#951 21st May 2012 at 5:49 PM
Thanks, Hladgunnr! And if you need more stuff to feed your WCC cravings, you might want to check the fan forum... I post stuff like pictures, hints about upcoming chapters, and general interesting stuff about the story. I have this week and next off of school, so I will try to update at least once during that time.
#952 21st May 2012 at 10:27 PM
#953 28th Jun 2012 at 10:27 PM
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! You should continue!
I'm currently have 616 downloads and their all in their little folders.
I'm currently have 616 downloads and their all in their little folders.
#954 4th Jul 2012 at 3:46 PM
#955 4th Jul 2012 at 7:04 PM
Very true. I just LOVE this story!!!
I'm currently have 616 downloads and their all in their little folders.
I'm currently have 616 downloads and their all in their little folders.
#956 21st Jul 2012 at 2:44 PM
Chapter 51, Part 3Author's Note: Hey, guys! Sorry for the lack of updates, but I had a good reason. For the past two months or so, I have been trying to essentially do a full semester's worth of work in about seven weeks, in order to graduate on time. As such, I did not have a lot of free time to update. However, the good news is, I just finished my last day of internship, and in a couple of weeks, I will officially have my M.Ed. in Counseling! The anniversary lagniappe will be a bit late, but it will be very awesome. I've been putting a lot of work into it, and I hope you guys like it. So, without further ado, the update!
Emily stared at the pair for several seconds, then looked back to Cy. “So, what’s going on, exactly? Valo’s being friendly with a guy. Big deal. I mean, she’s allowed to start dating again eventually, right?”
Cy paused, thinking. Finally, she said, without taking her eyes off of Valo, “Em, what do you know about Valo?”
“Well,” Emily responded slowly. “She studied psychology and counseling. She dated Grant Veneto, older brother of S, and eventually married him.”
“Personality. What do you know about her personality?”
“Kind of quiet, sort of a snarky sense of humor. A little weird.”
“I don’t follow.”
Cy finally looked at Emily. “What if I were to tell you that everything you think you know about Valo, with regard to personality, is either wrong or very incomplete?”
“You didn’t know Valo as long as I did. She and I had several classes together. Back when I first met her, she was kind of quiet and kept to herself. She hadn’t been out of high school very long, and she was still in that awkward ‘trying to figure myself out’ stage people go through. Not very confident.”
“At some point, when she was working in the campus gameroom, she met a guy. There was a bit of an age difference, but they clicked pretty well. Let’s face it, a lot of people thought he was a loser at the time. Kinda chubby, bad skin, big nerdy glasses. You’d see those two hanging out, people would pretty much think they were making a new Revenge of the Nerds.”
“So, what changed?”
“I can’t really say. But at some point, Valo seriously grew a spine and became a lot more outspoken. More assertive. She stopped taking crap from people unless she absolutely had to. Even started going out to clubs occasionally and doing crazy stuff. And as for the guy… well, he lost weight and started dressing better. Started networking, too.”
“What’s all that got to do with anything?”
“I’m not finished. So, here’s where it gets good. The dude started becoming pretty popular. Getting a bunch of leadership positions and stuff. Valo basically became sort of the equivalent of the First Lady for a bunch of major campus organizations.”
Emily’s forehead furrowed. “So, what happened? I mean, if things were going along that well, why didn’t they stay together?”
“See, your boy there, he wasn’t interested in anything that serious at the time. Wanted to keep things casual with Valo. Meanwhile, Valo had met Grant a few months earlier, and they got along well. Grant was keeping his hands off because, well, first of all, Valo was a student, even if she wasn’t taking any of his classes. Plus, second, he figured she was spoken for. Well, Valo figured since Mr. President-of-a-Million-Clubs wasn’t interested in anything long-term, she’d look elsewhere. So, basically, they had an amicable breakup.”
“What do you mean, ‘and then?’ Valo and Grant got together. The end.”
Emily tilted her head. “But you said Valo did all kinds of crazy stuff. Valo doesn’t do that kind of stuff. She didn’t even do that stuff back when I first met her.”
Cy smiled slightly. “Grant kept her sane. Gave her a reason not to screw around. Without him… well, maybe she would have eventually messed up, ruined everything that she had been working for. Whereas…” Here, she nodded in the direction of the man. “Whereas, he’d have maybe been… I don’t know... maybe less of a positive influence.”
“Even though he was a student leader and all?”
“He was also a player and a bit of a partier.”
“Well, I’m sure he’s probably grown out of all that by now.”
#957 12th Sep 2012 at 8:51 PM
Chapter 52, Part 1Author's Note: Sorry for the lack of updates. I've had limited internet access until quite recently, as well as little time to write, due to family issues and a hurricane.
This chapter is for Marissa, whose kind letter gave me the kick in the butt I needed to update this.
AJ silently pushed the box of tissues across his desk, his brow furrowed. Ophelia tugged several tissues from the box, tears rolling down her face. Cy gently squeezed Ophelia's hand, then looked over at AJ.
“Is there anything that can be done?” Cy asked softly.
AJ looked quietly at Ophelia, whose red-rimmed eyes were focused on him, almost pleadingly. He took a slow breath. “Well,” he finally said, “there are options... surrogates, for instance--”
“--No!” Ophelia interrupted, rubbing hard at her eyes. “I'm not giving up this easily.”
“Lia,” Cy whispered, “be reasonable. Your mom was lucky to carry you and Nathaniel to term.”
“But she was able to,” Ophelia argued. “The doctors were wrong then. Who's to say that the same won't happen again?”
“As both your friend and a doctor, I strongly advise against it,” AJ spoke up. “There are too many risks to your health. Believe me, we ran every test I could think of, to find some way...”
