It was after three o'clock that Saturday afternoon as Alex rounded the curve on King Street in her bright blue jeep, and came to a stop on the roadside on a ridge above Henderson's RV Park. With her was Annie, Robyn, and Nicole. Directly behind them, Ray was riding with Louis in his bright red 1966 convertible Mustang. They parked behind Alex's jeep.
Alex and Louis never used their cars much except on weekends. Since they lived so close to school, it was easier to just walk there, and Alex was also letting Annie use her jeep to run errands for home and to look for a part-time job while she was home.
Since Alex recently acquired her driver's permit, she enjoyed riding in her jeep on weekends. She was given the vehicle by her father when her number was drawn in the Einstein Society's Annual fund-raising sweepstakes. Everyone from her parents to her best friend Ray pulled a huge prank on her to surprise her with the new jeep.
Alex cleared the thoughts of that hectic day from her mind, looking outwards at the small clearing that bordered the top of a long hill which descended down to the rear of the RV park.
"Why are we stopping here Alex?" Nicole asked. "Shouldn't we go into the park right to Dave's trailer?"
"No" replied Alex subtly. "This is the right place, I think....." She put the jeep in park and hopped out onto the roadside. Concentrating, Alex reached out with her thoughts and began scanning her surroundings just like she and Annie spoke about earlier. Alex could touch objects and move them with her thoughts telekinetically, even when she couldnt see them, so Annie was hoping she could do the same thing telepathically with an object she couldnt see. But would Alex be able to touch a psychic clue she had seen only in her mind?
Hopefully, it was the same concept. Considering Alex's vastly enhanced powers, who was to say anything wasn't possible?
Annie got out too, and Robyn and Nicole followed suit. Ray and Louis got out of the Mustang and walked over. Annie rounded the jeep to stand by her little sister.
"Are you getting anything?" Annie asked Alex quietly, studying her younger sibling. Alex was reaching out with her thoughts hoping her ability to see psychic images would engage, but nothing was happening. She was 'touching' everything in her line of sight. It was the same as running one's hand over the ground and through bushes, except Alex was doing it with her thoughts. It was a sensation Alex could never explain in words to her sister.
Earlier that morning, after Alex finally told Nicole and Louis about her powers returning, she explained to everyone her images of Dave's trailer exploding, and the suspicious things she saw in the images. When she revealed her plans to find out who tried to kill Dave, everyone agreed to help in her investigation.
Alex parked at the top of the ridge above the RV park because she recognized the location from the visions she experienced.
"Nothing ....." Alex sighed. Annie tossed her hands up in the air. "Well, you saw this location in your vision, so there has to be some reason for it. Let's walk around and take a look and see what happens" she said.
"Wow" Alex winced slightly before moving, placing her right hand on her stomach. "What?" prompted Annie, instantly concerned. Alex smiled mischievously. "Ray's hungry" she said, glancing at Ray, indicating she was sensing his hunger.
Robyn looked at Alex incredulously. "You mean you can 'feel' Ray is hungry?"
".....And he's thinking of tacos too" Alex added with a smug grin. She turned and walked off, heading towards the wooded area on the other end of the clearing. Ray just shrugged, a little surprised at Alex's sensing his hunger, but not completely amazed. He already saw her split into two separate versions of herself, a good Alex and an evil Alex. Sensing he was hungry and what he wanted to eat wasn't exactly anything out of the ordinary for his super-powered best friend. More than anything, he envied her.
Annie looked at the perplexed Robyn Russo and said "It's hard to explain Robyn. Let's just fan out and look around". Robyn still had a baffled look on her face as she turned to begin searching the area with Nicole.
"Look for anything suspicious, especially any small pieces of paper. Don't overlook anything" Annie instructed everyone, remembering Alex explained to her that she saw a small piece of paper fluttering to the ground in one of her visions.
"Does everyone have their walkie-talkies turned on?" Annie added. Ray and Nicole were going to be in one search group, and Louis and Robyn in the other. Ray and Louis lifted up their radios in acknowledgement.
"Great" said Annie. "And remember, no stone can be left unturned". As everyone spread out, Annie spun on her heel and took off after Alex.
