Salamander 2 part 3
By EMW
Wednesday, 28th of November, 2035
Mandy

I woke for school the next day sure that someone was playing with the clocks, as it seemed like only a few minutes since I had gone to sleep. I got ready and had a large breakfast, hoping the extra food would give me the energy to maintain my disguise longer. The day before had been very draining. Keeping my mask on for most of the school day was a lot harder than I thought it would be. 

I got my stuff together and with a quick goodbye, was out the door, waiting when D showed up a few minutes later. We walked into school together, chatting about the day ahead. I was less apprehensive than before, the school day being something of a known quantity, so we moved to more important subjects, like TV programs.

“Did you catch that Violet Dawn show last night?” asked D.

“No, I was way too tired to do much more than get my homework done. I was spark out after that.” I replied.

“You should see if it's on the on demand channels. It had a fire elemental like you in it, and it had some pretty cool effects! Well I think they were effects, could have been they paid someone to make illusions, or even a real fire elemental.”

“They use a lot of MORFS survivors on that show?”

“That's one of the only reason I watch it, it's hardly high drama, but it's nice to see real MORFS people in the media. I feel like I'm helping to further our cause by watching.”

“We have a cause?”

“Well. … you know what I mean! If I watch, and the ratings for the show are higher, they can employ more people like us. It's helping other kids like us to get a foot in the entertainment industry.”

“That makes a certain amount of sense. Still, the parts aren't exactly BAFTA material, comic book heroes and pop-up villains with crappy costumes.”

“No I guess not, it's a start though.”

D was quiet for a while then said, “You going to do the whole mask thing again?”

“Yeah.”

“I wish you wouldn't. You practically collapsed after school. I don't want to see you hurt yourself to avoid the chance someone might hurt you. People will find out sooner or later, anyway.”

“I can handle it, I just wasn't prepared yesterday. I'm sure I'll have fewer problems today.”

“Well it's your decision; I'm only concerned for you as a friend.”

I smiled at her; I knew she didn't completely understand what it was like. She didn't look completely normal by any stretch of the imagination, but she was close enough not to attract most attention. She was also strong and tough, which allowed her to deal with any trouble. In my natural state I couldn't pass for normal, everything about me screamed freak. Much as this new life had brought me some measure of happiness, with friendship and freedom, it was at the cost of forever looking in the mirror and seeing the twisted body I wore. If people saw me for what I was, they would hunt me. I had already seen it with others at this very school. I would have to hide myself away in the library, run from lesson to lesson trying to avoid the bullies. I could run and I could hide, but knew I couldn't fight. I had some power, but it was not useful unless I wanted to burn the school down, something that would get me expelled or worse, just like the other girl I had heard about.

While I suppose in practice, my current state of hiding away in the library recuperating was not that different that what would happen if I wore no mask. With it on, I could walk the halls with relative impunity and get through lessons without being taunted and feared.

As we approached the gates, I checked to make sure the coast was clear, and then switched on my blue eyed Mandy disguise. We met Jane as we entered school grounds, and  headed up to our form room. People greeted Jane and D, and I got the occasional hello. If my classmates were anything like me, they had already forgotten my name.

We sat at the back of the room and waited, chatting about this and that, till Mr Griffiths walked in. He took the register briskly, then it was off to the first lesson of the day, which was double combined science. This lesson I shared with Jane and D, most of the time. I think certain bits were divided by ability, so sometimes Jane and I were partnered, as she was also in the top set for science.

Chemistry  was quite interesting. My old school had no real facilities for any science so we just learnt the theory. To get to actually do experiments and see for myself how things worked was a lot of fun. I partnered with D for experiments testing evaporation point of water and other liquids.

In a lapse in concentration, as I was removing a beaker of liquid from over the Bunsen burner, I got distracted and didn't notice I was holding my hand in the flame for an extended period of time while noting down some results.

I was surprised when the teacher, Mrs Murphy, shouted my name, “Amanda, watch that flame! You'll burn yourself!”

“Huh,” I said, then looking down seeing the flames curling around my hand added, “Oh.”

I removed my hand perhaps a little too swiftly, then carried on with what I was doing, but Mrs Murphy, who had obviously seen my hand in the fire and assumed my swift removal was down to a burn, rushed over.

“Let me see how bad the burn is, we need to get it under some cold water quickly,” she said worriedly.

“I'm fine,” I said, showing her my untouched hand.

“I don't understand. It looked like your hand was in the flame. That burns at a thousand degrees, you should have been badly burnt,” she said as she snatched my hand to examine it.

“Must have been a trick of the light Miss. It didn't look like her hand was anywhere near the fire to me,” said D, trying to cover for me.

She examined my hand and then got a strange look on her face and ran her finger along the surface of my hand. I realised she was feeling my scales, so I snatched my hand back. I had to fight the instinctual reaction that was telling me to vanish and run. She stared at me a bit; suspicion floating round her mind, then went back to her desk.

