A Darker Shade Of Pale

Details and a record of the characters exploits, successes and failures within the Parallel Worlds.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:43 pm

Caleb Mustenen’s bedroom door swung open and instead of his father coming in, Maggie Shaw was standing in the doorway.
“Maggie?” Cal frowned. “What are you doing here?”
“Your dad’s got to go out for a while so he phoned mom and asked her to baby-sit for a while.”
“Oh. Cool!”
“How did you do that today? I thought you could only do small things?”
“Dunno. But dad thinks if I lose control then somehow… I dunno, go like the Hulk or something!”
“Your dad?” Maggies eyes were like saucers.
Cal shrugged. “Miss Harrison saw what I did and told dad. He asked me and I couldn’t lie.”
“Shoot,” Maggie said hopping onto his bed beside him and picking up the dragon he’d been playing with. “What will Miss Harrison do?”
The two children sat awkwardly fiddling with the toys.
“I don’t mind,” Caleb said after a while.
Maggie had just been thinking about going for a swim in the pool. She gave Caleb a big grin.
“That’s naughty, reading my mind.”
Again the girl smiled. “Come on then!”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:47 pm

UNIC Designation: Pheonix

Quantum: 4

Westchester Manor, 20 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia. April 24th 1966. (Local World Time – 27 Years behind Homeline)
Director Mortimer pulled his Mercedes Benz to a halt on the gravel driveway outside the huge eighteenth century manor house.
As he climbed from the car he ran his fingers through his greying hair and straightened his tie.
Locking the expensive German car, something he’d fallen in love with on a vacation to Europe five years ago, he walked briskly up the front steps and in through the large wooden doors that opened as he approached.
There were two men inside, one in the uniform of security, the other in a black suit, not unlike Mortimer’s.
The Director stood still upon entering the house and awaiting the nod from the suited man.
Once done, the man having scanned his mind and finding it to be the one that matched his body, the Director headed for an elevator in the opposite wall.
E keyed floor twelve and the box dropped steadily until he emerged over one hundred and fifty feet below the ground.
Then his journey took him through numerous corridors and several more check-points until he entered a room that resembled a cross between a military command centre and the bridge of some sci-fi spaceship.
Special Agent Thompson dressed in his shirt-sleeves was awaiting him.
“So, what’s dragged me in early today, Mark?” the Director asked as he made his way to the ‘goldfish bowl’ office at the back of the room.
“Sir, we had Maloney, Cox and Litzenberger on Gestalt Over-watch yesterday, experimenting with the psi-detection satellite we launched six weeks ago.”
“The satellite’s working?”
“Eh, yes sir. Everything appears to be working well, but the satellite’s not the issue…”
Mortimer eased himself into his high-backed chair and breathed a sigh of relief. He had been helping his eldest son move into his room at university over the weekend and had strained his back lifting a box packed with god knows what?
“Explain,” he prompted.
“Sir, at 12:36 hrs yesterday they formed the gestalt connection and began running mock checks on a local level. We had Agent Cobecht incinerating trash!” Thompson’s nerdish chuckle received a stony reception; obviously the Director wasn’t in the mood today!
“Right,” Mark Thompson continued. “At 13:07 hrs EST, the gestalt detected a psi-pulse coming from the southern end of the United States, Florida to be exact, probably Miami.”
Mortimer straightened in his chair and swivelled around to look at the huge map of the US on his back wall.
“The southern end of Florida? That’s some distance. So the satellite works well!”
Jack Mortimer saw the look on Thompson’s face and sighed. “Okay, what’s the but?”
“Sir, we hadn’t engaged the satellite link. The gestalt picked the pulse up on their own.”
“Jesus! Those three work well together. Perhaps we could have saved a quarter of a million dollars on the satellite!”
“Jack, I don’t think you are seeing the picture right. It’s not our guys suddenly improving, they detected this pulse because it was a damned powerful one.”
“How powerful?” Mortimer asked before Thompson was able to say more.
“Sir, our third-edition psi-scale ranges one to twenty. This came in on a sixteen!”
“Sixteen? Sweet Jesus,” Mortimer cursed suddenly realising the magnitude of this news. “Who do we have down there?”
“I checked. We’ve got an observation team in Jacksonville, a telepath an Esper, and a healer. None of them have ever rated over eight on their annual assessments. I also rang them last night – all in Jacksonville still.”
“We’ve no one in Miami?”
“No, sir.”
“Shit! Commies?”
“Not sure, but it has to be, doesn’t it?”
Mortimer nodded silently turning to his desk and scribbling a note down.
“Get the Obs-Team over to Miami right away, flash CIA creds if necessary. I want them looking into police and newspaper reports. Anything they think looks odd, they report it in. Who’s our best detection man?”
“No, I want him on the gestalt team.”
“Best alternative has to Pearson.”
“Get him on a plane to Miami and link up with the Observation team.”
Thompson nodded and left the glass-walled office.
Damned commies! Mortimer cursed as he turned to the coffee percolator.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:48 pm

April 24th 1966 – Miami

“I’m telling you, Donald, that’s what I saw,” Barbara Harrison folded her arms tempestuously as she stood firm on her statement to Donald Chalk, Principle of Leewood Elementary School.
Chalk was thirty years senior to Harrison and had taught her himself when she was at high school. He knew her to be bright, studious, sensible and not subject to flights of fancy.
They were among the traits that he had hired her for here at Leewood, that and the fact that she was a damned good teacher.
So he knew that Barbara believed what she saw was right, and he had to accept it on face value.
But if she was right, what did that mean?
Okay, so he and probably half the world had heard of Peter Dixon, ‘The Pupeteer’ as the media had named him.
He’d been arrested, eventually, for murder, or at least conspiracy to murder, as he had claimed to have taken over the minds of completely innocent people and got them to steal and kill on his behalf. He’d had them follow him around like some sort of zombie entourage, controlling their every move with his own thoughts,
He’d even taken over the presiding judge’s mind in court and had him dancing around the room.
Then there had been Jackson Mohenby, the man who had stood in the middle of the New York Giant’s football stadium and scored a field goal using a line-backer as the ball.
Both men claimed to be from a group known as The League of Psychics and said they wanted to expose the super-power’s research and experimentation with psychic phenomena.
Chalk had taken an interest in the first case as Pete Dixon was his wife’s second-cousin.
In the end it was discovered that Dixon had drugged the people following his commands, including the judge (Dixon’s lawyer had facilitated that) and Mohenby and the line-backer had been in cahoots and the whole thing had been a poorly planned publicity stunt – the line-backer had died.
Even though the two events had been proven to be hoaxes it had, for a while, brought the phenomenon of psychic powers to the front of the collective public mind, and now rumours and stories and conspiracy theories existed everywhere.
The fringe newspapers were full of stories about people reading minds, controlling people or performing extraordinary feats.
“Okay, Barbara, I know of someone I can talk to. They’ll want to speak to you too, face to face, is that going to be a problem?”
“Not at all, Donald,” Barbara Harrison replied.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:05 pm

Barbara Harrison jumped when the bells began ringing throughout the school.
Instantly the children began scrambling for their bags, some shoving their books in without a care, others being more meticulous.
Barbara noted with a tiny smirk that the divide between shovers and placers was mostly about gender, the boys being the former and the girls being the latter. Then her gaze fell upon Caleb Mustenen, who remained seated while he placed his books neatly in his satchel.
Unconsciously a shiver rippled through her, like people get when they say someone has walked over your grave.
Caleb’s eyes were suddenly on her, studying her like a scientist studying rats in a cage, his face emotionless and showing only curiosity. Was that how Caleb Mustenen viewed other people? Like lab rats to be experimented on?
The teacher let out an audible sigh when the boy finally looked away and Barbara turned to the blackboard, wiping away the mathematics questions she’d put there.
“I hope Donald speaks to someone soon and they do something about that kid,” she thought.
Unbeknownst to her, Caleb’s eyes momentarily flicked back to her and his brows furrowed. “Why would she want the principle to do something about me?” he wondered.
He thought about the day before yesterday and his shoulders sagged, “Oh!” he mumbled, then realising he was about to become the only person left in the room with her, he scurried off to lunch.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:07 pm

Two black sedans had pulled up outside the decrepit offices of Harelsson’s International Shipping Company in the early hours of the morning and two men, dressed in crisp dark suits that screamed, to the initiated, ‘Government’ alighted from the car.
There had already been a light on in the office for some time and the door was answered by a man with bleary eyes and five-o’clock shadow on his chin.

Eight hours later Agent Albert Pearson rubbed his eyes and yawned. It had already been a very long day for most people in Miami it was only halfway through.
His team were similarly feeling the long hours, having arrived at three in the they had ploughed through the police and newspaper reports that the Jacksonville team, having rapidly relocated to Miami, had so far managed to amass.

Dennis Rendle wandered over to Pearsons desk and placed a bound folder in front of his boss.
“Finished with these,” he said in his southern drawl. “Only two in there to add to the list. One guy who reported that his neighbour had murdered his cat, says he saw the cat floating past his bedroom window. He looked out, saw no sign of the cat, which later turned up dead, but said that the neighbour was on his own veranda staring up at him.”
Pearson sighed as he took the hand written noted that accompanied the file from Rendle.
“And the other?”
“Couple of kids claim they were attacked by a boy who picked one of them and threw him the length of the school sports hall.”
Frowning and shaking his head Pearson asked with resigned voice, “And that made it onto a Police report?”
Rendle nodded. “The boy’s in hospital with spinal injuries, big scene and all. The investigating officer notes that not everything adds up. One of the boys mentions being picked up an held twenty feet or so above the floor, but he couldn’t find anything on scene that would fit.”
Pearson had learned that, although not psychic, good cops seemed to have good instincts, and when they thought something didn’t add up, it usually meant it didn’t.
“Show me the report,” Pearson asked sitting up straighter in his chair.
Rendle leafed through the folder finding the police report which he had marked.
He handed it across to Pearson who seemed to shudder when he took it.
Immediately, his eyes like saucers, he dropped the paper and sagged.
Rendle had seen this happen before, his senior colleague possessed a trait they called psychometry, the ability to gain insight on a subject by touching an object related to it.
“Interview the witnesses, starting with the kids. I’ll take a team to go and see the alleged perp.” He paused. “A kid?”
Rendle shrugged.
“This is genuine, Dennis, don’t know if it’s the one we’re looking for, but we need to take it seriously.”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:48 pm

It was seven in the morning and Barbara Harrison groaned at the shrill ring of her alarm clock which her ex-fiance had bought her; another reason to hate it.
Sluggishly she dragged herself out of bed and was surprised by the groan from beside her.
Then it all came crashing back; the memories of a drunken night at the bar, and a stinking headache to accompany them.
The groan had come from a young man who lay naked beside her.
“Oh my god!” the thought horrified. This wasn’t a young man, not really, he was barely more than a kid!
She silently cursed Caleb Mustenen. For the last few nights, since seeing what he did to that boy, she’d been drinking heavily to help her sleep. And she found that she didn’t like drinking alone.

Barbara found the ‘boys’ clothes, she couldn’t think of him as a man even though technically he was only a handful of years younger than her. Throwing them on the bed she shook the naked, nameless occupant awake. “Get up, get dressed and get out,” she ordered grouchily.

After a few minutes of disgruntled protest and some hard to hear words (even though they were true, which made them all the more difficult to accept) her front door slammed shut and Barbara sighed heading for the shower and the start of what would turn out to be her last day of school. Her last day of anything.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:50 pm

Agent Lovett, a short thin man in his late forties with dark hair just beginning to show signs of greying, removed his fedora hat before pulling open the door of a long black Lincoln sedan that was parked in the visitors section of St Eddemoor’s General Hospital car park.
Inside were two other men, one of a similar age similar build and same black suit as his colleagues, the other man was much younger and his chocolate brown skin shone with sweat brought on by the heat of the early morning sun being magnified through the back window.
“Well?” the man in the driver’s seat asked of Lovett.
“Kid says this boy lifted him more than twice my height at least, his words, above the ground without touching him.”
Agent Cole’s brows arched. “How old are we talking?”
Lovett slowly turned his head to face Cole. “Eight,” he answered flatly.
The leather creaked on the back seat as Agent Wills sat up straighter. “Eight?” Wills almost choked on the word.
“Eight,” Lovett confirmed.
“And you think this eight-year-old just blasted out a level sixteen? Ain’t anyone in this state can get more than a nine or ten, on a really good day.”
Lovett shrugged. “Well apparently someone can.”
“Christ!” Cole blasphemed before turning in his chair to face Wills. “Can you let Pearson know we have confirmation of definite talent?”
Wills shut his eyes and breathed deeply. After a moment they opened again and the man shook his head. “Too far away,” he said.
Cole sighed, then started the car.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:36 am

“Bye dad,” Caleb puffed as he scrambled across the back seat of the car, hauling his sizable bag with him.
Petrick watched his son join the throng of children heading into school.
He shook a cigarette loose from his packet and lit it, sucking the smoke deep into his lungs.
Caleb hated him smoking, he knew, and so this was always his first of the day, the one he enjoyed the most after many hours of abstinence.
The Finn sat back in his seat and spotted Caleb stood at the bottom of the school steps, motionless like a statue or a wax dummy. Then he also saw Maggie as she skipped through the crowd. She saw Caleb, ran the last thirty or so feet to join him and the pair, chatting like old washer-women made their way into school.
Petrick chuckled, blowing smoke out of his open window. He was wondering how Maggie managed to get the awkward little boy that was his son to be so normal.
In no particular rush to visit the dentist this morning, he decided to finish his cigarette before leaving.
More cars came and went, some pausing barely long enough for the children to alight, others lingering whilst parents, like him, watched their spawn all the way to the door.
Another car pulled up, a foreign thing, European, Citroen. Petrick watched it swing into the parking lot and he sat up straighter when he saw Caleb’s teacher climb out. The boy had mentioned that she hd been acting oddly towards him, which surprised Petrick as he had been expecting more than just odd behaviour.
Flicking the butt out of the window he reached for the key and turned it, firing the engine but he didn’t pull away. Instead, as though some sort of sixth-sense drew his attention he watched two men in trim black suits climb from a dark Lincoln parked very near the school entrance.

