Birth of the Undead – Adoption, Chapter 4
Written by kshoo :: [Monday, 26 December 2022 05:59] Last updated by :: [Tuesday, 27 December 2022 11:10]
High school. A place that mimics working society and people as a whole. A place where news and rumours can either make, or break the best of them.
The fallout from that incident during the Fall dance was no different.
While both young women were quickly revived in the infirmary (Alex having found some smelling salts in one of the cabinets), both Shannon Rodgers and Joanna Goodall were still sent to the local hospital for a thorough checkup with Alex accompanying. The few hours in the A&E didn’t really reveal anything major issues other than a spike in hearbeats and curiously a little low blood pressure, both of them were released to their families.
It was the leaked video that became the issue. Within 24 hours, that video and screenshot photos have spread on social media, and this immediately became the talk of the town in minutes. While these days society tend to be more open-minded with regards to relationships, that still brought about lots of unwanted talk given that they are living in a smaller town with a still relatively-conservative mindset.
If that weren’t bad enough, very soon an official-sounding article appeared that seemed to provide ‘context’ to the entire encounter. Pointing the finger ostensibly at Joanna, it hyped up the perception that Joanna was the perpetrator of the entire act by rehighlighting that Shannon was under Joanna at the time. Being bigger and more muscular from years of playing volleyball, it alluded that Joanna would logically be the aggressor in the case, and had wanted to continue with their activity despite being repeatedly told “No” until they were interrupted by a ‘teacher, who heard the cry for help in the corridor.’
And that was the better sounding version. Others had her as a ‘secret vampire’, another painted her as a serial killer in hiding.
Never mind on whether if it even had a whiff of truth to it, but it did successfully stirred up a storm.
Distressful days ensued. Shannon had not bothered turning up at school, while Joanna had tried to brave the onlookers for a day before she too gave up and called in “sick” indefinitely. It’s tough being a regular teenager at school.
Finger-pointing ensued, and not a little anger boiled over in school for the next few days.
“How many times must I explain, Alex? I didn’t release those onto the Internet!!” Josie was practically screaming at her TA, who had made it a point to follow the editor into the school paper’s editorial room, cornering her into a corner. Linda who happened to be in the vicinity had quickly come to the rescue, and was holding Alex back just enough to keep her away from strangling one of her best friends. Even so, Alex was so close to Josie that she was practically breathing down the younger woman’s neck, despite Josie being actually two inches taller.
“Think about it!! I want to write news articles!! I’m not going to ruin my own story by uploading those stuff before I publish! It’s exclusive!”
“Can that act, Parker! There were only five of us there at the time. FIVE! Only YOU took out YOUR phone at that time. Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage to both of them already? Be a matured adult and own up to your actions!!” With that, she finally pulled back, toss a glare at her sister before stalking out of the room, slamming the door on her way out.
Quickly moving over to help Josie up, Kevin Chen’s face appeared at the door, and together with Linda they helped move the badly shaken editor to take a seat on one of the rickety wooden chairs.
“Was it you?” It was a quiet question from Linda. But the tone was unmistakable.
“God, not you TOO? Give me a break Linda! How many times must I repeat myself? I. Didn’t. Release. The. Video.” Josie winced slightly as she sat down. “But I’d really, REALLY want to meet that son of a bitch who did it, and then give ‘em two punches on the nose.”
“Then who did? You are the only one who captured the scene.” Kevin’s comment was rather unnecessary, but rather apt. “Who else might have access to your phone?”
That brought a sigh. “With smartphones these days, most of the pictures and videos are synced to the cloud remember? Unless someone hacked into my account of course.”
That didn’t help.
That changed later in the evening however when Linda had turned up the Chen’s. Kevin upon seeing her had quickly motioned her to a seat, before whispering to her.
“I think there’s something odd from the uploads.”
“OK… .but why are we whispering?” Linda enquired, looking about the empty restaurant. Kevin just pulled out his phone and quickly rewound the video and showed her pictures that had surfaced. After humouring his friend yet again, but still drawing a blank, she waited for Kevin to continue. “I remember that the moonlight was shining into the room from the window, right? None of you mentioned turning on the lights.” Linda nodded. “That would mean that there’s backlight.”
