“There’s as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. We are, each of us, a little universe.”
~Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Okay, you ready? You understand everything?” Caleb asked, placing his hands on my shoulder.
“I’m fine, I promise. Let’s do this. I want to see you in action,” I replied, attempting what I thought was an encouraging smile. It must’ve worked because he returned it.
“Okay, take this. It’ll prevent him from trying to get inside your head. It’s not fail proof so there is a chance, however unlikely, that he could get inside your head. If he does that, the alarm in the guard’s room will go off and we’ll be on him in an instant.” He handed me a metal band that I place on my head. It slid down, stopping just under halfway down my forehead. Announcing I was ready, the rest of the team put their own bands on. A guard opened the door for us. Whatever I was expecting, whatever scenario I’d thought up of in my head of what this was going to be like… it was not this. It was not a guy that, as Taylor Swift would say, was ‘so tall and handsome as hell.’ I mean this guy really was. He had the looks of a supermodel and was nearly as tall as Caleb (who, mind you, is six foot two).
“Caleb Queen. Long time no see. You got tall,” the guy said. “Got past that awkward gangly stage. How long did that last? Twenty-five years?”
“There’s a reason it’s been a long time, Shane. I was hoping it’d be even longer but unfortunately, I’ve never been a lucky person. Let me see your ankle bracelet so I can get it off and get the size measurements for the new one.” Shane lifted his leg up onto the table. He watched Caleb with an avid curiosity until he realized there someone else in the room besides my friend, which meant he realized I was there.
He gave me an inquisitive smile with a hidden emotion behind it that although I was unable to place, it did not give me a good feeling. Whatsoever. It was as if he was scrutinizing every part of my being to figure out who I was, what I was, and what I could do.
“Who’s your friend?” Shane inquired.
“No one you need concern yourself with. She’d squash you like a bug,” Caleb replied.
“I’m going to be out of here soon my friend. I feel like I should know your partner in crime.”
“First off, you are not my friend. Second, when you do get out, you’re going to stay away from her. Or you’ll have me to deal with.”
“And what exactly are you going to do? It’s not like you have powers to stop me.”
“See,” Caleb said, taking off the ankle bracelet and walking away casually. “The thing about me being a super-genius about all you super-powered people is that I know what makes each of you tick. I know how to stop any and all of you that come across my path. There’s a reason I was put on this task.”
“So why is she here?” Shane asked. “What is her super-power? Because I don’t think you’d bring someone here who couldn’t take me on if need be. Not that she’s going to need to worry about that but I know you’re not stupid.”
“I’m new. I’m curious about Caleb’s job and helped him with the project,” I said.
“Are you now? What’s your name angel?”
“You’re the prettiest face I’ve ever seen come through here.”
“Thank you,” I responded shyly.
“All right, I’m going to go do some tweaking on the new one and then you should be all set to go. The one on your ankle now is shot. It died when I was messing with it. Lilly, I’m going to go fix what I need to on the new one. Will you be all right staying here and watching him?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. How bad can it be?” I said. Caleb jogged out of the room to head to the lab inside the max security prison. I leaned against the door, taking in my surroundings of the jail cell. For a jail cell, it was surprisingly nice. The bed didn’t sag in the middle, the sheets appeared relatively clean, the furniture was hardly damaged, the floors were almost spotless, and there was a nice, albeit small, window to look outside. There wasn’t much to see but it was enough sunlight to light up the room.
“You’re a very curious person. You like to learn new things, Miss Lilly,” Shane said.
“What gave it away? Me being here or my roaming eyes?” I countered.
“That look in your eyes. Everything you watch, you take it in to understand what’s going on. You like to know everything about everyone. I guess being a newbie from Earth, you’d be curious about our kind in general.”
“How do you know I’m a newbie from Earth? No offense, you’ve been locked in his cell for a quite a while.”
“Because the people that come visit me are friends with Caleb, and if Caleb had a friend that looked like you, you can bet I’d be hearing about it. So what’s your power? Shape-shifting? Telekinesis? Hydrokinesis? Cryokinesis? Pyrokinesis? Speedster?”
“If I was a speedster, I’d be locked up here, not visiting.”
“You’re not going to tell me are you?”
“You have trouble trusting people.”
“I’ll give you that one.”
“Let me ask you something: what made you become so non-altruistic?”
“Because humans are innately selfish and I believe that when they say that something is for the greater good stems from the belief that it will help them later in life, whether they recognize that or not. It’s not that I don’t trust people. It’s that I don’t trust their motivations.”
“What do you not trust about me?” Shane queried, bracing himself on the table and giving me such a longing, hungry gaze that I suddenly felt very conscious of the fact that I was alone in the room with him.
“I trust nothing about you. I know your story. I know what you did. I heard about why you did it. I know about your powers. You’re a powerful super-human, Shane, and you abused the power you have. So no, I don’t trust you.”
“If you don’t trust me dear, then pray tell, why have you gotten so close to me?”
“What are you-”
“What the hell are you doing here?!” a voice demanded as someone ripped me away from Shane. I found myself staring down Chad Calhoun who was visibly seething with rage at my presence. “I’m going to ask you again: what the hell are you doing here with my brother?”