The men hailed Miss Harrison, making the woman who bore dark rings around her eyes pause uncertainly on the top step.
For some reason Petrick’s heckles were up and then he saw why. As the men approached the young teacher one of them flashed some form of identification. It was too far away for Petrick to tell what sort or to hear what was being said, but Miss Harrison seemed to be doing a lot of nodding and finally shaking her head, looking at her watch and possibly giving the men a time.
Whatever she said seemed to satisfy them as the both nodded in unison and returned to their vehicle.
He watched the men pull away and saw that Miss Harrison was doing the same.

Now he needed to think; those guys were obviously Feds. But what did they want? Obviously their presence here had to have something to do with the incident between Caleb and the two boys.

Mustenen drove away, deciding to give the dentist a miss.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:11 pm

April 28th 1966
10:30 am

It was typically clear, hot and sunny in Miami today, a fact that many of the men working near the beach constructing a huge hotel complex probably wouldn’t appreciate.

Petrick Mustenen was also one of those. He had decided to run a few errands before going home and sitting in the car with the sun slowly baking him had brought him out in a sticky, uncomfortable sweat. At least, Petrick assumed it was the sun. he was nervous, not yet to the point of being jumpy, but he was definitely on edge thanks to seeing those Feds speaking to Miss Harrison.
It was late morning by the time he turned into the palm-tree lined street where he and Caleb lived in a modest house with a private garden.
It wasn’t until he had driven halfway down the long road that he noticed the shiny black Lincoln parked just down the road from his house. He saw that the car was occupied and something about it made him drive on by with only a cursory glance. Perhaps it was the fact that this was not the first such vehicle he had seen containing government types today.
Although the occupants weren’t the same as he had seen at Caleb’s school, they certainly visited the same tailor. That fact that these guys weren’t the ones from this morning gave Petrick cause for more concern than he had already felt. This showed that this wasn’t just a couple of Feds doing the standard investigation. These guys were a part of a team, and that meant the government was taking this incident seriously.
Petrick cruised on to the end of the street, taking a left turn casually before gunning the engine and heading towards a bright, care-free downtown Miami at lunchtime.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:13 pm

April 28th 1966
12:30 am

Two hours later, having called in old favours with several of his contacts, Petrick knew that several stations had been contacted by the FBI and asked to supply copies of their reports for the preceding days to a special task force. The task force had not asked for anything specific and it seemed to some that perhaps they didn’t know what it was they had been looking for.
And now Fed-looking goons were staking out his house and Caleb’s school. It seemed to Petrick that they had discovered what they were looking for.

Petrick had visited a lock-up too, a dusty garage filled with mound formed by undisclosed items covered in white sheets.
Under one square shaped mound was a safe. Petrick had taken half the contents, including a pistol which he hadn’t used since before Caleb was born.
Another, larger cover was removed to reveal a gleaming white 1964 Ford Mustang. It was something Petrick had purchase on impulse and had immediately regretted, knowing the vehicle would draw too much unwanted attention.
But that was two years ago and such vehicles on the road were not so uncommon nowadays.

Later, in Joe’s Bar in the Quays, Petrick started making phone calls.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:05 pm

April 28th 1966

The final bell rang and Barbara Harrison breathed a sigh of relief as the kids began to pour out of her classroom.
Slowly packing her few things into her handbag, Barbara pulled at her short skirt, straightening it, opened her compact and freshened up her lipstick.
Strangely Barbara felt nervous. This afternoon Principle Chalk had called her outside for a quick chat and had told her that a friend of his wanted to speak with her regarding the incident.
On top of that, those two men from the FBI wanted to interview her at their offices. They seemed very keen to hear what she had to say.

Clapping the compact shut she nearly screamed when she saw a man standing in front of her.
“Where the hell had he come from?” she asked herself, unaware even that the door had opened.
When she realised who it was her breath caught and she involuntarily stepped backwards.
“Err… Mr Mustenen? Erm… What can I do for you?” she said fighting to keep the nervousness out of her voice, unconsciously fiddling with the hem of her tight pull over.
“I want to talk to you about Caleb, and what you think happened to those boys,” Petrick said in a calm voice. He deliberately stepped to the side so that he could lean against one of the student desks to make himself appear less threatening.
Barbara’s brows furrowed and she walked stiffly back to the ‘proper’ side of her desk; this was where she ruled this particular roost from, where she felt most comfortable and most confident.
“I’ve told you, Mr Mustenen, I’ve told you what I saw and what I think,” she said injecting as much authority into her voice as she could.

Petrick sighed quietly, looking to the floor as he pushed a discarded eraser around with the toe of her boot. He had the door open and all she had to do was walk through, but it didn’t seem she wanted to, in fact it seemed more like she was going to slam the door shut.
Finally he looked back up. “But what you are accusing him of… it’s not true,” he lied, calm, quiet, no anger or any other emotion in his voice.

There was a silence.

“You really are going to the authorities with this and possibly ruin Caleb’s life?” Petrick inquired after a while.
Barbara shook her head pitifully. “No, Mr Mustenen, it won’t be like theat. This is the Government of the Unites States of America we are talking about! They’ll take care of Caleb!”
“They’ll lock him up!” Petrick snapped, losing his cool for the first time.
“He’s dangerous!” Barbara fired back, Petrick’s suddenly raised voice putting her on the defensive.
“No, he isn’t. He’s just a kid,” Petrick argued, calm once more.
It didn’t matter to Barbara though, she was nervous. This man was alone with her in her classroom and she wasn’t happy about the situation, she felt very threatened. And when she felt threatened, Barbara Harrison couldn’t help herself.
“Your son put two students in hospital. Two innocent young boys, one of whom may never walk again, both of them terrorised. He’s a freak Mr Mustenen, a dangerous FREAK! Why else would the FBI ask to see me and get a proper statement? The FBI, Mr Mustenen. They’re going to take Caleb and put him somewhere where he can’t hurt people. Some place far away from here!” Her voice was now heavy with malice and vindictiveness.

Petrick’s knuckles were white where he gripped the desk. His whole body was tense, his demeanor suddenly dark and menacing. He knew she could see it too, he saw the fear in her eyes.
A bang from outside the classroom reminded Petrick that this was neither the time nor the place for him to lose control and do something stupid.

He rose up to his full height and straightened his suit jacket, placing his hat upon his head. “I have to collect my son,” he said walking swiftly towards the door.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:57 pm

Agents Dennis Rendle and Mike Adlington were sitting in their government-issue Lincoln which Dennis had parked under the shade of a Sycamore tree right opposite the entrance to Leeward Elementary School.
Neither man spoke as they watched the parents and children milling around.
The Animals were singing about a house in New Orleans on the radio and Dennis was gently tapping his fingers on the steering wheel in time with the beat.
The throng of people slowly cleared. The agents were here to take Barnara Harrison for her interview. Pearson wanted to make sure he and Cole got to speak with her, and that she didn’t have the opportunity to change her mind.

Dennis suddenly ha a feeling like he was being watched. Casually he glanced about. There was no chance of him missing the boy.
He was standing with his hands in his pockets, his toes dangling over the kerb, eyes curious and staring directly at him.
Although he’d never met this Caleb Mustenen, and oddly they had not been able to find a picture of him, Rendle knew this was him. He could feel the boy’s subtle probing at the edge of his mind. Dennis immediately threw up his defences. The boy frowned, his head cocked to one side even more curious now.
“Shit!” Rendle whispered barely enough for Adlington to hear him.
“What?” Adlington asked, bored.
“The boy we’re looking for is a telepath.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Cos he’s standing on the sidewalk trying to look into my mind.”
Adlignton leaned forward, looking beyond his colleague. “You sure? The story read like a PK?”
“I’m sure,” Rendle said quietly, not taking his mind off the boy.
Suddenly there was a presence within him. Rendle’s head whipped around so he could face his colleague his expression incredulous. “My god, he’s in! We’re compromised!”
Adlington looked on in disbelief for a moment. He knew that Rendle’s mental defences were not insignificant.
Quickly Adlington came to the same decision that his partner was also coming to. “We have confirmation Den, we should apprehend him now.” He was already climbing out of the car.
Rendle used every bit of his training to keep the boy from finding out anything that could be useful to an enemy, which was what young boy was technically classed as at the moment.

The two men approached the boy who didn’t move or try to run.
Mike Adlington, a father of two young boys of similar age, crouched down onto his haunches several feet away from the dark haired, dark eyed, eight year old.
“Hello,” he said convivially, smiling.
“Hello, Mr Adlington,” the boy replied causing the two men to exchange shocked glances.
Adlington reached inside his jacket and retrieved his identification.
“We’re with the FBI, Caleb, it is Caleb, isn’t it?”
The boy nodded.
“Do you know what that means, Caleb?”
“It means you are a policeman with cross-state, or Federal jurisdiction,” Caleb replied.
Adlington smiled despite himself. “That’s right,” he said. “And we’d like you to come with us please Caleb.”
Caleb looked from Adlington to Rendle and back again.
“I don’t think I should,” the boy said shaking his head. “My dad said that I shouldn’t go with strangers.”
Adlington glanced around. They were getting some curious looks from the gathered parents that still remained.
“Your father is very sensible, but I bet he told you to do what the teachers told you, yes?” Mike asked.
“Well, teachers and policemen are the same in that respect, don’t you think?”
Caleb nodded slowly, obviously mulling the logic over. “I guess so.”
“Good,” said Adlington with a wry smile. “Then you’d better come with us.” He stepped nearer the boy placing his hand on the boy’s back urging him in the direction of the awaiting Lincoln.
A little unsure as to what he should do, Caleb stepped over to the car, pausing as Rendle opened the door.
“It means you’re a liar too,” Caleb said matter-of-factly.
“What’s that?” Adlington asked confused.
“Your badge and FBI stuff means you’re a liar. Neither of you are in the FBI.”
Rendle eyed Adlington. “Just get in the car, kid,” he barked.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:13 pm

Petrick Mustenen strode quickly through the school, knowing that he had left Caleb waiting outside.
His footsteps echoed off the beige painted walls that had artwork created by the pupils pinned to it.
Normally he would have skimmed the paintings, drawings, scribbles and bits of flotsam glued to paper, in case any of them had Caleb’s name on them, but not today. Today his mind was distracted, putting the final touches to plans he had hoped he would not have to make.

Pushing open the doors at the end of the school’s main corridor he scanned the gathered children and parents looking for Caleb.
He wasn’t in his usual spot and there was no sign of Lucy, Maggies mother, which might indicate that Caleb was off talking to them.

A movement across the street momentarily caught his attention. A black Lincoln, not unlike others he had seen today, was pulling away from the kerb. The driver, a man in a dark suit waited for a car to pass before gently easing the big Lincoln out around the car that was parked in front of it.
Petrick’s vision went to the back of the car, the small pale face, unhappy, sitting staring forward. The face of his son.
“Hey!” he yelled breaking into a run. “Hey!”
Parents, children and a few of the teachers who were managing to get away early turned to see who was making the noise. They watched the man running, yelling at a car that was pulling steadily away.
One woman recognised Petrick, and then Caleb in the car. “Oh my god! Is that your boy?” she called but Petrick ignored her.
He ran after the Lincoln, his own car parked just ahead of where it was now. He scrambled in his pocket for the keys as he wrenched the unlocked door open. Finally he found them, slid into the drivers seat and gunned the engine. All the time he had been watching the Lincoln until it had turned left at the end of the street and disappeared from view.
Petrick’s Cadillac roared away from the kerb, tyres squealing. He threw the big old car around the corner like a racing driver and spotted the Lincoln about five hundred yards ahead.
He thought as he drove. Should he follow them and see where they were taking his son? There could be more agents there and he could lose Caleb – so that option was out.
He could shoot the driver? It was an option he had used before. He’d have to wait until they were at a junction and this time there would be a lot of witnesses.
Or he could wait until they were in a quiet part of town and ram them off the road? But what if they didn’t go to a quiet part of town?
Easing off the gas slightly he slotted the Cadillac in between two other cars and followed, hoping an opportunity would present itself.
“Hang on boy,” he muttered rhetorically.
“I will, dad,” Caleb replied in his mind, the shock of it almost making Petrick swerve into the on-coming lane.
“Jesus, Cal!” Petrick swore aloud.
“We’re heading for the interstate, dad. You can stop them at the on-ramp.”
Petrick shook his head in amazement and laughed.
“Don’t worry about me, dad, I’ll be alright.”
Again Petrick shook his head and laughed, not believing his son was serious but somehow trusting that he was. “Alright, boy. You hold on tight.”
Caleb didn’t answer but Petrick knew that he was doing… whatever it was he needed to do.
The Lincoln’s rear lights blinked as it changed lanes heading for the on-ramp and speeding up.
Petrick slewed the Caddy into the lane four or five lengths behind them and floored the pedal. The big engine roared and powered the car forward.
He had to time this just right. There was a car between him and the Lincoln. He eased the car left running either side of the white line as he powered passed the car, clipping mirrors.
That made the car slow down, the driver thinking Petrick would stop to exchange insurance details. .
But he didn’t, instead he surged ahead seemingly looking to pass the next car, the Lincoln, jus as it reached the ramp.
“Crazy asshole!” the driver cursed.
As he came alongside the Lincoln, Petrick yanked hard on the steering wheel slamming his right front quarter into its left front wheel.

Agent Rendle was taken completely unawares as the vehicle collided with him and his natural reaction was to steer away from the other car.
It was the wrong move. His car slammed into the concrete post that formed the start of the low curving wall that bounded the inner radius of the on-ramp.
The Lincoln came to a dead halt, glass and steam erupting from the front.

