January 23rd, 2007,
“Come with me Caroline,” Steve said, wrapping her arm around his as they walked through the busy hall of the high school.
Clutching her white cane to her chest, hoping that no one would see it or think it strange that she was walking arm in arm with a twenty two year old Caroline walked hesitantly along. She kept trying to decipher the fast moving blobs of shadows that moved through the pale white light of her vision. There were flashes of colour but they only lasted a few seconds, she figured that it was the last gasp of her eyes or possibly tricks her brain was playing on itself pretending she wasn't losing the most valuable sense. Whatever the case after three months of steadily worsening vision she was reduced to following an idiot around just because she was helpless.
People she couldn't make out, laughed as they went past. At least no one was trying to trip her, that had happened a few times and she couldn't even tell who had done it. She just wanted to get to history class and try to look normal, if that was even possible with Steve the wonder boy at her side.
She tried to count steps like she'd read on the internet, and Steve had kind of, sort of taught her, she thought it was one hundred steps from English class, but today it was ninety-one, and the day before one hundred fifteen. Steve never kept the same pace, jerking, slowing down, speeding up, seemingly at random and the length of his stride changed just as often. Not for the first time she wondered how he had gotten the job. Knowing her school, he was probably the cheapest person they could find.
He took her to her desk, which had been moved to the back so that Steve wouldn't be in the way while he 'helped' her. Taking off her backpack she reached in and tried to find her history notebook, running her fingers over the covers, feeling the braille. The bumps all seemed to be the same to her.
Sighing she took them out to get a better feel. There were programs she could use on her computer to read everything, and she'd practised typing on her Dad's backup computer, while using a program that read back what she was typing. The problem was she didn't have a laptop for school and trying to just listen to everything didn't seem to stick very well. The school had supplied an audio version of her text books, but she had to listen to them three or four times to get the gist of things. Caroline was hoping with the braille it would be easier.
As she started to 'read' the braille, Steve reached over pulled one of the books from the pile and gave it to her. “Here you are.”
She glared at him. “I wanted to find it myself.”
“I'm here to help you, you can't push yourself so hard. Just give it time and learn to adjust.” Without asking Steve put the rest of her books away and placed her braille slate and stylus on the desk, putting her hand on it so she would know where it was.
Caroline wondered if the fact she'd complained to the principal about Steve a week after he arrived, was why he was being so useless. Complaining again probably wouldn't do any good, she had seen the principal four times in the last month and each time he said Steve was qualified and finding another trained assistant for her with their current budget would take months. He made it all sound so reasonable and unfortunate, but she was still left with someone who did everything for her and didn't seem to know how to teach her the basics.
Taking the tape recorder from her pocket she stood up before Steve could do anything and made her way to the teachers desk, going by memory and touching each desk as she went. Her fourteen year old heart started to beat more quickly as she got closer.
“Good afternoon Ms. Grant,” Mr. Murphy, the history teacher said loudly. “You have your tape recorder I see.”
For a second he glowed a pleasant shade of yellow. Blinking her eyes got rid of the colour. “Yes, Mr. Murphy. Here you are.”
Taking it from her Caroline tried not to blush as his hand brushed hers. She heard him place it on the corner of his desk and that was her signal to head back to her seat still trying not to blush. He had never been handsome but he wasn't ugly, and in the last three months, he had been the most understanding of her sudden loss of sight without coming off as pitying her. It also helped that his voice was a deep baritone, which she could listen to for hours.
Students had started to come in and the room was full of talking, the scraping of chairs, and bags and books being put onto desks. One bag was put right in the middle of the aisle, Caroline never had a chance. Her foot caught it, and she went tumbling forward, her sunglasses flying off. Trying to catch herself just made her elbow hit a desk painfully, throwing her even more off balance. She landed in a heap, barely avoiding smashing her face into the floor.
The room filled with laughter.
Fighting back tears, she fumbled on the floor for a few seconds until someone handed her her sunglasses. Getting to her feet she limped to her seat keeping her head down.
“You should have let me help you Caroline,” Steve said.
She refused to look at him, even though a dark pink colour lit up as he spoke. Grabbing her stylus she tried to remember the alphabet, while wishing that she could just curl up in a deep dark cave and die.
January 24th, 2007
Caroline stumbled out of bed crying as she knocked her sunglasses off the bedside table. Her Dad said she didn't need them around the house but she hated the thought of people seeing her milky white eyes. The day before she could see some shadows, now everything was gone, it wasn't even black, it was just gone as if it had never existed. Whatever was happening to her wouldn't even let her keep a little bit of hope.
Looking at her hands in despair, she saw a feeble outline of them all in black. Flexing her fingers, willing herself to keep seeing them, to prove it wasn't a hallucination was a mistake. The image shattered and vanished back into nothingness.
Grabbing the useless lamp beside her bed she threw it against the wall with a scream of rage.
Someone came running. Caroline jumped back into bed, grabbed her blanket and threw it over herself. There was no point in getting out anymore her life was over.
“Caroline!” her Dad said from the doorway, his raspy voice, victim of too many cigarettes sounded scared. “Caroline, what happened?”
She didn't answer him.
His shuffling steps moved slowly, hesitantly to her side. “Hey Princess,” he said, sitting down on the bed and patting her shoulder. “You want to talk about it?”
“I can't see,” she sobbed.
Arms enfolded her through the blanket. “It's gotten worse?”
She nodded, the blanket tickling her nose, her sobs turning to full blown crying.
"Don't worry we're going to see a new specialist today. She's highly recommended."
The grief at losing the last bit of light turned to rage. "WHY?! What the hell can she do? Everyone you've sent me to has been totally fucking clueless!"
He tried to say something she didn't give him the chance. Throwing off the blanket she shoved him as hard as she could. “GET OUT!!” When he didn't move she grabbed her pillow throwing it at him. Then she started throwing everything in reach.
She kept throwing things long after he fled. Exhausted and drained she fell back into bed.
Hunger made her get up.
Her slippered feet crunched on broken toys, useless pictures and scattered jewelry as she left her room. She made her way downstairs and to the kitchen without holding onto the wall, having memorized the layout of the house weeks ago.
A figure sat in the air, coloured in muddy blue and brown, dark ugly grey, and utter black, all churning sluggishly to form what looked like the outline of a man. Caroline stopped staring in confusion.
“Caroline,” her Dad said causing the unreal image to vanish. “Are you feeling better now?”
Holding her hands out she made her way to the table and managed to find a chair. “I'm hungry,” she said, sitting down.
“Waffles sound good?”
As he went and started making breakfast, the normal sounds somehow comforting, Caroline sat there desperately recalling what waffles dripping in butter and maple syrup looked like. She was doing that with almost everything now, wondering fearfully how long it would take before she started forgetting what things looked like.
When a gentle thud of the waffle maker told her the hard part was done, Caroline decided to say something. “Who's the specialist?”
There was a flash of yellow outlined in grey and black swirls. “Her name is Ms. Chance. She contacted me two days ago and asked to see you. After talking with her it seemed that she knew a lot about your condition and she has some therapies that could let you get some vision back.”
“How can she know so much about my condition? No one else has ever seen anything quite like it.”
"I don't know, but she described everything exactly and said that there were some tests she could do in a few hours that would tell her if she could help. If the tests are positive you'll be going to her health spa for training." Again there was a bizarre pale yellow that seemed to outline her Dad's head
"Jesus Christ, Dad! Is she some sort of health guru like Mom used to go to? How can you trust another nut job like that?!"
"She's a legitimate doctor and a psychic. Not a nut job," he told her.
Her hand slammed down on the table. "That's what Mom said. Look how well that turned out! Christ! Why don't you just save your money and send me to that school for the blind I showed you while I could still read! It will be a hell of a lot better for me than some new age bullshit artist!"
Hands grabbed her shoulders. "Now listen to me Caroline! You will not use language like that in this house. If Doctor Chance can't help you, I'll fill out the forms for the school. But she phoned me and said she was certain she can help you and is willing to try it for free."
She snorted in disbelief. "Yeah right, it's free until she discovers the medicine that will cure me. Then the bills will arrive. Face facts I'm not going to see again."
"Why are so willing to give up?"
"It's called being realistic. And I'm not giving up. I want to live my life as best I can. But hoping that I'll see by some miracle isn't going to do it. Learning how to use that goddamn cane properly, getting someone who actually knows how to read braille to teach me, not the asshole the school hired! Doing all those things that I've heard about like counting steps and getting real computer programs for the blind not the shit I downloaded off the net for free! Those are what will help me." She was crying now, hating herself for crying as tears poured down her face. "You're the one who is giving up, hoping for something that doesn't exist and not getting me the help I need."
She didn't fight when her father hugged her. Blackness filled the nothingness. Her hair became damp as he cried with her. "I'm sorry baby, I'm sorry. See this specialist and if she can't help you today I'll fill out the forms for the school tonight."
"When do I see her?" Caroline mumbled into his chest.
"She'll be coming at one, about three hours from now. She wants to do some tests and talk with you for a bit, she said everything should be done by six at the latest.” She felt him lean back keeping his hands on her shoulders, probably to look in her eyes like he used to do when she could see. “So you'll meet her?”
“Yeah,” she said. “But have those school forms ready.”
Caroline sat at her vanity table, trying to get her long hair looking good. She and her Dad had spent two hours getting the room back into some kind of order, Somehow she hadn't thrown any of her makeup, whether it was because she subconsciously couldn't bring herself to do it or that it was too far away from her bed, she didn't know. All she cared about was that it was still usable.
Her hand ran up and down the long french braid, going by feel alone to make sure it was done properly. Closing her eyes, she could pretend that she could still see her pale brown hair, that if she just opened her eyes she'd see everything again.
With a sigh she put her braid back and reached for her makeup. When she'd first started losing her sight four months ago, she'd panicked and did exactly what her father was still doing looking for anything that could possibly help. When she was forced to wear glasses with lenses thick enough to be used for telescopes, and even then she was squinting, she'd given up the hope that things would get better. She'd started to adapt.
One thing that was important for her was looking pretty, she was vain and proudly admitted it. So she'd spent hours researching how blind people put on makeup, did their hair, kept themselves presentable, copied them and then stared owlishly in the mirror to see if she had done it right.
Feeling her cheeks, her fingers brushed over some little bumps. Cursing the acne, she put a tiny bit of foundation and blush on to cover it up. Mascara was next, very slowly and carefully applied, barely moving at first until she felt her eyelashes bend ever so slightly. Then red lipstick, the easiest part of her routine. Before she'd have done even more, but it wasn't the easiest for her and it would have added another twenty or thirty minutes just to make sure she got it right.
Going to the closet, Caroline ran her hand over the clothes, trying to remember what was what. The blouses were on the right, counting to herself she pulled off the third blouse. It would be her blue one with embroidered flowers. A gentle touch told her she had the right one. Placing it on the bed she went back for pants. Jeans were on the left side, her favourite pair, retro bell bottoms that hugged her hips before flaring just below the knees, were first on the rack. They joined the blouse.
Underwear was next, plain stuff was in the top drawer. The second drawer was her pretty underwear, opening it up she counted the neatly folded matching panties and bra's that were placed together. Her fingers followed the bands, feeling for the little bumps of thread she'd sewn into the underwear to let her know what was what. Some digging found the blue bra and panties she liked and matched her blouse.
A few minutes later, comfortably dressed for company, she was out in the living room with a book for learning braille. She could feel the shape of the letter as it was written and beneath it was the same letter in braille. It was agonizingly slow but necessary. She'd never been a fast reader, but she was a pretty good one especially if the book was something she liked, like Twilight, so she wanted to at least be able to read. If she could she wouldn't feel totally helpless.
There was a knock on the door, before she could get up to answer it her dad rushed from his home office and had it opened. "Hi, please come in. You're Dr. Chance? " he asked, his normally calm voice sounded nervous.
"That's me Mr. Grant. Is Caroline ready to see me?" a woman with a surprisingly husky voice asked cheerfully.
