This blog is my note. If something happens to me, then people will know. They will be prepared for what we decided to stop. This is the blog of a teenage superhero.
“Well, this is going to be an interesting summer.”
Jolted from the article I’d been reading on my phone, I glanced around, finally settling on the Hispanic girl doing a handstand as the likely speaker given that the only other people close by were my friends Tina and Jessie. Plus, the girl’s grin when I focused on her was a decent tip off.
“By interesting did you mean boring, perhaps?” I asked as the girl rolled to her feet.
I gave her a quick once over, she wore grass-stained grey slacks and a half untucked, dark blue button down, and her shoes were missing. She had long black hair half falling out of a ponytail, dark eyes, and a crooked grin.
“Depends on how you look at it. If you know where to look for it, everything can be fun.” The girl began to pull her hair from its tie, glancing up at a rumble of thunder from the gathering clouds above. “I’m Gabby.”
“Remy,” I replied with a shrug as I looked up to see if it was likely that we’d see rain soon. It would be the perfect ending to a perfectly dull day, applying for one of the supposedly coveted summer intern slots at Madison Tech.
“How did you get caught up in this?” Gabby asked, calling me back from my study of the clouds. “My parents wanted me to have something to take my mind off… things.” For a moment, her smile faltered, but it was back before I could be sure I’d seen it happen.
“My parents disapprove of my career choices,” I replied as I shoved my phone in my pocket. “They think this will make me change my mind.”
Which, if they’d at all been paying attention to me as a person these past few years, they’d already know it was pretty much a hopeless cause. I liked computers as much as the next guy, but my computer skills were more towards using programs, not creating them.
“What career?” Gabby asked.
“I’m a journalist,” I replied.
There was a powerful crack of thunder and it started raining, because it was that kind of day. My sister was late picking me up from this boring, all day interview and competition thing, it was now raining, and I still had a blog entry to edit and post to keep on schedule. Those of us still waiting for rides beat a hasty retreat for the building lobby, with me pausing to hold the door for Tina and Jessie.
“Hey kids,” the guard at the front desk began, half standing as we rushed inside, shivering from the building’s excellent air conditioning.
Tina pointed out side, speaking in her sweetly reasonable tone, “The rain has start. We were part of the group applying for internships, can we wait for our rides in here?”
The guard hesitated a moment, studying each of the five of us in turn, lingering on me and the other Black guy, before looking back at Tina. I forced myself not to clinch my hands, hoping that Tina’s blond hair and blue eyes would balance whatever he thought of when he saw the two of us. Perhaps it was Tina’s wheelchair that tipped the balance, because I could see the shift in his shoulder as he decided to be an actual human being.
“Don’t leave the lobby. Restrooms are right there,” the guard pointed to an alcove, “and don’t break anything.”
“Thank you,” Tina said.
The guard shook his head slightly and vanished through a door behind the front desk, slamming the door pointedly behind him.
“Well he’s friendly,” Gabby said.
I rolled my eyes as I headed for the chairs and couches that took up part of the lobby closer to the front windows.
As I settled down, I grinned at Tina, “And another one bites the dust. Have I said how glad I am that you use your powers for good?”
“As opposed to you?” Tina asked.
“Contrary to my reputation,” I said, “I do not curse people. I just have the unfortunate status of having weird eyes.”
“Are we talking about Ms. Carter then? Because I thought that had to do with the rubber chicken,” Jessie said as she sat down in the chair beside Tina.
“I only put the ketchup covered chicken on her desk, on a cookie sheet mind you, after I heard her telling Mr. Burton that I was a voodoo practitioner and my eyes proved it,” I protested. “It’s not my fault she had a nervous breakdown.”
Movement to my right was Gabby, leaning over to look at me. Knowing what she wanted, I glared at her, trying to convey how fucking rude that was. It’s the ongoing curse of a guy with heterochromia, everyone wanted to see the freaky, mismatched eyes.
Jessie darted past me and kicked Gabby firmly in the shin. Gabby yelped and pulled back, stunned.
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to stare?” Jessie snarled.
The tiny ballerina stood firm, her spine straight, and her fists half raised, as if expecting Gabby to fight back. It should have been ridiculous, with Jessie being fifteen and barely five foot five, and Gabby being easily half a foot taller.
