Chapter nine – Part two
I was rudely awakened from my slumber by the harsh sound of knocking on my door. I groaned and rubbed with my hand against my face. My head scuffled deeper into the pillow to keep the warm and fuzzy feeling. Just five more minutes… back to sleep…
No, I wasn’t asleep! That boy! The boy near the portal! He needed help!
‘Hello? Miss Adams?’
Wait… that wasn’t right. I wasn’t near any portal.
I was… back in my room.
The knocking on my door started again, much louder this time. From the other side of the door, I could hear voices mumbling and all of a sudden a man shouted:
‘Miss Adams! Are you in there? We’re opening the door now!’
‘Ah, yes, I’m here!’ I shouted back. ‘Come in, I guess.’
The door opened with a big swing, and a second later, secret agent Johnson was standing in my room. The female scientist woman, miss Shifton, was with him. She had a smile on her face that was probably supposed to be motherly.
‘Are you ready for your next test, miss Adams? We finally have everything set up,’ Johnson laughed. I quickly got up from the bed.
‘Yes. Sorry, I fell asleep while waiting for you to come pick me up.’
Their expressions changed almost instantly. Scientist Shifton bowed towards Johnson and whispered something in his ear, after which they both looked at me seriously.
‘Did you now? That is very interesting… I take it that you might have dreamed, as well?’
‘I always dream,’ I said slowly. This conversation was going nowhere, was it? What did my nap have to do with anything?
‘Miss Adams, I’d like you to answer me truthfully,’ Shifton said. ‘Did you maybe happen to dream about one of the men in the video that we showed you?’
I blinked a couple of times. What was this about all of a sudden?
‘Micah,’ Shifton said, dropping my last name. I noticed these people doing that a lot when they tried to gain your trust, or if they really wanted to know something. ‘Do you remember what your dream was about?’
‘I- no,’ I lied. ‘Why?’
‘So you’re sure none of those people from the movie were in your dream?’ Johnson said.
‘Pretty sure, yeah,’ I said again. ‘Why? Are they important?’
‘Let’s just say our government would like to see most of them behind bars,’ Johnson said slowly. ‘There are hundreds of men out there – betrayers of our magnificent country – that have been on the run from the police for too long. But they don’t stand a chance anymore now that we’ve got you, do they?’
I didn’t know what to say.
‘Do they?’ he said again, louder this time.
‘N-no, sir!’ I said quickly, staring at him awkwardly.
Apparently that is was Johnson wanted to hear. He nodded with a content smile, and then whispered something to Shifton.
‘Good. It’s time for your next test, miss Adams. Please come this way.’
The two adults walked out of the room and I followed them, my mind working at top speed.
I knew what they were up to. I wasn’t stupid. They only question remaining was how they knew. And how much they knew. I walked behind them quietly, through the white facility hallway, to the same room that I was taken to read cards in. Only this time there was just one chair, another creepy one with wires, and a whole bunch of just as creepy-looking machines near the walls.
‘Mr. Baker will be here shortly,’ miss Shifton said, as soon as she had led me inside. ‘Will you be all right waiting on your own?’
‘Of course,’ I lied again. I was getting pretty good at telling lies over the last few days. Miss Shifton nodded.
‘Then we take our leave here. Please don’t touch anything until Mr. Baker arrives, dear.’
I kept smiling at them until they both walked past me, leaving for the hall again. The door fell shut behind them with a short click.
Yeah, right. As if I was going to stay here after what they asked.
No, I was going to follow them… And eavesdrop.
I waited a full minute before finally walking over to the door, to make sure they had left the hallway. It was quiet as ever.. no other people were walking by. As far as I could see, at least. Now if only the door was unlocked… I reached out with my hand and grabbed hold of the handle. It was pushed down easily, and the door swung open with the same soft click I heard it closing with.
I snuck out into the corridor, throwing glances to the left and right to check if there was really no one there. Coast clear, thank plumbob.
Figuring out in which room Shifton and Johnson were, that was the hard part. There were giant windows everywhere, and only a few places where you were invisible to anyone inside. And then you’d be in plain sight of whoever was in the room opposite of that. I snuck around close to the wall, trying hard to be invisible to everyone in the rooms.
Fortunately, most of the scientists were so occupied in their own work that they paid no attention at all to whoever was walking by. The only person I was really scared of running into was agent Davies.
Slowly I made my way across another window, and then – bingo! There they were!
I quickly pressed myself against the wall and held my ear close to the glass, trying to pick up on their conversation. It was just the two of them in the room, and the mood hanging in between them seemed much more tense and serious than when they were talking with me.
