Racing the Clock
Chapter 1: Random Roadway Encounters

Copyright© 2014 by Crumbly Writer

Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: Random Roadway Encounters - Alex has a mission to find as many new followers as he can in the limited time he has left as he comes to grip with the knowledge his abilities will likely kill him. Before that happens, he hits the road with his sister and Gail. Along the way, they learn much more about him, his followers and about leading a mission when one doesn't know the way. He needs enough followers to build a new branch on the evolutionary tree, but has a limited time and needs to stay below the radar as he does it.

Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Fa/Fa   Mult   Consensual   Romantic   Fiction   Science Fiction   Extra Sensory Perception   Paranormal   Incest   Brother   Sister   Harem   Slow   Science fiction adult story, sci-fi adult story, science-fiction sex story, sci-fi sex story

Nicole was riding to work with her boyfriend. As always, he insisted on when they left, what she could take, what she wore and even what they listened to on the way into town. They both worked in St. Louis, although they lived in Lebanon, Illinois, a town just about a half hour's drive from the city. Nicole was sitting staring out the window as Stuart was talking about some petty thing bothering him at work. At least he's not haranguing me about something I forgot to do, she told herself.

She was merely glancing at the many passing cars when she suddenly felt an odd sensation in the pit of her stomach and sat up a little straighter. For some reason she could tell there was someone important in one of the cars ahead of her. She didn't know why, but she felt it was important she at least see who it was. Like maybe it would improve her life somehow, something she could definitely stand at this point.

Life with Stuart had become stifling lately. When they first met it had been exciting. He'd arrived and swept her off her feet. He'd seemed utterly devoted to her and was interested in everything she said or did. However lately he seemed much less interested in her, except to get upset when she didn't pay enough attention to him. He also didn't seem particularly concerned with her views on anything anymore. Not that she could blame him, she hardly had any views on any topics nowadays. She never saw any of her friends, her family had grown distant and she wasn't allowed to stay late at work lest Stuart get upset.

Her sister Sue had warned her about Stuart, telling her he was trying to separate her from her family, but she'd believed Stuart when he told her she was the one trying to drive a wedge between them and that she'd actually made a pass at him. After hearing that, she stopped speaking to her sister altogether. Sue tried to talk to her after that, but after being ignored for several months Sue eventually gave up. Truth be known, she actually missed her sister, even if she was a back-stabbing little bitch.

But now she somehow knew there was someone in the car ahead of her who could improve her life. She knew it sounded stupid, and she was sure Stuart would be more than glad to point that out to her, but somehow she just felt seeing who it was would make a big difference somehow.

"Stuart, could you move over to the center lane? There's a car I want to see," she cautiously suggested.

"Huh? What was that?" he asked, glancing quickly at her before turning away again. "You want me to move into a slower lane so you can gawk at someone? What, you expect me to drive you around so you can stare at guys you think are better looking than me?"

Nicole knew he'd overreact to her request. He always seemed to turn everything she brought up into a criticism of him, but he did it as a personal attack. He never seemed hurt. Instead he always seemed angry she'd have an interest besides him.

"It's nothing like that," she said, trying to placate him. "It's just that I think I saw someone important in it." She was afraid to tell him the real reason she was interested, but she thought he'd buy that idea. He was fascinated with famous people.

Glancing across the lanes of traffic he scoffed. "I doubt it. No one famous would be caught dead in any of the beat up old cars around us, not to mention spending any time in a Podunk town like St. Louis. As soon as I become famous I'm leaving this stupid town and heading someplace impressive like California or the Jersey Shore. Somewhere people are actually doing something."

Nicole tried to control her tongue, knowing how he was liable to react if she contradicted him, but she couldn't help herself. "No, really, that little gray car. It must be someone traveling incognito."

"Nicks, you're dreaming," he responded with a dismissive wave, not even glancing at her after nothing more than a quick glance at the car. "No one with any money would be caught dead in a car like that. Look, if you want to stare at handsome guys, just tell me and I'll drop you off on the corner and you can look all you want, but you aren't going to find anyone any better looking or more fascinating than I am. I'm not saying I'm the best looking guy in the world, but... ," he said, luckily not expressing the sentiment behind the thought.

Stuart had long treated Nicole like this. He wasn't physically abusive, instead what he practiced was a form of mental abuse based on his own insecurities. He didn't have a great sense of himself, so he always made himself feel better by bringing those around him down to his level. And he'd do it in a very passive-aggressive manner. He'd never confront someone directly, choosing instead to belittle their ideas, or offer up impossible options he knew they'd clearly never take, just to emphasize a point. It was a long standing pattern, one which had developed slowly, so Nicole had never known he was so insidious, but after several years of living with him, she no longer had the confidence to do much of anything anymore.

