Authors: Sarah Alderson
A SHORT STORY
FROM THE AUTHOR
OF HUNTING LILA
A SHORT STORY
Copyright © 2012 Sarah Alderson
Demos is standing by the side of the bus tapping his finger on his watch as This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
I make my approach. I am walking as fast as I can but the grass is slowing me No reproduction without permission.
down because Mr. Blahnik designed these shoes with red carpets in mind, All rights reserved.
not fields. But nobody seems to realise this apart from me, because we keep The right of Sarah Alderson to be identified as the author of this parking in fields by the side of freeways and never on Rodeo Drive.
work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77
‘Suki,’ Demos says, before I can put one toe on the step, ‘I swear to God and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
if you buy one more pair of shoes I’m going to have Ryder sift every god-This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and damn thought of fashion out of your head. You’ll be wearing overalls and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living plastic clogs from Walmart for the rest of your days.’
or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
I stagger back against the side of the RV.
For more information about the author please visit
I knew I should have snuck in later with Nate’s help. The problem with
living on this stupid bus with a million other people, one of them another mind-reader, is that there’s no privacy. And that’s not the only problem.
There’s no closet space, either.
‘You wouldn’t sift me,’ I say to Demos, tipping up my chin, ‘because you need me. And I need shoes.
,’ I use this word I just learnt from Nate,
, you need my shoes.’
‘You’re not the only mind-reader, Suki, we’d manage without you,’
Demos warns, but he’s smiling as he says it. ‘We’re going to need a container ship to carry all your shoes if this keeps on.’
ooh the baddies ooh we have to run oooh too many
I roll my eyes and move past him to climb up into the bus.
‘How do you even pay for all this stuff?’ he asks.
I turn on the step and raise an eyebrow in a perfect arch and give him a
‘Four hundred today, maybe,’ Ryder pipes up from the sofa where he look I learnt from watching Judge Judy, though my way is far more attrac-is still playing with his Wii. ‘But how much did you spend yesterday? And tive. ‘
the day before that? Even the International Monetary Fund is going to start I see the smile twitch at the corner of his mouth. He looks less serious and noticing his credit card bill soon.’
less like a brain freezer when he smiles, which is about a once a month occur-
‘What is this International Money Fund?’ I ask in alarm. ‘Can you rence. I wondered at first what made Alicia go all Bella Swan over him because sift it?’
Alicia is as hot as any supermodel and Demos is no Edward Cullen but then
‘OK, people, listen up.’
I read her mind one day, totally by accident of course, and I saw just exactly It’s Demos. He’s standing in the doorway.
why, and now it’s hard to look Demos in the eye properly, and when I’m
‘Are we leaving?’ I ask. I think it’s about time we checked into a hotel around Alicia – who is also a mind-reader – I have to do a lot of
with a swimming pool and room service. It isn’t as if we don’t have the
‘Go on, get inside,’ Demos says, whacking the bag I’m holding.
money. And even if we didn’t, and the International whatever Fund cut off Demos has a history involving banks. And that history does not involve my dad’s credit card, Demos could always pay a ‘trip’ to the bank. I keep paying money into one, using an ATM, or working as a bank manager.
making this argument but Demos just gives me this look, like he’s thinking I found this out by accident too, talking to Harvey one day. He is a mine about permanently freezing me into a statue. ‘Soon,’ he answers. ‘We’re go-of information.
ing to head down to San Diego tomorrow.’
Inside the bus, Nate is with Ryder and they are playing on his Wii and
‘Oooh, are we going to spy on the Unit some more?’ Nate asks, shooting I don’t need to ask or look to know that Ryder is whipping Nate’s ass.
me a look, and I don’t need to be a mind-reader to appreciate exactly what Nate leaps up when he sees me. ‘You went shopping without me?’ he he’s thinking.
squeals. ‘That’s so unfair. What did you buy? Let me see!’
He’s thinking hot men in uniform. Now I am too.
He is like a puppy that needs a pee but I drop the bag on the sofa and
‘You two!’ Alicia suddenly says from behind me.
take out the box containing my new shoes that feel like they’re made from I whip around. I hadn’t heard her coming, probably because the images baby bunnies but thankfully aren’t because that would be gross as well as from Nate’s head were so overwhelming that everything else was blanked out.
making them exceedingly hard to clean.
‘Need we remind you that the Unit is the enemy?’ she says. ‘Not some
‘You so promised you’d take me shopping next time,’ Nate says, pouting boy band for you to dribble over.’
at me. ‘I’m totally telling your dad that you stole his credit card.’
‘I’m not dribbling!’ Nate protests.
‘I did not steal his credit card,’ I say, clutching the shoes to my chest.
He is dribbling. But anyone with eyes would understand and forgive
‘You stole the PIN number from his head. Same difference,’ Nate says him that. The Unit might be out to get us but that doesn’t change the fact snatching for my shoes.
that they’re also very buff and two of them in particular are beyond buff –
the same difference and my father is rich – he won’t notice four indeed they occupy a whole new federation of hotness. They are almost as hundred dollars.’
hot as me. Only in a man way.
