UWAGA! W PRZYPADKU PROBLEMU Z LOGOWANIEM NALEŻY WYCZYŚCIĆ CIASTECZKA WITRYNY!


Tytuł PROZY LIPCA
zdobyło ZAWSZE NA ZACHÓD autorstwa Coffee.

Serdecznie gratulujemy! :D

Mae heart Burns [eng]

FANTASTYKA
W odróżnieniu od literatury realistycznej, fantastyka jest literaturą bardzo aktualną. ~ Kir Bułyczow
Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 15 lutego 2016, 14:20

Długo myślałam, czy to wrzucać, czy nie, ale jak nie tu, to gdzie.
Bluzgi, supermoce i radosne walenie w klawiaturę.
Tekst docelowo ma 35k - będę zamieszczać rozdziałami.
Enjoy.

1.
They won’t shut up about child rights and the need to protect the wee ones, and that it is inhuman to treat children like things, and so on, and so forth. To hell with all that. I wonder where they all had been when I was taken away from my parents and locked up, and horrible experiments were performed on me. And it wasn’t even a national secret. It was all out there, in the media and all.
But one thing at a time.
I wasn’t actually taken away from my parents. I was sold by them. One day I ran out on the street to grab a pup, a car speeded my way… I grabbed the pup, saw the car, and in terror I just did the first thing that came to my mind. I phased through it. It drove right through me and stopped with screech of tires a few meters away. The driver jumped out of the car and ran to me. My mum ran to me. And then they all saw that I’m perfectly ok, though scared shitless and howling so loud the pup in my arms wriggled like a little demon, trying to get free.
My parents are bone-deep Catholics, so the first thing they did was pray to God to save my soul, and the next – call an exorcist, because there’s no such thing as a manifestation of divine power. If there is a power, then it is that of the Devil. For a few days I sat in my room, watching strange black-dressed men waving pieces of wood at me and pouring water over me, and talking funny. How old I was back then? Six. That’s what the documents say anyway. The documents that got their start from the first report that a government agent wrote down when he and his partner arrived at my parents’ house, after they chased out the priests and locked themselves in the room with me. They paid my parents well over ten million dollars to let them have me. Imagine the pure Catholic joy on my parents’ faces when they learned that their little hell-spawn is going to be useful to the government scientists.
Yeah, my parents thought I was a hell-spawn. Although the phase-through-car trick was the only thing they saw. But it was enough for them to figure out that something’s afoot. So, to avoid the responsibility, they sold me to the scientists. I think I’ve never really missed them. I may have been too small to realize what was going on and it was too long ago for me to even remember what age I was then, but I do remember that even back then I knew they have abandoned me. Whatever that meant for me at such an early age.
As for the scientists, at least they tried to be nice. I was a child which looked and behaved like an ordinary child. Well… No, to be honest, I was kind of weird since my youngest years, but all the same, they were nice. For some time. Until they realized that I’m not letting them in on my secrets. Then they became rather unpleasant.
Here you probably wonder how come the government got to me so quickly? Thanks to the driver and his onboard webcam. He uploaded the clip where I phase through the car. Because on the slow-mo you could see me going right through the car. You didn’t have to wait too long for the response to that.
They came, they took me away and they locked my in a prison, which they called the lab.
They took my blood, checked my reflexes, they did so many other test which I didn’t understand. And after a month or two, all they could say was that I’m allergic to cats.
Nothing in my body suggested that I could phase through things, yet there was evidence. And I’m not talking only about the clip.
The trick with the car was not – and is not – the only one in my repertoire.
When I was getting angry with my caretakers, I would push them away, stronger than a child should. I believe there’s a recording of me being held down by three grownup American bodyguards. Not without some effort. If they wanted to take my blood, and I wasn’t feeling like it, they’d never put the needle in my arm. I would elude them, hide in places I shouldn’t be able to reach or fit into. Or, if they strapped me down, the needle just wouldn’t pierce my skin. When they realized that, they’d try with other tools and so there’s a recording of me shrieking and wriggling, and crying, and them trying to cut my arm off with a chainsaw. With a CHAINSAW. And I was eight by then. Way to destroy a child, am I right?
My powers seemed as if developing with my age, but I know it’s not true. They developed with me coming up with the ideas of how I could use them. They never learned all my abilities and I will never let them learn them.
I stayed in a lockdown for ten years. When I turned sixteen, I woke up in my room, on my birthday (the staff would usually bring me a cake and a gift on that day) and I realized that my patience is over. I got up, I got dressed and I sat down on my bed to wait for them to come and get me. Soon, they came. Five of them. Dr Lillard, who led the team and liked to joke about politics. Dr Mishap, who at the beginning didn’t like my jokes about her name. Dr Rochser and dr Vill, who never liked me, because why should they. And a security officer with a paralyzer, in case I misbehave. I looked at the tool in his hand and thought that he would be really disappointed.
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 16 lutego 2016, 09:57

Wrzucam od razu drugi rozdział, bo prolog jest denny, mam tego świadomość.

2.
I hate school. I go there, because I have nothing better to do. Agent says I should start being a superhero or something, work at a public service. But hey, do I look like a superhero? Why would I want to risk my invincible ass for some jackasses? No, I’m not saving humanity, even if I were to die of boredom.
Yes, I called my ass invincible, because apparently that’s how it is.
I hate school, because it’s boring and people look down on me, but I go there anyway. And that’s the last week of the spring semester, and this time I’m graduating. I spent here last six years, repeating classes, even though the teachers hate me, too. Agent told them to keep me busy, and so they were trying, but I was trying to just keep there, not busy. What I’m trying to say is that it’s been well over ten years since I escaped that prison, and I spent six of them in the same school. Because I love pissing everyone off.
Also, it’s worth to mention that I haven’t noticed a slightest change in my body over those ten years. I’m not saying I’m still sixteen. I’m saying I’m not twenty six. I may be nineteen, for all I know.
People still sometimes ask me to show off my power, but I’m not a travelling circus to indulge them. I tell them to get lost. I think that’s why I don’t have friends.
History class. The teacher gives us back our test results, and then she will give us our grades and we are free to go home, ‘cause it’s the last class for today. I never cared much about history, but when you read the same thing over and over again over six years, you kinda remember some of it.
“Good job, Mae,” the teacher says with badly hidden irritation. “B+. Finally.”
I take the paper without a word, because I have no word for someone who’s been calling me names for the past six years only because I wouldn’t prepare for their classes. Ms Pepper passes on, giving the papers to the other students and I just put my piece away, because I don’t care. Just a few minutes more and I’m out of here. Then three days more and I can leave this god forsaken place and move on. I didn’t tell Agent that I’m leaving. I wonder how much time will it take them to find me. With the tracker in my arm, a few hours. But I’m planning to phase the shit out of my skin. Eat that, agents.
I get hit with a paper ball and two guys to my right cover their mouths, laughing. No, I don’t care about that either. I look out of the window.
And suddenly I know that right at this moment a man with a long gun enters the school. He has the gun hidden in a nylon bag, and he climbs the stairs to the first floor, not bothered by anyone. He goes to one of the lower classes.
I sit there, shocked at this knowledge. There have been times when I was aware of something that was happening in my vicinity, yet outside of my hearing or vision range, and each time I greet it as something new. So I just sit there, watching the man taking the gun out of the bag. Two floors below me.
“Fuck,” I say and run out of the classroom. Ms Pepper shouts after me that she still has something to say, but boy, do I bother to explain to her that there’s a gunman downstairs and he’s going to shoot people there? No, I don’t bother.
In two seconds flat I’m downstairs and I run round the corner the same moment when he enters the classroom, raising the gun. Kids there haven’t started to shout yet, and I’m right in front of him, grabbing the gun. He pulls the trigger.
Three, maybe four bullets hit me in the stomach, but I wrench out the gun and kick the guy out of the classroom, sending him in the short flight towards the opposite wall. I throw it away and go to the man, who’s trying to get up. I pin him down and look back at the teacher and the kids, who are all looking out at the corridor. There are dozens of eyes watching me right now, because the shots were heard in the whole building, I believe.
“Someone call the police, please?” I say, looking from face to face, searching for the traces of intelligence in them. “I don’t do telepathy, for all I know.”
Someone says they’re calling 911, so I just stand there, because the man tries to get from under my foot.