Petrick’s heart was in his mouth - in essence he had just forced his son into a car wreck.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:19 pm

Adlington glanced over his shoulder at the very serious looking boy sitting on the back seat.
He didn’y look much, not particularly big, a normal looking everyday kid. This young lad wasn’t too dissimilar to his own son a few years back.
Except that his own son couldn’t pull off a level sixteen psychic event.
Having said that, there was nothing here now to indicate that this boy could either.
He turned back to watch the road ahead as Rendle accelerated towards the on-ramp.
“Look at this idiot!” Rendle cursed nodding towards his wing mirror and watching a big Cadillac racing up the outside of traffic.

Then came the bang.
Caleb had been expecting it and was concentrating on the seat-backs in front of him, forcing himself mentally away from them.
The Cadillac crunched into the front wing.
Rendle was totally unprepared and failed to counter the manoeuvre.
The Lincoln hit the end of the concrete wall with such force that all the windows shattered, the hood sprung open all creased and dented, the back of the car lifted off the ground and slammed back down again in a cloud of steam.
The occupants were thrown forwards. Rendle’s face smashed into the steering wheel, his forehead buckling the thin black hoop.
Adlington was half hanging from the car where his passenger side door had flown open. At first the agent had been slammed into the dash, his head hitting the windscreen just as it shattered, some of the jagged glass fragments lacerated his face, then he slumped sideways, his leg ‘popping’ at the knee as he slid to hang halfway out of the car.

Caleb Mustenen was surrounded by twisted metal, broken glass and billowing steam from the radiator.
Horrified by the harsh reality of the two agents’ wounds he felt sick. He shut his eyes forcing the images to the back of his mind.
Opening the rear door of the ruined Lincoln he climbed out just as the Cadillac finished reversing back to the scene.
Caleb noticed his father’s ashen face. “It’s okay dad, I’m fine,” he said matter-of-factly.

Petrick bolted from his car and rushed over to Caleb, wrapping his arms around the boy and holding him tight.
“We have to leave, dad, don’t we?” Caleb asked as he stared blankly at the growing crowd.
There were calls amongst the onlookers for someone to call an ambulance.
Petrick knew his son’s question did not just refer to the scene here. “Yes, son, we do,” he finally replied.
“I’ll miss Maggie,” Caleb said sadly.
“I know son, I’ll miss her too.”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:17 pm

“Won’t they be angry with you, dad?” Caleb had asked.
Petrick had thought about lying but there was no point, however he decided not to embellish his one word answer. “Yes.”

As he had driven the Cadillac out towards the Everglades he had considered the situation.
Disappearing was something Petrick had done many times before. All he had to do was make sure they, the Feds, didn’t have anything on them.

So what did they have?
Their names? Easy enough to change.
There address? Fire crews should have put out the fire by now, but there was nothing for the investigators to find, there were no photographs of them, and he had removed the ones from the school files already.
All they had was what made cops all over the world cringe… witness descriptions of them.
Petrick had done what he had always done well, blending into the background, not standing out by being the loner that draws attention by his solitude and neither was he extrovert enough to stand out in peoples mind for that very reason.
There were only two people at the school who could give a really accurate description of him, Lucy Shaw and Miss Harrison.
He surprised himself, by choosing to ignore the fact that Lucy could tell them all about him, he decided she wouldn’t say anything, not if he explained to her.
But Barbara Harrison was another story. He’d given her a chance and she’d decided not to take him upon it.

Petrick gripped the steering wheel of the Mustang so hard that his knuckles turned white.
“Dad?” Caleb asked.
“Whose car is this?”
“Why have I not seen it before?”
“I don’t use it much. I keep it in a lock-up uptown normally.”
“But not now.”
“No, boy. Not now.” Petrick answered tiredly. He was contemplating something and took a deep breath, sighing as he finally made his decision.
“Caleb, I used to work for some very bad people, who used to pay me a lot of money to do some very bad things.”
“I know, dad. Sometimes I have dreams at night that aren’t mine. I have dreamed your dreams.”
Petrick swallowed hard.
“It’s ok dad. You don’t do those things any more. I understand.”
Petrick was silent. How did his son get so grown up?
“I’d do them again if it meant looking after you.”
Caleb didn’t reply, just nodded his agreement as though it was obvious.
After a while the boy couldn’t keep the question in. “Do you think you may have to?”
It was Petrick’s turn to be silent as the suburb gave way to open road.
Caleb sat patiently waiting for his answer, watching his father from the corner of his eye. When it did come, it didn’t faze him one bit.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:18 pm

Barbara had waited for half an hour for the two men from the FBI to return and take her to be interviewed.
They hadn’t turned up.
Having made her way towards the staff car park feeling a little dejected, she discovered a police car in the parking lot.
Perhaps the Bureau had sent them for her? But the two officers were speaking to some mums and taking notes.
As she got nearer she overheard one officer reading his notes back to the woman. She heard him describe how a car containing two men had driven off with one of the pupils.
“Oh, how dreadful!” Barbara had exclaimed as the policemen had described the parent running after it in panic.
Then the officer confirmed the names – Petrick and Caleb Mustenen.
Barbara had blanched and she suddenly felt sick. Had the FBI taken Caleb? Without even speaking to Petrick? Did the FBI really kidnap people? Children?
She walk numbly to her car. “What have I done?” she mumbled staring at her dashboard for some time.
Despite her shock at what she had seen Caleb do, despite her fear of the psychic phenomenon that she was convinced was real, the teacher in her couldn’t sit by and see something happen to a young boy, who really was too young to understand what he was doing, not without her feeling some guilt about it.

She hardly noticed the drive home, or undressing and taking a shower.
In a trance she had poured herself a drink, bourbon she noticed as the harsh liquid burned her throat.
All she had ever wanted to be was a teacher and now that gnawing guilt had told her she had failed. Not in her ability to actually teach, no, in that she was confident.
But teachers were supposed to look after their wards, nurture them and help them grow into responsible adults. Well, that was how some of the newer teachers felt, very much against the harsher, stricter old school ways.
Barbara had let her fear of the unknown guide her, had let the prospect of being somebody important – a key witness to both the abilities of Caleb Mustenen and the existence of psychic powers – overrule her instincts which were to guide these children.
She should have kept quiet about what she had seen and helped Caleb to understand that he shouldn’t do that sort of thing.

Sighing heavily she knocked another shot back, shuddering as the burning liquid warmed her insides.

A knock at the door woke her a few hours later. Her eyes heavy with drink induced sleep she pulled her thick bathrobe tight a retied the belt as she shuffled bare footed through the hallway.
As soon as she turned the key it was shoved open, knocking her backwards.
“What?” Barbara yelped as she backed away from the two men who forced their way in.
Both men were tall and filled out their suits so that barara’s first impression was of a couple of Mafia thugs from the old movies.
It was a sobering image.
Barbara’s instinct were to run and this time she didn’t ignore them.
The first door she came to led into the kitchen. Bursting through she spotted the cedar knife block sitting on the worktop. Her hand closed around the handle of the carving knife as the first man came through the doorway behind her.
She turned on him swinging the knife wildly. “Get away!” she almost screamed.
The man stopped, his hands out and up in submission as he watched the blade flash several feet away.
“Calm down, Miss Harrison,” the man said, rolling his r’s.
Barbara frowned at the accent. Was that Russian?
“Put the knife down,” the second man commanded as he stepped from behind his colleague. He too spoke with heavily accented English.
Barbara wanted this last line of defense more than anything, but suddenly she found herself lowering the blade. Even though she didn’t want to she placed the knife on the worktop.
The leading man snarled and her arms were suddenly jerked wide as though some unseen person… people… had grabbed her wrists and forced them into position.
She stood before them, pinned to an invisible crucifix.
“Miss Harrison,” said the front man, “we want you to tell us all you know about the boy.”
Frightened, her mind on the verge of freaking out, Barbara stared at the man blankly and forced the word, “Boy?” her voice a mere squeak.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:18 pm

Petrick Mustenen frowned into the darkness as he watched the small detached house with the well-tended front lawn complete with what he assumed would be a colourfully planted rockery, if it were daytime.
He had arrived about a half hour ago and had sat and watched Miss Harrison’s house, making sure she was alone.
She had been, until about five minutes ago, when a couple of sturdy looking men had arrived.
Petrick had initially thought he’d left it too late, the Feds being here would mean he couldn’t do what he felt needed doing. But there was something in the way the men approached the house. They were being cautious, wary even, and seemed nervous.
The Feds wouldn’t do that. They’d walk up to the door with confidence. The sort of confidence a man backed up by the government of the most powerful nation on the planet would have.
Then, when the door had been answered, the two men had barged in; very unprofessional of Feds coming to interview a witness.
“Stay here!” Petrick said over his shoulder as he climbed out of the car.
Habitually he checked that his pistol was resting in its holster under his left arm.

He crossed the hard asphalt street quickly, leaping the floral border and keeping low, his eyes darting from window to window as he cautiously stalked across the well-kept lawn.
Petrick could hear voices coming from within the house, harsh voices with Russian accents.
Russians? Why would Miss Harrison be speaking with the Commies?
The big window to the right of the door showed the lights were on but the curtains were drawn… drapes, Petrick reminded himself.
He swiftly moved to the corner so he could peer down the side of the house where a glow showed there to be at least one un-draped window. It opened into the kitchen.

At first Petrick couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Barbara Harrison was floating a foot or so above the floor, looking like someone being crucified; upright, arms out wide. She looked terrified.

The two men, the Commies, were talking about the ‘boy’.
Petrick guessed they were talking about Caleb. What surprised him almost as much as seeing what they were doing to her, was her refusal to say anything.

Rubbing wearily at his eyes, Petrick stepped back from the window.
He couldn’t believe the irony here. He had come to kill her and instead was about to risk his own life to save hers.

The front door was open and Petrick slipped inside quickly, unnoticed by the men in the kitchen.
Concentrating on the doorway from which the sounds of voices and sobs carried, he took in little else.
Normally he would have taking in every possible detail, looking for potential threats, but this wasn’t some rival gangs place or a mob-house. This was a quiet suburban house in a quiet part of town owned by a teacher.

Pistol in hand, it led the way as he moved silently to the door and glanced in.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:59 pm

The door to the musty office opened, sending a draught of fresh air through the room which whipped at a sheaf of papers on Albert Pearson’s desk and scattered them across the floor.
“Shut that damned door!” Pearson bellowed in frustration.
The two men, Cole and Lovett glanced at one another knowingly.
“Problem, boss?” Cole inquired.
Pearson dropped the recovered papers onto his desk and placed a heavy dictionary on them to hold them down.
He fixed Cole with a quizzical yet slightly blank expression, as though he was internally debating something.
“I think so,” he frowned. “Dennis and Mike are late with our witness.”
Cole automatically glanced at his watch. It was a quarter to five.
The door burst open again, causing Pearson to glare at the papers daring them to scatter again.
Agent Wills swept into the room puffing slightly
The other three agants stared at him expectantly.
“Mike and Den,” Wills said, “they’ve been in an accident.”
Cole, Lovett and Pearson all nodded as they glanced at one another.
“I’ll drive,” Lovett declared snatching the keys from Wills’ hand smirking.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:24 pm

Their Federal ID got them through the cordon without question.
Paramedics and the fire service were there as well as the police, though the only people really doing anything were the guys securing Mike Adlington to a gurney.
Agent Richard Wills made a bee-line for the cops standing near the wrecked vehicle, whilst Augustus Cole headed for the injured agent.
Pearson walked slowly alongside Lovett who was only seeing the scene through half-closed eyes.
Give us five minutes with the scene guys,” Wills prompted, forcing his will outward towards the two investigating officers.
Both men seemed surprised by his sudden appearance alongside them but gave a consenting nod and moved away from the destroyed vehicle.

Cole gave a friendly smile to the two paramedics attending to Adlington. He flashed his FBI credentials and asked how the agent was?
One of the men began to explain in very basic terms until Cole explained that he was a medical doctor with the agency.
Their diagnosis was quite accurate, Cole thought as he exerted his mind and scanned Adlington’s body.
The medics were treating him for a fractured arm, indeed Mike’s ulna was broken; a possible fractured tibia and fibula, though it was actually only dislocated at the knee; multiple and obvious lacerations to his face but they didn’t believe him to have a skull injury, but they were bracing his neck, just in case.
Cole asked where they were taking him and said to a very groggy Adlington that he would transfer him to an agency hospital later.
Mike Adlington, who had once been shot three times in the chest by a lunatic telepath and been on his feet two hours later thanks to Cole’s abilities, knew that meant the back room at the office.
He nodded and seemed to relax.
Plenty of morphine guys, please,” Cole said jovially.
“No problem, doc, we’ll look after him,” one of them responded.

“What happened?” Pearson demanded, standing near to Lovett and fixing him with a steely gaze.
The junior agent moved closer to the wreckage and crouched, his right hand slowly reaching out for the door pillar.
Eyes closed, he was already searching for the answers with his mind’s eye.
Contact was made with the cold steel and a blinding flash seared his vision and Lovett flinched, like he always did, unable to close already shut eyes and further.
Within moments the half-destroyed car was back, he was crouching next to it and Pearson was standing over him, hands in his pockets.
However the image wasn’t clear like normal, it was in black, white and primary colours and it was still. Lovett could see himself in the picture, his current point of view being several feet above his actual position.
He had done this many times. His old mentor had told him to imagine he was watching a movie at the cinema, and he had come in late – at the very end of the show, the now. He said to imagine that he had the controls to the projector and could rewind the film backward to see what had come before.
Lovett had always struggled with that concept and so had preferred to think of it as a comic book, but the principle was the same – he had opened the comic at the last page, the now. All he had to do was flick back through the pages.
He turned through them quickly, stopping after a few moments.
Rendle and Adlington were in the car driving through suburban Miami, there was a young boy on the back seat. The boy was still, his expression serious, yet did not convey any emotion. In fact, Lovett would have said that it looked as though the lad was studying the two men, like he was in a classroom watching the reaction of some chemical compound.
Lovett realised instantly that this was their ‘man’.
He turned more pages, rewinding further. Stopped again.
His guess was good.
The two agents were pictured sitting in their car outside the school. Lovett began reading the comic book…
He saw the boy stood on the kerb, read the speech bubble coming from Rendle saying that the boy was in his head.
He followed the story; their normal journey through busy Miami streets… a quiet journey, then…BAM!
The other car slamming into them.

