Anne did what she was told. Doing anything else when Bree was concerned was not wise. Anne’s eyes cleared from the consuming darkness and a faint bluish light shone against them, making her squint. It wasn’t as difficult as she had imagined it, regaining her sight from velvety black to the vibrant light of day. It felt like nothing more than the blink of an eye. Perhaps it was, Anne thought. Bree stood in front of Anne, her hands clasped behind her back and a pristine pink ballerina shoe dug in the dirt while she waited for Anne to compose herself.
The pair stood outside the circle of outstretched limbs and silent children. Anne hadn’t felt like she moved, but it was apparent that someone or something had moved her out of harm’s way. Anne’s gaze was locked on the asymmetry that the frozen people represented. To her astonishment, she found that they were motionless in their agony. Anne slowly approached the tangled forms of Bree’s victims and stared. She steadied herself to find solid ground and solid evidence that Bree had annihilated these people without so much as a thought. Had she actually murdered them all? Anne could only presume that that was their fate by the amount of pain and shock written on their contorted faces. Why were they frozen? Bree did this before at Major Globe’s compound, but Bree had to touch her parents to make them her playthings. The scope of this was unlike anything Anne had seen. On instinct, Anne reached out to take Bree’s hand.
“Come on,” Anne whispered, “we need to get you out of here before anyone sees this.”
Bree emitted a tiny giggle and slipped out of Anne’s reach. To her it was a game, as playful as ever. “No need, silly. Silas will take care of everything, won’t you Silas?”
Anne turned and saw through squinted eyes a thin man who made his way through the frozen crowd. He wore a dark baseball cap, dark green parka, and shiny black combat boots. He was taller than Anne – which was saying something, because Anne was not a short woman. A boyish charm was plastered on his face, and his gray eyes smiled at her.
“You did this?” Anne demanded.
He shrugged, non-committal. “The killing? No. But stopping time was all me.”
Anne sneered and tried to shield Bree from the carnage.
“They’re all dead and frozen in time,” Silas Replied. “There’s no need to play the protector now.”
Anne smiled. She decided to test Silas. “That’s improbable.”
Silas clapped his hands. “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” He waggled his eyebrows. “Or so the saying goes. Since we’re the only three people moving freely about, and neither you nor the little princess there possess a power that could do that, I guess that only leaves me.” He paused. “I’ll admit that seeing Bree’s power has proven rather … fascinating.”
Frightening, you mean, Anne wanted to say. She witnessed the events that happened in the cabin along the Canadian border.
“Why would you doubt what she could do?” Silas asked. “Doesn’t it look something like this?”
Anne recalled the dead birds lying in the mud at the cabin. As she pondered Silas’ response, Anne dared to look where the boy had been stretched out of existence. She had forgotten about him. Only a frail image of him remained. It was a barely visible shimmer composed of concentrated light, moving on its own accord inside Silas’ time bubble. Bree’s power obviously superior, the boy’s image dispersed, gone like a rainbow after a sunny day’s rain. Anne narrowed her eyes. Had Bree pretended just then to be offended and made the boy grab her hair, creating the whole scene for Anne to witness? Anne was confused by Bree’s pointed show of affection and torture toward her. Bree had allowed her to beg for the boy’s release and safety. Plead for her to step away and spare these people. Anne had fallen into a production Bree had constructed for her. Anne could feel the tension in the air drop and Bree giggle even louder behind her, undoubtedly sensing Anne’s realization. This had not been a spontaneous outburst; it was a well-choreographed play. Anne needed to find the reasoning behind it. If this was Major Globe pulling the strings, she needed to let Frank Massey know.
Anne turned her attention back to Silas. “How long can you continue this?”
Silas pulled his sleeve back and looked at his watch. “For about thirty more seconds. A total of one minute I am afraid. Part of the half lineage deal.”
“A minute? How far does it extend?”
Silas laughed wholeheartedly. “I think you’re misreading the situation. We are the ones working within the one-minute time limit. The rest of this city is just caught between one second and the next. I can maintain it for just a minute at a time. When we return to normal time, there won’t be any noticeable changes. That jogger over there will take her next step with the same intensity she had before I stopped time and that dog will finish its shit from the moment it had commenced it upon the grass.”
Anne didn’t chuckle at his obscenity. Silas gestured for her to follow him. Bree didn’t need to be called. She skipped ahead with her toy kitten swinging in her hands.
“Do you have a lineage?” Anne demanded.
“A tiny branch I’m afraid, nothing like your history. I’m a Galilei by blood. My ancestor trifled with time, but only a small dose surged onto my humble lineage on my mother’s side.”
Anne nodded. “You’re a defect then?”
Silas feigned offense and pushed a frozen ball up so that Bree could jump and smack it. It rotated rather than rolled through the still air, but Bree exhaled appreciation for the sight. She continued slapping the ball and chasing it. She always made it first before the ball had stopped. Silas returned his attention to Anne.
“I’m hardly a defect. I am of a pure lineage, but I am the last of the line. Power fades through the ages. More so when mixing an activated gene and an ordinary one. I may very well be choking on exhaust.”
“Silas is amazing, isn’t he Anne?” Bree asked while trying to adjust Mr. Puss to sit still on top of the frozen ball.
Anne smiled at her direction. “He is, little princess.”
Anne tilted her head at the motionless crowd and lowered her voice. “What of them? What will happen to them once your time bubble bursts?”
Silas clicked his fingers. “Ah the patsy, yes. I almost forgot. I’ll blame that on you and your questions, Lady in Red.”
Next: The Patsy