The police locks the guy in the cruiser and sets off. They take the gun as the evidence, glancing at me. It’s bent in two places, remaining the letter Z now. I don’t remember doing it. A paramedic comes to me and asks whether I’m ok.
“Do I not look ok?”
He points at my stomach. I may have bled for a second or two, so there are three spots of blood on my shirt. I lift it and look at my stomach, showing it to the paramedic as well.
“I’m good,” I say.
“So where are the bullets?”
“Ah, bullets,” I say and think for a moment. Yup, I can feel them in there. “Hold on.”
I phase and three metal cylinders hit the pavement between my feet. The paramedic steps back, startled.
“Here they are,” I say and walk away. Ok, I’m a travelling circus just for this one trick.
There’sa lot of people here, and it irritates me. Police, because that’s goddamn where they’re supposed to be. Paramedics, because a few people fainted, some kids are in shock, and I’ve been shot, which is the least of their problems now. Parents of the kids, who heard from their offspring that there was a shootout, so they came to pick them up. And the media. A dark skinned woman with a cameraman right behind her move towards me, so I change my route, turn left and try to avoid them. She shouts something after me, but I’m already going through the masses back to the school, to grab my things. I hate the stares they’re giving me. Awe and interest mixed with fear.
Yeah, they’ve known for years I could do things – as they put it – but I rarely gave them the occasion to see for themselves that the stories the media were developing around me were true. I never cared for that. They’d bully me or avoid me just the same, whether I had superpowers or a strong media spin behind me. Ok, I’m not sure they’d bully me if I showed them what I can do by accident with a machine gun. With my bare hands. But you get me. They tolerated me as a weirdo, and I didn’t mind much. Now they’re finally giving me some of their attention. I hate that.
“Hey, Mae, your…” I hear to the right and see Belle from my class with my bag in her arms. That’s our Queen Bee. I’ve never seen her so perplexed before. Maybe there are some positive sides to this whole affair.
I take the bag without a word and check its contents for any theft, but to my surprise everything’s inside.
“Thanks,” I say and go outside again.
Oh, how I want to be away from here, back at home.
I see a flock of journalists heading my way, so I turn back again and go behind the school. There’s one safe way of escape, but I’m not giving the humans any more occasion to see me in action.
When no one sees me, I teleport back to my flat.
And obviously, I trip over the chair that I forgot I left there in the morning.
Teleporting can be tricky. You need to know exactly where the place is and what it looks like to avoid getting stuck in things. I also phase through things, so that’s not a problem, yet still it’s irritating.
I get up from the floor and toss my bag on the sofa, and sit in the old armchair, and sigh.
I started with the statement that I don’t want to be a superhero, yet the next moment I saved those kids. Why, you ask? Let me tell you, in just a moment.
There’s a knock on the door. I don’t have a sense that allows me to guess my visitors’ identities through the door, so I creep up and look through the peephole. I open the door.
“Ah, Agent,” I say, leaning on the door. “It took you… Ten minutes to find me. Bravo.”
Agent just looks at me funny and walks in. He thinks that I think that they think that I don’t know about the tracker. They actually installed two such things on me, probably in hope that even if I notice one of them, I will overlook the other one. But nu-uh, I am quite aware of my body, so sensing a tracking device is a piece of cake.
He walks in the only room and looks at it with disregard. What he sees is a small room with a kitchen annex, with one sofa and one armchair, all covered with my clothes, because I don’t have a wardrobe. I admit, I don’t care about tidying up my things as much as I don’t care about all other things.
“Don’t be a stranger, Agent. Please sit down,” I say and shove some things off the sofa, making some space for him. I pat it invitingly. Agent watches me for a moment, as I go back to my place in the armchair – which really should be called a deckchair, it’s so crooked, and flattened, and used. I can lay on it, I swear. So he watches me, then takes the place I prepared for him. Then he puts his hands together, with his elbows pressed to his knees, and looks at me.
“You’ve changed your mind?”
“As to?”
“Don’t play dumb. Did you?”
“Fuck if I do.”
“You saved them.”
Yup, he’s talking about my superhero stunt.
I take the remote control and turn on the ancient TV set in the corner. I only have two channels and I barely watch them. Right now there’s news and guess who they are talking about.
“Rah rah, shootout, no victims, that super-bitch finally moved her fat ass, oh so cool, magical tricks and all…”
Agent watches me without a word. I doubt he took his eyes off me for the whole time.
“All I’m saying is it’s either banter about sitting on my hands or stalking me to do more magic.”
I turn off the TV, because I’m tired of this short, looped clip showing me running from the media and flipping them off.
“So you do care,” he says finally.
“Like hell I do.”
“About your reputation.”
“About the peace of my mind.”
“Still counts.”
“Oh noes, what do I do now? I gave the last shit about those kids, what comes next?”
“Mae,” he says and rubs his face. My name came out more like a heavy sigh.
“You said it yourself, Agent,” I say. I get up, go to the cupboard. There’s not much in it. Potato chips, open, kind of last week. “They’d eat me alive if I let something like that happen right under my nose. Invincible or not.”
“And you said that if you do it once, they’re never gonna stop asking you for assistance.”
“I lost the track, are you trying to convince me to be a superhero, or are you telling me against that?”
He looks at me, his hands put together at his mouth. There’s something basset-like in his eyes, when he looks at me like that.
“I just know you,” he says.
Which is partly true.
He’s been out there somewhere for over eight years now. Out there, watching me. They meant him as my shadow, but they had to quickly change their plans when I gave them the idea that I know about him and I’m not happy with it. So, instead of watching me secretly, one day he came out of the shadow, introduced himself to me and said what he was going to do.
“You can call me Agent, and I’m gonna follow you around, to see if nothing happens to you or to people around you.”
“Cool,” I said back then. I was sitting on a bench in the park nearby, reading. Sun, birds, lake – I appreciated all that until he came out of nowhere. Though even this guy will not disturb my peace. “So, what now?”
He sat beside me and looked at the book. Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes Collection.
“You will barely notice me, I assure you,” he said. “Unless you want to talk. Here’s a cell phone,” he said and gave me the mobile. “I put my number on the speed dial.”
And it just went on like this. He came up with this method on his own, after a year of observing me. Or so he said. If I were to describe him, to compare him to anything, I’d call him my mediator between me and the rest of the world. I need to respect him. He wasted eight years of his life on me. At first he was wearing a ring, but it’s been gone for some four years now. He never said a word about his private life. I could learn everything about him, if I wanted to, but what’s the point. So I don’t know his name, his age (seems mid forties all the time), his marital status, anything about his family or where he’s staying at. I don’t know what he likes, except for expensive suits, indigo ties and Man In Black – style sunglasses. But this just may be the dress code in the agency.
“Get out,” I say. “Tomorrow’s gonna be a nightmare.”
“It’s still early.”
“What? You wanna hang out? Order a pizza, watch some shows?”
Yet another thing I can say about Agent is that he’s the best poker player I have ever known. He’s face is impenetrable. I never know what he thinks.
So he just looks at me with those basset eyes, sighs, stands up and goes out without a word. I flip the lock without getting up. Telekinesis – I do it.
“Pizza and shows it is,” I say, turn on the TV and call for pizza.

The next day I’m the center of the universe.
I need to teleport out of my flat, because over the night media vans have parked everywhere in neighborhood. The neighbors didn’t like me, but now they’re gonna make voodoo dolls, I swear. When I get to school, suddenly I have lots of friends. People try to touch me, pat me on the back, thank me… I escape them and run to the toilets, and lock myself there. And that’s what I get for saving their skinny asses?!
I go to my classroom five minutes after the bell. The math teacher and our form master, Mr. Sprout, only glances at me when I sit at my desk. My entrance is accompanied by a murmur from my classmates.
“They let you get through this morning?” Mr. Sprout asks without lifting his head from above the register. He puts our grades in lines. The question was clearly addressed to me.
“Barely,” I say. He looks at me again, mulling some thought. “For the record, I already regret it.”
I know, an ass thing to say, but bite me.
“Why?”
I shrug and look out of the window. I let him think about it for a moment. Maybe he will get to some conclusion.
“I know you’re not a material for a superhero,” Mr. Sprout says. His voice sounds strange, as if he was really tired. Well, he may be. How many times have we had this talk over the past few years? A gazillion maybe? He rubs his eyes under the glasses. “But you could at least—“
“There’s a webcomic about a girl with powers, and she charges people for saving their asses,” I say. “Called Superbitch. I enjoy it. You know why?”
Someone snorts in the back. But they are all quiet except for that. That’s unexpected. Usually they laugh at my every word, call me fat when there’s this talk about being a superhero material or not and throw paper balls at me, to which I don’t react.
“I don’t know. Why?”
“If you were super educated, knew fucking everything, could do absolutely everything and all, and they asked you to tutor people for free, in your free time, in every hour of your time, only for a good word, how’d you react?”
“Mae, that’s not about education, that’s about saving people.”
“That’s about my goddamn time,” I say and lean back. Talk’s over. I reach in my bag and fish out a copy of McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
“You could work as a rescuer,” Mr. Sprout doesn’t give up. “As a police officer, a soldier. Whatever.”
I can’t even open my book.
“Ok, you’re right it’s not about that,” I say. “It’s about me being how I am. And sure as hell I don’t have a debt to the society to repay.”
More or less they know my story – the one with getting sold by my parents to be experimented on, the years of imprisonment, my bold escape. Yet none of them understands why would I refuse to save people now.
“If I were a great mathematician, or a painter, or whatever, no one would come to my house to demand from me to paint, calculate or sing. But since I can fly, people feel that they are entitled to call me late at night and request assistance.”
“They call you late at night?” someone asks from behind me. Belle.
“No, I have a restricted number,” I say. A courtesy of Agent. When he gave me that phone, he didn’t mention it, but I was never able to give the number to anyone, so he came and told me everything about that, and I’m rather grateful to him.
“So what’s the problem?” Another voice from the behind. This time the Joker, Nathan. But before I can pick up the glove, Mr. Sprout gives me my test.
“Well, mathematician you are not. C for the semester.”
“C is for cool,” I say and stick the paper in the book. “May I leave?”
Mr. Sprout nods at the door. I take my bag and leave.
I go to the top floor. There’s no direct stairwell to the roof, but I just phase through the ceiling. I like this place because nobody bothers me here.
This discussion is like a broken record. We’ve had it countless times, but we’ve never reached any conclusions. I even had it a few times with Agent, but he’s never found an appropriate argument either.

