Twelve special agents prepared for their raid of the Lansbury household. The home was located in a upper middle-class neighborhood in the center of suburbia. It was an unlikely place for a police raid considering the picturesque neighborhood was lined with million-dollar homes painted in pascal colors, accompanied by manicured lawns.
The four decked-out Chevy Suburbans rolling down the quaint streets stuck out like sore thumbs. They were loud, militarized, and filled with special agents armed for (what looked like) war. They turned heads and raised eyebrows as they barreled down the narrow roads toward their target.
“Confirm headgear ops.” The OIC (Officer in Charge) said over the radio. In unison the agents tapped the right side of their heads. A metallic band encircled the top of their heads, running across their foreheads, right below their high-and-tight haircuts. The metallic bands made a high-pitched whine and beeped a series of tones to alert the user it functioning properly. “ETA, ten seconds.”
The agents gripped their rifles in anticipation of what was to come. Adrenaline coursed through their veins. Hearts raced. They thought of their loved-ones and prayed they would see them again. There was a real possibility they would not be returning home after today’s operation.
The agents were dressed in black tactical gear. Shiny black combat boots, bullet-proof vests, balaclava, and most importantly, the humming metallic band around their skulls. They looked like a paramilitary unit; intimidating and brutally lethal. The men were also large, the shortest agent being 6’ tall, each of them packing serious muscle. These agents were called in for the most sensitive and dangerous missions. Despite the training and the gear they were equipped with, it was difficult for them to shrug off the fear that rattled their souls.
The OIC was in the lead vehicle. As they approached the target household, he flipped a switch in the vehicle’s dash, which turned on the blue & red strobe lights and sirens fitted on the Suburban. The other vehicles followed suit, and suddenly the quiet neighborhood was filled with a cacophony of police sirens and flashing lights.
It was 0600, on the dot. The family was still home, running through their morning routine for another boring Monday. Two adults and two children: father, mother, daughter and daughter. Ages 38, 37, 18, and 14 respectively. The father worked a white-collar office job for some tech firm. Mother was a stay-at-home wife. The two daughters went to public school.
At that moment, the mother was cooking breakfast for her family. The father was either in the shower or getting dressed, and the same went for the two daughters. At least that’s what the recent intel suggested. All that really mattered, was that everyone living in the household was still household during the raid.
“Like we planned,” the OIC’s gruff voice crackled over the radio. “Alpha and Bravo will enter from the front. Charlie enters the rear. Delta, establishes a perimeter and calls out any movement.”
There was one last check of their assault rifles. Charging handles were pulled back and released.
The V8 engines roared as they drove up the Lansbury’s front lawn. The team didn’t wait for the vehicles to make a full stop, they charged out of the trucks and positioned themselves as they rehearsed. The previous week, the team studied satellite imagery and even constructed a model of the home in preparation of the raid. They discussed the best way to make their assault for days. This wasn’t a simple drug bust at a meth house; the security of the world was at stake here.
They remained silent as they swarmed the home. Their boots clattered and tore through the gardens as fireteam Charlie made it towards the back of the house. The OIC stood at the side of the front door and made only one announcement. “Department of Homeland Security!” It wasn’t a demand or question. It was merely an announcement. Another agent came at the front door full-speed with a battering ram at hand. He made solid contact with the door. The ornate front door blew inwards, the agent with the battering ram got out of the way as Alpha and Bravo made their way into the home.
“Get down on the ground!” “Department of Homeland Security!” “Get down, get down!” “Don’t move!”
Cecile Lansbury (mother) was in the middle of cooking eggs when she was forced to the ground. She cried out in pain and confusion as these large men in tactical gear stormed the back door to the kitchen and handcuffed her. “What are you doing?” She cried out through tears. She winced as she felt a sharp bolt of pain emanate from her shoulder where a 220-pound agent was pinning her with his knee.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do, can be used against you--” The agent continued giving her Miranda rights.
