Crystal was still half asleep, but she could feel some thing hard pressing against her forehead. She groaned and rolled onto her side, which resulted in a very loud thwop too far beneath her as her comforter fell to the floor. Confused, she opened her eyes finding herself face to face with the ceiling.
"Ahh!" Crystal shrieked and dropped onto her bed, nearly bouncing right off.
Brenda sat up right away, clawing frantically at her pink sleeping mask. "What?!"
Crystal, a bit shaken, started to giggle helplessly.
Brenda looked at her, worry on her face. She laughed nervously. "Are you okay?"
Between fits of giggles, Crystal found the breath to respond: "I'll be fine. Just an interesting development. Where is my notebook? I need to record this."
By the time they got to their makeshift lab, Brenda was laughing hysterically too. "So your powers are getting stronger?"
Crystal pulled a cup of yogurt from the fridge and pulled the tin off. "Apparently. And I think I need to work a little harder at training. I don't like this sleep-flying development much at all."
Brenda giggled again. "I can't believe I missed it. I'm never wearing that stupid mask again."
Crystal chuckled and adjusted the focus on her microscope.
Brenda had just put the finishing touches on her new "superphone" when Harry dropped by, flanked by delivery men wheeling in crates of rats.
"You sure thirty lab rats is enough?" Harry asked.
"It will do for now," Crystal replied. "Did you bring the food and supplies?"
"I have thirty large cages, fifty pounds of rat pellets, a wheelbarrow full of used computer chips, some high-risk viruses, an x-ray machine, and... everything else on the list."
"Perfect. Thanks." Crystal smiled and went to direct the movers to the area cleared for the rat cages.
Harry wandered over to Brenda's workbench. "Is she always like this?"
Brenda was digging around in what looked like it had once been a laptop computer, but now had lost its screen and keys.
"Focused on science? Being a genius will do that to you. We are stereotyped as being absent-minded. Actually, Crystal did a study, back when she was taking a psychology course, and found that geniuses remember just as much as the average person, we just remember things that the average person will never have to worry about."
"Not really." Brenda went back to the computer, tearing out some dusty wires with relish.
Harry went over to help Crystal feed the rats. "I have a surprise for you," he said, dropping a pellet in the top of a cage.
Crystal didn't glance up. "I don't really like surprises. I prefer that things happen the way I plan. That's why I'm in this business. Not that I haven't had my share over the past few days."
"You'll like this surprise." He handed her a folded sheet of paper.
Crystal took it, frowning curiously as she met his eyes.
She unfolded it and scanned the words - a long list of names. "What's this?"
When she looked up, Harry had disappeared. He came in through the back door, holding it open for the crowd of people behind him. Several were in wheelchairs, others used white canes, still others had varied physical handicaps. They ranged in age from teenagers to young adults. Youth with spirit, trapped by their bodies.
Crystal gasped. She looked at the list again - beside each name was a description of their profile and medical history. Without thinking, she literally flew over to Harry. "What did you tell them?"
Harry stepped back, but regained his composure. "I just told them you might be able to help. Did I know you could fly?"
"I'm not ready for- What do I say to these people?" Crystal's green eye's flashed.
Harry put his hand on her shoulder. "Relax, Crystal. They just wanted to meet you. Everyone," he said louder, "this is Crystal Johnson. She has spent the last several years doing research on how to improve the lives of people with everyday challenges like yours." Out of the side of his mouth, he muttered, "smile and wave, Johnson."
"Hi!" Crystal smiled warmly, meeting the eyes of each of her visitors. "I'm Crystal. I don't know how much I can promise you, since I am still in the preliminary phase of my newest research, but you are welcome to meet my rats and ask me any questions."
A girl in a wheelchair rolled forward and raised her hand, tilting her brown head of curls to the side. Crystal nodded, encouragingly. "What's your name?"
Moisture gathered in Crystal's eyes. She produced a handkerchief and dabbed at them. "You have a question?"
"Can we see you fly again?"