They stalk me for the next three days, until the end of semester and graduation ceremony. Finally, graduation. I woke up in the morning and even put on my best white blouse, which I found two days before, washed and ironed. But the blouse is all I can manage for this day. Jeans and sneakers it is, and I even take the backpack. And since I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t do something stupid, I take also a tie and a cap. I’m off to my last day of school!
In the door, I look back. The plan is: I go there, take the certificate, get back as soon as I can, pack my things and disappear. Leaving the tracker behind. So, let’s do this.
There are still a few media vans outside my building. I managed to avoid them for so long, but this time I’m in a better mood.
“Miss Burns, would you have a moment?” a woman asks and already packs the mic in my face.
“I’m kind of in a hurry. I’m finally graduating today,” I say. And there goes the woman, who swallows the hook. If we are to talk, it will be on my rules.
“Oh, congratulations. It’s the school where you stopped the gunman.”
“It’s the school where I spent last six years, repeating classes,” I say. We’re still going towards the school. The woman barely keeps up in those stilettos. The cameraman got stuck on the red light. “Quite long, I admit. I still don’t get physics. They gave me D only to let me pass. I don’t know how you people cope with this gravity and the distinction between gases and solid objects…”
The woman looks at me, confused, glancing at the cameraman, who’s trying to catch up with us.
“You mean you break the rules of physics?”
“No, I trick them.”
I’ve never really gave a public explanation as to how my powers work, because I actually don’t know. Well, if the eggheads in the institute couldn’t figure that out over ten years of my imprisonment, how should I know it?
“That’s the school,” I say to the journalist, when she opens her mouth to ask another question. “See ya.”
I see she follows me to the school, but I don’t care anymore. I had my fun, she had hers, that’s it.
There’s a lot of people here again. Some of the adults step towards me, but I’m a master of avoidance. Some woman grabs me by the arm – to the horror of her daughter, who tries to stop her – but I just phase and go on. The woman gives a short shriek when my arm disappears in her hand. Don’t care, don’t care…
I find my class, I sit next to them. They seem unnaturally proud of something, smiling and glancing at me. Ah, I get it. They have the superpowered in their class. Now they’ve noticed that.
The graduating classes are gathered around the main square. They read each name, and you have to go there, and take the goddamn diploma, or whatever they’re handing you. I’m bored to death. I look thought the faces. People are staring at me. Not all of them, but most of them. Averting their gazes as I look at them, but coming back to gawk as I look away. I wonder how long I’m gonna stand it.
When they call my name, I go there, take the paper, and go back to my seat. All this waiting only for this! There are a few flashes when people take my photos. There are a few cheers, god knows what for. I sit on my chair and look at the diploma. I don’t even know what I wanted it for. I should have dropped out a few years back. And “dropping back” isn’t even the verb I should be using here.
They try to talk to me, but I’m tired of this circus. Stepping on their toes, staggering like a drunkard, I make my way to the main gate. No, I won’t give an autograph and no, I won’t give my phone, and no, I won’t sign a goddamn class photo. Those people were in my class for one year and yet they feel like they have the right to title themselves my friends. Interesting. Here comes Belle, all in smiles. I turn back and go the other way.
“Mae, wait!”
I stop and with a groan I turn to her when she’s right next to me.
“What?”
“We’re going for a beer after that. You wanna come?”
“Wow, gee, Belle, if I have known for all those years that saving people from time to time would make all people my friends, I would have started sooner,” I say, trying to ignore the ring of students that started forming around us.
“You don’t have to be such an asshole all the time,” Belle says and steps back. She’s not smiling anymore. Ops, I think I’ve hurt her feelings.
“Oh, yes I do,” I say and go towards the gate again, because I can’t think of anything else to say. “Yes, I fucking do…”
Outside of the school grounds, there’s a fresh flock of journalists. Waiting for me, obviously. I’ll have to make a detour or teleport again.
“Miss Burns!”
Hell, so now I’m miss Burns instead of that bitch?
I walk even faster.
“Mae.”
I stop, startled. Agent is sitting on the wall to my left. I haven’t even noticed him.
“The hell are you doing here?”
He gets up, raises one hand to the journalists that are following me, shows them his badge, waves at them. Willingly or not, they need to go away. Secret service, no secret service, badge is a badge.
“What are you going to do now?”
“Well, I’m still not sure, but I was thinking about applying to that law school in L.A.”
He knows my jokes, and he thinks they’re not funny.
“What you gonna do?”
Run from here, as far as I can.
But I’m not telling him that, obviously.
I turn to leave, but he grabs me by the arm. He must know that something’s afoot. He’s never touched me before.
I phase.
“I’m gonna stay low for some time,” I say, glancing at the journalists, filming us from the other side of the street. “Wait for all this to calm down. And when it does, well… I will figure something out.”
I must have sounded convincing, because he’s not saying anything more. I go home.
At my flat I grab all the things that I don’t want to leave behind, and pack them in the backpack. I reach for cash that I managed to save, stop at the table and raise my hand over it. I phase, leaving out the tracker. It falls on the table with a quiet clack. The other one landed on the carpet, between my feet. Agent should be able to find them both.
Miraculously, there are no hyenas outside my door. I go downstairs and knock on my landlord’s door. He opens reluctantly, without taking off the chain.
“Hi, Mr. Manny,” I say through the gap. “I know it’s a short notice, but I’m leaving right now. I couldn’t tell you sooner, because that was supposed to be a secret. Here’s money for this month and the next one, since I had a one month notice. There might be some feds looking for me, but tell them just the truth – that you have no idea where I went.”
Mr. Manny stares through the gap, thinking to say something, but I just push the cash through the gap and leave. I won’t wait for anyone to come and witness my departure. Not anyone who could figure out my destination by seeing me teleport, at least.
Now you see me, now you don’t.
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

Awatar użytkownika
Stella R. Pellet
Posty: 27
Rejestracja: 09 grudnia 2013, 10:32
Lokalizacja: Vroclove

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Stella R. Pellet » 20 lutego 2016, 12:56

Oh oh. Nikt się nie wypowiada?

No, to ja zacznę.
Kcem wincyj.

Pomimo tego, że w naszej krajowej kulturze superbohaterowie są obcą rzeczą, wciąż zagraniczną, pomimo tylu lat bombardowania nas tematem, mam do nich słabość.

Dlatego bardzo mnie się podoba, zarówno tytuł, który jest przyjemną dla oka grą fonetyczną, jak i treść, która uderza w temat od, wprawdzie nie zupełnie nowej ale, wciąż niewiele eksplorowanego kąta.

Mae ma moce, Mae je ździebek rozumie, Mae nie zamierza marnować swojego czasu. I dla mnie, powód, który podała w klasie jest całkiem sensowny. Przypomina mi trochę jedną powieść sci-fi, którą kiedyś czytałem o kolesiu, który miał spotkanie z UFO, które go bodaj przejechało czy cośtam i w ramach rekompensaty zrobili z niego nieśmiertelnego. No i świat oszalał na jego punkcie, dopóki odmówił bycia eksperymentalną kawią domową w imię dobra ludzkości.

Podoba mi się relacja Mae-Agent. On wie o niej wszystko, ona tylko garść z własnych obserwacji, bo nie potrzebuje więcej, ale gościa szanuje. Szanuje go, bo i on do niej poważnie podchodzi. Vanek approves.

Jest taka seria powieści o superbohaterach napisana przez Harmona, "Wearing the Capes". Warte przeczytania ;3

Prolog nie był denny, trochę krótki, ale dobra introdukcja postaci.
Obrazek

Awatar użytkownika
Kandara
Posty: 238
Rejestracja: 25 lipca 2012, 00:51

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Kandara » 20 lutego 2016, 17:01

Czemu to jest po angielsku? No to niestety, nie przeczytam. :(
Obrazek Księżycowa weno, działaj!

Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 20 lutego 2016, 18:53

@Kandara No trudno :) Miałam świadomość, że wrzucając tekst po angielsku ryzykuję i zmniejszam sobie publiczność. Ale Mae po polsku by nie powstała.

@Vanek Dziękuję :D Oczywiście, że temat nowy nie jest - chociażby, wspominany przez Mae komiks istnieje naprawdę i był moją inspiracją (http://superbitchcomic.com/). Cieszę się, że podobają Ci się relacje Mae z Agentem, gdyż to jeden z moich głównych motywów i wolałabym go nie zepsuć. Wspominanych przez Ciebie pozycji nie znam, ale jak od-obrażę się na sci-fi i fantastykę to nie omieszkam rzucić okiem (tak, świadomie popełniam błąd nieczytania gatunku, w którym piszę).
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

Awatar użytkownika
Kandara
Posty: 238
Rejestracja: 25 lipca 2012, 00:51

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Kandara » 20 lutego 2016, 19:33

Szkoda... a właściwie dlaczego, jeśli można wiedzieć?
Obrazek Księżycowa weno, działaj!

Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 20 lutego 2016, 20:07

Był to tekst, którym przełamałam swój blok twórczy w zeszłym roku. Męczyłam się z jakimś szajsem po polsku, więc dla odskoczni i w ramach oddechu siadłam i napisałam po angielsku. Czasami po prostu lepiej mi się tak pisze, bo mam wtedy dystans do tekstu. Mam też wrażenie (nie poprę tego przykładami, bo nie mogę teraz przywołać), że angielski jest jednak bardziej... giętki. Na więcej można w nim sobie pozwolić. Przede wszystkim jest to język niefleksyjny, czyli mogę sobie np. używać rzeczowników w formie czasowników i nikt nie mrugnie. Przez co opisanie tego, że Mae się teleportuje, przenika przez przedmioty czy cokolwiek - wydaje mi się bardziej naturalne.

