“Are you sure it’s okay to be out here?” Veronica asked, looking around nervously. The entire city was eerily quiet, which as I understood it was the new normal, after everything that had happened. The city was generally safe during the day, but not many people seemed like they wanted to take the risk.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Charlie said, smirking.
“Don’t make me say it,” Veronica said, rolling her eyes. “We’d be here all day.”
“How long has it been like this?” I asked.
“Since day one,” Veronica answered. “Impact Day. Nothing’s been the same.”
“It’s a power struggle,” Charlie said. “It was bound to happen sooner or later. Impact Day, if that’s what we’re calling it, just sped things up a bit.”
“But, all of the factions that are fighting, they all came after the crash,” Veronica said.
“Not all of them,” Charlie said. “The gangs were a problem even before then, they just weren’t as public. The infected are new, and so are most of the superhumans, but not all of them.”
“What? You think we had those, whatever they are, before? How? And why are you the only one to know about them?” Veronica demanded.
Across the road, there was a minor disruption as a news crew began to set up. I guessed they were planning on shooting some kind of report, but I was far more interested in what Charlie had to say.
“Because I pay attention to this kind of thing,” she said. “And I’m not the only one who knew. But who’d have believed it?”
“Who was here before?” I asked. Charlie looked at me, curious.
“The vigilante, for starters. Surely you heard the rumours?”
“About him being immortal?” Veronica asked. “You mean that’s true?”
“According to several accounts,” Charlie said. “Then there was the superhuman shopkeeper, who actually appears to have vanished. Which is interesting all on its own.”
“You can’t actually believe that one, can you?” Veronica asked, incredulous.
“You’d deny it now? With everything else that’s happening? Surely you can keep a slightly more open mind,” Charlie scolded her.
“I saw the sky split open,” Veronica said. “I know the things I’m seeing now came from another world. Where am I supposed to believe a shopkeeper who could lift a car with one hand came from?”
“The same place? One of a myriad of other possible places?”
“You’re way too ready to buy into that crap,” Veronica said snidely. “You think they’ve been here secretly for, what, years? And only just started to act up now?”
“I think-” Charlie began, but was cut off by a scream from across the road. The news crew were backing away rapidly, though the cameras seemed to still be filming.
A second later, the reason for the screaming became apparent. One of the infected had burst out of the building, snarling and sneering in the sunlight. With one brutal swing of their arm, they knocked the reporter clean off his feet, and he slammed into a parked car with a sickening thud.
The expression on the infected’s face was more of panic and confusion than actual malice, and I was reminded of the Vigilante’s insistence that they were human, and could be saved. I think I was starting to understand her point of view.
The infected saw us, locking eyes with me from across the road. I knew instinctively they were going to charge, and the only one who could do anything about it was me.
One of the cameras was trained almost directly on us. If I transformed, or whatever it was that I did, it would almost certainly be caught on film. Not to mention both Veronica and Charlie would know, and I so wasn’t ready for that.
What would happen if that ended up on TV? Everyone would know. My parents would know. Plus, with all of the tension between the military and superhumans, I would probably become a public enemy.
What else could I do, though? If I didn’t change, Veronica and Charlie would almost certainly die. I had a feeling I would survive, but even that would be suspicious.
I could feel the beginnings of a panic attack forming. There was no good way out of this situation. Whatever I did, I was completely screwed.
I took a deep breath. If I was going to be revealed either way, at least that meant I could protect my friends without fear. Not that there actually would be an absence of fear, but I could talk myself into it.
I felt the familiar crawling of my skin, the tingle down my spine.
Alright, Sabrina. Time to reveal your secret to the world.