34 years post-plague, Vasquez Landholdings, Southern Texas, fall of 2073 “Hey Giana, guess what? I’m going to give you a spanking! ” “What for? I’ll tell on you! ” “No one likes a tattletale and everyone knows that the birthday girl gets spankings on her birthday. ” Crossing her arms and shaking her head, looking at her brother, attempting her best imitation of their mother, “I don’t think so. ” Raymond, leaning in close to his sister’s face, “Ooohh is the little baby girl gonna cry for Mommy? “You’re mean, go away. ”
Raymond continued heckling his younger sister, “I’m gonna give you six hard swats, and then a punch in the arm to grow on. “That’s just mean. You’re supposed to be nice to me on my birthday. Go away. GO AWAY! ” The children have a telepathic channel that they can broadcast on, or they can talk on private channels between themselves and other members of the family. The look on Raymond’s face was pure panic as he felt his feet leave the ground. He began kicking his legs and spinning his arms for balance. “Giana, what are you doing, stop it! Stop! Put me down right now! ” “Oooohh, is the little baby boy gonna cry for Mommy? ” “I’m sorry I teased you. I’ll be nice. You need to put me down, if you don’t put me down I’m going to tell Mom.
Giana, STOP. With a devilish smirk, Giana continued watching him squirm in the air. MOM! – Giana won’t put me down!! MOM! MOM! MOOOOMMMMMY! ” Becky came sprinting into the yard from the house – and stopped dead in her tracks. Her six year old daughter was standing, hands on her hips, staring up at her big brother, Raymond, hanging no less than ten feet off the ground. “Raymond? Giana? What the … someone tell me what is going on, NOW! ” Giana crossed her arms in front of her still looking up at her brother, “Raymond said he was going to give me birthday spankings.
I told him that I didn’t want spankings, and that he was being mean to me, but he didn’t stop, so I pushed him away from me. ” She added privately to her mother, “That is all Mommy. ” “MOM, make her put me DOWN NOW! ” Hand raised, stopping him – “Raymond be quiet! Giana how,” looking up, her trembling hands shading her eyes, “are you holding your brother in the air? ” Shrugging “I just thought away and he went”, pointing to her brother, “there – away. ” Kneeling down to her daughter’s level, “Sweetheart, please put your brother down now, slowly, and do not drop him. ” “I don’t want spankings for my birthday. Looking up, nodding at her son, “I think Raymond has forgotten all about the spankings. ”
Raymond, arms and legs akimbo, was nodding most vigorously in agreement. Giana relented by slowly lowering Raymond to the ground. Pigtails bouncing and her sapphire eyes shining once again with the excitement of a happy 6 year old, “Can we have sweets now Mommy? That is what I want for my birthday”, she saved the last little comment for her brother, smiling so wide he could see nearly all of her pearly whites, “not spankings. ” Raymond stuck out his tongue and ran away. “Raymond, come back here! Sighing, Becky covered her eyes for a brief moment. Standing up, she brushed off her knees and gave her daughter a stern look, “Young lady, after we have sweets, we will talk about this, together, with your Daddy. ” Giana’s freckled nose wrinkled as if smelling something spoiled, “alright Mommy. ”
After ‘Happy Birthday’ was performed and sweets were served, Henry and Becky were watching the children play hopscotch in the yard. “So, I hear I missed quite a commotion this afternoon. ” “Henry this really worries me. Giana was levitating Raymond ten feet off the ground, not even frowning with the effort. know Raymond can’t do that. ” Becky rested her hand lightly on her abdomen, “I wonder what abilities Rose Marie will have? ” Henry moved closer and wrapped his arms around his worried wife, “We shall soon find out, won’t we. Is she already talking to you? ” “Yes, not so much words, just feelings right now. Henry, do you recall the name of that doctor that came around a few months ago asking questions about the kids? ” “Manchester? Albert I think, Albert Manchester. Why? ” “I want to talk to someone about the children, but not him. I don’t know what Dr. Manchester wants or what his motives are.
