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I’ve known since birth that I was different, but I figured maybe it was my IQ or my competence, maybe even my inconquerable spirit.
I never realized how utterly different until I met someone who materialized my thoughts and tried to take advantage of my mind. I do not need a keeper.
There was once a man similar to me, they called him the imposter. He could do anything as long as he had read the manual-even brain surgery. (A manual for brain surgery?)
I am not an imposter, nor am I an empath. They say artists have a sixth sense, and that some see ghosts. However, I do not see dead people and I do not hear their voices, and I do not steal their identities.
I get inside their heads.
I am not a shrink, and by definition I am not a manipulator.
Give me evidence, give me a person I have never met and I can predict anything, I can understand their motivation, I can become them. I hear only my voice and see only my son.
Granted, I have no son. But in my dreams, I survive for him.
And I see their memories.
I’d almost forgotten the brief I held in my hands. I’d written it myself in college, when I was studying human factors psychology on a whim. As I’d written then, in the time that had passed, I’d seen and done many things and met many people that I understood better than myself.
And, though Daddy would be angry, I’d almost manage to forget where I came from and the insanity I left behind. Even Jarod had become a faint memory and gunshots no longer shattered the silence of dreams.
And then Daddy called me back to Blue Cove and Corporate, and before long I was chasing the boy I once called friend, even love.
And then I had two brothers, a dead sister, and voices inside my head that conducted my actions and pushed me to survive for myself. And I had lost Daddy and Thomas, and Mama and Faith all over again. Mirage was chasing me as I was chasing Jarod and Jarod was chasing the truth.
And now as I sit here looking at my mother and his mother together in a picture from a man I can not name, but know is my father, my phone has landed in my lap and I know Raines was right.
Everything is about the Centre - because the Centre is everything. And once again, images of a dark-haired boy dance across my mind. He looks strangely like Jarod but his eyes are too wide and his face too sincere. I slid Lyle’s passkey from the top of my boot and headed for SL-15. The labrats were there and somehow I knew I’d find one answer and a child alone in a corner, guiding Onysseus through the air. My mother’s voice urged me onward and Mirage seemed to make sense, but my mother slipped up as a terrible liar. Mirage is a vision of thing(s) not really there, and my mother seemed too kind to be devious, but again they were wrong. My mother was strong but I am stronger, and I will save Jarod and myself and my nephew-almost-brother, and the child I know is in the room down the hallway.
Broots thinks I’m stupid but I am a Pretender too, am I not? I loop the video cameras myself and follow the pathway down the hall. Angelo will help me because the airvents are not sealed and I have 19 minutes to escape with him and children, and grab what’s left of the notebook for Timmy’s antidote. I could not forget Timmy’s cure.
I will have my three brothers, my Jarod, my son and my mother’s voice; and I will be rid of this place and my father and the man I call ‘daddy’ as well. 16 minutes and the lab records are inside my coat and I slip into the room where my littlest brother lay sleeping. “I’m sorry,” I whisper, and squeeze a drop of liquid into his mouth so he will not wake for a few more minutes. 11 minutes. I hand the child up to Angelo-Timmy and point to the Pretender-child’s room, my son, I know now.
8 minutes and a few tears later I whisper, “Hello sweetheart, I’m your mother. It’s safe now, come.” And he falls into my arms without a moment’s hesitation. WIth 2 minutes to spare, Angelo, my baby brother-nephew, Nikolas-the boy, and I, are running through the Centre gates. I close my eyes briefly as I crank the enging, and answer Angelo’s unasked question.
“Refuge. Jarod and Ethan are waiting at our Refuge. From there, we go home. I don’t know where that is yet, but we’re going to find it boys,” I pause, “We’re leaving the lies and we’re going home.”