2.16 - Anything that can go wrong...
“Go ahead and finish your steak,” Aurora stood, staring at Black Angel. Sarah stared over her shoulder and looked back, tilting her head.
“Oh, thank you, but why are you spacing out?” Sarah asked.
“It’s nothing. I’ll just be in the ladies room for a few.” Aurora winked at Sarah and headed directly there, ready to fight Black Angel.
She moved quickly into the bathroom, ready for action, but didn’t see anything right away. It was a single bathroom set up for privacy, so she locked the door. After a moment, she turned towards the mirror, and she was there.
Aurora spun to confront Black Angel, but she wasn’t behind her. “You have no idea how difficult it was to even try to make contact with you since,” Black Angel spoke. Leona turned to face her in the mirror. She went on, “Well, I’m sure you remember it well. I want to tell you that you can’t get rid of me so easily, though as you see, there’s not much I can do.” She walked towards Aurora and reached out from the mirror to touch Leona’s face. She yanked back as though the hand was red-hot.
Black Angel shook her head. “Seriously, there’s nothing I can do to you,” she said frustrated. “You have no idea how difficult it is just to have a conversation with you. But anyway, I wanted to start fresh and anew.” She smiled. “Let’s be friends from now on, hm?”
Black Angel started to pace back and forth around the room in the mirror. “I know something’s troubling you and I think I can help you with it. There’s something that offends and hurts you. I can feel it… so let me out for let’s say… an hour. All you need to do is surrender for just a little bit.” She pressed her thumb to her index finger. “Just for an hour, and I’ll deal with your problem. What do you say to that?” She smiled, narrowing her eyes she fluttered her lashes at Leona.
“I can deal with my own problems,” Leona sighed. “I’m not a person if I can’t do that much. No one said anything was going to be easy. Being a good person sometimes means not doing things the way that would best serve yourself. Yeah, I’m extremely annoyed, frustrated… I feel powerless. Sarah is committed, and even if the camp is mistreating her, and I suspect it’s worse than she says when you look into her glazed expression when she says certain things. The fact is I’m seriously reconsidering my feelings at the moment. It’s hopeless, and some things aren’t meant to be.” Leona sighed. “Bottom line, what will be will be. I don’t want her to get hurt, but I have to wait and help her as a friend.”
“You know, I have some experience with cults, as well,” Black Angel shrugged. “I started a few, mostly for experimentation. If you fear a little bit of brainwashing, the best thing to do is to eliminate the cult in question. I can spend an hour looking like myself - and dismantle their little Camp for you. Wrathful and very direct… and I won’t even injure anyone you want to save. What do you say to that?”
Aurora glared at Black Angel. “No. I won’t give you a toehold. Under no circumstances. I knew that if I accepted this power, I’d always face the possibility of ending up like you did. I won’t let that happen. For my sake above anyone else’s. Sarah can do what she likes and live how she wishes. It’s not my business to force my beliefs on others. The law protects them, because they have a right to do what they do as long as foolish parents like hers give her that power.
“I will not, however, take those responsibilities and choices into my own hands. I won’t be like you.” Leona sighed heavily as Black Angel faded.
She scowled at her and spoke, “Then you are a fool. A ‘hero’ is supposed to save people. I suppose that means that you would let those hapless fools die from being set on fire or poisoned if their cult leaders demanded it, too then? Pathetic!” She snarled.
Aurora turned her back on Black Angel and unlocked the bathroom door. Black Angel yelled after Leona, “You know I’m right! You know it! Very well, farewell for now, but thank you for one thing at least,” she said, her voice changing to a less strident tone as it faded. “I know a little more now.” And she was gone again.
Aurora stepped out and looked directly at the table, and the police were there with Sarah. She recognized one of the officers that had arrested her and Quinn outside the Camp a ways back. They were talking with Sarah, and their backs were currently away from her. She’d somehow managed to position them so they wouldn’t see Aurora when she came out. Leona turned away and listened.
“... I have no idea,” Sarah said, “she left a while ago, and for a second time, I’ve never met her and have no idea if she knows me from anywhere. Does this have anything to do with the rumors at camp?”
“These are just regular questions,” that same recognizable officer spoke, “the director is very worried about you, let’s get you back”
“Do you think she might come back?” Sarah asked.
“We don’t know, Miss Namias. Let’s go, come on.” He pulled out a pair of handcuffs. Aurora’s eyes widened. The contrast between the words and the officer’s actions were at odds. They were going to arrest a child? She wasn’t resisting!
“Wait a minute, I’m not resisting you, I’m just saying maybe if you think there’s something going on… maybe you should call my parents and let me go home?” Sarah asked. She DID want out from the camp! The officer ignored Sarah and handcuffed her. “Ow! That’s too tight!” Sarah complained.
“A lot of kids try to run off early from the camp. I’m not taking any chances,” the officer said, “Now let’s go before you cause any more of a scene.”
“Ow… stop pulling so hard,” Sarah protested as they almost lifted her right from the chair and marched her away. Aurora changed her hair color and clothes to a business suit, her eyes narrowing. She snarled angrilly. Sarah looked like a frightened little helpless animal, trapped. Sarah spotted Aurora finally, looking over her shoulder. She seemed as though she was going to say something but she bit her lip, blushed, and looked down. Her face softened as if to say, ‘Thank you.’
