1.6

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Sarah

Sarah tapped her fingers on the scratched leather couch arm. After spending a couple hours idle in Mrs. Clyde’s airplane, she’d been looking forward to being on the ground and having something to do. Now, she sat in the air park’s dingy waiting area, growing more restless every second.

There was no air conditioning in the building, just a single pedestal fan that let out an ear-splitting whine every few minutes as it rotated back and forth, rustling the pages of the aviation magazines on the coffee table in front of her.

Two boxy televisions stood in different corners of the room, playing two different channels. She’d been excited about them at first, but their charm had faded after a few minutes. It would have been better if she’d been able to change the channels, but the buttons on the TVs were taped over and there wasn’t a remote control in sight, which left her the choice between a black and white movie about cowboys and a weather report. Neither option was particularly interesting.

Her eyes fell on a trio of air pots sitting on a small folding table with a paper sign reading ‘Coffee is FREE! – Help yourself’ taped to the edge. She’d never been allowed to try coffee before.

She stood up, made her way halfway to the coffee pots, then stopped. She didn’t know for sure what coffee would do to her physiology, and it would be best not to risk it with her big task ahead of her. She headed back to her seat on the couch.

She glanced at the TVs again; one had switched to a commercial for a caulking kit, the other was showing a news report about wolf attacks in Northern Italy. Still nothing interesting there.

She focused on the TV showing the news report, reaching out with her mind, feeling for the buttons. She concentrated, pressing the first one she found, and the volume on the TV went up. She smiled and began to feel for more buttons.

A sharp twinge shot through her head, and she felt the buttons fade from her focus. She sighed and leaned back in her seat. Her abilities were almost useless when it came to delicate tasks like pushing a small button.

She rubbed her head. The sharp pain had faded, but a dull ache still lingered just behind her eyes.

Giving up on the TVs, she opened the backpack she’d brought with her and pulled out a notebook. She’d looked at it countless times on the plane, but it couldn’t hurt to look over it one more time.

She thumbed through the papers wedged in the notebook–pictures she’d printed from Naomi Wada’s MySpace page with notes written in the margins. It had been too easy to figure out where Naomi’s apartment was. One picture of Naomi next to her front door contained the apartment number in one corner. To figure out Naomi’s exact address, all Sarah had needed to do was compare the photographs Naomi had taken inside her apartment to photographs from apartment complex websites until she found a match.

She opened her notebook to a page she’d labeled with a pink sticky note. It contained notes on Naomi’s work schedule, deduced from her online posts. If Sarah’s research was accurate, Naomi would leave for work at four in the afternoon and return home at nine, leaving the resource unattended for five hours.

With her abilities, subduing the resource would be easy. Transporting it would be the hard part.

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Lachlan

Lachlan was only a half hour into his shift watching Falcon via webcam, and he was already bored. So far, Falcon had made for an incredibly dull viewing experience; he had eaten a bag of chips while staring mesmerized at the TV as though he’d never seen one in his life, then fallen asleep on the couch.

Lachlan sighed and picked up his guitar.

If I’m stuck in my room watching a man take a nap for the next half hour, I may as well pass the time constructively, he thought.

He began practicing The Goldfish Technique’s newest song. It was one they didn’t plan on releasing but had played at their latest show. It hadn’t been easy figuring out the song from the low-quality video he’d taken, but he’d taken the time to get it just right. He wanted to make sure his rendition of the song was perfect so he could rub it in Angelina, Naomi, and Chelsea’s faces that he’d gotten to hear the song and they hadn’t.

He’d send Naomi the video eventually. Maybe Chelsea too, if she promised not to let Angelina see it. But right now, he wanted to savor the feeling of the song being just his.

He was halfway through the song when the sound of a door opening came from his computer speakers.

Was Falcon awake? No, Falcon still lay in the same position, snoring on the couch.

“Naomi? Thank fuck,” said Lachlan. “You’re home early.”

There was no response from the girl on the screen. Her back was turned to the camera as she approached the sleeping Falcon.

“Naomi?” he said. “Hello? Can I go now?”

She walked closer to Falcon and away from the camera, giving Lachlan a better view of her. The girl wasn’t Naomi, he realized. She was thin like Naomi with similar long dark hair, but this girl had light brown skin, and her hair was dark brown instead of black.

“Oh, not Naomi. You look a bit like her from behind, though. Are you a friend of hers? Are you here to relieve me of the mind-numbingly boring duty that is Falcon-sitting?”

The girl didn’t respond.

“Uh, hello? Random girl? Yoo-hoo. I’m over here, in the computer.”

Falcon stirred, blinking his eyes open.

The girl raised her hand, pointing it toward Falcon, and the couch shot backward, slamming into the wall and sending two picture frames crashing to the floor.

“Holy motherfuck,” said Lachlan.

Falcon stood up and pointed his hand toward the girl, and an invisible force knocked her off her feet, propelling her somewhere outside the webcam’s range.

“What? You’ve gotta be kidding me!” The girl groaned from off camera. You have the abilities? How is that even possible?”

