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Chapter 33

They didn’t come for me for a while, instead, they took Zuri for questioning, each time she came back scraped, bruised and bleeding. I felt bad she had to suffer alone. Food came down in a tray with her by an angry guard who looked like he had lost a bet. I took a third of the portions and left the rest for Zuri, who clearly needed it more than I. I ignored the growing hunger which roared unhappily each time I took a small cracker and split it in half to last two days. I sighed and watched Zuri gratefully scarf down a whole cracker and thank me. I would simply nod and banish the selfish thoughts which flooded my head. “She needs this,” I would tell myself again and again. “She needs this,” I would say and focus on what was coming for me.

The anticipation awaiting my own pain was torture far worse than what they could do to me. I spent the time she was away searching for bugs in the room, weaknesses in the walls and floors, strange cracks and anything which could possibly either be my way out or be used against me. I got to know Zuri very well during the time she wasn’t away. She had a little brother, Max, who had just turned five and wanted to meet Riptide. It killed her that she couldn’t help her city but she was scared of endangering his life after both of their parents had died in a car crash. She wasn’t sure what would happen to him while she was away. She told me she had promised to find a way for her to meet Riptide by the time he had turned six and was, in fact on her way to where I lived when she was abducted and thrown into prison. She told me I was her little brother’s hero and in turn, I told her about Charlie and my parents. I told her everything, about Chloe and Peter. I told her about the big debate I was going to be missing because I was stuck here, she told me about the play she had finally gotten the lead in but was going to have to miss. I talked about my dog, she told me about the fish she had once which only lived about a minute before she accidentally killed it and since then she had been traumatized and would never allow herself to get another animal. I talked about the necklace I had lost after I almost drowned, she told me about the small action figure her brother had given her and how the guards had taken it from her. I told her about my powers while she explained her own. I explained how I had discovered my abilities, what it felt like to fly, what it was like to suddenly lead a double life. She would sigh longingly and talk about her own powers once more. “I have sonic powers,” she explained. “I know it sounds kind’a dumb, but I can do some pretty cool stuff,” she said unjustifiably. “Like did you know certain sounds make people crap their pants? I can recreate any sound and that is my personal favorite,” she said and paused for a moment as if recalling a list. “I can use sound waves to break stuff, I have super hearing, I can use sounds to vibrate fast enough to phase through objects and I have super strength,” she said.

I nodded. “But you can’t fly?”

“No, I wish,” she said. “What does it feel like?”

I laughed and brought back the memory of my first flight, telling her every last detail. The dread I felt as I wrapped my arms around the little boy for protection, the pain I prepared myself for when I thought I was inevitably going to hit the ground, my confusion when it never came, my relief when I set the petrified little boy down, my pride when I flew back into the burning building to retrieve more people, my excitement when I flew home that night with the cool city breeze in my hair, the feeling of windblown cheeks as I raced back to my room and the wonderful sense of greatness when I dove into my bed to hide from my parents who had heard my crash-landing from down the hall, across the living room, past three other rooms, through another long hallway, past their bathroom, and in the large bed they shared happily. She laughed gleefully at my story and swapped it with her own stories, making our situation a little more bearable. She seemed to agree as her giggles echoed through the cold and damp prison cell, making it far warmer than anything had been in a long time.

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