"A ...A ...Alex?" Annie asked unsteadily, looking at the motionless puddle of silver ooze sitting beside her. Annie's mind was racing. Remote controls going dead, bulbs blowing throughout the house all weekend, objects misplaced, and Alex waking up on the downstairs couch in the middle of the night.
It all added up now, as Annie was looking at her liquified sister resting right beside her in her bed.
Annie reached out her hand, fore-finger extended, and gently tapped the puddle, causing it to slosh slightly. "Alex?" she asked again. No reaction.
Annie realized her little sister was still asleep, but in her morphed state! Annie reached out her hand and placed it on the surface of Alex's puddle. It was akin to touching a balloon full of warm water.
"Alex! Wake up ....." Annie demanded quietly, trying not to be too loud to alert their parents.
Annie jostled the puddle harder this time, trying to wake Alex up.
"Huh?" echoed Alex's shrill, liquid voice throughout the room. Annie sighed in relief that she finally woke her sister up, but when she tried to remove her hand, it was as if it were glued to Alex's puddle. Her hand started to morph into liquid, then her wrist, then her forearm.
"What's going on?! What's happening ...?" Alex called out, still half-asleep and confused. "Alex! Wake up! Snap out of it damnit!" Annie swore in frustration as she was morphed up to her shoulder now.
"You're morphed Alex! And you're morphing meeeee ......" Annie squealed as the rest of her body suddenly liquified and was sucked down into Alex's ooze-self on the bed. The puddle flowed over the edge of the bed onto the floor. "Alex?!" came Annie's voice from the puddle. "Are you awake? Reform us!"
"How did I ...?" Alex stuttered, still dazed, her puddle sloshing around the floor of the bedroom.
"Alex! Damnit, listen to me! Wake up and concentrate! You're morphed! You've got to concentrate and reform us!" Annie ordered. Alex finally came to. She wasn't dreaming again. This was real!
In a sudden burst of elation, Alex yelled out. "I'm morphed! My powers are back! My powers .... are ... back!" Alex began to dart about the room at high speed, under the beds, up the walls, and across the ceiling.
Annie was starting to experience vertigo at Alex's outburst of emotion. She couldn't tell which way was up.
"Alex!" she scolded. "Stop it! Reform us this instant!"
Alex finally came to a stop at her older sister's demands, but it was hard to control herself. She was hysterically happy. Her powers, her wonderful, incredible powers that she thought gone forever, were back!
Alex positioned her puddle-form between the beds, and concentrated on Annie and herself in human form. The warm flush and tingling flushed through her's and Annie's liquid bodies. Then the bizarre sensation of floating rapidly upwards in warm water, being pulled painlessly in every direction as their forms took on human shape, and then the final crescendo of hot prickling and tingling.
They were human once again, as Alex reformed them with her arms around Annie hugging her. Alex was always able to reform herself in any position she could imagine. Since she was so overjoyed, the image of hugging Annie was the only one in her mind, and that's how she reformed. Annie couldn't help but smile and laugh at Alex's joy. "They're back! I have my powers back!" Alex exclaimed.
Annie's smile suddenly disappeared. "Sshhh!" she hissed. "Mom and Dad will hear!"
"So what?" Alex replied ecstatically, holding Annie at arm's length. "I'll morph them too!"
Annie saw Alex's eyes begin to squint and she knew her little sister was activating her powers again.
"Alex! What are you doing....?" But she never finished as Annie felt the strange sensation of weightlessness overcome her, and in utter amazement, Annie was Alex were both floating with their heads just inches from the ceiling!
"Oh my God Alex! How are you levitating both of us?!" she asked, shocked.
"I don't know Annie. I just feel so ..... so .....powerful!" They began to rotate slowly in the air, Alex still holding Annie at arm's length, their hands clasped together.
"Alex you've ...you've never been able to levitate yourself before?" she pointed out, ignoring Alex's elation now and clicking into scientific mode. It was beginning to alarm Annie that Alex not only possessed her powers again, but was showing signs of them being more powerful than ever before.
"Alex, you've got to calm down now. I know you're happy, but you've got to get a hold on yourself" Annie pleaded, giving Alex that 'look' that meant she was serious.
"O.k.. o.k." Alex surrendered, as both of them lowered gently to the floor. Annie sat down to collect her wits. It was always disorienting when Alex levitated her. Her younger sister was just standing before her silently, literally bouncing in place in excitement. Annie glanced at the clock on the nightstand. Eight twenty-five A.M. With a snap of her fingers, she stood and pulled back the curtains of the bay window.