What he read on that page made him gasp. The boy had made some sort of protective shell about himself and had walked from the wreck unharmed to be united with what was obviously the boy’s father.
Father and son climbed into their car and drove off.
Lovett was angry, not because they had lost the boy, that wouldn’t matter – no, he was angry because the man hadn’t checked on the two injured agents.

Lovett stood as the images faded from his mind, ignoring the bewildered and in some cases disapproving glances from the local police. None of whom, he noticed would make eye contact with him.
Quietly he relayed his visions to Pearson.
Agent Albert Pearson, before being recruited into ‘The Manor’, six years ago, had been in army intelligence. He had worked counter-intelligence after the war. In that role he had developed a devious mind, able to accurately imagine what angles his enemies would take. He was thinking now.
His eyes narrowed and he looked across at Richard Wills.
Despite the thirty yard distance between them Wills nodded his head in agreement with Pearson’s thoughts. The ex-FBI agent (and ironically the only person here who had actually earned the right to carry the Federal badge they had had all flashed) was thinking on very similar lines himself… Where’s Barbara Harrison?

“Cole,” Pearson called as he approached the ambulance, “stick with Rendle and Adlington. I want them back on their feet as soon as you can get them up. The rest of us are going to look for the boy and his father.”
Cole nodded. “Where will you start?”
“The teacher. Our witness hasn’t appeared. Wills and I have a hunch.”
Cole nodded again as the paramedics closed the doors and the vehicle rocked and rolled its way back onto the hard-top.

“I need that woman’s address,” Pearson said as the three agents climbed into their car.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:51 pm

“Tell us where to find ze boy, Miss Harrison. Do not try my patience further.” One of the Russians warned, his tongue rolling over every ‘r’.
Barbara sobbed in fear, great shoulder jerking sobs followed by short spasmodic breaths, suspended a foot above her kitchen floor by forces she could neither see nor comprehend. Despite her fear, her desperation, there was something inside that prevented her from telling them what they wanted to know. It was her natural predisposition to protect children, stemming from her choice of career and her genetic maternal instinct.
The Russian waited patiently for a few moments before lashing out with a backhand across Barbara’s cheek.
Barbara shrieked and sobbed, fear and pain mixing into one.
“Zat iz only a fraction of ze punishment my comrade here can administer, Miss Harrison,” the Russian warned.
Her cheek was on fire, throbbing and stinging at the same time. She looked up at the other man who had remained silent so far, but he had an expression upon his face like a man sizing up prey. There was an intent in his eyes that told her he was looking forward to the prospect of hurting her.

These men were Russians, communists, the bad-guy that they spoke of on the news, the cold-war enemy. She had heard about what the Russians did to their own people and could only imagine what horrors they would be prepared to put her through.
Her resolve was at breaking point. She had never been much good with pain or fear.
Forlornly she returned her gaze to her interrogator and she spotted slow careful movement beyond him.
Her eyes focussed on the gun first and her fear levels increased yet again, but then she made eye contact with its owner.

She did well, Petrick mused, not to reveal him as he rounded the doorway. She had spotted him, realisation had crept into her face but she had locked it away instantly as he had raised his finger to his lips.
“You can go to hell!” Barbara spat defiantly.
“You will be hurt badly,” the Russian threatened.
“It’ll be nothing compared to what I’ll do to you,” Petrick hissed in Russian from behind the two men. “You communist fucks,” he added in Finnish.

Both men turned in surprise and Barbara thumped to the linoleum floor and crumpled, her legs too shaky to offer even a modicum of support.
Immediately she began quietly sobbing again, relief overwhelming all else.

“Do not be stupid, friend,” one of the men, the one who had been speaking to Barbara said in his own language. “You do not know what you are involving yourself in here.”
“Every part of my brain is telling me to shoot you right now. Tell me why I shouldn’t?”
The quieter, meaner looking Russian glanced at the knife which Miss Harrison had so recently been brandishing and which now lay abandoned on the floor in front of the off-white oven. The glance was all he needed.
Something at the back of Petrick’s mind, a voice maybe, or some guiding sense that he had not heard for many years warned him of danger and his muscles tensed, taught and ready.

The knife leapt from the floor like an arrow, the blade glinting in the artificial light.
The glint was enough, Petrick whirled left, ducking as he did so.
Intended for his heart the knife glanced off his shoulder and struck the side of his head before clattering into the wall and onto the floor again.
Petrick doubled back, his pistol leading the way the trigger pulled even before he’d completed his manoeuvre.
The biggest Russian was thumped backwards with the impact.
Petrick’s pistol found its next target, homed in, stopped short, unable to get closer, blocked by some unseen force.
That was when the blast hit him. It felt like a sledgehammer smashing into his skull. The impact lifted him sideways like he was nothing more than a ragdoll and smashed him into the kitchen cupboards.
Petrick collapsed, his head swimming, his vision gone, pain blasting through his head like nothing he had ever felt. He tried to move his hands to push himself off the floor, but he had no idea if his arms were even moving.

“Stupid fucker!” the Russian cursed as he turned away from the quivering form laid out on the cold linoleum, blood seeping from his mouth and ears.
He looked over to his fallen comrade who was clasping a hand to his shoulder and grimacing in pain.

Barbara Harrison stared in horror at Petrick’s battered form, her hope of salvation slipping away.

“Where’d this fucking guy come from?” the injured Russian asked the room openly as he climbed to his feet with his comrades help.
“Who is he?” the man hissed at Barbara.
“Is he dead?” Barbara croaked not taking her eyes off the Finn.
“If he isn’t, he soon will be!” the Russian replied coldly as he picked up the knife and brandished it before the woman’s terrified face. “As you will be if you don’t tell us who he is and where we can find the boy.”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:10 pm

The Lincoln’s tyres squealed on the asphalt as agent Pearson threw the vehicle around the corner into the quiet suburban street.
Even though it was dark and the house numbers not visible from the road he powered the car onwards towards where he knew the young teacher’s house would be.
He yanked on the wheel, swerving the car in and mounted the kerb.
The occupants hurled open the doors even before the car came to a complete halt and alighted immediately.
“Wait!” Pearson hissed, raising his hand, fingers outspread to emphasise the point. “There it s again, it’s definitely here.”
On the way over he had detected something, a psychic emanation coming from this general direction. It had grown more obvious as he had drawn nearer the source. And now he had detected it yet again, strong and precise in its bearing from him. It was coming from inside the small comfortable house on the other side of the tended lawn.
“Shouldn’t we call this in?” Lovett asked.
“No time,” Pearson decided, then added, “My call, gentlemen, understood?”
The other agents nodded, neither of them at all surprised that Pearson was absolving them of all responsibility.

“Go careful, guys! We are dealing with the unknown here,” Pearson said quietly, pulling his gun from its holster.

Once again the agents paused, this time as the result of the retort of a single gunshot from within the building.
“Shit!” Wills cursed bringing their momentary stop to an end.

“Shit!” Andrey Kurskoff had cursed when the black Lincoln had rocked to a halt. The couple in the seat behind him remained silent but he could sense how tense they were.
They had already seen one man enter the house but they had been confident that their comrades wold be able to deal with one mundane nuisance.
Now though, the true enemy had arrived and that changed things greatly.
When the gunshot went off inside the house Karskoff waited for the Americans to get to the house then looked pointedly over his shoulder and the man and woman in the back climbed out.

The door was open and Agent Wills led the way as the men cautiously entered.

“Who is zis man? And vere is ze boy? Two very simple question Miss Harrison,” a man with a thick Russian accent was saying.

Lovett, next in line behind Wills grimaced and put his pistol away knowing that he would likely have need of a different sort of skill now.

Outside the kitchen door Pearson made eye contact with his colleagues and signalled for them to go on his mark.
Three… two… one… GO!
The American agents surged forward.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:14 pm

Agent Wills led the way
As he had entered the building he had been concentrating on something else, charging his mind up like a capacitor, storing psychic energy ready for instant release.
Pearson had felt the power building within his friend and had timed his count-down accordingly.
Wills surged through the kitchen door, releasing the pent up energy in a silent burst the exploded in the minds of the two men before him.
Both Russians yelled and clutched their hands to the sides of their heads as though trying to stop their skulls expanding.
The one crouching collapsed to his knees, the other merely bowed as though bearing a heavy weight upon his shoulders.

“Federal Agents!” Pearson yelled as he entered. “Do not move.”
Lovett repeated the words in Russian.
Seeing that both men were under Wills’ influence Pearson stopped, quickly cast his eye over the scene, then told his fellow officers to secure the communists.

Barbara Harrison couldn’t believe what was happening. This was beyond her understanding of reality. However, what she did know was that Petrick Mustenen, father of one of her pupils whom she had apparently placed in danger, had none-the-less entered this house and put his life on the line to rescue her.
No thoughts as yet entered her mind as to why Petrick Mustenen happened to be here. All she knew was that this relative stranger had made a bigger sacrifice for her than anyone else in her life had ever made.
She looked across to Petrick’s motionless form. “Oh my God!” she swore aloud before scrambling across the cold linoleum towards him.
She reached out a hand but was frightened to touch him. What if he was dead? What if he had been killed and left that poor boy an orphan?
She ignored the blood and stroked a hand across Petrick’s shoulder.
“Oh my! Mr Mustenen? Can you hear me? Are you alright, Mr Mustenen?” her voice was pleading but she knew she was speaking in vain.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:15 pm

Anoushka Semyenova was the first to the door, the two men directly behind her. It was open, of course.
Short and slender, with dark hair cut in a bob, Anoushka was just simply plain to look at, almost forgettable.
She was a powerful telekinetic, and perversely once she had been experienced, she was rarely forgotten.

“Tovartich!” Semyenova growled from the doorway.
Lovett turned towards the sound, found himself suddenly lifting from the floor just as a saucepan, which had been sitting on the draining board, flew between the other two Americans so strike at the side of Lovett’s head with the force of a baseball bat.
In the split-second before the make-shift missile hit, Lovett’s subconscious mind reacted, pushing the pan away enough to avoid the full impact.
Even so the pan rang out with a dull metallic ‘thwunk’ as it bounced a glancing blow off his head before clattering noisily into the far wall.
Agent Pearson recovered from his surprise almost immediately.
Assessing the situation he knew instantly that he and his team were out-numbered and out-matched and knew he had to even the odds somewhat. He was already aiming his mundane weapon at a target. Returning his attention back to that weapon he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
The bigger of the two Russian prisoners went down.
Furious, Agent Semyenova of the KGB reached out with her mind to wrest the gun from Pearson’s grasp.
She was a powerful telekinetic with quick reactions. The pistol was yanked from Pearson’s hand and rotated to face its previous owner.
Wills saw it and projected an image straight into the Russian woman’s forethoughts.
Fire erupted from Pearson in a huge yellow-orange sphere that expanded rapidly towards Semyenova.
She gasped and staggered backwards, her concentration broken, the gun clattering to the floor. She crashed into a colleague causing his concentration to break too. He frowned at her and shoved her away.
Again furious, the Russian woman growled a curse and punctuated it by ripping off a cupboard door several feet away and hurling it at the Americans.

Pearson had regained himself, his firearm swept up into his hand and then both were sweeping towards another target. He was having to use his concentration to the fullest. His most potent ability was being able to detect the use of psychic power. Right now there was so much psi-energy being thrown around his head was almost ringing with the sound of it.
He fired at the angry Russian woman but a wooden door struck his arm sending his aim off. The thud of the bullet as it embedded itself in the door frame was lost in the barking retort of the shot.

Suddenly fire blossomed on the dining table, the place mats igniting one by one as they became fire bolts hurtling towards the Americans.
Without thinking Pearson’s hand was up like a shield, the room temperature plummeted to way below zero and the flying missiles hissed as they tried to burn and freeze at the same time, steaming rather than ablaze as they struck Wills, one after another. Distracting but not otherwise harming him.

Pearson kept pushing the temperature down until a frost developed over the entire room.

Suddenly the kitchen table was sliding across the floor. It up-ended and without any particular speed shoved at the Russians corralling them towards the door. Lovett used minor gestures with his hands to guide it.
Knowing the Russians were trapped behind it, Pearson emptied his magazine into the pine furniture piece.
A yelp of pain from the other side told him he’d scored a hit.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:15 pm

The dropping temperature had Barbara Harrison shivering.
She cowered over Petrick’s motionless form with tears of fright and remorse running to the end of her nose and dripping onto the dead man’s forehead. All hell seemed to have broken out around her and she was keeping hunched as though doing so would render her immune to what was happening.
It got colder still and when one of the men began shooting continuously at her dining table, she was too chilly to even scream.
She felt movement under her and noticed Petrick stir. My God! He was alive!

A huge roar sounded from the other side of the table-barrier. It splintered apart, a whip crack announcing the Russian counter attack.
Instantly the cold seemed to lift a little.

“Petrick?” Barbara whispered.
His unfocussed eyes blinked at her and he groaned as he tried to move.
“It’s okay,” she said trying to sound reassuring but not sure if she had managed it. She cradled his head in her lap. “Stay still, you’re hurt.”
“No,” Petrick managed to say with much effort.

