Angry Lucy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
After admitting herself into North-Star Psych-Home for Adults, Lucy learns of a new technique which can help to quell her angry outbursts. It is through this technique, however, that she discovers what she is truly capable of.

(Criticism welcome, please be as harsh as you can!)

Submitted: September 23, 2016

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Submitted: September 23, 2016

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Angry Lucy

 

'Lucy, remember to breathe deep. You have nothing to worry about while you're with me. Breathe, Lucy.'

Breathe in.

Colours swirled in Lucy's vision: transient smokes of red, blue, and green, like strokes from an artist's brush. Her bright blue irises had been encircled by shimmering purple rings that undulated in a faint glow.

Breathe out.

Lucy's yellow hair fluttered in a tangle around her head, as if caught in a breeze. Her nostrils quivered, and her upper lip curled. A chained trinket rested on her chest, rising and falling with the movement of her lungs.

Breathe in.

The tiny wooden table wobbled in the air, the paper on top sliding from one side to the other like ice cubes in the palm. A half empty glass of water spilled from the motion, rolling over the edge and onto the soft carpet. The water it once contained snatched at some of the paper, ceasing its ebb and flow.

Breathe out.

'Are you calm, Lucy?'

The glow of Lucy's eyes faded and she blinked as if for the first time. Her face adopted a calm demeanour. The wind abated, and the table floated back down unhurriedly.

'I'm calm now Pamela, I feel much better,' said Lucy. And she looked it, despite her unusually pale complexion.

Pamela leaned forward in her seat and clasped her hands together. Two long fringes of hair dangled on either side of her face. She looked into Lucy's eyes and remained quiet for a moment.

'Lucy, what just went through your mind?'

Lucy closed her eyes and appeared to meditate. 'I told you about what happened with Dillon yesterday. About how he pushed me. He pushed me to the floor.'

'Yes Lucy. You told me that he did it for no reason at all.'

'Yes, that's what he did. He must have done it on purpose. He-'

'Breathe, Lucy.

Lucy breathed deep. 'He made me angry, Pamela, and... I was so angry...'

'Can you open your eyes for me? It's game-week, Lucy.'

Lucy obeyed. Her eyelashes fluttered, and then stilled. 'Is this one going to be another challenge?' she asked, hesitant, yet eager.

'That all depends on you.' Pamela picked up the glass from the floor and set it back on the table. 'Until our next session I'd like you to practise a new way of thinking.'

'But how can I change what I'm thinking? I can't control my own mind, that's why I'm here!'

'You don't have to do anything radical Lucy. Small steps, okay?'

'Yes Pamela.'

'Okay. What I'd like you to exercise is empathy. Do you know that word?'

A smile caught a hold of Lucy's face. 'I do. It's one of our words for tomorrow's read-out in Lexis class. I learnt it this morning.'

'What a strange coincidence,' Pamela said, returning Lucy's smile with a twinkle in her eye. 'Could you tell me what it means?'

'It means that you understand how somebody else feels,' said Lucy.

'Not only,' said Pamela. 'There is more to it than that. To truly empathise with someone, you have to not only understand how they feel, but also why they feel the way they do. Do you understand?'

'I... I think I do.'

'That's the key to empathy. You have to make yourself feel exactly how the other person feels, drawing on what you know about them and their situation, and then you'll know why they behave the way they do and say the things they say. You'll be able to see the world as they see it.'

'But how can this help me stop my psych-outs?'

'You like to read, don't you Lucy?'

'I love it more than anything!'

'So which character appears in every story?'

Lucy pondered for a second, placing two fingers on her lips and glancing to the side. 'The main character?' she asked.

'Precisely!' Pamela adopted a more open pose, sitting back and placing her arms on either side of her armchair. 'And in almost every story the main character interacts with other, minor characters.'

'I still don't understand how this can help.'

'Well, life is exactly the same Lucy. You are the main character of your life. I am perhaps a secondary, or even a tertiary character, as is everybody else according to their importance to you.'

Lucy laughed a sweet laugh. 'You're definitely a main character Pamela!'

Pamela smiled. 'Thank you Lucy, but there can only be one main character in your story, and that's you. Whereas in my story, I am the main character.'

An O formed from Lucy's lips. 'So, Dillon...'

