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Breed: Forty-four


  01:50:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1514 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Forty-four

Mahmoud took in Rox's small dormitory room. ?I guess I knew you didn't live with your parents,? he said, ?but this is so... dormy.? The room was made all the smaller by the amount of people crammed inside it, but the trade-off for privacy was worth it.
?It's way more dormal than she would have led me to believe,? Rui said.
?I know it's exciting being in a girl's room for the first time,? Rox said, taking a stuffed Panda from Cris and setting it back on her pillow, ?but we came here to focus.?
?Seriously,? Sonya said, ?down boys.?
?I didn't,? Cris said. ?I came here to do the opposite.?
?Have a good time screwing off?? Ben offered.
?I came here to talk you out of it.?
?Pete got to you,? Rox said.
?We talked. He didn't get to me.?
?Way to play hard to get,? Sonya said.
?No. I threw myself at him. The age difference is an issue, at least for now, and, I can respect that. But more importantly, we talked about my future- including what we were planning to do.?
?Were?? Rox asked.
?It's a mistake,? he said. ?My priest found out what I could do. He told my church that my powers weren't from God. And they shunned me. It got so bad that I couldn't leave the house on Sundays, without people trying to stone me. I don't mean a few crappy kids throwing rocks. I mean adults, some tossing stones as big as my head, again and again and again, even picking up the ones they'd already thrown if they ran out. So on Sundays I spent the whole day praying, fasting. I didn't ask for vengeance, I asked for acceptance.
?One day, the priest's niece was hurt. I never got the whole story, but either she was beaten pretty severely or in a terrible kind of car accident. The hospital was too far. So he took the girl to me. He thought he was making a deal with the devil for her life. I had him pray with me, and we asked that if it was his God's will, she be made whole. That was how I thought it worked, then; I thought it was divine power worked through me. Maybe it is... but it's not prayer activated, is what I meant.
?It didn't happen overnight. But as word spread, as the priest refused to lie about what happened, people softened. I stopped being a pariah, and started being just another parishioner.
?And they're wrong, people who fear us, and especially those who hate us. I know they're wrong, just like the people at my old church were wrong to hate me. But I also know that you can't force them to understand they're wrong. You have to wait until they're ready, until their reachable. Violence- even this preemptive strike- will only validate their fears, further entrench those who are just looking for an excuse to treat us like we're less than human.
?Maybe it's just... I know I'm more religious than the rest of you, and that's fine. I don't expect you to make the same decision based on faith. But I'm not just appealing to you as a Christian. This isn't the way to do it. This is... it's black militancy removed from all the good that groups like the Black Panthers were also able to do. We could be striking the match that lights the powder keg most of us have been sitting on since we first realized we were different.
?Registration scares me, down to my core. But you don't right wrongs with violence. You don't correct injuries with vengeance. That way lies perpetual war.?
?I think not going would be a mistake,? Rox said. ?But I'm not going to try and evangelize that point. If you agree, I want you at my back. If not, I don't. Who's in??
?I am,? Mahmoud said, ?if that wasn't obvious.?
?Yeah,? Ben said. ?Me, too.?
?And me,? Rui said.
?I feel like it's redundant to even say it,? Mira said, ?but I'm with Rox.?
?Sorry, Cris,? Sonya said.
?Doesn't sound like we're giving peace a chance,? Rox said. ?I'm not sure it's wise for you to stick around, that being the case.?
?Wait,? Ben said. ?If we kick him out, he'll tell someone what we're planning.?
?Screw you,? Cris said.
?Shut up, Tso,? Rox said. ?He wouldn't. He disagrees with us... but he wanted to convince us. Not control us. He's one of us, even if we don't see eye to eye on this. You won't tell anyone, will you??
?No,? he said bitterly.
?Good. Because there's someone else we intentionally left out. Irene.?
?She'll be heartbroken,? Cris said.
?Better than her being dead.?
?And is she on our same 'team,' too?? he asked.
?She's one of us,? Rox said. ?But not everyone is cut out to be a soldier. Not everyone should be on the front lines. I don't expect her to understand that, let alone agree. That's why I want you to take care of her. While we're gone. Keep her safe. Make sure she's taken care of.?
?Whatever,? he said. His phone went off. Then Rox's. Then everyone's phone at once.
?Oh, no,? Mahmoud said. ?There's a shooter on campus.? He reached towards Rox's roommate's computer. A password prompt popped up before disappearing. Then an internet window opened, and began to play grainy local news footage. It was a flyover of the campus from a helicopter, showing several cop cars parked at one end of the campus, the end with most of the dormitories.
?There is an active shooter situation on the Baundslow Campus,? a newswoman said over the sound of the helicopter's engines. ?The school administration has activated the school's emergency system, which automatically sends out texts requesting for students to remain inside and lock their doors.
Rox was already on the phone with Linc. ?What do you want us to do?? she asked.
?Leave it to campus security,? he said. ?You run out there like John Wayne, and they won't know who the good guys with powers are from the bad. Otherwise, follow the lockdown procedure. I know it's tough, sometimes, to do the smart thing rather than what feels like it would be 'right.' Be smarter than that. We all have our limits, and sometimes playing the hero just gets more people hurt.?
?Okay,? she said, and hung up. ?He wants us to stay put.?
?What if we don't have that option?? Sonya asked. ?Police are reporting that he's entered one of the school's dormitories, and are requesting that all students lock their doors.?
?Fat good that'll do,? Ben said, knocking on the door. ?These cheap things are practically cardboard.?
?Please let him be in Crick,? Rox said, as the helicopter panned around a dormitory, with the words 'Gunman enters dormitory' on the bottom of the screen.
The newswoman began to speak an instant later. ?Reports indicate that he has entered Mendel, and police are surrounding the building. The shooter has already fired shots on one member of campus security, as well as firing into a crowd of students on the commons. Shooter was dressed as a member of the Bellingham Police Department, who have refused to comment on an unfolding situation.?
?God,? Ben said. ?That's Irene's dorm.?
?We have to go,? Rox said. ?Rui??
?I'm on it.? He shoved her window, and the pane of glass fell outwards. ?I'll be there in fifteen seconds.?
?Hold on,? Mahmoud said. He closed his eyes, and touched his hand to one of the computer speakers. Then they heard radio chatter. ?Repeat, suspect is down, suspect is down. He attacked a student, female, five foot four. We need an ambulance for the girl, she's bleeding, managed to fatally wound her attacker.?
?Holy shit,? Mahmoud said. ?The city police. They've IDed the shooter. Rox. It's Dowell. He had a printout from her registration.?
?But the girl,? Mira said, her voice breaking, ?is it Irene??
?I can't get through,? Sonya said, slapping her phone. ?Circuits are stampeded.?
?I can,? Mahmoud said. He took her phone, and hit redial.
?Hello?? they heard an instant later from the phone.
?Irene?? Sonya asked.
?Yeah. Are you okay??
?We're fine. And you are, too??
?Yeah. God. I saw him. I saw him and I locked myself in the bathroom. He tried the door, tried to force it. But the bathrooms have actual hardwood doors, so he moved on. I heard the shots through the wall, heard Mariyah screaming at him through the wall. Is she okay??
?I'm sorry,? Mahmoud said. ?She, she didn't make it. Paramedics just called it.?
?Oh, God,? Irene sobbed, and there was a noise through the phone as she fell to the foor.
?Police,? they heard someone yell in the background, followed by pointing. ?I need you to open this door.?
?We're coming to you, Irene. We'll be right there.? Sonya said. ?Rui? Can you fly me over there??
?Sure,? he said. ?And at least it justifies having knocked out the window.?

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