Flying Blind Ch. 05byEvil Alpaca©
This story is a bit wordy and fairly long, so if you are looking for immediate gratification, you might want to look elsewhere.
The following story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between these character and events and any real person or events is strictly coincidental . . . and pretty darn impressive seeing as it is a science fiction story. Do not reproduce or copy this story without the consent of the author.
This story is based in an alternative universe, where history took a different course than the one depicted in my other stories. It also takes place at a fictional town in Colorado called Crystal Pass and a fictional school called Four Corners University.
The following story contains lesbian sexual activity.
Proofread by "hkf999"
"I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see." ~ John Newton, "Amazing Grace"
"Fuck, I don't see her!" Heda had been using her Gift that improved her vision to that of her eagle counterpart, but Madison was nowhere in sight.
"She can't have gone far," Billy said.
"She can run and she can fly," Sasha reminded him.
"I could try tracking her," Joanna said, still sporting a black eye from her encounter with Madison's arch enemy (and apparently, Madison's brother). Strangely, the cobra shifter was one of the only two changelings in the house that was a good tracker, the other being Anthony in his skunk form.
"I'll help," the skunk-shifter chimed in.
"Hold on," Billy replied, looking at his girlfriend. "Sasha is right. Not only can she run, she likes to run. When I first met her, that was pretty much her favorite form of therapy."
"Think she went to the park?" Peter asked, looking down the street.
"The park? At night? Jogging?!" Heda's voice was getting louder. "With a psychopath on the loose kidnapping and torturing shifters?"
"Yes, because getting angry right now is so helpful," Billy muttered, glad that eagles were not known for their spectacular hearing.
"What was that?"
"We might want to go check out the park before we panic," he replied and strode down the street.
"Hold up, I'm going with you," Heda said, then looked over her shoulder. "Joanna, if she isn't there, I'll call and then you can start tracking."
"Got it boss."
Billy almost cracked a smile. Everyone HAD accepted that Heda was the boss, even though she had only been around for a month and a half. She just had a way about her.
At the park, Madison had stopped her midnight run when she encountered a stranger standing boldly in her path. Well, maybe not so much a stranger any more.
"What do you want?" she asked.
Mr. William Hannity shrugged almost helplessly. "To talk. I followed you from your house. And don't give me that look, Madison. You aren't giving me any other options. You didn't want to talk after the incident at the hospital, and you aren't returning my phone calls."
"Maybe that should say something to you," she shot back.
"I am not my son," he replied sadly. "And I'm sorry if I am not the villain you wish me to be. I cannot simply take back the last twenty years and do them over the way we both would like. I just want a chance to get to know you," he said, his voice a whisper. "I want you to get to know me. Just name your terms and . . . we have company."
"What?" Madison turned her sonar back on and saw her best friend and girlfriend (if she still was) hauling ass towards the park. "Good grief," she muttered, her world plunging back into darkness. "I just wanted to go for a run."
"What the hell are you thinking?!" Heda said as she got closer. She eyeballed Mr. Hannity for a second, but he was secondary at the moment. "You do realize that there's a freak-job out there kidnapping shifters, and you decide to go for a moonlit stroll? At night? By yourself?!"
"That was rather foolish," Mr. Hannity agreed.
"SCREW . . . YOU!" she said in two discrete and very clear vocalizations. "Both of you! You too!"
Billy scrunched his eyes. "What did I do?"
"I'm sure you did something," she mumbled.
"I'm sorry for interrupting," Heda told Mr. Hannity. "It's just . . . well we had --" She turned back to Madison. "Are you completely out of your mind?"
"And we're back to that," Madison said. "Hey, I want to run. Hey, here's an idea! Mr. Hannity, why don't you stalk Heda? Billy, you can dazzle them both with your wit. I'm going to keep running and --" She heard a long, slow creak, so she scanned the area. All three of them had sat down on the bench and were just staring at her. "You are not seriously planning on --"
"Yep," Heda said. She got on the phone to tell her housemates that the wayward soul had been found.
"This is stalking! I mean it!"
"I'm sure you do," Billy replied.
