Suddenly aware of the bustle around me, I blended into the nearby shadows to see what was going on without drawing attention to myself. On the edge of the forest, I hadn't expected this much activity. In fact, it was fairly unusual for this many people to be out in one area of the forest. As I slowly crept my way into the heart of the gathering, I made sure to stay out of everyone's way.
Even if most people couldn't see me while I was blended, they could still notice running into me or tripping over me. Certainly entertaining in its own right, but that would defeat the purpose of blending; to find out what they were gathered for without being seen. I stayed near the edge of the forest where I was able to hear and see what was happening, and yet still be out of the way. It would be better to be above them, but it's harder to stay blended while I was flying, and appearing in midair above them when losing my concentration would also defeat the purpose of blending in the first place. So I stayed on the ground, observing from the sidelines.
Towards the center of the group, people were handing out supplies and giving instructions. It looked like one of those survival camps that people kept talking about. This must be one of the end of the course tests where they send their students into the forest to survive. They made the two nights alone in the forest seem like such an ordeal. Then again, they couldn't blend or fly, so maybe it really was for them.
Time was going by though, and I had things I had to do. So I left the clearing and the people behind me, and continued to my motorcycle, which I had parked a few miles down the road, at the other end of the two day hiking trail. While there was nobody around, I let myself become visible again. I couldn't go riding my motorcycle into town while blended, and couldn't come out of blend around people, both for the same reason; it would attract far too much attention. Imagine, a motorcycle going through town without a rider, or someone appearing out of thin air. As I rode into town with the growling bike beneath me, I wished, not for the first time, that I could just fly in and avoid all the traffic. But again, that would draw too much attention.
I arrived at my home on the other side of town around midday, and checked the newspaper for anything to be concerned about. Sure enough, there was an article on the front page of another case of violence against a weightless, the term people used for those who could fly, like me. That was the media's name for us anyway, and the general populace had taken it up as well. This type of article was published every week it seemed. People who weren't weightless getting scared then violent or even deadly towards those that were weightless.
That was, however, not what I was looking for. I was looking to see the state of the Weightless Registration Law which so many people were trying to push through. The law was still being heavily fought against, although it looked as though it were gaining a new wind. The story on the front page shows a great reason for weightless to hide who they were; the same reason I had for not wanting to draw attention to myself.
Time was flying by again, and I had to get working before long. As the lead reporter for the opposing newspaper, I had plenty of work to do. So I grabbed some food and headed off to find the next front page story.
Eventually I found myself at a crime scene, where it looked as though someone had been pushed off a five story building. Of course, with most crime scenes, reporters weren't exactly welcome, so I went into blend nearby to see what I could overhear. It's amazing what people will say when they think nobody is nearby. Eavesdropping is what I was best at, and I got front page stories more often than anyone. Including that story of the time the mayor cheated on his wife. He deserved the scandal; he was very anti – weightless, always doing is best to take away our freedoms.
This current case was being explained away as a murder, although I knew the victim, and knew that wasn't possible. He was a weightless, and we can't die from heights unless we intend to or we're unconscious. Having heard enough, I went off in search of a more reasonable story. Let the cops do their work; I could use it after they were done maybe. A weird case certainly, but nothing I could write on without exposing myself as a weightless, so I kept looking.
Midnight came, and I still hadn't gotten a decent story. Still, it had been a long day, and I still had another three days until the article was due, which meant that I had time to sleep now. Back in my own home, and drifting off to sleep, I wondered how those survival camp people were doing, and what the police had come up with in response to the death of the weightless.
Jarred awake at nine in the morning, it took me a minute to figure out what had woken me from my dreaming. There was still half an hour from when my alarm was supposed to go off. Sitting in bed for a moment, disoriented, I finally noticed the insistent knocking on my door and realized that had to have been what woke me. Although it was easy enough to tune out, I decided to check it out anyway. After all, having gone to the trouble of being especially annoying and persistent, they'd just have to deal with me before I've had my morning cup of coffee. So I rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I stumbled out of bed, got dressed in record time, and answered the door.
My old friend Roger was there, hand poised to knock yet again, when I opened the door. "Hey Roger, what's got you so riled up this early in the morning?" I asked him, yawning while letting him in. "And why didn't you just call?"
"By most people's standards, this isn't early. I did try calling though, your phone wasn't working. I heard of a story you might like, but you've got to hurry, or someone else will get it." Roger sat down in the chair without asking, and motioned towards the phone with the line disconnected.
