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Nov 24, 2007



Nov 24, 2007

1,093 words

Day three. The sun beats down, even though it's barely eight AM. No way to avoid it -- on through the steps. Clean, feed, aerate and mulch. This is gonna be a bad-rear end flower garden, no matter what. Gotta fit in.

Marisela tosses her garden fork to the side, bends down and grabs the spade.

Stubborn weeds, stabbed in the base until they come up. Rocks she'd missed on the first pass, tossed into a pile. Some ridiculous roots -- hacked at fiercely, to no avail. What the heck had been in this flower bed before?

She hears a car starting, close, so she takes a break to stand up and wave to probably Chris, maybe Mary Anne. A crop of blonde hair is visible through the open window. So, Mary Anne.

"Good morning Becky!" Comes the call through the car window. Marisela waves back, managing a smile.

"Hey Mary Anne! Have a good one!"

Mary Anne's car pulls out of the driveway, and Marisela stretches and knuckles her lower back.

"gently caress it." Marisela turns back to the flower bed, picks up her gardening tools and puts them back in the crate. Enough for today. Next up on her schedule of normalcy: a car wash.

But first, some release.

Tools, in the garage. Garage door, closed. Side door, through, and locked. Down the stairs. The dim hallway of hideous wallpaper and doors lining each side, and then the back room. False wall, slid to the side. Vault door, combination lock, spin spin spin.

"OK >>>" the display reads.

The vault door slams behind her, and Marisela raises her arms outward. Her whole body shakes, teeth chattering against each other as a harsh buzzing feeling rushes from her chest to her shoulders to her hands. Blue-green light, and then blue-green sparks swarm over her hands and she tilts her head back and screams. Pure energy pours from her outstretched hands and beats against the walls of the vault, bounding harmlessly off the metal.

After what seems like no time at all, she finds herself on her hands and knees on the floor. Drool is puddled under her head, and she can barely hold herself up. She hauls herself to her feet, hunches over with her hands on her knees and waits.

She feels way better.

Marisela shrugs her shoulders and opens the vault door. Close the door, spin the lock, slide the wall closed. Walk upstairs.

She smiles.


"loving Becky? Absolutely not!"

The agent grimaced. "Look, we just want you to fit in. Rebecca Engle, recently divorced. The name, the backstory, it all fits in with the demographics of the suburb."

Marisela glowered at the agent.

"Sure. But how is this going to work? You know I need a way to let loose. That's why started working for the Agency in the first place. So I could do it legally."

"Absolutely," the agent said, checking his clipboard. "Well, titanium will contain it, right? There's a vault downstairs. You can... expend as much energy as you need to."

Marisela sunk her head into her hands. "This is loving bullshit. Just one fight where it turns out I'm way out of my league and I'm a have to disappear? I got away just fine!"

The agent shook his head. "The Broken Man doesn't work that way. You saw his face. There are over a hundred civilians dead downtown just because they saw what he looks like. The only reason you aren't dead is because you're fast, and you came straight to us. Our null zone is too small, and the Broken Man will will see you eventually. You need to go to a big null, and that means Tallahasse. Becky."

Marisela stared at the table. And nodded her head.

"Fine. I'll do it. But while I'm gone... kill him. I don't care how many big-league supers you need to call. loving finish him. I loving hate Florida and I know I'll hate Tallahassee. I don't care if it's the safest place on the planet. Get me out of there ASAP."


Hands and knees. Jabbing, jabbing with the trowel. These God. drat. Roots. Are there more of them now than before? There must have been something with a ridiculous root system. Dogwood? Buckthorn? It doesn't matter. She grabs a thick root at the base and hacks at the side of it with the trowel.

A particularly vicious swing. The trowel ricochets off the side of the root, takes a chunk out of her hand.

Her hand snatches back automatically and she shakes it. Then numbness as she cradles it and watches dirt and blood well in the cut. Marisela closes her eyes, scrunches her face up and grits her teeth.

loving burn the roots. It'll be so easy.

She lifts her head, looks around. Enough chipping away at these drat things, one quick burn and they'll simply be gone. There is no one out, neighborhood kids are inside and the sun is already dipping behind some of the taller trees...

Marisela digs her hands down, ignoring the gash, pushing in to get them under the dirt. She feels a small buzz from her hands, and she can see them shaking a little bit under the dirt. Not too much fire, just enough to...

A whoosh and then a quiet thump as the entire flower bed lifts an inch and settles back down. I's dark enough that the slightest blue-green glow comes from the dust as it settles.

Marisela smiles. That felt good.


"loving fire! Did you see that?" The spotter tears his eyes away from the from his binoculars, checks the sensor equipment and grabs the sat-phone next to him.

The software guy at his table gapes at him, immobile. "Are you serious? This uh.. Becky?"

"Yeah!" The spotter punches in a memorized number and waits impatiently through a series of rings.

"Yes." A gravelly voice on the other end.

"5651 Cypress, it's her. It's a positive ID, spectrum readings match. I don't know how she didn't release before this, but it's her. Tell the Broken Man."

Silence on the other end, then quiet laughter.

"Watch her. He's coming. Within the hour. You'll receive a message when he's within five, so you can get the gently caress out."


The men stare at each other.

"Let's leave now" says the spreadsheet man. "I don't trust Central, he could be here anytime. I don't wanna die."

The spotter nods. "Let's leave all this poo poo here. Let's go. Let's go!"

The two men rush out the door. The spotter's scope and equipment remain.

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