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I felt disjointed and adrift. I tried to get my bearings in the vision, but I was also attempting to understand what the boss had been saying at the same time. It was too much to figure out at once, and I felt something else, besides: a different sort of disorientation. It wasn’t in the vision, and I couldn’t place it, but it was familiar somehow.
My mind seized on a single fact; he’d said the name “David”. Did he know about David somehow? But how could that be possible? And before that, he’d been addressing me directly, clearly aware of the way David and I had bonded to each other, or whatever it was that had happened to us.
“Leon, you okay?” David asked. He felt my confusion, and returned his concern.
“No,” I admitted. “I didn’t understand what he said, but if he knows who you are we’re in trouble. I wish we could will ourselves awake.”
“What he said? What who said?” David sounded as confused as I felt, but for some reason he wasn’t worried.
“The boss!” I replied. “If he knows your name…but it seemed like he was talking to me, and I don’t see how he could know. Even if Mary had betrayed us, you never told her your real name.”
“Mary betra- what the hell are you talking about?” David asked.
“The boss!” I said, getting frustrated. “Hopefully whatever he did didn’t affect Bloodhound. If so, we’re probably safe, but we need to wake up!”
“Leon, calm down and start making sense right the hell now please!” David said. “The boss said something? When? We’ve never been able to find the bastard!”
If I had a stomach of my own, I would have felt a sinking sensation.
“David, what’s the last thing you remember?” I asked.
“What? Fine, whatever,” he said, brushing off the strangeness of the question. “Um, we talked to the Philly Five and everybody else, settled on our plan, and set up a meeting for tomorrow. Mary’s trying to get us a location on the boss, and if it works we’ll try to take him out sometime in the morning or afternoon, while she leads most of the muscle on a wild goose chase. We came back, ate dinner, and went to bed. Now will you please, for the love of god, start making sense?”
That was impossible. Somehow, David had forgotten a whole day? Maybe it was more like half of a day in terms of elapsed time, but it had been a pretty fucking important half day. There were two explanations that came to mind: either my memories were false, and what I remembered hadn’t happened, or his memories had been erased somehow.
Could that be the boss’s power? It was certainly potent enough to explain a great deal. Mary had said that he knew when she was going to try to get away. If he had caught her and made her forget, he could then pretend that he knew what she was planning beforehand, thus making escape seem impossible even if it wasn’t. Could that be what was going on?
I dragged myself away from the jumbled train of thought to pay attention to the vision as I saw something shocking.
“David, just hold on,” I said. “We need to pay attention to this and sort it all out when we’re awake. Trust me.”
“Okay,” he said reluctantly. He was confused and alarmed, which seemed appropriate, but I pushed that aside.
Standing in front of us was the very man I’d just been thinking about, but the boss looked different. His face was less worn and he carried himself nervously, without the confidence I’d seen. The man I’d observed had been certain even in the face of apparent defeat. The one in front of us came up short in comparison, at least in terms of first impressions.
“This is Francis,” A voice said, and we reached out and shook his hand. I struggled to catch up to what was happening in front of me, but the time I’d lost talking to David had deprived me of the signposts I needed to orient myself, it seemed. Usually the visions had begun slowly, giving us a chance to get acclimated, but if this one had done so I’d missed my chance. It took me a few seconds to place the voice and connect it to the man we’d seen in the previous vision, Geoff Worthington.
“Francis mostly works on his own,” Geoff continued. “I’ll still be the one teaching you, pretty much, but you’ll see him around. Francis, this is David.”
I lost track of the vision again as it finally clicked. I’d been staring at the pieces to a puzzle and thinking that it was too hard, but the problem was that it had already been assembled right in front of me and I’d expected to do more work.
Idiot. I was an idiot, and I could have killed us all.
The boss had called me “David” because it was my original name. I’d chosen “Leon” for myself, and I liked it well enough, but I’d always known it wasn’t my old name. I had never even considered going by “David” because it would have been too damn confusing, sharing the name of the person who I talked to most often and shared a body with, but now that I thought about it there was something in me that felt right when someone talked to us and called him David.
The practical part of my brain noted with relief that this probably meant the boss had no idea where to find us or what David’s name was. The obnoxious part of me noted that if was going to keep thinking about this, I’d also need to keep referring to myself as “Leon”, if only to avoid confusion when I tried to explain everything.
Still, knowing my original name restored something to me. I felt more whole and complete than I ever had before.