Ophelia shook her head. “This can't be it; it just can't.”
Emily stared silently at the stack of documents, biting her lip. I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry, she thought, trying to will herself not to react. It didn't work; one fat, hot tear ran down her face, followed by another, then another.
Emily lowered her head to her arms. “What am I going to do now?” she whispered.
“I thank you all for attending this meeting,” Julia began, looking at the members of her organization. “I know it was difficult for some of you to attend, but given the circumstances, I felt that it could not wait for the next meeting. I have something of the utmost importance to bring to the attention of each of you.”
She paused, letting this information sink in, then continued. “I am disappointed to announce that we have yet another traitor in our midst. Yes, we thought we were free of traitors, after the incident with that person whom we shall not name. However, it seems that her poison has spread to... others.” Here, she focused her attention on a specific person before her. “Stand up.”
“She's taking things hard,” Cy said worriedly, biting her lip. “She hasn't left the house in a week.”
“That's not normal,” Emily replied.
“For her family, it seems to be. Any time something happens that one of them doesn't want to deal with, they just hole themselves up in their rooms. Charise did that all the time when she was a teen.”
“Maybe I should stop in and check on her,” Emily suggested. “Has she been eating much?”
“Not like she should be.”
“If I bring her favorite ice cream, maybe that will help.”
“I hope so. This isn't like Lia. But then again, lately she's been more depressed than usual.”
“More than... Cy, you don't think she's going to...?”
Cy shook her head worriedly. “I really hope not.” She paused, then peered worriedly at Emily. “Are you feeling okay?” Cy asked, concerned. “You don't look like yourself.”
Emily shook her head, not wanting to answer.
“What is it? Tell me. What happened, Em?”
Tears began to form in Emily's eyes. “Louie...” she finally responded. “He wants a divorce. Apparently, he's decided that it's a dealbreaker, my not wanting kids. He said he was okay with it before we got married. But now, I guess he feels like his biological clock is ticking or something.”
“Oh, geez, really?” Cy responded, eyes wide. She immediately felt horrible. Here I am, whining about my problems and Lia's problems with not having kids, and here Em is, losing her husband specifically because she doesn't want any. I'm a creep. “I... I'm sorry.”
“It's not your fault, Cy,” Emily replied, lowering her eyes. “It's okay.”
#958 15th Oct 2012 at 2:56 AM Last edited by DarkPhoenix : 12th Nov 2012 at 7:51 PM.
Chapter 52, Part 2
“Stand up,” Julia repeated. She glared at the object of her anger, who still remained seated. Heaving a sigh of frustration, she snapped, “D**n it, Mae, stand up.”
“Why?” Mae asked mildly, remaining seated. “I've done nothing wrong.”
Julia cleared her throat, then began to address the group. “Mae Rivers has been my longtime partner and a contributor to our organization for many years. However, recent events have shown her to be... less than faithful to our cause.” A murmur arose from the others; Mae rolled her eyes. Raising her voice to be heard, Julia continued, “She has provided assistance to those named as being against our cause on multiple occasions recently. She has acted in a manner opposite to that which we support. And...” Here, Julia glared at Mae. “And worst of all, she has associated with Ophelia Foley-Cloud on several occasions. Mae, have you anything to say before being ejected from this sisterhood?”
“Actually,” Mae said slowly, rising, “I do.”
“Go on, then.”
AJ slowly shut the door and took off his jacket, then set his keys onto the end table nearby.
“You're an hour late,” a quiet voice greeted him.
AJ turned quickly. Tiffani was sitting in a chair nearby. She had no books nearby, and the TV was off. It appeared that she had simply been sitting there, waiting for him.
“Sorry about that,” AJ responded apologetically. “I had a patient come in at the last minute, and then there was traffic--”
“--AJ,” Tiffani interrupted, “we need to talk.”
“Hey, kiddo,” Valo greeted Artemis, ruffling the girl's hair. “It's been a while.”
“Auntie Jess!” Artemis squealed, hugging Valo. She then turned to Sean with a grin. “I just got a new video game. Want to play?”
“Of course,” Sean responded, following Artemis.
Charise smiled warmly, watching the children hurry off to play. “I'm so glad Artemis has so many friends to play with. Sean's a good kid.”
“Well, I'm doing my best,” Valo replied. “It's a good thing he's generally well-behaved.”
Charise laughed. “So, what's up?”
Valo shrugged. “The usual stuff. How's S?”
“He's fine. Working on that new musical.”
“Oh, yeah, that's right. No rest for this generation's best playwright and composer, eh?”
“Yep.” Charise grinned, then added, “I hear you've got some news.”
Valo blushed a little. “News travels fast, huh?”
Charise nodded. “It's good that you're getting out and doing stuff. I know you loved Grant, but he wouldn't want you to spend the rest of your life alone.”
“Don't get too far ahead,” Valo protested. “It's just been a couple of dates. Nothing serious.”
“Well, either way, I'm happy for you.”
“Thanks, Char. You know, sometimes it seems like you and S and Lia and Cy are the only really... y'know... steady couples I know.”
#959 21st Oct 2012 at 7:51 PM
I like this chapter. I still don't know how you make the pictures so glossy and detailed!
I'm currently have 616 downloads and their all in their little folders.
I'm currently have 616 downloads and their all in their little folders.
#960 12th Nov 2012 at 7:53 PM Last edited by DarkPhoenix : 27th Dec 2012 at 10:14 PM.
Chapter 52, Part 3
Mae looked around the room, her brow furrowed slightly. After a moment of thought, she finally spoke.