Before she could even open her mouth, William Hannity crossed his leg over his knee. "I'm not leaving until we can come to some kind of terms."
Madison threw up her hands and took off running. Unfortunately, she severely underestimated the amount of energy required to run several miles in a circle versus watching someone run several miles in a circle, especially since she had been running for a bit before Mr. Hannity showed up. Finally, she stopped in front of their bench, putting her hands on her knees and gasping for breath.
"Fine," she wheezed. "We'll talk."
An hour later, they were sitting in around a table at Holy Grounds, a coffee shop that catered to students. Madison had gone home and gotten cleaned up, and then taken her first ride ever in a limousine. Billy was unimpressed, while Heda had called the driver several times from the phone in the back to ask if they were almost there. Mr. Hannity had finally taken the phone away from her.
Madison's mouth had started to open at several points, but she could not think of how to proceed. Finally, "You shouldn't divorce her," drifted across the table, quiet as a mouse. "Not because of me."
Mr. Hannity's face hardened. "Your mother --"
"Don't call her that," Madison interrupted.
He nodded. On this, he agreed with Madison. "Meghan chose her own path a long time ago."
"But you have to love her, right? You've been with her all this time."
He sighed. "There was affection, yes. It was not the most passionate marriage. In many ways, it was more like a pleasant merger, as was expected by both parties. A strong house, a good family . . . these were the things we agreed to during courtship. But there was friendship and even love, to a certain degree. But none of that makes up for this. Some affronts cannot be overlooked."
"Madison," Billy said softly, "what would you do if you were in his position? Since it is obvious that you cannot forgive her for what she did either."
The bat-shifter's mouth opened, then snapped shut. He was right. Biological mother or not, she could never forgive the woman for what she did, or for the look of venom in her eyes earlier that day. How could anyone hate her own child like that? "Point taken."
"I do feel a need to defend myself somewhat," William added. "I did not give you up, nor would I have. I would not have allowed you to be treated the way you have been."
"Babe, even Ed said that he was a stand up guy."
"Babe?" Mr. Hannity said.
"Yeah, I'm gay too," Madison blurted. "Blind and gay."
Mr. Hannity's mouth curled slightly at the corners. "I take it then that your relationship with Miss Adler is more than 'good friends'?"
"Yeah. Is that really the sort of daughter you want hanging around?"
She squinted in his direction. "I'm borderline psychotic."
"Borderline?" Heda coughed under her breath, then grinned when she knew she was being scanned.
"You haven't met your sister. Again, I think I can handle it."
Madison's heart jumped in her throat at the word "sister." "I'm not exactly polished."
"I'm going to make this difficult for you."
"Looking forward to it."
"I'm a registered Democrat."
As she scanned him, Mr. Hannity blinked slowly three times. "We'll talk."
Now, Madison gave a little smile, but just a little one. "Okay. So how do we do this?"
And just like that, the air around them seemed to become depressurized and everyone, Madison included, took a deep breath.
"Maybe we can just start by getting to know each other. Maybe get together for one meal a day for a while --"
"Don't you have a job or something?" she asked.
"I'm the president of the bank, and we're making money hand over fist. Who's going to fire me?"
She had to admit that he had a point. "Okay, but I AM kinda busy. With classes and homework and the show and all."
"And I would never ask that you neglect any of them, or spending time with your friends." He appeared to be thinking about something. "And maybe you could come out to Dallas for a weekend? I really would like for you to meet Morgan and Timothy. You could bring Heda if you like and if she's available, or any of your friends."
Heda squeezed her girlfriend's hand under the table. "I don't have any games the weekend after next. I'm sure with Reichert's help, we can get you time away from the station."
"I don't mind covering for you," Billy said.
"But you play the most awful lounge music!" Madison whined.
Mr. Hannity smiled a little more broadly. "I play blues guitar."
"Shut up! Seriously?" Madison said, spinning to face him.
Once the conversation turned to music, the mood elevated substantially. Billy and Heda contributed some, but mostly just jumped in whenever Madison realized that she was having fun and began to panic. She was an odd creature that way. But by the time Holy Grounds closed, the bat-shifter had agreed to show Mr. Hannity her music collection, including her signed Fats Domino "My Blue Heaven" album, which her father-in-waiting was anxious to see.
