skielights

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About skielights

  • Rank
    Adventurer
  • Birthday October 9

Profile Information

  • Custom Title
    ~*~
  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Either here or there. Possibly somewhere in between.
  • Interests
    Modern Dance, Writing, Reading, Being outside, Bright colors

Role Play Details

  • Favorite RP Genre
    Anything that isn't purely normal dramaaaa
  • Role Playing Style
    I enjoy longish to long posts, and prefer to post once or twice a week per RP. That's all I know so far!
  • Current Roleplays
    First Day of Class: Kess Carter
    Blood Oath: Mari Madison

    [Just for Show: Carsen Matthews]
    [Project Clarity: Eleven]

Contact Methods

  • Skype
    skielights
  1. G First Day Discussion

    Yajuu, I've finally written everything out and PM'ed you. I hope everyone enjoys this RP as much as I have! I shall continue to read it when I can. :)
  2. G First Day Discussion

    Thanks Yajuu. I'm gonna miss this RP and Max and Kess' dynamic. Thanks for an engaging and fun story (Yajuu and everyone). :) I'll shoot you a PM with Kess' stuff on Thursday.
  3. G First Day Discussion

    Hey everyone... A lot of stuff has come up in real life, not just "busy" stuff but hard, critical, and/or needs-lots-of-immediate-attention stuff. I know I've let you all down and I'm sorry, and I don't want to back out of the story cause it's interesting and fun to RP. But...*sigh*...I don't see anything letting up for at least another month, and then dance starts again and I'll be working more. I don't know what else to tell you guys except that I think I'm going to have to either take/phase Kess out or give her to one of you. It sucks, but real life first. :/ I'll miss y'all a lot...let me know whether you want someone to take her over and I'll outline some of what I figured could be happening in her brain. (And then you can mess with it however, or chuck it.) Thanks for waiting. ~skielights
  4. G First Day Discussion

    Hooray for posts and new members. :) I'm just now on the other side of a performance which, though it was both really fun and well received, drained my time an energy. (Not to mention health- still getting over an awful cold.) anyway, I have the next month off of dance, so I'll be able to post here in a couple days. Just have to consider all these lovely new characters. :) Thank you all for being patient!
  5. G First Day Discussion

    Sure, go for it! Good to have you, vplx?
  6. G First Day Discussion

    T1R...that sucks :p I hope you get remember enough of it! Yajuu- I'm waiting for T1R, but rereading everything does sound like good idea. I shall as well. :)
  7. G First Day Discussion

    Me too! Glad to hear you're still planning. :)
  8. G First Day Discussion

    Success! Thanks for a good post. :) (PS: Oh my gosh, Ray Ruine stuffed in a cleaning closet. Actual loling has occurred.)
  9. G First Day Discussion