As we carried on for the rest of the double lesson, the teacher kept giving me looks. I was a bit worried about what she was going to do. By the end of the lesson, I was feeling tired again, and keen to get out and rest up. I also wanted to get away from the teacher’s stares.

The bell went and I scrambled to get everything in to my bag so I could leave, but Mrs Murphy walked over and said, “I want to see you two, so don't go anywhere.”

She went and stood by the door, I guess to stop us escaping, the urge to vanish and make a break for it flared again. It was made even worse by the fact that I was running out of energy to conceal myself.

The room emptied, Jane tried to stay too but the teacher turfed her out, then shut the door.

“Now what is going on? I saw you burn yourself and your hand feels like you've damaged it in some way. What are you hiding?” she asked, I could feel her anger.

Pain was lancing through me from the strain of holding the illusion “I'm not hiding anything,” I tried. But she wasn't convinced.

“Show me your hand again!” she said.

I had dropped the hand part of my disguise to conserve energy, I dug deep and re-established it on my left hand. The pain in my head was getting worse, she examined my hand the strain was getting to me, I was close to my limit.

“Show me the other one,” she said.

I struggled to establish the illusion over my other hand as well, she was still holding on to the left hand so I had to do both. I managed it but I was starting to lose it, the pain was terrible, and I was getting tunnel vision. As I brought my other hand up, I felt the world fade out, and I fainted.

I came to a while later to find I was cradled in D's lap, and she was looking down at me a very worried expression on her face. “She's coming round,” she said. "Are you OK, Tish?"

"I think so," I replied.

I looked down and found my camouflage was now off, I panicked a bit looking around to see who was watching. I stifled the urge to try and re-establish my mask, knowing that would probably knock me out again. I looked up to see Mrs Murphy also looking down at me concerned and just a touch annoyed.

"Why didn't you say something?" she said.

"I didn't know how," I said almost in tears.

"Now then there's no need for that. I was worried you were hiding an injury.  I could get into a lot of trouble if a student is injured and I don't report it. I guess your scales make you more fire resistant," she said

"Well possibly, but that's not the main thing. You see, I'm a fire elemental," I said.

"Oh. You're fire proof?" Mrs Murphy said.

"Yeah, I once sat in the middle a big lit bonfire and I was fine," I replied.

"That sounds like a very dangerous game, you shouldn't do things to test yourself like that. You could have been badly hurt!" she said, looking stern.

"It wasn't a game," said D in a cold voice, "Some nutters tried to burn Tish alive. At the time neither they, nor she, knew it wouldn't be fatal."

"What! Who did that?" Mrs Murphy exclaimed.

"My parents! They went to prison or something for it. I live with my sister now," I said, wishing I hadn't brought it up.

"They tried to burn you!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, because of this," I said gesturing to my face. She still looked incredulous, so I added more detail, "Well I suppose first they tried to shoot me, but missed and shot off one of my hands, which is growing back," I wiggled the fingerlets on my mostly regrown hand, "Then I escaped, went on the run living rough till D here rescued me, and her mum gave me a place to stay. But they caught me again and tried to burn me at the stake. Luckily, I was fireproof and I survived, the police carted them off. My sister, the only member of my family who didn't want me dead, became my legal guardian. Then I came here."

She was spluttering and completely agog from this barrage of information.

D took the initiative saying, "Anyway, we should be off to our next lesson."

She helped me up and pulled my hood up over my head, hiding my face. We headed for the door and began to open it.

This seemed to galvanise Mrs Murphy, snapping her out of what ever surprised state she was in. “Now wait just a minute, I assume the school is aware that all this has happened?” .

“I think so, my sister handled that sort of stuff,” I answered.

“Well I'll check with Mrs Thomas just to be certain. Now as for what happened, I understand why you are hiding yourself, but it clearly is harming you, and effecting your concentration in lessons. I want you to stop doing it,” she said.

“But ...” I started.

“No buts. Amanda, this will come out sooner or later, anyway. It could have happened in a lesson, then you could have hurt yourself and others by passing out like that. Even if no one was hurt, your secret would be out. It only takes one blabber mouth to spread anything around the school. Better you choose the terms. Besides, with you distracted you are wasting your chance to learn, and by all accounts you are reasonably bright, so you are wasting your chance to get a good education. Now I'm not going to say anything, but by next week, I want you to have stopped this. If not, then I'll have to have a talk with Mrs Thomas.”

I bowed my head in defeat, “But I've seen what happens to people like me here, I don't want to be bullied and beaten up all the time.”

“I won't let that happen,” said D.

“You can't be there all the time, and it's not fair to expect you to be!”

“Nonsense! You're my friend, it's what friends do for each other,” D said with a smile.

“If anyone bullies you, then just report it to the teachers and they'll sort the culprits out,” said Mrs Murphy, showing great faith, both in other teachers and punishment to discourage the bullies.

I tried not to cry, things had been going so well, now this slip up had ruined everything.

“We had better get going,” said D.

“Right, now next week I want to see you, Amanda, not some disguise, I'd prefer you to drop the charade before our next lesson Friday, but I'll give you a week,” Mrs Murphy said. “Off you go then.”

