Sunday, January 21, 2018

“Her Eyes” – New Fiction Writing from J. R. Kruze

Her Eyes - New Fiction Writing by J. R. Kruze

“Her Eyes” – New Fiction Writing from J. R. Kruze

I.

I looked into her eyes and my soul was gone.
Like I never existed in my own boby. Or more like I had a different one, now.
I could feel her arms, her legs, the silky smoothness of where she shaved and where she didn’t. Medium height, brown hair, blue eyes – I knew these from looking at her from the outside. But from the inside out, your eyes didn’t have color, your hair only showed in a mirror or when you grew it long enough to pull out in front where you could see it. And you hardly felt hair growing where it shouldn’t unless you felt it for yourself.
I put my new hands around and over my new body to feel the textures, the curves. Alabaster white skin, like I’d never been out in the sun. A smooth rump, going up past dimples into a curved indent above the spine. Ribs, just below the skin, as my lungs expanded and contracted by their efforts.
And higher, to cup my own new breasts.
“Hey, watch it!” A voice came in, the hands dropped, arms straightened, fists clenched.

“Buddy, we’re in this together, for now, so keep it clean.” That voice was obviously in command.
“Who are you? What am I doing here?” I asked.
“I’m Rosa. This is my body and you are a visitor.” The voice named Rosa was tough, but as smooth as her hips that I could still feel through our knuckles.
“But what am I doing here?” I repeated.
“You’re a volunteer. Simple. You asked to be here.” Rosa replied.
“No. You’re kidding. This is slavery, this is…” My own voice halted.
Rosa turned to look at my own body. All 6 foot, 4 inches of it. Sandy hair, broad shoulders, tanned dark by the sun. Except those parts that never saw daylight. I was naked as the day I was born. And had a blank look on my face, until I didn’t. Then I winked back at me, with a wry smile. That “me” then turned and walked over to the chair where I’d left my clothes. Denim pants, chambray shirt, scuffed leather boots, and a frayed and faded blue ball cap with a seed company logo on it.
Then that me, all dressed up, walked over to the cheap “solid” door to this two-bit flea dump of a hotel room. Unlocked the chain, turned the dull synth-steel door knob, opened it. Just before I went out, I picked up a small knapsack. Two steps and I was gone. At least courteous enough to shut the door behind.
I was trapped in someone else’s body in a room that wasn’t also borrowed, and probably paid by the hour. But how long I would be in this body was another question. My ride that I came with had just left for parts unknown.
“Relax.” Rosa said, trying to comfort me. “we’re in this together. Quit worrying so much. It gives you wrinkes around your eyes and your forehead that you can’t get out.”
Our eyes closed. That was better. Calming after a fact.
“That’s right, settle down. It’s always a shock at first, but you’ll do fine. Let’s get to know each other a bit before we have to leave.” Rosa’s calm approach slowed our heartbeat and our breathing became more regular.
“Now, do you want the 50-cent tour or do you want to just see where this rabbit hole goes?” Rosa felt honestly interested, concerned for my well-being.
“Thanks. The main question I should ask, is ‘How?'” I was calm now, curious.
“I don’t know the science to this, but you volunteered to try it all out. All I know is that it works. You’re here, I’m here, and for the next few hours, we’ll have to get along inside my skin and bones. Proabably more important is your Why.” Rosa felt as curious as I was.
“Why? I don’t know why. It’s like I just woke up here. Where’s my memories? What just happened?” I could feel our back tense and those fists uncurl into straigth fingers spread out as far as they could.
“Shhh. Be quiet for a bit. Getting excited won’t help. There are simple answers. Let’s have a drink.” Rosa again was calming me on purpose.
Our body walked over to the formica wood-grained chest of drawers with the large mirror on the wall above it. I could see exactly how petite she seemed, but I knew this body was trained and toned. The six-pack abs were relaxed now, but there was hardly an ounce of fat anywhere. Scanning up, I noticed the breasts were young, firm. Shoulders were broad, which again meant athletics. Hair was brown with light, natural tints. So we saw some sun occasionally. The eyes were a piercing blue. With the irises wide in this dim light, I could almost fall into them again…
Our eyelids shut, firmly. “You don’t want to go there. That’s why we avoid mirrors. Some have been found in front of mirrors and take a long time coming back, if ever. The first thing we are told is to only look into real eyes.” Rosa was giving me tips to survival.
She continued, calmly. “Now relax again. You gots us all excited. It takes some getting used to. If you want, we can lay back down and pleasure ourself to get that out of our system. It’s quite exiting to share all that with someone. You can’t get closer than this.” A smile crossed our face, wistful. Our hands found a long-toothed hair brush on the dresser top, then we turned away from the mirror and opened our eyes again, if only to keep our balance.
Meanwhile, Rosa took our hands and arms to brush our long hair out, starting with the tips and then longer strokes until she could get to the scalp. The sensation of the brush on scalp and hair was unique and soothing. Our body relaxed noticeably.
“Yeah, you guys just crop it short and use a comb. You miss 90% of the fun of having a mane like this.”
Gradually, she was able to smoothly brush from top to bottom with no hitches. The hair was brushed silky smooth again. And it felt great.
We sat down on the bed, sideways to the mirror and laid the brush down on the crumpled sheets and coverlet. We crossed our legs. Rosa squeezed them a little, sending new sensations to appreciate.
“That’s another thing you guys can’t do. It would be simply uncomfortable. But when you see a gal sitting by herself and bouncing one leg over the other, you have to wonder what’s behind that smile.” And we smiled at this, a joke we were both sharing.
“How long is this going to last?” I asked.
“Not long. Could be hours, could be days.” Rosa said.
“Days?!?”
“Oh come on, we’ve been over this. Just calm down. Your body is being taken care of quite well.” Rosa replied.
“What am ‘I’ doing and where did ‘I’ just go?” I asked.
“You don’t need to know right now. Just know that you are getting paid to do a job that only you can do. I can’t get in there. So you’re just doing your regular job as far as anyone else knows. So relax.” Rosa raised one hand to look at our nails.
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to wait it out.” I said.
“Yeah, I can tell when you’re up to something, so don’t even try it. There’s no lying in here. Our long-term memories are shut off for now so neither of use can try anything. Also, we don’t have any money in here, and our clothes are gone.” Rosa replied.
We looked around the room, avoiding the mirror, and verified that the room was completely bare. It had no closed, only a faux-leather orange stool to hold a missing suitcase, below a chrome plated shelf with hooks below it. The bathroom door was missing, as well as any curtain for the shower. The mirrored door on the bathroom cabinet was open, exposing bare shelves.
I started to ask, “I supposed that knapsack…”
“…was our clothes and ID.” Rosa finished.
“Nice.” I said.
“So, what do you want to talk about?” Rosa asked.
“How are we going to talk about anything if we can’t remember anything?” I asked in turn.
“Just being polite. Otherwise, we can just curl up and sleep it off. Your body should be back pretty soon.” She said.
“Should we lock the door?” I asked.
“He took care of that on the way out. If we put the chain up, it just complicates things.” She answered.
“How do you know what you know, if your own long-term memories are gone?” I asked.
“Not gone, just unavailable. I get to keep enough to calm you down so ‘we’ don’t do something stupid with this body. At least until you get back with whatever you were sent to get.” Rosa said.
“Oh, so if things go wrong, we’re stuck here with no ID and no clothes and can’t be lie-detectored on stuff we don’t know.” I said.
“That’s right. You’re catching on. Worse comes to worse, we become a ward of the state and get a new ID and a new life. Together.” She said.
“And meanwhile, I just have to keep calm. Just let the whole deal go down. Roll with it.” I said.
“You got it. But that worry you just let fly – you noticed I’m in good shape. There’s a lot of training with that if anybody gets funny ideas about how helpless I am. All that memory is stored in muscles, which kicks in if it’s needed. Just like you can’t hold your breath to die. Autonomic reflexes kick in.” Rosa explained. “And all this I’m telling you is just about all I know right now.”
We laid back on the bed, felt the dishevelled coverlet and sheet make wrinkles below us. There was one bulb in the the light fixture, behind the cheap orange-yellow diffuser that was held on by a single screw-knob at slight tilt.
I raised one of our legs to ease the tension in our back. The stiff mattress was a little too hard to be comfortable. Probably easier to clean that way. I looked over to find a pillow and pulled it under my head. All easier to explore the seams in the off-white and water-stained ceiling tiles.
“It is always this boring?” I finally asked.
“Couldn’t say much. I seem to know that I’ve been in worse scenes, but those are vague ideas. I’m pretty much sure I don’t want to probe too much, as that would be risky.” Rosa said.
“You have a point there.” I said.
We could feel the central air pumping the air in and out. It had a mild scent of Lysol or some cleaner they used in the filters. A steady temperature in the high 70’s probably. So the coverlet would be enough to keep someone warm.
“So neither of us know anything.”
“Right.”
“We don’t remember anything.”
“Correct.”
“All we got is what we have, which is nothing.”
“You got it.”
“And other than unlocking that door and run screaming down the hallway for help, which would just get us locked away, we really can only lay here and wait.”
“Yup. Sleep or pleasure ourselves, or both.” Rosa was blunt.
So we did. And when we woke up, we did some more. What’s morals anyway? Two people having sex in one body isn’t really covered anywhere. But I couldn’t recall any of my moral or religious training anyway…