So Nicole simply glanced out the window as they slowly made their way around the nondescript little car. Stuart already seemed to have forgotten the topic of discussion, as he was going on about something she'd forgotten again, but she had no desire to listen to it at the moment.

Amanda Beckett was running late. She'd tried, but she couldn't talk her mother into babysitting again, so she was trying to drop her son Tyler off at daycare before she was late for a very important job interview—one she desperately needed. It was just so difficult getting ahead when life kept holding you back. There just had to be something more to life than pushing a time clock and trying to keep your head above water. But just as she thought that, she noticed something odd, or rather, she felt it. It was hard to describe, but there was something about the car ahead of her. She had no idea what it was, but there was just something about it. The car wasn't very fancy, and the make and model didn't mean anything to her, but she somehow knew there was someone important riding in it. She had no idea how she could possibly know that, but she just did. There were a couple of cars between her and the car in question, so she put her blinker on and started edging over, essentially forcing the car beside her to back off or be run off of the road.

She couldn't see much of the car ahead. It looked like a nondescript little Japanese car. It had seen better days, but she knew outer appearances often belied what lay underneath, and she felt the same about the little car. As she drew closer she could see several figures inside. Even without seeing him, she could tell the figure in the passenger seat was what was drawing her. As she changed lanes abruptly, accompanied by the car behind her sounding its horn and flipping her off, the young woman in the back seat glanced back and seemed to notice her. However the young lady looked down, paying her no particular attention and seemed to be studiously looking for something. But soon she looked up again and held something up.

Amanda couldn't see it very well, so she drew as close as she dared, tailgating the car in question to the displeasure of the intervening drivers. It seemed the girl was holding up some paper with some writing on it. She tried to read it but it was too hard to make out. Seeing her difficulty, the young girl, who Amanda now guessed must be college aged, was trying to stick the sheets of paper she'd written on to the rear window using nothing more than saliva. It seemed to work, at least partially. As she put the second sheet up Amanda could now make out the message. It read, simply, "Follow Us". Nothing more, nothing less, but Amanda knew she'd follow that car to Oregon if she had to. She didn't know why, but for some reason is was important for her to do so.

The car Nicole Mullins was watching held a few people. Glancing at her boyfriend to be sure he wasn't watching her too closely, she saw a young woman in the back seat. The driver was a fairly tough but pretty young woman. She could only imagine what kind of life she'd be likely to have. She also noticed there was another car changing lanes to get closer to it, so she knew she wasn't crazy. If someone else felt it, then she couldn't be imagining things, now could she?

The car between them pulled forward and she got her first glance at the person riding in the passenger seat. As he came into view he glanced absentmindedly out the window in her direction, and suddenly she knew everything was going to be better. Somehow that one look and the brief glimpse of a smile, assured her her life was going to be better.

"Stuart," she told him in an ominous tone which caught him by surprise. "You are going to change lanes. I want to see that car, and frankly, I don't give a damn what you think about it."

"Wha—?" he started to argue, even though he didn't quite know what point he was arguing yet. Was she still going on about wanting to look at some stupid car?

"Listen, you little shithead," she said, speaking in a barely audible whisper which made his blood run cold. Stuart knew she was more serious than she ever had been before. "You've controlled my life, you controlled access to my friends, you've ordered me around, but there comes a time for a person to reclaim their own life. You certainly haven't done anything to make my life any better. Right now I've got no friends, no family, no outside interests and I'm barely hanging onto my job because you expect my constant attention. Well it ends right now. Now change lanes. I'll let you know whether I've got any desire to go into work soon or not."

Man, Nicole was pissed. She had no idea where it had come from, but when she started it just seemed to bubble up from somewhere deep inside of her. Stuart glanced at her, looking nervous that he'd unknowingly upset her so much. His longstanding control over her had been indirect, and he wasn't comfortable with direct confrontations. Unable to understand how his world had just changed so radically, Stuart finally did something wise ... he shut up and followed her instructions.

"I don't know what this is about, but—" he started to say.

"No, Stuart, like so many things, you have no idea what you're talking about. You think you're so special, but all you've managed to accomplish is to get a job making copies in an office downtown. Now shut the fuck up and stay out of this. This is more important than either of us," Nicole assured him. He wisely decided to quit arguing and comply.

The car Alex was riding in was new, relatively speaking. No one had wanted him to use his old car to drive across the country. He'd resisted their pressure to purchase a new car until they pointed out he wouldn't like it if his car broke down in the middle of the Mojave desert and he had to walk out of there on foot. However, once he agreed he might need a new car, they insisted on a big SUV.

