I felt a little more secure once I was wearing my new outfit. It consisted of jeans, a dark, long sleeved shirt, and a Yankees cap, which helped me look like most of the other people flooding the
streets. The prices in the store hadn't been too bad, so there were a few other outfits stuffed inside the new bag, slung across my shoulder.
Aside from being able to blend in better, it felt good to wear jeans again. Apparently Wescott found them unnecessary, and I didn't realize I missed them so much.
It was a stupid thing to miss, I admit, but I suppose it's the little things that you never realize mean so much to you, until they're gone. And thinking about them reminded me of my mom. She had always nagged me about wearing something other than jeans and dressing up so men might notice me once in a while. That of course, always led to the I-want-grandchildren-one-day speech, which never ceased to put me in a bad mood. Now, however, this line of thinking set my mind on a worry spiral.
With everything that was going on, I wasn't able to think about my mom very much. And now that I could focus on her, I was terrified of what Wescott might have done because of me.
I didn't have any choice, though, right? I had to get out of there.
But what if it cost my mother her life?
I lost track of how many people I knocked into as I wandered around in a daze, debating in my mind. I kept telling myself that Wescott was entirely logical and there was no logical reason to do anything to my mother when I wasn't there to feel the effects. I should only have to worry if I was caught.
But I couldn't forget that he was also a cold-blooded murderer when it served his purpose, and that he'd been extremely angry when I escaped. Even the most logical person will do something irrational, out of spite sometimes.
Before long, I found myself staring at a pay phone, wanting nothing more than to call home.
I couldn't do that, though. My mom had to continue thinking I was dead, for both our sakes. But the temptation was overwhelming. I'd never missed my mother like this before. And now I had the opportunity to call her and tell her everything. To tell her that I loved her.
But with all the surveillance, which was probably increased now, Wescott would undoubtedly know if I contacted my mother, and if he hadn't come after her already, he'd be sure to then. Even if it wasn't right away, my mom would be worried sick and who knows what she would try to do? She couldn't possibly realize the kind of man she'd be dealing with.
If, by some miracle, Wescott didn't do anything to her because of me, there was no doubt in my mind that he'd do it just to keep her quiet.
My shoulders sagged as I came to the conclusion that there really was no option. I could never contact my mother again. She had to remain completely in the dark.
I suppose it was for the best, given the situation. Better she thought I was dead than to know I was some deranged science experiment, destined to stay invisible or be a guinea pig for the rest of my life.
But then something else occurred to me - I wouldn't actually have to talk. Maybe I could just see if she answered the phone. To make sure she was alright. So, at least, I wouldn't have to wonder.
Not wanting to give it any more thought, I reached for the phone. As I dialed, I finally understood the sentiment of just wanting to hear someone's voice. I always thought it was stupid and irrational before.
I waited tensely as the phone rang four times, and then my mom was on the other end, saying hello.
Instinctively, I almost answered but managed to catch myself, just in time.
I hated Wescott for this, most of all. He took the one person I loved in the world, from me. My throat felt tight and my eyes stung with tears.
"Hello?" My mom tried again and I had cover my mouth with my hand to muffle the sound of the whimper that escaped.
"Is someone there?" she asked after a brief pause. I knew that she heard me, but I doubted if she could tell what exactly she was hearing.
She waited another minute and said hello again. I briefly closed my eyes to ward off the tears and almost felt like laughing. My mom was one of those people who would keep telemarketers on the phone for an hour, getting to know all about them. She always waited to hear the click of the phone from whoever she happened to be talking to, so as not to accidentally hang up on them. And I was sure, right now, she was debating whether to keep trying or to just write it off as an accidental dial or a bad connection. My mom could wait forever if she thought there was a person on the other end of the line who needed someone to talk to.
And selfishly, I wasn't ready to let her go yet if I could help it. I purposely let her hear just enough to know there was someone there, to keep her trying. A gasp here, a sniffle there. I kept it up for several minutes as my mom tried to coax me into speaking.