I pulled my hood up tight and stuck my hands deep in my pockets. Outside, we met a very worried looking Jane, who had been waiting just out of sight for us to reappear for quite some time.

“What happened, what took you so long?” she asked.

“Miss saw Tish with her hand in the flame and had a fit about it. She was checking her hand for damage and then felt Tish's scales, that's why she made us stay behind. Tish was too tired to maintain the disguise and passed out while she was grilling us,” D explained.

“She's making me drop the disguise, or she'll go to the headmistress,” I said dejectedly.

“Ouch,” said Jane. “That's a bit harsh.”

We wandered out of the science block. There wasn't much left of morning break, so we headed straight for our next lesson. On the way over to French, the day took another turn for the worse. I was distracted by the events in science and not completely paying attention to where I was going. I didn't see the group of girls storming forward as if everyone should move out of their way. When I didn't move, one of them walked right into me. Worst of all, it was Stacy Smith.

“Look where you're going ...” she said, her eyes going down to where I was tumbled on the floor, my hood had fallen back and I had my hands splayed out to stop my fall, so they too were in plain view, “YOU!!!!” she screamed.

I picked myself up and tried to get away, but she grabbed my arm. “Let go of me!” I said.

“What are you doing here, freak? They shouldn't let your kind in this place, especially one with a history of attacking people like you,” she spat, hate boiling off her.

I was now surrounded by this group of girls that seemed to be Stacy's extended gang. I saw the girl Becky, whom I had encountered the previous time, but the 5 or 6 others were new. All of them were just as hostile as Stacy.

“Leave me alone,” I said.

“Or what? You can't attack me again! This time I've got witnesses, and reliable ones that won't side with you. You can't do anything,” she stared at me a bit, then her eyes narrowed, “That was you the other day with the blue eyes. I thought you looked familiar. Disguising yourself as a real human rather than the animal you are, so you can attack more people without getting caught?”

I looked around frantically for D and Jane, but they were nowhere to be seen. They must have gone right past the group and carried on not hearing the commotion. I thought about trying to disappear but I was still too worn-out, just thinking of using my illusion powers gave me a splitting headache. I tried mentally calling Jane. If she was still reasonably close there was a chance she would pick me up with her telepathy.

*JANE!* I called *JANE! HELP!*

Nothing, the group was pressing closer, poking me, and shoving me, making comments.

“It's disgusting, how can anyone go out in public looking like that,” one girl said.

“They shouldn't allow animals like that in schools, they're filthy and spread diseases,” said another.

“We should mark it,” said Becky with an evil grin. “So it can't try to pass itself off as human.”

“Good idea,” said Stacy. “Hold it I've got a compass in my bag, we'll use the point.”

This was getting nasty, I briefly considered setting a few of them on fire, but I couldn't control it well enough to limit it. I would likely burn everything to ash within a few meters of me, and I don't think I'd get away with that. I struggled with the girls. I was stronger than them, but there were a lot of them, and I was still weak from passing out. I couldn't break free!

I tried my last gambit, I focused on Jane, and sent a message in emotions. A raw packet of feelings broadcast with all the power I could put behind it. I couldn't send thoughts, but I could transmit emotions. They weren't so good for communication but they were all I had. This last act drained what little strength I had left and my feeble struggles failed to even move the girls now.

Stacy had pulled out a compass and was walking towards me intent on scratching some sort of message onto me. I might heal from it, I didn't know the extent of my regenerative capabilities, but even then it would hurt, and take months to heal. The group was surrounded by a quite a few students who had a sort of dazed 'I can't believe this is happening' sort of look. I wished one of them had called for a teacher, or some kind of help.

“I've waited for this for a long time, now I'm going to punish you for what you did to me, freak!” Stacy said.

She started to bring the point of the compass towards my face. My heart was pounding, I tried desperately to get away from that point, but I was too weak. Stacy's evil joy at hurting me radiated from her, she was revelling in torturing me by slowly bringing her implement to bear. I could also feel the emotions of the girls around me. Quite a few were having second thoughts, but a depressingly large number were still in gleeful joy at what was happening.

"Help! HELP!" I cried. Why wasn't someone helping me!

Stacy's eyes took on a maniacal gleam and in a quiet menacing voice she said, "No one is going to help you, freak! They see you for what you really are, a worthless animal. Scream all you want. No help is coming, it will only make cutting you more fun for me." She let out a sick laugh.

My world compressed to that glinting point inexorably approaching my face with Stacy's manic evil grin and malevolent emotions looming behind it. I was terrified a gibbering wreak.

Just as she was about to cut me I heard a shout from Becky, then heard D say in a flat menacing voice, “Put that down and let her go. Now!” My heart soared D had come to save me.

“Stay out of this, you big dumb animal,” said Stacy.

I could have sworn D actually growled at that. A lot of the girls holding me were now extremely nervous. I guess harassing one hybrid who isn't putting up much of a fight, is very different from facing off with a 7ft tall girl who can snap you in half.