Caroline walked over to the door holding her hand out until she felt the wall that split the living room from the entrance way. "Hello Dr. Chance. Where would you like to do this?" She heard the sound of boots being taken off and a winter coat rasping as the fabric rubbed together. For a second there was a kaleidoscope of colours, indigo, brilliant blue, indigo and beautiful forest green, she wanted to reach out and touch it.
"One moment," the doctor said.
Caroline gasped in shock as she saw what looked like a diamond glowing a brilliant blue.
"Catch!" Dr. Chance said.
The glowing blue object flew threw the air, despite her shock at seeing something clearly and in colour for the first time in over a month, she instinctively grabbed the diamond. Looking at it she would swear it was the most beautiful thing in the world. She couldn't speak, she couldn't even look away from the stone in her palm.
“Y-you caught it!” her Dad said.
A glowing silvery shape seemed to speak with the doctors voice, "Mr. Grant, I can help your daughter."
"Caroline, look at the stones on the table. What colours do you see?" Dr. Chance asked colours seemed to sparkle and pop as she spoke.
Still surprised that she could see anything Caroline took a few seconds to answer. "Dark red, blue, black, and bright green," she said pointing at each one.
"Very good. Each crystal contains an emotion captured when it was strongest. I want you to relax. Think of a pool of water, it's motionless, a perfect mirror. Concentrate on that. Picture it in your head. Nothing is around except the pool. Can you see it?"
Caroline concentrated, the doctors voice made it very easy to picture it. She could smell the water, it was clean and fresh and cool. "I see it."
"Put your fears, worries, happiness and every other emotion into the pool. They slip into the water easily, not disturbing the surface. The water absorbs them, leaving you open and ready to accept what's around you. It frees you, opening your soul. Do it slowly there is no rush."
The fear of never seeing again, of being helpless, were thrown into the pool without any regret. It was so easy Caroline wondered why she hadn't done it before. The pool expanded, she could feel the cool pure water lapping against her skin. The anger at the school bullies who had made her a target so many times over the last few months and the rage she felt at Steve went the same way, leaving her feeling refreshed. The worries were next, keeping up at school, dating, what people were thinking when they saw her, they all went just as easily. She faltered with the happy emotions. The feeling of her dad supporting her, the memories of her mother, her friends, the feeling of success when she managed to do something she had thought long gone. They didn't go so easily but she put them in there anyways. The pool rippled slightly, growing, radiating with power.
"Relax. You're doing well,” the doctor said soothingly. “Keep thinking of the pool. It's your power and strength. You aren't losing anything when you use it, you're simply storing them, ready to be used when you need them. It's your strength, the centre of your power. No one can take it from you and as it grows, you become stronger."
With each word the pool grew.
"Now look at the crystals and tell me what you feel from each one."
Caroline picked up the red crystal gently, barely breathing, afraid the beautiful image would disappear. The dark red light reflected off her skin letting her see her long graceful fingers outlined in red and silver. She shuddered, putting the crystal down so fast it hit the table with a crack. "It's angry. No, he's angry. He wants to kill someone."
Hesitantly she touched the blue crystal, now that she looked at it more closely the colour became clearer, a soft baby blue. t was comforting to look at, she couldn't keep herself from smiling. "A child is sleeping with his mother. He's warm and safe."
She didn't want to put the crystal down, Dr. Chance actually had to take it from her hand. "What's the next one Caroline?"
Now that she was sensing them, the emotion jumped from the black crystal like a predator looking for the kill. Without even touching it Caroline knew what it was. "An old woman. She hasn't seen her children for years. She's lonely and full of hate. She wants everyone to die before she does." She wanted to throw the horrible thing away but was afraid to touch it, the hatred was so intense.
"Calm down. It can't hurt you. What about the green crystal? What does it feel?"
The colour drew her in. After the negativity of the black crystal she almost snatched up the cheerful feeling green crystal. "A painter is drawing something. He's happy, excited even at the thought of showing his picture. He's tired from working late, but he doesn't want to stop."
Dr. Chance, patted Caroline's leg. "Excellent Caroline, picture the pool again, it needs to go away now. Picture it shrinking, becoming smaller, it's still powerful and peaceful, but it can be held in your hand. Do you see it in your hand?"
The teenager nodded, staring at her hand. She could feel it cool and powerful cupped in her hand ready to do her bidding.
"Place the pool against your chest. It will rest in your heart, growing strong on your emotions. Ready to help you when you need it. Move your hand, slowly and gently, don't shake it."
Her hand went to her breast, the cool water entered her skin calming her down. It should have been uncomfortable, but it was so clean and refreshing it felt perfectly natural. Her heart seemed to beat more strongly as the water surrounded it, she felt the energy rushing through her. Taking a deep breath, Caroline felt different the fear was gone.
"You've done very well in only five hours, Caroline. Would you like to come and learn from me?" the doctor asked.
“Five hours?!” she exclaimed, it hadn't felt nearly that long. Yet even as she spoke, Caroline realized that she was exhausted. "You can really teach me how to see?"
“Yes. You'll never see normally, but you've made remarkable progress with only the most basic training in an incredibly short amount of time. If you try, you'll see aura's as easily as you used to see the sky.”
She felt tears welling up. “I want to learn.”
Dr. Chance hugged her, lit up in a beautiful yellow glow. “Thank you. You won't regret it.”
Pine Springs Health Spa, Illinois.
January 27th, 2007
Caroline groaned as she used her white cane to navigate an obstacle course for the fifteenth time. She'd only arrived at Dr. Chance's health spa, the other day, but every waking moment had been filled with work of one kind or another, starting with meditating, memorizing the route from her new room to several parts of the spa, most importantly the cafeteria and Dr. Chance's office, studying braille, cooking her own meals, using her cane all the time, counting steps, learning about psychic powers, and starting to learn what the colours she kept seeing meant.
It felt like she hadn't slept in days.
“Why am I learning this?” she asked, sitting down, letting the cane drop on the floor.
Caroline heard her trainer, Mr. Washington, walk over to her, she flinched a little when his hand touched her shoulder. “Can you see?” he asked in a reedy voice that didn't match the large hand.
“Dr. Chance said I would be able to.”
“Not quite,” he corrected her. “Dr. Chance said you'd see aura's, and we discussed things very carefully before I agreed to help teach you. You'll be able to make out people and maybe some objects, it will help but you'll still need to learn how to get around stairs, tables, cars. You have to learn to cook for yourself, unless you want to eat out for every meal. And unless you want to listen to everything, you should learn at least some braille.”
Sighing and leaning back in the chair she kicked the floor. “Can we at least take a break?”
“All right, let's go for a walk.”
She looked at him, seeing a blob of fairly intense sunny yellow that was suppose to mean he was playful or happy if she remembered it right. “That's not my idea of a break.”
He chuckled. “Trust me you'll like it.”
Grabbing her cane she followed her trainer into the hallway, listening to his footsteps and his basic left and right directions, trying to use the cane to avoid hitting anything. She heard people talking as they walked past, her cheeks turned red as some of the conversations stopped when they saw her shuffling along. They didn't go far which was fortunate, if they'd had to leave the building, she would have frozen.
“Have a seat, at two o'clock, four paces forward,” he said when they entered what she thought was an office.
After some fumbling she managed to find the seat and wondered what he was going to teach her now, her brain felt like it was full to bursting.
“Right in front of you is a present, Dr. Chance thought it would help encourage you,” Mr. Washington said.
Curious, Caroline touched something that felt like a keyboard, except as she ran her hands over it, there were only six slightly oversized keys, something like a space bar, what could be speakers at the top, and a flat row with tiny holes all along it, that seemed to be set up for braille. “What is this?”
“A new product, made by a gadgeteer at cost, for blind people. It's a braille computer, called a brailler, and it comes with wifi access. It already has a few hundred books on it for you to read, bookmarks to websites for you to look at, and some other things that you can find out on your own,” he said.
“This is too expensive! Why is she doing all of this for me?” she asked. A yellowish green light flared and died briefly taking the shape of a human.
A yellowish green light flared and died briefly taking the shape of a human. "I don't know. I was only hired a week ago, so this is a pretty big surprise for me to. You can ask her yourself tonight but for now let me explain how this works.”
They spent the next hour poring over the computer learning how everything worked. The entire time the question of why all of this was happening, whispered in the back of her mind.
“Caroline, how do you like everything?” Dr. Chance asked, as they sat in a comfortable feeling room with a roaring fire, that was a counterpoint to the raging snowstorm outside.
“It's nice. Everything is so comfortable, and the computer you got for me is wonderful...” Caroline faltered, not sure how to ask what was on her mind.
Biting her lip, wishing she could actually see the woman rather than just the jumble of colours that seemed to hold the promise of making sense but never quite clicked, she took a deep breath before speaking. “Why me?” She blushed as the words suddenly stopped and her mind went blank. “I-I mean, thank you for everything, and I don't-”
Dr. Chance stopped her with a laugh. “It's OK Caroline. That's a fair question and I'd be asking the same question if I was in your position. There are a few answers to that and I won't tell you all of them today, but the two most important ones are that I'm looking for a protege, and the other one is that I'm doing a favour for a person I respect.”
Leaning back in the comfy chair Caroline thought about the answer. She'd never thought of herself as being a protege, or having a mentor. That was something she thought happened to genius teen singers and superheroes not her. She was a nobody and as far as she knew the only thing she could do was see some pretty colours.
The second part was even more confusing. “Why would someone want you to help me?”
“Sorry, it's not time to tell you yet. You have to wait until you've learned more. That's the persons request, not my own,” Dr. Chance stressed.
Throwing her head back in frustration, she realized that demanding anything wouldn't get her anywhere and would be extremely rude. So grudgingly she put it off to the side. “What am I suppose to learn?”
“Too many things for the short time we have. But tonight you will learn about the crystals I showed you when we first met.”
There was a clicking and rattle of stones then fifteen lights in all different colours seemed to hang in the air, little beacons of emotions in a sea of nothingness. “These are ordinary quartz crystals. If you get crystals related to the emotion, you can create a very strong connection that even non-psychics will feel. For now we'll use these.”
A crystal was pressed into Caroline's hand.
“At my level of power and training,” Dr. Chance continued, “imprinting one of these takes about a day of full concentration and I'm very good for a baseline psychic.”
“I can make this glow?”
“Yes. Take a hold of the pool within you like you did the other day.”
She reached for the cool feeling in her heart. It came so quickly it was almost a shock. As the cool water surged through her body, filling her veins light surged around her. She saw her hand, its outline glowed a brilliant violet that shifted as she stared in wonder.
“N-now focus on a happy memory and feel the water flowing down your arm. Let it enter the crystal, drop by drop,” Dr. Chance said her voice shaking.
Caroline tuned her out, what she was suppose to do seemed so easy. The crystal was empty all it needed was something to fill it. It seemed to call out for energy. Thinking carefully she remembered the last day she'd spent with her mother before she'd fallen sick. They'd gone for a trip to the zoo. Everything had been perfect even if her mom had to rest a little more often. Focusing further she chose the perfect memory, the two of them riding a big horse as it did some loops around a small track. The rose perfume mixing with the earthy smell of the horse, feeling the warm protective arms around her, the long black hair tickling her face. It was worth preserving forever.
The colour wrapped around her hand flared turning to a soft, warm pink. It swirled around the empty crystal, pouring into it like a flood. The crystal took it all in and asked for more. She gave it everything she had. The pink light overwhelmed the other crystals, filling her vision.
The light was cut off suddenly as the crystal was snatched away. “What?”
There was no answer for several seconds just heavy breathing. “Caroline, what did you do?” Dr. Chance finally asked.
“I gave it an emotion just like you said. I could feel it, the crystal I mean, it wanted to be filled.”
The doctors voice quavered “You were thinking of your mother? Riding a horse?”
“Yeah. How did you know?” she asked in astonishment.
“I felt it as you filled the crystal. And now just touching the crystal I'm still sensing it.” The pink light slowly returned as Dr. Chance opened her hand. “It's glowing. I'm not using my sight and I can see the light.”
