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Chapter 18

“Momma!” Lilly yelled, as her Momma was being taken away from her. Try as she might, she couldn’t hold onto her mother’s hand. And try she did, with all her strength. Her hands were sweaty and slippery, though. As she began falling, she saw a lot of snakes coiling around her. She screamed.

Her eyes opened. Pain exploded.

As her eyes slowly focused, there was a man standing near her, looking down at her. He seemed scared, though, and worried. Then she knew why. Snakes really were crawling on and around her. Only a few weeks, or maybe only days ago, that would’ve terrified her, and sent her into hysterics.

Without saying a word, she stood up, and stretched, dropping a few snakes on the ground. She felt like she hadn’t slept in months, yet she’d just woken up. Her head hurt.

“Stay still, kid,” the man implored.

“I’m okay. They won’t bite, unless I do something to aggravate them,” she assured him, but moved slowly. She wasn’t absolutely certain of that, but she thought it was true.

Very carefully, she stepped through them, to the sidewalk. Once on the sidewalk, she slung her backpack on her shoulder and started walking.

“Kid, are you alright?” the man asked, running and stopping her.

“I’m okay. Just fell asleep and had a bad dream is all,” she said.

“Where do you live?” he then asked.

“I’m sorry, but I shouldn’t talk to strangers,” she replied. Although it was a true statement, she was using it to get him to go away.

“At least let me get the police to make sure you’re alright,” he said, pulling a phone out.

“Um, thank you, but I think I’m just going to move along,” she said, knowing this wasn’t going well.

“You need help, kid,” he said, not allowing her to go forward.

“Fine, I’ll go back to the snakes,” she told him, but he grabbed her in a firm grip. It was clear, the only way she was going to stop him was not going to be nice, or she could simply run.

“Please let me go,” she pleaded, trying the nice approach, not sure why she did. His grip only got harder, which made her angry. “I warned you,” she said, and stomped on his foot. As he yelped, his grip loosened, and she ran. The pounding in her head kept pace with her steps.

Not far from there, she darted into the next copse of trees she came to, this time having taken no precautions to see if anyone noticed. This was much smaller, not offering much concealment, but she didn’t really care. She couldn’t care. The pain in her head wasn’t allowing much in the way of coherent thought.

Just inside the trees, she again collapsed, giving into the blackness that consumed her. It was a welcome relief from the pain.

When she opened her eyes again, the same man was kneeling beside her, no snakes present this time. She started scrambling away, but he held her down, trying to calm her. His efforts only made it worse, though.

“Listen, I’m an EMT, a medical responder. I’m only trying to make sure you’re alright, I promise. There are people all around, so I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. Lilly then noticed people walking back and forth, someone occasionally looking down at them, but no one else stopping.

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

“Stacy Kirk,” she said, realizing at the last moment that she needed to lie.

“Stacy, would you tell me your phone number, so I can call your parents and tell them what’s happened?” he asked, but there was a knowing look to him. Lilly knew he figured she was homeless, or maybe a runaway, or something. Even she knew she didn’t look very good.

“I can’t remember it,” she lied. Of course, it kind of wasn’t a lie, because there wasn’t a phone number to remember.

“Did you know it before you passed out?” he asked, as she sat up, rubbing her head. It still hurt, pretty bad.

“I think so,” she again lied. She knew this would eventually turn on her, but she had started it, and was now stuck trying to keep the lie going. It was funny to her, knowing this was a very good example of why you shouldn’t lie.

“I’ve called 9-1-1, and an ambulance should be here in a minute. They’ll find out what’s wrong, and fix you up, okay,” he said, and she started panicking, unable to stop herself. “Settle down, breath slowly,” he said, rubbing her back.

“Mister, there are some people chasing me. If they come, I’m not sticking around,” she told him. The man looked at her for a moment, trying to determine if she was possibly schizophrenic, or if she was telling the truth. Of course, even if she was sick, he might not be able to tell the difference. He wasn’t a psychiatrist.

What did catch his notice was how mature she sounded. Not like the little girl before him, looking rather bad.

“You’re safe. The cops are probably coming with the EMTs,” he said, trying to stick to the fact that she was a little girl.

