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Empath 2

The first time it happened I didn’t even know it was happening. Even after I looked in a mirror and the face I’d come to finally accept was gone it took some time before I really believed it. Like three bodies later. That was when I finally accepted it. It was real.

I felt something different each time I jumped, but the strongest feeling which wasn’t something I could control. It never changed. The feeling, I couldn’t describe, I just knew it had always been there. I thought everyone felt the same thing until one day I realized they didn’t. I realized I was different.

The first body I jumped into was an old man. The reason: he wouldn’t leave me alone. I’d go to the store and he’d be there. I’d go to school he’d be across the street. At first I thought nothing of it- of him. I figured it was a coincidence at first.

I was ten, the same age as my daughter. I didn’t know evil existed then.

I finally took notice when I saw the old man standing outside my house. Then he was on my porch, and then he was inside my house. Before he touched me I already knew what his intentions were.

It was like his thoughts were my own. That was my first time jumping. I knew instantly what he planned to do to me, and what he would say if he was caught. I was terrified, I remember that. I was scared paralyzed by it then suddenly I wasn’t.

My fear evaporated and in its place I felt only excitement. My insides tingled with it. I know now it was him I felt. They were his feelings, but at the time I thought it was me.

Instinctively, I latched onto the feelings of excitement. It felt weird but good. I just knew it was much better than my fear so I ignored what I felt and followed the good feelings. It didn’t take long for me to make the transfer.

What I remember most was the heat. It felt like I was sweating from the inside out. My face, my eyes, my skin, my bones, my entire body was on fire. I know now that feeling was me taking over. It was me killing him.

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Matter is funny that way. No two souls, I learned can ever exist together. One has to leave in order for the other to live. That’s how I did it. It was how I took someone’s body over. There was never a fight, just a shock then acquiescence as I took control melted into what was them and eased them out. I locked in on their emotion whatever it was then I squeezed in and that’s when the burn began. I burned them with my heat. Sometimes I thought I could hear them scream as they left their body like toothpaste from its tube. Then just like that they were gone, and it was just me. Where they went I didn’t know, but their body was mine afterwards for as long as I wanted or needed it.

Afterwards I remember looking down at the girl on the ground. The little girl was me, or what was left of me. The old man’s hands were still wrapped around the throat of my ten year old body.

I remember thinking it was all a dream. A really weird and wild dream that I couldn’t wake from no matter how badly I wanted to.

I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. I ran and ran until I couldn’t run anymore.

The old man wasn’t the only kill I made that day. Initially I thought I was still sleeping and having some trippy dream. So I figured if it was a dream I might as well see what else I could do. I’d taken two more bodies before I admitted it wasn’t a dream, but it took me years before I figured it all out- what I could do.

My mind played tricks on me for a while. I drifted. I had no one to talk to, nothing to live for other than my work. There was no one until Caitlynn. 

My life had been an unwanted battle against evil before her. I saved many lives, but I killed many more to do it. I died more times than I cared to remember, but when Caitlynn came along it all changed. I gave birth to a living metronome. Caitlynn kept me in sync with the world around me.

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She was my anchor, my rock. I could no longer be pulled into the lives of people without leaving her behind, and that I wouldn’t do. I couldn’t leave her behind like I’d been left behind.

I’d created a life for her, and I didn’t want to lose it. I wouldn’t lose it.

I had to get her back, but first I had to find her.

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I saw the flashing lights ahead, the car at the bottom of the embankment off the highway its hood hidden by the trees as if it had been run off the road. Traffic was at a crawl but I pulled next to the first responder cars.

As soon as the black and white cruiser came to a stop I was out and running. I knew it was Caitlynn. She was close. I could feel her. I ran hard and fast but before I could make it to the car I was tackled to the ground.

“Miss,” I heard a man yelling as I clawed at the gravel. “Miss stop it’s over, she’s gone,” he yelled, but I wouldn’t stop I couldn’t. My Caitlynn wasn’t dead. She couldn’t be. I elbowed the officer in the face stunning him and once again I was on my feet running towards the car and its trunk which was gaping wide open.

