A week and a half later, I was still deeply bothered by Lacey’s revelation about my mind being sealed off. While I had gotten my mind reading somewhat under control, I still hadn’t gotten my emotions under control. And being stuck in this godforsaken tiny house didn’t help me. The old lady refused to let me leave the house. She herself didn’t even leave. Her neighbors brought her everything, or so she said. I never saw anybody enter the house and when I was allowed to walk into the backyard for fresh air, I never saw any neighbors.
This damn house was my prison and the old lady wasn’t making it any better. All she did was attempt to teach me things and fail horribly. And she didn’t even attempt to teach me to use my abilities. She even ignored my pleas. So, Lacey filled in, showing, well, actually, telling me over the phone at twelve o’clock at night under the bed so I wouldn't wake the old lady. It was simple enough. However, like I mentioned before, I had not been totally successful. Strangely enough, I couldn’t make out words from the old lady. Only emotional thoughts. Maybe it had to do with what Lacey had told me, that some people have strong enough willpower to resist a mind reader.
It was all very complex, and I would be trying to figure it all out, as well as a way to tap into more of whatever power I had, if I wasn’t standing in front of a full-length mirror, trying to figure out how the hell my body worked. The bruises had faded and the scars were beginning to fade. I should have been overjoyed about this, except that, at 7am, there were two reasons why I wasn’t. First off, my hair. More importantly, the pink tint. I was beginning to think that whatever was in my hair wasn’t hair dye. I knew that because the pink tint got brighter. It used to be that you had to focus on my hair itself to barely make out the tint. Now, all you would have to do is take a glance. The tint was getting brighter by the day.
Another problem of mine was the lack of a visit from my period. Dr. Silas told me that my period would be coming in a week and the old lady later assured me that her predictions were accurate. Well, Doctor, a week was five day ago. So, why haven’t I had my period? I’m not pregnant. Considering on how many tests was run on me, they would have noticed it right away. And if I had been pregnant, the body slam would have been a death sentence for the baby. I was too embarrassed to tell the old lady about it. Perhaps Lacey would know. I should call her.
“Bug, I know you're up!” the old lady called. I cringed. The old lady was up earlier than normal. “Come and get some breakfast.” Up and already made breakfast? Geez.
“Coming, ma’am.” The old lady wanted respect at every corner. I finished freshening up, got dressed in dull clothes because I felt kind of dull today, and went to the kitchen. I took a detour through the living room and I noticed it. The school bus. I felt a pang in my chest. A longing for something. Something outside this rotten house.
Breakfast was dull. My clothes were dull. I was feeling dull. Everything was dull. Maybe this was what I was, a dull person. After I ate, I expected the old lady to launch straight into lessons, which I would again ignore. But today, the old lady had a surprise.
“I need to head out today for run some errands,” she declared. Wonderful. My spirits rose. I was finally going to be getting out of this godforsaken house. “But you are staying here.” And my spirit was thoroughly crushed. Was this old lady serious? Didn’t she know how frustrated I was being stuck this house? How sick I was? How I longed for the fresh air? Apparently not, because she immediately grabbed her purse and out the door she went, yelling that she’d be back around 4pm. The door shut with a locking noise and I was left at the table, shocked at the experience.
My shock turned into rage as I listened to the old lady pull out of the driveway, “That fucking bitch. She left me!” I said, my voice dripping with anger.
“She left me,” I repeated more slowly, my anger turning into a deep loneliness.
I broke down and started sobbing. Tears flowing, I slammed my foot down on the floor. Suddenly, one of the ceiling lights grew intensely bright, blinding me, then it exploded, sending pieces of the lightbulb flying across the room. With a shriek, I took cover underneath the table as the pieces made contact with the floor.
Just when I thought it was safe to crawl out from underneath the table, another lightbulb exploded, sending debris all over the place. Luckily, I was able to duck back under the table to avoid getting injured by flying glass. When I was sure that no more lightbulbs would explode, I peeked my head out from under the table, to find a kitchen littered with pieces of glass.
“Fuck,” I whispered.
An hour later, I finished cleaning the kitchen. I had no idea where the old lady kept her spare lightbulbs. I searched the entire house and I found none. But I did clean up the mess I made. I was sure the exploding lightbulbs were my doing, even if I had no idea how I’d done it. But as I was cleaning up the mess, a thought came to me: it was 8am. The old lady was gone all day. Nobody would be coming to check up on me. Which meant I could leave the house, wander around for a while, and get back before the old lady knew I was gone.
