“What makes you think I want you to return?”
That was the first thing Doctor Redding said when I was finally allowed on the phone with her. After I decided to go back to the lab, it had taken a while before I even called the Reddings. I spent a lot of time with my children to sort of pump myself up for the reason I was going back. Almost the entire year Chance was five I put it off, and then when I finally phoned I wound up chatting with Professor Redding for two full months. It was his sister that I needed to work with and it just took so long before she even deemed me worthy to speak to. I wondered how much he had been tryin’ to convince her to let me come back. I knew he did not want me back, and it had even taken two weeks to get him to even think about getting his sister on the phone. Now she was, and I needed to put my case forward with her. I wasn’t sure if she’d even listen though.
“Because I am a strong psychic,” I said. “I am one of the strongest you would have, and there is as much you can learn from me as I can from you. I fully expect my questions to be answered, when I am there, and I fully expect to continue coming back for a long time even after I get my answers.”
“Do you intend on asking me irrelevant questions like before?” she sneered.
I gritted my teeth, wonderin’ if this woman had taken courses in the best way to annoy people. “It was not irrelevant, Doctor. Though the answer you gave me was. I don’t care what you insist but research purely for knowledge’s sakes is silly, and ridiculous. Knowledge without application is frivolous and I’d assume someone of you caliber would know that, Doctor. With all the money, time, and effort going into your projects I’d assume you had a reason for it other than knowledge. I’d assume that you had a goal with all this other than bragging rights about knowing more in depths about the psychic world. Then again, that is a lot of assuming on my behalf and maybe that is just what you want, and you are so wrapped up in yourself you do not take your knowledge and apply it to something, anything. Knowing how to do something, and then not doing anything with that knowledge is pointless.”
Long speech that terrified me for saying. Doctor Redding was completely silent on the other side of the phone and I hoped, prayed, I hadn’t blown it. But it was true! And she couldn’t deny it. Then again this was Doctor Redding. She could very easily deny it and pretend what I just said was a big ball of stupidity. When she started talking, I felt my nerves going out of control. “The goal of the research project is not necessarily imperative for you to know, or would understand.” Her words were clipped and tense, and she was not happy with tellin’ me this.
“You promised me answers then exploded at me for asking a simple question, when let’s face it my question was not stupid and your answer was, you had no right to get mad at me for–for that! When someone says something you don’t like you can’t just walk out and pretend you’re better than them. How on earth do you get any funding for your precious projects? I don’t even want to know, really, that’s not–it’s just–look.” I took in a deep breath, my frazzled nerves making it real difficult to focus on what should be said. “You overreacted. Plain and simple.”
“Do you expect an apology?”
“No. No, Doctor, I don’t. I’d probably have a heart attack and die if you did give me one. What I want is assurance you won’t do that again when I ask the questions you promised me I could ask, that you’d treat me as though I have more intelligence than a beetle.” I pushed my hair back and waited for her to tell me that that was exactly the amount of intelligence I had.
Instead she said, “There will always be answers I cannot give, that could possibly compromise the projects. Included with that is the purpose.”
I rolled my eyes and shook my head, wonderin’ why I was even willing to go back to this arrogant woman. “Why couldn’t you just tell me that instead of yelling at me and storming off like my daughter does when she throws a temper tantrum?” Okay, that was a bit catty of me to say but I could not help it.
“What is the point in explaining a spaceship to a beetle?” she inquired casually and my cheeks went dark. There it was. “In any case, we need to discuss when you will be coming back to the laboratory. You have no plans to breed anytime soon?”
“My husband and I are not going to have anymore children for about two more years,” I answered. “But we do want more. Just keep that in mind. There will be at least two years of me not being pregnant.”
She gave me the date when to show up—three and a half weeks from now–and then she hung up. I tossed my cell phone aside and flopped backwards onto the bed. I could her Hen and the kids shriekin’ with laughter in the living room from playing some sort of game. I needed to go and join them soon but I felt drained now. Plus I’d have to leave in the evening to follow a man who was stealin’ from his company, and hope I could get proof of it. Long nights were not good, and I was just blech. In fact, I was so tired and physically exhausted it was worrying me a bit. Last time I felt like this I had been…
But no, I couldn’t be again. Could I? Oh Grim Reaper, Doctor Redding would murder me.
