by Zahid Zaman
Damon headed towards his dingy cheap hotel. The cold autumnal wind rustled the dead brown fallen leaves which swirled along the pavement.
Oh God, not again!
He sensed more than he heard his pursuer's footsteps behind him. The man walks so softly that if he was just another 'Joe,' I would have never have noticed him and been dead a very short time later.
There! The rustle of a coat as a gun was being pulled. The finger squeezing down on the trigger and yet the man cannot fire. I concentrated with my mind, bringing the gun up to his face and into this mouth.
I smile--as a gun shot rings out--and continue walking.
* * *
Twenty Years Earlier
Janet Sure was twenty years old and falling more and more into debt as she struggled to be a student at the university.
"Hi, Debbie," she said as one of her classmates walked into the library and came over to where Janet was sitting.
"Hi, Jan," said Debbie as she took a bite out of her cheese and onion baguette and sat down next to Janet. Jan's stomach rumbled as the smell of the wafted over her. Debbie s dressed in the latest designer clothes and that handbag of hers must cost a fortune thought Janet. How can she afford it? I remember seeing her at the start of the semester, she was dressed as poor as anyone else... but... but now?
Hearing Janet's stomach rumble loudly and seen the look in her eyes, Debbie knew she must be hungry.
Debbie broke half of her baguette and gave it to Janet. Janet refused to take it, shaking her head.
"No, thank you, Debbie, I'm ok."
Janet paused. "Debbie, how can you afford such clothes? I mean that Prada handbag you have must have cost a fortune."
Debbie didn't say anything but there was a strange look in her eyes, a greedy and calculating sort of look. She reached into her bag and passed a leaflet without saying a word to Janet.
Janet studied the flyer.
"A strip dancing club?"
"More money then you spend in a month for just two nights work."
Janet's stomach rumbled again. She didn't begrudge Debbie her method of getting rich quick but she couldn't condone it either. My parents brought me up better then that, she thought.
Janet slid the flyer back to Debbie across the desk.
"Suite yourself," said Debbie in a hurt tone, and got up and walked out of the library.
More money in two nights then you can spend in a month? Thought Janet. Angry and confused, Janet picked up the copy of the science magazine she had been looking at, and then she saw it.
That advertisement is asking volunteers to take part in a science experiment, but at the bottom it says the selected participants will be given £50 000 Pounds for two years work. That's strange, thought Janet. It states the participants must have higher than average intelligence to be accepted. She looked at it a few moments longer. £50,000 pounds.
The ad stated that the prospective participant had to complete an online IQ test. Piece of pie. I know I have an higher then average IQ, last time I did an IQ test, just before I applied to college, I scored 135, that's 35% higher then average.
Debbie can stay with her strip club; I'm going to apply for this experiment.
Janet did the online test and two weeks later received an invitation to attend a meeting where all those that had been accepted into the program would be briefed.
Janet arrived early at the venue at 9 a.m. The start of the meeting was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. She sat down at the front of the large hall and sat reading her favorite magazine, 'The New Scientist'.
Soon the hall was filled with about two hundred eager participants. The clock on wall ticked upwards to 10:30. At exactly 10:30, a medium-sized man dressed in a rich, black suit walked onto the stage.
"Ladies and gentleman," he began. Janet realized she liked his soft American drawl as she listened to him.
He told them that there would be two groups; some that would be given the experimental drugs and some that would be given a placebo.
However, as Janet listened she realized that whichever group they were placed in, they would have to test their blood once a month for two years.
She was glad to hear that the money would be paid out to them on a regular basis as long as they were in the experimental program.
A few weeks later Janet was driving to college, when she suddenly saw a child run out into the road. She looked again but the child had disappeared, and then she saw the child she had thought she had seen a few seconds earlier run out into the road. Her foot had been covering the brake due to the premonition and she slammed them on, just avoiding hitting the child by inches.
Janet was on the phone then she felt the presence of Jonathan, her boy friend of six months.
"Mum, I have to go, Jonathan's here," she said. Just a few seconds later there was a knock on the door.
Janet started to get more and more premonitions, It's so strange, she thought, its like I know what's going to happen before it happens.
* * *
Two Years Later
This should have been one of the happiest times of her life, but Janet felt wretched.
They after me! she thought. They've been following me for several days, but why?
