"What's amazing, Peter? My freakitude is that impressive?" The headquarters of the Seers of the Supernatural Association, SSA for short, had a machine for testing current power levels of its seers. It helped to rank powers according to how powerful they were. Everything was recorded in case someone ever went rogue and needed to be apprehended. That way, if someone with a power level of six went rogue, the association could send someone else of power level six out, or two of power level three. Today they were strapping me in so that they could record my power level on my first visit to the headquarters. The machine involved non-conductive material, and probes stuck on my forehead, wrists and ankles. Now Peter was saying stupid vague stuff about my power level. Not fun. "Either unstrap me or tell me what I tested Peter! JEEZ!" Peter just chuckled, walking to where she'd be able to see him before speaking. "You are a power level 16. Hence why I was amazed."
"Sorry I'm a newbie. Is that...good?" Peter nodded, laughing. "No kidding. There's a reason why I couldn't say much. You're one of the only seers who have tested this high, never mind how few there are who have EVER been able to test this high without training!" My eyes widened. Okay, I didn't know much but I figured that was a pretty big deal right there. "Who else has tested this high?"
"After level 15, the information is need-to-know. We have to get permission from the higher-ups. But considering they're your peers now, oddly enough, it shouldn't be a problem getting clearance. For...you. I won't be able to join you. I'm...jealous of you."
"Why? What power level are you?"
"Currently? Level...12. After years of training. You have so much raw potential." Wow. That was a...big difference. I sighed. Why did I always have to be so different? I was different even among a group with the same powersets as myself. "Can you unstrap me now?" He jumped and then nodded. "I forgot. I was busy thinking." Uh-oh. I was a prodigy and he wasn't. And he was jealous. Peter's thinking rang all sorts of alarm bells to me, but there was no way I was going to say that.
I was on the way to the head office now. An actual huge desk took up some of the room, with two desk chairs. I sat down in one. "I'm glad you could meet with me on such short notice." I had asked to see Jacques just after I finished my testing. He had sent word to me that I could come meet with him only an hour later. An hour hadn't been long to wait. It was just enough time to check my email, which was empty, and get a snack from the vending machine they had filled with types of chips. Now that I was in his office, I planned to ask the burning questions Peter wouldn't answer. I folded my hands together in my lap. "I had a few questions."
"I'll do my best to answer them then." Jacques answered me with his French Canadian accent lilting part of the words. I smiled before speaking again. "First, Peter told me to tell you I tested level 16. He said it would allow you to classify my clearance?" Jacques' eyes widened. "Level 16? That is phenomenal. I suppose I shouldn't have expected less from a child of your parents." It still confused me to hear that. I hadn't known my parents. Only the family friends who now took care of me. "What...what were my parents like? I don't remember them." Jacques' smile took on a look of sadness. "You wouldn't remember them. You were only small when they went missing. They were some of the top seers we had. In fact, I had hoped to pass on the mantle of leadership to your mother when I retired."
"What were they like though?"
"Your dad was as serious as serious can be. We were constantly telling him to lighten up, but it was all in fun since he never did. Your mum...you remind me a lot of her. Sassy, sarcastic. She never really took anything serious, offsetting your father's personality. She frequently embarrassed other seers as a result. And a lot of them became especially jumpy whenever she sassed me. It's one of the reasons why I didn't say anything when you sassed me when we were watching that bus crash. Julianne and Peter were nervous because no-one usually does that, but I didn't correct you because it felt like a piece of your mother had come back. I wasn't about to discourage that. Besides, when your mother was here, her attitude provided some much needed energy. I hope you visit headquarters enough to do the same."
"I...we'll see, okay?" I smiled slightly.
"So...what's this about clearance?"
"Being a level 16, you have high clearance. You see, the headquarters' seers are divided into sections. The lower levels don't go on the big missions, so they don't need the information about the big missions. They're ranked as level 10 and under. Level 10 to 15s are ranked for tracking. They track the movements of the lower level seers so that nobody goes missing without our knowing. They are also in charge of finding new seers and bringing them to the attention of headquarters. More are popping up all the time. New bloodlines that laid dormant for generations and suddenly there's a throwback, for example." He paused here and took a sip from the white coffee mug on his desk. "So what about level 15 and up?"
"Level 15s and up have high clearance. They go on high priority missions, they oversee the workings of the entire organization except for the leaders of the districts. They also have access to the classified works in our seer library. So you see, you're in a very good position at level 16. We'll need to get you outfitted with an official tag so people know your rank. You'll be able to reach areas others can't. However, you'll in turn have to keep that information secret unless you've done the proper paperwork to divulge seer secrets to someone of lower rank." This was complicated. But I could do what other seers couldn't, so that was definitely cool. But...wait..."What seer secrets?"
"You will find out when you visit our library, won't you?" Oh, he wasn't going to divulge anything. Well, I could do the homework. I could go look. I had other questions.
"Who else is...like me? In any way really. Good powers, bad past. Hell, I'd settle for meeting someone my own age who's a girl. I just want to be able to talk to someone about this."
"You can talk to me." Jacques had an understanding smile, but I shook my head. "Someone I can relate to. No offense, but you're definitely not my age. I want to talk to someone my age."
"There is Phantom. Skylar." I shot Jacques an unamused glare. "You've got to be kidding. I'll be lucky if I don't get beat up while I'm too distracted to defend myself. Why'd you have to pair me with him?"