“Mama, I don’t want you to go away for week.” Chance was sittin’ on my dresser, swinging one leg back and forth through the wood. He was watching me pack, his usual smile very small and almost not there. He was gonna be six soon but still had not lost his charm he had as a baby. In fact, I really couldn’t remember the last time he caused any trouble. Miracle certainly tried to get him in trouble but he rarely was put on the Time Out rug. The only reason he needed to be there was cause he still liked to go un-solid and drift around the house when we wanted him to stay put. Especially when we started giving him schoolwork. He’d get bored and drift off.
“She’ll be home before you know it,” Henri said as he helped me pack. “And while she’s gone, you and Miracle both need to be extra good for me. Right?”
“Yep! I’ll be a good girl, Daddy!” Miracle chirruped from where she was paintin’ at the easel I had not touched for years. I think she liked making a mess over making art. “And don’t worry, Mom, I’ll help take care of Night an’ Storm.”
“I’ll help too,” Chance said.
“Nooo! You hate the horses, you said they scare you!” Miracle complained, waving a paintbrush at him.
“Nope.” Chance beamed at his sister, not at all upset at her words. “I like the horses.” That was a complete lie. He hated being near the horses and sometimes I wondered if his nightmares at night were because his bedroom window looked out at the barn. I wondered if maybe we should switch the rooms.
I snapped my suitcase shut and then turned around. “Welp, kiddos, looks like Mommy’s ready to GO!” I was walked outside where I hugged and kissed both my children, then hugged and kissed Henri. “I’ll call when I get there,” I said. “And I expect to hear that you both are being good! Maybe when I come home I’ll have something for you both.” I knew there was a great shopping center on the way and I could easily find them each somethin’ nice.
“Bye Mommy! I love you!” Chance said, his smile never fading.
“Bye Mom! I want a dress! A sparkly dress!” Miracle said, arms flailing.
“Bye love, be safe,” Henri said and I nodded. Then I hopped into the truck and drove away from my family for the first time in a long time. My heart was aching before I even got out of town, and I missed them all so much.
It wasn’t Professor Redding who met me when I got to the lab, but a woman a few years older than me. She was wearing a helmet, and cheerfully led me through the revamped building. More living quarters had been added and several employees lived here most days out of the year. Some of them even had their family. I couldn’t even imagine kids livin’ there but the woman said there were three. “Doctor Rood dislikes it but–“
“Who is Doctor Rood?” I asked.
The woman gave me a strange look. “The woman you’ve been working with…? Head of the entire lab? Anyway, she dislikes it but it’s easier for some of the workers, like the Greysons–both of them work here and Doctor Rood is letting them and their son live here even though their son is a total terror and is always harassing Professor Rood.”
Redding, I thought. I guess Rood is their anonymous name or something. I was taken to my room which was a bit different than it had been. I thanked the woman, tossed my suitcase on the bed and called home. I was so glad to hear Henri’s voice and then talkin’ to both my kids cheered me up. Both of them went on about how they missed me and wanted me home, especially Chance who didn’t have much of a grasp on time and thought a week was ‘tomorrow’. When I got back on the phone with Henri I told him about the changes to the lab and we laughed at the idea of bringing Miracle.
“She’d wreck the place,” I said and Henri chuckled. “Imagine pitting Miracle against Doctor Redd–oh!! Apparently, Doctor Redding is Doctor Rood. I don’t know when that happened, I mean I never interacted much with the employees. I wonder if it’s new.”
“What about the Professor?”
“I haven’t seen him yet but the woman said there was a kid terrorizing Professor Rood so I guess he’s doing the same as her…” I looked at the locked door then rolled over onto my stomach. “I don’t know how this week is going to go and not seeing Professor Redding, or Rood, or whatever, has really made me worried, you know?”
“Everything will be fine, darling. Don’t let that b–silly woman get you down,” he said, quickly changing his wording.
We talked a bit longer then when we got off the phone I called the Reddings’ number but after two rings it went to voicemail. Sighing, I curled up in bed and wondered what I was supposed to do. After quite a bit of time (spent dozin’ in and out of sleep) there was a knock at the door. I opened it, hoping it was the Professor but it was a man (with a helmet) who took me down to where Doctor Redding was waitin’. The room had been revamped along with the rest of the building. Doctor Redding was the same as always though. Just as young and fresh-faced as always.
