Still New

Author’s Note: This was the part I wanted to get to, to share the start of understanding, but it sometimes feels like it took too long to get there, even if it’s not very far into things at all.


Still New

She stood by the window, looking out. She didn’t care what Vershon was doing. His way of investigating didn’t make any sense to her, and she was still angry with him for being unwilling to share anything interesting. What he had shown her was basic stuff, not anything more than what she could have picked up watching an entertainment show. This was pointless.

Then again, life seemed pointless now that she was stuck with a Talent restraint and assigned to SILT. She was a prisoner, even if they supposedly had given her a job, and she couldn’t do anything without them watching. Why would anyone want to live like this? How did Vershon and the others stand it? The one had said he was still angry, but Vershon just seemed dead inside.

“It is time to go,” Vershon said, and she sighed, not wanting to follow him again.

“Is that on a schedule or something? Do we have a curfew?”

“When you’re not working, you do.”

She swore, again, balling her fists. “And you don’t?”

“No.”

“Why? Because you’re their faithful little servant?”

He caught her arm again, turning her around to face him. “Exactly what purpose do you think you’re serving provoking me? I told you—you are not special. Anyone with a known Talent is taken, restrained, and assigned a position in society. You cannot deviate from that place—none of us can. I work for them because I have to. It is that or death for me. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?”

“Because this is death. A living death, but still death, and you act like you’re fine being a prisoner. I don’t see how you can do it. Even if you or he claim you’re still angry, you don’t act like it. You don’t fight any of it. You don’t even… You expect someone new to accept it, too. You think I should just be fine with this, and I can’t be. No one should be. This is intolerable, and if you don’t think it is, then you are completely insane. They broke your mind and your spirit, and it sickens me to hear you act like I should be the same way. I’m not. I won’t be.”

Vershon shook his head. “You still don’t understand. You’re too—”

“If you say new, I will smack you.”

“It is true,” he insisted. “You don’t understand how this works or how anyone copes with it. You are still in the phase where you are monitored constantly and if you had any sense, you’d wait until that at least passed before you made an issue of everything. Discussing this sort of thing—nothing good ever comes of it. All you do is make trouble for yourself and whoever you’re talking to. This isn’t like before. That much should be obvious to you. You keep saying you’re a prisoner—then why do you keep talking like you’re free? You’re not.”

“You think I don’t know that? I do. That’s why I am so angry. You’re the one that’s acting like—like you accept it. Like you’ve given up. You’re so damned calm about all of this, and I can’t stand it or you or any of this. You make me want to scream.”

“I’m told it can be therapeutic, but it seems pointless to me.”

She balled her fists. “I take it back. You make me want to hit you. You really are soulless. You let them suck it right out of you, and you really think that’s how everyone should be? That we should just accept this and go along with it? You make me sick.”

He grabbed her arm, and she swallowed, once again aware of the strength he possessed. Would he do it? Would he actually hurt her?

“You don’t understand,” he hissed, and she swore he was finally showing an emotion. Anger. Well, it was something, wasn’t it? He wasn’t actually dead inside like she’d thought. “You’re new. That means they’re watching you. Constantly. You don’t get the luxury of saying whatever you want to say. If you want to have any hope of getting out of this, you have to learn to control your mouth.”

She frowned. Did he just say what she thought he said? There was a way out? The soulless one had a way out of this mess? Impossible.

“Did you just say—”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Yes, you did. I heard you say—”

“I didn’t say anything,” he insisted, and she shook her head, frustrated. He was being ridiculous. “Forget that. We’re done here and we need to leave.”

“How am I supposed to forget about that? You said—”

“I didn’t,” he repeated with a hiss, and she reached for him only to stop when she saw a sort of green light surround his hand right before he fell to the floor, as lifeless as the fake dead body next to him.

Not Exactly Training

Author’s Note: I actually kind of enjoy their bickering here. And Vershon got funny.


Not Exactly Training

She wasn’t wrong about them having cars. Apparently walking was for the compound, only, which was fine with her. She saw the ignition was biometric—this car could only be started by Vershon, which was probably another means of control—but if someone was stupid enough to think they could drive off in one of these, she figured they deserved whatever they got.