'Yes! Well done, Lucy.' Pamela beamed at her. 'In Dillon's world he is the main character. He had a reason for pushing you over, whether you saw one at the time or not. It may have been a good or a bad reason, but that is not for you to judge. Not until you really get to empathise with him and his motive.'

'I see,' said Lucy.

'We're going to end the session here, Lucy. See if you can empathise next time you feel yourself getting angry at somebody. Remember that everybody is the main character, and that we each have our own story to tell.'

Before Lucy left she had another question: 'But what do I do if the person I'm angry with is myself?'

****************************************************************************

Empathy, thought Lucy. Everybody has their own story.

She had decided to practise this on the Grass. The Grass was what the patients called the large, fenced field behind the main building of the North-Star Psych-Home for Adults. Beyond the fence was an expanse of woodland which could have gone on forever, so far as the patients knew. Some used the Grass more than the leisure rooms, as the fresh air helped keep them in a calm state, and was recommended for a more efficient recovery.

In one corner of the Grass was a tiny, secluded pond area named the Placid Place. It was guarded by a low brick wall topped with an ornate iron fence. Housing shrubberies and bright flowers and benches, upset patients who needed isolation sometimes came here to meditate.

The actual North-Star building stood six levels tall. Its outside walls were painted beige and white, and it had windows aplenty. Most assumed the "Psych" part of North-Star's name stood for psychological, or something akin, but the staff and residents knew different.

Empathy.

Lucy observed the other patients sprinkled around the Grass. Some sat in groups, while others sat on their own. The loners, usually, were incapable of socialising due to various mental conditions.

Rose, for example, was slumped on a bench by herself. Audible mutters often frenzied from her mouth, although nobody could ever decipher them. She was fat and manky, and dressed in a bright cardigan; her mother liked to knit her a new one every month. She would gallop about the place showing everyone, and never seemed to notice that they were all practically the same colour.

Lucy didn't know what illness had sent Rose to the home (the two had barely exchanged words since Lucy's arrival two weeks prior), however, she did have some idea what ability it was that Rose was unable to control.

On occasion Rose would become teary. In a matter of seconds, she could go from Happy Rosy, with a new cardigan, or Affectionate Rosy, who liked to hum and stroke the nurses' cheeks, to Sad Rosy. You didn't want to be anywhere near Sad Rosy.

Soon after Lucy moved into North-Star, she sat for breakfast at a table with Rose and a nurse called Tim. It was considered good practise to station a nurse near Rose whenever she was out of her room, especially at meal times.

Tim idly spoon-fed Rose and chatted to Lucy about their favourite books when he suddenly paused and looked at Rose with wide eyes.

'Rosy, what's the matter?' he asked her in what Lucy guessed was supposed to be a cheerful tone.

Rose retained a grumpy face, chewing her food monotonously and staring directly ahead. Her large cheeks danced to the music of her jaw.

'Full,' she said.

'You don't have to eat all of it, Rosy,' said Tim. He turned to Lucy. 'I'd leave now if I were you.'

Lucy hadn't been there long enough to learn that when a nurse advised you to leave another patient alone, it was best to do what they said. 'Why?' she asked.

It was then that her bladder spasmed in discomfort. A shift in her gut told her all that she needed to know about Rose's power. The pressure built rapidly, pushing further along her urethra with each passing second.

'Oh no.'

As it trickled out, wetting and warming her thighs, Lucy gave up her fight with nature and let go completely. Gushing from within her, torrents of urine used her legs like a ravine. It overflowed the small dip in her chair and settled on the floor in murky puddles.

Despite having found that almost everybody at North-Star had been hit with Rose's psych-out, Lucy had still not recovered from the embarrassment she felt that day. So it was with trepidation that she approached Rose, leaving a wide gap between them on the bench.

'Rosy,' she said. 'How are you feeling?'

Rose ceased her muttering and faced Lucy. 'Not stopping.' Her eyes grew wide and her lower lip trembled. A sliver of dribble cling to it with potential energy.

Lucy wanted to leave Rose alone: she didn't want a repeat episode. The thought of empathy made her push on.

'What isn't stopping?' She figured a smile would relax Rose a little.

Rose did mirror her smile, although her mood hadn't seemed to change. 'Not... Sss... Ssshhhhh...'

'Rose..?'

