Next time I have to travel somewhere, it won’t be on a plane. As soon as I climbed aboard I started feeling sick, which threw my telekinesis off completely. I resolved to spend the entire miserable journey huddled in my seat.
Ishmael had caused a bit of a stir at the departure gate. An attendant told him that in order to board the plane, he had to remove all hand luggage. He looked at me pleadingly, but I held up my hands as if to say, this one’s on you. I should have known that Ishmael doesn’t respond well to pressure. In the end, he simply removed my genius sleeping bag camouflage, and a collective gasp went up among the crowd as they saw his wings in all their glory.
It’s an accepted fact that genetically enhanced people do exist, but you don’t often get them cruising around on planes. More often than not, they-or rather, we-end up in places like the Institute. Loony bins. But I suppose it could have gone worse. The air hostesses let Ishmael sit sideways, facing into the aisle, so that his wings had room. Humph. Didn’t see anyone giving me a head massage. I leant over the back of my seat once we were in the air. ‘Is sir comfortable? Is there anything I can get sir?’
Ishmael looked smug. ‘You’re jealous. You’re jealous that they think you’re an ordinary girl, and they think I’m a superhero.’ I was stunned. Am I really that transparent? Time for a major subject change.
‘Speaking of superheroes, I was thinking.’ I distinctly heard Ishmael mutter always a dangerous occupation but decided to ignore him. ‘We need names.’
‘We have names. I’m Ishmael remember? And you’re River.’
I resisted the urge to bury my head in my hands. ‘Not names, names, but names. You know, superhero names. So I was thinking last night that you,’ I poked Ishmael sharply in the chest ‘could be Avenger, like avenging angel, you know? And I,’ I pointed to myself ‘could be—get this, this is great. Took me ages—Bright Eyes.’ I sat back triumphantly, kneeling on my seat backwards so that I could gauge Ishmael’s reaction. He considered.
‘We’re not superheroes.’
‘Ack well, no one’s going to sue us for it, are they? And you didn’t object, so that means you like them! I mean, I considered Wingman or Featherboy for you, but they seemed too clichéd.’
I twisted round in my seat and flopped down, then immediately regretted it. I had to clench my stomach to keep my free, unsalted may-contain-peanuts peanuts down.
I decided that I liked England the moment we landed there. The sea of little red roofs shimmered beneath us, and the biting English air stung our faces when we climbed out. Call me un-patriotic if you like, but I’m not American, I’m Russian so ha ha. I suppose I look Russian; I have short, black hair, and strangely pale skin. I don’t often look into people’s eyes, because that tends to tip them off that I’m not quite normal. They’re yellow. Bright yellow.
Ishmael, annoyingly, is what I suppose would be called quite handsome. His heavy wings have given him a good physique (yes, I noticed), and his hair is frustratingly sandy-blond. Then, just to top it all off, he has bright blue eyes and high, graceful cheekbones. What ever happened to fair distribution of looks? Humph.
Heathrow was a bit dingy and un-welcoming, even after Ishmael covered up his wings again, so we high-tailed it out of there. Standing on the busy London street, I raised my nose to the air and sniffed.
‘Foodstuffs at three o’clock. Going in for my recovery mission now. Over.’ I left Ishmael on a bench, and came back five minutes later with my arms piled high with groceries. I love telekinesis.
After devouring half a loaf of bread, almost a whole block of cheese and some fruit (no one said I wasn’t traditional), we studied bus timetables. Joy. Personally, anything with so many numbers scares the beejebus out of me, so I fetched a yellow pages and started looking for a Robert Lancashire. (Apparently, Ishmael’s father’s name.) Half an hour and two milkshakes (each) later, we had our route planned out. Time to roll! (I’ve never had a chance to actually say that, but I’ve always wanted to.)