A DAYS OF RESONANCE SIDE STORY
Brett P. S.
Copyright © 2017 Brett P. S.
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Abigail Blanche was a hard working woman, up in her thirties and head of locally owned and operated motel in Saint Louis, Illinois. Gray hairs had begun to seep in through her ginger locks, and age marked her rosy cheeks but did not cripple her passions. Abigail lost her husband to God’s whims half a decade ago, and her only child continued to impress her with his impulsivity and outright stupidity.
Noah Blanche hardly understood the meaning of the word quit, and it was when he tapped into the very being of his resonance, when the power consumed him, that he suffered. She suffered as well, but there was an emptiness, a detachment from him because she didn’t possess the force of nature he used to mold his life. Some people had to work for a living. Instead, Noah could walk down five city blocks and find fifty dollars lying about. Then again, he could walk fifty blocks and lose money.
Attraction, he called it. Abigail paced around her stove and clicked off the flame. She’d prepared a bourbon chicken dish for one with a side of white rice from an instant packet she’d prepared a few minutes ago. Abigail’s home was sizable, a leftover remnant from the man she spent a decade idolizing. How quickly, it seemed, that the people she loved slipped through her grasp.
She buried the thoughts down. The more she dwelled on them, the deeper they stung. She was alone now, and many more life changes would arrive at her doorstep in the coming decades. God would take much more from her than the things she cherished. He’d claim them all eventually. Abigail paused, hearing a thud of some kind against her door in the living room. She reached for the skillet but drew her hand back. It was far too loud to be a bird, much too heavy for a wild animal.
She pulled off her apron and made her way over. She approached her door with caution and peered out through the viewing hole. The scene outside her house was barely visible in the nighttime air, but she couldn’t locate a person if one had indeed slammed into her door. Rotten teenagers, she thought.
Abigail turned to head back to her kitchen but stopped at the shrill sound of nails grinding into wood. She turned, grabbed the door handle, and carefully pried it open a little. When she did, her expression lit up, her eyes opened wide. Abigail swung open the door and reached down, cradling the young man’s head in her arms.
“Noah, what happened to you?”
She hurriedly pulled his body inside, Noah barely conscious in the midst of her endeavor. He mumbled some strange words, but she couldn’t discern their meaning. She focused on drawing his quivering body across the carpet and shutting the door behind him. Noah left a blood stained trail in his wake, the back of his jacket punctured somehow, possibly by a gunshot wound, but she wouldn’t know for sure until she looked him over. She stood up and reached into her pocket for her phone, but Noah raised his arm.
“No, don’t,” he said. “I’m sorry, but you can’t take me to a hospital.”
“If I don’t do something, you might die,” Abigail said. “You understand that, don’t you?”
“There are people looking for me,” he said. “Do what you can here. They missed my vitals the first time. They won’t miss again. I guarantee you that.”
Abigail huffed and scowled at him but reservedly placed her phone back in her pocket.
“You’ve done it again, haven’t you? You keep using your precious abilities, but you can’t even manage a fulfilling weekend without catastrophe.”
“Ma, please, I …” he started, but she cut him off.
“Don’t patronize me, boy. You deserved to stew in your own muck on more than one occasion. Of course, I’m going to help you. I’m not about to let you die, especially with the mess you made on my fresh carpets. I’m going to love explaining that one to the cleaners this weekend.”
Noah looked up at her. His jacket was scuffed and torn from whatever fight he’d lost. His jeans bore a similar disheveled appearance, his body bruised from the conflict. It could have been anyone, from a syndicate to a loan shark. Noah had no clue how to operate his resonance effectively, and she’d warned him against it enough times to numb her pain in situations like this one. Although, this was the worst she’d ever seen him. Noah had tried something unusually grand. That much she knew.
Abigail smiled. “Wait here a moment. I’m going to grab my first aid kit, and we’ll have a look at your wounds.”
“Wait here?” Noah said with a chuckle that made him wince. “I don’t think I’m going anywhere for a while.”
Three days later …
Abigail awoke earlier in the morning. She hadn’t slept well the last couple of days with Noah’s health on her mind. After dressing his wounds and seeing the damage inflicted, holes ripped clean through his body. She wasn’t a doctor, and Noah refused any alternative treatment, let alone a visit from a professional in the field. She couldn’t tell for sure if he would ever fully recover. She knew enough about nerve endings and blood vessels to understand that whatever force had struck him … well, he’d live with the scars for the rest of his life.
Abigail donned her violet sundress this afternoon, hard at work preparing something with a little more punch for Noah. It was high time he tried eating solid food for once. No meats, just a vegetable dish sautéed in some oils for flavor. She specifically designed this dish to go down easy for children and those with weak stomachs.
