She didn’t dream after going back to sleep, to her surprise. She didn’t know if she even wanted to. Tabitha awakened to find the sun in her eyes, the sheets not charred and the smell of the alley not overwhelming her! She had felt something that she hadn’t felt in a while… rejuvenation. She didn’t have to worry about someone touching her in the middle of the night, trying to steal the little rag of a blanket that she did have; she didn’t have to worry about insects and rats scurrying over her as she tried to get somewhat comfortable… and she didn’t have to worry about accidently electrocuting anyone. She admitted that it was a challenge to constantly try to keep the surges from erupting all over her body, but it was a vast improvement from the day before.
She ran her hand over the soft purple and blue diamond-patterned sheets, covering her shoulders with them. She had a bed, now, she happily thought; a big, nice one with down pillows, thick covers and soft sheets. She moved her head away from the sun’s rays and let her eyes adjust by themselves. Pins and needles feeling aside, she felt better than she had in a long while. Tabitha slowly stretched and propped herself up against the headboard. She smiled as she lazily looked at what was at the foot of the bed; a TV. Last night had been fun, watching the likes of the various wrestlers. However, she needed to know what had gone on since she was dumped in that alley… and to confirm if she was indeed in Memphis.
Locating the remote on the nightstand beside the bed, Tabitha turned the TV on and wasn’t surprised to see cartoon characters fill up the screen. She quietly studied the remote, pressed the guide button and scanned through the menu for a local channel. It only took going through two commercials and the beginning of the broadcast for her fears to be confirmed; she was indeed in Memphis. Not wanting to make herself upset, she tried not to think about it and continued to watch the early morning news. It had been almost exactly a month since she was volunteered for that experiment. Nothing of major importance had happened since she last saw a news report; as a man went to talk about sports, Tabitha turned the channel.
She was watching a movie when there was a knock on the door. Tabitha realized that maybe she should’ve gotten out of bed, washed up and prepared to eat breakfast; she didn’t want to seem lazy to the doctor and her family. However, as the door slowly opened, Tabitha had a feeling that she would be excused due to all that she had been through.
She smiled as Jamila blinked a few times, slightly startled.
“Oh! Well… you’re up!” she returned the smile. She had expected Tabitha to be sound asleep still and she wouldn’t have blamed her. The young woman looked extremely better than what she did a mere few hours ago.
Jamila opened the door wider, revealing her husband right behind her. Tabitha’s smile actually widened as he casually wrapped his arm around her waist. His orange polo shirt stood out but actually complimented his mahogany skin. Looking at his jet black hair made her realize that all three of the children inherited a variation of their mother’s hair color.
“Yeah. I, uh… I kinda… messed up your sheets…” she decided to admit. The professor kept her smile and waved it off.
“No worries. We got ‘em from Wal-Mart; we can go get some more.” she said. Her husband slightly rolled his eyes and smiled.
“Another excuse to go shopping…”
“Shut up!” she playfully snapped. Before anyone could say another word, the triplets pushed their parents out of the way and jumped in the bed with their new guest. Tabitha flinched and the parents noticed, being seconds away from pulling the children out of harm’s way. However, she took a deep breath and smiled at the three. The children were still in their pajamas but had freshly brushed teeth; Tabitha could smell the combination of grape, strawberry and citrus toothpaste.
“Miss Tabitha, you’re still here!” A.C.’s eyes widened.
“Yeah… still here…” the youngest in her family was 14; she wasn’t used to speaking to children this young.
“That means she’s staying with us for real! You gonna eat with us?!” Jamil asked. She could tell that his father probably warned him about his manners but he constantly tried to stare at her white hair.
“Sure. You cooking?” she asked and it sent the children in an uproar of laughter.
“That’s silly; he can’t cook! He’s just a little boy!”
“I’m not a little boy; moooom… tell her to stop it!” Jamil started to whine. Albert gathered his children.
“It’s too early for all that! Go finish washing up or Miss Tabitha won’t eat with us…” he warned and they bolted out the door before he could stop them.
It was one of the nicest breakfasts she had in a while, even when she was in Chattanooga. Tabitha awkwardly spent a little more time with the children afterwards before the Lindsey parents took them to spend the rest of the day with their grandparents. When they returned, they found Tabitha in the living room watching TV. She was dressed in a white t-shirt that was a size too big for her and green Marine Corps physical training sweats that were a bit too short for her. She gave them an uneasy look; she felt as if she wasn’t supposed to have made herself comfortable. Albert laughed slightly.
“It’s okay. She should’ve talked it over with me before she made a decision but… my wife said that you’re staying with us so you don’t have to feel uncomfortable around us.” He reassured. Tabitha nodded and turned the TV off as the two sat on the other side of her.
“I guess… you two need to talk to me.”
“Yeah. How’d you end up in that alley?” Albert really wanted to know. Tabitha sighed and tried not to get upset.
“Well… I think I was dumped there… I know I was dumped there!” she narrowed her eyes at the thought. She explained to the two about the last day she fully remembered, right down to the second where the machine malfunctioned on her, “Next thing I know… I’m waking up in the alley…”
“You’re from ‘Chat Town’…? Why did he dump you all the way over here?” Jamila actually asked herself. Tabitha shrugged.
“I don’t know. Guess he figured that no one knows me here. By the time anyone would’ve noticed that I was dead here, they would’ve just called me an unknown bum and left it at that…”
“That’s cold…” Albert shook his head in disbelief. He slightly studied the young woman, remembering what his wife told him the night before, “My wife said that you’re… special…” he looked her dead in the eye. It was the first time that she fully realized it; she was special in a way. A freak, she half seethed to herself. However, Tabitha took a hard swallow and returned the stare.
“Maybe… it’ll be better to go outside for this…” Jamila suggested and the three went out into the backyard. It was the same size as the front lawn, just enclosed with a tan wooden privacy fence. There was a playground set for the triplets and the lawn was neatly trimmed just like in the front. Jamila put a gentle hand on Tabitha’s shoulder, “You know… I wouldn’t ask…”
“I understand.” she nodded. Jamila looked at her husband.
“Her… powers are emotion-based right now. If she’ll let me run some tests, I can help her make them more manageable…” she switched glances from Albert to Tabitha. A hint of a smile appeared and then she looked straight ahead. She was controlling them much better than she had been in a month; back then, she had no idea what was going on. She still didn’t know exactly how she came to be; maybe it had something to do with the serum they injected inside of her. The only thing Tabitha was clear about was that the general had a lot to do with everything. That bastard; when I find him I’m gonna shock the hell outta him, she thought angrily. It was one thing to dump her in some odd, remote place; it was another to do so halfway across the state. She had no ID, no dog tags; there wasn’t anything on her to identify her. And then, she had no idea what everyone thought happened to her; for all she knew, her family and friends probably thought that she was halfway to Iraq or some other country by now. She didn’t understand how the Army would let the man get away with something like that…
The thoughts were beating her head up, giving her the start of a headache. She felt the pins and needles feeling erupt throughout her veins; very noticeable currents of electricity flowed all over her body. She felt the energy wanting to come out and before she could do anything, it pushed itself out of her hands. She was glad she had the good sense to throw her hands out, making the streams of lightning travel to the fence; the wood exploded on contact. Albert’s eyes widened at the large gap in the middle of the fence.
“Uh… I don’t think I’ll ever doubt you, again…”