Alex only recently began sensing emotion through physical contact, but now she just sensed Ray's physical craving, as well as his thoughts, and she wasn't morphed either! Alex possessed the ability to sense numerous things around her when she was morphed, such as people, objects, movements, and direction. She could also telepathically communicate with someone when she was morphed into a liquid droplet state and her body was incorporeal.
But sensing another's thoughts while in human form was something new, and it concerned Annie. "How many more abilities are going to surface?" she thought drastically as she caught up with Alex.
"Alex ....." Annie prodded. "You sensed Ray was hungry and his thoughts?! How did you do that ....?"
"I don't know" Alex shrugged. "I felt a hunger pain and then his thoughts just popped in my head". Alex continued to look around her for clues, apparently unconcerned. "Alex ...." hissed Annie. "This is another telepathic power which has just manifested itself, aren't .....".
".....I the least bit concerned?" Alex finished Annie's sentence. "Oops! Sorry Annie. That sorta just popped in my head too. Listen, can't we talk about this later? We have to look around for clues. Someone tried to hurt Dave, and we have to find out who". Annie rolled her eyes in exasperation at Alex's lack of concern but realized they could talk later about this.
"O.k.! O.k.! You can run tests on me later ....." Alex said out of the blue. Annie realized Alex just read her thoughts again. "Alex! Stay out of my head! That's an invasion of my privacy!" she scolded. "I'm sorry Annie, but you told me to scan the area by reaching out with my thoughts, and I keep hearing stuff inside my head".
Annie grabbed Alex's arm and stopped her, and looked back at their friends who were spreading out around the area. "Can you 'hear' anything from any of the others right now?" she asked. Alex concentrated on them and then shook her head. "Nope, nothing".
"Then you must be able to sense thoughts only from a very short distance. Just stop doing what you're doing for now. It's not ethical to ease-drop on people's thoughts Alex, accidentally or not. We'll just have to do this search the hard way".
Alex mentally retrieved her thoughts, and all seemed silent in her mind again.
"That is so rad ....." Alex said with a smile. Annie let out a frustrated sigh. "C'mon Alex, let's get to work".
Agent Grace Lasky of the FBI discreetly pulled her car onto the roadside one hundred yards down the road, and observed Alex and her friends through her small pair of binoculars. She felt refreshed after getting some breakfast and a few hours sleep. After filling in her superior Agent Black about her stake-out of the Mack house, he sent her back to continue her surveillance.
She spied the group of teens intently, enthralled by their strange behavior. Upon returning to continue her monitoring the Mack house, Grace didn't have long to wait before Alex and her friends walked outside, got in their respective vehicles, and drove off. Grace naturally followed them.
But why was Alex and her friends parked at the former crime scene of the attempt on David Watt's life? The FBI already searched the entire area, including this clearing overlooking the trailer park. According to reports, the only thing found there were dozens of sets of tire tracks from various vehicles.
Unfortunately, no connections were made because the hilltop clearing was a favorite midday parking area for employees on lunch break from a nearby mini-mall and several other small businesses and was also a well known midnight rendevous on the weekends for teenagers. Also, less than a hour after the explosion, there was a cloudburst over the area which muddied up most of the tracks.
She lowered her glasses and stared at the distant teens through her windshield.
"What the hell are you up to Alex Mack?" Grace asked aloud, peeking through her binoculars again. Then it occurred to her.
"You're looking for who blew up Dave's trailer, aren't you?".
"We aren't getting anywhere this way Annie!" whined Alex. The teens had been combing the hilltop area above Henderson's RV Park for over forty-five minutes searching for any clue to who may have bombed Dave's trailer, and Alex was becoming frustrated that Annie wouldn't let her use her telepathic abilities to aid in the search. "We might find something if I can search the area with my powers".
"Alex, I told you it's unethical to ease-drop on other peoples' thoughts" Annie reminded her younger sister. "Maybe when you've refined the ability then you won't do it accidentally, but there's a point I'm trying to get across to you. I don't want you using it a lot because it's a power you could be tempted to use in the wrong way in the future".
Alex rolled her eyes in exasperation and silently activated her ability again without telling Annie.
Instantly, Annie's thoughts flooded her mind. ".....I'm so worried about you Alex. I love you so much and would never want anything bad to happen to you .....".
