My mother and I continued eyeing each other and I noticed she seemed to have aged more than the few years she'd been away. Her hair was still beautiful but her face sagged. Whatever kind of life she'd been living hadn't been kind to her. I didn't want to think about that though. We were having a reunion of sorts. It should've been a happy time.
Though everyone else in the village ran away, I didn't think to be wary of her. She was my mother. Surely mothers didn't hurt their daughters, at least not physically. She did abandon me but in spite of the emotional damage she inflicted, I still wanted her back in my life. I was still ready to forgive her, and I got the feeling that in her own way, she wanted to be forgiven. It's too bad she couldn't let go of her past.
"I've come to take you with me," she said matter-of-factly.
"That's it?! You're gone for nearly four years and you come back to take me away too?"
"Don't be difficult. Let's just be going."
She finally came back to Dingle and now she wanted me to leave with her. She wanted me to abandon my home and my father just like she did. It didn't make sense. She really was insane but there was more to it. I heard a dark edge to her voice that I didn't like. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
I stood my ground but quickly flinched away when she reached out to grab my wrist. I wasn't about to go anywhere with her, and she wasn't happy about it. She scowled at me and I started trembling.
"Why?!" I whined. "Why did you leave me?! What's wrong with you?!"
It was all coming out now. I thought I'd dealt with all the pain but seeing her reopened a gaping wound.
"Dana, Honey," she said softly. I thought my reaction had a positive effect on her. Her features softened and she sighed, causing my heart to swell with hope. But then her eyes turned cold and with an angry sneer she added, "Grow up."
I probably would've completely broken down and cried at that point but I was saved by Sean. When he showed up, my self-pity turned to concern. I know he meant well but I felt a storm brewing and I didn't think he could handle my mother.
"Stay out of this old man," she said to Sean without turning her head to look at him.
I found it odd that she didn't have to look to know he was there. She somehow sensed he was there. I was told she didn't have any mental powers but it certainly appeared like she did.
Sean didn't wait for an invitation. He closed his eyes for what I assumed was some sort of mental attack and suddenly cried out in pain. Then he collapsed on the ground.
"What did you do?!" I screamed.
My mother just pointed to the side of her head and with a proud, crooked smile said, "Implants."
"You hurt him! How could you?!" I continued to scream while she rolled her eyes.
"He did it to himself," she said. "It was feedback. I warned him."
"You could've done a better job of warning him," I growled.
"Oh well ... too late. So will you be coming along quietly now?"
I seriously considered knocking the wind out of her when a third family member burst onto the scene. Sean must have contacted my father telepathically on the way over.
"Daddy! No! Stay back!" I shouted.
Mother just giggled insanely and blurted out, "Tom! It's so nice to see you again."
"Hello, Nora," he said. "You've got a bit of seaweed in your hair."
"What's that? Oh. Thank you. You're always so thoughtful."
She felt for the offending weed and pulled it out, dehydrating it into a brittle mass as she did so. Then she held out what was left and crumbled it into dust while favoring him with a wicked smile. It was an obvious attempt at intimidation, and it worked. My father shivered with dread, but he still didn't back down.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Why, Tom. Is that any way to treat your wife?"
He didn't take the bait. He just waited for an answer to his question.
"Fine," she huffed. "I've come to take my daughter away from this pathetic place. That's what I'm doing here."
She marched forward and once again grabbed for my wrist. Her second attempt caught me by surprise and she latched on with surprising strength, but she stopped for a moment when my father approached.
"Don't do anything you'll regret," she warned.
"Please don't do this," he begged.
"But I have to my darling husband. I was 'ordered' to."
She didn't give him a chance to say any more. Instead, she drained all the nearby puddles and sprayed him with a powerful jet of water, violently knocking him backwards a good 10 feet.
"Stay out of this, Tom. This is between me and my daughter," she growled.
That did it. I had enough. I gasped when she hit my father with the water, but I collected my wits with her last statement. She was right about one thing. This was between her and me. I was the only one here with the power to stop this madness.
