Fantasticoe -- 2013
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The Encounter

Aisha Rehberg

           

          “Don’t ever look your mark in the eye! Remember, the goal is not to be thrown in jail.” Aeryn’s mother said watching Aeryn roll her eyes.

          Aeryn knew how to be a thief; why did she have to go through this every day? They came down to the subway underneath 32nd and Sherry, around 1:00, lunch rush. The subway station smelled like cheeseburgers and spray paint. Each night a new crew made their mark, trying to outshine the other.

          “Mornin’ Hank. 8 crackers today. What’s the scoop of the sub?”

          “Aeryn! You don’t need to bargain with a hobo to find out information on your targets. Look around, see for yourself. Listen to your inner voices.”

          Aeryn rolled her eyes. She never understood why she had to look for herself when there was a perfectly good spy resting next to his cart 5 feet from the concrete stairs. “AERYN, you’re going to miss.”

          “Yea yea” She’s so pushy, Aeryn thought to herself, always making me do her bidding. It’s disgusting. I can’t even have my own life!

          --

          “Skyler. Skyler. Skyler! Are you listening to me? What did I just say?”

          Skyler’s father turned to him. Skyler continued to look down at the court case.

          “Skyler!”

          “Yes father I know. The trial is in 72 hours. The defendant will arrive three hours before the trial begins. The charges? Second degree murder by stabbing. Victim received two…”

          “Skyler, knowing the facts of a case doesn’t win you the case. You have to learn to control the court room. You have to use the elements around you. You have to calm the jury, shake the defendant and his witnesses to speak the truth. You have to get the court room to respond to the emotions you want.”

          Skyler didn’t hear a word his father was saying. “Goodbye father.”

          “Skyler, Skyler! Where are you…”

          --

          Aeryn scoured the crowd. Skyler kept his head facing forward only thinking about making the subway. Aeryn glanced at Skyler. This should be easy. A preppy school boy thinking he can make it here in the city? Ha. Easy pickings. The two sixteen year olds passed each other. Skyler looked her straight in the eye. He made her and she knew it.Crap. Aeryn thought to herself.

          Skyler felt as if he had just looked in a mirror. Her eyes look exactly like mine, she’s the same height as me, and her hair is even the same. Curly, brown with blonde tints. How? She even has the green stripe diagonally through her right eye. Skyler boarded the subway trying to concentrate on something else. He realized his watch was gone. He knew she took it. She, her, the one with his eyes.

          --

          The next day Skyler waited patiently for the girl to appear in the 78th subway. It was a Saturday and the subway was packed with families going to visit grandmothers, and disgruntled businessmen who were pissed that they had to go into work. The hobos hid from all the commotion and the noise of annoying children. He knew it was foolish to wait for her there, as she probably had many picking places. He stood there as the public passed him rushing to get to their destination.

          If my mother knew that I was coming here again she would scold me for hours. “Don’t be seen in the same place twice in the same week” blah blah blah.Aeryn heard the loud commotion of a Saturday subway as she descended the concrete stairs layered with crumbs and finches. But I have to find the preppy one. I’m going to make sure he doesn’t open his trap.

          Skyler saw the thief descend the stairs slowly. He quickly started walking towards her pushing people out of his way. I’m going to get my watch back. I’m sure she wouldn’t me to press charges. She’ll give it back no doubt. Skyler really didn’t care about the watch. His father had enough money to buy him another. He just wanted to see her. When he finally reached her, he grabbed her arm and pulled her close to him.

          “Give it all back.” He quietly whispered to her.

          Aeryn broke free of his grip. “Or what chicken legs? What are you going to do hit me? I’m a girl,” Aeryn paused as she glanced at the line in his eye.

          “Now”

          “No.”

          “Do not make me hurt you. I’m sure the cops would enjoy speaking with you.”

          “Look you little pipsqueak, if you breathe one bit of this I’ll I’ll”

          “You’ll what? Go to the cops claiming harassment and incriminate yourself? Let’s see you’ve got to be about sixteen years old. In the state of New York you’ll be tried as an adult. Are you sure you are up for that? Nasty fine for bail and the years in jail…you are sure to be someone’s bitch for at least two years.”

          Skyler looked at Aeryn with a grim smile on his face. He knew she was worried. He could sense her fear and apprehension.