"Don't worry," Shani assured him, "the foundation can cover the expenses. But the SUVs are the safest vehicles, both in terms of accidents and in protecting you from other dangers as well. Especially if we get one of the ones that Gail suggests, with the darkened windows and added body protection."

Alex had simply sighed at this. "Look, Jesus didn't drive into Jerusalem in a fancy new chariot. He traveled by donkey or on foot. It hardly looks comforting for me to drive up in a fancy new SUV. I'm willing to drive a newer car, after all, California is a hell of a long ways away, but I want a small car which will fit in wherever we may end up. I don't want to worry about someone stealing it, getting carjacked, or thinking I'm stealing money from the foundation. The foundation is there to help the girls, not to treat me like I'm a king. I'll spend a few bucks to get a reliable car, but it's going to be appropriate for a kid of my stature."

"Alex, your stature is ... never mind. As always, we'll follow your decisions," Shani had acquiesced. "We may not like it, but you probably know best."

So Alex had ended up with a ten year old Toyota Corolla he got from one of Maria Flores's cousins. She assured him it was in good condition and that her cousin knew how to take care of cars. He accepted that and took it on her word alone. Michelle had recommended a reputable mechanic for Gail to have it inspected by afterwards, and he confirmed it was in excellent shape. He even updated the few worn parts to prevent their having potential breakdown problems. The foundation bought it and assigned it to Alex to conduct foundation business in.

Thus they were traveling in a little car just a little less uncomfortable than Alex's previous car.

"I can just imagine what this car will feel like after a couple of thousand miles," Gail complained. "And it's hardly a secure car."

"No car is secure if someone is after you, and every car is safe until something happens," Alex answered simply. He'd made his decision and knew Gail would accept it. She may not appreciate riding in it, but she wouldn't second guess him. She continued to grumble, but neither Alex nor his sister paid her much heed.

Alex had allowed Gail to drive after she'd argued she was both more familiar with city driving and with St. Louis. Besides, he wasn't terribly impressed with the traffic at this hour, so having her drive allowed him to simply lean back and close his eyes. The trip to St. Louis took them a little more than three hours. They'd caught the end of the morning commute, but missed most of it since they'd arrived so late. However they learned what they were in for on their journey when Cate noticed a woman changing lanes to get behind them. Previously they'd always driven to St. Louis at night, so they hadn't had to deal with many drivers. Cate, always full of ideas, grabbed some notebook paper and wrote "Follow Us" on it. Since no one had thought to bring tape she tried to attach it with saliva, which wasn't great, but it lasted long enough for the car following them to see. Alex instructed Gail to take the next exit just as they entered East St. Louis and she offered no objection, simply knowing when he told her to do something there always seemed to be a reason for it, even if none of them knew it at the moment.

Pulling into the parking lot of an abandoned business, Gail put the car in idle but didn't turn it off yet. Despite trusting Alex, she remained cautious, and if anything untoward might unfold she wanted to be sure she had an escape plan. However Alex was already unbuckling his seat belt.

"I think there's another car following us as well," Cate told them both. "It just pulled in behind the other one."

Alex glanced back as he opened the door. Since he was already getting out Gail quickly shut the car off and put her arm across his chest, silently telling him to wait until she could prepare herself. She unbuckled herself, checked her Taser and can of mace in her breast pocket, that's the reason why she always preferred men's shirts, they contained handy pockets for putting things in just like her old police uniforms had. She also had a conceal carry permit for both Illinois and Missouri. In fact, she'd made arrangements with most of the states they planned to travel to, but she didn't want to risk revealing a gun to someone they'd effectively asked to speak to. Thus she kept the gun hidden.

When she was ready she got out, quickly stepping aside so both Alex and Cate could while she watched over them.

Gail took in the two cars parked in the abandoned lot with them. The first held a young woman dressed in a business suit which didn't look very good on her. She fretted with something in the seat beside her before getting out of the car. Gail didn't have as clear a view of the car behind that one, but it appeared to have two figures arguing in it. She quietly took up a position to the side where she could observe and react to anyone approaching Alex. She signaled him he should let whoever might want to see him approach him themselves. Cate walked around the car to stand slightly behind her brother.

Amanda was ecstatic the car had waited patiently for her. She'd wanted to ensure that little Tyler wouldn't fret too much while she was gone. She felt terrible leaving him in a car all alone, but she'd be nearby and she knew this was definitely an extenuating circumstance if there ever was one. Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she climbed out of the car.

She observed three people waiting for her, but she hardly noticed the other two, the only one she had any eyes for was the central figure, a young man who looked just like a young kid, but who Amanda could tell was wise beyond his meager years. She quickly approached, then hesitated before reaching them and did a quick curtsy, something she'd learned as a young girl when she pretended to be a princess. She didn't know what the proper protocol for a meeting like this was, but she felt they deserved some sort of formal meeting protocol. The young man before her simply motioned her forward.

