Kayley and I make it down to the first floor by using the elevators, and switching to stairs when it got too populated. The patrols are already going to be searching every inch of the Gash, and then the rest of Nova City for us, especially since a powered shot one of their own. We don't need any extra witnesses. Powered. Funny word to call people who CHI turned into freaks and monsters. Kayley was right about me and every other powered. We aren't special or gods, we're just sad excuses for human beings. We shouldn't be called powered. Bombshell fits better. We're all just waiting to explode, or lose control.
But that doesn't matter now. I have to get Kayley to safety, then I can self-loathe the night away. I guess I won't be getting that beauty sleep after all.
We walk out of the stairwell, and walk towards the front door, turning our heads slightly to the left so that the door man can't see our faces past our hoods. I can see out of the corner of my eye that he is suspicious of us, and he starts to reach for his walkie talkie on his belt. Security wouldn't be a problem for me, but the commotion would bring patrol units down here, and we would be back to square one. I quickly reach into my back pocket and pull out my wallet. I only have a twenty on me, but it'll have to do. I slip it into his hand right before it reaches his walkie talkie. The doorman looks at it quickly before stuffing it into his own pocket, then he opens the door for us, and steps aside.
"Have a good day sir. Ma'am."
We walk out onto the sidewalk, and the street to our left is not only filled with patrols, but also two ambulances. One of them I’m guessing already has Julius Matthews in a body bag, and the other is currently having the patrol I shot being carried into the back. He is still squirming in pain, but he'll be fine in a matter of hours. The resources and technology they use for the rich and patrols in hospitals makes what they give to the populous look like an elementary school nurse's office. It's absolutely ridiculous how many people die in medical facilities simply because there was an upper class citizen hurt at the same time. It makes me sick.
We turn away from the red and blue lit scene, and we start to walk down the sidewalk, before turning the corner. As we walk, we pass some people, who were most likely brought out of their homes by the sound of sirens. People love a good show. As we walk past, a lot of the people give us side glances or glares, and most of them swerve around us to keep their distance. We’re sticking out like a sore thumb. I mean, she looks like a punk rock fan who is walking around with a guy with a split lip, bruised eye, and blood on his face. And we’re both wearing coats that we obviously stole because they don’t fit quite right, and they definitely don’t go with what we’re wearing underneath.
Kayley seems to have noticed this too, because she suddenly whispers to me as we walk in front of another alley.
I don’t say anything back, but just follow her into the alley. Once we’re in the shadows, and definitely out of site, she pulls down her hood, and then takes off her stolen jacket, throwing it in the garbage can to her side.
“Take off your hood, and mess up your hair.”
“Just do it.”
I see that it’s pretty pointless to argue with her and seeing as that I made her fear for her life twice tonight, I just listen. I pull off my hood, and I run my hands through my sandy brown hair, messing it up to look as if I had just woken up. She then picks up an empty beer bottle by the side of the dumpster, and she hands it to me. I get it now. She wants to make it look like she’s just helping her drunk relative get home alright. Seeing as that it will make people way less suspicious of us, especially in the Gash, it’s a pretty ingenious plan.
“Look, I am not happy about this, but in order to make it through this damned city, we need to fit in. Look normal. I can’t think of any other way.”
She is looking me straight in the eyes, and I can see how much she really doesn’t want to do this. But she’s right. The only other thing that could even remotely work would be pretending to be a couple, but that is completely off the table, and just wrong.
We walk down the rest of the alley, and make it out onto the street. As we step back into to light, I put my arm around her shoulders, and put some of my weight on her to make it look legit. I step side to side at times, and stumble over my own feet to really complete the drunk aesthetic. Now people are looking at us, and avoiding us out of disgust, but not suspicion. I whisper directions about where to go and turn to Kayley between stumbles and fake hiccups. We continue like this for about an hour before we finally reach our destination. Home.
On the outside, my "house" looks like an absolutely dump. I currently live in an old house in the middle of a block that was victim to a massive fire that spread from home to home. I chose to set up shop here because I knew that everyone likes to avoid this terrible trip down memory lane where so many lives were lost. Which is perfect for hiding out.
