V. Gypsy Moth Fortune Cookie
I spread my arms into the wind and jump. For a moment we’re suspended in space amid the single note of someone’s scream and a roll of thunder above us. Then we’re plummeting toward the ground, the wind roaring into my ears and rain splattering across my face. I spread my fingers–the water hits them like ice and I swear I’m bleeding–and try to feel the water droplets in the air and the layers of clouds above us.
The rain’s a lot like the snow, and I feel the droplets moving toward me as I start to bend my fingers inward, but the clouds are like the river I hadn’t quite gotten hold of. I open my eyes and try to look upwards, to see them, but it’s all a blur, and we’re still falling. I shut my eyes, imagining the clouds and spread my fingers again. It’s now or never.
I swing my arms around like I’m diving, my eyes flying open as I feel hands of water and wind rushing around us, grabbing us and pulling us back. There’s a jagged pain in the back of my head, but I keep sending the water underneath us, twisting these tendrils of clouds like fingers of rope. We’re slowing down. I kick my legs beneath me and hope I’ve slowed us enough.
A second later we touch down, thrown forward and tumbling. Gus flies off me and I continue to roll across the pavement. When I come to stop, I look up at headlights coming in our direction, cringing. But the car doesn’t hit me–it stops, and the car doors burst open. I only roll onto my back, unable to see anything in the glow of the headlights.
“Elliot?” I know this voice–Mag. “Elliot, it’s really you!” I feel his hand on mine, pulling me up, and in a moment, I’m blinking my eyes and we’re standing in the rain. Ylissa’s here, too, helping Gus to his feet.
“What’s going on?” I ask. “How–why are you here?”
“There isn’t time to talk,” Ylissa says, walking Gus over. “Get in the car. We need to leave.”
I nod, and so does Gus. Mag goes around to the driver’s seat and Ylissa jumps in on the passenger side, leaving me and Gus to slide into the back seat. John’s still there, pushed against the far door, looking terrified.
“John?” Gus says as I pull the door shut and Mag starts moving. “John, are you okay–” he reaches to touch John’s face, but John just pulls away.
“He doesn’t remember,” I whisper to Gus, feeling an indescribable pain welling up in my stomach as I watch his face fall. “Rebecca broke his memory.”
“It’s soon enough we might be able to help,” Ylissa says. “I’ve called Mikaela to meet us at the Underground. Mag, you doing alright?”
“I think so,” he said, rubbing his temple with one hand while he steered with the other. “Things are a bit blurry, but I still remember them. That’s a bonus.”
“Wait, you remember?” I leaned forward, staring at him from my corner in the back.
“Mag linked me in on the call when you dialed him,” Ylissa says. “I–I opened my mind and used her voice as a focus. I saw…so much.” She shakes her head, lifting her hands like she’s wiping away tears. “I warned Mag to charge himself before he arrived, and I guess it worked.”
Mag’s nodding in the driver’s seat as we turn onto a road downtown. “I felt her strike through the air like a bolt of lightning. If I hadn’t been charged, I wouldn’t have managed to hold onto anything.”
Gus looks back and forth between all of us. “What’s going on? You’re–you’re all super?”
“Just like you, Gus,” I say. “Ylissa’s a predictor, Mag’s got magnetic skin, and I’m telekinetic.”
“Elliot,” Ylissa says, “I saw what you did back there–it was amazing. I, um, I really think you did great.”
“Thanks,” I say, feeling blush in my cheeks. A second later, Mag pulls the car down the alleyway beside the Underground and we get out of the car, Mag taking John gently as we all walk toward the door. Mikaela meets us there; she’s dressed in a pink leather bodice with black pants and her gold hair up in a bun. When she sees me, her lips twist in fury, but Ylissa walks past her and we follow without any incidents.
When we reach the lounge room, Whirligig and Stop Motion are standing at its center and all the other patrons have been cleared away; even the music has been turned down back here. They make way for Ylissa and Mikaela, who lead John to one of the puffy black sofas and lay him back. Gus is hugging himself, pacing nearby, staring at the lot of them. Whirligig nods in my direction and walks up.
“My sincerest apologies, Elliot,” he says. “We should’ve listened when you came to us.” He looked back and forth between John and Gus and then back at me. “Who are they?”
“Gus Burnham and my roommate.” I stop myself before I introduce John as Gus’s boyfriend. “Rebecca Blakewell zapped him, erasing his memories.”
“They’re not gone,” Mikaela says, looking up. “They’re only locked behind a rather dense cluster of unusual nerve firings. If we could calm them, he should have his memory back–but if we don’t act soon, they might be gone forever.”
Gus whimpers, stopped in his tracks.
“Get me some water,” Mag says and walks up closer. “Mikaela, show me where they’re firing. I’ll do my best.” She nods and starts tracing things on John’s forehead; he lies there, eyes wide, shaking still.
Gus looks at me. “Do you trust him?”
“Who? Mag?” I laugh at the absurdity of the question. “I’d trust Mag with anything.”
“I’m Pace,” Whirligig says, extending a hand to Gus. “I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced. How are you?”
While Whirligig’s got Gus distracted, I walk up to Mag; Stop Motion has just handed him a glass of water and he pours it into his hand–but instead of it flowing outwards, it coagulates into a sphere of water that pulses with light on its inside. Mag hands the glass away and lowers the water onto John’s forehead; it spreads out, and Mag shapes it in a strange way, letting it flow back and forth while the lights pulse more strongly through it. John’s eyes look in different directions and then slip shut; after a few minutes, Mag lets the water slip away and stands up.
“I’ve done everything I can,” he says, looking to Mikaela.
She nods, her hair bobbing along with her. “It looks like you’ve fixed whatever was wrong.” She crosses her arms. “Now all we need to do is wait for him to wake up, and hope the damage wasn’t permanent.”
I feel a tug at my sleeve and look to see Ylissa dragging me away. I follow her quietly toward the hall with the bathrooms; once we’re alone, she takes a heavy breath and turns away.
“It was really brave what you did, Elliot–”
“Ylissa,” I say, resting my hands on her shoulders even as she stares away from me. “Rebecca Blakewell is still out there. I–I don’t know if we’re safe here.”
She nods lightly and looks down. “She’s gone, Elliot. She won’t stop what she’s doing, but she’s not here anymore, I can promise you that much. I’ve seen it.”
Ylissa turns around and looks up at me. “And I know she wasn’t working alone. I saw that too. I’ll fill the council in on everything later, but I–I really want to–”
“He’s awake,” someone says and I look over to see Whirligig retreating behind the doors. I grab Ylissa’s hand and we rush back into the other room: John’s sitting up, looking dazed, and Gus is on his knees in front of the couch. John sees me first somehow–“Elliot?”–but then his gaze drops to Gus and he stops talking, his mouth open, his eyes wide. All of a sudden he’s smiling, and then they’re kissing, and I look away.
“It’s like a happy ending,” Ylissa says.
“Except it isn’t over, is it?” As she shakes her head, I pull her closer. I’ve never held her like this. I don’t think we’ve ever touched before, but now I have my arms interlaced with hers and she’s resting her head on my shoulder.
“Elliot,” she whispers, “it’s over for now, though I…I don’t know how long that’ll last.” She looks up at me and I see that look in her eyes, that uncertainty, that nervousness about her own powers, the look of not knowing if she can truly trust herself or not. And then she’s kissing me, her lips on mine, and that’s the only thing I can think of anymore.