Naomi’s coffee table tilted upward and hurtled toward Falcon. He jumped out of its path, and its glass top shattered against the wall.

“Aw, man,” said the girl. “That wasn’t supposed to shatter like that. Good thing you jumped out of the way or I’d have to deal with you bleeding out everywhere.”

Lachlan reached for his phone, then stopped. His first instinct was to call emergency services, but Triple Zero wouldn’t be able to help with an overseas emergency. He could make a long-distance call to the police in Charlotte, but what would he tell them?

Hello, officer, he thought. Come quickly, there’s a crazy bitch in my friend’s living room throwing tables with her brain!

The girl walked into the camera’s view, giving Lachlan a better look at her face. She was little older than he’d originally thought–in her early twenties at least–and she had dark eyes, a strong nose, and full lips. If he’d seen her in another context, one where she wasn’t trashing his friend’s apartment by flinging objects around with her mind, he might have found her attractive.

The woman raised her hand again, but Falcon lifted his hand and flung an end table in her direction. She dodged it and it splintered onto the ground.

She raised her hand again, hurling the largest piece of the end table–a mostly intact drawer–at Falcon. Lachlan flinched as the drawer crashed into Falcon’s face with a sickening thud.

Falcon fell backward and slumped against the wall. The woman smirked, walked up to him, and crouched beside him.

“That was way too easy,” she said. “To think, I was actually nervous about this.

Lachlan heard a door open. The girl’s smirk vanished, and she stood up suddenly, whipping her head around.

“Naomi? Are you home yet?” said a girl’s voice from somewhere off camera.

“No,” Lachlan whispered. “No, don’t come in.”

“I thought you didn’t get off work ’til nine. Did they let you go early?”

Lachlan’s heart sped up as the second girl walked into view. Her back was facing the camera, but Chelsea’s vivid red hair was easy to recognize.

Chelsea spotted the other woman and came to an abrupt stop.

“What–what happened here?” Chelsea stared down at the shattered table. “Who are you?”

“You know, it’s not too late for you to walk away from this. I’d suggest going right back out the door you came in while you still have the chance.” The dark-haired girl gestured to Falcon. “It’d be a win-win. You don’t wanna end up like this poor guy here, and I don’t wanna have to drag two bodies out to the car without being noticed.”

Chelsea’s head turned in Falcon’s direction. Lachlan heard her let out a soft gasp.

“Oh, my god. What did you do to him?”

“Honey, if I were you, I’d be less concerned about what I already did to him and more concerned about what I’m gonna do to you if you don’t leave now.”

Chelsea reached for a phone mounted on Naomi’s wall and dialed.

“Hello, a woman broke into my friend’s home and attacked someone,” she said into the receiver. “Yes, she’s still here … No, I’m not hurt, but someone else is hurt pretty badly … No, I think he’s unconsciousOkay, thank you. The address is 1600–“

The dark-haired woman extended a hand toward Chelsea and made a fist. The phone tore out of the wall and fell to the floor, taking a sizable chunk of drywall with it.

“That was stupid, red.” She shook her head. “That was real stupid.”

Chelsea stared at the hole in the wall where the phone had been, her eyes wide.

The dark-haired woman stepped forward and thrust her hand toward Chelsea. She slammed into the wall and remained suspended there, her legs hanging a couple feet off the floor.

“How–?” Chelsea gasped for breath, clawing at her neck as though an invisible hand was choking her. “Please… can’t… breathe…”

“That’s kinda the idea,” said the dark-haired woman. “You really shouldn’t’ve gotten in my way.”

The dark-haired woman squeezed her thumb and pointer finger together, silencing Chelsea’s gasps.

Lachlan stared helplessly at the screen as Chelsea stopped struggling and hung limp against the wall.

“Oi!” he shouted as loudly as he could. “Oi, you, with the telekinesis!”

“Damn it! Are you serious?” The woman turned to face the computer, keeping her hand extended toward Chelsea. “Another witness I have to deal with?”

“I think you’ll want to listen to me,” he said.

“Oh, really? Why?” She quirked an eyebrow. “You’re not stalling me to save your friend, are you? Don’t bother. It’s too late for either of you.”

Lachlan felt a chill run through him at the words ‘either of you’. Was she going to come after him too?

“Uh, no, I’m not stalling you,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I have an extremely compelling and legitimate reason for not choking her to death.”

“Somehow, I’m not convinced you do.”

“No, no, really, I do,” he said. “She’s, uh, more valuable to you alive.”

“Oh?” she said. “Then please, by all means, tell me why that is.”

“Well, it’s because…” he began.

“Talk fast; it only takes about three minutes without oxygen before the brain starts to die.”

“It’s because Falcon has an accomplice,” he said. “Falcon has an accomplice, and Chelsea is the only person who knows his whereabouts. If you kill her, you’ll never be able to find him.”

The woman approached the computer, still holding up the hand that was pinning Chelsea to the wall. She leaned down and looked into the webcam.

“Nice try.”

The webcam shut off.

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