Barbara gritted her teeth, glanced up and saw two things.
First was the smaller of her earlier attackers, the one who said little but had held her suspended off the floor and threatened so much pain. He was prone, watching the proceedings, forgotten for the moment by the Americans.
Second was her back door, the one that led from the kitchen into the little utility room and out into the small garden at the rear of her house. Framed there, almost oblivious to the maelstrom around him and as yet unnoticed by everyone else was Caleb Mustenen.

She gasped.

The boy walked forward, behind the mean Russian, and knelt almost emotionless beside his father.
“Dad?” the boy said weakly, pleadingly.
Petrick stiffened in Barbara’s arms.
“Dad?” Caleb called again, this time a boyish yell of fear.

Wills turned in shock, saw the boy, knew exactly who the downed man was. He stumbled sideways as a wall of energy blasted into him.
His gaze was pulled away from the child and he returned an assault that had two of the Russians reeling.

“Caleb?” Petrick forced the words out, unaware of how slurred they were.

“Dad!” Caleb’s voice was relieved.

The sun shone directly into Petrick’s eyes and he turned away from it to look out over the deserted beach to white topped waves rolling into shore.
He frowned, unable to get his bearings. “What the…?”
“Don’t swear daddy, you’ll have put a dime in the box if you do!” Caleb’s voice sounded behind him.
Petrick started in surprise.
“How?” he stammered. “Where…?”
“In my head,” Caleb announced happily.
“Wha…?” Petrick turned to see the Miami skyline behind him. The place was completely deserted. “In your head?”
Caleb himself turned to study their surroundings. “Yes, in my head, I think.”
Petrick laughed loudly. “By the gods, Cal! You amaze me. This is just crazy… Ow!”
Petrick flinched and noticed blood dripping from his nose onto the sand.
“You’re hurt daddy. I think you are hurt real bad.”
Petrick sighed. “I am son. I was feeling it until we came here. I can sense it just a ways off.”
“I can’t fix you, daddy.”
“I think I’m past fixing, boy.”
Quietly Caleb turned away from his father. He didn’t want to hear any more. The sun faded like someone was turning down a dimmer switch and thick rolling clouds, heavy with storm swept almost instantly across the sky.
“Caleb,” Petrick said in soothing, fatherly tones.
The boy turned back and Petrick smiled, crouching down on his haunches and placing a hand on each of Caleb’s shoulders.
Wet glistening eyes blinked across at him.
“Caleb, you have made me so proud. What you can do is so special, so much more than what these folks in Miss Harrison’s house are doing.” He paused.
“When your mother died, I thought that was the end of all things, but you have shown men a life far richer than I could have imagined. I just wish I could have gotten to know this strange and wonderful side of you better.”
Again he halted and smiled warmly at his son.
“Be your own man, son. You know what’s right, do it and you’ll always be happy and make me proud.”
Petrick laughed and shook his head incredulously at the understanding in the boy’s expression. “Listen to me boy, talking rubbish. I have so much I want to say, so much I need to tell you and all I can come up with is be good? I just wish you could look inside my head an all I have to give you.”
He grimaced as pain wracked him and held tightly to Caleb to stop himself falling.
“Yes, son?”
“Are you dying?”
The heavy sigh spoke volumes but the father didn’t want to not answer his son. “Yes Caleb, I think I am.”
“I’ll take it then,” the boy said as though he had reached the end of some debate.
“Take what, Cal?”
“Everything you have to give me, I’ll take it. I want to see it all.”
Petrick laughed at his naïve little boy, but the kid’s face was deadly serious, causing Petrick’s brows to knit into a suspicious frown.
“You’re serous? You can do that?”
Caleb nodded quickly as though he were answering a question about something normal, everyday.
“If you’ll let me,” he added.
It was Petrick’s turn to nod.
Caleb smiled and hugged his father.
“I Love you, Cal” Petrick said, his voice choked.
“I love you too, dad,” Caleb said softly, then added, “Goodbye.”

The boy’s mind reached out beyond the false landscape it had generated, seeking his fathers. He found the doors were all open.
He delved in looking for his father’s thoughts on his son, cherished memories, his hopes and dreams, his love.

Caleb found today’s memories on the surface. He saw his father chasing him, getting his plans for escape ready, the lock-up with the car, the three huge holdalls full of cash in the trunk.
It started slowly, like he was a passenger on a train pulling out of the station, the memories passing by the window like people stood on the platform waving goodbye. The train gathered momentum, the memories rewound faster, Caleb found the journey intoxicating. He was seeing life from his father’s eyes, feeling what his father felt; happiness, sadness regret, anguish, elation, pride, love. Every memory carried with it not only the visual and audial information but context and emotions too.
He had read the minds of others many times, listening to their surface thoughts, delving into recent memories linked to those thoughts, but he had always been an intruder, feeling wrong for doing what he was doing, and meeting subconscious resistance from the ‘victim’ of his intrusion.
But his father had let him in and had pulled down all the barriers with one single decision.

Further the boy went, deeper that he had ever gone on anyone else before.
More memories, from a past that he knew nothing of. A criminal past with things of wonder and horror for the boy to behold.
Deeper still, into his father’s years with his mother. Caleb giggled when he saw his mother and father together.
Yet deeper still into his father’s childhood.
All of it he took, sucking his father’s life story into him like a sponge with water. And yet deeper he delved finding what he thought were memories but they seemed strange, not linked to any particular time or event. They seemed…. Meaty. He took them too, determined to learn all there was to know about is dad. Unknowingly he was absorbing not only his father’s experiences and knowledge but these deeply ingrained ‘meaty’ memories of skills that he had not known now became his to use.
The onslaught was overwhelming and Caleb found he couldn’t stop himself. Memories, thoughts, emotions, reactions, even muscle memory like how to breathe, all of it assaulted the young boy’s mind, imprinting itself deep in the normally unused parts of his brain.

The train was going so fast now it was all just a blur.
Caleb began to panic, knowing he had lost control.
Onwards the train hurtled until.. blackness.
Sitting inside the carriage looking out into his father’s mind there was complete nothingness and he knew that his father was dead. He had just killed him.
He swallowed hard, the lump in his throat restricting, choking.
“Goodbye, dad, I’ll miss you,” he said to the face of his father reflected in the window.

He withdrew, closing the compartment door and the door to his father for good.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:05 am

Caleb's eyes blinked rapidly to refocus them as he returned to the world.
Petri k glanced around himself confused. everything had stopped and all of the people in the room were staring at him, some open mouthed.

No one had noticed the boy enter at first but unbeknownst to him, as he had entered his father's mind and began to delve, the psychic emanations grew to such an intensity that each of the American and Russian agents not only became aware but became overwhelmed by the power of it.
Even Barbara Harrison, who didn't possess a single psychically active cell in her body had sensed something big happening.


It was when Petrick looked down at himself, cradled in Barbara Harrison's lap that he realised what was going on.

The Russians and the Americans were all still staring at him, watching him closely, probably waiting to see what he'd do.
He felt angry that they had killed him. He wanted revenge.
"You are dead, father," a voice inside his head told him.
It was like someone had pulled a breaker, switching polarities. He was no longer in Barbara Harrison's house but was in his own father's living room in the Finnish countryside.
Caleb was there watching him curiously.
"How are we here, Cal?"
“You loved this house,” Caleb said directly. “I made it for you.”
“What? I don’t understand. Aren’t I dead?”
Caleb shrugged. “I don’t know how this works entirely, but yes, you are dead, mostly.”
“I saw myself a moment ago.”
Caleb nodded. “Yes, because it was me looking down at you. You are dead but I took all that was you into my mind, everything, like you told me to. Everything that was you, was my dad, is now in my head. But I’ve never done anything like this before, not like this. I didn’t know how it works and I’m just confusing what is me and what is you. But I’ve set boundaries no so I know where you begin and end. You can never cross those boundaries.”
Caleb glanced over his shoulder, head cocked to one side as though hearing something Petrick was not party to.

The young boy surveyed the world he had created to represent the vault in which he now stored his father’s essence. He was pleased with how it looked.
“I have to go now, dad. You’ll be safe here.” His voice was cracked, like an adult trying to contain their emotions in front of a child.
It was true. Caleb had just learned about his father’s whole life dirty secrets and all, and also about his mother, a person that until today he had never really known, only heard about. Now he knew and loved her as much as his father had.
He was feeling overwhelmed by the emotions.
“Caleb, am I in your head now?”
And I’m alive in your head?”
Shaking his head Caleb replied, “No dad. You are just the memories, the feelings, the essence of you inside my mind. This personification of you is just my minds way of representing my access to those memories.”
“I have to go, dad,”

Caleb blinked and stared into the worried eyes of Miss Harrison. The dam broke and the eotions swept through the eight year old boy like a flood.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:07 am

The boy began to sob. Big shoulder wrenching sobs that represented a lifetime of loss.
Barbara placed a hand on his arm reassuringly.
Then the fighting between the American and Russian agents started up again.

The mean Russian who lay near to the teacher and the boy suddenly scrambled across the floor and grabbed the boy’s other arm.
“Mine,” he growled yanking Caleb towards himself as at the same time he unleashed an assault upon Barbara.
The woman howled as a blast of psychic energy hit her in the chest slamming her into the ove, but she maintained a grip on Caleb’s wrist.

Agent Wills spotted the exchange. “Leave him,” he commanded, his voice laced with controlling power. But ‘mean’ Russian was prepared and resisted the influence, though he did stop pulling.

Barbara gasped as she regained her senses.

“Secure the boy!” Pearson was yelling as he moved towards Caleb.

“Get the damned boy!” Semyenova screeched.

Pearson kicked out at the Russian holding Caleb but despite going over onto his side the Russian didn’t release his grip. He simply dragged the boy with him.
Caleb cried more.

His concentration away from the fight, Wills was his again, this time by a splinter of wood from the broken table. It skewered him through his stomach.

“Let go of him!” Barbara Harrison screamed as she got to her feet and leapt at Mean Russian. She punched out at his face and then slipped an arm around Caleb to pull him away.
She got a kick in the face for her troubles and Semyenova grabbed the boy next.

Caleb saw Miss Harrison get hit and his sorrow and bitterness and loss suddenly chilled in to absolute outrage.
He looked at all of these people. “Get out,” he demanded angrily.
No one, save Barbara, paid him any heed as he dug his heels in and pulled vainly against Semyenova’s grasp.
“Get out!” he said a little louder, a little angrier.

Pearson, who was now engaging in an actual fist- fight pushed his adversary away as he felt something big building.
The Russian he was fighting was about to take advantage of the distracted American but something about the way he was looking towards the boy prevented him. Instead he followed the American’s gaze.
Caleb had stepped in front of Barbara now and torn himself free.
“Get out! Get out! GET OUT!” Caleb screamed louder and louder until he was yelling the words, his eyes screwed shut and his fists clenched in white knuckled balls.

Pearson began to wilt under the power of the rising psychic event.

The energy suddenly released from the boy like TNT going off.
A cone of telekinetic energy fanned out before him.
Semyenova was hurled towards the far wall like nothing more than a rag doll.
The blast hit everything before him, knocking walls flat, crushing bone and soft tissue alike.
It was as though there had been a flameless explosion within the building. With the collapse of the walls the roof sagged, creaked, dropped, and eventually fell into the house billowing up a thick cloud of dust and throwing the house into darkness.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:04 pm

Silence finally fell over the little suburban house, broken only as the odd piece of masonry slid or dropped into the dust shrouded rubble.

Caleb Mustenen stood with dust doming around him as he was surrounded by a sphere of clean debris free air.
Barbara Harrison was immediately behind the boy, protected by the same force that protected him. She was white with shock, her breathing coming in quick sharp gasps. She had truly believed that she was going to die a few moments ago.

Caleb’s breathing was equally as laboured, though his was long drawn out breaths, as though each one took tremendous effort on his behalf.
He was shaking too when he turned to face his teacher. His face was streaked with tears that glistened in the light from the small fire that had broken out in the corner of the kitchen.

Barbara could hear people calling out to her now. Concerned neighbours gathering outside.
“I’m sorry, Miss Harrison,” Caleb said looking worried.
Barbara blinked at the shadowy carnage all around, then returned her gaze to the young bedraggled boy standing before her.
“Take care of my boy, he’s all I have,” she recalled Petrick Mustenen saying to her when they had met at the beginning of the semester.
“Of course, Mr Mustenen. I treat all of the children in my class as though they were my own.” That is what she had replied. Yet she had seen Caleb do things that frightened her and had reported it to the Principle which had led eventually to this mess.
She looked at the scared kid in front of her who had just lost his father, who was being hunted not only by the Russians but by their own government too. What would they do to him? Could they arrest him for what he’s done? After all, he was only eight, that wouldn’t happen, surely?
No, that was just naïve thinking. She had a pretty good idea of what would happen, they would take him away, experiment on him or something equally as terrible. The thought made her shudder with repulsion.
The sound of the city had drifted back now, and amid them and the calls from outside, could be heard a groan. Not one of anguish or pain, but rather that of someone confused, maybe even a little concussed.
Then someone swore in Russian, this time a string of words which Barbara couldn’t understand were hissed and spat laced with plenty of pain. They were being said as though the profanities would stop it hurting.

As Barbara slowly climbed to her feet a large section of the ceiling, which was hanging down from the wall beside it at forty-five degrees, jerked a little sending more dust into the already thick atmosphere.
Then it slid to the side with a heavy crunch to reveal the bruised and battered form of Agent Richard Wills, his legs twisted under him at obscene angles and blood staining his white shirt. He coughed and blinked up at Barbara and the boy through the dust and darkness.
“Go!” he urged. “Get the boy out of here.” He glanced at Caleb and felt nothing but pity for the young orphaned lad.
“Leave Miami,” he went on. “You should get a good eight to ten hours head start.”
Barbara coughed herself and stared at him, but she understood what the man was telling her to do. She knew that his fellow agents would search for the boy, even after this. And so would the Russians, she surmised.