“What does that mean?” Caroline asked, not sure if she wanted to reach out and take the crystal back or curl up into a ball at the shock she heard in the doctors voice.
“You're very powerful. More powerful than almost anyone I know. That's going to be a blessing and a curse, and I now know why I'm suppose to help you.” The crystals vanished one by one being placed in a bag from the sound of it.
Dr. Chance took her hand companionably, “Let's take it easy for the rest of the night. What music do you like?”
They talked about normal things for the next few hours, until it was time for bed. However Caroline couldn't help but feel and sometimes even see the unease in Dr. Chance.
February 5th, 2007
To most people watching the woman and teen walking along the busy Chicago street, nothing would seem very special about them. The young girl, who was walking carefully arm in arm with the older woman, moved hesitantly looking around in wonder behind her dark sunglasses. The jumpiness could be put down to simply being a newcomer to the bustling city, with a less then stellar reputation. No one suspected that it was actually a training session for a budding psychic trying to learn her powers.
To Caroline the street was lit up like Christmas. There was the nothingness she had grown used to but in it moved blobs of light in all the colours of the rainbow, they moved, merged, shifted colour, and shape with maddening speed. An orange red aura shifted to dark, almost blood red in seconds, and a man shouted just a few feet away about killing someone on his phone. A dirty brown human shaped aura shifted to a soft yellow when a blue aura came to it, embracing it and merging together. A beautiful silver aura walked along, with a mix of white and baby blue in its' center. Black auras huddled together off to the side, the auras that passed close to them became muddier, gaining flecks of dark blue or brown.
She wanted to close her eyes there was too much information, ever since she'd started practising with Dr. Chance her sight had been growing. Now it was overpowering, she was getting sick to her stomach watching all the emotions around her. Dr. Chance promised that soon the emotions would be an open book and she could use the auras that surrounded everything to help her get through the world, but right that moment it was too much. Did dark green mean success, or fear? Was the black and red aura that almost bumped into her mean a person was going to rob her, or someone who was about to break down in tears? What did that clear red flecked with dark pink stand for, and why did the person follow her for so long?
"I need to sit down," she whispered.
"I need to sit down. There's too much here. I can't figure it all out. Please, get me out of here." Caroline hated the fear in her voice. Ever since she started going blind, she had fought against it and the sadness that had threatened to overwhelm her at times. Not wanting to give in for fear she'd just give up and die. But the noises, the sights, the confusing mix of light and darkness was too much for her.
Dr. Chance squeezed her arm encouragingly. "Just a little further and we'll stop for a hot chocolate, a coffee shop is just up ahead."
She didn't answer just leaned in closer to her doctor and friend. With her head down so she could only see a hint of the auras directly in front of her and avoid running into someone, it was more bearable. She turned with Dr. Chance, a bell chimed when the door opened up.
"Small step," Chance whispered, as Caroline fell back a step holding her mentors arm.
Carefully she stepped up and into the coffee shop, reaching out for the door frame to make sure she didn't hit it. The warm, coffee saturated air was a welcome relief from the cold outside. The half dozen or so auras she saw were a relief after the chaos outside. Her companion manoeuvred her carefully through the tables and placed her hand on a high backed chair.
"Just wait here and rest your eyes. I'll be back in a few minutes with a hot white chocolate."
Touching the table she pulled the chair out slightly and sat down with a grateful smile. Taking off her sunglasses she rubbed her milky white eyes for once enjoying the darkness.
Footsteps came towards her table. She looked towards the noise and saw a blob of dark forest green coming towards her. Now that she wasn't so overwhelmed, she remembered what the colours meant, the person was jealous, a perpetual victim. It came closer, until it loomed over her.
She resisted the urge to cringe, when she smelled the cheap aftershave he was wearing. "Hello? Can I help you?"
"Can you tell me what's wrong with your eyes?" a man asked. His voice sounded nice, soft and well educated. But the aura had her on edge.
"Not that it's any of your business but I'm blind. It's a medical condition." She'd been warned about this when her eyes had started to change, H1! and others might call her a mutant. Now she knew she really was a mutant, but the legitimate excuse of being blind still worked.
"I don't believe you. No human has eyes like that," she could smell the hazelnut coffee on his breath.
Her heart began to beat like a drum. She couldn't fight, couldn't run, couldn't even try to duck if he hit her, making fists to keep her hands from shaking she tried to look him in the face, judging by his voice and the blob like outline. "Go look on the internet if you don't believe me. Or what, are you going to hit a blind girl?"
Very faintly she heard fabric rubbing against skin. She didn't move, he was doing the annoying thing of waving a hand in front of her face to see if she really was blind. Normally she'd tell the person to stop, but she really wanted the guy to go away and the sooner he realized she was telling the truth, the sooner he'd go away. She flinched when a finger poked her nose.
"Are you satisfied now!" she snapped swatting at his hand.
"Sorry. I had to be sure you weren't a gene freak," he muttered.
"Yeah, now you know. Thanks for making me feel like a freak, can you get out of here?" She glared in his general direction as he walked away, she saw his green aura becoming even darker. She was pretty sure he was blaming someone else for his being a total ass.
A brilliant violet light came towards her, she recognized it as Dr. Chance, only she had an aura that vibrant. Caroline waited until her mentor was sitting before talking. "Did you see what that jerk did?"
Placing a warm cup in her hand, her mentor answered sounding happy. "Yes. You handled it fairly well."
"What if he'd tried to do something? I couldn't do anything to defend myself!" She started to shake a little at the thought of someone attacking her. She'd never felt so helpless before, but honestly the only thing that had protected her was her helplessness.
"Don't worry we're going to change that. It's one reason we're here. Now take a sip of your hot chocolate, it will help relax you," the doctor said with maddening calm.
"What, am I going to learn karate from some blind master or something?" Caroline winced as she said the snarky remark. Blushing she ducked her head to take a sip of her drink, savouring the warmth and sweetness.
"Hardly," her companion replied with a chuckle. "The crystals we use are infused with emotion. It takes quite a bit of work to do it and usually requires dozens of hours to create them. A similar, but longer process can be used to create a crystal that amplifies auras, the very best kirlian camera's use lenses made from these crystals. Without the technology behind the camera's most people find the crystals useless, even for most psychics it only makes it a little easier for them to see an aura. For you however, with your already formidable senses I think we'll see some pretty remarkable things."
"Almost everything has an aura, even the buildings and sidewalk. Natural things are easier to detect, but the energy people put into making something, using it, thinking about it, it adds up leaving a trace aura. You know how haunted houses feel creepy, some of it's from entities that live there. But a lot of it comes from the knowledge it's haunted. People know it's haunted so it should be creepy, thus it becomes creepier. Then more people know it's creepy and it gets worse, until you would look at it and want to run away in fear. We're getting you some glasses that should let you see these auras, and make out living auras much more clearly."
“I'll be able to walk around and do stuff normally?” she asked feeling tears start to well up.
“I don't know. You're still learning and you aren't anywhere near your full potential. You won't be able to make out details, or read, see the texture of something, and you might not be able to see objects with very weak auras. But you'll be able to see auras more clearly, spotting emotions, health problems, very clear outlines of people and things. Possibly even how they interact with each other.”
Caroline sniffed back the tears. Not sure if she wanted to cry that she'd see more than she could now or that she'd never be normal.
A tissue wiped away her tears. "This is just a temporary tool. If we had more time I wouldn't be doing this for you, with training you'll be able to do it all by yourself. But I don't know how much time we'll have and you need to learn too many things too quickly."
The teen stopped sniffling, this wasn't the first time her mentor had talked about not having enough time. "What do you mean? Why don't we have time?"
"I don't know. But things are in play and I don't know what they are, only that you have a part in them.”
“That's it! That's all you can tell me?”
A hand stroked her cheek. "I can tell you one thing? But you won't like it."
"It's very important. Now finish your drink we're almost at my friends shop."
Wishing that she could glare properly Caroline did the next best thing. "I hate you sometime. You know that right?"
"Yes. It's quite charming actually."
"Really, really hate you."
"Drink your hot chocolate, you'll feel better."
"Martin, how are you?" Dr. Chance asked as they entered a shop that smelled heavily of incense.
"Jacky!" an older man with a happy voice shouted. "Now that you're here I'm wonderful. Is this the newest trainee?"
Caroline saw an aura of pure gold coming from the man. It was so vibrant it was like looking at the sun and she could see the outline of his overly large body perfectly. She held out a hand to shake his but was engulfed in a giant hug.
"This is Caroline, and yes she's my latest student. So please don't crush her I haven't tortured her enough yet."
Releasing her, Martin kept his hands on her shoulders his aura became rimmed by a pretty metallic silver colour. She studied him as he studied her. The gold meant he was close to the divine, a thinker or a guide of some kind. As he was looking at her he was opening himself to new ideas, opening his mind even further, that was what the silver stood for. She wondered what he saw in her.
He stood up, patting her shoulder. "You made the right choice, Jacky. She'll do and the glasses will be great."
Caroline wanted to ask for more detail when a flame of white appeared from out of nowhere. With a scream she jumped back behind Dr. Chance, only to bounce off a shelf and fall to the ground. "What is that?!"
"What, Old Monty?" Martin asked his aura seemed to merge with the flames. "He's my spirit animal. You're lucky, he usually doesn't show himself."
"It looks like it's on fire!"
"Yeah. He's an old one so his aura is really something. Even I see flickers of it sometimes." He disappeared behind something. "Now lets go see if the glasses I made fit ya."
She listened to the sound of boxes being moved, and cupboard doors being opened and closed for several minutes before Martin came back. "Here we go, try these on."
A pair of glasses was put in her hand. Feeling them she was less then impressed. They were small perfectly round lenses, with a thin wire frame, something like she'd expect a hippy to wear. "What do they look like?" she asked hesitantly.
"Don't worry about that just put them on. They'll look lovely," Dr. Chance said.
With a bit of fear she put the glasses on, they fit perfectly. She had to blink against the colours that assaulted her eyes. Auras surrounded her in every possible shape and colour. Slamming her eyes shut with a scream she fell to the floor her brain overloaded by colours and emotions.
The bed was nice and soft, it smelled pleasantly of cinnamon. Caroline laid in it with her eyes closed, enjoying the blankness for once. An after image of the insane mass of auras glowed in her brain. Caroline winced as she rolled over putting pressure on her bruised cheek. Her moan of pain and hunger brought the sound of feet coming to her side.
"Here Caroline drink this," Dr. Chance said quietly, placing a cup of something warm to her lips.
She drank it down, it felt wonderful. The headache faded the roiling colours in her mind became tranquil, and a burst of energy filled her. "What is this?"
"A Lakota medicinal tea that Martin learned how to make. He swears by it. Do you feel better now?"
"Yeah, I do. God that was freaky. I saw everything even the bugs."
Stroking her hair, the doctor gave her a few minutes to get her mind back in order. Finally, "Sorry about that, we didn't realize it would be so overwhelming. We've put a filter over them now so you'll see the auras, but only the stronger ones. As you get a handle on it, we'll weaken the filters until you can handle seeing everything. Or by then you won't need the glasses at all."
"It won't be like what it was before, will it?" she asked with a shudder of fear.
"Not for at least several months. Not until you're ready, I promise." Once more, the glasses were put into her hand.
Caroline sat up in bed, concentrating on the tranquil pool inside of her. The cool water expanded from her heart, flowing through her veins, washing away the fear and uncertainty. The tightness in her chest faded and the tiny tremors smoothed out leaving her as still as the pool in her minds eye. Putting on the glasses, she gasped. Dr. Chance's aura was no longer a humanoid blob, it outlined her, showing her ears and ponytail. Caroline reached out for her hand lifting it up to stare at the individual fingers, each one roaring with power.
Getting to her feet, she looked at the bed, it was a transparent baby blue, comforting, promising a restful sleep. The books that lined the shelves, flared with white, gold and lavender. The shelves themselves, the tables, and other things in the storage room were invisible to her, but she knew that soon she would see them. As soon as she got a handle on the marvellous sights.