          He thinks he’s got me. He’s thinking that I can’t find a way out and I have no choice to cooperate. Yeah right, like that’s going to happen.

          “Okay Mister know-it-all, what would happen if Daddy and Mommy found out you were talking to a thief? Hmmm? Would they like that? They’re sweet, innocent, smart boy? And I’m not going to be anyone’s bitch.”

          She wouldn’t dare.Skyler thought to himself.

          “Oh yes I would!” Aeryn replied quickly.

          “How did you…” At that moment Aeryn turned around. Skyler reached for her, but she was already gone. She stood at the top of the subway staring at him with her tongue out.

          Skyler growled to himself and ran after her. She was completely out of sight, however he felt her in the air. He could sense where she had been and where she hadn’t. He followed his instincts through alleyways, across streets, yards, until finally he came across Monochery Park. He saw her sitting under an oak tree playing with his watch. He smiled. Aeryn didn’t look up as the boy walked nearer to her.

          “What’s your name thief?”

          “Yeah right! So you can run off to the cops and let ‘em know who I am?”

          Skyler chuckled. “I’m not going to turn you in. There’s no point. I don’t even care about the watch. My dad bought it for me when I got accepted into this stupid private school. I would just like to know your name. That’s all.”

          Aeryn questioned him as she stared into his eyes. He seems sincere enough, I guess “Aeryn. My name is Aeryn.”

          “Skyler, nice to meet you.” He sat down beside her reaching for his watch. She pulled it away.

          “So preppy Skyler, where do you go to school?”

          “Callie Private School. It’s in Maryland.”

          “Callie? Why the hell would you travel all the way to Maryland to go to school? There’s a perfectly good public school off of 33rd.”

          “My father would never allow me to go to public school. 33rd is a rough neighborhood anyways. Why? Do you go there?”

          “Me? I don’t go to school. My mother teaches me in the lair underneath the subway. I’m really smart, but like you said 33rd is rough. I don’t take shit from anyone! But she still makes me stay home.”

          “That sucks. You can calm down. I’m not trying to get you upset. Tell me about your mom.”

          “My mom? What about her? She’s annoying, intelligent, pushy, mean…”

          “Do her eyes look like yours?”

          “Yeah,” Aeryn looked at Skyler trying to declare his reasoning, “why?”

          “My dad’s eyes don’t look like mine. He looks different than me. I mean, he has the same hair, but his eyes are gray.”

          Aeryn began to feel uneasy. She began to realize Skyler was going somewhere with this and she didn’t like it.

          “I’ve never seen my mother. My father doesn’t talk about her and there are no pictures. Have you ever seen your…”

          “What are you doing? Where are you going with this?”

          “Calm down before you’re heart takes off. I’m just saying you’ve never seen your father. I’ve never seen my mother…”

          “How did you know that? I didn’t say that.”

          “I could tell. You got flustered I mentioned it.”

          “Stop! Jesus, what’s your problem?”

          “What do you mean?”

          “Do you know how crazy you sound? You’re talking about being somehow related, or some shit, to a perfect stranger! I am nothing like you! I am a thief!”

          “Aeryn, how can you say that? We have the same eyes, height…”

          “STOP! You act like you know this! How?”

          “How did you know what I was thinking before in the subway…”

          “What?”

          “You responded before I said anything.”

          “I don’t know, I was just able to”

          “Same here.”

          Aeryn stared at Skyler. He was beginning to give her a headache.

          “Think about it Aeryn. I know you are curious about our similarities. Think about it.”

          “What what are you saying? Are you saying we are siblings?”

          Two adults walked hand in hand with each other towards Aeryn and Skyler. They looked up as their parents approached them. Both of them started to speak when Aeryn’s mother said “We have something to tell you two.”

          “Mom what’s going…”

          “Aeryn please let us talk. You two can ask all the questions you want after we are done. Agreed?”

          Aeryn and Skyler glanced at each other and nodded in unison.

          Skyler’s father began to weave the tale. “Fifty years ago two babies were born, male and female across the globe from two sets of parents. These babies were human but had a slightly different genetic structure than the human genome. They grew up to be human, but once they hit twenty-three they began to age extremely slowly and they developed abilities.”

          “We are those children. I am a telepath. I can read thoughts and move things with my mind.” Aeryn’s mother looked straight at her daughter when she said this. Aeryn understood what her mother was trying to relay to her daughter. Aeryn was a telepath.

