George woke to the sound of someone knocking on her front door.
It was hard to tell what time it was, with the curtains drawn and the lights out. She had passed out on the couch last night — in fact, she had slept there for a few nights in a row, never quite having the energy to drag herself back to the bed she had shared with Vic. It had seemed a reasonable decision at the time, but now she was wearing yesterday’s crumpled clothes, her hair was even more of a mess than usual, and there was someone at the door. Great.
She rolled off the couch, her knees hitting the floor with a thud, then straightened, slowly, painfully. This stint on the cushions was not doing good things for her back.
The knock came again. She brushed her clothes off a little, hoped to god there were no food stains or anything on them, and ran a hand through her hair as though that would do anything other than risk her fingers getting trapped up there. Then, she walked over to the door.
“Hold on,” she muttered. “I’m coming.”
Looking out the peephole, she saw a man, a few years younger than herself, dressed in a suit. He looked a little like he was playing dress-up in his father’s clothes, but she decided it would probably not be in her best interests to mention that, no matter who he was.
“Hello?” She said, cautiously.
“Ms. Peterson?” His voice was smooth and cool, professional.
“My name is Max Cooper. I’d like to talk to you about what happened at the hospital the other day, if you’d open the door?”
“I don’t want to talk about that. Sorry.”
He clearly hadn’t realized she was watching him, because he very obviously rolled his eyes.
“Are you sure, Ms. Peterson? There were some very interesting things caught on that tape.”
“What things?” She hoped her voice wasn’t shaking too badly. “If this is about Vic, well, I don’t know what he was up to, I’d never seen that side of him before, so I don’t know what he would have been capable of. I told the police all this already, please could you just leave me alone?”
He paused for a long moment, then: “The problem is, Georgia, that this isn’t about Vic. It’s about you. You’re not in any trouble, don’t worry, but I think you’re going to want to talk to me.”
George could have burst into tears right then, but instead she bit her tongue and composed herself. “Alright. I’ll let you in, but if you try anything, you should know my neighbour is a pro-wrestler, and we’re very good friends. If I scream, he’ll come running.”
“Fair enough,” he said, and she opened the door.
“Homeland security?” She asked, doubtfully.
“You’ve got my ID right there,” he said, looking up at her with a crooked half-smile. “Believe it or not, that’s the proof right there.”
“Yeah, but…” She sat down across from him, wrapping her hands around a large mug of coffee. “Why are you talking to me?”
“Because we know about you, and others like you.” He met her eyes, to see how she would respond to this. She refused to give him the satisfaction of a reaction.
“What do you mean, others like me?”
“Other people with special abilities. I believe there was at least one in the lobby with you, actually — on the security footage, it looked like you spoke to her.”
George looked away. She wasn’t going to give poor Aurora up, if the girl was lucky enough that they hadn’t tracked her down already.
“Don’t worry, we’re not interested in her right now.” Max put his coffee down, and fixed her with an intense stare. “Right now, it’s all about you. How would you like to help your country, Georgia?”
She shook her head. “Whatever you’re about to say, I’m not interested. Nursing’s the only kind of helping I want to do.”
“Very noble,” he said. “But there’s a lot of people developing skills just like you are, and they could pose a serious threat. The damage someone could do if they had your abilities, and a few less scruples — all the nurses in the world wouldn’t be enough to put everyone back together again.”
“I’m not interested in fighting anyone, if that’s what you’re suggesting. I think you’d better go.” She stood up and walked to the door. Max drained his coffee, then followed.
“Think it over, at least,” he said, as he stepped out into the hallway.
“No.” She slammed the door behind him, and made a silent vow never to respond to attempts to communicate made by the outside world ever again.