She’d rummaged through his belongings. Unlike most mothers, she didn’t trust every word that gushed past his lips. As far as she was concerned, he was lying until he backed it up with some credence. That said, she found very little to his name. Noah’s belongings consisted of the clothes on his person and the wallet in his pocket. He’d either abandoned the rest of his worldly possessions or left them somewhere safe until he returned. She assumed the latter, but with Noah, she could just as easily have thought the opposite.
Abigail grimaced and handled her skillet. She calmly slid the peppers and pineapples onto a ceramic place of ornate design. The smells rose up and drifted through her nose for the first time in ages. Noah was getting too old to be making mistakes, but at least he was alive. That should fill her with something warm, shouldn’t it? Abigail drew up and breathed in the fresh aroma, but to her dismay, she felt nothing.
Abigail turned to see Noah sluggishly striding out from the bedroom to her left. She watched with dismay as he stumbled in his walk. Noah took a turn, and she caught the signs of a fall starting. Abigail set her plate down, almost dropping it in the process as she rushed over to prop him up.
“Idiot!” she yelled. “You can’t think of walking yet.”
“I have to get out of here,” he said, clutching the table. “I have to keep you safe, Ma. I don’t want the people who are after me to find you too.”
Abigail forcibly propped him upright. “And who are these people? What did you do to get yourself shot? I’m sick and tired of not knowing.”
Noah stared at her with hopeful eyes, possibly gauging whether she would accept his response. He’d known her long enough to understand that he lied profusely, and she wouldn’t sit down for another long-winded story. Noah probably wanted to protect her, so he’d lie again. She drew back and left him propped on the table.
“I suppose it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Come on. Let’s get you back to bed. I have a plate of something more challenging for your palate.”
She grabbed the dish and proceeded past him, gesturing to follow, but Noah grabbed hold of her shoulder with a vice grip she hadn’t expected. It drew her closer to him, and she struggled to keep her balance in the shift of weight distribution.
“It’s Pinnacle,” he said. “I thought I could use my powers to get in good.”
“Noah!” she yelled. “I scarcely believe my own son. Why would you even consider working for those filthy despots?”
Noah looked away. “You wouldn’t understand, Ma.”
“Probably not, but try me.”
He sighed, holding out his hand, the fingers extended toward a saltshaker on the tabletop. He squinted his eyes, and she could tell he was straining, but Noah concentrated with all his merit, pulling gently closer the insignificant dispenser. He’d landed a few lovers that way. He might have used his powers to twist Abigail’s mind on more than one occasion, but she was ready for his manipulations this time. Abigail steadied herself and placed a hand on his wrist, staying his power for a time.
“The Order didn’t want me,” he said. “Caliber said I don’t have a resonance, at least not anything useful.”
“That’s what you get for being a factor one and believing the world owes you something,” she replied. “Your resonance is untamed.” She paused and set her platter down. “The damage you’ve caused to your life and this family may already have been done. If Pinnacle wants you, you’ve got little recourse but to resign yourself to your fate.”
“I’m not going out that way. I can still make this work.”
“No, you can’t. Get that through your thick head. Lay low for a while, and maybe they’ll stop caring. Pinnacle won’t hound you forever, I’d reason.”
Noah huffed and snorted as he pushed himself up from the table and steadied his footing. Abigail watched as her son treaded back inside the guest bedroom. She eased him onto the bedside with steady hands and couldn’t help but wonder why she felt nothing. Noah had become something of a stranger over the years since he left. Whenever he did rear his head, it was always because he wanted something from her. She hid the disgust that formed behind her lips and pushed it deep inside. Abigail smiled and went back to fetch his meal.
Two days later …
Abigail slept in for once, her hair disheveled in a mess. She spent the first few minutes combing out the knots in the locks that ran down to her neck. She enjoyed not having longer hair like the women who she saw on her daily rounds at the motel. By god, the motel. She’d taken a week off as the owner, placing her senior manager in charge, but even that would look suspicious. She needed to consider the ramifications of babysitting a wounded animal such as Noah. Even if Pinnacle failed to track him down, someone else might. The police, FBI, or the Resonance Task Force could knock on her door anytime now.
Abigail set down her comb, having finished her work for the most part. The stress of the last week had eaten away years of confidence and sensibility, but she pushed it all down and rose from her bed. Her house arguably covered more square footage than her motel. Abigail left her master bedroom on the south end and made her way through the back hall until she plucked out beside her kitchen.