“For years, I have been a dedicated member of this organization. I have given my time, my money, and my energy toward furthering our cause. Even when I did not always agree with some of the decisions that were made, I still was a loyal sister to all of you. However,” Mae said, now directing her focus to Julia, “more recently, it seems that things have become more... personal. Somewhere along the way, reason and logic have given way to madness. Rather than supporting our fellow women, as feminists should, this organization has devoted an inordinate amount of time to tearing down women in our community, women who have risen to positions of power and prestige.”
Turning to the audience again, she continued, “And, do you know why? Because our president, Julia Winston, has a personal vendetta against many of the women who have been targeted. That's right; the actions of the past few months have been fueled, not by political or social implications, but because Julia is a hateful, jealous b***h.”
With that said, Mae turned and marched down the aisle, away from the stage.
“Talk?” AJ echoed, a bit anxiously. “About what?”
Tiffani took a deep breath, mentally reviewing what she had just spent the past hour rehearsing. “About us.”
“What about us?”
Tiffani swallowed hard. “I feel like you've been neglecting the girls and me. You've been at the hospital long after you were expected home, and when you get home, you just want to eat and go to bed. I can't even remember the last time we went out together, or even had dinner together as a family.” Tiffani paused, biting her lip, then continued, “On top of everything else, I know you've been going out to dinner with Ophelia and seeing her in the office.”
“We were discussing something related to a medical concern,” AJ responded sharply.
“You never told me that before.”
“I'm not supposed to discuss my patients' cases--”
“--Enough of your lies.” Tiffani rose from the couch. “AJ, I... I want to try it apart for a while. I feel like we kind of forced ourselves into a marriage, without thinking about it. We barely talk anymore. This just doesn't feel like a happy marriage.”
Emily slowly opened the door and peered in. Ophelia was curled up in bed, her hair a tangled mess. It looked as though she had not changed out of her pajamas in a few days.
“Hey, Lia,” she greeted her friend softly. Ophelia rolled over slowly, then narrowed her eyes slightly when she saw Emily. “Cy told me what happened,” Emily continued, as though her friend had spoken. “I... I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry for what happened. I know you're going through a really stressful time, and I brought over some of your favorite foods. I thought that might encourage you to eat. Lia, I understand how rough things are right now, and I'm here for you.”
“Are you?” Ophelia responded, in a bitter, angry voice. “Are you really? I bet you're happy that this happened to me. You're glad that I won't pop out a bunch of kids. 'Oh, great, now she can be a miserable, childless hag like me!'” Ophelia shook her head. “I bet, right now, you're even gloating about it. You have the life you want, and you don't give a damn about having kids. And if you decide to change your mind, well, then you have good old reliable Louie. Lucky you, you have every f***ing thing you could want. I don't need your pity, Emily.”
Emily took in a sharp breath, and did the one thing she never thought she would: she raised her hand and slapped Ophelia.
#961 27th Dec 2012 at 10:12 PM
Chapter 52, Part 4
At the door, Mae turned around, a faint smirk on her face. “Actually,” she said slowly, “I do have one regret.” At this, Julia smiled triumphantly, confident that she had won in this psychological game.
“I regret...” Mae said slowly. “I regret that I wasted so much f***ing time on this group. And... and I especially regret wasting so much of my time with you, Julia.” At this, Julia's smile vanished. “Julia,” Mae continued, “I wasted too many years listening to your crap and putting up with your bull****. I let you control too many areas of my life.” Mae flipped Julia off, then said, “We're through. When you get home, don't even bother coming in. I'll leave your junk on the lawn. Might want to hurry, though; the neighbors might help themselves to the pickings.”
With that, Mae pushed the door open and strode out.
“W-well...” Julia stammered. “Shall we continue without her?”
The door opened again, and Mae poked her head back into the room. “Oh, and also... Marcy, Lucille has been cheating on you with Flora; Tara orders from VS, even though she claims she's offended by the models; and Julia keeps pictures of Nicki Bellereve, Kodie Madison, Miko Lavoise, and J. J. Thorpe in her 'special pictures' file on her computer.”
Mae closed the door again, and as she heard the arguing and screaming from within, she smirked and whispered, “I win.”
“Try it apart?” AJ repeated, stunned.
Tiffani nodded, then replied, “We've been together since we were in high school. We haven't really had a chance to live our own lives. Maybe that's why you've been... you know... doing the stuff you've been doing.”
“I haven't done anything, Tiff,” AJ insisted. “I've been loyal to you. Maybe I haven't been the most attentive, but I've done my best.”
“I think we need time to figure out what we want out of this marriage. I'll pack my stuff and go to my mom's.” Tiffani smiled sadly. “I'll bring the girls with me.”
Tiffani walked up the stairs slowly, thinking of everything she needed to pack for herself and her daughters. I need to do this, she told herself. It's what's best for me... for us. She hesitated in the hallway outside of their bedroom, her brow furrowed in thought. She looked around at the pictures and decorations; everything brought back fond memories.
Slowly, Tiffani walked down the stairs. AJ was still in the living room, and Tiffani was astonished to see that he was crying. Tiffani quietly approached AJ.
“Hey,” Tiffani said softly.
AJ glanced over at her. “Hey,” he replied. “Where's your suitcases? Thought you were going upstairs to pack.”
Tiffani bit her lip, hesitating, then responded, “I realized something.”
“I can't pack up the most important thing in my life.”
AJ looked up at Tiffani in astonishment, then rushed to his feet and embraced her tightly.
Ophelia stared in shock at Emily. “I can't believe that you hit me,” she gasped out. “You, of all people.”