One cold early July morning as she was heading to class, there was hardly anyone on the street this early at 7:30 a.m., but she noticed a van parked on the side. A man was leaning on the van who seemed to be engrossed in a newspaper. As she walked past, the man suddenly stabbed Janet with a needle. Janet's mind went blank.
* * *
Janet came to. She realized she seemed to be in some kind of dingy basement.
She tried to wipe the two-day-old crusts from her eyes. I can't move... I'm tied to a chair.
The presence of several people came to her mind. She knew they were there even before she could see them.
"How is participant 104 holding up?" said a voice to her left. It sounded like an educated, upper-middle-class male.
"104 has exceeded all our expectations," said a woman's voice.
Janet opened her eyes fully and saw a blurred vision of a woman dressed in black trousers and blouse. What's that sort of funny hat she's wearing on her head?
"It's a psychic amplifier." It was as if the woman has read my mind, thought Janet.
"What card am I holding up," asked the woman producing a card from her pocket and holding the back of it towards Janet.
Janet couldn't believe how easy it was, but with just a bit of effort she could see through the other woman's eyes, and the card stared back at her. The ace of clubs.
Janet didn't reply not wanting to let on how powerful her psychic powers were.
It was no use, the woman instantly put the card away and said, "Well done." It was as if she had read Janet's mind, just like Janet had read the woman's mind.
Janet didn't know how long she had been kept strapped to the chair. She wasn't given any food or water, just a glucose solution via a drip. As for her bowels, the chair she sat on had a board that could be pulled forward so she could urinate and defecate into a bowl underneath her.
Janet didn't have a clue how long she had been in the lab; time seemed to lose all meaning. Slowly, she got to realize there were only about four people who were holding her captive, and that they seemed to work two twelve hour shifts, with just two of them been at any one time.
Then Janet sensed it, another entity. Oh my God! I'm pregnant, she thought, but how? Is it Jonathan's or...or...someone else's?
She focused her mind on one of the scientists.
"My name is Jarik," he replied. "I sense your panic." There was a pause then he said, "The baby is your boyfriend's."
Janet wanted this last statement to be true, with all her heart, but knew... He's lying.
Jarik seems nothing like the other three scientists, Janet thought. He's kinder and more concerned about me... but why? Every time I try to focus on that part of his mind, its like he puts up a concrete wall and I can't get through it, no matter how hard I try.
The minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months seem to blur for Janet, so she measured it by the life growing inside her. Every day she tried harder and harder to break into the minds of her captors, and slowly... so slowly... she started to make progress.
There were four scientists, but only two present at any one time. There was Lisa, a thoroughly grumpy and miserable individual Janet thought. Then there was Jonathan, a cold individual, who Janet felt would put her to death as easily as drinking a cup of tea. Then there was Mirander, who liked expensive clothes and sex parties from what Janet could discern form her mind, and last, but not least, there was Jarik, the kindest of the three of them, but who was able to mask his mind not only from her but from the other three also.
Jarik had told Janet that he was a 'true-born psychic' not like the other three who were reliant on drugs to give them psychic powers.
The baby will be born soon, just another week, thought Janet. That morning Mirander arrived in the lab, slightly worse for wear after an all night sex party she had gone to. Janet discerned this from her mind which today was like an open door. Janet dug deeper and deeper into her mind and realized that Mirander hadn't taken her 'psychic' drugs that morning in all the hustle and bustle of the sex party.
Janet dug into Mirander's mind.
Oh, my God, they intend to kill me as soon as the baby is born.
Jonathan and Mirander were standing in front of Janet with big smiles on their faces.
"Only a few more days and our goal will be achieved," said Jonathan.
"Yes, a true-born telepath with the mental ability of a hundred of us," replied Mirander.
Janet focused. This is it, this is my one, and only chance.
"I don't feel well," said Mirander.
"What's wrong? What do you mean..." He never finished his sentence.
Janet focused all her power on this one single act. Mirander's eyes clouded over. She picked up a nearby syringe and smashed it into Jonathan's neck. Blood spurted out along with a gurgling sound as Jonathan clasped to his knees.
Mirander did as instructed, her eyes still glazed.
