Excerpt from working novel, “Radio”
A hush fell over the van, the four of us being filled with anticipation. We had been driving for who knows how long, mostly because I was too focused on distracting myself, and the original plan of going to Leonardo, New Jersey was out the window. I was looking forward to it because luckily there wasn’t any neighboring towns called Di Caprio because then Dialect would insist we live on the border of the two towns. I’m telling you the girl is honestly obsessed with the actor almost to the point of being unhealthy.
I know, I know. On the “clever joke” scale, that one was way below the zero mark. But give me a break! I’m mourning, what do you expect? Incase you don’t know what that means, it’s the same thing as saying grieving. And “grieving” and “mourning” are what we call being a “synonym.” And incase you don’t know the last word well I can’t help you. Well except to say to look up the word in those rectangular shaped things they call “books,” more specifically either a “thesaurus” or a “dictionary.” There! That should hopefully regain some of the levels I’d lost with my “Leonardo DiCaprio” joke. Yes? No? No, you’re right it probably didn’t, but I should at least get an “A” for effort.
But back to the situation at hand. The question had already left Dialect’s mind and unless Blank wanted to pull the van and wipe all of our minds, wasting time in reaching our destination, the question couldn’t be taking back. Regardless we continued to “bite our nails” or whatever other cliché you want to use for waiting for the twin’s whispered murmurs to end and answer Dialect’s question. And it took a majorly extreme effort for me to not be able to read their thoughts. So we all waited for what felt like a half hour or so.
When the soft murmuring ceased between the twins, Vapor exhaled a few heavy breaths before turning to look at us, her face displaying her annoyance. She didn’t like being talked about indirectly. If you had a problem with her or, in this case, a question for her, Vapor would prefer and appreciated when someone spoke to her directly. Since the latter didn’t happen, the four of us looked from her to Blank and then back at her again. Questions flooded my mind, as I’m sure it was with the other three, as to what was taking them so long to answer Dialect’s question. I mean really— where were we going? Was the new house in a bad neighborhood and the reason the twins were choosing not to tell us? And did it not have a secluded area for us to train close by? The last question was a stupid one to ask, even solely in my mind, because the twins always made sure there was an area to train before choosing a house.
“Does it really matter?” Vapor finally said. “We won’t be there for another five hours.”
“Please!!!” Dialect pleaded in her most innocent and child-like voice.
Just humor us, I said in a non-mocking tone.
“Elverson, Pennsylvania,” Vapor said with a deep exasperation.
“There’s a small two-bedroom house there and is partially surrounded by woods. Is that enough information as to where we’re all going?”
Yes, thank you, I answered for the rest of the unit as we watched her turn back around.
“Aren’t you going to say that you have a good feeling about this place?” Dialect asked me.
Normally I would have said this and I appreciated her effort to help distract me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say it— not right now at least.
“Come on, Radio,” Surge interjecting himself enthusiastically into the conversation. “From what I just looked up on the internet, we’re going to be among stretches of farmlands, woods, and quarries, which will make it harder for those bonehead operatives to track us.”
And why would any of those things make it difficult for the Grey-M operatives? I asked, a bit annoyed by both his confidence and him butting into the conversation between Dialect and me. I didn’t bother asking how he had found out about the geography of the city we were traveling to so quickly because of his ability. Surge’s mind acted similar to a super-fast search engine, especially when there was a lot of internet connection around or when his laptop was near by. It would be like asking how Dialect knew a target’s true native tongue in a matter of seconds.
“Granite,” Surge said, as if the answer was common knowledge.
What about granite? I asked with a shrug because I was still failing to understand how this was a sufficient answer.
“It messes with certain electronic devices, such as cellphone reception and most of the equipment the Grey-M operatives usually use to track us,” Surge said again with a “duh” tone to his voice.
So that would most likely mess with your ability too, wouldn’t it? Now I really have a good feeling about this place, I managed to telepathically say, almost sounding like my old sarcastic self instead of the currently and nearly empty shell of my former self.
“I’ll give you a good feeling anytime, Radio. Just name when and where,” he replied like he was Don Juan.
You’re such a pig. No wonder you smell like rotten food, I managed to retort back, rolling my eyes in the process.
“Enough, the two of you!” Vapor shouted from the passenger seat and obviously wanting to stop the usual humorous banter between Surge and me. “I’m not going to spend the next five hours listening to you needle each other over nothing! Unless you’re both in the mood for me to slide my hands tightly around your hearts for the rest of the trip?”
“I know where I’d like you to slide your hands tightly around,” Surge said with a chuckle.
“SHE SAID ENOUGH!” Blank bellowed from behind the wheel.
“Sorry,” Surge said with a sigh.
Sorry, Blank, I thought, but was somewhat saddened the twins had stopped us because it was proving to give me a better distraction than Dialect’s.
“I’m all for your guys’ ‘Deadpool’ humor, as you call it, but geez louise, it’s only ten in the frickin’ morning,” Blank said exasperated, but his demeanor quickly changed with what he said next. “Look, I realize you are grieving Radio and looking for a way to not think about what happened to your mother last night. And I’m not trying to minimize what you are going through, but it’s not like we don’t all miss your mother. She was a generous and kindhearted person. Regardless, if the two of you could please wait until we can stop for coffee, or better yet, until after Vapor and Surge finish going into the local bank vault later tonight that would be awesome.”
Something triggered in me, whether it be from Blank’s authoritative tone or the mentioning of my mother and what she meant to everyone in the unit, that I had to cover my mouth with my hands in an effort to keep myself from crying out loud, though it didn’t stop the flood gates holding my tears back from opening and pouring down my face. I felt both Dialect’s and Surge’s hands on my shoulder and Feather holding me closer. Not that Blank’s words weren’t genuine, but it still managed to cause the images of how I found my mother, when I had worked up the courage to pull back the coverings, flashed vividly through my mind. So vividly, I had without realizing it, projected them into the minds of everyone in the van. Blank nearly lost control of the wheel and the two hands resting on my shoulder recoiled. Thank goodness everyone was wearing their seatbelts because we all leaned in the direction of the swerve.
“Way to go bonehead!” Surge yelled from behind me. “You can be a real insensitive jerk sometimes.”
“I’m so sorry, Radio,” Dialect said, her voice sounding as small as a mouse as I manage to regain control of myself enough for the horrific images to diminish from all of their minds.
I’ve never felt so vulnerable as I did now. My need to exude a front of always being calm and strong, with the exception of Feather of course, in front of my unit vanished. It was as though, from the moment I finally grabbed the doorknob to when I opened my mother’s bedroom door, found her mutilated body and lastly, how untampered her room had been— had become the catalyst of my inability to stop myself from suddenly crying at what seemed to be every little thing. I hated it! I hated it so much that I was tempted to scream. I wouldn’t because I would never want to hurt my unit, both physically and mentally, or put them through the pain throbbing within me these past 15 hours since it happened. But what could I say in this moment? I couldn’t telepathically say, well now you know how she died, because the boys already had when they had carried my mother’s body out of the house last night, but I did feel guilty that Dialect had to see it. I have always considered her like a little sister, even before the decision to go to my childhood home and before Dialect’s growing attachment with my mom. I had hoped, before Blank triggered the images, to keep what the Grey-M operatives had done from Dialect as long as I could. So much for that, right? I wanted to console her as much, if not more, than she had me moments earlier, but just couldn’t will myself to do so. Not just because of how the seats were arranged in this “new” van, but also because I needed the comfort and strength that only Feather could provide to get myself back to relative neutrality. Pretty selfish of me, I know.