Chapter One: She's In Parties
The title of this story and its chapters are all 80s post-punk anthems, the like of which would be playing at The Spiderweb club.
As he turned off his walkie talkie, Mason reflected on how much he had been looking forward to this. He had finished his shift on security, or as he had begun to think of it, the pointless part of the day.
He saw Adam and groaned internally. This was not what he had been looking forward to. Adam was not alone. He was kissing a tall scientist who was leaning on the wall next to the door of the lab.
Mason slowed down and changed from his usual near-silent method of walking to a loud stomp. The two scientists remained tangled in each other. Sickening.
He stopped beside them and cleared his throat.
Adam pulled away from the female scientist. She gasped.
"Dr Adebayo?" Mason said.
She pushed Adam away from her. "Mr Eckhart," she said, looking flushed and sheepish.
"I need to speak to Dr Kane. You don't mind, do you?"
"No no, of course," said Dr Adebayo, pulling the lapels of her lab coat straight and hurrying off.
Adam, who had been grinning at him the whole time, now burst out laughing.
Mason sighed. "What?"
"I don't think you realise how serious you look sometimes," Adam said, wiping orange lipstick off his mouth.
Mason walked past him and Adam followed him into the lab.
"Kaia was asking some awkward questions. I had to find a way to distract her," Adam said.
"I tip my hat to your impeccable show of professionalism," Mason said.
Adam stretched his hands out in front of him, then strode across the room. "So, next week is going to be busy. We have a lot of people coming in to see us."
"And they do know the correct way to enter the building? We do not want another security incident."
"Well if you had that under control, it wouldn't be-"
"I do have a certain amount of influence over the other security staff, but do you not think it would perhaps be better to avoid involving them at all?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," Adam said, but he was busy looking at some papers.
"We do not want the Security Chief to find out about this. You have no idea how difficult he can be." Mason stifled a yawn with his hand.
"Oh, tired are we?"
Mason slumped down in a chair. "Some of us don't sit on our behinds all day fiddling with test tubes."
"Well some of us use more than two braincells in our day jobs."
Mason smirked. He let that one slide, as despite himself he let his eyes close for a few moments.
Adam had only left the lab for five minutes to find a book, but when he returned he found that Genevieve had arrived without his knowledge. She didn't notice him come back, she was sitting up on a workbench, staring intensely at a still sleeping Mason.
Creeping up to the telepath, Adam thought -Trying to make me jealous?-
Genevieve's head snapped upwards to see him standing nearby with a smirk on his face. -No, 'course not! I was just trying to read his mind,- she thought.
"I'd like to know what's going on in his mind too," Adam said, then realised he said that out loud and covered his mouth.
Mason's eyes flickered open. "What?" he mumbled. He blinked a few times and saw Adam and Genevieve looking down at him. "I was resting my eyes."
"Hi Mason," Genevieve said.
"Miss Weinburg," Mason said. Then he turned around and busied himself with booting up the computer and tidying up a pile of floppy disks.
"So what can we do for you, Genevieve? You have been doing very well with controlling your abilities lately," Adam said.
Genevieve wrapped a piece of her hair around her finger. "Just thought I'd come say hello," she said, and started to chew on the end of the hair.
"Well it's nice to see you." Adam went over and moved the floppy disks that Mason had tidied back to their original positions. Mason shot him a look, then returned to watching the computer loading up.
"So how have you managed being around people?" Adam asked her.
"Well it gets a bit overwhelming, all those voices," she gestured around in the air. "But I managed to go to a club with my friends. First time since it started."
Adam smiled. "That's good to hear. Keep on working on blocking out the thoughts that you don't want to hear. You're doing really well. I'm proud of you." He patted her on the shoulder.
"If you need any more help in the future, you know where to reach me."
Adam was expecting Genevieve to leave, but she just stood there pulling on the lace of her skirt and swishing it around. "Adam, the club was really great. You'd like it. You can come with us if you're not busy?"
"Oh, that sounds great, but I really do have a lot of work to do."
"You can finish your work, silly. It doesn't open for another few hours." She looked distracted, and was looking over at Mason, and Adam wondered if she was reading his mind. "You can come too, Mason."
"Yes because that sounds like a worthy use of my time," Mason said without turning around.
"There was this other girl there. I think she might be like me. She could turn invisible."
"Invisible?" said Adam.
"Yeah, I saw her do it. I think she works there as a dancer. I bet she'll be there again tonight."
"An invisible girl? Now that isn't something I've seen before. I suppose there wouldn't be any harm in going to meet her."
Mason turned around. "And I expect you'll need my help to carry her back to the lab after you hit her on the head?"
"Girls don't like being treated like that," said Genevieve.
"He was being sarcastic," Adam said.
"Was I? If you have a better idea I'd like to hear it," Mason said.
Mason wore his funeral suit. It was black, as Genevieve had instructed them to wear. As it turned out he was in good company as most of the line to get into the club looked like mourners, only with more chains and leather than the average wake. Adam looked tragically hip in his leather jacket and leather trousers.
Adam kept glancing at him. Without saying a word he undid the top button of Mason's shirt and loosened his tie.