And since we lied to him and told him we’ve noticed nothing extra special about the children. ” Shaking her head, “I don’t know. I’m probably just borrowing trouble. But I’m worried, I just don’t know what about. ” “I’ll take Raymond and Giana with me into town tomorrow. They can feel out some of the locals to see if they’ve heard anything. We’ll ferret out if the good doctor has been asking questions. But in the meanwhile, let’s go have a conversation with our eldest daughter about her abuse of powers. ” 35 years post-plague, Vasquez Landholdings, Southern Texas, early spring 2074
Giana could feel the weight of intense pain, like a heavy wet blanket, pressing in on her. She followed her senses to her parent’s bedchamber, where her Mother was in heavy labor. The old Mid-wife was wiping her mother’s face with a cool towel. “Mommy? You’re hurting, let me help you! ” Panting through the contraction, Becky tried to smile reassuringly, but to Giana it looked more like a grimace than a smile. “Its okay honey, pain is a natural part of the process”, still panting, “I’ll be fine in a little bit. ” Looking to the mid-wife over Giana’s head, motioning for her to take Giana out of the room.
Ignoring her mother’s attempts to shoo her away, Giana placed her small hands on her mother’s extended and distorted bare abdomen. She closed her eyes, serenely & slowly inhaled and then released a deep cleansing breath. Becky immediately felt the all-consuming pain flow out of her like water pouring from a pitcher. Momentarily relieved but then concerned, “Giana, thank you, but you can’t stop my labor, Rose Marie won’t be born without them. ” “I didn’t, I only made them not hurt you. Rose Marie was also feeling your pain and she was afraid to come out.
But I told her that she has to stop playing hide and seek now by calling ‘olly olly oxen free’. ” Becky laughed at her daughter’s innocent description. Becky’s face, just a moment before smooth and relaxed, was once again distorting with the power of the next contraction, “Ohhhh my god, you weren’t kidding. Giana, go get your Daddy now! ” “DADDY! DADDY HERE COME NOW! ” “Giana, you know he can’t hear you. Just do like everyone else does, and just go find him! Please? ” The look on Giana’s face was comical and adult, a raised eyebrow and pursed lips. Mommy, that would be a waste of time since Daddy heard me loud and clear and is running full speed to get here now. ” The bedroom door flew open and Henry practically slid to the bedside. “Giana called me, are you okay? ” “Rose Marie is about to make her appearance. ” “Okay Giana, time for you to step outside. I’m going to help Mommy now”, he leaned over and kissed Giana on the forehead, “thank you for helping Mommy and for calling me.
Which, I have questions about that, but we’ll talk later. ” He was ushering Giana to the door, “Stay close, and would you call for your brother too, I’m sure he’ll want to meet Rose Marie once she arrives. The door closed in her face. 41 years post-plague, Vasquez Landholdings, Southern Texas, spring of 2080 “Mom, do you have any idea why the plague happened? ” “I don’t honestly know Giana. There’s no good answer that I’m aware of, I’m sure you’ve discussed in class. You shouldn’t worry your head about it. ” “I know Mom. ” “You know what? ” “That Goddess was the cause of the plague. She was tired and she needed less people to take care of. ” “Goddess? ” Giana was twirling her ponytail, “Don’t you hear her? She’s all around us. ” Seated at her desk, her head bent over a 10 column sheet, Becky was trying to focus on her budgets.
Over the past two growing seasons, the ability of her holdings to produce enough food to pay her tithe to the government, and to keep everyone fed, had become increasingly difficult. And the once plentiful wild game, that had supplemented those losses, had become practically non-existent. “I’m sorry Giana, I’m working now. Can you tell me about it later? ” “Okay, but Goddess is becoming sick again. ” She had her mother’s full attention now. “Whoa, hold up a second”, Becky put down her pencil and looked at Giana, “You said again.