    Oy, so, did you want to be the one who takes them into Culver's lair of lairs, or should I do that? It almost looks like we're both trying to let the other person, but that could just be me. :) T1R, I'm glad you have a master plan :D
  10. “It’s nice to meet you, Ryan,†Jenny sincerely responded, “My name is Jenny Henders; I’m the librarian here and have been for decades. However, I’m afraid there are circumstances at this school which are difficult for any of us to understand, much less communicate in any comprehensible manner.†Jenny was sure this boy would never believe the real story. “As for Jordan, your current teacher…you’re the only one in this classroom for a reason, young man. He may test your mind to see if you’re fit for the fast-track program, on which you most definitely should avoid being placed, if you decide to stay here at all-†Jenny stopped midsentence, and turned to the front doors. Her face paled a shade or two as she identified Max and Kess at the door, and Val between them. “Valerie Henders, how did you end up like this?†she murmured to herself. She only remembered the boy after Val had seen her and quickly looked away. “Do you understand, Ryan? Stay off the fast-track, if you stay here at all.†~~ Kess didn’t want to feel sympathy for Pierson, but when it came down to it, his screams churned her stomach just as much as her new friend’s death-still body. Kess jumped when the keys flew at her face, and only freed herself after Val gave her a short nod. The trip upstairs ought to have been a relief, but from the moment she’d woken, a knot of pressure had been building at the back of Kess’ head. She figured her brain was just reacting to having a foreign person in it. Apparently too many things had finally happened and her brain couldn’t process any more. When she’d thrown up her hands to catch the keys, though, six layers of memory had burst over her current vision. Six different sets of hands overlayed her own, catching six different sets of keys and shoving them in various locks she couldn’t make out because everything was piled together like the pictures had been in her mind. Kess squeezed her eyes shut against a spike in her headache, realizing that this was the same one which had started clear back at the hotel. Her foot, and three other vividly remembered feet, made their unsteady way up their respective flights of stairs. When Kess drew in a deep breath, the number of feet before her eyes doubled, then abruptly shrank to just her own again. “Oh my gosh, quit talking,†Kess mumbled at Valerie and Max. Not only was every word jangling around in her thoughts, but Max was waltzing outside going on about his bike as if he hadn’t just snapped a man’s arm and made him scream in pain. Seeing him smile at the sky so soon afterward was strange and unsettling. “…They don’t have to take it home, but off the street would be ideal.†“Stop it, Max.†Kess spoke without meaning to. Val shot her a look. Kess shifted uncomfortably and cut the nervous undertone from her voice. “Your stupid bike is the last thing we need to worry about. Let’s just go, okay?†The stamp on Max’s neck seemed more real than it had been yesterday. Kess stared openly at it, unable to be more subtle while new images transposed themselves against the mark. Apparently there were a myriad of memories in her brain associated with the out-of-place yellow flower. Or maybe the whole thing was Not-Culver. According to past-Dad, staying with the real Culver’s people for a little while was the only way to figure out how to tame whatever this new deal was. Kess had been so focused on her thoughts that she didn’t process what sort of vehicle she was climbing into, or who was next to her. She spent the entire drive pushing foreign memories out of her sight, keeping her eyes fixed on an object that was actually in the car with her. The closer they got to school, the more often something tried to stretch across her entire vision and become the reality she was looking at. At least, that’s how it felt at the moment. It was like an upgraded version of the key memory from the night before. The thing that brought her back to the physical moment was Pierson’s voice next to her rather than up front. Val looked annoyed, as if she could tell he’d butted in to say something she’d been about to get to. Pierson spoke in a warning tone, so Kess tuned in to make sure she didn’t miss anything important. All she caught was “And both of you-“, and even that only halfway, as there was a simultaneous wrenching yank on her arm. Pierson’s good arm pulled her wrist across the back of the car. “Hey!