Crying with joy, she hugged her mentor.
Pine Springs Health Spa, Illinois.
February 25th, 2007
Caroline walked around the sprawling health spa on her own, following a meandering course that had her weaving in and out of buildings, through gardens and around groves of trees, using a white cane to find the shore, in this case the edge of the pathway, while trying to count her steps and remember every twist and turn. Mr. Washington didn't make it easy by talking to her as they walked along. He did help out when she asked what some particularly strong aura was and telling her to focus on things like the wind, shade, echoes and the ground.
The glasses were an even greater help, almost a miracle, allowing her to move with growing confidence. She could see the outlines of the trees as they started to revive from the long winter. The stone benches laced with heating systems to let patients sit outside on all but the coldest days were lit up with yellows, pinks and blues, from the hundreds of people who had sat on them as they rested and recovered from whatever ailed them. They were her landmarks. Twenty feet away from the circular bench and table where patients could have breakfast in the summer she had to turn right and walk towards the young fir tree that had a peculiar blackness in the middle of its aura, signifying a sickness of some kind. Then two hundred paces past that, turn left and head for the door that was a pale yellow a sign of optimism and hope, given to the doors by people who were going to the special steam baths.
It was slow going, tracking her steps, keeping the same length of pace, keeping the cane tapping the ground on either side, never rising too high, but not sliding on the ground either, was difficult, especially while talking and memorizing things. But she was learning, moving faster and more confidently every day. She wasn't taking the shuffling steps like she once did and didn't automatically search for someones arm or a wall to grab onto.
She'd even gotten good enough with reading braille that Dr. Chance had given her all six Harry Potter and the Twilight series for her brailler, a type of braille computer. She was reading them at a snails pace, but every page read was an improvement and a victory compared to the standstill she'd been at a month ago.
She heard someone come running up behind them, a security guard if she was right from the heavy boots that hit the ground like hammers. Turning to face him she saw his aura was irritated and worried, tinged dark brown and red. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"We have some H1! protesters at the gate. It's not serious but Dr. Chance wants you to join her." Taking Mr. Washington's arm just above the elbow, they followed him along the path at a pace that was quite a bit faster than she would have risked normally. However with H1! at the gates, she wanted to get her little mutant self somewhere safe.
Caroline recognized some of the auras around her. "Wait, we're going towards to the gate! Aren't the protesters there?"
"Those were my orders from Dr. Chance. She's near the gate and wants you with her," the guard replied.
Mr. Washington patted her arm. “Don't worry Caroline, we won't let anything happen to you.”
She sighed with irritation. They were concerned for her, she could see it in their auras, but going towards the people who wanted her dead was the last thing she wanted. Still as she'd learned over the last few months, she had to be a lot more trusting than she had been before. From getting change when buying something, to picking out the right colour clothes, and even knowing what was on her plate, when she didn't make it herself, she had to rely on people telling her the truth. That was the most maddening thing about losing her sight. She shuddered thinking how much worse it would be if she couldn't even see the auras.
The brilliant aura of Dr. Chance appeared before them, and the fear that had been building up in Caroline's chest dissipated immediately. "Is H1! really out there?" she asked.
"Yes," she said with a resigned tone of voice that wasn't reflected in her aura. "We get a group of protesters every few months. Since I'm psychic they assume I'm a mutant and this is some sort of mutant base camp."
"Are you calling the police? Where should I go?"
"The police are not coming, they would only waste time. You are coming with me and you are not to say anything about being a mutant. You are my protege, blind and a budding psychic if anyone asks. Consider this the next step in your training keeping a straight face and acting calm in the face of danger.
"What?!" she squawked, as Chance took her hand, placing it around her own arm and after making sure she was ready, nudged her forward. Hesitantly Caroline walked beside her mentor before them was a mass of auras in all the violent and nasty colours that signified anger, fear, jealousy and hatred. As she saw the riot of ugly colours, she tried to pull away but the doctors grip was like iron.
They stopped for a second so Dr. Chance could talk to her. "You need to learn how to face your fears and deal with people who don't like you. Just stay quiet and listen, and remember you're my protege, blind and a budding psychic. You'll be fine."
Caroline took a few deep breathes, pushing the fear and tension into the pool, letting the cool water expand from her heart, moving to her stomach and head, filling her limbs with power and peace. The auras around her became brighter and more distinctive.
"Ready?" her mentor asked.
"Ready," she squeaked.
They walked towards the yelling mob which was being held back by the iron gate andten security guards who were standing in front of the gate, their auras and posture radiating confidence. Dr. Chance walked right up to the gate letting Caroline stand a few feet behind her.
"Who's in charge here?" she shouted.
A person with a blazing aura of dark green and black, jealous and feeling old pain, stepped up. A gruff male voice, raspy and thick with hate shouted. "You're a mutant! We don't want you near our kids!"
Caroline shrank back trying not to show her fear. As the hate washed over her she reached for the pool within her again, letting the power fill her. Her vision didn't improve, but her aura flared up. She tried to dampen it down.
"What branch of H1! are you guys with? You're certainly not local," Dr. Chance said.
"What does it matter? We're here doing a public service! Stop spreading your filth, gene scum!” The mob roared their anger.
Her aura seemed to reach out towards towards the mob. Having no idea what was happening Caroline clamped down as hard as she could on the power surging within her. The colours faded away, leaving just the normal colourful outlines of people and plants around her.
"It matters,” Dr. Chance said, calmly, “because if you had talked to them, you'd realize that I am not a mutant, neither is any of my staff. I cannot and will not reveal any details about my patients, but none of them have admitted to being mutants either. So you are creating a public disturbance and interfering with my business." Caroline saw the aura move it's arm the hand was clutching something she couldn't see. "Do you know Mr. Miller, the leader of the local H1! group?"
Confusion began to overpower the leaders hate filled aura. "Yeah I talked to him."
"I'm going to call him, he's on my speed dial." There was a very short wait then Dr. Chance was talking to someone on the phone. "Hi Fred, sorry for calling you at work but I have a problem." There was a pause. "Yeah it's them. Can you talk to the man in charge and let him know that he's wasting his time? Here you go try not to drop it."
Caroline saw the two aura's touch as the phone was handed over. Dr. Chance was brilliantly lit up with confidence and power, the mans aura darkened further, filling up with disgust. She listened to the short conversation, watching in fascination as the man's aura shifted to a muddy grey, fear, and an ugly brownish yellow meaning stress and being overwhelmed. After a few minutes with the anger being replaced by embarrassment, he handed the phone back to Dr. Chance.
"Now do you believe me?"
"I know that was Fred but you admitted to being psychic, that means you're a mutant. And I don't like how you got a good man wrapped around your little finger." The man seemed to be saying the words to save face there wasn't any real passion in his voice.
Now Dr. Chance was sounding bored. "Do you trust the MCO? And Goodkind?"
"Here is my MID.” Her confident deep red aura held something out. “No you can't hold it. See, baseline psychic. And here, a letter stating I was an employee of good standing with Goodkind International. If you want fresh blood work done proving I don't have the mutant gene you'll have to wait a while. I will of course insist you wait in town not on my doorstep."
She'd been speaking loudly enough, pitching her voice just right so that everyone had heard her. When they saw the MID they had lost a lot of their enthusiasm. The letter from the Goodkinds was icing on the cake. Caroline watched in amazement as the leader apologized and the entire group headed for their cars.
After the goons had left, Caroline took the doctors arm again as they headed back to the spa. Caroline wasn't sure how she felt about having the doctor helping her anymore. "You work with H1?! Why are you helping me?"
"I don't work with them. I know the local leader and give him a discount on massages for his back problem. He knows I'm a talented baseline and while I don't make donations, as it might not look good to some of my clients, I am a really good listener and like to know what's going on in the area. If he happens to drop some important info, like a beating or an H1! plan to run a mutant out of a nearby town, I just let that bit of news reach the right ear," she explained.
"Did you really work for the Goodkinds?"
"Yes," she admitted. "I was a psychic expert for them right after I finished college. I worked with them until five years ago when I married a wealthy old man with heart problems and got the money to open this place. I still do some consulting for them."
"But don't you feel bad about helping them out. They'd kill me if they got the chance."
"It's a case of the lesser of two evils. I could refuse to work with them, but then I'd be picketed a lot more regularly, making my business and patients suffer. And if I didn't help out a bit, there would be a lot more successful H1! operations in the state. The good definitely outweighs the bad. And that my dear is something you need to learn. Sometimes you have to help the bad so the good can flourish."
Caroline still hated the thought of working with a group like H1!. She hadn't liked them ever since she saw them beating a person almost to death when she was eight years old and she and her parents were caught in an H1 rally, but she could understand what Dr. Chance was talking about. Sometimes you had to do something bad.
She suddenly realized they had been walking for a while and she had no idea where they were. "Where are we going?"
"Lunch, as soon as you find it." The doctor pointed at an aura that had to be from an ancient tree considering the size of it. "Do you remember this tree's aura?"
It took a moment to remember it. "Yeah I saw it last week."
"Good, find the way back to the cafeteria. As soon as you do, we can eat."
With a groan Caroline tried to get her bearings.
In her room that night Caroline sat in the cushioned armchair, relaxing after a long and tiring day with a warm, fuzzy blanket wrapped around her. The edge of the blanket was marked in blue and pink glowing crystals, each one three inches apart. The whole room was lit up in a mix of pinks, reds, silver, purple, blue and few gold spots. Each one was about the size of a thumbnail, a few were smaller, and some were about the size of her fist, the large ones were carved into animals or pretty shapes. Between the colours, were the gentle auras of a dozen flowers and potted plants that sat on almost every flat surface, filling the room with pleasant fragrance and feelings.
Picking up a glowing bright pink comb that was cool and well polished, she began to comb her hair. Each of the glowing stones had been made by her, partly as training and to give her something to look at. Best of all the quartz was cheap to get, even the statues had only cost between ten and thirty dollars each, white quartz wasn't exactly a precious gem after all. Each shape, pattern and colour was planned, so she'd know what something was even from across the room. All it really took was time, a few minutes of work, a bit of planning to place the stone perfectly, then a spot of glue and another few minutes to let it dry. She was thinking of getting a jewellery kit to make her own necklaces and bracelets, something she'd never believed would interest her before.
As she combed her hair, Caroline thought about seeing the H1 goons, not the jerks in particular but what her aura had done. Curious, she let the energy in her centre flow outwards, her aura flared in response. Strangely, where the colours were usually for basic emotions this time they were a mix of three colours, silver, violet and rich royal blue, each one meaning power, psychic awakening and an opening of the mind respectively, something she was more accustomed to seeing around Dr. Chance.
Holding out her hand the aura expanded, sending tendrils outwards seemingly searching for something. Sweat broke out on her forehead. A pink stone was surrounded by the shifting lights, there was something she should be doing, but what? It was like being asked a question and having the answer on the tip of her tongue.
Caroline concentrated on the pink light, not daring to blink. The answer was so close her aura started to shimmer. She beat at the mental wall as the colours shifted to the muddy colours of frustration. With a gasp the aura shattered, the energy faded back into her.
She sat slumped in the chair for several minutes trying to catch her breath and to get the energy to do anything.
Not sure what happened, Caroline was finally able to drag herself to bed where she fell asleep almost instantly.
I'm sorry I haven't been able to answer your last email until just now, but I've been really busy with studying. I've got so much to learn, not just how to do things now that I'm blind but also all of this psychic stuff my doctor is teaching me. And I'm getting better at using this brailler which is like a computer and typewriter for the blind. I miss not seeing videos and pictures of you, but it's still super cool, it even has wifi. And when I go back to school next term, I don't have to worry about Cindy reading over my shoulder trying to see everything I'm doing.