“You’re arresting me?”
Another agent shouted, “clear!”
Alpha and Bravo headed up the stairs. Bravo was to arrest the father, Nicholas Lansbury. Alpha had the HVT -- High-Value Target.
Nicholas had just stepped out of the shower when he heard the crashing noise downstairs. He barely had time to wrap a towel around his waist when two military-ish men came in and grabbed him by the arms and forced him to the ground. There were shouts from both sides. Nick asking what the hell was going on and the agents telling him to shut it; they cuffed him and read him his rights.
Nick had always been an upstanding citizen. His mind searched for a possible explanation to the raid of his house...but there were none. He’s never done anything illegal in his life. Okay, maybe speeding on occasion, but that didn’t warrant a raid at his home. They must have the wrong family. That’s all Nick could think of as he was being arrested in the cramped bathroom.
18-year-old Natalie was the next to go down. One agent was in charge of cuffing her and reading her rights. He tried to be gentle with the petite girl, but it was still a forceful action that terrified Natalie. Her small body was hurled to the ground as the brute cuffed her wrists tightly. He shouted obscenities at her and told her “not to move a fucking muscle.” Natalie cried and breathed irregularly. Why was this nightmare happening to her?
The OIC, along with three other agents, made their way down the hall towards their target. He trusted his headband. He had to. Otherwise, this was all for nothing. His heart thumped in his chest erratically. His weapon shook in his unsteady hands. Here goes nothing, he thought. He kicked open the door.
There, in the middle of the bedroom, stood Luna Lansbury. The most dangerous 14-year-old in the country. The girl that took a full team of black ops agents to take down, using technology that was borderline fantasy.
Luna was in the middle of getting ready for school. She took on from her idol, Ariana Grande, and wore clothing that resembled the pop diva: a skirt that stopped right above the knee and a sleeveless shirt that hugged her upper-body. She she was still barefoot and her hair was a mess. She was at least 20 minutes away from being fully prepared for school.
She looked at the agents that barreled into her room and shook in fear as they aimed their assault rifles at her face. “Please, don’t shoot me!” She cried out, instinctively raising her hands in the air.
“Get down on the fucking ground!” The OIC shouted. The agents swarmed her, but didn’t move close until her face was the ground.
“I didn’t do anything.” Luna whimpered.
“You so much as think, and I’ll blow your brains out, got it?”
“What do you mean?”
One agent cuffed Luna. Another opened her large closet and shouted out, “found them. She has a hamster cage here. I see three.”
The floors creaked and groaned under the weights of the agents. Luna could feel the floor shift as the OIC walked over to the closet, still aiming one end of the rifle at her head. The OIC looked at the hamster cage and then toward to Luna.
She felt his eyes on him. The weight of the world was crashing down on her. She fucked up. Her body trembled uncontrollably. This wasn’t like being in trouble from her parents. This was the real deal. She was facing the death penalty once they found out the whole story. Or maybe they already knew. They were arresting her and weren’t necessarily shocked to see the three-shrunken people in a hamster cage, in her closet.
“I’m only going to ask this once,” the OIC’s baritone voice reverberated in the small bedroom. “And I’ll know if you’re telling the truth or not. Where are the rest?”
They knew. They probably knew more about her than her parents did. Luna tightly shut her eyes. She was somehow sloppy. Sloppy enough for the authorities to find out.
“Hey, look at me.” The OIC said. She complied. “Your little magic won’t work on us.” She noticed the metallic headband on his head. “So, don’t bother. Where are the rest?”
“They’re gone.” Her voice wavered. In that moment, Luna thought back to one of the shrinkees making their way through her small intestine. She had wiped the remains of another from the bottom of her foot earlier that morning. There were many more that were accounted for.
The OIC looked like he knew more than what he was letting on. He stared at Luna with a mixture of disgust and hatred. “Move out!” He shouted to his team.
