Saturday, February 3, 2018

Episode 3: Rise of the Xenokillers

This is Episode 3 of the first season of Twinstinct.
Episode 1   Episode 2
Thank you for reading!

Vanessa slammed her bedroom door and flipped the lock. Tears ran down her cheeks and fell to the floor, the girl running over to her bed and burying her face in the pillows. She didn’t want to think, she didn’t want to feel. She just wanted all the emotions to stop. Her sister had been gone for years, yet she could still burst into tears when she thought about her.

The girl glanced over at the door, hearing the knocking from the other side. “Go away!” she yelled. “Please, sweetie. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way.” Susan said, speaking through her daughter’s bedroom door, “Vanessa, I miss her too. And I don’t want to lose you too. That is the only reason I am so strict. I don’t want to fail another child.”

Looking up from her pillow, Vanessa opened her mouth to speak but stopped herself. “Can I please come in?” Susan asked, “I have a confession.”

Outside, Susan waited for a response. Nothing.

Then, the door lock clicked. “Come in.” Vanessa’s voice was faint and distant. Susan turned the knob and walked inside.

“When your sister died, I was heartbroken.” Susan began, sitting next to her daughter on her bed, “I remembered her as a little baby, and when she was your age. And when we had her funeral, I asked myself what I could have done differently, if anything, so that she’d still be with us. And I feared that if I didn’t change something that you or your brother would be next.” Susan took a breath and wiped away a tear that had trailed down the side of her face. “So, I blamed the only thing that the parenting books never mentioned: magic. I thought she had become too dependent on her powers because I didn’t restrict her. I thought that if I restricted your and your brother’s power, then you’d be able to lead a normal life if you were to lose them. That was why I originally asked you to keep your powers secret.”

“Originally?” Vanessa picked out, looking at her mother, “What do you mean?”

“That is my confession.” she sighed in reply, “Vanessa, the world is a dark, evil place and there are many people who are prejudiced against those different from themselves. Some of who would go out of their way to hurt those they don’t like.”

“I know.” Vanessa nodded, “We learn about all this is history.”

“But you know as well as I that hatred and bigotry are not just in your textbooks.” Susan asserted, “Last year, there was an article published about a new group that calls themselves the Xenokillers. They are against anyone they deem to be a ‘Xeno,’ those with magical powers being their main focus. I didn’t want to worry you two, so I threw away the issue and tightened my rules on keeping your magic secret.”
“Vanessa, there are towns in the South and Midwest that, in the past year, have come under Xenokiller control. I’ve tried so hard to hide it from you, but the major news outlets are getting interested in this whole ordeal. Just last week, Salem, Massachusetts elected a new mayor. As it turns out, she is a loyal Xenokiller. People just aren’t accepting of things they don’t understand, and in a world of technology, magic is scary.”

“I’m sorry.” Vanessa apologized, “I didn’t know.”

“Because I didn’t let you know.” Susan cut in, “You have nothing to be sorry for. You may not have told me your magic was acting up, but my secret was far greater. I should be the one apologizing. I just want to do everything in my power to keep you happy, healthy, and alive.”

Vanessa took a breath, then got out her cell phone and searched for information about the Xenokillers her mother told her about. Instantly, the page filled with results from independent reporters and small-town newspapers. “A new movement?” Vanessa read aloud, “Protect our future from the Xenos? Mom, this is awful!”
Susan nodded. “This is why it is so important that you are honest with me and follow the rules.” she breathed, “My heart can’t handle the death of another child, Vanessa, I do not know what I would do if I lost you.” Vanessa’s mother turned away and lowered her head. “I’m sorry I hid it from you.”