II.

I awoke to being crushed by a body on top of me, lips against mine, and the feel of a grizzled face giving me whisker burn.
My arms were pinned above my head, and that body was between my legs. I could feel his cold metal belt buckle against my lower stomach. His jacket was rough, with seams pushing though my skin. I couldn’t move.
So I relaxed.
When my body pulled my face away from ours, I opened our eyes to look into mine and got a shock. Rosa was looking back at me through my own eyes.
“Hey there, cutie.” That was my voice, but Rosa’s words.
“Well, handsome, now what? If you don’t know what comes next, and I don’t…?” Rosa’s voice, my words.
“All I know is that mirror trick again. Look deep into my eyes. Kinda dumb saying, but that’s how it works.” Both my sets of eyes focused on each other, irises wide.
The world spun. Almost like a merry-g0-round when you unfocus and let the world just spin around you.
Then it stopped.
I was back on top of Rosa, looking back at her, and was pinning her arms down, my weight on top of her so she couldn’t move. Home again.
“If you don’t mind, you’re making it hard to breathe.” Rosa was talking from her own body now.
“Oh, sorry.” I pushed up off her, to sit on the end of the bed, and then realized that could have been a mistake.
Rosa said, “No, there are some moves I could have done that would have left you with some serious hurt.”
“Wait, you can read my mind?” I asked.
“It will pass in a moment. You’ll still get some thoughts of me from time to time, but just remember them as a good one-night stand, and they’ll pass.” Rosa rose and shook her long mane back into place.
“A kinky one, to boot.” I rubbed the back of my neck. “Wait. I still don’t remember anything.”
Rosa had gotten the knapsack open and fished out her underwear. “You will. Best thing is to wait here for a bit. You won’t know where you are, and sometimes people can get a bit sick to their stomach when the memories return. I’m queasy myself right now. But it will pass.
“What if someone comes?” I asked.
“Just tell them you don’t remember anything, like you just blacked out.” Rosa shouldered into her western blouse and snapped the front from the bottom up. Then she turned to leg into her black jeans, tugging them up to get her thighs into their tight legs. Pulling her stomach in to button and zip them.
All this I saw from the back, which was still an admirable view. Yes, I was starting to feel like myself again. I glanced at the mirror and then twisted my head away.
She saw that reflection and turned to face me, one hand on her hip.
“You don’t have to worry about that now. Only I do.” Rosa reassured me.
Rosa then fished out some slip-on pumps and put them on over bare feet. Finally, she zipped up the backpack and slung it over a shoulder.
Again, she swung her hair away. I remembered that image also from a bar as a hazy recollection.
Rosa came over, leaned down, took my chin in her hand and kissed me lightly. “Thanks John. That was a night we won’t remember.”
“So John’s my name?” I asked.
“No, ‘John’ is everyone’s name. I don’t have my memories back, either, but I know I’ve got what I need in this knapsack. Directions and tickets, everything I need. Or at least I hope.”
She kissed me once again. “Wish I could stay, but it would only get us both in trouble. Takc care ofyourself. Stay awhile and leave when you feel like it. The room is yours until later this morning.”
Then she swept out the door like the wind.
I looked at my watch. It was just before midnight.
That queasy feeling came in, so I laid back and closed my eyes.
Nothing else to do right now.

III.

