MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
FOUR WEEKS AGO
“I won’t ask you again,” said Victor Vale as the mechanic scrambled backward across the garage floor. Retreating—as if a few feet would make a difference. Victor followed slowly, steadily, watched as the man backed himself into a corner.
Jack Linden was forty-three, with a five-o’clock shadow, grease under his nails, and the ability to fix things.
“I already told you,” said Linden, jumping nervously as his back came up against a half-built engine. “I can’t do it—”
“Don’t lie to me,” warned Victor.
He flexed his fingers around the gun, and the air crackled with energy.
Linden shuddered, biting back a scream.
“I’m not!” yelped the mechanic. “I fix cars. I put engines back together. Not people. Cars are easy. Nuts and bolts and fuel lines. People are too much more.”
Victor didn’t believe that. Had never believed that. People were more intricate perhaps, more nuanced, but fundamentally machines. Things that worked, or didn’t, that broke down, and were repaired. Could be repaired.
He closed his eyes, measuring the current inside him. It was already in his muscles, already threading his bones, already filling his chest cavity. The sensation was unpleasant, but not nearly as unpleasant as what would happen when the current peaked.
“I swear,” said Linden, “I’d help you if I could.” But Victor heard him shift. Heard a hand knocking against the tools strewn across the floor. “You have to believe me…” he said, fingers closing around something metal.
“I do,” said Victor, eyes flicking open right as Linden lunged at him, wrench in hand. But halfway there, the mechanic’s body slowed, as if caught in a sudden drag, and Victor swung the gun up and shot Linden in the head.
The sound echoed through the garage, ricocheting off concrete and steel as the mechanic fell.
How disappointing, thought Victor, as blood began to seep across the floor.
He holstered the gun and turned to go, but only made it three steps before the first wave of pain hit, sudden and sharp. He staggered, bracing himself against the shell of a car as it tore through his chest.
Five years ago, it would have been a simple matter of flipping that internal switch, killing power to the nerves, escaping any sensation.
But now—there was no escape.
His nerves crackled, the pain ratcheting up like a dial. The air hummed with the energy, and the lights flickered overhead as Victor forced himself away from the body and back across the garage toward the wide metal doors. He tried to focus on the symptoms, reduce them to facts, statistics, measurable quantities, and—
The current arced through him, and he shuddered, pulling a black mouth guard from his coat and forcing it between his teeth just before one knee gave way, his body buckling under the strain.
Victor fought—he always fought—but seconds later he was on his back, his muscles seizing as the current peaked, and his heart lurched, lost rhythm—
And he died.
Copyright © 2018 by Victoria Schwab