Mason said nothing, but glared at him over the top of his glasses.
"Now you look a bit less like a history teacher," Adam told him.
"My history teacher was never this stylish."
"Guys, you made it!" Genevieve bounced up to them, much taller than usual by means of pointy boots and a large amount of hairspray. Her face was completely white, except for black smeared on her lips and all around her eyes.
She was accompanied by a sullen group of similarly dressed boys and girls who assimilated themselves into the line behind them. Genevieve slipped her arm through Adam's and chattered away to him. One of her friends offered Mason a cigarette, and looked personally offended when he declined.
The club was called The Spiderweb. It seemed to be simultaneously too dark and too bright. The dance floor was plunged into gloom, dancers backlit by bright lights that temporarily blinded when they rotated towards you. They stomped and swayed to an onslaught of pounding drum machines fuelled music.
Mason inhaled a lungful of dry ice and coughed. He had already lost the others, so he made his way to the bar.
Adam followed Genevieve and her friends onto the dance floor. He attempted to say something to her, but his shout was lost in the noise. He already knew that his ears would be ringing tomorrow.
-Isn't this place cool?- her voice said in his mind.
Adam was taken by surprise, but then he smiled. -Smart,- he thought. -It's so loud in here.-
-Yeah, you can feel the beat right here,- she thought, pressing a hand to her chest. She grabbed Adam's hand and put it in the same place. -See?-
Adam laughed and twirled her around. They danced for a while, but he found his mind wandering.
-You're thinking about invisible girl,- Genevieve thought.
-You're getting a bit too good at this,- Adam told her with a grin.
-I've not seen her yet. Last time she was dancing up there.- Genevieve pointed and Adam looked up to see a couple of balconies that were surrounded by cages.
The music played on and they danced. Adam kept an eye on the cages, and eventually a girl with long red hair and a figure enhanced by a tight corset stepped out into one of them and began to dance. She was followed by a spiky black haired girl wearing a short dress and fishnet stockings.
-That's her,- Genevieve told him.
We are entranced, went the song that was currently playing. And Adam was entranced. The way she moved was hypnotic.
-Don't stare at her,- Genevieve said, trying to get his attention.
As if she was psychic herself, the dancer suddenly met Adam's gaze. She smiled, and gave him a wink. Adam knew that he had to get closer to her. He was jolted from his reverie by someone dancing a bit too close and hitting him in the face with their hair.
Adam and Genevieve carried on dancing. They drank. They danced some more. Genevieve seemed to know a lot of people there, she was stopped by people waving at her and hugging her whenever they pushed their way through the crowd to the bar. He saw Mason in passing, and pretended not to see him very obviously point to his watch. He wasn't going to leave until he got the chance to speak to invisible girl.
When they returned to the dance floor, Adam looked up to see that she had been replaced by a girl with crimped two-tone hair. He wondered where she could have gone.
Before he had time to think, a familiar figure brushed past him, making her way across the dance floor. The crowd parted to let her pass. Adam stared after her. He considered following her, but something held him back. But as if fate conspired in his favour, he saw a beaded bracelet slip from her wrist.
Adam dashed forward and made a grab for the bracelet between dancers' feet. He hurried after the girl, and tapped her on the shoulder.
She turned around, initially looking suspicious, then her expression softened when she looked at him. He held up her bracelet. She checked her wrist, then smiled at him and let him put it back on for her.
At this distance, he could see that her black ringed eyes were deep brown. And she kept smiling at him, until she was walking away.
A man grabbed her and tried to use force to make her dance with him. She struggled but couldn't get out of the hold he had on her wrist. Adam rushed towards her and used his skill in martial arts to release her.
The man was facing him. He was a lot taller and broader than Adam. He froze. Was he in trouble? But then his friends dragged him back.
The girl mouthed thank you. They engaged in that slow sort of pretend dancing, and attempted to shout in each others' ears over the music. Adam didn't hear most of what she said, but he did catch her name. Danielle.
-It's totally gross.-
Mason jerked his head upright. The words had appeared in his head, not loud but somehow perfectly clear over the music.
Genevieve was sitting across from him. She pointed across the dance floor. Mason wondered what she was pointing at, but then he saw Adam. He was dancing with another girl.
So this was what her ability was like. Adam had told him about it, but this was his first time experiencing it for himself. He looked at her. And suddenly felt anxious that she could read his mind. He took a gulp of his drink.
-I can,- she said into his mind. -It's not like I care anyway. He's cute but so are lots of other boys.-
Mason had no idea what she was talking about. The last time he had got up to go to the bar, his legs had felt a bit drunk. Now his head was feeling a bit drunk while sitting down. Bad news. This was worse than work. At least there he knew when he was allowed to go home.
Adam looked like he was enjoying himself. Well, he would. Mason didn't understand it himself. Dancing. What was it for? It served no purpose. It was not as if it had any rules any more. One could not learn to be the best at this kind of dancing. These people flailed their arms and stomped their feet, sometimes in time with the music. Sometimes they danced at or onto other people, in a manner that was surely not acceptable in public.