“Hello Doctor Rood,” I said and she raised her eyebrows. “Long time no see. How’ve you been? The new living quarters look nice.”
“Everett, you are dismissed,” she said and the man left, shutting the door behind him. “Have a seat, Mrs. Danevbie. I believe there are a few things we need to discuss before we begin any tests. In fact, we won’t be doing any sort of testing until tomorrow.” She sat down, crossing her legs at the ankle and waiting for me.
I sat down across from her, mimicking her sitting style. “How come you go by Doctor Rood? What’s wrong with Redding?”
“I have not gone by my given surname since before your great-grandfather was born,” she said, lazily looking at her fingernails. “Remaining young requires aliases. I have gone through four different names. This is the second time we are using the name Rood. I believe it is the name I was using when I met your father.” She pushed up her glasses and her eyes flashed at me. For a second I wondered if she had invented something that actually gave her the ability for her eyes to actually flash. She did it a lot. “My name is not the reason for this discussion, however. The reason for this discussion–“
“My questions?” I asked.
She glowered. “I do not appreciate you interrupting me. But yes. Your questions. We should get this over with as quickly as possible so let us begin.”
Here we go again. I rubbed my forehead and tried to think of questions. She refused to admit there might be a cure so I needed to figure out why. “What… is the purpose of making people like me, like that m–like my birth father? I mean, why psychics? Why sense feelings and not read thoughts, or mind control?”
“Knowledge, and yes there is a reason for the knowledge but there is no point in telling you.” She paused and I wondered if that was all she was going to say but then she said, “You cannot simply read the words that run through the minds of people. It is not like a book. It is not easy. What forms the words, what fuels actual thoughts are emotions. Being able to sense emotions is as close to reading minds as anyone can get, as you know. You have said on several occasions you feel as though you can read minds. And controlling the mind? Having someone do as you desire? Controlling emotions and wants are as good as that.” She raised her chin so she could look down her nose at me. “Does that answer to your satisfaction?”
I nodded, everythin’ she had said being right on the dot. “Yes. I’ve only met one other psychic like me. How many are there? How many did you make? Are there are kids out there like me?”
“There were twenty-one initial project experiments,” she said slowly. “Six died at a young age, two died when they were older, and five escaped. Out of the eight remaining, we released four of them into the outside world–the two strongest and the two weakest–to see how they interacted with regular people. I believe three of the escaped psychics had children we have been unable to track down, and two of those we released had children, and one remaining at the lab had children. So for your generation, there are at least four psychics with yourself included. And there is one of the next generation.”
“My birth father was one of the released psychics?” I asked, to make sure.
“Yes. He was the strongest psychic we had. Which explains why you are the strongest, as it seems the children have amplified powers of their parents. What abilities the parent psychic has, the child has it more. Your genetic donor was good at sensing emotions and manipulating them, therefore that is what got amplified.”
“What about the third generation?” I asked in a dropped voice. “W-will my children get this then? Even stronger?”
Doctor Redding settled in her seat some more and thought about this for a moment or two before answering. “There is, we believe, a twenty-five percent chance of one of your children inheriting your ability. However, it will be a dampened version of your ability. On the same level as your genetic donor, or less. Only the second generation seem to have the strongest versions of this ability. That being said, we only have one third generation psychic to examine.” Suddenly she smirked and I had the feeling what was comin’.
“No,” I said before she could ask. “If my daughter gets this power, you will not go anywhere near her. If you do, I will kill you.”
Her smirk got bigger. “Just your daughter? You’ve never told me about your second child. Is it a daughter as well?”
I stiffened and dug my nails into my jeans. “No. I have a son. But if he gets the powers, the same thing stands. You go near him, ever, for any reason, I will kill you.”
“My, you are adamant about this. Why?” She focused her gaze on me as if tryin’ to see into my brain. I bet she’d give anything for mind reading or control. Ugh, if she somehow was able to get these powers then that’d be like a super villain type of thing going on. “Do you imagine I would do something to them?”
“I don’t trust you and I would never trust you anywhere near my children,” I answered.