“That's right, and I'll do it again. Now, shut up and listen to me. I came up here to try and cheer you up, but obviously, you're beyond that. Let me tell you a little story. Way back in high school, things were pretty bad for me. I was treated pretty badly by a lot of people; even the people who said that they were my friends... well, they didn't act very much like it. Things seemed pretty hopeless for me. I decided that I was going to kill myself. So, I kept a stockpile of sleeping pills in my room and picked out the date. I was going to go out with a bang; I was going to commit suicide the day I did my big English class speech. But something happened that day that made me change my mind. My favorite teacher asked me to join a group, and I met someone-- you-- who made me think, 'Well, maybe I'll wait a couple of days.' And then, a few days later, you asked me to hang out with you, and I realized that maybe, just maybe, I had one person in my life who cared about me, someone who wasn't obligated to. We were there for each other through so much, and I was always appreciative.
“And now... now, you've taken all those years of friendship and just threw them in my face! If anything, I should be jealous of you. You're beautiful and talented. You have a partner who loves you no matter what and is totally encouraging and supportive of you. You're a total freaking success. Meanwhile, my own employees mock and hate me. My husband is divorcing me so that he can be with someone who actually wants kids. And yet, here I am, trying to cheer you up. Well, you know what? If you're going to be a b***h to me, then you can just lay in that bed until you die!”
With that, Emily flung the door open and snapped, “Have a great life!” She stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
Ophelia remained in her bed, fully motionless, astonished by what had just happened. After she had fully processed the event, she rose from the bed and yanked the door open. “Emily, wait!” she yelled.
___________________________________________Author's Note: Here's a belated Christmas gift for you guys-- a few hint/spoiler pictures for upcoming chapters. Enjoy!
#962 30th Jan 2013 at 2:31 AM
Chapter 53, Part 1
“Spring cleaning,” Mona muttered angrily, rummaging through what felt like the millionth box of the day. “Spring freaking cleaning. Better known to Grandma as 'make Mona dig through fifty years of junk while she and Grandma Jill drink coffee and watch TV.'” She tossed several tattered items of clothing over her shoulder and declared, “Junk! Nothing but junk in here.”
Mona flopped onto the floor and stared up at the ceiling of the attic. She wondered how long she could goof around or daydream before it became obvious to her grandmothers that she had become bored of the task she had been given. Maybe I can try to sneak out, she mused. There's way better stuff I could be doing right now.
“Mona,” her grandmother called from below, “Are you still working on the spring cleaning?”
“Yeah,” Mona responded, struggling to hide the frustration in her voice. “Seems like a lot of old clothes, though.”
“It's mostly your mom's stuff. We stuck it up there after she moved out. She didn't take much with her.”
“Well, Mom should have thrown out her d*mned junk years ago,” Mona muttered.
“What was that, dear?”
“I said that I wished she'd have sorted this stuff better.”
“Let me know if you find anything interesting. Whatever you don't want, we'll throw out or give to charity.”
“Who the hell would want this stuff?” Mona muttered. She gave a nearby box a kick, knocking it over. Several articles of clothing, along with a book, spilled onto the floor.
Mona knelt and examined the book, then flipped it open. Inside were many handwritten pages. She quickly scanned the writing and whispered, astonished, “It's... it's Mom's diary from when she was my age!”
She turned to the first page and began to read: I had that dream again last night.
Ophelia awoke with a start. She had been having the same dream she'd had for a week. In it, Gabrielle Gibson-- her former teacher, her mentor, the one who had both blessed and cursed her with the burden she carried-- stood before her, holding a familiar book. “Undercover,” Gibson said repeatedly. “Undercover.”
Whatever that meant. Ophelia shook her head. “Undercover,” she muttered to herself. “I don't know anyone undercover; nothing was mentioned in that book she left me about undercover anything, as far as I recall. The only undercover I know about is lying in bed under the cov...” She trailed off, her eyes wide. Undercover. Under cover. She was being told to look under the cover of the book.
Now fully awake, Ophelia rose quickly from her bed and hurried over to where she had hidden the book. Cy and Lisa would be out for the day; there was no chance of her being discovered with it. Ophelia picked up the book and opened it, examining the inside front cover. Nothing. A search of the back proved similarly fruitless.
“Now what?” Ophelia muttered. “There's nothing under the covers.” She shut the book and stared down at the front cover of the book, which was a solid color, with no pattern. “Nothing on the cover, either.” She closed her eyes, thinking carefully. “Nothing on the inside covers and nothing on the outside covers. Unless she's just pulling my leg, or there's some kind of in-between that I'm not thinking of.”
Ophelia ran her fingers along the edges of the book, then opened the book again and slowly ran her hands over the inner covers. She squinted at the inner cover closely. A small corner of the inner cover was peeled up slightly. She gave the corner a slight tug, peeling back a bit more of the paper covering. Ophelia tilted the book and saw that something appeared to be written on the underside. Slowly, so as to avoid tearing the paper, she peeled away the paper that covered the inside cover of the book. Her eyes widened as she continued to pull, revealing that a makeshift dust jacket had been loosely glued to the inside and outside covers of the book. When she had finished peeling, Ophelia had before her a rather long, slightly yellowed length of paper with a great deal of small, precise writing on it, as well as a hastily scribbled down series of notes and a confusing series of abbreviations with lines and arrows pointing every which way.
Ophelia recognized the handwriting as Ms. Gibson's and squinted at the paper, struggling to read the tiny print.
“JS, GG, ED,” she whispered aloud, reading the top of the page. “The gene lives on in us.”
#963 21st Feb 2013 at 9:00 PM
Chapter 53, Part 2
I had that dream again last night. I was in a strange room-- everything white. Walls, ceiling, floor. A woman appeared in front of me, but she kept her back to me. She wouldn't let me see her face.
