-Do you know whose car it is?”
The old man looked like a walrus with his enormous mustache and his bald head covered in sweat. He tried to understand the situation, but no one really knew what was happening. Well, no one that would be heard.
-Was it stolen?”
-Was it bought?”
The old man’s caterpillar eyebrows arose like two beings, alive on his head.
-Then where does it come from?”
-We don’t know sir. It doesn’t look like any model in existence.”
The other one, the blond man in the back seat answered mechanically, looking at his tablet to answer every question. He was brave and nonchalant, even in difficult situations like the one they were in.
-What are the options, Thierry?”
-It could have been made by the criminal…”
The voice was Charlotte’s. She was quiet, but when she spoke, it was always interesting… Well, if you listened it was.
-That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, Charlotte. Keep driving. We don’t want to lose the car.”
The young woman didn’t let her boss affect her. It had been so long since she last was heard by him, or by anyone for that matter. She just looked at the road with her serious face and stayed careful.
Inside, she knew she was right. She knew the car had been made. She hadn’t said it right away, but she knew.
She didn’t want to admit why she hadn’t said it, but she was scared of the truth.
She had faced many dangers and had always remained calm, composed, and smart. She lived every day with the pain of being silenced, with the responsibility of two kids, with loss and danger and the task of keeping citizens safe.
As her eyes stared at the car in front of her, her mind was racing miles away and started to pray.
She prayed that she was wrong, that the car had just been stolen somewhere and no one had noticed or cared, she prayed that it wasn’t true, that her guess was wrong.
And she prayed for her boss and Thierry to listen.
-Who is driving the car?”
She stopped all she was thinking about to listen to her boss’s stupid questions. She knew who was driving that car : the same person who had made it, that’s who. One of the most insane criminal masterminds of all times, one of the darkest thinkers, someone that nobody would suspect because they all thought her dead.
-No one knows sir. We think it is a team of at least five, to do all the things done today, maybe even eight people.”
No, you idiots, she wanted to scream, It’s only one person!
-Are there any volshbnik in the area that haven’t been caught?”
-None at all?”
-They have all been sent to special camps or sentenced to death. There are a few still free that are doing labors that humans can’t do, but they are mostly kids, so they won’t cause any problems.”
Charlotte knew that wasn’t true. But she wasn’t about to blow her own cover so she just kept quiet, that what she was good at anyways.
-Perfect, any humans that could be our criminal?”
-No sir, I’m starting to think we are looking for a ghost, it can’t be anyone alive.”
There, we’re getting somewhere…
-Well it can’t be anyone dead either, Thierry…”
Actually, it can be someone presumed dead.
-Actually sir, could it be someone, a criminal, that was presumed dead?”
-Yeah, it could. Gimme’ a list of all the presumed dead criminals in the last ten years.”
The last four years will be enough.
She hadn’t said anything, but she knew she shouldn’t be upsetting her boss.
-I have a list.” Thierry said, his eyes locked on the screen.
-Well then read it!”
-John Parson, Tyson Smith, Zane Miller, Stephen Williams, Zoey Jelani…” At the name, Charlotte shivered. Her boss and Thierry had no reaction. When the list was finished, after at least twenty names, the bald boss asked Thierry,
-Wait, wasn’t Zoey Jelani a volshbnik?”
-I think so, sir. Maybee Charlotte knows? She is good at remembering those things.”
-You heard us.”
-Yes sir, Zoey Jelani was a volshbnik.”
-What’s your last name again, Charlotte?” asked Thierry, suddenly uninterested in the screen of the tablet.
-My last name,” her hands became sweaty “is Jelani too, but…”
-Are you related to the criminal Zoey Jelani?” Thierry’s voice sounded calm, but she knew he was accusing her.
Bang, bang, bang.
Thierry and the boss looked behind them. Another car. Someone inside was shooting at them.
-Duck!” screamed the old boss.
-What?” asked Thierry “What duck?”
The boss took him by the neck and pushed him down on the floor of the car.
-So we know it can’t be Zoey Jelani,” said Thierry.
-And why is that?”
-BEcause she always worked alone.”
Terrible deduction. Thought Charlotte. It is my sister, I know that. She is the only volshbnik capable of doing that and the only half human capable of building her own car. Well cars, since there are two.
Thierry took a gun and started shooting the car in front of them, which smashed to pieces into a wall.
-So, she’s dead!” said Thierry, he laughed a little, “I killed her.”
