Anne looked at them. Frozen. Flailing. Fragile. Her heart raced with the same adrenaline she got the infinitesimal moment before she died and when she was reborn. Her brain latched on that moment as if it knew something was amiss and tried to protect her psyche. More than one super had suggested that that bit of consciousness; that moment of understanding; was what made Anne who she was. They bandied about words like insane, and crazy, but they couldn’t possibly understand that singular moment in time. It was as if she could understand the nature of life itself.
Bree wasn’t letting any of the bystanders go anywhere. Their eyes were wide and they could only stand and watch the horror show. They were the testament to Bree’s power.
Anne escaped the paralyzed circle and stood in the middle of it surveying the scene.
A little boy had his hand wrapped around one of Bree’s carefully braided ponytails seemingly trying to yank it down. Bree insisted that Anne painstakingly style her hair before they left Globe’s compound. Anne wanted to be away from Globe as soon as she could, but Bree insisted. The boy’s left foot was set firmly in the gravel, and his right leg was bent at the knee just at the moment as he was running past Bree with his innocent childish prank in mind.
Anne knelt at a safe distance as the respect of the little girl slammed her bravado to nothing yet again as it always did when Bree was angry, or Bree was upset, or Bree didn’t like something. Anne cursed at herself for dismissing any of Bree’s wishes. She spoke softly but knew that in a moment she would have to listen and obey. If only she could appeal to the child’s humanity before it was too late.
“Bree, honey, what happened?”
“He tried to take kitty from me. No one treats Puss like that.”
Bree’s eyes darted to somewhere behind Anne. Anne turned to see the stuffed kitten lying on its side, dirtier than it had ever been. It was a pitiful sight ready to upset any child. But Bree was no ordinary child. Anne shivered as she remembered the flock of birds writhing on the ground at the cabin in the woods – their eyes burned away; beaks open in a wordless chorus.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt Puss, Bree. How about you let him go, and we can take care of kitty together.”
Bree shook her head in defiance. She reached with her thin arm and peeled the boy’s fingers from her hair freeing her disheveled ponytail. The boy’s fingers bent like they were made from clay. His face was heavily distorted. His existence was being questioned by Bree’s power: his past, present and future visible in painful grimaces. They were colliding to grind his bones to dust. Anne hadn’t witnessed anything like this before, but then again she wasn’t really familiar with the girl’s power to begin with. She tread carefully when dealing directly with Princess Bree. This seemed like a whole new level, or maybe it was just an outraged little girl.
Anne slowly reached for her regular cellphone in the pocket of her sporty red dress and dialed up Globe’s task force. If Bree was allowing her to do that, Anne was clear of the danger for now. But all of these people would have to have their short-term memory modified to prevent any further incidents today. She already had enough on her plate with Globe starting a war and now this.
“A lot of people are watching honey. We wouldn’t want them to think ill of us would we, little princess?”
Bree’s brow furrowed. “Why not?”
Anne opened and closed her mouth lost for words. If this went out of hand as quickly as it appeared to be going, there was no sniper to fire a bullet at Bree and Anne knew she was too weak to stand up to the little girl.
“Because princesses are good, and that’s why everyone loves them so much.”
“Doctor Globe says I am special, and all the people in the city would know that soon.”
Anne forced a smile. “That is true. You are a very, very special girl, but I’m sure Major Globe didn’t mean…”
“Murder?” Bree interrupted and looked Anne dead in the eye. One minute Bree was a little albeit crazy girl and the next she was older than Anne, smarter than Globe.
Shit, shit, shit this is bad, Anne thought. She offered her outstretched hand to the little girl.
“Come on now Bree, let’s not upset Doctor Globe.”
“Oh, he won’t be angry,” Bree finally said and walked around Anne to pick up the stuffed kitten. Then with some regained cheerfulness she explained:
“He’s watching. So I think Puss and me shouldn’t wait to show people this and that. We should do it now!” Bree’s laughter was devoid of the naïve, childish tone that Anne yearned for.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be watching this Aunty Anne. I don’t want to upset you.” Bree stroked the head of her stuffed kitten.
Suddenly Anne’s vision blurred rapidly to pitch black darkness. She remained still waiting for her power to resurrect her, but her rebirth never came. She realized that she wasn’t dead, she was just blind. Her sight manipulated into staring into the endless abyss instead of the municipal playground in the middle of a city that wasn’t prepared for what it would witness in a just a few moments. That temporary sight limitation, however, didn’t spare her from hearing the screams.
Next: Red Herring