Then I started paying attention again.
Francis was walking away with a cup of coffee, and I noticed that I was standing in what looked like the kitchen of a small apartment. Geoff and I were sitting down at a table, and I soon realized that we were eating lunch when I started to chew.
After Francis had been gone for a minute, I swallowed and spoke again, and it struck me that the voice I was hearing was genuinely mine; it didn’t belong to the David whose body I now shared or to some unknown third party, as I’d previously thought.
“So, how come I haven’t seen him around much?” I asked.
If it was really me, if I was this David, then these had to be my memories, but how could that be? We’d researched the things we saw, and some of the details were wrong. They didn’t fit reality.
“Francis is kind of obsessive,” Geoff said. His volume dropped as he spoke, and he glanced at the doorway as if to make sure no one was listening. “He doesn’t like to talk about it, but this is all pretty personal for him. I don’t know the whole story, but someone close to him was a casualty in a fight between supers. They were buying a car, is the story I heard. Some super went on a rampage, and by the end of it the whole dealership was trashed. Everyone else got out alive, although there were injuries. I think what really burns him is that they were just in the crossfire, not even a target, but he doesn’t talk about it much and we don’t ask. Anyway, he’s not really social, but he’s a decent guy. If you don’t bother him, he won’t bother you.”
I was reluctant to read too much into things, but that suggested a possible explanation for what Francis was doing setting himself up as “the boss.” It might even explain his saying that I should join him and commenting that it was all in a good cause, not that it excused any of his actions.
Still, maybe I could use his invitation to get close to him. It would be risky, but it was something to consider.
Dammit, I was getting distracted again.
“So, what’s next?” I was asking.
“Well, you and Charlotte are both coming along pretty well,” Geoff said. “I’m impressed with the invisibility trick, for one thing. It seems like you’ve almost got it right. If you can just manage to hide your eyes, then I think it’ll be as good as it’s going to get.”
“I think so too,” I agreed. “The tricky part is that I can only do that perfectly if I know who I’m hiding from, whether it’s real eyes or security cameras. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to turn the whole thing into one effort, once I’ve got all the pieces worked out. Doing the different parts separately is too tiring, mentally.”
“I’m sure you’ll get it,” Geoff said with an encouraging smile. “I know I haven’t taught many people, but it does make me optimistic to see you two progressing so quickly.”
“Especially Charlotte,” I said. “You missed the test we did yesterday, but she cut through reinforced concrete with her claws. She wants to ask one of our super-durable types to volunteer if we get a chance. See if she can scratch his skin.”
“Alena told me,” Geoff said. “Apparently they tested it against her force field trick and it went through, too.”
“Oh, I missed that one,” I said. “I wonder what she’ll work on next if they’re as sharp as they can be? We’ve kicked a few ideas around, but she hadn’t made any decisions the last time it came up.”
More information to process. If I was this David, could the other people we saw correspond to different individuals like me? If Charlotte had claws, could she have become Feral? If she wasn’t remembering anything, why not?
Did Geoff correspond to anyone?
Come to think of it, why was Francis apparently around normally, while I was a disembodied spirit? That didn’t seem fair.
He’d mentioned an Alena, too. Could that be the same one working for the boss now? Why was she working for Francis, and how much did she remember?
The answers were giving me more questions, but for once it didn’t feel frustrating. I felt like I was finally formulating good questions, the kind that meant I was close to figuring things out.
Belatedly, I realized that I was missing more of the conversation again.
“…until we have to move to a new spot?” Geoff asked.
I sighed. “I think we’ll have to do it soon. I know the move from our previous location seemed to go cleanly, but from what Murphy said at the briefing they might be close to finding us again anyway. I’m not sure how, but it seems like we find out about a new power variation every week, sometimes. Maybe they recruited someone who can see the past, or something.”
Geoff raised his eyebrows. “If they have someone who can do that, then there’s probably no point running, is there?”
“Maybe,” I said, “but it depends on exactly how their powers work. I was reading up on it in the files. Experiments with two psychometrics found that they had trouble looking into the past in rooms where stuff was moved around a lot, and one couldn’t see anything useful after a road was re-paved. The theory is that whatever they do, it works by getting an impression of past interactions, maybe down to the molecular level. So even a weak one can tell that someone walked across a floor, but one thing that they have trouble with is a lack of solid ground. One of them went to a swimming pool as a test, and could barely tell anything about who had been in it, even recently, maybe because the individual drops of water never totally stop moving. If that really is the reason why, then there is something we can do to lose them entirely.”
