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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(4)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(4)
Author: Kasie West

On the floor around me I have spread out the required reading I received upon leaving the Compound. Considering I spent half the day in the Tower before I left—where I had to take a mandatory Norm-training class, be briefed on my new backstory, and receive Norm credentials like a driver’s license and birth certificate—I didn’t think there was anything else to cram into my head. I was wrong. They sent me off with reading materials—a very thick packet refreshing my Norm history knowledge.

I had done a lot to avoid this novel-size assignment written by someone who didn’t care about making it entertaining in the least. I had unpacked and meticulously organized my room, down to color-coordinating my clothes. I had even searched through the unpacked boxes but couldn’t find the one titled “Addie’s books,” which I clearly wrote in black Sharpie so as to avoid this very situation. I have no idea where that box is now. Probably somewhere in the garage, buried beneath the hundreds of boxes that should say: “Dad’s crap.”

I pick up one of the sections of the packet, World War I, and read. Norms believe Archduke Franz Ferdinand was not Paranormal. He was assassinated due to a power play, not because people feared he could control them with his mind. I say that to myself several times. “World War One was not started because of a Paranormal.” I flip through a few more pages of Norm war history. I toss the packet aside, then grab the Space section, remembering some sort of weird beliefs they have about the moon landing.

“Bored,” I moan. My hand starts to sweat from the tight hold I have on my cell. I know Laila won’t call for at least another hour, since she’s still in school, but I hold out hope that she decided to ditch. We haven’t talked since yesterday.

The doorbell rings, and I practically trip over the study papers in my excitement to answer it. The sun assaults my eyes, and a burst of sticky, hot air hits me across the face when I open the door.

It’s the mailman, holding out a clipboard. “Can you sign for a package?”

I pocket my cell and grab the clipboard. “Yeah.” I scribble my name in the box he points to. He hands me a large, padded envelope and starts to walk away.

“How is your day going?” I blurt out. “Staying cool?”

He stops. “It’s October. This is the start of our cool season.” He winks.

“Really?”

“You’ll get used to it. Welcome to Dallas,” he says, and walks away.

“Thanks.” The phone in my pocket vibrates. “Hello?”

“You miss me yet?” Laila asks.

I shut the door. “Let’s just say I’m so desperate for conversation that I was just chatting it up with the mailman.”

“Was he cute?”

“He was probably fifty.”

“Ew.”

I glance at the padded envelope in my hand. It’s addressed to my dad with no return information. I walk into the kitchen, and when the lights don’t immediately turn on wave my hands in impatience. It takes me a second to realize they aren’t going to. I toss the envelope onto the counter and leave without searching for the switch. “Not that I’m complaining, but shouldn’t you be in class?”

“Yeah, probably, but I’d rather be talking to you. It’s just Thought Placement. I have that down.”

“You do?” I ask.

“Don’t you?”

“Just short distances.”

Laila hums and then says, “You know who’s having a hard time with Thought Placement?”

“Who?”

“Bobby.”

I curl my lip. “That’s because he’s not used to manipulating people’s minds. Only mass.” He can walk through walls, harden liquid, stretch objects. I will never admit it out loud, but he is really good at what he does. Probably the best Mass Manipulator I know who’s his age.

“That’s exactly what the teacher said. He said it’s nearly impossible for people to master Thought Placement if their abilities aren’t ones that work on others’ minds.”

“My mom told me that. She’s an expert at it. Probably because she’s the master mind manipulator.”

Laila laughs. “True. So how are the Norms? Are they hard to talk to?”

“Not really, but I haven’t really talked to many, just a few on the way here and now the mailman.” I suspect my dad is trying to introduce me into the Norm world slowly, because he hardly stopped at all on the way here.

“You’ve inspired me. I think I’m going to a few away games this year with the football team. If you have to suffer through talking to Norms, the least I can do is experience a little bit of your pain.”

I laugh. “You don’t sound prejudiced at all.”

“And you’re not?”

“I’m not.”

“No, you just think you’re better than they are.”

“Not better, just different because I can do more things.”

She laughs like she won the argument.

I plop, back first, onto the couch and throw my legs over the armrest. It’s warm from my earlier occupation, and after I remember how many other people have probably already occupied this couch, I’m grossed out. I sit up. “It’s not so much the people who are different. It’s the place. I swear it’s hotter here and brighter. Do you think the sun is going to give me brain damage?”

She laughs.

“I’m serious. Why else would they filter sunlight in the Compound?”

“I’m sure they’ve found the optimum lighting for brain development. Just like everything else that’s altered here to maximize our brains’ potential.”

