Being psychic is just another aspect of life for Neila Roddenberry. So are dreams of a past life as Nikola Tesla. She’s sure that last part is the result of reading the wrong mind at the wrong time without realizing it. Neither are things she talks about much. Her friends know she’s psychic, but no one knows about the dreams. She’s twenty-three, asexual, and unemployed with ambitions to become a freelance artist and writer.
On the way home from visiting friends, Neila gets caught up in a terrorist attack, then wakes up in an underground psychic testing facility. Raised by a doomsday-prepper father, Neila is unusually prepared for the possibility of being whisked away to a secret lab somewhere. When she is faced with the choice of working for the scientists studying psychics at the facility, she takes the job as both an agent and a test subject.
But not everyone in the facility wants to be there.
Sarah Elkins© 2018
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 1: Oh, Well Shit
Traffic from the shift change at Fort Hood was clogging up the perpetually construction-riddled highway that ran through the town of Killeen, Texas near the base. Neila sat in her Camaro, inching along behind a short army convoy on the highway not far from the military base. To distract herself from worry she had said or done the wrong thing at lunch with friends she let her attention hover around the military vehicles ahead of her to play a bit of a game of trying to identify what they were. One armored personnel carrier, three Humvees, and a water truck. There was a small red car with a primer-colored hood in front of the convoy. She pushed her Third Eye higher to see over the traffic jam. A wrecker was in the process of moving a car that had stalled in the one open lane. She snapped her attention back to her car when she smelled the sweet humid odor the radiator gave off when it was beginning to overheat.
“Crap, crap, crap, crap.” Neila hurried to turn on the heater and roll down the windows. She didn’t bother to reach over for the passenger side nob; instead, she used her telekinesis because it was faster.
It was a warm day, and the heater would make the interior of the car almost unbearable inside of ten minutes. The needle on the engine’s temperature gauge began to fall back down to read in the middle. She really didn’t want to take her hoodie off but would have to once the car got hotter.
Three motorcycles sped by on the narrow shoulder while Neila stared at the temperature gauge on the car. “Please cool off. We’ll be moving again soon. Great, shit, I’m talking to my car. Maybe I should cut the engine off?”
There was a loud noise, like a car wreck ahead of the traffic jam but louder. Neila thrust her Third Eye up to see what happened. Smoke rose from the remnants of the car that had been between the army convoy and the stalled car. The motorcycles that had passed were facing against traffic, and the riders were armed with assault rifles. She pushed her Third Eye closer to get a better look, AR-15s with M203 grenade launchers attached.
Thanks, Dad, for teaching me about high-powered weapons. Neila was thrust back to herself when the Humvee ahead backed over the front of her car. Without thinking, she slipped out the driver’s side window next to the concrete barrier before the military vehicle flattened the cab of her car. The other trucks in the convoy were scrambling to move, but the six-foot-high barriers on either side made escape all but impossible.
Neila was glad she wasn’t a big person as she raced forward, running down the thin gap between the convoy on her right and barrier to her left. She heard the familiar sound of shots from assault rifles and the loud unfamiliar sound of the slugs impacting with the armored personnel carrier ahead of the Humvees.
A series of loud bangs echoed down the road as if someone was breaking wood against metal, beating the side of the APC with mechanized baseball bats. She stopped next to the APC as she let her Third Eye trail up so she could see the motorcyclist who was firing at the window of the APC. Then she extended her “sphere of influence” toward him and wrenched the gun from his grip.
“What the fuck?” the man in the black motorcycle helmet shouted as his weapon abandoned him to tumble toward the hillside past the concrete barrier.
The driver’s side door to the APC opened. “Get in!”
Neila climbed up the side step of the truck and slipped in the door, which the driver shut behind her just as one of the motorcyclists began firing where she had just been. The driver and his passenger were the only other people in the APC.
“Please tell me you have backup coming,” Neila said quickly.
“Traffic’s backed up. They’re going to send in a helo, but the closest place to land is a mile up the road.”
“Do you have any guns?” she asked.