Still looking puzzled, Kevin continued “So, if there’s backlight, that means without any lightsource from the front, the faces on any of videos or photos taken from cameras or phones will be…”
“Darkened, whereas the ones on this photo is very clear and in focus. But Kevin, nowadays anyone could have used a software app to improve the quality of the photo. That's not even mentioning the quality of the camera lens and software used to…”
“But not if the initial source were very shaky and grainy. Remember you told me Alex and you were trying to disrupt Josie when she tried to record? Yes, you can edit it, but if one were to spend time to edit the video to get THIS kind of quality, consider then what else you could do with the photo editor software. Also” pointing to one of the photos “I think there are a few subtle touches all about. Again, the initial video shoot was very unstable and grainy, but here it made Joanna look as if she’s looking to make a meal out of Shannon.” He continued on despite hearing the tinkle on the door, and Linda noted a whiff of Old Spice, signifying a male customer had entered the restaurant.
“Kevin, are you suggesting someone is doing this deliberately to discredite Joanna? Why would they want to do that? Who would benefit from her going through all this shit?”
“Well, the volleyball team members might be the first suspects. But given that Joanna is an All-American, that would really reduce the chances of the team winning matches irrespective of who did it. I don’t think they like losing anyway.” Kevin then leaned over. “What about the other aspect?”
“Maybe it was done to protect Shannon?” Suddenly they heard someone clearing their throat. Looking up quickly, they both realised who the patron was waiting at the counter.
It was Stan Rodgers, Shannon’s father. His expression was unreadable, though both teenagers knew that look enough to quickly stop talking shop as Kevin made his way meekly to the counter to take the man’s orders, trying hard not to be further embarrased.
Later that night however, Linda took Kevin’s thoughts home and tried to open up a discussion with Alex, who was still fuming with how things have turned out. Turns out Alex was on the same track as well, and was surprisingly in a sharing mood when the subject was broached at night in their room.
“I asked a friend of mine at the university to reverse-engineer the photos and the videos. Turns out, what Kevin said made sense. Here.” Alex motioned to a file and opened the video, followed by two sets of photos. “I’ve managed to wrangle a copy of video file from the paparazi-wannabe Josie, and using the frame-by-frame comparison, you can see that the ones that we see on social media have been doctored. In addition to making the photos clearer, the person had also edited Joanna’s position slightly, and changed her facial expression to be more menacing by moving her eyebrows upwards.”
“Wow… I mean, that’s really a lot of effort gone into editing. Who would go to such lengths to do such a thing?”
Alex looked straight at Linda. “Sometimes people will do all these for the simplest of stuff. Money, fame, or purely out of spite. But this…” she tapped on her computer screen again. “this could go two ways, though I’m more inclined to think that Kevin might have the right thinking.”
“After the entire thing exploded, remember Joanna came to school for one day before retreating into her room? I managed to bring her out of her shell, and got her to tell me her side of the story at her place. Based upon what she said, that night she had just stepped out of the dancefloor to make her way towards out for some air when she noticed Shannon leaning against it, seemingly in trouble. Apparently, Shannon wasn’t feeling well and was trying to make her way towards the infirmary when she suddenly felt faint. So Joanna helped her towards the room down the hallway and let her lie down on the single bed before moving to the medicine cabinet to try and get some aspirin. Given that Joanna is an athlete who is used to getting injured, she does know her way around the room.”
“But just as she sat down on the side of the bed and passed the medicine to Shannon, the cheerleader suddenly grabbed hold of her arms and instead pulled Joanna towards her, and then flipped both of their positions. Despite being bigger and taller than Shannon, the cheerleader seemed to be able to control her with ease, and she was forcibly kissed with her arms pinned on the bed. As she started fighting back, Joanna claimed that she felt ‘weaker by the minute, as if I was being drained of energy’.” Not noticing Linda’s widening eyes, Alex continued. “ The few times that Shannon disengaged to get some air, Joanna would try to call out for help. But she had felt so weak, and despite her pleas Shannon just continued. I think those pleas were the ones I overheard in the hallway.”
“But that still doesn’t explain what we saw.”
“I was coming to that. Apparently Shannon suddenly stopped, and moments before I threw the door open she flipped both of them again this time with her beneath Joanna, and seemingly made things a little, well, different. As if she heard me coming, or somehow anticipated someone is approaching the room. That would explain the dazed and confused expression on Joanna face when I first stepped into the room.”
“Those bite marks on the neck…”
“Joanna claimed that she thought she saw Shannon supposedly cut herself with her own fingernails, though she couldn’t be sure. Again, in the darkened room, I didn’t really see much. You realise that it’s tough to puncture one’s own skin with your fingernails alone, but from Joanna’s explanation it’s like no effort at all for Shannon’s part. As if there is much more strength and power lying underneath a young woman’s skin. Also, those fangs, look how sharp they look?” Pointing onto one of the photo comparisons “Added on. She had on fake fangs that evening, but they just gave the impression of being sharp, but in reality it’s not enough to penetrate anything.”
