Author’s Note: This is the third chapter of a fic called The Other, a fic based,
unfortunately, on a concept which does not belong to me. Blame Squaresoft-it was their idea. However, since it continues to be a very good idea, I’ll continue to write about it.
All Parasite Eve credit, then, to Square, except for the by-now-famous-yet-still-invisible Jack Carter and his hometown–those belong to me, and soon you may get to see them if
my plan holds out! From this point on, the chapters should get a little longer–school has ended now, so my time is a little more free. Enjoy!
It wasn’t as though she planned to fall asleep; it just sort of happened that way. She wasn’t one to sleep in class anyway, and especially not history-it was her favorite subject, which was no surprise, since she lacked one for herself. But maybe it was the late night last night (she had stayed up with Aya to watch a movie), or maybe it was that pre-algebra
test (“stupid variables!”)that had done it; no matter the reason, though, she just couldn’t hold her head up any longer. So, right in the middle of the Battle of New Orleans, Eve Brea found her head sliding toward the desk and a warm, quiet darkness.
The junior high classroom was always quiet; Mr. Duncan ran a tight ship. But now it faded into a silence so dead, Eve could hear her own distant breathing, rhythmic and slow. She could hear her heartbeat, as well; and one rhythm more, one she couldn’t identify, but had always known, however subconsciously. A soft swish, reminiscent more of the waves of the ocean-she remembered the beach, from the shores near L.A.-than of a heart or breath, but to Eve it seemed right now that it had an undertone, a buzz that made her swallow back a little apprehension. Not fear, precisely; just a strange feeling of anticipation, mixed with coldness. Eve didn’t know the word Mitochondria, but if she had known and understood it, she would have connected it to that rhythm right away.
Funny; it didn’t feel like sleeping to her. She knew that was what she was doing, just as readily as she knew that her hands still worked. Yet she felt awake, alert, ready for action-with a start, she realized she was already standing. But where…? For the schoolroom was gone, and in its place was a landscape she didn’t recognize, a landscape of beaten, dusty earth spread with scraggly grass, with no mountains and no skyscrapers (the only horizons Eve had ever known) to block the view. The sky was cloudy, overcast, yet the clouds didn’t look like they would bring rain; they were nearly yellow, much the same color as the dry ground. Wheel ruts ran everywhere, forming a spider’s web of dry channels among the large metal frames that dotted the area. On some, huge hammerlike beams worked up and down, moving cables and bars; on others, tall upright gantries supported long pipes coated with a black, viscous substance. Eve had never seen oil before, let alone crude oil. In the distance, she could see a tall chain-link fence surrounding the entire area; beyond that, there was nothing but land and sky, save for a distant cluster of buildings, which were far enough away to blur into the horizon. Shadows played across the ground, cast by dim light drifting through the few thin breaks in the clouds.
Eve began walking, aimlessly, though generally toward the nearest oil derrick. She could hear the rough groan of its pumps and joints, louder as she approached; it was the only sound to be heard. For a girl most recently accustomed to the city with all its noises, it sent cold chills down her spine. At the same time, that third rhythm, the one she knew yet didn’t, was growing stronger.
Now it was coming from around her as well as inside her. It was faster as it grew in the air around her, and somehow…resonating was the only word that fit. Like it was trying to split in two somehow…
Eve whipped her head around, a bolt of dread flashing through her-she was sure there had been someone behind her. Now on the other side-she whipped around again. That noise…The sky was getting darker. She was under the first derrick now. A wind had begun to rise as she crossed under it, and it swayed above her, creaking threateningly. Two men stepped out of the darkening shadows on either side of the derrick. Eve couldn’t see their faces, but she had the feeling that they were the source of the resonance she was feeling in that rhythm. One pulsed with nearly the same tempo as she herself, and that one was of normal stature and shape; the other beat a more malevolent counterpoint, and was monstrous and shadowy, and its shape refused to resolve itself in her mind. They advanced slowly toward her, one walking on worn cowboy boots that parted the dying grass, the other on clawed feet that crushed it. Eve instinctively shrank away from that one, though unable to look away from it, eyes wide, a scream working its way toward her mouth. As it came onward, she could hear her heartbeat racing faster, overwhelming the other pulse, racing…
…Eve jerked upright at her desk, a shriek of fright escaping her lips, as the last bell rang.
