School was out; finally!
I met Tanya by her car. She didn’t ask about Adrian, probably because she knew I wouldn’t listen to another lecture; not like he mattered once the last bell rang.
She lifted a brow and drew out her keys. “Oh, you’re wanting a ride today,” she mused. “No more flying for Ms. Kaira?”
“I had to come down sometime,” I quipped.
Tanya paused and leaned on over the driver’s door. “You know, you never answered my questions. Where did you get that costume from; and where do you keep it when you’re, you know, in disguise or whatever?”
“Nowhere, really,” I told her. “It was there. Maybe it was something I dreamed up subconsciously, I don’t know, but it’s like whenever I need it it’s there.”
“Completely?” she pressed.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean like, when it changes you, is it just your costume, or…?”
Oh my gods; she didn’t.
She stopped and looked away. “Never mind. It’s none of my business.”
“You’re damn right it’s none of your business!”
“I should have known better than to go down that road. I’m a terrible ally.”
“Yeah, you kind of are,” I gasped; “why do you care, anyway?”
Tanya shrugged. “I just thought that if it was, you know, a full transformation we might find a way to make it permanent; it’d save you a lot of time and effort with doctors and junk.”
“Nothing’s ever that easy,” I muttered.
She looked down; clearly she felt bad about it. In truth I felt a bit guilty too with being so harsh. She was my best friend, right? If anyone got to ask about my junk it would be her; I mean, it’s not like I’d have any problem asking about hers, assuming I wanted to know, which, thinking about it, I didn’t.
“Do you want to get a latte?” I asked.
Tanya was about to answer when her eyes narrowed beyond me. Oh, crap; was it Adrian? I turned to follow her gaze, and who I saw was even less welcome in my space.
“I hope I’m not interrupting,” Dr. Fellows smiled, though it was kind of a fake smile. He walked across the asphalt toward us; he stood out with his greying hair and casual business attire. There was something about him, like a man who had just showered and shaved for the first time in a week; he’d put work into his appearance. Was he trying to impress me?
“We were just leaving,” I told him, and turned away.
“Justin, it’s imperative that I talk to you.” He reached out but was wary to keep his distance when I flinched. “I know what’s been happening to you. If you would only stop for a moment and hear what I have to say… You and I have the capacity to change the world!”
I climbed into the passenger seat and made sure to lock the door. Through the glass I told him, “not interested, Teddy. Come near me again and I’m calling the cops.”
He tapped at the glass and kept repeating my name. Was this what Mr. Drew was warning me about? His friend had some mental issues, and I was caught in them.
Tanya climbed in and started the engine. Her car shoved past the mad scientist and left him to stumble in the parking lot. Soon he was just a spot in the rear vision mirror; out of sight, out of mind.
“What a freak,” Tanya gasped. “I thought you were exaggerating, but that guy’s a psycho!”
“Are you okay, KC?”
“Yeah,” I lied.
My hands were shaking, just like they were back at the lab. Funny, I could fly and blow holes in walls, but the memory of Teddy grabbing me had me hiding behind my knees.
“Do you think he knows about Glimmer Girl?” she asked.
“I don’t know; maybe.”
“He was talking like he knew,” she added, “even if he didn’t say it. I mean, ‘I know what’s been happening to you’; what else is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” Gods spare me from stalkers and questions.
“You’ve got to go to the cops on this guy,” Tanya insisted. “Even if he knows about Glimmer Girl, and even if he tells them you have to do something. They probably won’t believe him anyway.”
Then silence. I stared at the dashboard and juggled a million and one non-thoughts; somewhere among them was a plan. The day had started out so well, too. Ugh, just my stupid luck; not that I had any time to dwell on it.
“Hey, uh, Kaira?” Tanya pressed.
“I think he’s following us.”
Sure enough when I turned there was Dr. Fellows in a van behind us, keeping a ‘polite’ distance, but still following us around the block. My heart stopped and dared not imagine the horrors behind his panel doors.
“Can you shake him?” I pressed.
“On a suburban road?” Tanya growled. “I can try.”
The car jerked as she pressed down on the pedal, gunning it for the next corner and skidding into a sharp turn. I clutched to the chair as she honked at the kids playing in the street, then shot past them and flew into another turn.
“Stop! Are you trying to kill somebody!?”
Tanya skidded to the curb, leaving a train of smoking rubber imprinted on the road. She reached down and unfastened my safety belt before I even had a chance to speak.
“Go,” she commanded. “Jump the fences, go home. Stay on the back streets. I’ll lead him on for as long as I can.”
It was a makeshift plan, but I wasn’t going to argue. I snatched my backpack and sprinted to the nearest house, risking backyard invasion over whatever Ted had for me. Gods, just when I thought I had my fill of running…
Several blocks later of moving like a paranoid ninja I made it back to my home. Part of me was terrified that my stalker was waiting for me, but from my vantage in the bushes I saw no sign. The coast, it seemed, was clear; I made a dash for the entrance, threw myself inside and locked the door behind me.
I was safe.
“Justin,” my Mom called from the kitchen. What was she doing home so early?
I caught my breath, kicked off my shoes, dropped my backpack in the living room and went to where one half of the parentals was tapping her finger on the counter.
“You and I need to have a talk,” she said.
Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.
To be continued…