“Doctor Pascoe!” the young intern was yelling, as he barged into the research area.
“Why are you yelling in my lab?” Pascoe asked, very deliberately stopping what he’d been working on, and turning to face the young man.
“I’m sorry for the interruption, doctor, but the field test you sent us on yesterday got a strong hit,” he replied.
“We expected a number of hits, James,” Pascoe said, struggling to remain patient, knowing that what they considered a strong hit was likely a squirrel, or some other simple animal.
“No doctor, this was a very strong hit,” he said. Although still sceptical, that got the doctor’s complete attention.
“Show me the data,” he commanded.
A few minutes later, Richard Pascoe was studying the data the young man was presenting. He wouldn’t have believed it possible. Sure, he expected a number of subtle hits, but this was a very strong spike. He hadn’t even been certain the device would work. Yet, on its first trial run, they had actually found a telepath, and it appeared, a very strong one.
“Run a full calibration,” Pascoe ordered.
“We already did, doctor. We knew you’d want that first thing,” James replied. Pascoe looked at the intern for a moment, annoyed, but pleased. Maybe this intern was better than he’d thought.
“Alright, let’s see if we can start triangulating the signal,” he said.
“Doctor, we only have the one monitor, until the shipment of the new ones arrives. Don’t we need three to properly triangulate?” James asked.
“That’s alright. If the subject is human, there’s a good chance they live nearby, and you should be able to narrow down the search area at night, when they’ll be sleeping,” he said.
“What if there isn’t any emissions when they sleep?” James asked.
“If you studied our findings more, you’d know that telepaths emit energy even when sleeping,” Pascoe replied, returning to his belief that this kid was simply a warm body. Of course, he was part of the team, because Pascoe needed those warm bodies to carry out the mundane tasks, such as field testing the telepathic wave monitor. He was still finding it hard to believe that they had actually found a telepath that strong...that quickly. The odds of that happening had to be astronomically slim.
However, the data didn’t lie, unless the machine was giving false readings. That would be proven by continued monitoring. If they returned to the same area, and there wasn’t a repeat of the occurrence, then it would be written off as an anomaly, an equipment glitch.
Although Lilly didn’t change classes her first couple of weeks, as was normal for high school, when she walked the halls she did so with a bounce in her step. She knew everyone was looking at her through different eyes. She’d kicked the crap out of one of the most prominent boys in the school, someone even the bullies wouldn’t consider threatening. To make it even more impressive was how small she was compared to him. They couldn’t anticipate what she might do, or be capable of, so they avoided her, and watched her with obvious wariness.
All of that was wonderful to her. She soaked it up, as if it was the sweetest milk for a baby. She almost laughed every morning as she walked to ISS.
Returning to normal classes was even better, when she was finally done with ISS. Not only did the kids watch her with caution, the teachers did, as well. This would’ve made most kids a little uneasy, but not so with Lilly. She was excited by all of the attention, actually walking with a smile on her face, which unnerved the kids more than what she’d done.
Lunch that first day out of ISS changed things, though. She was sitting on the floor in a hall with plenty of space around her. That was normal, and the way she liked it. Lilly was somewhat surprised, and a little annoyed when a girl sat down beside her.
“What’ve you been doing?” the girl asked. Having someone sit beside her was unusual, but having them actually speak to her was unheard of.
“Eating,” Lilly said, her reply not very friendly.
“Lilly?” the voice asked, which made Lilly look up. Sitting beside her was Sarah, her long ago best friend, her last real friend. At least she’d thought Sarah was a real friend, but that had proven to be a lie, like so many other things.
“What?” Lilly asked, her smile gone, replaced with an even deeper scowl than her usual one.
“You know everyone thinks you’re crazy, don’t you?” she asked.
“You think I give a shit what other people think,” Lilly asked.
“No. You never have, at least not since elementary school,” Sarah admitted. “Listen, I just wanted to let you know that there’s a petition going around asking to have you removed from the school...because you’re dangerous,” she said. That was definitely a surprise to her.
“Their petition is just a piece of paper, with some useless ink on it. The adults won’t listen, so it doesn’t matter,” Lilly replied.
“The parents are the ones doing it. It was started by Layton’s parents, since they’re not going to press charges,” Sarah said. That was also a bit surprising to her, and she still didn’t understand why they decided against pressing charges.