“And you believed her.”
“Why would she lie to me?” Alex was suddenly apprehensive. How dare her!
Linda avoided that direct challenge, skirting around instead and coming from the side. “Well, there’s always two sides of the story, right? I mean, you’ve listened to Joanna’s side, what about Shannon? Besides, what would she stand to gain, by doing all these? They go in different social circles and are from different background. At the very least we should hear what she has to say before concluding?”
That brought a stop to their conversation. Finally , Alex gave-in. “Alright, fine. You win. Let me see if I can try to make an appointment to see her.” Linda quickly asked “Alex, I mean, since I know her, I could tag along, you know, as a friend caring for another friend to visit…”
Before Alex could interject Fred Danvers burst into the room suddenly. Looking at both girls he asked “Both of you know Kevin Chen, right?” Seeing both girls nodding, he continued gravely. “I got a call from patrol. He was involved in an accident, and he’s in a bad way.” Both girls looked at Fred, mouth agape.
The doctors managed to save his life, but it was really touch-and-go and a three-hour marathon session in the OT for him to pull through. Miracarously Kevin had survived the entire ordeal with just broken limbs plus a concussion, though it will be months before he would be able to walk without any other support.
The two young women and Kevin's father hugged each other at the news however, for having Kevin alive is the best outcome there is for now. And so the Danvers sisters kept David Chen company through the rest of the night all through to morning, for the very least that they could do for the elderly man was to show a little bit more support for a family friend.
“Let’s start with the facts. I found the car laying on its left side after it ran off from the shoulder of the main road near the notorious Ralston Bridge, one of the bridges that connected Midvale and Leesburg. When he didn’t return from his delivery, David called me to check it out, giving me the location that he was supposed to be at. Based on the delivery sheet that David shared…” she checked a paper copy on the table, “Kevin went out at around 830pm to deliver a setmeal to Ridgemont which is located about five miles just after the bridge. From their place and assuming normal traffic in the evening, normal trip wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes both ways, even without speeding.”
“When did you come upon the scene?” Fred asked.
“11pm. No telling how long he’s been lying there, but assuming he was on his way back at 9, about two hours?”
“What do you think, Sands?” Fred leaned back against the large office chair, his mind in a quandary. With Kevin Chen being friends with Fred’s two daughters, and Karen Sands being the Chen’s neighbour for the past ten years, both of the highest-ranked officer in the local force have a personal interest in this.
And the timing…
Karen put up a few photos on the glass board, and pointed to one with the view of the road. “See here? There’s one set of fresh skid-mark which swerved violently towards the side.”
“So… it was an accident?”
“Ralston Bridge IS notorious for being dark. Everyone knows that.” Sands replied non-committedly “Which meant that if I wanted to do something, that would be the perfect place to do so.”
“If the person is local.” Fred ventured. “Where was he heading from?”
“The tyre marks certainly indicated that he was on his way home. So… he was avoiding a head-on collision? With what?”
“Maybe. But we haven’t had any large animals sighted around that area despite being close tot he woods. And while that road has a few bends, you should still be able to see the car coming at you without any problems…”
“If the car had turned on their lights…”
Sands’ last comment had the unfortunate effect of causing both experienced detectives to consider a potentially horrifying fact. That the entire thing could be foul-play.
But who would want to harm Kevin Chen, and why?
“Who would want to hurt Kevin?” Alex turned around from staring out the window to look at her sister. That question hung in the air amidst the beeping sound of the monitor, and gushing sound of the ventilator pumping air through Kevin Chen’s nostrils to help him breathe.
But she didn’t have to ask further, for she had heard that question correctly.
Kevin Chen looked very much like an Egyptian mummy that one would find at the Met museum, with all the bandages wrapped around his torso, arms and legs, as he lay motionlessly on the hospital bed, one of several in the ward.
“What’s that?” If she had any doubt, the way Linda was grasping her own knuckles while staring at the comatose patient on the bed said it all.
“This is all so wrong. We could do more. I can do more.”
Alex sighed at that comment. “Look, I’m sure Dad and Karen are both on the job investigating this. I think we should leave it to the professionals. Besides, we don’t have any hard facts or evidence.” Linda looked up, and Alex could still see the dried out streaks of tears that have flowed down from her eyes. It was the first time that Alex saw how brightly blue Linda’s eyes were. Irrespective of whatever biases that Alex might hold against this newcomer to her household, no matter the various conflicts that still existed between both of them, she just wanted to walk over to hug her sister in her arms.
