~EstE: Florida~


'God, we were foolish back then,' Rebecca thought ruefully, leading Bradley with one hand clasped in his tiny one. The sun was hot and proud on its pedestal, and it glared down on the sole occupants of the small beach. There had been a sign a half-mile back saying, 'No Trespassing,' but Rebecca had ignored it.

"Lookie!" Bradley pointed a skinny finger at a large beach-house. (She was momentarily broken-hearted with the remembrance of his malnutrition. No. She'd dwell on that later.) The beach-house was wooden, beautiful, and locked. If James had been there, he would have broken the lock. 'But...he isn't.' She loosened a hair clip from her long plait of red hair and proceeded to pick the lock.

The interior was even more luxurious than the outside, with electronics, well-stuffed furniture, and plenty of canned food. However, judging by the two inch layer of dust on the floor, no one had been here for a while. 'With my luck, the electricity will be disconnected.'

She was right. Luck was a sly bitch.

"Well, sweetie," she said, hugging Bradley to her briefly, "we can survive without electricity." She found a stack of firewood by the fireplace. She put together a make-shift stove, then quickly and efficiently prepared them a can of Campbell's Soup.

Afterwards, she put Bradley to bed (he was too exhausted to even take a bath) and set about exploring the beach-house.

****eight years before****

"They want us."

Rebecca held herself, unable to control the trembling. James understood-- they'd been lying low for months, and now it was May. Graduation was coming up. They had already begun planning their futures.

Perhaps they had been foolish to stick around after discovering what had been done to them. And now the Lab--Professor B.--wanted them back. They'd both gotten the memo.

"I've studied their files, James. They'll use us for our psi abilities," Rebecca said hotly. "Guinea pigs."

James felt heat engulf him as the rage built inside--but quickly pushed it back. It would do no good to set fire to an innocent bystander.

"We'll run," he said. "They don't expect to see us until this summer. We'll graduate...and we'll run. They can't follow us TOO far, right? We'll move up north."

She was doubtful.

But in due course, they did run.


Bradley Crawford listened sleepily to his mommy rummaging around outside the guest-bedroom door. Sometimes she cursed, and other times she made a funny choking sound. She made that sound a lot when she thought of daddy.

Bradley missed his daddy. Daddy was shot a year ago by a Bad Man in a gray suit. Bradley guessed that the man hadn't liked his daddy. Bradley didn't like some of the boys at school (when he went to school) but he never shot at them.

Mommy took Bradley and they went FAR away, to here. It was very nice here. But he missed his home and his friends, Billy Garcia (who squirted milk out of his nose) and Frankie Carmichael (the boy who looked like a girl). He also missed his daddy. He didn't like to mention how much he missed daddy to mommy because the last time he had, mommy had screamed at him that daddy wasn't ever coming back. Never ever ever.

He needed a bath. He smelled bad. Like what daddy used to call "shit". Mommy used to say that "shit" is a bad word.

Bradley sometimes had funny visions. Like when he was riding in the car, he could look at certain people and in his head he'd see them crying or hurt or running from something. And these things always came true. Like dreams came true, in Disney World. Mommy said this (the visions, not Disney World) was precognition, whatever that meant.

Right now in his head he saw blood, blood like the liquid that had flowed from daddy's forehead when the Bad Man shot him. Only he saw it on mommy.

He was very scared then, and he huddled beneath the blankets.

****eight years before****

They escaped to New York. James got a job as an architect, as he'd wanted, and Rebecca began teaching High School English. They were sure the Lab wouldn't catch up with them, but all the same, they stayed close.

The first gray-suited men came.

Both were forced to uproot and flea. They went cross-country to California, where they rented an apartment together, "to save on costs".

One night, while hacking, Rebecca found information that was most helpful. (She never realized, even in those last few days proceeding her death, that the information was twisted and had holes in it. Her son would discover this.)

"In Austria, there is a school for "gifted" individuals. Rosenkreuz. It offers protection for psychics, James. Like us. Apparently, upon graduation, many of the psychics go to work under an organization known as EstE. We can...we can go to Rosenkreuz."

They never followed through with that plan. They loved California, and each other, and that Fall they were married.

And then the real trouble began.


Florida had a humid climate, but Rebecca needed wood to feed the fire to cook meals. Everyday she combed the beach for leftover wood, rotted with time, and driftwood, damp with ocean spray. Though it wasn't the greatest fuel of all time, she made do, as she had done all her life.

She felt she needed a job, knew she did, but was too frightened to go into town to apply for one. 'How can we get to Austria without money?' she wondered hopelessly as the days wore on. 'How?'

****seven years before****

Bradley Crawford was born on a warm, muggy night. He was small but not tiny. Rebecca and James Crawford thought he was the best thing since sliced bread.

They never suspected he might have inherited more than his eyes and hair color from them. There was no outward evidence of his precognition until he was three years of age and could speak. He would warn "Mama" and "Da" against doing such-and-such or going wherever. And his warnings were always right.

Sometimes what he saw was too scary for him to properly communicate. Sometimes he kept to himself what most needed to be told.


Rebecca was out searching for wood when they found her. She didn't bother pleading for her life--"If you take me with you, I'll go as a corpse," she insisted. They shot her between her eyes, let her blood and brain matter cover the white sand, hauled her body to their van and drove away. They couldn't see the beach-house from their position, and they didn't know that James and Rebecca Crawford had conceived a son.

The Lab men didn't know.

And they drove away.