Poza tym taką miałam fantazję ;)
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

Awatar użytkownika
Kandara
Posty: 238
Rejestracja: 25 lipca 2012, 00:51

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Kandara » 20 lutego 2016, 20:14

Znaczy polski nie jest dość dobry. Przykre to trochę, ale cóż. Skoro tak myślisz.
Obrazek Księżycowa weno, działaj!

Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 20 lutego 2016, 20:16

Mam cholerny dyplom z języka - mogę sobie po angielsku pisać ile dusza zapragnie :3 Wydam się i jeszcze podbiję cały hamerykański światek. Taki plan.
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

Awatar użytkownika
Siemomysła
Posty: 900
Rejestracja: 25 listopada 2013, 18:37
Lokalizacja: Druga gwiazda na prawo i prosto aż do rana
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Siemomysła » 21 lutego 2016, 02:03

Mae jest cudowna. I jest idealna po angielsku. Nie ma bata, byś oddała to po polsku. Za dużo słów. Za dużo rozcieńczających to wszystko słów. A ja czytałam Mae dawno, a nadal w mojej głowie tkwi uparcie: "Now you see me. Now you don't". I to jest genialne. Weź i puszczaj to na Amazonie. Kropka.
Trudno zainteresować żonatego mężczyznę i znaleźć czas na czytanie książek
[Stokrota]
Ale jest za późno, zawsze było, zawsze będzie za późno.
[Dr Manhattan]
I niech nikt nie odejdzie skrzywdzony!
[Red Shoehart]

Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 22 lutego 2016, 19:30

3.

All this staring at the pics on the Internet and I’m stuck in the middle of a rice field. The clouds are low and there’s not much life in the green field. I shiver when a gust of wind pushes me a few steps forwards.
To my right something is moving. That’s a man and a boy, and a mule yoked to a cart. The man and the boy turn to look at me. I raise my hand.
“Hola! You speak English?”
They look at each other, then the man starts to make noises which sound so ridiculous that I just have to smirk.
Chinese. Oh right, that’s a language too.
The man waves at me and keeps on repeating the sounds. He looks irritated.
“Ok, ok, I’m coming,” I say, though I feel it was more about not treading on his rice than about coming to him. When I stand next to them, he nods, angry, and moves on, making the mule take up the walk. The boy, about thirteen, fourteen years old, turns to lookat me, but follows his father. I wait until they are a few meters before me, and I follow them.
I was planning to stop in China, but I had a more urbanized area in mind. Well, as I mentioned before, teleportation is tricky. And I didn’t have that much occasions to exercise it. There are all sets of rules that I may even not know about. Or physics, for this matter. Just too much for me.
I follow the man and the boy to a village. It’s hidden in a valley, so that’s quite a shock to me when I suddenly find myself among straw huts. Well, ok, maybe not straw huts, but there’s straw on the roofs. I understand, rural areas and all, but this…
My accidental guides vanished, so I knock on the door to the first house to my right and peek in.
“Hello? Anybody home?”
A few strange sounds come to me as an answer. A moment later, an elderly woman emerges from the darkness that set inside the building.
“Hi, sorry for disturbing you,” I say, already knowing that any attempt at communication is bound to fail. “I’m kind of lost here. Do you know which way to the nearest city?”
The woman regards me with a faint, uncertain smile, then turns to the insides of the house and calls to someone. For a moment I hope that’s gonna be someone who knows English, but she just called her son. The young man says a few words to which I have nothing to add. He vanishes inside again, and the woman waves at me to come inside. So I do.
Inside I find a low table, around which the hosts are gathered. The woman that invited me in, her son – or son-in-law of some sort, since there is a young woman there with a small kid in her arms. And the woman’s husband, I assume. And a boy of twelve or something. They gesture me to sit down with them, they give me a bowl of rice with a pair of sticks.
“I don’t suppose you have forks?” I ask. The woman raises her hand, holding the sticks. “No, you don’t…”
It takes some skill to hold the sticks properly. I’m not all that hungry, but since they invited me to join them at meal, I can’t just turn that down. But giving me sticks doesn’t help. They observe me, with growing amusement. The boy laughs and points at me, and tells something to the older woman, who in turn tries to calm him down. I laugh too. It’s just so ridiculous.
“Can I eat with my hands?” I ask and put the sticks beside my bowl. I motion one hand toward the bowl, as if to put my fingers in there and watch their reaction. The woman smiles and nods. I eat the dry rice with my hands. It’s sticky, so at least I don’t make too much mess around me.
After the meal, the younger woman goes to wash the dishes, and the young man takes care of the infant. The elders lead me to another small room and let me sit there. There’s only one window and it’s rather dark in here, especially since the weather is awful. The clouds won’t go away.
I put my backpack away and kneel down like my hosts do. They talk quietly. And I think intensively. What I planned for this escape was to get as far from the U.S. as possible, hence – China. But I was thinking more about Beijing, rather than rural China. Yet, here I am, not even sure where exactly. What should I do now? I can’t stay here, because I can’t understand them. It was very nice of them to invite me to their house, even though I made no suggestion that I need a shelter or meal, I think. But what now?
I watch them as they confer. The woman may be late forties, the man maybe a bit older. Both of them have grey streaks in their otherwise black hair. Long years in the field, under the sun, and wind, and rain rendered their skin dark and wrinkly. But for some reason, I don’t feel the usual disgust as I usually feel when observing people. I wonder if that’s because of the culture differences.
The woman turns to me and smiles again. She says something, then points at my backpack, then to the corner of the room, where there’s a dark shape of a mattress, and she puts both hands together, tilts her head, rests it on the hands, closes her eyes.
“You want me to sleep here?” I ask. “Well, I suppose I’d use a place to stay…”
I nod and smile, and try to be as nice as I can. And I think how much money I’ve got on me, and whether they will accept American dollars. Because sure as hell I’m not staying here for free.
My hosts get up, say something and go back to the kitchen. I also stand up and put my backpack on the mattress. And then I sit down again. That’s all too strange for me. I ponder on it for a moment, and then the sliding door opens again and they all are back, with a tray and some cups, and a pot of tea. The boy rushes in and sits under the window, and the rest of them sit around the table, and I go to join them. The woman puts one hand on her chest and says a word. Then repeats it.
“Jia,” I repeat after her and nod. She points at her husband and calls him Jun. The girl is called Hua, the boy – Huang, and the young man – Quiang, which is the most difficult for me to pronounce. They laugh at me, and I laugh with them. Now I put my hand to the chest and say my name. That’s an easy one for them.
It’s getting late. They’re talking, I drink the tea and listen to their words. No longer it is a constant stream of sounds. I distinguish words. Strangely, I don’t feel all that left out. It’s nice to listen to them, not knowing what they’re talking about. It fills me with a special kind of calm – the one I’ve never felt. To think I had to go to the other side of the globe to experience that.
There’s a knock on the door, and Jia goes to answer them. A moment later I hear more voices, and a few persons enter the small room. Huang gives a happy shriek and dashes out of the room, pulling another boy behind him. Three more adults come inside and sit at the table, and nod at me, watching me curiously, though not with the impertinence that I am used to. They talk and laugh, and drink the tea, and observe me, and then talk some more. And I, instead of getting impatient, I feel that the calm spreads in me, and I like it. It was a good decision.

The next day I insist to help Jia prepare the breakfast. It’s gonna be rice with vegetables, so I peel the vegetables that look like white carrots. I cannot help but notice that whenever Jia says something, I know what she means. That I should toss the peelings in the bin behind me. She pointed it to me, but still, I think I understood the words. Then she says something, while standing back to me, and I know that she said that Huang and Jun went to see the mule, and that Jun is going to go to the field in half an hour, with Quiang. I must say that’s… most confusing. I mean ok, from day to day I learned phasing, flying, I also learned teleportation overnight and mastered it to some point within two hours. But this… I sit there, with white carrots – or turnips, or whatever – in my hands and wonder whether this is some kind of telepathy or other mental powers manifesting. What could it be? Do I get to control it, or is it involuntary?
I know, far too early to think about such things, but I just have to start wondering like that so that I don’t miss the moment when I can make some benefit from my manifesting powers. Also, if it is telepathy, I wouldn’t like to wake up one morning and hear peoples’ thoughts. I can avoid that, if I focus and watch my powers closely as they develop.
Jia says something about the rice and looks in the kettle. I think about something to say. Am I good enough to say something in Chinese?
I no like scare,” I say and even to my own ears it sounds horrible, but I ignore it for a moment. Jia turns to me abruptly, her eyes strangely big. “I no talk China, I learn.
You could understand us yesterday?” she asks. I shake my head. “But you just…
I learn,” I repeat and go back to peeling the turnips. It was quite a challenge to say those few sentences. I don’t know how they can speak this language.
I said that because I didn’t want them to be surprised if I suddenly started speaking Chinese like a native. The next sentences I start to think about are ‘thank you for your kindness’ and ‘here’s money for my stay’. I plan to leave after breakfast.
But Jia won’t hear about that. I think for a moment if I said what I wanted to say, and I’m positive I conveyed the message, but she still shakes her head.
I’m not taking any money!” she exclaims again. “Inviting you in and letting you stay was all I could do and that’s what I did. And I’m not taking money for this.”
I know I’m money crazed, but that attitude is outright wrong.
Any way I can repay?”
Don’t be ridiculous! And you can stay if you want. Unless you have anywhere to go to?”
No, I don’t have to be anywhere, so I take up on her offer to stay a few days and acclimate. They don’t ask much about me. I just tell them that I’m American, but I didn’t like there, so I came here to change the air, and that I got lost while hitchhiking. I haven’t mentioned my powers with a word. That’s for the better.

