Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(3)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(3)
Author: L.J. Smith

"Danny Lindenmayer," the principal put in briskly.

"Danny Lindenmayer had disappeared," Joyce said, without looking away from Kait. "And the police were going door to door, looking for him. You were drawing with crayons while they talked to your father. You heard everything about the missing boy. And when you were done drawing, it was a picture you didn't understand, a picture of trees and a bridge . . . and something square."

Kaitlyn nodded, feeling oddly defeated. The memory sucked at her, making her dizzy. That first picture, so dark and strange, and her own fear. .. She'd known it was a very bad thing that her fingers had drawn. But she hadn't known why.

"And the next day, on TV, you saw the place where they'd found the little boy's body," Joyce said. "Underneath a bridge by some trees ... in a packing crate."

"Something square," Kaitlyn said.

"It matched the picture you'd drawn exactly, even though there was no way you could have known about that place. The bridge was thirty miles away, in a town you'd never been to. When your father saw the news on TV, he recognized your picture, too-and he got excited. Started showing the drawing around, telling the story. But people reacted badly. They already thought you were a little different because of your eyes. But this-this was a whole lot different. They didn't like it. And when it happened again, and again, when your drawings kept coming true, they got very frightened."

"And Kaitlyn developed something of an attitude problem," the principal interjected delicately. "She's naturally rebellious and a bit high-strung-like a colt. But she got prickly, too, and cool. Self-defense." She made tsking noises.

Kaitlyn glared, but it was a feeble glare. Joyce's quiet, sympathetic voice had disarmed her. She sat down again.

"So you know all about me," she said to Joyce. "So I've got an attitude problem. So wh-"

"You do not have an attitude problem," Joyce interrupted. She looked almost shocked. She leaned forward, speaking very earnestly. "You have a gift, a very great gift. Kaitlyn, don't you understand? Don't you realize how unusual you are, how wonderful?"

In Kaitlyn's experience, unusual did not equate to wonderful.

"In the entire world, there are only a handful of people who can do what you can do," Joyce said. "In the entire United States, we only found five."

"Five what?"

"Five high school seniors. Five kids like you. All with different talents, of course; none of you can do the same thing. But that's great; that's just what we were looking for. We'll be able to do a variety of experiments.”

"You want to experiment on me?" Kaitlyn looked at the principal in alarm.

"I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me explain. I'm from San Carlos, California-"

Well, that explained the tan.

"-and I work for the Zetes Institute. It's a very small laboratory, not at all like SRI or Duke University. It was established last year by a research grant from the Zetes Foundation. Mr. Zetes is-oh, how can I explain him? He's an incredible man-he's the chairman of a big corporation in Silicon Valley. But his real interest is in psychic phenomena. Psychic research."

Joyce paused and pushed sleek blond hair off her forehead. Kaitlyn could feel her working up to something big. "He's put up the funds for a very special project, a very intense project. It was his idea to do screening at high schools all over the country, looking for seniors with high psychic potential. To find the five or six that were absolutely the top, the cream of the crop, and to bring them to California for a year of testing."

"A year?"

"That's the beauty of it, don't you see? Instead of doing a few sporadic tests, we'd do testing daily, on a regular schedule. We'd be able to chart changes in your powers with your biorhythms, with your diet-" Joyce broke off abruptly. Looking at Kait directly, she reached out and took Kait's hands.

"Kaitlyn, let down the walls and just listen to me for a minute. Can you do that?"

Kait could feel her hands trembling in the cool grasp of the blond woman's fingers. She swallowed, unable to look away from those aquamarine eyes.

"Kaitlyn, I am not here to hurt you. I admire you tremendously. You have a wonderful gift. I want to study it-I've spent my life preparing to study it. I went to college at Duke-you know, where Rhine did his telepathy experiments. I got my master's degree in parapsychology-I've worked at the Dream Laboratory at Maimonides, and the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, and the Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory at Princeton. And all I've ever wanted is a subject like you. Together we can prove that what you do is real. We can get hard, replicable, scientific proof. We can show the world that ESP exists."

She stopped, and Kaitlyn heard the whir of a copier in the outer office.

"There are some benefits for Kaitlyn, too," Ms. McCasslan said. "I think you should explain the terms."

"Oh, yes." Joyce let go of Kaitlyn's hands and picked up a manila folder from the desk. "You'll go to a very good school in San Carlos to finish up your senior year. Meanwhile you'll be living at the Institute with the four other students we've chosen. We'll do testing every afternoon, but it won't take long-just an hour or two a day. And at the end of a year, you'll receive a scholarship to the college of your choice." Joyce opened the folder and handed it to Kaitlyn. "A very generous scholarship."

"A very generous scholarship," Ms. McCasslan said.

Kaitlyn found herself looking at a number on a piece of paper. "That's . . . for all of us, to split?"

"That is for you," Joyce said. "Alone."

Kaitlyn felt dizzy.

"You'll be helping the cause of science," Joyce said. "And you could make a new life for yourself. A new start. No one at your new school needs to know why you're there; you can just be an ordinary high school kid. Next fall you can go to Stanford or San Francisco State University-San Carlos is just half an hour south of San Francisco. And after that, you're free. You can go anywhere."

Kaitlyn felt really dizzy.

"You'll love the Bay Area. Sunshine, nice beaches- do you realize it was seventy degrees there yesterday when I left? Seventy degrees in winter. Redwoods- palm trees-"

"I can't," Kaitlyn said weakly.

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