Thoughts of a Dying, Atheist Part I


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Also Featuring…

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Scene Title Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Part I
Synopsis As Odessa faces down death the second time, this time she has a chance to reflect on a lifetime of missteps, misdeeds, and wrong turns.
Date November 8, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology, Reactor Level

Odessa is hurled off of her feet, plucked out of the air by an invisible hook of force. She slams into the wall as though she fell from a second story window. Her shoulder dislocates with a pop. The cry of pain that tears from Odessa's throat could have come from the mouth of hell.

Luis falls onto his side, knife wedged in his back, blood seeping out of his mouth and the knife wound. There's barely time to process what's just happened to her when she goes careening off toward the ceiling, crashing through pipes and support beams all the way up. Her piercing shriek echoes off the walls and her mind fills with incoherent thoughts. Liette stares, wildly. “Why did you hurt him!?

There's no way to explain why she's hurt – maybe killed – the man who cared for Julie and Liette all their lives. Odessa can't articulate that Luis was doing to them what was done to her. That they deserve better than that life of captivity and observation. Even if she had the chance, she wouldn't have tried. They'll never understand. She would never have understood it when she was their age.

Odessa’s projection of her own trauma is revealed to not match — piece for piece — that of Julie and Liette’s. Not yet, anyway. When her back slams against the ceiling, Odessa falls quiet, and stares down, down, down…

Luis, bleeding out on the floor, reaches out one weathered hand in Liette’s direction. She stares, wide-eyed, still holding Odessa to the ceiling with a telekinetic force. Tears well up in her eyes, her throat tightens, jaw trembling.

It isn't the pain that brings on the gasping breaths, the desperation for air. Odessa is utterly terrified of heights.

That wide blue gaze shuts tightly and that panicked breathing slows again under the force of her own will.

Liette lets Odessa drop.

After all the wrong I've done…

Somewhere below, Eric Doyle shouts her name, in full panic.

Odessa, Texas

Eerie whispers
Trapped beneath my pillow

Two young blonde girls sit on the floor of an office atop a sea of orange shag carpet. Each has a Barbie doll, which are having a conversation that has apparently just gone south.

Blue sparks arch off one of the girl's finger tips and strike the other girl in the hand wrapped around the torso of the doll. "Ouch! Ellie!"

Ellie giggles and does it again. This time her playmate drops her doll and pulls her arm back to hold to chest.

"That really hurts!" The girl cries out, some fear in her dark blue eyes, but mostly confusion. Pain. Why would her friend do that to her?

Sparks again leap from Ellie's finger tips, the other girl shrieks and cringes back in anticipation of the pain once more, but the current does not find the other girl. It just fizzles out harmlessly in front of her.

One dark blue eye opens slowly to stare warily.

"You're so funny, Dessie."

"I'm telling your dad," Dessie says, her mouth pinched up like she's just been sucking on a particularly tart citrus fruit.

Ellie's eyes narrow. "You tell him and I'll zap you again. And I won't be playing next time!"

Dessie recoils at the thought, tears welling up in her eyes. "Okay, Ellie. I won't say anything. Please, can we just go back to playing?" Neither of them has anyone else. It's not like the facility is crawling with kids. They can't just go find someone else to play with. It's awful lonely to be a little girl in this place.


I see how this is going to go. I'm going to hang suspended in this moment of time and watch everything that came before. Fantastic. Well, I suppose it's appropriate that we started with Ellie. All right, Ghost of Bitches Past, what do you have for me next?

"Good morning, Agent Bennet. Are you going to make the world safe today?"

"Why do you always ask me that every morning, Doctor?"

"Agent Bennet, I told you. I'm not a doctor yet." She's only studying to be one. But the young teenager smiles shyly, not afraid to show him the braces on her teeth anymore, pleased that he has so much faith in her.

Noah Bennet looks down over the top of his horn-rimmed glasses at her from where he stands at the opposite side of the table she's studying at. He seems so friendly, his smile so much more reassuring than she seemed to remember it before. "All right. But you didn't answer my question." Amusement crinkles at the corners of his eyes as he watches her tap her black-painted fingernails restlessly against the pages of her textbook. The Odessa girl is good at evasive statements.

"If you make the world safe," she tells him with so much hope in her voice and in her dark blue eyes as she brushes a strand of frizzy blond hair away from her face, "then I can finally go outside."

If he feels any regret at that, it doesn't show on his face. Instead, Noah does what he does best: deflect. "Say, I just got Claire's new school pictures back. Have I shown you yet?"

The teenager gasps, delighted. "No! Show me!"

It was so much simpler then, wasn't it?

"The eency weency spider went up the water spout," sings the teenager to a pair of toddlers, identical and just as blonde as she is. Her fingers make the motions of crawling up an invisible pipe. "Down came the rain and washed the spider out!" Her spidered fingers crawl forward and tap each girl on her nose, causing them to squeal with delight. "Out came the sun and dried up all the rain. And the eency weency spider went up the spout again."

The two girls clap happily as the song is finished and the older girl beams with pride. "You know what else spiders like to do?" she asks with a gleam of mischief in her eyes. The two girls shake their heads. "They like to give tickles!" The three of them all break into peels of laughter as the teen lunges out with both hands to find the backs of necks and soft bellies.