She said she had to show me something. The room-- the whole room!-- disappeared, and we were standing in a wasteland. The grass was dry and brown, and the trees were either dead (or at least leafless) or dying. Even the sky looked... I don't know... sick.
The woman told me that it was the future. Funny, because I always thought the future would be full of flying cars and stuff. Anyway, she said that the future was a bad place, and that I could stop it from going all dead and sick. She told me that I had to stop someone. I couldn't understand the name she was telling me.
Dijory? Deggery? Degordy? Something like that.
This is the fifth time I've had that dream. Maybe I should stop eating before I go to bed.
Ms. Gibson's Journal:
JS, GG, ED. The gene lives on in us.
I know I made a mistake somewhere. I just can't figure out where or how. Somehow, I must have miscalculated something. I know I won't figure it out, but I know that you are smart enough to catch what I might have missed. If I write as much as I can remember, maybe you will be able to determine what I should have done.
Numerous studies and tests in my time found that there were only three people (in what is known in the present day as the Greater Oakdale area) carrying a specific gene that was also expressed to a significant degree. Perhaps “gene” is inaccurate; it's more like a series of genes and traits.
Based on lab results and my own extrapolation, I have identified families bearing these traits, as well as exhibiting them. The Marlow and Foley families, by way of the Jacobi family (family of Charlotte Jacobi Marlow, known offspring: Preston and Viola) are the most noteworthy. Additionally, I have eliminated the following families from the list of possible gene bearers: Dandridge, Verona, Diggory, Desjardin, Rivers, and Royale. So far, known carriers of the gene include the previously mentioned Jacobi line, the Paxton family, the Gilman family, and the Gibson family. My peers, Elizabeth and Jack, and I are descended from these lines. Elizabeth and I share a common ancestor; however, she inherited her genes from multiple ancestors.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning...
Desjardin. That has to be it. The woman in my dream had to have been trying to say “Desjardin.” As in AJ Desjardin, one of the most popular boys in my class. If I'm right, then that means he's responsible for all that bad stuff happening in the future. That is, if my dreams are right. For all I know, I could just be totally insane.
If I'm not insane and the dreams are right, then I'm supposed to stop him. But how? What am I supposed to do? I'm not smart enough to trick him, and I'm not popular enough to get his attention. It would take a miracle for me to be successful. I just wish I knew what to do.
Ms. Gibson's Journal:
It all started with a protest. A big group of us were protesting at a government building. At that point, I think I wanted someone to capture me and put me out of my misery. I hadn't intended to get involved with any political activists until that day he tried to kiss me. Between what he did to my grandmother and what he tried to do to me, I was sick of everything. I wanted to either stop him or disappear for good.
During the protest, I noticed a woman watching, off to the side. Her coloring was similar to mine, but her hair was frizzier, messier. Of course, the cops were called, and the usual rounding up of protestors happened (as well as the usual claims of having to “subdue” the protestors, which resulted in them being “struck a bit too hard”). I was knocked unconscious. When I came to, the cop who was closest to me was more or less having a panic attack. Apparently, he found out who I was and was paranoid that my grandmother's husband would have him arrested-- or worse. Doubtful that such punishment would occur; he would have been glad for me to be out of the way. At any rate, I was processed quickly, and it was determined that I, despite being sterilized and an apparent thought-criminal, could be of use to the government.
I was brought to a nearby research laboratory. It was there that I met my boss, who had witnessed the protest. This woman, who had sold out her parents and partner for a chance to live. This woman, who resented her great-aunt for “selling out” to the government, yet did the very same thing herself. This woman, who cursed me with my abilities and helped me to escape capture later. This woman, who introduced me to the love of my life and who took him away just as easily.
My boss. My enemy. My rival. My friend.
#964 3rd Apr 2013 at 2:59 AM
Chapter 53, Part 3
I may have found a solution. After reading a few books and watching more movies than I'd like to admit (some of them admittedly pretty stupid and more than a few made in the eighties), I may have found a way to trick the target. (I will not think of him as a person, if he is responsible for the horribleness I saw).
I've noticed that in many forms of media, men-- often of of the “bad boy” variety-- inevitably seem to be won over by a certain type of girl: sweet, innocent, and easily corruptible, someone who they can say they transformed into... well... a different type of girl. As certain songs say, you can't turn a lady of ill repute into a suitable partner. However, the other way around... well, perhaps that is a bit more debatable.
At any rate, this will prove to be quite the challenge. I will not only have to change the way I dress and act, but I may also have to believe that I am this person. I only hope that I'm up to the task.
For the first few months I was at the lab, I did basic work: cleaning, note-taking, and so forth. I was being trained to do increasingly more difficult work. I quickly learned that my supervisor, Elizabeth, was something of a local celebrity, having shown strong scientific aptitude at an early age. Supposedly, she was in her thirties, but something about that just seemed... well... off. Something about the dates just didn't seem to add up, no matter how she explained things.
One day, Elizabeth came to me, carrying a thick stack of files.
“Gabby,” she said, “I need you to do me a favor. I have a meeting to attend, regarding Project Wells. I'm going to be stuck here for a good while. Bring these files over to my place; my roommate should be there to let you in.”
“Sure, no problem,” I replied, taking the stack of files.
Elizabeth tapped the Post-It note stuck to the top file. “My address,” she explained. “I'm sure I can trust you not to get lost or leave these where the mundanes can reach them... not that the information would make much sense to them.”
“Good. You know, Gibson, keep up the good work, and we might be able to use you on a few studies. There's talk that you may be a good person for Project Lemon.”
“Oh, really? That would be great!” I said, although I had no idea what Project Lemon was.