When Lilly didn’t reply to that, Sarah asked, actually sounding a little nervous, “Why didn’t we stay friends?”
Lilly’s anger exploded, and it was clear that her emotions were visible on her face, thanks to Sarah’s reaction, “Because you believed all that shit about me doing drugs...and being a slut. You never believed me, the girl that was supposed to be your best friend. Oh wait, you couldn’t believe what you never heard, could you? You never even gave me a chance to defend myself. You showed me just how much of a friend I really was. You left me, just like everyone else. All of you can go to hell. I don’t need any of you!” she yelled, then got up and stalked off, throwing the remainder of her lunch in the garbage. She didn’t care that she’d be hungry later. Unbidden, tears were rolling down her cheeks.
Angry, frustrated, and a heap of other emotions, Lilly went through the day with a solidly angry expression. Not only did the other kids avoid her, not that that was any different than normal, but the teachers also gave her plenty of space. Everyone that saw her, was scared of her.
Her day got even better as she was leaving school that afternoon. Walking out of the building, heading to her bus, Sylvie was standing against a signpost. She was waiting. Lilly thought, “why does everything have to come at me all at once?”
“Priscilla, how you be, bitch?” the girl asked. Sylvie looked as bad as her mother had that last Christmas, maybe worse.
“What’s it to you?” Lilly asked, not stopping. Sylvie got in her way, though, forcing Lilly to try and get around her.
“The Fangs ain’t done wif you. You belong to us,” she said. Lilly was already a bit unsettled, thanks to Sarah’s visit at lunch, and wasn’t thinking as clearly as she should’ve been.
“I thought I already got the message through to you, and your pathetic group of druggies. I’m not interested, so go to hell!” Lilly said, not keeping her voice down.
She then stopped, looking Sylvie directly in the eyes. “And who came up with that ridiculous name, anyway? Sounds like you children were desperate, and maybe saw a slobbering dog when you came up with it, “ she said, then she made air quotes, and with an overly dramatic lowering of her voice, said, “The Fangs.” It’s pathetic. You’re pathetic,” Lilly then stated. At that point, a number of kids were moving away from them.
“You a stupid bitch, girl. You don’t disrespect the Fangs like that and get away wif it,” Sylvie said, and pulled out a gun.
Lilly’s mind immediately disengaged, ranging out faster than she’d ever done it before. This time, she gave into what happened, without hesitation. After a moment of being disoriented, almost nauseous, she started seeing through very sharp eyes. Looking down, she saw herself, and in front of her, Sylvie with the gun. Not really understanding what she was doing, using the skills within the body she seemed to be inhabiting, she went into a dive.
Sylvie still seemed to be talking, as Lilly, in her altered state, dug her talons into Sylvie’s arm. The gun went off, as flesh was ripped away from Sylvie’s arm. When the gun dropped to the ground, every adult in the vicinity pounced on Sylvie.
Lilly then collapsed, unable to maintain the connection any longer, pain shooting through her head unlike any headache she’d ever had. As she fell, a shrill and loud scream burst forth from her.
“Lilly?” a voice asked. It took Lilly a moment to realize it was a female voice, and probably an adult female. Her mind wasn’t processing it really well, though. Actually, her mind wasn’t processing anything really well.
“Momma?” she managed to mumble, although her throat was very dry.
There was a silence that she could feel, that silence bringing her fully awake. Opening her eyes, she saw Mrs. Stiles and Mrs. Gomer looking at each other. There were two men there, as well.
“Where am I?” she asked.
“You’re in the hospital,” Mrs. Stiles replied.
“Why?” she asked.
Instead of answering, Mrs. Gomer asked, “What do you remember?”
“What am I not supposed to remember?” she asked, instead. Something wasn’t right, but she didn’t know what. Turning her head a little, she saw someone else in the room, probably a doctor.
“Lilly, what’s the last thing you remember?” the doctor asked.
“I remember Sylvie telling me I had to join the Fangs, and I told her to go to hell, then she pulled a gun out. Did I get shot?” she asked.
“Yes, but it was only superficial,” Mrs. Gomer replied.
“Lilly,” the doctor began, but Lilly’s normal demeanor was coming back, and she hadn’t given any of these people permission to call her by that name. That was special, and had to be earned.
