “Harry Potter is actually a series. Six books total,” she continued on. Six books? Cool. “But, sadly, the series is incomplete.”
I was confused at that, mostly because I had really had no idea what she was talking about. “Incomplete?” I asked.
The librarian gave me a look that said ‘Where have you been for the last twenty years?’ I don’t know, I don’t remember jackshit. I wanted to say that to her, but I kept my mouth shut. “Well.. um… what’s your name?” she asked suddenly.
“Bug? Hmm… that’s an unique name. Must be a nickname.” I frowned at that comment, but the librarian paid no attention. “Well, Bug, the series is missing its end. It would have had one, but the war came and took that away.” The librarian’s voice took on a sad, depressed tone. “This war has taken a lot.” She glanced at the book. “The author, J. K. Rowling, was killed during the Battle of London in 2006, and nearly all her manuscripts and notes were destroyed, leaving the series incomplete. Her children have been trying to piece together whatever was left to give the series a true end, but the last time I heard, the conditions in the UK weren’t making it easy.”
“Uh…” I honestly didn’t know what to say, because I didn’t know anything about this war.
The librarian actually started to cry. “During the early years of the war, many famous authors wrote books to help us deal with conflict. It gave us hope. But many of those authors have been claimed by the violence this war has created, even Stephen King. Honestly Bug, there isn’t much hope left in this world.” How is it that I knew who George Washington was, but I had no idea about this war or who Stephen King was?
Suddenly, the librarian slapped herself in the face. “Seriously, Martha, why did you have to say that?” she said to herself. “Enjoy the book, Bug.” The librarian wandered off, so I turned my attention to the book. I had to wonder something. Was coming up to random people, shoving a book in their hands, and then getting all emotional about some war something all librarians did? But a book was still a book. Finding a seat for myself at a table in the back of the library, I set the book on the table and skimmed through it. From what I could gather from my quick skim, it looked interesting enough for me. I had just gotten to reading about some family known the Dursleys when a little girl stuck her head between me and the book and cheerfully said, “Hello!”
Immediately, I jumped up out of my chair with an ‘eep’. The girl had surprised me… wait a second. “Wait, I know you.” This little girl, I’d seen her before. Where had I… “Oh shit, you’re that little girl that surprised me in… Frank’s house.” Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK! If this little girl was here, the one that said hello when I hid underneath the table, that meant that Frank could be here, or that fucking asshole that body slammed me into the ground, or the father or… oh my. I nervously glanced around; seeing no one, I dove underneath the table to hide, shaking in fear.
The little girl looked at me with mild surprise, cocking her head to one side. “Why are you underneath a table?” she finally asked.
“Um.. well… uh… I’m hiding.” I stuttered.
Slowly she got down on her knees to look at me better. “Why are you hiding?”
Why couldn’t this girl just say okay and go skipping away? “Uh… because of Frank,” I told her, then immediately did a facepalm. Bug, why the fuck did you have to tell her that?
“Frank?” the little girl questioned. “My grandpappy’s name is Frank. Are you hiding from him?” she inquired. This time, I wasn’t going to answer her. Unlucky for me, the little girl didn’t wait, “Grandpappy, grandpappy, grandpappy!” she called out as she ran towards the front of the library.
When the girl ran behind the bookshelf and I lost sight of her, I freaked. “Frank’s here? Oh shit, oh shit, oh fucking SHIT!” I immediately grabbed my book and ran. But where the hell would I run to? Frank was here, and I could… holy shit I could hear his voice. I needed a hiding place and the table was not going to do it. “Um… um… um… that’ll do.” I said upon seeing a sign for the bathrooms. I quickly ran into the girls’ bathroom, locked myself in a stall and hid on top a toilet tank lid.
Breathing heavily, I had to remind myself to relax. There was no way that Frank would have followed me into a girls’ bathroom. The little girl could, but I doubt Frank would be that stupid. “Well, I did cause him to land face first into cow poop, and I was never charged for breaking his door, so that may be a good enough reason to motivate him.” Alright, I just need to wait. Yeah, wait. Wait in a bathroom for a crazy old man to leave with his ‘teleporting’ granddaughter on my only day of freedom. The old lady was probably going to lock me in a cage after this. Ironic, I wanted to escape from a house and now I’m stuck in a bathroom in a library with… a book! I’d forgotten, I’d grabbed the book when I ran. I could read it while I gave Frank enough time to get his ass out of here and I could return to the table.
So, Harry Potter it is then. Such a great way to spend my time hiding in a bathroom, crouched with my knees to my chest on top of a toilet. Wonderful, I was having such ‘awesome’ luck. I also began to feel tired, exhausted. Looking at my watch, it was only 10am. I had gotten plenty of sleep the night before, and the night before that, and all the times I fell asleep while listening to the old lady. Strange. Maybe I did push myself too much with the running. Yeah, that’s it. I will just sit in a bathroom stall and read a book while trying to hide from that crazy old man.
