Hale had been approached before. The government men in black suits had come to his school, run tests on his peers, all in an attempt to find people like him. He didn’t trust the government.
He was raised by his grandfather who had fought in Vietnam. His grandfather taught him that the government was full of self-serving idiots who didn’t care one lick about the welfare of the people and who sacrifice their own children for power and prestige.
His grandfather had protected him from the suits when he was 16, when they had first found him. They kept coming to the house. Grandfather shuttered the windows, unplugged the phone, and barricaded the door. He changed the locks and taught him a secret knock to use when he came home from school. They had the school office page him in the middle of class, but when he saw the suits, the counselors, and the Dean all waiting for him through the window, he turned and ran. Grandfather stopped sleeping at night and forbade him to leave the house. The sleep deprivation caused Grandfather to have flashbacks and spells of dreaming while awake. He would lie on his belly and scream nonsense, or duck behind the kitchen island with the broom cocked. Hale would bring his grandfather his dinner wherever he crouched. He was often torn between hiding in his room from his Grandfather’s antics, and caring for him.
The police came after a couple weeks, forcing Grandfather to hide under his bed. He had a handgun under there locked in a box that Hale never knew existed. He was sort of relieved when they arrested Grandfather, but very sad too. Hale loved him, but he couldn’t control Grandfather anymore. He screamed and fought and shot the ceiling and kicked and bit and swore as they dragged him from the house. He thought he was going to be tortured. He kept screaming at the cops like they were Viet Kong. Then right there on the lawn his heart exploded. The cops dropped him and began CPR, calling for an ambulance when they realized he was not just passed out, nor making himself heavier on purpose like an obstinate child.
The government swooped in, trying to steal Hale before Social Services could complicate things. But Hale ran. He’d learned enough in his now 17 years to hide and live on his own. He cooked his own meals, searched for food in the trash, hid in abandoned houses and traveled on trains. He avoided stores with video cameras, and he never called anyone. He didn’t have any particular direction in mind, he just kept moving. But his mistake was in letting down his guard.
The suits had been searching for him, knowing in what general direction he fled, and looking in places where he would blend in. The suits could dress casually and take names and test students at every college fair virtually undetected. They had heard the rumors, they had come to this school, and they had seen him.
Hale had been taking alleyways hoping to avoid detection. He had no idea two girls were spying on him from a tree house. He did know the tree house, and in fact, it was his intended destination. Once it got dark, he would ascend to the safety of its branches. He was on his way to scout out how to approach the tree in the yard, when he was grabbed by suits. Try as he might to struggle, they held him fast by his biceps and tasered him quickly. He was carried and dragged into a house. They threw him into a chair and bound his hands behind him before he regained the use of his arms.
Then they left him to recover in the modestly furnished room, or so he thought. As his breathing slowed and the shock and pain subsided, his mind cleared. He began to look for item to cut his bindings or ways to escape.
“That’s not necessary,” a voice crooned, as if reading his mind. “You will stay and have a little chat.”
A tall man in a dark turtleneck and dark slacks stood between the window and Hale. The setting sun glowed behind him, making him appear more foreboding. Hale gasped and stared at the man. The man stared back, pacing the room, pausing to adjust the curtains so it wasn’t so bright.
(Jasper was ominous looking, tall, shadowy, lean, and angular. He stared at you with venom and could command a room with a glance. He waited inside a house furnished for show and not for occupancy. It was comfortably stiff, and he kind of liked it that way.)
“What do you want?” Hale bravely intoned.
“Let me first introduce myself. I am Jasper. I am in charge of a special group of interesting people, much like yourself, who endeavor to rid the world of very bad people. We are like superheroes really.”
“You work for the government?”
“Yes and no. There are times we work for the world, U.N., other countries, that sort of thing. It’s an action packed job, full of adventure. You have shown yourself highly capable of surviving in the face of adversity, overcoming many obstacles, and evading capture. You’d make an excellent addition to the team.”
“I’m not going to work for the government! They lie!”
“Of course they lie! All parents lie to protect their children from the awful truth. This world is a very ugly place. Lies are what keep people alive. Lies protect people from the burden of the facts, the real situation. We know the truth, my band of heroes, we fight against the evils every day. Evils you’ve only dreamed about. We keep the whole world safe.”
“My grandfather said never to trust the government.”
“I agree, don’t trust the government. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right? Well if you join us, you will be very close to the government, very influential, and you’ll know everything; all the truths.”
“Grandfather told me the truth. The government is only concerned with itself. Why should I help it, or any other government for that matter? What good are they?”
Jasper flew into a rage. He had been trying to influence the boy, but his powers of persuasion were not working. He toppled the table over and threw a vase with fresh flowers at the fireplace.
“Wait.” He calmed himself. “You’re a shield.”
Just then two police cars pulled up, siren and lights at full alert. Hale thought he was saved, but the suits simply walked out onto the porch and flashed their badges. He heard some arguing outside, two girls gave a high pitched argument, then the cops drove away. This action drew Jasper to the window. I was glad, because his cold eyes were no longer on me. I struggled against my bonds.
“She’s an aurist! Quick grab them!” Jasper yelled. The suited men pulled the girls inside.