Date: 02 October 2035 – 04
It was an unspoken law that Emma and June were joined to the hip when they were in the same area. So it came as a great surprise that Tuesday morning when the girls weren’t even looking at each other. No one was sure of what was going on, as it had never happened before. Several students had joked that Armageddon had arrived; several other students had called their parents that Armageddon had arrived. (They got detention for that stunt). But the point was it just didn’t happen.
The morning was pretty normal. Emma came on the bus, talking to Jessica. June came on her motorbike, illegally driven, and parked where everyone could see her. On any morning, Emma would say goodbye to Jessica and rush to her friend. That morning the girls only had one look between them before they completely turn away from each other and went on with their day.
Emma had taken to hanging out with Jessica, something she only did when June wasn’t at school. June, however, didn’t really get along with anybody else. Whether it was because of her ‘sparkly’ personality or because she saw most people beneath her, no one knew. Emma was the only person who could put up with her. Thus she spent her day alone. Not that people saw much of her. She spent the first half of the morning causing trouble; the rest was spent in the Principal’s office.
Many students had asked Emma what happen. The only answer they got was Emma frowning and tugging her red hair slightly. The next second she would smile and change the subject. Many people suspected a boy involved. Others thought it was Emma’s parents.
Jessica was worried about something else though. She knew Emma pretty well. Maybe not as well as friends ought to know each other, but still. So she knew that Emma was having sleep problems. Every morning she would come to school, bags under her eyes before hiding them with the make-up she stashes in her locker –her parents didn’t like her wearing any. And every period she would drift off –which was normal actually, she and June always slept in class- before snapping awake, eyes going this way and that, like she was looking for something that wasn’t there. She had talked to her, but all Jessica got was more questions than answers.
“You haven’t been sleeping,” Jessica said on Thursday morning.
“I know what it’s about-”
“It’s not about Jupi- June, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Actually I was going to say that it’s about that mugging that happened to you last week. Look. I know how it goes. My cousin got mugged yesterday at Blossom Blow and this morning she woke up screaming.”
“Blossom Blow? That-that cute little arts and craft store near Hill Electronics?”
“Yeah. They stole everything, her cell phone, her purse, and even-”
“-That blue beret she wore,” Emma said interrupting. Jessica looked at her friend in shock.
“How do you know that?” Jessica asked, but Emma ignored her.
“So it’s happening real time now,” Emma whispered. Jessica still caught it, but didn’t have a clue what she meant. She had tried to get her friend to explain, but Emma had gone off into her own little world. Jessica then spent the rest of the day making sure Emma didn’t bump into anything and didn’t get into trouble with any of the teachers.
June came to school with several bruises that day.
A small girl, probably 5 or 6 years of age, stood in front of the boys’ toy isle looking at the toys. She didn’t like the girls’ toys and knew if her mother found her here she’ll take her away.
“Would you like one?” asked a man. The little girl turned around. She didn’t talk at first, but then saw he had a name tag (Hi! My Name is Phil!), which meant he worked at the store. The little girl smiled and nodded, but then she frowned.
“Mommy won’t let me keep it,” she said pouting. Phil smiled.
“Would you like to go somewhere you could do whatever you want, play with whatever toy you what. Where mommy can’t stop you,” Phil asked. The little girl smiled.
“Yeah!” she half shouted. Phil held out his hand, which the little girl took, and led her away.
No! Don’t do it! No! No! SSSTTTOOOPPPP!
Emma shot up from the couch, biting her tongue to stop herself from screaming. She hated this. Hated these dreams. Hated seeing everything and not being able to do anything about it.
Would she do anything if she could?
Emma wasn’t sure. The dreams where getting worse, and, as she found out at school, happening right as she dreamed them.
Emma cursed; she needed to get her mind away from it all. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you saw it, their dish washer broke down this morning and while NIC Corp said they’ll send someone, Emma told them it was fine.
Emma was good with electronics. Her Uncle, who had died the year before, had taught her how electronics worked. Getting up Emma grabbed her tool box and headed for the kitchen. By the time her parents got home the dish washer was running again.
Dinner is a quite affair. Adam usually took this time to unwind from a hard day at work. Abigail was on her laptop, still busy with work. At least she did it at home now instead of staying hours at night in the office. Emma… well Emma was hardly home in time for dinner most of the time.
Tonight was a more tense quite then usual though. Abigail and Adam were giving each other looks as Emma just ate slowly and quietly.
“Emma, we need to talk,” Adam started.
“You’re sleeping problem.”
“I don’t- I don’t have a sleeping problem.”
“Don’t lie to us girl. That Jessica girl called us. Told us what was going on. At least she’s better then June.”
“Abby please. I think…given the circumstances, we should call Mr Price.”