The sun was turning the curtains the color of the ceiling light, and showing details to the room I’d rather not know.
I sat up on the bed, and rubbed my face with my hands, then pushed them through my hair. Looking over to the mirror, I got up to check out what I looked like. Same 20-something I’d been before I had this dream. Or at least I think I was.
Still couldn’t remember anything.
I pulled out my wallet. A few twenties, but no ID’s. No pictures of anyone. Great.
Some change in my jeans pocket, a comb. I pulled that out and looked at it. Rosa was right. At least I remembered that part of it. A combed head doesn’t feel like a brushed one. But the rest of what we did that night was fading. Now I could remember little of her, and still had the taste of the mixed drinks in my mouth from the night before.
Hungry.
I got up, picked up my ball cap off the dresser. The rest of the room was empty coverlet and sheets mussed. Put everything back in my pockets and moved to the door.
Hellava one-night stand. Don’t even know her name, now. All a blur.
I walked out and left the door open for the maid. Headed down the concrete walk, with one hand on the smooth metal railing. Brown paint was flaking or worn off in most places. Like the yellow paint on the wall’s concrete blocks. Typical two story strip mall motel. Don’t know how I got here, but knew I was hungry. Felt the grit in my eyes like I’d been up most of the night, even though I’d just woken up.
Down to the asphalt parking, sticking to the cracked concrete sidewalk. Pulled my ball cap down against the rising sun. It was too bright in the east, and was starting to reflect off the windows of modernist buildings on the opposite side of the street. Four lane traffic with parking on both sides.
It was warm and getting warmer. I wouldn’t need this jacket much longer today.
I kept to the sidewalk and avoided the larger cracks. Up ahead was a McDonald’s. That would be safe. Eating-wise. There were all sorts of food places around, but I wanted something familiar.
That was the point. Find some familiar things. Maybe then I could get my memory back. Hell, I didn’t even know what city I was in. Figured it must be L.A. from the trees and all the asphalt. Everything fake. Growing palm trees must be easier on the maintenence or something. But they sure are ugly.
I got a couple of dollar-menu items, several in fact. They’d fill me up until I could get a real meal somewhere. And those few twenties would have to last until I got somewhere.
I took the plastic tray with the white-sacked food items over to an empty window seat. The plastic feel of the benches and table top was cool and clean. That was another advantage to McDonald’s, or any good name brand. They were always cleaning. I wolfed down the tiny burgers with all the white-bread buns. The cola was too cold to do more than sip at first. Fries topped everything off. Like everything there, all generic. No memory of where it had come from, like me.
Drink finally finished, I rose with the tray, put the cup with all the wrappings in the trash can on my way out. Tray wound up on top, just like the sign asked. I turned and palmed the door open.
Two cops were waiting for me. Blue uniforms, sunglasses reflecting the still-rising sun. Guns on their hips in holsters. Each had one hand near their own, the other out to keep their balance. You could hear the dispatcher coming from somewhere, either their black push-to-talk mic on their shoulders or that cop car that I could only see hood and trunk behind them.
“Josh Wilkins?”
My blank face probably wasn’t helping things. “Officers, I couldn’t tell you. But could I get my wallet out for you?”
One motioned to go ahead with their free hand, the other hovering near their gun. Cops. Guns. That meal wasn’t sitting well already.
So I used a thumb and fore-finger to fish out my wallet from my hip pocket. Pointedly kept the others out in the air. The other hand was holding my arm out away from my side, similarly empty and extended. I might be white, but that doesn’t mean things couldn’t go south pretty quickly. I just wanted to help these two officers keep as calm as possible.
Obviously, something was up. I only wish I could remember more than eating at McDonald’s. This must be L.A. Those palm trees and all the asphalt. I could hear a freeway nearby, and the street outside the parking lot was four-lanes. That was all I really knew. And my name was Josh something.
One of the officers took my wallet from my fingers, and opened it, getting the same blank spots I did – where the ID’s should have been.
My hand went wide and pulled that arm out to the other side. I didn’t even try to adjust my cap, just lowered my head against the sunny glare.
One nodded to the other. “We’ve got a report of an incident exactly matching your description. You need to come with us for an interview.” He handed my wallet to me, and I took one hand to put it back in my pocket.
The other officer circled behind me as the first one motioned for me to come toward his car. I was right, that car was behind him, a typical black-and-white with lights and rolled down windows with dispatchers talking through it.
Before we could get much closer, a black unmarked four-door sedan screeched and bounced into the parking lot on the other side of the car. The cops and I stopped in our tracks. Again, their arms moved to hover hands over their gun butts.
The driver’s side door of the black sedan opened and a female driver popped up. Dark suit jacket, brown hair tied into a bun on her neck, she was holding up a badge with ID in a wallet. DHS, fellahs. This one is mine.
She rounded the back of their squad car with an easy jaunt, the suit flipping open to expose her white blouse, and matching dark pants. Sunglasses completed the official government look. She gave the officer in front a closer look at her ID badge. While she grabbed my arm and started pulling me toward her car.
“Call it in if you want. This is Homeland Security and you don’t want to touch this with a barge poll. You’d be up to your ears in paperwork for a month if you tried.” The suit was pulling me around to her car as she talked.
Both the officers just stood there. They looked at her, looked at each other, then walked to their car to call in her badge number and name.
“Hey, I’d love to stay and chat, but this guy is needed downtown. Thanks for finding him. We’ve been on his trail for months.” With that, she opened a back door on the passenger side and pushed me inside, just fast enough that I didn’t have time to say or do anything else.
After she got in, she pulled out quickly and eased into traffic on our side of the road. Within minutes, she had pulled onto a down ramp and was on the freeway headed north east. I could tell that by the sun coming in the closed window on my side.
We drove in silence for awhile. Passing one exit ramp, she took the next one. Then stopped at the next cross street to turn right and through a maze of short turns that wound up in a neglected residential area right by the freeway. She pulled into an old wooden garage with white vinyl siding that matched the house next to it.
“Just wait for a moment.” The female suit turned on a police scanner along with another device and was listening. The sound was only high enough for her to hear. After several minutes of chatter, she turned it off again, leaving the other device on.
“OK, Josh. You’re safe for now.” The female suit pulled off her sunglasses to show a pair of piercing blue eyes. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tell you much last night. Because I didn’t know. But now I do. And I have to apologize.”
She looked honestly sorry. But I was still confused. Her eyes looked famliar, but that doesn’t mean squat. I was staying quiet for now. The only thing I knew for certain was that those burgers in my stomach were having a hard time of it.
“You still don’t remember anything, do you? You have no reason to trust me, but I’ll tell you that they will come back. All your memories. Even what you did tonight. For right now, we have to get out of this car and start moving again. Watch the door, it’s a tight fit.
She opened her driver-side door and was able to get about a foot of clearance before she hit the garage inside. I got about the same. But my bulk had a harder time than she did. So she was waiting for me at the end of the trunk when I finally got free.
“Here, put these on.” From hooks on my side of the garage, she pulled down two jackets and caps, handing one to me. “It’s an extra large and should fit.” She had brought a black garbage bag with her and was busy stuffing her suit jacket into it.
They were jackets for a cleaning company. Long and white with emblems on the back. Like scientists wear in labs. Hokey, if you ask me. But they covered just about everything. She had her sunglasses back on and the white ball cap covered just about everything else.