Janet struggled to get up as her muscles had atrophied over the last nine months and the fact that she was heavily pregnant. Five minutes later, Janet was in Mirander's Porsche. Janet located Mirander's handbag that had been in the car and searched it. She found about a £100 pounds and her bankcard. She focused for a second and retrieved the bank's pin number from Mirander's mind.
Janet focused even harder on Mirander. Go back to the lab and destroy all trace s of the experiment and me.
Mirander got out of the car and Janet drove away.
* * *
Three Days Later
Janet had admitted herself under a fake name to the maternity ward of a hospital several hundred miles from the place of her captivity. The baby was born a few hours later. Janet cuddled her baby to her breast.
"I think I will call him Damon," said Janet to the nurse.
"Nice name," said the nurse.
Just then, another nurse walked in and whispered something into the other the nurse's ear.
The nurse who had just walked in said, "Janet, you have two visitors."
The first nurse looked at Janet with tears in her eyes. "Druggie." She whispered again to the second nurse and then left.
Jarik and Lisa walked in. They showed the nurse some official looking papers and the nurse left.
"Oh, my God! What do you want?!"
"We're here to take your baby. We have social workers' I.D.s and it says here you are a heroine addict who needs her baby removed from her for his safety."
"No! You can't take Damon!"
* * *
Eighteen Years Later
There were about three hundred telepaths present at the secret meeting in a warehouse downtown. Damon thought the place was secure and safe as invitations had been sent as telepathic messages, broadcast from a psychic amplifying machine, so only real telepaths' should be present, right? Wrong! Dead wrong!
The army smashed their way in with an APC and soldiers with guns opened fire. Damon saw Jarik, his friend, mentor, and teacher take a shot to the head and drop dead. All this murder was sanctioned by the President. I will have my revenge, thought Damon.
* * *
Damon awoke, still grieving over Jarik's death. Damon believed Jarik to be the only family he had.
There was a knock at the door. Damon opened it.
"Good morning," said a man dressed in a long trench coat. "I am Johnson David, and I am a private detective. Your mother, Janet Sure, approached a solicitor eighteen years ago, and left him this parcel to be given to you on your eighteenth birthday.
Damon, took the parcel, thanked him, and closed the door.
Inside with his breath racing and his heart pounding he opened the parcel.
A diary, he thought. He started to read:
5th July 1995
This is from your mother, and no matter what others have told you about me, I was not a drug addict. I was a hard-working, poor college student with an I.Q of 135 who to try to pay her way through college by enrolling in a drug-testing program.
Damon read the diary, fascinated by it. Within an hour, he was on the last page.
August 24th, 1997
Damon, I love you so much but now that you have been taken away from me, I can't cope. I am at my wits end and have made my mind up today to end it. I just can't cope, please forgive me Damon but I love you more then life itself.
* * *
That night, Damon dreamt something awful. He saw a baby no more then a few months old inside a small electrified cage that would have been more suited to a dog. Bzzzz....Bzzzz...Bzzzz. The baby screamed in torment...No help came. Bzzz...Bzzzz....
That's why my telepathic abilities are so powerful. Not only was my mother given drugs whilst I was in the womb, but I was electrocuted and traumatized to such a state that it increased my power. Power through pain.
A sound--no--a message. It is tying to get into my skull. I need to focus, he thought.
'Mythical... City, if... you are hearing... this, please come to Mythical City...Mythical city...
Damon awoke and checked a CIA website to see how much the bounty on him had gone up by. He was pleasantly surprised by the result. They want me so bad, they're offering ten million to the person that brings me in dead or alive. Bunch of flipping jokers. Well I will show them when I kill the guy who sanctioned project 'amplify' and then ten years later terminated it, leaving all us telepaths in limbo with huge bounties on our heads.
* * *
The President stood at his podium in front of the White House, flanked by two black-suited Homeland security guards on either side. The large, muscular guards wore loose-fitting suits so they could move more freely.
Damon had been searched for weapons by a guard with a metal detector before he got anywhere near the podium.
Damon sensed the thought of the people around him, and then his eyes focused on the security guards. They are speaking to each other telepathically! That's what Jarik was trying to warn me about before we were raided and he was killed.
Damon pushed his mind deeper into the one of the Homeland security guards, They've got psychic amplifier implants. They're not true-born psychics. He focused his mind on the one he sensed was weaker. There, that's it!