I blasted into the air, dragging my poor, mad mother with me. I let her scream for a little while before I finally did knock the wind out of her. I wasn't taking any chances.
I took us up to about a couple thousand feet and hovered over Dingle Bay. My mother had lost her grip long ago but I kept her up with a separate blast of wind and protected her with a pressurized bubble of air like I kept around myself.
It was a good thing Alice insisted I learn first aid along with everything else. I sensed the air in and around her bronchial tubes and found her left lung had collapsed. I'd done too good a job of sucking out the air. I corrected the problem and waited for her to finish wheezing and coughing.
"How dare you?!" she spluttered after a few minutes. "I don't care what they said ... ," she trailed off, looking down. She finally realized how high we were and I was secretly pleased to see that it seriously rattled her.
"You want me to grow up?" I seethed. "How am I doin' so far?"
My mother offered no reply other than wide eyes and a pathetic squeak.
I continued to glare, though inside, I wasn't happy about scaring her. It wasn't like she had acrophobia. She wasn't hysterical. It was more that she began to fully comprehend the strength of my power. She was afraid of me.
"So are you gonna tell me who ordered you to steal me away?"
She violently shook her head no and it didn't seem possible but she looked even more fearful. Whoever she worked for must have had a disturbing hold on her, and I didn't like it one bit.
"Okay," I continued, softening my tone. "It doesn't matter. You can leave, can't you? You can come home. Please come home."
"I ... can't," she said. Then she pointed to her head again and winced. She was trying to tell me something but I don't think she could verbalize it. She'd mentioned implants earlier and I guessed they did more than cause painful feedback for intrusive telepaths.
Though obviously afraid, she seemed quite rational during our little chat. Her eyes temporarily lost the glaze of insanity she'd had down below. The fear must have helped her focus, but now the glaze was coming back. I was losing her.
"So would you like to come with me now?" she asked in a hopeful, timid voice. "I can see you're ripe for plucking. With your fiery temper and high power level, you'd make a perfect addition to my new family."
She was breaking my heart. I desperately wanted to bring her home to get help for her. She needed help but I had no idea what to do. I needed advice and I was running out of time. I couldn't keep the two of us up in the air forever.
I didn't think it wise to take her away. I feared what her implants would do to her, so there was really only one option. I had to let her go, and I had to make sure she didn't come back any time soon. I needed time to figure out what to do about her.
I flew her far out over the Atlantic Ocean and dropped her back in her element. I figured she could manipulate the waves to gently break her fall but I stayed nearby just in case. I could easily reach her with a gust of wind to slow her descent if I had to.
Right after I released her, she shouted out something that still gives me nightmares.
"I'll be back to collect you in a few days! And I won't be alone!"
I got the feeling she wasn't threatening me so much as warning me. I was still her daughter and I'm sure she didn't want any harm to come to me. That part didn't bother me. It was the thought of her bringing others back with her that bothered me so much. Whoever they were had to be responsible for my mother's current mental state, and I'd make sure they'd pay dearly for what they'd done to her.
"Go raibh maith agat," I said, too softly for her to hear. "Thank you for the warning, Mother. I'll find a way to save you."
I watched as a huge wave formed directly below her. She skipped along the nearly vertical surface to slow herself down and slipped below the surface near the base of the wave. Then I turned and headed back to Dingle for an emergency conference with Alice.
* * *
I found my father fit as a fiddle when I got back to the village. That was a relief. He was having a serious discussion with Sean as I landed. Luckily, the old telepath had recovered from his ordeal too, suffering only a mild headache.
I ran over for a group hug and some sniffles. I didn't have a lot of time to think during my encounter with my mother but emotions crashed over me in waves then. Losing my mother was becoming a seriously bad habit.
As soon as was humanly possible, I gathered my courage and suggested we find Alice right away. The two men agreed so off we went, following Sean who could easily home in on her by reading her thoughts.
The four of us caught up with Alice in her tiny room at the nearby bed and breakfast and crammed inside. She had all of her telecommunication equipment set up there so we had to make due. We needed a teleconference with other members of the Institute. We needed help.