†Kess instinctively scowled at Pierson, until his booted foot pressed her arm down at the elbow, forcing Kess forward until she was bent double in her seat. His hand clamped around her wrist and pulled the opposing way, somewhat mirroring the hold Max had just employed on Pierson’s arm. Kess’ protest died fast as she realized that though Pierson’s method was a bit different, Kess’ arm could definitely end up just like Pierson’s if he chose to push his foot down much harder. “You toe the line from here on out, children,†Pierson’s breath was a tad ragged- no doubt his snapped joint wasn’t appreciating the spurt of movement. “You pull anything like you did this morning and the results of your actions will be replicated, understood?†“Yeah,†Kess shakily responded. Pierson pressed her arm a tiny bit further, and somewhere inside Kess’ head something shifted. Kess felt it whip outward like the mini-Kess had in the memory pile, and somehow rode it straight at Pierson’s left temple. Kess felt a bit of a rippling shock when it hit, but Pierson went completely slack against the backseat. “Pierson!†Val barked at him. Kess snatched her hand away from his limp one and tucked her knees under her chin. What was that? Was it her? Could she do it again? Her heart pounded against her knees. Pierson was only out for a few seconds, but it was enough. He shot Kess a dark look that just might have held a bit of fear beneath it. But that was probably just Kess’ imagination. “Things like that. That will be paid for.†He paused, frowned at his arm, and glanced out the window as the car slowed to a stop. Val signaled Max to follow her outside. Kess caught the tail end of their conversation- something about it looking more natural if Kess and Max seemed to simply arrive at the same time, rather than in the same car. Kess peered out the back window and saw two things: the school flagpole a couple blocks away, and Max’s bike behind the car. Some Culver flunkie gave the keys to Val and headed over to Pierson with a bag that must have contained stuff for his arm. Kess found it easier to just think him stupid for pulling a stunt like he had while his arm hadn’t even been looked at yet. Well, stupid or altered like Max. Val headed back to the driver’s seat. “And I’m the impulsive, unpredictable one?†she muttered to Pierson. “That wasn’t impulsive. That was as necessary as practically emptying that bike’s gas tank.†“Which was the best time I’ve had in a while,†the Culver flunkie took Pierson’s seat by Kess, and Pierson moved to the front. Everyone ignored him as Pierson moved to the front. “I’m not sure how well Max is taking warnings lately,†Val rode the bike’s tail hard enough for revenge on being called Valerie, at least for the minute it took to reach the school parking lot. “I tried to scare him earlier and he just laughed at me.†Kess leaned her head against the car window, where it bounced just the slightest bit (as did the memories of two other heads on two other windows). Having this multi-layer thing long term wasn’t going to work well for her half-sanity. That fact, coupled with Max’s own differentness, finally got Kess to decide. She needed to stick with Culver, just long enough to find Dad and get her brain under control. Max didn’t need to stay, but Kess did. So Max wouldn’t stay. But Kess would. Maybe they wouldn’t even go after him anymore after today. Or at least, wouldn’t go after him as a high priority, like he was when he was with Kess. Even though she’d chosen to stay, actually stepping out onto the concrete sidewalk with Val took a huge mental push. Max was parking, so Val and Kess walked slow so they all met in the airlock. Val was already on the phone, confirming that yes they were there and no, nobody else was. Kess hoped that Katy’s guys would be able to do their part of the plan as well as Max seemed to think he could do his. Kess barely looked up at Max long enough to meet his eyes. She wanted to grab his arm or say something- generally signal that they were in sync and had each other’s support. But they weren’t in sync, and Kess didn’t know how stable Max really was. So she focused her attention on the kid sitting in Clearwater’s old classroom instead and waited for Culver’s office door to open.
  11. G First Day Discussion

