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Chapter 24

As she began waking up, her head felt like someone was using it for target practice with thrown hammers. Every pump of her heart was felt in a horrible staccato of pain.

“Uhnn,” she moaned. She started to rise, and quickly stopped as her stomach started to rebel. Instead, she rolled onto her side, and let it have it do what it wanted to do.

When her stomach finally stopped heaving, she sat up, moaning some more. She’d never had a hangover, since she’d never been drunk, but she imagined this must be what one felt like. Of course, she suspected a hangover might not be as bad, since people had them more than once, and no one in their right mind would repeat this.

Looking around, she was absolutely stunned to see the array of animals surrounding her and further out into the trees. It was breathtaking, and unrealistic, like the moment in the Lion King with all of the animals around the rock. That kind of thing just didn’t happen in real life.

As she stood up, the pain seemed to pour out of her, like water. She suddenly felt renewed, life flooding into her...and she was pissed.

How could she start hurting them, she thought. There had to be something she could do to start turning the tables, but what? Pulling out the phone Mr. Sanders had given her, she dialed his other number.

“Mr. Sanders, I need to see if there’s something you can do for me,” she said, once he answered.

“What’s that, Lilly?” he asked.

“You’re good at looking at computer stuff, right?” she asked.

“I suppose, but it depends on what you need me to look at,” he asked.

“I have a computer I kind of stole, and I need to see what’s on it,” she said.

“You stole it? I’m not sure I can help you with that. It wouldn’t be right,” he said.

“The people I took it from were trying to hurt me, and I only took it to see if there was something on it I could use to stop them,” she tried to explain. She knew that sounded lame, though.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you to do this. I know it doesn’t seem right to you. Thanks anyway,” she said, and hung up, knowing he was trying to say something to her.

She then looked at her wrist, wondering if Stu might be able to help her. She didn’t really know anything about him, and also didn’t know if she could trust him. Deciding to gamble, she dialed his number, just as Mr. Sanders was trying to call her back.

“Stu,” she said, “This is Lilly, and I need some help, and I was hoping maybe you could help me,” she said, once he’d answered.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“I have a computer, and I need to know what’s on it. I know how to use a computer, but there’s too much stuff and I don’t have a clue where to start,” she said.

“Do you have the ID and password for it?” he asked.

“Crap! No, I don’t,” she said.

“It’ll be almost impossible for me to break into it. Is there anyway you can get that?” he asked.

“I’ll see,” she said, and hung up before he could say anything else. Thankfully, Mr. Sanders had stopped calling, as well. An idea suddenly popped into her mind, as she was trying to figure out how to get the ID and password.

As she stretched her mind toward the sky, an intense pain shot through her. She screamed, and let the power die, unable to deal with it. Then she realized, her mind was connected to a massive number of animals. Letting go, the pain eased, and she then reached out for a handful of birds, giving them instructions. With one, she entered it’s mind, seeing through its eyes, and hearing through its ears.

As her little squadron of crows made their way back to the school, she was rewarded with what she hoped would be there. Sitting among the police cars, and teacher cars, were three vans. All of them had their windows open.

Guiding the birds, the group dove into the window of the van and began wreaking havoc inside. While that was going on, the bird she controlled went to the computer and touched the power button, shutting the computer off. She repeated it with the other vans, before her bird was finally knocked senseless. She actually felt the pain when the bird was hit, and it wasn’t nice.

Having accomplished the first part of her plan, she searched for and found a hawk. For this bird, she didn’t need to be too close, but she did have to have the right angle, so she could see the keystrokes. It took a few tries, but finally, the hawk was perched in a tree looking into the van, and she watched as the people in the van rebooted the computers. As she watched, she saw each keystroke, first of the login ID and then the password.

“Gotcha!” she said, smiling. She released the bird, got her pen out and wrote the information on her wrist, right under Stu’s phone number. Before calling, she put her bird shield back in place, knowing they’d come for her if she didn’t.

“Stu,” she began, calling him back. “I have the user ID and password. Where can I meet you?” she asked.

“How about the food court at Northlake?” he asked.

“I’ve gotta walk from Lakeside, but I’m on my way,” she said, and hung up, as he was trying to say something.

It took her the better part of an hour to get there, mostly because she had to avoid the cops and vans patrolling the area. To make her trip longer, she meandered through the very large neighborhood that was between the school and the mall, trying to avoid being seen. All of that was also compounded by her limp, and the pain that was the source of the limp.

“Hey,” she said, coming up behind him. He almost fell out of the seat, surprised by her sudden appearance.

“You really walked all the way from Lakeside?” he asked, then looked at her for awhile. She was covered in cuts and scratches, some of which were still bleeding, not to mention she was limping. She knew her clothes had to look absolutely awesome.

