‘You don’t have to come. In fact, he might be more willing to talk if it’s just me.’ We were seated on a bench opposite a fancy-looking apartment building. A doorman was eyeing us warily, and I twinged his rib cage. Just to give him something to think about.
‘He might be more willing to talk under the threat of brain liquidisation.’
Ishmael sighed. ‘I just want to make a good first impression.’
I felt a sudden twang of sympathy. ‘Well if it’s any consolation, if I were your father, I’d be pleased to see you. You look like the model son.’ I didn’t mention the wings.
Ishmael stood. ‘Wish me luck.’ I watched him stride between the cars on the road. I’d snaffled him a clean T-shirt and smart jeans, and telekinetically cut holes for his wings. For his sake, I hoped this went well. Closing my eyes, I let my consciousness follow him up the steps. (The doorman had mysteriously disappeared. Bruised ribs do that to you.) The inside lobby was fancy but modern, with potted plants and leather couches. I made the files on the receptionist’s desk fall on the floor, and her scarf get caught in the drawer, then returned my watchful eye to my friend.
He was in the elevator now, fiddling with the buttons. The doors slammed shut. My consciousness flew up the elevator shaft, arriving at the exclusive apartment just before Ishmael. If I’d had breath, I would have sucked it in. Oops. Apparently, Ishmael Lancashire did have siblings. Who liked throwing massive birthday parties. The elevator doors clanged open before I could stop them, and Ishmael, or Avenger (as I liked to think of him now) stepped into the room. There was a stunned silence from the horde of 10-12 year old children. Ishmael looked so out of place in the streamer-clad room that I could have laughed. What were we thinking?
Ishmael cleared his throat. ‘Um... sorry to intrude but... I’m looking for Robert Lancashire. I have an appointment?’
A man who looked to be about fifty stood from where he had been playing with a girl who looked startlingly like Ishmael. ‘That would be me. Go and wait in the kitchen. I’ll be right there.’ He cast a curious glance at the yellow sleeping bag case, but said nothing. Ishmael followed his instructions in a dazed way.
I saw Robert disentangle himself from his curious daughter, and walk to the kitchen. Ishmael was already there, standing awkwardly next to a cabinet. Robert eyed him.
‘Do I know you? You look familiar.’
Ishmael swallowed. ‘Sort of. ‘Cuz you see, I’m, um, well- I’m your son.’
Robert’s face closed up. ‘I have no son.’
‘But it’s me, Ishmael, remember? You gave me away when I was six, because of these!’ Ishmael reached behind him, and pulled away the cover on his wings, unfurling them so that they filled the kitchen. He truly was beautiful. Robert had staggered back, clutching his heart, but now he was standing face to face with his son. It gave me a savage pleasure to see that he had to tilt his face up to meet Ishmael’s eye.
‘I never had a son. You- you are a freak! A mutated version of what could have been! Get away from my family, and never come here again! Ishmael clenched his jaw, then turned around the corner, and sprinted for the glass window in the living room. He crashed into it at full speed, flying out in a flurry of feathers. Just before he flew away, however, he turned to his father.
‘If I am not your son, then you are not my father,’ he spat. I waited until Ishmael was a safe distance away before breaking Robert’s nose.
‘He would have made a crappy father anyway.’
Ishmael smiled wanly. ‘You don’t need to cheer me up. I’m fine. I don’t care what he thinks.’
I nodded. We were seated on a bench in Hyde Park. Ishmael had lost his sleeping bag cover, so I had to pull a fog around us.
‘What now? Do we just... go back?’
Ishmael shrugged. ‘Guess so.’
I toed the damp ground. At least we got to see England. I voiced this thought.
Ishmael sighed. ‘Yeah. We got to see England.’
I studied Ishmael. He looked so lost, like his own family had rejected him. Oh wait, they had. I narrowed my eyes and focused. Far away in a hospital, a certain man with a broken nose suddenly became bald. I stood.
‘Shall we go? We could fly to the airport with this fog around us.’
Ishmael nodded. We were just about to take off (I had made the bench into a very nice vehicle), when Ishmael frowned.
‘Do you hear that?’
We shared a horrified glance. I reached out with my mind and sure enough, ominous black vehicles were converging on our position. Ishmael looked terrified.
‘Robert.’ He breathed. I shook him by the shoulders.
‘Come on, fly!’
He glanced at me, then took off into the air, expecting me to follow. But I had other plans. As long as Robert knew Ishmael was alive, he would never stop hunting him. I blinked, and the hordes of black vehicles suddenly became free-floating molecules. I called the atoms to me, and set about making something. That done, I took off into the sky, to watch from a distance.
The remaining agents (was it my fault they ripped their trousers falling from atomised vehicles? I think not) emerged from the tree line, shouting and waving their guns. All they had eyes for was the (if I do say so myself) extremely convincing dummy of a man with wings. They didn’t see a small girl sitting on a bench in the sky narrow her yellow eyes, and blow up the winged ‘man’. The report weeks later claimed it to be a freak gas explosion. So, Ishmael was now officially dead (and seemed surprisingly pleased about it too) and I didn’t exist. You’d be surprised how peacefully a dead man and a ghost can live out the rest of their lives.
And when the mutant revolution started? Guess who was at the head. Avenger and Bright Eyes.