Master PC – Mind Magi
Part Four—Love, Sex, and Sorcery
Chapter Twenty-Five—Secrecy of Truth
The easiest way to tell Sally about everything would have been to just share my memories with her, but there were parts of my life I wasn’t sure she would be very happy about, like me living with nearly twenty women.
I opened my mouth to try to explain the complexities of what had happened, both between us and during the attack, but someone knocked at the door. We had slipped into the manager’s office for further privacy and I was hesitant about letting anyone in.
Whoever was on the other side would have a lot of questions too. Most of those were better left unanswered. The Law of Secrecy of the Mind Magi demanded that the situation be controlled and made to look as mundane as possible. If only my instincts to protect and help hadn’t overridden what the law demanded none of the others would be an issue. It would just be Sally for me to worry about.
There were witnesses. Too many witnesses. Suddenly, the appearance of the newspaper reporters and news van made sense. They weren’t sent to report the opening of my store, they were meant to be witnesses to what I would do when the attack came. The Mind Magi Council would be forced to banish me and whoever was behind the plan would get what they fought for the day before: me out of the way.
“Ral, what’s wrong?” Sally asked.
“More than I thought,” I answered with a wry smile. My cryptic answer wasn’t any better than not answering.
After giving Sally a consolatory hug, I opened the door. Tara slipped in and pushed the door closed. “Mr. Setton, more police have arrived as have medical crews to help with the wounded. A detective is asking to speak with you.” She was nervous but in control of herself.
What would I do about the police? If it was Detective Arneson then all was well. He could help cool things off, but we were across town. It wasn’t likely that he would be heading up this investigation. In fact I was sure of it. So, what would I tell the police?
Nothing. I couldn’t tell them what really happened, they would never believe it and I was tired of proving what I could do. The FBI agents the day before had been bad enough. If I pulled the same stunt with a local cop, things could turn worse.
Still smiling slightly, I nodded. “Thank you Mrs. Larson. I’ll speak to the Detective in here.”
She nodded and reached for the door. Stopping she looked back at me. “I’m not sure it’s my place to ask, but I have to know...” She swallowed and looked up, “Did I really see you fighting off those gunmen only seconds after they opened fire?”
As I said, a lot of questions that were better left unanswered, but my suspicion was also confirmed. Considering she was going to be the manager of my store, she deserved to know more than anyone other than those bound to me. Vague would have to do for now. “I would like to say it wasn’t me Mrs. Larson, but you know what you saw.”
She looked at me as if she wasn’t sure if I had answered her question or not.
“Let me talk to the police and I’ll try to answer any other questions you have when I’m finished. Okay?”
She nodded and slipped out of the office.
I looked at Sally only to find her staring back at me. “Ral, I saw the same thing. How could you have been down there fighting them when you were right there beside me?”
“For the moment, let’s just say I’m not exactly the same guy you knew in high school. I’m gifted in ways most people won’t understand.” I could feel her confusion and curiosity. She would need a detailed explanation and I wasn’t sure how she would take it.
Pulling her to me, I gazed deep into her eyes. “I need to talk to the police and placate the press. Then, I’ll tell you the whole truth because you deserve that,” I said with a flickering glance down at her chest. My mark hovered there still. Nothing had changed. She was still bound to me. The violence had not made that any less real.
Sally caught my glance and looked at her self just as quickly. “Should I get dressed so you won’t be distracted?” She had a coy smile but was serious.
“That’s actually a good idea. As soon as I’m done here, you and I will need to leave.”
She nodded and there was another knock at the door.
Sally pulled me down for a quick kiss and then opened the door. That simple touch of her lips to mine felt wonderful. It was like kissing any of my other girls but something so much more as well.
The Detective stood back as Sally stepped out. He watched her for a second and then stepped inside the office. I closed the door. Yes, Sally was that distracting.
“Mr. Setton, Detective O’Hara.” the Detective looked me over. I was used to people’s surprise at my age when they thought of the owner of the store. He was no different.
“Yes, Detective,” I answered grasping his hand and giving him a firm shake.
He smiled, “You know how young you look?”
“I am that young,” I retorted with a grin of my own. “You had some questions for me?”
He nodded. “Yes, I was hoping to get your account of what happened.”
I should have guessed that he wouldn’t actually ask me anything first. He wanted to know my rendition of events and would compare that to what others had said.
I leaned against the desk thinking hard. How could I keep the truth a secret? Sure, the reporters knew what happened. They saw what I did. There were probably even photos and video recordings of the event. Somehow, though the attack would be the topic of the reports, my name, my face would show up.
Telling this Detective the absolute truth could have one of two affects: either he would just write down my statement verbatim and everyone would ignore it because it was ludicrous or the police and other agencies would dig deeper. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a group out there that knew about the Mind Magi due to such events, or at least had conclusions about us without proof. Now they would have that.
“Mr. Setton? Are you okay?”
I looked up, giving the Detective a once over. He seemed normal. He wasn’t a Mind Magi. “I’m okay Detective. I’m just not sure how much to tell you.”
Of course that set off every cop instinct he had. “Then how about telling me what you can.”
