The Shimmer Project

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James

I leaned against the metal table gazing at the computer screen. My right arm was in a cast and I’d spent some time in the hospital with broken ribs, I was covered in bruises but I counted myself lucky. Number 5, Eris, would have killed me if she had really wanted to.

In front of me were four photographs, Ebba when she was sixteen, in a new grey dress after her old one had been burnt off in a test. It was before her pregnancy, she’s not looking at the camera, she’s looking out her small window at the top of her room. She’s smiling. I remember that day. Clearly. The other three are my daughters, Numbers 5, 6 and 7. All at fifteen. Their last birthday in the facility.

The computer wasn’t telling me what I wanted to hear. More deaths. Most of them no-one noticed, they were the poor living on the streets completely drunk or sick. It seems the girls were prying on the weak, trying to go unnoticed. Many elders were dying in old people’s houses. Heart attacks, something that the girls could easily fake. Every so often there seemed to be a big accident and a lot of people died, but the rumors of a murder had almost disappeared. They were covering up amazingly. And they were undefeatable. I had no idea what to do besides launch a nuclear bomb on them. And maybe even that wouldn’t stop them. Eris might turn around and be able to control nuclear. I would hate to imagine what she would do with that power. It might kill her.

Director Morgan stood behind me pacing. We were in my office, he was furious. Rebecca sat next to my tapping her own computer with a small smile. I leaned back in my chair.

“ Sir. The deaths are increasing. Their powers are increasing.”

“ Is there anyway that we will even be able to contain them again? At all?” he demanded suddenly.

“ Yes,” I paused. “ But we’ll have to have an even better security. One of my men designed something the other day sir. A big tank, completely made of metal, with speakers and a slot for food. We could do the tests inside and, they will never come out. It will be their whole world. If they don’t see each other, Number 5 won’t be able to take their strength like she did escaping. The less they kill, the less powers they have. If we can control how many people they kill, then we can control them,” I stopped bluntly. These were my daughters I was talking about. They didn’t deserve to be locked up in a tank for the rest of their lives. I had a hard time imagining doing that to them, I’d have to leave. The thought of them being pregnant disgusted me, they were still my babies.

But I had already said too much. Director Morgan was nodding slowly.

“ Wonderful. I like this man of yours Chief Adams. Very much. Have them built immediately!” I nodded slowly.

“ Yes sir,” I nodded at Rebecca and she typed something into her computer connecting the data base needed for the construction.

“ How long will it take to capture the specimens?” Director Morgan demanded.

“ Sir, I don’t know if we can. Their powers are increasing. Our bullets can’t stop them, we will have to severely handicap them to bring them back.”

“ That’s not a problem, they can heal.”

“ Yes, sir, but maybe not in time.”

“ We have three Chief Adams, we only need one. Number 5 is the most important. The most powerful Chimeramortus on the whole planet. Her sisters are just props to keep her alive. We will terminate them soon enough,” I stared at him with wide eyes. Terminate! My daughters!

“ But sir…”

“ Not buts Chief Adams, you know I hate them. Send order to close my other labs. The specimens there are barley more than humans. I’m getting nothing from them. They can be terminated. I’m stating this up again, with my queen bee,” he walked towards the door them turned with a charming smile directed at Rebecca. “ I may even father her daughter one day.”

“ But, sir you’re already her great great grandfather.”

“ That seems distant enough. I know you won’t disappoint me Chief Adams. Anyway why would you care about the specimens? If you can’t capture them, lure them in,” he walked out of the room them his shoes squeaking against the tailed floor.

“ If Number 5 kills that man I won’t be sorry,” I muttered.

“ Sir I’ve got good news,” Rebecca admitted swirling around in her chair. I nodded rubbing my temples.

“ Tell me. I’m in need for good news.”

“ The murders are increasing. Everywhere. Accidents. People don’t notice because they don’t think it’s important.”

“ And?”

“ I’ve been thinking sir about some research done years ago. When a Chimeramortus goes through extreme emotion her powers will increase. Like when they first broke free, they were so happy, their powers grew,” Rebecca informed me with a grin.

“ Are you saying on of them is going through extreme emotion.”

“ It’s a good explanation. They wanted to stay low, to keep the city like it was, why would they start killing so many people. Every night someone else is found dead. Ripped up. Across the state. The other night I discovered there had been bloody accidents in Mexico!” she slowly pushed her sandy blond hair behind her ears.“ So, one of them, the most powerful one, is probably going through extreme emotion…” she trailed off tapping her pen against her file.

“ They are probably planning on moving at his very moment,” I told her. “ We have to find them alone. We have to catch them, we cannot kill anyone of them. They are too precious.”

