Home > Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(3)

Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(3)
Kasie West

“Okay then.” He smiled now. For the first time. It seemed out of place on his face. “The Norm refresher course is two doors to the left. Please return here when you’re finished.”

By the time the class was done, my head felt full of jumbled-together facts. I tried to prioritize them, shifting the unimportant ones to the back of my mind—like how to work a vending machine and public restroom paper towel dispensers—so I’d remember the ones I needed, like how to open locks and turn on lights.

I walked back into the bare room where Agent Farley still sat at the metal table. He turned when the door opened. “All done?”

“I think so.”

“Good. I hope you found the class informative. It’s important that you blend in.”

“It was very informative. My lack of gumball machine skills might’ve given me away.”

Obviously not sensing my sarcasm, he nodded like he completely agreed with the statement. “Enjoy your time away, and don’t forget that without your card, entrance to the Compound is nearly impossible.”


“Who accompanied you here today?”

“My mom.”

“And she will be leaving with you as well?”

“No. I’m going to see my dad.”

“Your father . . .” He glanced down at his tablet. “Bradley Coleman. Lives in Dallas, Texas.” He ran his finger sideways across the surface, scrolling through several screens. “So his memory of the Compound is still intact.”

“Yes, of course.”

He raised one eyebrow as though “of course” shouldn’t have been part of my statement.

“Do you . . . are there . . . a lot of memories Erased?”

“Only when promises are breached.”

That didn’t really answer my question, but it was apparent he wasn’t going to answer it anyway.

His finger continued across the surface of his tablet. “Just two immediate relatives have left the Compound then.”

I stood up straighter, craning my neck to look at the tablet. “Two?”

His finger paused on the screen, and he squinted a little. “No. My mistake. That’s a one. Just your father.”

“Right . . . exactly. My dad.”

He stood and shelved the clipboard with others like it. I stared at it for a moment before his single hand-clap drew my attention back to him.

“Okay then. Here’s your mind program, transferred to Norm-friendly tech.” He handed me a small, black, sticklike object. It looked like a hologram simulator. I must’ve had a confused look on my face, because he added, “It’s called a flash drive. You slide that white button forward, and it plugs into a laptop or computer. Not a television, though.”

I nodded. Really? The stupid video I watched earlier covered manual toilets but not flash drives?

“And here’s your backstory and some Norm history refreshers.” He pulled a fat orange envelope off the bookcase and handed it to me. “Memorize and stick to your backstory. It’s made especially for your scenario.”


“I believe you’re set.”

My mom stood at the end of the hall, speaking to a man in a suit. Her body language registered irritation. Before I reached her, she turned and caught my eye, the tense expression on her face softening. By this time I was close enough to hear the man say, “Have a pleasant day.” His words didn’t match his tone.

When he walked away, I said, “Did you have to get interviewed too?”

“No.” She led the way toward the exit.

“What was that all about then?”

She gave a heavy sigh, and then her gaze flicked to the flash drive I still clutched in my hand. “I was just making sure they were allowing you to take your program, actually.”

“Oh.” I held it up. “Looks like they are.”


I pocketed the flash drive. “When’s the last time you left, Mom?”

“Wow, it’s been years.”

“Did they do the whole ‘scare you into silence’ back then?”

She smiled. “Yes.”

“It’s so dramatic.”

“They specialize in doom.”

“Is Dad the first one in our family to leave?”

She flinched slightly. I may not have even noticed if I hadn’t been looking for it. My mom’s parents lived about ten minutes from us, and my dad’s mom died five years ago and was buried in the cemetery downtown next to her husband, who passed when I was seven. My father and I still visited their graves once a year. Did my parents have siblings they weren’t telling me about? Maybe Scar-Face hadn’t slipped at all. Maybe it really was a number two on his screen.

“Yes. The very first,” she said.

Why didn’t I have my dad’s ability, so I could tell if she was lying or not?

She kissed my cheek and held on to me longer than necessary. I wondered if she was thinking, like I was, about how this would be our first holiday apart. I hugged her tighter, trying to absorb her strength for the next six weeks in the Norm world.


Laila: One a.m. If I have to be awake, then so do you.

It was haunting me—the stupid date on the front of the envelope. Every time I reached into my purse, the envelope seemed to scratch against my hand. And now just the thought of it was disrupting my sleep. Six weeks until Addie came home. I could not carry around the guilt-inducing letter for another six weeks without knowing what it said. Before I could change my mind, I threw back my blankets, grabbed my purse, and ripped open the envelope.

A note on lined paper was folded in uneven thirds, one corner sticking out at a lopsided angle. I smoothed out the page and read the letter Addie had written to herself.

I promised someone I care about very much that I wouldn’t Erase this path, but I have to. On Friday morning, the fourteenth of November, however, after certain events occur, talk to Laila about advanced ability control. Tell her she can learn how to restore memories. This is the only way I know how to keep my promise to you. . . .

