Mrs. West kept staring at me like that until some other lady came running in. As the new lady stammered all about how worried she’d been and stuff, I figured out this was her friend Annie. The soldier and the guardian left after that, leaving the specter bodies laying on the floor.
I didn’t listen to the conversation much, but there was a lot of “I can’t take this any more!” and “What do they want from Sammy?!” from Mrs. West. I was wondering the same thing. What would make them work so hard, make so many of them willing to die to get at this one young girl? What was so special about her?
Mrs. West was still glancing at me with scared eyes once in a while. I felt horrible she had thought I was shooting at her, even if she understood now what I had been doing. She couldn’t see the things I was shooting at until after I hit them. The image in her mind of me holding up my glass looking straight at her terrified her the same way Sam’s image of the specter homing in….
I’m no good at doing math problems and solving puzzles, but something just kind of clicked in my brain right then.
Sam didn’t see the specters when they were attacking her! Where did she get that image?
She had seen dead ones, but she had never seen the ones still alive, attacking her. The first had been behind her back, the second while she had been curled up, trying to escape from reality, and the third had been when she was asleep. She had never seen one coming at her like that. Why did she have such an accurate image of what one coming head-on at her would look like?
That’s when I finally realized that the attack the previous day didn’t have to be the first time they had attacked her.
Specters don’t usually try to kill people other than those with the ESDF, or those who somehow learn about the specters and try to expose them to the world. Most people that they attack are people they want to control, so they can use them in some way. They don’t let the people they touch remember it.
Maybe Sam was one of those people. And maybe seeing the dead specters had broken their block on her memories.
I remembered what Rufus had asked me to do, to look inside her with my glass. With my super strong sense, I might be able to spot something he couldn’t. I figured it must be like scanning for specters, but how could I know what I was looking at?
I decided to try anyway. The doctor had worried that they had been trying to put something in her, but what if they already did it some time before. What if they were trying to get it back?
My mind was whirling with those ideas, those possibilities, and I decided I had to know. I took up my scrying glass, and began scrying my friend’s body with my mind sense, just like scrying for a specter.
At first, it was gross. I mean, we’re talking about Sam’s innards, right? I was seeing her actual brain, and I could see her heart beating, and her lungs getting bigger and smaller as she breathed, and her backbone, with her spinal cord running through it. Then, I saw something that was different from living tissue, something made of completely different stuff, hidden inside her spinal cord. And I realized, the first specter I killed the previous day could have been aiming for that very spot…
I didn’t know why they wanted it, but now I knew what the specters were trying to get.
Only, I couldn’t tell anyone! Mrs. West and her friend were still chattering away in the kitchen, and nobody else was around except a scared, huddled up Sam.
Then I spotted the cell phone, still laying on the kitchen floor and had an idea. I struggled down off the couch and walked as fast as I could to get to the phone. I still wasn’t walking very well, and I probably looked like a drunk pet or something.
Mrs. West must have thought I was coming to get her, because she hissed, “Annie, keep that thing away from me!”
I got to the phone and started trying to work with it.
“Hey! You leave that alone!” Annie yelled, rising from her chair. I realized I wasn’t even going to get the chance to figure out how to get to the message app unless I found a hiding spot.
I grabbed the phone with one foreleg and struggled across the room on three legs as quick as I could. Everyone was shouting now, including Sam, except I think she was shouting at her mom. I stumbled a couple times, because the thing was enormous, but somehow, I managed to get behind the couch before they caught up with me.
While I listened to Mrs. West demand Annie help her move the couch, I figured out how to get to the text app. Mom always has her cellphone turned on, and I had her number memorized, so I just had to figure out what to say.
mom, its tawny. scry somthing inside sam. spectrs want it back b4 we find. help.
I sent it just as the couch moved and my hiding spot disappeared. I left the phone there and backed away. Annie come forward and picked it up, keeping a wary eye on me. Sam had come up from the other side, and she dash forward and reached down to pick me up. She felt confused, but extremely protective of me, and mad at the adults.
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Annie frowned down at the phone. “It looks like she just sent a message.”
Then she must have read my text, because she gasped and looked at Sam. Then she looked at me, and her expression grew troubled. She felt like she was sorry for how she’d acted toward me, although I really didn’t blame her for it.
Mom arrived really soon after that, leading a bunch of other soldiers. Then an ambulance arrived to take Sam to the ESDF hospital (which really was in Houston.) The Major came as well, shaking her head and angry about the situation.
She fussed, “We should have sent her directly to Houston in the first place! I’m rewriting the procedure manual!”
At the hospital, the doctors discovered a sort of recorder thing that the specters had put in her. They were trying to gather data on the process of implanting ‘nerve-ware’. That’s the stuff Sam’s mom had been talking about. Daddy explained to me that the Humans use nerve-ware to operate alien technologies, like flying their space fighters, and using alien weapons, and it’s really vital to us.
The first specter that attack Sam probably thought the implantation was complete and wanted to retrieve the recorder. The irony was, when the doctors re-examined her in the hospital, they realized that the reason Sam’s first implant try had failed was because the alien recorder had interfered with it.
Mom and I rode in the ambulance to protect Sam. Mom was carrying me in her arms now, because Sam was hurting again and I couldn’t do my job if I was too close to her. Mom was all proud of me and stuff, and I could feel how relieved she was that the crisis was over. I was also a little surprised to see how strong her relief was, now that I wasn’t in harm’s way anymore. She had been worried about me all along, but she had kept it hidden from me for some reason.
I don’t understand why she kept it hidden. I thought something like that would have made me feel better during the scary stuff. But I still have too many things to learn about being a Zindavoor. And I guess I don’t know much anything about being a mom, either.
But knowing now that she’d been worried all along… yeah, it’s good enough that I know it now. I can leave learning about being a Zindavoor for later.