We are gifted, and the gifted are always treated differently. I’ve known that since kindergarten, when they separated me from the normal kids. When they came and got me at my house, they told my parents they’d take care of me, that they’d help me to hone my ability.
Well, they lied.
They don’t help us. They help themselves. The only time we get to leave our cage is when they study us. Just this morning they put me into an Olympic sized pool. They wanted to see how I transformed. I hoped they’d put me in the ocean instead, so I could swim away, but they didn’t. I was in there hours, wishing I was free again. I could feel the water, trapped, like me. Then, just for a moment, there was a gap, a leak. An overflow valve opened. In my mind, I felt the rush through pipes, the sudden drop, and then a river… the sea… and everything it touched. The overwhelming vastness and the flood of visions and feelings, of information, that had always scared me as a young kid. Amid the chaos in my head, I concentrated on an island, peaceful and deserted, a sanctuary far from here. As I focused on it, I felt another mind touch mine. Not on the island, but here. I panicked, and my consciousness snapped back to the pool, as I jumped with shock. They hauled me out after that.
There’s twenty of us. I bunk with a kid who can fly. Name’s Carlos. He did a demonstration when he first got here. Everyone got a kick out of it. Until they came and put this wristband on his hand. Now he only flies when they say so. They put one on everyone except me; my ability only works in water.
“Whadya think they gonna do with us when they don’t need us anymore?” says Carlos.
“Maybe they’ll let us go back home.”
One of the kids in the next bunk over scoffs. I know who it is even in the dark. James.
“You stupid or something? You never read a comic book before? They ain’t letting us go. They gonna put us in a tube, keep our organs alive; that way they can keep extracting our ability forever.”
“Extracting our ability for what?” I ask.
“Think, man. Use that brain of yours. Why else would they be studying us if they weren’t planning to — ”
“Create super powered robots,” Carlos finishes for him.
“That or clones. Can you imagine if they were able to get all our abilities into one body? That would be the ultimate weapon. And unlike with us, they’ll be able to control it. Make it do things for them.”
I turn my head on the pillow, but I don’t fall asleep for hours, thinking, watching the light flicker on the other side of the glass wall.
Next morning I’m awakened by a bell. There’s a red light flashing in the hallway. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen or heard this. James just about jumps out of his socks at the sound.
“What’s going on?” I say over the ringing sound.
“She’s coming out.”
He points toward the hall. “Her.”
I squint my eyes and see a girl through the glass wall, surrounded by guards on all sides. She’s got this metal helmet on her head, and her arms are interlocked together. She’s walking sluggish, as if she’s been asleep for years.
James gulps. “That is the most dangerous girl in the world, that’s who she is. You see the helmet? Wristbands aren’t enough for her. They say she can make someone implode just by thinking it. They keep her in a deep sleep for months at a time because of it.”
“How — ”
An ear-shattering shriek stops me before I can finish.
My head feels like it’s about to explode.
Everyone jumps out of bed and puts their faces to the glass wall to try and get a good look. The building begins to wobble; it feels like someone has a hold of it from outside and is shaking the thing like a kid shakes a piggy bank. The walls begin to tear. The screaming gets louder, and louder, and louder still, until it all stops completely. We go up into the air and smack down on the floor hard; sand starts pouring in through the cracks. I get up and look behind me. There’s the girl, covered in blood. Her helmet is off, tears running down her face, hands clenched into fists.
The girl doesn’t say a word. She just looks at us, then looks down at everyone’s wrists. Blinks. The wristbands fall to the floor.
She walks toward the door. Everyone steps aside. The door opens and she goes through it, looks over her shoulder at all our wide-eyed faces. She jerks her head, as if saying “Come on.”
We follow her outside. She ripped us out of the building with her mind and teleported us to an island, cage and all, the same island I saw in the pool. The girl walks to the shore and stares up at the sky, at the sun.
I walk over to her.
“So how’d you do it?”
“You’re the water boy, right?”
“The magnetic field they had in the lab meant I couldn’t see outside to free us before. They made a big mistake not putting a band on you.”
“You were in my mind, when I saw this place? When I followed the water? You used my power?”
I look at her blood-drenched shirt in horror.
“Did you kill those scientists?”
She looks at me, eyes flat.
“Would we be free now if they’d come with us? Or the guards?”
My stomach churns at what she’s done, but I don’t know how to answer.
“Can we go home to our families now?”
She turns to look at everyone. I follow.
“This is your family now.”
Glenn Rosado writes mostly speculative fiction. He’s currently working on attaining his Masters while plotting (using his mental powers of course) the first draft of his novel for NaNoWriMo. When he’s not writing or studying, he likes to let his super-powered muse out of the cage to absorb new ideas from random locales all throughout Florida. You can find him on twitter @glennrosado where he goes against all social networking norms by not talking much.