Friday, April 24, 2009

Raising Rachel [part 8] (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Vonnie @ her blog, My Back Door. Click here to read and share more great fiction.

Author's Ramblings: A little late today this piece took much longer than I thought to write, but there are some very important bits of information inside and of course, we get to explore the relationship between Rachel and Ben a little deeper. Enjoy! ^_^

The tall gray metal beams crisscrossed over each other, with the funny slinky shaped things in between. She had seen these before. Something wasn’t right here. Rachel tried to compute what her mind was telling her, but it wasn’t quite coming out the way she wanted it to. “B-ben?”

His arm clamped down around her shoulders, steering her up towards the metal fence with the sharp wiring above it. “What now?” He pressed the remote over his shoulder at the car and the locks clicked shut behind them.

“Why are we here?” Rachel scuffed her feet, but he kept nudging her forward.

“Stop that.” He hesitated for a fraction of a step, then frowned. “You really are slow today, aren’t you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rachel tried to pull away, then stopped when she saw the yellow sign, proudly declaring ‘High Voltage. Keep Out!’ “Uh, Ben? I don’t think we’re supposed to be here.”

“Says who?” His grip tightened.

“The sign says keep out.” Rachel felt her

“It’s just a sign.”

“It’s dangerous!”

“Is it really?” He twirled her around to face him. “Is it really? Is it any more dangerous than that stupid stunt you pulled back there?”

“Back where?” Rachel leaned away from him, her mind sluggishly struggling to reboot and find a distraction, or anything to get herself way from him. “Have I mentioned that I still don’t know what you’re talking about? And stop pulling me!” A new underlying feeling of fear was slowly trickling into her.

“Oh, I’m ever so sorry.” Ben let go of her arm to grab her shoulder instead. “March! Dead ahead.”

“I don’t think I should.” Rachel tried to stop, but his grip on her shoulder grew deathly cold. Her minds screamed nonsense at her, but her feet kept moving. “Tell me again, why we’re here?” Rachel tried, stalling. “I don’t quite understand what’s going on.”

“You will now.” Ben growled. “Take a hint!”

The surge of fear came several seconds too late. A strong push from Ben sent Rachel reeling backwards and straight for the metal fence. She cringed for the impact that would not come, because the green glow accompanying Ben’s hands, enveloped her, passing her through the fence. Rachel tumbled to the ground, gravel digging into her palms and through her jeans.

This is bad. Very, very bad.

One hand reached towards her shoulder as she scooted backwards from Ben and stopped when her fingers touched something cool. A yelp froze on her lips and she swallowed as the glowing figure approached her.

An expression of pure annoyance registered on his face as he scowled down at her, stopping just short of stepping on her feet. “Stop looking at me like that!”

“L-like what?” Rachel scrambled to her feet, brushing at the tiny pieces of gravel clinging to her jeans.

“Like that.” Ben snapped. “Like you think I’m going to-” He stopped abruptly. “You think I’m going to…what do you think I’m doing?” He took a step backwards, arms crossed over his chest. “Just out of sheer curiosity, tell me, what do you think I’m-we’re-doing here?”

Rachel took a deep breath. “Well, I’m sure I wouldn’t know, since you haven’t told me yet.”

“Yes, that could be a problem.” Ben tilted his head forward in acknowledgement. “But I know you…and you’re as easy to read as an Astro Boy comic book. The look on your face says that you think I’m betraying you.”

“It does?”

“You’re crystal clear to me, Rock. That’s where you get the nickname from…now, I know I took your memory from your first uh…escapades, which is why we suggested you return to school to fill in any possible memory gaps, however, I don’t have the time explain and neither do you.”

Rachel jerked backwards in the same instant he lunged forward. She tried to twist, tried to pull, but couldn’t get away from the strong hands that shoved her backwards, deliberately, towards the danger.

The sensation of falling could have been in slow-motion. As it was, Rachel had plenty of time to notice the reaction on Ben’s face, the expressions he cycled through and to feel every piece of metal that slammed into her back. It should have hurt worse, but Rachel only felt it as an annoyance between her and sanity. “Ben?” Her voice was fading.

Something crackled behind her and Rachel knew she’d stopped breathing. As she’d stopped breathing, she must have been dead, though at the moment, it didn’t seem to matter. Backing right into a tower of metal wires, with huge yellow signs loudly proclaiming their hazardous nature wasn’t exactly an intelligent course of action. On top of that, Rachel only had a split-second to be horrified at the fact her brain was thinking in larger words than she remembered.