I read it through twice, too shocked to comprehend it the first time. Restore her memory? She wanted me to restore her memory. I didn’t know how to do that. Could I in her other life?

I knew some adult Memory Erasers could do that. Some could pinpoint memories, selectively Erase certain people from memories. I was limited for now. Still growing. I could Erase sections of time. Like two days, three weeks. When I came into my full ability, I’d be able to do more things. But the note implied I was able to restore memories now. At this age.

She couldn’t have been any more vague. Couldn’t she have written helpful information, like how I managed to do that or why she wanted it done? Bobby was the only person I knew who helped people advance their ability. And Bobby was absolutely unavailable. But I would’ve never hung out with Bobby. So who else could I have learned how to advance my ability from?

Great, opening the stupid letter didn’t prove any more useful than carrying it around for weeks.

I reread it.

A smile crept onto my face. I had always pushed my ability to just beyond the limit, scared of the damage I could cause myself if I went any further. But this note proved it was possible. No more holding back.

I reached into my desk drawer and pulled out a DAA-approved electronic clip. Maybe putting a few extra hours in on mind patterns would help. But as I went to attach it to my card, I stopped. Doing the same thing I always did would produce the same results. I needed something different. And I knew exactly where I could find just that.

The party was in full swing when I got there. This wasn’t like the parties I sometimes dragged Addie to. Even I normally avoided these parties. Untested programs filled each wall—a combination of lights and images—broadcasting who knew what kind of garbage into the brains of the watchers. A pattern that wasn’t designed for my ability usually made me physically ill. Other people claimed it took them to a new level, but a new level of sick wasn’t my idea of enlightening.

But an untested mind pattern created for my ability? That was something I was willing to try. I wandered through the rooms, looking for someone I knew while trying to keep my eyes straight ahead. The patterns of light dancing on the walls were edging into my vision from all sides.

Ahead of me, Kalan sat against the wall, a set of headphones on. I stopped beside her and nudged her leg with the toe of my boot. “Kalan.”

She pulled off her headphones. “Hey. What’s up? I didn’t know you came to these.”

“I don’t.”

“So you’re a figment of my imagination?”

I rolled my eyes. “No.” I nodded to the wall in front of her. “Do you know if there’s a program for Memory Erasers somewhere?”

“No. We don’t label them. That’s the point. It’s freeing not to put yourself in a box.”

“Okay.” So they were all idiots. “Who provides the entertainment for these things?”

“I’m not sure, but I don’t think he attends them.”

I sighed and turned to go. Maybe someone else would know more.

“Stay, Laila.” Her voice was smooth and steady. It made me want to sit down and join her. It almost made me forget Kalan was a Persuasive.

“Did you really just use your ability on me?”

She smiled. “This is where we practice. We try to reach further. You should practice.”

I sat down next to her. “And does it work? Are you advancing?”

She threw her head back and laughed. “Not really. But it’s fun.”

I shook my head. No help whatsoever. I started to get up, but she grabbed hold of my forearm.

“I need your help.”

I looked at her hand on my arm and she let go. “With what?” I asked.

“I need a memory Erased.”

“You want one of your memories Erased? Fine. Tell me when it happened and how long the event was.”

She cleared her throat and looked at her hands. “No. Not one of my memories. Someone else’s.”

I sat up straighter. “What? No.” Addie may have thought I just Erased whenever the need arose, but I had my limits.

“I know you’ve done it before. I saw you kissing Patrick one day by the lockers. I asked him about it the next day, thinking you two were together, and he looked at me like I was crazy. He thought I had imagined it.”

“Well, that’s none of your business, is it? Those are memories of me I took back. I didn’t take out anything that belonged to him.”

“This would be a memory of me you’re taking. I swear.”

“Kalan, no, I can’t. I won’t. Sorry.” I stood and left her sitting by the wall alone with her mind pattern.

I continued to search, pausing at an open door. Someone in the room had caused everything, including the people, to float about an inch off the floor. That was impressive, even for a Telekinetic. I didn’t know many who could move more than one thing at a time, let alone an entire roomful. A guy in the center of the room, the only one not floating, caught my eye. I had no idea who he was, but as soon as he saw me looking, a big smile spread across his face, and everything fell with a bang.

“That was less than a minute,” someone called out.

“I was distracted,” he said, turning his smile back to me.

I gestured him over with my head, and he bounded over like an eager puppy.

“How’d you do that?”

He shrugged one shoulder and leaned close. His breath reeked of stale smoke. “I’m talented.”

“Who sold you the program?”

“What program?”

I sighed. “The one that helped you do that.”

The guy looked over my shoulder to someone behind me. “Great party.”

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