'Ssstop. Stop. Stop.' Rose spoke the word over and over, as if it were the only outlet of her subconscious mind. 'Ssst... ssstop!' Her breathing doubled its speed. Her eyes squinted until they seemed to disappear, and she rocked back and forth on the bench. 'Not stop won't stop can't stop never stop not stop won't stop can't stop never stop...'

She spoke faster and faster, still rocking. Her voice was quiet, but Lucy sensed her pain.

Lucy's bladder gave a kick. Looking around in panic, she saw no nurses. On the verge of leaving Rose and fleeing from her psych-out, Lucy acted on an unforeseen impulse. She closed the gap on the bench and wrapped her arms around Rose, swaying with her. 'Make it stop make it stop make it stop...'

Wavering purple lines flashed around Lucy's irises.

Power surged from her core: an untapped resource inside her seeing its first light. Lucy's body warmed. She felt her pulse quicken but her muscles relax. Liquid energy leaked from her belly, soaking through her body. Lucy knew Rose was receptive to this energy and allowed her to be infected, casting psychic tethers and shooting it across like soldiers on zip-lines.

'Never stop never stop never stop...'

'Make it stop make it stop make it stop...'

The two became inextricable. They were one.

'Stop stop stop stop stop...'

'Stop stop stop stop...'

'Stop stop stop...'

Their chant evanesced, their despair ameliorated, their hearts and minds coalesced, and the world outside vanished.

'Lucy?'

Like smoke, wisping from here to there, never still nor resting. An electron to an atom. A moon to a voluminous planet. One mind to another.

Caught in orbit, Lucy's consciousness soared around Rose's. Their psychic link, energy undiluted, was the gravity which held them in place. Looking down, all Lucy could see in the darkness was vibrant, volatile twists of coloured cylinders, snaking around each other in a gigantic spheroid formation.

'Rosy?'

'Lucy, you have to leave.'

'Are we in your head?'

'There are blocks in my brain.' Rose's consciousness flashed once, twice. Dark red chaotic swirls lashed at Lucy. 'They're trying to kick you out. They want to keep me here alone.'

'Let me fight them. It's not right for them to do this!'

The cylinders quickened their pace. Rose crackled and fizzed, as if about to erupt. 'No Lucy, I don't think you can. I've been trying my whole life, but these powers of ours aren't always benevolent. Mine keep me here, and they're apt to hurt anybody who gets too near.'

'I came here to understand you. To feel you. I was told it could help me.'

'Listen to me. Hear me. This is not what you should be doing. You're not the first person who has seen me like this. It's a dangerous use of your powers, Lucy.'

'Why? Rose, we can help each other.'

'This is the way I am, Lucy. Some things cannot be changed. I am beyond help, so you should go. Don't come back here, these things don't like visitors.'

Speeding towards Lucy: a red swirl made solid and wrathful. Its attack landed, sending her hurtling through the darkness. She found herself being bungeed back to reality.

Looking out from her own two blue eyes she saw Rose's, tears trickling from the corners.

Rose leaned in and whispered: 'Not... stop,' and scurried indoors, leaving Lucy alone on the bench.

****************************************************************************

Empathy. That must have been it. Lucy had instigated a psychic empathy with Rose. She had used empathy to get inside Rose's head. She thought she understood Rose a lot more now, though not completely.

She asked Tim, the nurse, more about Rose, refraining from mentioning the psychic connection they had shared. Using powers on other patients was forbidden, and in some cases punishable.

'I cannot tell you any more than you know, I'm afraid,' Tim had said. 'Every patient has their secrets. If they want to tell you then fine by me, but it's not my place to say.'

Despite this, Lucy had managed to confirm that Rose had a condition which rendered her incapable of normal human interactions, such as holding a conversation, and that it was possible that it didn't hinder her observation and learning, especially with her inherent psychic powers. Lucy knew that what had happened between her and Rose was real, and that Rose was stuck inside her own head: looking out at the world and unable to fight through her mental blocks.

'She's always telling us that it won't stop, but none of us know why. Even our best mind-reader therapists don't get much of a reading from her. It's best to keep away from her when she gets like that. Sometimes people stress her out.'

Lucy understood. She understood more than most what it was like to be Rose. Remembering those flashing red lashes trying to whip her away, guarding Rose as a pirate would treasure. She would be stuck there alone for the rest of her life.

And nobody could save her.