Peering out, she saw their parents walking by the house.
Relieved, Annie remembered their parents always took a brisk thirty minute walk at eight o'clock every Sunday morning. Fortunately, they didn't hear the ruckus Alex started. "Why are you being so serious Annie? I have my powers back! Aren't you happy for me?" Alex asked.
"Alex, don't you understand? It's started all over again" Annie explained.
Alex's smile started to fade some. "What do you mean Annie?"
"I mean you told the entire world yesterday on t.v. that you don't have the powers anymore Alex, and mom and Dad, including all of your friends, think you don't have them anymore either".
"I don't understand Annie. What do you mean?" Alex asked, sitting down on her bed across from her sister with a puzzled look. How Annie always managed to take the 'fun' out of everything never ceased to amaze Alex.
"I mean Alex, that since your powers have obviously returned, even more powerful than ever it seems, that you have got to keep this quiet. You can't tell anyone about them" Annie answered straight-forwardly.
"But why not?" Alex whined. "I went through four years of hiding from Danielle Atron, lying to my friends, and keeping this secret from mom and dad. I don't want to go through all of that again. If dad's antidote didn't work, then what fault of that is mine?"
"It's not your fault Alex" Annie said sincerely. "But Danielle knew there was a kid out there with special abilities from being soaked in GC-161, and for four years, she never gave you a moment's peace, did she?"
Alex shook her head unsurely as Annie continued. "But for some reason, your powers are back again, and that means dad's antidote didn't work, but the whole world thinks it did. That also means ..." Annie stressed, "...there's a possibility there may not be a cure for the long-term exposure you had to the GC-161. If that's true Alex, and if the public found out you still had your powers, there would be a hundred 'Danielle Atrons' out there wanting to turn you into their own lab rat. Do you understand what I mean now? We've got to keep this between you and me for now".
Alex flopped back on her bed in frustration, covering her face with her hands. "Oh God, Annie, you're telling me that we can't tell mom or dad either? Don't you remember how angry they got when they found out we hid the powers from them before?!" she realized.
"And do you realize that if dad found out his antidote didn't work that he and mom would probably have you in a hospital for the rest of your life? You saw how rattled mom was at your powers. They scared her to death!" Annie asked back.
Alex pouted. "I just want to be able to live my life for crying out loud! Why does everything have to be such a hassle .....?"
Alex felt a sudden warm, tingling surge through her body. She quickly sat up, holding her hands in front of her. Her skin still looked human, but it was rippling and had a glossy shine to it. Alex looked up at Annie.
"Alex? What are you doing? Mom and dad will be back any min...." But Annie was interrupted as she watched her sister's body suddenly explode with a loud 'POP!' into thousands of individual beads of silvery liquid. "Alex?!" Annie screamed.
The droplets splashed all over the room; onto the furniture, on the walls and ceiling, and even onto Annie. Annie had seen this happen to Alex only a few times before, and it was probably the most bizarre thing she ever saw Alex's powers do. When Alex was thirteen, she caught a cold from her best friend Raymond, and sometimes when she would sneeze, her body would morph instantaneously and explode into thousands of tiny droplets. Each time, the droplets would reform into a puddle and then back into Alex.
Annie wiped her face, scooping off several of the tiny droplets from her forehead and cheeks and held them in her hand. They were busily flowing around in circles in her palm. "Alex? Are you still ...here?" she asked, frightened. "Yeah" said Alex's voice, "I'm still here. What the hell happened?!"
Annie was shocked. Alex's voice wasn't speaking physically from anywhere in the room, it was IN her head! "How far have her powers mutated?!" Annie thought in a panic.
"Is that something to be worried about right now Annie/ I'm like, ...all over the place here!" Alex responded with an agitated tone. She had actually read Annie's thoughts! Annie's scientific reasoning took over again.
"O.k. Alex, I think this is a side-affect of the anti-GC-161 solution in dad's antidote. It's probably made your molecular structure temporarily unstable. You've got to concentrate and pull yourself back together again" she instructed. Just as she said that, Annie heard the front door slam and knew her parents had finished their morning walk, and would be coming upstairs to wake the girls up for breakfast any time now.
"Alex. Mom and dad are back, so you have to stay calm and concentrate, o.k.?" she said calmly, trying to offer reassurance to her little sister who was a liquid splattered all over the room.