Empath 3

“For God’s sake someone stop her,” I heard the officer shout. I ran faster.

I knew before I got to the trunk, but when I stood over it I could only blink wanting my eyes to be wrong, but the sight of Caitlynn’s bruised lifeless form would not vanish. The officer’s words, caught up to me. “She’s gone.”  

“We caught him,” the officer said softly from behind me. His nose was dripping blood, but I felt no ill will coming from his hulking body. There was only grief and a burning anger but it wasn’t directed at me.

“He’s going down for this. I’m taking him in myself.” I looked over to where an old man lay face down in the dirt. I heard his sobs, saw the apathetic officers standing over him. I felt their anger and indignation. I could also feel the old man’s confusion.

“Can I drive back with you?” I asked the officer. “I need, I need….”

“Of course, ma’am we can get you back,” the officer said. “I’ll get an officer to take you home, or wherever you want to go,” he said nodding emphatically as his hand touched my back. Even the light brief pressure irritated me but I forced myself to not cringe.

Caitlynn’s body was removed, then the car. I watched it all from the passenger seat of the cruiser the officer had put me in. I watched the old man being placed in the back of the police car a few feet in front of me. 

We followed behind the cruiser carrying the perpetrator to jail for several miles in silence. When the officer put his blinker on to exit I latched onto him before he could turn off the highway. I didn’t have to move a muscle. One second I was slouched against the passenger window the next I was behind the wheel driving.

I sped up turning off where I saw the cruiser in front of me exit shaking off the burn that always happened when I jumped. It didn’t take long to catch up to them. They’d pulled off on a secluded dirt road off the main highway. When I drove up behind the cruiser I saw the officer had the old man over the hood of his car his fist slamming into the man’s face over and over again. I turned on my flashers and the officer looked up stunned. The old man slumped to the ground.

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I watched the officer kick the man before walking to me. I reached into the car for the police radio. “Officer down on Crystal road, “I said before exiting the vehicle.

“What the hell are you doing?” the officer said as he walked towards me wiping his bloody hand on his handkerchief.

I felt his lingering rage. I latched onto the irritation he felt. Immediately I felt the familiar falling sensation come. Then I was staring back at the car and the officer’s body I’d just occupied lying on the ground. I turned and walked to the black and white cruiser. My fists were stinging and still bleeding, but I ignored it. The old man blinked up at me.

Searching my pockets for the keys to the handcuffs I unlocked the old man’s hands. Immediately he wrapped his arms around me.

“I’m scared Mama,” he said his voice gruff and watery as his arms squeezed me tight.

“It’s okay Caitlynn, Mama’s here now,” I said as I put the old man in the front seat of the cruiser. I climbed into the driver’s seat putting the officer’s shades on.

I looked over at Caitlynn. I could feel the confusion radiating from her. “Don’t worry, it won’t be for long honey. Mama’s got you.”

“But how?” she said her cloudy gray eyes blinking back tears.

“Ssshh,” I said starting the car. “We’ve got a lot to do, and not much time to do it in.”

Within minutes we were back on the interstate in search of a fresh start, and new lives.

Empath 1

A small crowd of nosy passerby and would be customers huddled in the parking lot beneath Safeway’s overhang. There were whispers of made up gossip and speculation, but no one knew nothing for sure of what really happened.

The laughing little girl with the pretty ribbons in her hair was gone. That was the only that was certain. The still shocked store keeper said she’d been taken by the boogeyman, but no one knew what that meant either. Though the police weren’t calling it foul play just yet the neighborhood had locked itself down. Now they just watched and waited. For what? No one could say.

No one saw when she disappeared from the tiny store or what direction she’d been taken, but when she hadn’t returned home to her mother and ten minutes stretched to twenty, then thirty, Mama knew something wasn’t right. Mama knew her baby was missing. No one asked how. A mother always knows, they all thought. In this case they were right.

Everyone converged on the popular corner store. The cops were called, but they had nothing. However, the child’s mother was already making her plan.  

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MAMA:

I could feel it.