She rose to her feet hesitantly. "Uh, excuse me, you don't know me from Eve but—"

"Don't worry. We're used to being approached by now. We were expecting you, even though we never know quite when someone will show up. I'm Alex, by the way, these people with me are Gail, my personal watchdog, and my sister Cate. Now, you are... ?" he asked her, drawing out the end of the sentence.

"Oh, my name is Amanda Beckett. I'm delighted to meet you. I had this amazing feeling when I first saw you in the car ahead of me and—"

"Believe me, Amanda, he knows all about those feelings you had," the young girl with him said. "Let me explain a little about what's happening and about yourself while Alex says hello to our other guests."

Amanda did as the young girl told her, but she couldn't take her eyes off Alex even as he casually strolled away accompanied by the woman guarding him. Cate, the girl who had spoken to her, started to reveal an amazing amount of information to her.

"I don't know what you think—" complained a somewhat stocky figure with short hair, slightly older than his companion, standing beside a larger car as both Alex and Gail approached it.

"I don't care what you think you know, or what you feel. This is important, so shut the fuck up!" When the woman turned to face them, she saw the language she'd used with her boyfriend had been overheard so she blushed fiercely.

"I'm sorry you had to hear that," she started to apologize, but Alex cut her off.

"Never mind. These meetings are never planned, so we never have any expectations for how they should occur. My name is Alex, this is Gail. If you don't mind, she'll stay here with your... , I'm guessing it's a boyfriend?"

"Yeah, Stuart is my boyfriend. For the moment at least, though I have a feeling that's going to change pretty quickly," she added, shooting him a quick look. "My name is Nicole Mullins," she added, flashing a smile and forgetting all about Stuart.

"Don't worry about appearances, everyone is surprised by these encounters," he told her as he took in her appearance. She was pretty, if a bit mousey, with almost shoulder length hair and little makeup. She was dressed appropriately for work, but her dress didn't look especially nice. Alex didn't judge her on that, though; after all, he'd just explained how these meetings always seemed to occur at odd occasions. He thought there would be an interesting story behind it, especially since the man she was with was dressed fairly well in a nice new suit.

"You'll understand once we start to explain. Though you might want to consider just what you may want to tell Stuart as my sister Cate explains just what is going on." With that Alex steered Nicole back to his car, where Cate was busy telling Amanda what she'd now need to know about her new life.

Amanda was a young thing with pretty brown curls and brown eyes. And she wasn't one of these stick figures you frequently see either. She looked more natural than other girls somehow, dressed in a nice outfit which would fit in an office environment, and as always she beamed at Alex.

Amanda was on her way to a job interview, so Alex made sure they kept the discussions to a minimum, having Cate give them just as much information as she needed, with a warning for them to get in contact with the Angel Vision Foundation in Carbondale for more information. When they found out Amanda had left her son, Tyler, sitting alone in his car seat they insisted on checking on him. Amanda was pleased Tyler seemed to take to Alex so easily, although she wasn't surprised to see he could relate so easily to her son. She hoped he'd grow up to be just a little like Alex seemed.

Stuart seemed to grow a bit agitated seeing everyone congregating around Amanda's car.

"Don't mind my soon to be ex," Nicole told them. "Somehow you opened my eyes to what he's been doing, and more importantly what I've become ... now I know what I need to do about it. And you did it without speaking a word to me."

"That's exactly what the Angel Vision Foundation is about," Alex explained to her, "getting women to listen to their inner voices. You have access to a lot more information to guide you than you ever suspected. What's more, it's likely your family members also have the same abilities as you do."

"Oh, geez, I guess you're right. I need to contact my sister and mother and nieces about this."

"Just try not to shock them. This is a lot of information to take in at once," Alex cautioned her.

"Look, I don't mean to intrude, Amanda," Nicole said, intruding into their conversation, "but I heard you're running late for a job interview. I think I've just decided to take the day off to take care of some unpleasant personal business. I'd be glad to watch your son for you while you check out that job. Then maybe we can both take some time off and visit Carbondale. I've never been there, but something tells me we may find a few things very interesting there."

Alex, Cate and Gail soon said farewell to the new girls, letting them figure out how to tell everyone whatever they wanted about the encounter. Alex was sure he'd hear more about each of them soon.

The same sort of thing happened to them several times after that. It seemed the Watchers were hardly the shrinking violets they'd long assumed they were. Now it appeared they felt strongly about their feelings concerning Alex, but he'd never approached any of them like this before. Traveling during the early morning commute apparently made a significant difference, since they were encountering so many more people now. Cate simply gave them a business card for the Angel Vision Foundation and a pamphlet, before Alex told them to hurry in to work and to read the material at their leisure later. The women didn't seem to be convinced, but the last thing Alex wanted was to cost any of them their jobs. Alex could just imagine what the next month or two were going to be like if they'd be running across this many people in just a single early morning drive.