Ben lifted one glowing hand and with an expressionless face, one truly blank and empty, he curled the hand into a fist and fired a thick bolt of energy to shove her further back and keep her pinned to the metal.

Resistance desperately what she wanted, but exactly what she could not have. Her eyelids grew heavy and her limbs began to lose control of their functions once more. A sickening feeling washed over. Déjà vu. It was happening all over again. She tried to lick her lips, but a sudden loud crackle straight in her ear, properly scared the wits out of her.

The scream that left her lips was silent. The look on Ben’s face was priceless. The green energy bolt retracted at once and he leapt backwards, horror showing clearly in his eyes.

As quickly as it had come, the strange feeling left her. Instead, it began to feel as if she were literally pumping herself full of energy and all other sorts of necessary things to return herself to her own control. Her hands returned to her sides, the sleepiness hovering tentatively, before vanishing as quickly as it had come.

The warm fuzzy feeling spiraling over her felt so good, Rachel leaned further back to absorb it all. She could no longer feel the metal cutting into her shoulders and all thoughts of some horrible death by execution had left her. She closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling.

Oh it felt good!

“Rachel!” Ben’s frantic voice cut through the happy haze. “Rachel, listen to me! Don’t do that. Don’t go further in, you’ll be stuck there. I won’t be able to get you out. Rachel!”

Annoyance slowly built up inside of her until his pleas were collected into a heap just big enough for a worthwhile peek. She lazily opened one eye and a new jolt of terror rack through her. She’d never seen him like that. Tall, fierce…and glowing the brightest green she’d ever seen, from head to toe.

She gaped at him for a moment, and then shook her head. “I am dreaming.” She muttered. “Ben? Is that you? What’s going on?”

“Rachel?” A half-smile returned to his face. “Good girl…I need you to walk out of there and come back to the car. We’ve got to get you back to the hotel before your Uncle realizes you aren’t there.”

Rachel blinked, slowly, trying to absorb the information he was giving her. Her mind worked sluggishly, an opposite to the sudden surge of movement and aliveness in the rest of her limbs. Her Uncle. The Hotel. A groan bubbled up and she lurched forward, her body immediately remedied that with a coordinated walk and a matching expression of disdain. Rachel moved forward, stopping a few feet away.

The green glow slowly dimmed and then disappeared altogether. Ben stuck out his hand, a wide smile plastered on his face.

Rachel stared at him, uncomprehendingly. “What?”

“Congratulations, Kid. That was your third power.”

A soft twinge of dizziness touched her and Rachel shook her head. “No, no, no!” She began to back away, as the reality of what had just happened slowly settled over her. She turned to look over her shoulder and gave a frightened yelp at the sight of the charred, black metal structure behind her. The last ounce of warm fuzzies left her completely. “B-ben?” Her voice wavered once more.

Strong arms wrapped around her and Rachel turned willingly to bury her head in the understanding shoulder. “He gave me electricity.” She told the shoulder. “Of all the powers on the face of the earth!”

“You mean in the universe.” His voice rumbled from overhead. “Shhh, it’s okay.”

She shuddered. “No it’s not…I did that? I really did that?”

“W-e-l-l, that and uh…” His voice trailed off.

“And what?” Rachel demanded, pulling away. “What else did I do?”

“Blacked out half the city, I’d expect.” He said matter-of-factly. “Your powers are leeching. You need the energy to live. Which is why I brought you here, which I'm sure makes perfect sense and what you must understand by now. Which is one reason we’d best get out of here before anyone comes along to investigate.” He started towards the car, rubbing her shoulder. “How’s the headache?”

“What headache?” Rachel bit her lip.

“The one you didn’t tell me you had.”

Rachel nearly stumbled over her own feet. “The girl…” She swallowed, feeling the goosebumps beginning to start. “I killed her.” Ben didn’t answer. “That’s what you meant…when I grabbed her…that same, feeling…” She began to shake.

Ben paused long enough to swoop her into his arms. “Rachel, not now, c’mon kid, don’t do this to me.”

Rachel tried to answer him, but she couldn’t. She was frozen again, in a moment in time that she didn’t want to remember. A flare of pain shoot through her head and settled just above her temples as her eyes welled with tears. She’d electrocuted someone. No wonder Ben had been yelling at her. “I deserved it.” She croaked.

“What?”

The tears burst forth in full-force.

