Stories Hub / Romance / The Link Pt. 02: The Hunted

The Link Pt. 02: The Hunted

by DreamCloud 05/20/16

Author's Note: This story was edited by RPGer. I can't thank him enough for all the time he put into it. Hopefully, my errors have been minimized. If you haven't read 'The Link,' then you might be a little lost.

Chapter 1 - Teegan



I am human, mostly. At least, that's what I've been told. I don't always feel human. Then again, what high schooler does? My friend Samantha tells me she doesn't feel normal either, and she came into the world the old-fashioned way. Maybe I would feel more normal if I had a date for the prom.

Old Town, Maine is where I've lived most of my life. I don't remember my early childhood, which I'm told was fairly exciting. My mom tells me I was a happy baby, and Dad fondly calls me Stinky from time to time. Not sure how that's supposed to make me feel. Mom always scolds him and forgives him in the same breath.

I was born with a gift, or so they call it. Uncle Hank calls it my power. I've never given it a name and usually find it more of a nuisance. It circulates in my mind, hemmed in by barriers I have built so that it doesn't leach out at the simplest touch. Consciously, I can keep it stable and inside. Others find it amazing, though I have yet to see any great benefits. I guess it's like being a rock star. You play all that wonderful music, but barely hear it yourself because the amplifiers have ruined your ears.

The world is filled with music only I can hear. It's not really a sound as the ears know it, more a bombardment of waves that moves into and through me. I know them to be people, but the din is overwhelming and useless. I've learned to filter it out of my life, ignoring what I don't understand and letting it pass untouched, or unthought of. Some of the rhythms I know well and don't ignore, though I can if I choose.

My younger brother Zane thinks it's a power. Of course, he thinks Uncle Hank is always right about everything. I'm sure it has something to do with the gifts Uncle Hank brings during his visits. I bonded with Zane when he was still in my mother's womb. My dad told me it was the most amazing thing he had ever felt, but of course, I was too young to remember. I keep wondering if I peaked at a year-old and it's all downhill from there.

Bonding is a lot like recognizing a voice. In the midst of the cacophony, I can find those I know well. The better I know them, the easier they are to find and the harder they are to block. Everyone has their unique set of rhythms. By touching someone new, I can, if I choose, synchronize my music with theirs. The waves are more pronounced when I touch, allowing me to easily separate them from the noise. Uncle Hank thinks touching increases the resonance. I just know it allows me to single them out from a world of noise.

I don't synchronize with others. My family are the voices I know best and I prefer to keep it that way. Mom requires a shift in style, more of a twangy country beat. Zane's music is quicker with a slight staccato pattern. Dad hardly takes any effort. Our emanations are nearly the same, bonding with him is as easy as breathing. He's like a cozy blanket over my mind when we flow together. It's like I was designed for him. Designed is a good word for what I am.

"Come on, Teegs," Zane begged, "Mom said I can go if you drive me." Zane had shortened my name from Teegan to Teegs when he was two. I hated that some of my friends had latched onto it as well. Zane had friends he wanted to meet at the mall in Bangor. Of course, that meant I would have to hang out until he was done. I would have said no, but I could feel how much he wanted it. No matter what barriers I build, my family could always leak through when I lost concentration. Truly a nuisance.

"You'll owe me," I said. I might as well have given him a million dollars. His joy surged into me. Okay, it wasn't all a nuisance. I could probably parley that joy into him doing some of my chores. I watched his blond hair bouncing as he ran upstairs to get ready. It was a strange cut, buzzed short around his ears and neck, but longer at the top so that it could be parted down the middle.

"Someone must have said yes," my Mom said as she rounded the corner from the kitchen. She always worked from home when we had a holiday from school. Not that we needed an adult, it was just a habit that she had continued from when we were younger.

"No secrets in this house," I said, letting it become a nuisance again. Mom leaned down as she passed and kissed my forehead. At the same time, I felt her love mixed with a little pride. I wanted to hate the intrusion, but it felt good. I really needed to graduate and head out on my own. I needed the distance to find who I am without the constant intrusions.

"I'm glad you look out for him," Mom said. "He always 'does' before he thinks. With you around, he thinks more."