They began to loosen their grip edging away and then one of them said, “Teacher, run!”

They scattered, knocking me to the floor in the process. Stacy, now on her own, grabbed her bag and also legged it, saying, “I'll get you freak!”

I just lay there on the ground shaking, D came over and grabbed me, Helped me up, then held me close.

“Hey, it's alright I'm here, you're safe now,” she said.

“S ... She wa ... s going to st ... ab my face,” I sobbed clutching tight against D, my saviour once again. I didn't want to ever let go.

“There. There, it's alright,” D said, gently stroking my head as I wept into her shoulder.

A teacher came running up, he took one look at me and D, I felt disgust radiate from him. “What's going on here? You been causing trouble again Newman?” he asked with a sneer.

“No sir,” said D, somehow making the title sound like an insult, “Stacy Smith tried to attack my friend here with some sort of sharp object, a compass or something.”

“Oh yeah likely story, Stacy Smith, a respected and well liked pupil would attack some random girl? She wouldn't demean herself by touching that fr ... your friend,” he said disdainfully. “Now move along, before I put you both in detention for spreading these false rumours.”

At this point Mrs Murphy came running up to see what was wrong.

“What's going on? Are you alright Amanda?” she said.

“She was a...” D started.

“Shut it, Newman! No more of your lies, or I'll have you and your friend, expelled,” the male teacher shouted. Then turning to Mrs Murphy, he continued, “I've got this, it's just these two trouble makers making up stories.”

“What stories?” Mrs Murphy asked.

“Never mind. They're just lying. Don't bother listening to their kind,” He said.

“Their kind?!” exclaimed Mrs Murphy.

“Er ... liars obviously,” he said, trying to catch himself. “Now get gone you two, before I see to it you are both sent home.”

“Come on Tish, we'll take this to Mrs Thomas,” said D with a cold glint in her eye.

“What did you say, Newman?” He asked.

“Nothing, Sir” D said, the ’Sir’ sounding even more derisive than it had the first time.

She helped me walk off towards the office block. I was a bit unsteady on my feet. I still didn't seem to be able to stop shaking and I was still out of it from collapsing. I clung to D for support, I think at some points, maybe a little too hard, as my talons cut little holes in her coat.

“Where are you going,” the teacher called after us. “Stop this instant!”

D didn't stop. She marched me to the headmistress office. When we entered the outer office Mrs Donnal gave us both a sneer. “What do you two want?”

“We want to see Mrs Thomas, now,” D said.

“You can't. She's not in,” said Mrs Donnal.

At which point the teacher and Mrs Murphy burst into the room.

“Out of here now! You are both going to be expelled for this,” the male teacher said.

“I'm not leaving till I see Mrs Thomas,” D replied.

“She's not in!” Mrs Donnal screeched. I sensed emotions coming from the door behind her ,so she almost certainly was.

“Then we'll wait here till she comes back,” said D.

The male teacher was now trying to pull D out of the room and was having no luck, as D was significantly stronger than he was. He moved over to me and tried to pull me away from D.

“Don't you touch her!” D shouted.

This commotion finally alerted Mrs Thomas to the fact that something was going on, and she flung open her door. “What is all this racket about?” she asked.

“Mrs Thomas ...” D started.

“Don't believe a word she says!  She's a liar! All these animals are!” said the male teacher, to which Mrs Donnal nodded, and our science teacher looked appalled.

“That is quite enough of that!” said Mrs Thomas. “You may go! I will speak to Dorothy and see if we can sort this out.”

The teacher looked about to explode, but did leave. Mrs Murphy lingered.

“I can deal with this, I'm sure you have classes to teach.” said Mrs Thomas.

Looking unsure, she left, and Mrs Thomas ushered us into her office. I was still clinging to D, who took me over to a chair and sat me down, then sat beside me holding my hand. I was still shaking, the image of Stacy Smith coming at me with a compass impressed into my mind.

“Now what was all that fuss about?” Mrs Thomas asked.

D quickly detailed the events as she had seen them, then at Mrs Thomas's urging I haltingly relayed my version of events. D then included what had happened with the teacher.

“I see. This is serious, do you have any other witnesses?” she asked.

“There must have been 30 kid's standing round watching,” D said.

“Hmm, yes. But unless they come forward, I'm sure it will be your word against Miss Smith and her 7 friends, who will either be elsewhere, or swear that you and Amanda, were the aggressors,” Mrs Thomas said.

“She was going to disfigure Tish's face with a compass, she can't get away with this,” said D. “Can't we bring in telepaths and get them to testify who is telling the truth.”

“It is against the law to use telepaths to determine someone's guilt. They can be used to determine someone's innocence, but only with that person’s permission. Even then, some governors, coincidentally friends of Miss Smith’s family, had rules put in place so that no telepath’s testimony may be used in school matters,” Mrs Thomas said.

“Then we go to the police, I mean that's got to be attempted assault or some such,” D said.

“You could try it, but I wouldn't recommend it. I doubt the police would touch it with the lack of evidence,” Mrs Thomas said.