They don't even remember that. They have no idea how much I loved having them around… They were so like me. But they had each other, at least. They had me.

A heart rate monitor beeps quietly in a sterile room with bright overhead lights that illuminate the the chest of the man laid out on the table. He's covered, save for the area around an long incision that has him opened wide, ribs spread to expose his heart.

Ah, the beginning of the end.

"All right, so you need to cut here…" A gloved finger carefully points into the incision, where a small tumor threatens to impede the flow of blood from the man's heart. They've caught it early. If this surgery is successful, the man will live. "But be very careful, because you don't want to cut into the inferior vena cava."

The blonde being instructed is maybe fifteen or sixteen years old, at best, and she can't see the man's face except for a pair of brown eyes. Maybe she just can't remember it anymore. Taking a deep breath, she leans forward with her scalpel poised so carefully. "Okay… Okay."

So far, so good. Her blade slices so easily, just as it did through the flesh above. Much easier than the saw through his sternum. But that's the issue, as well. She does exactly what she was warned against, and lets her scalpel slide too far, too fast. The flow of blood is immediate. "No! Oh, God, no. What do I do? How do I fix it!?" Her blue eyes snap up and search those brown eyes for answers.

"I knew that you weren't ready for this…" The supervising doctor reaches forward with the intent of taking the scalpel from the girl. As young as she is, he's probably right about her readiness. It doesn't matter how early in life she began studying medicine and surgery, there's just no substitute for the wisdom and poise that come with age.

"No!" The girl's free hand snaps out in front of her to ward him off as she cries out.

The heart rate monitor is silent.

The man doesn't move.

The blood has stopped pouring from the patient's heart and into his chest cavity. Or… Frozen?

"Wh- What?" Terrified, the girl looks around the room. Everything is completely motionless. Even the clock on the wall has stopped its incessant ticking. Panic settles in and she begins to gasp in quick lungfuls of air. What happened? Who is doing this?

There's a sensation that begins to seep into her body. It starts in the bones of her feet and crawls upward so slowly. Excruciatingly. There's a dull ache – worse than the fresh wounds in her side from being shoved through her coffee table the evening before – and an agonizing promise whispered through her with no voice. But still, she hears it. Feels it. Feels this horror creeping up, climbing the cage of her ribs like icy fingers wrapped around the rungs of a ladder. Finally, it grips her by the throat and positively thrums in her skull.

Odessa. It knows her name. Calls to her, though she knows she doesn't hear it spoken, even in her mind. It's something innate. Hooks into the very core of her being and grafts itself to her skeleton. Come, girl. Let me show you what you are. Her eyes shut tight as she breathes through the unnerving discomfort.

Suddenly, strings are pulling at her from every direction. Odessa screams and staggers away from the surgical table, her scalpel clatters to the ground. It's horrifying, what's happening to her. Whatever this is threatens to tear her apart.

Her arms swing out blindly, trying to shove away the tethers that make her bones scream in agony. She feels them, those strings, and opens her eyes. To find absolutely nothing there. Nothing tangible. But when she moves her hands, she can feel them. Little threads leading in all directions.

No. Only one direction.


And Odessa's resolve is the only thing impeding that progress. She's standing against the very onslaught of time itself, she realizes in a moment of terrifying clarity. Through the singing in her skull, the girl finds her will. "I control you," she whispers menacingly to the nothingness. If she holds enough conviction, maybe she really will control this.

Or maybe she'll be stuck in a frozen moment forever. Will she grow older? Will she die here? She resolves not to find out those answers, and instead claims a clamp from a waiting tray squares her shoulders, and gets to work on her patient.

When the damage has been repaired – something that should have taken so much longer than she's been working – Odessa finishes excising the tumor. Then, she calmly puts everything back the way it's supposed to be, and stitches her patient back up again, taking her time, because she has all the time she needs.

When it's over, she lets out a deep sigh of relief, rests her arms heavily over the cloth-draped torso of her patient. The beeping sound begins again, and the man across from her stares down at his protégé in stunned silence.

He leaves her abruptly and strides over to a call box on the wall, presses the button and says something she didn't understand at the time:

"It worked."

They engineered the entire situation. Even if I hadn't screwed up, that stress would have been immense. They wanted to force me to manifest. Well, be careful what you wish for, I suppose.

"Stop squirming, Agent Bennet, or I'll never get this thread to lay straight."

Noah grits his teeth and sucks in a hissing breath between them as the blonde teenager maneuvers her needle through deftly the skin on the back of his left shoulder, stitching broken flesh back together.

"We could do this my way," the young woman offers, letting her voice trail off, her eyes on his face. What she can see of it, at least.

"No." The refusal is polite, but firm. He won't have her using her ability – whatever it is.

Odessa sighs, resting one gloved hand flat on Bennet's shoulder blade as she makes another stitch. "Suit yourself. I'll make sure I send you home with plenty of antibiotics and painkillers." She studies her work and studies his wound with interest. "How did you get this one anyway?"