Vershon didn’t say anything on the drive, and she didn’t push for conversation. The radio had been on when he started the car, so they weren’t in some awkward silence, and really, what would they talk about? She was new to this life, and he was supposed to train her, but since she’d already been warned against her plan of leaving as soon as training was over, she wasn’t sure it was worth bothering to learn anything.

And she got the distinct feeling that he wouldn’t be willing to talk about anything that wasn’t related to work.

She found his taste in music interesting if not quite her speed, since she wouldn’t have pictured him as the type for it, but he also didn’t seem like someone who’d let someone else choose the station, either.

He parked the car in front of another building where the police had established a perimeter and marked it off with their tape, the blue warning flapping in the wind as Vershon got out of the car. She rolled her eyes and resigned herself to following him again.

He passed the uniformed officers without incident, but as soon as she got near the tape, they moved to intercept her.

“Sorry, lady. This is a restricted area.”

“You let him pass,” she said, waving her hand at Vershon. “We were in the same car. How did you miss that? Are you incompetent, blind, or just sexist?”

“Marcey,” Vershon snapped, and she shrugged at him. He sighed, pinching his nose as he spoke. “She is with me. The paperwork may be delayed, but she is now with—”

“She doesn’t look SILT.”

“I think I’d almost take that as a compliment,” she said, ducking under the tape and getting in the officer’s face. “But as much as I don’t much care for them, I think I’d rather be on their side than yours. You smell, and that is really pathetic. Basic hygiene is a thing, you know, and—”

“I know I told you not to start,” Vershon interrupted, taking her arm and dragging her away from them with ease. Holy hell. He was a lot stronger than he looked. Sure, he was tall, but he was thin, too so she hadn’t thought he could manhandle her that easily. “We cooperate with the police.”

“Speak for yourself. I didn’t ask for this.”

Vershon let her go just inside the building. “No one with a Talent does. Stop thinking you’re special. You’re not.”

He walked away from her, starting up the stairs. She balled her fists and then felt herself get a bit light-headed. She was almost sleepy. What the hell? She shook it off and started up after Vershon, looking down the second floor hall and opting for the open door out of the four there.

She stepped inside, careful of the mess on the floor. Someone had done a number on this place, scattering papers and everything else across the room in a giant mess. Most of the furniture was broken, and nothing seemed intact aside from the body in the middle of the chaos.

She joined Vershon beside the body. “Forensics already cleared the room?”

He nodded. “All necessary scans are finished. They took what they identified as necessary for additional testing already as well.”

“Just not the body.”

He shook his head. “This is a replica created to preserve the scene for analysis. The body was already removed.”

“This is fake?” She reached over to poke it and frowned. “Certainly feels real, like actual skin would, right down to the way the body is relaxing after having stiffened up after death. You’re not teasing me, are you? No, wait, you have no sense of humor. I don’t… Why?”

“Because before those idiots decided to make a big fuss outside, it was my intention to leave the scene ‘undisturbed’ in case the killer returned for a second look.”

She frowned. “You think he’s got a ritual in this?”

“No, I think he didn’t find what he was looking for so he will be back to search further.”

She stood back up, folding her arms over her chest. “The room has been trashed like they searched everywhere. And if someone didn’t raise the alarm, then how did you even know about it?”

Vershon pulled up the fake’s sleeve, and she swallowed as she saw the very familiar scar. “A Talent. So… this guy was one of yours?”

Vershon shook his head. “I don’t have people. I get assigned as a trainer on occasion, but they do not want me having any real authority.”

“So he wasn’t an agent.”

“Not of our division. Not everyone is given to us, after all. We’re specialized. We have some kind of background or Talent that is useful to the agency. In your case, your training as a doctor got you sent to us.”

“And you?”

“I excel at paperwork.”

She snorted, unable to help her laughter though she didn’t actually think he’d made a joke. “I suppose that’s not hard to believe with you throwing all those pages at me the other day, but that can’t be the only reason they dragged you into this. I mean, you’ve got that kill switch in your neck, so they must think your Talent is valuable despite how dangerous it is and how scared of it they are.”