“ Chief it’s impossible. Nothing can stop those girls. We’ll have to kill one for the others to obey.”

“ I will not kill them!” I cried. She looked startled.

“ Sorry Chief,” she muttered her apology. I shook my head.

“ No I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted. We have to send them a warning.”

“ You could call,” she suggested.

“ Funny enough I don’t have their numbers,” she smiled slightly her blue eyes twinkling.

“ I know sir. But I have the number of a friend of theirs. I was just about to tell you. The extreme emotion,” she answered.

“ They’ve made a friend?”

“ That’s what I suspect. More than once Number 5 has been spotted in the presence of a boy. Caleb Matsumoto. He happens to be the first witness who ever survived. The SATs has been spotting them together for a while now,” I nodded slowly.

“ So this Caleb.”

“ I have his number. I found it in the phone book. He lives with his aunt and little cousin. He just moved back to San Francisco, he lived there before, but his mother died. Now he’s back. His father’s people are Japanese. Chief he’s been spotted kissing Number 5,” I starred at her wide-eyed.

“ Kissing?”

“ Yes Chief,” she smiled. “ What did you expect? Extreme emotion, she must love him. Should we call him Chief? Maybe he can get us in contact with the mutants.”

“ Kissing,” I was stunned. I have never though I’d have to deal with a boyfriend. I felt almost angry, my daughter kissing another man! It was outrageous! I didn’t even know him! How much did he know, about her, about me even? A boyfriend. It seemed impossible, unless he was prop she was having fun with until she killed him. Number 5 could do that, but I wasn’t sure if she would. It was cruel. Crueler than she’d ever been before. How did she let him so close? I ran my fingers through my coarse hair and swore.

“ Chief?” I glanced down at Rebecca.

“ I’ll have to meet him. He’d better be polite,” I muttered.

“ Chief I can call him if you like.”

“ Yes. Call him,” I nodded sternly. I watched her dialing the number then handing me the phone. It beeped twice then a woman answered.

“ Hallo this is Victoria. Who’s speaking please?”

“ My name is James. I want to speak with Caleb,” there was a long pause.

“ Is he in any kind of trouble?”

“ He may be.”

“ Excuse me.”

“ Please, just let me talk to him.”

“ Uh okay. He just walked in,” I heard her calling him then the sound of a little argument then a young man’s voice on the other side.

“ Hallo.”

“ You are dating my daughter and you haven’t even asked my permission!” I accused. Rebecca rolled her eyes dramatically.

“ What?” Caleb cried.

“ Number 5,” I reminded him. “ You were seen kissing Number 5.”

“ Sir this is outrageous! I’ve never met any one call Number 5!” he cried.

“ Oh, so she gave you her fake name,” I chuckled. “ Eris,” there was a long pause.

“ Who are you?”

“ James. Her father. She didn’t speak of me? That’s understandable. She hates me.”

“ James. She said you are from Alaska,” he answered.

“ Call me Chief. Tell me what you know about Eris!”

“ I don’t even know if I can trust you Chief!”

“ What if I asked you about the three girls you saw on the beach,” I asked. There was another very long pause.

“ How do you know about that?” he cried.

“ I know, that’s all. Now what do you know about Eris and her sisters.”

“ They’re from Miami.”

“ That’s it?”

“ They don’t talk very much!” he shouted back.

“ Some relationship,” I muttered. “ At least it’s the truth. They not exactly from Miami. They were born on an island just off the coast. They mother died in childbirth and I raised them.”

“ Why are they here? Why do they hate you?”

“ They are in San Francisco because they escaped, Caleb Matsumoto. Japanese huh. Concordia, Vigidis and Eris escaped from their only home and hitchhiked their way across the county.”

“ Why did they run away?”

“ Because they weren’t happy,” I answered. “ Caleb do you know what they are capable of?”

“ What? Capable of? No.”

“ They are dangerous boy.”

“ Dangerous. That doesn’t make any sense.”

“ What do you know of the explosions, outside town, a few weeks ago?”

“ They’re saying government.”

“ No, it’s us. What do you know of the murders?”

“ Us? Who are us?”

“ The murders?” I pressed.

“ Uh I don’t know much. They’re weird, you never see anyone. It’s gore. And uh really hard to watch. But they’ve stopped. The murder has gone.”

“ Yeah I know.”

“ What do you mean?”

“ Do you think I could talk to Eris?” I asked, he paused.

“ Uh, I guess. Hold on,” I heard his voice talking then his aunt answering. I heard little noises like a door, an elevator then the sound of a doorbell. It was answered, I recognized the voice, one of my daughters. She took the phone.

“ Hallo?” it was Eris, her voice sounded small. Discrete and tired. I had never heard it like that before. I tapped one the computer screen where Caleb’s address was written. Rebecca nodded smiling. Smart girl, she understood me when no one else ever did.