I've done a lot of things you wouldn't believe, and before someone cries "Mutant! OMG WE'RE GOING TO DIE!", Dr. Chance actually has an MID saying she's totally baseline. I didn't think they gave out those things to regular people, but she said that if you have special talents the MCO and DPA will give them to you to keep you safe. It's pretty cool actually. And she used it to make some H1 jerks stop screaming in front of the spa. OMG it was so awesome!
So anyways, You know how I would see flashes of colours when all of this started to happen, I wasn't just crazy, well no more than usual, I actually see auras. That means I can see emotions and how someone is feeling, if they're sick or really healthy, or hungry, or tired and lots of other stuff. This is really useful because Dr. Chance is teaching me how to use my psychic powers to heal people. It's really tiring and sometimes a little dangerous.
March 16, 2007
"Caroline, look at Mrs. Bronson very closely, and tell me where she hurts," Dr. Chance said while she lit candles and incense around the room.
Caroline took off her glasses and let herself see the auras that surrounded her in far more detail than usual, the woman's aura was especially vibrant, but even in the nearly empty room it took a fair bit of effort for her to focus on the patient. The woman was in pain and it was affecting her entire body. The flickering colours wouldn't remain still long enough for her to make them out properly, but the she knew that they signified a wound and frustration in the same way she knew that the sky was blue when she could still see.
Very, very carefully she released the energy in her center. Her own aura took on a brilliant colour. With gentle movements Caroline ran her hand over the woman, there was no physical contact but their auras brushed against each other. The tranquil, steady pulse of hers smoothed out the chaotic colours, forcing them to stillness. She'd practised the joining for hours with Dr. Chance and while it was tiring, it no longer seemed odd.
Once Mrs. Bronson's aura was calm Caroline could see what was causing the woman pain. There was one spot no bigger than a penny that had a steady solid beat of dark red, it looked like dry, rotting blood. The rest of the aura stuck to it, stagnating, spreading thin threads of corruption all around her body, becoming sickly and rotten.
"There's a solid red colour on her right shoulder. Red stands for the physical body and circulation, right? Could there be a problem with the blood flow in her shoulder?" she asked Dr. Chance not taking her eyes off the problem.
Dr. Chance knelt down, gently moving Caroline out of the way. Her own silvery tinged aura slowly expanded while she ran her hands over the shoulder, stroking and prodding the spot for over ten minutes. As she did so her silver light thinned out around her body, concentrating on her hand until it seemed like she was holding a light bulb. "You're right there is a problem here. Very good Caroline, it only took you three minutes to find it. Now come here and kneel beside me."
Nervously the girl knelt down unsure of what would happen next. She'd watched her mentor healing people through psychic surgery from almost day one, but now she was suppose to do it herself. She had never thought of herself as a healer, blood scared her but apparently her mutation had different ideas.
"Place your fingers gently on the centre of the problem. Don't worry you won't hurt her," the doctor murmured.
The bare skin was a little warm to the touch, other than that it didn't seem any different from a healthy body. Mrs. Bronson grew nervous, dirty brown shades of fear and uncertainty covered the other colours, making it difficult to make out what was happening. Caroline could guess what the problem was, she'd be nervous to seeing a young teenager who had come in with round hippie glasses trying to fix a health problem.
"Now let a bit more energy out. Move it down your arm so the water comes out of your fingers. It is soothing, not only to you but to others. Release the water and let it wash away the problem."
Caroline pictured the tranquil pool of water that held her psychic energy, a small rivulet of water was already flowing from it into her. Now she pulled a little more from the pool, creating new streams and waterfalls just like she'd practised every days for four hours at a stretch. It came easily washing away her worries, her happiness, and every other strong emotion, leaving a strange balance and contentedness. Time ceased to have any meaning, it was all now.
The cool, clean water came faster, wanting to rush through her body, breaking through and touching everything in the world. She pictured gentle banks of pristine light brown sand, channelling it naturally down into her arms, while sweet smelling lily pads, reeds and cattails slowed the rushing water, calming it. She never forced the power to her will, it was easier and safer simply creating channels and flows for it to move through. The energy surrounded her hands.
"Your aura is healthy and strong, you need to show her aura how to flow and move. Remind it of what it once was and what it should be again," a voice whispered in the wind.
Her aura dwarfed the light of her mentor. Dr. Chance's aura was a small flare, impressive, well contained and clearly experienced, her own was a raging bonfire that seemed to burn brighter than the sun and in all the colours of the rainbow. The shifting colours were hypnotizing, creating images in the flames, some she recognized from her past, others she couldn't place. Her face appeared older, wiser, broken and healthy, screaming and laughing, dying and alive. Other scenes rose up as well.
A thing of blackness and death reached for her, gore dripped from it like a river. It saw her and howled. An armoured woman with angel wings and silver armour smiled and reached a hand out to something hidden in shadows, as she smiled flames burst around her burning away the armour and her flesh, leaving only a mangled body crying tears of blood while the pristine smile remained. Blood rushed towards her, people were caught in it disappearing without even the chance to scream, a furious roar of some unearthly beast erupted within her mind.
"Focus on her,” a calm voice whispered to Caroline. She focused on the voice, trying to see past the nightmarish images. “Look at her aura. Teach it how to flow. Ignore your own. She needs your help. You must help her."
Caroline pushed her aura forward, shattering the images, finding the calm centre. Gripping the sickly, still redness with her power, she moved her hands following a pattern she couldn't see but was clear in her mind. The colours began to shift, rippling gently, absorbing the emotions and energy that Caroline was forcing into it. The energy flowed like paint under her hands.
The bonfire grew into a star washing over the woman. The stagnant, flickering colours were overwhelmed, disease and rot burned away.
Caroline felt dozens of wears and tears caused by age. She could fix them all, she knew she could. Her hands played the aura over the body, releasing more energy. It was so easy. The fear she had felt earlier was forgotten, she could help people. It was her job, just reach out and make things better. She could do it.
Hands grabbed her shoulders pulling her away. The auras pulled on each other, trying to stay connected. Caroline felt the weaker aura starting to rip itself from its body. The woman gasped as her life was being ripped away. She pushed more energy into her aura, she had to make the woman better. She WOULD make the woman healthy again.
Their minds connected. She felt the pain, pleasure, joys and heartbreaks of the woman. Riding a bike around the block successfully, having her appendix removed, making love for the first time with her boyfriend, watching her husband die of a heart attack, giving birth and holding her son , hearing him scream at her and saying he hated her. A mass of memories, feelings and experiences, coming faster and faster, overwhelming her, pushing her own memories aside.
Panic filled her. Screaming she pulled herself back into her body.
She couldn't remember who she was. There was only confusion.
She felt cold.
March 19th, 2007
"Ow," Caroline moaned.
Dr. Chance was at her side in seconds. "Don't speak. Drink this."
Not talking was fine with her, she didn't have the energy to move her tongue.
A cup of something warm and sweet was put to her lips. Even as exhausted as she was Caroline grasped the cup drinking it down, licking the rim to get the last drops. Another cup was brought to her and it went just as quickly. A spoon of sweet gruel was put in her mouth, she lost track of how many spoonfuls she ate, she was so hungry all she wanted was to fill her bottomless stomach. Finally she couldn't eat anymore.
She fell asleep again.
A sweet voice was whispering to her, "Caroline. It's time to wake up."
She opened her eyes and saw the aura of Dr. Chance looking over her. "What happened?" she managed to whisper.
"You tried to heal Mrs. Bronson of every problem she had. It nearly killed you and her."
"Is she... OK?"
Her mentors aura glowed with satisfaction and hope. "She's as healthy as a woman half her age. But we need to practice much more before you try to heal someone again. I didn't realize you had that much strength in you, and because of my mistake you didn't know your limits."
"I wanted to heal her. I saw so many problems. It was so easy to heal them all." She thought about what had happened, and saw the last traces of memories not her own floating in her mind like a dream. “I saw her life. Her memories.
"I know. You're powerful and don't know how to control yourself yet. You have to learn that you can't heal the world. You have to pick and choose who and what you heal or else you'll be a used up husk in a month if your lucky. If you're not, you'll steal memories and lives until you don't know who you are anymore," Dr. Chance told her as a black shadow appeared around her chest. "Now go to sleep, we have a lot more training to do."
The auras are really useful to. I'm learning how to navigate with them, and even tell people apart. So eventually I should be able to tell who someone is without having to hear their voice or having them tell me. But let me tell you it isn't always easy.
April 3rd, 2007
"Hello... Mr. Washington," Caroline said hopefully, looking at the way the happy pink and yellow aura shifted and moved. She was suppose to meet someone for her run at the little sitting area outside the staff residence, but she wasn't sure who.
Light yellow, a sign of amusement dominated the aura for a second. "Very good, Caroline," her instructor said finally speaking and moving.
She breathed a sigh of relief at getting it right. “Well now I know two people by sight. Only several hundred more to go.”
“Don't be so hard on yourself you're doing very well. Now do you know who that person is over there?"
Looking at where he was pointing at, Caroline had just enough time to see a light green aura wink out of existence. "I think it was a man. But he disappeared all of a sudden. He was what, thirty yards away? So he must be going to the long term visitors building. Right?"
That got her an encouraging pat on the back. "Very good Caroline. You're learning far more quickly than I had dreamed possible. Now are you ready for your run?"
She definitely wasn't ready to go for a run, even with her ability to see auras. But that didn't seem to be an option. "You lead the way, I'll follow," she said with false confidence.
Mr. Washington started at a light jog, going down one of the straighter paths. Caroline followed about five feet behind, watching the perfect orange outline of the man who looked more like some kind of psychedelic drawing than a person. A green spot blazed to life in his chest, that was his heart, a little below that a larger green light pulsed, his lungs were working hard. They ran like that for several minutes.
"Come on Caroline, run beside me."
With a very bad feeling she sped up until she could only see her trainer out of the corner of the eye. The trees rushed past them, creating a corridor of nothingness for her to move along. Feeling nervous, Caroline gently touched the pool, releasing a little bit of the power that was inside of her.
The world came to life.
The branches of the trees budding with life sprang forth, the path glowed with purpose, the rocks that lined it were restful and ancient. Someone said something, she ignored it, the auras were wrapping around each other, connecting everything together. She couldn't judge how far away they were, they surrounded her. the trees fed on the rocks, the bugs fed on the trees, the leaves and winter debris that hadn't been cleaned up yet, rotted and turned into dirt.
It was all connected. It was beautiful.
And then she ran face first into a tree.
Oh and get this I'm learning how to fight.
Dr. Chance knew I wasn't feeling very good, because even with the auras I can't always tell what's going on around me, nd I've felt pretty helpless sometimes. So she got me a really cool collapsable staff and is teaching me how to defend myself with it.
April 6th, 2007
Caroline sat at her computer listening to an audio book about how to close your brain off to telepaths. It was boring, but the bruises on her face and chest from running into a tree, made her very happy to sit back and listen, rather then run around doing things that could end in pain and unconsciousness.
There was a knock on her door. "Come in," she called, pausing the book.
Dr. Chance stepped in, with her distinctive silvery purple aura. "Come on Caroline, I have a gift for you."
She bounced out of her chair, "Really! What is it? Please don't tell me it's more books, I'm still trying to get through most of the ones you've already given me."
"It's not books," the woman laughed. "It's something that will make you more independent and safe."
"Is it a dog?" she asked hopefully.
"No, you can't get a seeing eye dog until you're sixteen. Just be patient and follow me."
They went to the little gymnasium where yoga, Pilates and aerobics was taught to the patients and staff who were capable of doing them. At the moment the gym was deserted. "What are we doing here?" Caroline asked curiously.
"I'd like to give you this," the doctor said, putting something that seemed like a baton in her hand.
Caroline felt it all over, noticing a small depression in the center of it, that was just big enough for her finger. There were several small golden crystals at both ends, lighting it up for her. “Um... what is it?”
"Give it a hard flick," Dr. Chance said, amusement tinting her aura.
Not having any idea of what might happen, she flicked her wrist. There was a rattle and she was holding a what felt like a cane. Running her hand along it she wondered at the lightweight metal and the tiny bumps where it had telescoped out. "Ok, you got me a really cool and kind of heavy cane, that is thicker than the one I have now. Thanks?"