“Quick, come this way.” We went to the opening. She looked both ways. “See that van over there, our side of the street? Go over and open the side door and get in the back. Walk, don’t run. Now.” And gave me a little shove.
So I walked quickly toward the white panel van with the same emblem we had on our jackets and cap. I opened the side door and got in, then shut it behind me.
I could see her shut the garage doors and padlock them. Then she rounded the front of the van and got in the driver’s side. She threw the garbage bag to me.
“Undress. Put clothes you came with in the bag. Everything, even your underwear. Leave out that coat and cap I just gave you. That garment bag behind you will have everything you need.” She checked the mirrors and moved out onto the residential road smoothly, like nothing had happened.
Inside the garment bag had khaki slacks, a button-down blue cotton shirt, and a medium brown tweed jacket with elbow patches. Dark cotton socks, slip on Hush Puppies in my size, and some skivvies.
I got them on in the dark panel van. There was one bench seat, which was bolted sideways, so I had plenty of room. The van was clean, no equipment in it. Painted a uniform gray, top to bottom.
As I stuffed the rest of my clothes in the black bag, I asked, “OK, what’s next?”
She glanced in the mirror, “Now that’s a good change for you. More respectable.”
“If you say so.” I replied.
“Now we’re going to blend in. Put your white coat and cap back on over the rest and come up here.” She was watching the road and driving slowly to blend into traffic. We weren’t on any main road that I could tell, but were back to four lanes again. The sun had been ahead of us for awhile, and then we turned back north east for awhile. I could see more mountains showing up ahead of us and to our right.
We drove in quiet for awhile. Windows up and A/C on. The windows, even in front, seemed to have a slight tint to them. I started to scrape at the passenger side.
“Don’t do that.” She was terse, almost snapping at me. “That stuff keeps anyone from taking a picture of us.”
I put my hand down in my lap with the other and sat looking straight ahead.
“Sorry. We’re just on the clock. I’m Rosy. That might help you a bit. We spent some time together last night.”
I looked at her, but didn’t recognize much with the cap, sunglasses, bunned hair, and white work coat. Cute, though.
“So now you’ve apologized twice and have me in a van going god-knows-where and have me suited up like a professor. What’s the deal?” I said.
“You’re right. I owe you some answers. Here’s one you can deal with: we made love last night and something happened so you can’t remember anything about it. Meanwhile, the cops have you confused for someone else who looks a lot like you. I’m just here to save your butt.” She said.
That short answer was clipped and succinct. She was right, I could deal with it. And if we made love, I’m certain we both enjoyed it. Just wish I could remember what we did, how, and how many times. That brought a smile to my face.
“What’s making you smile now?” she asked.
“What you said. Probably was nice, for both of us.” I replied.
She smiled. “Yes, it was very nice.”
We rode in quiet for awhile. Now the sun shifted as we drove south east. Traffic was smooth and we tended to stay in the right lanes and let the speeders pass. We were going slightly below the speed limit. A few more turns, across a bridge, and then we pulled up onto a two-lane street next to a grassy park. There were oaks here, and maybe those were magnolias.
She stopped the van in one of the free parking spaces, and turned off the engine. Reaching into the glove compartment, she pulled out a tube of skin lotion and a hand mirror.
“Here, put this on your face and neck.” Meanwhile, Rosa climbed into the back, taking the keys with her, and removed her jacket and cap. She stuffed them into the bag, and opened another garment bag which gave her a flowered blouse and a rose-colored jacket. She swapped her own shoes out for a comfortable pair of walking shoes. She pulled down her bun and put back into a long pony tail.
I could see this from my mirror as I finished the face cream. It was clear when it went on, but turned the color of my skin into a light brown.
“Here, hand me that.” She took the tube and mirror from me, and touched up where I had missed. Her thumb and index finger took my chin and pushed it back and forth. Then she dabbed on any areas I’d missed.
Rosa then loosened her blouse down to her bra and turned the collar down. She used the mirror to apply the cream to her as well, looking over everything and put both cream and mirror into the plastic bag.
“Girls have the problem of men wanting to look where they shouldn’t.” She told me as she buttoned back up. “And our new ethnic isn’t supposed to have tan lines.”
Rosa said, “Hand me your wallet.”
I did. She took out the money and put the wallet in the bag as well.
“Now the white work jacket and your cap.” I gave her those. And they also went into the bag, along with her jacket, cap and sunglasses.
From under the driver’s seat, she took a small package and pushed it deep inside the bag. Then she took two opposite sides of the bag and tied them together, the tied the other two sides the same. She took the van keys off the van bench seat and took the key fob off the ring. Then pulled a wide-mouth thermos from under the drivers seat, opened it carefully and then put all the keys into it. She took a plastic tube taped to the top of the lid off and broke the seal, dropping it into the thermos while quickly screwing the lid back on.
“Time to go.” She climbed back up to the driver’s seat and checked the mirrors one more time. Then she stepped out and closed the door. I followed suit on my side. She came over to me, put her arm in mine and walked us across the park toward some sandstone brick buildings on the other side.
Once we were half way across, we stopped at a granite-looking water drinking fountain in its center. All the concrete paths met here, and sloped down into a storm drain just by the fountain.
Here she took out the key fob and locked the doors with it. The lights blinked once, the horn sounded, and then the van windows blew out as a fire started inside.
“You keep looking at it. That’s what we should be doing, just like anyone else who saw it.” She dropped the key fob to the concrete and stepped on it, then pushed the broken parts into the drain with her toe.
“OK, that’s enough. We’re normal Los Angelinos and it’s not our van, so we’re going to keep walking.” Rosa took my arm again and we moved along, deeper into shade. We then started curving our approach, so that we eventually were going at right angles to the direction we started.
“Here’s the deal. You’re an absent-minded professor, and I’m your loyal assistant. If anyone asks, you simply don’t know. Now, here’s your money. Put it in that wallet inside your chest pocket. That gives you ID to match up with your story.” Rosa continued us walking.
I put the wallet back inside the jacket and covered her hand on my arm with my other one.
“What was the explosion for?” I asked.
“We needed a controlled burn to get rid of the DNA. But that van had nothing to do with us. Our car is just on the other side of this park and we have just come from the art museum across the street from that park.” Rosa rattled this off like she’d been doing it for years. Maybe she had.
The van on fire was getting hard to remember even now. For all I knew, we really were in that museum. “Well, if you say so. That’s fine with me.”
Rosa looked up at me, her flat shoes making her even shorter. She looked a bit concerned. But she still looked cute. I smiled at her. “Whatever you say goes.”
Turning back to looking down the path, she patted my hand with her other one. “You’ll be alright. I promise.”
Shortly, we were at a car. White, grey upholstery. A sporty late-model Buick. Thin white-walls. It looked like half a dozen other cars in this neighborhood. Probably the point. She had me go to the passenger side, while she felt under the front left fender. She pulled out a little magnetic container, slid it open to pull out a key. Unlocking her side, she opened the driver’s door and unlocked mine from there. We both got in.
I scooted the seat back as far as it would go and reclined it so I wouldn’t hit the interior on any bump. Plus, I was a bit tired already from all the excitement. Putting on the seat belt cinched the deal. She pulled another set of sunglasses with thick rose-colored frames and put them on.
She glanced over, then back through her mirrors, pulling out slowly although there was no traffic. Soon we were back on a four-lane city street going north east again. The sun was up by now. Tinted windows helped the glare.
“We’re going to be driving for awhile. If you want to nap, you should. Here.” Rosa handed me a straw hat to cover my eyes. It had a flowery hat band that matched her top.
“Thanks. For everything.” I said.
She smiled sweetly and patted my hand again.
At least I could still remember her name.