****************************************************************************

Lexis class: one of the daily optional learning opportunities at North-Star, there for the mentally inactive or restless. It ran at 1pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and covered only the basic usage of grammar in the English language. It was not unusual for classes to contain a small number of students one day and a much higher the next, for patients at North-Star endured many difficulties across the psychic and mental spectrums, making their schedules tricky to predict.

Lucy felt fortunate in that she considered herself a short-term resident. She had never been diagnosed with any formal mental condition, yet luckily for her North-Star catered for anybody struggling to control their powers, whatever the reason. Psychics, due to the nature of their all-so-different brains, often struggle to contain or control their thoughts and feelings. This causes disasters in the outside world, where the general consensus is that telekinesis and the like belong only in science-fiction.

Entering the class, Lucy noted that only two other patients had turned up. Dillon gave her a wary eye and hunched his shoulders as she moved past him.

He was large and bald, but timid. A tall man in his early 30s, his muscles showed even through his thick woollen turtleneck. His big brow perched awkwardly on his small head, often leading to judgement from others before they could even opine on his speech

Lucy sat herself near Bailey, another short-term resident. She and Lucy had formed a temporary friendship during their stay at North-Star. She had been there three months longer than Lucy, but didn't like to talk about her reasons. Lucy figured she must be close to recovery since she had not had a psych-out since the two met.

Jack, the part-time college lecturer/part-time nurse, started the lesson with a 20-minute talk on the difference between basic nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Afterwards, they began the read-out assignments, in which he picked random words from the list he had handed out the day before and asked the students one at a time to give a definition of the word, and, using what they had just learned, categorize it correctly.

To Lucy's annoyance, Dillon was asked to define empathy.

The man swiftly stood, mouth agape and ready to speak, although he always looked that way. 'It's a... It makes you get mad,' he explained, rubbing his chest and shuffling his feet. 'When you have one it makes you hurt everyone.'

Jack corrected him, and asked which type of word empathy was. Dillon replied, after a long glance to the ceiling, that it was a noun. Lucy knew that he had guessed, but Jack praised his efforts anyway.

On Lucy's turn she correctly defined zeal as enthusiastic energy, and further identified it as a noun when pressed.

The lesson passed smoothly for its 45-minute duration. Once they had left the classroom Lucy caught up with Dillon in the hallway.

She apologised, cautious of his reaction. The day before, after Dillon had pushed her to the ground, she had psyched-out. Fortunately, it had not been anything near as bad as some of her experiences before coming to North-Star, and Dillon was physically uninjured.

Lucy knew that Rose was a lost cause, but she saw that she could maybe help Dillon. She had always been taught that apologies should be shown as well as told, so she figured an empathetic experience with him would make up for the incident. There was also the opportunity to explore her new power, and she was desperate to see what she could do.

'Yes. You are sorry to me, and I am sorry too,' Dillon said in his loud and throaty voice. 'Will you not hurt me again?'

'Dillon I never hurt anybody on purpose!'

'But will you not hurt me?'

Lucy chuckled. 'I won't hurt you Dillon, I promise.' She held out her hand, and Dillon shook it with vigour, as if he were pulling a branch off a tree.

'You can be my friend now, Lucy.' He spoke her name as Luceee.

'I'd love to be your friend!' The pair shared a warm smile. 'I have an idea. Would you like to come to my room with me? I think I might be able to help you with something.'

Dillon's smile disappeared, to be replaced by a febrile expression of wonder. 'I... I will come. Lucy can help.'

So Lucy took his hand and led him to her room. Patients were typically not allowed in each others' rooms, but Lucy didn't want any disturbances. The last time she did this nobody had noticed, but the Grass hadn't been very busy then. And of course, she hadn't experimented with it yet. She didn't know if it could go wrong if somebody interfered. After all, psychic phenomena are never an exact science, and can be extremely unstable at times.

A couple of patients gave the hand-linked couple strange looks on the way to Lucy's room, but she saw no nurses. The people who saw them wouldn't tell. Lucy knew they would be safe.

Her room was minimal, as were most short-term resident rooms. To cover the bare walls, she had tacked up posters of cats, along with a few depicting her favourite book covers. A single bed sat in one corner, and a desk in another by the window. Her only other furnishings were a tiny bookcase and a chest of drawers.