I’ve been here for a week and I still don’t want to go. That’s a strange and nice feeling, in fact. I don’t want to impose my person on those good people, but at the same time I don’t want to leave. I don’t remember feeling this way, like ever.
Every day I go out with Jun and Quiang in the field. They tend to the plants, I go for a walk. I go back home on my own before them, to help Jia with dinner.
I still don’t know why’d you invite me like this,” I tell her. My Chinese gets better with every day. They don’t ask about that.
She looks at me funny.
You’re a lost traveler. Why wouldn’t we?”
And that’s all as far as a comment on cultures goes, I guess.
On the third day of my stay here it started raining and hasn’t stopped. The ground got muddy and there is a river going right through the village now. People don’t go outside, unless they really really have to. Jun is not pleased, because all this rain cannot be good for rice. Neighbors stopped coming by, so it’s just the seven of us, including the infant May. It’s humid and rather cold. I didn’t know it could be cold in China.
I go out to look at the wet hills. Something draws my attention. The tingling sensation that I have each time there’s some kind of danger. I look around, trying to figure out its source, but there’s no movement in the area, except for the torrents of water. Then a quiet rumble reaches my ears. The woman living in the hut to the right must have heard that too. She emerges from the house, wrapped in a blanket and looks around. When she sees me, she gives me an uncertain smile and asks me whether I heard something. I say that yeah, I heard it, and I go out on the rain. I don’t like this sinking feeling in the guts. I go out of the village and look at the hill towering above it. There. I just still don’t know what it is.
I hear Jia calling me to go back, that I’d catch cold, and all those things that a normal human being would say to another human being. And the moment I turn to her, I hear that noise again, only magnified a few times. Jia screams, and there are a few other faces peeking out of their huts. I look at the hill.
There’s a ground slide coming down like a brown, muddy avalanche.
“Where the fuck that came from!” I call and step back, paralyzed for a moment. Then the screams behind me call me back to reality. I turn to them. “Stay there!” I shout. “Don’t move to the sides. Just stay there and don’t move!”
I honestly don’t know why they listen to me, but the few dozens of people just freeze in the rain, looking at me. And I turn to the mudslide.
So long, peaceful times in China, I think. And then I raise my hands, at the same time expanding my telekinesis. I wouldn’t need to use hands – it’s just that the actual gesture makes it easier to focus on the target. In this case – on parting the mudslide so that it goes on the both sides of the village.
I’ve never done that before. I was using telekinesis to lock the door, or pick up a glass, or little things like that. I’ve never stopped a mudslide before, but at this moment I don’t even doubt that I can do that. Because I know I can.
The mud comes with a deafening roar. People behind me scream and fall to the ground. And I part the mud into two rivers, flooding the fields around the village. Just like that. I didn’t even sweat.

I wake up in a hospital. I know it’s a hospital – white walls, a TV in the corner, muted, closed door behind which I can hear people talking and running somewhere. A bedside table with flowers on it. My head hurts a bit, but that’s mostly too long sleep, I think. I lift myself to the elbows. There’s a chair to the left from my bed, and there’s Agent sitting on it. He glances at me and folds the newspaper he was reading.
“Slept well?”
I lie on the bed again and turn to one side, my back to him.
“Five more minutes”.
It’s not a funny joke. I can hear him unfolding the paper. I turn to him again.
“Why do you always have to be so stiff?”
“It would be difficult to work with you if I wasn’t.”
“We’re not working together.”
“I’m working with you.”
He reads something in the paper. I notice it’s in Chinese.
“You don’t speak Chinese.”
“I do.”
I sigh and get up from the bed. I’m not bandaged or plugged to some machines. That’s good. I find my bag next to the bed. There are my clothes inside. I go to the small bathroom and change. When I come out, Agent gets up from his chair, the newspaper folded under his arm, and he gestures me to leave the room. I throw one last look to see if I didn’t forget something, and go out.
They sign me out and Agent leads me outside. It’s bright and hot. I shade the eyes with one hand, trying to figure out where we are. I can see a spotless black escalade with no plates, parked at the far end of the parking. It screams discretion. We go there and get in. Agent turns on the AC, because it’s a hell inside.
“So, do I want to know what happened?”
“You want me to talk all the way to the airport, or I should shut up in five minutes?”
“I’d appreciate the latter.”
“After you stopped that mudslide—“
“I didn’t stop it.”
He glances at me. Or maybe he just checks the side mirrors for any vehicles, before he drives out on the street.
“You passed out,” he says. “The villagers took you in one of the huts. When we came, they swore to their gods that they’ve never seen you. We had to get a warrant. I didn’t think anybody would protect you from us voluntarily.”
“As you can see, I can be nice to people.”
“I was thinking more that you threatened them.”
“No, you didn’t. You said they did it voluntarily.”
He glances at me again, then turns his sight to the road and doesn’t say a word more. I turn back and put my bag on the seat. There’s a sign saying that the airport is still a few miles away, so I decide to take a nap.
“You forgot about the phone,” he says. Strange. For a moment it sounds to me as if he was disappointed or he wanted to rebuke me.
“I didn’t,” I say finally.

At the airport there’s someone waiting to take the car from us. Another person leads us to the plane. We’re going back to the U.S.
“I haven’t even thanked those people,” I say, when I sit comfortably.
“We thanked them,” Agent says. He sits next to me even though there are a few more places in the plane.
“Why I don’t like the sound of it?”
“Don’t demonize us,” he says and looks through the window. The engines start and we roll to the apron. I notice a bar cabinet on the far wall.
“You want a drink?” I ask him. He gives me a strange, judging look. “What? I’m not going to poison you.”
“You could try to intoxicate me.”
“You don’t believe it yourself,” I say. The engines whine louder and I get pressed in the seat. We take off. “If I wanted to escape, I’d just teleport somewhere.”
As the plane evens the flight, there’s a sound and the belt sign goes off. I undo the seatbelt, but don’t move. I watch the bar, gesturing a bit with just one finger. I open the bar, go through the bottles there, choose one, and take the glasses. The objects float through the cabin right in my hands. Agent didn’t take his eyes off me the whole time.
“Couldn’t you just get up and go there, like a normal person?” he asks.
“If I were a normal person, you wouldn’t come all the way from the U.S. to China just to get me.”
“I thought you hated those powers.”
“Oh, no, I love them,” I say and give him one glass filled with amber liquid. “Where’d you get that idea?”
He takes the glass reluctantly. I down my drink in one gulp, not so concerned what he’s going to do with his. I pour another one for myself.
“Why’d you go there?”
“What’s the use of teleportation if you don’t travel?”
I raise my glass to him. With a great reluctance, as if he was moving in tar, or as if I filled his glass with a heavy poison, he raises his to mine. They cling slightly and we drink.
“What’s the matter, Agent?” I ask him, pouring another one. “You won’t take your eyes off me. I got prettier in China or what?”
“I don’t understand your motives,” he says. Oh Agent, thy name be Directness. “It disturbs me”
“Ok, you have me. My real plan is to travel the world in eighty days, Fileas Fogg style.”
He doesn’t say anything to that, but his gaze tells me everything. I put down the glass filled with whiskey.
“I’m not up for confessions.”
He straightens in his seat and I finish my drink. I take his glass and send them both along with the bottle back in the bar. I lost all desire for alcohol. We don’t talk anymore.
We don’t talk even after the plane has landed and we get in the car that awaits us. He sits next to me on the backseat, his face turned to the window. I put my legs on the bag and try to sleep. It’s a late night here. I’m not much lagged, but there’s still a lingering fatigue that I cannot get rid of since I woke up in that hospital.
Agent said I passed out right after I pulled out this magic trick. I always thought I could do anything, but here’s a hard proof that there’s a limit to what I can do. That I can overdo it, in fact. That there may be consequences. I can’t stop thinking about it, as we speed down the dark streets towards an unknown destination. I wonder if he’s thinking about it, too.
We arrive at a hotel and get out. The car drives off the moment Agent closes the door. He leads me inside. Right. I turned over my flat.
Agent takes two key cards and we go to the elevator. We go to the twentieth floor. He gives me the key and goes his way, and I go on my own, looking for the room. I find it and put the key card to the reader. The door opens with a quiet click. Before I go in, I look back the way I came. Agent stands at the end of the corridor, in the open door to his room. When I look at him, he looks away and goes in. I go in too. And stand with my back against the door. I’ve never felt so confused in my life.
Shit. What they are up to?
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

Awatar użytkownika
Martys
Posty: 61
Rejestracja: 22 lipca 2015, 12:02
Kontaktowanie:

Re: Mae heart Burns [eng]