Her entire history class stared at her, mouths agape, as she realized where she was.
“Ah…sorry…bad dream,” she murmured, her face turning red.
“Well, Eve,” Mr. Duncan answered from his place by the door, “nest time try to leave the
dreams at home and stay awake if you can. No harm done, though, as long as you’re okay. Alright, class-dismissed, and don’t forgot the reading assignment from chapter six!” He slipped into a shout as the class stampeded.
After packing up, Eve made her way a little more slowly to the door-but Mr. Duncan stopped her, and headed for it himself. “Your sister couldn’t pick you up today, Eve,” he said before stepping out, “or at least, that’s what this note says. Anyway, she sent someone to get you.” He leaned out the door frame, speaking quietly to someone in the hall.
Eve’s eyes narrowed in question as Kyle Madigan’s muscled form slipped in through the door. “Hey, kid–how’s it going? Ah…Aya had to leave suddenly, so she asked me to pick you up. You ready?”
More ready than you know, Eve thought. Have I got questions for you.
Kyle Madigan had dealt with a lot of strange things in his life, short though it had yet been. He had spent his early career as first a city cop-he and Aya had that in common, though he had come from Seattle rather than New York-then as a private investigator; in both jobs, twisted situations and wasted lives had been the order of the day. Even his experience as a Federal agent, a mole in MIST’s operations-a situation that had eventually required a presidential pardon just to allow him to live openly-had been full of…well, surprises. But he had never before met anyone like Eve, a child who managed to amaze him every time he was with her.
In the back of his mind, he knew that she was a clone of Aya, and when he thought about it, he could see the resemblances-those that were not just physical, that is. She had Aya’s cool manner of observation, noting everything around her with quick precision. She had the same relaxed-yet-ready fighter’s attitude (though he couldn’t see the girl ever hurting a fly), and the same desperate longing to fit in. Aya hadn’t really fit in since 1997, and Eve, he feared, would never fit in. But she gave every ounce of strength to trying, and Kyle had a high respect for that.
That was not the source of today’s dose of amazement, though. It was the questions the girl was firing off one after another, almost as if she had to speak her mind all at once lest she forget. Time for review later. “Where’s Aya? Is she okay? Why didn’t she let me know before she left? Did she say anything about that phone call from this morning? It was Pierce, wasn’t it? Do you know what he wanted? Is that why she left? And by the way, what do you know about dreams? You know, the bad k-“
“HOLD IT!” Kyle shouted, interrupting Eve long enough to allow his head to stop spinning. In his exasperation, he nearly slammed into the car in front of him before noticing that the light was red. While the car was stopped, he turned to Eve and shook his head in disbelief. “One thing at a time! First, Aya had to leave town suddenly. She had to go to Texas, and in a few hours she’ll be tramping around the middle of nowhere looking for someone. Second, she’s fine. Third-“
“-It’s green,” Eve pointed out helpfully.
Kyle’s head whipped back to the front, and he hit the accelerator. “Oh! Sorry. Yeah, green. Fourth, she didn’t have time to let you know, but I’m sure she’ll call us later. Fifth, it was about that call, which was from Pierce Carradine, and no, I can’t really explain what it was about. And last, why do you want to know about dreams? You had one?”
“In class,” Eve admitted. “You probably could hear me from all the way out in the hall.”
Kyle frowned. “Was it that bad?”
“Well…yeah…it’s like…oh, I don’t know. I can’t remember now! It’s fading away. Something about two men, and a heartbeat…”
His frowned deepened. “Hmm…” he mused. “Probably not anything to worry about, I suppose. You sure you can’t remember it?”
