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Chapter 15

Lilly was surprised when a small cluster of homeless people came a bit later, depositing a large pile of stuff, including a tent, a sleeping bag, clothes and all kinds of food and other stuff. New clothes were something she always needed, and wanted, and homeless people were delivering them to her. Something seemed off with the entire picture, to her.

The homeless people even set up the camp for her, which was a good thing since she had no clue what to do. It was a bit further in the trees than she’d been, probably to hide her better. She had everything she needed to hold out for quite a while, so long as the ‘bad guys’ didn’t come for her in the woods.

Her second night in the park brought her first near capture after the hospital. She heard a yell in the darkness, “Run, girl. Run,” the voice yelled, before it went silent.

Lilly grabbed her small pack, containing a change of clothes and a few other personal items, and did as instructed. She ran. Of course, she had no idea where to run. Finally, having tripped on the roots of yet another tree, she stopped on the other side of it, and slid down its trunk. She was tired, confused and scared.

Knowing she had options, though, she reached out and found the perfect animal. It was an owl, and using its eyes, she saw herself. Silently, the owl swooped through the trees until it found her quarry. There were six men, all wearing devices on their heads, and walking toward her, having no issues with the roots.

Fine, she thought. Let’s see how you like this. She reached out again, and found what she was searching for, asking the snakes to block the men from coming forward. As the snakes emerged in front of the men, letting them hear the rattling, they all stopped. They made a couple of attempts to get around the snakes, but more appeared. Finally, the men slowly backed away, and returned to the road. What they did next was not what she’d hoped for. They went to the other side of the park, and entered in front of her.

This time, rather than try and discourage them, she decided to just stop them. She’d tried to be nice, and they wouldn’t take the hint.

Bite one of them, please, she called out with her mind. Snakes, having relatively small, very unsophisticated minds, weren’t able to process that complex a thought. All of the men were bitten at the same moment.

“Damnit!” she screamed, not having wanted that. Go away, all of you, she called to the animals, using her mind and her mouth. Just as she did that, she realized her mistake and immediately reached back out to the owl. With the owl flying in front of her, she was able to make her way through the trees to the first man.

“Are you alright?” she asked, making sure to stay behind a tree.

“A snake bit me,” he said.

“Use your phone to call 9-1-1,” she urged him. With that suggestion, he did what she said. Lilly wasn’t sure why he hadn’t done that on his own. He was an adult, after all, and he was probably trained for emergency situations and all kinds of crap. “They were rattlesnakes, if that makes a difference when they get you to the hospital,” she told him.

In spite of what had happened, he picked up a small gun and pointed it toward her. Thanks to the owls acute night vision, she saw it coming, and got behind the tree before he fired. The dart plunked into the tree, very soundly. She carefully starting working on it while also keeping her ‘owl’ attention on him. Just as she was about to get it out, she darted back behind the tree as another dart plunked into it.

“Are you completely stupid?” she shouted at him. “If I get hit by one of your darts, what will the snakes do to me?” she asked, hoping he would use some logic.

“Where are they?” he asked.

“Like I know,” she replied, but added, “If they were close, I’d hear them.” She didn’t think about how that’d sound to him, but he seemed to. Another dart plunked into the tree, just as she managed to jump back.

“Why are you so stupid?” she shouted.

“I’ve got a job to do, and I intend on doing it,” he replied.

“What’d I do to you? I’m just a kid,” she said.

“You’re a threat to national security, and we’re tasked with eliminating any such threats,” he said.

“I’m just a kid,” she shouted back. “All I ever did was watch my mother die of a heroin overdose, and try to get by the best I could, in the shit holes the government put me in,” she exclaimed.

“Oh wait, I just found out I’m from Scotland, so I guess I’m actually from a dangerous country, aren’t I? We all know how dangerous Scotland is. I could be one of those dangerous celtic terrorists,” she said, as she finally got the dart she’d wanted. With that, she wondered how she was going to get away. As she was trying to figure out what to do, several different minds tickled hers, and she let them give her their thoughts, or rather, what they were seeing.