Aurora pulled out her wallet and dropped fifty dollars on the table. She didn’t know how much the bill would be, and they didn’t deserve it if they sold them out to the police, but right was right.
She stepped out after the Police, and as they started loading Sarah up into the back of their Police car, Aurora transformed. She couldn’t go without speaking. There was an explosion of light and she spread her wings wide after the door behind her closed. “One moment of your time, Officers. I understand what you’re doing here and what your concerns are, however I must explain why I asked for Ms. Sarah’s cooperation. My name is Aurora. I’m a new superhero in the area. I’m here to investigate the camp. I’m certain you’re aware of their practices.
The officers turned, putting their hands to their sidearms. Hearing that her voice was full of reason, they didn’t draw. The officer she was familiar with gestured for his partner to continue into the car. “I’ve heard about you. Weren’t you out blasting that construction site in Seaside City? Was there some breadcrumb leading you there from this ‘case’ of yours? Maybe you’d better come back to the station and explain about what you’re looking for up in the camp.”
He shrugged. “If you’re looking for a cult, you’re in the wrong place. The Padua Realignment Camp in Junker is a legitimate enterprise,” he said, gesturing for her to follow him to the car.
Aurora let her wings retract a little and looked at the officer. “Where I come from, my planet, we don’t treat children so harshly. The cuffs were out of line, officer. Do you not know how the children at that Camp are treated? They’re kept out from the sun all but for one day. The Sun is lifesblood for all, particularly my people, but without it you wouldn’t be here. We have a great affinity for the Sun, we all do. And it is very important to the growth of a child. This so-called camp does nothing but drill the minds of these children with scriptures. By force they mold the kids into a specific product. And someone makes money off of all this. You say legitimate and legal enterprise. It’s a legal concentration camp. I don’t know your values well, but by my standards, what you defend and do makes no sense to me in the slightest.”
“Well, Miss Aurora, those are some serious allegations you’ve levelled. A lot of us in town find the good people of the camp help to reinforce the positive traits of all good children that need to grow right. I think we may want to first address the kidnapping charge.
“She did NOT kidnap me!” Sarah yelled from inside the Police car, having listened to every word. “She’s new here, and, um. I did NOT resist! It was not against my will.”
The officer turned towards Sarah, pressed against the window. “Then you’re admitting that you did want to run from the camp?”
“No,” Sarah responded. “I didn’t say that. I just wanted to help her out.”
“So you know her personally?” the officer asked, “you already said you didn’t know her before.”
“Well, um…” Sarah looked at Aurora.
Leona smiled reassuringly. “She doesn’t know me, officers. Or didn’t prior to today. I saw her in the yard picking berries and I landed beside her. I asked her if she’d mind coming for a flight for a short time and answer some questions about how happy she was, and how well she was treated. I’ve come to understand that the food is unpleasant in these camps. I figured it would be more than fair to compensate her for her time and what it would put her through with a fine meal. And since I couldn’t have anyone staring or being too nosy, I changed my appearance so we would have some peace. Sarah is a good girl, I’ve found. Very obedient. She’s already explained quite a bit about what the camp does and how. I don’t approve of their methods.” Aurora crossed her arms beneath her breasts. “It’s hard to understand why anyone would willingly subject their child to this kind of an experience. There are parents who medicate their children for being joyful and happy. That makes the experience a bit more convenient, even if it means their organs are damaged for life to give them a wink of peace.”
“I’m tired of oatmeal and hot dogs!” Sarah yelled with a broad smile. “I’m sick of it!”
“Yeah, your file says you don’t like hot dogs,” the officer quipped. “At any rate, this sounds like it might be a misunderstanding all around. I'll tender your apologies to the camp on your behalf if you promise to stay out of town’s airspace for the time,” he said, “but if they decide to press charges, we’ll need your contact information.”
“Speak with Detective ben Kirby in San Isidro. He’s my case worker or whatever you’d call it.” Leona put her hands on her hips. “Are you sure you want me to stay away? Misunderstanding or not, if something happens here that needs a superhero’s assistance, you would NOT be grateful for help? The area isn’t exactly burgeoning with superhero presences.” Aurora stated, perplexed. “I won't try to see Sarah again, especially not since she answered my questions. Do Sarah a favor at least and take those cuffs off her since she’s locked in your backseat.” Her eyes had fallen upon Sarah’s raised up wrists when she pressed up against the window.
“We find that outsiders, especially from the city, think they know better than us, and don’t have a lot of respect for us suburban types. We’ve been fine here without any super-people, especially people who engage in backhanded blasphemy.” The officer was clearly biased. “If we need you, we’ll call your ‘caseworker’ as you say.”
“I’m okay! You hear me?” Sarah yelled loudly. “I’m fine!” Sarah sounded unconvincing, but she did her best.
“All right then, you have a good day,” the officer said to Aurora with a tight-lipped frown.
Aurora shook her head and spread her wings, taking off. Nothing had gone like she hoped it would. She knew it couldn’t go well, and things weren’t as bad as she was afraid, but now she knew some things about Sarah’s situation and how she felt. When it came down to it, she was more honest than she could be when they were alone.
She did her best to empty her mind as she wung home, crying for her powerlessness.