I nodded. “I saw the attackers pull their guns and I yelled into the microphones, warning the crowd to get down.”
“Okay..., what happened next?” He was watching me closely, looking for signs of deceit.
“I ran around the crowd, drawing the attackers’ attention from them because I knew I was their target.”
“And how, in that space of time, could you possibly deduce that?”
“It was my store opening. I’m the owner. Unless there was someone more important at this gathering, I was certain they wanted me.”
He nodded. “And what made you think they would focus all their attention on you?”
“Because this is not the first attack I’ve suffered. The difference was that the previous attacks were in private. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this attack, out in the open, wasn’t meant to hurt me but to expose me.”
“Expose you? How?”
“Consider the size of the crowd, the chaos, and the bullets flying. Consider how long it would take the normal person to run around that crowd, to navigate past them to get to the gunners. Now, consider how a teenager could bowl over full grown men, men trained in more than guns.”
He continued watching me, taking in the details not only of what I said but how I was acting.
“After they fled, which they did instead of pressing the attack and just killing me, I turned my attention to the crowd, to the wounded. Linda Penn had been shot in the back. She was having problems breathing. She would have died if I hadn’t saved her.”
“I just spoke to Penn. She didn’t have a mark on her except for someone’s blood.”
“That’s because I healed her Detective. You see, I was being exposed to the public. Or more specifically, my abilities—speed, strength, and healing—were being exposed. I was being shown off so that others would take those abilities from me.”
“You’re not making any sense Mr. Setton.”
I nodded. I was skipping past details. “I’m not supposed to tell you any of this Detective. I’m supposed to lie and hide the truth. I’m supposed to try and convince you and the twenty some-odd witnesses out there that what they saw, what their cameras captured, didn’t happen. It is a secret.”
He smiled. “Mr. Setton, are you sure you weren’t hurt?”
I could convince him, play games that shouldn’t be possible, but I would probably get shot for it. “Has the attack been reported on the news?”
He nodded. “They were making television reports when I came in. I had to wait for some of them to finish before I could speak with them.”
“Crap...” Containing the information at the scene would be one thing, but with the reporters having aired what they saw, and possibly my involvement, there would be Mind Magi on the way to find me, to bring me in for the Council to judge.
“What’s the problem with that? The news reporters are a nuisance but they can help find the attackers.”
“Forget the reporters. You need to find Detective Arneson. There was a break-in at the ‘W’ yesterday, my room, and he was the Detective working the case. These cases are interconnected. He can fill you in on the details.”
“This is my case. I’m not handing it over to another...”
Detective O’Hara never finished his statement. He would be located by the Mind Magi and have his memories altered unless I helped him hide. I reached out and touched his cheek. “Detective, listen to me,” I said as his eyes glazed over. “You will turn this case over to Detective Arneson. He will return the favor when needed. Now, you have my statement and need to go.”
Once I withdrew from contact, the Detective sprang to life. “Well, I’ll turn it over to him. He’ll owe me one. Thank you for your statement and time Mr. Setton.”
“Have a good day Detective.”
Tara came in as he left. “Mr. Setton, are we going to continue with the plans as scheduled?”
“Yes, that would be best. Try to keep things as normal as possible. Oh, and I’ll speak with Linda Penn, the reporter who is covered with blood but not hurt. I’ll offer her something to wear. Pick out a few items that would be appropriate for her for the continuing events.”
“Yes, sir,” she replied. “Anything else?”
“Only to say thank you Mrs. Larson. You held up well out there.”
“Oh,” she looked away at that. “Well, to tell the truth Mr. Setton, I was scared out of my gourd.”
“I was too Mrs. Larson. I was too.” Maybe she had mulled over what I had said earlier and decided she didn’t want to know more. She left without any further questions and I leaned against her desk with relief.
What would I do about Linda Penn? Should I wipe her memories? Scramble them so she’s not sure what happened exactly? No. She deserved to know what happened to her. I just had to convince her to keep it to herself, at least the intimate details.
Another knock at the door broke my thoughts. “Come in.”
Linda and her photographer came in. “Mr. Setton,” she offered an outstretched hand.
I took it. “Linda, please come in,” I offered.
Her photographer held out is hand to shake as well. “Mr. Setton, I don’t know what we would have done if it hadn’t been for you. Thank you,” he said.
“I have to apologize, I never got your name,” I said shaking his hand.
“James Monroe,” he answered smiling.
“Okay James, Linda. I have something I need you both to do for me in return.” Both nodded in acceptance of what I wanted. “I need you both to keep this to yourselves. I can’t have the whole world, or even the small portion you two report to knowing what I can do.”
They looked at each other and I knew questions were coming.
“Please, I would be happy to explain, but the less you two know the safer both of you will be.”
“Safer?” James asked.
“Are you saying that attack was because of what you can do?” Linda concluded more quickly.
“Not because of what I can do specifically but more of who I am as a person and who I oppose.” I actually chuckled trying to make light of what I was going to say. “I know this may sound silly to you, but try to think of it like the heroes in comic books fighting the super-villains they oppose.”
