Wanted Girl

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: The Science Fiction Hub

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Chapter 2

Submitted: June 13, 2018

Reads: 103

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Submitted: June 13, 2018

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Dont think of the logistics here guys!!!!

I haven't always been radioactive and running, scared and alone, dangerous and in danger. I used to be normal, used to have parents, a home, a proper life, used to be a normal girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, in a different life. A different half-life, if you want to make jokes, although the term half-life doesn't really apply to me. Anyway, I used to be normal, until I was four. I don't really remember what happened to make me radioactive, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night with my hair and eye color completely changed, and some weird stuff going on with me. My parents ran with me up until we couldn't run anymore, then they caught up to us. My parents were imprisoned for years and I was shipped off to some science lab in the middle of nowhere, where they experimented on me and tried to find out how the hell I was still alive, almost completely genetically and physically unaltered (apart from the fact that I can never carry kids. A kid wouldn't fit into my life, anyway.), and perfectly fine. When I was ten I managed to get out, and ended up going into foster care. I became a problem kid, a nightmare for my social workers, because obviously I kept running away from whoever had me at the time. No-one knew why I wouldn't settle, and I wasn't telling. I didn't want to end up back on a table in a lab, only semi-conscious as scientists worked on me. I got caught by my social workers less and less, and now I have a car, social services are the least of my problems. To them, I'll be the troubled kid, the one whose past is a complete mystery, whose problems they can never solve.

I look at the time, unable to sleep, too restless, too on edge, too anxious. I'm fully dressed and haven't had any problems in this motel. I finally give up on sleep and slip out of bed, grab my bag and key, and slip out of my room. I'm used to walking soundlessly, and my seriously enhanced hearing means that to a normal person, I am completely silent, and I've actually scared a few people who didn't know I was behind them. I check the time again; quarter to two in the morning. It'll look weird leaving now, but I need to get out of here as quickly as possible. Just because I haven't had any problems for now doesn't mean I won't soon. Trouble has a really annoying and eerie way of seeking me out and causing me major problems when I least need them.

I walk into the lobby like it's normal to be leaving a motel at almost two in the morning and hand my key in to a really tired-looking receptionist, pretending to look worried. She looks at me quizzically, peering at me closely, which makes me feel nervous. Does she recognize me from something? Oh, god, does the C.I.A have a picture of me?! I try not to let this show on my face; if I do, my whole cover could be blown in an instant.

"Hey, you okay? Any reason you need to leave at such a weird time?" she asks, and I shake my head.

"It's my grandma. She's really sick, and I just got a text from my mom telling me I need to get to the hospital quickly because she might die soon. They told me to come straight to this motel earlier." I say, making my voice sound like I might cry at any minute. Her face softens a bit, but she's still looking at me too weirdly.

"Right. Hey, haven't I seen you around somewhere before, on a picture or something? Hey, wait, aren't you-?" she begins to say, realization, fear and shock filling her eyes, and I cut her off, panicking inside. So they must have a picture. Crap.

"No, it probably wasn't me. Look, I really need to go, okay? Goodbye, and have a nice night." I say, and turn to leave a little too fast. Just as I'm about to walk out of the door, I hear the receptionist's voice, full of wonder, pity, admiration and respect.

"Good luck."

I leave and don't look back.

I've left Florida, but I still can't rest. It's a long way to Nevada, and driving between destinations is always terrifying for me. I could be caught at any time, any place, once they realize I'm not in Florida, which will be quicker than you think. I drive quickly, breaking the speed limit because there are no cops or cameras on this stretch of highway, trying to put as much distance between me and the searchers in Florida. I may have a week on them, maybe two if I'm really lucky, less than a week if I'm unlucky.