“No, just moving the trucks on a civi highway, no arms authorized this mission,” the driver replied. “Suppressive fire would save our asses-shit.”
“Oh, well, shit,” Neila echoed.
Neila wasn’t his boss, wasn’t even a soldier, but knew from spending time with her family who weren’t exactly “normal” that life-or-death situations required confidence and force. Her default was to take charge. Her family always joked that she sounded like a “little drill sergeant.” It had annoyed her, but she needed that experience now to survive.
That little drill sergeant found she couldn’t see outside the APC with her Third Eye. She went up to the scarred front window to get a better look at the cyclist who was firing at the truck.
More bullets slammed into the side of the vehicle. The windshield cracked a little more, and she ducked reflexively.
“I’m gonna try something. Don’t freak out,” she shouted to the two men in the truck as she tried extending her sphere of influence toward the biker who was still shooting. It was more difficult than normal, but she was able to wrench the gun away from her hands and slide it under the burning car ahead of them.
“You did that? How the fuck did you do that?” the soldier in the passenger seat of the APC barked. “What the fuck are you?”
The driver was on the radio. “We need that helo. Two hostiles engaging. Non-com casualties. Requesting permission to engage hostiles.”
“There’s three,” Neila corrected. “I saw three of them. One red helmet, two black helmets. Two men, one woman. AR-15s with grenade launchers attached.”
“Correction. Three hostiles engaging convoy,” the driver continued into the radio.
“You, girl. How the fuck did you do that?” the soldier in the passenger seat barked again. He wasn’t in follow-the-confident-person’s-orders mode like the driver had been.
“You mean you can’t?” Neila replied and looked back out the window. She assumed he couldn’t. Most people weren’t psychic. Playing dumb about it always seemed like the thing to do.
Neila managed to pull the brake lines off one of the bikes just as the female biker ran to it. The biker stared at the bike for a moment as it tipped over onto its side seemingly of its own accord. The woman in the red helmet looked up and locked eyes with Neila in the APC. Police lights twinkled over a mile down the highway. Neila couldn’t see where the other two bikers had gone due to the APC’s damaged windows.
“What the fuck, lady!”
Oh, now it was lady, such an upgrade. At least, it wasn’t girl anymore. She had been knighted.
“Requesting permission to engage hostiles. We are being assisted by a civilian,” the driver continued into the radio. So he had noticed her using her powers and wasn’t fazed by it. Maybe he was psychic or knew someone who was.
“Do not engage. Helo en route, coming in hot. Sit tight.”
Neila looked around at the angular interior of the APC. Rows of seats lined the sides of the truck. She couldn’t see any weapons inside. “How much does this weigh?”
“Six tons,” the soldier at the radio replied automatically.
Could she move six tons? She’d never tried because that was a lot of fucking weight.
“You need to drive forward, over the burning car.” She pointed ahead of them.
“Over the car?”
“Your buddies in the hummer in back already smashed my car. You can drive this beast over a fucking Kia. Get us out of here!”
The driver gunned the gas and plowed into the burning car, knocking Neila off her feet. She fell backward and hit her head hard on the metal floor of the APC.
Shouting. Muffled gunfire. The sound of a hail slamming into the side of a metal barn in a thunderstorm. The heavy thumping of a giant drum.
Sarah Elkins is a 30 year old comic artist and writer who nearly had to give up art entirely due to a form of ossifying tennis elbow that forced her to be unable to use her dominate hand for nearly a year. She spent much of that time writing novels with her left hand as a means to deal with the pain and stress of possibly never drawing again. Thanks to a treatement regimen she is able to draw again albeit not as easily or quickly as she once did.
Sarah enjoys reading science fiction, horror, fantasy, weird stories, comics of every sort, as well as any biographical material about Nikola Tesla she can get her hands on (that doesn’t suggest he was from Venus.) She has worked in the comics industry since 2008 as a flatter (colorist assistant,) penciler, inker, and colorist. She contributed a comic to the massive anthology project Womanthology. Currently she (slowly) produces a webcomic called Magic Remains while writing as much as her body will allow.