Mason was vaguely aware of Genevieve telepathically jabbering at him. He was deep in his own alcohol fuelled thoughts, so it was merely like being buzzed at by an irritating insect.
Genevieve had a jug of something bright coloured and sickly sweet looking. When had she got hold of that? She poured a glass for herself, and tipped some into the half a beer that Mason had left. He took a drink from the terrible concoction, and the warm fuzzy feeling from what he had already drank at least prevented him from immediately throwing up.
The jug was now empty. Genevieve had hold of his hand and was trying to pull him up out of his seat. Trails of black had run down her cheeks and her eyes were red. What had he missed?
He was on his feet and his legs felt heavy and wobbly, and he had to concentrate on staying upright as she pulled him through the crowd.
Mason wondered what Genevieve was up to, until he bumped into Adam who grinned at him. The girl he was with had her arms around his neck and they were dancing close.
Genevieve put her arms around Mason's waist, and quite outside of his will they were dancing. Or at least moving about in no less a drunken state than half of the other people here. Her hair was in his face and the smell of cheap perfume, too much hairspray and whatever was in that awful jug hit him.
Perhaps it was a terrible dream, but he was sure that at one point she gave him a very sloppy kiss. No, it couldn't have been a dream. Why would he dream of that?
Outside, Danielle leaned against the wall and fanned herself. "It's hot," she said.
"I know you're hot. Tell me something else about yourself," Adam said, putting his hand on the wall beside her head and leaning over her.
Danielle laughed. "Oh, you guys are all the same," she said, rolling her eyes, but the smile never left her lips.
Adam leaned closer to her. He could feel her breath on his face. "Come on, you know that isn't true. I'd like to get to know you better."
"I'd only bore you. I'm just an ordinary girl. I dance. That's all there is to tell."
"Now I'm sure that isn't true. I bet you're really an international spy on a secret mission!"
Danielle laughed. "Oh no, you caught me."
Adam put his other hand on the other side of her head. "What am I going to do with you now?"
"Danielle Hartman! What are you doing out here enjoying yourself when you owe the boss such a big debt?"
A large man was striding over to them.
"I'm working, Eli," Danielle said, folding her arms and shrinking backwards. Adam took a step away from him also.
Eli snorted. "I didn't know you did that kinda work now," he said. "The boss is getting tired of waiting." He reached out a hand to grab her.
Adam's mouth fell open. One moment Danielle was right next to him. Then she had disappeared. He felt her brush past him.
Eli looked confused, but this soon turned to anger. "Where is she? What did you do with her?"
He lunged at Adam, who grabbed his wrist and elbow and used the big man's own momentum to throw him to the ground. He ignored the gasps and cheers from the other people outside, and started running down the street.
Genevieve emerged from the club half-carrying Mason. He was leaning heavily on her and was unable to walk in a straight line. She wasn't doing too well either, and her shoes were hurting her feet.
Mason mumbled something.
"No, gotta find Adam," she said. "Let's go back in, m'be we missed'im?"
"Don't care," said Mason. His arm slipped from around her shoulders and he flopped down on the sidewalk. "'ll wait here."
Genevieve looked at him for a moment, moving from one foot to the other to relieve the pressure. She let out a scream of frustration and sat down next to him.
"Yeah, you and me too, sister," said a passing girl who looked like she had been in a fight.
Adam ran down the street, aware that he was not dressed for such exertion. But it paid off, as when he reached out into nothingness, his hand closed on an invisible arm.
There was a sharp intake of breath as he pulled, and ripples glinted around the shape of Danielle as she slowly became visible and twirled around.
"Adam," she breathed, falling backwards into his arms. "I hoped it was you following me, but I didn't dare hope."
Adam wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "Amazing. I knew you weren't an ordinary girl."
"You say that like it's a good thing."
"Of course it is. You can do something the rest of us can only dream of."
Danielle turned around. Adam let his arms fall to her waist. "Sometimes I wish I could disappear for good," she said.
"Oh? Why do you say that?"
She looked away. "I owe money to a very dangerous man. I'm scared of what he might do to me."
"Look, Danielle, I know we just met, but I live around here. You could stay with me tonight."
Danielle's brow furrowed. "Adam."
"I'll take care of you."
She bit her lip. "Oh Adam, if you're sure?"
"Of course I'm sure." He put an arm around her shoulder and led her down the street. "Here we are," he said when they arrived at a modern looking apartment building.
"Wow, you weren't kidding when you said you lived around here," Danielle said as they walked across the parking lot. Suddenly she looked suspicious. "How can you afford to live so close to the city?"
"I'm a scientist."
"No you're not. Liar!" Danielle was laughing.
"But you don't look like a scientist."
"What do scientists look like?"
"Well. Not as handsome as you," she said, a slow smile forming on her lips.
Danielle grasped the lapels of his leather jacket and leaned in for a kiss. Adam kissed her back, snaking his arms around her and pulling her close.
They were brought back to the real world by a burst of headlights and a blasting horn. Danielle grabbed his hand and they ran inside laughing, ignoring the whoops and whistles from one of his neighbour's teenage kids and his friends.