“Sheriff department is on its way.” Agent White reported to the OIC over the radio. “They know the drill.”
“Copy. Delta stay back with the family and wait for the Sheriff. We’re taking the HVT immediately. We are too exposed out here.”
One agent took the hamster cage with three shrunken people and loaded it to the trunk of the lead vehicle. The shrunken people were crying out for help and shouting incriminating things about Luna. They went mostly ignored. Luna was seated in the rear with OIC of the lead vehicle. He fitted a weird, mesh net over her brunette hair, wrapping around her skull like a condom. “Extra precaution.” He muttered.
Luna’s eyes had dried up for the most part. She was still shaking and feeling deep regret at that moment. Not just for her victims but for her family. She never intended to put them through this ordeal.
“What are you going to do with my family?” She gently said to the gruff agent.
He pulled out cloth from one of his pockets and proceeded to gag her. “I don’t even want to hear your voice.” He looked down at her. She was such a small, frail looking thing. Her eyes were large and looking up at him like a pleading puppy. A part of him wanted to comfort her. Be gentle with her. But he shook that off when he thought back to the horrid details in her dossier. “You know, I have a teenage son about your age. Would you have shrunken him too?”
Luna didn’t move for a second. Her puppy-dog eyes were trained on the big scary agent. Finally, she nodded, yes.
Luna, through her mouth gag, smiled.
As the tactical Suburbans drove away from the Lansbury household, neighbors and ‘Looky Lou’s’ peeked out to see the commotion. Judgement was quickly passed to the nice and friendly Lansbury family. Some neighbors claimed to know they were up to no good. They’re probably drug manufacturers or murderers another suggested.
The Sheriff along with several deputies pulled up to property. They took Cecille, Nicholas, and Natalie under their custody. Delta team stayed back to finish up some paperwork and gather evidence from Luna’s bedroom.
It was hot and sunny out with temperatures in the mid-90s. Despite having the A/C at full blast, the special agents were dripping in sweat under all their gear. Luna on the other hand, was quite comfortable. She was still barefoot, though it didn’t bother her. What did bother her, were the cuffs around her wrists. She sat there, between two burly agents in the backseat, mouth gagged, cuffed in the back, and with a peculiar metallic mesh beanie over her head. Not a normal situation for a 14-year-old, but Luna wasn’t normal. She was far more dangerous and her escort was severely under equipped for the teenage girl.
One bridge connected the city which was divided by a great river. On the other side was the HQ of the elite squad. They would hand over Luna to the laboratory, do a debrief, and head home to their families, knowing they secured the country for another day.
Moderate traffic on the bridge slowed the convoy of Suburbans. Other vehicles on the bridge pulled aside to allow the tactical SUVs, with strobing red & blue lights, passage. The Suburbans were overtaking a semi-truck hauling 40-foot logs when it happened.
The chains securing the load snapped, causing the timber to fall off the left side and strike all three trucks. Brakes were stepped on and a plume of burnt, white rubber smoke filled the bridge. Behind, cars crashed into the semi-truck and the Suburban in the rear. A pile-up quickly ensued. The sound of braking vehicles, metal crunching, and horns blared out throughout the bridge.
The special agents were stunned but unscathed from the multiple crashes. Even half-a-minute after the initial crash, cars on the bridge were still ramming into them, unable to brake in time. “Everyone, report status.” The OIC chattered over the radio. He looked over at Luna. She looked unharmed. Her headgear was still on...so it wasn’t her that caused the crash. Over the radio, the other vehicles reported green status. They were okay, just a little shaky.
Special Agent Kearny sat in the rear vehicle. During one of the subsequent crashes from a civilian vehicle, his metallic headband became loose, coming off his head enough to no longer make contact.
