Nothing Under the Bed After All

Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto

The hair pricked on the back of her neck in a chill a moment before she heard the cold, even voice in her thoughts. Hello Kim.

Nathan. Her fingers tightened on the dish in her hand, for a moment horrified. Then she carefully set it down, and pushed out her fear with reason. She was ready for this. She wasn’t alone; her family, not to mention Meg and Darquin, were with her now.

Quietly she murmured an excuse to go to her room, but at the stairs she turned away, and kept on down the hall to the side door. She could have made a show of force, but as it was… she felt as if she owed it to herself most of all, to try standing alone.

She could sense him easily, as if there was nothing of walls and doors between them. And he was alone. It was impossible to tell he wished her to know that, or for once since the corps took him away, she had found a crack in the wall of the alien thing he’d become.

She opened the door and stepped out just beyond the splash of light that defined the walk to the garage. Slowly her eyes adjusted, but her gaze were focused on the right place long before then.

“Hello, Nathan,” she said aloud.

Like the Cheshire cat, his smile emerged first from nothingness, then the badge, and the rest of his black-clad body following vaguely. “Five years, or was it six? There has been quite a change,” he said, his glance sweeping her appraisingly.

Almost as clearly as if he had sent the image past her barriers, Kim could see herself against what she’d been last. A thin, angry shadow of a girl who’s fire crumpled to ash in his presence and didn’t realize she was tall enough to meet his eyes squarely.

“What is it you want, Nathan?” she asked, measuring her voice out to sound bored.

“It’s not what I want I’m hear to speak about, but where you belong,” he said. “It is not here.”

“Oh?” she laughed. “I see, I should come and accept the embrace of my brothers and sisters in the Corps, where all is Just and Right because we family.” Her voice was so sharp with sarcasm, it could have drawn blood. “Only the delusional would wish to miss out on that.”

She was rewarded with a brief flicker of anger in those cold eyes. “You don’t understand, Kim. You have your friends here, you believe, but what do they think of telepaths? Look at what the world think of telepaths. We cannot be a part of their world. From behind that uniform, do you really think you would have a place?”

“I have already found my place.”

“You have merely resigned yourself to all you can have.”

“Like you?” Kim countered.

Nathan stretched an empty smile. “You walk your path alone. I do not.”

“I beg to differ.”

He shifted his tack, voice growing stern. “You can not stay, Kimberly. Oh, the hero’s parade is a grand thing, but law is law. PsiCorp, prison or the sleepers. Either way you will have to come with me.”

Right. I would never make it to prison, and the sleepers would be literally so, all the way to a reeducation facility. Kim took a long look around the dark, quiet countryside, the chosen field of battle devoid of anyone but herself and him. “I think not.” She called his bluff, her smile was as cruel as she’d ever learned from him. “If you had a leg to stand on, this would have been by the front door with your guards, not this creeping about in the dark. I am not a citizen of Earth any longer, beyond the jurisdiction of PsiCorps.”

“Pretend papers.”

Kim shrugged. “So is money, but people are perfectly willing to accept and kill over it. Are you willing to risk that here?”

“It will not be necessary.”

Kim glanced back to where his gaze so artfully shifted. The house, and the friends and family within. It was a threat, and she kept her reaction to it carefully from her face. “Another weak bluff, Nathan.”

“Is it?”

“Yes… Yes it is.” Kim met his eyes squarely, growing sure of herself. Something old and tight was beginning to fray inside her, filling her with a tense excitement. She took a step closer, catching the scent cologne, and damp leather. “Because you know that if you act against them, it will bring more hell on you than you’ll ever be able to make for us. And what’s more… your precious Corps know this as well, or once again, they would be here to back you. The simple fact is, I’m more expensive than I’m worth.”

The low drone of cicadas filled the sudden silence, and she actually felt his strain to to contain his anger… and jealousy. He hated her, her freedom, and her strength. It was a victory against his defenses and an insight into his mind that shocked her out of her remaining fear. Muscles across her back she hadn’t realized were tight, suddenly relaxed. Old nightmares fell apart, flimsy as cobwebs.

“I’m not going anywhere with you, Nathan,” she said, and the calm was unfeigned this time. “You aren’t going to do anything here. You’ve lost. Go home, or to whatever passes for it. I haven’t any time for your games any more.”

The sudden opening of the side door brought both their heads about to stare at a figure backlit in the hallway. “Kim, are you out there?” Ginessa called, squinting to adjust her eyes to the dark.

Nathan moved before that could happen…

…retreating away into the dark overhang of the trees. The brittle crackle of anger and frustration trailed a hot blaze behind him.

“Kim?”

“Right here, Grandma,” Kim called back, turning and walking to the door. She smiled to easy the worried expression on Ginessa’s face. “You need me?”

“You’re captain’s on the vidcom. Something about needing your help specifically for a problem.” Ginessa said. “Only for a day.”

Kim hid a smile at the last. By the tone of it, it was an order Ginessa had given, rather than a promise first offered by Hale. “I guess I’d better find out what it is.”

Ginessa nodded, but her glance trailed back to the driveway over Kim’s shoulder, as if she suspected she’d seen something. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes, fine,” Kim replied, stepping inside. “I though there was something, but it turned out to be nothing at all.”


(C) 1999 Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.