Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Conductivity Ep 2 (Pt. 5)

“And what do we do if a child attacks us?” a man with a glinting bald spot asked.

Fay sighed. “Obviously the safety of faculty is most important.” She held her hands in her lap, her thumb nail digging into the palm of her other hand. “This meeting was simply to remind you that the children’s safety is crucial and we may need to improve our monitoring standards.”

“But Headmaster, they’re all—”

They’re all children, and will be treated as such. Meeting adjourned.”

The present staff sighed and stood up from the folding metal chairs.

Annley burst into the room, startled to see the staff still present. He scurried over to Fay and bent down to her level. He cupped his hand over her ear and his mouth and whispered, “The twins are gone.

She gasped, not even catching the attention of the exiting staff, and looked to him. “Are you sure?” Annley nodded. “Send out every force we have.” He nodded again and quickly left the room behind the sergeants.

When the room was empty, Fay stood up. She looked out at the children sparring in Station Seven. A tear rolled down her cheek. She looked behind herself, and content with being alone, sobbed into her hands.

No one had ever tried to escape from her school.

The truck came to an abrupt halt, sending the girls forward. Hanna pulled herself away from Hayley, finally waking up. Hayley shook her head, falling out of her trance. She smiled.

Clicking her tongue twice, Hayley lightly shoved the lid of the trunk up. Light poured in as she poked her eyes out. She gently dropped the lid off to the side and climbed out. She waited for Hanna then quickly climbed out of the truck. Not a person saw them. Hayley could tell as she had made eye contact with no one passing by. They were at a gas station, and Hayley knew their best bet was to get inside to the bathroom and change. She grabbed Hanna’s hand and pulled her away from the truck, where a man unloaded with a credit card in hand.

They ran past the gas pumps and entered the store where they slowed. Hayley plastered a smile on her face, hoping no one would notice their uniforms. The bathroom came into view and Hayley pulled on Hanna with extra force. They slid in and sighed.

“We have to change, fast. I don’t want anyone knowing we’re here.”

Hanna nodded, slipping her backpack off.

“What happened to your face?” Hayley asked.

Hanna shrugged. “I think I hit it on the vent when we fell.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. That wasn’t planned.”

“I know.”

The girls stripped off their camouflage jackets and stuffed them into their bags. They changed into what would be considered pajamas at the school: a blue t-shirt and blue sweatpants.

“Let’s go,” Hayley said. Not so urgent as their entrance, they left the store more relaxed. Hayley laughed. “Who knew we’d end up in our town!” She pointed. “Look! It’s the pool store!”

Lawson’s sat across the street from the gas station. Hanna smiled. “I guess we got lucky.”

Hayley nodded. “And I know exactly how to get us home.”

Fifteen minutes of walking in silence had them at their front door. The little house was exactly as they had left it. Hayley set her pack on the front porch step and fished around in it. Hanna followed suit. Each retrieved a dagger, a pair they had come across in the forested training area.

A child’s laugh startled them. They both dropped to the ground, looking about themselves. Hayley climbed to the front window and peered in.

“Goodness, he’s just the happiest baby, isn’t he?” Rebecca asked, petting the baby’s thin hair.

Stewart nodded and shook the stuffed monkey. The baby laughed, bringing wider smiles to their faces.

Hayley could hear them through the open window. Her lip curled upward as a fire filled her chest. Her hand gripped the dagger with force unimaginable to an eight year old.

Sirens in the distance pulled her from her rage. She looked to Hanna.

“I think they’ve found out,” Hayley whispered.

Hanna nodded, and Hayley noticed the dark circles under her eyes. For a brief moment, maybe half a second, she thought she saw flames engulfing Hanna. Her face appeared melted and dripped at her feet. Hayley blinked and Hanna was as she was before, uncooked. She nudged her head at the door, and Hayley nodded her head in agreement.

Hayley took the one step separating her from the front door. Her hand lightly grasped the handle, something she had memories of doing. She twisted the handle and shoved on it, sending the door flying in.

Rebecca and Stewart gasped, startling the toddler.

Hayley walked in, her posture stiff as anger fueled her. She stood on the welcome mat and pointed her knife at her parents. “How dare you—

“Jesus, Stewart, is the wind that bad?” Rebecca asked. She quickly stood up and strode to the door.

Hayley stood inches from her, confused. She slipped in just before Rebecca could close the door on her.

Rebecca smiled at the boy who gawped at her. “Brrrrr!” she said, shivering. The child laughed and Rebecca plopped down next to him again.

Hayley stared at the three in awe. She waved her hand, catching no reaction from them.

Hanna stood on the other side of the door, dumbfounded. It slowly opened, Hayley’s face peering out.

Come in,” she whispered.

Hanna slipped in.

“Christ, Rebecca, did you latch the door?”

“I swear I did!” she said, looking at the open door.

Hayley swung the door open as far as it would go, braced both her arms on it, and swung it shut. It slammed closed, shaking the house.

The baby cried out, a wail louder than the door slamming. Rebecca picked him up and cradled him, cooing to him. She looked up to Stewart. “What’s going on?”

The sirens grew louder. Hayley’s heart raced.

“They can’t see us, Hanna.”

Hanna gazed at the family. “Maybe they’re just pretending.”

“Yeah.” Hayley glared at them. “We’ll see how long they can pretend for.” She strutted over until she was standing over Rebecca. Taking the knife in both hands, she lifted up until her body was an arc. She brought the blade down with all of her might, centering the blade in Rebecca’s skull.

“Ouch!” Rebecca called out, holding her head with her free hand.

Stewart gaped at her. “What’s the matter?”

“Ah, I just got the worst headache!” She rubbed her scalp.

Hayley shook her head, leaving the blade in her mother’s skull.

I don’t understand!” she screamed. Hanna stared at her with wide eyes.

The sirens got louder. Hayley looked out the window to see trucks pulling in.

Shit!” she looked at Hanna. “They’re gonna kill us and we can’t even do anything!” Tears threatened to run freely down her cheeks. She pulled them back, biting her tongue.

She yanked the blade out and shoved it back in, over and over again.

Rebecca gasped again, holding her head in her hands.

See me Goddamnit!

Hanna pointed to the hearth. “Hayley.”

Hayley stopped, looking back to Hanna.

“Look.”

Hayley looked where Hanna was pointing. On the shelf above the fireplace, Hayley saw three vases.

Hanna said, “Henry. Hanna. Hayley.”

Hayley stepped to the hearth, tuning out all noise around her. The vases had lids, and each did have a name. She picked up hers, not realizing it would be so heavy, almost dropping it. With trembling fingers, Hayley lifted the lid.

Ashes.

She overturned the urn, dumping the ashes on the fluffy carpet below her. Hayley looked over to her parents.

Screaming filled the room. Rebecca and Stewart watched the urn tip over, spilling Hayley’s ashes.

Hayley screamed. It was a hoarse sound, ripping up her throat. She threw the urn, hitting Stewart in the forehead. It shattered on impact, leaving bloody marks.

Hanna said, “You should have hit him right between the eyes.” She laughed, walking over and picking up her own urn.

The front door busted open.

Stewart fell to the carpet, his forehead running with blood. Rebecca turned from him to the open front door and shrieked.

While she saw no one, Hanna and Hayley saw three men. They aimed guns at the girls.

Hayley shook her head, tears rolling down her cheeks. “You can’t hurt what’s already dead.”

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