I felt claustrophobic and volunteered to step outside our makeshift war room, but my father put paid to that. He lifted me up with surprising strength and set me gently on the twin bed. It freed up the same amount of space without having me leave so I was happy enough. I didn't really want to be left out. I was just very nervous.
Though I was cautiously optimistic when the meeting started, by the end of it, I was beyond upset. The best reinforcements we could hope for was one or two medium-powered morfs who were family members of Institute employees, and it would take at least a week to work out the logistics. We didn't have a week! My mother made that very clear.
"But we have to do something!" I wailed.
"We will, Dana," Alice assured me. "We'll think of something."
I couldn't help notice that she didn't make it a promise but something in her eyes told me she'd do her best. That's all I could ask.
* * *
Our meeting resulted in a shaky plan of action but it was a start. Step one was brainstorming while performing business as usual. I still had school so I went to learn whatever I could in the short time I had left. I spent every free minute there either reading my science textbook or talking with teachers. I was cramming for what could be the final test of my life.
The rest of our little group did pretty much the same thing. When I got home from school, I was surprised to catch my father surfing the Internet. He normally avoided computers like the plague but there he was, reading MORFS forums to look for ideas. It was such a touching gesture that I couldn't help but reward him with a kiss on his forehead.
My father relinquished his place in front of our only computer so I could resume my studies and Alice joined me soon afterwards. It was then that something good finally happened. I had my last major breakthrough in the understanding and development of my power.
So far, all of my education involved the macroscopic effects of air and air pressure. I had completely missed the microscopic world of molecules. Alice asked me about something called "O2" and I just gave her a blank look. She sometimes forgot I was only 16 and hadn't learned anything about chemistry.
My teacher quickly introduced me to my new favorite subject and I suddenly knew what I'd been doing wrong. When I tried to stop a whirlwind, I thought of it as a single thing when it really wasn't. In reality, it was actually made up of separate molecules colliding and scattering in all directions within the spinning column of air.
I'm not sure how I started a whirlwind or controlled the direction of blasts of air without understanding the nature of air molecules. That part seemed instinctual. Stopping my powers required more than instinct though. I had to stop the motion of the molecules by thinking of them as a huge collection of tiny little bits instead of a single object. It suddenly made sense to me and I immediately ran outside to try an experiment.
I started a little whirlwind in the back garden and closed my eyes, trying to sense the extremely small particles spinning before me. I focused so intently that I didn't even hear Alice catch up to me.
I'm not sure how long I stood with my eyes closed but it didn't matter. Time was a paradox. It didn't matter to me how long it took because failure wasn't an option, and yet every hour was also extremely precious. There weren't many hours left before my mother returned. All I could do was continue to make enough progress and hope it was enough.
I couldn't make out individual atoms, though I did begin to detect a graininess that I hadn't noticed before. That would have to do. I reached out with my power and imagined the individual grains slowing down, and I continued decelerating them until they stopped completely. All that was left was to open my eyes and confirm what I already sensed, but I didn't even have to do that much.
"You did it!" screeched Alice while grabbing me from behind and hugging the life out of me. "You really did it this time!"
We laughed and cried and carried on as we staggered back towards the house, still clinging awkwardly to each other. Once inside, my father quickly joined us to make our sweet little victory celebration complete. We took a break from our hard work and celebrated the rest of the afternoon. It might have seemed silly but it helped.
A new plan was formed after supper that same day. High spirits worked inspirational wonders. Alice and I attacked the Internet with a vengeance and she realized I didn't have much experience with gases under higher pressure. She hadn't given it a lot of thought either. I had my pressurized bubble to protect me during flight but I could easily create much higher pressures.
My teacher flashed me a wicked smile as she outlined what she wanted me to do, and her idea scared me. So did her reaction. She seemed a little too casual and even pleased about the potential for causing harm. My father always said that the ends don't justify the means. We shouldn't perform an immoral act to prevent another. It was a good thing I reserved judgment until she was finished though. It was clear that any harm would be self-inflicted. When I heard that part, I heartily approved.