Grabbing the young boys hand she said, “Come with me Caleb,” in her best ‘teacher knows best’ voice.
Caleb quietly allowed himself to be led outside into the fresh night air.
Barbara noticed many of her neighbours were gathered out there, concerned expressions fixed upon many of their faces, and relish at such gossip opportunities on some of the others.
Some rushed forwards and wrapped arms around her and Caleb, leading them away from the scene of devastation amid many declarations of amazement that she wasn’t hurt.

Sirens and bells could be heard now, getting nearer.
Barbara knew that if she was here with Caleb when the police arrived then she would be stuck here. More agents would come and they would take the boy away.

She glanced at her car, but her keys were buried in the wreckage of her house somewhere.
Caleb tugged at her hand to get her attention. “My dad’s car,” he said to her indicating the white Mustang.
Amid apologies for her predicament and platitudes and genuine expressions of concern she pulled away from her neighbours and dragged Caleb with her to the car.

Glancing at Caleb and seeing tears in the boy’s eyes she knew she had no choice now, but she also knew that this was the right thing to do.
She started the engine and it purred and throbbed. Flooring the pedal she sped off into the dark Miami night.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:05 pm

Westchester Manor, 20 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia.

Special Agent Mark Thompson threw open the pale oak door to the director’s office.
The Director was sitting with spectacles in hand chewing absently on the arm and studying the huge map on the wall.
He turned quickly at the sudden intrusion. “What the hell is it, Mark?”
“Director, you need to see this,” Thompson said waving a sheaf of paper at his boss.
“We had the gestalt up again. We’ve had them scanning south Florida just to see if we could give Pearson some help finding our rogue psychic. About a half hour ago we started detecting multiple emanations coming from a single location in Miami. We started to monitor it more closely and all of a sudden it erupted. Lots of level six to eight and the odd ten or twelve in there too. Big stuff being thrown about in rapid succession. Cox said it reminded him of a battle he had once observed during training.”
Director Mortimer scanned down the hand written action report. “Any word from Pearson?”
“Not contactable at the moment. He must be in the field.” Thompson nodded towards the paper indicating that that was where he thought Pearson was.
He waited while his superior read through the report again.
“I agree,” Mortimer said looking over the top of his glasses. “Reads like a fight too. You think they found our commie?”
Thompson handed across another sheet.
“Two massive events, Director. The first went on for a couple of minutes, sustained, and almost off the chart. The second was a short blast that went way off the scale. The gestalt were concentrating on that area and got feedback. They have had to be relieved and one of them is getting medical attention.
“What?” Mortimer almost choked.
“They found our guy, sir, and it’s like nothing we have ever encountered.”
Mortimer’s head shook in disbelief. “It even got our guys here?”
“Yes, sir,” Thompson confirmed, “though our team said it was a bit like static. They put it down to the fact that their combined concentration was on that one solitary point.”
Mortimer rubbed at his eyes wearily. “My God, Mark. We need to find out what’s going on. Get a full team there now, I want Miami closed off until we know what the hell is happening down there.”
Thompson nodded and disappeared out the door as quickly as he had entered.
Mortimer frowned at the phone on his desk. Now he was going to have to call the Whitehouse.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:06 pm

April 29, 1966

10 hours later.

Barbara Harrison had parked the car under some trees just off a beaten road in the middle of the Everglades.
The sun was up and the temperature already rising.
The young teacher had removed her dressing gown as she had got out of the car and nipped into the undergrowth to pee.
Now as she wandered back through the trees barefoot she became very aware of the fact that all she had on was her nightdress, and it wasn’t exactly the ankle length thing her mother would have approved of. Almost the exact opposite on fact. Indecent, her mother would have called it.

She noticed Caleb watching her as she returned to the vehicle and became very self-conscious of his stare.
“Did you have a good sleep?” she asked him as she climbed in becoming even more embarrassed as her night dress rode up even further making her have to pull it down again.
Caleb nodded and shifted slightly in the seat beside her, now staring straight ahead.
Had he noticed her embarrassment and was now trying to make her feel more comfortable? Barbara smiled, Caleb always had been very mature for his age.
“You have very nice legs, Miss Harrison,” Caleb announced matter-of-factly.
Taken aback Barbara laughed aloud. “Erm… well thank you, Caleb,” she smiled then sat silently, her face scarlet for some time.
“Cal?” she knew he liked to be called Cal rather than Caleb by his friends.
“Yes, miss?”
“I don’t think we should call ourselves by our real names.”
Caleb nodded agreement. “Yes, the authorities are likely to on the look-out for our names, wherever we end up.”
Barbara was again taken aback.
“That’s right,” she said. “We should come up with new names… what does Mustenen mean anyway?”
“To blacken. To make darker.”
“Okay, how about Black then?”
Cal nodded, Black sounded good and was a common enough name.
“So, you’ll be Caleb Black, and I’ll be Mrs Black. You’d best call me mom though when we are with people.”
“Callum,” the boy said. “I like the name Callum”
Barbara smiled and offered her hand. “Hello Callum,” she said, “pleased to meet you.”
Callum Black shook her hand then scrambled across the gap to hug her, taking Barbara by surprise yet again.
“I never had a mom before,” the boy declared holding her tight.
Barbara recovered and wraped her arms around the boy. “I never had a son before.”
They cuddled like that for a long time.
“What’s your mom’s name?” Barbara eventually asked softly easing away from Callum.
“Barbara,” Callum responded after a moment.
She gave a small chuckle. “I mean your real mother?”
“Chaya. She was from Israel.”
Barbara nodded. “Chaya? That’s a nice, but unusual name. I don’t think I could convince anyone that I’m from Israel, but I might be able to pull off Mrs Chaya Black. Would you like that?”

Caleb Mustenen/Callum Black silently studied Miss Barbara Harrison for a moment. Since taking his father’s memories and feelings he sometimes found himself looking at her in a completely different way to how he used to. It was a far more adult an assessment than was probably appropriate for a boy his age. It was something he was realising he would have to contend with. Normally such assessments woiyuld mature with time, age and experience. His father had done all that for him and he had to be mindful of not coming across too grown up, especially in the way he had just been thinking about the woman sat beside him. Very inappropriate indeed.
He wrenched his attenbtion back to the question at hand, forcing the other thoughts back into his subconscious and posting a gurad at the door to keep them at bay.
“I think Chaya would suit you,” Caleb/Callum said. He glanced at the long tanned legs.
“My mother was beautiful too,” he added, then his face flushed scarlet as he silently admonished the guard for letting one of his wards slip by. He looked out of the passenger window to hide his own embarrassment.
Once more Barbara Harrison giggled. “Thank you for the comparison, Calum,” she said the name very deliberately to try to get used to saying it.

Starting the engine she looked at her brand new son. “Where should we go?”
“North, towards Atlanta, then west out to Texas or New Mexico. There are a lot of small towns out there where we can disappear and start over.”
Chaya Black shrugged, “Yeah, from rock bottom I’m afraid,” she said with only hint of bitterness tainting her voice.
“Not quite,” Callum said and when Chaya glanced at him he pointed to the back of the car. “There’s nearly half a million dollars in the trunk.”
The new Chaya Black’s mouth dropped open and Callum laughed.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue May 20, 2014 7:03 am

May 6th, 1966

Albert Pearson limped into Director Mortimers office after spending a week in hospital. It had taken that long to organise the transfer to a hospital closer to Washington DC, which of course meant a few days more being looked after by Agent Cole and he was up and about.
“How’s the back?” Mortimer asked as he pulled a seat forward for his guest.
Pearson gave a resigned sigh. “Cole did his best sir. Backs are tricky things, and I have to be glad I can still walk.”
“Indeed,” Mortimer agreed. “And Wills?”
“Back on his feet too, fit and ready.”
“Good. Damn shame about Lovett tough. It’s tough when you lose a guy in the field.”
“I was lucky I didn’t lose more,” Pearson said with a hint of bitterness.
Mortimer slipped back around the desk and into his own chair.
“Tell me,” he instructed.
“We were unprepared, sir. We’ve never had to face those situations before, not on home turf. Well, in the kids case, not anywhere. Not only that it turns out that the kids father was some sort of mob hitman in a previous life. We were outgunned both mundanely and psychically.”
Nodding his agreement Mortimer said, “I agree. I want to change that. Discovering a Russian team that big on American soil has made my mind up.”
“I want to reorganise the teams. Each squad will consist of two combat trained telekinetics, minimum. Every member of this agency will get combat training, even those in clerical positions, and yes, I mean the women too. I want our people to be able to hold their own against mundane threats without having to expose their talents to the great unwashed out there.”
“I’m going to be recruiting normals from FBI, CIA, Special Forces and such, people who have encountered psychics, perhaps without knowing what they were, people who have fought them and have the right attitude, of course.”
“I’ve briefed the President and he’s on board with this. He’s giving us full Federal Agency Status; law enforcement powers, the works. But we’re to remain covert. The other agencies will be made aware of our existence but they won’t know who we are or what we are about. Both he and I are nervous about how the populace would act if they found out that these psychics they keep reading about in the rags were real!”
Pearson’s raised eyebrows spoke volumes. “This can’ all be on the back of this one incident?”
“No, but I’ve been arguing our case for a long time. Commie mind readers on our doorstep has put the frighteners on out illustrious leader.”
Mortimer sat back and steepled his fingers together. “Albert, I want you to head up the recruitment drive. I want anyone suitable brought in, psychics, mundane, whatever.”
Again Pearson looked surprised.
“I’d be honoured, Director.”
“Good, Oh, and Bert?”
“Yes, sir?”
“As a part of that drive… I want the kid brought into the fold as soon as possible before the damned commies get hold of him.”
Person gave a kurt nod as he pushed himself out of the chair. “Always was the plan sir. What if he doesn’t want to come in?”
“Yes, that could be one development. You remember the motto of my predecessor, don’t’ you?”
“You mean Director Glupp?”
“Yes, him. He was very fond of saying ‘shoot it….. or recruit it’,” he smiled. “I like that motto too, but in the boys case coerce him, any way you can. If you still cant bring him in after that, well…. Frank Glupp was a very wise man!”
“Yes, sir. I understand.”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue May 20, 2014 7:04 am

July 10th 1967

Chaya black rolled over and groaned at the bright light streaming in through the gap in the curtains and wondered how it could have been morning already?

She dragged herself up and showered, making her way finally into the living room feeling human once again.
She had seen that Callum’s bed was empty and was surprised that he wasn’t sat in front of the TV watching cartoons, or the news.
Even after this time she was bemused by how much interest Cal had in current events.

She heard laughter from outside in the street.
Pulling open the drapes she saw Callum and Simon, their neighbour, and a few of the other kids from along the street, out riding their bikes and skateboards.
A man she recognised from the big house on the corner was with them. He’d erected a ramp that the boys were using to do jumps with bike or board.
Cal was proving to be a hit with his boarding talents, always managing to stay on the board, no matter spectacular his jumps.
Chaya knew why.
Callum glanced towards his house and smiled when he saw his mother standing at the window. He waved and she waved back, but also gave him a stern look.
A flash of guilt crossed his face as he saw her.
“Sorry, mom,” she heard in her head.
She rolled her eyes.
On his next jump Callum tried to make it even bigger and better than before and wiped out spectacularly. He was escorted home by Simon and Monica, his sister, with grazes to his knees and forehead.

Chaya Black wheeled around to face her son with an exasperated look upon her face and her arms out almost in submission.
“they thought I was so cool,” Callum offered in defence.
“Oh, Cal,” Chaya sighed, resigned. The two had had this conversation before.
“Low profile, I know,” Cal said getting up and hugging his mum.
Chaya hugged him back. The action no longer seemed strange and more often these days she was thinking of Callum as her real son and had surprised herself by how much she had actually wanted one, even though she hadn’t thought about it before.
“Can I go back out know?” Cal asked. “No powers, I promise…”
Chaya smile, kissed his cheek and shoved him towards the door.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:10 pm

October 23rd 1969

Chaya Black brushed the lock of hair from her eyes, tucking it behind her ear as she carefully placed the last of four cartons of milk into the bag on the counter.
She glanced at the old beige till quickly before smiling at the hunched, lined and even older lady opposite her.
“That all comes to two dollars and twenty seven cents, Mrs Mallory.”
The old lady fished around in her purse, handing across each individual coin in turn.
Chaya waited patiently, placed the money in the till tray and said, “Shall I carry these out to the car for you, Mrs Mallory?”
“Oh would you dear? That’s very kind,” the wrinkled octogenarian replied.
Chaya carried the bags out to an aging dusty, rust orange coloured Chevrolet pickup and placed them on the bench seat, sliding them into the middle alongside a silver haired man with glasses and a weather beaten face.
“Good morning, Mr Mallory,” Chaya said cheerfully.
Mr Mallory smiled and nodded curtly , but didn’t speak.
That made Chaya smile more; Mr Mallory never spoke!

Standing in the shop doorway, Chaya waved old Mr and Mrs Mallory off.
It was ten in the morning.
Across the road, a few building south was the post office.
A black car pulled up in front and two men in suits climbed out.
Chaya watched them.
They were serious looking men with serious stern faces. They entered the post office and Chaya lost sight of them behind the reflection ion the window.
As she was about to turn away and return to the counter another figure climbed from the back of the car.
Her breath caught as recognised the face. The last time she had seen it, it was covered in blood and dust and its owner had been telling her to take the boy and run.
The man glanced up and down the street as he walked across the sidewalk. Even though he saw her there, he didn’t seem to recognise her.
She dyed her hair these days, perhaps that was enough of a disguise at this distance.
When he had gone, disappeared behind the reflection, Chaya closed the door and stood with her back against it for a moment, collecting her thoughts. Her mind was racing. How had they found her? No, that was just her panicking, she surmised. They were more likely in the post office to ask after her, showing a photo of her or Caleb as he was.
Waling swiftly to the counter she reached beneath and grabbed her hand bag.
“Where are you off to?” a chirpy voice asked.
“Oh Marion, I’m sorry but I have to go home.”
Marion, in her fifties with short, curled dark hair that was doing a respectable job of fighting off the grey, looked bewildered.
“You can’t just leave Chaya! What will I tell Harvey?”
Chaya shrugged. “Tell him it’s women’s problems.”
Chaya knew that Harvey Lambert, the store owner, went a funny colour whenever women’s troubles were mentioned. He would just nod when Marion told him and say no more.