And she did just that, allowing the raven-haired young woman to sob silently for a while. It was a new experience for both of them.
After calming down slightly, a slightly different question came up again. “Is there nothing we could do?”
“You’re assuming that Kevin’s being targeted for certain things that he knew. Which means you think this is connected somehow to the leaked video and photos. Why would you think that?”
“I… I don’t know. A hunch? If it’s just a simple accident, I don’t think he would be such bad shape.” Turning around to look at his friend before looking back at her sister, Linda continued. “The timing is too much of a coincidence.”
Folding her arms over her chest, Alex replied. “That doesn’t prove anything.”
“Maybe we can check out the scene?” Now THAT’s a thought.
“Linda, even if we do go back and have a look at the place, and I’m not saying that I agree with you, we’re only two girls working on a hunch. No tools, no gadgets. I mean, we’re not some superhero with crazy powers that can allow us to pick up an incriminating evidence easily. Besides, the place is still a major trunk road connecting the towns, and the only time there is less traffic will be after the sun sets. Else we would just be…”
Linda just stood up with a huff. “Well, like it or not, it beats just sitting here all day without able to do anything. It’s weekend anyway, and with how things turned out, Uncle David won’t be resuming business anytime soon.” Turning around, she just started walking out from the ward when she bumped into a person that she least expected. A person who just happened to be a carrying a bouquet of flowers and a fruit basket.
It was Shannon Rodgers.
“I heard about what happened to Kevin. Since I need to come for my regular physio anyway, I thought I’d drop by to look in on him.” All three women found themselves in the cafeteria fifteen minutes later at a table next to the tall windows; Shannon sipped her latte as she watched Linda bringing Alex her Americano and her own green tea.
“How are you holding up?” Linda tossed the bone out as they all settled. Shannon gave a tired smile, which was very uncharacteristic of one of the most popular girls in Leesburg High. “Ok, I guess. I think I made the right decision not to turn up in school just yet, I could already envision the circus going around the place. God, I know how nasty and ghastly those comments made were. I would know, since I’ve been party to dishing quite a bit of my own before.”
“What actually happened that evening?” Raising an eyebrow to Alex who asked the question as she took another sip from her cup, Shannon replied nonchalantly, not rising to the occasion yet. “You were there. You saw the entire scene. What did YOU think happened?”
“You know what I mean.” Alex crossed her arms over her chest, sat back and waited. Both Danvers sisters looked expectantly at the cheerleading captain.
Shannon leaned back against the white-coloured chair. “I wasn’t feeling well after the fourth song during the dance, and was trying to make my way to the bathroom, I think, when I bumped into Joanne. I remember that she suggested that we go to the infirmary instead, as she said she can help me to get some aspirin and antacid, but the rest of it was really fuzzy.”
“Do you remember if you fell or wasn’t standing up well, that Joanne was helping you up or anything?” Shannon frowned for a while, before shaking her head. “Maybe, can’t be sure.”
“So you don’t remember anything else?” Alex pursued that thought. “Like you were actually on top of Joanna, before you flipped her over after hearing me stepping into the room.”
Despite the generic noise from all the people chattering and going by the entire cafeteria, it was as if a pin dropped for a moment for their table as all three women paused speaking for a while.
Shannon was the first to recover. “No. I don’t remember doing that. I remember I had to be helped out by Joanna towards the room, and the last thing I recalled was that. When I woke up, I was already at Leesburg General with drips lying out on that awful-smelling bed.”
Silence hung in the air for awhile again, before Shannon asked. “Why are you so intent to ask me all these questions? Are you trying to pin this on me? I’m the victim too you know, Ms Danvers.” Anger has started to bubble up towards the surface, and Linda quickly tried to calm the situation.
“No, no that’s not the intent. We just wanted to figure out what happened, you know, with how everything that has turned out.” Linda leaned forward. “Look, if everything is just a misunderstanding, why don’t you just, you know… put up a video or something and said that everything was a misunderstanding? I could get Josie onboard for this, we could do something like an official interview with the school paper and put it back up on social media, and then…”
Shannon laughed at that question, her tone mocking. “And then what? Throw me to the wolves so that those people behind their keyboards and touchpads can target me instead? No thanks.” That last remark pretty much sums it all up.
