Bonds Remote and Near
The girls’ first week in the bunker passed in variants of their first days. However unknowingly, their training progressed with similar rapidity. Before long, Elise was onto self-defense training. Her confidence grew, however shakily and more disheartened she felt from their hiding.
Meanwhile, Hailey’s training had surpassed even Valerie’s expectations. They’d progressed from mindfulness, empathic projection, and instinct honing, to Active Link Training. Activating the Link was already second nature. Often Hailey activated it just to reassure herself she could at whim. Her daily meditations, too, had eased her fears of the Link. She’d even begun speaking through it, as any Seer might. Valerie’s training sessions had gone from silent instruction and audible response, to full-on silence to anyone without an active Link.
More importantly, she’d begun remote viewing– taking in distant or foreign sites merely by focusing on their surroundings. As if a psuedo-picture-in-picture engaged, the Link-view of the training room dissolved into the hazy place she focused on. Presently, that was home. Specifically, the front of her house.
A police cruiser sat outside where she and Valerie stood, as if specters haunting the place. Cars crept past, passing through them as the air particles they were. The remote viewing merely connected them to it. The cushion of energy and matter was mental wifi. The Seers immersed themselves in it, and through its universal pervasiveness, projected them along it as sentient data along a net connection. That wifi was what Hailey’s author would’ve called Dark Matter, and what Valerie called psychokinetic, or PK, energy.
Whatever it was, an active Link might stretch out a mental hand along it. By reaching out and following it, she might go anywhere. Her mind was a vast, unending entity through it: Hailey closed her eyes, activated the Link, and reached out. Invisible fingers felt along tendrils of energy that connected all of reality. They permeated in and around the room. The city. The state. The planet. The universe. She pulled herself along, as though dangling off a precipice. Once reaching the top, a rightness in her gut apexed. Active images of the place she sought appeared.
Presently, Valerie’s golden form accompanied her outside her home. The police cruiser hardly affected the scene. Sorrow stung her chest. It wasn’t hers. She’d long been separating her emotions from others. Along with Link activation, such emotional control was second nature. It was her parents. A bitter-sweetness beneath marked her mother from her father’s sour anger.
“Is it a violation of the tenets to go in?” Hailey’s harmonious whispers asked.
Valerie’s head shook in silence. Hailey took a deep breath; the street flickered. She was inside and out, dissolving from one place to the next. Then, she was inside, the street now her living room. Her parents sat at the dining-room table, at the head of the adjoined room, their hands clutching one another.
One officer stood beside the other whom sat at the table. “Mrs. Ferguson, I’m sorry, there’s simply nothing more we can do.”
Hailey felt his genuine regret. Dad’s anger and grief smothered it. “What do you mean there’s nothing more? You haven’t done anything.”
“Sir, I understand you’re angry, but in cases like this, there’s usually something to go on. We’ve found nothing outside the initial scene.”
“My daughter just disappeared into thin air, is that it?” Her father blurted.
“Mr. Ferguson, I’m telling you there’s nothing more the BPD can do. We have APBs and Amber alerts out for both your daughter and Elise Brennan, but there’s nothing more our investigators can do. They’ve combed the available evidence, but aside from a few eyewitness reports, there’s nothing else to track your daughter’s movements.”
Hailey’s mother choked back tears, “She’s still alive.”
The officer winced, “I sincerely hope you’re right, Ma’am. Unfortunately, the BPD cannot devote any further resources to this case. I’m sorry.”
Hailey’s father rose from his chair. “Get the hell out of my house.”
The first cop eyed the second, then shook his head, “I’m sorry.”
They filed out. Her father’s eyes bored holes into their heads the whole way. He stepped to the front, bay window, and watched the cruiser pull away. Hailey’s mother suddenly appeared beside him, gripping his left arm with both of hers.
“She’s alive, Alex,” she said, tearfully. “I know it. She’s alive and she’s safe.”