"Long story." The days of their interactions being lighthearted are gone. They have been since she manifested. She changed. Now his injuries are fascinations. Her sense of compassion has all but left her. He no doubt wonders in some way if that's typical of Them. He doesn't show her pictures of his beautiful daughter anymore. The one she lived vicariously through. He's distant.

His answer brings a laugh from the doctor. "I have plenty of time."

He sniffed me out so quickly, didn't he? Or maybe he was just always better with children.

No… Noah could see the madness take me. He and Denton were the ones closest. They knew who I was before my power took me… I wish I'd never developed it. I wonder. If they had left me be, would I have ever manifested?

There's a cry of alarm and a loud smack! as a little blonde girl falls from the shelf she was climbing, hitting her head on the concrete floor below. From the end of the hall, Doctor Knutson's head snaps up. She appears in the doorway in a literal instant and rushes over to where the girl lays on the floor, her identical sister bent over her.

"Oh no," Odessa gasps immediately reaching down to press her fingers to the girl's neck. Her pulse is still strong. "Get back, Liette. I'm going to help her."

Liette looks up at Odessa and simply shakes her head, then rests a hand over her sister's forehead. "It's okay. I know how to help her."

The girl on the floor begins to heal, recover.

"Ho- Liette? How are you doing that?"

"I just am," Liette replies simply. Odessa remembers back to her own manifestation and how she just simply did what she needed to do. She watches with fascination as the the pool of blood on the concrete goes still; not shrinking, but not growing any larger. The injured girl opens her eyes.

"Julie?" The doctor helps the girl sit up and braces her hand against the back of her head. It's tacky with the blood she was laying in, but her scalp is intact. Her skull is solid beneath probing fingers.

Odessa is on her feet in an instant and rushing to a monitor on the wall, just like the doctor had done when she first displayed her ability. There's a moment's hesitation as she looks back at the two girls, then she jams down the call button and waits for the telltale static of someone opening the line. Before they can speak, she snaps, "Get me Bishop! Now!"

With wide eyes and so little understanding, the girls look up at their trusted caretaker. The feeling of revulsion within her is instant. She's doing to them what was done to her. Why didn't she just stay quiet? Why couldn't she just let them be kids a little while longer?

Because she needs to know. That voice that sings in her bones tell her that she needs to know what they're each capable of. Just like the Company wants to know what she can do. All of it.

"Ah, mon biquet." Odessa steps away from the intercom and crosses back to the two girls, dropping to her knees and gathering them both up in her arms. They clutch her back, belying the fear they feel at knowing something incredible has just happened. Something that cannot be undone. "I am so glad you're all right. Everything's going to be okay now."

I couldn't protect them then. I don't know why I thought I could do it now. They never understood. Maybe they never will. I hope someday they will look back, and forgive.

"A bomb has gone off in New York City."


"There are a lot of people hurt. A lot of people are sick. They need all the help they can get, Odessa. We need to send you to them so you can save lives."

Odessa, now in her early twenties, overcomes a moment of fear and is suddenly delighted by this news. "You're going to let me go outside?"

"You need to be transported," is not the same thing, and she knows it instantly.

"We need you to sit down and let us administer the sedative," Bob Bishop tells her. "It's not safe for you out there. We need to be able to transport you in a capsule."

"No!" Odessa shouts, shaking her head back and forth quickly. "I want to go out! I'll just get in the car and buckle up!" While she's never been in a vehicle before in her twenty-some odd years on the planet, she's seen movies. It's not like she has absolutely no idea of how the world outside the walls of the Odessa facility functions.

Except that's exactly how it is. "Odessa, please… The world is a very, very dangerous place, and we don't have the time to train you to protect yourself. Don't make this hard on us."

She smirks, finding amusement in what he's just said. "Time? Don't I have that in abundance?"

A black man with a stony expression steps into the doorway. Bennet's partner. Bishop doesn't change his stance.

Suddenly furious, Odessa throws her arms out to her sides to focus her ability and snap time into place around her. She'll make them reason with her!

Except… nothing happens. There's an absence now that hurts worse than the inclusion ever did. Something about her feels hollow. "No!" Odessa is powerless. Holding her hands out in front of her now, she starts to back away as the man in the doorway starts to move forward. "Stay away from me! I don't want to go like that!"

Director Bishop sighs and shakes his head with disappointment. "I really thought you would show yourself to be better behaved than Elle, Odessa." He sighs, looking so very saddened by what she's choosing to do. "I thought you would cooperate."

"Don't you touch me!"

An orderly Odessa can't recognize due to her scrubs, the net over her hair, and the mask over her face, comes in from the hall now, a syringe in hand. The advancing man grabs her arm and swings her around deftly so he can crush her against him, her back to his chest.

Odessa begins to scream and kick for all that she's worth, more terrified of the proximity of another human being than the loss of her own freedom. She begs incoherently for the man, this Haitian, to release her. But he's so much stronger than she is, and he holds her still, whispering something encouraging to her in French as the needle finds her arm, and then sedation finds her mind quickly.


Previously in this storyline…
Arkfall, Part IV

Next in this storyline…
Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Part II

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