"It can be used as a cane, but that is only a side benefit. Hold it out and sideways, press the little indent and give it a shake."
She did so, and the other end telescoped outwards. Placing one end of the staff on the ground and touching the top, she guessed it was just a little shorter then she was, about five and a half feet in length. Swinging it around she saw the golden dots perfectly, giving her some idea of what she was doing. "OK now this nice! So I can start thumping people if they annoy me right?"
"Not yet, first you need to train," Dr. Chance said gleefully.
Caroline turned and saw that the doctor had pulled out her own staff that flared with energy only found in items that were well used and cared for. "Oh boy."
Anyways Wendy now that things have finally settled down to a very busy routine, I should be able to write more often, and I'll try to phone you this week. But Dr. Chance is really harsh with the training so no promises.
I will be coming home for a visit this month though, and I need to buy some new clothes, so shopping spree?
Oh, I have to go practice again,
Monday, April 23rd, 2007
"Daddy!" Caroline yelled, as a car door slammed closed and a man with an aura of happiness, love and longing looked her way. Running confidently over the smooth pavement, she threw her arms around him, taking in the feel of his arms around her and the smell of his flowery soap and shampoo. He used the same stuff she did to save money, despite his complaints of smelling like a garden. "You are Daddy aren't you?" she asked half jokingly.
"Yeah I am princess. You've grown so much, I almost didn't recognize you."
"Please! Its' just been three months. I haven't grown that much," she said still not letting him go.
"Maybe not height wise, but you're a lot more confident now. When was the last time I saw you run?" he asked, his voice and aura glowing with pride.
She blushed. "I've had a lot of training. You should see me practice with my staff, I think I could take out about half the kids at my school in a fight now."
Rubbing her hair, and messing up her hairdo, he said, "Let's not do anything drastic that could involve the police please. Where's Dr. Chance? I'd like to say hello."
"She wants to see you to. But I have to find her first." She saw his aura shift rapidly to curiosity and amusement. "Its for my training. I have to practice using my aura sight and walking by myself." Caroline pulled an envelope out of her purse and opened it. The note inside was in braille and told her to go to the diseased tree on the south side of the spa. With a sigh she snapped her baton into a cane. "Come on, I think you're going to get a tour of the spa."
As they walked she pointed out the different buildings and features using the auras she recognized, the feel of the stones, dirt and pavement on the paths, and even the way their voices and her cane hitting the ground echoed. She could tell her father was fascinated not only from his aura, but also the numerous questions he asked about how she could be so sure. There was a simple answer, she'd been walking and running all around the spa on errands, tests and training since late February with no breaks, except when she was studying her psychic powers. She'd been exhausted, bruised, run ragged and yet she was happy about it all.
They circled the spa three times, searching for ten locations, each one giving instructions to the next clue. After two hours of walking they ended up in the office of Dr. Chance. "Took you long enough, Caroline."
"You try walking around this whole place with a blind fold on trying to find one particular spot of colour on a tapestry," the girl grumbled. "Honestly, 'the rock beside the east pond that is happy'."
"It worked," the woman said far too smugly.
Her father chuckled. "She's right princess. And it was good exercise, I don't think you walked that far even when you could see. And you didn't even complain until you had to find the broken branch on the tree by the hot tub. I was tempted to wash your mouth out with soap.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't had to climb the fu- freaking tree to get the envelope. I know I'm going away for almost a week, but honestly couldn't you forget the torture for one day?" she asked.
"Training, not torture, dear. And remember I'm your mentor, which is remarkably similar to tormentor," Dr. Chance laughed. "Anyways now that you're here, there is something that you have to do when you go home. You're going to need to get an MID. I've set you up for an appointment on Friday with the MCO in Chicago. They know me and are one of the fairest MCO offices you'll find."
"Why do I need to get an MID? Can't I just claim to be a baseline psychic like you?"
Her mentor snorted. "With a little less then two months of training, you're doing things I can't do. Having an MID can be annoying, but it's safer than not having one. I'd rather not have my most promising student and friend arrested and thrown in jail for not having some ID when you try to get on a plane or get into some trouble with the law."
She had to admit that was a good point. "Fine. But if I vanish into thin air I'll never speak to you again."
"Also," Dr. Carson said, ignoring the threat, "you need to get your powers tested for the next part of your training. I have some literature for both of you to read. It's a private high school for mutants, called Whateley."
"I don't want to go to some private school! I'm learning enough here that I could go back home and go back to school after the summer. I can even take summer classes so I won't be far behind everyone."
Her father shifted in his seat, rubbing his hand against his permanent five o'clock which made an annoying scratching sound. "I'm not sure. A school for mutants. Isn't that dangerous? I know Caroline is one, but I've seen what some of them can do on the news. What if one of them goes berserk?"
"I am reaching the limits of what I can teach Caroline. Right now I'm simply trying to help her build up her defenses, and pointing her in the right direction while giving her a safety net when she falls. I have been to Whateley a time or two, their psychic department is the best in the world and a diploma from the school will open up doors that a regular high school can't even dream of," she insisted.
"How much will this cost? We're doing OK financially, but one reason I held off on sending Caroline to the boarding school for the blind she found, was simply because we couldn't afford it," her father admitted, his aura flaring with embarrassment.
"I'll cover the first year, and if she'll work for me for one month every summer I'll pay for each year after that." Her hand went up demanding silence. "Believe me this is very fair. The healing job Caroline did on Mrs. Bronson was so extensive, she has been telling all of her wealthy friends about it, and I have fifteen new reservations that will more then cover the costs."
"Th-that's very generous of you. I'll consider it very carefully."
"Dad! Where is the school?" Caroline asked feeling outnumbered.
"New Hampshire," Dr. Chance said. "A little ways away, but it is nice and private where you can learn about your powers in safety."
"Dad I don't want to go. When would I see you?"
He patted her hand. "I think we should consider this. I heard about your accident healing that woman, and running into the tree because you overcharged your sight. This wouldn't be much different then going to that school for the blind."
"Caroline, I wouldn't be recommending this if I didn't think it was important. You need the training and I feel that you need to be there."
She looked hard at her tormentor and friend, the tone of voice and the aura told her that Dr. Chance believed without a shadow of a doubt that this was important. With a sigh she bowed her head in defeat. "I'll read it over. If Dad says it's good and I don't see anything too horrible I'll go."
"Thank you, dear. You won't regret it. Much."
They made small talk as Dr. Chance walked them back to the parking lot and said a final goodbye which included a particularly big hug for Caroline. Then it was just a two hour drive back home.
That night, as she laid in her own bed for the first time in far too long, Caroline read over the information packet. It was late, but she'd had a nice long nap on the car ride home and couldn't seem to get comfortable. As she read, she realized there was one advantage to braille, her dad wouldn't yell at her to turn the lights out.
The classes and groups seemed interesting. The fact that they had the packet in braille was also a good sign that they would know how to deal with her particular problem and she wouldn't be treated like a freak or an annoyance. It was kind of strange though, when she thought of mutants it was always of perfect people who shot fireballs out of their hands, or really ugly guys that could take a tank shell to the chest. She hadn't heard much if anything, about mutants who weren't perfect and had a regular disability that didn't involve growing horns and scales.
Thinking about it, she decided that while getting a perfect body and the most common super power would have been FAR, FAR more preferable, if she did have to get the short end of the stick, it could have been worse. At least she could still go out in public.
With that cheerful thought, Caroline put the packet away and went to sleep.
Wednesday, April 25th
Wendy and Caroline got out of her Dad's car, at the local mall. After spending all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday with her father, Caroline was ready for some girl time.
"Caroline," her Dad said, his jacket rattling and rustling as he pulled something from his pocket, "Dr. Chance wanted me to give this to you when you started your shopping spree. And remember I'll meet you at the Starbucks at ten. Be there."
"Yes Dad," she said, rolling her eyes as she took the envelop from his hand.
Wendy was standing on the sidewalk, her foot rubbing against the cement, her aura flickered with embarrassment and nerves. "So for the walking bit, do I help you? Or do you use a stick? Or what?"
Putting the envelop in her oversized bag, she gave her friend an encouraging smile. "Well, if you could help me by showing me to the door, it would be nice. Finding it can be really annoying, then I'm good to go."
"OK. So, I've gotta ask, what's with the pink glasses."
The smile dropped from her face. "I'm going to kill her," she growled. "No wonder no one told me what colour they were."
"No, no they look cool. They make you seem really happy and cute."
"Just what I want to look like, a happy hippy girl who see's the world through pink lenses." Taking Wendy's arm they walked into the mall, which was only a little crowded with people shopping after work and school.
Once they were inside Caroline stopped to open the envelope, she pulled out four plastic cards and a letter. Handing the cards to Wendy, she ran her fingers over the paper.
'Since you've done such a good job, I decided you needed a treat. You have four gift cards each one with five hundred dollars to some clothes store in your mall. Get yourself something nice. Also you and Wendy will have your hair and nails done at seven at the Glamour Salon, all paid for.
And your pink glasses look really cute especially when you wear your bell bottoms, you'd make a great hippie.
"Wow, thanks," she whispered.
"Caroline, these are for the most expensive stores in town. Your doctor must really like you," Wendy said, whistling in amazement.
"Yeah, she does, when she's not torturing me. They're each good for five hundred dollars, and we're getting our hair and nails done at seven. You want to eat first or shop?" she asked needlessly.
"What colour is this?" Caroline asked, holding up a top that had a really nice feel to it.
"A really dark black with little shiny spots all over it. It looks good. What size do you need?" Wendy said, her aura dark green with jealousy.
The jealousy got worse. "You used to be a medium, what happened and how can I do it?"
"Get a sadistic mentor who has you jogging for a half hour in the morning and evening, climbing trees, going on scavenger hunts, and doing two hours of self defence training everyday. Some days I love the regular work of learning braille and other stuff because I actually get a chance to sit down and rest," she groaned. Of course it wasn't that bad now that she was in a routine and seeing the result. Losing the little bulge in her belly, along with the nice lean muscle that let her finally develop a figure rather than the stick figure like legs and arms she'd had before, it made the pain worthwhile.
"Jesus, when do you have time to go to school?"
She shrugged. "I'm kind of throwing this term away. It wasn't like I was getting much from school while I was there. The idiot the school hired to help me was so useless I was learning more braille on my own than at school. Now I've been so busy with learning about psychic stuff and how to do things without really seeing, that learning history or English would just get in the way. I can handle having to redo a term."
"So you'll be coming back after the summer?" Wendy asked hopefully.
With a sigh, she shook her head. "I don't know. Dr. Chance, wants me to go to a boarding school that is suppose to be really good. It doesn't seem too bad, and I think my Dad is going to go for it. But I'd really like to come back home."
"What's so good about this school?"
"It's some school for..." she looked around to make sure no one was close, and used a safer term than mutants, "psychics, like me."
Wendy was instantly interested. "So you'll be able to tell the future and stuff? Will Rob ask me out to the dance next week?"
"I can't do that. But I'll learn more about reading auras and psychic healing, and stuff like that. Now which way is the change room. I want to try this top on." She managed not to sigh in relief as Wendy showed her the way and let the whole annoying topic drop.
"Hi girls, what would you like to tonight?" a waitress with a bubbly voice and a mercenary aura asked.
"What type of burgers do you have?" Caroline asked. Having lived on a healthy,and actually pretty interesting diet of green stuff, chicken and fish at the spa, she was craving something greasy.
"It's all listed in the menu in front of you."
She blushed. "I can't see it. Could you tell me?"
The aura became tinged with an annoyed red. "We have a vegetarian burger, chicken burger, regular burger, double burger, mushroom burger and steak burger. They come with your choice of fries, baked potato, salad, or steamed vegetables, and a drink.” The waitress didn't quite shout, but only just as if Caroline was hard of hearing as well as deaf.