“Priscilla,” she said, force behind her words.
“She seems to be coming around just fine,” one of the men said, with a smile. Other than the doctor, the men were dressed in suits, both of them clean shaven, and well groomed. There was something about the one that just spoke that seemed familiar, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.
“We’ll keep her for a few more days, run tests, and evaluate her mental functions, memory, cognitive response, and so forth, before we release her,” the doctor said.
“What’s wrong with me?” Lilly demanded.
“You had some kind of attack in your brain. We’re trying to figure out what exactly happened, and make sure it isn’t something to be concerned with,” the doctor said, after looking at Mrs. Gomer and getting a nod.
“I’m fine. Can I please go home?” she asked, getting irritated.
“I’m sorry, Lil...Priscilla, but you need to stay here until the doctor decides you’re really alright,” Mrs. Gomer said.
“Why’re you here?” she then asked Mrs. Stiles. Her tone wasn’t aggressive, but it wasn’t exactly nice, either.
“I was worried about you,” the principal said.
“I’m just one of hundreds of stupid kids in your school. You shouldn’t waste your time with me,” Lilly told her.
“Yes, you are one of hundreds of kids in the school, that aren’t stupid, but you’re the first to stand up to the Fangs, not that it was necessarily the smartest thing you’ve done. Besides, I worry about every single student I have, and that includes you,” she said.
“Why do you care?” Lilly asked, not sure why she did.
“Any teacher who doesn’t isn’t true to their chosen profession. Surely you don’t think we do it for the money?” she said, only a little sarcasm evident.
“My teachers haven’t cared about me for a long time. They just think I’m a drugged out gang slut,” Lilly told her.
“I think they’ve made a huge judgement error, in that,” she said.
“What’s wrong with you?” Lilly blurted out.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Like I just said, I’m into drugs, sex, and gangs. I’m the kind of kid you should be wanting to get out of your school, a pariah and a distraction to the learning experience of everyone around me, or something,” she said, sitting straighter as she said the last part, even using air quotes. Mrs. Stiles began laughing.
“Do you really think many of the other kids in school would’ve used that particular word? And I can guarantee, absolutely no gang member would have used the word pariah,” she said. “I’m one of the few, it seems, that doesn’t believe any of those things about you, although I’ll admit I can’t be certain about all of the things said about you. One thing I am certain of. You don’t use drugs. You’re simply too smart and aware to be using any of that crap, and to be honest, the rest kind of follows the same pattern, although your choice of attire does leave room for doubt. Regardless, if you were part of any of those things, your grades wouldn’t be as good as they are, and you wouldn’t be quite as sharp, and sometimes acerbic as you are,” she said.
“That’s me, acerbity at its finest,” she replied, making no attempt to blunt the sarcastic tone.
“Again, you prove my point. Very few kids even know that’s a word, and definitely wouldn’t be able to adapt it in speech,” Mrs. Stiles continued.
“I’m still not a good kid,” she said, after staring at Mrs. Stiles for a little while.
“You are a bit of trouble, I’ll admit, but that can be fixed, if you want it to,” she said.
“I don’t,” Lilly stated, rather flatly.
“Then one day, you’ll end up going too far, and more than likely, you’ll go to jail,” she said. “Once that happens, the rest of that stuff will probably follow,” Mrs. Stiles told her.
“Can I get up?” she suddenly asked the doctor, an impatient lilt to her voice.
“I suppose. Let me get these sensors and IVs off of you, first,” he said, and began doing just that.
“Hurry, before he’s gone,” she insisted, the impatience no longer hinted at. The adults in the room were confused and curious, but no one said anything. There was still a good deal of worry behind their stares, and her inexplicable impatience didn’t help matters.
“Be careful. You might be a bit light headed,” the doctor told her, as he took off the last thing that had been stuck to her.
With no caution, whatsoever, and no time wasted, she hopped out of bed and darted through the door, her bare feet slapping on the tile floor as she ran. All of the adults were surprised by her rush out of the room. As they quickly followed her out, they saw her slide on her knees into petting a service dog that had been touring the pediatric ward. Within moments, she was scratching the dog in a spot that was obviously sensitive, evidenced by the dog dropping onto his back, his back leg kicking with every scratch she provided.