Within a minute Chaya was out through the back door and in her car.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:11 pm

“Alright class, settle down!” Mr Jacobson called over the general din.
He waited patiently, pushing his thick glasses up his broad nose and perched against the edge of his desk.
“That includes you, Callum Black!” he chastised the young boy who was deep in conversation with one of the other lads.
Callum stared across at the rotund teacher, glanced at the clock and sighed. It had just turned nine in the morning.

“Thank you,” Jacobson said patronisingly.
“So class… History!”
There was a groan from across the whole classroom which Jacobson ignored.
“Last term we learned about the Roman conquest of Europe. This semester we will be learning about another conquest across Europe, but this one was quite different from the Roman. We’ll be finding out how the people from the frozen lands of northern Europe spread themselves across the land spreading fear in those before them and becoming known as some of the fiercest fighters ever known. Can anyone tell me who they might be, or at least how they are better known?”
The class remained quiet, twenty five faces staring blankly at him.
“No one?” Jacobson probed.
Eventually Callum, who had come to realise that none of his peers were volunteering an answer, made a half-hearted attempt to raise his hand.
As it was the only movement, Jacobson was instantly drawn to him.
“Yes, Callum?” Jacobson asked with obvious scorn. He didn’t like the Black boy. There was something about the way he looked at him, like the boy was staring into his soul. It was often an unnerving experience.
“The Vikings, sir,” Callum said bored but eliciting a sudden look of surprise to the teacher’s round, heavily jowled face.
“Why, yes, that’s right, Callum. Ehmm…. The Vikings.”
“oh cool!” said a boy at the front of the class.
Callum glanced out of the window, totally bored. His father had learnt more about the Vikings than this guy would probably ever know. Which of course meant that Callum already knew about them too.

It turned out that his father had been a clever man, well educated. There wasn’t a lot to do in Northern Finland during the winter, when the sun was below the horizon for twenty four hours a day. School was the only real option and it turned out that the teachers were all pretty good.
So now, having already learnt most of the things they taught, Callum did what he had to but most of the time at school he was just bored. Except at sports. He enjoyed sports.

His mind drifted whilst Mr Jacobson droned on about long boats and houses and shields and axes and the Norse gods.
A bird, dark with white head and tips to its wings swept by the window drawing his attention, which quickly shifted onto the black Dodge Charger that swept into the car park on the opposite side of the sports field.
He knew that car, knew that this car had languished for nearly two years in a rented lock up. He knew that his mother was at the wheel, bags packed and stashed in the trunk or on the back seat.
He reached out with his mind, probing the driver.

Chaya Black gave a start.
“Hell, Cal! That spooks me when you do that,” Chaya said to an empty car.
“Sorry. Is something wrong?”
“They’re here, Cal. We have to leave.”
“Do you have everything?”
Yes honey, it’s all here. I had time to go home.”
“Okay mom, I’ll be right out.”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:12 pm

Callum gathered his books and packed them into his bag.
“Going somewhere, Mr Black?” Jacobson asked sarcastically.
“Apparently so, sir,” the boy replied drawing the attention of the whole class.
He shouldered his bag and started for the door.
Jacobson cut him off, blocking the door with his bulk.
“Now just where do you think you are off to, young man?”
“Away, sir,” Callum replied flatly.
“Sit down, Black.”
“I have to go sir, my mom is waiting.”
“I said, sit down,” Jacobson ordered sternly, pointing at Callum’s chair.
“Get out of the way, sir,” Callum said in a cold voice.
There was something in the tone that made Jacobson tense up.
“I have to tell you something sir,” Callum said quietly, changing tact.
Jacobson suddenly thought of Brian Collitard, a young lad from last year who had not been well and messed himself in class.
“Have you had an accident, Mr Black?” Jacobson asked in a whisper as he bent down to hear Black’s reply.
“I know about you, sir. I know what you do when you’re alone in your basement, when your mother is asleep. I don’t think I’ll eat cucumbers ever again.”
Jacobson blanched white and looked at the boy in horror.
“Don’t worry sir, I won’t tell a soul,” Callum whispered fixing Jacobson with an icy stare.
“Oh, I know everything about you, Digby. Now, out of my and I won’t tell Mr Lecker that it is him you think about while stuffing vegetables up your own ass. And I won’t tell Charlotte Beltham in fifth grade that it was you who stole her panties and that you jerk off into them every night.”
Jacobson staggered away from Callum clutching his chest, his heart pounding, his face white and stricken with terror.
“Which reminds me,” Callum said openly as he pulled the door open and stepped out into the silent corridor.
As frantic whispers and gasps erupted behind the closed door her strode down the hall to another class.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:13 pm

Miss Hubbard, who had heard all the jokes before, was taken aback when Callum suddenly threw open her classroom door and walked in unannounced and uninvited.
“Can I help you?” she asked sternly.
“No Miss, but Charlotte can.”
Charlotte Beltham. Eleven years old, tall, fair haired, olive skinned and the dream of every boy their age who didn’t still see girls as something to be avoided.
She turned in surprise at mention of her name and saw Callum approaching.
He was in the grade below her. He was good at sport and good looking, which meant that he would have been on the ‘hot-list’ that her friends and her had compiled. But he was always so reserved and quiet that she thought he was a little odd.

“Callum, I’m teaching class. And you should be in yours,” Hubbard scowled.
Callum ignored her and walked straight up to Charlotte.
“What?” the girl asked, somewhat guardedly.
“I’m leaving and just wanted to do something before I go.”
“What?” she frowned at him.
Callum grabbed her face in his hands and planted a kiss on her lips. It wasn’t a peck, or even a lingering lip to lip kiss. He kissed her like his dad used to kiss his mom when they were dating; open mouthed, his tongue probing her mouth.

Charlotte had never been kissed like this before. She’d snogged with a boy once but it was awkward and lasted just a few seconds.
Instinct took over and she responded in kind, her tongue intertwining with his.
Miss Hubbard’s mouth hung agape for a while, she was too shocked to react.
The class erupted into chaos. The boys were whooping and wolf whistling and cheering. The girls were giggling hysterically.
Her jaw flapped uselessly a few times before Hubbard finally gained control.
“CALLUM BLACK!” she screamed as she thundered across the classroom and pulled the two apart.
“GET TO THE PRINCIPLES OFFICE, RIGHT NOW!” Hubbard yelled, shoving Callum towards the door.
Callum smiled casually and winked at Charlotte.
Her flushed face reddened further as she stared in utter bewilderment at the brash and unusually forward young boy.

Callum ran straight out of school and climbed into his mom’s car.
He hadn’t even closed the door before Chaya threw it into reverse, then screeched out of the car park, heading west.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:31 am

Agent Richard Wills stepped in through the door, nodding thanks to the land lord who had just unlocked the door to the low suburban house.
It was dark inside, the drapes half pulled. He tried the lights but nothing happened.
“try the breaker,” Wills ordered.
A few moments later the lights came on. It truth, Wills reflected, they didn’t make much difference.
The agent who had gone to the fuse panel returned with two envelopes, one addressed to Mr S Longley, the other addressed simply, ‘Mr Agent’.
Wills handed the first envelope to the landlord and asked to know what it was.
It turned out to be one month’s rent and notice to cease the tenancy.
The other envelope wills opened himself.
The message inside read,

Dear Agent Wills,

Please leave us alone.

Yours hopefully,


Wills’ brow knitted into a frown. “They’re gone,” he announced.
“I want those photos shown at every gas station within a two hundred mile radius. And get a description of her Buick out to the state troopers.”

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:34 am

February 29th 1972, Bonneville, Arkansas.

Thomas Whittaker, only son of Florence and Jonathan Whittaker, who owned a small and run down farm on the outskirts of town, swallowed hard as the school bus pulled in at the end of the track that led to his home.
Thomas was a small child for his age, thin, but he had a head that seemed too large for his diminutive frame. He’d started his first year at junior high last September and not one day had gone by since then that Josh Greene and his gang hadn’t picked on him. Josh was a sophomore who attended the neighbouring high school. At first it was just horrible comments about his big head, his sticky-out ears, his fat “nigger lips”, or even the fact that no matter what he did, there was always a patch of hair that stuck up in a tuft.
Then they moved on to his slight lisp, and skinny, childish body. Then they’d take his bags and steal his lunch, from which they would reel away in disgust and bin the food, making sure that there was no way Thomas could salvage it of course.
Sometimes they would even take his school work.
Now though they had progressed onto the physical stuff. Knocking him about, forcing him to do stupid things. They would chase him through the school at break times and dunk him in the toilet, or sometimes hang him from the pegs in the locker room by his underpants.

Well, Thomas Whittaker had enough of getting pushed around by everyone. As he stepped onto the bus he felt the handle of his dad’s big hunting knife pressing into his back.

Thankfully this morning Josh was busy pestering Lucile Rennard. Josh was smitten with her, but she was totally uninterested.
Thomas grinned when he sat down and heard Lucile yawn loudly in mock boredom.

The bus journey lasted only fifteen minutes.
Even before the bus had stopped, Josh was out of his seat. Annoyed at the constant rebuttal from Lucile he stomped down the aisle and upon seeing Thomas waited just behind him.

Thomas, unaware of Josh’s proximity didn’t look back when the bus came to a jerky halt outside the low buildings of Booneville Junior High School. Looking back would draw their attention to him and he’d managed an entire journey unmolested.
So when Thomas went to step off the bus he was taken by surprise when Josh’s foot jabbed between his and he fell forwards.
Thomas’ hand naturally shot out to break his fall but they weren’t enough to stop his face slamming into the hard floor.
Laughter erupted through the bus, but for once Thomas wasn’t embarrassed by it. He was in too much pain to be embarrassed.
Rolling over, he saw Josh grinning down at him; saw his flunkies flanking their leader.
The small boy fought hard not to cry. He caught his breathing, forcing it to slow, for his mind to calm down. Instead, he let the anger overwhelm his pain and the embarrassment that was now clawing at the edge of his thoughts.
Thomas didn’t feel an irrational anger today, no his was a cold anger that had been brooding for years, and it justified and solidified the decision he had made to finally act on that anger.
Josh, a little disappointed to see the boy wasn’t crying, shrugged and strolled across the parking lot towards the bigger high school building.
Thomas delved into his bag, ignoring the pitying looks he got from fellow students as they stepped off the bus.
His hand slipped around the smooth handle of the big knife, his thumb searched for the small leather clasp that held the blade tight within the hand-stitched leather sheath.
Laughter rippled through Josh’s group and Thomas automatically assumed that he was the butt of whatever joke had been told; he usually was.

Fury rose in him like a furnace suddenly fed oxygen. It flared up and was barely contained.
On his feet he took long purposeful strides. His thumb finally flicked the popped open, the blade slid unseen from its sheath.
All he had to do now was close the gap, pull the knife from the bag and stab it into Josh’s back.
No! Thomas wanted Josh to know he’d been beaten. He needed Josh to look him in the eye and plead for forgiveness. He didn’t care that he’d get into all sorts of trouble. He felt he had nothing to lose – Juvenile prison was probably better than home anyway!
Ten feet to go. Thomas yanked on the knife, intending to throw the bag aside but it wouldn’t move. It wouldn’t come out of the bag.
Thomas couldn’t help letting out a frustrated cry. Why wouldn’t it come out? There was nothing stopping it, but every time he pulled on the knife it seemed to weigh a ton and he couldn’t shift it.
He pulled the top of the bag open and heaved incredulously at the knife but it remained lodged in the bottom of the pack.
“Whatcha got in there, wiener? You bringing me a present, lunch perhaps or money?”
Thomas stared up horrified.
The older boy grabbed the top of the bag and peered in. his eyes went wide with shock and he scowled accusingly at Thomas, but when he saw how frightened the boy was he became angry. Yanking the bag hard he snatched it from Thomas’ grasp, which had gone suddenly very weak.
Josh turned to his friends, running his fingers through his shoulder length hair in a nervous fashion.
“Have you seen this?” he asked angrily, even though it was impossible that any of them had seen anything.
He pulled the knife easily from the bag and held it up, strangely now back in its black leather sheath.
“Whoa, dude! That’s cool, but not cool,” said one of Josh’s henchmen giving Thomas a disappointed and scornful look that could have rivalled any of their teachers.
Josh slid the blade form its cover. It measured at least ten inches long and two wide. A sharp point, keen edge on one side, serrated on the other; a classic hunting knife.
Quickly putting the blade away, Josh stepped closer to the frozen yet shaking boy. He brandished the weapon as though it were still unsheathed.
“What were you planning to do with this, you little fuck?” he snarled quietly.
It was the lack of volume and bravado from Josh that made his question seem more of a threat than any other time Thomas could recall. The small skinny boy swallowed hard, unable to speak and unable to stop a little pee from coming out.
Josh wanted to hurt the little wimp. He had to, in fact. He couldn’t let something like this go unpunished. No way.
His fingers grasped Thomas’ collar and dragged him real close as his other fist drew back.
Then there was a hand on his chest, pushing him back. It was a strong hand and Josh couldn’t resist it.
“Leave him alone, Josh,” a voice to his side said.
No way! No one told Josh Greene what to do!
Josh glared at Thomas for a moment longer before turning his furious gaze on the person stupid enough to intervene.
Suddenly the anger died and was replaced with mild confusion as he saw who this interloper was.
The lad was the same age as Thomas, thirteen, a few years younger than himself. The boy was tall for his age and his jet black hair was unfashionably short. In contrast to the slight form that Josh still held by the collar, this lad wad fit and the arms exposed beneath his pale blue t-shirt he wore bore well defined muscles.
Josh knew that this boy was the only junior high school kid on the high school football team, he was also on the shooting team and represented his school in several athletics events.
Callum Black was popular, despite his otherwise quiet nature. This was likely the reason that Josh was now so confused.
“What’s the problem, maan?”
“Just leave him alone, okay?”
Josh shrugged at Callum. “Who? Weiner-face here? He loves it really! Let’s face it, it’s the only attention he’s going to get from the likes of us he’ll ever get. I’s like he’s hanging out with the cool gang!”
Callum said nothing, but his dark eyes remained locked with his and Josh felt uncomfortable under the piercing stare.
For Callum’s part, it was hard not to exert his will upon the boy, but he knew he had to hold back. This exchange needed to look normal to everyone watching, which Callum had noted was nearly half both schools and some of the faculty too.
The only way for this to look normal was for it to be normal, no psychic powers. So instead of forcing his will upon Josh, Callum had opted to rely on his own popularity and peer pressure against him.
Josh tore his eyes from the penetrating orbs and glanced nonchalantly at his watch.
“You’re right, man. Time we were getting inside,” Josh said loud enough for those around him to hear that this was Josh’s decision.
“But I’m keeping this, you dumb shit,” he waved the sheathed knife in Thomas’ face before turning away and joining his friends.
“Hey, did you see that John Wayne movie last night?” he asked as though nothing had happened.
The group’s voices faded into background noise as the group walked away.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:24 am