‘It’s just as we expected, sir,’ I heard Shifton say through the wall. ‘For the phenomena to occur, the subject needs to be in paradoxical sleep.’
‘REM sleep, I take? So you’re thinking tonight, Helen?’
‘So? Have the tests proven anything unusual?’
‘Not while she is awake, sir. Her brain functions are completely normal, and there is no sign of mutation in her cerebral cortex.’
I moved a bit closer to the window.
‘The neurons in her occipital lobe are slightly more active than the ones in other regions, sir. Some fluctuations in her brain can be seen at times of which she later says she was tired.’
This scientific talk was a bit too difficult for me. When would they start saying things that made sense to a teenager listening in on the conversation?
‘What’s your theory, Helen?’ Johnson asked, lowering his voice so much that it became really hard to understand what he was saying.
‘Most probably, sir, the phenomena she thinks are dreams are triggered when her brain prepares itself for the resting stage. During sleep, at moments of fatigue. We still don’t know exactly how, but the next set of tests should shed light on that.’
‘Excellent. And the main purpose? Can we use her?’ Johnson asked. His head tilted a little towards the window and I hastily pulled back, my heart pounding in my chest, hoping he hadn’t seen me.
‘Yes. With the right motivation, I believe she can find anyone – dead or alive.’
‘Good. Our captain will be pleased. Schedule the subject to locate the targets we discussed.’
I was overcome with shock. They talked about me as if- as if I was some kind of thing, some kind of tool for them to use! Was that all they thought of me? Something to help them find fugitives? Fugitives that may or not be guilty at all?
It then hit me. These people did not intend on helping me. If anything, they’d use my “gift” for themselves, or to “serve the state” as Johnson would probably put it. Capturing possibly innocent people with my ability to find anyone…
Wait, no… that wasn’t right.
I shuffled with my feet and slowly moved away from the window. They were wrong. I’d never actually seen… living people. Thinking back on it… it made sense. Gerry Custard had already been strangled by the time I saw him in that playground. My grams died minutes after seeing that thing come out of her. Even that boy. I’d known it for a while now, but this confirmed it. He wasn’t in this world anymore.
These eyes… they did not see missing people.
They saw what happened after death.
That afternoon, I fled the facility.
I left a note, of course. Even if they were selfish people who probably cared nothing of helping me, I didn’t want to worry them.
Gone to take care of something.
Back real soon.
That way they wouldn’t search for me, and I’d have all the time I wanted to do what I needed to do. Because there really was something I wanted to do. So I took the book with me and grabbed a taxi back to school.
The sun was already starting to set by the time I arrived at the familiar building. It was Friday, most people were long gone already, but I knew that he had a mathematics exam next week that he was frantically studying for… maybe he’d still be there. Full of positive hope, I stepped inside.
‘Listen, dude, forget the mathematics crap. Have you asked her out yet or not?’
‘Well… not exactly…’ Ethan muttered.
‘What the hell, Ethan? It’s been weeks! You know I was kidding last time, but if you don’t step up your game fast, someone else is going to take her!’
‘You really think so?’ Ethan asked, with a long face.
‘I knów so! Do you have her cell? Can you call her now?’ Archie pushed.
‘I don’t have it on me now…’
Archie looked frustrated for a second, but then quickly stepped back into his bossy attitude.
‘Okay, no matter. Listen up, Ethan. Girls dig reliable guys. So the next time she’s in trouble, or needs something, or whatever really, make sure you help her out. You following me so far?’
‘Good. And when you’re helping her out, there’s gonna be a point where you need to say this.’ He came closer and whispered something in Ethan’s ear. Ethan turned bright red, like a ripened tomato.
‘What?! I – I can’t say that! That’s embarrassing!’
‘I don’t care, dude!’ Archie said. ‘Girls love to hear that. So you’re gonna say it!’
‘But…’ Ethan muttered, still with a red face.
‘Say that like you mean it!’
‘Okay, okay! I’ll say it! I’ll say it!’
‘That’s more like it.’
The two were silent for a few seconds, after which Ethan slowly started to smile.
‘Will she… will she really like me if I say that?’ he asked shyly.
‘Of course she will. Now get lost, find Micah and confess your love before someone else does.’
I was him standing near the lockers by himself when I finally entered the main hall. He was staring into the distance, obviously brooding over something.
I immediately ran up to him and punched his shoulder, stopping centimeters in front of him.
‘Ethan! You’re still here!’
He nearly jumped and turned around, with a hilarious expression on his face.
