Getting ready the next morning, again earlier than Sarah was used to, there was a knock on the door.
“Who’s there?” Sarah called.
“There’s a policeman here who believes Priscilla might be here, and he wants to search the house,” Sarah’s mother said.
“I’m not dressed yet,” Sarah said, and looked at Lilly.
“If I leave, they’ll know, and you’ll get in trouble,” she whispered to Sarah. Then she said, “Get dressed and kind of stand in front of me, but leave me a clear look at whoever it is.” Although a little confused, Sarah did what Lilly suggested.
“Mr. Stratmore, this is my daughter’s room. She had a friend over last night, so they could work on a project together,” Mrs. Sanders was saying, as she led the man in. He had one of the monitors in his hand and was waving it slowly around the room.
Lilly sat stiffly, sure she was going to be detected, her hand holding a death grip on the dart gun, ready to pull it out. She was tempted to do it anyway, just to be safe, but that would definitely blow her disguise.
For one tense moment, the man paused, and moved toward Lilly, looking intently between her and the device. It was all she could do not to pull the trigger, but she held back. Finally, he left the room.
“What was that all about?” Sarah asked.
“That’s one of the devices they use to track me,” Lilly said.
“Why didn’t it work?” she asked.
“I’m not sure, but I think it almost did,” she said. “Thanks for letting me stay, but I think I gotta go,” Lilly said.
Just as she was about to walk out of the room, she handed a stack of paper to Sarah, “Would you turn this in for me? The teachers names are on it.”
“Where’re you going?” Sarah asked.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “But I’m getting tired of being chased,” she said.
“Sometimes, you scare me,” Sarah said.
“Yeah, Layton should’ve been more observant, but he was too thick headed to realize I was tired of his shit,” Lilly said.
“God, I hope never to be your enemy. You’re scary, sometimes,” Sarah said.
“I’m always scary,” Lilly said, and walked out.
“I can take both of you girls to school,” Mrs. Sanders said, as Lilly walked into the kitchen, hoping to get out unseen.
“I don’t mind walking, ma’am,” Lilly said. She knew she should’ve come up with more, but it was too late.
Mrs. Sanders suddenly looked at Lilly very intently. Then said, “Lilly?” Terror shot through her, knowing she was busted, and Sarah along with her.
“My name’s Melody, ma’am,” Lilly said, lowering her face, hoping to regain the shy demeanor she’d had the night before.
“You’ve changed your looks, but I know you,” Mrs. Sanders said.
“Sarah, get in here, now,” she called out.
“Why don’t you sit down for breakfast?” she commanded.
“I really need to go,” Lilly said.
“Lilly, I messed up when you came for help, but I won’t do that again, I promise,” she said.
“I’m sorry, but I think you have me confused with someone else,” Lilly said, continuing to try and convince Sarah’s mom.
“Sarah, is this Lilly,” she asked, as soon as Sarah walked into the room. Sarah darted a glance to Lilly, and Lilly tried to shake her head, but it was seen.
“That confirms it,” Mrs. Sanders said.
“Sit down, both of you,” she again commanded.
Lilly was about to force her way out, but Mr. Sanders walked in at that moment. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“It seems, Melody is actually Lilly,” she said.
“What?” he asked, confused.
“That’s Lilly,” she told him, pointing at her.
He looked at her, with that same intensity Mrs. Sanders had, a moment ago. Then his face lit up with recognition. There was no longer any denying it.
“Lilly, I think I told you to sit down,” she commanded, yet again.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Sanders, but I’ve gotta go,” she said, almost desperate to get away. She was feeling like a cornered badger, ready to go berserk to get away.
“SIT DOWN!” she said, using that voice that usually makes any kid ‘quake in their boots’. It no longer had that effect on Lilly, though. In fact, it began to irritate her, and increase her feeling of being a cornered animal.
Mr. Sanders, seeming to sense the change in Lilly, put a hand on his wife’s shoulder. “Lilly, please sit down, so we can talk. We won’t touch a phone, and won’t turn you in, while we talk. I promise,” he said, as he moved his wife to the other side of the table and to a chair. He then sat beside her, making sure Lilly had space. His tone, more than the clear separation, finally broke through to her.