Sleep was impossible for Vanessa that night, the girl staring blankly at her alarm clock as it clicked to 12:00. It was officially her birthday now, but she was far from being the ray of sunshine her brother had been the previous morning. She was busy thinking about her conversation with her mom. Xenokillers. How could Vanessa miss something that important? Rolling over, Vanessa pulled her blanket up over her head. Why was she afraid? It was her and her brother with the advantage - the Xenokillers had no magic whatsoever. With their Twinstinct-
Their Twinstinct! Vanessa completely forgot about the issue with their powers. Vander and Vanessa were no match for even a New York City hot dog vendor without their powers! Vanessa was barely 110 lbs. and calling her 5’6” was certainly pushing it. Her brother was probably thirty pounds and three inches more than she, and even he was a ragdoll when it came to physical strength.
The worst part of it all had to be all the years she rolled her eyes at their mother’s rules. Every single time she convinced Vander to “just make an exception this one time”, all those hours of groans and moans when she wasn’t allowed to study the spellbook Cassie had given her, the time she tried separating her powers from her brother’s so they could work on their own. Vanessa shook her head; she had been putting both herself and her brother in enormous danger! Instead of listening to the warnings her mother gave her, Vanessa did whatever aligned with her own motives. She was a terrible person, an awful daughter, and an even worse sister.

Vander grabbed his cell phone off his nightstand and checked the time. It was past midnight, meaning it was no longer his birthday and the spotlight would be turned towards his sister. The boy allowed himself a deep breath and rolled onto his back. After she had run out and their mom had gone to talk with her, Vander was left with their dad for a similar conversation.

“Your mother and I agreed to keep this from you and your sister.” James Smith had told him, “We didn’t want you to stress out about something that may never be a problem.” Vander had nodded, all he had done during the whole ordeal was nod, and switched his glance from his dad to the floor and back again several times.He wanted to let it sink in slowly. Xenokillers. It reminded one of the many stories Cassie told Vanessa when they were younger - but it was less distant now. This was about Vander and Vanessa Smith. They were the stars of this TV show.
He rolled onto his side, lifting his back off from his bed for a moment to adjust his pajama shirt, and stretched out. His hair flopped over the front of his face, forcing him to comb it back with his hand. With the hair out of the way, Vander’s vision focused on the The Phantom of the Opera poster hanging on his wall - the poster was a gift from his parents after he starred as Phantom when his school put on the musical his eighth-grade year. The musical was a trainwreck, but the poster made up for his failure.
Vander considered the Phantom his kindred spirit. Vander was by no means as hideous as a phantom, the boy knew his good-looks were above average, but he still connected with the outcast. Maybe because they both had a mask - the Phantom to conceal his scars while Vander used his to give the look of a normal boy. Vander’s mask protected him from the Xenokillers.

His phone lit up as a text message buzzed in. Vander quickly responded to the birthday greeting with a sassy “Little late.” and wink emoticon. Smiling, Vander put the device back and closed his eyes. The text had been from some kid at school rumored to have a crush on Vander, and they seemed nice, but Vander wasn’t looking to date, anyone. His lovesick sister may fawn over any boy she might like, but he would prefer to cuddle up with a good book to get his mind off the Xenokillers. Fortunately, NYC was definitely more accepting than other places; the mayor was a former equal rights activist who has gotten so much legislation done in the past few years that the city was now the paradigm of progressiveness. With a leader as loved and accepting as she was, there was no way the Xenokillers would take New York.

The next morning brought with it terrifying headlines and news coverage. Riots had broken out in the early hours of the morning, and by 7 A.M. the mayor of Chicago was trapped in city hall by protestors.
“Camden Schepp, DDN News Network, live here in Chicago as tensions mount.” the television reporter announced into his microphone, “A Xenokiller Convention from downtown erupted into chaos this morning as participants moved into the streets and began marching to city hall. Mayor Hernandez is now locked inside his office and refuses to acknowledge the demonstrators.” The reporter walked down the street, his camera panning across the crowd’s myriad of angry faces. Signs bobbed up and down in the midst of the chaos, reading anything from “Down with Xenos” to “”Kill the Witches.”
“This just in!” the reporter huffed, a cheer spreading through the crowd, “The Xenokillers have forced their way into City Hall. Mayor Hernandez and his staffers have been thrown out, and the Xenokillers are declaring victory. Chicago, Illinois has fallen under Xenokiller control!”

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