I take a sip of my coffee and watch the sunrise out of the corner of my eye, the sky burning gold and red and pink. It's going to be a hot day; I already have the windows down. Music blasts out of the speakers from a few tapes I left in here, but no matter how hard I try to tell it to myself, I cannot make this feel like a road trip. I won't be returning to Florida again. I feel sad to leave it behind; there I actually fitted in, felt something close to real happiness, even had a thin, false sense of security. No-one suspected anything, noticed anything weird. They took my word for it when I said my hair was a dye job gone wrong and my eye color was down to contact lenses. They took my expertise in the radiation topic in Physics as a sort of cool geekiness, and didn't suspect that I'm the very thing the teacher was teaching us about. The panic attack when the teacher used the Geiger counter in class? Coincidence, and it definitely wasn't related to the instrument, or so I had them believe. The truth is, the noise a Geiger counter makes drags up horrible, vivid memories of my time trapped in the labs. I have to kind of zone out when I use mine to make sure I'm not exposing my ability unconsciously sometimes.

I watch the background radiation light appear around me, pale and different colors in the open air, like someone's placed pale filters over the world, drifting around with the air. I've gotten good at knowing the difference between the types of radiation through the colors I see; alpha is pink, beta is green and gamma is blue. Out here, in the open air, they swirl and dance, and are slightly brighter than inside a building. It gathers around other people driving down the highway, too, but only very faintly. The only person I've seen it gather brightly and thickly around is me.

The colors mix, creating a beautiful masterpiece wherever I look. If I could only accurately paint what I see, I bet I'd make a fortune selling the art. This isn't caught on anyone's camera anywhere; it's completely invisible to normal people. I only see it if I don't try too hard, which is often. When I'm sat in a test or just staring out of the window daydreaming, the world is suddenly colorful and beautiful, and I have to focus on it for it to disappear. I do this now, because it's distracting me from my driving, and I need all of my attention on the road and sky, as well as behind me.

I pull into the parking lot for a diner on the side of the highway for breakfast. I haven't slept at all and I'm starting to feel really tired. I'm going to need to drink a lot of coffee today, and I need to keep my eyes out for a relatively safe space to pull over and sleep soon. I slip into a booth and order coffee and a proper breakfast, because I need to eat and it's only $1.99 anyway. As I wait for the food to come, I pull my phone out, glance around and switch it on. Because it's so new, I don't know how to take out the battery, so switching it off is the only way of hopefully avoiding it being detected. Switching it on is risky, but I need to spin some story to Alison and other people on my contacts list. Notifications start piling through, a constant stream of dinging.

Omg Phoebe where r u? ur not in school where the hell r u? no one has seen u! plz reply!

Phoebe? Don't say you've left without meeeeeeee! Really, where r u at? I'm getting scared. Have u been kidnapped?! Omg the C.I.A has Phoebe Taylor!

Omgomg ur being hunted by the C.I.A I saw ur picture what the hell is going on why r u being hunted?

UR BEING HUNTED?! BLOODY HELL!

Has the C.I.A got u? plz reply I'm scared.

Why is people lying? U ain't no radioactive bitch! Where r u?

PHOEBE TAYLOR OPEN THIS MESSAGE RIGHT NOW!

Have u ran away? Lucky, well done on getting out of this hellhole.

The messages keep coming, more than I can read, from so many people from the town I've left. I send the same text to everyone: I haven't run away really, just gone on a spontaneous road trip that will last a long time. I don't know why the C.I.A are hunting me, but if you've heard anything crazy like I'm radioactive or whatever crap, it's a lie, guys. My heart is racing like crazy. I was right to leave when I did. I'd have been captured for sure if I'd hung around.

My food comes and I eat it quickly, my phone on silent beside me, and order another coffee when I've finished. I may as well rest here; I drove pretty fast out of Florida and I've come a pretty long way. I catch sight of a row of computers and go over and log onto this new forum thing called I made an account on to share the edited version of my problems for advice and to speak to old friends, and contact my old best friend, Cobalt (yes, that's her real name. Her username is CobaltIsBoring because we discovered that the element cobalt looks really boring. My username is Plutonium-238 because we took this quiz that tells you which element you are, and I got plutonium.), who is the closest thing I have to a trustworthy confidante. She replies straight away.

: Hey Plutonium! I've missed you! How's life? Still crazy?

