Chapter 14, Part 1
“You figure out a message?” Luke asked at dinner that night.
“We have a good start,” Cassie replied. “It’s harder than I thought. Almost anything you say comes off really weird and stalkerish.”
“You really think there might be other kids out there with powers the same as us?” Caleb asked.
“Abby seems to think so,” Cassie said. Abby looked up from her plate of spaghetti and smiled.
“What if an evil kid with like, lava powers shows up?” Luke asked.
“Evil kid?” Josh said.
“Lava powers?” Caleb raised an eyebrow.
“Come on! Do any of you read comic books?” Luke protested. “There’s always a villain with superpowers!”
“Yeah, Amelli. Minus the superpowers,” Cassie said.
Luke sighed heavily. “But you get what I’m saying.”
“Yeah. I guess we’ll just have to train as best we can and be ready for anything if the signal works,” Josh said.
“Hey, Sam, why don’t you train?” Luke asked. Sam’s fork paused as it swirled through the spaghetti.
“I do,” he said cautiously.
“Not like to fight or anything, but the fire thing you can do,” Luke pressed. Cassie winced. It wasn’t a good idea to ask Sam about his real power.
“I don’t want to,” Sam replied, an edge to his voice.
For an eighteen year old, Luke can be pretty oblivious, Cassie thought.
“No.” Sam said, shoving his chair away and leaving the kitchen. Luke broke the tense silence.
“Man, I talk too much, don’t I?” he said.
Cassie half smiled. “I’ll talk to him in a bit. He’s not angry at you though.”
“That’s a relief.”
The clatter of forks on plates was the only sound until Caleb piped up.
“So, lava powers?” he directed the question at Luke. Cassie smiled and stole another piece of garlic bread as an intense debate took over the table conversation. Caleb was good a diffusing awkward situations. Something she’d always been grateful for.
After the dishes had been cleared, Cassie took a few mint chip cookies and went in search of Sam. She found him on the roof. It had become sort of an unofficial hang-out spot in the time they’d been there. Sam was sitting in one of the lawn chairs watching as the sunset splashed vibrant pinks, purples, and oranges across the western sky. Even the thin clouds bathed themselves in the colors, streaking across the horizon in a last farewell to the sun.
She took a seat beside him and offered him a cookie.
“You told Luke I’m not mad, right?” he asked.
They ate the cookies in silence.
“I first figured out what I could do when I was nine.”
Cassie tried not to stare. Sam had never really talked about it before.
“It was pretty late at night and some thief decided to try his luck with our house. We were supposed to be gone that night, but I guess we surprised him. He had a gun and started threatening Mom. I got scared, really scared, and the next thing I know the carpet is burning around me. It spread like wild fire. He didn’t make it out. My dad suffered severe burns trying to get my mom out. She’s still in coma.”
Cassie knew the short sentences didn’t even begin to capture the horror of that night.
“That’s why you saved some of every paycheck,” she said.
“Yeah. I ran away pretty quick after that. I just didn’t want to hurt them anymore. I figured a way to make up for it was to help with the medical bills. Dad might have figured out who it’s from, but I never leave a return address.”
“You ever go back?”
“Once. Just went and saw her for a few minutes and then left.”
“I’m sorry,” Cassie said. “I always had some theories, but…”
“Yeah.” Sam picked at a crumb that had fallen from his cookie. “That’s why I kind of freaked out. I’ve already hurt people by accident, like my parents and whoever got hurt when I torched our entire freakin’ apartment complex, so why am I going to try and hurt them on purpose?”
“We might never have to fight again. Life isn’t like Luke’s comic books.”
“Well, we’re kind of living like it, don’t you think?”
“You’ve used your power before though,” Cassie pointed out.
“To help in the shop. To build things. Never to tear anything down.” Sam allowed a flame to creep around his finger. He focused on it and it flared white. Cassie could feel the heat waft towards her. The fire was gone in a second, leaving only a faint scent that smelled vaguely like pine.
“And when you lose your temper.” Cassie teased gently, reminding him of the scorch mark on the wall of their old apartment. A smile touched his face.
“Mr. Shady almost had it coming though,” he said.
“True,” Cassie said. “Hey, perks of living out here is we don’t have to deal with him anymore.”
“Yeah, big plus.”
“Sam, you know we’ll never force you to do anything. I’m scared to fly,” she admitted.
“I know,” Sam said.
“Come on, I know what you’re like when you’re scared of something, Cas.”
She leaned back in the chair. It was true. They’d depended on each other for years just to survive. She could read him like a book and it was only natural he could do the same.
“You just have to trust yourself,” Sam said. Cassie nodded, and looked over to him.
“You know that’s really good advice,” she said. His smile stayed for a few seconds.
“Ok, I get the point. I’ll give it a try when I’m ready. Just don’t expect me to start throwing fire balls or anything.”
“You can do that?”
“I don’t know, Cas. Just don’t give Caleb or Luke any ideas or I’ll never hear the end of it.”
Cassie laughed. “You really wouldn’t.”
After a few more minutes spent in companionable silence, she got to her feet. “I’m going to see if the boys left any cookies.”
Sam pushed out of his chair. “Those were just made today!”
“Oh, yeah, like you’ve never polished off an entire batch of cookies, Mr. Fatty.”
If you can hear this, then you’re special. I know, kind of lame. My name is Cassie Adams. My parents were settlers on Novum and I have wings. If you’re like me, you might have run away from home. If you’re like me, you’re scared of what your body can do. If you’re like me, maybe you have someone coming after you because you’re different. For the last few years, I’ve lived with a group of kids like me. I never dreamed that there would be others out there. But we met them. I trust them. We’re safe and they’re helping us find our sister who was kidnapped. If she’s out there then I want her to know that we’re coming for her. If you’re like me, you probably don’t trust this message. But if you want a chance to get some answers about yourself, come to these coordinates…
What did you guys think? Wonder if anybody will hear the radio message… 🙂 I’ll give you details of the new character next week and guidelines for the kind of name I need. 🙂