The guard pulled his gun from his shoulder holster and aimed it at the president, the president who had previously been head of the CIA and in charge of operation 'amplify'.
Bang! A shot rang out and the guard that had pulled his gun dropped down. The other guard had reacted very quickly and shot him. Blood formed in a small pool around the dead guards body, his dark sunglasses lying crushed by his chin. There were screams and people started running in different directions trying to get away form the podium.
The hot sun continued to bear down on Damon and he was getting worried. My make-up is good but what if someone notices? Surely they suspect a telepath is in the crowd now! He turned and started to run. Nobody seemed to notice him in all the commotion, they were all focused on the scene in front of them, baffled and puzzled as to why a Homeland security guard would try to kill the person he had sworn his life to protect.
I failed, thought Damon. The crooked former head of the CIA now is the President. He ordered all us telepaths to be exterminated, flipping asshole! thought Damon back at his cheap hotel room.
I was betrayed by the last guy who forged my papers, how else could that assassin find me last night? I need some new papers and this time I need to make sure I don't leave a trail behind me, thought Damon.
* * *
Damon walked into a gun shop on the south side of town.
"What can I get you?"
"I need some papers," he said as low as possible but just loud enough for the other guy to hear. The guy did a double take, sizing him up, after a long few seconds, he said, "They will cost you. You sure you got that kind of money?"
Damon lifted the black briefcase he was carrying and put it on the counter desk and opened it.
"Wow!" the guy behind the counter shouted. "Come with me into the back. James!"
A young man in his early twenties appeared from somewhere else down in the dimly lit shop. "Mind the counter, we got someone who wants to see Joseph."
Once in the back, he was led to a small office. There was a computer and a guy about twenty years old playing some FPS game on the computer.
"Hey, just one question, where did you get that money?"
"I won it at the casino." That wasn't a lie. He could control what color the ball landed at in roulette.
The guy paused the computer game and looked up. "Give me all the documents you have." Damon did so. "Come back in two days time and everything will be sweet."
* * *
Mythical city... Please come to Mythical city...
Damon woke up feeling rested and refreshed, and then he noticed it, a presence-a man waiting for him-on the other side of the road opposite the hotel in a car.
Drive by, thought Damon. I will leave through the back exit.
* * *
An hour later, Damon entered the gun shop.
"Ah, welcome! How are you today? Hope you are well," said the proprietor behind the counter.
"I'm good, thank you."
"James! Mind the counter for a little while." The proprietor came out from behind the counter and they headed to the office at the back of the shop Ten minutes later Damon walked out of the shop with his papers.
He stopped by the pavement. Damon pulled an unpleasant face. Even though this pains me so, I must do it. There can be no link between these forgers and me. My existence depends on it.
Damon focused his mind, first on the proprietor. Focus... Focus... There, I'm in his mind, he thought happily. Concentrate...concentrate.
In the shop, the proprietor collapsed to the floor dead, a blood vessel in his brain bursting.
Damon then focused on James and inside James dropped dead from a heart attack.
Just Joseph left now. Inside, Joseph found it harder and harder to breathe. Joseph dropped down dead form an asthma attack. All three dead to different conditions nobody would suspect foul play or even if they did they would have a very hard time proving their case.
That's it, now, there is no link between me and the forgers. I only wish I had been able to focus my mind in the same on the President, but Jarik had told me the politician was immune to psychic attack due to the cocktail of drugs he was on.
* * *
Mythical city...Please come to mythical city....
That dream again, it keeps haunting me, where is mythical city and who is sending out that thought wave?
The stale smell of cigarette smoke, assaulted his nostrils and he slowly opened his eyes and realized he couldn't move. I'm tied to the flipping bed! He saw ropes stretched tight across his torso and going round and round him several times.
"What the hell do you want?" he asked as he saw two men in black suites and dark sunglasses just to the left of his peripheral view.
"Did you really think you could get away with that stunt you pulled the other day? Our CCTVS cameras followed you until we found you."
"Now, I am going to ask you a simple question, and if I don't think you given the right answer, my colleague here is going to hit you with several thousand vaults from his stun gun."
The other agent pulled out a small cylinder-shaped object, lifted Damon's shirt, and placed the cold hard metal against his stomach.