IV.

The dreams were wild. Some job where I was working at making movies. Lots of people on the set, few actors. Scene changes, lighting set ups for every new scene, changing with every set. Some director everyone was treating like he was a god or something.
Another job where I was caring for an orchard and turning off valves every few hours after I’d turned on others. All in the desert somewhere. Grape fruit. All you could eat, if you wanted them.
L. A. The Rodney King riots. On our rooft, watching the fires start up across the city. First there, then a few blocks over there, then over there. They marched in almost straight lines. Every few minutes another fire. Then I was down on the street, standing outside in a line with other people, stretching around the property to show people they weren’t wecome to loot and riot in our apartments. I guess it worked. We were bored standing there and finally the word came that we could go back to our jobs inside.
Then I stopped at a bar for a drink and saw this girl further down the bar. Wearing a short, black, low-cut one-piece. She had eyes so blue they almost shone in the dark…
“Hey” she said. I smiled.
“No, HEY.” It was Rosa. We were driving. I’d been asleep. Dreaming.
“We’re going to stop and get some gas. I’ll go in and get some sandwiches and drinks. You stay her and keep that hat on, OK?” Rosa looked over the top of her sunglasses and smiled again. That was a killer combination she had. Blue eyes and a smile that melted you inside.
I nodded and put my head back. I could see under the brim that we were on the furthest outside row of pumps. More gray concrete and yellow curbs. No buildings nearby. Rosa had pulled another jacket out of the back and walked off wearing a cowboy hat which was a few sizes too big. Made her look a lot younger.
I woke up again as she came back and the car dinged when her door opened. She had changed into a black one-piece again. She handed me bag with sandwiches and drinks. Then put another bag into the back seat. She through the cowboy hat on top of it, but kept the jacket on.
We pulled out of the station and back onto the highway. Just dual lanes in each direction now. We were heading east, and the sun was behind us. The ride was smooth.
I set the seat up and took off the straw hat. Opening up the bag, I saw the two sandwiches were both labelled ham and cheese on rye buns. I could smell pickles and special sauce of some sort. I could feel the sandwiches were cut in halves. Two canned ice teas. I opened one of the sandwiches at one end and handed it to her. Then I opened a tea and put it into her half of the center console. My sandwich and tea came next. I was suprised how hungry I was.
When I got done with my sandwich, she handed me the other half of hers.
“That’s all I needed.” She said.
I nodded and finished off hers as well, then the rest of my tea. That hit the spot.
We travelled in quiet for awhile.
“Rosa?”
“Yea?”
“How’s this memory thing work? I can remember your name and that there’s something between us, but little more than that. Those dreams were pretty real, but were they actual events? I just don’t know.” I bit my lip at that.
“It’s gradual. But you’re right, there’s something between us. And as long as you don’t have your memories, I’m tied to you. It’s like I’m living both of our lives at once. I’m getting your memories as well as my own. That’s why I came back to keep you safe.” Rosa said.
“So it’s not permanent. I’ll get it back eventually.” I said.
“Sure. It’s different for different people.” Rosa said.
“Is this one faster or slower than other people had?” I asked.
“Well, the faster ones tend to still take awhile to get it all back. But you’re far from the slowest I’ve seen or worked with.” Rosa replied.
“So you’ve been with other guys before me?” I asked.
“And gals. But ladies don’t tell.” She smiled at this.
“Why didn’t you just leave me?” I asked.
“Because we are tied together until you do get your memories back. That’s what makes an operation like this so tricky.” She said.
“What operation?” I asked.
“All you need to concentrate on is getting your own memories back. Anything else I tell you won’t make sense and you won’t remember it anyway. Like this – what color was that van we rode in?” Rosa asked.
“Van? I don’t remember any van. Just this car.” I said.
“Exactly. We could have been in several vans or none.” Rosa said.
Another few minutes of quiet passed.
“What did you mean that you’re living both our lives at once?” I asked.
“There’s the problem of this transformation. We kinda swapped bodies, but not quite. I got the heavy load of both sets of memories, with all the emotional content. You just got to forget. But right now, when you see something, I get the memories that get triggered and you don’t. Even something simple like driving a car gets tricky if we don’t both stay calm. If you get excited, my adrenals act up so I’ll get excited, too.” Rosa frowned at this.
She relaxed her brow and continued. “It does have its benefits. You love almost anything on rye. But I told them to keep the hot mustard sauce off it, as it gives you indigestion. And I don’t want to be burping gas because you didn’t eat right. Meanwhile, you get a sandwich you like. And tea, not soda. Better than those fast food burgers you ate. Side of fries and a coke. Good think I got you when I did. Eating that crap food doesn’t agree with you. I know. I feel it.”
“So you and I are tied together physically without touching?” I asked.
“For now. But it’s not too bad. Like I said, this isn’t my first rodeo, so I’m a bit used to it. A bit. Not entirely. You never really get used to it.” Rosa said.
“What about dreams?” I asked.
“I get these too, as long as we’re connected. Even the ones you don’t remember.” She said.
“Must make driving hard.” I said.
“Only gets bad when you’re having a nightmare. Or a daymare. I’ll pull over to the side of the road if it’s going to be bad and wake you up.” She said.
“Wow. That’s a big load on you.” I said.
“Well, the pay’s worth it. I guess.” She said.
“Why would a pretty girl like you need to do anything like this?” I asked
She smiled. “I’ve got other talents, like you do. Ever wonder why you got picked up and not some other bar fly?”
“Did cross my mind. But you probably know that.” I said.
“I can’t read your thoughts, but I can feel your memories. Your empathic to a higher level than others. You care about people more than they care about you. The only trick is that high empaths like you often become recluses or develop extremely thick skins to keep people out. You just hadn’t been in L. A. long enough, and you’re young enough to not reclused yourself completely.” She said.
“Oh. There must be a lot of science behind this.” I said.
“A bit. More like where the heavy spiritual meets the extreme science that government secret projects deal with.” She said.
“Is that where this is from?” I asked.
She didn’t have time to respond. A big semi veered a little close, forcing us to put two tires off the pavement and slow down. It corrected and roared up in front of us, in our lane, and then slowed again. Meanwhile, a big black SUV had come up on our left and was matching our speed as we came back onto the road.
“Crap.” Rosa said. “This isn’t good.”
The semi in front continued to slow while the SUV matched our own slowing speed. Rosa was peering in the mirror behind as much as she was looking forward. I leaned forward to look out the mirror on my side. A blue, tall, one-ton pickup with dual rear wheels was coming up from behind. It had a heavy steel bumper that covered the front. Like maybe to push something. We were being sandwiched.
“OK, hang on. This is going to get tricky.” Rosa warned me. She had two hands on the wheel, with white knuckles. I grabbed the handles and upholstery that would give me a grip, and pushed down on the passenger firewall with my feet as best I could.
Rosa breaked suddenly, forcing the blue pickup behind us to do the same. Then she swerved in behind the SUV on her left in that tiny space it made. She accelerated to push the nose of our Buick right again its bumper. As it slowed, we started pushing it. The blue pickup behind us then swerved and accelerated to the road side, scattering pebbles and dust as they drove.
Soon, they were right up next to us. The space tightened so that the pickup’s double-cab passenger side started rubbing on our driver’s side. We were being forced back into our first lane.
Rosa braked, jerked the wheel to the right and put us over onto the other roadside opposite. Slowing quickly, she was able to let the semi, SUV and pickup get slightly ahead. Then she twisted to the left again and was immediately behind the pickup over on the roadside.
Brake lights everywhere. The pickup’s rear bumper was approaching our windshield fast.
Rosa saw an overpass railing coming up and braked hard. She drove back to the other side, screamed up behind the semi and then off the other side as soon as the overpass railing finished. The white pickup wasn’t as lucky. It clipped the railing with its front bumper and fishtailed, then tumbled sideways across the highway. Sparks and parts flying away from it.
Rosa was navigating through the steep embankment grass on the side of the highway, keeping our own car from flipping. I could see the semi continuing to slow. Then the tumbling pickup hit its trailer and forced it into a sideways slide.
She got our Buick slowed enough to turn and go at right angles to the access road. Twisting sharply, she was able to turn the Buick around and onto that access road. We then followed the access road to the underpass and moved under it, stopping.