Alex smiled and realized that Annie was only looking out for her. She playfully side-stepped into her older sister, tilting her head across Annie's shoulder and softly bumped heads, their thick blonde and black hair inter-mingling. Annie broke out with a big smile and giggled at Alex's gesture.
Suddenly, in Alex's mind, she heard Annie thoughts again. "You're reading my thoughts again aren't you, 'Alexandra'?". Alex looked askance at Annie and returned a telepathic message to her. "Yeah, I am..... And I love you too ...'Anne', more than anything in the whole world".
"Think flattery will get you everywhere, Alexandra?" Annie thought. Alex gave Annie a sly smirk and an audible chuckle.
The two sisters always addressed each other by their proper names when they were teasing each other, but to Annie, there could only be so much light-heartedness concerning Alex's constantly increasing abilities. The potential power of the hybrid GC-161 the cells of Alex's body were manufacturing was beginning to frighten Annie. Just how powerful was Alex going to become, and what kind of side-affects could, or are, going to occur? Would it eventually get to the point where Alex couldn't control them? Is she .....?
"Annie ....." Alex said aloud, unable to help telepathically 'hearing' Annie's ponderings. "Would you please stop worrying about ....". But Alex never finished her sentence as a cold flush erupted in her head. Alex and Annie were checking out a two-rut dirt trail bordered by heavy brush on each side located on the other end of the clearing from their friends.
There was flash of white light, then the image of a Maple tree about fifty feet away with bright red leaves flashed in Alex's mind, and over a hundred yards behind the tree, was the smoke of Dave's blown up trailer rising above it.
Then, the image was gone. As her vision cleared, just fifty feet away on the left side of the trail, Alex spied a Maple tree with bright red leaves. Alex quickly put two and two together.
"They were right here Annie! They were watching from right here when Dave's trailer was blown up!" she exclaimed excitedly, grasping Annie's hand. "Are you sure?" Annie prodded.
"Yes, I am. I just saw it. They were right here" Alex answered confidently, adamantly pointing to the ground beneath them.
"Then this is the area we have to centralize our search in" Annie expressed with a surge of adrenaline. Goose-bumps ran up Alex's spine causing her to shiver when she sensed Annie's intense emotions of excitement.
It suddenly occurred to Alex that she may have described her telepathic abilities as 'rad' a little too soon. Feeling other peoples' emotions or sensing their thoughts could turn out to be a real inconvenience. Maybe Annie had a point about using this power too much?
Annie retrieved her walkie-talkie from a small satchel she was carrying on a shoulder strap. She depressed the talk button and spoke. "Ray, Louis. Come over to the trail on the far side of the clearing. We may have found our first clue".
"Roger!" replied Ray's crackly voice. "Gotcha!" replied Louis.
Vince pulled his younger brother Jerry's silver Grand Am into the driveway of Harry Olmstead's house, which was on the block behind his home. Vince knew Mr. Olmstead was at work running his gas station across town, and since he had already made the proper 'monetary' arrangements with Mr. Olmstead to assure he was a trusted ally, Vince knew he wouldn't mind.
Little did the FBI or Gino Lawless know, Vince kept his brown jeep in his own garage, but he kept his black Datsun 280ZX sports car in Mr. Olmstead's garage. If Vince was worried about being followed from his house, he just cut across his back yard to Mr. Olmstead's garage on the next block, and used his 280ZX to get around.
Paranoid to some perhaps, but Vince Carter always wanted to have a back-up plan. It's why he's survived so long. Vince also kept a very good relationship with his neighbors. It was just very 'good business'.
But on this business trip, he used his brother's car because it was convenient and didn't attract attention. He got out, retrieved his suitcase from the trunk, and walked into Mr. Olmstead's backyard. He crossed through an opening in the tall back hedge dividing their properties, crossed his own back yard, and entered his back door.
Moments later, Jerry Carter left out the back entrance of Vince's house, crossed the two properties to his waiting car in Mr. Olmstead's driveway, and drove off.
As Agent Black sat in his car several houses down, he watched Vince walk out to his mailbox to retrieve his mail. Vince opened the box and casually looked through the stack of letters as he slowly made his way back up his sidewalk. Just then, he stopped, and slowly turned his head around to look directly at Agent Black's car. He stared for a long moment, then returned inside.
"What the hell are you up to Carter?" Agent Black mumbled aloud, peering at Vince through his mini-binoculars.