Too bad for the other party, as long as it wasn’t me.
“For what it’s worth, at least it might help out with Joanna’s situation without affecting you anyway. She’s taking a lot of flak from all the misunderstanding, especially the part where she might have unknowingly harmed you. I heard that the college which offered her a volleyball scholarship is also reconsidering their offer.” Shannon’s eyes looked downwards as her right hand unconsciously stroked her neck, under the soft pressure of Linda’s pleading eyes. Finally she seemed to have made up her mind and looked back up. “Look, I really couldn’t recall anything that happened, so I don’t know how else am I going to help you. It’s not as if I’m trying to injure myself just to create all these hoohah, believe me it’s something I can do without…”with that, she laid both her hands, one each on Linda and Alex’s, saying “you believe me, don’t you? I’m sure with your natural curiosity, you should consider going back to scene of the accident. Maybe you’ll find something that the police might have missed?”
Linda seemingly saw a tinge of red flash within Shannon’s brown pair of eyes, but before she responded she was surprised to hear the words coming from her sister’s mouth. “Of course we believe you, Shannon. We believe everything that you said. Yeah, checking out the scene does sound like a good idea too…” It wasn't just the words, but the slightly drunken tone of them being said.
Seemingly not noticing Linda’s confusion, Shannon Rodgers stood up, smiling. “Well, better get going, less Dad gets worried. I’m sure both fo you have better things to do, like go find out other evidence and all, if that’s what you guys want to do.” With that she swept out of the area.
Linda observed Alex whose eyes seemed unmoving despite Shannon’s departure. The elder sister seemingly came out of her trance when Linda pulled Alex’ sleeves, hard. Stammering a little, Alex shook her head and said “Whoa..I, uh, that was uh, a little weird, don’t you think? But speaking of which, I think it’s about time we leave too. Come on…” and Linda had no choice but to follow.
She had seen that red glow before, and it could only have meant one thing - Shannon Rodgers could be a creature.
“Chief, I think we found something.” Sanders came in just before lunchtime and motioned for Fred Danvers to join her. Moving over to her place, Fred could see her computer desktop has multiple videos opened, and there’s a sheet of paper on her desk. Pointing to the video though, she continued.
“I remembered that we had a few traffic cameras setup somewhere on both ends of the Ralston Bridge, and with the time range, I tried to check if there are any suspicious cars or vehicles that might be of interest. So here…” pointing to one of the videos “is Kevin’s Honda Civic leaving Leesburg… and out towards Midvale.” Fred squinted his eyes a little on the watermark time on the video.
“OK. So passing through one way at 845pm, exited the bridge side at 846pm.”
“Right. So it was another 20 minutes before the boy’s car came back the other way. In the meantime, I noted seventeen cars that passed through the same entrance during that time, and…”
“… you didn’t see one of them passing through?”
“Err.. no. All of them did end up on the other end. BUT…” Fred frowned slightly at that comment “from Midvale, now Kevin’s car entered at around 905pm right? Because of the accident his car didn’t exit the bridge. But THIS…” pointing to a dark-coloured sedan that appeared on the screen. “THIS car came out at 910pm on the Midvale end.” Looking at Fred’s face, she tried to explain further. “This car definitely didn’t enter through from Leesburg a few minutes before 910pm. In fact, I had to trace this car all the way back to earlier that evening at around 630pm. It DID enter the Leesburg side, but at around 815pm.”
“you mean to say that this car was lying in wait. For Kevin Chen.”
“Highly likely. I mean, there’s nothing to do around Ralston Bridge at that time. It’s October, no fireworks in the city, hence nothing to watch from the bridge. A bit too chilly for any serious bush-required coupling as well.” Fred patted Karen on her shoulder.
“Good job. So you have a name yet? Or at least a plate number?” Sanders pulled up an email. “Just got a reply back. The car is a black BMW 3 series, owned by one Mr. Stan Rodgers.”
“Guess we should have a chat with him about this.”
“Alex, I don’t think it’s a good idea. We’ve been here for awhile now.” Linda’s feeling a little anxious, more about her sister’s antics rather than the time spent. The sun had just set, and the orange sky is slowly giving out to grey, and then black. Ralston Bridge is infamous for being dimly lit and dark at night, and Linda could now see why. With her slightly better than average eyesight and hearing, the trees lining up both sides of the road would suddenly rustle and shudder with any little wind. With little space on both edges of the road before it gave way downwards the slope to the treeline and eventually the river edge, it was no wonder many have been warned against coming here after dark.