V.

A lot of red lights on the dash, but the engine was running and we had all four wheels.
“Take a deep breath. You have to calm down.” Rosa was looking at me hard, her blue eyes piercing through her chalk-white face. “I can do this, but you have to bring your own heart rate down. Now.” Then she grabbed my thigh and nearly punctured my slacks with her fingernails.
I complied. Breathing deep and slow, Deep and slow. Feeling the heart beat lessen. Forced my hands to unclench. Deep and slow.
Rosa’s face got some color back. She was doing the same as I was. Her trick was twice as hard as mine. Her grip on my thigh relaxed. And she patted it. “Good boy. Nice job.”
Looking out our mirrors, “I didn’t see where the SUV went to. We can go north or south. South doesn’t have anyone there for miles. Further from where we need to go. But less likely they’ll be looking for us with a single car.” At that she, turned the car around in a u-turn and waited for a local car to come by. Then she pulled out behind them and matched their speed, a safe distance behind.
“We’re going to have to do this old school. Pull out the map in the glove compartment.” Rosa said. She pulled off onto the next country road, into an old driveway where some farm house used to stand. The oak trees sheltered us from above, and we couldn’t be seen from the road.
I handed her the map.
“Our advantage and disadvantage is that we are off the grid. This car had the electronics modified so we couldn’t be traced. And we don’t have cel phones. But we can’t call anyone, either. They’ll only know we’re in trouble when we don’t show up.” She took the map and looked it over.
“Here.” She pointed. “Now, we can’t use the interstates any more. State roads are probably OK, but not in this car.” She traced some lines south of us. “That dot. That’s where we should find something. Can’t be a rental. We’re looking for a salvage job. Something that would blend in. Let’s go.”
We got back on the gravel road and followed it east and then south. I kept an eye out for planes or helicopters, although I suspected that satellites could find us as easily, if it came to that.
We finally rolled into that dot of a town. It didn’t even have a stoplight. But it did have a salvage yard. Peeling white paint and an old concrete island where a gas pump used to stand. Dirty windows everywhere they still existed. And rows of old trucks that pushed back into the hardwood trees behind it. One 60’s model Ford truck out front that was only in primer gray and missing it’s tailgate. It was sitting under a big maple tree that was probably as old as the building. All had seen better days.
We pulled in front of its garage door and stopped. Rosa rolled down her window and honked the horn.
No response. Honked again. Still nothing.
Finally, she reached under the seat and pulled out some high heels. Shrugged out of her jacket and took the straw hat that matched her blouse off my head. She popped the hood and the trunk. Then got out. She grabbed a package out of the trunk and dropped it in the driver’s seat.
She stuck her head through the window. “Take that cowboy hat out of the back and recline your seat way back. Don’t answer any questions. Just act like your so carsick you don’t want to move again. But don’t overact. OK?”
I nodded.
She had a tire iron in her hand and did something to the engine to make a huge cloud of steam rise up. She jumped back with her hand holding her hat and nearly fell off her high heels – if the young guy with grease covered bib overalls hadn’t caught her.
I couldn’t hear the conversation very well, but Rosa suddenly spoke with a Southern accent and became completely helpless. She leaned against him and allowed him to put an arm around her while he tried to keep from looking down her front, unsuccessfully. By the end of it, he was nodding and she hugged him like a long-lost relative. Then she came back to the car.
“Get my big purse out from under your seat and open up that package into it.” Rosa whispered to me. “While you’re at it, clean out everything in that glove compartment.”
The purse was a big black shoulder bag, with plenty of room in it. The package contained stacks of hundred-dollar bills, all used and none fresh. She took the shoulder bag and slung it over one shoulder, then carefully wobbled on the gravel toward the dingy-windowed space that was apparently the office.
The young guy met her at the door and she pulled out several stacks of bills for him. He fingered them, but didn’t count them. Then he pulled the keys to that truck out of his pocket, along with the rabbit’s foot on it’s ring. She added one more stack to his open hand and then reached up to kiss him on his cheek. He turned red and put the money behind his back.
Rosa then got in the truck and started it up with a roar. She made a surprised face for the benefit of the guy and then pulled around back of the car. The truck had a set of white, hinge-topped storage bins in the back, which were mostly empty. She took everything important out of the car trunk and put them into those bins. Then came around my side and helped me into the passenger side of the truck.
Meanwhile the young guy got the car into neutral and pulled a long winch line out from inside to tow it in.
Once it was inside, she waited patiently for the garage door to close, standing in the shade of the big tree out front. He came to the door, and she smiled, waved, then blew him a kiss. Then she teetered off to the truck and got in carefully. Slipping off her high heels, she put her pumps back on. Pushing in the clutch and shifting into low, she tested the transmission by letting it out slow as she pushed on more gas.
“He said it was just a bit touchy, and he’s right. You can’t beat one of these high school shop class projects when you can find one.” Rosa smiled, happy at the bargain she’d found.
Once the truck was out of sight of the garage, she opened it up more. It had a light rear end, like all pickups. They were going down gravel roads now, where the grey of the truck matched the clouds of dust they through up behind. Straightways were fine, but the curves took some careful cornering. Still, Rosa was happy with this truck. To me, it seemed to match her brash side. Just as the Buick had matched her elegant side. Still, we seemed to be making good time.
As darkness fell, we got back onto a state highway to find somewhere to rest for the night. We passed several roadway motels of various repute, but finally pulled into one of the bigger towns and found a bed-and-breakfast. A great old two-story Victorian house, surrounded by oaks, walnuts, and hickories. Plenty of room to hide the truck in the back. We could also come and go through the back door without being seen. The gray-haired, doughty matron was more than happy to accept cash. I don’t have a clue what we name signed up under. Rosa didn’t tell me.
There was a gas station that had pizza up the street, so the matron sent one of her cousins to get a couple for us. He was back quickly and so she gave him a big tip. Fortunately, some of those stacks had 10’s and 20’s in them, as we didn’t want to be remembered for our cash. We also took two adjoining rooms. Not just to appear chaste, but also because Rosa was concerned as I hadn’t recovered faster by now. She told me she wanted me to get all the rest I could.
After the pizza and some iced tea the matron provided, I did get right into bed. I was exhausted. Rosa must have been at her wits end as well.