    Not a problem. It seems to be a pretty pivotal post after all. : > (Plus I've been on vacation for the past four days, so I've been distracted!) It seems that T1R may not know we use this thread too, so I'll point them this way.
  12. NC-17 [Private] Falling Star

    Zoe grudgingly helped Jake pack up camp. It took less time than Zoe had estimated, and soon they were climbing into the RV to head off. Zoe immediately set herself to securing all loose objects inside, to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s avalanche. Halfway through her task, they hit the uneven excuse for a road, where a majority of the objects began to shake themselves free again. Zoe ended up throwing about a third of their kitchen onto her mattress before giving up. She sat down on the free corner of her mattress, arms crossed in irritation until she caught Uncle Jake’s eyes in the mirror. Or rather, she caught him staring worriedly ahead, half at the road and half at nothing. “Watch the road, Uncle Jake! Alex is okay now, you can stop worrying about him!†Zoe called, then winced. “…please.†Jake blinked the cloudiness out of his eyes and met Zoe’s through the mirror. “Sorry about that. Don’t want to scare you,†Jake grinned, and gave the wheel a quick jerk to the right. Zoe squealed as the RV lurched, then turned grumpily away from her uncle while he laughed. The mirror had given her an idea, though. With her back still toward Jake, Zoe pulled a handheld mirror out of her smallest bag. She held it even with her neck, and tugged the necklace’s cloth cover down until the disc in the middle was fully visible. The shifting colors were still captivating, but Zoe ignored them and pushed a finger into the middle of the disc. It lit for a second, rather like the pulse the ship’s light had emitted, then settled back to its normal state. Keeping the mirror trained on the disc, Zoe stretched out her hand until it brushed some metal object. As it did, the shifting in the disc froze, the clouds of color locked into place. Zoe glanced at her hand. The object she’d touched was one of the kitchen knives, but her hand was still completely normal. “Huh,†Zoe frowned, and brought her hand up to her face. The RV bounced again, and Zoe threw her against the wall for stabilization. When she moved it away, five small holes punctured the side of the RV, right above her pillow. “Okay then,†Zoe breathed, “not always visible. Ow!†She’d gone to pick up something else- a bowl- and broken the side of it with her sudden magnified strength. One of the sharp edges had sliced her hand a bit. She eyed it nervously. Apparently having the strength of the knife's metal didn't give her it's resilience as well. Zoe tilted her head against the wall, to cover the holes, and thought.The electricity had only lasted for about thirty seconds, but the silver coating of the ship had stayed significantly longer. Maybe there was a code word? Zoe tried whispering several possibilities before giving up and shaking her hand in frustration. “Fine,†she glared at the still-frozen disc, and pulled the cloth back over her choker. They drove for the rest of the day, which felt like four with all of Uncle Jake’s past camping stories, Alex’s pestering, and the fact that Zoe could only walk six paces in one direction at most. She almost broke several parts of the RV more than once, and at one point Uncle Jake tried to make Alex and Zoe sing a road trip song. It didn’t work. Zoe felt half sorry for him and half relieved. “What’s something else we can do?†she asked, and immediately wished she could take it back. They’d already played The Alphabet Game three times and Deserted Island five. Uncle Jake glanced back at her with a sudden excited smile. “Y’know, we haven’t stopped for a while, and it’s almost dinnertime,†he began. Zoe shifted in her seat. So far, so good. “I happen to know of an amazing place right around here. How would you kids like to get some ice cream?†Ice Cream? Zoe gazed at her uncle. Had he actually suggested something good? "Ice cream?" Alex repeated, his tone cautionary. "As in actual ice cream, with real, y'know, ingredients? Not soybean ice cream or tofu ice cream or anything like that?" “Soy ice cream?†Zoe echoed, horrified at what she figured it must look like, “they make that stuff?†Uncle Jake laughed. “Y’know, some of that stuff is even better than real ice cream.†He quickly continued at their horrified faces. “Yes, yes, real ice cream this time! I can think of plenty of versions that are better for you, though.†He had already pulled the RV off the highway, and was making his way through a town similar to the one Zoe had seen before. She saw the sign before she saw the store itself. The painted double-scoop sign declaring that “Locally Made Ice Cream sold here†was actually visible from the highway. Zoe thought this might have been overkill, but she supposed it didn’t matter as long as it was true. Zoe led the way through the glass doors and hurried over to the freezers closest to the cash register, where a smaller version of the double-scoop sign drew her. She stopped suddenly at the rows of bright packages, even though it meant Alex ran into her. “Uncle Jake, this was the best idea all day!†"This was the only idea all day." Alex muttered, pushing past Zoe as he started to browse the different aisles, looking for snacks. There were twenty one flavors listed in huge letters around the double-scoop. Each one of them sounded better than anything Zoe had ever eaten before. Zoe hopped from one foot to the other in excited indecision. A ways behind them, the door swung open again. Zoe automatically turned, and saw a guy in a hat and huge sunglasses, wearing a jacket entirely too heavy for the summer’s heat. Both hands were stuffed in his pockets as he made his way past “That guy’s in the wrong season, Uncle Jake†Zoe grinned, “So, what do I get: turtle cheesecake or deep double chocolate brownie? Or both! Alex,†she glanced around for him, “what are you getting?â€
  13. G First Day Discussion

