- A Serialized Novel -

This isn't a superpower. It's a curse.

Larabee may have been right about April missing her calling, though teachers have to be a bit of everything. So she was a bit of everything. She needed to be, and not just for her students or because she was always doing something different as a substitute teacher. She had me to worry about.
Frankly, I was starting to think it was taking a toll on her…

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“What are you doing?”

“I think it’s past time that we confront him about what he really knows, and I’m thinking that I have waited far too long to kick his ass,” April answered with a bright smile that kind of scared Clayton. She was very nearly unhinged at the moment, and while he had been looking forward to seeing her deal with Brady, now he was worried. She had been—well, off was the only real word for it—ever since she read the memo.

“Okay, April, just—give me a moment over here first, please,” he said, pulling her to the side. He touched her shoulders gently, glancing at the man tied up in the chair and then at his wife. “I am all for giving this guy what’s coming to him, but I am a bit worried about what is happening with you. You might be taking this a little too far.”

She gave Clay a look, shaking her head. “He tried to kiss me.”

“What? Like… on the cheek, right?”

She shook her head. Clayton turned back to Brady. Well, there went any sympathy for him. “Okay, fine. Just… don’t kill him.”

April kissed Clayton’s cheek, and he rolled his eyes as she walked back to Brady. “So, now that we know you’re a complete scumbag, you’re going to tell us all about what you’ve been doing. Why are you watching us? Who are you working for?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, you do,” she insisted. “And believe me, we can make you talk.”

“We can?”

She looked over at Clay. “Larabee’s costumes? Like that wouldn’t make anyone talk.”

He laughed, shaking his head at Brady. “Oh, I almost feel sorry for you. Almost.”

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“Right. I’ll tell you anything. Everything. I swear, I will. Just don’t make me look at another one of those things. Please, I’m begging you.”

“It could be worse,” April said, shrugging. “You could have nightmares about zombie gummy bears.”


“Never mind that, Brady. Just tell us what we want to know.”

“I have at least fifteen more costumes,” Larabee added helpfully, flexing his muscles in one of his cab driver inspired designs. Each of them was painful to the eyes, and Clay had been trying not to look at him the entire time. They weren’t drunk this time, and it was hard to take when they were drunk. He didn’t blame Brady for caving so quickly. “I like showing them off, and people don’t give me a chance to very often. So, I could just go change—”

“No!” Brady protested immediately. “What do I have to do? Please, just let me talk to you. Ask your questions. I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

“Anyone think this is working a bit too easily?”

“Only you, Larabee, and only because you’re the only one that’s not disturbed by the sight of you in spandex,” Clayton explained, still trying not to look at the scientist. “If you change, put regular clothes on—and make sure they have pants this time.”

Brady grimaced.

“Okay, Brady. Who are you working for? Why have you been watching us?”

“I don’t know who—I got contacted by a guy. He said… Said that April had a connection to someone they were watching. That it was important to know what he—what you were up to. They never said why, but I figured it out soon enough when she told me about your ‘lies,’ about this ability you had to switch ages.”

“Someone walks up to you on the street and says watch this guy this girl knows and you just agree to that?” Clay demanded. “What is wrong with you?”

Brady shrugged. “She was pretty enough, and I already knew her, so no big deal, right?”

“April,” Clay began, not liking his latest thought. “How soon after you knew Brady did your parents have their accident?”

“No. Tell me they did not do that to me. I knew you… incidentally. Why kill my parents to get someone close to me? It’s not right. It’s—” April couldn’t even finish that thought. She lowered her head, and Clayton moved over to her, wrapping his arms around her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to turn it—twist it like this—I didn’t want to hurt you again.”

“Look, they wanted her to be the one to do the watching, but she didn’t ever take them up on it. If they did do anything to her parents—and I don’t know anything about that, I swear—it might have been that they were trying to force her to connect to you, to reach out for anything she could have at the time. I don’t know. I’m just… I am a low-level messenger, that’s it. I was only supposed to find out what you could do, if it was possible, and pass on anything April might tell me about you. And she did actually talk about you a lot. It wasn’t like the writing wasn’t on the wall long before we split, okay? She was—”

“Shut up, Brady. I just want to know who you reported to and why,” April snapped. She turned to Larabee. “Go change. Now. Give him all of the cab outfits just because.”



“Awesome!” Larabee cried, rushing off to change. Brady looked at her in horror.

“That’s cruel. I told you what you asked. Come on.”

“It takes someone extremely low to do what you did to me, Brady. You used me. In almost every sense of the word, and you let other people do it, too. You knew exactly what you were doing—you never cared about me at all. You… bastard. I can’t believe I ever thought you were a decent human being let alone dated you. You didn’t ever once think that maybe they’d had something to do with my parents’ death? That never made you think you should stop? Or have the decency to tell me what people were doing? Why they were interested in me or Clayton? Letting you see more of Larabee’s costumes is the least of what I should do to you.”


“Clayton, untie him for a moment. I have to slap him, and I have to kick him, and then while he’s hurting, he can see Larabee’s fashion show. And then I’m going to find whoever is behind this damn conspiracy, and I’m going to make him pay. For you. For my family. And for me.”

Clay stared at her. “You are so beautiful right now. You’re just… incredible.”

“No, I’m pissed off. Maybe later I’ll be incredible, but now I’m just angry.”

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2 thoughts on “Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

  1. I’m really enjoying the humor in this. Awesome!

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