          “I am an elementist. I can control the elements. I can’t read thoughts like Lana here. The only power I have over humans is reading their emotions” Skyler shifted his weight feeling uncomfortable. Elements? Me?

          “I left Europe when I was sixty-four in human years and traveled to the United States.”

          “Where he met me,” Lana smiled as she looked at the man standing next to her.

          “In short we fell in love.”

          “Soon after were married and pregnant with twins. Male and female. Do you understand what we are trying to say?”

          “You lived in Europe?” Skyler’s father looked at his son with disappointment as the others laughed.

          “He gets it mom. He’s wondering why the secrecy? Why didn’t you tell us we had powers? That we were twins?”

          Skyler and Aeryn’s parents looked at each other, both the children could tell that the mood was now somber.

          “When your mother was in the hospital about to give birth government agents came. They’re known as regulators to people like your mother and I. When the government realized that other babies were being born like us, they investigated and set up a team of scientists to examine us. They found that the expressing our powers became more prominent in the second generation. They forbade any of us from mating with anyone other than humans.”

          “The regulators told us we had to separate you two. They were afraid that if you two were ever together to use your powers, it would be more devastating than nuclear war. We were told we couldn’t teach you your power. If we did…” Aeryn’s mother began to weep as she looked at her children.

          Skyler’s father placed his hands on the shoulders of the woman, squeezing gently, “If we did, they were going to take you and kill you.”

          Aeryn hugged her mother trying to calm her down.

          What if there was a way for them to teach us without the regulators knowing?Skyler thought to himself hoping his sister was listening.

          “Skyler just thought of something. Mom, is there a way for you two to teach us without our powers being used?”

          “Darling, why do you think you are a thief? Skyler, why do you think your father has been teaching you how to control a courtroom? Each of your powers assists you with these tasks. You just never realized it.”

          “We can continue teaching you in this manner, only this time as a family.” Skyler’s father smiled at his wife looking into her eyes.

          Skyler smiled, “First things first, introductions.”

          “Skyler, I am Lana, your mother.”

          “Aeryn, I am Riley, your father.”

          --

          Through the next fifty-eight years their parents taught them. The family saw no evidence of the regulators ever noticing. Lana and Riley taught their children carefully. Skyler could see auras and Aeryn could read minds without the regulators interfering, but their parents forbid them from going farther. Skyler was the brains and gentle. Aeryn was the enforcer and very cynical. Their powers and personalities were completely opposite but they both felt like they couldn’t be without each other. Almost as if they were meant to be side by side forever.

          --

          Sadly their parents fell ill shortly after the twins’ training was complete. Skyler and Aeryn arranged a private funeral. They sat quietly listening to the birds chirping softly.

          It took them so long to find each other. Then they had to be separated because of usand now they’re gone. Aeryn nodded to her brother’s thoughts. The twins rarely spoke aloud anymore, there was no need.

          Aeryn wept softly and turned to her brother, “Skyler, they were together until the day they died. You know as well as I do that they were happy. Stop being so pessimistic,” Aeryn paused to wipe her tears, “we should do something for them.”

          Like what?

          “Skyler! For God’s sake, this is our parents’ funeral. You can speak.”

          “Sorry.”

          “I know.” She placed her head on his shoulder.

          Skyler rolled his eyes. The whole reason he never spoke was because she always answered I know. He saw no need to speak if she always knew what he was about to say. He pushed her off of him and laid his hand on the ground above his parents’ burial. Water from a nearby stream came to the ground and new grass began to grow. Flowers, even the wilting ones, came to life throughout the graveyard. The wind blew the trees and the birds became silent. A single sun beam shined on the graves of Lana and Riley. The forest was responding to him, honoring the parents buried there.

          Aeryn walked away from the forest, her dress blowing in the wind. Skyler arose, waved his arms in a circular movement conducting a small fire in the air. An eternal flame to honor the parents who sacrificed their own love for the love of their children. Skyler walked away from his parents in silence.

          --

          Skyler and Aeryn walked side by side in the city. They smiled and laughed while they looked into the minds and auras of the humans. Cars were parked on the street and taxis drove through. Skyler looked at the cloudless sky. Aeryn continued to laugh at the minds of the people.