I quickly got dressed and headed towards the side door. I reached to open the door, only to discover that it was locked. I studied it, finding that there was no way to unlock it. There was no hole, no key slot. Peering closer, I noticed a little black box off to the side. There was a red light shining. I scowled when I put the two together. I quickly went to the back door and found the same locking system, tied into a black box. That bitch! The old lady had converted her house to a prison. A prison with one inmate. Me!
Drawing a deep breath, I calmed myself. I knew that I didn’t want more exploding lightbulbs. While I wanted to confront the old lady about locking me in a house like a prisoner, I wanted to get out more than ever.
Alright, the windows then.
Wait, scratch that. A young girl crawling out a window had the possibility of drawing too much attention. I couldn’t risk the police or the old lady finding out and come back to ruin my only opportunity at a bit of freedom. So I had to get past the locking system. Since there was no obvious way to pick the handle, I turned towards the box. There was no indication that it took a physical key and I didn’t see the old lady prime it when she left, so it must activate when she closes the door. This meant I couldn’t pick it.
Maybe I could cut the power to it. I looked around for the fuse box. As luck would have it, the fuse box was nowhere to be found. It was probably in the basement, which I could get access to if I was able to get out. Suddenly, escaping out the windows didn’t seem so bad. But common sense told me if these doors were locked, so were the windows. So, the only thing left to try was my abilities.
I had no idea how to control my ability, nor was I sure about what type of ability I had. Lacey had made that clear the week before. But it was worth a shot. I placed my hand over the box, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. I focused all of my will power on disabling the lock. All my concentration, all of my spirit. Every ounce of my being focused on connecting to my ability and using it to gain my freedom. After five minutes of pure concentration, I opened one of my eyes open. And to my disbelief, nothing had happened. NOTHING. I became furious at my lack of control. I had focused everything I had into this and I got nothing. Absolutely nothing! I pulled back my hand, clinched it into a fist, and proceed to punch the box as hard as I could.
To my absolute shock, the black box shattered upon my fist’s impact. Actually, more like exploded. The power went out in the house for a moment. Then everything reset, came back on, and the door popped open. Slowly opening the door, I peeked outside and took my first breath of fresh air in a week.
I glanced at my hand, seeing no injury from the explosion. “Sweet. If only I knew how I did that.” Wasting no time, I shot out the house with the same determination I’d had when escaping from Frank. I felt like doing anything and everything. First thing, go skipping around the yard. Why? I because I could. I also wanted to go running around in the snow for the enjoyment. I had done it before, back on Frank’s farm, but I didn’t enjoy it, as I was running for my life. And I got body slammed. But now I was free and overflowing with excitement.
With the widest grin I could muster, I leaped straight into the snow, landing and burying myself in it. I was met with a spine chilling feeling, but I didn’t care. I was way too excited. The cold meant nothing.
Poking my head up and shaking the snow out of my short hair, I looked at the untouched yard. My excitement overflowing, I jumped up and started skipping around the snow. I didn’t care about anything. I was acting like a little girl, carefree, and I loved it. I felt so light. I skipped around until I reached the point where the untouched yard reached the plowed road. I looked beyond the tiny house in which I was confined. The world was out there for me to explore and the old lady couldn’t do a damn thing to stop me. So, taking a deep breath, I took my first step of true freedom… and slipped on the ice.
Nancy was lying her ass off when she told Bug that she was going to run errands. The morning she locked Bug in the house was the morning Nancy was to meet with Galen to update him on how Bug was doing. And Nancy wasn’t very pleased to give this report.
Nancy drove to an older building next to the court house in Harrisonburg. It was the Agency’s district office. Walking inside, she was met with salutes. The Agency maintained a military chain of command, and Nancy was the highest-ranking official in the valley. She was met by a young man named Jarvis. Jarvis was twenty, the youngest you could legally be to apply to join the Agency. All new recruits for the Agency were required to go to military boot camp before entering the Agency’s Academy in Boston. Which boot camp you went to depended on what you were going to do. In Nancy’s case, she was required to attend the Marine Corps Boot Camp. For Jarvis, the Navy’s.
“Ma’am, I was just about to head over. Your son sent a report from the embassy in Singapore about possible leads on the team’s disappearance in Vietnam and Laos to the Joint Chiefs. They have forwarded it here for you to read.” Jarvis handed Nancy a folder marked classified. Nancy eyed Jarvis when he did, “My position in the Agency deals with this specific investigation. I have been granted the clearance for this.”