“I am not having that man in my house again Adam.”
“This isn’t about you Abby, It’s about Emma.”
“It’s because of that man she’s like this.”
“How do we know that? We have no idea what he had Emma do for him. It could have been anything.”
“Well if she actually told us what happened, we wouldn’t have to guess!”
“You heard what Price said he would do to us if we snoop into this!”
“Be a man!”
“Then stop being a bi-“
Adam and Abigail turned to Emma, now standing. She was also breathing heavily and shaking slightly.
“Emma?” Adam said as he stood up to check on her.
“I’m tired. I’m going to bed,” Emma said and left.
“I’m going after her.”
“Why bother Adam, she’s probably not even in the house anymore.”
“Well excuse me for caring enough to check.” Adam said and went to his daughter’s room.
Emma wasn’t lying when she said she was tired. The last week had been difficult, in more ways than one. Just thinking about it was giving her a headache. Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” she called. Slowly her father came into the room, squinting through the darkness.
“You can light a candle if you want,” Emma said, sitting up on her bed. She watched as her father did just that before taking her computer desk chair and sitting in front of her. There was an awkward silence.
“So um… how are you,” Adam said.
“Find. Tired,” Emma said.
“Oh. I well, I though you um, just you know, said that to leave the room.”
“What is it Dad?”
“…How are you feeling,” Adam said looking Emma in the eye. Emma paused a bit before answering.
“Tired. Awake. Unsure. Confused. Like I can do more. Like I should do more. What have I done? What could I have done? What will happen now?...Why?”
“Yes. Why did I do it? Why do I want to do it? Why can’t I get it out of my head?”
“…Your principle called. Told us you and June weren’t hanging out like usual. Why’s that?”
“We didn’t agree on something,”
What did happen? Emma didn’t know. The argument was pretty small come to think of it. Was it because of how June wanted the information? No, it wasn’t the first time June acted like that. Was it because of the party and Wesley’s role in it? She didn’t think so. Was it because she was keeping secrets? She hasn’t done that before.
Or was it because of what she saw? About June standing in front of those judges. And the whole situation feeling… dark.
Her father was right. The last week had changed her. And she was glad it did. June and her had always been so similar. They knew each other so well and Emma knew June was different. And so was she. But it was two different kinds of different. Being around each other was…
“The mirror cracked. I just didn’t realize it,” Emma told herself more then she told her father.
“Mirror? You broke her mirror?” Adam asked confused. Emma turned to her father, eyebrow raised.
“Something like that.”
“So it’s a girl thing,” Adam asked.
“Yes dad, it’s a girl thing,” Emma lied, smiling.
“Ok. Um, nice talk,” Adam said getting up and leaving. Emma’s smile faded. The mirror cracked, but it was still there. Maybe it was time it completely shattered.
Finding Wesley Price was harder than Emma thought it would be. She checked his house first, completely destroying his security system. She’s pretty sure he was going to send her a nicely worded threat for that stunt, but anyway. She checked his office next, very nearly giving Amanda a heart attack. He wasn’t there but Amada was able to tell her where he went.
The Blue Strawberry wasn’t a club she had ever been into, and Emma had been in a lot of clubs. Clubs she was allowed inside, clubs she wasn’t allowed inside. Mob clubs. Club houses. Bars. This kind, not so much. Not at all really. In fact she was surprised Wesley went to this kind of club.
She watched the show girls getting ready. She herself getting ready as well. They were going to dance on stage and ‘Wow’ the crowd, which mostly consisted of older men.
The things she did in pursuit of justice, she thought sarcastically.
Wesley could count on one hand the amount of people he liked spending time with and all of them were currently out of the country. So why? Why was he here? Why was he at a club he would normally not step foot in with men who make him clench his teeth in frustration.
“Now this is a perfect place for a meeting,” one of the men said.
Right. That’s why.
All three men where nearly twice his age and over twice his size. They were going bald and during the limo ride had consumed enough alcohol together to knock out a lion. They were all married, but were determined to pick up a few of the show girls to take home.
They were his father’s old business partners.
If his father wasn’t in that coma Wesley would put him into one.
Knowing there would be hardly any talk of business, Wesley took out his xPad. The xPad could be best described as a handheld computer. It had applications, Internet connection, file saving capabilities, and anything a computer would have. It could also send messages, emails, notes and reminders. The xPad also had a Level 1 AI.
Wesley had completed several pages of paperwork when the show started. He looked up only for a second to see several women wearing red and gold skimpy clothing with masks and feathers. He rolled his eyes and went back to his paper work. He really wished he could-
Red Hair. Blood Red Hair.