"Oops, too many prank calls in the middle of the night. Forgot to reconnect it." I shrugged went and looked at the phone for a second before grinning and saying "But I suppose that explains why I didn't get woken up last night."
Roger watched me impatiently as I turned around without fixing the phone. "So will you take the story?" He sounded quite worried, but that was like him. He drank far too much coffee, and wasn't ever able to relax.
"You haven't even told me what it is yet." I raised an eyebrow at him while leaning back against the wall. Something was definitely up with him. Even if he was normally worried about things, he usually didn't forget what he was doing.
"Oh, of course. There was an incident at the bridge earlier this morning. A car spun out and crashed into a school bus, nearly sending the bus off the edge." In the spring, that could have been deadlier than most times, from frostbite and hypothermia, not to mention that some people can't swim. Watching my expression at that news, he continued, "They would have gone over if not for some weightless who was passing by and saved them, helping everyone off seconds before the bus plummeted into the watch."
Now that was certainly worth taking a look into, it wasn't very often that weightless got to be the hero. Usually we were hiding, trying to avoid bringing attention to ourselves. "You know, I think you've got a good one, Roger. Where did you hear about this?"
"I was lucky; I was driving to work and was right in front of the crash. Front row view, and barely managed to avoid getting hit myself." He sat up straighter in the chair as he explained. "I even helped take care of the kids as they were taken off the bus." As an aging mall security guard, it wasn't often that he got to give me a good story, and even less often was he able to be a main witness.
I quickly went over the details with him before heading off to the bridge to see what was left. The car that had spun out was still being examined by the police on the scene, but the other lanes were open. The bridge was determined to still be fit for traffic, despite the gaping hole in the guardrail from where the bus had gone through it.
After making notes of the visible things, I went over and got what information could be offered by the police officers. Fairly little as expected, although they were able to let me know that not even the car driver had gotten hurt. After tracking down the driver of the car and bus, and the weightless hero, I spent most of the day interviewing them. After determining that I wasn't going to be able to get any eye-witness accounts from any of the students on the bus, I headed home again, content that I had enough information to begin the story.
It was after dark by the time I got home, but that wasn't unusual. There was something wrong though. A light was on inside my house, which I hadn't left on when I locked up this morning. I wondered if maybe my friend Roger had gone back to tell me something more, but he didn't have a key to the house, so that couldn't be it. Nearing my house, I got a sharp sense of danger, and a chill went up my spine.
Instead of parking in my garage like normal, I drove past and around the block, parking in front of one of my neighbors homes. Once there, I got out and made my way around the block to my house, blending out of sight part of the way there. When I got to my house, the light was still on inside, shining onto the front lawn. Still invisible, I went around to the back of my house, carefully flew up to my bedroom window, and crept inside.
As silently as I could, I walked towards my bedroom door, making sure not to step on the floorboards that squeaked; which is a fairly easy thing to avoid when you're a weightless. Picking up the baseball bat I kept near the door for emergencies, I slowly crept along the hallway and down the stairs. Just because most people can't see me while I'm blended, doesn't mean I want to take chances of going down without protection. When I got to the living room, there was nobody there, not even anyone that was blending. After determining that, I quickly scouted the rest of the house for anyone hiding, and found no one.
Heading back to the living room, I wondered who had been in my house and why. Nothing had been disturbed, nothing stolen as far as I could see. There was a note on the table next to my couch though. The sense of danger I felt when I had first come home was almost gone now.
Tossing the bat on my couch, I went over to read the note, unblending myself as I went. I opened it carefully, wary of hidden sharp things. As I'd expected, it was a threat, a warning to make me drop the story. This was certainly not the first time I'd gotten one, but usually they came in the mail. Hopefully, they didn't expect me to actually pay attention to this, although the fact they had gotten into my house to deliver it was a bit disconcerting. I wasn't one to give in to threats; if I were, I wouldn't have the job I had. Still not feeling completely at ease, but feeling confident that whoever had left the note was long gone, I went over and retrieved my motorcycle, parking it in the garage next to my car. Turning the television on for a distraction, I made dinner and went off to bed. It'd be hours before I could sleep, but it was better to try than to sit up awake worrying.
Morning came early, and as I had expected, I hadn't slept too well. There was work to be done though, everything I gathered yesterday needed to be put together into an article. So after a jog around the block to wake myself up, I got to work, deftly weaving the jumbled accounts into something much closer to the actual occurrence. About noon, and three quarters of the way through writing my article, I went to take a break, and took off to the store to get food, carefully locking up as I went.