“Jessie, leave her be, okay? Everyone stares,” I said.
“Everyone is rude as fuck,” Jessie muttered, even as her shoulders relaxed and she dropped her hands. She turned away, then spun back, shoving her finger in Gabby’s face so fast that Gabby’s eyes crossed. “I’m watching you.”
The final member of our group suddenly threw himself onto one of the couches with a muttered curse and the shriek of overstressed furniture. For a moment, I wondered if the couch would break under the treatment, but apart from that rather noisy complaint, nothing happened.
“Are you ok?” Tina asked him as Jessie took her seat back.
Satisfied that Tina would at least keep Jessie distracted if need be, I took a moment to study the other guy. He was big, but it was muscle, not fat. I’d almost say that his muscles had muscles. Although that could have been the slightly oversized brown coat he was wearing over his shirt and tie.
As I studied him, he studied me, which was a bit unnerving. I’m a self-proclaimed shrimp. I’m 5’3” and a hundred and ten wet, and I look more like I’m ten, not fifteen. A big guy like that? I’m very uncomfortably aware that he could fold me into a ball and not break a sweat.
“I’m fine,” he finally said, “I just wanted to be back before five. It’s a bit complicated.”
“When isn’t it?” I replied dryly as I tried to place his accent. It wasn’t the Midwestern accent that Tina and I shared, or Jessie’s slowly fading Hawaiian accent. In fact, I realized that Gabby’s accent wasn’t like ours either.
“I’m Damien. I just moved here,” Damien said.
“Remy,” I said with a slight nod, “Welcome to nowhere, Damien. Get out as soon as you can.”
A chilling scream of tortured agony filled the lobby, coming from deeper within the building.
We stared at each other, and if they were anything like me, they were half-amused at the timing and half-terrified.
“That wasn’t funny,” Jessie said softly. She was standing, staring into the building, almost vibrating with tension.
“I don’t think it was a joke,” Gabby replied, equally quietly.
A second scream echoed through the halls and I flinched.
“We should help them,” Tina said as she pushed her wheelchair closer to one of the hallways.
“How?” Damien demanded.
I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to think what we could do and attempting to calm my heart. I didn’t want to compound our problems by triggering a seizure or a panic attack. I could hear a conversation going on around me, but I focused instead on breathing deeply and getting myself under control.
“You don’t have to come with us,” Gabby announced, sounding almost hysterical, “But she sounds like she needs help.”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t help,” Damien replied, “I just wanted to know how I could help.”
I opened my eyes and looked around. Damien was standing across from me, staring down at Jessie, who looked like she was going to start fighting with him at the slightest provocation. Tina and Gabby were at the hallway entrance, watching and waiting.
I held up my hand, catching everyone’s attention. “We won’t know what we can do until we get there. Tina, are you sure?”
“You won’t leave me behind,” Tina said firmly. For a moment, I wished Chris was there, if only because I knew she’d keep her twin from joining us on this crazy adventure. Then I realized that if Chris were here, she’d already have gone charging off into the four-story complex without us.
“Let’s go then,” Gabby said and started down the hallway. Jessie fell in beside her before she had taken two steps. I was momentarily amused to see that both girls were pulling their hair back as they walked. Tina followed them, and Damien and I followed her.
“What do you expect we can do?” Damien asked after a moment. I glanced up at him for a moment before looking down a hallway as we passed it.
“Something,” I replied, “we shouldn’t be talking though. We don’t want them to hear us coming.”
Another scream made us pause and I pointed down the hallway. Jessie frowned and pointed down a different one. Mindful of our desire to be unnoticed, I argued with Jessie with pantomime until another scream sounded and I was proven right. Of course, Jessie just sniffed and stalked past me, stopping to deliberately and ostentatiously stomp on my toes as she did so.
Unlike the last hallway, which had a white floor with multicolored specks and two-tone grey walls, this hallway had green speckled floors and flat white walls. As we moved down it cautiously, the florescent lights hummed like a horde of flies. This corridor led to one that was flat white, then another of the white and grey walls before we ended up at another sterile white hallway, which ended with a pair of doors that were dark grey.