In the middle of the night, my dreams woke me. Strange ones. But somehow, they didn’t seem real to me. Like they weren’t mine. Something strange was going on. So I laid there, awake. Listening to the night air and he various animals outside. Dogs barking at unseen and unheard coyotes. The occasional cat-fight. Owls hooting back and forth.
Then I saw an odd bluish-green glow come from under the door to Rosa’s room. I heard some rustling there and thumping like the bed was being wrestled on. There was also some low voice, like a man talking. The glow continued, while the thumping got more faint and stopped.
I got up and carefully made my way to the door. Through the crack, I could see someone sitting on her bed, although I couldn’t see Rosa. He was mumbling something, but the crack wouldn’t let me see what was happening. That glow was over to the right, where Rosa should be sleeping.
Now if I just butted in, there might be someone else in the room to surprise me. Then we’d both be in trouble. So I quietly went out through my room’s door to the hall. Then I knocked on Rosa’s door loudly and called out, “Are you all right in there? Hey, I’ve got some more pizza if you want it!”
Then I ran in my sock feet back to my room, quietly shutting my door. Next, I rushed to the double door and flung them open. The man who was sitting on the bed looked up at me, with the blue-green beam coming out of them. I blocked my eyes and jumped across the foot of the bed to knock him on the floor, unconscious, with me on top.
Another younger guy in a suit returned from closing the door to that room and came toward me. I turned the older man’s face to him and hit him with that blue-green look of his. The younger guy froze and then sank to his knees. I kept the old guy’s face directly on him until the younger dropped to the floor, eyes wide open.
Pointing the older man’s face to the floor, I got up to look a Rosa. She’d been tied down and was now just staring off into space. I was concerned that we had already been making too much sound. Seeing a mirror above the dresser, I had an idea. Picking up the older man from the back, I propped him up against the dresser, using his own arms to hold him in place. I turned them around to lock their elbows against his ribs. His face was right against the mirror. So I adjusted his position to make him look into his own eyes. At that point, his body completely stiffened into that position.
Next, I went back to look at Rosa. She was still out of it, eyes looking across the room at the other corner near the ceiling. None of my waving in front of her eyes did anything. I untied her arms and legs, and used those ropes to truss up the young man on the floor. Just in case he came to. And for good measure, stuffed a doily in his mouth as a gag.
Then I scooped up Rosa in my arms and carried her to my bed. Closing the double doors between the two rooms, I locked them on my side. Rosa was still out, eyes wide open. I felt her forehead, no fever. At her ncck I got a pulse, it was slow and steady. Her breathing was regular. It looked more like a trance. Where I got all this, I didn’t know. I wasn’t even certain my name was Josh. But I could identify trees and animals, so this seemed like some sort of selective memory scene.
More to the point, Rosa was my only way out of this. There was one chance I needed to take. She said she still had both of our memories in there. What went in must be able to come out. I took the pillows on my bed and fluffed them under her head until her head was more or less looking down toward her feet.
Then I climbed above her and situated myself so that I’d be able to look into her eyes and yet not cause her difficulty breathing by my weight. Just in case we both went zombie catatonic if this didn’t work.
Finally, I looked deep into her eyes. They were still blue. And in the distance inside them, I seemed to see a bluish-green spark…
The room shifted, disappeared. It became something like a hall of mirrors. I saw Rosa, I saw may own face. I saw me looking at Rosa, looking at me, looking at Rosa. Then two Rosa’s. Four. Sixteen. Over a hundred…
And then just one. The girl in the bar. When she looked at me that night, it seemed like the whole world had stopped. Just for a moment, I got a glimpse of eternity. Then the barkeep came up. “The lady bought you a drink.” And nodded in her direction.
I saluted her with the new drink, finished my old one, and joined her at her end of the long bar.
Later, she and I were in that seedy hotel room, embraced in each other’s arms. Her dress slinked to the floor. My pants and shirt soon followed. She turned me around to the bed and pulled me down on top of her.
“Hey do you want to see something really wild?” She asked, in between long kisses.
“I’ve seen a lot of things already.” I replied, when I could get a break for my mouth.
She put her finger on my lips and said, “This you haven’t. How would you like to see the world from my view. Look at everything we are about to do through my eyes?”
“You mean like watching me make out with you? Kinky.” I said. But the idea was interesting, novel. “Sure.”
“Look deep into mine. Do you see a little blue-green spark in there? Look deep…”
And then I saw her just go blank, staring up into space.
Through her eyes, I saw myself get off her and stand up, get dressed and straighten my clothes. Then I picked up her dress and shoes, putting them into a knapsack. I pulled on my jacket and cap, slung the knapsack over my shoulder, took the chain off the door and left. I checked outside to make sure I had the hotel key and then used it to lock the door.
Once down stairs, I went over to a black Chevelle. Feeling under the driver side fender gave me the key to get in. Soon I was on the road back to my workplace…
A cough woke me up. Rosa had shut her eyes and we were both in the bed and breakfast. Smells of doilies and grass replaced the grit and grime of city.
Rosa raised her hand to her face and rubbed her eyes. Then looked at me.
“You big lunk. What do you think you’re doing?” Then she remembered what had happened after the pizza and our good nights. She looked around the room, and then looked under the double doors into hers. The blue-green glow was still there.
“Time to go. Get off me.” She said.
I complied, rolling over to the other side of the bed and then rising to my feet.
“How did you get me over here?” She asked.
“I carried you.” I replied.
She looked at her simple rose-collored satin night gown. “Well I can’t leave like this. How did you leave them in there?”
The guy with the eyes is staring into the mirror, and the other one collapsed on the floor. I tied him up with the ropes I got off your arms and legs. Oh, and stuffed his mouth with a doily.” I said.
“OK, should be fine then. Get dressed. I’m going to get my things and then we’ll go out the back.” She turned to the door, stopped, and turned back.
“You might need some shoes. And pants.”

VI.