Gail finally got them to her apartment, where Melissa met them and Gail gave her the keys and all the information she needed. Since Melissa's apartment was smaller, she was officially moving in, in anticipation of Gail's returning home after their little road trip. It was a little strange for a new relationship, but their relationship was hardly typical, and that was the deal they had worked out. Gail got her apartment and plants looked after while she was gone, and Melissa got a nicer apartment and a chance to 'customize' Gail's apartment to her own desires.

Melissa gave them all big hugs, telling Alex to be careful and to try to have some fun. Cate just had to tell her what had already happened that morning.

"Well, try to have some fun in between all the crazy followers," she corrected herself. After that they hit the road again. After all, it was at least another five hours until they reached Memphis, their stop for the night.

Alex took over driving this time, since they were officially past the rush-hour traffic surge. Cate took the passenger seat so she could operate the GPS on her iPad, while Gail kept watch from the back seat. Gail insisted she'd take over driving before they entered Memphis.

Alex glanced at his sister. Between taking their finals, Cate's preparing for college and handling graduation, she'd been busy the past couple of weeks. Knowing they only had a little time she'd stepped up her experiments. Aside from her regular experiments where she tested the mice's reactions to having been exposed to Alex's energy, she also had him try to repeat on them what he'd done to Rakeem.

When Alex had met the gangster, dressed all in black when he'd pulled a gun and pointed it at his forehead, Alex hadn't known what to do, so he simply sent a mental image of his face to his girls and closed his eyes, expecting death at any moment. But it never came, and when he eventually opened his eyes he'd discovered Rakeem had suffered a sudden stroke.

It later turned out it was hardly a random event. Somehow, in a moment of panic, Alex had done to Rakeem what he did to the potential Seers. He'd activated a non-susceptible person. He'd essentially created a small empty place in his brain, causing the stroke like response, and in that space he'd created a communication link to himself. However, since Rakeem was neither female nor had any of the required genes, he never acquired any of the abilities the others had. However Alex had begun to receive random thoughts from him over the next week. And in the following weeks, Cate had been anxious to see if he could duplicate that action, and if they could learn how he could control it.

The results were poor, to say the least. The majority of the time nothing happened as Alex had no clue what he'd done. Their best results ended with a dead mouse, though. A necropsy revealed Alex had in fact created the same changes to its brain, however it wasn't as well controlled, as this one replaced the majority of the left side of the mouse's brain, killing it instantly.

Cate had him repeat the experiment, again with little success, although Alex managed to kill yet another mouse, though with a little less of its brain destroyed. He wasn't sure if that could be considered success, though.

When Cate had examined the little animal's brain she was nervous, not knowing what to expect when she opened the newly created cavity. She theorized Alex had created an inter-dimensional portal which allowed instant transmission of thoughts, electrical impulses, matter and energy. They'd never tried to expose one of these to the air before. However opening it was fairly disappointing, as it simply appeared to be a hole in the mouse's brain. Apparently whatever portal which had been there before had disappeared when it died.

Thus they hadn't learned much, aside from the fact it was a fairly dangerous thing they were essentially playing with. Alex didn't feel comfortable with it, but he felt even more uncomfortable with the underlying abilities being uncontrolled and occurring at random. He was afraid of being surprised by someone and accidentally frying their brains. However all they had now were more questions and no more control than they'd had before. Still, it was amazing the amount of effort Cate put into trying to figure out how her brother's abilities worked.

She'd also experimented with his 'illness'. They knew if he overexerted himself he became weak to the point of collapse. When Ryan had scheduled a stress test to see if they could duplicate it they'd been disappointed, since his body's ability to heal itself seemed to counteract the induced stress. That's when Becky had suggested continually increasing the stress. Thus Alex had run hard up an ever increasing plane for a very long time. But they'd gotten their reaction; Alex had collapsed gasping onto the floor.

Ryan had pronounced it a severe heart arrhythmia, though it had disappeared almost as soon as Alex had collapsed. But the other symptoms remained. Alex's thighs, calves and chest all bore bruises, some significant. Those too healed faster than normal, but it still took days to occur. They had no more real evidence of what was happening, but they knew that when his system started to fail, it produced a multisystem failure. Thus they were hesitant to try repeating the experiment.

They were just exiting the 255 loop around the city when they were surprised by a police car, which had quietly pulled up behind them and briefly turned on its siren. Alex didn't know what he could have done, but was preparing to pull over when the police car pulled out into the other lane. Alex figured it must have gotten a call and was just letting everyone know it needed to pass, so Alex eased over to give it room to get around him.