As much as I would have loved to stay there forever, I couldn't. I had to move again. Even with my new look, I still felt far too vulnerable staying in one spot so long. Besides, I'd accomplished what I wanted to. I knew my mother was still alive.
Hating to do it, I disconnected the call before the operator could ask for more money.
"I love you, Mom," I whispered into the dead receiver in my hand, feeling the sobs threatening once again.
Quickly leaving the phone, I melted into the hub of the crowd, knowing that the activity would help quell my tears.
I walked a few blocks and managed to stabilize my emotions just before feeling a dull irritation behind my eyes. I'd experienced headaches before, but they were rare. Which I was now realizing was probably supposed to be one of the things they improved about me. But I always found it hard to relate when some people seemed to get headaches so much. And forget about migraines. Who would have guessed that I was the weirdo?
Too bad Wescott couldn't use his abilities to do something really useful like eradicating headaches for the world, rather than being my waking nightmare.
Sighing, I forgot about that fantasy. It didn't really matter, I guess. Rare as headaches were for me, I knew one was coming. It must be all the stress getting to me. I shook my head, unconcerned, and kept moving with the flow of people up the street. It would go away in soon enough.
In another minute, the headache intensified and I knew I wouldn't be able to completely ignore it the way I thought. When rubbing my temples only succeeded in having the irritation turn into pain, I moved out of the way of traffic, to give it more attention. Leaning against the building, I removed my sun glasses to rub my eyes and thought about how different this was. I'd never had more than a mild headache before. Usually the discomfort was easy enough to forget about, and I certainly never had to take pills for it. But I guess that was about to change.
Just as I decided to look for a place to buy aspirin, the pressure in my head grew a little stronger, making me realize that pain medication wouldn't help. It would be completely useless, in fact, because, even for a normal person, this wasn't a regular headache. The familiar ringing in my ears and slightly swimming vision I was starting to experience, told me that this was a considerably less intense version of the pain Wescott's remote induced.
At least, for right now it was less intense. Which probably meant that I was out of range for the full effectiveness. But given the rate at which the pain was increasing, I knew the distance between me and whoever was pressing the button was shrinking. And it was much too quickly.
I wasn't naive enough to think that it was just dumb luck on their part. Somehow, they knew where I was. Or they had a pretty good estimation, and no matter how packed the street was, it wouldn't be hard for them to zero in on the only person lying on the ground, having convulsions.
My first instinct was to run, but I had no idea which direction to go. It would take much too long to figure out if I was heading in the wrong direction, by which time I'd probably be crumpled on the sidewalk.
Running wasn't an option. I needed somewhere to hide.
Shoving aside the building pain in my head and blurred vision, I focused on my surroundings. Business were everywhere, but nothing looked very optimistic. All banks, restaurants, and novelty stores.
In another second, my eyes landed on a semi-small clothing store on the opposite side of the street. Taking my life in my hands, I dashed into the road, having to use every ounce of my special skills to not get hit by one of the flying cars in my impaired state. Even so, a cab driver had to jam on his brakes, narrowly missing me as I flitted to the safety of the sidewalk.
I ignored the angry shouts as I ran in the direction of the store, finding it more difficult to focus through the pain in my head.
Once inside the posh little shop, I forced myself to slow to a normal pace. I grabbed a few dresses that I normally wouldn't be caught dead in and headed for the fitting rooms in the back.
To my dismay, I learned that there weren't actual doors on them, only curtains. What genius ever thought that up? Did anyone ever actually feel secure, undressing behind a curtain in public? There were alot of sick people out there.
I guess it was better than nothing though. If I couldn't have the privacy a locked door would have offered, at least I would be concealed. I would just have to hope it was enough.
It helped that there was a sales girl manning the fitting rooms too.
Knowing what to anticipate and that I didn't have much time, I squished as far back as the small space allowed, curled into a ball on the floor, buried my face in the pile of clothes from the rack, and waited.
I didn't have to wait long.
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