When I was allowed to leave, I hauled the files to the address on the note. Hesitantly, I knocked at the door. A voice from inside the house (rather shabby, admittedly) called out, “I'm coming, I'm coming! Did you forget your keys again?” The speaker, a man, opened the door, continuing to berate me, “If I had a dollar for every time you forgot your keys, I'd--”
Here, he broke off when he saw me. His eyes widened, and he muttered, “I'll be...”
“S-sorry,” I stammered out. “I was looking for this address.” I showed him the paper. “Elizabeth asked me to--”
“--Yes, Elizabeth lives here. You've got the right place.”
He stepped aside, allowing me to enter. “I was working on some stuff for work. You want a drink or something?”
“No, thanks, I'm fine.” I held my hand out. “Gabrielle Gibson.”
“Oh, yeah, Liz told me about you,” he responded. “I'm Jack Soleil.”
“So, you're her roommate?”
“What's that supposed to mean?”
Jack hesitated, then said slowly, “I'm her state-appointed partner. Last stage of her rehabilitation.”
“Oh.” That was all I could say. There was only one known reason to be given a “state-appointed partner,” following “rehabilitation.”
“I can understand why she wouldn't want to tell you. Might make things a bit awkward. Her great-aunt was the one who managed to talk the higher-ups into letting her live and all. Pointed out that since Liz was still young and fertile, she could still be of use. Just needed to... well...”
I can't believe it. I absolutely, positively cannot believe it. I found out what I've been doing all this for. All this foolishness and stuff.
It's all for her. Apparently, it all has something to do with that girl, Charise. She's in the next grade up, and to be honest, I don't like her much. She's one of the rich people, and she strikes me as being kind of snobby. Plus, she has a bunch of boys who are friends with her. I bet she's stringing them along...
She seems like the type AJ likes, at first glance. He seems to like girls who are pretty and popular and a bit clueless.
And yet, something feels “off” about all of this.
According to the woman in my dreams, if I don't do what I was told to, bad things will happen to Charise. She showed me bits and pieces, flashes of what will happen. I saw Charise getting older, in a miserable, loveless marriage. I saw her getting older and older, wanting to die but only living because she had to protect someone... I couldn't understand all of it.
So, I'm supposed to help this girl? This girl, who has more than I ever will, with all her friends and money and clothes? But who's going to help me? What makes her so deserving? Why not me?
#965 1st Jul 2013 at 4:50 AM
Chapter 53, Part 4
I went to visit Jack several times, always when Elizabeth was at work. He seemed to be a really interesting person. He worked for the government, making propaganda posters and such. Before, he was a political cartoonist, with a side job doing portraits. I saw some of his older work-- he had managed to keep a few pictures of them-- and they were good, much better than his “forced work,” as he called it.
I was understandably reluctant to tell Elizabeth that Jack and I had become friends. I didn't know why. Given the nature of their relationship, it seemed doubtful that she would be jealous. And yet, somehow, the day after she had me drop off those papers, all I could do was tell her that I had given her “roommate,” as she had called him, the papers.
Elizabeth began talking about Project Lemon a lot more. I didn't understand it all, but she said it had something to do with genetics and enhancing innate abilities. She mentioned a previous study that Project Lemon was going to build upon, but when I looked it up, I couldn't see how it had anything to do with how she explained Project Lemon. The study she had mentioned involved a woman, identified only as D, who, when placed under extreme levels of stress, was able to project her thoughts so as to be heard by others. It all sounded like some kind of science fiction nonsense of the sort imagined by teenagers with no advanced knowledge of science or technology, but Elizabeth reassured me that the study was quite sound.
“If she says so,” I thought.
She suggested some additional reading, books and studies that had been influential. I didn't see what any of this had to do with the study in question, although there seemed to be a subtle theme that recurred throughout the books, which, surprisingly, was not highlighted or noted by Elizabeth. Several of the books suggested a possible time of peace and prosperity, which could potentially come about. An age of Aquarius, a time when Venus is in the blood... Call it what you will. But how?
The next few pages consisted of a few words and phrases that had been scratched out, as though Angela had started to write, then changed her mind. Mona could only imagine what this could indicate.
I showed some of the studies and books to Jack, and he seemed to understand them better than I did, surprisingly. As he explained it, the studies suggested there might be evidence of a genetic basis for certain “super powers,” so to speak. No, not invisibility or laser vision or the ability to fly, nothing quite so spectacular as that. But something more subtle, a milder form of mind reading or precognition, for lack of better words. A sort of “female intuition,” given that the studies had found females to be more likely to express the traits in question.
As Jack explained it, the idea was fairly straightforward: take people who are likely to carry this ability and enhance it, either through surgery or by forcing them into a high level of stress. The government would then be able to use said people for their own purposes. When he told me this, I became quite worried. Was I, then, to become some lab rat or guinea pig, to be experimented on and then dissected?
I began to panic, terrified for the first time in quite a while. I wasn't ready to die, especially not for the purposes of such a horrible government.
“I won't do it,” I blurted out. “I won't. They can't make me. I don't want to die. I'm not letting them kill me.”
Jack shook his head sadly and replied, “Trust me, Gabby, you're worth more to them alive than dead.”
Somehow, this seemed even worse and more ominous to me, and I began to cry.
And then, that's when it happened.
One of those things that can change your whole life.
Something that changed three lives, at least.
Jack kissed me.
And that's probably where all the problems started.
If it hadn't been for that, then what followed might have gone quite differently.
#966 30th Sep 2013 at 8:46 PM
Chapter 53, Part 5
Ms. Gibson's Journal
The sudden sound of the door opening made Jack and me jerk apart and hurriedly scoot to opposite sides of the couch. Elizabeth sauntered in, a broad grin on her face. If she was confused to see me there or had any idea as to what had just happened, she gave no indication.
