30 August 2010

Glass and Mirrors, Part 4

Parts 1-3 are on your left. -m

The most uncomfortable part of having someone else in your head is not, in fact, the simple fact that they are there. It's the nagging fear that at any moment they'll accidentally find that key under the mat in front of the door to the rest of your mind.

Avel had conjured up a leather chair to sit in while he relaxed on the front porch of my mind. I kept trying to push him out, but he had some sort of magic thingie around me, and there was nothing I could do. All of my efforts pushed me further away from him, leaving torn up tracks of sod all over the lawn. He smiled benignly.

"Having some trouble?" he asked.

"Get out of my head!" I yelled. My actual voice, the one Kadey could hear as she sat in the theater, sounded like a muffled mumble. In my head, I was screaming.

"But I like it here," he said, pulling a glass of lemonade out of thin air and taking a sip. Ice cubes clinked against the glass. I threw my hands up into my hair, feeling like I wanted to pull it out. Keeping a wary eye on Avel, I half pulled myself out of my mind so I could look at the theater again. Everything was still in shades of gray, and Kadey had a firm grip made up of freezing, shaking fingers on my lower arm.

"Meli? Can you hear me?" I looked up at her from my slouched position and tried to nod. She at least noticed that I was trying to acknowledge her, and she pointed at the theater screen. At least Avel was still letting me see things, even if the color was sapped. The images on the screen were still making people scream. For a few seconds it was a small child's memory of tripping on the sidewalk, then it switched to a girl stealing jewelry from a department store. Avel was enjoying it way more than he should have, I could feel his self satisfaction practically oozing all around the unsheltered parts of my mind. I decided I needed to do something awkward.

But before I could go back and confront Avel, Kadey's fingers tightened on my arm. I jumped a little, able to move because Avel couldn't guess that I would have been surprised by something Kadey did. Kadey leaned over and put her head close so I could hear her whisper.

"I think I found him," she said. I tried to move my head, but nothing happened. She rolled her eyes, thought for a minute, and then reached into her pocket and pulled out her touch screen phone. The screen was dark and for a second I was really confused, until she held it so that the people next to me were reflected on the surface. "Sorry, I don't carry a mirror," Kadey said. She turned the fake mirror slowly, so that I could look at everyone in its reflection. It was hard to see, especially in the strange light of the theater, but I could at least make out, about three people away, the shape of a teenaged boy with dark hair sitting with his arms up.

I couldn't see clearly enough, and I looked back at Kadey, hoping for an explanation. She nodded, understood my confusion, took one last look at the boy, and copied his pose. Sitting up very straight, Kadey lifted her arms so that her forearms were parallel to the movie screen. Tilting her head back, she half-closed her eyes and bent her wrists back a little so that her fingers were near her eyebrows.

Then, once her arms were in place and she'd peeked once or twice to make sure that she was accurately copying Avel's position, she began twitching her fingers randomly. I swallowed and uneasily began to return to my mind, to confront Avel in his leather chair. My spine tingled. I'd only seen Avel sit like that once before, and it had ended with the other guy in pieces. I mean, literally. Many pieces. And he'd done it to himself, with his own magic.

"Avel, stop," I said. This time there was urgency in my voice. He put down his drink, stood up, and came to me.

"Stop chasing me," he said. I shook my head. "Tell Kadey to leave." I hesitated. He was so close, and even though it was all in my head, I could smell him. He still wore the same cologne.

"You'll stop using their minds as entertainment?" He smirked and lifted a shoulder. "Let me talk to her, at least?"

I opened my eyes in the theater. Kadey was still holding my arm.

"Mmphar," I said on the first try. I licked my lips, cleared my throat, and tried again. "He wants you to leave."

"I'm not leaving," Kadey said. A man screamed from one of the front rows, and we both jumped. I glanced at Avel, the teenaged version of him, at least. He still had his arms up, fingers playing some unseen symphony, and he was still in black and white. Without blinking, I went into the back of my mind, unlocked the trap door, and dropped through, covering my tracks with magic made to look gray. What I needed was a bit of my own magic to take out of my mind with me, but Avel was blocking it all. So, physically, I was screwed. No fireballs or anything cool.

But I could play the word card. Easy.

Quickly I felt into the pantry and grabbed the first thing I could reach -- a chocolate bar. I unwrapped it as I jumped back out of the room and locked the door, shoving it in my mouth just before I got back to the theater. As far as I knew, Avel had no idea what I'd done.

Before I said anything to Kadey, I turned as much as I could towards Avel. He had my English tied up tight in his hands, but he didn't own all the words in my mouth. I could feel the chocolate magic tingling between my teeth, like really strong mouthwash. It even tasted a little minty. I took a very deep breath.

"Ambreel! Arrete!" I yelled. Ambreel Avel Tucker jumped in his theater seat, looked at me, and grinned. The instant he opened his eyes I shut down the walls in my mind, forcing him out. The movie screen went black, and within seconds people began to leave as though nothing unusual had happened.

Soon the theater was completely empty; even Kadey had gone. It was just me and Avel, and he came to sit next to me, stretching his long legs out on the top of the seats in front of us.

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