“They claim to be cops,” she told him.

“That’s illegal, if they’re not,” he said.

“Maybe they are, but they want to do things to me, experiments and stuff,” she said.

Sitting down beside her, he took her hand and looked in her eyes. “Stacy, in this country, no one’s allowed to experiment on people, without a lot of government oversight and agreement by the person being experimented on,” he said, in his attempt to reassure her.

“Yeah, whatever. I know what they said, and I know they’ve shot me with tranquilizer darts a couple of times, so you can shove that crap up your,” she said, but was cut off.

“Stacy,” the man interrupted. After a stern look, he said, “Girls shouldn’t talk like I think you were about to.”

Expecting the typical teenage rebelliousness, he was surprised when Lilly looked contrite, and said, “I’m sorry.”

“Stacy, you said they’ve shot you with tranquilizer darts. You wouldn’t happen to have one of those darts, would you,” the man asked.

Lilly smiled, and he didn’t like the smile she gave him. She sat up, then looked at him with unmistakable curiosity, “Where’s my stuff?”

“Your backpack is behind you,” he replied, pointing.

Grabbing it, she pulled out one of the guns, opening the magazine and handing him a dart. He was stunned for a moment, as she worked the gun, but recovered as she handed him the dart.

“This is one of the guns they used,” Lilly said, as she was handing him the dart.

“How’d you get one of their guns?” he asked, rather surprised by the apparent proof to her story.

“The first couple I got was because they dropped them when some dogs attacked them. I used one of those to shoot a couple of them with their own sh-stuff,” she said with an almost sadistic looking grin. He smiled at the correction she’d made.

“If the police are coming, the people that are after me will probably come. They have the FBI with them, I think,” she said. Then it hit her, and he saw confusion and worry warring in her expression.

“What’s the matter?” the man asked.

“They should’ve come already,” she said.

“They probably don‘t know you’re here,” he replied.

“They can track me,” Lilly told him, another almost unbelievable statement from her.

“This is like some kind of crazy spy movie!” he exclaimed.

“It sucks,” Lilly stated.

“Did they implant some kind of tracking chip in you, or something?” he asked.

“No, sir. They can track some kind of energy my mind makes, or gives off, or something. I was kind of not thinking well when the crazy doctor told me how they did it,” she said.

“First, who is this crazy doctor, and why did you call him crazy?” the man asked.

Lilly thought back, and realized, he’d never said his name. “I don’t know who he is. He never told me, but he’s crazy because he thinks I can read minds. He said I have telepathy,” she said.

“Okay, I agree with the crazy part, assuming you can’t read minds,” he said, looking at her.

“Hell no...I mean, heck no,” she said. “But he thinks I can, and said he can track me because of the energy my mind gives off because I can,” she continued.

“That still doesn’t explain how he claims to be a policeman, and has tried to capture you. That’s illegal,” he said.

“He told me ‘all of the weight of the United States intelligence community is working to get control of you’,” she recalled.

“Odds are really good that he was lying. Besides the crazy idea that you could possibly read minds, getting the ‘United States intelligence community’ to hunt one little girl seems a bit dramatic,” he said.

“Excuse me, sir,” a male voice then said, surprising both of them. Oddly, the man quickly shoved the gun and the dart to Lilly, keeping them hidden.

“How may I help you?” the man asked.

“I’m here to help Priscilla Pimlott,” the new man said.

“I have no idea who Priscilla Pimlott is,” the man that’d been helping her replied. The man standing up gave the slightest of smiles.

“That’s Priscilla Pimlott,” he said, indicating Lilly.

“That’s my name,” she admitted. She started to try and explain, but decided it wasn’t worth it. There was nothing she could do to improve her situation.

“Your request means nothing right now. The police and an ambulance are on the way. She’s suffered some kind of seizure,” the man said.

“Actually, we have a medical team ready and waiting,” he said. Lilly just stared at the man.

“I don’t wanna go,” she almost whined, trying to play the scared little girl card. Of course, she really was scared.

“I’m sorry, but until the police get here, I’m not letting you take her,” he said. The military man smiled.