However the police car pulled up alongside their car and the overweight policeman in the passenger seat motioned for Alex to lower his window. Somewhat confused, Alex did so.

"My partner wants to know if you need an escort," the cop shouted to him over the noises of the highway. Alex almost broke out laughing over the continuing strange situations he found himself in.

"That's OK, but if you could show us the nearest coffee shop, I need to discuss something with your partner," Alex shouted back, unsure how much of his message would be understood. The two cops talked for a few moments while Alex and company waited to hear their response. Alex tried to catch a glimpse of the cop driving, but he was afraid to make eye contact with her for fear of what would happen if he activated her while they were both driving at 70 mph.

"She's trying not to stare, but I think it's pretty obvious she's not a Seer," Cate advised her brother, knowing him well enough to know his fears. "If she was, she wouldn't be driving patiently beside you for so long."

The male cop leaned back out the window. "OK, follow us," he shouted before they pulled in front of them and turned their lights on and took off. Alex tried his best to keep up, doing 95 as they both exited the highway.

The police stopped at a Denny's. Luckily the driver had turned off their lights and siren beforehand.

"Gail, you—"

"Yeah, I'll keep her partner occupied," she said, anticipating his request.

"Good, hopefully we can do this easily. By the way, do you recognize them?"

"Honestly, no, but then they're State Police, so we'd only have a few opportunities to meet before," Gail informed him. "Give me a chance to distract the passenger before you get out, just in case."

So Gail climbed out and started talking cop talk to the passenger of the cop car. Once they started talking, Alex and Cate climbed out of the car. The driver came over to them, having apparently been waiting specifically for Alex.

"Sorry, but I'm—"

"Hey, don't mention it. My name is Alex, this is my sister Cate, and our pal is Gail. Let's get inside so we can avoid attracting any more attention. We've got a lot to discuss. Your life is about to change. I just hope you can separate your cop life from your private life."

"Hmm, that sounds ominous. My name is Anna, Annabelle LeForge. My partner is Toby Sorensen. I see your partner is purposely distracting him, so I gather what you're about to tell me is of a slightly questionable nature."

"Well, it's not illegal, but it is a bit unusual, and we'd prefer it not become common knowledge, especially not to an organization like the police or the military, if you get my drift."

"Well, I don't get it yet, but hopefully you'll explain it to me," Anna said as Alex led her inside, trailed by Cate who glanced back to make sure Gail and Toby were following at a far enough distance they wouldn't overhear anything. Toby was heavy set with a bit of a belly and with a receding hairline, but he seemed fit anyway and he was large, so Alex thought he'd rather not have him angry at him if he could help it. Anna seemed nice, but she looked like a lot of cops, pale from being inside much of the day and not getting outside socially a lot. Alex guessed she probably hung out at the local cop bar rather than socializing with other friends. Once inside they sat at the counter so Gail could isolate Toby, while Alex and Cate surrounded Anna.

Alex and Cate quickly outlined what being a Watcher was about, which Anna seemed to soak up. Alex was watching her carefully, anxious that she may take the information the wrong way. If she thought Alex represented a risk to the public safety she could definitely make life very difficult for them. However she seemed to handle everything pretty well, even though they had to keep their voices very low the entire time.

Once they covered the basic info, Cate slipped her their pamphlet and told her to contact the Angel Vision Foundation, and then they turned their attention on Toby to ensure he didn't feel ignored.

"So I take it you finished telling Anna whatever you needed to?" he asked. Alex couldn't help but laugh.

"Yeah, we did. Go ahead and ask her about it. She'll give you a nice little recap of it, but we asked her not to reveal it all to you. It's a bit of a sensitive topic with public officials, you understand?"

"Look, as long as she doesn't show up for work unable to perform, and she isn't involved in anything illegal, I won't stick my nose in it. But just be aware if you get her into anything weird, or she gets hurt in any way, I'm not going to be pleased and I'll make it a personal mission to help her get away from you," he warned them. However he quickly broke into a grin. "However I doubt you'd ever do anything like that."

Alex looked at him curiously. "And why would you say something like that. You don't know me from Adam. I could be a serial rapist con-man."

Toby just looked at him seriously. "You're a young kid, traveling with his sister and an ex member of the St. Louis police force. That's about as clean cut as you can get. What's more, you're driving an old compact car, you don't have any expensive jewelry or clothes, and I can tell from your teeth you aren't out to win anyone over." When Alex cocked his head questioningly at him he explained himself.