But despite Linda’s slightly pleading tone, Alex acted as if she had not heard her. In fact, she continued to kneel down on the edge of the bridge, looking around for evidence like Sherlock Holmes. Either she’s trying hard to impress Linda, or there’s something else.
“Alex, it’s late. Fred and Eliza will be worried, I…”
“Oh shut up. You’ve been nothing but whining all through.” She then stood up, slightly cross. “If you’re not going to be of help, then just back off.” Linda bit her tongue, for she HAD used her vampiric powers to help. Despite her trying, her heightened senses hadn’t detected anything of note; the skid marks were clearly visible but the intent obvious, as with the remains of Kevin’s car on one side of the edge, the area taped but no one around, those from the police having collected what they needed and left. Beyond that, nothing else of note looked out of place. There were some pieces of plastic on the ground all over, but unless there is a forensic lab somewhere
Alex went back again towards the bridge, the fifth time she did that, as if she thought a clue would miracurously appear the more times she did it. This time however, as the sun set and the grey sky turned dark, she walked along the deck in the dark before climbing onto the guardrail close to the middle. While the steel and wood guardrail is still strong enough to hold, the width of the rails wasn’t really designed to be wide enough for one to place a shoehold. And true enough, the moment she climbed on top, Alex almost slipped but had quickly grabbed onto a side post to steady herself, before squatting down in a slightly precarious manner, looking left and right.
“Alex, can… can you please come down from there? I don’t think that’s such a good idea…”
Her sister however didn’t seem to hear her. Instead, she stood on the guardrail, and tried to look around seemingly trying to figure out something from her vantage point. Linda knew better though, and tried to keep an eye out for anything. Sooner said than done, when Alex started to slip when she stood up too quickly. A quick windmill with both her arms, and Linda could see her sister mouth “Oh Shit…” before she tumbled backwards and down towards the river in the dark.
A bubble popped from within Alex’ mind just as she felt herself falling backwards, heading down towards the inky river about sixty feet below the bridge. She called out in alarm, and almost did the same as what she said as she flailed around helplessly, barely hearing the shriek from her adopted sister. Closing her eyes and bracing for the inevitable splash and pain hitting her body, it took a few more seconds when she became surprised why that didn’t happened as she envisioned.
Then she realised she was floating. In the air.
Not by herself though, for Linda was holding tightly onto to her, slightly crushing her even.
“What the hell?” As her legs moved beneath her with no ground underneath, confirming her current situation. Her brain now seemingly short-circuited trying to comprehend what is happening.
Linda had indeed called out in alarm when Alex fell. Normally with her powers catching her sister would be a piece of cake, but she had been out of whack for more than two months now. Even so, she had ran as fast as she could and just leapt after the plunging body that is her sister, willing herself to “move faster move faster move faster” and try to hold onto Alex. That somehow triggered a physical response from her body, and once she caught hold of Alex and hugged her, it somehow reactivated her flight powers.
And now the young women are floating, thirty feet in the air.
“Alex, I… I…” Linda didn’t even finish stammering when Alex’ face just crashed onto Linda’s body, out cold.
When Alex finally woke up, she was already back in the Danvers’ household, lying on the long couch in the living room. To say that her fainting caused a small ruckus was an understatement. Apparently Eliza was worried sick that her two daughters had not turned up for dinner on time (a Danvers’ household rule), and with no response on their mobile phones she had assumed the worst, despite them having been out only for part of the day. Fred Danvers was in the midst of getting into his patrol car to go out and check when they finally got a frantic call from Linda, asking for a lift from Ralston Bridge, of all places.
“And tell me again why were both of you there, Linda? In the middle of the night no less.” Alex stole a peek from underneath her blanket, and she saw Eliza’s stern gaze was now unleashed full-force on her adopted sister.
“I… I… we were at the hospital, when I… I thought we… could try to do some investigative work on our own… you know, for the school paper and all, and then… and then…” Linda was squirming uncomfortably in her seat.
“Yes, go on…”
“Well, we lost track of time… and, and while Alex was about to get on the bike she suddenly felt faint, and then she fell off…”
Yes, Alex remembered. She did fall. But not from the bike, which must still be on the bridge.
The bridge. She fell off the bridge. She fell, then she didn’t. Because Linda caught her. They were both floating. Not falling down.
“Uggh… .come on mom, the way you’re going you’re going to cause Linda to have a depression. Or worse.” Alex felt pain on her forehead like she just had the worst hangover ever. Linda quickly stood up and moved over to help Alex sit-up, who then slowly looked at her adopted sister’s blue azure eyes. Eyes that seemed to be telling her something. Pleading even.
