Theo paced back and forth. The sound of his footsteps echoed throughout the quiet room. I didn't know anything about him, but something told me we had a history. There was more, much more, to his angry words and defensive body language. At some point, I must have done something really awful to him.
"Esa, you seriously don't remember anything about the war? You don't remember Samuel? You don't remember me? What about our missions and the work we have been doing?" Theo stopped and glared at me. A frown caused the lines on his face to turn inward. It was almost as if he thought I was lying. Finally, after several uncomfortable seconds, he addressed Samuel. "What's her deal?"
His angry words made me wince.
Samuel shook his head. "Not sure," he said. "I wish I had a better answer, but, for the first time in a long time, I'm stumped."
"Do we think she's a plant? Maybe they've found a way to replicate her and they are just trying to trick us into providing information?"
"I thought about that, but it's definitely her. I have no doubt she's the real Esa. I watched her for a few weeks before I finally approached, but I knew after only a few minutes it was her."
"You guys know I'm sitting right in front of you and can hear everything you're saying, right?" I finally said.
"Do you want us to leave?" Samuel asked.
I could hear what they were saying, but, honestly, I had no clue what they were talking about. Why would they think I was an imposter?
If this was some sort of set-up for a television show, it was pretty elaborate. I still didn't see any cameras, and these two boys definitely weren't breaking character. They seemed intent that they knew me and even though I hadn't admitted it, the word "war" did make me think about something.
"The only war I know anything about is the one in my dreams. Every night for the past three years, I've been greeted by gunfire and loneliness the minute my eyes close. It's always very dark; there is a lot of fighting and then everyone is gone. I've never understood the dream, and it definitely doesn't look like a place I know of or have been."
I began to shake as I thought back to the dream that had haunted me for so long. After several seconds, I finally mustered enough strength to look up at Theo.
His eyes had darkened again. "Yeah, there is loneliness when a part of your team disappears." He paused for several seconds, then looked me straight in the eyes. "Esa, one day you were with us and the next—poof—you were gone, and apparently you took measures to make sure you couldn't be found. Would you care to explain that to me? How's it possible for you to disappear for such a long period of time without any way for us to find you?"
A part of me wanted to go over and yell into his face that none of this was making any sense to me. Why was he looking at me like I was the devil? Why did he keep talking about the war? None of this had anything to do with me. Yesterday, I was walking through my high school and today everything I thought I had ever known had changed.
"Is there anything else you remember, Esa?" Samuel asked.
"No, I don't think so."
"I'm trying to believe her, Samuel, but I'm having a hard time right now. If it's really her, then we have a problem. She seems too different." Theo threw his arms up. It was almost as if he was giving up.
Samuel and Theo glared at each other silently, before Samuel finally asked, "What's the problem?"
Theo didn't hesitate as his fist hit one of the nearby tables. "She's not her old self. She seems too soft. I want the old Esa back."
"What did you just say?" I scowled at Theo, tired of his moodiness. After only a few minutes of knowing him, he had already managed to get under my skin. Jerk.
"I called you soft. Deal with it." He huffed. As he continued, his voice grew louder. "You left us! We've been looking for you, but you made sure we wouldn't be able to find you. Why, Esa? What were you doing? We really could have used you over the past few years. It would have been nice to have you supporting the team, instead of running away and leaving us a man down."
"How else can I say this? I. Don't. Know. What. You. Are. Talking. About." I rose and faced him. This time, I was not going to back down. I wanted answers. Listening to these two was almost worse than walking in front of the giggling high school girls. They, too, were giving me a headache.
"Why don't you tell me what happened?" I shouted. It took everything for me not lunge at him and show him the full force of my power. There had only been a few times over the past few years when I had used my powers on another human being. Mostly, I had just practiced on various pieces of food that I couldn't manage to stomach. As I continued to stare at Theo, a big, fat lump formed in my throat, "Huh? Tell me something. Anything!" I could feel my skin begin to crawl from being so angry; it felt like the entire surface of my body had become electrified.
Why did he hate me so much? It was almost as if he were accusing me of a crime, and I wasn't going to let that happen. I deserved to get some answers.
Before I could utter anything else, though, Theo stormed out of the room, leaving me and Samuel to stare at each other in silence.
YOU ARE READING
Jump Line (Book 1 - Jump Line Series)Science Fiction
I still have the newspaper clipping. It's a picture of me the first day of my existence, at least, it's the first day I remember. That was three years ago, when a photographer snapped the photo of me walking weirdly around the scene of a deadly ca...