“Your rescuers have arrived,” she informed the men, her disdain for them not being kept from her tone.

“Thank God,” one of the men said. He was obviously doing worse than the others.

“I really hope you guys are all okay,” she said, as she carefully started moving away from them, trying to keep trees between them and herself. If she’d have realized how badly they were doing, she’d have known that she had little to worry about by that point.

Carefully, she made her way back to her camp. This time, she decided to try something. Closing her eyes, she let her mind drift out, connecting with a number of different animals, although most were birds. When she connected, she placed a very simple idea in their minds. Alert her if anyone comes toward her. She wanted them all to watch her, as if she was their young, or in some cases, their den. Some of the animals had no care for their offspring, and she instinctively knew it, so she omitted those from her list of conscripted sentries.

She had a number of visitors over the next few days, there was another attempt to capture her. However, this time she was ready and they never got close to her. With the rest of her visits, she was waiting and knew who was coming before they arrived. During that time, her ability to watch what was going on around her was almost becoming second nature, even though she didn’t realize it.

By her fifth day in the park, she was tired, and dirty. She desperately wanted a shower, or even better, a nice long bath. However, what she really wanted, much to her surprise, was human interaction, something she had always thought she was better off without.

As she sat there, contemplating the strong call of a bath, her mind wandered back to where her current ordeal had begun. The man in the hospital had a device, and was pointing it at her. Why?

With a sudden flash of brilliance, she got an idea. Sending out a call, she began preparing her new plan. A couple hours later, she made her way to the edge of the park, immediately spotting what she’d hoped for, thanks to the birds she was using as her eyes. On the other side of the road was a white van, but the men inside weren’t dressed in white. Rather, they looked like SWAT men, or maybe military.

She carefully moved to the back of the van, and then toward the front. She breathed deeply, and for a few moments she built up her courage, not sure this was actually going to work. She was quite a bit smaller than them, which meant they were almost definitely faster. It was all a matter of timing, and if she misjudged by much, they’d have her.

Gritting her teeth, she darted toward the trees, the men only taking a moment to realize their target was right in front of them. A moment more, and they were in pursuit.

As she was running, she had a sudden horrifying thought. They probably had some of those dart guns, which she was pretty sure was some kind of tranquilizer. In that moment of panic inducing thought, she sent a new command to her conscripted allies.

Sure enough, a short way into the trees, she felt a sting in her upper left arm. Not slowing, she looked over and saw one of the little darts. It hadn’t been a solid hit, but she had no doubt the stuff was going into her. She quickly pulled it out and tossed it away.

Much to her surprise, the tranquilizer wasn’t instant, like in the movies, or maybe she got lucky and it hadn’t actually gone into her. The other, much more remote possibility, was that it didn’t affect her. She was pretty sure that last possibility wouldn’t be the case, though. She simply wasn’t that lucky.

It didn’t take too much longer for her to know she was being affected by whatever she’d been injected with. She was getting tired, very quickly, her legs becoming like rubber. Finally, she fell to the ground. Rolling herself over, and sitting up, which was a chore, there were two large men wearing all black military looking outfits.

“We finally have you,” one of them said.

“Look behind you,” she replied. As he turned, four large dogs were standing arrayed in an arc, growling and slobbering.

“You’re going to be out for quite a while. Will those dogs stay here that long?” the man asked, a knowing smile plastered on his face.

She sent a thought to the dogs, Don’t let them take me away from you. If they point at you, take what they hold. It’s bad and will hurt you. She hoped they understood that, but she wasn’t sure.

“They’re protecting me. They’ll stay as long as they think I’m in danger, and I wouldn’t try and shoot them, if I were you,” she replied, getting very sleepy. That was the last thing she said, as she was unable to resist the drug any longer.

When she woke up, she was still lying in the woods. One of the dog’s heads was in her lap. Idly, she began petting him. She gently pulled the dart out of his rump. The other three dogs were sitting around, their tongues lolling out, and their nubs of tails wagging expectantly at her.

