Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter One

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Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

“You don’t belong here, you know.”

Lina tensed.  She wasn’t doing anything against the rules — she didn’t think.  But there was a boy in front of her in one of the strange robes that the leaders kept wearing, sort of a silvery white and soft, velvet maybe, and he was glaring at her. 

He had blond curly hair that reminded her of someone, although she couldn’t remember who at the moment, eyes that seemed too pale to be real, and a very unfriendly expression. 

“It’s — it’s food for the group,” she offered.  She pointed at the sign.  

“Like I care about the food?  We’ll get more if we run out.  You don’t belong here.”

Here was, presumably, The Camp.  Lina had never been here before, although her parents had mentioned it a few times, had presumably visited it some of those times.  It was — as far as she could tell — an ordinary campground up on the top of a high hill (or small mountain), one with nice facilities and a couple very pretty pavilions.  It was also currently completely filled with a group that, until three days ago, Lina hadn’t known existed.

“My parents brought me.  Don and Haley Bosch,” she offered.  Her parents, who apparently belonged to this group, who apparently believed that they needed to be here for an unknown amount of time to be safe from a world-ending catastrophe of some sort. 

“I know who you are.  I know who they are.” He sneered the words out at her like they tasted bad.  “They don’t belong here either.”

“We were let in the front gate, same as everyone else.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t know why they let all the rabble in.  It oughta be just the important people up here.  Like I said, you and people like you don’t belong here.  Your father, thinking his cash can buy him in place he isn’t fit for, and your mother—”

Lina didn’t quite know what she was going to do, but her hands had curled into fists and she’d taken two steps forward. “I’m sorry?” she asked, in a way that didn’t sound sorry at all. “What were you saying?”

He sneered at her. “Go ahead, hit me.  I can’t wait to see how your father explains his hoodlum kid doing that.  Like I said, you and your sort don’t belong here.  And if I have to get a little bruise—”

Lina glanced down to see that both of her hands were glowing a faint blue color.  She shoved them in her pockets. Not here.  Not again.  “If I did happen to hit you,” she snarled, “it would be more than a little bruise.  I don’t care who you are—”

“I’ll tell you who I am, darling.  I’m sixteen, and I have more power than your daddy will ever have.  And as to your mo- there you go again. You really do want to get kicked out of here for fighting, don’t you?”

Lina hesitated.  Again. “There aren’t any rules about fighting.”

Damnit, it was more like a question than she’d meant it to be.

He sneered at her. 

“There will be.  If my nose bleeds, the entire place better get out a hanky.  That’s who I am, you little tag-along. That’s why you care.”

Lina took a step back and shoved her hands back in her pockets. When had they come out? Damnit. “You’re SUCH an asshole.”

“I know.” He smirked. “And the thing is, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

He was right, she knew.  Her father had given her one instruction when they got here — try to stay out of trouble.  As if she spent a lot of time in trouble in the first place!  There had been that one thing, and he’d never listened to her about why, just paid off the other girl’s family. 

…Well, there was that time that she’d gotten written up for mouthing off to a teacher, but the teacher had been completely in the wrong, even her father had admitted it (while donating a new wing to the school like he was covering up something she’d done, when everyone got written up at least once of twice…)

…the worst thing she’d ever done was that weird accident in ballet class, and her father didn’t even know about that!  Her mother had transferred her to jazz dance, made up a story for her father, and they’d never spoken of it again. 

Her mother, that had been a little different. 

Her mother had told her “I can’t tell you anything yet, but learn what you can and pay attention.”

And then she’d proceeded to unfold a complete, if small, cottage from a briefcase, and Lina’s father hadn’t even blinked an eye, all while Lina and her little brothers gaped. 

What’s more – nobody else had been surprised that their family had a little cottage parked on their  camping spot. Sure, one family had been envious and another one had said something like “one of these days, Haley, I’ll convince you to make one for me.”  But no surprise. Not even an eye-blink. 

Lina had definitely started paying attention after that. 

So what she saw now was someone who probably knew something she didn’t — that was almost everyone here — who might be able to do something like her mother could, or maybe could do something like she could (in her pockets, her fists felt warm.  If she punched, what would happen? So far all she’d done was send the blue light out to catch things she dropped or spilled, or, once, catch herself when she tripped. So far, she hadn’t told anyone about it. But it looked like here, everyone knew about something). 

She took a step backwards.  She didn’t want to get in trouble, and maybe he was right.  Maybe she didn’t belong here, and they would just—

“Hey, kids.”

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2 thoughts on “Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter One

  1. Iiiiinteresting. This is going to become a monumental SNAFU sooner or later, isn’t it. And since the major ingredients are all there already or at least strongly hinted at, my bet is on sooner, rather than later. 😛

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