We had initially hoped to include the police but they refused to act on threats. They wouldn't send any officers out in advance and by the time they arrived, they would probably be too late. It was just as well we couldn't get sufficient local help though because the final step of our plan was decided for us.
Alice received a call from her boss at the Institute and he mentioned that a secret organization would be monitoring the situation. Apparently, the organization liked to keep a low profile -- we never did find out its name. However, they said they'd try to intercede if necessary. We weren't sure what that meant but it sounded promising at least.
* * *
The fateful day had arrived. I could feel it in my bones, and it put me in a foul mood in spite of having a good plan. Plans could go bad. Things happen. So with my attitude, it should've been no surprise that the wind outside reflected my turbulent thoughts. I didn't realize I was doing it. My subconscious sort of took over and generated a gale around the school. The wind howled and the windows occasionally rattled when a gust hit them just right. It put the whole school on edge.
When it finally came time to leave, I'd realized what I'd been doing and put a quick stop to it. Or at least I put a quick stop to it near the school.
Once I got outside with Brian and Aine, I looked west beyond Dingle Bay and saw storm clouds building. Except for the wind I created, the weather had been mild up until a few moments ago. It had been a warm and sunny day, and the storm came out of nowhere.
Of course I immediately suspected foul play. The change in weather was obviously unnatural and it sent a shiver down my spine. We were so confident. It never occurred to anyone that the bad guys would have a plan of their own.
I left my friends and ran to find Sean who confirmed that the worst was happening. The storm threatened a large portion of Dingle's fleet of ships that were still out to sea. According to the sudden flurry of distress calls, the ship captains had kept a weather eye out but were taken completely by surprise. Most of them had the latest weather monitoring gear to prevent such things.
Sean detected several powerful morfs out among the ships, stirring up trouble. He took care to not probe too deeply in case any of them had implants but he was able to sense a collection of air and water elementals that included my mother, and there was even an electrical elemental to add some moderately impressive displays of lightning. My telepathic friend told me it was doubtful that any of the elementals were as powerful as me, but together they spelled trouble. They combined their powers to make a very dangerous storm. I had to do something.
Ignoring my old friend's telepathic warning, I took to the sky and very quickly flew towards the center of the storm. Once there, I reached out and created air currents to counter the effects. My power operated on a grand scale that played out clearly in my mind, showing me a long thinning arc of strong wind and roiling clouds that blew far out to sea. In the diminished storm's wake, I'd left a large central area of calm, and just to be safe, I flattened larger waves with bursts of air to keep them from capsizing any ships.
I traced the other elemental effects back to their sources and forced them all away with the storm. Only friendly ships remained in my protective circle. Lightning threatened me several times but I easily took care of that. I sensed the path the lightning bolts would take through the air and created strong currents to overpower the elemental and redirect any danger that headed my way.
I gave it my all and easily brought the ships safely back to port, though I ended up riding on the lead ship as my energy level plummeted. Riding was safe enough since the storm completely dissipated. I was that powerful.
Though my body felt the strain, my mind actively puttered away. So that was the plan, I thought. The evil morfs were tiring me out to make it easier to grab me. Then, once they had me, they'd jam an implant in my head to control me like they did my mother. It was fiendishly clever of them but I wasn't sitting still for it. Neither was Alice.
Before the ship I was on had even been tied to the pier, my teacher and friend hopped on board and poured a large bottle of energy drink down my throat. I felt like a boxer being tended to by her trainer, and I suppose it was an excellent analogy. I really was a fighter, waiting for the signal to start off the next round of blows. The good guys won the first round but the battle wasn't over by a long shot.
Saving the Dingle fleet was the right thing to do and using so much power actually helped buy me some time. It took a little over an hour before a lone, battered looking ship slowly entered Dingle Harbor. In the meantime, I'd scoffed several energy bars and felt much better. I was ready for the showdown.