“ Don’t hang up Eris,” I told her quickly. She was silent.

“ What did you tell him?” she screamed suddenly. It sounded more like her.

“ Why didn’t you tell me you had a boyfriend?” I cried back.

“ I can’t believe this!” She answered loudly. “ You are calling me to argue over a boy! You’re just more stupid than I thought! Or are you tracking me down? I thought you already knew where we were!”

“ Calm down. Yes I know where you are, I know exactly where you live. I’m serious about this boy,” Rebecca showed me a photo of a large apartment building. I nodded slowly.

“ You’ve got to be kidding me. How did you even find out?”

“ Oh that was simple. The increasing murders. Means emotion. You’re in love aren’t you?”

“ How did you know it was me?”

“ Lucky guess that your Caleb confirmed for me,” she snorted. I could hear her saying something with her hand over the mouthpiece, Caleb answered then she was back on again.

“ Okay then. What did you tell him?”

“ I think it’s interesting that you’ve got a boyfriend. I didn’t know Chimeramortuses could fall in love.”

“ I’m not in love,” She replied bitterly.

“ You’re going to break his heart then. And I know that’s not true. You have stronger emotions, stronger powers. You’re in love Eris weather you want it or not.”

“ I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you,” she admitted. “ I hate you! Why are you calling?”

“ Why do you think? I’m your father, I want to have contact with you.”

“ You are not my father!” She screeched. I heard something breaking.

“ Eris you can’t change the past.”

“ I can do anything I want! I’m free!”

“ Sure, free. But free to do what?”

“ Anything! I just said that,” she reminded me dully.

“ Murder? Destroy? There are consequences Eris. You will not get away with all this. Just because you get past the police daily doesn’t mean you’re safe. Number 5 you are a murderer, you are a serial killer. You kill for your own joy, you don’t even respect the bodies, you break families apart and you’re destroying your little city. You know this. People are living in fear and it’s your fault,” she was silent for a long time.

“ No James. It’s your fault. I shouldn’t have been born. You should have stopped it, if you loved my mother you would have saved her, stopped it and hid her. You could have stopped this long before I was born. I know my powers a much stronger than hers, you could have controlled her.”

“ Number 5 just because I’m your father doesn’t mean all you do is my fault. You have to assume your mistakes sometimes. And now you have to leave your city and come home. It’s where you belong. Where you were born…”

“ And where I will die in childbirth!” she spat. “ Do you really expect me to come back?”

“ You will someday. When you see that’s it’s your only solution. I’m sure we can give you more freedom.”

“ You’ll just lock me up again. You don’t know what it’s like. In prison all my life. You’re a twisted man.”

“ Let me talk to Number 6.”

“ So you can manipulate her? No. No way are you getting near my sister again. I swear I will kill you without a second thought if you come here again.”

“ Fine,” I paused. “ I guess you already know what will happened if you go too far with your boyfriend.”

“ Shut up you bastard.”

“ At least, if you do get pregnant come back here. We can save you.”

“ Oh please. You make me want to hurl! Caleb and I are barley more than friends.”

“ Kissing in the street.”

“ Hey!”

“ The police know who you are Number 5. They watch you, but they don’t dare go near you.”

“ They tried shooting Connie! Just don’t come near me. Or I will kill you.”

“ I know you will. But you’ve left me no choice. Now Director Morgan will choose what to do. And you know who he’ll be after.”

“ Caleb,” I could hear the panic in her voice, she really did care for him.

“ Number 5 if you want to…” she hung up then sharply. I smiled slightly and handed the phone to Rebecca.

“ Chief?”

“ I feels good when you can still threaten you’re undefeatable daughter,” I admitted with a small smile. “ The boy went up in an elevator. I think they’re living in the same building. I would made sense, tallest building, penthouse, great view.”

“ What do we do then sir?”

“ We have two solutions. We send the SAT into the building and capture them in their penthouse, but we both know it’ll be another massacre. A waste of lives. And we still don’t know exactly how powerful Number 5 is. Or we can be smart, make them come to us.”

“ How do we do that?”

“ Easy. We capture Caleb,” I shrugged.

“ But sir, would it be right?”

“ It would save so many lives. We won’t kill him. He’ll be bait.”

“ How do you know they’ll come after him?”

“ Because they stick together, and Number 5 loves him. Simple as that.”

“ They will assume a trap.”

“ Of course. But is there another way for them? For Number 5 to get her boyfriend back?”

“ I suppose not.”

“ Get it ready. I’m going to talk to Director Morgan.”

“ Hmm good luck with that,” I smiled slightly and ducked out of the room.

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