"That's how I spend my time," I complained, "thinking." Mom stopped and turned back toward me. She had been growing her hair longer. Not as long as mine, but past her shoulders. I think she was dying it darker, trying to fight off some gray.

"Do I hear a little self-pity?" Mom asked. Her smile disarmed my next complaint. She rounded the couch and sat down next to me. I wasn't prepared for a mother-daughter talk, but I did want to complain.

"Zane's got more plans than I do," I said, "more friends, more things to do. I have nothing. Maybe I'll become a hermit, or join a convent."

"Giving up at eighteen," my mother teased. Her hand wrapped around my shoulder and pulled me close.

"It's not funny," I said, sending my disgust when I should have kept it to myself, "I'll be one of those cat ladies you see on the news." I was older than my birth certificate. My birthday was moved two and a half months forward from my actual birth. We were in hiding, and the date change helped keep my identity hidden. Something about making database queries less effective.

"Still no date?" Mom asked. I felt her sympathy and was happy it didn't contain pity. Pity would have made me angry and I didn't want to be mad. I wanted to be sad.

"I'll be the only one without a date," I sighed, "destined to the prom-loser table." I felt a burst of love from Dad. He was out of town on business and my sadness leaked. He could be a million miles away, and I would feel him. I concentrated and blocked his link. He was ruining a perfectly good bout of misery. I didn't want to be content with my lot in life; I wanted more.

"There's still plenty of time," Mom said, "you could always ask someone yourself." I rolled my eyes.

"Women don't ask men," I said, "it would just confirm I'm desperate. Look at the loner begging for a date." I over did the waving of my arms, but I was exasperated.

"Your father would have never asked me," Mom said. "Some men need a little prodding. There's nothing wrong with a woman asking a man in this day and age." It was easy for her to say. She had the love of her life. Parents always pretended that things were easy after their lives were settled. Mine was unsettled and there was no way I could ask a guy to the prom.

"Yeah, I guess," I lied. "It's just that it's supposed to work the other way." Samantha turned down one guy and then accepted Gene's request. She had an overflow, making me feel ugly and unwanted. I was happy for her, of course. Sort of. It would be better all around if some guy would just ask.

"If life were perfect, we wouldn't have had to change our name and hide here in Maine," Mom said, "There's always something that throws a wrench in the works. It's how we deal with those things that defines us." I didn't roll my eyes. I wanted to, but I knew it would insult her. She had no idea how bad it felt to be unwanted. Well, unwanted by people outside of my family. I feel nearly invisible to my peers.

"Samantha has a date," I complained. "How can I show up without a date?"

"You've cut off your father," Mom interrupted. Her smile was forgiving, "This is really bothering you."

"He makes me forget that I'm unwanted," I admitted.

"You're far from unwanted," Mom said, pulling me tighter, "I'm sure if you asked someone, they would jump at the chance. There are probably a bunch of boys trying to work up the courage to ask you." I collapsed into her embrace.

"Then why don't they?" I said, my eyes welling up.

"Their fear is no less than yours," Mom whispered, stroking the back of my hair. "The idea that you would tell them 'no' is a crushing weight."

"Two boys have asked Samantha," I countered.

"She's not as smart as you," Mom continued. "Boys fear what an intelligent girl might say. Males have a problem not being superior. They don't always recognize that we're just people on the inside."

"Are you telling me to act stupid?" I asked. Mom chuckled and kissed my forehead. I liked the laugh, it was soft and meant to counter my statement. I curled in closer, something I hadn't done in a few years. I could feel how much Mom liked it.

"Never be what you're not," Mom said softly. "There's a man out there waiting to meet you. You may not find him tomorrow, next week, or in a year. Just trust me that he's out there feeling empty, and waiting for you to fill up his life. When you find him, you have to have the courage to tell him so."

"What if he doesn't want a freak?" I said. The thought came so quickly I didn't have a chance to hold it back. For many years, my so called power had eaten at me. I was unique in the world, destined to float through it as an anomaly. Alone.

"My sweet girl," Mom said, her eyes now as wet as mine, "you are not and never will be a freak. You have more love than anyone. There's someone out there; you just need to find him and flatten his tires." I half cried, half laughed at her words. Dad had told us about my late Grandmother's tale of meeting her husband, my grandfather. A delivery man whose tires she secretly slashed to get him to stay awhile.

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