The Shimmer Project

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Swear Jar

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 was 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 was not looking at the camera, she was looking out her small window at the top of her room. She was smiling. I remembered 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 rumours of a murderer 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 computer with a small smile. I leaned back in my chair.

“Sir. The deaths are increasing. Their powers are increasing," I said.

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

“Yes,” I paused. “But we’ll have to have 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 as she did when they escaped. The less they kill, the weaker their powers. If we can control how many people or animals 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!” He barked.

I nodded slowly. “Yes sir.”

I nodded at Rebecca and she typed something into her computer connecting the database 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,” he nodded.

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 barely more than humans. I’m getting nothing from them. They can be terminated. I’m starting this up again, with my queen bee,” he walked towards the door then turned with a charming smile directed at Rebecca. “I may even father her daughter one day.”

He clicked his tongue. "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 need 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 one 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 snapped. 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,” I snapped. 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 survived. The SAT has been spotting them together for a while now,” she smiled. 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,” she said softly. I stared 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 thought I’d have to deal with a boyfriend. I felt almost angry, my daughter kissing a boy! 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 a 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. Crueller than she’d ever been before. How did she let him so close? I ran my fingers through my 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 dialling the number then handing me the phone. It beeped twice then a young man’s voice on the other side.

“Hello?”

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

“What?” the boy asked.

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

“Number 5, what the fuck? Is this some sort of prank call?” he growled.

“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.”

“Yeah," he was quiet. "Don't call again."

"Tell me what you know about Eris!” I growled.

"I'm hanging up. Don't call here again!"

“What if I asked you about the three girls you saw on the beach,” I asked. "What if I asked you about them shimmering? About their eyes?"

There was another very long pause.

“How do you know about that?” his voice was very quiet.

“I am their father," I reminded him. "Now, what do you know about Eris and her sisters?”

“I am really going to hang up now."

"Eris and her sisters were born on an island just off the coast of Florida. Their mother died in childbirth and I raised them.”

He was quiet, I could hear his pacing. “Why are they here? Why do they hate you?” he asked.

“They are in San Francisco because they escaped, Caleb Matsumoto. Concordia, Vigdis and Eris escaped from their only home and hitchhiked their way across the county. Caleb do you know what they are capable of doing?”

"I can't keep listening to this," he breathed.

“They are dangerous boy," I insisted. "What do you know of the explosions, outside town, a few weeks ago? What do you know of the murders?”

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about my daughters. Caleb, I can only imagine the stories they told you. But I can tell you stories too. My daughters, they are dangerous."

"This is bullshit."

"Ask her, ask her right now!" I insisted. "Better yet, bring the phone to her. Let me talk to her!"

"No, no that's not, no," I could hear his voice moving further from the phone.

"Caleb," I bit out. "I already know where you live. I know where they live. We are coming for them. Let me warn them."

He was quiet for a few long seconds. Then I heard him breathe out very heavily.

"I will ask them if they want to talk to you," he snapped.

The line was quiet for a few long minutes then I heard her voice. It was Eris.

“James?” her voice sounded small. Discrete and tired. I had never heard it like that before. I tapped on the computer screen where Caleb’s address was written. Rebecca nodded smiling.

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

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

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

“I can’t believe this!” She answered loudly. “You are calling me to argue over a boy! 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."

“You’ve got to be kidding me. You have been spying on us haven't you?”

“ Of course! You are lethal creatures, broken out from captivity and at loose in San Francisco! That and the increasing murders. Means emotion. You’re in love aren’t you?”

"Yes, I am," she replied simply. I tried not to let the emotion in my voice show.

“I think it’s interesting. I didn’t know Chimeramortuses could fall in love.”

“We are still human,” she replied bitterly.

“You’re going to break his heart Eris. No way he can accept you the way you are. The second he finds out you kill people, in cold blood, because you are mutant, he will be out the door.”

She was quiet for a long time.

"I know that," she breathed. I could hear the hitch in her voice. She had always been the strong one, the tough one, but I knew her better. I knew how soft she was inside. How much she cared. Before she was a killer, she was a lover.

"Eris, we can't change the past. But we can look forwards to the future. It doesn't have to be the same, but you cannot keep killing innocent people Eris. You cannot."

"We need to be free James."

"When you are free, we cannot monitor your powers. We cannot help you to curb your needs. I know you don't want me to remind you of this, but Eris, don't forget that with your help, we have been able to cure lethal wounds, incurable diseases. Thanks to you and your sisters. You can save so many lives."

"You already have all of our DNA information, all our blood samples. You don't need us anymore James. You can cure diseases on your own now."

"But we can't heal people like you can Eris."

"I cannot heal people if I don't kill others. Where do you draw the line, James?"

I run my fingers through my coarse hair, Rebecca watched me. "It can be different Eris if you come back. It can be different."

"Not with Director Morgan," she answered. "He won't change. 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.”

"Again, we cannot change the past, the future is yet to be moulded. Come home Eris. 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? I don't trust you, James.”

“Let me talk to Number 6," I breathed.

“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," her voice hardened.

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

“I could never hurt him."

"I'm not talking about that. At least, if you do get pregnant come back here. We can save you.”

"Bullshit."

"That's a new word for you! We'll have to open a swear jar when you get back!"

"We're never coming back."

“I know you will. When you have no choice. I know you will Eris because your weakness isn't only your sisters anymore."

“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?”

“It feels good when you can still threaten you’re undefeatable daughter,” I admitted with a small smile.

"What do we do then sir?”

“We have two solutions. We send the SATs into the building where they live and try to extract them. GAs bombs etc. But, we don't know how powerful Number 5 is anymore. It could easily be another massacre. No, we have to be smart. We have to make them come to us.”

“How do we do that?”

“We grab Caleb,” I shrugged.

“But sir, he's a civilian?”

“Yeah, a civilian who's entered in a relationship with the most dangerous girl on the planet. She needs to be monitored Rebecca, controlled, for her own good. She's grown much too powerful. I wonder how many people will need to die before she comes back, horrified with herself. I don't want it to get that far for her. We have to force her to come back sooner. We can't grab Numbers 6 and 7, him we can. 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 know it's 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,” she murmured.

I smiled slightly and ducked out of the room.

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