Dillon immediately strode to the centre of the room and stopped with his head down, fingers fumbling at his waist.

'You can relax Dillon,' Lucy laughed, closing the door. She again took his hand and led him to her bed. 'Come here, I want to talk.'

Dillon sat with her, avoiding eye contact.

'Remember that you made a promise to me, Lucy.'

'I know, Dillon. You're safe with me, don't worry.'

He sat straight and turned towards her in a flinch. Lucy was about to speak when he reached out and grabbed her breast with one meaty hand, squeezing with enough force to crush a soda can.

'Dillon!' Lucy shrieked.

He relented, letting go and shifting his hands to his crotch. His fingers resumed their fumble, flurrying around each other in demonstrable confusion.

The grope had hurt, but mostly from the shock. Gasping, Lucy clamped a hand around the assaulted breast and caressed it to reduce the ache.

'Don't do that Dillon, that's not how you're supposed to treat people!'

Dillon screwed up his face and squeaked thrice. He had done the same yesterday, before pushing Lucy over. 'I am sorry for that Lucy. I have never held one before this. I have never held a lady.' Ladeee.

Empathy.

And Lucy understood. Empathy must be present in all of her interactions if she were to truly master it. It was not an in-session practise, it was a way of life; a principle to keep in mind, even when other things shared its space.

She saw the irony in using Dillon for her own purposes, when her own purposes could have been achieved by focusing more on him and his reactions to her behaviour. Dillon couldn't have known what was on her mind, but she should have known what was on his.

She removed her heavy jumper and set it aside on the bed. Her chest was bare besides a white bra, which hoisted her breasts to a comfortable height and gave them a superficial voluminosity.

Taking his hand once more, she noticed how warm it was. 'I won't hurt you Dillon, but you can't hurt me either. Understand?'

'I understand you, Lucy.'

'You can squeeze, Dillon. Just be very gentle.'

So Dillon squeezed. And Dillon smiled.

'I like them Lucy. They are pretty and you are pretty.'

'That's nice of you to say Dillon. I happen to think that you're a very handsome man.'

Dillon removed his hand and put it to his mouth. A fierce crimson struck his cheeks and he again produced a triplet of squeaks.

'Are you my girlfriend now Lucy?'

Lucy answered with movement, reaching up and guiding his head down to her level. She felt for his lips with her own, enjoying the taste of empathy.

****************************************************************************

They had redressed at Dillon's insistence, but were nestled beneath Lucy's duvet. Dillon snoozed, curled up with his head on her chest. She didn't mind: she found his touch comforting. But as she looked down at his hairless head she found herself craving something more.

She told herself that she didn't need to go there. That she had already grasped empathy.

Then she reminded herself of her original intent.

She told herself it was unethical. She can't just enter anybody's mind at will.

She replied, asking herself why she had he ability in the first place if she wasn't going to use it to help people.

Just take a look. See if there's anything that you can fix.

'I'm doing this for you, Dillon.' She planted a soft kiss on the man's head.

Dillon's body gave warmth to hers. She soaked it in like a reptile, absorbing his energy. Pulling the duvet over both their heads, she encased him in her arms and pressed him tight. Eyes closed, heart calm. Beneath her lids, purple rings grew around her irises. As if she were a needle injecting into the bloodstream, she pulled in a dose of Dillon's energy and pushed it back, along with some of her own. She surged through the tunnel of his being in a hurricane rush, and came through to the other side.

Disoriented at first. She hadn't realised everybody's consciousness looked different, and wondered what her own looked like.

A small tropical island placed on placid waters of the brightest blues. It housed densely packed verdant trees of an unknown variety. Tiny brown monkeys frolicked on the skirting sands, splashing water at each other with their lengthy tails.

Lucy floated through the sky, touching down like Peter Pan: deft and gentle.

Her landing zone was far from pleasant. Looking across the serene moat, Lucy saw the island and the happy monkeys who played in the shallows. Where she stood, on the other side of the water, a harsh and sandy storm raged against her.

As she rose her arms to shield her eyes from the onslaught of sand, and guard her ears against the miserable chorus wailing on the wind, she realised that in Dillon's world she had been granted her normal body. Unsure if real damage could be dealt here, she kept her protection intact. All she knew right now was that each grain of sand hurt like a bullet.

Lucy yelled out: 'DILLON.'

