“You’re dead,” Bryan uttered, unable to break his gaze with the ghost.
“Clearly not,” The Insider replied in a sly manner.
“But how?” Bryan questioned. He turned his head around, frantically scanning the minds of those around him. Did they not realize that a supposedly dead supervillain was standing right in front of them?
“They don’t realize I’m here,” The Insider explained, reading Bryan’s mind. “They can see me, but even if they stared right at me it would never register to them.”
Bryan observed the other people in the terminal. Indeed some were looking right at them, but their minds were foggy. They had no idea what they were looking at or why.
“You’re very good at that,” The Insider commented, still reading Bryan’s thoughts.
Bryan looked back at the purple eyed villain. “You can affect all of their minds at once?”
The Insider smiled and evil smile. “Indeed I can—quite easily in fact. I could teach you to do the same.”
A rush of both terror and excitement ran through Bryan’s entire body. This was both a dream and a nightmare.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“Because I need your help, Bryan,” The Insider replied in an innocent sounding tone.
Bryan cocked his head in suspicion. “My help? Doing what exactly? You seem to be just fine on your own.”
The Insider chuckled. “Yes, I am quite capable of surviving on my own, but I have plans much greater than that. The world is in danger Bryan, and I need your help to save it.”
Bryan could feel the other inside his head. He tried to return the favor and read the thoughts of The Insider, but he was blocking him somehow.
“Save the world from what, exactly?” Bryan inquired. “It seems to me the world is safer than ever thanks to the IAS.”
“Yes,” The Insider responded, sounding almost disappointed to hear Bryan say that. He turned his attention to the fingernails on his left hand. “That’s the way they would have it seem, isn’t it?”
“What are you trying to say?” Bryan asked defensively.
The Insider looked back at Bryan and again smiled. Then his expression slowly transformed to a scowl and he spoke with pointed distaste. “The International Assembly of so-called Superheroes is a plague on this Earth. They’ve convinced everyone that they protect the planet when really their lack of courage to do what is necessary will send it into certain doom.”
Bryan shook his head. He knew why The Insider felt the way he did but he also knew that the powerful telepath was wrong. Bryan had grown up idolizing the hero who was once a member of the International Assembly of Superheroes, not the evil villain who had turned against them.
“They do what is best for the world,” Bryan argued. “Super humans and normal alike.”
The Insider shook his head in disappointment. “That is, unless you’re a telepath, right Bryan?”
Bryan slowly dropped his head in sadness. The Insider had trumped Bryan’s arguments. It did seem unfair that they had banished Bryan from the only group of people that ever remotely understood him, just because they were afraid of his potential.
“I have you to thank for that,” Bryan said, sincerely angry at the other but frightened by what his response to the accusation might be.
Initially The Insider appeared as though he might rip Bryan’s head off, but then he seemed to calm down and collect himself. “That is probably true, but did you ever ask yourself why they kicked me out of the Assembly?”
Bryan knew exactly why. He’d seen the movie. “Because you risked innocent lives against their will.”
The Insider let out a dismissive laugh. “I took the only course available. I did what was necessary to save the world. I saved everyone!”
Bryan took a step back in response to The Insider’s increase in intensity. He could feel the telepath’s words echoing over and over inside his mind. He knew what The Insider’s abilities were and what he was trying to do. Bryan did all he could to resist, but he was so powerful.
“We’d all have been killed and reincarnated to serve in some mad scientist’s undead army if not for me!” The Insider continued.
It suddenly became clear to Bryan—The Insider was absolutely right. Thinking back on what he’d seen in the film, there was no other option. If Walter hadn’t done what he did, Doctor Fairbush would have won. The Assembly was wrong to dismiss Walter for his actions. He had single handedly saved the planet.
“That’s right,” Walter whispered, feeling that he had telepathically altered Bryan’s point of view. “And now they’ve rejected you for the same reason did me—they’re afraid of you—afraid that you too might go above them and take the fate of the world into your own hands. Unlike them, you lack the will to do what you feel necessary to save this planet at all costs. You have both the courage and ability to make that sacrifice. They are scared of you because you are better than they are. You are Phsychosis!”
“Yes!” Bryan shouted uncontrollably. He immediately threw his hand over his mouth and looked around him, embarrassed by his sudden outburst.
“Do not worry my young sidekick,” The Insider assured him, “they have no awareness of what is taking place between us. They heard you, but they do not realize that they heard you.”
“You are amazing,” Bryan told his master in a newfound bewilderment. In a matter of minutes he had gone from considering The Insider a villain to recognizing him as the greatest hero on Earth. Had his opinion been manipulated by the great purple-eyed telepath?
“Of course not,” a mysterious voice echoed from the corners of his mind.
Of course not, Bryan thought to himself. There would have been no need. Everything Walter had told him was a valid point. Bryan now knew that he must help the hero to save the world from the IAS.
“What now?” Bryan asked, eager to get started on their mission.
“Now,” The Insider responded, “I’d like to see what you are capable of.”
The Insider walked over and leaned against the railing next to Bryan. He surveyed the bodies and minds on the floor below them.
“There.” The Insider pointed at a man carrying a tray in one of the fast food restaurants below. “Make him lose his lunch.”
Bryan nodded, knowing exactly what Walter was asking of him. He squinted his eyes and focused in on the man’s mind, melding his own to it and taking control of the stranger’s thoughts and actions. Bryan then twitched his left eye, causing the man to abruptly throw his tray straight up into the air, sending a cheeseburger, French fries and a drink flying across the restaurant. The man froze, looking completely confused and horrified by his actions.
