Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

         Across the gymnasium, Katz’s eyes glazed over into a non-blinking distant haze. It meant one thing—my sister entered someone else’s thoughts.

        On my right, Margaret, our mother and Master, instructed five year olds on the next karate move. I didn’t think she saw the change in Katz. If Mom had, Katz would be reprimanded because entering one’s mind and speaking to them was strictly forbidden. However, it was an ability Katz couldn’t always control.

        Strong unexpected emotions like lust, hatred, fright, or excitement from someone would pull Katz’s mind into theirs. Being Katz’s identical twin sister, I once thought I had these same abilities but whereas Katz could enter anyone’s mind, I could only enter one person’s mind—Katz’s.

        Katz, I mentally cried, trying to break through her mind’s barricades. If I was lucky, I could hear her conversation and break the other link.

        She showed no response. As usual, Katz prevented me from entering. She never purposefully broke the rules, even for my good intentions. Still, I knew she didn’t want this.

        Katz, I shouted. You have to stop.

        Her eyes fluttered. She let me in, a little. Many of the blockades were still in place. With a rush, I felt my sister pulled deeper into someone’s mind. The vision was disorienting. The few times I entered Katz’s mind while she was pulled into someone else’s had never been clear. It was like watching separate frames on from a movie projector. Sometimes the frames made sense, more often they didn’t. To Katz, however, the visions were clear and felt hauntingly real. After a few seconds, Katz usually threw up a mental wall, blocking out the vision. This time seemed different. She tried to pull away, but whoever Katz interacted with was more powerful than she.

        I felt a sudden urgency to snap her out of her stupor. Warnings came not only from my mother’s potential scolds but also from something darker, more sinister forming in Katz’s mind. Again, I couldn’t make out the visions, only a feeling—one I greatly feared.

        With the hopes of reaching my sister before Mom noticed or Katz screamed in terror, I created an excuse. “I’m going to help some of the students with the karate moves.”

        When I started to walk away, Mom said, “Lexi, help the Brenson boys.”

        I nodded, setting out on my mission.

        Instead of practicing knee kicks, the energetic Brenson brothers, Nick and Tripp, kicked each other. I faced Nick forward and moved Tripp to the front of the class. My mind remained focused on Katz’s thoughts as I casually weaved toward the back of the class, pausing once more to reposition an arm.

        My glances darted between Katz and Mom, looking for changes. Mom still hadn’t noticed. Katz, on the other hand, sat on the floor with her knees pulled into her chest and rocked. Her ivory skin had always been paler than mine, mostly because I enjoyed soaking in the summer sun. Now her face looked a shade lighter than milk, like the blood had drained out.

        I lowered myself onto the wooden floor with my back toward the class.

        Suddenly, as if something grabbed Katz, she stopped rocking. I thought maybe she felt my proximity and could break the mental ties that held her. Her glossy eyes remained glazed, unfocused. Before I spoke, I realized I was wrong. Her breathing became shallow. Her head slumped forward, letting her long bronze hair drape over her folded arms. I pushed strands behind her ear, my hand grazing her cheek. She trembled. Then, like an electrical current, an evil presence surged from Katz to me.

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