Wesley snapped his head towards one of the dancers, just to make sure he didn’t imagine it. No. Right there, three to the left from the middle. Emma Knight. Dancing on stage. WHAT! No. There was nothing about this in the report he got about her. Nothing! In fact it stated that June Worp and Emma Knight avoided these types of establishments. So why was she here?
Wesley had to admit that Emma was good at dancing. She followed the beat perfectly, her body knowing exactly what it was capable of. She danced in sync with the others. She wasn’t overshadowed and she didn’t overshadow. It looked like she belonged up the stage, blending into the canvas.
The beat of the song started to change as the woman, and one girl, drifted off stage going towards their intended targets. Some headed for men waving around gold credit cards, others to men of the attractive quality, Emma headed straight to Wesley.
“I need to talk to you,” Emma whispered when she reached Wesley. She danced around him, staying in character.
“I need to report you to the police,” Wesley said softly.
“But then you wouldn’t find out what I want,” Emma said. Wesley scowled at her. The beat of the music changed again, beckoning the women back on stage. Emma turned and followed the women as they headed back to the stage and started dancing again. They danced in an erotic manner, gathering several cat calls from the crowd.
Within a few minutes the dance ended and the women left the stage. There was loud applause as several men left the room to head to the entrance to wait for the show girls to come to them. Wesley put away his xPad and followed the men out. Behind him more women appeared on stage to entertain the men that stayed.
Emma breathed deeply as she changed back into her normal clothes. All round her the girls were talking about which of the men they were able to entrap. She dressed quickly, wanting to get out and meet Wesley as soon as possible, when she was stopped.
“Hey new girl! Saw you with that blond guy during the show,” one of the women, the lead show girl, said as she walked towards Emma.
“Yeah. He must be a regular if you recognised him.”
“Naa. Never seen him before. The guys he was with, yeah their regulars, but not him.”
“Yeah we never really go to the new guys unless they show a lot of credits. By the way, since when have you been working here? I’ve never actually seen you around.”
“Oh I’m just helping out a friend of mine, she sick today,” Emma lied quickly. She didn’t really think anyone would notice her not being the show girl. Her head snapped up when all the women laughed.
“You do know what this job requires, right?” one of the younger woman said. Emma blushed.
“I have a pretty good idea,” Emma said, embarrassed.
“Aaww, sweetheart, don’t worry about it. Here,” the lead said giving her a card, “my number. If you need…tips.”
“Thank you, um,” Emma quickly looked at the card, “Tish.” Tish winked.
“Come on lets go meet our men,” Tish said. Emma nodded and followed the girls out to the entrance hall.
When they got there Emma watched as the women calmly walked towards the men. She stood by the door, staring awkwardly into the room as she tried to find Wesley. Several men beckoned her over, but she just shook her head. Then, there, in the corner she saw him, staring at her, waiting for her move. She looked around and then looked back before signalling that she would be out the back entrance. Wesley nodded showing he understood.
Emma only waited a few minutes in the alley way before Wesley appeared.
“…is that understood Amanda?... Good,” Wesley said before hanging up. He stood across from her.
“Miss Knight,” he said.
“Hi,” Emma replied awkwardly. How was she going to explain what she wanted?
“Come here often?” Wesley asked. If it were anyone else, Emma would have thought she was being hit on but no. He’s face was stone, his voice cold, and his tone even. No, he was defiantly mocking her.
“No, your assistant, she, well, she told me where you were,” Emma said.
“So she informed me,” Wesley said. Crap, Emma though. She definitely hoped she didn’t get Amanda fired.
“She’s not fired,” Wesley said, cutting into her thoughts, “Now. What do you want?” Emma was silent for a moment and then:
“I want to do it again,” she said.
“E-la-bo- oh! You mean explain!”
“Yes, that is the meaning of elaborate. Of course if you haven’t gotten to that part of your education, which is what? Third, fourth grade work, I’ll use smaller word.”
“Hey! I’m a teenager! How many teenagers have you ever heard use the word-”
“I am getting tired of waiting.”
“…The whole Wizard’s house thing. Getting back the flash drive…. Helping people. I want- I want to do that.”
“Do you- do you remember when I got back? I told you I was Slipping into the shadows?”
“Yes, you said if you Slip you would cease to exist.”
“Yeah, something like that. I can see things. Through the shadows I mean. And when I’m Slipping, I have no choice but to see things. Horrible things. People suffering, needing help-”
“And that’s what you want to do. Help them? Go ahead. What do you need me for?”
“… I need help.”
“And why would I help you Miss Knight?”
“You’ve done it before.”
“A debt repaid.”
“Please… I need- I need to do this. More than you would understand.”
“If you want to go play superhero, Torric, go ahead, but I refuse to have any part of it.