Everyone took their positions -- mostly hiding from the bad guys -- and we waited to see who got off the boat. My mother was an easy guess to be on board, especially since she was riding on the bow the whole way. Her red hair and uniform were hard to miss and I would swear I saw a look of pride on her face. Could she be proud of me?
Only one other person appeared to cut short my moment. It was a stocky, middle-aged man who could only be the leader of the group that was after me. He was a little shorter than my mother and was dressed all in khaki. His hair was peppered with gray and dark, deeply set eyes fairly glowed with malice.
As soon as he stepped out of the ship's cabin, an intense hatred for him instantly swelled within my heart. Here was my opponent. Here was the one who stood between me and freedom, between me and my mother.
I was tempted to show myself right away but that wasn't the plan. I had to buy as much time as I could so I hid myself on the roof of a nearby shop. The plan required time to work and I immediately got started by building a pressurized bubble around the man. My position gave me an easy view of him. That was crucial. I had to have line of sight to work my magic.
I also had to be very careful and go very slowly to make sure he didn't notice. It didn't require a huge amount of power but I did have to concentrate. I had to constantly equalize the pressure in his sinuses and ears to minimize the telltale popping and clicking that comes with changes in air pressure.
It was a good thing I'd practiced. My teacher wasn't happy about being a test subject again but I needed her feedback. My experiment didn't start out well but I continued to adjust the pressure around her to correct the slight case of the bends I'd given her. Her condition was never serious so we all agreed it was worth it.
The man waited near the pier for nearly 10 minutes. Then he aimlessly wandered the empty streets of Dingle for several more minutes with my mother in tow. By the time I'd tripled the pressure of the bubble, the man had obviously grew impatient and called out to me with a heavy Australian accent.
"Clever girl, Dana. You really did a number on my favorite boat, and you trashed a fair number of my other boats. Now come out of hiding before I get angry."
He confirmed it for me. The boats were his. He was the leader, and he was alone except for my mother. My heart raced when I realized I had a good chance of winning this deadly contest, but still I hesitated. I meant to take as long as I could to build up pressure and get more nitrogen to dissolve into his blood and tissues.
"I'm serious," he soon continued. "And don't try anything like you did to your mother. I've got a device that'll detect any sudden drop in air pressure. If the pressure drops for any reason, your mother dies. Got it?"
I gulped. Alice was right. He was scum, but he was intelligent scum. She figured he'd have a way to stop me from sucking the air out of him. Even if he didn't have a device to protect against it, we weren't sure if I could knock him out quickly enough to keep him from killing my mother. Whatever we did had to be done with him conscious so we could force him to cooperate. We had to have his cooperation and I was ever closer to getting it. It was just lucky his little device didn't look for increases in air pressure as well as decreases or my mother might already be dead, and so would he.
"Dia duit," I said as I launched from my perch and gently lowered myself about 20 feet away from the Aussie scum.
"What's that?" he frowned.
"She said hello," Mother translated. "She's speaking our native language."
I spoke Irish that literally translated to "God to you". This man could use some goodness in his soul after the way he treated my mother.
"Imeacht gan teacht ort," I added for good measure, not caring if it was translated.
Mother just giggled nervously. It was an Irish curse that meant "May you leave without returning".
"Stop it," he growled. "No games Little Miss. You're coming with me or your mother dies. Got it?"
I spared a glance at her to find her staring at her feet with a forlorn look on her face. She must've been hoping for reinforcements. I wish I could've somehow let her know what was happening, but for the moment she had to trust that I could handle this man alone.
I gave him my sweetest smile and told him the truth. "I won't be causin' any trouble," I said. It was the truth because he'd only hurt himself if he didn't cooperate.
As soon as I smiled, his attitude changed. He relaxed and smirked, first at me and then my mother, proving he wasn't as smart as I thought. It didn't take a telepath to tell he was arrogant and overconfident.
"So do you have a name?" I asked nicely, trying to stall for more time.
He studied me for a moment and then spoke. "The name's Blight," he stated proudly. "I'm a bioelemental and a crackerjack technopath."