On the way home, I got a really bad feeling, and got home as fast as I could. Everything was fine as far as I could tell though. Until, of course, I went back to finish my article and found out that someone had wiped the laptop clean. Completely clean, inside and outside, double wiped the memory. Well, it's a good thing that I always made a backup of my work, often several.
Before I went to get the files off my thumb drive, I checked the computer thoroughly for any viruses that may have been placed on it. Hidden deep in the system files, I found a couple of things, one to delete anything off any thumb drive or external hard drive that connects, and another to prevent the first from being deleted. Better not to chance it, I thought as I got out my reinstall disc. Setting it to reformat my comp, I went to do other things. Finishing the article would just have to wait.
A couple hours later, I was back at the keyboard, finishing up. Not much after that and I was completely done. Usually I would wait until the next day to turn it in, to give myself a chance to edit it, but keeping in mind what happened earlier today, I decided to turn it in now. Emailing it to myself and copying it to several thumb drives just in case, I got my things together to go to the newspaper headquarters.
Opening the door I rushed out, only to stop in the doorway to stare at the heavy rain sheeting down. I hadn't even noticed when it started; I was too focused on finishing the article quickly so I could turn it in before anything else happened to prevent me. Guess this means I wouldn't be taking my motorcycle though, I thought as I turned around and swapped my motorcycle keys for my car keys and a sturdy umbrella.
The midday traffic made me glad that I hadn't finished any later than I did, since I don't particularly enjoy sitting at stop lights in the middle of the downpour, and it would have taken even longer to get to the headquarters during rush hour traffic. Sighing at yet another red light, I turned radio on to one of my favorite channels, which happened to be playing one of my favorite songs. One good thing about a car instead of a motorcycle was music; it's hard to hear music when you're on a bike.
Parking behind the building, I got out of my car as fast as I could, opening the umbrella beforehand, to try and avoid getting soaked. The headquarters was busy despite the weather outside. Instead of handing the story off to one of the front secretaries, I made my way to the lead editor and handed it directly over to him. Watching him put it into the computer and edit it, then put it into the newspaper itself, I was glad that I was finally done with this article, since it had caused far too much trouble. Leaving it in the editors capable hands, and headed back outside.
Stopping near the door of the headquarters, I looked out the window into the dripping parking lot. "Looks like the weatherman was right, the rain seems to be stopping already," an upbeat secretary said as she passed by, pointing out the window. "They said it's supposed to be unseasonably warm for the next few days then get all wintery again."
"Oh, is that so?" It did look as though the rain was letting up some, and the sun was starting to come out again. "If this keeps up, there'll be a rainbow in no time." I responded. I waited a few more minutes for the rain to slow down to a sprinkle before heading out to my car. It was closer to rush hour now, but I'd still be able to make it home in a decent amount of time.
Halfway home, I realized that there was a car following me about a block back, mimicking each move I made. I hadn't noticed earlier because I was thinking about the long relaxing bath that I was planning to take as soon as I got home. Now that I knew about them, I remembered that they had pulled out behind me all the way back at the newspaper headquarters. It wasn't one of the employees from the newspaper either; I knew all of their cars on sight. This must be whoever had broken into my house. Obviously, they knew where I lived, so even if I lost them, they'd find me at my home.
Taking a ramp that I would usually pass over, I got onto the freeway and attempted to lose myself in the press of the steadily increasing traffic. Well, I guess there were times when traffic was a good thing. Looking behind me I couldn't see the trailing car anywhere, so I went to take the next turn off, going in a different direction so they couldn't catch up with me in case they saw the ramp I took to the freeway.
Unfortunately, shortly after I got off the freeway, they appeared behind me again, and followed even more closely. Instead of heading in a logical direction, back into the traffic to see if I could lose them again, I went out past the train station, toward the edge of the city. As soon as I was out of the city and on the mountain highway, I realized just how bad my decision was. Without the traffic between us, the passenger rolled down his window and started shooting a silenced handgun at me, but the turns in the road prevented him from getting a good aim.
That was the reason I had picked to go this way instead of through the traffic. Even if I might lose him in traffic, I couldn't out run him, and he would just end up catching up at some red light. Out here, my car could handle corners much better than his could, so I could outrun him, make it into the forest, and be gone before he even knew what happened. I knew the forest better than they could even dream.
The passenger stopped shooting as I gained a larger lead on them, and I eventually turned off onto one of my familiar camping roads, making it out of view before the pursuing car could see where I went. Finally, I decided that I had gone far enough, and stopped, parking in a small clearing I knew. After grabbing everything I had with me, I risked an extra second on the ground to listen for my pursuers before I took off into the sky.