The went back to the house and Madison showed off her room, though she was suddenly nervous about the "coolness" factor of everything she owned. After a while, it was more like she was entertaining a teacher than the father of her arch enemy. It got late enough that Mr. Hannity had to leave, though he made sure they had a dinner session the next day. He insisted that Joanna be asked along so that he could thank her for her attempts to ward off Alvin.
Madison had no idea what to think anymore, but she honestly felt lighter than she had in ages. When she and Heda curled up in Heda's bed for the night after some making-up making-out, she slept as deeply as she had in her life.
Almost two weeks later . . .
Five steps further, then a pause. It was an oxymoron . . . the Cold was filled with white-hot rage. It was a coal-burning anger, intense heat that simmered under the surface, not seen but definitely felt if you were unfortunate enough to come too close. The Message had become a footnote, important to the Enemy but lost from the title. So it was time to start the next chapter, and the protagonist was on the move.
There was a world underneath Theirs that was, quite literally, beneath them. The Cold crept through the tunnel, up the stairs and through an access door. It had stolen the keys some time ago in preparation for a moment like this.
Up one more flight of stairs, then It peeked through the wire-enforced glass at an inauspicious dorm-room number numbered "203." The next Message was in there, or would be soon. Then the Cold would have something to say.
The next night . . .
Heda was sitting on the couch next to Joanna, typing rapidly on her creative writing homework. Joanna was reading some text on business financing, a class that she was taking with Carla. The horse-shifter was in the kitchen, using some of the plethora of new gadgets that Heda's mom had bought before leaving, acting for all the world like a kid in a candy store. Peter and Kevin were out, Sasha and Anthony were on a grocery run, and Billy and Madison were doing their show. And when Madison was on the radio, the radio was on in the house.
Madison came back on really quickly after a block, and Heda could hear something in her voice.
"Hey all of you night owls out there," she started, her voice lacking some of that spice that made Heda's heart race. "There's something in the air tonight . . . something I can't explain. It's like the big dogs are ready to howl, and the rest of us should come inside, lock the doors, and listen to a little CCR. Here's 'Bad Moon Rising' for you all, and this is your hostess Madison Sloan."
Peter and Heda exchanged a look, then got up and headed to the car. The combination of "big dogs" and that song meant that it was time for an emergency meeting of the primary participants in the shifter neighborhood watch.
"When Carla and Anthony get back --" Heda started to say.
"We'll let 'em know, and everyone stays in doors," Joanna replied.
"Check the windows and the doors," Peter added as he and his fellow bird-shifter got out to his car. The two of them hauled ass, but the house was only a few minutes away from the gym meant for meetings. Reichert was already on the podium.
After a few more minutes, he spoke up. "Everyone here?" He did a head count. "Close enough. Okay, we've had another disappearance, and this guy is getting bolder. Somehow, he was able to kidnap a shifter right out of her dorm room. We're not sure how he got in, but he knocked out the roommate somehow and made off with a 19 year old girl. He waved down as the crowd began to rumble. "This changes everything. He's coming in closer, and simply being near another person does not ensure safety."
"How was the roommate knocked out?" Heda asked.
"We're not sure, but the initial belief is that she was drugged."
More rumbling, then Heda spoke again. "Drugging a shifter is hard as hell."
Reichert nodded. "Which means there may be a magical component to it. All we know is that there were no other apparent injuries, no residue of spell-casting, and no sign of a struggle. The roommate was discovered in her room late this evening after missing several appointments and not responding to calls. As mentioned earlier, this changes everything," he said, sweeping the room with his gaze. "We can't hold this from the human authorities, so when the story breaks, we are encouraging all shifters to leave for the semester. We cannot risk . . . I said WE CANNOT RISK YOUR LIVES!" he finished loudly.
"We can't --"
" -- panic and --"
" -- about tuition?"
"QUIET!" Reichert bellowed, and silence ensued. "We cannot force you to go, but we cannot guarantee your safety if you stay."
"What can you tell us about the shifter who was taken?" Peter asked.