“Good news!” she announced joyfully. “The ETA for Project Lemon has been pushed up quite a bit.”
“That's great,” I responded, feigning excitement. “So, when will we start?”
“We can begin running tests on Monday,” Elizabeth replied, her face flushed with happiness.
Monday. Four days away. Four days until I would essentially be a guinea pig for a government test. I could not help but feel anxious and worried that the worst would happen. I could have never, in my wildest dreams, imagined what would happen that day.
How much longer can I do this? I don't feel like “me” anymore. More and more, I feel like I'm just an observer, trapped inside my body, as I go about my day. I'm starting to lose hope. What's the point? What I do just won't matter either way.
Every day, I wake up and have to force myself to continue on. I don't know what kind of miracle I'm expected to create. At this point, it would take more than a miracle for everything to work out. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this.
There's only so much I'm capable of.
I just want to live my life.
I just need a real sense of purpose. Right now, I just feel like I'm trying to solve a puzzle that's missing pieces. All I need are the right pieces, the right clues... and everything will fall into place. Maybe.
Ms. Gibson's Journal
I can't do it. I'm terrified. I don't want to go in. I just know something bad is going to happen. If not to me, then to someone else. I keep getting a feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost like a punch, but from the inside.
I know I should be excited about this. My participation in this kind of stuff will help to reduce my sentence, reduce the punishment owed. But I just get a bad feeling about this.
I re-read some of the material Elizabeth gave me to look over. It felt like the answer I was looking for in it was just out of my grasp, like I almost understood it for a few seconds... and then it was gone. I feel like if I can figure out what that writing was all about, everything will make so much more sense...
Last night, I had another dream. I was standing in the wasteland again. This time, there was a man with strange eyes... part blue, part green. He was very pale and had scars on his face and body. He stared silently at me for several seconds, as though verifying who I was, then stepped closer.
“Who are you? What's going on?” I asked.
“Just a random weirdo,” he replied.
“Seriously. Who are you?”
“Seriously, just a random weirdo. A concerned citizen, if you will. I know you were told to do something by a friend of mine.”
“I've been trying, but--”
“--But you haven't had any luck, have you?”
I was surprised that he knew this. “Y-yeah...”
The man smirked a bit and chuckled to himself. “I think it's because you've been barking up the wrong tree.”
“Definitely the wrong guy.”
“I don't believe you.”
He rolled his eyes. “Believe me or don't, that's up to you. But if you mess this up... well, things aren't going to go well either way, but it'll go exceptionally poorly.”
“Liar. You're just some random figment of my imagination. Another weird dream.”
The man slapped his forehead and again rolled his eyes. “Holy Sol, it's a miracle I was ever born,” he muttered.
“What was that?”
He took a deep breath. “Look,” he finally said. “I hate to resort to this...”
“To what?” I asked.
He suddenly reached forward and grabbed my hands tightly. A rapid stream of images overlaid over each other ran through my mind, almost too fast for me to process. Almost. What little I did catch...
I ripped my hands away, and the images disappeared.
“You. You're... you're... you're...” I stammered, eyes wide.
“Yes. And you understand now why you have to do this. And why you must kill me.”
Ms. Gibson's Journal
The dreaded day finally came. I was almost petrified with fear. I considered calling out sick, then reconsidered; it would look suspicious. When I arrived at the lab, Elizabeth was cheerfully whistling as she set up the machine.
“Hello there,” she greeted me, grinning broadly.
“Hi,” I mumbled back.
“This is going to be incredible,” Elizabeth said excitedly, going back to connecting wires. “If this is successful, we could change so many things. The military, for instance...”
I let her ramble on, blocking out most of what she was saying. I stared anxiously at the machine, the dreaded machine. It looked, to my terrified eyes, like some wicked torture device.
“Gabby? Gabby? Hello?”
I realized that Elizabeth had been trying to get my attention for the past few minutes.
“Yes? I'm sorry, I was a bit out of it.”
“I'll say. You must get more sleep; you're no good sleep-deprived. Affects the test results and whatnot.”
“Tell you what,” Elizabeth said cheerily. “Since you're not feeling so well, I'll take the first go on the machine, eh? I think you can be trusted to operate it correctly; you're bright enough not to make any serious errors.”
Grateful, but hiding it as well as I could, I replied, “Sure, that will work.”
“Great!” Elizabeth chirped, clapping her hands together. She cleared her throat and pressed the button to the nearby recording device. Speaking in the upper-class diction that she always used for dictating research notes and so forth, she began.
“Elizabeth DeSidiro, identification code Delta-Zero-R-Q-Eight-Four-Omega-Zenith, researcher, lab code thirty-two, research study seven-zero-nine-C, extension of study three-four-eight-X. The date is...”
I let my mind wander a bit, sitting at the control panel, looking over the keys and buttons.
“...time is zero-nine-fifteen. Assisting is Gabrielle Gibson, identification code Alpha-Seven-M-Z-Nine-Zero-Eta-Destiny, researcher, lab code thirty-two...”
“...noted that the original study, designated study three-four-eight-X, found significant findings in the subject used, designated as D. The intention of this study is to replicate and improve upon said findings by stimulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic system, as well as...”
Still more rambling that I only half-listened to, not fully understanding. After several more minutes, Elizabeth finally said, “Test one, beginning now.” To me, she added, “We will begin on my word.”
I watched as Elizabeth carefully seated herself into the machine, and I helped her strap herself into place.
“Are you sure about this?” I whispered.