“Yeah, but it took longer because the cops and some goons are looking for me,” she said.

“The cops are after you?” he asked, and despite his interest in her, she could tell he was nervous. In that moment, she knew he’d never done anything that noticeably broke any rules, or laws. The tattoos and piercings he’d had at their first meeting, which were gone, had been the extent of his rebellion. She actually liked that, contrary to what everyone probably thought about her. He was a good, clean person, something she yearned for, for herself.

“Listen, I can’t explain it all right now, but I promise I didn’t do anything wrong. Well, not really, other than I guess I stole this computer...and I did shoot a few of their goons, and some technicians,” she told him, a little sheepish at the admission and how bad she knew it sounded.

“That sounded really bad, didn’t it?” she asked.

“Yeah, it kinda does,” he agreed.

“They’ve been chasing me because they think I can read minds, or something stupid like that, which I can’t do, and they want to put me in some lab, and do things to me. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true, I swear,” she said.

“God, you’re beautiful,” he said, looking up at her.

“I only shot them with their own tranquilizer darts, after they shot me a couple of times and I got away. The goons that are chasing me are CIA men,” she rattled on, then paused, “What did you say?” she asked, suddenly registering what he’d said.

“I said you’re beautiful,” he repeated, his face getting a little red.

“I’m pretty, maybe, but I’m not sure about beautiful,” she replied. “Anyway, can you see what’s on this?” she asked, pulling out the laptop, trying to change the subject.

“Yeah, let’s see what you’ve got,” he told her, taking it and opening it up, as she sat in the seat beside him.

“Here’s the ID and password,” she said, holding her wrist out for him.

He moved from folder to folder, and file to file, never staying in one place very long. Finally, he came to a file, nested deep in a bunch of layers of folders. The file didn’t have a real name, just a number and extension, 45021852.docx.

“My God,” he said, after reading it for a moment.

“What?” she asked.

“You weren’t kidding. They plan to do some really freaky kinds of tests on someone. I guess you,” he said, sliding the computer over a little so she could read it.

She wasn’t very far into it before she started feeling sick. The test she noticed most involved cutting her skull open to examine the brain, live. There were other tests which had them trying various drugs on her to see how she was affected. Of course, she didn’t know for sure she was the subject of the file.

“This might not be for me,” she said, echoing that thought.

“Isn’t your name Priscilla Pimlott?” he asked. With a sinking feeling, she nodded.

“It’s definitely for you, then,” he said, turning the computer for her to see, again.

SUBJECT: 45021852


BIRTH: MAY 15, 1998

“You’re 14?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?” she replied.

“Nothing. I just thought you were older,” he said.

“Is that a problem?” she asked.

“No,” he said, “I didn’t mean anything, it’s just, even though you’re small, I thought you were more mature, like 16, or maybe 17...I mean I didn’t think you were so young, and you’re not that small...crap, this isn’t going good,” he said, and stopped.

“I think you were doing really good, actually. It’s hard to make me laugh, and you came really close,” she said. “How old are you?” she asked, a single eyebrow raised.

“I’m 16,” he said.

“Sorry, I’m just a child,” she told him, a smug smile set firmly on her face, mirth in her eyes.

“Listen, what is all this stuff?” he asked, returning to the computer.

“They believe I have telepathy, and they want to study me, and experiment on me, I guess to figure out what makes me tick,” she said.

“People don’t do that in the United States!” he exclaimed. “They just don’t,” he added, shaking his head.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. I’m thinking about going to the British embassy to see if I can get them to protect me,” she told him.

“How can the British embassy help you? We’re in the United States,” he said.

“Remember, I’m an illegal alien from Scotland,” she said.

“You’ve gotta be kidding?” he said.

“Nope. Weren’t you paying attention,” she replied, and he looked sheepish. He hadn’t been paying attention.

“Not only are you the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen, but you’re also Scottish,” he said. “Hey, why don’t you sound Scottish, and is your real hair color blonde, or red,” he asked.

“I’ve lived almost my whole life here, which is why I don’t sound Scottish. My Momma did. Sometimes I couldn’t understand her, especially when she got nervous, or was…,” and she stopped, looking down.

“Was what?” he asked.

“High, or stoned or whatever they call it,” she said, very quietly. “Anyway, my hair is actually black. Very black, as in jet black, or maybe raven black. You know, that black that looks blue in certain light?” she said, trying to move away from the subject of her mother. Of course, she’d also talked about herself much longer than she liked, and her hair, at that.

“I’ll bet it’s incredible,” he said.

“It’s what I got,” she said. Then tilting her head a tiny bit, she looked at him, “If you keep talking about me like I’m some goddess, or something, I’m going to start taking advantage of you.”

“You wouldn’t take advantage of someone, especially me,” he said.