    I was assuming that T1R was aiming to be a kid who was nearby when Max and Kess came back to meet Culver. Was this correct? Also, is T1R okay, or shall I call you something else? :)
  14. Max’s laugh was startling and a little loud. Kess had been about to start worrying about her dad again, but his words just then: “Unless that’s too boring for youâ€, had a distinctly familiar ring to them, as if the phrase had been directed at her many times before. Was it Max’s voice she almost remembered hearing? Or someone else’s? His laughing cut her thoughts down, first replacing them with another dose of confidence, then undercutting that with his next answers. Or rather, the way he stated them. There was no way Max could have mentioned John’s death without so much as blinking. Come to think of it, he’d always avoided stating what happened. It was the first time Kess had ever heard “bullet to the faceâ€. Kess frowned at him around her pipe and Max’s as he chuckled again. “Sure, Max. Funny…Are you sure you didn’t whack your head on the car earlier?†She was reminded again how little she knew about the guy she’d spent the past two days with. Should she even trust him to follow through on the plan? Treating Val like an enemy just seemed wrong. Culver couldn’t have actually got to her, could he? She hadn’t really hurt them. Maybe she was already planning something, too. Kess decided now probably wasn’t the best time to bring up the issue. Val herself could be right outside their door. “She hates being called Valerie,†Kess automatically informed Max, “but I guess I don’t have any more questions right now.†Kess was certain; something was wrong with Max. She had to get that odd not-tattoo off of him, and she had to keep her mouth shut about the girl currently sitting on the pipe above above. Max apparently hadn’t noticed the perception filter around her, and the only way to keep it that way was for him to fall asleep. “Yeah,†Kess leaned her forehead against the pipe, “yeah, sleep sounds great. We can’t really get much else done, anyway.†There wasn’t really a comfortable way to sit, but that didn’t matter as much since Kess was staying awake, anyway. It seemed to take forever for Max to fall asleep, but his breathing finally evened out, and didn’t falter when Kess whispered his name. There would be no reason for not-Culver to fake sleeping, as he would hear and see everything that happened whether Max was awake or not. So, Kess figured everything was as it seemed and turned her face upward to the girl who’d followed Kess since the mall. “If you’re working with them,†Kess asked quietly, “why are you hiding up there?†The girl dropped down by Kess’ right shoulder. I’m not working with them, she spoke in the odd, silent way of hers. Kess saw the tiniest of tremors shake her hands. “Are you okay?†Kess nodded at them. The girl met Kess’ eyes, then locked her gaze in somehow. My brother and I need those keys, she held up a hand. Kess remembered the boy from the library with his reflexive grip, and the way he’d had to fight what his hands started to do. “I’m sorry, I really want to help, but I have no idea what keys you need or where they are.†Kess found even actively turning her head couldn’t break the hold this girl had on her gaze. “What are you doing?†she shifted back, but couldn’t really go anywhere with her hands cuffed to the pipe. Sorry, the girl reached out a hand, I’m gonna have to wake you up a bit to find them. “Wh-“ Kess started, but something stopped her. Not with a hand on her mouth, more like a block of the path between her thought and her voice. Kess felt her eyes widen, or start to. Even that tiny motion was took forever from her current point of view. Was the room slowed down, or was Kess’ mind sped up? With a silent shift that felt like rushing air, the room disappeared. Remember not to talk, Kessa. Not-Culver! What is this? And don’t you dare use my dad’s voice! Something was different about him, but Kess placed the difference almost immediately. It was like answering a call and talking to an automated recording rather than a person. Could Not-Culver do that? I’m not Not-Culver. I’m a memory planted years ago to help you figure this process out. If I’m coming up, it means you need to relearn how to unlock somebody. That, or something has got deep enough into your head to start pulling things out. Either way, you have to stay with Culver. No one else knows how to handle you just yet. The grin Kess heard behind her dad’s voice sealed it. It was Dad, a long time ago. The voice on the phone hadn’t been Dad, Val had confirmed at the mall. So this memory had to be safe. Okay, Kess replied. As soon a she spoke, heaviness poured over her in the form of millions and millions of half-second images, layering over each other, urgently pressing against her vision. First find yourself in the memory, past-Dad