Nancy looked at him with mild curiosity, “So, instead of coming home for Thanksgiving, Freddy chooses to spend it at the embassy in Singapore,” Nancy said with disapproval.
“I know, Ma’am. If it means anything, these are the first leads in years, so that has to mean something,” Jarvis said nervously, unsure if he was overstepping his bounds.
Nancy shook her head, “It does, Jarvis.” Nancy placed the folder in her bag and left Jarvis. Her meeting would be taking place in the conference room. Only two people would take part in this conference: her and the Director of the Agency, Galen.
“Hello, Nancy. I take it your health is better today,” Galen greeted her while reading over some files. He didn’t even bother looking her in the eye.
“I’m alright.” Nancy took a seat far away from Galen. He observed this, but didn’t say anything about it.
“Alright, Nancy. It’s been over two weeks and other than Thanksgiving, which was a clear defiance of my orders, I still expect a report,” Galen demanded. His tone was forceful.
“Sir, with all due respect, Bug remained hidden. While my family was informed of her nickname, what they knew about her and her background came from me. As far as they are aware, Bug is a refugee and her family was killed trying to escape. I didn’t bother saying which country she fled from, given what we believe about her ancestry.” Nancy informed Galen of what she had done, hoping that it would keep Galen calm.
Galen thought about it a second. “You took advantage of the fact that Bug is strongly suspected to be of Eurasian ancestry? Interesting. Not something I would have done.” Galen pondered over it a bit longer. “Alright, Nancy. I will let this slide. Now, what do you have to report?”
Nancy was relieved. “I suspect that you want a report on her abilities first.” Galen didn’t say anything, but it was clear from the look on his face that he did. Nancy continued, “Bug showed random abilities. However, something unprecedented happened, as I am sure you have heard, Bug’s telepathic ability emerged during Thanksgiving dinner. The event was handled and any suspicion was quelled.”
Galen didn’t seem that interested in this event, mostly because he had heard the same thing countless times. The world didn’t need any more telepaths. “Surprising, maybe, but certainly not unprecedented.”
Nancy frowned at Galen. “I’m not finished yet. My granddaughter Lacey took me aside later just as we were about to leave and told me that Bug’s mind was completely sealed. She couldn’t see anything. No emotions, no memories. Absolutely nothing.”
This got Galen’s attention. “But... but... that’s impossible. Even if Bug is a level 3, or even a level
4, her mind would still be open. People could still see into it, regardless of willpower--” he stammered. A sealed mind is impossible because nature and science say it is impossible. Leaning back, he said “I will have to look into this. Any other abilities?”
Nancy thought for a moment, “I have noticed that Bug has been losing weight, even when she is eating everything I give her and more. And the pink tint. What I thought to be hair coloring is getting brighter. I’m thinking of taking Bug back to Dr. Silas to have her checked one more time.”
Galen nodded approval. “As long as you take her to the Agency’s doctors.” Galen stood up. “It seems that Bug’s abilities are growing stronger. Her mental seal is troubling, but I feel that we can learn the cause of it in time.” Gathering his stuff, he said “I have other things to attend to, as do you. Contact me if anything happens.”
As Galen started to leave, Nancy stopped him. “Sir, I have something else to talk to about.” Galen paused, giving her a concerned look. ““Well, um… lately, it's been difficult caring for Bug.”
Galen became confused. “Difficult? You implied during our last conversation that you could easily handle Bug.”
“Well, it's hard when you threaten to remove her from my home if I don’t keep her hidden,” Nancy countered.
Galen set his things down on the table and took a deep breath. “I have a feeling that you are going to request more freedom for Bug.”
“Yes. Bug is going crazy being cooped up in my house. She needs to get out more,” Nancy explained. “I’ve already seen Bug watching a school bus with a longing look on her face.”
Galen studied Nancy for a few moments. “No,” he said flatly.
Nancy felt her heart drop. “No?” She asked in disbelieve.
“No,” Galen repeated. “Bug is to remain hidden. Now, before you say that you took her to Thanksgiving dinner without much incident, Bug was still under the supervision of three agents from the Agency. If you took her out, Bug’s abilities could manifest and I don’t have the resources to keep a damage control unit in Harrisonburg. So, no, Nancy.”