"O.k., I'll try" replied Alex's voice in her head. Annie promptly felt the droplets in her hand begin to squirm around energetically, and they passed up her shirt sleeve to her shoulder, down the outside of her nightshirt, and dripped onto the floor. All around the room, the droplets began flowing downwards from the walls and ceiling, from off the furniture and out of piles of clothes, and even several dozens of them came out of the bathroom.
Right to Alex's bed, where she had been sitting before she exploded, the droplets raced and began converging and flowing into one another. Annie couldn't believe her eyes as she watched this incredible migration. Thousands of tiny droplets of ooze coalesced on Alex's bed into an ever-growing puddle of silver, gelatinous ooze.
"Girls?" called out Mr. Mack's voice as he was climbing the stairs. "Are you up yet?"
But Annie didn't want to say anything to break Alex's concentration while she was trying to reform.
After almost thirty seconds, the puddle was complete, and before Annie's eyes it reformed into her little sister Alex, still sitting on the edge of her bed holding her hands out just as she had been when she exploded.
"C'mon girls. Rise and shine!" Mr. Mack said, sticking his head in the crack of the door. The girls looked at him, their eyes wide in disbelief. Mr. Mack entered the room and crossed over to Alex and sat down beside her on the bed. He put his arm around her and gave her a gentle hug. "So Alex, how are you feeling this morning? I'll bet you slept like a rock from that sedative Dr. Whiteside gave you" he said cheerily. Alex just nodded with a huge, fake smile, looking at her sister with a worried expression.
Just then, something clicked in Annie's mind. "Dr. Whiteside .... He gave Alex a blood test!" she remembered. She smiled casually at her father when he looked at her too.
"You girls look like you just saw a ghost. Are you two alright?" Mr. Mack noticed. Annie saw Alex shake her head back and forth, trying to hint to Annie that she couldn't speak. Annie caught on like a pro.
"Huh? Oh, we're fine dad" Annie assured him. "Just been a long weekend and we're tired is all. Just need to wake up a little more and clear our heads". Mr. Mack grinned and looked back to Alex. "Well, I'm glad you're feeling better Alex. You had us worried yesterday" he told his youngest daughter.
She beamed a smiled at her father in acknowledgement. Alex couldn't say anything anyway, because her tongue was morphed!
"Well, breakfast will be ready in twenty minutes", Mr. Mack said, gently slapping Alex on the knee as he rose from her bed. To the girls' horror, Alex's knee momentarily transformed into liquid where her father slapped her, and then changed back to human. The girls just stared at each other as Mr. Mack never noticed the strange transformation. He turned to look at them one more time before leaving the room, and Alex and Annie both gave him smiles worthy of a supermodel's.
When Mr. Mack walked out, Alex reached up and covered her mouth. "What's wrong?" Annie asked.
"I couldn't speak Annie, my tongue was morphed". Alex lowered her hand. " What am I going to do if I start morphing at breakfast?"
"Well, as long as you don't explode all over mom and dad while you're eating your oatmeal I think we'll get through breakfast o.k. " Annie couldn't help but tease.
"Very funny Annie. If I feel like exploding again, maybe I'll just grab hold of you and we can splatter all over them together" Alex threatened.
"Alexandra Mack, you better not!" Annie warned.
"Relax Annie, I was just kidding. So you think my powers going crazy is dad's antidote wearing off?
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what it is, and the reactions should start subsiding and completely stop after a while. Also, we're going to have to find somewhere without mom and dad around to run some tests and find out exactly what's happening to you, so don't make any plans to go anywhere" Annie said. Alex's shoulders slumped in disappointment. She really wanted to see Hunter today.
"Then" Annie continued, " We can decide what to do about Dr. Whiteside".
"Dr. Whiteside?" Alex asked. "What about Dr. Whiteside?"
"Think Alex" Annie said sarcastically. Alex hated it when Annie looked down her nose at her. "He took a blood sample from you. I'm not going to jump to any conclusions right now, but there's a chance that he may find out that you still have your powers if there's still GC-161 in your system".
"Great" Alex tossed her hands up, exasperated. "So besides getting harpooned by Dr. Whiteside, I still may wind up in the hospital or someone's guinea pig for the rest of my life! Got anymore great news for me Annie?"
Annie stood and took Alex's hands into her own, pulling her up off her bed.