Elizabeth nodded, then whispered, too low for the recording device to pick up, “Volunteering for this study reduces my sentence significantly.” Then, more loudly, for the device to pick up, she said, “Subject one, who shall be designated as E, more commonly addressed as Elizabeth DeSidiro, has been placed into the machine.” She nodded to me, and I stepped over to the control console. “On the count of three, the machine will be turned on. It has been preset to strength-level two. The programming was done twenty-four hours prior.”
She and I both took deep breaths and looked at each other. I should note now that she looked almost as anxious as I felt, but her voice remained steady.
“Are you ready, Gabrielle?”
She took another deep breath, then began counting aloud. My instructions were simple. All I had to do was press the button to turn the machine on.
My hand hovered over the button, ready to press it.
My fingers grazed it, preparing to push down.
I pressed the button down. For a few seconds, nothing seemed to happen. Then, Elizabeth's body gave a horrible twitch. She began shaking and screaming, either in horror or terrible pain. I anxiously looked from her to the console, not certain of what to do. I had only done what she had told me. And then I saw it.
Someone-- perhaps the cleaning crew-- had turned the lever adjusting the strength of the machine to five. Five. Not two, like she'd intended.
I pressed at the button to turn the machine off, looking up fearfully every few seconds to see whether or not I had been successful. By the time I finally turned the machine off, and other researchers had been alerted to the area, due to Elizabeth's screams, Elizabeth appeared to be unconscious.
But the screaming continued.
It wasn't until someone injected me with a sedative before I realized that I had started screaming after she had stopped moving.
#967 13th Jan 2014 at 6:31 AM Last edited by DarkPhoenix : 13th Jan 2014 at 9:49 PM.
Chapter 53, Part 6
Ms. Gibson's Journal:
I remained seated, still stunned motionless, as the emergency personnel took Elizabeth to the hospital. All I could think, horrified, was, I killed her. I didn't mean to do it. She told me to press the button. I wish I could take it back. It was supposed to be me. I killed her...
I don't know how long I sat there, but I jumped nearly a foot when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Jack.
“Hey,” Jack said softly. “Don't tell me you've been sitting there all this time.”
Without looking at him, I mumbled, “I killed her. I killed Elizabeth. I swear, I didn't mean to.”
Jack sighed and patted my back. “Gabby, she's alive. They told me she's in a coma, and they don't know when she'll come out. But she's still alive.”
“It doesn't matter. I did this to her.”
“You didn't do anything wrong.”
“When... if... when... she'll never forgive me. I hurt her... and I've set back our work I don't know how much.”
“I'm sure she won't take it personally, Gabby,” Jack replied. Then, reaching out to wipe a tear from my face-- a tear I hadn't even realized was there-- he added, “And as for the research... maybe there's another way. I'll see what I can do.”
“What do you mean?”
Jack shrugged. “I'll figure something out.”
Society likes villains. In fact, it thrives on their existence. If you think about it, the so-called “bad guys” provide a service; they are someone to unite against. Someone to make everyone else feel more “human.” At the end of the day, your average Joe can say that, at the very least, he's not a serial killer or criminal. Without these villains, society could very well break down.
And as I think on this more, I cannot help but wonder something that could very well be described as blasphemous. Where would Christianity be without Judas? Would things have gone differently if Jesus had died peacefully in bed? Maybe... just maybe that betrayal, the whole thirty pieces of silver thing... maybe that's what was needed.
This is what I tell myself to justify what I know must someday be done.
Ms. Gibson's Journal
A few days later, I attended the weekly lab meeting. Dr. Brown, the head supervisor, mentioned the recent incident.
“Elizabeth is more or less stable,” Dr. Brown explained, “but it is still uncertain how long she will be in a coma. There have been some concerns regarding the projects that she was associated with. However, there is a solution.”
Jack entered the room. He was dressed more sharply than I had ever seen him; he had even gotten his hair cut and had it brushed out of his face.
“Ah, there you are,” Dr. Brown continued. “This is Jack Soleil, Elizabeth's designated partner. He has quite a bit of a scientific background and has volunteered to assist in the laboratory until Elizabeth is able to return to work.”
She brought Jack around the room, introducing him to everyone. She finally got to me and said, “And this is Gabrielle Gibson. She was working directly under Elizabeth; I'm sure she'll be able to explain what projects were going on.”
Jack smiled and held his hand out. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Gibson.”
I smiled, holding back my laughter, and shook his hand. “Likewise, Mr. Soleil. I look forward to working with you.”
“Gabrielle,” Dr. Brown said, “why don't you show Mr. Soleil around the lab and brief him on the last few projects.”
“Yes, Dr. Brown,” I answered. To Jack, I added, “Right this way, Mr. Soleil.”
As soon as we were in the laboratory and well out of earshot, we both began to laugh.
“Told you I'd find a solution,” Jack chuckled.
“You weren't kidding,” I replied. “How in the world did you manage it?”
“Explained a short version of it to my boss and added that Elizabeth's government work would be set back quite a bit if someone couldn't be found to assist. Given my background in science, it was no trouble convincing the lab people to take me on as a temporary replacement.”
“I was also thinking...”
“We can figure out what was supposed to happen. I think that if we start on the lowest possible power and work up...”
I nodded. “I see where you're going with this.”
“Obviously, a coma wasn't supposed to happen. And we can't really ask Elizabeth what changes, if any, have occurred. At least, not for a while.”
“You know that if we test this on you, we might not even have any results, right?”
I passed him some of the paperwork. “We're looking at the results on people who might already have a genetic predisposition to--”
“Yeah, I got that from the stuff you gave me to read a while back. Still, it's worth a shot. Maybe I won't show results quite as strong as you would like, but it'll be something. Right?”
Jack shrugged. “Worst that'll happen is I'll end up in a coma, too.”
“That's not good.”
With a smirk, he added, “At least I won't have to go to work.”