“Given that you are now well-enough to sit up at least, then YOU tell me exactly what happened.”
“Well, Linda here…” a glance at her sister and back at Eliza “wanted to play Pulitzer journalist. After we bumped into Shannon at the hospital, she thought it would be a good idea to check out the scene, you know ‘in case we find somethin’ to help crack the case. I guess I went too long without food or water, gosh we’ve been there since what, after lunch?”
Eliza looked at both her girls. Her mommy radar knows that there is much more to the story, but given that both of their verbal illustration matched each other at least, after a stern lecture of “don’t go butting into other people’s business; safety first; leave things alone as it is” both of them found themselves back in their rooms.
There was an awkward silence for awhile, as each of them sitting on their respective beds in their pjs before Alex opened her mouth first.
“I remember what happened.” That caused Linda to look up from staring at her bedsheet, seemingly trying to count the number of blue flower petals for the n-th time. “I fell. And then, I didn’t.”
“Because of you.” Silence, followed by a very short nod, as Linda avoided Alex’ gaze. Then, to Linda’s surprise, Alex stood up and came over to her side of the bed, and then gave her a huge hug. The first time ever that Alex did so. Willingly, lovingly even.
“You came after me.” Alex continued after letting go of their hug.
It was with mixed tones of shyness and resolution that the reply came with. “Of course! You’re my sister. My family.” Alex looked at Linda closer, nothing the slight upcurve of her mouth. “And I will do anything to always protect my family.”
“Thank you.” Linda just shook her head. “What?”
“Being a family means that we don’t have to thank each other, for doing things for each other. We do it because we care. That’s what family members are for, no?”
“Since when does a seventeen year-old girl sound so smart?” That brought a chuckle out of both of them, though Linda made a face before replying. “Eighteen. And I’m a YOUNG woman. Just like you.”
“OK smartass.” Linda flinched slightly when she noted Alex going back to her interrogation mode.
The unsaid hung in the air for a while before Alex blurted out. “You can fly.”
“… Yes…” Again, she looked down, this time she played with her thumbs.
“So… you’re… different.” Again, no emotion, just a statement. Linda nodded again.
“Who are you? Or what ARE you?” A few moments of silence, before Linda seemingly made a decision in her mind. “I think it’s just easier if I show you.” With that she stood up and walked towards the built-in cupboard. Reaching deep into back, she pulled out a bag, and then pulled out a red and blue package. Putting the bag back, she came back and placed the clothes on the bed. When Alex unfolded it, it revealed the familiar red and blues with the <S> rune displayed prominently on the front of the top. The material is very smooth and sheer, a little like spandex and yet feels much better.
“Why are you showing me a costume of… unless, you’re her? You’re Supergirl!” Linda quickly brought a finger to her mouth, motioning for Alex to keep it down. With that, it started the floodgates for both sisters as the Last Girl of Krypton started sharing her life with another Terran person, someone that is outside of her usual superhero circle. Someone that she now regards to be a part of the very fabric of her private life.
A full hour later of talking about her life before and on Earth (with multiple interjections from Alex) ensued, among which a few puzzling occurances were resolved within Alex’ mind.
“No wonder you could solve college-level quantum mechanics problems.” Linda beamed at that. “You guys are more advanced that us in all the STEM stuff.”
“I guess. I mean, I wouldn’t know what’s advanced or not remember. I’ve only gone to school in Krypton until, you know… But I was really just trying to help. I mean…” Alex held her hand up. “I understand, but certain things, heck many things, you need to let me tackle it on my own. It’s not… really interfering, but just allowing the experience and process to come with it. Not sure if you understand it…” Linda nodded, remarking “Kal said similar things as well, about him and I using our powers to help, but not interfering. I guess it’s similar.”
Then came the question that Linda has been dreading for the longest time.
“But if you’re Supergirl, then that means you have all the abilities of, well, you know, what you are. Why did you want to come and live with us? I mean, we’re nobody. You can stay with Superman right? Or… .” seeing a slightly apprehensive look on Linda’s face…”there’s more to this …”
“Well, he may be my only family, heck the only other person left of my race on this planet, but he does have his own life. Given that we realised that Earth doesn’t really handle aliens all that well, to have me moving in with him suddenly would definitely raise suspicions or even blow his cover. Yes, he’s in disguise. He’s also the one who asked me to blend in, too. But living alone now, it’s difficult. Especially when I wake up to a world where there’s everyone, and I know practically no one else. In actual fact, I was almost waking up to the fact that I might really need to look around for some arrangements when your parents came through the door of Midvale Orphanage two months’ back. For some reason, they took a liking to me almost immediately and offered me a roof over my head, though from what I could quickly gather, that wasn’t something to your liking…”
“Hey, YOU try having someone new moving into your new room and sharing a bathroom with. It takes time to adjust, you know.” Despite the absurdity of the situation, Alex and Linda both couldn’t help by laugh at that.
