The old man extended his hand, waiting for me to take it, waiting for me to join their so called resistance. I noticed right then and there that the whole world waited and wanted something from me: my money, my vote, my freedom, my touch.
"He's not going to join freely Vikor." Rhea rolled her eyes. "We don't need this pretty boy, we have amassed a large number already. Let me end his life, it'll be much quicker than the company's method."
Vikor held up a hand to silence her. I wondered what kind of touch she had, maybe one that could make me bleed to death or paralyze my body so that she could spear me through the heart. I wouldn't let it past her to do that to me, considering she jumped on me when I had my back to them. How cowardly. And the sheer sight of her sent chills down my spine. She was not ugly, in fact, she appeared to be very beautiful with those sharp, black eyes of hers, full lips, and narrow, pale face. It was her hair, or rather, lack of it, and the scars that layered in her bald head that made me shiver. She seemed to have jumped right into several fights and I did wonder who was victorious, probably not her victims.
"I don't understand this resistance of yours," I stammered. "The company is very powerful and has quelled past insurgences and protests against them. All the governments of the world are afraid of them, afraid of the power they've amassed and the biological advances that could potentially lead to a deadly biological war. This is pure insanity. What makes your resistance any different?"
Rhea and the other guy seemed to be itching to jump on me and twist out my teeth, one by one, from my mouth, had I not have my hands right in front of me, protecting me, should they come closer. True, they were fully clothed, but if push comes to shove, I'd find my way to their skin. A thought popped in my head: could my accursed touch still fuction after my death? Maybe the company was conducting experiments that sought the answers of these questions.
No. Stupid Liam. The company did seek for these answers, and much more. The company's trades were always shady. Their apparent philosophy was "No questions asked, no answers given". Of course, everyone who attempted a question never lived long enough to hear the answer, if any. When the rumours of the inhumane treatments that the company inflicted of our kind circulated the world, several reporters went missing just to be found several days later in a pool of their own blood. Nobody dared ask questions afterward, and those who dared, suffered the same fate.
"Liam, I know you've been disappointed by the feeble efforts of those who protested against the company. However, who are to blame them? They were small in numbers, they didn't know enough about how the company functioned from the inside, and they were disorganized. If you are to feel disappointed in someone, it has to be in you, because you see these injustices being committed right in front of your eyes: children being dragged from their homes; family and friends turning their friends in; bounty hunters sent to hunt those with our touch. Yet, you haven't done anything. Living like a hermit won't make these injustices solved themselves. Hiding away from the world for fear of hurting others won't help those less lucky."
"Hiding is not what I would call lucky," I retorted. Then gasped. "Wait, how do you know my name?"
"After your father called in for what you did, an ambulance was rushed to your home. One of the paramedics is one of us. Your father told her everything on the way to the emergency room. The police searched for you everywhere, even representatives of the company showed up and I must tell you the police wasn't particularly happy." The rogueish guy replied.
I swallowed a lump that began forming in my throat. "My mother, what do you know of her? What happened after I touched her and left her..." I couldn't bring myself to replay that memory.
"Half-dead?" Rhea suggested. There wasn't kindness in her voice, just open reproach and unfriendliness.
"We could tell you everything but you must join us," Viktor continued.
"Fine," I said almost immediately. I wasn't thinking of anything, just to get to my mother.
Viktor seemed relieved. "Let's move then. We booked at a motel nearby. You look half-starved and in need of a bed. The resistance will take care of you."
Ten minutes later, all four of us were cramped up in a tiny space.
"Being part of the resistance isn't a free ride," the guy, who told me his name was Lucas, said. Apparently he was the director of field operations. "You have missions to complete; people to locate, recruit, and protect; and above all, complete loyalty to our cause."
The Resistance was a world-wide secret organization. Take these group, for instance, Viktor was recruited after a raid in his village in Russia. Rhea was found half-dead, beaten up, and starved, left to die along a canal in Greece. Lucas was wounded in a protest against the Resistance in Scotland and had crawled into a sewer to hide from the men searching for survivors. And I had no doubt the rest of the members' stories were as brutal, or more. My own story sounded pathetic compared to theirs, which seemed to be forged by pain and misery and death. My story was about a Canadian boy with an inconclusive life, since I had no idea what happened to my victims and my life as a "normal" teen had evaporated even before I started living it.
"You are what we call "high threat" touch," Lucas continued. "We've been locating several kids with the touch, still undeveloped, and watch it grow. We're selective on who we decide to recruit. If the family is willing to protect their children, we leave them alone. However, we send informants to check on their situation every once in a while. A "high threat" touch is basically a touch that could potentially harm others, usually involving death."
I drew a sharp intake of breath.
"I said usually. You're are a different case, but we'll explain that later." Viktor said.
"Okay. Your resistance seems very organized and such. Why do you need my help again? I'm helpless, as you can see." I said.
"We need new faces." Rhea said from where she was perched in the bed. She still seemed pretty unfriendly to me. "The company has spies everywhere, they know most of the Resistance's faces."
My eyes settled on Rhea's scarred head. I turned away after she threw me a murderous glance. "Okay, so what do I do now? When can I get to know what happened to my mother?"
"Patience." said Lucas. "An incident caught the Resistance's attention a couple of days ago when a woman was set on fire inside a bus. Another "high threat" touch. Your first mission is to recruit her into the Resistance."
"Set a woman on fire?" I asked, incredulous and slightly scared. "And you want me to recruit the pyromaniac?"
"None of us can control our touch." Viktor's words were sharp. It was when I noticed that none of us had shared our cursed touch, like it was better to stay hidden, like nobody needed to know the atrocities committed because of that.
Nobody spoke for several seconds. Then Lucas broke the silence.
"Her name is Katy."