Vaughn left Beth’s apartment last night wondering if Amber would be home. As he took the stairs down in twos, all he wanted to do is get home and listen to Beth’s recordings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy if his horrible, live-in girlfriend was home. Amber was always critical of Vaughn’s friendship with Beth but pair that with Monday’s announcement on HUBN, a lot of Amber’s paranoid accusations were now turning out to be true. Even though Vaughn knew she was only in part right about Beth, he hoped Amber didn’t actually know anything and most of her venom was from jealousy. Shaken by the revelation Beth is an empath and needed to flee something —or someone — Vaughn didn’t know what to do. It scared him that he cared more for Beth than he did his own girlfriend.
It was a chilly, drizzly morning as Amber quietly pulled up her favorite wool socks before her run. Vaughn was still asleep, as he often was this early on a Saturday. She could barely see him poking out from underneath the down comforter as she slipped out of the room. Their cat Borg rubbed against her leg and left a few stray hairs of loving assertiveness on her pants. Amber brushed the fur off after tying her shoes and bounced out the door. Mornings like these worried her because she never knew what (or who) Vaughn was getting into while she was gone.
Fitness is godliness, thought Amber as she turned onto the lake-side path. She was proud that despite the threat of empaths taking over the world, her fitness would remain a mainstay.
Vaughn waited until Borg thumped onto his toes before he got up. Amber’s Saturday morning runs take exactly 62 minutes, meaning time was precious and he needed to start listening to Beth’s recordings immediately.
After coming home last night he went around in circles about whether he should go back and help Beth pack or leave her alone. In the end, he resolved to stay home and play nice with Amber, knowing he could start listing to the recordings as soon as she went on her run in the morning. He barely slept because he knew everything was going to change.
Vaughn tapped his wristdrive and cast the file onto his lap with his phone. Wristdrives were still new tech but Cora Cares offered a 20% off discount on first-time purchases, so he just got one last month. A small drive was implanted into his wrist and uses bluetooth to connect to his phone. He was skeptical about it at first but learned to love the convenience and security of an entire computer on him at all times.
Beth Project 37Z-9A6. December 3, 2020.
Beth’s voice sounded out into the quiet morning, “Vaughn Torek! Hi.”
If you’re listening to this recording, I’ve already left town to hide. There are no steps or missions you need to go on so don’t start sweating. I want you to know everything about my story because, friend, I might need your help later. First is where I grew up: Pariswood.
Pariswood is a small suburb outside of Seattle. While quaint and behind in technology, it’s actually a hub for something big. There wasn’t much diversity in race and class, even though it was so close to the city. Everyone was plain. Everyone was boring. Everyone was quiet. No one really stood out there except for my mom.
My high school was one of the lowest ranking high schools in the state. Students that competed to get into universities couldn’t get accepted. They had to do fantastic extracurricular activities and have 4.0 GPAs to even be considered for the wait list.
I’m going to canoe to Alaska with my dog and make a documentary out of it!
Needless to say, most people peaked in high school and then settled down into young families shortly after graduating.
There wasn’t a whole lot to do in Pariswod so we hung out with friends, got high and watched movies. There was a small group of girls that accused me of being manipulative — which I kind of was because I could read their minds.
Molly should transfer out.
But by high school all was forgiven or forgotten.
Pariswood had seasons. Most of the Pacific Northwest didn’t have seasons. They had a really drawn out spring with maybe three weeks of summer, then a mild fall that got chilly right around Thanksgiving. And then it was just cold. Cold, gray and misty for months on end until it let up a tiny bit — back into what you would call spring. But in Pariswood there were seasons. They called it the Convergence Zone but it was bullshit. The reason why it had seasons is because of all the empaths living there. That’s right, almost all of those bland people were actually empaths. Almost everyone in Pariswood was an empath.
I can’t remember the last time I visited Pariswood. When I was old enough I moved out — and out of state. But what I found out recently, is there’s an entire underground operation. I don’t mean actually underground, I mean a secret society or community. In fact, they’re called The Community. TC for short. And they’re still alive and well today. TC took my mom in because she was a gifted empath. Eventually my mom became the President of TC, but I didn’t know this until it was too late.
If you go to the old Opera House in Pariswood, check out the guest books. The old Opera House is where TC had their meetings and conducted business. I don’t know if the Opera House is standing today and I don’t know where the meetings are now but when I was there as a kid I remember going there. I didn’t understand why we went there. I think I thought it was a church of some sort. I remember playing in random rooms with other kids while we waited for our parents. I made friends with them but I can’t remember any of their names and I don’t know if any of them were empaths or if all of them were empaths.
I tried really hard to —
I found out later that a lot of them weren’t.
Pariswood is important because as far as I’ve figured out, it’s where the founding empaths live. It’s a huge secret. I don’t know how they can keep it secret for much longer because the opposition is coming.
We tried really hard to talk to you before your mom died but she just —
Vaughn heard a tired train of footsteps coming towards the front door. He quickly stopped casting and grabbed the book he was reading last night. Borg stretched and walked to the door to greet Amber.
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[Featured image via Unsplash]