Post autor: Martys » 29 lutego 2016, 21:17

4.
There are times when I really regret that I can’t read minds. Like now, for example. I look at Agent’s stern face and I cannot read anything from it, even though I’ve been seeing this face almost every day for the past eight years. He eats slowly, carefully. His sunglasses lay at the edge of the table. He wipes his mouth with the handkerchief rather often. And he doesn’t care that I’ve been staring at him for the past fifteen minutes, and my eggs went cold, and my coffee probably too.
He’s not calm, I can say that for sure. He avoids my gaze, tries to get me out of his head. He didn’t say a word to me today, when I went out of the room and found him waiting for me on the corridor. He didn’t say a word in the elevator or now, when we eat at the same table.
He finishes his meal, wipes his mouth for the last time, glances at my plate, then waves at the waiter to give him the newspaper. When he gets it, he opens it and hides behind it. That breaks the charm. I put down the fork, which I didn’t realize I was holding for the whole time.
“Ok, how bad it is?”
He doesn’t move, but he stopped reading, or rather he stopped eyeing the articles.
If I only wanted, I could be back in the village, back with Jia and the rest, going sleep or maybe still working in the field. My hands are itchy, but I don’t call up the power. Not yet.
I don’t suppose they found a way to bend me to their will, but still Agent’s silence is not a good sign. I’ve never seen him so clammed up. I don’t like it.
I drum my fingers on the table, trying to get his attention. I clear my throat, throw pieces of bread at him. But he’s frozen all over. He got back to eyeing the articles. He doesn’t read them – just slides his eyes along the lines, I can see that.
Shit must be big.
I stand up without a word and go back to my room. He doesn’t follow, though while leaving the restaurant, I can see his reflection in the window, and I see he’s watching me.
I take my bag, then go down to the reception and check out. He goes to the elevator, but turns his head away. I leave.
New York is a big city. I need to find a place to stay. I can’t afford a hotel, and I’m not really keen on getting a flat. I catch a bus and go to the suburbs, where it’s dangerous to go alone after dark. When I go down the street, flocks of young people watch me with a rude interest. Young, damaged people, with cigs between the lips and eyes swollen from drinking. Men and women, white, black and Asian, drunkards and hookers with small children fighting at their feet. Ah, the NY slums. New home of mine.
I watch the buildings, looking for a free spot. I wouldn’t say no to a barricaded locum. I’m gonna think about cutting myself off from the rest of them when I finally find a place to stay.
A group of men have been following me for some time now. They murmur among each other, and laugh roughly. The little tingling of my danger sense comes up. I just make sure that I’m bullet proof and I continue down the street. There’s another group coming my way. Only for a moment I consider that maybe they’re just gonna go past me. Then I see the swaying walk, the glares, the knives in two or three hands. They know me? Or is it just the kind of welcome they show to every new face?
“Heeey, baby,” I hear just behind me, and an arm wraps around my neck and the man tugs me back and presses the knife to my ribs. “You’ve got something nice in that bag?”
The opposite group comes closer, but there’s something strange in their eyes. They glance at each other and stop a few steps from us again.
“You mind stepping back?” I say to my attacker. The guys standing in front of me grin, uncertain what to do with a victim that talks back.
The man tries to tighten the grip on my neck, but discovers that he cannot move me much. Grandstanding. Effective against thugs and some trucks.
“Bro, I think that is the damn witch,” one of the guys in front of me says and steps back. His comrades glance at him, confused, but some of them step back, too.
“The fuck you talking about?” the cutthroat asks.
“The superbitch.”
I snort, because that’s just so fucking funny. The guy lets go of me and backs off.
“Fuck…”
Very intelligent. I swing the bag to the other arm and go past them, leaving them in that debilitating state of fear and disbelief. See? I didn’t even have to shoot lasers from my eyes to save my own ass.
I find a free locum, and move in, and the rest of the day I spend on barricading the place. I teleport between the flat and the old cars dump that I found nearby. I bring all sorts of rusting parts and stash them at the top of the stairs leading to my flat. At least I’m gonna hear them if they try to get to me.
The flat is empty, but I don’t need much. There’s a bathroom with running water – cold, but running, there’s a bedroom with an old bed still standing there, there’s a living room with nothing in there, and there’s a kitchen with a sink. I don’t need anything more.
I plug the cell and go to sleep.

The next day I wake up to vibration. It’s the phone. It vibrates and moves on the bare planks on the floor. I roll out of the bed and take it up the moment it stops dancing. Name on the screen – AGENT. Well, who else? I don’t even get the chance to call back, when it starts all over again. I press the green icon.
“What?”
“Where are you?”
“You’re getting lazy and old.”
“Where are you?”
“I don’t know. Some kind of ruined house at the suburbs. I didn’t check the address yet. Why?”
There’s a long silence on the other side. So long that I take the phone off my ear and check if there’s still a connection. There is. It’s just Agent who’s back to his grumpy silence.
“I need you.”
Now it’s my turn to play mute.
There aren’t many things that may shock or surprise me. But Agent saying that he needs me is one of them. I’m no longer tired or sleepy. Rather the opposite – I’m at the top of awareness.
“In what sense?”
Silence again. Heavy sigh. I can feel shivers running down my spine.
“You have to help me.”
Something’s stuck in my throat. I’m gonna choke on it.
“Where are you?”
“The hotel.”
I hang up and pull the charger off the socket. I shove it with the phone back in the bag. I pull my shirt over my head and grab the jeans. I’m ready to leave within a minute. I wonder if I’m coming back to this flat. All that barricading the day before…
I recall where the hotel is and jump there.
I startle a hotel boy and crash my shoulder on the wall.
I run towards the elevator and go up to the twentieth floor. When I stand at Agent’s door, only for a second I think what am I doing? And then I knock.
He opens and stands aside to let me in. Then closes the door behind me.
It’s dark in the room. He pulled the curtains and didn’t light a lamp. I see someone sitting in the armchair. A faint glow from the laptop screen outlines the face of the top man in the agency. I’ve seen this man only twice in my life – when they came to me right after my grand escape, and then when I destroyed an office building under construction in a fit of anger.
Mr. Smith is the name I know.
Agent stands behind me. Mr. Smith closes the laptop and takes off the reading glasses.
“That was fast,” he says, pressing two fingers to his eyes.
“Reading in such darkness is bad for the eyes,” I say. He ignores that.
“You want me to leave you two?” he asks, looking at Agent. I can’t see it, but apparently Agent nods, because Mr. Smith gets up and leaves the room. I turn to Agent, but don’t say a word. He goes past me and sits in the armchair. He presses the forefinger to his lips, rubbing them.
I’d love to make an inappropriate comment here, but I can’t get myself to do that.
“Mr. Smith agreed to let me act here on a completely private foot,” he says, and the words are as if forced out of him. I sit at the edge of the bed and observe him. There’s no light here, but my vision is a bit better than an ordinary person’s, so I can see him, even though I’m fairly sure he can’t see me. “What do you think of us?”
I don’t understand. I tell him that.
“What do you think of us as an agency?”
“Oh… I don’t know. That you’re a bunch of guys who like to creep on me?”
“We’re secret service, you know that?”
“Kind of too much in the light, but yeah, I got that.”
“You think we are the best?”
“I think you are bold enough to bother me.”
He nods. He doesn’t look my way. He barely blinks.
“We’re not the best,” he says. “We were or were close to that. But no longer.”
I don’t hasten him.
“Even we can’t deal with everything.”
And the next moment he opens to me like he’s never done before. He talks about his family – his wife and kids, his relatives and friends. He tells me about his divorce and about his visits with kids. I learn their names and age, and I get to hear about their education and vacations. He tells me that over the years he severed all his ties with everyone – everyone who would be offended that he spent every minute of his day observing me, watching me from afar. He abandoned everyone who would be jealous of me. He tells me all that and I don’t understand what he’s aiming at. I don’t understand why he’d do all that. I just feel anger rising in me – anger at him that he’d do this, that he’d so blindly turn away from everyone and that he’d blame this on me.
“I didn’t want them to get hurt,” he says. I barely hear that, engrossed with the nice thoughts of how I’m gonna curse him in a minute or two, when he shuts up. “I knew there would be time when their lives could be put in danger because of you.”
He pauses and looks at me, startled. I know what surprised him. The light coming out of my eyes. Blue glow that appears when I lose it. He’s never seen that before. I don’t hold it back now. It’s not lasers. It’s my fury.
“You asshole,” I say and pause, because my throat is too tight. “You called me here just to tell me that? Just to tell me that you gave up on your life for me? What did you want to achieve by that?”
“You’re dumb,” he says and his voice doesn’t falter, even though the stone mask of his is still a bit askew. “It’s not about the confession, it’s—“
“I don’t fucking care what this is about!” I shout and jump off the bed. I step closer to him. The glow in my eyes is red now, I believe. “I cared ten minutes ago, but not now. What kind of fucking retard way of introduction is this, you think? If you needed me for anything, why wouldn’t you just say it out loud, like a normal person? Why do you have to start with this pathetic confession, accusing me for everything that’s bad in your miserable life?”
“I’m not accusing you of anything,” he says and looks away. “I made my choice.”
I loom over him like a bird over its prey. He won’t look at me. He appears troubled. I can’t stand it. I call down all my powers and go back to sit on the bed. It’s pitch dark again.
“What’s with the fucking darkness?”
“They may be observing us right now.”
I listen to my senses, but there’s nothing.
“Nah…”
“They found out I’m the one at your side,” he says. “I wasn’t very discreet about it, I admit. And when they found out about me, finding my family and friends was a spit.”
A man in black following me around. Yup, super hard to figure that one out.
“They hold them captive or something?”
He nods.
“You want me to rescue them.”
He nods again. So sure that I can see him.
“And who are they?”
He shakes his head.
I give a long, irritated sigh. Of course I’m gonna jump in this shit and help him without looking back, but I won’t let him think that I do it with pleasure. I look at the ceiling and count to ten – the time I think is appropriate for a reluctant consideration.
“They contacted me and said that they’re gonna free my family, if you give yourself to them.”
I snort.
“So let’s do just that.”

