Close Encounters of the Bus Kind
Erin thought that the drop-off place looked a little spooky. Her mom, Sharon, was there to pick her up though, and reassured her that she not only had a thing of mace but also her concealed carry strapped on. Nadia‘s dad had to stretch his back but was energized when his daughter came down the steps, despite the late hour.
He enveloped her in the warmest bear hug and asked her a flood of questions about how the game and evening went. Nadia wanted to sink into his love and enthusiasm, but the setting and the mood made her feel uncomfortable. She had a strangely vivid memory of this place. What was it about? Did she dream it?
Whatever, it wasn’t important. Nadia was just glad to get in her dad‘s truck and be heading home. The other girls on the team were heading home too. She smiled and waved to Erin. Odessa had her leg wrapped up. Because she was injured during the game. That didn’t feel right though. Hopefully, she’ll heal up soon.
Nadia‘s dad put on British classic rock, which she rolled her eyes at, even though she liked some of the 80s groups. She held her phone close and tucked an AirPod in one ear. When she went looking for her music though, it wasn’t showing up. Poking around the screen didn’t find any of the settings she was expecting. What kind of music did she listen to? Thrash metal? No. R&B? That didn’t sound right either. The Beach Boys? That’s the kind of music her dad would listen to. Yet, that was the group that settled into her head.
The high beams of a car in the other lane glared right in her eyes. The bright golden light made her squint. So annoying. Her dad commented about it too and said something unflattering in Turkish. Before she knew it, they were back at the house.
Her crazy sisters were rushing all around the house because food had to be ready tomorrow for the big…the big. What was the big thing tomorrow? Oh! The World Cup. Of course. She had to be out of it at this hour not to remember all that important stuff. A shower would be so nice and might clear her head. Kira was being so crazy and Leila too. They were teasing her about her boyfriend and her mom even got involved.
They were being low-key about their relationship. Keeping it quiet. And, no, she wasn’t going to bring him over for the game tomorrow. They were waiting until Sunday. Nadia tapped out the notes to a new song Iris was trying to teach her as she put her hair back and helped out with some stuff in the kitchen. There was a new outfit she saw at the mall the other day and there was not enough time to get it before she saw her boyfriend again. But she knew he would like it. Oh, to be wrapped up in his big strong arms as he…
Nadia‘s thought process caught again. It was like buffering online or like dad would say with a skipping record. She lost her place. It was so weird because it was accompanied by a weird crescendo of sound like a frantic party going on with the neighbors. And then a flash in the air like one of those police searchlights combing the neighborhood. She felt weird about it and tried to shake the thought loose.
Sleepy. She just had to be so sleepy and wiped out from the wild exertion of the game. They won. And she had done….She had… What had she done? She knew the proper positions in the game. Libero. Middle blocker, serving specialist, outside hitter, and so forth. But, instead of years of practice in the sport, it all felt like she just had a few days of vague recollection. The absence in her mind was really starting to worry her.
That wasn’t the only thing though. She wasn’t clear on what her family was preparing for tomorrow and what everyone was doing except for slicing vegetables here and there. Washing things and turning dials. Her heart started to race, and she had to step away. They let her sit down and catch her thoughts. But it didn’t really help. Why was she freaking out so much?
Her family said everything would be fine without her, but she felt bad about leaving them alone. Before she went to bed, she wanted to give a hug to her younger brothers, Errol and Murat. All of her sisters froze and looked at her with confusion.
They didn’t know who she was talking about. Nadia twisted her mouth around a few times in uncertainty. She could remember a few details about her younger brothers, one of them liked cars and one liked spooky things. But that information felt so tenuous and vague that she had to just shrug and resolve those imaginary brothers were just another thing that came out of her head. Only sisters. Two older, two around her age, and one much younger. Luna was playing with finger paint but gleefully waved good night.
Her shower and settling under the covers went too fast before she had another flash of light and found it was morning. After the game, she went shopping with Eva, Gina, Odessa, Leslie, and Erin. All her closest friends. She wanted to get some clothes to wear to look real nice for her boyfriend, Paul. They found time after all. There was some really cute nail polish and an adorable silver bracelet.
Eva got a text from her boyfriend, and Gina teased her about it. Erin held a necklace up to her throat and Nadia got a woozy, uncertain feeling again. She lingered and gazed at the looming empty Sears building across the way. Something was missing and she couldn’t put her finger on it.