I started where I’d left off, with the Dursleys. After reading a page, I decided that I didn’t like the Dursleys. And who was ‘You-Know-Who’? Sounded like villain or someone. Rubbing my eyes, I continued on. It was getting harder to focus on the book. I had never felt this sleepy before, except when I was forced to stay awake at the hospital. I kept on trying to trying to read but my eyes began to feel very heavy. I felt drained, a feeling that I hadn’t felt before. Maybe if I closed my eyes for a second....
At first, nothing. Then something. A feeling, a sense of something, the awareness of a place. A cold feeling came over me, and I felt myself enter a dark space, empty of all emotional thought. The ground felt mushy, but cold and devoid of all color and sense of the world. It was just an empty color, black, and without meaning. Slowly, the haze was lifted, and I became fully aware of what I was in. An empty place. A void of the darkness. I was somewhere, but at the same time, I was nowhere.
I started walking, but there was nowhere to walk. The void, the darkness, made moving pointless; there was nowhere to go. The darkness spread as far as one could see, an endless void. The ground itself, once mushy, now felt like mud. Then something reached up. A hand, flowing, and black as the void, began to force its way up from the mud, from the darkness. Taking shape, it reached and suddenly jerked, grabbed my ankle, and tried to pull me down. I tried to scream out in fright, but no words emerged into this blackish nightmare. Another hand joined the first, and grabbed my other ankle. A third, with a quiet and screeching voice, whispering something I couldn’t understand, grew from the two, and reached up for my face. In a panic, I tried to run. But where could I run to? There was nothing here.
And as a solid figure began to push its way up from the flowing darkness that was the ground, the two hands that had grabbed my ankles pulled down much harder, and I fell back, right into… the cold, hard, floor.
My eyes opening, blurry for a minute, but then clearing, the ceiling of the bathroom I was hiding in greeting me. I laid there, back on the floor, legs sticking up against the toilet, for a few minutes, before a taking a sigh of relief. “Only a dream,” I muttered. Wait a second. My first dream! “Woot!” I quietly cheered. Although, with the blood rushing to my brain, the dream seemed much more along the lines of a nightmare. The hands, the darkness. “What was that place?” I rolled up my sleeves, and looked at the scars that were still visible. “Holy fuck, was that my mind? A dark and empty place?” This was depressing.
Rolling over and standing up, I had to get my bearings right. There didn’t seem to be anybody in the bathroom, so I retrieved my book and slowly snuck out of the bathroom stall. I was anxious to go somewhere comfortable. The stall was not the ideal place to read a book and after my short nap, my body was feeling achy, on top of an exhaustion that had taken hold the moment I woke up. I hoped Frank was gone by now. Slowly making my way out of the bathroom, I was met with an unfortunate sight. The library was dark with not a soul to be seen. This made no sense. For that short of a nap? I decided to check my watch. In hindsight, I should’ve looked at my watch the moment I woke up from that nap.
“It's 7:00pm?!?! How could I have slept that long?” I had been asleep for nine hours in a bathroom? And how did anybody not notice me asleep in a bathroom stall? Well, I could look on the bright side; at least I knew that Frank was gone. So now I needed to get out of there. This time it was easy. I would just walk out the front door. I knew that they would lock it, but you could still walk out, just not in. Finally something that I could do without causing something to explode. I was still going to keep the book. I still needed something new to read. But the likelyhood the old lady would take it from her was high. She took me in, she took my freedom and she will likely take my book. I thought about the possible ways I could hide the book as I walked out the front door, this time without the need of either shattering the door or destroying the lock. I was instead met with a blast of cold air, and I knew that this was going to be a long walk back to the old lady’s house.
“It's about time you came out of there,” a sudden and very recognizable voice called out. I instantly knew who it was. Tensing up, I turned to my right to see the old lady sitting on a bench. “That was quite the nap. A day of pure freedom and you spent it sleeping in a library. How sad.”
I gulped nervously. How did she know where I was? “Um…” I started to say, but the old lady held her hand up.
“Be quiet, Bug. I’m very disappointed in you right now,” the old lady said sternly. I looked down at my feet, a bit afraid. She got up and pointed to the car. I debating on running off the opposite direction, but realized I was too tired to get very far. Grudgingly, I dragged my feet over to the back seat of the car.