instructed. Instict shot a miniature picture of Kess into the rapidly piling images. Before Kess could even wonder how that happened, the images stopped. Kess was in the picture in front of her, along with an elderly man and a red-haired woman. They were sitting in a park somewhere, the couple on a bench, Kess in the tree’s lowest branch. A little ways off was the memory of the other girl, swimming in the lake with a brown-haired boy. Her brother? Don’t remember this, past-Dad warned, just find the key. Kess was halfway into the picture already, it took an outside hand pulling her back to keep her out. Kess smiled at the other girl, completely unsurprised to find her there. At that moment, the Kess in the memory spoke while tugging a seed off of a tree branch. She gripped it in her hand, and carefully placed it in her pocket. When she pulled her hand out again, the seed was thicker, more solid somehow, and it drew Kess toward it. She glanced over at the other girl, who nodded and pointed back to the picture. Apparently this was a key. Kess stuck her hand into the picture- her hand moved at normal speed this time- and snatched the seed from memory-Kess. As suddenly as they’d come, the millions on millions of pictures vanished. The seed in Kess’ hand thrummed with bottled energy. This is so weird, Kess giggled. The other girl nodded back at her before turning sharply to examine some distant image. Kess leaned around her. Is something wrong? Cause if not, that’s kinda my memory and it’s weird having you able to see everyth- At this point, it’s almost been long enough to seem strange to those around you, memory-Dad interrupted, unless you’re by yourself, you’ll have to keep this key until later. Go ahead and put it in your pocket, and when you’re back to normal, don’t act like anything happened, okay? People are probably used to you spacing out. Kess slid the seed into her pocket, and with the same rushing sensation as before, Kess and the other girl were back in the room with Max. It took a bit for Kess to readjust to the comparatively sluggish speed at which her body moved. She tried to ask the girl what to do next, but her thoughts wouldn’t reconnect to her mouth. “Don’t worry about it, you’ll reintegrate,†the girl held out a water bottle, which Kess greatfully emptied with her help. “Why’d you try to kidnap me earlier?†Kess questioned her. “I have to get my brother unlocked so I can find him. Sorry about that.†Kess smiled. “Sorry about aiming a gun at your face.†“I could tell you wouldn’t actually shoot me. Anyway, now you have his key, so all we have to do is wait for Max’s plan to take its course. I’ll meet up with you later and then we can-“ The door’s huge lock-bars scraped open. The girl seized Kess’ water bottle and dove for some shadows. A filter’s blurry edges rose around her as Val and her partner entered the room, guns drawn. “Who else is here?†Val demanded of Kess. Her partner double-took a spot on the floor near Kess. When Kess followed his glance, her eyes found a trail of water drops spilled across the floor. She looked back, wide-eyed, at Val’s partner just in time to see him fire into the shadows. The girl fell soundlessly out of the shadows and her filter. Kess only turned back in time to see her forehead hit the floor. Kess screamed, Pierson flipped keys into his hand and unlocked her cuffs. Val pulled Kess toward the door when she lunged back. “Pierson! What the hell!†Val shouted. Her face was a little whiter than normal. “Culver needed her for as long as she could last!†“She was aiding in their escape,†Pierson stated calmly, and freed Max from the pipe. “Come on, they’re supposed to be at Culver’s door in an hour.†It's been all night already? Kess had room for one confused thought before the library boy and the girl here with them crowded her mind. Just how often did death happen around these people? Just how often was it some kid trying to look out for her brother? Val steered Kess out the door after they both shot a last look at the girl. “We can still call…†Kess tried. Val shook her head. “No. We can’t," Val grimaced when Pierson wasn't looking, "We’ve got to get you back to school.†~ Jenny peered into what used to be Shawyne Clearwater’s room. It was already blank-slated; All of the past teacher’s things were boxed and crowded into a far corner from which Miss Knight would later make them disappear as effectively as their owner. Jenny glanced at the empty desk and then gazed at the chipped grey floor tiles as she approached the lone boy in the classroom. “I believe you’re one of the transfers, correct?†Jenny asked. She continued before anyone could walk through the doorway. “A word of advice, strange thought it will seem at present: Please consider transferring out of this class, and any other classes taught by Jordan.â€
  15. NC-17 [Private] Falling Star