And with that Wesley turned around and walked off. Just like he did that day at her house. No goodbyes, nothing. This time, however, she wouldn’t let him get away. She rushed forward and grabbed his arm, only for something to happen which she didn’t expect.
Wesley snapped around, yanked his arm out of her hand and back handed her across the face. Emma fell to the ground, her sunglasses flying. She closed her eyes, using the shadows to find her glasses again. She put them on and turned to Wesley. His whole body was tense and he was looking at her. Was that shock in his eyes? Or was it self-loathing? But he just turned back around and walked off. Emma stared on after him, wondering why she felt like she could almost see through his eyes with the amount of shadows that passed through them.
Wesley rubbed his eyes as he entered the last amount of coding needed to fix his security system. He had half a mind to send a nicely worded ‘message’ to Emma for what she did to his house, but no. He didn’t want to be anywhere near that Torric again. Not with the crazy ideas she was having.
Wesley leaned back on his chair, stretching, when he got a call. Picking up his xPhone he looked at the call receiver.
A social call? Most probably. They didn’t call each other’s phones for business, not if they could help it.
“Percy, what is it?”
“Wesley listen to me.”
“Percy? You sound… slightly upset.”
“That’s putting it pretty mildly. Look, just listen. There’s someone who wants to talk to you, but I need to tell you some things before you do.”
“No listen. Don’t be a smart arse. Don’t be insulting. Keep your comments to yourself. Don’t try to pull any ‘all-seeing’ crap. And do not, do not disagree.”
“Perseus! Who am I talking to?”
“Look I’m putting you on now. Just remember what I said,” Percy told him. Wesley sat in shock for a few seconds as he waited for the new voice to come on.
The President. Most people didn’t even believe the President of N.I.C. Corporate was real. No one has ever seen him-or her. And now he was going to talk to them. Why? What did the President want with him?
“Mr Price?” Electronic. The voice was electronic.
“President? To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I want to talk to you about Emmalyn Knight.”
Date: 05 October 2035
Emma hated mornings. These days more than ever. At least it was Friday. But still, mornings. She hated them. The sun was up, the birds were singing, and she had to go to school. So yes Emma hated mornings.
That morning wasn’t much different than others. Her mother woke her up. (Alarm clocks didn’t survive long in her room.) Then she called her again. Then she called her a third time. Then she came in, threatened to dump water on her head before slamming the door shut. It’s only then when Emma got up from her bed, still half asleep.
She took a warm shower, dressed and went down stairs. When she reached the kitchen she couldn’t help but wonder where her parents were. Neither of her parents went to work until she was on the bus to school, just to make sure she goes. Today however they were nowhere to be found. Emma shrugged as she opened the refrigerator door, looking for something to eat. That’s when she felt something wrong. Emma grabbed a glass container and spun around ready to throw it if need be.
Wesley Price. In her kitchen. At the table. Eating her breakfast. What. The. Hell.
“Am I still asleep,” Emma whispered to herself.
“Unfortunately no,” Wesley replied, putting the newspaper down. She could see the front page from where she was: A Dark Shadow: Friend or Foe.
“How did you get in here?” Emma asked, still shocked.
“Your mother let me in,” Wesley said.
“My mother… what!?”
“Sit down Miss Knight. I need to talk to you,” Wesley said gesturing to the seat across from him. Emma sat down looking at him, frowning. What did he want? She was pretty sure he said everything he wanted to say the night before. So why was he here?
“Two muggings and a drug shipping were disturbed last night. The muggers were caught, but the dealers got away. The police however were able to recover the drugs. Both muggers reported they were attacked by a shadow. They also apparently woke up screaming this morning…. So tell me. How did last night go,” Wesley asked her. Emma looked at him, unsure how to answer. Yes, that was her last night, but how did he know that? She made sure no one could recognize her or see her. Then again, he did know about her powers, so…
“Why are you eating my porridge?” Emma asked finally.
“Please stay focussed,” Wesley said, though he didn’t look surprised by her question.
“Why are you here?” Emma asked him.
“Someone is interested in your…proposal, and asked me to… help you,” Wesley said with difficulty. It doesn’t that a genius to know that the man didn’t really want to be here.
“That’s not important right now. Please answer my question. How did last night go?” Wesley said, repeating the question slowly. Like he was talking to a child.
“…I need to go over my street fighting. I keep slipping into competition martial arts, which is useless in a real fight against some random idiot. My clothes got rip, whoever thought spandex made a good suit wasn’t very well in the head. I need a gas mask. The drug dealers got away because they threw down choking gas,” Emma listed.
“Ok. Meet me at my office after school, I’ll have something by then,” Wesley said, typing several things into his phone.
“Wait. So you’re seriously going to help me?” Emma asked.