October 30, 2011 – James
James sat staring at the data on the screen, scant as it was, running through it once more. Out of the information in Isabella’s file, her powers list stuck out:
- Ability to affect emotions
- Ability to control perceptions of reality
- Ability to charm and control animals and weaker minded humans
- Ability to implant ideas and false memories into a target’s mind
“Control perceptions of reality?” It was spelled out so simply that it could almost be absurd, if it weren’t so frightening. It brought to mind the Beast the team had encountered in Japan—-such a thing shouldn’t exist. Lucy had said that the name given to the Beast was Murus…but that didn’t quite feel right. When James heard that name, he got the unmistakable sense that some forgotten part of himself was being shaken awake from a long slumber. Equally troubling was the apparent connection between the Beast and Isabella.
On the roof, high above, the woman from the plaza, “Veronica”; behind her, another woman, bent low to pet the curled form of an enormous furred beast. The Beast.
“Veronica”—-let’s call her “Isabella,” now—-Isabella caught his eye. James’ eye. A slight smile on her face, inscrutable. Joy? Satisfaction? Comprehension? They disappear from view.
The last week of down time should have been useful, hours of research should have turned up something useful. Instead, nothing. Either there was nothing to find, or someone was working very hard to hide it; it wasn’t hard to guess which was the more likely scenario.
The rain beat hard on the panes of James’ window. A harder, rhythmic tapping in the midst of the deluge drew James’ attention from his typing; glancing up, he caught sight of a face in the window, a woman’s face.
Wrong. New Mexico. 10pm. A chilly but clear 43 degrees. Isabella, research. This is today; the rain was a long time ago.
Rain pounded the windshield, headed west on the 2, trans-Canada highway. Up ahead, the double-trailer transport’s brake lights flashed on; Mom leaned into the brake, and put her hand back on the shifter.
Not close to right. This is home, apartment; that was the drive, the last drive. It wasn’t raining then—-why was he thinking about rain?
Then again, it was surprising that James could remember that day at all.
He and the Agency both had worked very hard to keep those memories from his mind. Painful memories. Pounding. Beating. The rain, that is.
And something else pounding, too.
Something in his head, dangerously close to the surface. Who could say what would happen if it broke through?
James closed the file; maybe soon he would have something to add to it. He knew that he ought to hope for the exact opposite, ought to hope never to see Isabella—-or the beast—-ever again. He had never been very good at following his own advice.