    Zoe peered back at Alex as she descended the RV steps. He did look pretty sick. If the meds Zoe could find in town didn’t help, there would be no choice but to send him home. Twenty-four hours ago, Zoe would have immediately leapt at the chance to spend time out here without Alex, even with the weird food. After the spaceship, though… She’d spent all morning trying to figure out how the whole thing could have been a prank, or a setup from some TV show. A few options she’d worked out made sense up until her arm had turned into freaking metal. There was no denying that evidence, unless there’d been hallucinogens pumped out of the spaceship or something, which was both illegal and super expensive. “And stupid,†Zoe stated aloud. Her voice sounded sharper than she’d expected it to; she was almost embarrassed at its sound cutting through the subtler noises that filled the air around her. It was an odd feeling for a city girl, being the only person out in the forest. It was half disorienting and half peaceful; Zoe would normally have taken as long as she could to get to the road. Today, however, all thought not centered on the life and breath around her was glued to the necklace under her jacket. What exactly was it supposed to do? Ought she try pushing her thumb against it again and seeing if she started turning silver? Or was it a fluke last night that she hadn’t become a life-sized Zoe monument? Or memorial. She didn’t hear the road before she saw it as there was nobody currently driving. She was surprised at how fast she arrived; the events weighing on her mind must have pushed her legs to nervous pacing speed. The town was only a little further, and she could already see the store Uncle Jake had mentioned. It wasn’t that far off, but it was the first time Zoe had been in an unknown town completely on her own before. She slowed her feet to a less noticeable pace, taking in all she could while trying not to draw any attention to herself. The town was essentially a small cluster of houses and family-operated shops. A single steeple stretched above one corner, a library and an auditorium dominated the other. Some of the houses were immaculate and charming, some showcased old paint curling up from warped wood. A couple were abandoned and slowly becoming the town’s blind spots behind tall grass and layers of dust. Zoe was torn between a desire to explore one of them, and the fact that such an act would clearly be trespassing. Not to mention the instability of the houses’ structure at that point. One more tap and the shell of a shelter would probably come crashing down. Of course, crashing made Zoe think of the spaceship and its occupant. What tragedy had she and her brother walked in on? If it had even been real. Despite the undeniable reality of the metal loop around her neck, Zoe still struggled to believe that she’d seen an alien between three and four that morning. Dylan’s Grocery was clean and organized; Dylan himself smiled behind the counter as Zoe tried to pick which medicine was best for her brother. When she was as confident in her choice, she rushed through the remainder of her mental list and arranged it all on the front counter. She could see perfectly out the side window from the register. The sun was bright and hot, an older couple was out for a jog. A boy a year or two younger than Zoe was sitting on a bench in the town’s little park, sketching something. Zoe was amazed. Everything looked so normal for what had happened right outside town hours ago. While Dylan made a bit of small talk, Zoe attempted to figure out what the kid was sketching. The window was just high enough that she couldn’t see the sketchbook, but that was alright, as she would be walking right by him when she left Dylan’s. He probably wouldn’t notice her. He was completely absorbed in his work. Zoe thanked Dylan and swung out the door to find the shop she’d seen across the park. She tried not to take too long swimming in the tie dyed, crystal studded store, stopping only long enough to buy a perfectly dyed head scarf she could tie around her choker. She also bought a cream one, in case she needed something quieter. For that she needed to dip into her own cash, but she’d thought ahead and brought some along. Just as Zoe stepped through the shop’s open doorway, the kid stood from his bench and flipped his sketchbook closed. Zoe tried to say hi to him, but he ducked his head and sped past her. Huh, Zoe thought. She watched him hurry ahead and noticed a guy who would have been cute if not for the superior smirk on his face. He, flanked by two guys, stepped out as the boy reached a side street off the park. The kid tried to back away, but one of the guys had already circled behind him. Zoe and the kid both slowed and drew a nervous breath. “Where’re you running to?†the lead guy demanded, and called him a name that made Zoe feel slimy just hearing. The almost-cute leader crossed his arms and leaned forward. The boy was backed against a dirty brick wall before he’d taken another step. “I asked you where you’re running to,†the guy shoved him, grinning, “Your boyfriend? Gonna show him your pretty drawing?†“I’m not-†the boy tried, and one of the guys slammed a fist into him to shut him up. Zoe faltered. She’d never punched anyone other than Alex in her life. What if she got seriously hurt? “Back off, Kyle!†the leader barked, “this freak’s mine.†He snapped his arm forward; the boy flinched back but the guy didn’t hit him this time. Instead he yanked the sketchbook away. The boy’s face blanched, but he didn’t try protesting again. “Let’s see what the gaywad’s got in his gaywad notebook.