She smiled at them and sent her love to them. They all crowded around her, getting their share of her attention, which she gave freely. When she finally finished that, she realized something was wrong. The dog on her lap was still exactly as he had been. As she looked closer, realization slammed home. His tongue was hanging out, and had been. That’s when she knew he was dead. His mind wasn’t there.

“No!” she screamed, tears exploding from her eyes, running down her face in a torrent. She held the dog’s lifeless body close for a long time, soaking his fur with her tears.

As time passed, she saw remnants of the two soldiers clothing lying on the ground, along with both of their guns. This time, she smiled, although it wasn’t a pleasant smile.

Gently, she removed the giant dog’s name tag from his collar, seeing his name was Max as she did. After gripping it in her fist for a while, and crying some more, she strung the tag to the small dog tag chain she wore. How ironic, she thought, that the first tag she was putting on her dog tag chain was really a dog’s name tag.

As she stood up, she let her anger totally consume her. She wore it like a blanket, letting it wrap her in its warmth. She was thoroughly pissed, now.

She started walking, not really paying attention to where she was going. Her mind spread out like a huge wave, going in all directions. She’d never actively used it like this before, but her anger fueled her. Before she’d gone more than a dozen steps, she knew exactly where every single breathing creature was, man and beast, for hundreds of yards in all directions. More importantly, though, she knew where her targets were.

As angry as she was, she wasn’t stupid. She knew she was still a young girl, with serious limitations. She hoped they couldn’t tell where she was, somehow.

Carefully, she made it to the edge of the trees, and peered out. As she looked at the van, she leveled the gun and took aim. She had no experience with guns, never having touched one before, but it seemed simple. Carefully, she squeezed the trigger. Then quickly moved the gun a little and squeezed again, and again.

Staying hidden, she kept watching. It was obvious that she’d hit her targets, which completely amazed her. It was everything she could do not to start dancing for joy at what she’d just done.

The two men in the van were in a panic for a while, although she had no idea what they were doing, even watching them through bird eyes. Even though she already knew the stuff didn’t knock people out immediately, she was still surprised how long it took for them to finally settle down.

When they did settle down, she slowly, cautiously, made her way out of the trees. Staying toward the back, and at an angle to the van, she walked toward it. Making her way along the side, she imitated what she’d seen in TV shows, jumping sideways and holding the gun pointed at the open window.

Before she knew what had happened, the man in the driver’s seat disarmed her. Then, his hand dropped into his lap.

“Stupid girl. What were you thinking?” he said.

“I want to know how you know where I am,” she said. He started laughing, but didn’t say anything.

“I’ll shoot you again,” she threatened.

“With what? I have your gun,” he said. She had known it was an empty threat, since she’d left the other gun at her camp, but didn’t know what else to say. These guys were much smarter than the goons were in the movies, and TV.

“How do you know where I am?” she asked again, this time a little of her desperation creeping into her voice.

“You can read minds, and it has an energy signature when you do. We can see that energy on the monitors, when we have one. You’re lucky. There aren’t many, yet,” he said. Lilly hadn’t thought he’d actually tell her. Then she thought about what he’d said.

“What?” she exclaimed, then understanding dawned on her. They thought she could read the minds of people. They didn’t know what she could actually do.

“Who’s after me?” she asked.

“The,” he said, and paused, struggling to stay awake, “Government,” he finally said, and his eyes closed. She opened the door to the van and took his gun, then repeated it with the other man, also getting her original gun back. Next, she grabbed his cell phone, then took the watch off his wrist, and grabbed his wallet. She then repeated that with the second man.

Done looting the men, she looked in the back of the van and saw a computer system unlike anything she’d ever seen. Although she would like to have known what it was doing, and telling them, she didn’t know what she was looking at.

