CHAPTER ONE – Lindsay
The only time the buzzing stopped was when I was asleep. Practically every time someone spoke to me, I heard that loud, “wrong answer” buzz in my head. Like when Nick kept trying to tell me how much he liked me, or then on the bus ride back to school when Chloe tried to tell me that she didn’t care that I was up there in the tower with Nick, or then when I got home and my parents sat down to tell me that “Everything’s okay” but they’re just taking some time off.
Buzz. Buzz to all of that.
So I did an experiment this morning when I woke up.
I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, staring at reflection. Brown eyes blinked back at me, my blonde hair straight as a stick no matter how long I stick a curling iron in it.
“My name is Lindsay,” I said to my reflection.
“I’m fifteen, and I go to Polk High.”
“And I’m so, so very happy with everything right now.”
“And I’m tired of being ordinary.”
“And my brain can detect lies,” I said.
“I tell the truth all the time,” I said, trying one more thing.
“I can tell when people lie.”
I got to school about twenty minutes early, hoping I could get things straight in my head before I began my day. I was wrong. The hallways at school were louder than ever, and I finally tried to avoid overhearing any conversation, since the buzzing in my brain was really getting to me. It was an incessant headache, like a gong being hit over and over, or like a car alarm going off. My best defense was to ignore all talk around me.
“Did you hear me?” Chloe pulled my locker door open and leaned against it.
“Huh?” I looked at her, while I pulled textbooks out of my backpack. “Oh, hey.”
“I asked you if you wanted to come over tonight,” Chloe said.
“I can’t, I’m busy,” I muttered. Buzz. I winced. “I mean, I am going to watch my brother after school.”
That worked—no buzz.
Chloe tilted her head back and closed her eyes. “Please tell me this has nothing to do with being in the tower with Nick,” she said, not looking at me.
I chose my words carefully. “I’m not coming over because I’m watching my brother. Not Nick,” I said. No buzz. Good.
“Because I already told you, like, a bazillion times that I’m so not into him,” Chloe said. Her voice carried over the wrong answer buzz in my head. “You can date him or whatever. Just don’t dodge me. I couldn’t care less.”
I struggled to speak over the buzzing that echoed through my brain, my personal consequence for all of her lies. “Can you just, like, not talk right now?”
Chloe finally looked over at me, her eyes slid into neat little slits. “Gosh, Linds! Try to be more of a jerk, would you?” She walked away with an angry toss of her hair.
I turned to finish messing with my books and my locker, and that quiet, kind of dorky guy, Cal was standing right next to me.
“Hi Lindsay,” he said. He pushed his glasses further up his nose, acting the quintessential nerd.
“Did you have fun on the field trip yesterday?” He glanced around the hallway, like he didn’t want anyone to hear us talking.
I snorted. “Fun? Not really. I’m not into hanging out at school any longer than I already have to be here.”
“Notice anything kind of weird?” Cal said. He looked hopeful, almost.
I was careful with my answer. “What do you mean, ‘weird’?”
“Like…” he bit his lip and squinted his eyes, thinking for a second. “Like, anything out of the ordinary happen to you? Maybe this morning?
I stared at him.
He continued. “I don’t know, maybe like there’s something different going on? Maybe you’re hearing a sound you didn’t hear before?”
He smiled, like he knew he had pegged me.
My voice slipped into a whisper. “What do you know? Do you hear it, too?”
His grin widened. His voice was triumphant. “I knew it! I knew you felt something, too! No, I don’t hear anything. But I can… I can see things, Lindsay. I see things that haven’t happened yet.”
CHAPTER TWO – Nick
“Nick! You’re already late!”
My mother’s voice carried up the stairs and I could practically see her standing in her suit at the bottom of the steps, calling my name.
“I’m up!” I lied, pulling my pillow over my head.
I heard her footsteps making their way to my bedroom. I glanced at the door while I jumped out of bed. I heard my mom pause in the hallway, and I imagined—I must have imagined it—her stopping to pick a piece of lint off her suit. My imagination was working overtime, because I practically watched my mom put her hand on the doorknob, just as I heard the door swing open.
And there she was, in just the suit I had pictured. I stood, my mouth hanging open.
She put her hands on her hips. “You’re nowhere near ready!”
She waited for me to speak, but I couldn’t. What had just happened? Had I imagined her so clearly, or did I really see her through the walls in the hallway? If it was all in my head, then I had some amazing deduction abilities when it came to my mom’s wardrobe. Too bad that kind of power was so limited.
She shook her head and turned away, closing the door. I watched her—through the door, through the wall—I watched her go back downstairs.