“So we just let the little bitch get away with it? She's just going to do it again, and worse,” D said.

“Language, Dorothy! I'm sorry, my hands are tied. Miss Smith enjoys a lot of support from her family, who are very influential. There is nothing I can do unless you can produce better evidence,” Mrs Thomas said, looking and feeling very upset.

“Fine! If you can't do anything, I'll fix that poisonous little so and so for good. Teach her to try and hurt my friends again,” D said, her rage was getting stronger and stronger.

“Now please, don't do anything stupid, Dorothy. While I can't do anything now I'll be keeping an eye on Miss Smith,”

“Oh, and what good will that do? She'll just attack Tish or someone else again, then one of her pet teachers will just blame the kid that got hurt saying they were asking for it. That 'our kind' deserve all they got.”

“Please calm down Dorothy. It's not that bad.”

“Oh yeah? That prick earlier was going to have the two of us expelled for telling the truth, for trying to come and see you. Much good it's done,”

“Now I can understand why you're upset ...”

“Can you! My friend here has been through a lot, and I never imagined she would have to go through this sort of attack at this school, then even worse, have people do nothing about it. I swore I'd stop her getting hurt again, and if you won't protect her, I will, by what ever means necessary,”

“Now Dorothy ...” “End of discussion,” said D leaping up. “Come on, Tish, this is getting us nowhere.”

She practically dragged me out of my seat and nearly tore the door off its hinges when she opened it.

“I'm very sorry for what's happened, Amanda,” called Mrs Thomas as she scrambled after me.

Mrs Donnal was sitting there with a nasty smirk on her face. D took one look at her then ‘accidentally knocked all her paperwork off the desk saying only, “oops.”

We were out the door and down the corridor before the outraged secretary could catch us.

“I can't believe it,” said D.

As we rounded the corner, Mrs Murphy was waiting for us. “What happened?” she asked.

“Bah, nothing happened. That’s what they are going to do, nothing, NOTHING! After what happened, this school is run by the anti-MORFS crowd now, they can do anything and get away with it now!” D said.

“I'm sure it's not that bad. Maybe Mrs Thomas wanted to let this incident slide and will come down hard next time,” the teacher said.

“Not you, too! What, are all the teachers blind or something? How much worse does it have to get? Stacy Smith tries to carve goodness knows what in my friend’s face with a compass, and she gets off scot free?” D shouted.

“What! I had no idea, I just heard there was some sort of fight.”

“I would bet by tomorrow it'll be Tish's fault, and Stacy's family will be pressuring the school to have her expelled.”

“But that can't be right. Surely they must do something.”

“Oh, open your eyes! Mrs Thomas said it herself, her hands are tied, the anti-MORFS crowd can do what they like with no consequences. What's it going to take, a body, to get those bastards taken away? Well I'll show them. I'll get the lot of them, high time as well.” 

“Please D,” I said, finding my voice, “Don't get yourself expelled or worse over this. It's not worth it.”

D didn't say anything, and eventually Mrs Murphy ran off to her lesson, her face a picture of disbelief. We went to the library to get D's stuff. I was beginning to feel more myself, as now the immediate terror was fading. But  while I still didn't want to let go of D and was still a little unsteady on my feet,  I had stopped shaking. When we got to the library, Jane was waiting there  looking a bit woozy.

“Tish are you alright? That was one hell of a cry for help you sent me, I damn near passed out.”

D was muttering and slamming things into her bag, practically crushing anything she got her hands on.

“Is she alright?” said Jane looking towards hurricane D, who was causing swathes of destruction to her books and stationary.

“Am I alright! AM I ALRIGHT!!! What kind of question is that after what they did?” D almost yelled. She kept muttering, rambling, and breaking things.

“She's got a little worked up,” I said.

Miss Gordon came over, eyeing D with a combination of concern and worry. “You girls should be in your next lesson by now. What's going on?” She asked

This prompted another rant from D, “No, nothing's wrong, every thing's fine, they just get away with anything. No one does a thing and we are the bad ones, the people who get into trouble. Nothing happened, nothing is done, and we are late.”

She grabbed Jane and me by the arm, then practically carried us off, leaving a very confused and worried Miss Gordon behind us. We must have looked quite a sight when we came into French. D pretty much kicked the door in and dragged Jane and me into the room. I think this event largely distracted everyone from the fact that I looked different. All eyes were on the raging D, who looked likely to shove anyone who got in her way through the wall.

When asked why we were late, D told the teacher to ask Mrs Thomas for an explanation and would not be drawn further. She settled into a dark, brooding, angry mood, and began crushing the metal legs of the table with her hands.

I had never seen D so angry before. It was a little scary to see my friend suddenly become so different, to show a side of her I hadn't seen before.

Some of the people noticed me, but when they looked like they were going to say something, D just glared at them, and they wisely said nothing.