          Suddenly, a woman screamed. Aeryn quickly turned her attention to the woman coursing through her thoughts trying to discern why she was screaming. “Skyler! The Regulators!” Skyler looked at his sister worriedly. They will not take us. They will not separate us, not again.

          “Where are your parents?” The two figures looked around at the pedestrians scrambling away from the scene.

          “They are dead. Didn’t your little government agency tell you that?” Aeryn scoured at the men looking at her.

          Aeryn please calm down. We don’t want to provoke them.Aeryn shot her brother an angry look that sent chills down his spine.

          “You’re coming with us,” a deep voice from one of the hooded figures resounded.

          “Gentlemen, let’s calm down here. I’m sure we can discuss a diplomatic solution to this.” Skyler smiled at the men, but their faces stayed blank.

          “No. We warned your parents all those years ago, now it’s time to face the consequences.”

          “The men who told our parents are long dead! We haven’t done anything wrong! We don’t use our powers. We are just two people trying to live our lives!”

          “Ah, but you are not human therefore you are not people.”

          Aeryn growled at the men clenching her fists.

          “Gentlemen, please excuse my sister. She gets angry when someone mentions our parents. She loved them very much, as did I.”

          “Come with us.”

          “Gentlemen please.

          “Skyler they are not going to…”

          Aeryn. I know. I can tell. They’re beginning to get frustrated. Can you read their thoughts?She shook her head. Then they must have a way to block you, probably a medication of some sort. I can still read their auras. They are not backing down it seems. I can continue to talk, but like I said, there is little chance.

          The regulators began to fall impatient.

          Just then a shot was fired and Aeryn fell to the ground.

          “NOOOOOO!!” Skyler watched his sister fall. His anger began to consume him. His body shook furiously. The sky began to fill with ominous dark gray clouds. Thunder and lightning rolled in. Skyler stared at the regulators as he reached his right hand to the sky.

          Aeryn watched her brother as she crawled away from the scene. She placed a hand over the bullet wound in her stomach and winced in pain. Her brother’s thoughts were filled with hatred. She had to pull away from him to concentrate on dressing her wound.

          It began to pour rain. Skyler rotated his hands in circles, one on top of the other. The rain from the sky and ground gathered mid air in a huge ball of water. He pushed his arms forward pressing the water around one of the regulators drowning him. The other one reached for his gun. Skyler stomped hard on the ground. The ground began to shake, the surrounding people held onto anything they could. You’re going to be alright Aeryn. I promise. They won’t separate us.

          Aeryn raised her head and smiled at her brother continuously pressing against her wound.

          “Skyler! Look out!” A third regulator out of nowhere jumped at Skyler knocking him to the ground. Skyler wrestled with the regulator.

          “No. No. No. Leave my brother alone!!!”

          Aeryn raised her upper body. Pain pulsed throughout her body. She ignored it and stared at a nearby light pole. It shook rising from the concrete. She concentrated her mind and struck the regulator off of her brother with the light pole. The man flew like a baseball being hit by a bat. The other two regulators were still trying to catch their footing. The one who was drowning was coughing up the water he had inhaled. Skyler rolled over and looked at his sister. Each shed a tear from their right green eyes. Aeryn.

          She stared at her brother.

          “Skyler. I love you brother.”

          He smiled. Together? She nodded.

          They knew this was the way. They had always felt a void until they were reunited underneath that oak tree all the years ago. Aeryn used her left arm to pull herself closer to her brother as her other arm stayed on her wound. Skyler sensed a change in the regulators.

          He paused and glanced at them. They’re worried. He looked back at his sister. She smiled.

          “Good.”

          The regulators looked to each other wondering what to do. They had thought they had wounded the twins enough for surrender. They were wrong.

          “They are stronger than their parents, as we feared,” the regulator in charge said to his companions.

          The twins inched closer and closer to each other. The ground had finally stopped shaking and two of the regulators began running towards Aeryn and Skyler, but it was too late. The twins had reached each other and clasped hands. The regulators reached for their guns. Aeryn tossed them aside with her mind. Thief, Skyler thought. Aeryn smiled at her brother.

          “Now my dear brother?”

          He nodded, “now.”

          The regulators realized their worst fear was happening right before their eyes. A bright light rose from the place where the twins were. The regulators and surrounding people tried to run, but it was too late.