“This looks boring.”
“Go away before someone sees you.”
“All they’ll see is a curvy hat rack.”
“So, it will look like I’m talking to myself.”
“But you’re the sane one.”
“Then you see the problem.”
“Just give me a hug and end it all.”
Dawn frowns, but the crunch of footsteps stops her from responding. She turns away from Addison, who is wearing a wooly parka and snow pants, and smiles when three teenagers bring four more bags of laundry into the tent. They leave as soon as they put the clothes into bins that are marked with family names and camp locations. Alone with her whistling double, the tired woman focuses on the tedious work of folding a pile that is mostly underwear. Seeing a pair of plaid boxers float into the air, she throws a pair of rolled up socks at Addison. The projectile sticks in the reality-benders chest who staggers around as if she has been shot. Ignoring the display, Dawn finishes the pile and moves on to the next one. She hears a grunt and ducks in time to avoid getting hit by the socks, which are launch with enough force to dent the door of a metal cabinet.
“Why do people wear things like this?” Addison asks while holding up a lacey teddy. She is about to change it into an elegant dress when it is snatched from her hands. “With the state of the world, you’d think lingerie wouldn’t exist. Humans don’t have time for romance and foreplay these days. Just have to breed as quickly as possible to stop the monsters from wiping out the entire species. Not that I would dare to do such a thing because a life without toys isn’t worth living. Hey, you’re bleeding. Join with me and-”
“It will heal on its own,” Dawn snaps, the urge to smack at the other woman causing her arm to twitch. Fearing that she might make such a fatal mistake, she moves to the far side of the tent and does her best to fold a collection of shirts. “I don’t want or need your help. Every time we meet, you try to get me to rejoin with you. It will never happen, Addison, so leave me alone. I have trouble believing that you need me in the first place. Without me, you should be more powerful because you’re unrestrained. Even unfocused, you’re a destructive act of god in human form.”
“Awww, that’s so sweet,” the reality-bender coos as she strips out of her clothes. Picking up a nightgown, she puts it on and uses a nearby mirror to see how she looks. “This makes my right knee look crooked. You can have it back and I’ll settle for my parka dress. I hate that you’re right about me being powerful, but you’re wrong about my focus. With my head going in directions that humans can’t possible fathom, I can’t gain any leverage against Ian. My reflexes are slow and he can counter me quickly since it takes me too long to decide on what I’m going to do. Remember when the Great Lakes were turned into waterfalls to the moon? That was because I couldn’t think straight.”
Realizing that she has folded the same shirt twice, Dawn sighs and takes a seat next to a pile of unclaimed clothes. “This is not my problem. You are not my problem. Do whatever you want, but let me enjoy having an existence. Maybe the whole never any fun in normal thing is a total lie. You’ve been a freak for so long that it’s gotten boring. Look at me as the only chance at a quiet life that you will ever have.”
“That won’t do at all,” Addison claims without hesitation. With a snap of her fingers, she folds all of the laundry and leaves them with the scent of coffee. “Now, you have nothing keeping you here. Don’t talk about that girl either. Join with me and I’ll leave this entire caravan alone. Can’t make any promises about Ian, but they’re aimless journey will not have me as an obstacle. Otherwise, I might get angry and do something rash. Gemma won’t always . . . Where did I leave her? Think there’s a tree about five hundred miles away that I strapped her to, so I can’t stay long. Her voice gets really high and loud when she’s lecturing me. Then, I remove her voice and put it in her own head, which causes another fight. You know how its.”
“Not at all, but I still want you to go away.”
“Well, it does seem like you’re going to have your hands full.”
“What are you talking about now?”
Addison vanishes in a small gale that undoes the folded clothes and threatens to mix everything up. Fearing that she will get in trouble, Dawn hurries to clean up the mess to the best of her memory. She stops when the tent flap opens and a cold breeze caresses the back of her neck, which sprouts goosebumps. Turning around, she faces Melissa and three armed men in protective masks. They keep their guns lowered, but their fingers remain on the triggers in case they a fight breaks out. Waving for them to stay outside, the caravan leader takes a few steps inside and takes a sweater off the floor. She tenderly folds the warm clothing and tosses it to Dawn, who places it in the nearest bin.
“I would like to invite you to a private dinner,” Melissa states, her face unreadable and cold.