I walked to the bathroom and splashed water on my face.
“Nick!” A voice again, through the door. This time it was my ten-year-old brother, Andrew.
“Hurry up in there,” he said. I could see him, standing right on the other side of the wall, tapping his foot impatiently.
“Don’t wet your pants,” I said. “Go downstairs.”
He tapped his foot harder. “How long are you gonna be?”
I watched as he pulled a hat—my hat—from under his shirt and fixed it on his moppy hair.
“I don’t think so, Dweeb,” I said, my voice thick with menace. This made him pause. “You better not be thinking about wearing my hat today.”
His eyes went wide, then back to normal size as he realized I shouldn’t be able to see him. He stuck his tongue out at the door and started to walk to the stairs.
I flung the door open and grabbed my hat off his head. “I said, NO.”
His eyes went extra wide, and that’s when I noticed that maybe my imagination was working overtime, because I didn’t fling the door open at all. I had reached right through it to get the hat. My arm was in the hallway, holding the hat, but my body was still in the bathroom, door closed.
I pulled my arm back and dropped the hat. My brother ran down the steps to my mom with an expression of terror across his face. I shut my eyes. I didn’t want to see anything else.
CHAPTER THREE – Cal
I walked with Lindsay to the common area, where all the cool kids hang out before school starts. We had about five minutes. Me, Cal Crenshaw, walking with Lindsay Clawe. I glanced around to see if anyone noticed. Lindsay was talking, words flying out of her nervous mouth. She was asking a million questions and I had no answers.
“Why are we like this?”
“Do you think anyone knows? Can people tell?”
I shook my head.
“Did it happen to anyone else?”
I shrugged again.
When she ran out of questions, I started talking. Each sentence was chosen carefully. I watched scenes play out quickly and went with the best outcome.
I told her about being up in the obelisk in the stairwell while she was inside the tower. I told her about seeing the meteor shower pass by and how everything was different after that. How I heard her saying she heard the buzzing. How I hid behind the door because I knew it was going to open.
While I spoke, equations danced in front of my eyes—complicated physics and calculus equations that told me what awaited my next move. Statistics danced across my view, and I based my actions on these mathematical equations.
I told Lindsay all of this. I told her what I saw and how I could mold the future just by tweaking my words or movements.
“You can’t change the future,” Lindsay said, obstinately.
“You can,” I said. “It isn’t definite. It hasn’t happened yet.”
I looked around the crowded common area. Everyone was crammed together, getting more rowdy as each minute ticked by, closer to the first bell.
“Okay, watch,” I said, pointing. “The guy in the blue striped shirt who is playing catch with Mike Mahon? He’s going to back up into that girl with the pink skirt when he goes for a pass. Oh, yeah, and she’s going to be pissed.”
We watched it unfold. The blue-striped-shirt guy backed into the girl, knocking her into her friend. She gave him a disgusted look and pushed at him, saying “Jerk!”
Lindsay turned to me, her jaw hanging open.
I shrugged once more. “You have something, too,” I said.
She nodded. “I … I can … I’m a human lie detector.”
I laughed, and Lindsay looked upset.
“No, I mean, that’s cool,” I said, covering. “I’m just laughing because… well, these superpowers are pretty useless, actually.”
I gave a weak smile. “I mean, we got these special abilities from the meteor shower or from being up in that obelisk or whatever. And so what, you know? You can tell when people are lying and I can see what’s going to happen. It’s not like we can really do anything with our powers.”
Lindsay laughed and tilted her head down. “I guess you’re right,” she said. She giggled again. “I guess as far as superheroes go, we’re pretty inept.”
I laughed, and I saw a scenario go by in my head. I saw Lindsay, laughing, nudging me with her elbow. I was so focused on her soft, sweet elbow finding its way over to my arm, that I almost didn’t see what happened next. I stopped short.
“Linds – wait,” I said.
Too late. Still laughing, she nudged me. And just like I’d seen, I went toppling over in the opposite direction, the force of her push almost sending me into the girl’s bathroom.
“Oh my gosh!” Lindsay cried, her hands flying to her mouth.
I got up and dusted off my pants. My arm hurt where her elbow had touched mine, but I didn’t want to show it.
“So,” I said. “Maybe we’re not that inept after all.”
I walked back to her and something else flashed by in my head. Another scene, amid all the statistics and equations.
“You know,” I said. “There was one other person who was up there in that obelisk with us.”
She frowned. “Nick.”
He walked up behind her. “At your service.”
TO BE CONTINUED…