"Really?" I said with genuine interest.
His abilities were interesting to me in an abstract way since he could help a lot of people if he wanted, and they explained how he got the implants in my mother's head. He must have made and inserted them himself. He probably did the same thing to all of the elementals that created the freak storm. He controlled them all like puppets.
Blight was one very dangerous man and I couldn't help wishing he'd find a way to interrupt my power and kill himself. First though, I had to ensure that I could make good my threat. I did some quick thinking and came up with an idea to stall for yet more time.
"I take it you made the pressure detector then," I said.
"Right. It was quite easy," he bragged while fishing for something in his pocket.
He soon pulled out a small electronic device and held it out to show me. The square black object was easily small enough to fit in the palm of his hand and had an ominous little button along with a small LCD that displayed a simple animated graphic to show it was active. He turned it over and pointed out the simple buzzer that would sound a warning before quickly stuffing it back in his pocket. I was sure it took some research to produce but had no doubt it worked.
After seeing the device, I figured my improvised plan had a chance. It should take a bit of time to do if it was possible and it'd make it easier for me to prove what I was doing at the same time. It couldn't hurt to ask.
"Is it possible to modify that device of yours? Could you get it to display the current atmospheric pressure?"
Blight smiled at first and I took that as a yes. Then his brow knotted as his suspicious nature took hold.
"You better not be up to something," he growled. "Got it?"
He carried a small tool kit that he pulled out and immediately set to work. He looked to be taking care not to interrupt the power or functionality of the device but that added to the difficulty of the task. It was perfect for my plan. After a good 20 minutes, he declared his work done and turned the device over to look at the display.
I couldn't see what it read but it obviously concerned him.
"That can't be right," he muttered.
He shook the device, looked at it again and had the same reaction. Then he spent another 10 minutes double- and triple-checking his work before he stopped and scratched his head.
"The bloody thing says the pressure is four times normal."
I'd gotten the pressure around him to its current value around the time when he first showed me the device, and I'd been holding it at that level the whole rest of the time. There should've been enough dissolved nitrogen in his system to be fatal so I breathed a sigh of relief. It was time to tell him the good news.
"It's not wrong," I told him.
He didn't understand yet but my mother did. She went from forlorn to hopeful in a heartbeat. I gave her a quick nod and turned my attention back to Blight.
"I said it's not wrong, and now you're gonna listen to me. I've increased the pressure around you and kept it that way long enough that you'll be in serious trouble if anything happens to me or my mother. Ever hear of decompression sickness?"
Now he started to get it. The frown on his face told me so.
"You mean the bends?" he squawked.
"Exactly," I said, glaring as I walked over to my mother. I took her arm in mine and continued. "If you harm either of us, I can't guarantee the air pressure around you won't quickly return to normal. If that happens, your blood will boil and you'll die. Got it?"
I couldn't help mocking him by throwing in his own pet phrase back at him at the end. I even added a bad imitation of an Australian accent. Part of me was trying to provoke him, hoping he'd press the issue and do the world a favor.
His face slowly changed from looking concerned to looking angry. I'm sure his male ego was taking a tremendous blow but I wanted to go for the knockout.
"Don't be thinking it's just me that thought of this. I had help. My teacher came up with the great idea. She's really smart," I said, placing some emphasis on the word "She's" and even more emphasis on "really". I wanted to imply that he wasn't all that intelligent.
So then he knew it was two females that outwitted him. One thought of the idea and the other carried it out. The man didn't have a chance. Not even his bioelemental power could save him. He couldn't stop the nitrogen bubbles and there's no way he could prevent all the damage they'd do in the short time they'd appear. He nervously pulled at his collar and his face churned out a kaleidoscope of emotions until it finally settled on desperation.
"If I die, so will your mother," he whined.
"It's out of my hands," I said with a calm voice, though inside I was a nervous wreck. I had to be strong for Mother. "It's up to you now. Leave without us or die. The decision is yours."
"I mean it!" he shouted, his anger returning.