The workspace had been used recently. She spotted some cooked pasta and spilled beans and rice laying across and around one of her pans. The burner was still lit. She walked over calmly and switched it off. Abigail tapped her foot and bit her lip. Noah wouldn’t have cooked his own meal without good reason, especially not in his condition. She pondered the situation for a brief moment before the answer burned into her mind like a cattle prod.
She rushed past the table and swung open the door to Noah’s guest bedroom, only to find a pile of empty sheets and a slip of crumpled paper on the mess. Abigail frowned. She reached over and picked up the paper ball, eyeing the others he’d discarded into the trash bin by his bedside. He’d tried several times to find the right words or at least the right way to spin his case. Regardless, Noah was gone, almost as quickly as he’d fallen on her doorstep.
Abigail uncrumpled the letter and brought it into the kitchen, flattening it across the tabletop. She grabbed her glasses from a nearby counter top and fitted them as she read his frantic scribblings. Noah had written his letter in haste. He intended to leave before she awoke, so he neglected his rest in lieu of being caught in his act.
“You’re wrong, Ma.” What a wonderful way to start. She read on. “My resonance can do great things, greater than most. I just have to control it, and I’m about to do just that.” Oh dear. “I knew you wouldn’t let me go, so I left early, and I may have swiped your rainy day jar.”
Abigail turned and eyed the empty space on her countertop by the cooler, a ring of clean surface amidst the dust of the week where a tub of two thousand in bills had sat. Dammit. She should have known better than to leave it lying around with him. Two thousand was going to buy her a nice vacation, somewhere warm. Now, she’d all but thrown it to the wolves or one very hungry wolf. That boy will never learn. Abigail resumed her reading.
“I’ll pay you back every penny, I promise. You just have to trust me. You can do that, right?” Not likely. “Anyway, I’m putting all of it on the line at the biggest game of chance in the world, and I’m going to give Fortune a run for her money. Forget Pinnacle. They won’t find me until after I get my due justice.”
Abigail sighed and placed the letter face down. She ran her fingers across her forehead and through her hair, pushing off her glasses. Her vision blurred for a brief moment before her clarity resumed. God dammit. Where did she go wrong? Why did her son turn out so stupid? He was going to get himself killed!
Abigail walked over to the counter on her left and plucked her phone from her charger. She swiped the screen and began dialing the number for the local RTF. It was a slim chance, but if she got to them quickly enough they might spare the time to bring him … Abigail paused in her frantic dialing, her finger resting over the call button. Something had washed over her, a numbness that enveloped her spirit in the midst of the act.
Why call? Why do anything at all? If she saved him from his stupidity, he’d just up and do it again. What was a mother supposed to do? What was she supposed to do? Abigail exhaled and slid her finger off to the side. She turned off her phone and set it on the countertop. He’d learn one way or the other. Noah thinks he has power? Fine. Let him drop off the edge and hit the rock bottom he deserves. Maybe then he’ll appreciate what little he has.
Three days later …
Abigail was a long way from home in Saint Louis. She’d crossed miles of terrain to arrive at a police station in Nevada upon request. The matter had been urgent, or so the officials explained. Time sensitive and confidential materials prevented them from giving her any information over the phone, but they gleamed enough from Noah’s record and personal identification to call her first.
The Nevada RTF offered to fly her over, and if it weren’t for the time sensitive nature of their request, she would have refused. Abigail disliked heights with a passion, but the trip by train would have taken days instead of hours, and she needed to grab her son before Pinnacle sniffed him out. In all likelihood, she was too late regardless, but it helped to leave a bit of hope in the back of her mind.
The officers she spoke to neglected to say what he did or on which grounds they apprehended him. Abigail stroked back her hair as she pushed open the door to the RTF station, massive complex in the heart of a withering state. The air around her was humid, the land burned by lack of water and excess of sunlight.
The atmosphere inside the station, however, chilled her to the bone. The frigid temperature gave her goosebumps, and she folded her arms to compensate for the abrupt change. Abigail shivered as she strode through the metal detectors and glanced around the waiting room. She walked over to the receptionist and forced a smile.
“I’m here to pick up my son,” she said. “I believe I spoke to Officer Jameson over the phone a few hours ago.”
The receptionist nodded and motioned for her to take a seat beside a number of other guests. Abigail found an empty chair with armrests and settled down. She placed her purse neatly beside her chair. She was a long way from home. She would have observed the situation more closely, but it felt surreal. She wanted to be done with this as soon as possible.
Abigail looked up and jumped at the surprise of finding a tall uniformed officer looming overhead, his hand held out in a gesture of welcoming. Abigail reached out and shook it, not making eye contact.