The screams hadn’t been as powerful as the first ones, but they had still served as a guide for us, and I shivered because it was clear the screamer was losing her voice. We stood at the end of that white hallway, staring at the grey doors for a long moment, then Tina started forward.
“Wait,” I hissed, catching their attention, “we don’t want to all get killed. I’ll check it out and come back.”
“Remy,” Tina said.
“I’m dying anyways,” I muttered and turned away before I could see her expression.
Tina’s disability was explainable by science, it had a cause and a name, and she could expect to live a good life if she took care of herself. I had no such guarantee with mine, just a faulty brain that liked to remind me it existed by interfering with my life frequently and painfully. Also, unlike Tina, I had little hope of living long enough to get my driver’s license the way my brain was acting. At least with this, I’d have a death worth talking about.
There was a scuffle, and Jessie appeared at my shoulder, “You shouldn’t go alone,” she told me, “besides, my brother’s coming. We’ll be fine.”
I led the way to the doors, which had glass insets in the top. I peered through the door and saw a woman with blond hair strapped to a table. There was what I think were electrodes on her forehead and wires trailing under her hospital gown. The gown at first seemed to be a rich red color, and then I noticed that some parts were white, and realized that it must be blood. The woman arched her back and screamed again. I reached for the door, unable to see someone in that much pain and not try to help her.
Jessie grabbed my arm, startling me. When I looked at her, she shook her head and held up a single finger. I shook my head, reaching for the door. She yanked me backwards, and I reached to try to free my arm from her grip. For a moment, we fought silently, and then her foot was tangled in mine and we fell through the door rather loudly.
“Shit,” Jessie muttered as someone shouted.
Jessie rolled off me and we scrambled to our feet as two men wearing black uniforms charged us, pulling guns.
“Run,” I said, turning. The other three were closer than they had been last I had checked and I shouted, “Run!”
Tina spun her wheelchair and I hesitated torn between the need to escape and wanting to help my friend.
“Need a push?” Gabby asked.
“I don’t think so,” Tina replied as she shot down the hallway.
“Split up,” Jessie said, “there’s two of them, they can’t chase us all.”
Damon took off with Gabby and Tina on his heels and Jessie and I took a different hallway. After a few minutes, Jessie skidded to a halt and spun to face our pursuers. “What are you doing?” I asked her.
“They’re following us, both of them,” Jessie pointed out, “I’m going to slow them down, keep running.”
“But,” I began.
“Go,” Jessie snapped, “we’re not dying today.”
I hesitated a moment longer then started running as the guards got close. There were gunshots, some bangs and a shout of pain, then Jessie caught up as I reached another cross-corridor. “They’re down, but not permanently.”
“I heard gun shots?”
“No one’s dead,” Jessie replied, she winked at me, “they don’t teach killing with your bare hands until you’re eighteen.” She looked around, “Now which way do we go?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
My phone vibrated and I yanked it from my pocket. It was a text number from a blocked number. Go left. I glanced up to see Jessie checking her own phone.
“Go left,” she said.
“Do we go?” I asked.
I will keep you safe, go left.
Jessie and I looked up to see a man in a lab coat running towards us, “Left it is,” Jessie said and we ran.
Our phones vibrated with texted directions at every corridor, left, right, straight, and left, until we finally reached the foyer again. Tina, Gabby, Damien were there, hands up, a half-dozen security guards standing between them and the door, guns raised. My phone vibrated again and I looked down. Will you trust me? I can help you if you will let me.
I looked at Jessie, who was shoving her phone in her pocket.
“All right you kids,” one of the guards said, “move over to your friends, and no talking.”
Jessie and I stepped over to join the others, I touched Tina’s shoulder and she looked up for a moment. Damien was staring at the guards with a blank expression. Gabby was leaning against the wall, arms crossed. I looked down at Tina and mouthed, “Trust me.” She nodded.
Jessie was standing beside Gabby, her phone now in her hand, angled so Gabby could see it. She nodded slightly. I touched Damien’s shoulder, he turned to look at me, and I mouthed, “Trust me.” He nodded.
I held my phone behind Tina’s back, eyes on the security guards and carefully sent back a message.
For a long moment, nothing happened. Then there was a static like noise and the world went white.