Both of them seemed to take it a bit more seriously than that. Linda asked, “How have we never noticed them before? Especially if they’re like comic-book heroes and villains.”
“Well, not exactly like comic books.” I adjusted my suit and tie, bringing their attention to my attire. “I don’t think I would look too good in spandex.”
Both of them chuckled at that.
“My point is though, we belong to a secret society. We live among you and always have. It’s not any different than living next to someone of a different culture or religion because we come from all over the globe.”
I watched both for their reactions. They seemed to accept what I said but again, I knew they had questions.
“The top law we have is secrecy. Normally others like me would find witnesses to any event we are a part of and wipe their memories of that event.”
“What, like the Men in Black?” James asked with a crooked smile.
I nodded, thinking that, for once, truth was exactly like science fiction. “Exactly. However, in this instance, if the information is too contradictory to come out as anything other than an attack and the gunners running off, then there will be no need to find witnesses to wipe memories from.”
I looked specifically at Linda. “You deserve to remember what happened. To know that you were seconds away from death and that someone helped you to survive and live on. You can play with the story in any way you wish, making it as grand and heroic or as simple as you see fit, but the actual truth can never be repeated.”
Linda nodded and a tear ran down her cheek.
“Cheer up. I’m going to help continue to make your day.”
Linda raised her eyebrows, unsure of what I meant.
I looked at her blouse and jacket, blood dried on both. “You seem to be in dire need of new attire.”
She looked at herself. “Oh, well...”
“I’ve already instructed my manager to pick out a few items from our professional line. These are garments that are not only appropriate for public display, but are even considered suitable as business attire.”
That changed her expression. “I’m not sure I can accept that...”
“Please do. Someone has to apologize for what happened earlier and I seriously doubt you’ll ever hear an apology from the attackers.”
She nodded. “Okay, thank you Mr. Setton.”
I shook their hands again and escorted them to the dressing area where the other reporters were waiting for the photo shoot. Tara showed Linda the offered garments and I made sure Linda understood that whatever she chose was on the house.
Some of the other reporters tried to get my comments on what had happened and what they had witnessed. As much as I wanted to answer those questions I knew it would only make the problem worse. Looking at the cameras, and especially the video recording equipment, I wondered just how much had been caught. I guess I would find out when the next news report hit the air.
After deftly avoiding those additional questions, the photo shoot began. I excused myself from the remainder of the events and found Sally in the employee’s break room. She had changed into a lovely white knit sweater and black slacks. She still wore heels but I could tell from across the room they weren’t as high as the ones she had been wearing.
She looked up as I walked in and we just looked at each other. I had had moments like that with my other girls, moments of clarity that spoke volumes of what we felt for each other and where I would have ignored that and moved on before, now I basked in it.
Too bad the rest of the world wouldn’t let me.
My phone rang. Sally watched me watching her as I fished it out of my pocked and without looking at the caller ID, flipped it open and answered, “Hello?”
“Lord Setton, it’s Sarah Johnson. I’ve found three of the Dragons.”
“Where are you Sarah?”
“They’re about three blocks from your store and heading that way.”
“Are they walking or driving?”
“Walking, and they don’t look to be in any hurry.”
“Good and Thank you. Try to find the other Dragons, I’ll lead these away from the store. Keep safe.”
“Yes sir and you too,” she said as she hung up.
Sally was still watching me. “What’s wrong?”
“Dragons are coming. I have to lead them away from the store.”
“I’ll explain. Go get your car and meet me around front.”
She stood there, still staring at me. So much was happening so fast and she didn’t understand any of it.
“As soon as you pick me up, I’ll tell you. I promise.”
She nodded, picked up her purse and crossed the room to give me another kiss.
After she left for the parking garage, I went to the front of the store. The police and emergency crews had already left and traffic was moving past as normal. Pedestrians walked by the front of the store, both mundane and Mind Magi. The world was moving on. The incident forgotten as quickly as it had occurred. Thank God for New York!
Leaving the store, I knew that I had encountered the good and bad things Whisper had warned me about. No doubt, Sally was the good thing. And just as serious, if not more so, the bad thing was the attack, or more importantly, how I responded to that attack.
Things were going to change. I would probably face an inquiry by the Mind Magi Council, but that was if everything returned to what they considered normal.
I got to the sidewalk and looked up and down the street. I spotted Russ and Roy walking with another guy I didn’t know. They spotted me and stopped. I adjusted my tie and smoothed out my coat. My eyes never left them.
Expecting the Dragons to start barreling down the street after me, I was surprised that they just stood there and watched. Had their orders changed? Were they to keep their distance or were they just wary of what I could do?
A car stopped in front of me. The passenger window was down and I heard Sally say, “What’s wrong?”
I glanced at her and then looked back at the Dragons. They noticed the car and were starting toward me.
After opening the door, I saw them running toward us. “Let’s go,” I said as I got in.
Sally didn’t hesitate. I knew Russ could keep up, I just didn’t know for how long. Traffic was light. We left them behind, including Russ. They were just watching now. Something new had happened. I had to find out what.