After that, French was OK. I was finding it much easier to concentrate now that I didn't have to maintain a disguise. The lesson was soon over, and D went storming off to the next lesson with Jane struggling to keep up. It was maths, so I was on my own. I considered hiding myself again, but there was no point now. Word would have undoubtedly spread, probably by Stacy with a twisted version of events. Better to get it out of the way now.

I walked in and sat down next to Alice.

I felt a burst of anger, "Excuse me, that is Amanda's seat!" Alice told me.

"I am Amanda."

Alice looked at me with disgust, "You were trying to trick me! Get away from me you filthy animal!"

"But ..." I tried.

Alice turned away and wouldn't even look at me, I picked up my stuff and tried to find another seat. I ended up right at the back. I still got a lot of dirty looks from those around me.

I just put my head down and got on with my work. The lesson was fairly hard and Mr Griffiths had no patience for people who weren't paying attention, so I was quickly paid no mind while we all struggled with the algebra we were learning.

When the lesson ended, I packed my stuff up and went to meet D and Jane. On my way out of the room someone tried to trip me, when I turned to see who it was I saw Alice looking back at me, rage burning out of her. I hung my head and left, trying not to get too upset.

As I made my way through the halls, I got some more abuse. The usual animal stuff from the anti-MORFS lot, but then something I didn't expect. Some of the MORFS students were calling me a traitor. I wasn't sure what they were on about till I was grabbed by someone. A surge of terror hit me my heart pounding, I thought it was Stacy come to finish what she started. I was flipped round to see it was the redeyed telepath Trisha, and my terror receded a bit. At the moment she seemed like the lesser of two evils.

"Here she is, the traitor who's been trying to pass herself off as one of them," she said .

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," a spiky haired girl with a tail said.

They were surrounding me, trying to stop me getting away.

"I should have known you weren't a mundane when you blocked me out earlier. Now I've got you so you can't run away and I'm going to crack that head of yours wide open," Trisha said menacingly.

I tried to escape, but the girls wouldn't let me through. I could feel Trisha trying to get into my head. Her eyes were blazing, but she was having no luck, and her face began turning red from the exertion.

"Damn you, let me in! I'm not going to let a loser traitor beat me!" she screamed.

She grabbed me and gripped me hard, trying to force her way into my head. She was tiring, I would guess she had never encountered anyone who could resist her before, so rarely even approached her limits. She began looking unsteady on her feet, and I realized I could probably knock here down easily. I quickly formulated a plan.

"No! I won't be beaten," Trisha howled.

I discretely made sure my bag was strapped on tight, then lashed out with a shove to Trisha's chest. She went tumbling backwards with a cry. As all her friends turned to look at her, I switched on my recharged invisibility and leapt for the ceiling. I stuck myself to the ceiling with my hands and wedged my feet against an overhead beam. I stayed there motionless, focusing on remaining still and stealthing my mind.

It was a few moments till the girls bellow realised I was gone.

"Where'd she go?!" asked one of the girls.

"How did she get past us?" another asked.

"Damn it you let her get away! After her! Maybe I can track her if we get close enough," Trisha said.

They helped her up and pelted off down the corridor. I waited a moment, and then, checking the coast was clear, lowered myself to the floor quietly. I reappeared and did my best to stroll off casually .

I made it to the meeting point, where D and Jane were waiting, without further incident. D seemed to have calmed down a bit from earlier, I decided not to tell her about the Trisha incident, not wanting to get her going again. We went into lunch, I was pretty hungry from all the energy I had used up earlier with the hiding, and then the business with Trisha and Stacy. We got our food and sat down somewhere unobtrusive. I got a few unpleasant looks, but no one had the courage to do anything with D sitting right next to me. We sat and had our lunch in silence.

Eventually D turned to me and said, “I'm sorry I got so worked up earlier, it just really makes me mad when someone can do something like that to you and they just get away with it.”

“I know,” I said.

I was about to say more when a small girl with bright green hair ran up to D excitedly. “D, did you hear that new girl, the traitor, the one who was pretending to be a mundane, attacked Stacy Smith, then she picked a fight with Trisha. Really pissed her off too. When old red eyes couldn't get inside her skull, the girl hit her and ran off.”
“Trisha did what? And what's this traitor rubbish?” said D, staring at me.

“As I came out of Maths, Trisha  and a group of friends surrounded me. She kept trying to get in my head, but she couldn't. Eventually she wore herself out, so I pushed her over, and ran away,” I said. “I don't know what they mean by traitor. Trisha called me that too.”

D rounded on the girl who was watching the exchange between me and D, wide eyed . She gave a startled yelp when D stood up, towering over her.

“What is this nonsense about Tish being a traitor? And for that matter, Stacy attacked her! That bitch was trying to cut up Tish's face with a compass when I showed up.”

“Well I ... it's just what I heard. They said that some new girl had been trying to pass herself off as normal, thought she was too good for the rest of us,” The girl said backing away.

“Oh yeah? And who's been spreading this about? Trisha no doubt. Oh, if it weren't for that nasty piece of works, mind powers I’d snap her scrawny little neck, attacking and spreading rumours like that about one of my friends! Just because she can't play her mind games, just because she's gone impotent,” D was going back into full rage mode.

