Aesthesia: Chapter 7

23:17 1st October

Maya had managed to pull an address from Matt, although he had not been forthcoming with information. The address was the Professors last known location, which was from years ago. As Maya pulled up outside she examined the house that stood behind metal bars. The place was locked down. State of the art alarm system and heavy metal, electric gates that stretched half a mile out from the grounds of the house. Maya assumed the Professor must have had some trouble. It took her about half an hour of walking round the impenetrable fortress to find a weakness she could exploit. Once on the grounds, there didn’t seem to be many ways into his house. The front door wasn’t usually a route Maya liked to use, but under the circumstances it seemed appropriate. She needed the Professor’s help.  She knocked on the door and had barely waited a minute before it creaked open. 

‘He’s been expecting you, dear,’ answered the old man who opened the door, ‘let me take your coat’ he gestured. 

’No,’ Maya sharply replied, ‘I’m just more comfortable keeping it on.’

‘Very well. Please take a seat in the boardroom. I will let the Professor know you’re here. Would you like a drink while you’re waiting?’

‘No, I’m fine thank you,’ Maya briskly replied. It had become a survival instinct to be generally distrustful of humanity. The boardroom looked like it belonged in a 1960s Hollywood film, with wood panels and green opaque glass wall lights. Maya walked round the table that dominated the room, to look at pictures decorating the walls. There were at least fifty pictures that Maya casually perused passed, until one caught her attention. She barely heard the Professor enter.  

‘That’s a nice picture,’ said the Professor, as Maya puzzled over what a family picture, of her family, was doing on his walls. ‘Your daughter is beautiful, I hope we can get you back to her soon.’

‘How do you have this?’ Maya accusatorially asked turning to look at the man who called himself the Professor. He looked nothing like she had imagined. He was a young, no older than thirty-five, blue-eyed, with medium brown hair to his shoulders and looked like he had just come from the gym. 

‘Were you expecting an old codger with a walking stick?’ he asked seeing Maya’s surprise, ‘I would have thought you of all people would know appearances can be deceiving. Ethan sent me that picture, almost a year ago now. How is he?’

Maya fell silent for several moments. ‘I thought he had been killed, I saw him die. But…..it’s difficult to explain’

‘When did this happen?’ asked the Professor, which an unexpected tone of urgency. 

‘Last night.’

‘Well, you were right to come and find me. Ethan is very much alive, from my calculations. Although he may not be for much longer,’ the Professor replied, walking out of the boardroom.

Maya followed him into the hallway, where the Professor and his butler began quietly conversing. The Professor continued to walk through the large hallway to the kitchen, while the butler had taken the stairs to the basement. Maya quietly followed, unsure of how this man was certain Ethan was alive. 

‘Please come in, John has prepared us a snack,’ the Professor said walking into the kitchen which had a strong smell of fried egg. ‘Egg sandwiches – something we have in common. Ethan once mentioned they were your favourite too.’

‘Professor, this isn’t a social visit. I’d really…..’ Maya began. 

‘Please, call me Ben. The Professor is so formal, it’s sounds like you’re talking about my dad,’ he said while plating up a sandwich for Maya. 

‘No thanks,’ she replied, still uncertain of whether to trust him. 

Ben plated himself a sandwich, and carried both plates to the small kitchen table. Maya sat at the table quietly, while Ben ate his sandwich while hers remained uneaten.

‘You’re sure you don’t want it?’ Ben asked again. 

‘Certain,’ Maya answered. 

‘Very well.’ Ben leaned forward to the sandwich that had sat surplus in front of her and ate it too. ‘This place had to be locked down after I helped you and Ethan. I was being attacked daily. It sounds like I need an upgrade, as you managed to get on the grounds unaided,’ Ben commented between mouthfuls. 

‘How do you know Ethan? How do you have our picture? How can you be certain he’s alive?’ Maya blurted out, momentarily losing her controlled composure. 

Ben explained, that after the instability Ethan had consulted with him and sought treatment. The fracture that had occurred in time had not healed, which meant another event was likely. He gave an analogy of tectonic plates and an earthquake, although Maya struggled to follow how this fit in amongst all the physics lingo and talk of electromagnetic radiation.

‘Bottom line? Can it be fixed?’ Maya impatiently asked.

Ben smiled and momentarily left the dining table to return with a compass pointing true magnetic north. He handed it to Maya. The compass deflected to a different direction, more than that which could be explained by a minor magnetic anomaly. After a several minutes it returned to true north. 

‘Interesting,’ Ben answered raising his eyes from the compass Maya held to meet her eyes, ‘With Ethan it would remain deflected. Have you learnt to control it?’

‘Control what?’ Maya asked frustrated, as the compass once again deflected.