He was putting himself through the wringer and dragging me along with him. I hoped this would end soon.
We played a dangerous game, and even though my mother's life hung in the balance, I was betting neither he nor his device could kill her before he himself died. I had to believe that because I saw how it was going to end. I saw it before he did. Blight couldn't accept defeat. His ego wouldn't allow it. That only left him one option and I waited for him to take it. I didn't have long to wait.
His first action was to pull out the device again. Then he pointed to the little button while explaining what it would do to the implant and I shuddered. I also nearly started hyperventilating when a familiar voice spoke to me in my mind. It was Sean, telling me not to worry. He'd been monitoring the situation and told me that Alice would soon be in a position to jam any signals. I just had to stall a little longer.
I knew my teacher was good with electronics. I just hoped she was good enough. I had to trust in my friends to help.
"It won't work," I said to Blight. "Give up now and I'll let you leave."
I could see the effects my words were having. His face reddened and sweat poured down his face, but he continued his threats.
"You give up," he snarled. "I push this button and your mother dies. Got it?"
"You push that button and you die," I said in a calm, quiet voice. I called his bluff and I meant every word.
As predicted, after about five more minutes of trying to stare me down, Blight pushed the button. A little buzzer sounded and my mother, who had her usual glazed look in her eyes, suddenly threw her hands to her head. She gasped but nothing else happened, and after 30 seconds or so, she slowly dropped her hands and shrugged. The jamming must have worked.
The desperate little man pushed the button several more times and finally threw the device on the ground in disgust. Then he made a fatal mistake. In his rage, he forgot about his situation and lunged forward. His sudden movement surprised me, and I wasn't able to move the pressurized bubble with him. He stepped out of it back to normal atmospheric pressure and sure enough, his blood boiled. I watched in horror as he suddenly stopped and screamed in agony. His eyes bled, his screams turned to gurgles and he fell over dead. It was over in a matter of seconds. The good guys won. So why did I feel so awful?
An unnatural quiet followed as I walked over to Blight.
"Titim gan eiri ort," I said softly, looking down at his dead body. It was another curse. May you fall without rising.
I turned to leave but the sound of faint buzzing caught my attention. It was the device, still trying to do its job. I walked over to it and smashed it under my heal. After that, there was only one thing left to get rid of, only one other reminder of this unfriendly visit.
I went back to my mother first. She looked like a little lost girl. I couldn't leave her without explaining something, and I certainly couldn't leave without telling her something else that was even more important.
"You're free," I told her. "You're free of that monster."
"You are. And Mother ...," I paused.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Dana."
We had a brief but quality hug and cry until I decided it was time to finish things. I told her I'd be back soon and would appreciate it if she'd wait for me. Just in case though, I called to Sean with my mind to ask him to take care of her.
I flew to the pier, untied Blight's boat and pushed it out of the harbor and into Dingle Bay with my power. Once there, I formed a giant water spout, just like the one I'd set loose when I was first learning to control my power. I sucked the boat up into it and flew along behind as I pushed my whirling monstrosity out to sea.
About a dozen miles out, I suddenly bent the column of wind and water 180 degrees into a half circle, knowing that this sort of event wouldn't be missed. It was all designed as a show of raw power to prove that Blight had been beaten and wouldn't be coming back. The top half of my creation pointed back at the surface of the sea and spit the boat back into the water. Then I immediately stopped the water spout and hovered to watch the results.
Amazingly, the boat didn't sink right away, but it was broken up enough that it didn't float very long. As soon as I saw the last of it sink beneath the waves, I flew home at top speed and got back inside just in time to black out. I'd used up every last bit of energy I had.
* * *
I woke up in my bed with an IV in my arm and a nasty headache. My ordeal was over and I had nothing but rest and relaxation to look forward to. It was going to be a good summer. I could feel it in my bones.
As I turned to get out of bed, a sound startled me. It was my father, snoring in a chair by my bedside. He must have been watching over me.