After church on Sunday, she still couldn’t shake the strangest sensation. Her boyfriend was there to comfort her though. She stood there with her back to his front, where her dad couldn’t see them.
It felt so naughty to be held close like this, barely restrained. What she would like to do with him. What… did she want to do with him? The world outside seemed to fall away. Just her and Paul.
Duman was a single parent with four daughters. No wait, it was just her and Luna. She had to have imagined the other siblings. But it was still such a large house. And eight players on the volleyball team, six team members, and two alternates. Had Tonya cut someone? She couldn’t remember. There were so many things she couldn’t remember. So many details slipping away. She just needed to take a nap. Just rest for a little while and everything will be fine after.
What happened to the volleyball team? Was there a volleyball team? Part of her was convinced that she and Erin just played volleyball after school for fun. But it was a team sport. That didn’t make any sense. None of it made any sense. Erin…Erin…Erin?
That was a pretty name, but who is that? Or Aaron? Did she know a boy with that name? How exactly was it spelled? Everything felt like it was slowing down. Like that time she had nitrous for a tooth. And that gallbladder surgery. Islands of thoughts. It felt like everything else was being locked up in a tomb.
What was left? Just a void. A life of melancholy. Just fall. Just slip. Just let go… it would be so easy. There were predators of the heart and the soul ready to consume her…
…“You were the first boy I liked”…”You were so nice”…”Do you want to be my girlfriend and I’ll be yours?”…“I love you. I love you so much, and I’m sorry that I haven’t said it more. I have no idea what’s going on and the uncertainties are piling up, but I know I love you.“
ERIN! Her gentle kiss. Her kind embraces. Her warm laugh. The way she held her close. The necklace! She loved Erin! She loved her since high school. It was just the surface details at first but so many things. The chance to make her smile and wipe away those tears. The hope to keep her students safe and chat beside her in the quiet moments. Curled up on the couch, or beside each other in bed. Huddled in the dark of an abandoned building while a monster hunted them or sharing secrets in a bathroom.
She loved Erin Reeves! Even though she couldn’t see her own arms, she punched through the shadows and darkness until it broke into daylight.
“No no no no! It’s not possible! You’re almost finished, you’re almost sucked clean! You shouldn’t have any fight left! You shouldn’t have anything! YOU’RE MINE!”
Tonya fumed with venomous fury. Her hair danced around her head like she had her own private tempest to drive it. Her eyes were pitch black and her skin tinted a stark shade of gray, as though it were the simplest costume over an expense of alien flesh. In the corner, Nadia could see movement. Louise.
Moving with purpose and methodical care, Louise raised a broken metal beam from behind the bleachers over her head and swung it through the air at Tonya. Before it could connect, Tonya whipped around and locked her in place with a gesture.
“Pathetic…” Tonya hissed and cackled. “Do you think I didn’t know there was an interloper in the room the whole time? And it’s just a useless spare without any powers. Those die so easily…” She seized the weapon from Louise and smiled. Eva desperately begged her not to do it.
“Don’t fret. I’m not the sort to dirty my hands with organic blood. But I’ll find a hungry place for her. Now…”
She turned back to Nadia with her inhuman eyes and jagged teeth poking out. “I just have to…”
Tonya twisted around as her glowing device ripped out of her hands and shot across the room, over to the door. Luna stood in the doorway with tears reddening her eyes as the device flew into her grip.
With a voice not quite her own, Luna yelled, “GET AWAY FROM MY GIRLFRIEND, YOU BITCH!” She smashed the device into a burning swirl of pieces against the laminate floor. Strands of glowing light intersected all the other girls as Tonya screamed, “NOOO!” The paralysis ended, and they got to their feet.
Tonya staggered and spun around in place as she held her hands up.
“Heeeeyyy. Team. Girls. Yo. Let’s let’s let’s let’s let’s step back, let’s just take a breath and and let’s not do anything crazy just because things were said and sort of done. Go Red Rock Riders yeah! We’re all on the same team…Ghhhrrhh…” Tonya raised up on her toes as though an invisible hand was wrapped around her neck. Erin.
Nadia looked between her girlfriend and her little sister with immense uncertainty. Luna was assisting with the grip of Tonya. Before any of them could say anything else, Luna warned, “Watch out!”
Despite the fact Tonya was held up like a puppet telekinetically, she managed to get her arm under her top and pull out something small. But she couldn’t get her other arm around to grip it as Luna caught them.
