Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Conductivity Ep 2 (Pt. 2)

Hayley’s lips spread into a grin.

“Are you gonna fight me or just zone out like a freak?” Kammon asked as the other kids watched.

“Fuck you,” Hayley said, as monotonous as the speaker of the school.

“What?” Kammon asked, approaching Hayley. He stood six foot, two inches; a lean, towering human to face in combat.

“Fuck.” Hayley suddenly lunged at him. She ran to him and leapt into the air. Her fist just struck his chin when his hands wrapped around her waist. They made eye contact for a brief moment, just inches from each other. This was the exact way she had fought before. The smile on his face told her that he was in awe that she would so stupidly repeat herself. “You.” She pulled her leg back and thrusted the toe of her boot into the crotch of his pants.

Kammon’s face contorted. He dropped Hayley as he bent over. She skidded away from him, knowing her work wasn’t over. After a quick scan of his position, she hooked her arm on his neck and hoisted herself on his back. Locking her elbow into the crook of her other arm, she crushed his windpipe.

Yelling had filled the room the moment she struck his pants, but Hayley had only heard the rushing in her ears. She listened to him gasp and enjoyed the piggy-back ride to the ground as the boy lost consciousness.

She stood up, hands raised, just as a pair of hands snatched her up. They threw her to the ground. She landed harshly on her butt. With a flush of rage, she looked to her attacker.

Griffin glared down at her. “That was not okay.” The girl bared her teeth. “You do not win.”

The children circled around Kammon, their faces in shock. They flipped him onto his back, petting him and cooing for him to wake up.

“Why not?” The question came out as more of a statement.

“That was dirty.” The girl pointed down at Hayley, reprimanding her as if she were a dog.

A thought came to Hayley. It was her time. She pounced at the girl, catching her by surprise.

From above the Quarrel Room, an office hid behind mirrored glass. Two people watched Hayley and Griffin struggle.

“That girl is insane,” a dark haired man said. He looked over to the woman next to him.

Long, grey hair fell down her back, contrasting the dark suit she wore. She spoke in an even tone. “She is smart.”

“Yes, Ms. Crow, but she is insane.”

Ms. Crow glared at the man out of the corner of her eye. “As most geniuses are.” She saw the downward turn of his lips and faced him. “Annley, you don’t believe that?”

“Ms. Crow, I do, but the girl doesn’t understand her limitations. I think if we—”

“If you say ’separate the twins, it’ll be good for them’ one more time, I’m going to have to challenge you in the Quarrel Room myself.” She laughed, moving away from the window. It had appeared that Hayley pinned Griffin within seconds.

Fay Crow, headmaster of the school, walked across her office. “Come with me, Annley.”

Annley Mavie, superintendent to the school, followed suit.

“You see Hanna?”

He nodded, watching the girl climb up a rope.

“She is strong and smart, too.”

“Yes, but haven’t you realized when they’re together, they use one another as a crutch?” Annley shook his head. “Why would you weaken them like that?”

Fay whipped her head to look at him, her eyes boring into his. “If they train together, they’ll be so strong, they’ll never have to be alone.” She stomped back to the other side of her office. “As you can see,” she jutted her arm out to point to Hayley, “they work just fine alone, yet they are their strongest together.”

“It’s just, in the past, teams have not worked well—”

This is not a team!” she screamed. She lowered her voice to a whisper, “This is a family. These two girls are bonded by blood. By DNA. They could be the strongest soldiers we have ever produced if we train them right.”

“Or they could fall apart when one gets hurt. They share too much emotion.”

“Have you ever seen those girls emote? They’re not like the kids out there.” She pointed to her door, gesturing to the city far beyond their school. “Or the kids in here.” She looked out on Hayley, watching her run from the hoard of children after her. “They are perfect soldier material.”

Annley nodded, taking a deep breath.

Hayley scanned the room for options as she ran. Children screamed at her, chasing her down. She had fought enough, and her legs were tired. She would not be beat.

She just didn’t know how to get out.

The walls of the Quarrel Room were metal. No windows opened up the large room made of cargo containers. The ceiling was sixteen feet high and the lighting hung only a foot below that. Dirty plywood made up the flooring, and Hayley was sure there was no way out through there. She had explored the idea countless times, wondering if the Keepers had an underground tunnel system, but it didn’t make sense.

The doors were locked shut, operated by remote controls in the center office, of which no one knew where it was at.

Hayley looked up to the ceiling again, watching the lighting move in the mirrors that covered the walls about twelve feet up.

She realized that they didn’t cover the walls, they were the walls. But mirrored walls didn’t make sense if you couldn’t use the mirrors.

They’re windows.

Hayley smiled and frantically started signing to the mirrors as she ran, her breath ragged. She grasped toward her head and pulled her hand away over and over again, looking into the mirrors while keeping speed away from the other kids. Hayley hoped that someone would understand her sign language and let her out.

“Jesus, Annley. She’s communicating with us.”

Annley got up from his seat and looked out the window. “What do we do?”

“We should let her out,” Fay said, peering down at the other children. Hayley ran facing away from her, signing at the mirrors.

“If we let her out, it won’t be fair.”

“What’s not fair is sending her into a room full of kids willing to kill her!”

“It’s your rules!”

No. It’s the government’s rules.” She sighed. “We’ll just have to wait this out and hope she figures out another way.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Crow. I know she’s one of your favorites.”

Fay snapped a harsh look at Annley. “I have no favorites, only predictions.”

They watched the children chase Hayley for a few more seconds.

“Why haven’t they split up to catch her?”

“Would you split from a pack to wrangle a killer on your own?”

Annley pressed his lips into a thin line and shook his head, his dark eyes swimming back and forth as he watched the children.

It didn’t work, and Hayley was losing steam. She decided to cut her losses. Stopping, she turned around and faced the hoard of kids. They skidded to a stop in front of her. With wide eyes, each party stared at one another, eighteen versus one.

Hayley bared her teeth, putting up her fists. A siren sounded, signaling the end of classes.

“What did you do that for? They still had thirty minutes of class left.”

Fay stood over her desk, her hand still on the blue button of her control panel. “I’ve planned an emergency meeting in the Hall.”

Annley snapped his mouth shut, knowing she hadn’t had it planned.

“It’s only for the sergeants, but I have some information they need to know.”

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