Of Thorns and Lightning

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The Vision

“The only safe place for you right now is at the compound.”

♦️

Maize felt as if her skin was crawling.

She never liked being around her dad.

He was toxic, he decided not to be a part of her life.
He left her.

She parked her Saab in the driveway and walked back into her house, her mother greeting her on her way in.

“Where’d you run off to? I didn’t even hear you leave.” She asked calmly, her hands grasping a steaming cup of coffee.

“I went out to Washington Heights, and now I want to throw up.” Maize answered honestly, locking the door behind her and stepping closer into the living room.

“I thought I smelled Hugo Boss. It makes me want to throw up too.” Her mother, Anne, admitted. “Want some coffee?” She then offered.

“No, I think I just need some water.” She declined, wanting to cleanse her palate.

“Did you get any more answers from David? I hope your trip out there gave you something and it wasn’t for nothing. That would be a shame; a useless visit with your father.”

“Yes, actually. I didn’t know he worked with Townsend on the Youngblood Project. I didn’t even have to say anything, he just knew what was happening with me, and that scared me a little bit. I was mostly reminded of why I don’t talk to him. He just doesn’t care.” Maize answered.

“Tell me about it, darling. Did you get any sleep last night?” She asked, changing the topic.

“No, I reread all my comic books instead. I hoped it would help me understand who I was, and it did. I think I’m finally starting to get it.”

“Did you think back on your memories? I thought that might help, too.”

“It did, you were right. I knew I needed to come home in order to figure this out.” Maize determined, much calmer and less heightened about the situation she would be in.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better. When you were younger, you always stood up for the little guy, no matter what. You selflessly helped your friends before you thought of yourself. You took no shit from anybody and protected the things you loved with your whole self. I told you, you always had it in you, baby.” Her mother explained, leaning forward to put her hand on the back of her daughter’s head and kissed her forehead.

“Mom, I don’t know if I’ll really see you again with college and this program and all.” Maize said, tears welling up in her eyes. Her mother was her best friend and separating from her would be challenging.

“We’ll find a way, darling.” She said confidently, putting her coffee mug in the dishwasher. “Go upstairs and try and get some sleep.” She encouraged. Maize went upstairs and tried to do just so.

Anne was about to leave for work but still had a few things to do in order to get ready. Maize got settled in her bed, her thoughts still rattling around in her brain. Though they were calmer, they were still invasive, and the sun wouldn’t let her sleep. The sounds of the city and the planes taking off always soothed her before, and without fail they did once again. She didn’t take into consideration the car approaching, then stopping and the doors opening and closing. She assumed it was just one of her neighbors, but it turned out to be a visit from a friend. Before she left, her mother went up to Maize’s room to check on her as well. She knocked on the door and peeked in, updating her.

“Honey, Peter’s here. I’ll send him up before I leave if you want to talk to him. I’ll be back at about 4, call me if you need anything. I’ll see you soon.” Her mother said to a sleepy Maize.

“Send him up.” She responded.

“Okay. I love you.” Her mother said before leaving. She heard voices and footsteps downstairs, then Peter’s gait coming up the stairs. Peter looked around, her house familiar to him as his house was to her. He reached the top of the stairs and turned down the hallway, her room in the front of the house facing the street. He stood in the doorway but didn’t knock, not knowing what to say to her. They hadn’t spoken since the flash drive incident, and the meeting at the compound.

Maize noticed his presence even if she wasn’t looking at him. He could never sneak up on her, his presence was never invisible to her.

“Don’t just stand there, Petey. Come in.” She invited. He side stepped into her room, resting against the wall by her door.

“Listen, Maize, I want you to know I’m not angry at you anymore about the flash drive. You’re my best friend and I forgive you. I got all your voicemails and I know how upset you were about it.”

“I’m sorry that I took it, Peter. I shouldn’t have. I was worried about you but that wasn’t the way to find out what was going on in your life.”

“And the look I gave you at the compound was harsh. I didn’t expect to see you so soon, the plan got changed and I was a little shocked. But now you know everything, huh?”

“Yeah. I just wish you had told me.”

“I wish I could have.” He answered, sitting down on her bed next to her.

“I’ve heard that a couple times. Was this project as top-secret at everyone makes it out to be?” She asked genuinely, noticing a pattern.

“It had to be. With all the scrutiny the Gods face from the public if things go wrong with their missions, just imagine the publicity it would have gotten that we didn’t want. This had to be done and we couldn’t risk it getting killed upon arrival.”

“How come it was you that worked with William about this?”

“Honestly, it’s kind of just happened. He never lied, we were communicating about MIT and my projects and everything, then it evolved.”

“That makes sense. I’m really starting to understand everything now, and I can’t help but feel as if I overreacted.”

“No, you didn’t. I know you and I know your overreactions, and this wasn’t one of them. This was an enormous change and you’re coping just like all of us. Don’t be embarrassed or anything. We’re all trying to help each other and get through this because we’re going to be Gods, Maize. I know you were upset that you couldn’t choose this, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. I don’t know what that is for you, but maybe.”