“I came with Caleb,” I responded as calmly as I could. Shane I could handle. Chad I could handle. But the two of them together in the same made me wary because I had a feeling if Chad was angry enough, he could kick my powerless ass and Shnae would most likely sit back and enjoy the show.
“Why did Caleb bring you here? Is he stupid?”
“Don’t insult Caleb. He’s smarter than anyone in this room.”
“Obviously not if he brought you here. What was he thinking? You don’t even have powers to defend yourself!”
“Ah, so that’s why you wouldn’t tell me your power. Do you know what it is yet?” Shane asked.
“Not yet, but Caleb’s working on it. He’ll figure it out.”
“Out. Get out of this room.”
“No, I’m not leaving you in the room with him when his ankle bracelet is off.”
“His ankle bracelet is- oh, this is just great. You’re stupider than I thought!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down!” Caleb exclaimed as he came sliding into the room. “Lilly’s not stupid, I’m not stupid, you’re not stupid, no one’s stupid. Maybe Shane but I won’t get into that.”
“I appreciate that,” Shane remarked nonchalantly.
“What in god’s name were you thinking bringing her here?” Chad growled.
“I’ll answer your question once I get this ankle bracelet on okay? Just chill man,” Caleb replied.
“I will chill when you get her out of here.”
Although Chad couldn’t see Caleb, I was at an angle where I could. It was very obvious that my friend was rolling his eyes. By the smirk on Shane’s face, he must’ve seen it too.
“Okay, it’s on and active. Now, Chad, let’s go talk about this calmly. In another room. Where crazy can’t hear us,” Caleb said, jabbing his thumb at Shane. The three of us exited the room, heading to a destination unknown. On the way we passed multiple cells that each enclosed a prisoner. Some were just sitting there, some were staring at us as we passed by, some were shouting… let’s just say they were shouting obscenities at as us. Not all were in English but it wasn’t hard to figure out that whatever they were saying wasn’t nice.
Once we were in a private room, Chad let loose on his fury. “What were you thinking bringing her here?! She’s brand new to this world, she has absolutely no powers, she has no idea what the hell she’s doing in there-”
“I did know what I was doing in there,” I interrupted, trying not to sound too offended. “I knew it exactly what I was getting myself into just now going in there.”
“Do you know what my brother has done?”
“I do, actually. I read the case file, and Caleb debriefed me on everything.”
“Then why were you getting so damn close to him? Why were you letting him get into your head?”
“Because that was the plan.”
“Excuse me? What plan?” Chad looked over at Caleb for an explanation.
“I placed a device on his ankle bracelet to monitor the wave lengths he was using to try and control Lilly’s mind. I knew that he would go for her if he knew she was new. Shane’s smart. He knew she was not from here the moment she stepped into that room. Not only was I measuring to see how strong he is at mind control to make sure the new ankle bracelet can handle him in public, but I also created a new device with Felicity that would help the security guards here with the other mind control inmates and other super-humans here that can cause havoc in peoples’ minds,” Caleb explained. “Lilly’s job was to make him think he was getting into her head so he would try as hard as he could to get past the new device and into Lilly’s head. Her getting close to him was all an act… right?”
Caleb turned to me expectantly. I replied, “Yes, definitely an act.”
“If your device didn’t work, Lilly could’ve gone haywire on all of us. Why didn’t you use someone with powers?” Chad pointed out.
“Actually we thought it’d be better that I do it for the exact reason that I don’t have powers. If he got into my mind, I could do a whole lot less damage than if Caleb had used someone with powers,” I argued.
“I asked him, not you,” Chad snapped.
“Hey, easy. All she wants to do is help,” Caleb jumped in. “Give her a break.”
“You don’t get it! You’ve put her on his list. The moment he gets out of here, he’s going to make a beeline for her because he thinks she’s vulnerable to his mind control and he won’t stop trying to get into her mind, ankle bracelet or not.”
“It’s not like he’s getting out any time soon.”
“Esmeralda didn’t tell you?”
“Didn’t tell me what…?”
“Shane is getting out today.”
“You finished his ankle bracelet and found out that it works. Your device was the only thing Esmeralda was waiting for before she let him out.”
“Why didn’t she tell me that? I would’ve taken a hell of a lot longer on it! It’s not like your brother is my favorite person in the world you know. I’d much rather see him in here that out there where he can cause chaos.”
“Forget it. I’ll try and get his mind off of her so he stays away from her. And you,” Chad said, pointing his finger at me. “Stay away from my brother.”
With that said, Chad stalked out the door. I stared after him, muttering, “I’m staying away from both of you.”
“You okay?” Caleb asked, coming to stand beside me.
“Yeah, just trying to figure out why he hates me so much.”
“He does it to everyone. He’s already done it to Vivienne.”
“What did he say to Viv?” I inquired seriously.
“He said stuff to get her to stop trying to be friends with him. I’ll tell you later. Why don’t I give you a tour of this place and explain some of the powers of these people? I saw you eyeing the cells on our way here. It’d be a good learning experience.”
“Can we just call them super-humans? Because super-powered people is a mouthful,” I remarked.
Caleb chuckled. “Super-humans it is. Come on. Let’s get going.”