'Lucy, you are in me?' Dillon's voice seemed to be coming from the trees, but Lucy could not see a speaker.

'Yes, we are inside your mind.'

'I am in the dream?'

'No, this is real, Dillon. I am here to help you.'

'But Lucy, you did already help me. You let me hold you on the body, on all of the body.'

'This is a different type of help. I'm going to help heal your mind!'

The sandy winds grew stronger. Lucy had to lean into it to stop from being swept away. 'My mind doesn't need help, Lucy. My mind is the way that it is, and that is good.'

Lucy struggled towards the water, battling against the gale.

'You don't understand what I mean, Dillon. Once I've helped, things will be much clearer for you. You trust me, don't you? I'm your girlfriend, I wouldn't hurt you.'

The trees across the water shivered, leaves shaking like a feather duster. The monkeys on the shore stood, alert as meerkats, then scurried into the woods, their squeaks lost in the sound of the wind.

'Leave me on my own, Lucy! I don't want to be helped. I... I don't want help!'

After reaching the edge of the sand, Lucy sunk herself into the cool body of still water. She had never been a strong swimmer, but the physics of this world differed from what she knew. One kick on the bed beneath and she sailed with little resistance. Staying afloat was easy: it was as if the water didn't want her to drown.

'I'm on my way Dillon. I'm helping you.'

Arms working breaststroke, legs whirring like a motor. Halfway out and she felt suddenly heavy. The depths dragged on her body, making it harder to progress.

'Back off, Lucy. I don't need to be helped.'

Waves came at her from all directions, starting small but growing bigger with rapidity. The water turned darker, until it almost looked black. Lucy was lifted and carried, helpless against the tide.

'It's okay, Dillon,' Lucy spluttered, legs paddling with fury, desperate to keep her head dry.

'BACK OFF!'

Black birds cawed and flew from the trees up ahead. A stormy night engulfed Dillon's paradise. The thunder of his voice shook the whole scene, penetrating Lucy's skull and setting her brain afire.

Screaming hard enough to coarsen her throat for eternity, Lucy drifted in a circle, picking up speed on each lap and rising with the water. What was once a gentle moat had turned ugly, growing a vicious waterspout around Lucy, trapping her inside. It coiled itself into a tight column, stretching, and climbed to the stars. Up above, she saw angry clouds and lightning sparks fall faster than gravity would permit.

She felt the familiar bungee pull her through the black sky.

****************************************************************************

When she opened her eyes she saw him, head bowed and eyes menacing. His teeth were bared in a ferocious snarl.

Then she realised she was hovering, held up by Dillon's power.

'I gave you the warnings, Lucy. I am not being helped.'

Lucy's hair stood on end and her body shivered. She tried to focus through her fear before she spoke.

'Dillon, you're... you're having a psych... out. You have to breathe.'

'STOP HELPING ME.'

As Dillon punched the air, Lucy felt it.

Her clothes tore and fell to the carpet in a shredded pile. Her skin rippled like the surface of a pond. She groaned, and groaned, still trying to fight her fear. She couldn't think of what to say that could save her. In seconds she had turned from a yellow-cream in colour to a pink as bright as a rose. Crimson tears exuded from her skin, her naked body glistening in the light. Dripping, dripping.

Her scream was sickening.

Dillon, in a manner of malice, uncurled the fingers in his outstretched fist.

Every cell of skin on Lucy's body wrenched itself free and circled in the air. As her skin left her, so did her will to scream, so she suffered in silence, breathing croaks at the air through the execrable hurt.

Apart from Lucy's eyes, irises startlingly blue, red was all that could be seen. Her muscles were on display, taut and tense. She felt the cool touch of a breeze on an open wound: the quick sting multiplied by millions; and as she drifted away with open eyes, she thought she could hear the enthusiastic pumps of her heart.

****************************************************************************

But something inside wouldn't allow her to die. A shift in her brain fired an energetic pulse through her bloodstream, reaching to the tips of her fingers and toes. A flare of purple spread across her irises, engulfing her eyes completely. They shone like neon lights.

Two nurses burst through the door, questioning the screams they had heard, but Lucy knocked them to the wall with a psy-wave from her hand.

Dillon's fist and face fell as he watched Lucy's skin reassemble, encasing her from the bottom to the top like a macabre Cinderella dress. He stepped back, eyes wide.

