I was born and raised in the compound. It was quite large, really, and I felt perfectly safe. No one bothered us, not my brother nor my mother and father. But it wasn't a paradise: oh, no. Brass razor wire coiled along the top of the walls. There were trees, and Mom put in a garden and made my brother and me take turns to mow the lawn. Oddly enough, we used a scythe, mostly because Mom said Daddy wouldn't attract it. It was an easy chore. The blade was also made of aluminum, which, according to my school books, is non-magnetic. Mom said that was so Dad wouldn't get hurt by it.

     In fact, everything in the compound was non-magnetic. Trucks and cars were directed miles from here. Everything metal was aluminum or brass or gold. The place sparkled in the sunlight, from the gold and silver that lit the paths around the yards, the pool and the house. Everything else was wood.

     When Mom died, she was taken away. We weren't allowed to attend the funeral, but my brother and I stood at the tower over the administration building and watched as a horse-drawn wooden carriage was brought to the gates. Mom was buried some distance from here, I'd heard in New York, or maybe it was Connecticut. I didn't get to say goodbye. That weighed heavily on me.

     My brother jumped off that tower, into the razor wire, a few years later. Daddy was stunned. He saw the whole thing. Another horse-drawn carriage, and my brother supposedly joined my mother.

     It was just me and Daddy. He got real depressed, so I made myself real busy, working Mom's garden, mowing the lawn, painting, digging, any chore I could think of to do. I cooked and cleaned for Daddy, while he sat in his wooden chair and rocked, He just stared at that tower, and said nothing. He pretty much ignored me, until I became a woman.

     I had no idea what was happening to me. My blood was pouring from between my legs. The coppery smell assaulted my nostrils. "Daddy?" I cried. I thought I was going to die.

     But Daddy just nodded. "It is time," he said, and he told me about becoming a woman, and puberty. He had to report to the commandant, although I don't know why. Then certain supplies showed up in our parcels, along with letters from my aunt in Messina, a town in northern New York, close to the Canadian border.

     Aunt Julie arrived on horseback, and Daddy talked to her in whispers. Auntie brought another horse for me to ride, and right there, just outside the compound gate, I learned to ride a horse. Auntie brought me up to her place for the summer, and I learned how to take care of horses, how to read a compass, and how to forage for food in the woods. Auntie lived what she called 'off grid,' which meant that pretty much no one knew where she lived. No electricity, and an outhouse out back--that was her life.

     Until her car moved, all on its own.

     Auntie quickly bundled me off onto a horse, and we rode for days along back trails and dirt roads, living off of camping food, and minding the horses. We headed back towards Daddy's compound.

     Daddy greeted me at the gate. I was hot and tired and sore from my long ride, but Auntie said she'd be nearby. Daddy and Auntie talked in whispers. They kept pointing at me, but I was too tired to care.

     Until that day when the earth shook in New Jersey. The tremor was localized about twenty miles from the compound.  Suddenly, Daddy was all excited. He kept talking about the eclipse, and how it might mean he could leave.

     Daddy grabbed me and squeezed me in a bear hug. "I need to talk to you, Sissy," he whispered in my ear.

     "Daddy?" My father held me tight.

     "Heart to heart," he said, holding me still.

     I couldn't tell him he was hurting me. My heart was skipping in my chest. It caught my breath. I gasped in pain. I thought I was having a heart attack.

     "Easy, Sissy," said Daddy. He pushed himself away from me, watching me closely. "I knew it. I just knew it."

     "What just happened, Daddy?" I asked, as the pain dissipated.    

     "The less you know, the better," he mumbled, but I could see his heart was in it. He frowned. "Let's just say, this has got to end. I'm sorry for all those people, but they shouldn't have locked me up like this."


     "This compound," he explained. "Did you really believe all that 'safety' shit they've been telling you? That this little compound was a safe place for 'our kind?' Well, I suppose that's true, in a way." He stroked his beard. "I have to say, they'll be after you. Especially now, with the eclipse coming up."

     He studied me. "Ever since you started going through puberty, you've been getting stronger. Oh, I've protected you. I've been lying to the authorities for you, telling them there is no indication. But you have it, that's for sure. Sissy, you've got to understand. If they discover it, they will separate us, forever. You'll have your own compound, someplace scientifically plotted, so that our kind don't throw the planet into some sort of disruption."

     "Well," he started pacing, "I'm not going to let that happen, am I? As if that little earthquake in Jersey wasn't enough of a warning." He shook his head. "I can't take this anymore. You're to go to your aunt's. She's still around, minding her horses. She knows what I'm going to do. She'll get you out of here. That's why she made sure you learned how to ride a horse, when you were last at her house. We've been planning this for quite a while. Horseback is the only way you can go, unfortunately. But, she'll get you safe. She promised."

     "Daddy, what are you talking about?"

     He sighed. "My 'magnetic' personality," he said, wryly, using his fingers to make air quotes. "You have it, too, although I suppose they haven't discovered it inside you as yet. They will, though. They think I'm the only one with it, at least in this country, but that little earthquake was an indication that one of our kind escaped. It's a clue, what's to come."

     "Pay attention to this, Sissy. You get out of here, and forget about me. If I'm lucky, I'll die a quick death. Your Aunt Julie will do the rest, and get you across the border. She'll mind you. She doesn't have it, you see. She's lucky, but you aren't. She's thought this through. She knows what to do, how to keep you safe, away from them." He nodded towards the squat administration building beneath the tower. "As long as they got control of me, they know that I can't mess with the poles, or gravity, or the tides. Pick something, any something. They thought I was the only one in our family who has it, but, baby, I can feel it in you. Since you became a young woman, the magnetism has been small. Now it's coming out. Mark my words, you'll be put away in a compound like this one, someplace they think is 'geologically safe.'"

     "Magnetic?" I was thoroughly confused.

     "You," he said. "Me. There's a bunch of us, all around the world. We were born this way, with a body that can create its own, powerful magnetic field. Besides the earthquake in Jersey, the total eclipse next Monday is going to be the clincher. The poles will get messed up. Birds and animals will get confused. A total eclipse can really make havoc with people such as us.

     "But I'm out of here," he continued, proudly. "I found a way to escape the compound. I'm going to New York City, and make my last stand. You'll hear about it, I'm sure. They'll blame it on the earthquake, or maybe they'll say something about the eclipse. I don't know what they'll say, because I'm a so-called 'national threat.' But, really, there's more of us out there than they let on. I'm going to teach them a lesson, and tell the world what's been happening to me. They shouldn't be locking up their people, just because we're magnetic."

     "But Daddy," I asked, "Do you mean to say I can pull iron out of a building? And move cars with the wave of a hand, just like you? Am I that powerful?"

     "Baby Doll, you are that powerful, and more," he answered proudly. "But you shouldn't have to be put away, for your 'own protection.' The gravity, the poles, all the metal, all the magma, all of civilization--all of it will feel my wrath.  There will be some changes made. This planet is going to lurch. Maybe that will wake everyone up!"

April 12, 2024 22:10

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