I don’t know what to expect. A fight? An adrenaline filled race against time? I sit in the train headed west. Towards the people who managed to threaten my agency. My agency… I play with the thought for a moment. No, it’s not my agency. It’s my Agent.
How do they plan to stop me from freeing those people and running off with them? Or stop me from kicking their asses to the Moon? Or evening everything to the ground, save for the hostages?
No one has ever learned about the source of my powers. Not even I. Is it possible that those mysterious people figured that out and found a way to make me vulnerable? A terrifying thought, considering that I’ve never had to worry about such petty things. I’ve always had the top hand, no matter whom I had to deal with – all sorts of police, terrorists, secret service agencies or regular Joes.
Agent wanted to go with me, but I forbade him. I don’t need to worry about his ass too. Because they won’t try to kill him when I’m away, right?
Right?
I get off the train in a godforsaken town, the name of which is unreadable on the sign hanging on the last hinge over the train station. The instructions were to get here and wait, so I sit on a broken bench and wait. The train rolls off and I’m left alone in the dusty sun of a prairie settlement. There’s a man standing on the other side of the tacks. He watches me, spits between his feet, and then watches me again. Somewhere to the left a dog barks and a cat meows. The sun is high in the cloudless sky, and I can feel my bare shoulders getting red. The man spits again and wipes his mouth and observes me some more. I weigh the possibility that he may be one of the group. And then I discard the thought as ridiculous.
A car stops somewhere behind the station. The door slams and there are steps on the gravel path. I look there and see a black man in a suit. He looks around, sees me, nods at me. I get up and go to him and he leads me to the car. I get in the back and he sits behind the wheel. We sit in silence for a moment, and then he starts the engine and rolls out on the street. Quickly we leave the sleepy town and speed down a road. There’s nothing but endless prairies on both sides of it. No mountain chain on the horizon. No rock to break the monotony. The sun sets and my driver takes off the sunglasses and puts them in the glove compartment, and continues to drive without a word.
Agent said it can’t be a terrorist group, but he didn’t tell me why he thought that. The instructions we received were so simple and childish as if they expected us to come together or with an army, and to beat them to mush. If we wanted to pull that, I wonder what this man would do. Hell, I don’t need an army to back me up, so what they are up to? So far he didn’t try to shoot me, poison me, intoxicate or drug me. I haven’t noticed any strange devices on him. So how do they plan to control me?
Think, Mae, think! What’s your kryptonite?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know where my powers came from and what blocks them.
Back in the laboratory, they experimented on that too. The kryptonite, I mean. Not literally, obviously. They kept on exposing me to various substances to see if anything blocks my powers. It turned out I am allergic to cats and I am lactose intolerant. I get rash from nuts and sneeze violently when exposed to feathers. No kryptonite, however. More than that – apparently I’m resistant to radioactivity of such substances as plutonium or uranium. Good to know in case of nuclear apocalypse, right?
My driver slows down and lights a blinker, although we are alone on the road. He turns right and rolls the car in a narrow, sandy road. The car bounces on the bumps and I need to catch the front seat, it’s shaking so much. Half an hour of such drive, but finally we reach asphalt. The man still doesn’t say a word, so I figure I can take a nap. I fall asleep almost immediately.
When I wake up, it’s late at night and we are parked in front of a big house that reminds me of a mansion of a wealthy planter. The man observes me in the rear-view mirror. The engine is dead, and I guess it’s been dead for quite some time now.
“You could have wakened me up,” I say. He doesn’t respond and gets out of the car. I yawn as wide as I can. My stomach rumbles. I hope they give me something to eat.
I get out of the car and stagger a bit. It’s been a long ride, both in the car and in the train before that. I left NY yesterday morning. But here I am finally. The man reaches for my bag, but I thank him and keep it to myself, so he turns back and leads me to the house. It’s dark except for the big window to the left. It’s covered with curtains, so I can’t say what’s going on inside. But there’s music coming out of there.
We go through dark corridors. My guide seems to know the house by heart – we don’t have any light with us. I can see just fine and I see that he doesn’t lose a step. He takes turns when there is one to take, he goes down the steps when there are some. All in darkness.
We get to the room where the light is coming from. He opens the door before me and stands to the side, and motions me to get inside. I go there and he closes the door and stands with his back to it.
People that are present here fall silent. I can see Agent’s wife and the two grown-up daughters, all sitting at the table and playing cards. I can see Agent’s mother and father in the armchairs in front of the fireplace. I can see his brother and the brother’s wife at the window. They all look at me, without much understanding. Then, as if on a silent order, they all look at the person in the far corner of the room. There would be a complete silence, save for Queen playing on the radio.
As I mentioned before, there are not many things that can surprise or shock me, but certainly this is one of them.
Agent’s family members stand up and leave the room without a word, barely glancing at me. My driver leaves with them, and I am left with the person in the corner. I can’t say whether that’s a man or woman, because they are dressed in a kind of burqa. The person is tall and slim, and motionless. Actually, if all those people haven’t look at them, I’d take them for a robe hung on a hanger.
I go to the table and put my bag on it. The person turns, watching me through the narrow gap in the hood. I look at the fire, then at the person again.
“So what now?”
As if with those three words I broke some kind of spell, the person gives a sigh and comes to me. A bit disturbing it is, I admit, since the person seems to be floating, not walking. They stop a meter from me. I can see dark eyes with light pupils in the gap. That disturbs me even more.
“How was your trip?”
Color me confused.
“Long and tiring.”
“Ah. A room,” the person says and floats away from me, and opens the door and disappears behind them. Not literally, though that wouldn’t surprise me.
They come back together with my driver. The man doesn’t ask me whether he can get my bag – he just gets it and leaves the room. The person stands next to the door, waiting for me, so I leave with them. They lead me in complete darkness again. We go through a narrow corridor, which, I guess, could be the servants’ corridor, then up some steep steps, then down another corridor. The black man in front of me, the burqa behind me. The man before me stepping quietly on the plush carpets, the burqa floating without a sound louder that the swish of their clothes.
They lead me to a room. We enter. The driver leaves my bag on the bed and leaves. The burqa wishes me good night and leaves too.
I am one confused creature.
I sit on the bed and call Agent.
“You won’t believe the kind of scary shit you got me into,” I tell him when he answers before the first tone dies out. “That must be some kind of ku-klux-klan Islamic sect.”
“Have you—“
“They’re all damn ok,” I tell him. He sighs in relief. That irritates me, but the man has the right to indulge himself like that. “At least the last time I saw them. They seem drugged or under a spell, but physically they are ok.”
“Spell?”
“Really? That’s what got your attention?”
Though I must say now that I said it out loud, it starts to get to me too.
“Never mind. Focus. They seem to be nice, so I’m gonna listen to them, ok? I guess they will try to talk to me tomorrow.”
“You think they may be superpowered?”
“I considered that for a moment, but I’d say no.”
“Why?”
“I get no vibes from them.”
“You don’t know whether you’d get any vibes.”
“True, I don’t know. But I don’t get any.”
He also wishes me good night. I say nothing to that, because it’s so unusual. I lie on the bed, with my clothes on. I want to get some sleep, but I can’t. I go to the door and check the door. It’s not locked. It’s not cursed or enchanted any other way. It’s just a door. I go back to the bed.
I still don’t know why the agency would bow to those people.

The next morning a shy knock on the door wakes me from a slight doze. I rub the eyes and go to the door. I can’t say I’m perfectly stoic when I see burqa on the corridor, but I’m fairly sure that I manage to remain the external calm.
“Good morning,” burqa says. “You slept well?”
“There have been better nights,” I say trying to suppress a yawn. Burqa seems unmoved.
“Would you care to go down and have a breakfast with us?”
“Hell yeah,” I say and close the door behind me. Burqa leads the way to the dining room downstairs. They really float. I kneel down, pretending to do my shoelaces and I can see that they float a few inches above the floor.
In the dining room there’s only the driver. I can’t see the family.
“Where are those other people?” I ask.
“Do you care for them?” burqa asks and lands on the chair next to the driver. I’m waiting for them to grow some arms to get a hold of the bread roll in front of them, but they just sit there, observing me.
“Personally, no,” I say and sit opposite to them. “But I promised I’d get them back unharmed.”
“Are we in trouble for getting them here?”
Can you believe?
I put down the roll and look at them both – the real Man In Black, and the burqa person.
“I’d rather say yes.”
“We’re sorry.”
Things that surprise me multiply in geometric progression.
“You wouldn’t come if we asked nicely.”
“What does that mean?”
Burqa turns to the mute driver, and the driver looks back. The burqa turns to me again.
“We will send them back after breakfast,” they say. “They have it served in their rooms. We will drive them back to the train station. No harm will come to them.”
“You’re doing some strange kind of mind control here?” I ask. It had to be asked. Burqa doesn’t say a word to that. The driver eats his bread without anything on it, drinks his coffee and leaves. I can hear his steps on the stairs. There’s some door opening and closing, and some more steps, and in a few minutes all the people are led outside and packed in a minibus. They drive off. I can see that through the window. I reach for the phone in my pocket and dial Agent’s number. Burqa doesn’t move a bit, as if frozen again.
“They left,” I say to the phone when Agent picks up again within a split second. “They’re headed…”
I pause and look at burqa.
“Twelve thirty train to Denver.”
I repeat that.
“In Denver they catch the train to Saint Louis, then they take the one to New York.”
I repeat all that to Agent.
“They should be in NY by twelve tomorrow afternoon.”
“You got that?” I ask Agent and he confirms. Then he asks what about me. “I’m good,” I say, glancing at my host. “Will call you later.”
He doesn’t say anything more and neither do I. He hangs up after half a minute of silence.
I put the phone on the table, next to the plate.
“So, what now?”
Burqa considers my question for a moment. And then tells me everything.