Geoff’s eyes widened in understanding. “Leave by boat.” He considered for a moment. “Or plane? If it works with water, it has to work with air, right?”
“In theory, yes,” I said, “but remember that it is just a theory. We don’t actually know if that’s how it works, and even if the theory is right they could track us some other way.”
“Still, having a bunch of ocean between us and them would have to slow them down,” Geoff said.
“I hope so,” I replied. “But yeah, I’m guessing we make a big move soon. You notice Murphy hasn’t had us finish unpacking everything? I don’t think we’re going to. I think this is just a waystation while they finish planning the logistics.”
“Well, if you’re right I hope the next place is a bit more comfortable,” Geoff said. “I admit I wouldn’t mind leaving again, either. I know we can go upstairs and on the lawn sometimes, but that’s no substitute for actually walking around.”
“Cheers,” I said, raising my glass to agree with the sentiment.
This vision seemed to be before the previous one, chronologically, even though I was seeing it after. I started to wonder what determined the order of the visions, but stopped myself.
That sort of digression would have to wait.
I waited for the two of us to continue discussing Francis, or move to another important topic, but it didn’t happen. The conversation turned to lighter topics, and while I might have been content if this was just another freebie at night, a minute of utterly meaningless small talk was intolerable now. We had no idea what the situation was back in reality.
I tried to use the time productively.
“David, listen carefully. This is going to be strange even for us. As far as I’m concerned, we already made our move against the boss. You and I managed to take out Tuggey and Michaels without any major problems, but when we found him he spotted us even though we were invisible. We cornered him, and we were winning with Bloodhound’s help while Feral and Comet dealt with his guards, and then he said something that indicated he knew about me. He told me I should join up with him, and called me ‘David’. I didn’t understand everything he said, but he seemed to think he had the situation under control, and a second later we were asleep and having this vision. Are you with me so far?”
“Leon, I don’t remember any of that,” he said, confused and worried. “And why do you say he called you David? Is that what you were talking about before?”
“Yes, it was, but I didn’t understand it right away. I do now. David, we were right that it isn’t a coincidence we’re seeing these visions, instead of someone else. They aren’t visions. They’re my memories, from before I became whatever I am now. Do you follow? What we’re seeing is my past, somehow.”
“Okay…that sort of makes sense, a bit,” David said, “but how is it possible? When you tried to remember before, it just hurt like hell, didn’t it? I remember that, and it wasn’t pleasant. Besides, you weren’t aware of the first one, were you?”
“Maybe my attempt to remember worked, but not immediately,” I said. “I don’t know. We’ve only had the visions while asleep, and that’s got to mean something. But you have to trust me on this; I know they are my memories. That’s why some parts of it have felt familiar to me. For that matter, I suspect the reason I was drawn to you might have something to do with your name – I doubt it’s a coincidence, anyway. But the important thing is that I’m sure the David we’ve been in the visions is who I used to be, and I think Charlotte was Feral. Remember what they said about her claws? And this David was just talking about mastering invisibility.”
“Right, that part I follow,” David said. I could feel him absorbing what I was saying. “But wait, you said the boss knocked us out? We need to wake up! This stuff can wait.”
“I don’t think we can,” I said. “It’s never worked before, remember? Besides, I suspect that there’s a reason we saw this right now, as well. The man we were just introduced to – Francis? If he’s not the boss, then they’re twins. Given that he seemed to know me, and expect me to be missing memories, I think it’s safe to say that we’re not ready to go up against him yet. He knows far more about us than we do about him, apparently.”
“Leon, our friends could be in trouble,” David said urgently. “We have to find a way to wake up.”
“We can’t,” I said. “I’m sorry, but we’ll just have to ride this out. I just wish we were seeing something more important in the meantime.”
In addition to the fact that the two men – my past self and Geoff – were talking about unimportant stuff, the vision had also grown increasingly vague to all of my senses as it continued. It occurred to me that the two trends were probably linked rather than coincidental. Memory is tricky, after all; it’s possible to recall some details very vividly while others slip away entirely. In fact, now that I thought about it, all of the visions had seemed to work that way: important things, familiar faces, and events had always been clearer, probably because they took up the bulk of my attention at the time, while people on the fringes, random objects, and peripheral things were vague to the point of being indecipherable. When I speculated that the visions were being sent, it had seemed strange, but if they were incomplete recollections it was only logical.