She was gone. The only reason I hung around was because her scent was still so strong. It was the scent of fear thick and musty. Someone was wearing my daughter’s fear like a bad coat of paint that couldn’t be stripped away, but I would find them- and I planned to make them pay.

I made several passes through the crowd. Mostly gawkers their morbid curiosity ferocious in part because of her age. Cute little ten year old girls gone missing always brought them out, and each of them had their own suspicion.

It was that crazy guy that lived in the lot one street over.

It was the pimply kid that worked at the burger joint on 5th and John.

It was that teacher that got fired a few years ago for posting naked pictures online.

It was me.

I didn’t blame them. Speculation made them feel safe. If they could put a face and a name to the boogeyman then they could avoid him or her, protect themselves and their kids; but I knew from experience that never worked. It was always the person you least suspected. The real boogeyman never looked scary they didn’t show their scars which was how they were able to do what they did. It was how they remained hidden in plain sight. It had been my duty for more decades then I cared to remember to find them and catch them.

I policed the people that made things go bump in the dark. I was their judge and jury.

At an early age I realized I could see inside the souls of people and find the thoughts that made Normal people cringe and create lies to hide their fear.

I gave all that up when I had Caitlynn. I denied my ability, ignored my feelings. I was her mother and that was enough.

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THE POLICE:

“Ms. Reign we have expanded the search to include the entire neighborhood all the way down to the high school grounds. We’ve called in a helicopter to circle out from our start point here at his store,” the officer spoke softly, but his shrewd gray eyes watched her every move. He didn’t trust anyone.

Mama accepted that. It was his job. Mama had no desire to try and convince him otherwise. Because she’d already locked in on the girl. She knew where her daughter was.

There was a little girl name Christal. She was a year younger than my daughter all eyes and baby fat. She’d seen my daughter, actually brushed against her. That was how my daughter’s scent transferred to her, but the little girl was scared. She hadn’t said a word to anyone about what she’d seen, and I knew she wouldn’t. Luckily I’d absorbed all I needed to know.

“Yes, sir,” I said to the arrogant cop. “Have you set up roadblocks on the highway, called an Amber Alert?” The officer blinked. He looked surprised for a moment, but his voice remained cool.

“Like I said we’re searching the perimeter. Your daughter went missing less than an hour ago. We’re taking steps using protocol. Hopefully, we’ll find her playing at a friend’s house.”

“Caitlynn doesn’t have any friends,” I said. The cop paused for a second. In a flash I knew his story. He was new to the area as well and in over his head. “We just moved here,” I lied and the cop visibly relaxed.

“Well, if you could give any pictures you have of your daughter to Officer Pam over there, we would be very thankful.” I took the detective’s card and nodded before he lumbered away.

Officer Pam was stuffing another hostess cake in her already engorged cheeks her jowls jumping as she talked with the manager inside the small convenience store.

Calmly, I walked to an idling police car throwing my purse on the passenger seat before sliding inside. Within seconds I was peeling out of the parking lot. 

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“She’s gone sir,” Officer Pam said eyes searching the lot once again in search of the mother and her issued vehicle. “Someone said she left about ten minutes ago? Headed towards the interstate?” Pam had a way of ending each sentence on a high note as if she were asking a question. It was annoying, but he’d learned to keep his thoughts about it to himself. He was leading this case. It was his first time being in charge on a new job, and the last thing he wanted was to mess it up because of personnel issues, but this went above and beyond. Leaving your keys in a running vehicle? Who did that? His officers apparently.

“I’ve called in an APB on your cruiser,” he said. “And an Amber. The girl has met the qualifications and we’re not getting anything done here.”

Every officer in the state would be on the lookout for the missing girl and her mother. It was off to a rocky start, but he hoped it would end well- this time.

He’d heard of a similar case last year just around this same time. Only that case had been in the northern part of the state. Little girl missing from convenience store, just disappeared. The child was later found dead from unnatural causes.

The last thing he wanted was for this girl to suffer the way the other child had. It was pure evil what had happened to the child up north. His breakfast almost came up on him at the memory from just seeing the pictures. The blood, the dismemberment it was the work of a maniac.

He sent up a silent prayer before joining the others. It was all he could do. 

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