"He is the best sparring partner for you. You don't want to mistakenly kill someone, hm?" My features turned stony at hearing his words before I stood, walking out of the office silently. Reminding me of Kayla was low. A very low blow. I raced to the nearest bathroom and rushed into one of the stalls before I collapsed onto the closed seat and starting to cry and berate myself. Why couldn't I have had better control? Why did people have to die? Why did Kayla have to push me into going to that party? If I had just stayed anti-social as usual, she wouldn't be gone! We could've had a sleep-over or something, but I had to give in and go to the party with her. The voice came out of nowhere and I jumped, looking around. Perched on top of the bathroom's stall door was a ghost. My eyes widened rapidly and my mouth hung open, but not because it was just any ghost. "You look like you've seen a ghost! Haha. I'm funny, right?" The ghost punctuated her talking with a sigh. "You know, you look so miserable I'd almost feel bad for being such a crappy friend. If it wasn't for the teeny tiny fact that my...get this...my best friend not only never trusted me enough to tell me she had superpowers, but she also is moping because of my death." Of course, I was too wide-eyed and slack-jawed to say anything about the fact that Kayla was right in front of me. "B-but...w-wha-?"
"You know, it turns out some ghosts have more unfinished business than others. I'm one of the ones with more unfinished business. Mainly the fact that my bestie would be totally lost and anti-social without me around to guide her. Also, I want to know if there's any truth to the fact I can possess people and wreak havoc on the world. It might be fun for a while." Kayla always had had a hyperactive mind, but I still couldn't believe she was here. The tears had stopped but now the dam burst again as the tears poured silently down my cheeks. Kayla looked at me with a look of regret. "Come on Cass...don't cry. Don't cry on me. I'm here. I...I can't hug you to make you feel better either, and the fact I can't do that and you're crying...it's making me want to cry. And...I'm not sure if ghosts can even DO that."
"I...I...you're here, Kayla. You're..."
"Yes, I'm dead. Did you honestly think that would stop me from talking with you?" I could feel my bottom lip quiver. My best friend...she was here. I was still having trouble grasping that fact. That wonderful, wonderful fact. She was a ghost and that sucked, but I could talk to her! This was possibly the first time I was thankful for the 'curse' that was my powerset. Then Kayla's face set into an icy glare as she crossed her legs while she sat on the bathroom door. Her arms crossed and I knew she was trying to look menacing but I couldn't help but burst out laughing. She was a girl in a shirt that had a frill neckline paired with a pair of blue jeans. She didn't look menacing, and she wouldn't! "If you're trying to scare me like the ghosts in the movies, you're out of luck Kay!"
"It isn't my fault my shirt doesn't look menacing. This is how I died, and I don't get to change. If I'd known I'd die at that party, I would have been more careful choosing my outfit." I immediately sobered up at the reminder. "Stay away from me. I don't deserve you coming back just to talk to me. I'm the reason you died. Just...leave me alone. You'll be happier in the afterlife." Kayla arched a bright red brow.
"You still don't get this best friend thing, do you? If I'm in the afterlife, you aren't there with me. And besides, you'd be miserable without me. Somehow I don't think there's a way to say 'naw heaven ain't for me I wanna go back to Earth and haunt it for a while'. It might just be insulting. I'm staying, Cass, whether you like it or not." I bit my lip and she arched a brow at me. "Now, answers. I'm your best friend. You have SUPERPOWERS AND DIDN'T TELL ME?" I winced at both her accusatory tone and the sheer volume of her voice. "It isn't cool, it's a curse Kay." My voice was quiet as I told her this. I looked up from looking at my hands in my lap to see her clearly unimpressed look. "What?" My disbelieving tone betrayed how upset I was. Why didn't she get it? "Superpowers are cool. I don't care what society is saying about powers. You have a gift and you hid it. You're just different, is all."
"I used to be normal. I used to have a normal life where I was just a teenager who could party sometimes, did her homework right most of the time, and didn't look completely nuts to everyone else. Even if I had parents who didn't pay attention. I wish I could turn back time. Or even...exchange tomorrow for another version of yesterday without powers."
"Not a wise wish." I jumped out of my skin at the voice before looking towards the sound, tears streaking my cheeks. Kayla. "Go away. I don't need this at all right now."
"You don't want to trade a tomorrow for a yesterday. Take it from someone who won't get another tomorrow alive, Cass. You don't want to trade it for anything."
"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! I can't maintain a regular relationship. I can't even talk to a boy because a ghost interrupts. My best friend died because I wasn't good enough with my powers. You...you died Kay! WHY AREN'T YOU BLAMING ME? I'm blaming me! You died because I screwed up. It's my fault. And now you're dead, and my life's more screwed up than it's ever been. I have no friends, my parents practically don't know I exist. I can't help my brother come to terms with his powers because I haven't come to terms with mine. Why me?" I looked hopelessly at Kayla. My friend's eyes flared up with...anger. "Why NOT you, Cassandra? Don't you think for one moment that you're in bad shape. I'm dead, and I'm having to console YOU. I have to attend my own funeral. I have to watch my family get ripped apart by their grief, and they don't even know the real reason I died! Don't you think for a moment it was your fault though. If you think you're hard done by, and keep whimpering when you could be helping the world with your powers...that's when I feel disappointed in you, Cassie." I listened to her words and they shocked me to my core. She shook her head, looking at me sadly. "Just because I regret being dead doesn't mean I regret what I did living that led to my death. Think on that. I have to do something else rather than watch you." Kayla sighed before dissolving into a mist. I stared at my hands, wet with tears. None of that changed that I'd look crazy whenever I talked to my only friend. Never mind the fact that my first after-death conversation with my friend was in the women's bathroom of an international organization of people who could see ghosts. This was just getting weirder and weirder, wasn't it?
I sighed. What the hell was I going to do with my crazy, insane life?