Jimmy (part 2)
You blink fast, then squint at the floating ball of light next to your head.
A dainty, copper-toned hand slams the tabletop, and you follow the dark-sleeved arm to the face of a female officer. Her dark brown hair is taut, tied back into a ponytail. Her eyes are small, but packed with authority and determination. She has laugh lines, but won't smile. Not even a quirk.
"Age," she says, slower.
"Um, sixteen," you say.
She straightens and scribbles in her palm with a glowing fingertip. "Name." She won't stop writing, won't look up.
Her eyes meet you. "Full name."
"Talon Brandon-Dumero Benz."
"'Brandon-Dumero'. Is that one name or two?"
"One, I guess; it's hyphenated."
"So, you are an Earthliat." She peeks up at you as she says it, still writing.
"My dad was. He—"
"Yeah, I—could you please turn this light off or something? It's hurting my head."
"The light is reading you. It's feeding off of your brain waves."
"None of your concern. Tell me what happened to your father."
'None of your concern'? Seriously? You believe all of these personal questions are none of her concern. You sigh, frustrated. "They say he was an Earthliat, but—"
"Talon, if you speak plainly to me, this will go a lot smoother, and you'll be out of here before you're 50."
You study her. A part of you—a distant part—is offended. You tell her what she wants to hear: "Six years before the Cure, my dad died in a mysterious workplace explosion—The Lethox Explosion. Police officials are still, to this day, trying to figure out what caused it, even though the Doctor is prolonging the investigation and trying to close the file, as I'm sure you've heard. My dad was studying to be a Dematerialization scientist, and he was an Earthliat. He just never showed it off or anything. He'd always wanted me to be one too, though, which is why I'm studying it in high school."
"And what is the name of your high school?"
"OK," she says, letting go of a sigh. "Tell me what happened tonight. Why were brought to a police station?"
"Honestly, I don't know." You look up for a fraction of a second. You know Jimmy isn't here, but you can feel him breathing down your neck.
The officer sighs. "Cooperate, Talon. What did you do tonight that brought you to us?"
You think for a moment. "I was in a graveyard."
"You trespassed. Were you alone?"
You bite your tongue. You're no snitch.
She huffs, her eyes now sluggish. You notice the faint bags under them.
Just tell her, Talon. "Yes."
She writes in her palm. "Did you not notice the sign that—"
"I rode through the woods. In fact, I need to go back and get my bike or my mom's gonna kill me."
"Oh, I don't think you'll have to worry about that." She walks to the other end of the room and places her hand on the wall, which glows within a thirty centimetre radius. You examine the intricate collection of thin lines in the glow, and your body twitches here and there. After a minute, when she walks back, you ask, "Why are people brought to a police station by a Transporter?"
"Not all, but in your case, distance."
"Well, it's dumb." You look away, recalling the shock it gave you. It left a metallic taste in your mouth, and those twitches. You notice how sore your muscles are and you shift.
"We can get the rest from the Orb." She grabs the bright sphere next to your head and turns around, her face an eerie glow. "Come with me."
You rise, a soft groan rumbling your throat. As you follow her out of the plain, metal-walled room, you can't help remembering your father. He was so good to you, blind to fate—as anyone would be.
He'd smiled at the lake, crouching to get to your level. "See that, son?" He'd grabbed your shoulders then pointed. "A Piranha."
You can't remember ever seeing fish before then.
Your eight-year-old eyes gleamed with wonder. The fish had dipped below the surface. "Where did it go?"
"Where all little fishies go after they've had a taste of our world, kiddo—home."
Time with your father was precious, and you'd savoured every moment you two shared. If you'd known his cruel fate, you'd have prevented it, or perhaps saved your time a little less.
"I'll be back before you know it, kiddo," he'd said weeks later, standing by the front door inside the house. Work had been hectic those days. He was on call. He'd been doing well for a twenty-five year old in that economy—for a man having been a teenage father.
"Then can we travel again?"
He chuckled. "And leave your sister and mom?"
"Well—" You'd felt guilt rub your neck, adding, "Like before."
He ruffled your hair. "We'll talk about it, OK? Start packing." He winked, and you smiled.
If only you hadn't taken him seriously. If only you hadn't put your heart into choosing the right clothes, the best shoes, the hat he'd bought you at Columbian gift shop. Things might have been easier when you got the news.
The female officer leads you to a block of cells. Some inmates glare at you as you pass, others weep in corners or while pacing, and some yell at other inmates or the voices in their heads. There are tough, as well as scared-looking, kids, there are adults with bulky arms and a plethora of tattoos—most tribal. No females. Some of their irises are brown or blue or green or grey, but most vary from deep purple to vivid crimson.
You tense. "Wait, you're throwing me in jail?"
"Just until we can confirm your information and get someone to pay your fine." She types a code into the panel next to a cell door. It hisses, then she slides it open. "In you go."
Hesitant, you drag your feet into it. Your insides tremble. You've never been in this kind of trouble before, and have no clue what to expect. Will they probe you for drugs? Feed you slop? Shoot you if you say the wrong thing?
You jump and look over your shoulder as the door slams shut. The room is dark, small, musty. There are no windows, just metal walls. The top half of the door is barred with rusty metal. Your eyes hold a mix of fear—
And itchy loneliness.
You spin around, your heart rate increasing. No one's here, but the inmates' noises tune out. You back onto a wall, slow, and then drag your back down. You crawl up your legs and hug them, burying your face.
You feel the atmosphere tighten, stifle. Don't let me die here. You know what's with you.
A smirk forms from somewhere—anywhere. You feel it.