‘Suki,’ Alicia says, rolling her eyes.
at them, and Amber can see people’s auras, which are apparently big balls of
’ I protest. ‘They
light. But Demos – he can freeze people with just a single look. He can stop Demos makes a funny shape with his mouth as if he’s just eaten a truck-people from thinking, from moving – even from feeling. And that’s why the load of wasabi.
Unit want him so much. He’s what Ryder calls
‘Suki, these men would kill you as soon as look at you. Let’s see how cute Sometimes I wonder if Demos did something to my head to convince you find them when they’re sticking a gun to your head and threatening to me to join his group of psys, which is what the Unit calls us, because I’m blow your brains out.’ He pauses, giving me his flat-eyed stare, ‘or worse.’
not sure how else he got me to agree to live on this bus with no closet space, Even the images in Nate’s head detour at this point out of the bedroom but here I am.
and somewhere much more emo. The room falls silent. Ryder pauses the It was Amber who found me. I was shopping and her and Demos cor-game and throws the controller onto the sofa. Amber has appeared from nered me in a changing room. Amber can spot a psy a mile away just by somewhere and she drops onto the sofa next to Ryder and rests her head on scanning auras. I f you’d told me that was possible before I would have his shoulder. Normally listening in on those two is like listening to a Taylor thought you were crazy but I’ve seen her do it – with Nate – so I know it’s Swift album playing on repeat, but now they’re both subdued. Right now true. At first I thought Demos and Amber were whacko people trying to they’re both thinking about the Unit.
kidnap me. But then they introduced me to Alicia and Ryder and Bill and I look at Demos and hear the anger crackling loud in his thoughts –
it was the first time in my whole entire life I’d ever met anyone else with a images striking like lightning before vanishing almost instantly – mainly superhot mind power, never mind a whole group of them.
he’s thinking about that woman – the woman he often thinks of: the dead
‘We need to find out what the Unit are planning next,’ Demos says, in-woman with the green eyes. And he’s also thinking about Jack Loveday, one terrupting my thoughts. ‘We can’t keep waiting for them to catch up with of the leaders of the Unit.
us. We need to fight back – put an end to this – to them.’ He turns to me, Demos thinks about him and this woman a lot. But his thoughts and
‘And Suki, we need you for this.’
feelings are so tangled up – so shockingly violent and devastatingly sad –
I cross my arms over my chest. ‘I thought you just said you could do that it gives me a headache just to look at him. Sometimes I wonder why without me? Don’t you have another mind-reader you can use?’ I widen my he doesn’t do some of his mind control on himself or get Ryder to sift eyes at Alicia.
those memories and remove them completely. I think I would. But I know
‘The Unit know Alicia,’ Demos answers. ‘They don’t know you. We need Demos prefers to remember,
you to get close to them.’
The Unit are after Demos like he’s an A class drug. They’re after all of us, I hear Nate snicker behind me.
but Demos is the one they want the most.
, you do need my shoes,’ I say, grinning, ‘Admit it.’
The rest of us have powers – Nate can fly outside his body, Alicia can
‘OK, Suki,’ Demos sighs, ‘I need your shoes.’
read minds, Ryder can sift memories – removing whole chunks of your past. Harvey and Bill can rob banks and make things move just by looking 4
, I yell back,
I hear you. Now shhh, so I can focus.
I scan the room. There they are. Lieutenant Jack Loveday and Lieutenant Alex Wakeman. I’ve only seen their photos so far and the pictures that 2
are in Demos’s head, but the truth is Demos did not do them justice. In fact, Demos’s head needs a tune up or a reboot or an entirely new operating system altogether.
Jack’s profile is turned towards me. He’s glowering at his iPhone. He’s The bar is called
. It has a flashing neon sign outside, advertising got dark hair and the kind of face Nate would roll over and play dead for.
Budweiser and T-bone steaks. It is not the kind of establishment that has Alex is facing me, sitting on a stool, one leg propped up on the rail. He’s valet parking and a security man on the door who’ll let me skip the line.
wearing a white T-shirt and it’s clinging to his body so hard I’m actually There is no line. I don’t think this is the kind of place people would ever line jealous – if it’s possible to be jealous, that is, of a piece of clothing.
up to enter. Though maybe to leave.
Alex has blond hair and eyes so blue I can see their colour from here.
I walk slowly towards the door, like a lamb entering a lion’s den. I might I scan his body. Forget his mind.
be torn to shreds or end up being manhandled by the Unit back to their His jeans are in the way.
headquarters and God only knows what would happen to me if I ended up For not the first time in my life I wish my superhot power wasn’t mind-there. We’ve never been able to get inside because of their alarm thing. But reading but X-ray vision.
a quick scan of the bar reveals that most people inside are thinking about
three things: who’s winning the game, who’s buying the next round and Ah. Alicia is in my head again.
which girl they’re going to try their luck with next.
Remember why you’re there!