The Calling Page 30

“We think the St. Clouds were blocking those terms,” I said. “In case something like this happened and we tried looking them up. If we want clues, we need to look at the extracurricular activities they pushed at us. Clearly, with Daniel and me, they were trying to boost our natural talents: fighting for him and running for me. Serena, Hayley, and Nicole were all in the choir and on the swim team. Plus they’re all blonde and pretty.”

“Um, thanks,” Hayley said as she came over. “But what…” Her brow furrowed. “You think we’re mermaids?”

“Isn’t that sirens?” Corey said. “Those chicks we studied in Greek mythology. Lured guys to their deaths by singing.”

Hayley glared at him. “I thought you liked my singing.”

“Yeah, because apparently it’s magical. That’s how you seduce guys.”

“Seduce them? Or kill them?”

“Same thing, kind of, if you think about it. Like that other guy in mythology. The one who got his hair cut and lost all his power. Mr. Parks said it symbolized men losing their power by falling for women.”

“No,” I said. “Mr. Parks said it symbolizes men’s irrational fear of losing their power to women. And unless I’m remembering it wrong, mermaids don’t sing and sirens don’t swim.”

“Ariel sang in The Little Mermaid,” Corey said.

Sam came over to join us. “Do I even want to know why you remember her name?”

“Mermaids and sirens weren’t on the list,” Daniel said. “Maya’s point is that Hayley, Nicole, and Serena shared common characteristics, which probably means they’re the same type, and it has something to do with singing and swimming.”

“And being pretty,” Hayley said.

“That’s not a superpower,” Sam muttered.

Hayley turned to her. “No? How many times have you gotten into movies for free because you’re a tough warrior chick?”

“What about me?” Corey said. “What’s my superpower?”

Silence fell.

“Oh, come on. I’m good at a lot of stuff. Right?”

More silence.

“You’re cute,” Hayley said. “Well, cute enough.”

“Fun to be around,” I offered.

“So I’m … a clown?”

“At least you’re a cute clown,” Hayley said. “Not a scary one.”

“You’re a good fighter,” Daniel said.

“And you’re a good drinker,” Hayley added. “You can hold your liquor better than anyone I know.”

“Uh-huh,” Corey said. “So Maya will grow up to be an amazing healer who can change into a killer cat. Daniel and Sam will roam the country hunting criminals and demons. Hayley and Nicolewill divide their time between recording platinum albums and winning gold medals in swimming. And me? I’ll be the cute, funny guy sitting at the bar, hoping for a good brawl to break out.”

“In other words, exactly where you were already headed,” Hayley said.

We all laughed at that, even Corey. We had to. For now, this was the best way to deal with it. Tease. Poke fun. As if we were comparing Halloween costumes. Look, I’m a superhero. Yeah? Well, so am I.

“I’m sure you have powers,” I said. “You’re just a late bloomer.”

“Thanks… I think.”

“Your headaches might be related to it,” Daniel said. “They began a year ago, right?”

“And Dr. Inglis was very interested in them,” I said. “She started looking after you personally and giving you special medicine.”

Corey nodded. “She asked about them a lot, too. Whether anything was happening when I got them.”


“Like whether I was seeing things or hearing things. I thought she meant like my dad, who always smelled burned toast before he had a seizure. I figured she thought it was a sign I was getting epilepsy.”

“More like a sign you’re getting your powers,” I said.

“And the headaches went away with the pills, right?” Sam said.

Corey nodded.

“That was the point,” I said. “Suppress whatever was happening to you until they were ready to tell us all the truth.”

“Or suppress it because it’s dangerous,” Sam said.

“We don’t know it is,” I said.

“And we don’t know it isn’t.”

“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter,” Daniel cut in. “Because we’re doing our damnedest to get to safety before anyone needs to worry about a superpower meltdown.”

“Where’s safety?” Sam said. “With the people who apparently want to help us … by burning down our homes, killing Uncle Phil, and shooting us with tranq guns? Or with the people who did this to us in the first place?”

“Obviously you have some third option,” I said. “So let’s hear it.”

“I can contact people my parents knew. One of them must have known why they were on the run. Maybe they can help. I was going to do that after my parents died, only I got shipped to Salmon Creek and for a while everything seemed to be okay.”

“Until you discovered your fake aunt and uncle were evil,” I said.

“What? No. I never said—”

“Because they aren’t evil. I don’t know whether my folks knew anything about this, but I know one thing. They’re amazing parents. So were your aunt and uncle.”

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