“Officer Jameson?” she asked.
The man stood tall with wide shoulders and short cut black hair. His bore a scar across his cheek and an aged appearance that reminded her of how tiresome it was keeping super humans in check. In that sense, she identified with his struggles in small part.
“You’re correct,” he said. “I’m one of the seniors in the RTF here. I wish we could have met under better circumstances. If you’ll follow me, I want to make sure of something.”
Abigail grabbed her purse and stood up, a little shaky from the experience. There was an unnecessary sternness in the man’s tone, as if Noah had done something wrong or landed himself in dire straits. She followed him through the security door at the end of the lobby and down some halls.
Abigail glanced at the offices of those who served in the Resonance Task Force, the group developed shortly before she’d been born. Their people represented a hope that resonance could be tamed and controlled, a notion she was certain Noah didn’t much enjoy. Men like Magnum and those in the Order certainly wouldn’t have appreciated the work that the RTF did, but it wasn’t enough for her.
Resonance was something repulsive. It kept honest men and women from doing honest work. A part of her, however small, hated the idea that powers like Noah’s even existed. She often thought to herself that if he had not known his abilities, he wouldn’t have been so reckless. He might have chosen a better life, and she might have loved … Abigail paused. She buried the thought deep down again. Now wasn’t the time.
“The body is in here,” Officer Jameson said, his hand on a sealed door, his expression turned noticeably grim. Abigail drew back.
“Body?” she snapped. “You didn’t say anything about that.”
“I’m sorry to deliver this news, Miss Blanche,” he said. “Some things we aren’t allowed to say over open airwaves. Under normal circumstances, I’d have sent one of my men over to Saint Louis to give you a death notification at your doorstep, but your son left a document on his person, and I needed to ask you a few questions.” He paused. “We don’t have to go in if you don’t want to.”
“Why would the RTF be interested in my son?” she asked. “He doesn’t have any …”
He cut her off. “Ma’am, your boy won five million dollars across five casinos before he landed a bullet in his head. Normal people aren’t nearly as lucky.”
“Lucky?” she said, sneering. “You call that lucky? He’s dead!”
The Officer drew back. “I didn’t mean it like that. You know I didn’t.”
Abigail should have cried. Instead of tears, she found a welling hatred.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” She looked away. “And I’d rather stay out here. I don’t want to see what became of him.”
“Understandable,” he said. “Let me ask you something, ma’am. Are you a resonance user?”
“Not to my knowledge,” Abigail replied. “In my family’s history, Noah was the only one.”
“That’s probably a good thing,” Jameson said. “Your son wrote that an organization known as Pinnacle had tracked him down prior to landing in Nevada. If I know one thing about how they operate, it wouldn’t bode well for you if resonance ran in your family.”
“Resonance isn’t genetic,” she said. “Not as far as I knew.”
The Officer shook his head. “Probably not, but there’s a healthy dose of research to show that family members and close friends of a resonance user have a much higher chance of developing powers.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “But it’s good that you don’t have anything to stir Pinnacle’s interest. I needed to make sure of that before I closed this case.”
“You made me fly across the country to ask one question?”
“There are a lot of undocumented resonance users in the country, ma’am. I wanted to keep you safe, and my best means of doing that was to get you moving.”
Abigail nodded and glanced back down the hall from where they came.
“Is that all you needed to know, Officer Jameson?”
He let go of her shoulder and stuffed his hands in his pockets, drooping his head.
“Look, I know this must be hard,” he started, but she cut her off.
“Is that all you need, Officer?” she said, more sternly this time.
He paused. “Yes, we’re done here. I’ll be contacting the RTF presence in Illinois to send you some active agents for the next few weeks just to be sure. After that, I think you should be fine.”
Abigail nodded and turned to head down the hall. She kept her chin up and her posture straight. It happened too quickly for her tastes. One week Noah had been with her, and the next he’d slipped through her fingers again. What was wrong with her? She should feel an unquenched sadness, but the only mood stirring in her heart was disgust and repulsion at the idiot son who took too great a pride in his powers. He was useless as a resonance user and dead weight as a son. For once, he actually achieved what he sought out to do, but his overconfidence had issued him a cruel fate. He thought he could control it, harness that untapped potential, but he was a fool to think so. He was a dead fool.
Abigail reached for the sealed door that exited to her lobby. When she did so, however, the metal surface budged. The door slid open as she reached for the handle, and she paused, glancing back toward the officer. He hadn’t seen that. Good. Abigail felt something, like a force seething from her fingertips. It felt real. She folded her arms and pushed open the gate with her shoulders, bustling out with her purse in tow.