“You aren’t the only one,” she said in an amused tone. “For some reason people think I will do harm to their children.”
“I wonder why,” I said and she shrugged. She could not seriously be actually wondering why. The shrug was not–not for that, it was just a dismissing gesture, that was all. She seriously could not question why anyone would worry about their baby being in her presence? “Anyhoo… I guess onto my next question. I think you said before something about, um, manipulating… before birth or something?”
“I manipulated the DNA before the fertilized egg was implanted, yes,” she said.
“How? What did you do? Did you add something? You couldn’t just… manipulate DNA.”
“I cannot discuss the process or what I did,” was her answer. Of course.
“How can the helmets block the abilities? If you know how to block the ability, you should know how to get rid of them,” I said hopefully.
Doctor Redding studied me for a minute then sighed rather loudly. “The helmets are designs to have the wearer’s emotions channeled into the helmet and broken down there. It gives no harm to the wearer, but it prevents someone who can read emotions to get to them. So it has nothing to do with the ability, but the emotions coming from the other side of things. There is nothing that can be done to prevent the abilities, or get rid of them.”
She spoke firmly and strongly, drivin’ home the idea that I could not change this.
But of course she’d say it, I thought. She wouldn’t want me getting rid of my abilities. How could I possibly get around this? If she would give me nothing, and Professor Redding gave me nothing, then maybe the only thing I could do was explore on my own. “Why do you want me? What do you want out of me, out of testing my abilities?” I asked, tryin’ to think hard of questions to ask.
And I did, small questions that really didn’t hold very much importance or need. She explained to me she wanted to know just how powerful I was and what I could do. She told me they had not made any psychics since the first batch and she was unsure if they would make more, that there was evidence in my DNA, this project was not the only project going on, there were other aspects to this project goin’ on, and then there was a LOT she could not tell me due to it being a secret. I didn’t find out a whole lot but at least I had some answers. If Miracle got this ability, or if Henri and I had more children (flesh and bone children) who happened to get the ability, then I could tell them some of what was going on. Not everything, unfortunately, but some.
“Doctor Redding,” I said when I finally ran out of questions, “I understand it is not something you’d want, but if there is any way to get rid of it–no, let me talk,” I put in quickly as she opened her mouth. “Not for me. If my children get this I would like to give them the chance to not have it. It was a curse to me growing up, and still is. I hate it. However, providing the best for my children is my number one need. And as I have gotten my answers, I am willing to undergo another agreement with you.”
“An agreement,” she echoed.
“Let’s face it, one day there will be a time when I stop coming. Maybe not in the near future but there is nothing to keep me from coming back after a couple years. There was never a time limit in this.” I knew I sounded as much of a bitch as I accused her of bein’, but I didn’t care. This was the card up my sleeve and I needed to play it.
Doctor Redding was now glowering even more than before. “You want to renegade. Why am I not surprise? Danevbies, you are all alike.”
“I am not going to renegade exactly,” I said, folding my hands and leanin’ forward. “I would like motivation to continue coming after, say, a year or two. Namely, a cure. Not for me, but I want my children to be free of this curse if they get this power. I don’t know if they will, but if they do then yeah. I will not want this for myself, so you can continue doing your little research on me.”
“And if I say no?” Doctor Redding asked, liftin’ her eyebrow. “I have your blood, your very DNA. I have been working with cloning and I could just try and clone you. If that does not work, I could use your DNA in making another psychic. Perhaps they won’t be as strong as you… but perhaps they might.”
Okay so the ace up my sleeve revealed an ace up her sleeve. “Then why keep me now?” I asked, keeping my voice steady. “Why not just do that and be done with me?”
“Perhaps that is what I should do, Mrs. Danevbie.” Doctor Redding stood up and brushed nonexistent lint off her skirt. “As we are finished with your questions, I will leave you with that note. Everett will take you back to your room and I shall see you in the morning.”
I watched her leave then got up and wearily followed Everett back to my room. I had no idea what would be happening next, and it rather worried me what all this would lead to. With any luck, freedom for my children. Which now was all I wanted.
So yeah, wow I realized today it’s been five months since I started Sen’s gen. I am SO sorry, beYOND sorry that it’s taken so long to get so close to the end! I apologize completely and hopefully my future gens won’t be like this.