Nancy was beginning to understand Bug’s frustrations with her. Nancy was well aware of the leverage Galen held over her. But she still needed to try for Bug’s sake. “Galen, you need to remember something. Bug is a teenage girl. She may be brash, hot-tempered, and persistent. She may be emotional and sometimes hormonal. She even may be a powerful superhuman. But underneath all that, she is scared girl with no memory of who she is. She needs to be doing healthy things. She needs to be out and about. And if her memory is gone and I am unable to restore it, she needs to make new memories. Positive memories. Being locked in a house all day and night does the complete opposite.”
Galen face never changed. He’s hopeless, Nancy thought. “You have a daughter of your own. Put her in Bug’s place. What would you do?” Galen’s face softened. Clearly, he didn’t spend nearly enough time with her. It seemed that even Galen had family problems of his own.
“I haven’t spoken to Jamie in a year,” he admitted. Gathering his stuff, he started toward the door. Nancy lowered her head in defeat, but Galen stopped short of the door and turned back to her. “Look…” Galen took a deep breath. “The Academy in New Market, Providence Meadows Institute, is having a… uh… candidate test run, as they call it. You know what that is?”
“Yes,” Nancy said. The Candidate Test Run Program is a program where the school takes a certain number of candidates from other schools who possess abilities and lets them attend the academy for three days to see whether or not they meet the strict requirements needed to attend the school. Those few found to be in line are given a two-year ride at the school, tuition-free. Nancy was the president of the Providence Meadows Institute for ten years and was the one responsible for creating the Candidate Test Run program. However, there was a problem. “But, Galen, the number of candidates is limited and all the slots have already been filled. And the run starts Friday, two days from now.”
“Just fill out the paperwork, Nancy. I will make some calls.” Nancy couldn’t believe that Galen was actually going help Bug. “However, Nancy, I will personally judge Bug’s efforts. If she passes my judgment, I will see to her getting in when winter break ends.”
“And what if she doesn’t?” Nancy asked. Galen didn’t answer her, leaving Nancy to wonder.
Galen once again turned to leave. He got halfway through the door before stopping to say something. This time he didn’t turn to face her. “Nancy, I feel the need to remind you that if Bug ever finds out what happened, there will be hell to pay.” With that, he left.
After the meeting with Galen, Nancy ran a few more errands, including a visit to her hematologist-oncologist. After all that was done, she headed home. It was a long drive and Nancy spent the time thinking about how she was going to tell Bug the good knews. Bug usually ignored what Nancy said, so she needed something to get her attention.
Nancy noticed a Chinese restaurant coming up on her right. It was known only as the Fortune House. It was a popular place in Harrisonburg and its food was cheap, but delicious. Chinese restaurants had been suffering because of the war, but the Fortune House managed to thrive. Bug has never had Chinese food before. Given her appetite, I can get her to listen for a little bit if I bring her Chinese.
Nancy purchased enough for her and Bug to eat for the next two days, although Bug would mostly like eat it all in fifteen minutes, and resumed driving. She also thought about one of Galen’s orders. ‘Don’t form a motherly bond.’ She wanted to. She wanted to share moments with Bug. She knew Bug wanted a cat by overhearing conversations between her and Lacey. She knew the list of movies Bug wanted to watch, and she knew the places Bug wanted to see, such as the National Zoo in Washington. It seemed that Lacey was Bug’s key to the outside world. Nancy knew she wouldn’t be able to be with Bug for much longer, but as Nancy pulled up her driveway, she was reviewing the things she could do when she noticed the front door was slightly ajar.
“Bug?” she called out. No answer. Nancy reached over into her purse and pulled out the handgun all members of the Agency were required to carry. Slowly getting out of the car, she made her way over to the door. Turning to her right, she could make out an indentation in the snow where someone had jumped into it, as well as footprints leading away from it. Turning back to the door, she cautiously eased it open and entered the house. The first thing she noticed was that straight ahead in the kitchen, two light bulbs were missing.
“Bug?” she called out again. No answer. “Bug!” she called out louder. Again, no answer. Taking a step forward, she felt her foot crush something. Looking down was a piece of black material. The locking system control box. Nancy had completely forgotten about it. She looked to where the box was only to find it destroyed. Its pieces were everywhere.
She put her gun down. She was getting a clear picture of what happened. Whether intentionally or by accident, Bug had managed to free herself from the house. Those footprints out in the snow were Bug’s. Nancy glanced at her watch and did a quick search of the house. Bug wasn’t in the house, “It’s 5pm… damnit, Bug.”
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