by Wendy Pearson
Annie Malone woke from the dream again. The recurring one that haunted her for years.
She reached to touch her throbbing head. That told her that the nocturnal creatures had made a new incision in her brain, as she slept. Annie had vivid recall of these beings from her dreams. They were slender and translucent, with rainbow colored halos around their heads.
Reaching for her gun from the night table, she stealthily checked the apartment. But no one was ever there, only in her mind and only in her dreams. That’s when they came to alter her surgically implanted program chips in her brain.
For the first time, Annie’s new programming gave her some clues surrounding the day she was born. Her biological father abandoned her at birth and her mother refused to talk about it—no wonder she became a detective. This chip allowed her mind to travel backward and forward in time. Tonight she would run the program to find out more.
Annie started the coffee maker, hopped in the shower and drank her coffee while dressing. She slid her gun into her custom-made belt.
She looked into her full-length mirror, focused, and began an x-ray-vision scan of her entire body. The results confirmed it. There was a new scar on the right side of her brain.
The voice tutorial told her she could now diagnose deadly diseases. The newly implanted chip must be an upgrade.
What she didn’t know was what new ability the chip would activate. Or when it would happen. Fear was the trigger that switched it on, but she learned quickly how to regulate her new power.
Taking deep breaths, she attempted to calm herself.
Her fellow homicide detective, Marcus Berger, thought she was strange from the moment they met. They joked about it now, having been partners for years. Both of them had grown to rely on each other. For detectives, that code of trust was a matter of life or death.
Numerous times she had used her superpowers to scan buildings when they sat for hours doing surveillance. Her famous, “I have a ‘gut feeling’ that somebody is armed and inside,” camouflaged her powers. Many cases got solved because of her ability alone–knowing how many armed bad guys were inside a building gave them a big advantage. This saved lives. Her partner came to trust Annie’s instincts. If she said they needed to ask a possible suspect to open his car trunk, then he knew they would find drugs, illegal weapons or even worse.
Marcus and Annie arrived and parked, simultaneously, at the Cincinnati Police Department.
“Did you have a fun weekend?” asked Marcus as they entered the building, heading for the morning staff meeting.
“Uneventful,” lied Annie. “How was yours?”
Two smart-ass cops they had some run-ins with made their way past them to find seats. “Hey, ‘silver bullet,’ said one of them to Marcus, referring to his tied-back gray locks.
Marcus flipped the guy ‘the bird’.
“What about you ‘eagle eyes’?” said the other one.
Annie stared him down. “I see you’re going commando today, ass-wipe,” she said. That made the guy double check to make sure he had his boxers on.
The staff sergeant updated the group on new cases, as the lieutenant assigned weekly tasks. Lieutenant Fields ended the meeting with, “Go catch those bad guys.”
Marcus grabbed a folder. “Let’s tackle our top priority case. Okay?”
“Sure thing, I’ll get coffee.” Her long raven-black ponytail caught the back of his chair as she walked by, so Marcus gave it a little tug to release it.
“I think your tail can double as a weapon,” he joked.
“One of many I possess,” quipped Annie.
“This killing of a local eight-year-old girl, Cassie Summers, is eating at me.”
“Me too,” said Annie. “How did the abductor grab and kill her within a one-hour time frame, and then dump her body in a shallow grave only five miles from her home? We need to push for that coroner’s report.”
“Let me read you the statement from Mr. and Mrs. Summers.” said Marcus.
Cassie Summers and her ten-year-old brother were riding their bikes
on some makeshift ramps in an abandoned parking lot in the
neighborhood. Skateboarders built the ramps to practice their sport.
Cassie wanted one more turn at it, but Tommy told her he was going
home and left.
One of the Summers’ neighbors was driving home from work, past the
parking lot, when he spotted a young girl being dragged, kicking and
screaming into a blue van. The vehicle sped off in the other direction,
then vanished before the neighbor had a chance to intervene or get
a close look at the child or the abductor.
Annie grabbed the file off Marcus’ desk to look at the crime investigator’s photos. “Let’s
check out the kill site. We need to see it for ourselves since we’re heading up this case.”
As Marcus parked, he recognized the area from the case photos. The whole perimeter was cordoned off with police tape. The file indicated that the crime investigators had been to the site and collected all possible evidence. This allowed them to walk the entire area, without disturbing anything. They noticed a wooded area adjacent to the kill zone.
They both bent down to examine the dried blood in the shallow grave where Cassie’s body was dumped. Marcus heard a noise and raised his head in the nick of time to shout, “Wolf! Look out!”
Reaching for his gun, he stood, frozen; as time stood still.
Fear hit Annie’s brain like a lightning bolt as she sensed power release. The new ability activated, and three duplicates of herself surrounded the wolf, confusing the animal. Clone one took an x-ray-vision scan of the wolf. The results popped up on her mind screen. Shapeshifter Assassin. Mission failed. Wolf vaporized by the sender.
Annie stood two feet from Marcus as the clones vanished, as though dismissed. Suddenly, Marcus could move—only to find he was aiming at nothing.
“Are you alright, Annie?” Marcus asked.
But her mind was on the new chip upgrade. Once she ran the program tonight, it would fast track her on time travel and how time freezes.
On the drive back to the station, Annie’s phone rang. “Hello. Yes, I’m Annie Malone. What? What happened?” Her stomach clenched, and her heart pounded. Her throat tightened, so she reached for the bottle of water on the floor to take a swig. “Where are you taking her?” Annie demanded? “Is she unconscious? I’ll meet you there.”
“Hey,” said Marcus gently. “You okay? Who’s unconscious?”
“My mother is. She fell and banged her head at a neighbor’s house. The ambulance is en route to UCMC Hospital.”
“She’s been having frequent falls. The worst part is that she refuses to go to the doctor. Every time I visit her, she’s got more bruises. I’m sure she’s experiencing mini strokes, but is in denial.”
Annie smiled, remembering the new chip upgrade. Now she could do a full x-ray-vision scan on her mother at the hospital to diagnose her condition.
“Hey, Annie, are you having one of your premonitions again? Is she going to be alright?”
Annie’s phone interrupted them. “Hello. What? My mother’s vital signs are gone? Are you positive? she cried. Try to revive her. I’m on my way.”
The car froze on the road. The sun stood still in the sky, and the moon stopped. Marcus sat frozen like a statue. She felt power release from her body like a cannonball releasing from the barrel of a cannon. Uh-oh, she sensed, as three clones activated.
The chip pulled a screen up in her mind. Clone one was at the hospital. Her squeaky shoes made an eerie sound on the tiled floor of the hospital as she dashed amongst the frozen doctors and nurses to find Annie’s mother. An image of her mother’s serene and peaceful face transmitted on her screen.
Clone two picked up Cassie’s autopsy report from the coroner’s office and transmitted her a copy. She looked like a ray of sunlight as she speed-skated around the frozen morgue staff.
Annie saw and sensed Clone three’s hand reaching for a letter at her mother’s house, even though her fingers were clenching the armrests in Marcus’ car. The screen projected her mother’s image, voice, and words:
If you’re reading this letter, then I’m dead.
Your father is an alien surgeon from the Arcturus
race in the constellation of Orion.
The superpowers are his ongoing gift to you.
Tears of sorrow and joy rolled down Annie’s face as she dismissed the clones with the blink of her eyes.
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