He is crazy. Charlotte felt her sister’s powers in the car. Oh… no…
As she realized what was happening around her, she was pulled into her past.
-What do you want to be when you grow up, Zoey?” she asked her sister. They were walking in a small town she knew well. They hadn’t discovered volshbnik or magic yet. They lived a normal life. At the time.
-I don’t know. Maybe a scientist, and you?”
Her sister seemed so human and normal. Her ebony skin glistened under the sun and her short hair made her look like a model.
-I want to be a policeman.”
The two sisters walked a few meters, and Zoey asked Charlotte,
-Do you really want to be a cop? I mean… It’s a great job and all… But…”
-You can’t understand. It’s fine.”
-Yep, I can’t understand you, Charlotte, you’re so weird sometimes.”
Charlotte felt like a puppet, forced to live through her past.
The scene changed. She was in an english university, visiting her sister.
-Zoey! You’ve changed so much!”
-How are you? Is school okay?”
-Yeah, yeah, it’s good. I like every one, I like the city, it’s… It’s good.”
-Are you sure.”
-I have to show you something, Charlotte, but you have to promise to keep it a secret.”
-Have you seen the news recently?”
-The things about the magic and wizards and stuff?”
-What, are you a witch Zoey.”
-Well… I think so.”
-You’re kidding, right?”
-Scientists said it started to develop at people’s twentieth birthday, first with strange black marks like the plague on several spots of the non-human body, and I had that.”
-Well it’s not enough… That could be an allergy or something.”
-Yep, but I started to have powers. It’s pretty weird.”
-What kind of powers?”
-I can make people relive their past. When I do that, they are in some kind of coma.”
-That could be pretty dangerous… Be really careful with it.”
-Yeah, but it can be shaken off by the victim, he or she just has to…”
The memory faded. Charlotte tried to remember, but she was pulled into another one.
-Do you have the gun?” Her sister wasn’t herself anymore. Her black eyes were evil in some way that didn’t seem human.
-Well… Yeah. But I don’t think it will work, it’s a fake one so…”
-Don’t worry. I can make it real. It comes with my powers.”
-I can take you with me, you know. You have no magic, but you’re smart and in good physical shape.”
-No. You have a life Zoey. You only have one. You have a husband who loves you. You have two beautiful kids.”
Zoey’s face seemed to leak empathy. Like when she was little. Charlotte thought she had brought back the sister she knew. But all of her emotions seemed to have been drained out of her, and soon enough her mask was back.
-If anything happens to me, promise to take Jack and Ella in with you.”
-Here, I’ll write it somewhere.”
She got out a piece of paper and scribbled a few words onto it, wrote the date, and signed it. Charlotte proceeded to sign it too.
-You’ll raise them like your own kids?”
-Yeah, I will.”
-You’ll love them, no matter how much you hate me.”
-I don’t hate you, Zoey!”
-Well you soon will.”
Once again, the memory faded away, and she found herself in a small apartment kitchen. She was reading a newspaper. And as she turned the page, she felt a deja vu so strong she almost fell off the wooden stool. She was reading about her sister’s death.
Same setting, a month later.
Her nephew and niece were talking together.
-Mom’s not dead, she wouldn’t just… die.”
-Yeah, well what do you know?”
-I know more than you, I’m the oldest after all.”
-I’m the smartest.”
-That’s not true.”
-Yeah it is.”
Charlotte looked at both of them and wished to be back in the car. She closed her eyes and started thinking very hard about her boss, Thierry, the chase… Then she opened her eyes in a hospital bed.
-You’re awake. Good.” It was a woman she didn’t recognize right away.
-Why am I here?” she had a cast on one of her legs and her arm felt like it had been ripped out of her body, but she looked fine. Mostly.
-You fell asleep driving. I’m sorry, I have a few questions to ask. It’s very important. It’s about a case for the police.”
Back to the car chase. She was still driving. The car was fine. Both of the men looked asleep next to her. That memory had been lived through the eyes of a patient she had asked questions to, not through her eyes. It had felt disturbing and satisfying at the same time.
Then, she heard her sister.
She turned around. Her sister had been hiding behind her seat.
-Why did you have to ruin everything.”
-I didn’t ruin everything.”
-Your kids loved you.”
-They still do.”
-No. You abandoned them. I can’t believe you!”
Both women were now holding guns.
-Go ahead,” said Zoey “Shoot me. You don’t have the courage. You wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
-You think so?”
-Yeah. You won’t do it.”
Zoey was wrong.