“I have no interest in satisfying your morbid curiosity.”

“What?”

“You do not need to know why I was given that restraint. It’s not relevant.”

She shook her head. “It’s not morbid to want to know why they think you’re so dangerous. We’re working together. You know everything about me, right? I don’t get to know anything about you? Not even if we might end up in combat or something? Shouldn’t I know what you can do just in case?”

“No.”

“You’re infuriating,” she muttered. She folded her arms over her chest. “Aren’t I supposed to be in training? What are you actually teaching me here?”

He gave her a long, dark look. “Do you actually intend to learn anything?”

She couldn’t answer that.

Meeting the New Boss

Author’s Note: I really was going to put this up a while ago. I have just been under a lot of stress and not much up to writing or posting anything, even if this was done.


Meeting the New Boss

She stepped inside the second door and looked around the office. Plenty of people were at work at their desks, some typing away, others on calls, and a large map dominated the far wall, changing colors as she watched it, with parts of the country going red instead of yellow. She looked at him, but he didn’t seem to be about to explain anything, just walking away again.

She swore as she rushed after him.

He stepped inside another room, and the man behind the desk looked up at him. His face was just as void of emotions as Vershon’s was, but he was older by at least twenty years. He looked fit for his age despite sitting at the desk, and looking at him, she knew instinctively that he wasn’t a man anyone messed with—he looked like the type who could kill in an instant without a Talent.

“This is Iris Marcey,” Vershon said. “Now that she is awake, I intend to return to the crime scene.”

The other man nodded. “I see.”

“Really? Because I don’t.” She couldn’t help saying. “I’m a doctor. I trained to be one and made a living as one until they arrested me for something that wasn’t my fault. I don’t have any skills in investigation, and while I did consider being a coroner, the government still won’t let you do that if you’ve been marked as a Talent.”

“Your training could still be of use to us.”

“To us? So you are the boss, then, the one Vershon said didn’t exist?”

“No. My authority is conditional and limited to those members of the Special Investigation, Logistics, and Tactics Division assigned to me. You are now one of them.”

She looked at Vershon. “You brought me here for an introduction. You didn’t bother to introduce him, just me. Did something get wired wrong in your head when they put that implant in you or what?”

“You won’t stay any longer than the last one did, so why bother with introductions?” Vershon asked, shaking his head. “However, the regulations state I have to bring all new recruits to the office before taking them out of the compound. He has to officially approve your release before we go even if we have orders to go. That is how this system works.”

She glanced back at the man at the desk. “They made you their fall guy if someone leaves and gets out of control.”

He nodded. “I am the one that will be held responsible if someone with a Talent acts against orders and causes damage or injury, yes.”

“But you agree to this?”

He studied her, long and hard and almost made her regret asking. This one wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with, but she was still finding her boundaries and challenging them. She wasn’t done by any means.

“You know only the rumors. You have yet to learn what this life is like.”

“And what, someday I’m going to stop hating them for everything they’ve taken from me?”

“No. That will never happen,” he said, and his conviction suggested personal experience. “You will still hate them.”

“Don’t encourage her. We lose enough idiots who think they can beat this system by brute forcing it, and I don’t want to waste more time training another,” Vershon said. She looked at him, and he shrugged. “The last five all figured they could wait until their training was complete and they were unsupervised, then they tried to escape and died. Their efforts were foolish and futile.”

“Tea,” the other man said, rising to get the pot from behind him and pour a cup. He held it out to Vershon, who frowned at it. “It is better than the alternative.”

“Yes, I know,” Vershon said as he accepted it, closing his eyes and sipping from the cup.

She frowned again as she watched them, trying to figure out exactly what was going on here. Did Vershon actually care what happened to people like her? That was a bit hard to believe.

“We should go. It has already taken long enough to make this detour.”

“Her training was supposed to begin as soon as possible.”

“I know.” Vershon set down the cup and turned to her. “I will not wait for you. Let’s go.”

Again with Potentially Unlikable Characters

Author’s Note: I was going to post more of this sooner, but I kept getting busy or being sick. That is my life anymore, it seems I’m almost always sick.

