Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(13)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(13)
Author: L.J. Smith

The back lab, which had been a garage, was much the same, except that it also had a steel room rather like a bank vault.

"That's for complete isolation in testing," Joyce said. "It's soundproof, and the only communication with the inside is by intercom. It's also like a Faraday cage-it blocks out any radio waves or other electronic transmissions. If you put someone in there, you can be sure they're not using any of their normal senses to get information."

"I bet," Kaitlyn murmured. She could feel a creeping sensation along her spine-somehow she didn't like that steel room. "I... You're not going to put me in there, are you?"

Joyce glanced at her and laughed, her eyes sparkling like green-blue jewels in her tanned face. "No, we won't put you in there until you're ready," she said. "In fact, Marisol," she added to the college girl behind Kaitlyn, "why don't you go bring Gabriel down here-I think we'll test him in the isolation room for starters."

Marisol left.

"Right, everybody, show time," Joyce said. "This is our first day of experiments, so we'll keep them a bit informal, but I do want everyone to concentrate. I won't ask you to work all the time, but when you do work, I ask that you give it your all."

She directed them into the front lab, where she installed Anna and Lewis at what looked like study carrels on either side of the room-study carrels with mysterious-looking equipment. Kaitlyn didn't hear all the instructions she gave them, but in a few minutes both Anna and Lewis seemed to be working, oblivious to anything else in the room.

"Gabriel says he's coming," Marisol announced from the door. "And the volunteers are here. I could only get two so early on Sunday morning."

The volunteers turned out to be Fawn, an extremely pretty blond girl in a motorized wheelchair, and Sid, a guy with a blue Mohawk and a ring in his nose. Very California, Kait thought approvingly. Marisol took him into the back lab.

Joyce gestured at Kait to sit down on a couch over by the window. "You'll be working with Fawn, but you'll have to share her with Rob," she said. "And I think we'll let him go first. So just relax."

Kaitlyn didn't mind-she was both excited and nervous about her own testing. What if she couldn't perform? She'd never been able to use her power on cue-except at Joyce's "vision screening," and then she hadn't known she was using her power.

"Now, Rob," Joyce said. She had attached a blood pressure gauge to one of Fawn's fingers. "We'll have six trials of five minutes each. What I'm going to ask you to do is to pull a slip of paper out of this box. If the slip says 'Raise,' I want you to try to raise Fawn's blood pressure. If it says 'Lower,' I want you to try to lower it. If it says 'No change,' I want you to do nothing. Understand?"

Rob looked from Fawn to Joyce, his brow wrinkled. "Yes, ma'am, but-"

"Call me Joyce, Rob. I'll be charting the results. In each case, don't tell anyone what the slip says, just do it." Joyce checked her watch, then nodded at the box. "Go ahead, pick."

Rob started to reach in the box, but then he dropped his hand. He knelt in front of the blond girl's wheelchair.

"Your legs give you much trouble?"

Fawn looked at Joyce quickly, then back at Rob. "I have MS-multiple sclerosis. I got it early. Sometimes I can walk, but it's pretty bad right now."

"Rob ..." Joyce said.

Rob didn't seem to hear her. "Can you lift this foot here?"

"Not very high." The leg lifted slightly, fell.

"Rob," Joyce said. "Nobody expects you to ... We can't measure this kind of thing."

"Excuse me, ma'am," Rob said softly, without looking around. To Fawn: "How about this one? Can you lift it some?"

"Not as high as the other." The foot lifted and fell.

"That's just fine. Okay, now, you just hold still. You may feel some heat or some cold, but don't you worry about that." Rob reached forward to clasp the girl's bare ankle.

Joyce tilted her sleek blond head to look at the ceiling, then sighed and went to sit beside Kaitlyn.

"I suppose I should have known," she said, letting her hands with the watch and notebook fall on either side of her.

Kaitlyn was watching Rob.

His head was turned toward her, but he clearly wasn't seeing her. He seemed to be listening for something as his fingers moved nimbly over Fawn's ankle. As if looking at the ankle would only distract him.

Kaitlyn was fascinated by his face. Whatever she thought of boys in general, her artist's eye couldn't prevaricate. Words from a book she'd once read ran through her mind: "A beautiful, honest face with the eyes of a dreamer." And the stubborn jaw of a fighter, she added to herself, with an amused sideways glance at Joyce.

"How does that feel?" Rob asked Fawn.

"I... sort of tingly," she said, with a breathless, nervous laugh. "Oh!"

"Try to lift this foot again."

Fawn's sneaker came up-almost ten inches off the footrest.

"I did that!" she gasped. "No-you did that." She was staring at him with huge eyes full of wonder.

"You did it," Rob said, and smiled. He was breathing quickly. "Now we'll work on the other one."

Kaitlyn felt a stab of jealousy.

She'd never felt anything quite like it before-it was similar to the ache she'd gotten back in Ohio when she'd heard Marcy Huang planning parties. Just now, the way Rob was concentrating on Fawn-and the way Fawn was looking at Rob . . .

Joyce chuckled. "Same thing I saw at his school," she said to Kait in a low voice. "Every girl swooning when he goes by-and him not even knowing what's going on. That boy has no idea he's so sexy."

That's it, Kait realized. He has no clue. "But why doesn't he?" she blurted.

"Probably because of the same thing that gave him his talent," Joyce said. "The accident."

"What accident?"

"He didn't mention it? I'm sure he'll tell you all about it if you ask. He was hang gliding and he crashed. Broke most of his bones and ended up in a coma."

"Oh, my God," Kaitlyn said softly.

"They didn't expect him to live, but he did. When he woke up, he had his powers-but he also had some deficits. Like not knowing what girls are for."

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