Not Too Small, ch. 2: Hannah Johnson

Monitoring: Hannah Johnson
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States of America

4:05 p.m. Central Standard Time
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
22:05 Coordinated Universal Time
Wednesday, February 12th, 2013

Everyone gets settled around the kitchen table in relatively short order. The first thing that Rucker wants to know, of course, is who the other kid is. It’s a bit of good and bad news both: they hit the jackpot, two superpowered kids at once, but if some teenage boy, no matter how determined, could figure things out then who knows who else might be watching? Hannah knows that they can’t just leave, though. It’s going to go down a lot more easily with the volunteer fireman (fireboy?) than it went with her, but The Pitch still has to be given and the other kid is an unknown factor.

The nice thing about having a superpower, even a crummy one likes hers, is that Rucker and her buddy feel like they have to use the velvet glove with you. They could just kidnap everyone, sure, but presumably Rucker has seen the same movies as everyone else, and even if they’re villains (Hannah isn’t sure that they aren’t, given what little she knows about the CIA) they aren’t going to come right out and cackle for the audience.

The kid that they actually came here to talk to, Austin, is pulling out assorted bags of potato chips. It’s weird, insofar as it reminds her of the countless times that it had fallen on her to make sure that dinner happened, and all that was available (sometimes all that she had the opportunity to buy, for lack of money or transport) was junk. While he’s pulling an accidental imitation of herself, Rucker and Blank start in on the we’re-not-going-to-call-it-an-interrogation. Instead of asking his power or even his name, Rucker takes a more unexpected direction: “What is your date of birth?”

“First of January, 2000,” says Other Kid. Austin drops a couple of bags on the floor, and Hannah can’t say that she blames him. She’s glad to be sitting down right now, herself.

Rucker snaps her fingers and grins as if she’s won a battle. After a moment, Hannah can see it. That’s got to be Austin’s birthday too, given his reaction, and between the three of them that can’t just be a coincidence. Assuming an equal distribution of birthdays (which might not be totally justifiable but has to be close enough for Army work), there shouldn’t even be three of them in the same week, let alone on the same day. Hannah isn’t sure how many fourteen-year-old children there are in the United States, but Rucker’s people are going to have to look through less than one percent of them to find any other needles in the haystack.

“We really are living in a Warren Ellis comic,” mutters Other Kid.

Rucker cocks her head at that, and Hannah herself feels pretty clueless, because all that she knows is that the guy writes some trippy comics, but Blank looks like he knows what the kid is talking about and motions for him to continue.

“I can see how people are going to die. The first time I used it, I saw, well, I’ve been calling it a ‘forest,’ but it’s a forest like if H. R. Giger were a horticulturalist, you know? There were these tree-like things fashioned out of human bodies. I’ve seen people die around them, I’ve seen people die as them, but never seen them actually come into being or seen what was making them. Which is like how—”

Other Kid stops, eats a chip, and seems to think about how to phrase things. Nobody, apparently, even thinks of interrupting him. “The world is ending,” he says, and Hannah thinks that hers just crashed apart with those words. She barely pays attention to what he’s saying as she thinks about what that statement means. Necro-precognition or whatever you want to call it, pyrokinesis… Her siblings are in mortal danger and her power is so fucking useless: she can’t use it to protect them directly and now that it looks like she really did lose the superpower lottery it seems that she won’t even be able to leverage her powers indirectly. What is the CIA going to do if she threatens to leave unless they extract her siblings to someplace that’s safe? They’ll laugh and let her go or, if she tries to blackmail them or they’re just having a bad day, shoot her in the back and drop her in a ditch.

“I saw a nuclear bomb go off in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I don’t know when everything else is happening or how many bombs in total were launched, but the city is going to be hit in 2016, when there’s snow on the ground.”

“But you don’t know why?” asks Blank.

“No. I know someone who might, though, if we could find her. There was this woman that I saw. She’s the one that I was touching when I got the vision of Pittsburgh. I don’t know who she is, but…maybe she’s working with you, or with the Canadian government or something?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because she knew who I was, and she knew what I could do, or at least she did or will in the future. I didn’t get to speak to her in the present—my visions unfold in real time, so by the time that it was done she was too far ahead and I lost her. In my vision, though, she addressed me by name, gave me the time, and told me that there was a bomb coming. I think that she was standing next to the cemetery so that I could identify it, because I only got one major result when I googled ‘Allegheny Cemetery,'” he says, while Blank writes most of it down on a pocket notebook. “And she told me to look for Kasprzak and Martinez. She told me to save them.”

Rucker jolts when she hears names. “We’ll have to search for those names immediately. There can’t be that many children in the United States who meet the other criteria. I don’t know how we’re going to find your source, though. We could issue a description of her to the CSIS, but that assumes that you can remember her appearance well enough, someone in your government knows about her, and, finally, they’re willing to share that information if they do.”

Hannah is way ahead of her on figuring out a solution. Forget hitting two birds with one stone; this might strike half a dozen if it works out right. She smacks the table with her palm, and talks as soon as everyone’s turned to face her. “How much can you see in your visions?” she asks, and he proceeds to fill her in the all the details. She grimaces when he says that, according to the woman and his own testing later on, it’s one vision per customer and the vision won’t change even if it becomes impossible. Things are a little harder then, but she’ll make it work anyway.

“You’re sure that the vision lasts exactly ten seconds?” He nods in reply, and she leans back to consider what she’s been told. It doesn’t give her much time, but she probably has enough. There’s a limit to how much information he would be able to relay, especially if most of it is non sequitur. She thinks about what she might need to know—the biggest one being whether she can afford to be pushy against the CIA—and how she can encode that information, and commits to a plan of action.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to figure out where this woman is, as close to this point in time as possible. This is going to be my mission in life because even if the world burns down around me, it’s just a rough draft that’s due to be rewritten, and everything that matters to me depends on my getting it right. It might be difficult to find out what we need to know, and it might be even harder to make the sacrifices necessary, but I can promise you that I will go the distance. Unless, you know, we happen to get that information right here, right now. So,” Hannah says as she extends a hand across the table, “let’s find out how I die, and what I have to say when it happens.”

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2 thoughts on “Not Too Small, ch. 2: Hannah Johnson

  1. I’m seriously loving your characters. It’s still early enough that they could still use some fleshing out, but I love how all your characters are so logical, It’s refreshingly straightforward, and well, real, especially after reading ones where the characters just sort of fumble around for the first half, or are act confused and directionless until something-something super-convenient plot thing happens. Yours are actually taking the initiative.

    Like

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