As I articulated the thoughts, the vision-memory was already fading, and I wondered if it was in response to my desire to see something more important. Everything I’d seen so far had arguably been very closely related to what was happening; could I have been subconsciously looking through my memories for the highlights, the most important events and people, and cherry-picking the relevant information? There had to be some reason that the first memory we’d seen just now was of meeting Francis.
I hoped we would wake up, but instead a new vision started, coming into focus as the first receded. This one was sharper and crisper, much like the first time we’d had the experience.
Also like the first time, it wasn’t a peaceful memory.
It took me a bit to realize that we were on the side of a highway as I crawled out of the vehicle. It was a minivan, flipped most of the way over, with the roof leaning diagonally against a tree. After I got out, I glanced back into the vehicle, but the only people I saw were unmoving. I couldn’t tell whether they were unconscious or dead, but I could hear the sounds of fighting loudly enough that they had more urgency, so I turned away from the van and back toward the road.
There were more overturned vehicles there, on their sides or roofs, including at least two freight trucks, another minivan, and several cars. Other vehicles were frantically speeding away in all directions, a few of them going against traffic in their rush to get away from the fighting. One turned and drove right off the road and into what looked like someone’s backyard, then kept going into the driveway and turned out of my sight.
“This is the highway outside of Berkeleyport,” David said, subdued. He lapsed into silence as we both waited, afraid of what would happen next.
I could see familiar faces on the highway: security people I recognized from the facility, most of them at least appearing to be in civilian clothes, although in a few cases I could tell that they were wearing bulletproof vests underneath shirts and coats. There were one or two supers on our side, as well, including the hydrokinetic from the past memories, who looked to be struggling to find anything he could use by the roadside.
They were crouched behind the overturned vehicles, standing behind trees, or in some cases just standing in the open, but the ones in the open didn’t last for very long.
Their enemies were all supers, and they weren’t weak ones. To my left, I saw a man whose eyes were constantly moving, and I quickly realized he was a telekinetic. Wherever his eyes turned, disaster followed. One man on my side glanced down and found that the pin had been pulled from his grenade; when he threw it away, it turned around and came back like a boomerang. A small cluster of two men and a woman were shooting automatic weapons. One of them was sprawled on the ground, only his upper body sticking out of the second van, while the other two leaned their sides against it to stay up while they fired. Seconds after the grenade exploded, the three of them struggled to keep their guns in their hands. One man’s arms were jerked around in a wild arc, and when he tried to stop it from pointing at the other two the trigger pulled itself and shot him instead. The other two followed moments later.
I felt the effort as I turned invisible and started to approach, but someone else got there first. There was a second attacker standing by the telekinetic, guarding him, and he turned and sprinted to meet a familiar figure as Charlotte charged him in the open. She’d dropped her weapons somewhere, presumably to avoid having the other guy turn them against her, and after a quick glance he ignored her, letting his bodyguard handle things instead.
I started sprinting and shrinking distance, heedless of the drain I felt as I used two powers at once. Judging by how low-energy I felt, I deduced that I must have been injured in the crash and expended more power healing myself, which made sense. There was no way to know how much of the fight I’d missed, but judging by what I glimpsed it had likely been a brief and extremely violent ambush.
The bodyguard met Charlotte, swinging with his bare fists, and I assumed he was a brute or something similar. He didn’t appear unusually fast, at least.
She ducked under the swing and swiped at him with both arms. I couldn’t see the effects, but I saw him fall to the ground and I heard him scream in pain as she kept running past him. He didn’t get up.
I stopped for a moment, staring in shock. As far as I knew, this was the first time Charlotte or I had used our powers in a fight; maybe that was why.
The telekinetic heard the scream and gave Charlotte his full attention, ducking back so that a truck was between him and the gunmen. He started to throw rubble at her, ripping pieces off of cars, and I realized that he seemed unable to affect people directly; a limitless telekinetic wouldn’t need to wrestle for guns when he could just crush skulls or snap necks with a thought, but this one wasn’t limitless, and he looked afraid as Charlotte drew closer to him, starting to call for help.
She was still closer to the man than I was, but I returned to my senses and started running at him again. As the memory unfolded, I could feel David’s unease, and I knew that part of him – like me – was thinking of the night we’d rescued Dustin and the fights against Blitz. This was worse, since both sides were actively trying to kill each other.