My home used to be a cute little house that was painted pale green with brown window shutters and roof shingles. There also used to be these adorable little animal statues that littered the front yard. Used to be. Now, the green paint is all chipped and scorched away, leaving only small green paint chips on the dead, brown grass as a clue of what the house used to look like. The brown shingles on the roof were scorched black, and, and have only a fraction of pigment to show what they were. There are giant holes and cave ins along the roof of the house where the heat of the fire just bested the construction of the building. The window shutters were blasted open by the lowing heat and flames of the blaze, and their hinges are broken, or completely disconnected from the rest of the house. The outside of the shutters are generally the same as they once were except for a little scorching, but the insides are completely charred black with ash and soot, and threaten to cave in. The windows themselves are shattered, and boarded up with wooden l=planks from the inside. Scattered along the yard are fragments of broken glass from both the window and the little animals. The ceramic statues either simply combusted and exploded due to the immense heat, or melted into horrifying, deformed creatures of hell. The wooden ones however just burned, and were left as scorched carvings that somewhat resembled the shadows of little forest critters.
Looking around, and seeing no one else on the street, I stand up straight and take my arm off of Kayley's shoulders. I throw the empty beer bottle off to the side, and it shatters on the hard dirt that was my neighbor's yard. I look over at Kayley, who is just staring at the ruins of the house, with her mouth slightly open.
"You actually live... here?"
She looks over at me in shock, and with a hint of pity in her eyes and voice.
"Yep. Pretty sweet digs, huh?"
She just continues to look at me in awe, and I can't help but smile at her reaction.
"Don't worry, it's not as bad on the inside."
I start up the walkway to the front door, and Kayley follows me, but it takes her a minute to start walking. She continues to look around her, taking in the devastating destruction of a once happy family's home. The front door is made out of wood that looks as if it were obsidian. From a distance, it looks like it fits along with the rest of the burned house, but once you get close, you realize the brand new bronze door knob installed in the door.
I reach into my pocket and pull out a key that is the same color as the door. It's attached to a keychain with a little ID card with a barcode on it. I insert the key into the deadbolt of the door and I unlock it before the lock in the knob itself. I then open up the door, and step aside, letting Kayley walk in before me. She just stares into the black void that is my home for a minute. I gesture for her to go inside, and after what seems like another hour she reluctantly steps into my home and is swallowed by darkness. After she is inside, I follow her in and close the door behind me. I can't see anything, but I don't need to. I Put my hand just on the side of the doorframe, and I feel the cool metal of plate cut out to be shaped exactly like my hand. I just hope that I have enough energy left to start this place back up.
I feel a slight tingling as my flesh completes a circuit with the metal plate. This house isn't connected to the power grid anymore, and if it suddenly went back online, it would cause a lot of commotion and investigations, so I just power the house myself. This not only makes sure that I stay hidden from the patrols and CHI, but it also ensures that I don't build up too much excess energy, which can be dangerous not only for me, but also everyone around me. As I pull my hand away from the plate, I start to feel a little light headed. I didn't have much left in me after what happened with Kayley's brother, so even powering the house puts me to my limits, which it normally doesn't do.
The room starts to illuminate as little Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling start to glow. The front door opens up into the main room of the house, or the living room. There's a small leather couch facing towards the right of the house in the middle of the room with a little coffee table in front of it. The floor was decorated with a light grey carpet, and along the wall opposite is a bookshelf filled with big novels and pamphlets alike. Across the width of the couch, there's a hallway that leads to the bathroom, and my room. I plastered over all the soot covered walls in the house, and put up some basic blue wallpaper in the living room and hallway. On the left of the hallway opening was the start of the stairway, and next to that was the kitchen.
I have a working stove and fridge, which has to be powered by a gas powered generator next to it. I can't keep that running for very long, and while I'm out I don't want my fridge to cut out. Wooden cabinets extrude from the walls, but most of them are empty. There is also a small round table with two chairs on either side of it, one of which held a large stack of thick novels. The floor in the kitchen is lined with white ceramic tiles, and the walls I just left as plaster. I also boarded up all of the windows, as well as the holes in the house in order to stop light from escaping, and revealing that I live here.
"You actually live here?"
Kayley finally says something after just looking around and taking in her surroundings.
"Yeah, home sweet home."
"Listen, I'll explain everything tomorrow, I promise, but right now, I'm about to pass out. I spent way too much energy today."
I can barely stand and I'm only able to because of the doorframe.
"Yeah... yeah, okay."
"You can take my room down that hallway to the left, and the bathroom is on the right."
I point down the hallway in front of me.
"I'll take the couch."
I take my hand off of the doorframe and I start towards the couch. I barely make it over there before I collapse, and I fall face first into the leather cushions. Kayley gives a little yelp as I fall.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'll be okay."
I roll myself over onto my back and stare up at the little white lights suspended above me. I can feel Kayley just standing there staring at me. It seems like forever before I hear her walk down the hall, and the door to my room open. The twinkling white lights start to dim and fade, and eventually, everything goes black as I pass out due to exhaustion. But in my last moments of consciousness, I feel someone put a pillow behind my head and then cover me with a blanket.