One Month Before Impact Day
“You’re being frustratingly vague with some very key details,” he said, clearly running low on patience.
“The pieces are all there,” I told him smugly. “You could figure it out if you were clever enough.”
“Don’t push me, girl.”
“Do you not understand how a good story works? I’m trying to make this interesting for you, y’know. Weave a narrative, establish compelling characters, spice it up with a little mystery—”
He slammed his fist on the table, startling me. He was starting to look a little unhinged, and it worried me a little. What was getting to him so much?
“I don’t want a story,” he practically snarled. “I want answers. I want to know what you are, and why you tried to destroy me. I want to know how to find your friends, so I can shut them down. I want to know who and what Wendy is.”
I leaned back in the uncomfortable metal chair, forcing myself to breathe slowly.
“Fine,” I said. “I can’t tell you what I am, because I don’t know. I tried to destroy you because you’re poisoning my city, and I have a sense of justice. You don’t need to find my friends, because sooner or later, they’ll find you. And Wendy, well…” Another deep breath. “I’m getting there, okay?”
“Your story doesn’t even make sense,” he said, calming down. “You said you got an anonymous email with video footage of her being a superhuman, confronted her, and she wouldn’t help you. How? Why?”
“It wasn’t anonymous,” I reminded him. “I just don’t know who Alice Mason is.”
“It sounds like a red herring to me,” he said. “Even you didn’t see any evidence of her superpowers. Someone could have sent you edited footage.”
“Ugh, what is the point of following a story if you’re going to pick apart every little detail?” I complained. “Just enjoy the ride and hope it gets to the point eventually.”
“What do you think this is?” he asked, glaring at me from across the table. “Story time with Charlotte Farrow? You think I’m here because I care about your story?”
“You’re telling me you’re not even a little interested?”
“I’m telling you I’ve wasted five months on you, and you’ve given me nothing useful. My patience has officially run out.”
“Alright, alright, I get it,” I said, shaking my head. “I’ll admit, I’ve been dragging things out longer than necessary. I really wasn’t expecting to be here this long.”
“You’re going to be here for the rest of your life, bitch.”
“Whoa, whoa, alright, alright. No need to get nasty.”
“I’m going to break you,” he said, his voice low. “I’m going to shatter your tiny world, scrape up the pieces, and shatter them again.”
“I guess it wouldn’t be a story about immortality without the obligatory endless torture.”
“Keep joking. See where it gets you.”
“You’re losing it,” I said, meeting his eye, daring him to challenge me. “You’re unravelling because it’s taken you five months and you still haven’t managed to figure out what’s really going on. You have no idea what my plan is, but you know I have one, and even if you won’t admit it, you’re scared. You’re scared because I’m not, because I’m exactly where I want to be, and you know that whatever comes next, I’m going to come out on top. And it’s all going to be worth it.”
“What could be worth this?” he asked, gesturing around him. “What could possibly be worth everything I’ve done to you? What are you hiding from me?”
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” I asked. “That’s why you keep coming back, why you keep listening to me talk about high school romance and tussles with street thugs.”
“I underestimated you,” he conceded, pressing his fists into his temples. “I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. I’ve been treating you like a scared teenage girl, feigning bravery, assuming you’d give up eventually.”
“I did tell you that’s not who I am.”
“No, you’re not,” he said. “You’re as cold and hard as any of us. You’re a soldier, a fighter, a survivor.”
He grinned at me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt a chill run down my spine.
“I think it’s time I stopped taking it easy on you,” he said.
Next Week: I’m Not Okay