“Exactly.”

“Another reason you should come home immediately. Either way, I have no doubt you’ll come home eventually. Wouldn’t want to risk your children being born without advanced minds.”

I sigh.

“Oh, speaking of perfect marrying genes, guess who asked about you today?”

“No idea.”

“Duke Rivers.”

“Uh … why?”

“I don’t know. I thought you’d tell me.”

The door that leads from the garage into the kitchen opens, and the sound of keys landing on the counter rings out. “Hey, I’ll call you later, my dad just got home.”

“Okay, bye.”

Duke Rivers asked about me? Weird. “Hi, Dad.” I gather my scattered papers and stand up. “You’re home early.”

“Considering I wasn’t supposed to go in at all today, I’m home very late.” He picks up the padded envelope on the counter and looks at both sides.

I place my cure-for-insomnia reading on the table. “Oh, that came for you a little while ago.”

He lowers his brow.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Just something I’m consulting on for the Para-bureau.”

“I thought you weren’t working for them anymore. I thought we were trying out this whole Normal thing.” We’re going to live like the rest of the world, Addie, he had said. It will be refreshing. The words sound cheesy now, but at the time they made me feel like we were marching into battle or something.

“Well, when I left I said I’d do some side jobs if they needed me.”

I grab an apple from a bowl on the counter. “You’re gone less than a week, and they’re already calling on you? They must be hurting without their best lie detector.”

He rolls his eyes.

I take a bite of my apple. “Sorry, I mean Discerner. I bet the bureau here is happy to have you, though. Where do you work again?” I try to remember the acronym. “The EBI … SBI …”

“FBI. Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Right. FBI. I guess I should remember that. So are you stickin’ it to all the bad guys? No lies will be told in Dallas ever again.”

“Funny. My daughter is a comedian. Not to mention surprisingly good at talking with her mouth full.”

“It’s a gift.”

He bonks me on the head with the envelope, then opens it. First he pulls out some sort of ID card.

“What’s that?”

He turns it toward me. “I left my Compound Clearance card at the office.”

The holographic logo seems to jump off the surface. It looks exactly like mine except where his says Discerner, mine says Underage. Oh, and of course our pictures are different. I stare at his. If my dad didn’t wear his hair with such a harsh part, slightly off center, he could pull off cool. With a full head of dark hair and a strong jaw, he’s handsome enough. “Dad. Not smart. Are you subconsciously trying to never go back?”

His jaw tightens then loosens again, which surprises me. It was a joke, but his reaction makes me wonder if there is some truth to the statement. He takes out his wallet from his pocket and tucks the card behind his Norm license, then offers me a smile. “I have it now, so no need to analyze me.” He dumps the envelope upside down and a circular disc inside a clear plastic case slides onto the counter.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a DVD.”

I pick it up. “Oh, I’ve seen these on TV before. It’s so big.” I turn it over in my hand, then set it back on the counter. “I don’t get it; someone sent you an old movie?”

“No, the Para-bureau transferred the interview onto a DVD because that’s the technology used here, and we’re not allowed Compound technology Outside. I’ll have to pick up a player for it.” He lets out a sigh, then turns his attention to me. “How are you today?”

“Bored.”

He smiles. “I’ll go change and then we can go get something to eat.”

Before he even finishes the sentence, I put my hand behind my back and he does the same. “One, two, three,” I say, and I reveal my hand shaped like scissors at the same time he reveals his flat like a paper. “Ha! I won. I choose Mexican food.”

He groans through a smile, then leaves to change.

I pick up the DVD again. Across the silver surface, written in black letters, is the name Steve “Poison” Paxton. Poison? Really? I wonder if it’s a self-appointed nickname. There was a kid in seventh grade, who, after he Presented, insisted everyone call him Flash. He had developed the ability to speed up the connections in his brain, allowing him to run the mile a whopping one minute faster than the rest of us. One lousy minute. I wasn’t calling anyone Flash unless he could create a tornado around me with his speed. Had that been my ability, I would’ve kept it to myself as long as I could, until I had no other choice and it was permanently embedded onto my Compound Clearance card.

I’d love to see what a guy who calls himself Poison looks like, but I can’t. The stuff my dad gets from the Bureau is classified. I drop it back on the counter and get my shoes.

CHAPTER 5

PAR-A-dox: n. a statement that seems contradictory but speaks a truth

The party is like every other one I’ve been to—loud and crowded. It’s outside but still packed because people parked too close, creating a barrier around one side of the clearing. The other borders are the lake and then the Compound wall—which no illusion can keep from being an actual blockade.

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