‘MICAH! Plumbob. Don’t scare me like that! You’ve been absent for days, where have you been?!’
‘Nice to see you too, Nut,’ I said softly. ‘Listen, I’ll explain everything later, okay? But for now, I need your help.’
‘Help?’ Ethan said, not in his usual tone. ‘You need help? Really? From me?’
‘Yes. Will you help me out or not?’
‘I… yes, yes. Of course I’ll help.’
‘Thanks. Come this way, I have something to show you.’
He nodded and continued to follow me into the nearest empty classroom. I was silently thankful for the time; almost no people around automatically meant no annoying questions to avoid. We briefly checked if the classroom was really empty, after which we opened the doors and walked over to the nearest desk.
‘So, what do you need to show me?’ Ethan asked curiously.
In response, I brought out the book and out it on the table, right in front of him.
‘You… want me to read a book?’
‘No, you dummy. I want you to translate it for me. You’ve had courses of ancient simlish, right?’
‘Yeah. Wait, you mean…?’ He added, realizing the meaning behind that question. ‘You’ve got a book in ancient simlish?’
‘Those things are incredibly rare, Eves! Where did you get it? At that place you disappeared to for days? And where have you been, anyway?’
‘Please- just read it first? Please?’ I begged. ‘I’ll explain everything later, I promise.’
Ethan grumbled something too soft for me to hear, but then took place behind the desk.
‘It’s fine,’ he said, picking up the book and opening it at a random page. ‘What part do you want me to translate?’
I flipped a few pages until I arrived at the part I’d been reading earlier. ‘This part.’
‘Sure, just give me a minute.’
He fell silent and let his eyes skim the page multiple times. I coughed once, but Ethan was so focused on the contents of the book that he didn’t even take notice. Several minutes went by in silence, with him reading the words on the page and me standing idly next to him.
‘Hush. I’ve almost got it,’ he said, eyes glued to the pages. It was silent for a few more minutes, after which he finally looked up.
‘Where did you say you got this from, Micah?’
‘I didn’t,’ I responded.
‘Thought so. You mind telling me where you found it?’
‘Why?’ I asked, curiously. ‘What’s written?’
He abruptly closed the book and looked up at me with an unusually serious expression on his face.
‘No. First I want answers. What are you trying to do? Are you into that stuff we did when we were little again?’
He was acting really out of character. Almost as if he was afraid of something. And then I realized what he meant.
Before high school started, Ethan and I’d make a habit of going to the graveyard as tests of courage. We’d try and stay as late as we could, searching for ghosts. Ethan for the thrill he got out of it, I for slightly different reasons.
‘What? No! That’s years ago. Why’d you bring that up now?’ I said, confused. Ethan was still staring at me with a seriousness I never saw on him before.
‘Because this is a book that teaches you how to communicate with the dead.’
My eyes widened a fraction. I knew it. What Ethan just confirmed – I knew it had to be something like that. Ever since I couldn’t leave it alone back in the facility. The realization made my heart beat two times louder than normal. I glanced at the book. Perhaps… if the information in there was, real, I could use it to… to talk to… it was worth a try, right?
But for now… I owed Ethan an explanation.
‘I’m sorry… Ethan,’ I said. ‘A lot of things have happened… a lot of things that I haven’t told you. I found that book while I was doing tests in the FBI-facility-‘
‘FBI?!’ Ethan yelled, alarmed.
‘Can we… can we go to my place? I don’t feel very comfortable talking about it over here.’
‘Ah, of course- I, I mean,’ he said, falling back into his usual personality. ‘I don’t want to push you into telling things you’re not comfortable with…’
‘That’s all right. I want to tell you, really.’
Ethan shoved his chair back and got up, and suddenly I felt the urge to give him a hug. So I put my arms around him and pulled him against me, his familiar scent calming me down.
‘It’s really good to see you again, Nut. Thank you for helping me out.’
‘N- no problem.’
‘Let’s go.’ I let go of him and picked up the book, trying to stow It in my much too small pocket on the way outside. My mind was already so occupied with thoughts again that I didn’t hear Ethan’s last sentence.
‘If it’s you… I’d do anything.’
On the way out, I couldn’t help but think about what Ethan had said. To communicate with the dead. I’d searched for her before, of course, but a few visits to the graveyard were nothing compared to the potential this had. It was something I’d taken from an official FBI research facility, after all. It could actually be real.
And if it was… if it was real and I could somehow figure out how to…
Would I be able to meet my mother?
Guys, Ethan looks mighty handsome as an adult! O.0