On my way to help Charlotte I saw a super stumble behind a car, her clothes soaked through, and I figured our hydrokinetic must have found something he could use. She was clutching at her eyes and whimpering, her back pressed against the vehicle.
I drew my knife and slashed her throat, then kept going. As she fell, I realized that her eyes had been cut by shards of sharpened ice when some of them fell to the ground through nerveless fingers. One of them caught the sunlight as it fell, reflecting it in a way that would have been beautiful if not for the drop of blood clinging to shard.
I kept moving, eyes turning forward again. David felt sick. I would have too, but I knew that I had been fighting for my life and the lives of those with me. Besides, all of this had long since been decided. There was no way to save anyone here from the horror show that we were watching.
Charlotte reached the telekinetic, but someone heard and answered his call for help before she could do anything. A man appeared between them with no warning and gave a single shout, and she was propelled backwards at least ten feet. She hit the ground in an uncontrolled roll, and I guessed that the impact would have broken a bone or two, at least. When I got close, hoping stealth would serve me better than speed had served her, the man turned to look at me and shouted again. I was still taking in his features when I was lifted bodily into the air.
I had expected it, though, and I managed a less painful landing, rolling backward over one shoulder and quickly rising to my knees. I retreated, hoping to regroup with Charlotte and looking to see who else was left, but the battle was clearly turning against us. It seemed like we had surprised them with the strength of our resistance, but I could see at least five or six enemy supers still in play, and they were cutting us down fast. In the handful of moments it took me to recover from being thrown, I caught a glimpse of our hydrokinetic dying along with a handful of normal security guards.
My radio crackled.
“Testers, find Francis,” Geoff’s voice said. “We’re trying a Hail Mary.”
I didn’t know what he meant specifically, but I didn’t have any better ideas, so I headed back toward one of the cars. I assumed that my past self had known which car Francis was travelling inside.
When I arrived, he wasn’t there, but Charlotte was arriving too. She cradled one arm – clearly broken.
I reached for my radio. “Where are you?”
“Treeline, across the road,” Geoff’s voice came back.
I glanced around again. It seemed like they had escaped the fighting for now, probably because the supers were busy with people who were fighting back. That wouldn’t last much longer, though, because most of the security people were already dead. I stopped, staring at the carnage for what felt like a long time, but I knew it could only have been a second before Charlotte punched my shoulder with her good arm and I looked at her.
She was covered in dirt and her right side was a mess. Her clothes were torn and I could see bloody scrapes underneath, and now that she was close I could tell her arm was mangled. I looked at it and started to say something, but she shook her head before I could get the words out.
“Later. Fucking move!” she ordered.
She took off running and I followed her. Crossing the highway wasn’t as dangerous as it could have been; people had noticed the fighting, and just about everyone had either sped up to pass it faster or turned around, depending on which direction felt safer. It had only been a couple of minutes, I thought, but the immediate stretch of road was nearly empty.
I wondered what Geoff and Francis were planning, and wondered what my past self had felt and thought at the time he experienced this. I could feel his body moving, feel his pulse and breathing, and that gave me some clues, but I couldn’t actually read his mind.
We crossed the road without looking back, but when we reached the trees I couldn’t resist a glance. It looked like the fight was just about over, and I turned away to keep going forward.
Charlotte led the way and I followed close behind her. There was a small, nervous group waiting for us: Francis, Geoff, a woman I didn’t recognize, Murphy, and a single guard.
I noticed that Murphy, despite her inability to walk, looked by far the calmest as she sat with her back to a tree. I also noticed that she appeared very comfortable with the revolver in her hands. In contrast, the guard looked grimly determined, Francis looked like he was on the verge of panic, and Geoff and the woman didn’t look much better off.
“Come on,” Murphy ordered. “You weren’t cleared for this, but we’re out of options. Francis is going to try something he’s never done outside of a lab, and he needs to pull any energy he can from the rest of you.”
I blinked, and interpreted the gesture as surprise. In the memories I’d seen, no one had ever hinted that it was even possible to do that.
“He can do that?” I asked. Apparently it was news to past-me, too.
“He can,” Geoff said. He clapped Francis on the shoulder. “He’s only done it in the lab before, but I’m sure he can swing it. Get over here. You need to touch him. Just put your hand on his shoulder.”
Charlotte and I complied.
“What’s he going to do, exactly?” Charlotte asked, panting. I glanced at her again; she was talking like it hurt to breathe, and I wondered if she’d broken a few ribs as well as the arm.