The girl switched from slowly backing away to legging it as fast as she could. D brought her fist down on the table with an almighty thump, cracking the plastic surface. Jane stood up and made calming motions with her hands.

“Hey, hey, you're getting worked up again. Let's go to the library and have a nice quiet sit down,” Jane said.

We picked up our things and left the canteen. making our way over to the library. On the way there people stared at us, some hostile, others fearful, and a few with some sort of weird feeling of respect. We got  to the library and sat down and did a bit of home work. eventually D calmed down and got back to how she normally was.

After a while she turned to me and said, “Why didn't you say anything, about what happened with Trisha.”

I thought for a moment then said, “Well you were so worked up, I didn't want to set you off again. Nothing bad happened. She tried to get in my head, and failed. I pushed her over and hid on the ceiling. They ran off looking for me.”

“I'm sorry I got so angry earlier. Trisha is someone I can't protect you from. That she has labelled you a traitor and an enemy worries me deeply.”

That shocked me a bit, I didn't think anyone was a match for D, “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Trisha's powers are all mind based. She can do things to people like plant suggestions in their mind to make them do things, or hurt them, or cause them to pass out. Non-telepaths are usually a pushover for her, mostly she does it to other telepaths to assert her dominance. Not too often, as she might end up kicked out or locked up. Physically she's weak, but she doesn't normally need strength, as she can just paralyse people. if anyone tries to attack her, she stops them, then she can do anything to them,” D said.

“She's made me do things loads of times. When I'm distracted or otherwise not aware she plants little suggestions, and next thing I know I'm walking into a wall. She is not a nice person,” said Jane. “She likes to play with people. For her, it's all about control and dominance. She knows everyone's secrets. It gives her power. That, coupled with her tricks, makes her a nasty piece of work. Because of the way your mind is more or less telepath proof, she can't control you, and that makes you a threat to her. She will probably keep trying to control you, and we can't do anything against her. I would almost say you were better off giving in and letting her in for a bit, just to show you are capitulating, but she would likely make an example out of you and she has some nasty ideas. Besides, she demands total control, and from my experience, the way you are wired makes that impossible. There are bits of you she'd never be able to get at.”

“In a fair fight, just you and her, since you are immune to her mind powers, I would say you would win hands down. But she doesn't play fair, she'd use some of her flunkies against you,” D added.

I sat in silence. This day just kept getting better. If there was one thing I didn't need more of, it was enemies. We sat and did our home work and then went off to the next lesson.

It was the last lesson of the day, double art. It was quite relaxing to just sit there and do some drawing. Without really knowing why, I called on some of my time on the run, and drew a picture of me hiding in the alleyway where I had discovered my invisibility. I still had nightmares about that sometimes, only it was my father chasing me, and I couldn't hide.

The picture came out a lot better than I thought it would. I've never been very good at art, but I enjoy it a lot. I didn't draw myself in the picture, just an indistinct shape in the foreground, with the man chasing me as a silhouette in the background of the picture, casting a huge menacing shadow. When I was done the teacher, a kind looking older woman, maybe in her 50's, called Mrs Norton came over and took a look. . “What have we here, Amanda? This is quite good. Very interesting use of shading and it evokes strong images of fear. You have quite the imagination.” said Mrs Norton.

I smiled a little at her praise, “Well, it's not really that imaginative, as it actually happened. That's me in the foreground.”

“I see,” she said looking more closely “Is that why you are indistinct?”

“No, um, well, it's hard to explain.”

“You could have done some of your texturing to show it's you. Maybe next time. Such a lovely pattern and colouration,” she said, confusing me.

I looked at the picture, trying to work out what she meant. Then she brushed her hand on the scales on my face, I was so startled I leapt out of my chair, knocking it to the floor.

“Oh I'm sorry dear, I didn't mean to startle ... you? Where did she go?” Mrs Norton asked looking around.

My flight reflex had kicked in and I was invisible. My sudden vanishing act had got the whole class room looking for me. I dropped my camouflage and sat back down to a chorus of gasps.

“Sorry, you surprised me, and I'm a bit on edge. It's been one of those days.” I said.

“No it was my fault, it's just your scales are such a lovely pattern and colouring. I'd love to draw you some time. Anyway, let's tidy up. It's nearly home time, and I know you all want to be out of here when the bell rings,” Mrs Norton said.

As we began packing our stuff up, I took a look at D and Jane's work. D had done a very detailed picture of a set of objects on a shelf nearby. It was very well done. I complimented her on it and she blushed, which was a first. Jane had done this wonderful abstract pattern of little fields of coloured dust, it was astonishingly beautiful. I asked her how she had done it and she smiled demonstrating, she took a coloured chalk and powdered it. Then the dust floated up and shaped into a pattern that imprinted itself onto the paper. She held up a picture that was clearly me in red dust.

