Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(12)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(12)
Author: L.J. Smith

"Good morning," she said, smiling.

"Good morning," Kaitlyn said, feeling how wonderful it was to have a roommate to wake up with. "What's that noise?"

Anna cocked her head. "I have no idea."

"I'm going to find out." Kaitlyn got up and opened the bathroom door. She could hear the clanging more clearly now, and along with it, a weird shouting voice-and a sound like mooing.

Impulsively she knocked on the door that led from the bathroom into Rob and Lewis's room. When she heard Rob's voice calling, "Yeah, come in," she opened the door and peered around it.

Rob was sitting up in bed, his rebellious blond hair tousled into a lion's mane. His chest was bare, Kaitlyn noticed with an unreasonable feeling of shock. In the other bed there was a lump of blankets which presumably contained Lewis.

Kaitlyn suddenly realized she was wearing a T-shirt nightgown that only came down to her knees. It had seemed quite natural to walk around in it-until she was confronted by the indisputable reality of boys.

She looked desperately around for the source of the clanging and mooing as a distraction. Then she saw it.

It was a cow. A cow made of white porcelain, with a clock in its stomach. The measured, hoarse voice coming from it was shouting in a marked Japanese accent, "Wake . . . up! Don't sleep your life away! Wake . . . up!"

Kaitlyn looked at the talking alarm clock, and then she looked at Rob. Rob smiled his slow, infectious smile-and suddenly everything was all right.

"It has to be Lewis's," Kait gasped, and began to giggle.

"It's great, isn't it?" said a muffled voice from under the blankets. "I got it at Sharper Image."

"So this is what I can expect from my housemates," Kait said. "Mooing in the morning." She and Rob were both laughing together now, and she decided it was time to shut the door.

After she closed it, she looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. She didn't usually spend much time at mirrors, but just now . . .

Her hair was rather disheveled, falling in fine tangles to her waist. Wispy red curls had formed on her forehead. Her strangely ringed eyes looked back at her sarcastically.

So you don't care about boys, huh? they seemed to ask. So how come you're thinking that next time you ought to brush your hair before barging in on them?

Kaitlyn turned abruptly toward the shower-and that was when she remembered Marisol's visit.

"Watch out or get out. . . . This place is different than you think. ..."

God, had that really happened? It seemed more like a dream than anything else. Kaitlyn stood frozen in the middle of the bathroom, her happiness in the morning draining away. Was Marisol crazy? She must be-she must have some kind of mental trouble, creeping around in the middle of the night and standing over people in bed.

I've got to talk to someone about it, Kait realized. But she didn't know who. If she told Joyce, Marisol might get in trouble. It would be like snitching-and then again, what if it had all been a dream?

In the sunlit, bustling morning, with sounds of laughing and washing all around, it was impossible to even consider the idea that Marisol's warning had been genuine. That there really was something wrong at the Institute.

Marisol herself was in the kitchen when Kait went down for breakfast, but she returned Kaitlyn's questioning look with one of sullen blankness. And when Kait said politely, "Marisol, could I talk to you?" she just frowned without looking up from the orange juice she was pouring.

"I'm busy."

"But it's-it's about last night."

She was more than half expecting Marisol to say, "What are you talking about?"-which would mean that it had all been a dream. But instead Marisol shook back her mahogany hair and said, "Oh, that. Didn't you get it? That was a joke."

"A joke?"

"Of course, stupid," Marisol said roughly. "Didn't you know that? You superpsychics are all so stuck-up-couldn't you tell?"

Kaitlyn's temper hit flashover.

"Well, at least we don't sneak around at night acting like lunatics!" she snapped. "The next time you do that, you'd better watch out."

Marisol smirked. "Or what?"

"Or. .. you'll see!" Just then the others began arriving for breakfast, so Kaitlyn was spared having to think up a more specific threat. She muttered, "Nut," and snagged a muffin.

Breakfast was lively, just as dinner had been the night before-and just like the night before, Gabriel didn't show up. Kaitlyn forgot all about Marisol as Joyce told them the house rules and described some of the experiments the kids would be doing.

"We'll do one session of testing this morning, just to get some baselines," Joyce said. "But first, anybody who wants to call their parents can do it now. Kaitlyn, I don't think you called your dad yesterday."

"No, but this would be a great time. Thanks," Kait said. She was actually rather glad to get away from the table-looking at Rob's hair in the morning sunlight made her feel strange. She called her father from a phone at the foot of the stairs.

"Are you having a good time, hon?"

"Oh, yes," Kaitlyn said. "It's warm here, Dad; I can go out without a sweater. And everybody's nice- almost everybody. Most people. Anyway, I think it's going to be great here."

"And you've got enough money?"

"Oh, yes." Kaitlyn knew her father had scraped together everything he could for her before she left. "I'm going to be fine, Dad. Honest."

"That's terrific, honey. I miss you."

Kaitlyn blinked. "I miss you, too. I'd better go now-I love you." She could hear voices in the room just in front of her. She went around behind the staircase and saw an open door in the little hallway below the landing. Joyce and the others were in a room beyond.

"Come on in," Joyce said. "This is the front lab, the one that used to be a family room. I'm just giving the grand tour."

The lab wasn't at all what Kait had expected. She'd envisioned white walls, gleaming machines, tile floor, a hushed atmosphere. There were machines, but there was also an attractive folding screen, lots of comfortable chairs and couches, two bookcases, and a stereo playing New Age music.

"They proved a long time ago at Princeton that a homey atmosphere, is best," Joyce said. "It's like the observer effect, you know-psi abilities tend to fade any time the subject is uncomfortable."

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