What do you mean, again? ” I’m trying to tell you Mom, the plague that killed so many people, that was Goddess. She was very tired and became sick. She is becoming sick again, and I’m worried the plague might return if we don’t help her feel better. ” “How do we do that? ” “She told me she is tired from always taking care of us, she needs time to rest and to get better. Just like you tell us kids that someday we’ll all grow up and leave here to find our own holdings. I think we need to leave home and give Goddess time to heal. ” “How do you talk to Goddess? Can I talk to her? ” “I don’t talk to Goddess like I talk to you. She talks and I hear her.
I can hear her best when the sun is just coming up, and this morning she whispered to me in a tired scratchy voice. Not her usual sweet voice. ” “How are we supposed to leave home? That makes no sense. ” “I don’t know exactly how Mom, but there are other people who do know how. I’m going back outside now to keep an eye on Rose Marie. ” Becky’s ears popped and Giana was gone. Right where Giana had been standing there was a spot that appeared to fold in on itself in a swirl of color, like light refraction in the water. If Becky hadn’t witnessed her daughter vanishing, she would have thought her vision had just blurred for a moment. Holy Crow! That’s a new one. Giana? ” Her ears popped again and Giana stood in front of her, “Mom? ” “When did you start doing this” Becky motioned with her hand, “popping in and out? ” “Just the other day. Goddess explained it to me. ”
“How do you do it? ” Shrugging “I don’t think about how, I just do it. ” “Can Raymond or Rose Marie do this? ” Flashing a very mischievous smile, “Raymond can’t, unless touch him – he screamed really loud, he’s such a scaredy-cat. Rose Marie will be able to when she gets older. ” “Giana, what other powers has Goddess told you about? ” She told me I can move things and people – well, you already know that. I can move myself from one place to another – and other people too, if I touch them. I can surround myself with a bubble, and I can make people feel and not feel things. ” Becky, suddenly afraid and at a loss to understand, grabbed her daughter and hugged her close, “I’m so sorry Giana. I wish | understood more about what was going on. I need to understand how to protect you. ”
Giana gently detangled herself, “Actually Mom, you can’t protect me. Raymond is my protector, until I meet my other self. Where I can, he can’t. Where he can, I can’t. “What are you saying? I’m confused. ” “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay Mom. There are people who will be arriving soon. They will need help from you, Dad and Grandpa. They’re going to ask for my help too. We’re all going to find a new home and let Goddess rest. ” New York City, winter of 2080. New York City had become a barren, and unforgiving concrete wasteland. The once thriving metropolis had been reduced to a state of dilapidation by years of neglect and the forces of nature. The few remaining survivors scraped by with what they could find growing wild in abandoned gardens and yards.
Small game such as rabbits, squirrels and pigeons were rare finds. Fresh meat consisted typically of rats. Long past, the majority of the people had moved southwest to where there the weather was more temperate and wild game more abundant. There was a deep seated fear of farming and the whispered possibility that it may bring back the plague. “Momma, the ally frightens me and I’m cold. I think I should come back inside… ” The alley was dim and the narrowness of it funneled the bitter cold wind, piercing his much too small and thin clothes, racking him with shivers. “I’m sorry Johnny.
You have to learn to do for yourself – did you find anything to eat? ” Sitting on his haunches, the young boy picked up a stick and poked at a matted furry pile he discovered. “I don’t think so, this thing smells. ” The last time they had eaten, his mother had given him everything they had left and it had not been much. He and his mother lived in the shack near the mouth of this wretched alley. She typically did not allow him to go out alone and warned him repeatedly to avoid strangers. As a rule, they only left the little hovel when in search of food, but yesterday, his mother wouldn’t wake.
This morning she woke up a little, only enough to speak to him, but she outwardly appeared to be still sleeping. Something other than the cold air made goosebumps raise up on his arms. He unconsciously scanned the area and sensed a man approaching him from the shadows. “Momma! Someone’s coming. ” Always an obedient boy, he prepared to run away from the unknown danger. Sensing the boys fear, the young man softly said, “Johnny, I mean you no harm. Are you hungry? I can get you food. ” Johnny froze; Momma was the only one who’d ever communicated with him in this manner.