This was bad, the OIC thought. This was worse than being back at the Lansbury property. They were truly out in the open now. On a fucking bridge, pinned between lumber and concrete divider -- beyond the concrete divider was a 100-foot (or so) drop to the river below. Things could’ve been worse, he reckoned. He grabbed the radio and sent out an encrypted transmission to HQ. He reported the appropriate code to the operator, signaling a backup unit to rush over the bridge to pick up the HVT. After finishing with the radio, he looked over at Luna. She was still secured; she was looking around to see the chaos happening outside. The OIC was prepping to get out of the car and talk to the truck driver -- that’s when he heard the gunfire.
Special Agent Kearny knew what was happening. He’s read all the intel reports and sat through countless briefings about the Pirends, such as Luna. He watched witness testimony about the victims...victims of that powerful magic...victims unable to control their bodies.
He knew what was happening. And he knew he couldn’t stop it.
They were fucked since the beginning, he started thinking. This whole operation must’ve been compromised since its inception.
He was never going to see his family again. He had so many opportunities to quit the department, but that pay was too goddamned good. Now he understood why it was so good. And sadly, for him, he will never be able to spend that money. Death was imminent.
It was like watching a movie through his eyes. He saw his hands, his body, but he couldn’t control any of it. Surreal was the only word that came to mind. He felt his hands. He felt everything, but couldn’t control any of it. So, those witness testimonies were the real deal he thought. He was imprisoned in his mind. Watching his movements vicariously, as if they belonged to someone else.
He tried to move, but his limbs refused to obey his mind. All he felt were static bolts of electricity if he tried to move his hand opposite of the rifle. The rifle’s metal was cool. The molded grips felt like they were built for his hands. He tried to open his mouth, maybe give a warning but nothing came out. Maybe they would notice him. Maybe they would take him out, before he did...they didn’t notice. They were busy trying to get out of the crumpled SUV. They barked out commands and orders over the radio. They were oblivious to Special Agent Kearny, flipping the safety off.
“I say again--” The driver last said before his head exploded outwards in a fountain of brain matter and blood. The passenger next to him was misted with his remains. He didn’t have time to wipe the blood from his face before being pelted with five rounds, striking the side of his body where there was no bullet-proof vest protection. His screams ceased as a round found its way to his head.
The agent seated next to Kearny lifted his own rifle and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. In his haste, he forgot to undo the safety on his weapon. He flipped the switch--and in that exact moment--his face imploded as a bullet entered his skull, fired from an AR-15 at point-blank range.
“Are you the girl? The one controlling me?” Special Agent Kearny asked over and over in his head.
“Are you part of the Collective?”
“Then, that must mean…”
“Do it quick. Please.”
Special Agent Kearny raised the end of his weapon into his mouth and pulled the trigger.
The OIC looked at Luna. He studied her.
She was confused. Scared. She looked innocent in all of this. This couldn’t be her work. She was cuffed and had her brainwaves blocked by the Faraday cage wrapped around her skull.
Someone was on to them. That semi-truck accident was no accident. Those logs that pinned their little ol’ convoy was no accident. Those gunshots didn’t just happen for no reason. Someone was on to them. And they wanted them dead.
Bravo team was located in the second vehicle, sandwiched between Alpha and Charlie. After gunfire erupted from Charlie, Bravo made with their escape. Except the doors wouldn’t budge. Their hands went straight for their headbands and double-checked their operation.
Their SUV jolted leftward, onto the bridge’s median, pushing them close to a 100-foot drop-off onto the river below. They looked around the vehicle for the source of the forceful pushing but saw nothing. They renewed their escape attempt. They grabbed the door handle, and with all their might, they tried to opening the doors. But the unforgiving handle would not budge. In one last attempt, they smashed open the windows with the butts of their gun.
The SUV rolled over, on top of the concrete median. They fell on top of each other with a clash of broken glass and grinding metal. They shouted at each other as they tried to re-orient themselves. The vehicle flipped again, now totally upside down and teetering over the ledge. The sun’s reflection glittered over the turquoise-colored river below. The agents attempted to squeeze through the openings of the smashed windows. They could feel the asphalt of the road on their gloved hands. They were so close to escape.