"Regular burger, fries and a coke please," she said quietly. The woman had been polite if too loud, but seeing her annoyed aura had made the confidence she'd had been feeling start to slip away. At the spa she knew where everything was, but during the shopping trip she'd had to have her cane out almost all the time and relied on Wendy to help her get around even with her 'vision'. Constantly asking about colours, styles, where things were and sizes had left her feeling helpless. She knew that eventually the feelings would go away, at least according to the stuff she'd read online, but it was still too new for her to feel comfortable asking for help and getting around in a crowd.
To get herself out of the growing funk, despite the bags of expensive clothes beside her, she got Wendy talking about school and her old friends while they waited for the food.
Caroline was happier with a full stomach and the thought of getting her hair and nails done. It had been several months since she'd gotten a haircut, first because she'd been in a panic, followed by depression, and then because she'd been too busy. Her hair was definitely getting too much on the wild side.
The mall was more crowded with the evening crowd, so she'd pulled out her cane, it was a little thicker and shorter as well as being much harder and stiffer than the more common flexible white canes, so it wasn't as useful as a way to get around. But it was white, it let her avoid objects and notice things like steps and obstacles, and it was primarily for self defence, so there were trade offs.
"You should get your hair dyed pink," Wendy said.
"You're kidding right?"
"No, I'm serious. It will match your glasses and people will really notice you."
"Uh huh. I don't think it would match my complexion, and I don't want cotton candy on my head," Caroline said quite reasonably.
"Well I think you should consider it. Oh bathroom, just be a minute," Wendy said, turning so abruptly Caroline almost tripped.
While her friend did her business, Caroline leaned on her cane watching the crowd and protecting their purchases. With so many people crowded together, the auras seemed to merge and as they interacted the auras changed from one second to another. But unlike in Chicago they weren't so overwhelming and she could understand what most of them meant.
"Hello, do you need some help?" a woman who smelled like ginger, asked.
"Huh!" Caroline jumped as the woman had come right up beside her avoiding her aura sight. "No thanks. I'm just waiting for a friend."
"Are you sure? It would be no trouble." The voice and aura just oozed concern and pity.
She shook her head. "No. Really, I'm just waiting for a friend."
"Well... ok, if you're sure you don't need any help."
Caroline breathed a sigh of relief as the woman and her ginger shampoo smell started to go away. She groaned as the woman turned around and came back, concern written in big shiny letters in her aura. "Where is your friend now?"
"None of your business."
"Well, I just think that she shouldn't leave you alone like this. It's not really safe for you, now is it?" The woman reached out with a glowing hand to pat her shoulder.
The cane came up, just missing the woman. "Why isn't it safe for me?"
"You're blind and all alone in the mall. You must be so scared."
The worst part for Caroline was the fact that the woman really believed that she should be scared. "Not really,” she said. “I'm fourteen years old, not four. I can handle myself."
"You're so brave. Have you been blind all your life?" the annoying woman asked leaning against the wall.
Why wouldn't the woman go away, she wondered. "Nope."
"Oh that is so uplifting, seeing someone doing so well with such a horrible disability. I wish I was as brave as you are. If I was blind, I think I'd just die."
"Wendy, come on," she whispered.
"Where exactly is your friend? She's been gone an awfully long time hasn't she. "
There was no one close by and the pitying tone that the woman spoke in, to say nothing of the aura which showed exactly how helpless the woman seemed to think she was, decided her. With a flick of her wrist she extended the cane into a staff and began spinning it idly in front of her. "My friend hasn't been in a fight in her entire life and would run away screaming if someone threatened her. I can see a little, and I've been trained to fight very dirty if someone threatens me. Do you really think I need my friend to protect me?"
"I-I guess not," the woman said, backing away in surprise.
"Right. So please don't treat me like I'm helpless." Pressing the button and shaking the staff, it became a baton and then a cane.
"Wow, that was pretty cool," Wendy said from behind her as the woman practically ran away thoroughly embarrassed and intimidated. "But I wouldn't run away screaming, it would waste precious oxygen I could use to run faster."
Picking up her bags, Caroline started walking towards the hair salon swinging her cane in her hand. "I am pretty cool aren't AAAHHH!" she screamed as her foot hit some stairs, and her bags and cane went flying.
"Don't say a word!" she yelled at Wendy, who was trying and failing not to laugh.
"So my hair looks good?" Caroline asked for the tenth time as they walked arm in arm the short way to Starbucks.
"Yes, the curls look great, and the cherry red nail polish is fantastic. It will look great with your black top. Should I have gotten my hair cut so short?" Wendy asked.
"Stop" she said, not wanting to risk another fall even though the sidewalk was nice and smooth. She raised her arm, letting the bags slide down to her elbow and ran her hand gently over Wendy's silky soft hair, placing what it felt like with the picture of Wendy's face in her mind. "Definitely. The pixie cut feels great."
"But does it look great?"
She lowered her glasses revealing her eyes and smirked. "If you want to know how it looks, don't ask the blind girl."
From the corner of her eye, she saw a swirling aura full of negative emotions, dark red, muddy green and pink, painfully bright yellow and black. She could tell it was a man and his hand was behind his back.
"Come on!" she hissed, grabbing Wendy's arm again and began speed walking towards the coffee house.
The man started running after them. "Stop right there!" There was an audible click as a gun was cocked.
Wendy came to a halt, forcing Caroline to stop as well. "Oh god, please don't hurt us!" she said.
"Give me your purses!" the mugger snarled.
"Ok, ok," Caroline said. Shaking in fear she reached for the strap, she forgot her hands were full and the purse got tangled in the bags and her cane.
"Come on, or I'm going to kill you!"
She was certain she was going to die, the terror was almost overwhelming. Everything she'd been taught was useless, she couldn't do anything and some mugger was going to shoot her. The pool that rested in her heart, roared reacting with her fear. The mugger reached for her purse and she screamed. Her aura an angry violent orange, leapt outwards engulfing the man.
His scream was one of absolute fear and terror. He fell to the ground, smelling of piss, holding his head, screaming to god to make it stop.
"Come on!" Caroline shouted at Wendy, grabbing her arm and jogging away. As her aura blazed around her she could make out even the faint aura of the sidewalk and for once it all made sense.
When the Starbucks staff and customers saw two terrified teenage girls come running in like the devil himself was on their tails, at least six people called the police. Several more bought them their choice of drinks and tried to get them to calm down.
Five minutes later the police were there asking Caroline and Wendy what had happened, two minutes after that they sent out an APB about an armed and dangerous mugger. Four minutes later the mugger was found sobbing and totally incoherent exactly where the girls had said they'd been mugged. Then things got interesting.
Caroline and her father sat in the interrogation room of the nearby police station. The officer who had introduced himself as Detective Murray did not sound happy about the situation, however his emotions seemed more bored then anything. From the surges of disgust in his aura whenever he spoke about the mugger, his anger at a man who would mug two teenagers more than outweighed the distrust he showed at her being a mutant.
"So, let me get this straight. You have mutant powers, you're willing to use them against regular people, but you don't have an MID. Why not, you're clearly dangerous?" he said.
"Until tonight it was assumed I had basic psychic powers only, things baselines can do, just faster and more easily. My mentor can do most of what I do, and she doesn't even have the mutant gene. We weren't sure if I was just talented or a mutant until recently," she explained. "Once we figured out I was doing too well, she set up an appointment for me to get my powers tested and an MID on Friday. I don't even know what I did tonight, I've never done it before."
He leaned forward, probably glowering at her, which was a complete waste of effort on his part. "What exactly did you do? The suspect had to be sedated and was screaming about something when he was found."
She shrugged. "I don't know what I did. I was trying to give him my purse when it got stuck on my cane. He yelled at me and I thought he was going to shoot me. When he went to grab it my aura reached out and grabbed his, a second later he was falling down and screaming. Then Wendy and I ran for it."
"Yes, my aura. Very basically, it's the emotional and energy field that everything has. When you're angry, happy, scared, bored, anything, it shows how you feel, it can also show if your sick or not and it can be manipulated for healing the body. I've been being taught by Dr. Chance, how to see auras, to make up for my blindness and how to manipulate them for psychic healing."
"So you can what... read minds?" the detective asked, nervousness flared up.
She snorted. "No, and I wouldn't want to, I know what boys think about. I can only tell what people are feeling. Until tonight Dr. Chance and I believed it was only receptive unless I was doing psychic surgery."
Before Detective Murray could ask another question there was a knock on the door. Without waiting to be invited in two people, a man and a woman judging by the strands of colour in their auras, entered the room throwing off some very serious and stern emotions. Feeling their attention on her, Caroline sat up much straighter in the uncomfortable chair.
"Hello I'm Mr. Fox, and this is Ms. Lane, we are the MCO agents who will be assisting with this investigation," the man said in a deep voice that reeked of authority.
Caroline listened as the detective and her father went over the paperwork to make sure everything was in order. She did not feel very confident as her father became more and more worried, until his entire aura was a dull gray. Reaching into herself she drew strength from the pool and shoved the fear deep into the water. When the two agents finally came over to the table she was calm and in control.
"Hello Ms. Grant, we would like to go over what happened tonight. Don't worry this is completely routine," Mr. Fox said. "Can you please explain everything that occurred before, during and after the mugging?"
She told them everything and threw in what she had already told the Detective to save time. They took notes but didn't say anything or interrupt until she was done. By the end of her story, she was feeling pretty confident, the auras had become a little bit friendlier and sympathetic.
"You have never done anything like this before?" Ms. Lane asked.
"No. The only thing I've done like that is psychic healing. Where I made the auras flow properly by having them kind of copy mine. Dr. Chance has it all on record since I'm her apprentice." When she'd mentioned her mentor earlier the tension had immediately eased from the agents aura. Since Dr. Chance had told her to use her name if anything happened, she was more then willing to mention her as much as possible.
Mr. Fox jumped in with a jolt of fear appearing around his heart. "So you've made psychic healing into a weapon?
"I have no idea. I just felt really scared and my aura reacted. This is why Dr. Chance wants me to get power tested. And... she's suggested I go to a special school to learn more." She wasn't sure if mentioning the school was a good idea or not, but it couldn't be much of a secret if they handed out brochures to people.
Well, she thought, that solved that worry. "Yeah. She gave my dad and I some brochures and told us to think about it over the week. Do... do you know what it's like?"
Amusement flashed around them. Ms. Lane, muttered almost too quietly to be heard, "Recruiting agents for Whateley now."
Mr. Fox took a bit of time to think about her question. "I've never personally been there, but I know that the MCO and Whateley have a close relationship. Beyond that I can't say much."
There were a few more questions, but the mood was much lighter and Caroline was relaxed enough to feel her exhaustion. When she started yawning, Mr. Fox called a stop to the questioning.
"That's just about everything Ms. Grant," he said. "It seems fairly obvious you only defended yourself. Even better for you, the suspect, who has a record of similar crimes, seems to have calmed down and is sleeping it off at the hospital. Since you're signed up for power testing and just manifested recently, you are completely in the clear in that regard. Now one last thing. The MCO is not suppose to have your name on file, we use code names when possible to protect your identity. Do you have one chosen already that we can use for this report? If not we'll use a number until you do your powers testing, but it could cause some problems with filing later on."
"I never really thought about it. I didn't think I'd ever need one," she said, desperately wracking her brain to come up with something that didn't sound lame.
She heard her father move towards her, his aura showed he was holding something in his hand. "Caroline. Dr. Chance gave me this and told me to give it to you on Friday before doing your powers testing, I think it might be a good idea to read it now."
Reaching for it, she felt a small envelope with some thick paper inside of it. Ripping it open, there was a single word written in braille. 'Insight'
"I think I'll choose Insight." As the word left her mouth, she knew was right
Thursday, April 26th
Caroline slept in late the next day. When she finally got up around ten, her Dad was busy in his office so she went into the backyard with her staff. In a track suit, she began practising with the weapon, using it as a cane and fully extended. For an hour she went through the forms, blocking, jabbing, and clubbing invisible enemies.