“I’m starting to get why they picked me as Thor. I kept thinking it was some sort of mistake, but now I understand.”

Peter broke into a smile.

“Finally! Now I hope you see yourself how I see you. That’s the person I’ve loved my whole life.” Peter answered, making Maize smile. She leaned into his side and they hugged tightly, until Maize suddenly went limp in his arms, slipping out of his grip and onto the floor.

Mazie heard a faded and muffled scream around her as she opened her eyes, only for the picture to be blurry around her. There were ammo shells in a scattered pile next to her, she noticed, as her vision was coming into focus. Her body felt a warmth that was unfamiliar to her, continuous drops of red falling onto her white sundress and soaking into the bright fabric. It felt almost too bright for the occasion, as the concrete was dirty and cold, and the rest of the building was dilapidated and uninviting. She raised a hand to her forehead which revealed to her a bleeding gash and as she wiped her hands on her dress, she realized the red was smearing. With horror, she knew the blood wasn’t all hers; she was lying in a pool of thick, red blood, bodies surrounding her. It wasn’t long before the screams she heard, she realized, were indeed her own as they rattled around on repeat in her head.

Peter collapsed to the floor of her bedroom, kneeling down beside her, unsure of what to do. She was unresponsive to him and her breathing was choked, Peter ready to call 911. They were just in the middle of their conversation when she fell to the maroon carpet covering the hefty hardwood floor, motionless next to her sneakers.

“Maize, come on, talk to me, what the hell?!” Peter began, checking her pulse and listening to her breathing. He didn’t think she had just passed out, he had seen her faint before, and this was different. A thick trail of crimson red blood cascaded out of her nostril and down her lips. Peter had seen this and read about this in cases of demonic possession, which completely sent him spiraling as hard as he wanted to stay calm.

Just moments later, her eyes shot open and she gasped as if she were being brought up from underwater to breathe the fresh air. She grabbed onto Peter’s shirt as she was coming to, processing her surroundings.

“What the fuck was that?! You scared the shit out of me! What happened; did you just have an absence seizure or something?!” Peter screeched, holding her in his arms still.

“How long was I out for? Did I faint?”

“Just a few seconds, I don’t think you fainted. Your hands are shaking, do you need some water?”

She stared down at her hands for a moment, looking as if she was trying to figure something out. Almost trancelike, she answered him.

“No, I don’t need water. But I think I’m going to do something terrible.”

“How do you know that?!”

“I think I just had a vision, a hallucination-” she answered, not able to find the right describing word. The events made sense to Peter, now. A weight was lifted off his shoulders.

“William said this would happen, come on. We’re going back to the compound.”

“What did William say would happen?! He doesn’t know me, how could he possibly-”

“He said you’d say that too, and lot tell you that Thor said you would be getting your unique power soon.”

“Unique power?! I didn’t think I got anything!”

“Well, you do. The only safe place for you right now is at the compound, Maize.”

She agreed and Peter helped her up. She stopped him before leaving and grabbed some of her things she didn’t have in her room at the compound before he carried her down the stairs and out to his car. Maize sent a text to her mother saying that she was going back to the compound, but she would see her soon, and she meant it. She needed to Peter drove dangerously fast down her street and entered onto the highway, dictating a text to William as he drove. Maize scolded him for using his phone and driving- over the speed limit, to boot- and Maize thought for sure they were going to get into an accident or pulled over at least. He just wanted to get her to safety.

Upon arrival at the compound, Maize saw a gathering of people by the main doors as they pulled up the extensive driveway into the middle of the field. Maize undid her seatbelt and worked on getting out, but to y opened the door for her and supported her as she stepped out. The blood trail was slightly smeared on her face, but it was mostly dry and flaky, as well as browner than crimson. William greeted her, Peter going to her other side.

“Welcome back, chosen one. Wow! You look like shit! Here’s your ID card back, I never deactivated it. Remind me that Artemis owes me a hundred bucks.”

“What?” She asked, confused and not completely aware of what was going on around her yet.

“Nothing, let’s just get you inside.” He guided. Thor was waiting for them in the common room upstairs.

“Mr. Odin son, meet your legacy, Ms. Maize Grace Leto!” William exclaimed. Thor’s attention was immediately on the rag-tag group that entered the room. He smiled the brightest smile Maize had ever seen, but then he raised an eyebrow and glanced down at the file folder with her picture attached, then back up at Maize. William caught his gesture and responded.

“Yeah, it’s the same girl but she’s certainly been better.”

“Hey guys, it’s Thor!” Maize pointed out, now recognizing what was happening just before she went slightly weak and grabbed William’s tie as she stumbled for support, nearly choking him. He repositioned the girl and loosened his tie. He coughed and straightened himself up.

“We’re going to get her taken care of, and then you two can meet on better terms. She’ll be fine soon.” William reassured. Thor was serious, but obviously hopeful for his legacy.

“Excellent. She and I have a lot to discuss.”

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