Erin grit her teeth, and said, with trembling pain, “So, you want power? Come on, girls, let’s give it to her.”
Sasha glared and wielded her prehensile hair to twist around Tonya, who gurgled and tried to sound like she wasn’t amused. Odessa practically head-butted her with super speed. And Elsa managed to get in a little bit of an ass-kicking with a size increase bonk of her own. Marisol’s goopy elasticity seemed like it grossed out Tonya more than anything. All the while, Nadia noticed that Tonya was getting closer and closer to wiggling her fingers.
She had to do something. Power. Her power was the rarest of the rare. She managed to do whatever she wanted in the vision but that was just a vision. Maybe… She didn’t need to do it alone. It was like Beyond said… she could empower the others…
Raising her hand, she focused and did just that. Stronger stronger. And strongest together! Eva‘s sharing power swelled.
Instead of just the prehensile hair of Sasha, everyone’s hair came to life and battered her from all sides. Tonya looked dizzy as she muttered, “…Is that all you got…?"
Super-fast, strong goop swelled around her as they sucked the energy out of the building and sent it directly into her spare device. Tonya’s eyes widened in horror as it burst into pieces and flung her back to the ground.
Sprawled out on her back, Tonya roughly cleared her throat and responded, “Alright, you got me. I surrender. Under the treaty of humans and Greys as signed by President Eisenhower…acckkkk… s-sanctuary! Mercy, please!” Luna and Erin used their telekinetic power to grip Tonya and raise her up again. Nadia rushed over to her girlfriend’s side and touched her lightly on the shoulder.
Erin hissed. “She was going to kill us!”
Tonya hoarsely responded, “Harvest. You would be left as basically vegetables for a few weeks before expiring on your own. Wasn’t personal.”
“Neither is this…” Erin intoned. Luna lowered her hand and looked over at Erin, saying, “It’s not worth it. She’s not worth it. Let her go. She doesn’t have anything else.” Erin continued to squeeze until Nadia leaned forward and begged her to stop. Slowly, reluctantly, Erin dropped her hand. The girls still searched Tonya and nearly stripped her naked to make sure she didn’t have anything else on her.
“What now…?” Erin asked no one in particular. Luna seemed like she wanted to say something, but she held her tongue.
“Now… It’s time for us all to clean up this very big mess we are left with.” In the middle of the court, towards the nets, suddenly stood the old woman that Nadia referred to as Beyond. The entire group could see her and turned cautiously to watch her.
Beyond vigorously massaged her forehead as she looked out over the group. “Time travel. Blasted time travel. I hope you all realize how much I absolutely hate time travel. It is the ultimate mess. Not your fault that it happened. That rogue Grey hampered a lot of our efforts.”
Nadia was just glad that the others could see Beyond. It was clear that the entire group had questions and Beyond didn’t care. She simply pressed her point, “This time travel situation needs to be decisively resolved as soon as possible.”
Eva staggered over to the front and asked, “You’re going to bring Coach Nesbitt back from… from where I sent her?”
“No. What’s done is done there. I’m talking about her. She’s a time traveler.” Beyond gestured to Luna, adding, “Erin Reeves. Inhabiting the body of Luna Baris.”
Nadia’s eyes widened. Luna was Erin?! Luna bowed her head and reached into a pocket to show off the GIRLFRIENDS necklace gift from Erin.
Beyond squeezed her forehead again and groaned. “You better have the right one. I’m not interested in any paradoxes developing from an infinitely old artifact.”
[I have a question at the end of the chapter again to help with suggestions for where future stories should go. Feel free to add an idea which doesn't show up in the options. Also, if you see any random typos or uncapitalized starts of sentences, please pass them along. I have to cut down on my editing due to release speed and my programs don't seem to be catching lowercase sentences. Thank you for reading!]
Poll below (TF ideas with this one. I'm genuinely looking for ideas for the follow-up)
Gradual over a few minutes Votes: 0 0.0%
Lengthy, taking days Votes: 0 0.0%
Instantaneous Votes: 0 0.0%
Triggered by events or interactions [like drink a thing, change] Votes: 0 0.0%
Item or thing caused [wearing a certain outfit] Votes: 0 0.0%
Self activated Votes: 0 0.0%
Highly temporary or reversible Votes: 0 0.0%
Other [detail in a comment]. Votes: 1 100.0%