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I was sitting in class when it happened... It was supposed to be a good day... I was supposed to go home and celebrate my mom’s birthday... I was never afraid of anything as much as I was afraid of myself in that moment... It was supposed to be a good day.
My head was resting on my arms as I looked up at the board. I didn’t bother to take notes because I already knew that I wouldn’t ever look back at them, and the images of the board stuck in my mind anyway, along with the teacher’s voice. There was really no point. So I sat there. Half looking up at the board, trying to pay attention, and half thinking about my mom, sitting at home with my father. She probably forgot it was her birthday. My siblings and I had decided to give her her presents yesterday, only because I was going to be home late today. I had spent the night thinking of what I wanted to do for her the next day, and finally decided that I would take her to dinner at her favorite restaurant. Not only was I thinking about that, but I was wondering how my father was going to be acting towards her today. If his pride is so high that he can’t even say congratulations to his own daughter, then why would he say happy birthday to his wife? I consoled myself by thinking that he was barely ever home anyway, so it didn’t really make a difference.
I snapped to attention with the door slamming behind me. It was probably the teaching assistant, late again. I just turned back to the board until I noticed the teacher wasn’t moving.
“Who are you?”
It was a question I honestly was not expecting. New students were unlikely a month into the semester, and it wasn’t very likely that there would be a change in staff, not matter how bad the teaching assistant really was at his job. So I turned around and was surprised to see a girl, about my age, taking a seat behind me.
“New student, sir.”
Her voice was polite, but powerful. There was something about her voice that gave me the best kind of chills.
“How did you pull that off? We’re already far along.”
The teacher seemed irritated. He already had us to deal with, so I don’t think adding another was the best thing for his mental health.
“I’ve got connections, sir. And catching up won’t be a problem for me.”
Her confidence only gave me more chills. My leg was already starting to bounce up and down from the energy I was feeling.
“Whatever you say. Anyway…”
He continued on with his lecture of economic efficiency.
Before a full minute had even passed, I felt her hand on my shoulder. She leaned towards me and I felt her hot breath on my neck:
“Ready or not, here it comes.”
That’s when it happened. I felt her hand in my hair, playing with it. On the outside, it probably looked like she knew me from somewhere, but I had goosebumps. I felt shocks in each strand of hair she separated, traveling from the tips of her fingers all the way up to my brain until I started to hear the sound of my blood pumping in my ears. After about a minute of that, the feeling started to go down the rest of my body until everything was tingling. I could feel my blood rushing through each part of me. If I was holding a pen, I would have dropped it. When she let go of my hair, I didn’t feel anything besides my own blood rushing up and down my whole body. I couldn’t move. She leaned forward again.
“Count down from ten please.”
I didn’t even ask any questions. Mindlessly, I began.
The blood rushing through me started to get hotter. I started to feel warm all over. Not quite to the point of sweating, but it was almost there.
My breathing was getting heavier and my vision was beginning to sharpen. The colors were brighter, the edges of objects more defined. I hadn’t had vision that good since I was a child.
My vision steadily continued to sharpen. The blood in my ears was getting louder. Hotter.
I felt coolness at the top of my head. The chills from the combination of heat and cold traveled all the way down to my feet.
My blood was calming down. It wasn’t as hot, but it was still loud. My heart was beating so loudly I think the people next to me could hear it. My breathing was still heavy, and my vision was steadily becoming sharper and sharper
The chills continued. All of a sudden, I wasn’t only seeing objects. I was seeing their components. Even the components of the components.
I heard a crash inside my head as I started to see how everything around me was working. Every moving part in the human bodies around me. The electrons flowing in the lightbulbs above me. Even the glue and screws in the desk in front of me.
The sound of the blood in my ears was gone, replaced by a chattering of a voice, explaining how everything around me worked. What was moving, what needed to move for something else to happen. Technicalities were running through my head. My eyes were darting, shifting focus from one thing to the next, too fast for me to handle.
My hands were starting to tingle. It felt like pins and needles sticking out of my hands, concentrated around the center and in the fingertips. It hurt.
Everything stopped. There was no noise besides the teacher’s voice. My vision returned to the sharpened state that happened before I started seeing the details. The tingling in my hands went away.
I was back to reality in an instant. Everything was exactly the same on the outside, but on the inside I knew something was very different. I was afraid to think. I knew there was something wrong, but I knew thinking about it would make it worse. I turned around to the girl behind me, but she was gone.
I looked at my teacher who was looking right back at me.
No. Far from it. Something in me had changed. I didn’t want to speak. I didn’t want to hear my own voice.
My voice was normal. My heartbeat was still thumping loudly.
“You look pale.”
The irony is that I don’t think he cared at all. I think he just wanted to get on with his pointless lecture and go home. Maybe he felt the same way the students were feeling.
That’s new… Empathy is not my strong suit.
“Could I go get some water?”
I needed to get out. I needed to walk. Make sure my legs were working. Wash my hands from the feeling of those needles. I need to erase that memory.
I was surprised to find my legs effortlessly taking me towards the door of the classroom when I got up. I pushed open the door and walked in the direction of the nearest water fountain.
