In times of war, times of change, humanity vilifies anything which is outside the narrowly defined norm. When persecution begins, people turn away and think “At least it wasn’t me.”
Remember the man who watched as Nazis took his neighbors one by one, choosing not to speak out, since it wasn’t him they came for … until they finally knocked on his door, and there was no one left to speak out for him.
There comes a moment for each of us when the wool is pulled from our eyes, when we see the world anew… when society realizes that all the evolved, all Evos, are just loaded weapons, a trigger ready to be pulled.
And when Evos are put in chains… Who will speak out to say that they should not be oppressed?
Sam Conlon pulled the lapel of the trench coat up to cover his jaw. The parking garage was empty, dark. He felt like the world had turned to shades of gray, leaving him lost in a Bogart movie.
“You’ll test them, and the facility?” The woman’s voice came from the shadows behind the next pillar over.
“How do I know you’ll wipe my file? Renautas has that much pull with the FBI?”
A sigh softly glided through the air. “We do. As an associate once said to me, Mr. Conlon, just outside the president’s office, the toothpaste is out of the tube. There is no regaining the shape of what the world was. We have the power you want, but in the shape of what is, you must play this out for me.”
Faint electric lines, visible only to Sam, appeared in the air as she spoke. A new pattern was emerging. He smiled grimly at her lies. “I’ll do it.”
Walking away, he ignored her reply as he headed to turn himself in.
One Month Later
The Rocky Mountains were splashed with autumnal Aspen colors. The tallest peaks, rugged barriers rising from the Eagle River Valley, were crowned with early snowfall—Jacque Peak, Battle Mountain, Searle Pass, Tennessee Pass.
Luther knew them all, he had studied the geography carefully while planning his latest escape.
Ducking and dodging low-hanging branches of Ponderosa Pines, he ran up the grassy slope, slipping in the wet mulch of fallen needles. Icy air, too thin, burned his lungs.
Spread out in the valley below he could see the large fenced-in compound of Temporary Assessment Camp Hale. Admin buildings, guard houses, rows of barracks (euphemistically called ‘Common Living Structures”) and max security barracks where the dangerous Evos were held waited down there.
Luther’s power wasn’t dangerous, but having it was enough to rob him of his freedom.
Most of the other camp inhabitants could say the same. A few were dangerous, or so it was rumored. Luther needed to get away. A prison was a prison, no matter how often they told you it was for your own protection.
He crashed his way through trees, flailing, and scratched himself among a tangle of dead braches, but found a rocky outcropping, climbed that and kept running. His legs were shaky and his lungs felt like they were on fire, but he still had a long way to go.
Behind him he could hear the dogs barking, howling… getting closer.
Luther put on an extra surge of speed, pushing past exhaustion.
The TAC Hale guards didn’t even need the dogs as they pursued him. Luther watched the brilliant splashes of yellow he left behind, painting the ground with vibrant footprints… As his agitation increased he lost more control over his power and couldn’t prevent what the specialist labeled “chromographic leakage.”
Stupidest power ever!
To some more sophisticated Evo, the chameleon-like power would have been useful, but Luther couldn’t control it and for some oddball genetic reason he only had access to the color yellow. So as he ran, his footprints created intense pools of color—the grass blades turned yellow, the pine needles turned yellow, even the rocks and dirt turned yellow. Add to that the bright orange ‘work overalls’ that all of the ‘campers’ wore…
Yellow and orange. At least I won’t get accidentally shot by a hunter.
He hoped he could get away; cover enough distance so that they wouldn’t catch him, but he had known it was a long shot. One of these days maybe the long shot would pay off. Just not today, unless he caught a lucky break.
Luther gasped in the ten-thousand foot elevation air. That was the reason the original Camp Hale had been built during World War II—as high altitude training for the 10th Mountain Division. He had hoped to make it several miles before sunrise, but he couldn’t find a trail and the terrain was rugged.
He had gotten lost.
And now, the following morning, the guards had a fading set of neon yellow spots to track him. They didn’t really need the dogs.
He was close to the tree line now, and worked his way out of the pines until he saw clear grassy ground ahead—which meant the guards could see him too. The dogs were eager.
Between heaving breaths one of the guards on the slopes below, a man named Thomas Rizzoli, but better known around the camp as TQ, called out, “Come on, Luther. Don’t be a Jerk.”
Luther mumbled a retort, all he could manage. Stumbling, he ducked back into the cover of trees following a drainage wash. The path of least resistance. He didn’t really have any plan other than to get away. He had hoped by going deep enough into the mountains he could escape pursuit and eventually find a ski lodge or a mining town where he’d get help. It didn’t look like that was going to happen.
He found a game trail on the downslope and picked up speed now that he didn’t have to dodge the trees so much. Downhill didn’t hurt either. Unfortunately, the pursuers also moved more quickly. He stumbled and slipped on the loose turf. The trail was heading down to a stream. Maybe if there was water he could cross it, lose the scent—better yet he could use the stream to cover his footprints. Perhaps fortune would smile on him after all.
Unfortunately, when the vegetation cleared and he knocked shrubs out of the way, he did find a thin creek—emerging from a spray of water that fell over a rocky ledge above. The trail ended. He couldn’t get up the opposite slope. A tear ran down his cheek and he clenched his fists.
Luther sighed and his shoulders slumped. Time to put the mask of the disarming buffoon back on. The dogs came charging in, braying, with TQ and the guards stumbling behind, red faced, looking annoyed. TQ stopped and mopped perspiration from his forehead. The other guards held the dogs back.
TQ huffed, catching his breath. “You’re such a pain in the ass, Luther. This is not what I planned on doing today. Ruthers is going to be pissed.”
Luther sat down on a boulder next to the cool splashing water. “At least I got farther than the last time. Give me a little credit, TQ.”
The guard scowled. “Only one person gets to call me that.” He gestured toward the others, “Zap him and let’s get him back to camp.”
Alarmed, Luther sat up, “No wait! I’ll go willingly.”
“It would be easier, TQ,” said one of the other guards.
TQ shook his head, “It doesn’t matter. The jerk deserves it.”
Luther ate 1,200 volts at 19 pulses per second as his breakfast.