When she finally stopped, someone clapped. Turning she saw an outline of a girl, "Wendy?"
"Yeah, it's me, my parents let me stay home today after the trouble last night," the girl said. "Why didn't you club the guy last night? That was pretty impressive stuff."
Caroline blushed. "I was too scared. I heard the gun, saw how angry and desperate he was and I panicked." Wiping sweat from her face, she retracted the staff to the more manageable baton size. "You want to come in? I need some breakfast and a drink."
"It's closer to lunchtime now, you kinda missed breakfast by a few hours," her friend pointed out. "But yeah, we still have a lot to catch up on, and I want to see how you look in your clothes."
Wendy sat on a stool while Caroline cooked up some eggs and spam. "How can you do all of that?" she asked, watching the blind girl moving around almost as quickly as someone who could see.
"It's really not too hard. I'd like to use a few more spices than just salt and pepper, but I don't know what bottles are what, so I'm keeping it simple. The eggs are easy, Dad always puts them in the same place. The spam has a different shape then everything else so I don't need to ask what it is. The oil was in the usual cupboard, I just had to feel for the greasy bottle, and the salt and pepper are beside the stove with an S and P on the shakers. Then it's just a matter of timing and smelling, and maybe touching and tasting if I'm not sure." Caroline explained. "Dr. Chance has me cook our meals three times a week in the kitchen. At first I had one of the chefs help me out, but now I can handle most of it by myself and the chefs only teach me new recipes."
"What happened to you?"
"What do you mean?" she asked, turning around to face her friend and to put the finished food on the waiting plate.
"I mean, what happened to you? Before you left you wouldn't cook anything unless you had to, you spent most of your time on makeup, movies and music, and you would rather diet then exercise. What happened to the old you?" Wendy asked.
Caroline didn't answer for several minutes, thinking of how to explain as she ate. "Before I could do anything I wanted. It was easy for me, too easy. Then when my eyesight started to go, I was helpless. You saw me stumbling around school, doing less and less, not wanting to talk to anyone or really do anything. Then Dr. Chance showed me that I could still see in a special way, and got me the right training to learn how to do everything I needed to do. Now when I cook for myself, or practice fighting, exercise or do something with my powers, it's a sign to myself that I'm not helpless. It's either do that or have 'helpful' people like that woman last night, guiding me through everything as if I was a baby."
"Damn. Now you're making me feel lazy."
"Want to go for a run later? I can show you a few simple exercises that you can do by yourself."
Embarrassment surrounded Wendy. "I don't know. I don't want people laughing at me."
"It's a school day, who will see you?" she pointed out. "And you can do it in the morning or evening when no ones around."
After a quick trip to Wendy's house to get her in a track suit, they walked to the local park which was deserted except for a few old people enjoying the warm day. "We're going to run for at least ten minutes, you pick the pace, but if you go to slow I'm going to be pushing you. You run ahead of me, and I'll be a few steps behind."
They started jogging down the path. Caroline was nervous at first, being so far from her usual running path, but with Wendy setting a fairly slow pace, and the lack of people, it wasn't too bad. She had her baton in her hand, letting anyone else running know she couldn't see, which would hopefully keep them from running into her. As they ran she let her vision strengthen just a little, she still couldn't see the actual path she was running on, but the bushes and trees on either side seemed to solidify a little more, letting her move with more confidence.
"Come on Wendy, pick up the pace!"
"I'm going to die!" Wendy cried, but sped up a little.
Caroline laughed and kept going, loving the freedom of it all.
Chicago, MCO Regional Office,
April 27th, 2007
After the interesting week, Caroline was ready to go back to the nice peaceful spa. She and Wendy had spent the last few days of freedom together, seeing some other friends and she had loved acting like a normal teenager, but she missed the routine of the spa and learning how to help people. So on Friday morning, she met Wendy before school and said goodbye promising to phone and email each other until she could go back home.
The drive to Chicago was nice enough, listening to music and talking about things with her Dad. But the conversation lagged as they got closer to the MCO office for her testing. She thought that she should probably be afraid. She'd heard that they didn't like mutants and a few people on the net said that they had a habit of making them disappear, but after meeting the agents on Wednesday and knowing that Dr. Chance trusted them she wasn't too worried. What upset her was the future, what would others say once she was officially declared a mutant. She wasn't some big, tough mutant who could walk away from getting hit by a car, she had the bruises from her training to prove that. She knew that mutants had to worry about getting jobs because of discrimination, avoiding hate groups like H1, finding colleges that would accept them, and losing friends because of what they were. She'd read about the discrimination blind people had because of their disability, especially finding jobs, now she had all the extra rules and problems mutants had on top of that. And the MID would show everyone just how big of a freak she was.
She wished she could just go back to being normal.
In the MCO officer, her father sat in the waiting room with his laptop, ready to do some work during the wait. He had already filled out the forms for her, while an MCO agent watched, and she was officially code named Insight.
Then it was off to the testing.
The testers didn't seem to be too sure what to do about her blindness. She heard them asking each other if they should do some of the tests or not, she really didn't like it when they talked about dodge ball. Would she have to duck something? She didn't think she could do that.
They reached some decision, not telling her what it was of course and started the tests. The first was easy, it involved psychic powers. She explained how she saw, read their auras, showed how she could use auras to navigate, which of course led them to flicking their hands in front of her eyes and shine lights in them to prove she really was blind. They also had her look around, trying to spot auras through different materials. Glass, walls, sheets, and other people would block her sight, even at its most powerful.
Trying to see if she was telepathic didn't work. When she had to guess a card she was totally normal.
Then she had to do some psychic healing. One of the testers cut himself in another room before going to stand in front of her. She pointed out the cut using his aura, then smoothed out the very small problem with his energy, easing the pain and completely healing it in under a minute.
That led to them asking her to change their emotions, like she had done to the mugger.
“Now, Insight, we want you to change Agent Malone's emotion,” the tester said, taking her hand to point her at the waiting agent who seemed extremely nervous. “Try to make him feel happy or excited if possible.”
“Ok,” she said.
Closing her eyes, she reached into the pool of energy trying to remember what she had done the other night. Channelling the power through her hands, she opened her eyes and saw her aura flaring, the colours flickering constantly. She thought about how she made the crystals and focused on a happy thought, nothing too personal, just the run she'd taken with Wendy the day before, the feeling of freedom, strength, and pleasure. Her aura smoothed out, turning into a tapestry of clear yellows, pinks and red, physical, passionate, happy and alive.
She reached out with her hand, letting her energy caress the agent, watching them interact and the colours twist and encircle each other like paint. Breathing normally, forcing herself to stay calm, she pushed her own colours and emotions outwards, overpowering the more negative emotions of the agent. His muddy browns and greys were snuffed out, leaving only bright, vibrant colours. She saw her aura encircle him, forcing out every feeling except happiness and comfort. When she couldn't see or feel any negativity from him she pulled back. She found herself slumped against the desk, feeling as drained as she would after finishing a long run.
“My god!” the agent laughed. “I feel so good. This... this is amazing. Thank you!”
Caroline looked up just in time to see Agent Malone tackle her in a bear hug, kissing her cheek. She gave a little scream and tried to push him away. “Get off of me!”
He didn't let go, all she could see was his aura, full of love and happiness, directed entirely at her. He kept kissing her, his big, muscular arms holding her against him, whispering his undying love for her. She heard the doctor calling for security, and felt hands trying to pull the man away. She kicked and pushed at him but she couldn't get any leverage, even as more people started to pull him away.
“GET AWAY!” she screamed, as he planted a kiss on her lips.
Her power reacted to her fear, sending it back at the agent twice as strong. Caroline was thrown across the room as Agent Malone screeched in terror, she heard running feet and someone crashing into a door, the screaming slowly faded away as the agent ran down a hallway and the door closed.
Caroline stayed where she'd been thrown, crying and hugging herself in shock.
Almost an hour later after calming down, Caroline moved to a gym. The doctor testing her stayed well back and there were two other agents at either end of the room, all of them were very nervous with their aura's muted. Trying to ignore the negative feelings, Caroline followed their instructions precisely, lifting weights and running on a treadmill. She was strong for a girl her age but nothing special. As she was on the treadmill they began to angle it up. At a 40 degree angle, she suddenly couldn't hold on anymore and hit the ground rolling to a stop. Something hit the wall and bounced down beside her.
"What's this?" she asked picking up a ball that felt a little soft.
"Why did you fall down?" the tester asked ignoring her question.
She shrugged, "I lost my grip. It was pretty steep."
"Alright lets try this again. You haven't finished the test."
Shrugging she got up and began to run again. As the treadmill picked up speed, Caroline thought she heard the tester say something, leaning over to hear better, there was a gust of wind that went past her ear and something hit the wall. "OK! What the hell are you guys doing?" she demanded.
"Just keep running please."
"Stop throwing things at me, I'm just a regular girl, not some super strong mutant," she told them, straightening up. As she did so, something else hit the wall, from the thump she guessed it would have hit her head if she hadn't stood up.
"Hey, I want off, I didn't sign up to have stuff thrown at me!" When the testers didn't stop the treadmill, she let go of the bars, and allowing herself to slide back, landing in a crouch at the foot of the machine. There were at least five thuds, and she felt balls bouncing off the wall to gently pelt her.
"Did you know what was going to happen? Feel a tingling, or a sense of danger?" the tester asked.
"No! I fell the first time, then I thought you'd said something, then I just straightened up and finally I just got tired of being used as target practice. What the heck was that about?" she demanded.
Again the tester ignored her for a moment, typing something into his computer. "You have some kind of danger sense. Possibly clairvoyance, but instead of telling you there is a danger, it comes up with a coincidence to avoid it."
"Really. Then why do I run into trees and stairs? And why didn't I avoid that mugger the other night?"
"Maybe it has to be a conscious thought or from another source to activate? That would make it a type of telepathy. And for the mugger, the report says you noticed him before he got too close to you right?"
"Yeah, I stopped to check out my friends hair and saw him coming out of the corner of my eye."
Satisfaction suffused the tester. "So it's a type of telepathy. If someone wants to hurt you, your power comes up with a coincidence that helps you avoid the danger, or at least warn you about it. Fascinating."
"What now?" Caroline asked, getting tired of the tests.
"I really don't like this," Caroline shouted, as she stood alone in a sealed room.
She walked back to the entrance holding her hand out to keep from running into a wall. "Hey, blind girl here, dodge ball really-" she couldn't finish talking as a ball knocked her on a butt.
More balls erupted from the walls. She curled into a ball protecting her head and front, while proving that she had a very large vocabulary of swears and wasn't afraid to use it.
"Yep, her danger sense is definitely telepathy based," the tester said, as he watched the girl getting buried in balls from the safety of the control booth.
They tried to get her to play a board game, but the rules changed so quickly, and she had trouble trying to place the game pieces on the squares she couldn't see or feel, that it was considered a waste of time after ten minutes.
Trying to do anything with magic proved just as useless.
When they placed her in front of several machines, she took a minute to touch them, scowled at getting grease on her hands and demanded a wet wipe.
The regeneration test was painful and initially a failure. They cut her arm and nothing happened. Then they asked her to do psychic surgery on herself. She built up the energy and ran her hand over the cuts. The skin pulled itself together not even leaving a scar.
Finally well after lunch, they declared themselves satisfied and let her get changed back into her street clothes. Then it was time to take her photo for her MID, Dr. Chance had told her that she could wear a mask if she wanted to so that she could keep a secret identity. Not wanting to look stupid with a ski mask or something, she had grabbed a light blue scarf with a flower motif from home, made it into a wide band and wrapped it around her eyes, forehead and part of her nose. She thought it looked properly psychic.
When she got back to the waiting room, they gave her her MID. Showing it to her Dad, he was impressed with the picture and told her her ratings, Esper 3 (Receptive and Projective Empath), Healing 4.
Happy that all of that was done, they got back into the car and headed for the spa. Not wanting to talk, she pulled out the brochure for Whateley again and began reading it more closely.