Illusions: new beginnings


Ashley Tanner

Illusions is a novella written by Nicole Schroeder and Ashley Tanner, about a girl named Gemma who has the ability to see people’s true character at a single glance. Each post in the following blog series is one chapter of Illusions.[vc_empty_space]Elijah paused before continuing, waiting to see her reaction. A range of emotions was playing across Gemma’s face, but she wouldn’t make eye contact with him.
“Er — Wolfgang, of course, was intrigued. He started doing research, looking up unsolved cases and mysteries around the country. Finding what evidence he could and talking to anyone he came in contact with to try and figure out more about the man — and any others like him.
“What he found instead was the SAINTs — the Specialized Agency for the Intelligent and Neurologically Talented — a group that was much more advanced in their research than he was,” Elijah explained. “They were also very keen on the information Wolfgang had found. So, the sensible businessmen they were, of course, they offered a trade: his research for money — lots of it.”
Gemma opened her mouth as if she wanted to speak, but soon closed it. Elijah stopped talking, hoping she would say whatever she wanted to say; they both remained silent for a while.
“By that time, he was just out of law school and needed a way to pay bills, put food on the table, that sort of thing. He’d barely blinked before he’d accepted their offer, handing over his case files and using the cash to pay off a few of his student-,” Gemma cut him off.
“So, what you’re saying is,” Gemma said angrily, “that Theo — er — Wolfgang or whatever his name is, has been ruining people’s lives for money?” She was still avoiding Elijah’s gaze.
“And you sold out as well?” Her voice was hoarse, anger bubbling up from her throat with each word she spat. All Elijah could do was nod, a shameful shadow crossing over his face. With shaky hands, he continued.
“Anyway, they came back a few days later to offer him a job. They’d apparently liked his research, and realized he had the resources to be an asset to the company,” Elijah growing more silent as he spoke. “It was simple, really — he’d find the people and turn them in, and they’d do the rest. It was always for some different reason — some they wanted for science, others for the government. He never knew why they are wanted, but he didn’t care. All he wanted was the money.”
By now, Gemma had begun to pace around with both hands brushing through her hair in exasperation. She looked as if she could explode, but she continued to listen, stewing in silence.
“That’s where we came in,” nodding towards James. “He was eventually had a big enough paycheck to hire the ‘lawfirm’ and cover more ground. One day, SAINTs asked for us to find you, and he knew we had gone to school together so he put me on the case…” Elijah uttered ashamedly.
That’s when she let loose, not caring who heard her.
“How could you do that to me? How could you do that to anyone? What possessed you and told you it was okay to do that to people? Especially me? I —” Her voice broke, her anger dissolving into hot tears. “I thought you cared about me.”
“I have no excuse, nor will I try to justify my actions. But, I will say that every word I said, everything I said I felt about you, was true,” Elijah said, taking a step towards Gemma. She shied away from him. “I may have walked into that coffee shop with the intentions of gathering information from you, but the moment I set my eyes on you I knew that it was for much more than the assignment.”
After a long silence, James spoke up.
“So now that you know everything Gemma, we need to talk about what comes next.”
Gemma’s back still facing them, she replied.
“I don’t know what you mean, but frankly I don’t care. I don’t want anything to do with you people.”
James sighed. “Even if we step away, Wolfgang won’t give up until he has what he wants. He’s already sending people to watch you, to break into your apartment and go through your things. If you want this to stop, we need to take Wolfgang down.”
Gemma hesitated and turned around. “I’m listening.”
“We need to gather as much intel as we can about other people SAINTs is looking for, to warn them. Tell them what’s going on, and not to trust the agent who is trying to gather information on them. We need to get them on our side, so that we can give them ideas on false information to feed to the agents.”
“What about Gemma?” Elijah glanced her way, meeting her surprised eyes for only a second before looking away again. He couldn’t stand leaving her out to dry like this.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan for that, too. Gemma, who else knows about your, er … gift, besides us?”
Do you think they will take down Wolfgang? Leave your comments and questions below.[vc_empty_space]