“Now, tell us what’s going on. The truth,” he said.
“You won’t believe me,” she said.
“Try us,” he urged.
She stared at him for a little while, her glare intense, and direct. She was no longer the shy, meek girl she’d been pretending to be. Sitting down on the edge of the chair, ready to run, she carefully put her backpack down beside her, making sure she could grab it if needed. As she did, she opened it up, pulling out one of the monitors and one of the guns, along with the ID from one of the goons. With each item, she placed it on the table, but not close enough for them to easily get. Once done with her preparation, she stared at them a little while longer, trying to decide how much she was going to say.
“You aren’t the same little girl I remember, but I guess you’ve had a hard life, haven’t you?” he said. That comment broke through her erected shield, and she laughed.
“That’s more like it,” he said, smiling. “Now, tell us your story,” he said, and it was definitely a request, not a command.
“A little while back...I can’t remember when. It’s all a blur, now. Anyway, I was in the hospital. It was after Sylvie tried to shoot me and I’d had some kind of brain seizure, or something. I went out to pet the service dog, and there was a man in the waiting area with one of these,” she said, handing him the device.
“What is it?” he asked.
“It’s a tracking device, or actually some kind of monitor, I guess. It can see certain types of energy that comes from certain brains,” she said.
“Certain brains?” he asked.
“They told me that the energy it measures is telepathic energy, and that it’s different than any other type of energy wave, or something like that. Anyway, they can track me with this thing,” she said.
“They think you have telepathy?” he asked. She could see the amazement there, but she couldn’t tell if it was because he thought they were absolutely nuts, or that it could possibly be true. She simply nodded.
“Can you show me how it works?” he asked.
Rather than answering, she picked the thing up, turned it on and handed it back. She also sent a signal out for the birds to go away for a minute.
“Is that red dot supposed to be you?” he asked, and she nodded. She then had the birds return, knowing the goons were close.
“Why did it disappear?” he asked.
“Birds seem to interfere with it, for some reason,” she said.
“That’s why they didn’t find you earlier,” he realized, and again, she nodded. He began playing with it, and a moment later, his face became concerned.
“Did you know they could take pictures with this thing?” he asked. She shook her head. Then his face became even more concerned, and he said, “It also pulls up a lot of information about you.” He handed the device back and she looked at the small screen. Staring back at her was a listing of her entire life. Every single detail was there to scroll through.
“Who are these people?” he asked. She slid the ID across to him, and he looked at it in his hand. As he saw it, he almost threw it on the table. “These people are serious about this. This is the CIA,” he said. She nodded again.
“Lilly...God, I can’t believe I’m about to ask this, but...can you read minds? Do you have telepathy?” he asked.
“I can’t read minds, I promise,” she replied.
“Then how does this pick up this energy wave from you?” he asked.
“I don’t know how it works, or why it can find me,” she said, hating that she wasn’t quite being honest.
“Lilly, I know you have reason not to trust anyone, but eventually, you’re going to have to trust someone. Regardless of the things you’ve had to do by yourself, you’re still a kid and you can’t fight this alone,” he said. After a moment, he said, “You know why this thing can track you, don’t you,” and it was not a question. She nodded her head.
“Alright, I won’t press, since it’s something you clearly don’t want to talk about,” he began.
“I don’t want them to know why it works for me, but I can’t read minds. I swear,” she said.
“I believe you, Lilly,” he said, looking into her eyes.
“What’s with the gun?” he asked.
“I have several of them. I took them from the CIA goons that are trying to get me. They shot me twice, but I managed to get away,” she said.
“You’ve been shot!” he exclaimed.
“They shoot tranquilizer darts, not bullets,” she said, realizing he didn’t know. With that, he lifted the gun and removed the magazine, examining it once it was in his hand. He also removed the dart from the chamber, slipping it back in the magazine.