Once we were on the way back to her house, I got curious about something. How did the old lady know I was at the library? Could she have put something on me to track me? I wondered. Perhaps she did. But where would she have put it. My hoodie, shirt and pants were clear. I had dug them out of an unopened box from underneath the bed I was sleeping in. What about my underwear? Scratch that. Although, the old lady could have been a sneaky bitch by hiding this tracker in my bra. I quickly did a quick check and other than the lack of anything outstanding, there was nothing out of the ordinary. This led to one last article of clothing: my boots. The boots that I had taken from another room the night before. I needed to check them, but if the old lady found out, I would be deep shit.
Luckily for me, the old lady got a phone call at that moment, taking her attention off of me. This allowed me to check over the boots. I did entertain the possibility that this tracker was too small for me to find, which meant the old lady could still be a bitch by hiding it in my bra. But a small slit on the side of the left boot revealed a small circular object. It felt warmer than body temperature, indicating that it was electronic, and thus, the tracker I was looking for. I ripped it out and hid the tracker in my hoodie. It was something else I needed to confront the old lady about, so I waited.
Once back at the old lady’s house, she motioned me to sit at the table, “I bought Chinese food for us to eat.” She opened the fridge and grabbed the food that she said she had bought. Turning to find that I had remained standing, she again motioned me to sit down. But I didn’t. “Sit down, Bug,” she asked of me. But again I remained standing. “Sit down!” she demanded much more forcibly. But I refused. I remained standing and I glared at her. The old lady gritted her teeth. “You really want to do this right now? Young lady, sit down now!” Instead of sitting down, I reached into the pocket of my hoodie and pulled out the tracker and showed it to the old lady.
“First you lock me in a house like a prisoner, then you track me like a fucking animal,” I raged, finally showing my anger.
The old lady nearly dropped the food when she saw that I had found and removed the tracker from my boot. “You f… f… found it?” she stammered.
“Yeah, I found it.” The old lady looked at me, then at the tracker, then motioned for me to hand it to her. She must be joking.
“Give it here, Bug,” she requested. Alright, she wasn’t joking. In an act of defiance, instead of giving it to her, I took my fist and crushed the tracker, letting the pieces rain down on the floor. My anger allowed my ability to manifest, giving me what I needed.
The old lady was taken aback by what happened, but she quickly recovered. “Bug, that tracker was for your own good. You irresponsibly ran away; the tracker was necessary to find you.”
“My own good?” I questioned, “My own good. How would you even know that? Not once have you bothered to even ask me. For the past two weeks, you have kept locked in this godforsaken house, so excuse me if I try to get some freedom, even if I spent the entire day sleeping.”
“I get that, Bug, but you need to realize that you don’t have control of your abilities. Anything could've happened and people could have died,” Nancy reminded me.
But I didn’t need to be reminded, “Oh, now you want to talk about my abilities. I have been begging for the past two fucking weeks for help with controlling my abilities. But what did you do? You ignored me. You fucking ignored me.”
“Bug…” the old lady tried to interrupt. But I wasn’t finished.
“I have been struggling for the past two weeks to make sense of who I am, or what I am. And do I get any help from you? NO! All you do is concern yourself with yourself.”
The old lady became irritated. “Bug, this isn’t just about you!”
“I KNOW THAT!” I screamed, causing another light bulb to explode, the old lady stepping away in fear. “I know that,” I said more quietly. I felt tears beginning to roll down my face. “I’m just scared of everything. I don’t know who or what I am. I don’t even know if I belong here. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m human. Then there’s the pinkish tint in my hair and the fact that my period is five days overdue. I’m scared that I will never know. And you locking me this godforsaken house makes me feel like nothing. All this time you, Margaret, that police man, you have all treated me like I’m some creature that needs to be studied and locked up away from everything else. That I don’t need things such as love or a family, or even to have my fears relieved. You all have treated me like I’m absolutely nothing in this world.” I wiped the tears away from my face.
“I’m going to bed,” I declared. The old lady grabbed my arm to stop me. She tried to speak, but couldn’t form the words, so I jerked my arm away. “At least Lacey cares,” I said as I headed to my room, not bothering with dinner.
Nancy stood in shock at Bug’s honesty. She didn’t even get time to tell Bug about the school, but Nancy doubted that would even make a difference. Bug didn’t even bother with the dinner she’d gotten for her. Now Nancy knew that Bug was in deep pain and generally hurt by what she’d had to do to keep the teenager safe and hidden.
Overwhelmed, Nancy sat down at the table, and for the first time in a long time, started to cry. Nancy realized that Bug was right. She, and everybody else that Bug had come across, except for her granddaughter, Lacey, had treated Bug like nothing. She also failed to realize how this would affect the girl and as a result, didn’t see how much Bug was suffering because of it.
“What I have done?” Nancy finally said. A legit but horrible question. Now Nancy had to decide on something. Whether or not to go forward and soothe Bug’s fears and give her the love she so desperately needed, and in so doing, risk the life of her own daughter, Jerri.
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