“I discovered this trick when playing around with my TK. I can't move much and not very far, so I was trying to draw using it. I missed the paper on one attempt and snapped the charcoal I was using, making a load of dust. I tried to clean it up with a bit of paper, but it got everywhere. So I tried using my TK and I found I could pick it up like a cloud. Then I found I could shape it, make little pictures hanging in the air. I then tried putting them on paper and found I could make art that way. It's about the only thing my powers are good for. They’re too weak for anything else.” She took some spray and fixed the chalk to the sheet, then handed me the picture. “Here keep it.”

“Thank you it's lovely,” I said. I carefully placed the picture in my workbook so it would not get damaged.

We finished tidying just before the bell rang. We wandered out of the school saying our goodbyes at the gate, as Jane went her way, D and I, ours. It had been a hell of a day. I was a bit apprehensive as to what tomorrow would bring.

D and I walked to the point where our paths divided and said goodbye, then went our separate ways.

As I went into my road, two men came out of the alleyway to my left.

“Hey little freak,” slurred one.

“Yeah why don't you get looossst! Go to the zoo where you belong,” the other said.

I panicked and vanished.

The two obviously quite drunk men blinked confusedly at the patch of space where I had been standing just moments ago.

“I think I must have had too much to drink. I'm seeing things,” one said to the other.

“Bah, I could stand to see more of things that look like that. It ‘ad a nice set of curves on it for an animal. Let's go get another drink see if we can see more vanishing girls,” said the other.

They staggered off, and I stood stock still till I was sure they were gone. I turned off my invisibility and went home, debating whether to tell my sister about the events of the day when she got back. I glanced around. The strange sensation of people watching me was back again.


 

Four

I watched as the two drunks we had set up, set the girl off. We had every piece of measuring equipment we could, trained on her from our van parked across the street. When she flipped on her stealth field, we analysed it in every spectrum we could.

“IR?” I asked

“No good.” Four replied.

“UV?”

“Nothing.”

“How about the light intensifiers? Do they amplify the distortion?”

“Hmm, barely. If she moves, maybe we can get something, but it's not much use as you can barely see anything at all, let alone her.”

“Radar?”

“Too small, and not reflective enough for our equipment.”

“Damn it! What else have we got?”

“Trying Terahertz hard object scanner ... got something! That field she generates seems to be semi solid, and it's generating a faint return on the THz.”

“Show me,” I looked at the images. A very fuzzy image of the outline of the girl was there, faint but usable. “Excellent, we can track her while she is invisible. One will be pleased. Good work.”

"That equipment is too bulky for effective use outside the truck, but it gives me an idea. I'm going to try ultrasound."

She fiddled with a few bits of kit, then showed me an odd fuzzy image on the screen.

"It works!" I said.

"Range isn't brilliant, but it will do in a chase."

"That's all we need."

We waited till the girl was gone, then drove off with our new information.


 

Mandy

I did my homework while I waited for Gwen to get home. I considered my options. I could say nothing, and let her think everything was alright, then she might, or might not, find out the truth later. Or, I could tell her now and face the consequences, but at least I wouldn't be lying to her.

I decided I owed it to her be honest. She was taking care of me, and if I started keeping things from her it would probably hurt her in the long run. I carefully thought about what to say to her, as I didn't want to upset her too much. I took a break from homework and watched some TV on the screen. There was nothing good on, but it was something to take my mind off my problems.

She came in a short while later looking frazzled. I almost backed out, not wanting to burden her any more.

“Gwen, can we talk?” I asked.

“Sure, Mandy. What is it?” she replied.

I decided I might as well get it all out in the open. I detailed how I had been hiding myself at school and been found out. Then I went into the details of the attack by Stacy, the resulting lack of action by the school, and then the fight with Trisha. By the end of it I was a little teary. Going over the events brought back the fear and anger associated with them.

Gwen came over and hugged me close. “Mrs Thomas warned me you might get bullied, but I had no idea they were so powerless to do anything,” Gwen said. “I've got a good mind to go down there and talk to her tomorrow, give her a piece of my mind on not protecting you.”

“She wants to, I can feel it, but I'm not sure she can. I'm not sure that there is anything you can do to make it right. But I wanted you to know, just in case they try and fit me up with something, and because I didn't want to be keeping things from you.”

Gwen smiled and hugged me close, “Come on, let's make some dinner, we'll have spaghetti bolognese.”

“Again!” I exclaimed, wiping the tears out of my eyes.

“I thought you liked spaghetti bolognese?” Gwen asked, looking a little put out.

“I do, but nearly every day for 3 weeks running can be a little tiring,” I said with a smile.

“Well unfortunately, it's one of the only things I know how to cook, so unless you want to learn to make the dinner, you're stuck with it,” she said, sticking her tongue out.

“Hmm I might just do that,” I mused.

It would be a way to pull my weight a bit more, if I learned how to cook. I knew how to burn toast, but not much more than that. We made dinner, and then  sat watching the telly. Gwen put her arm around me, holding me close, and pretty soon I had dozed off, tired from all the days action. Happy and safe in my sister's arms.

 

 

To Be Continued... 

   

 

 

The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/

 


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