"Wait, Thompson, not yet, I just want to ask him something. Where do you want it, head or balls?"
"Go to hell!"
"Balls then it is." He paused, taking a deep breath, savoring the moment. "I'm going to ask you a very simple question, where is Mythical City?"
"Honestly, I don't know. That's the god's honest truth!"
I got to focus. Damon made contact with the agents minds, but was unable to affect them in any real way. Drugs, he thought. They been taking drugs to prevent psychic energy working on them.
The guy in the black suite nodded to Thomson, and thousands of volts of pure pain flashed through Damon's mind. Then Damon sensed it--three people, approaching up the stairs, making barely a sound with their shoes. Then they were outside the door. Damon held his breath.
The door, which hadn't been locked, burst open and three guys burst through and opened fire. The two agents dropped down dead where they had stood; they had had no time to react.
"We're taking you to Mythical City."
"Thank god," Damon mumbled then passed out.
The three men dragged Damon to a waiting car.
"Where am I? Wha...what time is it?" Damon asked and then slumped down asleep again in the smart black car.
* * *
During the trip, Damon came to for a few seconds every now and again and realized they were traveling through some kind of forest with tall, large trees on either side.
* * *
Damon awoke. This is probably the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. Except my left shoulder is so itchy. He scratched and scratched, but it didn't lesson the itch.
As he got better, he started to explore more of where he was and everybody left him to it. It seems the people who have brought me here are extremely busy. This place is a huge compound in some kind of forest.
Damon soon realized that the compound was home to hundreds and was self-sustaining with the compound cultivating and growing its own food.
I finally feel at home, but this itch is unbelievably troublesome. Damon then realized how quiet the place was, but he heard words all around him and then he realized they were just thoughts. Everybody is speaking telepathically!
Damon finally managed to track down his rescuers in the 'research and development' room, and thanked them.
"We're pleased to see you are doing so well," said Owen, one of his rescuers.
"I can't help noticing that contraption you have on the table in the middle of the room that you all are bending over and peering at with interest. What is it?"
"This," said Own indicating the small stone-sized object which was no bigger then a 50p coin, "is the our ultimate weapon, it will give us our revenge against the government which first made us and then spurned us. It's a device that enables the user to overcome psychic drug protection. We can take out anyone we want if we use this."
"Wow! That's amazing!"
* * *
After several hours, Damon had met many of the other residents. He had asked to see a doctor about his itchy arm.
"I'm Jennifer, mythical city's second doctor in charge," Jennifer told him as he walked into sick bay.
"Doc, I got an itch on my left shoulder and no matter what I do I can't get rid of it."
"Ok, I can't see anything wrong with your arm, just by looking at it." She paused, in deep thought. "We will have to do an X-ray."
A few minutes later, the x-ray results were in, and the doctor studied them. "Oh, my God! It's a transmitter chip!" She ran and pressed an alarm.
The whole place seemed to change into pandemonium. People were running in all different directions.
Just then, the loud sound of helicopters could be heard. "This is the United States Army, give yourselves up and your lives will be spared. You have five minutes to comply."
Then dreaded silence again.
I feel gutted, they found Mythical City through me.
Three minutes passed... four minutes passed... five minutes passed... six... seven... eight...
Then Damon heard the noise of weapons firing. They're using missiles...bombs, and machine guns, he thought.
A thought rang out, Use your minds! Alone we can't affect the drug-protected soldiers, but if we all focus our minds, we should be able to overcome their drug resistance.
Several fires started and Damon thought, This place is being burned to the ground!
Just then, a US soldier ran into the small room where Damon had been hiding, and Damon let loose with a full mind wave blast, the soldier slumped to the floor, unconscious but not dead. Damon swapped his clothes for the soldiers.
How sad is life , he thought. I finally come to the one place that feels like home only to have it torched by the military.
Damon suddenly had an idea and headed to the R and D room.
Within an hour, Damon thought, Dead, all dead. All my brothers and sisters are dead. When the military left the site, Damon left with them. No one asked who he was, as there were so many soldiers everywhere.
* * *
Several days later, the President was giving another speech and Damon was there, dressed in disguise, but he had the coin-sized object in his pocket.
He focused... more... more... and then the President seemed to turn blue and collapsed to the ground. Damon smiled and turned to go.
In all the commotion nobody noticed him.