“If it works, he’ll give us all a second chance,” Murphy said. “Now Francis, I don’t mean to rush you, but the gunfire just stopped. Everyone shut up and let him focus.”
I had a lot of questions, and I assumed I must have at the time as well, but we all obeyed, shutting our mouth and gathering around Francis.
I could hear the noise of cars, albeit muffled by the trees, but for a few long seconds nothing happened.
“I can’t do it!” Francis said. “It’s slipping away.”
“You can,” Geoff said. “Look, we’re all here to help. You ‘re the man, you can make it happen.”
I expected to feel a draining sensation, whether it was physical fatigue or what I felt when I used up magic, but I didn’t. Either nothing was happening, or I was so tired that I couldn’t tell the difference. After a few seconds, Charlotte eased herself to the ground, sitting cross-legged next to Francis and keeping her good hand on his shoulder.
“You’ve got it,” she said steadily. “Okay? Don’t stress. Do it like in the lab, just take whatever you need.”
Whether it was her words or her manner, it seemed to help more than Geoff had. I could see him relax slightly, and a moment later the expected draining sensation started.
“Okay,” Francis muttered. “Just…just drag everything back a bit. I can do that.”
“What did she mean, give us a second chance?” I murmured to Geoff.
“A do-over,” he said, looking me in the eye with a smile. “A second shot at today. But we can do it all different.”
I understood, but the idea was too much to accept, at first. He couldn’t mean what I thought he meant, not even if it would explain everything.
“Time’s up,” Murphy said. She and the guard started shooting.
“Alena!” Geoff said.
“R-right,” the unfamiliar woman answered haltingly. She had an accent I didn’t recognize.
I was just thinking that she didn’t look ready for trouble when she held one hand up in front of herself and moved to stand between the rest of us and the road. A tree snapped, cracked, and fell, but she raised her hand and then turned it to one side and the tree stopped like it had hit an invisible wall, then slid to her left – the way her palm was facing. When a second tree came at her face like it had been thrown, she turned her hand toward it, and it stopped in midair just like the first.
For a few seconds there was silence except for Murphy reloading her gun. The guard was turning his head, trying to spot the enemy, when a figure dropped from above, landing next to him and then flicking him with a finger. He fell to the ground and then froze, motionless, and the newcomer (I couldn’t see him or her clearly) reached down and grabbed the gun from Murphy’s hand.
Then the figure picked her up bodily by the hair and throat and pressed her against a tree.
“How are you hiding them from me?” he demanded. “It’s obvious they have powers, but I can’t feel them. How? Tell me and you’ll live, or at least die quickly.”
Murphy didn’t struggle, but she didn’t talk, either. She just stared into his eyes. When he turned his head to look at us, she spat in his face.
“Francis, do it now!” she yelled. I barely caught a glimpse of her right hand, emerging from her pocket with what looked like a grenade.
The guy holding her noticed too, and he dropped her as he sprang away, but after Murphy pulled the pin and let go the grenade changed course in midair to come at us. Alena was in the way, and she tensed in fear as she held up her hand.
The explosion blinded and deafened us all for a second, and I looked around frantically, trying to spot attackers. The man who had held Murphy was there, only a step away, and if he didn’t know what we were doing he was still clearly smart enough to spot that Francis was the key to it.
Geoff closed his eyes, cringing, as he stepped between Francis and the attacker, but Charlotte recovered faster than any of us, and at some point she had stood up again without my noticing. She yanked Geoff back with her good arm, and as she kicked at the attacker I saw the familiar claws forming from her toes, instead of her fingers.
They did the job just as well, and the man barely kept from having his face slashed by sacrificing his shoulder instead. He stumbled and fell, and Charlotte turned back to Francis, putting her hand on his chin and turning his head to stare into his eyes.
“Do it!” she ordered. “Take everything, just do it!”
And then we woke up, sweating, in bed.
“David, check your phone! Right now!” I said.
He could feel my urgency, and he didn’t argue, even though I knew he wanted nothing more than to sit down and have a long, long conversation explaining what was happening. We were both keyed up from the memory, too, and found ourselves jolted fully awake all at once, without the normal moment of partial awareness.
He grabbed his phone and turned it on, then unlocked it.
Date: December 17th, 2011
Time: 3:30 AM
It was the middle of the night before we went after Francis. He’d given himself a second chance, snatching victory right out from under us, and this time he knew in advance that we were coming for him.