“You were expecting to use this,” he acknowledged, and again, she nodded. This time, he stared at her for a little while, remaining still and silent.
When he finally spoke, it was not to Lilly. “Emma, Sarah, would you please let us talk alone, for a minute?” he asked. Obviously curious, the two of them got up and walked out.
“You have some kind of connection with animals, don’t you?” he asked. Lilly was unable to talk. His questions was so unexpected, her mind was reeling from it.
“For anyone that knows you, it’s obvious, and although you and Sarah had a falling away, I still remember well that raven haired little girl that used to come over all the time,” he said. “Lilly, I won’t tell anyone, I promise. Of course, I’m not really sure what this connection is, although it’s obvious you made the birds leave and then come back. Regardless, whatever it is, it emits whatever this energy is that they can detect,” he said.
She was about to speak, but he held his hand up, “Actually, don’t tell me. The less I know, the safer you are. Lilly, anytime you need a place to hide, or anything at all, come here. You’re always welcome, and always have been.”
“I thought I wasn’t allowed over,” she said, on the verge of tears, thinking back to her earlier thoughts, and how she’d been stealing from them in the years her mother was a druggie.
“What, because you thought you were stealing money from us, so you could buy food and clothes,” he asked. “Lilly, we put that out so you could get it. I guess we’re partially to blame for the guilt you probably felt over it, but we knew you wouldn’t ask. I wish you had asked, but I know you were embarrassed. In all honesty, I should’ve confronted you and made you talk about it, but I wanted to keep from embarrassing you anymore than you already were,” he told her. Unable to stop the tears any longer, she got up and ran to him, hugging him tightly.
“Daddy, is everything alright?” Sarah asked, slipping into the kitchen.
“I think it is, sweetheart,” he said, rubbing Lilly’s back.
“Lilly, we have some money. It’s not much, but hopefully, it’ll help,” he said, once she pulled away from him.
“I have plenty of money, now,” she said. Seeing his curious expression, she said, “A homeless man I met set up some kind of trust account for me, so I have plenty of money.”
“Wow!” was all he said.
“That’s how I got these new clothes, and the haircut and makeup, and stuff,” she said, and pulled an envelope out of her pack. Sliding it to him, she said, “Hopefully, this’ll make up for the money I stole.
“Lilly,” he began, sliding the envelope back, “You don’t need to make up for that. We gave it to you, no matter what you thought you were doing. Just say thank you, and we’re even.”
“Thank you,” she said, tears forming in her eyes again.
“When your mother died, we should have adopted you, but you and Sarah had grown apart, and we didn’t go after you like we should have. I’m sorry, Lilly,” he said. A tiny bit of anger resurfaced at the thought of that parting, and again at someone not doing what was needed, for her, but she quickly suppressed it.
“Do you want to try and go to school?” he asked.
“I can’t. They’ll be looking for me,” she said.
“You’ve changed your looks so much, I doubt they’ll realize it’s you,” he said, admiring her new look. “You’re absolutely beautiful,” he stated.
“Thank you,” she replied, actually feeling shy. She wasn’t used to compliments, only insults and accusations.
“Considering everything you’ve been through, not just in the past few weeks, but the last few years, how are your grades?” he asked.
“They’re good, but I’ve gotten behind because of them trying to get me, and me running and all,” she told him.
“Why don’t you try and go to school? I’ll be close by, if you need me,” he said, and handed her a cell phone.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“It’s a phone. Surely you’ve seen one before,” he said, with a mirthful smile.
“I mean, why are you giving it to me?” she asked.
“In case you need to contact me. That’s my personal phone. The lock code is 436936, and you can call my work phone to get me,” he said, holding up another phone.
“By the way, I think I might be an illegal alien,” she said.
“What?” Mrs. Sanders exclaimed, having just walked back in.
“My first case worker told me that when I saw her in the mall, I think yesterday,” she said, everything a blur in her memory. “Her son is kind of cute,” she added rather softly, surprised that she’d said that.
“At least she’s a normal teenage girl,” Mr. Sanders said.