We were back in the grey truck pretty quickly after that, away from any towns and pushing down back roads again, but having to go slower due to the potholes and narrow bridges. While a truck travelling down back roads at 3am would be highly visible, you had to be up at that time to see anything. Still, there were people out looking for us. Luckily, the truck’s owner had installed a cute little floating compass on the front window, one that was phosphorescent and glowed. So we could tell in a general form whether what direction we were going, even we didn’t know what road we were on. Just keep going north-east.
“How much did you learn while you were looking inside me?” Rosa said, after some miles had passed behind us.
“I wasn’t looking very long, and you woke up in the middle of it.” I said.
“Don’t lie to me. I can tell, you know.” Rosa replied.
“Everything I used to know. Plus what I did that night.” I said.
“Anything else?” She asked, and slowed the truck down.
“Ok, everything.” I said.
At that she brought it to a stop. “Everything?”
“Back to the dress you wore at your prom, the smell of your corsage, and the salty taste of your first kiss.” I answered.
She turned off the engine and shut out the lights. The darkness swallowed us until we could see by starlight.
“So you know what I do and why.” She said, finally.
“And I know why you came back for me. But I also found something else out.” I said.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“You’re wrong about what you told me. Sure, these memories fade, but you remain connected to anyone you want to stay connected with. The more…”
“The more you get emotionally involved with them the more the connection stays in place.” She finished.
“And so, Houston, we may have a problem.” I quipped.
“More than you know. It’s that old saw that’s misquoted. ‘Knowledge is power’ is only half the equation. Responsible action is the other half.” Rosa went quiet at that, as did I.
She finally spoke. “They’ve got more powerful empaths than me. You saw a sample of that tonight.”
“But those weren’t our guys.” I said.
Rosa smiled and touched my hand in the dim light. “It isn’t ‘our guys’ any more. You’re going to have to have some time to digest all you learned. You got a lifetime of mine, plus some glimpses into others. And now, like your own memories, they won’t exactly be under your control. You’ll have dreams of things. You’ll get sudden inspirations. And you’ll find talents you had no clue about.”
“I can deal with that.” I said.
“Yes, I know. You could do my job better than me. Eventually. Right now, we have another problem.” Rosa said.
I just waited for her to figure out what she wanted to say.
Rosa finally spoke. “Those guys hate one thing, and that’s the one thing that could wreck all their plans.”
“And what’s that, Rosa?” I asked.
“Love.” She replied. “An empath in love with a normal human is bad enough. Generally, that takes them out of the game. They’ve been recruiting orphans and raising them in nearly isolated conditions for years. But they also know that they can only keep them effective for just a handful of years. Once they have interracted with enough people, they learn how to love and why it’s important to living.”
I took my time answering this. “And this was your last mission, I was your last client.”
“And we were both going to be retired after this. You would have wound up in a ditch somewhere, and I would be kept as a lab rat for the end of my days.” Rosa put her face in her hands.
“I had to come back for you. Something I felt. Nothing like before.”
Putting my hand on her shoulder, “I felt that, too. But it doesn’t have to end that way.”
“You know how powerful they are, what connections the have…” Rosa was almost crying.
The windows were down and I could hear the whip-o-wills calling, the cicada’s chirping. An owl’s hoot unanswered.
“Their power and connections are something, for sure. But you and they overlooked one thing. Think back to your training, the point about ‘qualitative and quantitative magnification.'” I said.
Rosa raised her face ouf of her hands and reached into her black shoulder bag for a tissue.
“Your point?”
“‘Two empaths in complete synch are more powerful on exponential scales.’ That’s what they taught you. But because they kept all their empaths separate, they could never explore that observation. The don’t know how powerful an effect that creates. Because empaths in love couldn’t be controlled.” I said.
“And so they usually just ‘liquidated’ those assets.” She replied.
“However, they also forgot that this talent works outside of time and space. The more intentional effort they put into controlling this ability, the worse control they had. Their efforts would spiral into failure.” I said.
“And so they said there was a limit to the capacity of any empath’s talent.” She replied.
“…as individual. They only measured individuals they throught they could control. So they quit trying to get any more than something like 80% effective.” I said.
Rosa turned toward me. “You are saying something radical here. If you and I could make this work, we could turn all the other empaths against their controllers, regardless of what politicians and their military types wanted.”
“Exactly. Using love, not force. Understanding, not threats.” I said.
We were both quiet for a time.
“So, you’re thinking what I’m thinking?” Rosa finally said.
“You know it. One mind, two bodies.” I said.
“OK, I’ll drive, you shield. We’ve got all the time we need for this.” Rosa started the truck, turned on the lights, and then turned around at the next gravel road intersection.
We were taking the fight to them. Only we weren’t going to fight by their rules.

VII.

Rosa and I are retired now. We live at a remote location away from big towns and cities. Funny enough, electronic communications don’t work within miles of us. The computers we use can’t get out to the Internet, but it’s a great life. Lots of rural scenery and the town nearby has a great library.
Our work has paid off. No one was hurt, unless you count their pride. Maybe some government and corporate types felt a pinch in their wallets.
Not long after we started, several simultaneous ‘accidents’ happened at various secret government research facilities. People disappeared from jobs. And jobs disappeared. Budgets were re-written, discovering they had been authorized years prior. Staff now reported to different areas and had desks waiting for them. Pardons were discovered as issued by presidents who had been out of office for decades. Administrative projects were left without staffs or budgets or administrators to oversee them. Soon, there was no more research on empaths or on ‘extrasensory perception’ experiments of any type.
In some long forgotten and decommissioned missle silos, people began arriving for work. Actually, for training. Deep underground, their lessons could be started in earnest. The deeper underground the better the solitude, and the better the inspired ideas and places to practice at developing their abilities.
This was all financed by one-time grants from governments with no oversight to how they were spent. Now, small towns are developing around those training sites. Gradually.
Governments are leaving all of us strictly alone. Because we can read minds at a distance. Any distance. Nothing is secret. Politicians learn to never mention us in their speeches, or face “curious developments” with the other secrets they are hiding. There is no such thing as “government secrets” with any of these empaths around.
Military won’t send anyone near our locations. They don’t want anything they know to be probed. But don’t really want to accept the idea that it doesn’t matter when or where someone is. All their ideas are open to be read and revealed.
Once someone mentions these locations or subjects, anything else they know starts becoming public record. No secrets, means no government. And officials that leak too much seldom have their job anymore. “Live and let live” proves a workable model.
Oh, and lots of peace broke out that the media won’t report. Funny how those things work out.
It’s not worth covering here how mega-corporations started having trouble. Mystery leaks of damaging data to online media by untraceable anonymous sources. Massive databases discovered, accessible to anyone. If you look, you can find this stuff.
The world became a bit more honest and respectful. Just a bit.
Rosa is expecting again. And we are planning to raise and train our children as best we can. With honesty and respect as key ideals to follow.
Occasionally, we’ll get a curious reporter come around, asking questions. And we invite them in with a broad smile. Some fresh, hot pizza and a tall glass of iced tea. Andn they lose interest in whatever they had come there for. They go back with a story, but it was never what their editor sent them for.
We always welcome them to come and visit us any time. Just look us straight in our eyes. You can see we are telling the truth.
The post “Her Eyes” – New Fiction Writing from J. R. Kruze appeared first on Living Sensical.


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