"People who are out to influence people, and who think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, always invest in their teeth, thinking a shiny smile will win them more loyal fans. It's clear you're used to women walking up to you who are willing to do anything for you. Anna had no idea who you were, but she was willing to go out of her way to offer you professional services most politicians don't get. Yet you don't appear to take that sort of adoration personally. You seem like a good kid, so whatever you have going on between you and my partner, I'm sure it's kosher."

"Wow, I can see you must be good at your job, because you've managed to categorize me pretty quickly. But I'm glad you feel so protective of your partner, even if you didn't think it was necessary in my case. If you didn't feel that way, I'd question just how much of a friend you are. However, I feel sure you'll find her even more productive and comfortable with herself than she was before. I'm no threat to her, but I just can't tell you what this is about yet. Maybe sometime in the future, but this information takes time to percolate through your psyche, so it's better if you learn about it slowly."

"OK, I can live with that," Toby replied. "I won't push, but I'll wait for her to eventually give me something to work with. You may feel it's necessary for her to keep secrets, but keeping secrets generally isn't good for said psyche."

"I understand that, and again I appreciate it, but I don't think you have to worry. She'll find quite a few new friends she can share her secret with, and I tend to emphasize keeping old friends, even if they have to work to incorporate them into their new lives."

"Well, I appreciate your attitude as well. Now, if you are done, I think it's about time we got back on duty. After all, we're supposed to be working here, not sitting around eating donuts and drinking coffee."

They split up after that, everyone shaking hands, Anna telling them she'd get in contact with the Foundation as soon as she could. Alex had to ask them not to accompany them out of town. He also promised them he'd catch them when he was next in town.

Those encounters set the scene for the rest of the trip. Before, when they simply focused exclusively on the Seers who approached them, they'd never noticed just how many people they disrupted on a simple drive. Alex wondered just how many people he'd left behind on his previous trip to New Orleans and back. Now they were stopping nearly every exit, and they even had to pull over on the breakdown lane when they couldn't get the people following them to understand they wanted them to follow them to the nearest exit. If you think it is difficult giving people the same information over and over again, then try doing it on the side of a busy highway with cars whizzing past at breakneck speeds. But what amazed Alex the most was that they all trusted him enough to stop as soon as he pulled over. They trusted he wouldn't pull out a knife and steal their cars, which said a lot about their unrecognized abilities. That's why he was working so hard to get women of all sorts to recognize their inner voices. If his girls could assist other women to avoid trouble, then that was another benefit to this whole movement.

About an hour outside of Memphis, Alex was driving again, when they approached a small family car. There was a young boy playing with something facing him so he waved, but the child never noticed him. He also noticed another young kid, but he or she seemed to be facing the front of the car. But as Alex drew near he noticed the child, a small girl with curly blond hair, turn abruptly and crawl to the back of the car.

Even before it happened Alex knew what was about to happen when she looked back directly at him, her blue eyes shining brightly across the distance. She jerked back which, timed with a slight bump in the road, tossed her on her tiny little ass. Her brother seemed to notice and said something to his parents about it, but as far as Alex could tell they didn't do anything about it. Kids fall down, parents get used to it.

Although the initial contact was extremely brief, Alex had made a conscious effort to try to form whatever connection was necessary to establish contact with her in case it was needed, but he waited until she recovered so he wouldn't panic her any more than she already was. She soon climbed back up and peered out the back window.

'Are you OK?' Alex asked her.

'Yeah, I am. Who are you and how are you talking to me? And what's wrong with my eyes?'

She was a cute kid with blond hair, blue eyes and a missing tooth. Alex smiled at her as he spoke to her.

'There is nothing wrong with your eyes, you'll get used to it soon. I need to talk to you about your vision and yourself. What happened to you is big, and we need to talk about it. What are your parents' names?'

'Uh, Mom and Dad, ' she answered with the simplicity of a child.

'Do you know their proper names?' Alex asked, pushing her a little.

'Uh, Michael and Sarah Grant, ' she answered.

'And you are?' he continued to prompt.

'My name is Debbie. Why are you so bright? I can hardly see out the back of the car you're so bright.'

'I'll explain all that, but I need to speak to your parents. Could you ask them what their mobile phone number is?'

She moved to the front of the car and he could see her speaking to them for a moment.

"Something going on?" Cate asked him.

"Yeah, I just activated the little girl in the car ahead of us."

"Wow, you really should lie down in the backseat while we drive. This sounds a lot like when you lost Nikki the last time we passed this way. How are you going to get the parents to stop?"

Just then Debbie slowly repeated a string of numbers, which Alex relayed to his sister. She quickly jotted them down.

"Now, I want you to call the parents, Michael and Sarah Grant, and tell them we need to talk to them about their daughter."

She just turned and looked at her brother. "Yeah, right. And why should they listen to me?"