Eyes wide, heart pounding, poised to run, but desperate with hunger, his rumbling stomach made him stay. Amethyst eyes, too big for his thin face, brimmed over with confusion and fear, “I don’t… I’m so hungry… Momma won’t get up. Can you help her? ” Johnny looked back at his home, “She’s worried and very tired. ” The young man slowly approached Johnny and bent down to his level, “Johnny, I will speak to your Momma and see if I can help her. ” The man closed his eyes in meditation. After a short while, “Your Momma is very tired and weak. I let her know I’m here to help and that you’ll be safe with me. “Johnny? Listen to me son, I want you to be a good boy and learn everything you can. Grow up to be useful, kind and brave. I wish I could stay with you always but I know now that you’ll be safe. I love you more than you’ll ever understand. Goodbye baby. ” “MOMMA WAIT”, but all he found was silence. “Where’d she go? ” “I’m sorry Johnny, she is gone. I wish I would have gotten here sooner. ” The man straightened up and held out his hand, “Let’s get you something to eat – okay? And we will also get you a bath and some warmer clothes. It’s just a short walk to my car. ”
Johnny looked at the offered hand, “How’d you know my name? ” The young man replied, “you know my name too Johnny, you only have to think for it. ” Johnny narrowed and focused his thoughts, “What is a car? Where are we going? James. Your name is James! ” Johnny proudly stated. “Yes! Clever boy! James affectionately rubbed Johnny’s head and continued out loud, “We’re going to Texas. That is where there are people preparing to build the Arc, and a family that will take care of you. Henry and Becky Vasquez are the parents, then there is Raymond, the oldest boy, Giana, the oldest daughter, and lastly Rose Marie.
You and Rose Marie are pretty close in age. And I’ll show you the car. ” “Momma never told me about no cars, or anyplace called Texas. Is it a long ways from here? ” “Yes, it is. Have you attended class or learned your letters? ” “Momma taught me to read a little, and I can count. ” “Do you know how old you are or when you were born? ” “I’m nine, Momma told me that I was born in ’71, and that she was born in ’52. My Gram was a just a little girl when the plague came. She told Momma that she was given special medicine, which stopped her from dying of plague.
And even though the plague was gone, everyone in her ward was given it again a while later. ” “So your Gram was born before the plague? Do you know anything about your Grandpa? ” “Naw, Momma never mentioned him or my Pa. Anytime a stranger come around, man or w’man, Momma would hide us. She was afraid of being seen. ” “Well here we are. ” “This is Texas? ” James laughed, “No. This is my car, it is what I will use to take us to your new home. ” Johnny looked at James in wonder and with a little fear. He had been trained to be wary of everyone and everything. “Well go ahead, get in.
We can’t walk to Texas. ” “We can’t? Why not? ” Johnny was slowly backing away from James and the car. “It won’t hurt you, in fact it’s quite warm and comfortable inside. ” The car was a deep black with sliding blue red and yellow colors, depending on where you stood to look at it. It had a domed and elongated clear top, with four flat areas at the bottom of the car, two front and two back, equally distanced from each other and on each side of the car. James was still trying to convince Johnny it was safe to enter, “I have some food inside for you to eat now until I can get you a proper meal.
It’s very safe. This is how I got here, to find you. ” Frowning and shaking his head back and forth slowly, “I don’t know. I wish I could ask Momma. ” “How ’bout this, I’ll open the doors and get inside. I know you have a sensor for danger. Do you sense any danger from me or the car? ” “Nothing” Johnny watched James open the doors, one on each side of the car, then he sat down in the car. He smiled at Johnny from inside. “It’s warm and comfy in here,” James coaxed. Pointing at the flat areas on the underside of the car, “What are those things? “