She spoke to the dog in a very soft, sweet sounding voice, as if the dog was the center of her world, and the dog responded to her, knowing it was real.
With that same voice, she asked, “What will happen to Sylvie?” Several of the adults actually shook their head at the question, asked in such a sweet, almost cooing voice. They were all caught off guard by what she’d asked.
“She was arrested for having a gun on school property, not to mention shooting you, along with a number of other related charges, but she’s in the hospital for now. That eagle almost tore all of the muscles off of her forearm. Odds are, she’ll never regain full use of it,” Mrs. Gomer said. Lilly didn’t reply to that news, but the distressed look that came across her face was yet another surprise for them. That apparent sympathy surprised Mrs. Stiles, especially, considering Lilly’s lack of remorse for what she’d done to Layton Kirk. At that moment, she realized, Lilly was much more feeling than she let people know, but seemed to have some very deep, unique justice system in her mind. There really was hope for her.
While she was still enjoying the company of the dog, she noticed a young man standing in the nearby waiting area with an odd looking device, and it was pointed directly at her. As she looked up at him, an odd look formed on his face. It was a mix of almost panic, and excitement.
“Who is he?” Lilly asked, standing up and pointing at the man. From the dog, Lilly didn’t feel any threat, but also no trust. The dog was indifferent to the man, but she already knew that didn’t mean he wasn’t a threat, just that the dog didn’t sense any threat.
Still looking at the device, his eyebrows rose and he looked at her. Seeing her looking at him, a look of pure terror spread across his face.
As the adults looked at him, he rapidly put the device away, and all but ran to the elevator. With nothing seeming to be a threat, no one bothered to pursue him.
“Why’d you do that?” Mrs. Gomer asked, surprised by Lilly’s sudden pointing look at some stranger.
“He was pointing that thing at me, and he felt creepy,” she said, as if that was all there was to it.
“Sir, I found her!” the intern exclaimed, as he yet again burst into the lab. He had a darting glance, as if he expected someone to jump out at him at any moment.
This time, Doctor Pascoe didn’t get annoyed, knowing perfectly well what had the intern so worked up. In fact, that particular explosion of noise in the quiet lab actually had him excited.
“Show me,” he said, and allowed the intern to lead him to a computer. Moments later, the intern had the data streaming across the screen, as he saw an image of a young girl, wearing a hospital gown. The girl had jet black hair, and even in the picture, he could see that she was rather small. As the girl looked directly at the monitor’s built in camera, it went black.
“What happened?” the doctor asked.
“She somehow knew I was looking at her, and asked who I was. I packed up and left before anyone could stop me,” he replied.
“Hmm, I guess that’s understandable, but in a public place, there’s nothing they could do to stop you from doing what you were doing,” he said.
“I’m sorry doctor. I didn’t know,” the young man said.
“You do now, so in the future, don’t repeat the mistake,” Pascoe said, truly marvelling at what he was seeing. She looked like any kid, until she stood up, then she became rather somber looking as she stared into the camera. The way she stared at it was as if she had posed for them.
“Wait, she knew you were observing her?” Dr. Pascoe asked, and the intern nodded.
“She’s able to read your mind!” he blurted out, his excitement only barely contained, “It’s the only explanation. Find out who she is, ASAP. I’ll start the process to acquire her,” he said, not paying attention to who followed his orders, but knowing they would be followed.
“Doctor Pascoe, her name is Priscilla Pimlott. She’s in the ninth grade at Lakeside High School in Dekalb County. She’s an orphan, currently in foster care. She’s been arrested for shoplifting three times, but never convicted, and has been connected to gang activity, drugs and...um...other trouble,” one of his assistants informed him.
“What other trouble?” Pascoe asked.
“Well, sir, prostitution,” he replied.
“That’s excellent. That’ll make it easier for us,” he said, finally forcing himself to turn away from the data.
“Get me that girl,” he commanded.
“Yes, doctor,” the same assistant replied.
“We’ve finally got a real subject, one that could break this project wide open. This is incredible!” he exclaimed, again studying the data, and the girl. The signal was unmistakable, and there were a couple of pings in the power emitted, one likely the one that informed her of James’ presence. Now he wanted to see if he could nail down that particular moment.