Over again, the SUV flipped as if it were flicked into the opening between the two road segments on the bridge. Their screams faded as the black tactical vehicle dropped to the river below. The SUV smacked the river surface hard, as if it were made of concrete. The smashed remains then sunk, leaving bubbles and and a white foamy wake where the SUV fell.
The OIC witnessed everything. If he were a common man, his jaw would’ve dropped to the ground, searching for an explanation for what he saw. An invisible force rolled the 6,000-pound vehicle as if it were a toy. And yet, everything he saw was within the realm of possibility.
He raised his rifle and scanned the area around him. “Where are you? Show yourself!”
“I prefer not to.” The voice was coming from the cab of the semi-truck.
“Come out with your hands up!”
“I will use lethal force. Surrender now. I won’t say it again.” The OIC bellowed.
“Canberra, Canberra. Do you really think that’s a wise thing to say? You did see what I just did, right?”
The driver of Alpha team saw movement from the cab of the semi-truck and fired a few shots. His rounds destroyed the side-mirror and left metallic bullet holes on the door to the semi. As the casings dropped to the road from his rifle, a 35-foot long piece of timber lifted up from the ground. It levitated about 10-feet from the road and streaked through the air. It wound up, and then swung like a baseball bat. It struck the driver in the chest, pulverizing his ribs, and sending his broken body over the bridge and down towards the river below.
The floating log did the same with the other two special agents (OIC excluded). The log swept back and forth, like it was sweeping the ground. Once the screams of the agents faded as they free-falled to the river below, the log was dropped back down on the road.
“Those pretty metal bracelets around your head aren’t all the effective y’know?” The voice from the semi-truck said. “Put your gun down, Canberra.”
It was hopeless. Officer in Charge, Roy Canberra, ran multiple scenarios in his head. There was nothing he could do. His team was gone. He was defeated. He dropped his rifle to the ground.
The door to the semi-truck opened and a young man jumped out. Canberra could’ve mistaken the man for an executive instead of a truck driver. He wore a sleek, slim suit, complete with a vest and an expensive gold watch around his wrist. The man’s haircut was precise, face clean-shaven.
“Probably the only smart thing you’ve done all day.” The strange man said.
“Who are you?” Canberra’s voice was empty of emotion.
“No one you know.”
“I have none. But if you insist on calling me something, let’s go with Tom Sawyer.”
Canberra sighed. “Do you know what you’ve just done? Do you have any idea who you’re messing with?”
“I do. But, I could ask you the same thing. And without even hearing your answer, I can tell you that you nothing of the Pirends,” Tom Sawyer pointed at Luna, “otherwise, you would’ve known not to mess with anyone of my kind.”
“She and all the Pirends are a danger to this country.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Canberra. You and your made-up department is a danger to this country.”
“You’re part of the Collective, aren’t you?”
“The Collective? Fuck no. Those assholes are a danger to this country, I mean, not counting your little organization of course.” Tom Sawyer saw the confusion in Canberra’s face. “Let me make this simple. The world is not as it seems. If you think the government or the Collective can control us, well, you’re both wrong. You cannot control us. You cannot stop us. Leave us be.”
“We will never do that. I know what you freaks are capable of, and what you’ve all done in the past. You think you can continue using your black magic without consequence? You all must be stopped and put down.”
“You’re right about one thing. There are consequences. Consequences for Luna’s magic. Consequences for my magic. There are also consequences for you, and that big mouth on you.” Tom Sawyer took a few steps so that he was standing right in front of Canberra. “But we won’t be stopped or put down. It’s best to accept that now...or face the consequences.” Tom snapped his fingers, causing all the fallen 40-foot timber to vibrate violently.
Canberra stood stoic, trying hard to remain indifferent to the strange man.