: Hey Cobalt! My life is seriously messed up, I'm still running. Will my life ever be normal? I miss you too.

: oh Plutonium…wish I could see you. Why are you running anyway? You never told me. Hey, maybe you will have a normal life when you are older. When you're an adult, they can't really make you do anything, right?

: Cobalt, this is the C.I.A we're talking about. If I told you why my life is crazier than nuclear fusion, you wouldn't believe me, trust me. Are you in Nevada anytime this summer? That's where I am heading to next. (if you tell anyone you WILL have problems! LOL not really just don't, okay? I wanna stay free.) we could maybe see each other if you are.

: No but I can ask my parents if I can take the route 66 road trip this year and take a detour to see you. I won't tell anyone, I promise, and I'll hack your server so it won't be seen by powerful eyes. Please tell me. I won't tell anyone even if I'm tortured! You can trust me. Anyway, you've told me the rest of your problems, and I sort of have a justified guess lined up…

Thanks. You really need to teach me this more complicated hacking stuff you know. I could really use it. I stare at the screen, my fingers frozen over the keyboard, sighing. I really, really want to tell Cobalt. I mean, I've told her everything else, back when we were best friends, inseparable. I know I'm stalling, asking her to teach me more advanced hacking programs. I sigh again, drag up some courage, and let my fingers fly over the keyboard. Cobalt, I need you to erase this message with that server thing. The reason my life is messed up? You will think I'm seriously crazy, but the jokes, the analogies, the username? I'm radioactive. Yeah. That's how crazy and inexplicable my life is. I can control my own radiation levels to the point where anything I touch falls apart, even higher than that, the amount of Sieverts infinite, and can also take it down, lower than background, to almost undetectable. I can also control the radiation around me, but I can't increase or decrease the level. Like, if I went to Reactor 4 in Chernobyl, I'd be able to do all sorts of crazy stuff with the radiation, but I won't be able to actually lower it. Please, please don't tell ANYONE any of this. Please erase this message. You don't know how important it is to me. I press send before I lose my nerve, and wait, heart racing, breath coming out in quick gasps. My palms are damp with sweat. I notice someone looking at me, and my mouth runs dry. I take a sip of coffee, but it seems to take an age for me to swallow it. I smile innocently at the person looking at me, a guy around my age, with dark brown hair and eyes almost as dark as the coffee I'm drinking. He smiles back. I'm nervous. Just because he looks my age, that doesn't mean he isn't one of them. I trust no-one, everyone I don't know is an enemy I have to evade to stay free, the people I do know just as dangerous. I think of Russia, the largeness, the distance from America, the cold air…It seems like I'll never get there. A message catches my eye, bringing my attention back to Cobalt.

Cobalt? Are you still there?

OMG I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! Okay, sorry, I'm calm now. Wow. Right, it's sorted. It all makes sense now…just hold tight. Now I know why you wanna move to Russia. It's big. And it's foreign. Everything will stop being crazy one day, Pluto. Just ride out the storm. Yeah, is your life looking like shit right now? Yeah. Is this storm one hell of a wild one? Hell yeah. Just. Never. Ever. Hand. Yourself. In. Promise me. It won't be better. Gotta go, brother's calling. Talk to me soon!

jeez, Cobalt, I'm radioactive, not planning to end my life! Still, thanks. Hand myself in? Are you crazy? There's, like, a freaking NUCLEAR war brewing! I've been there once, and trust me, I will do anything to stay free now. You should be a therapist, really, you'd be great. This storm is pretty damn long, wild as anything, but it's better than the eye in the labs. It'll pass…when I'm in Russia! Anyway, I'll always be running. Bye, Cobalt.

That's my girl. Bye, Plutonium.