Anyway, here is a bit more of the same story as before, with the characters I don’t know if anyone but me will like.


First Day on the Job

The pounding on the door matched the pounding in her head. She groaned and forced herself up from the bed, frowning as she looked around the room. This was not her house. This was not her clinic, either. Her hip throbbed, and she swore as she sat up, cursing the government with everything she could think of and all she couldn’t, her anger building as she rose from the bed.
She was still clothed, no one seemed to have violated her in that sense, but since they’d put something in her body that could control her Talent and tracked her every movement, they’d done plenty.

She crossed to the door and opened it, almost surprised she could.

The figure on the other side of it wasn’t that much of a surprise, though she wouldn’t say she was glad to see him. “You again. More paperwork, is it? I really don’t need more documentation on how the government had stolen my life from me.”

“I’ve come to collect you for training,” he informed her with the same flat tone to his voice. “You will receive it in progress as we work. There is no class or manual. You need to dress and leave now or there will be consequences.”

“So you’ll punish me?”

He shook his head, his eyes dropping to her leg before going back to her face. “I don’t have to. They will. That is your life now.”

She swallowed, having little choice but to mouth the words and hope she got some kind of response from this rock in front of her. They can hear everything I say and do, too, is that it?

He gave her a curt nod, almost as if he didn’t want to be seen reacting to her words. She choked on her fury, feeling invaded in more ways than she could voice.

“You should change. We don’t have much time.”

“The day just started. How can we possibly be late for anything?”

“We investigate crimes. Those don’t happen on regular schedules. And while you may have just woken, it is actually quite late in the day. Come. We need to leave.” He turned toward the door, and she sighed. She supposed she had no real choice, did she? If they were watching, and she refused—he’d warned her they would punish her, and did she really want to know what that was like?

She already felt like crap, and she didn’t figure she was up to running, even if she wanted to get far away from here.

If they were watching her, this place might be full of cameras. Great. Well, that actually gave her an incentive to leave, even if it was with the soulless paper-pushing bastard who was waiting outside her door.

Fine. She could do that. She’d go with him and find a way to escape later.


“Does the soulless one have a name?” She asked as she struggled to keep pace with him. Tall as he was, whether he meant to or not, he was out pacing her easily just walking normally, and it was annoying as hell. She still felt a bit drugged and lagging, and she didn’t want to walk all over the place. If they were some kind of special investigative force, why didn’t they have some kind of vehicle?

“Several, actually, if you are referring to me,” he said, and she folded her arms over her chest. He wasn’t going to tell her? Really? She wanted to hit him. She wasn’t sure she cared how she might get punished over this. He deserved a smack for being such a jerk. He didn’t have to be like this. Shouldn’t she know his name? Or was he really just the messenger? He only came to tell her that she had to work, and that was it?

“I can’t imagine it’s some kind of state secret. Or are you just giving me information again? This time it’s safe to transport me without sedation, so where’s the form? Should I get it in triplicate?”

He shook his head. “No. I will be training you.”

“So I should get to know your name, then. Because if you get any idea about me calling you ‘master’ or ‘boss’ or—”

“Those aren’t applicable to someone in our position,” he said. “Though there is some hierarchy, we are all still subject to the main authority that comes from the government.”

“Slaves, basically.”

He seemed to tense, but he didn’t deny it. “The one the government uses for me is Vershon.”

She stopped. “The government changed your name?”

He looked over his shoulder at her, frowning slightly. “That surprises you? It shouldn’t. Though… Yours hasn’t been altered, if that is your next question.”

“So you’re going to call me—”

“The government designated you by your birth name, not the one you were using when you were arrested. You will be known as Iris Marcey so long as you are with the organization.”

She sighed. “Do I look like a flowery type of girl to you?”

“You look like an irritant, and if I had any choice in the matter, I would not be escorting you now,” he answered, and she balled her fists, tempted again to hit him. “You should have attacked me at your apartment. At least then when you made yourself useless, I wouldn’t have to carry you back and have wasted all the time it has taken us to go this far and also the trip back. There is too much to do to be bothering with this.”