Hailey choked out a sob. The dream-like Link shattered and fell away. Valerie found herself once more sitting before Hailey in the training room. She remained silent, allowing Hailey time to recompose herself. She did so only after a gentle reassurance.
“Grief is a difficult emotion, Hailey,” she said quietly. “It is the deepest-rooted. Rare in its true form. There are many levels between sadness and true grief, but you’ve yet to truly experience the latter… Until now. Seeing them thus, and not reacting, would be more dangerous than you realize. This is normal.
“Rather than let it control you, use it to hone your focus. Know, that one day, you will feel their love again. They, in turn, will feel yours. They will know their suffering was not in vain. When they understand what’s happened, their love will allow them to accept it. For now, know it is there. Know, that when you are ready, you will lighten their hearts with your return.”
Hailey wiped her eyes and took a deep breath. She gathered all her grief into her breath and exhaled it. She closed her eyes and reactivated the Link. Valerie followed suit.
“Were you not so adept, you would not have been capable of that,” Valerie said without prompt.
“I know that should be comforting, but it’s not.”
“It is what it is. How you take it is your choice. Rejoice that you have one– and that there are those who love you.”
Hailey cleared the grief from her throat. “I know. But I’d rather not revisit them yet.”
“Then we will focus elsewhere. Another place your memory is strong.”
Hailey relaxed, mind once more stretching out. This time, it grasped along the mental paths for Bacatta High-School. Before long, they stood in the Commons, unchanged since their disappearance save a few new posters, including one of the girls’ disappearance.
“Good to know some things never change,” Hailey said sarcastically.
“What would you rather they do? Seek you where you should not be found? Perhaps rally behind your faces for mischief?”
Hailey shook her head. “No. You’re right. Life goes on within and without you, right?”
Valerie cracked a smile. “A wise sentiment indeed.” She waited to see if Hailey would speak, then continued. “Tell me of this place. Why return here?”
Hailey wasn’t sure. She searched the faces, found the same melange of emotions she’d come to expect; excitement. Lust. Happiness. Depression. Indifference. A half-dozen others that comprised the average teenager during an average day of average life.
“I don’t know. Maybe ‘cause I feel out of place, and this is sort of where everyone does.”
“An astute observation,” Valerie said.“Do you wish to return here some day?”
Hailey had to think about it. Valerie allowed it. Whether she wanted to return to school seemed to hinge on whether it, and her life before, could be separated. Everyone there was out of place, but that gave them a place to be. She would be even more so now. Before, she’d just been another angsty teen, however eclectic or eccentric. Now, she was literally a breed apart from normal humans. Though she’d always technically been, it mattered now.
“I’m not sure,” she finally admitted. “I’d like to return to my life some day, but…”
“But is this truly your life anymore,” Valerie finished. “It is a question we all must ask ourselves when reflecting on what is left behind. Trust in me when I say that there is not a Seer whom knows the truth and has not asked the same question.”
Hailey’s projection eyed Valerie’s. “Is there an answer?”
She frowned, “Not a satisfactory one, so far as I know.”
“I can do this. The remote viewing. Can we move on?”
Valerie nodded. The Commons dissolved back to the training room and Valerie before her. They sat in silence for a moment, allowing Hailey’s inexplicable desperation to abate. When it did, Valerie re-focused her attention.
“I will next instruct you in manipulating your environment.”
“You will learn to control objects via telekinesis.”
“Telekinesis? I thought that was just a myth.”
Valerie rose and motioned for Hailey to follow. They stepped to the room’s center, as before, the Link no longer active. Valerie produced the small stress-ball they’d come to use for various trainings. She presented it to Hailey, palm flat beneath it, and closed her eyes. The ball rose, unaided.
It zoomed away, followed a wide arc, soared through long loops. As fast as it left, it returned, settling gently into a hover over Valerie’s hand. She opened her eyes, ball still hovering.