Rachel couldn’t recall how he got her into the car and where they went, she just realized when he gently pulled her out and guided her to a big, gray rock to sit down that her mind began to return enough for her manners, whatever was left of them, to speak up. “I’m sorry.”

Her voice was so soft, Ben almost thought he’d been hearing things. He dug two bottles out of the woven sack he’d been carrying and climbed up on the rock behind her. “here.”

Rachel turned to see him offer a drink bottle. She grimaced. “Sweet tea?”

“It’s that or lemonade. Anything else with sugar and caffeine and you’re already too wired to sleep tonight. One or the other, you need to drink something.”

She eyed him wearily for a moment, then handed the bottle back. “Lemonade.” He unscrewed the bottle and handed it over. She took a few sips, then thirsty gulped half of it down. She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and smeared away a few of the still-spouting tears.

He rummaged through the bag and produced a roll of paper towel. “Here.” He tore off a sheet and stuffed it into her slack hand. “Blow your nose and stop the waterworks.”

She sniffled into the paper, soaking it before she reached the blowing her nose part. Ben dutifully ripped off another sheet and handed it over. When she’d managed to compose herself enough, she snuck a glance in his direction, only to see him staring out in the far end. She followed his gaze, only seeing a neon-colored sunset in his line of view. Her brow furrowed. He was too serene and calm for what she’d just said. “Didn’t you hear me?” She cleared her throat, hand tightening around the plastic bottle of lemonade. “I said I was sorry.”

His head turned towards her and the serene expression melted to a look of extreme sorrow. “That would make two of us.” He said quietly. “You okay now?”

“What are you sorry for?”

“For knowing what you’ve gone through.”

Her stomach dropped, it seemed, taking all her common sense with it. She stared at him, open-mouthed, until he reached over and tipped it shut. She tried to find a suitable answer, but could not. His eyes searched her face for a good long moment and then he turned away.

“The first time is always the worst…don’t beat yourself up over it. It was purely self defense, I’m sure.”

“How can you even say that? How can you even be sure? You weren’t there!”

“I saw your reaction to your powers…you were completely unaware of them. If you were to be tried at all, it would be in a Chakleun court, and they would not find you guilty.”

“What?”

“You reacted. You didn’t know and you couldn’t help yourself. Sometimes that’s how life and new powers work. I’m also sorry that I scared you.”

A blush tinged her cheeks. “You didn’t.”

“Liar.” He reached over, taking the squished bottle from her hand. “The idea is to drink it, not mutilate it.” The bottle was tucked back into the sack and he offered her another sheet of paper towel before stuffing it into the bag as well. “I’m sorry I scared you to the point where you thought I was actually going to kill you.”

Her lower lip trembled. “I kept telling myself you wouldn’t…because I knew you too well, but I-I’d never seen you like that.”

“I know.” He said simply. “But I had to do it.”

“Why?”

“Peak emotional surge.” He slid from the rock and offered a hand down.

“What?” She took the hand. “Where are we going?”

“To a certain motel, where your uncle might try to strangle me for making you disappear from the civilized world for awhile.”

Rachel leapt lightly from the rock, relieved to land on her own two feet without a wobble. She followed him to the car and walked around to her side. When they’d started driving, she forced herself not to mentally rerun the memories still streaming through her head. She stared out the window at the blurring scenery. “What’s a peak emotional surge? I mean, what’s it mean?”

“It means to spike an energy surge in oneself, or to trigger a transformation to another level, a peak emotional surge is useful…or necessary.” He sighed. “In most cases, you were human and partially transformed when I reached you. That’s why I gave you the cream. It’s a temporary fix. You were playing with the light switches weren’t you?”

“I was?”

He gave her a look. “The power in the house. It’d been tripped at least two or three times. You did that.”

“I did that?” Rachel gulped. “Okay.” Her voice was small. “That would explain…some.”

“You’re lucky you’re clueless about it.” He gave a half-smile. “Or else I really would’ve given it to you.”

“I take it, I don’t want to know what ‘it’ would be.” Rachel was surprised to find she could tease back. “Thanks, Ben.”

He reached over and gently squeezed one hand. “It’s okay, kid. You’ll be fine.”

“Will I?”

“Yeah.” He took a deep breath. “You will, ‘cause I’ll keep a better eye on you from now on.”

© Sara Harricharan

2 comments:

Yvonne said...

Sawa...you continue to amaze me with all the ideas in your head!
Interesting story!

Catrina Bradley... said...

Super! Totally enthralling.