Xochicoyotl says I’m the only one, but she’s the one to talk. She’s not Muslim, as I suspected. She’s just… not quite there. Meditation gone wrong, she says. That’s what you get for wanting to achieve nirvana, or so I understood.
I sit at a café and drink my coffee, and have to stand Agent’s frowns. In the morning he scolded me for not arresting his family’s kidnappers. Then he asked me out for a coffee, because that’s the only way to show his gratitude that he knows. But now he stares outside the window and storm clouds gather on his face.
I didn’t tell him everything, and he knows that, but he doesn’t push me.
He only asks me whether all this was really necessary.
“They could ask you nicely,” he says, not looking at me.
“Yeah, they could write me letter. Hey, we’re a bunch of weirdos, just like you, you wanna hang out sometimes? With love, X.
“What X stands for?”
“For generic,” I say, because Xochicoyotl’s name I didn’t give him either. “Or a kiss. You know, how they would always put three X’s on letters in old movies, for kisses.”
He glances at me and then returns to observing the street. He’s out of the suit today. Jeans and polo shirt. He looks stupid and ordinary, and common, and plebeian.
I told him that, but he didn’t honor me with a comment.
“So you wanna just disappear on me?” he asks.
“Do I hear regret in your voice?”
“Normal people call it curiosity.”
“I call it regret.”
“Answer me.”
I look out at the street. It’s damn hot outside. Streets are white with the light. People try to stick to the shade. Cars roll slowly down the street, as if their tires were sticking to asphalt.
“I’m gonna, but I don’t wanna.”
He straightens in his seat, looking right at me for the first time in the last few days.
“Don’t wanna.”
“Don’t make me repeat that.”
“How do you do that?”
“Do what?”
“Confuse people.”
“I talk to them.”
He looks away. But it’s not the pouty glare this time. There’s something in his eyes that I fear to name.
“No.”
He turns to me.
“What?”
“You’re not coming with me.”
I could just let air off a balloon – I’d get the same effect.
“Why would you even…” I say and pause. I rub my face and push the empty mug from me. “You know there’s more to that, right?”
“A group of individuals with unusual abilities want to team up,” he says and shrugs. “Sounds like a start for superhero group.”
“Now you make it sound just ridiculous.”
“It’s not stupid.”
“It is and you make it sound it.”
“You’ve never wanted to be a hero.”
“And still I don’t want it. I do it because…”
Because I don’t know. Because Xochicoyotl has a sky-rocketed charisma. Because Cad doesn’t comment on anything, no matter what he thinks.
“You do it, because you’re in a group of the likes of you – not an elite in a human group.”
I nod.
“You got that one right, doc.”
He sighs and leans back. He looks out of the window again. A group of Asian tourists passes by. Involuntarily, I think about Jia.
“I left the agency.”
I turn slowly to face him. He stands my glare.
“Repeat that.”
“I left the agency.”
“Why do you think I’d care.”
Out of the suit. Stupid me.
“You know right now I want to kill you and burry you somewhere in the mountains?”
He nods.
“Good.”
I take the empty and cold mug in the hands and play with it.
“If I were to take you with me, you’d be reduced to my servant. My slave, actually, because that house just makes me think about all those poor slaves, and I want one.”
He nods again.
“Don’t you dare to nod.”
He doesn’t move. Just doesn’t divert his gaze.
“If I…” I start and pause. Damn voice fails me again. “If I join them… We’re gonna cover the whole globe. Well, I’m gonna. Cover the whole globe, I mean. I’m gonna travel, you know?”
His gaze doesn’t change. It’s so stern and rock-like.
“You’re not saying anything to that.”
“I just don’t understand how’d they get you to do what we failed to make you for the past few years.”
“They asked nicely,” I say and get off the table. “I need more coffee.”

But the truth is, I just want to team up with people who know what it is like to be different. We come from different cultures – Xochicoyotl is Aztec, Cad is Nigerian. They say they know about some more, but for now I’m not supposed to ask. They say that whatever the environment, we are shunned. And by we, they mean the individuals who don’t feel like the part of the mortal life. A kinda wide scope of interest, but still there’s just the three of us. Four, if you include Agent.
I don’t want to think about it for now. But I have to.
He asked me to come by his place, because he needs to take some things and then he’s ready to leave. I go with him, although I ignore the “ready to leave” part. He’s not going anywhere with me, and he needs to understand that. The main reason I am here right now is that leaving the agency seems kinda leaving mafia level.
Family for life, or something.
Agent leads me to the top floor of an apartment building. We go through security checks and change elevator once. I can’t decide whether it’s like him or not. I wouldn’t imagine him all dressed up in the best suits walking around some nameless gray building that stinks of mixed dinner smells, but this apartment building is just… I look at his back, when he’s walking in front of me. It’s just not like him either.
We stop at a door and he reaches for keys. He opens the door and lets me in.
The inside is more like him. Because it doesn’t look like anything at all.
A police specialist would have a difficult job drawing the psychological profile out of his stuff. Unless they can read hotel rooms now. No, we’re still in an apartment building – one of the most expensive in the city to that, and still this looks like a scene for a hotel brochure. Boring, grey walls with nothing on them; generic gray curtains in the window. Nothing on the ceiling. One narrow bed, made army-style, without a slightest wrinkle, with blank white covers on it. One spotless desk with just a lamp on it. The door leading to the bathroom is open, so I can see that there’s one white towel on the hanger, a glass with a toothbrush and toothpaste in it, and simple shaving appliances lined on the mirror. As for the kitchen, one grey mug and one grey plate on the cupboard. I don’t expect to find any more things in there. I sit on the edge of the bed, trying not to disturb its peace too much, and look at Agent who comes to the small wardrobe standing in the corner.
“How can you live like that?”
I wonder if he heard me. If yes, he doesn’t show it. He works out a small bag out of the drawer and packs some underwear, one shirt, one pair of jeans.
“How can—“
“The same as you do,” he says without looking at me.
“Damn you…”
He reaches in the bottom drawer and takes out a pistol. He checks the safety, the magazine, the safety, and he puts it in the bag along with a holster. He goes in the bathroom and comes back with the brush and paste, and accessories. He zips the bag and stands before me, ready to leave. I still don’t want him to tag along.
And the next moment I can see those two guys I’ve never seen before, sneaking through the corridor. I turn sharply to the door and stand up. Immediately, Agent kneels behind the bed, and reaches for the gun. I wave at him to hide that gun.
The door seems hardy enough, and it’s locked. I watch where the two are and think for a moment. I’m not combatant trained, although sure as hell I’m much stronger than they are. I think some more, look back at Agent, kneeling, with the gun in his hand. He glances at me, and then goes back to observing the door. I don’t know what he means. Doesn’t matter.
I phase through the door.
I grab the first man by the arm, wrenching the pistol. I push him hard at the wall. He groans and then the other one shoots me. I can feel as if a small stone poked me in the back. Then there’s another shot and the man I hold gets hit in the arm. He howls and I let go of him, stepping back. When I turn to the other one, he shoots again and I get hit in the head. Hurst much more than in the back. I put both hands to the forehead and kneel on the floor. The man runs right to me and kicks me. I land on my back. He pushes the gun right to my eye. It hurts.
“Defend that,” he hisses and there’s another shot.
Warm blood spills on my face.
The man looks at me funny and slides to the side.
Another shot and the whines of the first man are cut short.
I stare at Agent, whose hand holding the gun doesn’t tremble the slightest.
“Oh my god…”
“Get up,” he says. He grabs me by the arm and pulls me to the elevator.
“Oh my god…”
I can’t even resist him right now. In the elevator he pushes the bag in my hands and checks the pistol once again. I look at us in the mirror: Agent – calm as usual, and I – with face covered in blood and brain matter. I try to wipe at least some of it with a sleeve. I should feel weak and nauseous, I know I should, but right now, with every floor we’re passing, something else grows in me. Something more familiar. Something I can deal with.
I turn to Agent my bloody face and hit him with the bag.
I want to kill him right now. Not literally though.
“Are you fucking retarded?” I shout. “Wasn’t it bad enough you just left? You think they’re gonna let you go now?”
He doesn’t respond. He won’t look at me.
“Are you really this naïve to think that you’ve just saved my life?” I continue. “Because you haven’t. You haven’t saved my life, and you’ve just crossed out yours. And maybe those of your relatives too! Yes, the relatives for whom I went such a long way!”
The elevator stops and he gets out without a word. I follow him.
“Shooting agents on the corridor,” I say. “Couldn’t you sit on your old ass and wait for me to take care of that? No, you had to prove to yourself that you are worth something. That you haven’t been assigned to me because you like watching girls from afar, but that you had this assignment for your intellect, or shooting skills, or fucking whatever!”
The security officers move to us when they see me, but Agent points the gun at them and they move away. They also call the police when we get in the other elevator.
“Sure! Threaten the guys with more gun! Go ahead. Why not. It’s not like they’re still not having your head on the plate for that. Why, for now you could be just silently removed from this happy world, but for walking like that, all Jason Statham like, waving the gun everywhere will surely get you some media coverage before they hang you.”
I could rant like that forever, and this I make my newest hobby.
When we get out of the building, there are police cars there already. Officers, conveniently hidden behind the cars, point guns at us and shout to drop ours.
“Screw you!” I shout back. “We’re talking here!”
There’s a warning shot and it hits the pavement rather close to my feet. Agent holds his armed hand up, aiming at the officer, but I grab him and pull him down.
“I’m not done with you,” I hiss, looking him in the eye.
Then I wrap my arms around him, and press myself against him as hard as possible without breaking his bones.
And then I teleport.
"He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
"What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?"
Philip Roth, American pastoral

ODPOWIEDZ