A short story excerpt
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
“Agreed. Detective Craig Anders and Controller Dai Graydon, on this day December 14 of 2077, conclude that the assassination of Micheal Perill was performed by one Levi Holt, also known as Reaper, now deceased; and one Alyssa Noir, also known as Tarot.” He clicks off the feed, coding the upload sequence to put the recording onto the Patron City Police Department mainframe. A coroner and forensics team will be here in a matter of minutes to confirm our findings.
“Can you imagine the pain involved?” he asks, and for a moment I’m unsure what he’s talking about. I turn and find him looking at Perill, unable to tell if he feels sympathy for the man or not.
“Aneurysms are usually painless,” I add, but know it’s a lie. Given who this man was, and what he was trying to do, Tarot would have made it excruciating.
I breathe deep, the smell of wet earth surrounding me as I look over the calm lake before me. Everything is damp and covered in rain, but not a drop falls as I sit waiting. I know what’s coming, and the need to be someplace peaceful is something I can’t deny.
“Where are we?” The voice is soft and feminine, as a figure in a wool coat and a large hood moves to sit in the lawn chair beside my own. I’m smiling gently as the same aura of tranquility I felt back in the file room returns. At the time I couldn’t remember where it had come from, but now I know. It was a psychic shield Tarot uses to put people at ease. That, combined with her overall non-threatening appearance, has led many to their death. The overabundance of it in the file room suggested that she used it to subdue Perill before she tortured him.
“My old house. Before my dad died in the riots we lived on a private lake,” I answer, letting my head fall back as I enjoy the cool chill of the air on my cheeks. “It’s gone now. They paved over it to build a metro station.”
“That’s too bad. It’s nice here…” she murmurs, almost sounding remorseful.
I open one eye, watching her. Tarot is deceptively diminutive, probably no more than five and a half feet tall and younger than most members of the Arcana. If I had to guess I would put her around the same age as myself, maybe a year or two my junior. Despite all of that, she’s one of the most powerful superhumans I’ve ever encountered, and more dangerous than the majority of the ones I’ve put behind bars.
She pulls down her hood, her hair a mess of cotton candy pink pinned to the back of her head.
“You dyed it again…” I yawn, trying to avoid talking about why we’re really here.
“Not really. I was curious to see what it’d look like, so I decided to try it out with you first,” she laughs, giving me a comically wide smile that makes me chuckle as well. “You were in bed early…”
“I took a handful of Quaaludes,” I confess.
“You wanted to talk.” It’s more of a statement than a question, but I nod all the same.
“So did you, obviously,” I point out. She doesn’t deny it, though I know she wants to. Tarot hates anyone thinking they know her too well. But, unlike Anders, I know that whatever she may suspect about me, she will never act negatively. Contrary to myself with my equalizer collar, Tarot can look and pick apart the flawless memories I have yet to hide from my consciousness. It gives her perfect insight into what goes on at the police department, though I have tried to block her out.
“You killed Perill?” I ask, already knowing the answer.
“Yes.” Any trace of remorse or guilt is gone from her tone. “He killed Reaper.”
“You were both there to assassinate him,” I sigh, exasperated with how she seems to believe that the death of a known murderer might justify the pain she inflicted.
“He deserved it, you know what he was trying to do…” she leads, but I am too used to her propaganda to fall for it.
“I’m not some kid fresh out of high school with an itch under my collar. You can’t convince me that what you did was for the good of your people.”
“Our people, or are you so deep in the closet you’ve forgotten?” she asks, fixing me with a stare that makes a shiver crawl up my spine. She shakes her head, obviously as tired of my attitude as I am of hers.
“Reaper was going to make it quick. He was going to go in, grab him, and teleport them both outside and drop him off the roof. I knew something was off…” Tarot whispers. She seems almost sad, though I can’t tell if it’s the failure of the plan, or the death of her friend that’s making her so.
“Adding foresight to your abilities now?” I ask sarcastically, only realizing the moment after I say it how possible and terrifying that may be.
“I don’t know. My powers are changing, adapting and getting stronger. It took me only seconds to get into your mind for this meeting.”
I don’t voice how unnerved I am by that, but the way the calm water of the lake suddenly becomes choppy betrays it for me.
“How much do the police know?” she asks, quickly changing the subject.
“About Perill’s death, or you?” I reply.
“You know I can’t tell you that,” I sigh, shaking my head at how futile it all is.
“And you know I don’t have to ask you…” she leads once more, baiting me into another argument we’ve had a million times before. How pro-super human rights it is to force herself into my mind and extract any information she wants against my will.
“They know everything about the murder. How Holt got stuck, how Perill harpooned him, and how you killed him. There’s some speculation on if he suffered or not, it’s indeterminate…” I confess, feeling like a child being asked to recite a page of a textbook.
“He did,” she says flatly. It annoys me how nonchalant she is about it. I have to constantly remind myself of how ruthless she can be.
“They know you’re a powerful psychic, and that you’re high up in the Arcana, most believe you’re its leader…” I pause, looking to her for confirmation, but she only smiles innocently, something I find incredibly unsettling with how successful it is. “They know there’s twenty-one of you left, with another few hundred operating as part of the SHA…”
“So they know fuck all…” she interrupts, and I can’t even conjure the will to dispute her.
“They know fuck all,” I affirm, feeling a faint tingle in my fingertips that signifies I’ll wake up soon.
She sighs, also aware that our time will soon end. I feel a release come over me, a psychic weight being lifted I had no inclination was there in the first place. Suddenly, all of the things that had been blocked from my memory come flooding back and I feel the power of an entire rebellion behind me.
“What are your next orders?” she asks her voice fading as I slowly slip out of the dream.
“We need to replace Reaper, start looking for another teleporter…” I inform, already feeling her psychic fingers rearrange my awareness so I’ll forget giving the command at all come morning.