“So, Linda. Or would you prefer Kara?” Her sister just shrugged. “Ok… sticking to Linda, for now. Level with me. Do you always used your speed to get into the bathroom ahead of me?” That seemed to bring a small smile out of the alien woman, though her expression quickly changed.
“Truth be told Alex, I haven’t had my powers for awhile. I'm not sure why. I’m… well, for the moment I’m just laying low given the circumstances, since I’m not much use to anyone, anyway.”
“No wonder we haven’t been seeing much of the Girl of Steel on papers and the Internet these days.” Seeing the nod, she quickly continued “Well, the fact that you flew and caught me, that’s good right? It means that you’ve recovered?”
Linda shook her head, sighing. “I’m not sure. It’s like a mental trigger lifted or something when I see you fall, and I desperately wanted to get to you quickly. That might have resulted in me being able to fly. But I only held on to you throughout, as I haven’t recovered my strength yet. Instead, it took me quite a while to somehow use my flight powers just to push both of us back up.” And that was enough to even made her feel tired. However in front of Alex, she thought of showing off a bit. With that, Linda floated herself two inches above the bed, giggling a little when she saw Alex’ eyes open wide at her antics. Oh, how she missed the days that she could show off to people.
“If I had my full swath of powers, I could have easily helped catch the person in question. The person who killed Derek, and who hurt Kevin.”
“How did you know those two cases are connected?”
“I don’t. But these two cases happened so quickly between them though. If I could just use my vision or hearing…” Linda didn’t mention any of her other vampiric powers, which is also somehow dampened at the moment. Less said about them the better, perhaps.
Alex scooted over however and patted Linda on her shoulder. “Hey, at least we try. And you saved my sorry little ass just now, remember?” That brought a smile back on Linda’s face, which Alex thought somehow reminded very much of having sunshine within the room again.
“Alex, what happened earlier today? I mean, I know you; at least well enough that you’re not the impulsive type of person, even if you are very persistent.”
Alex groaned at that comment, and she unconsciously rubbed her forehead. “That’s the thing. It was like dense fog clouded my memory during most of the day. It felt more like me watching someone in the driving seat while I hovered behind? I remember our staying the night at the hospital, then our meeting Shannon, then… vaguely…”
“But you do remember going out right? I mean, you were meaning to leave me at the hospital, and I had to force you to take me along on your bike.”
The confused look on Alex’ face more or less confirms her suspicions that she wasn’t herself. “I know we ended up at Ralston. Somehow I have this compulsive urge to go through the scene with a fine-tooth-comb, and won’t give up until I really find something. The entire thing only lifted when I fell from that height. It must have been the shock of falling. That’ll do it for anyone right?”
Plunging down from a height of 60 feet to the ravine below? Bringing one out from being hypnotised? That's a very strong possibility, thought Linda.
“I guess we should really stop doing anything for a while. Being slueths. I mean, we didn’t really find anything useful.”
“Not necessarily.” Seeing Linda’s confused frown, Alex continued. "Everything that happened to me earlier was after we talked to Shannon Rodgers. So I think we can pretty much assume that somehow she’s influencing all of these.” Linda nodded. “I think we need to be a bit more careful around her, and if she can pretty much influence me with just a short meetup and a gentle touch, imagine what she could do to anyone else?”
Scooting closer to Linda, Alex remarked “At least there’s one good thing from all of this. Now I really got to know what you’re up to. So let’s start over.” Putting her right hand out, she smiled. “Hi. My name’s Alex. Welcome to our family here on Earth.”
Linda moved hers forward and held her sister’s in a handshake. “Hi. My name’s Linda Lee. But you can call me Kara too. Thank you for welcoming me into your wonderful home.”
Upon shaking hands, Alex remarked. “So, you’re still going to keep wearing that those dark locks, or are you planning to go back to blonde sometime soon? And how in heavens did you manage to get into that costume of yours? Those looked like it belonged to you when you were prepubescent, not a grown matured woman.”