I wanted to chastise him. He should be with my mother. She's the one who needs help. I just needed a little rest, though I had to admit that the IV helped. It didn't matter though. I couldn't stay angry. My anger was all used up for the day, if not for the year. Instead, I gently nudged his arm to wake him up.
"Huh? Who?" he snorted, suddenly wide awake.
"Hello Dana. So how are you feelin' this morning?"
Wow! Morning, I thought. I was out quite a long time.
"I'm okay except for a headache," I said, wincing. Any movement, even talking made my head throb. "How's Mother?"
"She's fine. Nora is fine, and she'll be gettin' good care. Alice will be makin' sure of that."
He called Doctor Franklin by her first name. That was new. I hoped it didn't mean anything because I fully expected him to get back together with Mother. Even so, I thought it wouldn't hurt to make sure my parents' reunion wasn't an impossibility.
"Why did she leave us? Was she kidnapped? Why didn't she fight back?"
"Those are all good questions Darlin', but she isn't in any shape to tell us now. We might never know."
I sighed and sniffled a little, and Father continued his kind attempt to console me.
"Alice and Sean told me about the man that controlled her. It sounds like he could've easily zapped her with his bioelemental power, or he might have threatened us if she didn't go with him. I'm sure she didn't go willingly."
"So does that mean she can come back home when she's better?"
"If she'll have us," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
That made me feel better and got a big smile out of me. It was a good point to stop at anyway so I changed the subject.
"Why did Blight do it? How do people get like that?"
"He was twisted. He was a twisted man with a dark past and he's gone now, thanks to you. Your mother is safe."
I hugged him and cried on his shoulder when he said that. She was safe. My mother was back in my life and I could move on.
* * *
The summer of '60 marked the end of my final school year in Dingle. After Alice pressed her boss for more changes, I received a scholarship through the Institute and would be going to Dublin for advanced studies. It was the first scholarship of its kind and I accepted it with pride. Before I left though, there were good-byes to say, and what better way to say them than with a going away party.
I wish my mother could've come but she was still convalescing after her brain surgery. She had her implant removed and was already healed physically but the emotional damage would take much longer to heal. I'd visit her before I left and would come back when I could. That was the best I could do. At least she still had my father to pay her regular visits.
Everyone else showed up at least, and they gave me a great party. Even Doctor Don from the Institute showed up. That was a nice surprise, or I should say it was until I had to introduce him to my father.
My father never missed a potential threat to his daughter. He must have known I was smitten because he embarrassed me by asking Don what his intentions were towards me.
"I'll take great care of your daughter," Don said. "Everyone at the Institute will. Don't worry Mr. McKenna."
I was disappointed by the way Don worded his response but it mollified my father, who let the poor young doctor off easily and decided to find out more about him as a potential son-in-law. My father understood that I had romantic intentions, even if Don didn't. Besides, Don was a well-mannered, good-looking doctor and a casual friend of Alice so he couldn't be all bad.
As the party wound down, I had to see to my two best friends. I periodically noticed them talking between themselves while they waited for brief opportunities to talk to me. So far, all the adults had monopolized my time and I had a lot of stories to tell before I could shake them loose.
After grabbing a quick snack, I passed the kitchen window and saw Brian and Aine in the back garden. They were too far apart for my taste and Aine looked to be doing all of the talking as usual. It was also painfully obvious that they still refused to accept their compatibility.
I continued watching them and silently tried to will them to get closer when an idea finally struck me. It was so simple! With a sly grin and a brief but powerful gust of wind, Aine shrieked and appeared to lunge at Brian. He caught her in his arms and that's all that was needed. They looked into each others' eyes and blushed before Brian helped Aine to her feet. Then he stayed close and started talking to her. It looked like I finally planted a seed.
It wasn't many days after the party before I departed for Dublin with Alice, and during the ride in her cute little gray hovercar, I lost myself in thought. I'd matured a lot over the past nine months. My power was completely under control and my temper was much better. I looked forward to growing up a little more and seeing what else the world had to offer. It would be the first of many trips between Dublin and Dingle, and was the beginning of a new adventure in my life.
(To be continued)
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/