‘He didn’t tell you. Your connection to each other, the fact that Ethan was able to heal himself and much more untapped potential stems from the fact that both of you harbour unique anomalies suggestive of magnetic phenomena. Ethan and I had been communicating for some time looking at a way to control and harness this energy. You somehow are innately controlling it, although it seems to be linked to your emotions,’ Ben finished, pointing toward the compass. 

‘This is lunacy. If I’m some sort of magnetic anomaly, why does metal not come flying my way? Does this mean I can control the oceans? Knock the Earth out of orbit?’ Maya sarcastically ridiculed the hypothesis that had been presented. 

‘Most of the time, it’s a minor anomaly. Indeed, enough for you and Ethan to be drawn to each other through several centuries and manipulate certain physical properties without attracting metal or an ocean. When there’s a surge, well, anything can happen. I think history will prove that.’

Maya thought back to the day it had started. It had been like a war zone, there was so much blood covering the streets. In her heart she had never truly believed the instability had been entirely of her doing, it had seemed inevitable like a collision of events that could not be controlled. Her mind wondered further back, to the first time she had met Walter. He had stopped her from taking her life. Perhaps suicide would have been better; would you save one life or hundreds? 

‘It wasn’t your fault,’ Ben empathetically said, leaning forward to touch her hand. ‘We had been working on way to change what happened. To do that we needed to cause another surge in electromagnetism, which is probably what led   to the Freelancers finding you.’

Ben stood and led the way out the kitchen. Maya followed him down the spiral staircase to the basement. Upon entering Maya stood transfixed by the huge contraption in front of her, unsure of which way to move. In front of her was a mammoth pendulum, resembling a Foucault pendulum, swinging across the entire length of the basement. 

‘Sometimes when a bone is broken, is has to be fractured further, before it can be fixed,’ Ben said, while rapidly typing commands on a computer at the far end of the basement. ‘We need to cause a controlled collision this time, if we have any hope of undoing the damage. The fracture, of time, needs to be extended before it can be fixed.’

‘You mean bringing Ethan back?’ Maya hopefully asked. 

‘I mean much more than that. We have the potential to undo the instability. We can change the course of events,’ Ben briefly looked up at Maya, who had manoeuvred around the pendulum to stand next to him. ‘If we successfully harness the energy, the opportunities are limitless.’

‘So we need to find Ethan to create a collision?’

‘Yes and no. Energy cannot be destroyed, therefore the energy that resided within Ethan will remain. We just need to locate it,’ Ben answered, having stopped typing.   

‘Is Ethan alive?’ Maya clarified, dreading the answer. 

‘In some form, yes. As the energy dissipates Ethan will weaken,’ Ben paused, ‘You may have a decision to make.’

The computer screen started flashing with co-ordinates, a date and time. 

 

23:17 1st October

‘We lost her sir.’

‘Not to worry, even fucking rats have to surface for air, she’ll come back into site sooner or later,’ answered the self appointed Freelancers’ General. ‘We’re running low on troops,’ he commented looking round the dishevelled headquarters at the few surviving troops, many of whom had sustained severe injuries. The headquarters had a strong odour of death, the air was so thick with the scent of blood you could almost taste the iron that had been previously circulating in the dead. 

‘The last battle depleted our stock. It’s hard to get the staff,’ answered the Lieutenant with a sickening smile. 

‘You will need to go recruiting. First, visit our friends in blue, tell them the disruption and blood loss was due to our interventions. No need for them to waste time investigating this,’ the General ordered. ‘Ethan’s body, where the fuck is it?’

‘We began dismembering it as per protocol, sir,’ the Lieutenant paused showing an unusual hesitancy, ‘it vanished.’

‘What the fuck do you mean, it vanished!’ the General snarled, rapidly drawing his knife and placing it on his subordinates neck. 

‘We had just isolated the torso from the limbs, when they all vanished,’ the brown haired Lieutenant quivered, glancing at several junior troops who were looking on. He felt the knife that was pressing against his neck increase in pressure. 

‘The one thing we have, that we own, is death. This knife, I know if I push it further it’ll slit your throat, make a mess on the floor and set an example,’ the General calmly said grasping the young mans brown hair and pushing him against the wall, while the controlled pressure on the knife continued to steadily increase. ‘Be fucking grateful, this wasn’t a paying job.’ The General said, removing the knife from the Lieutenants neck to reveal a wound. 

’Thank you, sir,’ answered the breathless Lieutenant, straightening up. 

‘One more fuck up and you will wish I had slit you throat open. Leave the girl for now. We have a paying job. Telecoms CEO wants to knock off his competition. Get it done and bring me the bodies. Pictures and names have been uploaded to your unit.’

‘Thank you sir,’ saluted the Lieutenant, with blood dripping down his neck adding to the stains on his bloodied uniform.

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