And that was that. It felt as though we’d made a deal with the devil. Just as we had been warned, the others sneered at us.
“It’s just so gross,” I once overheard the other Electra comment one day, “the very thought of one of us married to a Bigfoot.” She said that last word as though it tasted bad. “They sleep together and everything. It makes me feel sick to my stomach.”
I had to note that it made her feel anything. I wondered whether that was specifically what Havoc was afraid of. There were very few creatures like us among the staff, and the vast majority of them were normal humans. From what I could tell, the exceptions were mostly like us; their treatments had failed to wipe their minds, so they were bribed into working for Deep Hawk and intimidated with the thought that they couldn’t rejoin normal society. I itched to get to doing something. I had no idea how long it had been since the last time I’d seen the sun.
Claire and Jovious had come to our training room for some actual instruction that was devoid of the mind and body altering treatments, or the theatrics that we’d seen in the beginning. Jovious and I sat to the side of the room as Claire and Naomi worked. Claire Placed a log on a pedestal and opened a can and began sprinkling it on the floor. The can scattered small pieces of metal. They looked like six-inch sections of piano wire. She sprinkled them in a fifteen foot trail between Naomi and the log. I’d seen her practice this exercise before, but she had gotten a lot faster with it. It no longer took a lot of concentration as it had at first. Once Claire stepped clear, Naomi raised her hands to her sides. Sparks showered from the corners of her eyes as she stared toward the log. Obeying her will, the pieces of wires rose up into the air and aligned themselves into two neat rows that extended from her hands to the log. Her eyes glowed white. The moment the rows of wires touched her fingers, there was a loud crack and a bright spark, and the log ignited.
“Very good,” praised Claire, “now can you put them back into their container?” she joked.
Naomi took a deep breath and scowled. Each wire pivoted until they were all vertical and then they snapped together into a bundle. Naomi whipped her gaze at the can and it slid across the floor to where the wires floated. It then elevated and enveloped the bundle of wires. the fire in Naomi’s eyes faded as she walked up to the can of wires and pulled it out of the air with her hand. She took it to Claire who blinked in disbelief.
“Wow!” she said as she took the can, “I was joking. I didn’t think that was even possible.”
“Don’t mess with me,” warned Naomi playfully, “and don’t ask me to do something unless you mean it.”
“Well,” Claire was visibly flustered now, “let’s call it a day for now.”
“Ssshall we?” projected Jovious.
Claire hit the flaming log with an extinguisher. We took the room as she and Naomi sat down.
“You have gotten very good at invisssibility,” praised Jovious, “today, we will sstart with human dissguissse. When you firsst met me, I dissguisssed myssself as General Havoc.”
“I remember that,” I thought back to him.
“When you get good, you will be able to imperssssonate sssspecific people. However, you will find that one or two formsss will come more naturally and will be easssier to hold for long periodsss. Now, concentrate and envision being ssssmaller, hairlesss, a man.”
I closed my eyes and concentrated. Shorter than six feet. Wearing clothes. Finer hair on the body and some hair on the head. Accessories even. I felt warm. I suspected that my psychic projection was working. My suspicion was verified by a snicker from my wife. Jovious didn’t vocalize very often, but he gurgled in approval. Or, was he laughing at me? I opened my eyes and looked in the full-size mirror that I used for these exercises. It was easier for Sasquatch to see through the psychic disguises, but the projections even worked in a mirror. There before my eyes was a man. He was about four feet tall with a hunched back. He wore very thick glasses that made his eyes look tiny, and a trench coat. On top of his head was a tweed fedora. I reached up and pulled the hat off to find a thin, comb-over. This was not at all what I had in mind. I thought the form that would come naturally might look something like my previous human form.
My surprise must have been obvious to Jovious who assured me, “It iss pretty unpredictable what your mossst natural disssguisse will turn out like.” He chortled.
“But I look stupid,” the voice that came out was shrill and sounded like an old man. This elicited more laughter from Naomi, who was joined this time by Claire.
“Yesssss,” thought Jovious, “and what man would ever guess that sssomeone who lookss as you do would have ssssuch great power as you do?”
I had to admit, the furball had a point, “And I sound stupider than I look!” my voice actually cracked at the end.
Jovious reflected, “Fasscinating! Ssssince Sasquatch do not talk, I did not know how a voicce could be generated in a man disssguisse. It isss a good disssguisse.”
Naomi blurted out, “you look like a moleman!”
“That’s it,” I said as I clamped my eyes closed and tried to force myself into concentration. Maybe I’d forgotten a little too much of what it was like to be a mostly normal human being. Let’s go for something taller than Moleman but shorter than Bigfoot. Muscles and a tan. If I can look however I like, why not live it up? No comb over. It felt like it was working, and I knew something had happened when Naomi howled with laughter. I opened my eyes and heard a baritone voice with an exotic accent say, “Now what is it?”
In the mirror, I saw the man on the cover of every paperback romance novel I’d ever seen a lonely old lady reading. He wore a pair of burmuda shorts with no shirt. The arms and chest were sculpted with the tell-tale signs of a gym and personal trainer. Gold curls of hair rested around the shoulders. “Oh, that’s even worse! I’d rather look like the pigeon feeding Moleman!” Everyone in the room seemed to think this was the most hilarious thing in the world except for me. I released the disguise and melted back into giant ape-man. The others were just beginning to compose themselves when Havoc came through the door.
“Alright you two,” he addressed us, “I think you’re finally ready for a dry run.”
Naomi and I looked at each other inquisitively and looked back to Havoc.
“You’ve been working hard and have learned a lot about your new abilities. I had some of my guys hide an object and I want to see if you can retrieve it.”
I probed Havoc’s mind. His was a little harder to read than many, but still not impossible. I could tell that they had hidden an aluminum briefcase that was marked “PROPERTY OF DEEP HAWK”, but I couldn’t tell where it had been hidden.
“What kind of object?” asked Naomi.
“You’ll have to ask Reid,” he winked at me, “I suspected you’d try to cheat. I don’t know where it is. I specifically had them hide it in a location of their choosing so it wouldn’t be too easy on you.”
“It will still be easy for us,” I confidently announced.
Havoc let out a skeptical guffaw, “whatever. Use your powers. Do whatever you have to do to get the object and bring it back as soon as you can. Step one was to identify what the object in question is, which you’ve already used your powers to determine. Keep it up.”
“Hey,” I asked, “I’ve learned to disguise myself as a human. What’s keeping me from just moving out and living among people?”
“If you can call that human,” Naomi mumbled.
“First of all, even if you could keep up your disguise twenty-four seven, your psychic projections won’t fool a camera,” General Havoc explained, “if you just went out to live somewhere among people, I guarantee you that people would come up with family pictures with Bigfoot walking in the background. Every backup camera on a truck or RV would reveal your true form. Plus, not every person will be fooled by your projections. The disguise works well for short-term stints such as this one, but you can’t live on it by itself. Besides that, what is Naomi supposed to do? She looks more human than you do, but she’s not exactly normal looking anymore.”
I looked at my wife. He was right. With her coal colored eyes and hair in contrast with her vampiric porcelain skin, there was just no way that she was going to blend in with regular people anymore. As Havoc walked us to the door, he offered more advice, “try to avoid people for the most part. Find food and water, and shelter if you need it. At all costs, avoid confrontations.”
“So, we don’t even get supplies?” Naomi asked.
“Only what you have with you now,” said Havoc.
The two of us stepped out the door into the blinding sunlight. We turned back toward the door. Havoc said, “good luck you two.” And at that, he locked the door behind us.