Less Than Human - 3

It was an hour later when Reid spotted the patrol car.

Cassius was still looking at the map. Reid couldn’t tell what made the map so interesting to his new friend, but he was glad that he’d found something that he liked. As he glanced in the mirror, he spotted his other friends, seated quietly in the back of the truck. Tiberius and Helena were talking. Magnus appeared to be asleep.

The patrol vehicle was driving quickly along the road, zipping in their direction in the opposite lane. Reid could spot the signal lights even if they weren’t flashing. He found it a little peculiar that there was even a patrol car out in these parts, where virtually no one lived. He supposed that perhaps the policeman might be someone like him, who remembered the past in these parts and would be thankful for a chance to revisit.

The car grew closer, and Reid waved his hand, smiling widely.

“What are you-” Cassius began, and before he could finish, his amber eyes widened, and a rush of voices pierced inside Reid’s mind.

He signaled them, I told you he would do something like that, we never should have kept him so long, snarled a voice that sounded like Magnus.

We are doomed, came the voice of Cassius, sounding distraught.

No! Not now, not when we are so close! projected Helena.

“Calm yourselves!” bellowed Tiberius, and it took Reid a moment to realize that this voice wasn’t only in his mind. “You’re losing control, your thoughts are overflowing and anyone can hear them!” He regarded Reid with his own harsh stare. “I apologize for that intrusion, Reid. Please, watch the road.”

Reid did just that, keeping his mouth shut despite the barrage of questions that were now flooding his mind – questions not from someone else but of his own. He glanced in his side mirror, and noticed that the brake lights on the dwindling patrol car were blazing red. He grew more surprised that the dome lights began flashing, an intermittent red-white-blue pattern that singed his vision.

“Um, I have to pull over,” Reid mumbled. He glanced at the speedometer and could see that he wasn’t driving past the limit. He wondered if maybe he had a busted taillight. “Shouldn’t take real long, though. I just know that Mr. Landers is going to spit nails when I show him the ticket.” He said spit instead of the word Mr. Landers used. Many of the words Mr. Landers used weren’t appropriate.

“You can’t stop,” Cassius said, and Reid noticed a slight crack in his friend’s voice. When he hazarded a glance toward the Celestial in the passenger seat, he saw that his amber eyes were wide with fear. “Faster, Reid. You have to get away from them.”

“I can’t do that. It’s against the law. I could go to jail.” But as he looked around, Reid could see that Helena, beautiful Helena, shared the same pained expression as Cassius.

Tiberius leaned forward. “I know you are scared of jail, Reid. But I am afraid for you if you do let those men stop this vehicle. You must attempt to get away from them.” The caterwauling siren swelled in volume. Tiberius put his hands on Reid’s shoulder. “With haste, my friend.”

And Reid turned to the side mirror, watching the rapid approach of the cruiser, and the flashing lights were full of menace. It filled his heart with fear, and he suddenly needed to use the bathroom very, very badly. He opened his mouth to explain to them that he couldn’t run from the police, he just couldn’t, that only criminals ran from the police and that he wasn’t a criminal, when a voice filled his mind like a thunderclap and set his eyes wide.

What they aren’t telling you, Reid, is that the humans in that car behind us, won’t just send you to jail. They will kill us. One by one. How they do it really doesn’t matter, just as long as they bring back our bodies to parade before everyone else. So you might want to ‘put the pedal to the metal’ as they say. Harsh laughter seemed to rebound throughout his head, and Reid desperately wanted Magnus to stop all of this. Reid pressed down hard on the gas, and the delivery truck lurched ahead.

Magnus, meanwhile, continued. I don’t know why they didn’t tell you this. I think maybe Tiberius is just as bad as Mr. Landers. Oh, sure, Mr. Landers might call you names and tell you just how stupid he thinks you really are, but Tiberius…oh, Tiberius calls you friend and then keeps the truth from you. He thinks you can’t handle it, I suppose. But the truth is that your people have started killing my people all over the world. There is a fantastic chance that we four are the last of our kind on your planet. And we need to get home. Do you want them to kill us, Reid?

Reid was crying. Tears plodded down his round cheeks. “N-no. I don’t want them to kill you. You’re my f-f-friends,” he moaned between sobs.

Tiberius rounded on Magnus, still sitting in the back, his eyes intent on Reid. “Leave him be, Magnus!” he roared.

Then drive! Leave them all in the dust and drive! came the voice of Magnus, roaring in Reid’s head, and Reid squawked a garbled scream, and he pressed harder on the accelerator, watching the road through tear-blurred vision and pushing the engine to its furthest.

Tiberius hauled Magnus up, his usually serene eyes blazing. “What did you do to him?” he demanded. “You blocked me out. Tell me what you told him!”

Magnus scowled. “I told him the truth.” He shoved Tiberius away from him and dusted himself off, furious. “I had to tell him. It was the only way to save us.”

The muffled speaker from the patrol car crackled and whined to life, and the driver was demanding Reid to pull the car over. Reid was shaking his head and sobbing, so bitterly unsure of what was going on but only knowing that he had to drive, that hemust not let them be caught.

“I can stop them!” Magnus boomed, his eyes full of malicious light.

“No!” Tiberius denied. “Cassius, Helena, we must stop him before he makes things worse!”

“Worse?” Magnus spat. “You are an old, deluded fool if you think that fighting back will make things worse. They’re slaughtering our people!”

Reid heard voices rise, and the fighting continued. He heard Helena side with Tiberius, and Cassius was still next to him, shouting as well. Reid kept crying, unsure of how to proceed. He wanted his friends to live. Why would the police want to kill them? He had to know why. He ha to know what they had done to be wanted dead. And he opened his mouth, but the words caught in his throat as a new sound pierced the air, cracking like thunder.

Gunshots.

“No!” Reid bellowed, and he heard another pop, this one from the rear tire. The delivery truck skidded, and on instinct, Reid jammed down on the brakes. The truck lurched, and as it began to tip Reid realized that he had made a drastic mistake. Cassius was shouting in his ear, no longer in argument but in shock. Reid shouted in dismay as his vision seemed to jerk sideways. His head slammed against the doorframe, and the world went black. In the recesses of his mind he could still hear Magnus, howling with fury, roaring that death was upon them.

The End

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