"If you have a better idea I'm all ears," he suggested. She continued to stare for a few moments, but eventually shrugged and started dialing.

"Hello, you don't know me, but we're in the car behind you and we need to speak to you about..." Cate hesitated long enough for Alex to supply her with the proper name to use, "about Debbie."

"No, this isn't a joke. If you look behind you you'll notice we're flashing our lights at you as we speak. We know your names are Michael and Sarah. I can't tell you why we need to speak with you, just that it's necessary for your little girls' future."

Cate didn't seem to be making much progress.

"Tell them to think of a number between 1 and 10, and to show her daughter that many fingers without saying anything or showing us," Alex told her.

"Tell her the answer is seven, that Debbie's birthday is October 7th, and that Kevin stole a candy from the last store they stopped at." Alex waited patiently while the information was conveyed. It still took a little while for them to feel comfortable opening up to some strangers following them.

"They're not sure they want to stop to talk to us. They want to know what we want with their daughter," Cate relayed.

"Tell her to ask Debbie what she looks like." He waited for the response.

"She doesn't understand what's happening," Cate told him.

'Debbie, tell your mother what you see is the life force of people around you. You see how healthy people are, but you need training to use it. Tell her we are the only ones who can train you."

Alex heard more talking over Cate's phone, to which Cate would occasionally say a few words. Finally he grew frustrated.

"Put the phone on speaker," he told his sister.

" ... swoop in and tell us what's wrong with our child. We have no idea who you are. We never asked for any assistance. How the hell are we supposed to know who you are?"

"Hello, Sarah? This is Alex. This wasn't planned, we just happened to be passing when we encountered you. We aren't trying to sell you anything, and we don't want to convert you to anything. We just want to tell you a few things you are going to need to know about your daughter for the next several years."

"And why should we believe you? What kind of medical degree do you have? You just sound like some kid yourself."

"Sarah. Try to calm down a little bit. We were just trying to help, but it looks like you aren't receptive to it at the moment. You can only turn water into wine so many times, or feed so many people with a couple Ritz crackers, before you have to assume they simply aren't going to believe you. We'll leave you alone to cope with this however you want. Just be aware we'll be staying in Memphis tonight in case you decide to come see us. If you ever need to speak to us, just ask your daughter and she can give you our phone number. Just be warned you can't put it off for too long, because if anything happens to me you won't be able to contact anyone after that."

"That's OK. I can't see any reason to talk to you in the future. You come along and pull a little trick with our daughter, telling us things you probably picked up from the web, and expect us to do whatever you want. No, thank you. Now we'd appreciate it if you'd leave us alone." And at that point she hung up on them.

'Debbie?' Alex asked, reaching out to the little girl.

'Yeah, Alex?'

'Look, given your parents' mood, I don't think you should tell them anything about your vision or that you can talk to me. Don't lie to them. If they ask, answer honestly, but don't force the issue. If you need to discuss your visions, what they mean, or any other issues with your new abilities, do it with us. OK?'

'Yeah, I think I can do that, Alex, ' she replied.

'Good. Now don't bother your parents for a bit, since they need to calm down. And don't mention it to your brother or friends either, since none of them will believe you. Just remember if you ever need to talk, just talk to me like we're doing now.'

She agreed, so Alex finally said goodbye and wished her luck as he watched her parents pull away and leave them behind. They eventually turned off at the next exit, turning onto another highway intersection. Alex wondered whether he'd ever see the little girl again.

"I guess there's more than one kind of lost girl, huh?" Cate asked her brother.

"She's not lost. Her parents are just confused and defensive. They may or may not get over it, but Debbie will always have me."

"Until she doesn't anymore," Gail commented from the back seat. "At which point she'll be lost, just like Nikki and Clara were."

"Hopefully she'll be old enough I can give her a phone number to call, and she can keep in contact through other means. I certainly don't mean to abandon her to overly cautious parents," Alex assured them both.

The whole encounter left them all feeling a bit down, so they simply stopped talking much after that.

They managed to pull into Memphis fairly late, crossing the Hernando de Soto Bridge while it was still light enough for them to find their hotel. It was a fairly nice place in the downtown district, just a short distance from the AutoZone Baseball Park where the Memphis Redbirds played. Not that any of them were fans of that particular team, nor had any great desire to see an empty stadium at that time of night, but it put them at a convenient place amongst a lot of people, so hopefully they could draw whoever might be nearby the hotel while they were staying there. The hotel was situated partway between the baseball stadium and the Emporium shopping mall, so they figured they could go there in the morning, then possibly a few other sites tomorrow to make sure they'd covered the area fairly well. They'd leave for New Orleans the following day. But for now, each of them was tired and ready for some food and possibly a little rest.

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