“You don’t understand, mister. I’m with the CIA, and I think you’re in over your head,” he said, showing some kind of ID.

Thankfully, the man that’d stopped to help her was still standing between her and the goon, so she easily lifted the gun without either of them seeing. Leaning, just a little, getting a clear view, she pulled the trigger.

“You little bitch!” the man said.

“Watch your language,” she admonished him. “I’m just a kid,” she added. He walked the couple of steps to her, snatched the gun away, and slapped her...hard.

Since she was lying on the ground, she didn’t have very good leverage, but she used what strength she had and kicked his shins with all her strength. He wasn’t prepared for that, and fell. As soon as he began falling, she jumped up, and repeated what she’d done to Layton. As with Layton, there was an audible cracking sound as her foot made contact.

With the gun back in hand, she shot the man a second time, hoping it didn’t kill him, but not willing to take a chance on him getting back up. She knew he’d be pretty mad, if he was able to function with a broken jaw, assuming it was broken.

“Sorry mister, for lying to you, but I didn’t think I had a choice,” she said, slinging her backpack on her shoulders. Just as she was about to leave, she went back to the man, and started rifling through his pockets, taking anything that seemed potentially useful later. She tossed his wallet, still containing his money, on the ground.

“Priscilla,” he said, almost like a question, before continuing, “I think you should let the police come, and let them deal with this,” he said.

She stared at him only a moment, “You’re kidding, right?” Turning to the goon, she said, “He is kidding, isn’t he?” He just groaned, still not getting up.

After a short look at each of them, she said, “Sorry mister, but there’s more of him nearby, and I gotta go. Thanks for everything,” and walked away.

“You’re a kid. You need help,” he tried.

“I’m an orphan. Been one for years. Taking care of myself for years. For the last several weeks, I’ve been living in the woods, trying to hide from these goons. Trust me, I can take care of myself,” she said. After a short pause, she kind of looked down and whispered, “Thanks, though,” and walked into the crowd, disappearing from his view in seconds. She was a little surprised there hadn’t been more than one goon that came to get her. That was lucky, for her.

Although she wasn’t certain it had worked the first time she’d tried it, she decided to call as many birds as she could contact, and create a cloud around her. Once she had that in place, she stopped the constant connection to their minds, just maintaining the barest link. Not sure if it was going to work, she walked through the throng of people, acting and looking like any teenage girl, and hoping they didn’t have a good picture of her.

It then dawned on her. She needed to change how she looked.

A man was approaching her, one she was almost certain was one of the goons. She lifted the gun, which she still had in her hand, and fired. He was stunned, as he looked at the dart sticking in him. Pulling it out, he got an angry look and started forward again. She was a little surprised none of the people said anything, or even made a move to get away. It was as if they were completely oblivious to what was happening.

“I’ll shoot again,” she said, and looked him in the eyes. “I wonder how many darts does it take to kill a man?” she asked, smiling. He stopped, and she resumed walking, the crowd accepting her as one of them.

“Doctor, the monitors are working perfectly,” the technician said, several of the ‘malfunctioning’ devices laying in pieces on his workbench.

“Then explain to me how she walked out of her foster home without even a blip showing on the monitors, or how they’re now displaying a large cloudy area, rather than a single point, like they should,” he demanded.

“I don’t know, but they’re working perfectly, sir,” the technician said, and turned the computer to him, so he could see the data.

After staring at it for a while, he simply shook his head. “Keep digging. Find out why we’re not seeing a point, like we’re supposed to,” Dr. Pascoe said, frustrated, but knowing his lead technician was right.

Once the doctor left, the lead technician turned to his nearest assistant, “Any ideas?” The man shrugged his shoulders, but didn’t reply.

A woman on the far side of the room, having heard the conversation, and having been studying the anomaly since it’d been reported, walked over. She’d been with the program since it’s early days, and although she wasn’t in the upper circles, she was well trusted, and liked. She also had a hand in the development of the monitors.

“Jeff, we need to take a field trip, and see this for ourselves, I think,” she said.

He considered her suggestion for only a moment, then nodded. “Alright, since it’s your idea, get a couple others, and go see what you can see,” he said.

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