I grimaced at the mention of our boss's delight over what happened with Jackie two weeks ago. At least no one was gathered by our fence today. Just my luck that Jackie's sister had been a reporter who blasted the news of my "premonition" across every media avenue available to her. Phil pled not guilty and there wasn't enough evidence to prove he'd intended to murder his wife, but my knowledge of Jackie's plan to leave him combined with my flawless description of what was in his trunk was enough to draw the curious these past couple weeks. If not for my unfortunate tendency to electrocute everyone I touched, I could've made a nice stash doing palm readings, but as it was, I couldn't wait for my fifteen minutes of fame to be over.
"I need people to forget what I can do. You know why."
Marty stared at me almost sadly. "Yeah, kid. I do."
Then he patted my arm, not flinching at the current that shot into him with the contact. He was used to it, and besides, Marty wasn't human so it didn't affect him the same way.
"Come inside and I'll make you a shake," he said with a final fatherly pat.
I turned away so he wouldn't see my grimace. Marty was so proud of his blended concoctions that I drank at least one a week, but they tasted vile. If I hadn't noticed that they did seem to improve my health, I'd have secretly dumped most of them into potted plants instead of drinking them.
"Um, in a little bit. I need to work the kinks out of that last set of flips."
His snort told me what a bad liar I was, but he didn't argue. I heard the trailer door shut moments later.
Once he was gone, I returned my attention to practicing my part of our routine. Marty's part involved escaping out of several exploding objects in time to catch me for certain jumps or trapeze swings, but since he wasn't human, he didn't need to practice as much as I did. Good thing, too, or it would cost us a fortune in props and incendiary devices, not to mention the damage it would do to the lawn. We rented the land this trailer sat on, so if we trashed it, we paid for it.
Being a member of a circus sideshow wasn't what I'd dreamed of doing when I was a kid, but that was before I started frying the circuits of every electrical device I touched, not to mention shocking people by casual contact. With my condition, I was lucky to have a job at all. The only other occupation I'd be good for was government guinea pig, as I reminded my father whenever he lamented over my career choice.
I made my jumps smooth and measured, building a rhythm that allowed me to push away other concerns. Concentration was critical to success, my old coach used to remind us, and he was right. Soon I barely noticed the collage of fence-yard-roof that repeated with every jump until they blurred together in one indistinguishable mass of colors. Then I executed my series of somersaults, flips, and twists, landing with my feet planted apart and knees slightly bent to lessen the impact. The trampoline trembled, but I remained rigid, not taking that points-killing step backward. Then I raised my arms before sweeping into a low bow, the final touch of the routine.
"Bravo," a voice said mockingly.
I straightened, everything in me tensing. When I'd begun my bow, I'd been alone, but in the scant seconds since then, four men stood at each corner of the trampoline.
They looked like normal tourists, with their T-shirts and jeans, but only Marty could move that fast, which meant these men weren't human. Even if I didn't know to be wary of alternate species, the cold smile I glimpsed on the auburn-haired member of the quartet told me they weren't here to ask for directions. I tried to rein in my now-galloping heartbeat. If I was lucky, these creatures would think it came from my recent exertions, though the scent of my fear probably gave me away.
"This is private property," I said.
"You must be the Fantastic Frankie," the tall, auburn-haired one said, ignoring that. His voice caressed my stage name in a way that sounded sinister.
"Who wants to know?" I replied while wondering where the hell Marty was. He had to have heard these guys even if he didn't sense that a group of nonhumans were here.
I'd been on the trampoline when I asked the question, but was on the ground in the next instant, the auburn-haired stranger's grip bruising me. He grunted in pain as currents pulsed into him from his contact with my skin, but like Marty, those currents didn't debilitate him. His grip only tightened.
"How the f**k did you do that?" he demanded, his gaze turning from blue to bright, unearthly green.
I didn't answer. My mind was awash in grayish images as soon as my right hand came into contact with his body. Just like I couldn't prevent those currents from flowing into him, I also couldn't stop seeing the worst of his sins through that single touch.
Blood. So much blood . . .
Through the panicked memory of another person's murder, I heard him curse me for screaming, and then a sharp pain preceded everything going black.
I faced my captors in what looked to be a hotel room, my hands folded in my lap as if I was placing a dinner order and they were waiters. If you ever meet another vampire, don't panic. You'll only smell like prey, Marty had warned me. I knew what my kidnappers were after seeing their eyes glow green. That was why I didn't bother lying when they asked me how I doubled as an electric eel and had the ability to siphon information through touch. If I lied, they'd only use the power in their gaze to make me tell the truth-or do whatever else they wanted-and I didn't want to give them any more control over me than they already had.
I also didn't try to run even though they hadn't tied me up. Most people didn't know vampires existed, let alone what they could do, but with my abilities, I'd known about vampires before I met Marty. My unwanted talents meant I knew all sorts of things I wished I didn't.
Like the fact that my captors had every intention of killing me; that topped the list of things I wished I didn't know at the moment. I'd seen my death after being forced to touch the auburn-haired vampire again, and it was an image that made me want to clutch my neck while backing away screaming.
I didn't. Guess I should be grateful that my unwanted abilities meant I'd experienced so many horrible deaths, I could look at my impending execution with a morbid sort of relief. Getting my throat ripped out would hurt-I'd relived that through other people enough times to know. Still, it wasn't the worst way to die. Besides, nothing was set in stone. I'd seen a glimpse of my possible future, but I'd managed to prevent Jackie's murder. Maybe I could find a way to prevent my own.
"So let me get this straight," Auburn Hair said, drawing the words out. "You touched a downed power line when you were thirteen, nearly died, and then later, your body began giving off electric voltage and your right hand divined psychic impressions from whatever you touched?"