“In time, you will have this control. For now, we will keep things simple.” The ball came to a rest in her hand. “Activate the Link as normal.” Hailey did, settling her mind where the Link was most stable. “Now, reach out through your empathic connection. Feel the ball as you would my presence. It is not living, but inanimate. It does not exude energy, but rather occupies a space in it– a mass of matter.”
Hailey understood her meaning; living things had an aura, a sort of halo of magnetic repulsion around them. The nearer you were, physically, the stronger the field. This field allowed a Seer to feel out others from objects, and distinguish them through the Link. Once discerned, it was there the empathic projections could be read from, directed to. Ordinary objects merely existed. There was no aura. No faint trace of energy. Only minute repulsion generated by subatomic bonds.
The easiest way Hailey had found to explain it was that living things were chaotic, warm. Their energy and matter constantly shifted, rearranged, altered by the infinitely smaller organisms and bonds forming them. Regular matter was different. Cold. It was a tight-knit amalgamation of specific atomic and subatomic bonds, that ostensibly, never changed.
Hailey felt for the cold object now resting in Valerie’s hand. Not being as adept as Valerie made her like a blind child groping for a goal. Thankfully it was only mentally. Otherwise would have been significantly more uncomfortable.
Valerie sensed that she’d located the ball. “Now, as you would pull yourself toward a remote destination, you must pull the object toward you. Meanwhile, maintain its vertical position by keeping the tether from slacking.”
The instructions were clear enough, but the ball slid forward and immediately hit the floor. Hailey lost control. It rolled away. Valerie levitated it back.
Hailey grasped the ball. It slid off Valerie’s hand, hung in place. Then, like Wily E. Coyote, it plummeted to floor. Her confidence went with it.
“Sense the fields of the ball and your PK meeting. Repelling. Steady them. It is subtle. Again.”
The ball hung a full-second longer than before. It fell again. Hailey’s frustration rippled through the Link.
“Relax,” Valerie snapped. “You cannot control an object without first controlling yourself. Do not regress. Again.”
Hailey wanted to snap back. It would only be answered with greater fury. Instead, she took a deep breath, let her emotions run their course and fizzle out. She re-focused, grasping the ball. A moment later, it hovered between them. Hailey’s concentration had become so fixed she almost didn’t hear Valerie’s praise.
“Very good. Now across the room and back.”
Hailey felt the ball levitate, as if a series of pistons thrust endlessly at one another to keep the ball in place or move it along. She let herself grasp the resting rhythm. Then, as if manipulating select pairs of pistons, began rocking the ball forward. In reality, the ball neither rocked nor rolled, and instead began to drifting forward. She pulled back, the imaginary pistons shifting. The ball drifted back. It sank back into a hover between them and Valerie smiled.
“We will hone this technique now. Do as I instruct without question and as quickly as possible.” Valerie began to issue commands. For a half-hour the ball zoomed back and forth, up and down, sketching a variety of two, then three-dimensional shapes. All the while, Hailey kept her focus attuned, refining her broad control so that finer control could come easier. By the time she’d finished training for the day, her confidence had all but returned.
She was headed to the bathroom when she ran straight into Elise. Her eyes had been focused on a tablet of paper. Elise had meant to silently escape the bathroom, freshly showered after training with Yaz. The two smacked into each other, almost simultaneously falling to their asses. They rose together, apologizing. Elise recognized it was Hailey, hesitated.
“Sorry,” Hailey said again.
“Yeah, me too,” Elise replied, less sincere than before.
She began to step past. Hailey stopped her, “Hey.” Elise eyed her. “Everything okay?”
Elise chewed her lip, “No, Hailey. It isn’t. I’m coping, but I can’t pretend like I’m not affected. If you want an honest answer, that’s it. If you want me to lie, don’t bother asking.”
Hailey winced. Elise took her chance and escaped. She headed back to her room. Hailey’s heart sank. On top of everything, she’d as much as lost her best friend simply by trying to save her. She deflated with a sigh and pushed through the bathroom door, her heart sinking into her stomach.