"Let's run some tests first Alex. Dad may not have any info left on GC-161, but I still all of my files secretly downloaded on floppy discs. Actually, I saved them just in case you ever had any sort of GC-161 relapse. Dad may have thought he knew more about GC-161 than me, but I know a lot more about it than he thinks I do".
"You ...you do" Alex asked, cocking her head.
"Yeah, I do" Annie bragged with a sly grin. "I had my doubts that dad could make an effective antidote for four years of GC-161 contamination. But let's take things one at a time. I don't think you're in any immediate danger, so let's keep cool heads, alright?"
Alex couldn't help but admire her older sister. Always prepared for anything. Annie truly cared about her, and Alex trusted her sister with her life. She knew Annie wouldn't let anything bad happen to her.
"Go on" Annie said slapping Alex on the shoulder playfully. "You take the bathroom first".
"Ooohh, I wish you wouldn't have done that Annie" Alex moaned.
"Done what?" Annie asked.
It was tense during breakfast, as Alex feared her out of control powers would give her away, but luckily, she didn't have any further outbursts in front of her parents. She seemed to be getting them under control again.
Before breakfast, Annie advised Alex to keep control of her emotions, and to try not to get excited. In their room, it occurred to Annie that every time Alex began thinking of her powers, they activated.
Breakfast interrupted three different times by phone calls from a t.v. station in Highlands Park, a reporter from a newspaper in Pittsville Gardens, and a news crew from Sacramento which came right up to the front door. The media circus wasn't over yet!
After breakfast with their parents, Alex and Annie were finally able to get some privacy in the garage.
Their parents understood that they wanted some time together.
Annie had the portable phone with her and handed it to Alex. Alex took it with a quizzical look on her face. "What's this for?" she asked.
"To call Raymond. I need somewhere to run some tests on you and find out exactly what's going on with your powers, and his garage looks to be the only place where I'm going to get the privacy to do it" Annie said as she turned and started taking some of her lab equipment off of the shelves and placing it in a cardboard box on the workbench.
"Oh, so Ray gets to be in on my little 'secret' again?" Alex smiled.
"It'll be better than mom or dad barging in here and seeing you using them while I'm testing you. With everything that's gone on this weekend, mom and dad have been hovering over you like a mother hen. I'll never get any experiments done worrying about them catching us" Annie explained.
"What about Ray's dad?" Alex asked. "He could catch us too".
"I don't think so. I remember Ray telling me Friday night his dad will be working the morning shifts this week and shifts always start on Sundays. Mr. Alvarado should be at work until three this afternoon. So give Ray a call and tell him we're coming over, but don't say anything about the powers over the phone".
Alex nodded and dialed Ray's number.
Annie held her hand up, her pointer finger extended. "Now, while you're on the phone, I'll go tell mom and dad we're going over to Ray's for a while. I doubt they'll worry too much about that" Annie said, opening the door and walking back into the house. Alex heard Ray answer his phone on the other end.
"Ray? Hey, it's Alex ....No, I'm fine now. As a matter of fact, I'm better than fine. Tell me Ray, is your dad home? .....No? He's at work? ...Great. Listen, Annie and I are going to come over there in a minute, o.k.? Just wait for us in your garage. See you in a sec..." Alex clicked the phone off.
Annie walked back into the garage. "Well, that went a lot smoother than I thought it would. After all the excitement this weekend, I thought mom and dad wouldn't let you out of their sight, but they seem to be trying to let you and I have some space. Now, let's take a peek outside before walking over to Ray's".
Annie looked out a window that was built into the front garage door. Out on the street, sat the news van from the Sacramento television station as well as another car with a newspaper logo on it's door which she didn't recognize.
"Damn" she swore. "It looks like that t.v. crew is going to hang around longer that I thought, and there's a car from some newspaper out there too. If we try to walk over to Ray's they'll be all over us, and that wouldn't make mom and dad happy either. They don't you under any stress" Annie analyzed.
Alex stepped between Annie and the workbench and placed her hand on the box. She reached her hand out to Annie. "Well, I guess there's only one way we're going to get over to Ray's without being caught" she hinted, smiling mischievously. Reluctantly, Annie took Alex's hand. Alex squinted her eyes in concentration, and almost instantly, Alex, Annie, and the box of equipment morphed into a bathmat-sized puddle on the floor.
"Off we go!" said Alex's voice excitedly as her puddle flowed across the floor, up the side of the sink basin, and down the drain.