“Positive. I wish I could!” She put her head in her hands, as if trying to pull the memory
out. “It makes me so angry!” Suddenly Kyle noticed that he was sweating. A glance told him that Eve was doing the same. It was hot enough outside, so he reached for the air conditioner knob…and found it already turned on. “Strange,” he though to himself, and turned it up. They passed the rest of the ride in silence, and Kyle promptly forgot the incident.
The 757 sailed into Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at 11:03 p.m., two minutes after schedule. Aya sighed in irritation as she stepped into the terminal; the hour was late, and all she wanted was to fall into bed. Even a shower could wait until morning. Before she could do that, though, first she had to check on her arrangements, then check on Eve. It may have been one in the morning in New York, but she was sure Kyle, at least, wouldn’t get any sleep until she checked in-“and I thought I moved out of my dad’s house years ago,:” she mused wryly.
Pierce, it turned out, had come through after all; a dark blue Jeep Grand Cherokee, property of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, was waiting for her in the rental lot, by was of some peculiar string-pulling. Inside were directions to a hotel a few blocks away, and a room key. She made a mental note to call him and thank him (“tomorrow”), then tossed her carry-on and suitcase in the back. Before climbing in, she ran a hand under the driver’s seat, and with a satisfied smile, pulled out an M93R handgun and shoulder holster. Feeling much safer, she slipped them on under her jacket, and set out.
On the road, she flipped open her cell phone and dialed Kyle’s now-familiar number. Hard to believe that only a month ago, she hadn’t even known where he was… His escape from, and disappearance from, the shelter in Nevada were still a mystery to her, but he had explained to her about his role in the entire affair as the president’s mole, about his having to hide afterward because of his knowledge, and about his pardon by the current president, who was much more in favor of public knowledge of the NMC threat. Then he had showed up that day at the Museum, and after that, the days were a blur for her. And she was supposed to be the level-headed one!
A fourth ring. Then, Kyle’s voice, tired but still alert. “Aya! How is it going? Are you in
Texas yet?” “I’m here, Kyle,” Aya replied, pausing to change lanes. “I’ll be at the hotel in five minutes or so. How are things on your end?”
“We’re holding up,” he answered, a little too lightly for seriousness. “I’ve already corrupted Eve into eating everything you won’t let her, and she looks like she might have
gained a few pounds…” Muffled, feminine laughter came over the earpiece, and the
sound of potato chip bags being rustled. “She also says I should call you ‘uptight’, or something like that. That’s not very fair, I think, but-Ow!-she’s twisting my arm!”
Aya laughed despite her tiredness. “Sounds like everything is normal, then. Hey, why is
she still up, anyway? She has school tomorrow!”
“Wow, you really are uptight,” Kyle remarked with humor in his voice. “Don’t worry-it
was canceled. They sent notes home saying the gas line broke and has to be worked on tonight. They just shut it off for today, but they couldn’t wait any longer. Besides, Ben Dollis is here, keeping her company, since you’re not the only one out of town for the night.”
“If you say so, ” Aya relented. “He’s-“
“She also had insomnia,” Kyle interjected. “Something about a dream she had in class.?”
“A dream?” Aya repeated. “What kind of dream?”
” I dunno. A bad one, is all I know. With two men in it. She didn’t remember anything else.”
“Ah.” Aya saw the hotel’s gate up ahead, and began crossing traffic to get to it. “Well,
hey, I’m here, so I have to go. But listen, if she has any more dreams!”
“Fine. Ah, Aya…listen, you be careful too, okay? When she…when she first tried to tell
me her dream, I instantly though of you, I don’t know why, but I did. You in danger. So please, be careful out there!”
“I will, I promise.” She smiled at his obvious care for her welfare. “I miss you already,
Kyle. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Alright-and I miss you too.” But she was already gone.
Well, I hope this chapter was a little longer. I know, it might seem like all talk, but I
promise you, some action is coming soon. And next time, we should actually get to meet
Jack! Until then, keep reviewing!