“Now the one next to him—he should strike the man in response,” The Insider commanded.
Bryan shifted his focus to the man standing just to the right of the one who had thrown his lunch. Bryan again twitched his eye causing the second man to rear back and take a swing. The first man recognized the incoming attack and ducked out of the way. He then began pleading with his attacker, explaining that his behavior had been some kind of freak accident.
“You lost control of the first man,” The Insider spoke, disappointed in the performance of his new apprentice.
Bryan turned to his master, realizing his own limitations for the first time. “I’m only able to control one mind at a time.”
The Insider turned to Bryan in disgust. “Excuse me?”
“I can read and speak to several minds at once,” Bryan explained, “but I can only control one.”
The Insider waved his left hand in a dismissive manner and turned away. “Perhaps you are of little use to me after all.”
“Wait!” Bryan pleaded, “I can also do this.”
The Insider watched as Bryan turned his attention back to the bizarre scene in the restaurant below. With far less focus and effort this time, he flicked his wrist and sent the tray flying back toward the two men involved in the incident. Both saw the tray coming and ducked out of the way, watching as it flew across the terminal. The man who had thrown his lunch in the air immediately began pointing to the tray, blaming it for the entire incident in an attempt to exonerate himself.
The Insider raised both eyebrows, pleasantly surprised by Bryan’s actions. “Telekinetic abilities,” he spoke in a pleasant tone. “Now that is something I don’t have.”
Bryan smiled with pride.
“Perhaps I have use for you after all,” The Insider said gallantly, turning back toward Bryan. “Come, my skilled sidekick. We have work to do.”
Harry beamed with pride as he said his farewells to the group of young super people he had spent the past week getting to know. They had all acted as model citizens, worthy of joining the SSE and one day the Assembly. It was the first time he’d had an entire group show so much enthusiasm in joining the cause. It made him feel as though what he was doing was worthwhile.
“Go home to your families and enjoy your last few weeks living at home. You will all be receiving invitations to join the Superhuman Society of Earth very soon. When that happens, give me a call and we will arrange for your move to the island—assuming of course that you decide to accept.”
His six young super humans nodded their heads, each grinning with anticipation of their exciting futures. They would soon join the ranks of their childhood heroes.
“It has been a pleasure and an honor getting to know every one of you,” Harry continued. “I hope to see you all very soon.”
Unable to contain herself any longer, Mandy Tune ran over to Harry with her arms spread wide. Harry was glad to return the hug. A second and a half later he felt ten more arms wrap around him as the entire group had brought it in for a group hug. The only one who had decided to opt out was Jason.
As the six young individuals removed themselves from their collaborative embrace, Jason walked over to Sabrina who was now shouldering the duffel bag that held her entire life inside of it.
“Where to now?” he asked her.
“Not sure,” she responded. “I guess I’ll have to stay nearby and check in since they don’t have an address to send that invitation to.”
“Harry would probably let you stay here until you can move to the island,” Jason suggested, curious as to what the girl’s response would be.
Sabrina shrugged. The offer was sensible, but the thought of staying in that big building all alone with Harry wasn’t all that tempting.
“Or…” Jason continued, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a white envelope, “you could come check out Omaha.”
Sabrina cocked her head as she eyed the envelope, confused by Jason’s offer.
Jason explained his proposal further. “My sister’s kids are all grown up and moved out now, so she and her husband have an extra room in their basement. I know the last thing you want is another foster home, but it wouldn’t be like that. You’d have the basement to yourself and you’d be allowed to go out and do whatever you want—completely independent. Just until you can move to the island anyway.”
Sabrina looked up at Jason and tried to fight back a smile. “You live pretty close to your sister, don’t you?”
Jason did his best to fight off a grin of his own. “Just down the street. If you ever wanted to train or anything…”
Before he could finish Sabrina reached up and threw her arms around his neck. He couldn’t fight back his smile any longer. The girl had reminded him so much of himself, he couldn’t help but feel a fatherly fondness for her.
“Thank you,” she said, taking the envelope and wiping the tears from her eyes.
He smiled and spoke in a gentle tone. “We’d better head out so we can make our flight.”
Jason turned and walked over to Harry who was saying his final goodbyes to each of the kids individually.
“Good group of kids, huh?” Harry said when Jason was close.
Jason smiled and nodded his head. “Yeah, you did alright.”
Harry just stood quiet and grinned a big, cheesy grin. Jason laughed—no one was ever more proud of Harry than Harry.
“Is Sabrina going back to Omaha with you?” Harry asked, taking a brief moment to turn the conversation away from him.
Jason stared at the ground like the shy kid in school and smirked. “Yeah, she’s going to stay with my sister until she moves to the island.”
“Proud papa,” Harry kidded, reading the expression on Jason’s face.
“It was good seeing you again Harry,” Jason said, reaching up and patting his best friend’s shoulder.
Harry reached over and grabbed Jason’s hand to shake it. “How about we don’t wait so long for the next time.”
Jason chuckled as he released the handshake. “The sooner you find another one like Sabrina, the sooner I’ll be back.”
“Right,” Harry laughed. “A nice incentive.”
With that Jason turned away and joined Sabrina before heading out the door. Indeed he hoped to see his old friend again soon.