Callum turned to face Thomas.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded, but then noticed the tears wetting Thomas’ cheeks.
The boy was visibly shaking and his bottom lip was quivering.
Callum could feel rage, despair, shame and fear enveloping the boy in a maelstrom of emotions.
“That’s my dad’s knife. He’ll kill me when he finds out it’s gone.”
Somehow the images just forced themselves into Callum’s mind and taken aback, Callum took an unsteady step backwards, rubbing away the headache that suddenly throbbed behind his eyes.
The images had been Thomas’ father coming at him with a thick leather belt.
Callum knew had had not willingly sought out the boy’s surface thoughts, but he did now.
“Not going to be good for me. I really don’t want to go home tonight,” they were saying.
“Bet you wish you hadn’t seen that. Well, tough. You shouldn’t hav got in the way. You should have let him stab me,” they went on.
“How did you do that?” Callum asked.
“Do what?” Thomas replied miserably.
“I just saw your father hitting on you, in my mind?”
Thomas’ lip curled into a sneer.
“Are you crazy? Well, you must be, you just stood up to Josh, in front of all his mates. He won’t have liked that. Now he’ll start on you too. But you must have imagined it.”
“No Thomas. It was one of your memories, from a few years back I think. Before I knew you.”
Thomas shrugged bitterly.
“I’ll give you more if you like them so much,” he thought at Callum summoning up many more dreadful memories.
Callum felt them coming but simply batted them away.
He grabbed Thomas by the elbow and dragged him to a quiet part of the school.
“You’re a psychic? A telepath?”
Thomas looked wide eyed at him, more fear and trepidation this time.
“So what if I am? It just makes josh right; I’m a freak! I suppose you think I deserve everything that happens to me, and I suppose you’re right.”
He pulled away from Callum and stomped off towards his classroom.
“I can help you,” Callum called after him.
“No, you can’t!” Thomas spat the words over his shoulder.
Yes I can! The words formed inside Thomas’ mind, but it was Callum’s voice that spoke them. The boy stopped dead and gaped at Callum.
You aren’t a freak, Thomas. You are more gifted than anyone else at this school, including the teachers, surely you can see that?
“You’re a telepath too?”
“Shhh! Not so loud.”
Well, that’s just great! Now I’m not even unique. I’m so damned useless.”
“You aren’t,” Callum objected.
Thomas huffed away the platitude.
“Look at you. You’re as much a freak as me, yet you’re popular and good at sport and all the girls love you, even the older ones. I can hear their thoughts. And look at me, I’m a joke. I’ve got powers like Professor X and I can’t even use them properly.”
He stormed off angrily, ignoring Callum’s pleas to stay.
With a resigned sigh Callum made his way to his own class.

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:41 am

Callum strolled along the corridor with two of his friends, Pete and Lawrence. Pete was very animated about Machine Head, the new Deep Purple album that was due out in a couple of weeks.
Lawrence was arguing that if you wanted to listen to rock music then it had to be American. Callum with his father’s taste in music ever lurking at the back of his mind decided to stay out of the argument.
Outside, in the parking lot a row of buses waited to take kids home. Callum bade his friends farewell and took his usual seat half way down the bus. He noticed that Thomas wasn’t there. Glancing around him he noticed that Josh wasn’t on the bus either.
He climbed out of his seat and scanned around the bus but couldn’t see either of them.
Callum sighed heavily, about to give up his search when he noticed Lucile Rennard staring out of the back window. He followed her gaze but could only see the tree covered hillside.
“Lucile?” Callum said questioningly.
She started, surprised and Callum discerned concern in her eyes.
“Have you seen Thomas?”
She nodded. “Josh and his idiot gang chased him into the woods. Josh was in a bad mood.”
“Dammit!” Callum cursed and darted off the bus sprinting for the treeline.
“Cal! Your bag!” Lucile called after him but it was lost inside the bus.

As he ran, darting through the trees Callum let his mind open, hoping to receive some general hint from either Thomas or Josh and his gang.
“Why am I doing this?”, he asked himself as he ran, stumbling clumsily over an exposed root. His mother would kill him for getting involved.
He stopped dead, breathing heavily and turned around, listening and thinking.
The trouble now was; he’d revealed himself to Thomas. It had been a stupid thing to do. But if he didn’t do something about Josh, then Thomas could well do something that would bring the attention of certain members of the government, he reasoned. And then Thomas would probably tell them what he now knew about Callum. Which, of course, would mean he’d have to leave again and start somewhere new. He liked it here and didn’t want to move again.
Sighing in resignation, he closed his eyes, concentrating on the world around him, letting down his guard so that he could sense the thoughts around him. It was easy to pick up on the group. Josh, his friends and a frightened angry Thomas.
They were over the rise, along the path where passes between rocky outcrops.
Once more Callum broke into a run. He charged over the ridge like a maniac and was upon the group in moments.
Thomas was backed up against a boulder the size of a house. Josh was in front of him brandishing Thomas’ dad’s knife.
The other four were stood back forming a menacing perimeter around the two so that Thomas had no escape.
Callum didn’t take time to register who the closest boy was, he just launched himself in a shoulder barge that sent the kid sprawling face first into the dusty dry ground.
His sudden arrival was enough to distract the others so that he could squeeze himself between Josh and Thomas.
Once between them it was a simple manoeuvre to disarm Josh and push him away. It was a move that his father had used countless times before and it was all about twisting the wrist rather than brute strength, which suited Callum fine as Josh definitely had him beat in that department.
Startled and embarrassed by being outdone by a thirteen year old Josh reared up to his full height and glared indignantly at Callum.
“What the fuck are you doing, man?” he spat.
“Just back off, Josh! Leave the boy alone,” Callum warned.
Josh grinned and shook his head in amusement.
“Or what?” he queried.
“What’s wrong with you, Josh? Thomas is what, thirteen? And you’re sixteen?”
“Seventeen,” a voice from his left corrected.
Callum shrugged.
“Alright, seventeen. That’s even worse. What is it that Thomas has done to deserve this? To deserve you?”
“What is it to you?”
“Thomas is my friend.”
Josh snorted.
“Is that supposed to mean anything to me? The little shit came at me with a knife, you saw him. He’s gonna get a beating for that. He should think himself lucky that I don’t stick him with that stupid fuckin’ knife. And you’ll get the same if you don’t scram!”
Callum turned and faced the wide-eyed Thomas and handed the knife to him.
“Take this and go home,” he instructed.
“He’s not going anywhere, Black!”
Callum didn’t turn around.
“When Danny gives the signal, you run like hell, Thomas Whitaker.”
“I ain’t gonna be giving him no signal to run, you dip shit,” Daniel Tinslade objected.
Callum finally turned back to face Josh. “Tom’s my friend guys, leave him alone, won’t you?”
“What Black? You think that cos you and me is in the football team and he’s your friend that we’ll leave the little freak alone?”
“Nah!” Callum chuckled nonchalantly. “Because if you don’t leave him alone, for good, I’ll kick the crap out of all five of you!”
All five of them laughed.
“Laugh all you like, but I could take you all, right now.”
“Callum!” Thomas warned. He could see the boys closing in with dark menacing expression etched on their faces.
Josh was within reach of him now so Callum darted sideways, ducking low and delivered a swift and powerful uppercut to Danny’s groin.
Danny howled in agony. It was a high pitched wail that lasted until long after Thomas had sprinted down the path towards school.
Two of the lads had made a grab for the fleeing boy but had found Callum’s fist or boot instead.
Callum knew these guys would normally be tough for his thirteen year old self to deal with, but he had his father’s experience and training to fall back on. Really, they didn’t stand a chance.
Someone grabbed his arm and Callum stepped closer so that the punch which followed just went wide. His forehead slammed into the boy’s cheek in return, sending him staggering away.
From the corner of his eye Cal saw Thomas disappear from view.
Logic stepped in.
If he carried on he’d end up putting all five of these boys in hospital, and there could be some awkward questions raised.
He knew that he really just had to give the boys enough of a kicking to look like he’d done well, enough so that the rest of the school knew he’d single handedly given Josh and his gang a bit of a whooping, but ultimately he’d have to let them win.
But not yet!
He stepped right, fists met nose and kidney.
Span right again and foot met knee eliciting an agonised wail.
On this went for at least a minute or two more, Callum moving between them in an almost dance-like fashion. None of them could land a blow anywhere near him.
Finally though Callum stepped back, obviously letting one of the boys grab him in a bear hug. Not that any of them was in any sort of state to realise what he’d done.
Then josh was there in front of him, his face covered in blood from his obliterated nose. One eye was already puffy and closing over.
Josh returned the favour.
It was a hell of a punch. The fist swung wide and slammed in from the left. It was like a blow from Thor, thunder sounded in his ears and lightning flashed across his vision.
Callum blinked hard trying to regain some focus.
Then came the rain!

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Re: A Darker Shade Of Pale

Post by Keeper » Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:45 am

Chaya Black looked at her wrist watch and frowned. Callum was late.
She’d seen the bus come and had been surprised to see Mary, the pretty girl from a few doors down walking up her path carrying Callum’s bag.
The girl had told her that Callum had got off the bus at school but and left his bag. She hadn’t been able to say why.
That had set untold scenarios whirling through her head, nearly all of them involving Agent Wills.
Chaya paced around the living room, surrounded by flock wallpaper and miss-matched furniture. She hated the décor of this place, but the landlord wouldn’t hear of her changing it. Idiot!
She didn’t like having to put up with his superior attitude. His money gave him the false notion that he was better than his tenants, especially those who happened to be un-wed mothers, which Chaya was surprised to learn there were more than she had expected.
That said the obnoxious little man went easier on her due to her being a widow. She had never told him as much but when he’d inquired after her husband when they moved in, Callum had flatly replied that his father was dead. So he had jumped to the incorrect conclusion that Chaya was a widow. She saw no need to correct him, even if it meant that she now had to live with him referring to her as the Widow Black. A name which a few of the more amorous and yet unsuccessful suiters in town had twisted around to the Black Widow. What was it with these back-water hicks? Did they think that her status as a widow should have her falling at the feet of the next man to come along with a smile and a wink? So what if she took someone up on their offer to sort out the electrics in her dodgy old house for nothing? Did she really have to be so grateful that she’d sleep with the guy in way of thanks? And did they think that rodding her drains meant that she should let then rod her too?

Another lap of the room, dodging around the lo melamine coffee table, circling the brown leather sofa with the rip in the arm and the stuffing bulging out like it was some sort of septic wound.
Glancing at her watch again she had returned to the coffee table.
It was just after six.
There were three doors on the back wall leading from the living room. One led to the small hallway which allowed access to the bedrooms and the bathroom. The second opened to the small kitchen, the third was a closet for coats, shoes and a ton of Callum’s crap, it seemed.
Chaya came to a rapid decision, gave a determined sigh and threw open the third door.
She slipped on her coat and reached for her shoes, then careened into the kitchen frantically searching for her car keys.
Chaya pulled up short when she came to a black and white photo of Callum. It was taken just a few weeks ago when the two of them had gone swimming at a nearby river.
She stared at the picture of the boy. The boy was not her son, not in the biological sense, yet she could almost feel the love for him pouring out of her. She had come to cherish the boy more than anything else in her life. She might not have given birth to him but he was her son in every way that matters.
It was that realisation, that admission of her feelings that made her feel giddy, made her legs go wea and she suddenly felt the bile rise as worry flooded her thoughts.
That is why, when she heard a knock at the door, Chaya Black burst into tears. Fear rose in her throat like a physical lump. What if this was someone with bad news?
Swallowing hard Chaya chastised herself. It was probably Cal. He’d forgotten his key, or lost it, that was all, nothing to worry about.
Striding across the living room she opened the heavy wooden door and was surprised to see an attractive girl stood there looking a little lost.
She was pretty, with light brown hair, worn long but with braids tipped with bands and multi-coloured beads. The girl was wearing a turtleneck jumper, yellow, with those bell-bottomed jeans that were so popular with youngsters these days. The bottoms were so big that she couldn’t see the girl’s feet.
The top of the jeans and the turtleneck were very tight fitting and revealed and developing and shapely form beneath them. In fact she looked much older than her son. Callum hadn’t mentioned a girlfriend?
The girl smiled prettily at Chaya. “is this Callum Black’s house?” she asked.
“Yes,” Chaya replied, a little embarrassed at how her voice cracked when she spoke.

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