I log off, go back to my booth and switch my phone off, not wanting to risk more time than I already have. I look up and see the guy staring more intently, and my blood runs cold. This is really starting to scare the hell out of me. I should go. Now. So why can't I move? Why am I acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a truck? My heart thumps so hard in my chest I'm sure the whole diner can hear it. I feel frozen to my seat, too scared to move. The guy says something to the adult he's with, his dad or something, I don't hear what, there's this weird rushing sound filling my ears, and walks over to me, and I'm so scared, and my breath comes out too rapidly, my chest too tight, and I can't get enough air into my lungs. This is it. My six years of running are over, it all ends in a random diner along God knows which highway. My body goes limp, ready for them to just take me, already giving up. The guy slips into the seat opposite me and looks at me concernedly. My vision tunnels until his face is all I see. My breathing is too quick.

"Are you okay?" he asks, and I just nod. Stupid question. Of course I'm not okay!

"Yeah, I just…I…I found out that…that…my…best friend…is…is…has…um…is pregnant. Yeah…um...pregnant." I gasp out, feeling faint. My vision darkens.

"Hey, focus on my finger and my voice. Follow my finger. Don't worry, I used to get panic attacks all the time. It's okay." I listen to his voice and follow his finger, feeling stupid. But then my vision returns to normal, widens out again, and I see all the crazy-tiny details again, and my breathing slows down. My heart stops banging in my ribs. I stare at him in surprise, my panic replaced with bewilderment. My body stops feeling so limp and heavy, and I mentally kick myself for letting myself become so weak, such easy prey. Prey. Because that's what I am. The C.I.A are huge eagles, soaring effortlessly on metal wings, eyes sharp, and I'm a little mouse, eyes sharper, scurrying through the long grass, terrified, alone, running anywhere I can stay away from those sharp, ensnaring claws for just a while longer.

"I…thanks." I say, putting my phone in my bag, pulling out the money for the food and coffee. I really need to leave. I've already stayed here too long.

"What's the real reason that got triggered? Are you running from someone? Have they just threatened you? Should I call the police?" he asks, and my eyes widen. The second question is so close to the truth it's scary.

"No!" I say too quickly, then cough to cover it, hoping he won't notice. "I mean, no, that's fine, you don't need to do that. Really, it's fine. Look, I really need to get going, okay?" I say, and he looks at me confusedly. I wipe my damp hands on my jeans and my mouth runs dry again. Then I gasp. The radiation colors are back, swirling around me thickly, thinly around everyone else…then thickly around this guy. He seems completely oblivious to it, though, like everyone else.

"Hey…haven't I seen your face around somewhere? Like, on the news or something? I recognize the hair color, the eyes, I swear…what's your name?" he says slowly, and I shake my head.

"Nope. Not me. Look, I really, really need to go." I reply. "My name's Phoebe." I add. He shakes his head too.

"Yeah, not you…" he says slowly, then sighs. "My name's Tom." He smiles, and I can't help thinking that his smile is cute. What is wrong with me? I signal over to a waitress so I can pay. I cannot fall for anyone, cute smile or not, even if they're surrounded by the light that only gathers around me thickly. Out here, I am alone. I walk alone, I run alone, I hide alone, I stay free alone. That's safe, that's the only way.

The waitress comes over and gives me the bill, and I pay and stand up. Tom smiles again.

"I need to go now." I say.

"So you keep saying," Tom says jokingly. I glance out of the window, at the empty highway outside. The fact that it's empty only consoles me a little bit; it could come alive with C.I.A vans at any time. I shudder at the thought.

"Bye, Tom." I say, slipping past the table and standing. It's high time I left. I've been here long enough, with my phone switched on.

"Bye, Phoebe." He says, and as I turn to leave, I feel him put something into my hoodie. I walk away quickly, not wanting him to realize I'm the girl he thinks I'm not. I need to start checking the news. I get into my car and go into my pocket for my keys. I pull out a piece of neatly folded notebook paper. I open it up and find a phone number with call me written in neat handwriting, and smile, shaking my head as I put it on the passenger seat next to me and slip a tape into the player. Inside, though, I'm screaming and cursing and mentally kicking myself.

On the road, I can't afford to fall for, and stupidly trust, anyone at all. They may have sent Tom as a trick, a way of winning my trust. And I can't fall for any of their tricks.


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