"Her name is Twila Morgan, and she's an alligator shifter. That's all that I can say at this time. Please, consider withdrawing. You will not be penalized in any way by the university. Until you are safely off campus, or if you decide to stay, stick in larger groups. We are bringing in warrior shifters from all the communities to help, and they'll be posing as campus security."
'Crap,' Heda thought. She did not want her mother being brought into this. Of course, her mother was retired from active service, but that did not mean she might not try to volunteer anyway.
"Security will also be sent on all out-of-area sporting events, just to be sure. If you are a watch leader and plan on leaving, let me know so that your duties can be reassigned. I will not ask you to make your decision here, and I will look very harshly at anyone who tries to guilt one of their comrades into staying. Do I make myself clear?"
The meeting went on for a little while longer, but then they finally dispersed. Peter and Heda were on full alert back to the car, but they were also mostly quiet.
"Wanna go to the station?"
Heda just nodded. They drove over and found all the doors quite locked. Billy finally came to let them in, and hie looked grim. "When did the call come in?"
"About two minutes before she went on air. She's a little freaked, so --"
"Tread carefully as if she were . . . say, Madison?"
Billy smiled a bit. "You've got the hang of this."
"I don't think she's something you understand so much as just try to survive the ride."
"There's all sorts of things wrong with that statement."
Madison was sitting in her booth, but the casual confidence that she showed in her little domain was absent. Her hands trembled when they drifted over the CDs and controls.
"Go on in," Billy said. He buzzed the door, so Madison was "looking" straight at Heda when she walked in.
"Hey," Madison said. "You didn't have to come over," she said, pulling her girlfriend into a hug.
"I wanted to. Looks like Reichert's pushing for shifters to get out of Dodge while the getting is good."
"Kinda figured from when his secretary called me. Things don't sound good."
"You know, you could go. I'm sure Mr. Hannity would love for you to extend the weekend visit to a few months."
"I think that's a little more than I can handle right now. Maybe you should stay though. They're going to need you here."
"Do you WANT to go visit the vast Hannity estate for the first time by yourself?"
Madison almost whispered, "No."
"Then hush your mouth."
Madison looked to the still open door. "How long?"
"Five and a half minutes."
Suddenly, Madison was clinging to Heda like a second skin. It was more for security than any romantic reason. "I didn't want to say it," the bat-shifter said sadly. "As if me saying anything caused it. Made it true."
"You're being a bit irrational."
"And this surprises you why?" They both got a chuckle out of that, then Madison kissed Heda lightly. "This one isn't coming back alive, is she?"
"We don't know that."
Madison sighed. "He's escalating too fast. Death is the next step."
"We can't give up hope that we'll find whoever this is in time. Now you and I are doing all we can. This weekend, we're going to go visit the man who is your biological father and wants to be your father in EVERY way that matters. You're going to try to have fun and give him a chance."
Madison gave a half-assed salute. "Yes ma'am."
"As you were, soldier," Heda replied with a slight smile, initiating the kiss this time.
Madison almost missed her "On-Air" cue.
That weekend . . .
Heda realized far too late that Madison did not really like airplanes, which was not surprising since this was the first one she'd ever been in one. This would have been good information to have before the bat-shifter dug her fingernails into Heda's arm for two hours. The phrase, "I promise you we aren't going to crash, now would you like a Ginger Ale?" was uttered more times than it ever should be. Luckily, their seats were first class and the flight attendants were helpful (and quietly amused).
"And why is it you neglected to tell me you hadn't flown before?" Heda asked as she held Madison's hand to keep her from hauling ass up the ramp to the concourse.
"I don't know. I didn't think it would be a big deal."
Heda looked at the nail imprints in her arm. "Yeah, well I guess it kind of was."
"So how does this work?" Madison said nervously. "Where do we go?"
"He'll be waiting on the other side of the security checkpoint. I've only been through DFW once, and that was when I was a kid. I know it's huge though. It's like a transport center and a mall all rolled up into one. A very expensive mall."
The two of them made their way through the herd of passengers towards the baggage claim. As soon as they passed the security checkpoint, --