The one thing she did understand was a map, which had a foggy redness, with a small point in the middle. She was pretty sure the point was her. That also meant the other vans might be coming soon, very soon. In a moment of pique, she started yanking every wire and cord she could easily grab, and there were a lot of them. Before she was done, she poured their coffee onto the computer, sticking her tongue out at them when she was done.

The computer screen went blank, during her momentary tantrum. Knowing she needed to go, she stepped out of the van and started walking down the road, shoving the guns into her pack as she walked.

She had no idea how good they were able to track her, but she was now pretty sure they had little trouble doing so. How could she turn her mind off, or at least, the part that let her talk to animals? That was the only way she could think of to hide from them. Could she even turn it off?

Knowing she needed to get moving, she left the van and walked away. Thinking back on her two previous run ins, she wondered how she’d managed to not be caught, since they should’ve known she was there before she did what she did. He’d said they didn’t have many of the monitors, yet.

Not knowing why, she found herself standing outside of the high school. Looking at the soldiers watch, which she was carrying in her left hand, she saw that it was lunch time. Oddly, the white vans were gone. Throwing what little caution she had aside, she walked through the doors and into the school.

“How may I help you?” the front desk attendant asked when she walked into the office, not having really looked at Lilly.

“I need to talk to Mrs. Stiles,” she said.

“Miss Pimlott?” a male voice asked. Lilly turned and saw Mr. Zayne staring at her. He looked cautious, but curious.

“I need to talk to Mrs. Stiles,” she said. The emotions that had fueled her were collapsing in on her now. She was on the verge of losing her control. With a firm hand on her back, he guided her into the principal’s office.

“She’ll be back in a few minutes,” he said, guiding her to a chair.

“What’s the matter, Priscilla?” he asked.

“I need to talk to Mrs. Stiles, please,” she said, the please almost coming out as a whisper.

“I know you have no reason to trust me, but tell me what’s wrong,” he urged her. She only shook her head, unable to say anything else. As the door opened, and Mrs. Stiles came in, Lilly ran to her, wrapping her arms around the principal. She could no longer contain the tears and the crying. Her will collapsed, completely.

“What’s the matter, Lilly?” Mrs. Stiles asked, as she shushed her, and tried to comfort her.

“The government’s trying to get me,” she managed to say.

“Of course they are. They’re trying to make sure you’re safe,” she said. That rekindled her anger, like gas flung on the embers of a dying fire.

“They want to catch me and do stuff to me,” she said.

“No sweetheart. They have amber alerts for you. They think you’re in danger,” she said.

“Then why are they trying to shoot me?” Lilly said, pulling back from Mrs. Stiles.

“They aren’t, but they’re probably carrying guns. The reports suggest you may have been kidnapped by some dangerous people,” she said.

“Move over there,” she told them, pointing to the far side of the room.

“What? Why?” Mr. Zayne asked, Mrs. Stiles only looking curious.

“Because I want to show you,” Lilly said.

Mrs. Stiles moved to where Lilly indicated, and after looking at Mrs. Stiles for a moment, Mr. Zayne followed the principal’s lead. Once they were where Lilly indicated, she set the pack in the chair and slightly unzipped it. She then withdrew one of the guns.

“Lilly, where’d you get that? You know better than to bring a gun to school,” Mrs. Stiles said, using the stern voice she used with students. It had no effect on Lilly, though.

“This doesn’t have bullets in it. It has darts with some kind of drug in them, and I’ve already been shot twice, but managed to get away. They think I can read minds, or something stupid like that, and want to get me so they can study me, or something,” she said. Both of the adults looked at her as if they thought she’d lost her mind. She wondered if maybe she had.

“Lilly, I don’t know where you’ve been hiding, but you’re probably dehydrated and hungry. You’re not thinking straight,” Mrs. Stiles said. Lilly pulled the trigger, sending one of the darts into the wall.

“I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you,” Lilly said, then grabbed her pack and walked out, shoving the gun in the pack as she went through the door.

“Lilly, wait,” she heard Mrs. Stiles call, but she’d failed Lilly...again.

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