“You don’t know me very well,” she replied.

“No, but you aren’t a mean person,” he said, and she couldn’t stop herself from laughing, very loudly.

When she finally stopped laughing, she said, “You should ask Layton Kirk how nice I am.”

“I know that name,” he said, thinking.

“Apparently, he’s the star football player for Lakeside, or was, I guess,” she said.

“Did you date him, or something?” he asked.

“Not in this life!” she replied, with no small amount of attitude.

“Oh,” he said, and for some reason, he looked unhappy, or maybe let down.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked.

“It’s just, if he’s not good enough for you, then I don’t stand a chance,” he said. “Wait, why did you tell me to ask him, if you didn’t date him?” he asked.

“Because I beat the shit out of him, and I guess, ended his football season, or something. I didn’t mean to do that, but he was being so thick headed, not taking no for an answer, I thought he needed to be told in a language he could understand,” she said.

“They didn’t say what happened to him, just that he had an off field injury that would take the entire season to recover from,” he said, then looked at her. “You did that?” he asked. Lilly shrugged her shoulders, looking very shy suddenly.

“Remind me to never get you mad,” he said.

“Yeah, probably not a good idea. Everyone thinks I’m certifiable. Maybe I am,” she said. “You’ve only met me twice. Why’re you interested in me,” she asked.

“You’re pretty, nice and there’s no doubt you’re smart. What’s not to like?” he asked.

“Well, let’s see. Everyone believes I’m a member of the Fangs, including them, I sell and use drugs, I steal from friends and shoplift, I beat the shit out of unsuspecting football players,” she said and thought for a moment, “Oh and I might be a bit of a slut,” she said. “Even your mother thinks all of that’s true,” she quickly added. Unsure what to say, he sat there, staring at her.

“Most of it isn’t true, but that’s what everyone thinks about me, and nothing I say will convince them,” she said.

“I don’t believe any of it, except maybe the part about the football player,” he said, with an ironic smile. It really was hard for him to imagine this small girl beating up a big football player, but for some reason, that was the one part he could see being true.

“Just so you know, if you ever put your hand anywhere it doesn’t belong, you’ll find out just how much of a slut I am, like Layton did,” she warned him.

“Is that why you beat him up?” he asked, and she nodded. “So you did date him,” he said.

“Hell no, but he kept trying to force me to, and he would touch me, sometimes,” she said, her voice trailing off. He couldn’t hear the last part, and decided it would be best not to ask. “Listen, we’ve got to see what these people are up to,” she blurted out.

Looking at her, Stuart knew she was uncomfortable, and wanted to change the subject, but she was also right. It was clear that something was going on.

“They really believe you can read people’s minds,” he exclaimed, as he continued to peruse the file.

“I’ve told them I can’t, but like everyone else, they don’t believe me,” she said.

“I believe you,” he said.

“Lot of good that’ll do me,” she said, knowing it sounded mean, but she was beginning to think she needed to get rid of him, before he got hurt, or she got hurt. That last was the most likely case, and she knew it.

“Is there anything else we’re going to get out of this right now?” she asked.

“I need to look at this a lot longer to see what else might be buried in here,” he said.

She seemed to be thinking, for quite a while, before she finally said, “Let me know what you find. Thank you,” she said, grabbed her backpack and walked away. With the laptop still out, he stood no chance of catching her, but he still tried. In spite of seeing which way she went, by the time he got going, she was gone.

“Mom, what’s the deal with Lilly? Why’s she so...friendly one minute, then like she’s afraid to be near me the next,” he asked her, having called her as he walked out of the mall.

“Stuart, she’s experienced a lot of loss, and pain. A lot more than you did. She’s probably struggling with the thought of getting close to someone. It’s common, and there’s even a name for it. It’s called reactive attachment disorder,” she told him. “If you like her, really like her, and you’re willing to try and win her over, you’re going to have a hard road, because she’s going to try and drive you away. She’s probably scared you’ll leave her, just like everyone else has,” she said.

“But I won’t leave her,” he said.

“Stuart, you just met her. How do you know how you’ll feel in a month, or six, or a year,” she asked. “Her mother had abandoned her long before she died, and of course, she died. Her best friend quit hanging around with her a little after she went into foster care. She believed the stuff everyone was saying about Lilly, and I know that hurt her. Then there was the family that tried to adopt her, but they left her too, not that they had a choice, but in her mind, she only knows she was left, abandoned again,” she said.

“She’s scared?” he asked.

“Yes,” his mother replied. “She’s scared of going through that pain again, which means she feels something for you. So, consider yourself lucky. You’ve gotten closer to her than most do,” she told him, and that actually made him smile.

“Thanks Mom. I think I’ve got some work to do,” he said, and hung up.

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