As soon as I walked out of the classroom and the door behind me shut, the crash in my head came back and my mind began chattering again. My heartbeat had calmed down a little bit, but it was picking up again. Everything was being ripped apart in my mind, telling me every detail I didn’t need to know about both the living and the non-living. My eyes felt like they were being ripped out of their sockets. My hands were in my hair as I tried to stop my eyes from moving. Tried to stop the noise. It kept going. I shut my eyes and everything went blank. Only then did I realize that I was crouching on the ground. I opened my eyes slowly, and nothing happened. I raised my head up. Nothing. Silence.
That was the only thought that went through my head as soon as I picked myself up. As if on its own, my body turned towards the “danger” and my hand stuck out. My eyes shut on their own and I saw a human body in my mind. Hovering in midair, hanging by the neck, hung by an invisible force. I saw the throat. Every part of it. I knew exactly where I needed to press to kill. As soon as I regained control of myself, I opened my eyes. I pulled my hand back in towards me, grabbing my wrist. The girl from earlier fell to the ground, her curly black hair a curtain in front of her face as she arched over and began coughing. I was horrified. I didn’t know what was going on or why it was happening. When the girl looked up again, she started laughing. Despite what had just happened, she looked more excited than ever.
“I knew it was you! That’s a terrifying ability you got there. Now we can start. How old are you again? 16? 17? It doesn’t matter. We can figure it out later. Anyway, you need to come with me now.”
I didn’t process any of what she was saying. I was still thinking about what just happened. Trying to make sense of something that was clearly impossible. Before I could even focus on her, she grabbed my wrist and started dragging me towards the front of the school.
“But… My stuff… What?”
I was so confused. My mind was a blur as the chattering started again as we began walking. Both of my hands flew back to my head. There was too much… information. I couldn’t make sense of any of the noise.
She turned back to me, quizzically. When the noise quieted, she was still looking at me. I just shook my head.
“I can’t. If I walk any more, it’ll come back. I can’t take the noise. Who are you? What did you do? What were those needles? What is going on? Am I dreaming?”
All the questions started coming out at once. The look on her face changed to one of sympathy. I know she didn’t mean any harm. I don’t know how I knew that, but I just had a feeling.
“Oh, honey. I know. First day’s the worst, promise! For now, I can’t do anything but give you this, but I hope it helps a little bit. Given the extent of your ability, I don’t know what it will do, though.”
She pulled a vial out of her pocket and handed it to me. Immediately, the chatter started again. It was a lot shorter this time, though, and my eyes we shifting from the vial to the cap to the contents. As soon as it passed, I took the vial. I opened it and took one of the tablets. I almost put it in my mouth when she stopped me.
“They’re not pills, darling. Open it.”
I was confused, but I used my fingernails to open one. Two computer chips spilled out. At least they looked like computer chips. My mind was silent and I was confused. I expected a little bit of noise...
I looked up at her.
“Have you ever worn contacts?”
I shook my head. Suddenly, the contacts were floating up from my hands and towards my face.
“It’s a lot easier if you keep your eyes open. Otherwise I’ll have to do that part for you, too.”
Again, I felt no ill intent from her, so I kept my eyes open as the contacts drifted through the air and towards my eyes. They were clear, but there were multiple lines that wouldn’t be obvious on any colored eyes or even to any regular person.
“Look right into the center of each one. That should be easy for you to do. When they’re in place, brace yourself. This is gonna hurt just a little, babe.”
I found the centers of each one and stared. As they got closer and closer, I could hear the same kind of chatter that went on in my mind, but it was coming from the contacts. I stayed still.
As soon as they touched my eyes, my head exploded.
My eyes weren’t moving, but the voice in my head was talking so fast, so loudly. I was processing too quickly. My brain felt hot. I thought I was going to explode. It lasted seconds. When the voice stopped, I saw the girl had stepped in close. Her hand was on my mouth. Actually, in my mouth. There was blood. I realized that I was biting onto her hand. I let go and stepped back. She looked at her hand. Her other hand swooped over it and, in an instant, the blood was gone and there was hardly any cut at all. I could taste the blood in my mouth. She stepped in again.
“Don’t bite me again, ok? Open your mouth.”
Hesitantly, I did as I was told. She stuck two fingers into my mouth and all traces of the taste in my mouth were gone. When she pulled her fingers out, it looked like a bunch of pixels were swirling around her fingers. She touched her fingers to her cut and the pixels pooled in. In an instant, there was nothing left of the cut.
“Darling, your teeth are unbelievably strong. This is not the first time I’ve done this, but it’s definitely the first time someone has screamed that loud and bit that hard.”
I hadn’t even realized I screamed. The noise in my head drowned out everything else.
“Anyway, how’s it feel? Better?”
I noticed that my head was completely silent. I looked around and everything was normal. I nodded at her.
“Good. What’s your name, anyways?”
Her question was surprising. After everything that had just happened, I wasn’t expecting it.
“I’m Jade. Nice to meet you.”
To Be Continued