“Well, if I could just leave—”

“You can. You will likely lose your leg if nothing else, but that is still an option.”

“Not much of one.”

“No,” he agreed, stopping in front of another door and opening it. He stood and waited, and she frowned as she stepped inside. He could be leading her to her death for all he claimed he was here to train her, and yet she had no real choice but to go with him, did she? “This way.”

“More walking?”

“It is not much farther, though you should probably appreciate that the office is not near your residence.”

“I don’t appreciate anything about this situation.”

He didn’t say anything to that, walking away and leaving her no choice but to follow again.

Introduction to a New Story

Author’s Note: I ended up starting something new, much as I’ve been trying to finish things, and this is the most recent concept I’ve come up with. I wanted a detective story with people who had special abilities. I actually don’t know how well it’s going or if the characters are even… likeable.

This is the opening section/prologue. Feel free to tell me what you think.


Arrest and Condemnation

“You don’t have to look at me like that, you know,” she said, leaning back in her chair and glaring back at the suit across from her. “I didn’t do it.”

He adjusted his glasses, opening a file. “A man is dead. He died in your care.”

“Well, they don’t issue malpractice insurance to doctors who don’t work for the government,” she said, shrugging. She didn’t get the feeling this one, who clearly lacked personality as well as a sense of humor, would find it funny. Not that it was. The government controlled everything—or they tried. And he was just another cog in the government machine. “I was in the middle of a surgery. I was interrupted. He died. Did you happen to find the jerk who shot me? Or am I seriously the only one you consider a criminal in this whole mess?”

“Practicing medicine without a license is a crime. That man’s death is a crime.”

“So I am the only criminal you see here,” she shook her head, frustration getting the better of her again. “The government takes everything from us, all of us, and we can’t do anything about it, but you as a good little lackey, you’re going to help them and arrest me.”

“You’re already under arrest. I didn’t take you into custody, nor did I have to. I am not here for that. I am here because you are a registered Talent.”

She tensed. How the hell had they found that out? She’d buried that part of her past deep, no one knew about her reason for dropping out of medical school. That name, that identity, it was all someone else’s, not hers, not anymore. She’d heard the rumors about genetic marking and them monitoring suspected Talents, but she’d never seen any signs of it before. She got caught now, sure, but by accident, not because they’d been watching her or knew where she was all along. They would have arrested her a long time ago if that were true.

“Section eleven of the fourteenth article stipulates that any known Talent must be gainfully employed and monitored by the government,” he said, passing a copy of the exact section he quoted to her for her to look at. “You are not, therefore you are in violation.”

She glared at him. “I was training to be a doctor. I wasn’t about to throw that away.”

“Those with a Talent cannot work where they choose.”

“I know that. Do you even have an ounce of humanity in you, or did the government drain it out of you?” She demanded, leaning forward to get in his face. “Why would anyone accept this as what it is? Why do you follow their orders like a robot?”

“People who have a Talent do not have a choice.”

“You really are soulless, aren’t you?”

He took another paper out of the folder and passed it to her. “This is to inform you of your official placement. From now on, you are employed by the Special Investigation, Logistics, and Tactics Division. Some call it SILT. Whether or not you do does not matter. You will reside within the barracks designated for their use, and you will be monitored at all times as well as fitted with the standard Talent restraint.”

“They already did that. I’m not an idiot. I know my own body. I didn’t have this scar before and now I do,” she said, lifting up her skirt to show off the one on her hip. He didn’t look over at her, and she rolled her eyes. This one really was dead inside, wasn’t he?

“I am required by the existing laws to inform you of all these matters. The disclosure has been given.”

“That’s it? They sent you here to deliver paperwork? That’s all you’re here for?”

“You have been designated a flight risk and as such will not be moved while conscious. This is your disclosure for that decision.”

She crumpled the paper in her fist. “I wish my Talent involved fire. I’d burn this place to the ground and you with it.”

“You might try,” he said as he rose from the table, and as he turned to the side, she saw a similar scar on his neck. Her throat went dry.

He didn’t just have the standard Talent restraint. His was wired directly to his brain and would kill him in an instant. Whatever he could do terrified them.