“I’m considering telling Luna about your teenage son, Zane. I know your address, Canberra. I will tell Luna where you live. Where she could find your son. I bet Luna would love to meet him. After all, you’re responsible for disrupting her life, raiding her home, arresting her parents. I know for a fact, that Luna’s killed for much, much less.”
Canberra closed his eyes and bowed his head. Second time that day he’s felt such defeat.
“Got nothing to say?” Tom asked.
Through gritted teeth, Canberra asked “is there anything I do to convince you to reconsider?”
Canberra sighed, “what do you want from me.”
Canberra looked up at Tom with cold eyes.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Tom walked around Canberra and headed over towards Luna, who was still seated in the back seat of the Suburban. He turned back one last time to address Canberra, and said “we’ll keep in touch. I got your phone number by the way.”
Luna watched and listened to the exchange between Roy Canberra and Tom Sawyer. More questions than answers filled her mind. But never mind the answers -- that’s not what she wanted at that moment. She wanted her family. She wanted to be embraced by her mother, and have her tell her everything is going to be alright.
How the hell did anyone know what she was doing? She was so careful, or so she thought. All her victims were shrunk out of sight. None escaped her. She never told a soul what she was capable of, or what she’s done. No one should have known about her.
But somehow the government did. And so did this mysterious man named Tom Sawyer.
“Come on, let’s go.” Tom said as he opened the door.
Luna backed away from him and shook her head.
“Is that the way you treat someone who just saved your life?” He gave her a sly smile.
“You didn’t save my life.”
“Luna, we can argue about this later, but in about 5 minutes, this place is going to be crawling with more assholes like Canberra over there, plus every cop in a 50-mile radius. Not to mention the Collective, because I bet you they know you and me are here. So, unless you want the Collective drinking your brain through a straw, you can come with me, otherwise--”
“Okay, whatever. I’m coming, jeez.” Luna shimmied over to the open door and Tom got out of her way.
“Watch your step. There’s broken glass all--”
“Yea, yea, I see it.”
Tom nodded his head and extended his arms towards his semi-truck. “Here, let me get that for you.” He waved his hand, and her handcuffs came undone, falling to the ground with clank.
Luna took off her metallic beanie and looked over at Canberra. He stared back with an expression like he wanted to strangle her. She stared back and concentrated on him. Her eyes squinted, focusing on his smug expression. Canberra’s headband beeped repeatedly.
Tom laughed and said aloud, “shit, she don’t like you.”
Luna stopped her concentration and looked back at Tom. “Get my pets. They are in the trunk.”
“Yes, your highness. Whatever you want.” Tom curtseyed for the 14-year-old.
Shortly after crossing the bridge, Tom and Luna got out of the battered semi-truck and swapped it for a sedan that Tom had prepared the previous day. The windows on the car were tinted and provided enough privacy.
Sitting on Luna’s lap, was her hamster cage with three, two-inch, people. Two boys and a girl. They wept silently. The poor little things actually had hope when they saw the authority figures arresting Luna. She was finally going to answer for all her atrocities. Those hopes were dashed now. If anything, things looked worse. Luna looked pissed.
“How about some music.” Tom said. He flipped on the radio, and Tom Sawyer by Rush was playing. “How about that, my song.” He smiled.
“Who are you? And what do you from me?” Luna asked in frustration.
“Oh, I’m nobody important. And what do I want from you? Nothing.”
Tom took an on-ramp onto the interstate. Rush-hour traffic slowed them significantly, but this didn’t seem to bother him. He simply sang along the music playing over the radio.
“What?” Her voice was filled with annoyance.
“You can stop trying to shrink me.”
She flipped her head and looked at him. She looked like a child caught red-handed. “How did you know?”
Tom laughed. “My feelings aren’t hurt, trust me. You’re young and stupid. You have been gifted with powers you don’t even understand. You also think you’re one-of-a-kind. Newsflash: you aren’t.”
“Don’t call me stupid.”