†Zoe grimaced, but kept her mouth shut. At least this guy’s awful with words, she thought. Although, that probably made it worse, cause it'd mean he'd fall back on his fists quicker. Zoe searched the streets around them. Wasn’t anybody around besides her? But the side street’s walls were backs of buildings, and the only windows were on the far end of the block. The leader flung the sketchbook open to a random page and ripped it first from the book, then into several pieces that he spat on and mashed against the boy’s face. The others ripped chunks of pages for themselves, shredding them or stomping on them or ripping them with their teeth and spitting them back at the kid between razored words that Zoe could feel cutting at her even as a bystander. Zoe snatched her hand away from her neck, where it had nervously played with the choker while she agonized over what she should do. All his artwork was going to be gone of somebody didn’t step up soon. The kid tried to scoop up a few of the larger scraps, and the leader just tossed the sketchbook and pinned him against the wall. Fist to the ribs, fist to the face, knee to the stomach, kick to the chest as the kid slid down the bricks. This guy’s bloodlust didn’t come with words, but it was almost worse silent, as Zoe heard every blow land and every sound the kid made. The street ahead and behind them remained empty. She clenched one fist and kept her pace as she approached them, hating herself for angling away. With the other hand, she pulled out her phone to at least call 911 so they could maybe do something. The moment her hand touched her phone, a current jolted at her fingertips. It was so much stronger than the carpet-shock from last night, but it didn’t touch her, not really. She could feel its force in her hand, but the current wasn’t scrambling her fingers at all. Only sitting there. Zoe realized in half a moment what this meant, and slapped her hand against the leader guy’s back. He cried out as the current emptied into him; Zoe hopped out of anybody’s reach and kept her hand up in front of her. “What kinda tazer is that?†the guy asked sharply. His face was fearful, though, not angry. Zoe had absolutely no response, so she redoubled her grip on her phone and stepped toward him again. “Take the freakin notebook, then!†the guy kicked it across the ground before leaving as fast as he could without breaking into a run. The other two guys hurried after him. Zoe watched until she was sure they were leaving for good, then turned to find the boy curled against the wall. His eyes roved the semicircle of chewed-up, ground-up, stepped-on sketch scraps. “Leave me alone,†his voice barely carried up to Zoe, who did a double-take. “Wait, what? They’re gone, let’s gather these up, I’m sure some of them will be fine-†“None of its fine,†the boy pushed himself into a sitting position, back still to the wall. Zoe couldn’t tell if he was glaring at her or keeping any more mortifying tears off his face. “They’re all ruined. Leave them there. Leave me alone.†“But,†Zoe stammered, “but-“ The boy sat stony-faced, only softening the slightest bit when Zoe handed over his sketchbook. “You’ve gotta tell somebody about this,†Zoe attempted. “No!†The boy leaned against the wall to support his effort to stand, “and don’t you dare, either. When Tyler finds out that I ran to some teacher or someone, d’you really think that’ll make him stop? That’ll make it worse!†“If it was just a teacher, it would,†a tiny male voice startled both of them. The boy jumped, then hissed and held his ribs again. Zoe stared at her phone. “You heard all that?†“All of it, and recorded it, too,†the voice responded, “somebody should be arriving right about now.†“Thank you,†Zoe grinned down at her phone. The boy’s eyes were panicked. “The police? You called the police?†“What else was I supposed to do, let them hospitalize you?†Zoe snapped at him. “Fine! Fine,†the boy reached over and hung up Zoe’s phone. “Just leave before they get here, okay? They have the recording as proof and I bet you haven’t got a good lie prepared about your hand.†“…Fine,†Zoe glared. He was right about that much. “You’re welcome.†“Thanks,†the kid muttered at the floor. “What were you sketching?†Zoe blurted. The boy’s eyes flicked up at her. “Huh?†“What were you sketching before?†“Stuff,†he dug his toe into the sidewalk. “Thanks for this,†he held up his sketchbook, actually sounding halfway sincere this time, “now get out of here.†Zoe took the street the three guys had come from and found herself on the road home one block later. She readjusted the tie dye cloth, making sure the necklace was covered, and gratefully pulled the jacket off her back. The groceries were miraculously still in a bag in her left hand, along with her phone, which she gingerly slid into her pocket. That kid would be safe now, Zoe assured herself. Police always took care of everything. He wouldn’t have to be afraid of those other guys anymore, and eventually he would realize that. She thought of the strange power which had bounced around her right hand before zapping into that bully. She must have accidentally pushed a finger onto her choker’s disc before grabbing her phone. Apparently the choker didn’t just change appearances? If that was the case, why hadn’t her spaceship-colored hand been as strong as that type of metal? The questions filled Zoe’s thoughts as she exited town. She slid her jacket into the grocery bag, letting a new realization sink into her mind. If this thing didn’t just do appearances, it could do practically anything. If Zoe could control this thing, she could do all kinds of good. She could help a thousand bullied kids, or even a thousand hostages or something, and she’d be safe the whole time. Zoe could be a legit super hero. She laughed as she left the road in the direction of the RV. Super Zoe. She grinned and daydreamed about what sort of things her super self could accomplish. More impossibilities seemed to be happening every day.