As Lucy unified herself, a cloud fogged over her brain. Rational thought left her with just rage for company. Muscles bulging, she felt as large as a steroid junkie. She had to attack. She didn't care for consequences. All she saw was targets, everything she saw was a target, and targets must be destroyed.

Dillon couldn't tell that through the flash of her eyes Lucy was looking at him. Painful intent was inlaid in her stare.

He had killed her. She had wanted to heal him and he responded by killing her.

She still hovered two-feet off the floor, only now by her own power. Her golden hair drifted around her head, as if underwater. The front of her almost perfect-ratio nude form, back arched and arms spread, reflected the blinding purple of her eyes. The colour faded along the curves of her body, and a terrific shadow was cast on the wall behind her: a monstrous shadow, like a black hole in the corner of the room.

She pulled back her fist, as if preparing to fire an arrow, and thrust it forwards. It carried on, taking her with it, and landed square on Dillon's chest.

The man died on impact, but that saved him a lot of pain. Lucy's momentum halted as the couple touched. Dillon's body absorbed the hit, then launched through the bedroom window, rocketing across the Grass, through the perimeter fence, and beyond.

Then Lucy heard the gunshot.

****************************************************************************

Cold and sore, she woke in a padded cell. Everything was white: the floors, walls and ceiling, and even the gown she wore. A tiny square window sat high in one corner, its heavy bars allowing little light to enter the room.

She propped herself up on her elbows and winced at the pain in her back. It wasn't unbearable, but it hurt enough to give her grimace some weight.

Recalling what had happened, Lucy cried. Diamond tears tumbled down her cheeks. She covered her face with her hands and heaved intense sobs that gruelled her into submission. She flailed and floundered on the pliable floor until she mellowed into a delicate, weeping mess.

With a metallic click, the door opened and Pamela stepped in.

'How do you feel, Lucy?' She looked down at the girl, broken on the floor.

Lucy didn't speak, her appearance answered the question.

Pamela closed the door and sat cross-legged in front of her patient. She took a deep breath. 'I'm sure you've realised that Dillon is dead. You killed him, Lucy.'

Lucy groaned.

'His body was found nearly half a mile from North-Star. Every bone in his chest had been shattered. The fragments ruptured his vital organs. Whatever he hit on his way out of your window fractured his spine in a dozen places.' Pamela paused, almost scared to look at Lucy. 'He was decapitated.'

Lucy propped herself up from her limp position on the soft floor. Her face was both red and wet, and her nostrils widened with each breath.

'You were shot in the back. It was the only way to stop you. Our nurses keep guns in a lock-box, but this is the first time they have ever been used.'

With a hoarse, blistered voice, Lucy asked: 'Was it Tim?'

'The bullet should have either killed or paralysed you, but your powers are unusually strong, Lucy. I'm not sure how, but it's because of them that you are alive.'

'It's because of them...' Lucy began, and faltered. A fresh tear appeared in the corner of one purple eye. 'It won't stop.'

'What won't stop?'

'Where am I? Are we still at North-Star?'

'No Lucy. This is a secret location. A psych-prison. You are being charged with murder.'

'This isn't fair! Help me Pamela, please help.' Her voice had regained some of its strength, but it remained cracked. 'I was doing what you told me to, Pamela. I was only practising empathy...'

Pamela was taken aback. 'How on Earth was what you did empathy?'

Lucy wasn't listening.

The clouds outside cleared a path for a shaft of sunlight, which shone through the tiny window and cast on the side of Lucy's face.

'Pamela, can I have a hug?'

'That wouldn't be the best idea. I shouldn't even be here unsupervised.'

'Please, Pamela. I'm going to be in this room for a long time. You may be the last friendly visitor I ever have.'

On the verge of opening her arms to embrace Lucy for the last time, Pamela turned her head and sighed.

'Lucy I'm sorry.' Pamela moved to stand, but Lucy moved faster. She grabbed and pulled Pamela close, holding on for her life.

****************************************************************************

Pamela stood and looked down at the corpse on the floor. She stretched out her arms and rolled her head in a circle, smiling as her neck cracked. Facing the locked door, she opened it with a flick of her hand. She then walked out of the room and surveyed her freedom with ringed purple eyes.


© Copyright 2017 Nate Nedson. All rights reserved.

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