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have said it that way.” Tom changed lanes, and soon they were driving out of the city. “I have the same powers you have Luna. And, you too, have the same powers I have.”
“What powers is that?”
“Telekinesis, mind-control, and the ability to manipulate people’s sizes. In the Stephen King universe, we would call this The Shining. In Star Wars, we would call it The Force. Of course, those two are missing my personal favorite power of growing and shrinking people.”
“Moving stuff with your mind. Telekinetic powers allowed me to toss the SUV over the bridge. It was super easy.”
“I don’t have telekinetic powers.”
Tom smiled. “That’s why I said you’re ignorant when it comes to your powers.”
“You said I was stupid.”
“And I’m sorry for that. You don’t have to keep throwing it in my face.”
“Okay, okay. You said I can also control other people’s mind.”
“Mind-control. Yes. You’ll never have to work a day in your life, when you can simply will others into giving you their money, their cars, their homes. Whatever your creative little mind can come up with.”
“How do you know I have all these powers?”
“And that question brings me to why our paths crossed. Every time you use your powers, it’s like transmitting a broadcast over a radio tower saying ‘hey, look at me, look what I’m doing.’ Now, the only people that can pick up this broadcast are the Pirend, like you and me. But now, the fucking government has developed some tech to pick up on these broadcasts and can locate us.”
“Oh. So, every time I shrank someone…”
“Yea. I felt your presence Luna. And holy shit. You have shrunk a fuck ton of people.” Tom let out a half-laugh, half-impressed breath.
“That’s funny to you? I--I didn’t know some weirdo like you was peeping into my personal business.”
“Luna, you got me all wrong. I’m not passing judgement. I don’t give a shit what you do with your powers.”
“You don’t? You’re not disgusted that I’ve been shrinking and killing people?” She asked, recalling what Special Agent Canberra said about her.
Tom shrugged. “No.”
Luna felt herself tearing. She sniffed some running mucus from her nose and laughed nervously. “I’ve never said that aloud to anyone before. I’ve shrunk and killed little people. Ahh.” She sat back in her seat. “I’ve stomped on them, eaten them, thrown them into garbage disposals, flushed them down the toilet. I’ve never felt bad about it either. I only felt bad...that I didn’t feel anything for them.”
“You remind me a lot about me. You’ll eventually figure it out Luna. Don’t feel bad. You’re still growing and learning.”
“Can you teach me about my other powers? I already have the shrinking and growing thing figured out. Also, like, can you tell me what a Pirend is?”
Tom was silent. He was changing lanes and preparing to exit the highway.
“What’s wrong, where are we going?” She asked.
“Luna, I’m only rescuing you from the government. And that is it.”
“Wait, what? But you have to teach me. You’re just going to dump me off on the road.”
“I wouldn’t do that. I’m going to drop you off at a hotel. I got a room set up for you. I’m then going to disappear and get as far away from you as possible.”
“Why?” She nearly shouted.
“That whole, broadcasting like a radio wave thing, that’s why. If we stay together, they’ll find us, even if we don’t use the powers.”
“But you scared that guy. He won’t come back chasing us. Even if they do, you can take care of them like you did on the bridge. If you teach me, then I could do the same thing by myself.”
“It’s not the government I’m afraid of, Luna.”
“Then why can’t you stay with me?”
15 minutes later, they arrived at a motel nestled in a small town in the woods. Tom explained as much as he could to Luna. He also explained to her that her old life was over. She needed to start with a new identity and never return home. Never talk to her friends and family again.
She didn’t want to believe anything he said. She begged him to stay. To train her. To protect her. She sincerely feared for her life. She told him, she couldn’t make it on her own.
“You can. You’re stronger than you think.”
“No, I’m not.”
He opened the door to her motel room and handed her the key. She walked in with her hamster cage and set it on the bed.
“Can you at least give me your email address?” She asked turning around, but he was gone. She stepped past the door at looked at the parking lot but didn’t see his car anywhere. She was alone.