Genre: YA - Sci Fi/Horror
The old Boeing from McCarran International finally touched down in Burlington Vermont after several pre-flight hiccups, in-flight hiccups, post-flight hiccups. Some things just never change. Science fiction always envisions the future as either technologically advanced or burned out and dystopian.
Science fiction is cute that way.
People still hated planes, but I’d enjoyed the bumpy flight. Something about leaving solid ground for a few hours comforted me. Most people focused on their destination or whether the plane would crash. Not me. I knew better. It didn’t matter where we were going, or where we'd been. It didn't matter that the couple canoodling in front of me was newly married, or that I'd gotten up extra early to throw dirt on a coffin. For six and half hours, we had all been trapped together, and that had made us equals. It was a beautiful thing.
I was still relishing this feeling as the plane struggled to taxi-in, only to feel the heat of Morgen’s unblinking face an inch from own.
“Quit it,” I mumbled.
Morgen’s pupils constricted back into place.
“Just checking to see if you’re still breathing.” She sounded disappointed. Her face lingered as she studied my mouth. “Nice snore by the way.”
“I wasn’t sleeping.”
I shoved the airline pillow between us, and pushed her off. Of all the things Morgen did to bother me, this creeped me out the most.
“If cats can steal a baby’s breath, imagine what I could do,” Morgen had once said.
She was six.
I often wondered if my twin was trying to reabsorb me, ex utero.
“Grab your backpack, Evan,” my sister drawled, “we’re here.”
I didn’t budge. I glanced at the happy faces flurrying about the cabin. They all had something to look forward to. Better yet, someone. I sighed and pushed up the window cover, but the layers of filth blotted out the view.
I cringed at the iconic cult nightmare waiting for me. Boarding school...in the middle of the woods...with Morgen.
My story is the stuff that bad movies are made from. An exhumed plot from cinema’s graveyard had come knocking on Tom Aster’s door late last week, stealing away our father and sealing my fate. The orphaned-teenage-girl-attends-
I almost cried. Almost. My tears still weighed heavy, stinging my insides, but I couldn’t let them trickle out. I wasn’t allowed to grieve like normal kids do when they’ve lost a parent. As my doctor had put it, feeling strong emotions are ‘inadvisable’ for me.
I released myself from the faded blue seat. The stiff belt buckles clanked to either side, but I couldn’t move.
“Who’s picking us up?” I stalled, already knowing the answer.
“I told you,” Morgen snapped, annoyed. “Aunt Daphne will be waiting for us at the gate. We have the prerequisite family dinner before-”
“Wait. Who’s Aunt Daphne again?”
“Dad’s sister,” Morgen seethed. “We’re staying with her tonight. Then we go to Aldebaran.”
Aldebaran. Aldebaran Academy. Our new home sounded more like a mid-century insane asylum than a progressive institute for academia. The online site for Aunt Daphne’s alma mater reeked of nouveau riche preppies from all corners of New England. Blond kids in cardigans were not what I had in mind for my thirteenth year of school.
Most kids our age got to choose what to study during their transitional year. Engineering, politics, agriculture; whatever they could contribute to society, that’s what they would do. Our futures were all determined by our strengths. Mine would have been Astronomy, but after our dad died, guardianship was turned over to a Ms. Daphne Aster of Glastenbury Vermont. She got to call the shots now.
Morgen took the news surprisingly well. Expectant, even.
I’d never heard of Aldebaran Academy. Or an Aunt Daphne, for that matter.
Three months. Three more months until I’m eighteen, and then I can do whatever the hell I want.
“Let’s go!” My twin snatched up the backpack, and plowed her way through the laggers, still struggling with the overhead.
“Dammit, Morgen.” I hopped up quickly to chase after her. “Sorry,” I mouthed, as I passed the indignant faces my sister just mowed down.
Morgen stood at the end of the boarding bridge, twirling my bag by a loop at the top. She grinned and twisted the zipper, taunting me; threatening to reveal its secrets.
“Give me my bag.” I held out my hand.
Morgen barely shook her head. Her eyes narrowed, and her mouth twitched up at the corners.
My hand began to shake.
Oh God, not here, not in the middle of a crowded airport.
Morgen tilted her head, enjoying the show. “Careful sweetie. You don’t want to give yourself a nosebleed, do you?” She stepped forward and dangled the bag on one finger.
People claim to see a metaphorical red when they’re angry. I saw blue; actual blue.
The blue flash zigzagged across my line of sight. I squeezed my eyes shut, trapping the light inside.
Don’t get mad, don’t get mad--
“What’s wrong sis? Should I get your inhaler?” Morgen tugged the zipper down an inch.
I shook my head. “N-n-n--”
“No? Hm,” she teased. “Still...I wonder what Leeny’s hiding. Let’s have a look, shall we?”
“Sttt-stop it, Morgen,” I stuttered, fighting against the rush of adrenaline. Wouldn’t be long now. We both knew what was coming next.
“Sttt--sttt-,” Morgen pushed.
I tightened my body, bracing for the inevitable.
Maybe no one will notice.
“Loony Leeny, she can’t cry. Loony Leeny don’t know why. Loony Leeny go bye-bye,” Morgen sang loudly in my face.
I clenched my fists. Bright halos of light burst into my peripheral vision. They swallowed my sight, replacing my eyes with two headlights. Electricity spread to my skin, sharpening the edges of my features. Bathed in an eerie blue light, my body creaked in objection.
My eyes flew open and fled Morgen, searching for something that might take my mind elsewhere. Anything to calm down. They settled on a young man kissing his lover near the magazine snack/rack. His lips began to smolder and glow blue.
Oh crap, please don’t leave a mark.
They quickly darted away, to a woman peddling roses from a beat-up satchel. The roses turned blue, and started to wilt.
Crap, crap, crap...
All the while, Morgen chanted, “Loony Leeny, Loony Leeny.”
I frantically scrambled my attention towards something I couldn’t hurt. Out of the giant window and onto the tarmac, the runway, the airplanes, all began to shimmer in a hot blue haze.
“No,” I gasped.
My gaze lifted to the shadowy outline of the distant Green Mountain Range.
Focusing on the farthest peak, I slowly released the tension in my body.
Too fast, and BOOM, I would detonate.
The blue light burned as it passed through me. I winced at the sensation, at the hot chemical pain that seared another hole into my shirt. Not that clothes mattered. Things like fashion lost their meaning a long time ago.
I sighed my relief when the blue cloud mushroomed off the distant peak and smothered the sun.
“That’s good, Leeny,” Morgen muttered over her shoulder. “Except for all the hikers you just barbecued. Nice work.” She snickered into my ear. “You really should control that temper of yours.”