Part 3

by CM Towns

   The team was tired. The flight took them into the Lower Normandy region of France. There, in the commune of Lisieux, they stowed their Flier. Reina Titán and Red Sprite had visited the area before, battling alien invaders, so the community was happy to help. After arriving the group boarded a freight truck and was then driven into the region of Île-de-France. From there the team acquired two vans, split the team and headed into the 10th arrondissement of Paris. The group made their way toward a CIA safe house that was no longer in use-or so they were told. A building tucked into a narrow street that was once the home to small offices but now had grown ugly from lack of upkeep. The team did a quick sweep of the area before getting one van into a garage while having the second van parked nearby.
   Inside they went to the top floor for the five story building. They group used the stairs as the elevator was out of commission. The floor only had a few offices and the one that the team headed for was the largest. Outside the door was a fire extinguisher case which covered an out of date keypad. Sally used the code given to her by Big Boss that would both open the doors and also not show up on the CIA’s system. Once entered the door unlocked and the eight teenagers made their way inside, happy that their long travel was now over.
   “This place is a dump,” Erica commented.

   The space was dirty and dusty. Empty tables,some chairs, and cases and boxes lined up against the wall. Erica looked around and saw Hunter and Frank at one end checking the kitchen.
   “Water works!” Frank shouted. “But no hot water!” he then added.
   Erica walked over to the windows to take look outside and then walked over to the other end. She stopped at a door and looked in to see a small bathroom. Erica next checked other door-closet with some clothes and cases. She moved to the door on the far end and inside was a room with a pair of twin beds.
   Erica turned around and walked back into the main room while she continued to mull over the situation like she had been doing everyday since joining the team. Erica had always wanted to visit France but this was far from a dream come true. She wanted to be on a relaxing flight, a nice warm hotel room, and with people she actually cared about surrounding her. Erica also wanted to be out partying and meeting cool people but instead she’s in Paris as a superhero. Not the life choice she would have chosen if given better options, but the one that dropped itself in Erica’s lap and was marginally better than the alternative.
   “What are you doing?” Erica asked April who removed a small rug in the center room and found a trap door. Erica continued, “Why would you even consider checking under there?”
   “Its a safe house. I assume there has to be some tricks to it,” April answered as she opened the trapdoor up. She then said, “Just an empty room below. Probably one or two more hidden doorways.”
   Frank, Hunter and Arturo had come over to look.
   “Cool,” Arturo said.
   “I think there might be one in that kitchen,” Hunter said turning to check.
   Erica found a seat and had a big yawn.
   Antoine strolled into the kitchen and said, “We need something to block the windows.”
   “I saw some black film-paper-stuff under the sink,” Hunter said.
   “That’ll work. Sally and Araminta will go pick us up some food and supplies. I’ll set up a work station so we’re plugged in,” Antoine said.
   “What about sleeping arrangements?” Erica asked.
   “We got two beds in the room, an old futon which should be fine. Plus we have sleeping bags. So you all can argue about who sleeps where. I don’t care,” said Antoine.
   “BED!” Erica called and there was a murmur among the others. Erica picked up her bags, headed back into the room and crashed on one of the beds. She closed her eyes for what only felt like a moment only to be shook up from a dream.
   “Wake up,” Araminta said.
   “I fell asleep?” She yawned. “How long?”
   “Just over an hour. We got some supplies and groceries. Plus food. Just sandwiches and salads. C’mon,” answered Araminta.
   “Who’s taking the other bed?” Erica asked getting up.
   “Arturo. I’ll be in here too.”
   “Okay. I hope that boy has manners,” Erica said before another yawn.
   The group gathered in the small kitchen picking their meals and making small talk.
   “You sleep okay?” Hunter smiled from the kitchen counter where he sat with a sandwich in hand.
   Erica smiled back. She got along swimmingly with Hunter.
   “No, but it felt good to be in a bed. Even one with lumps,” she answered.
   Erica had a chicken salad and was seated at the table with some of the team. The others were standing nearby having small talk with one another. Erica looked over the team. She had no feelings toward Arturo because he rarely spoke to her and half the time stuck to Spanish. She thought it was stupid to have someone on the team who was not fully fluent in English. Araminta was cool, the one she talked to most back at the base. Even though Araminta had a habit of correcting her on certain things like Aprils gender for example. Erica talked little with Antoine or Sally. Antoine spoke like she imagined a job manager would. Going on about the work and occasionally asking how people how everything was without truly meaning it. Sally scared Erica so she did not converse much with her. Frank and April were nice to her, and she was fine with them but they had nothing in common plus Erica felt their political and social talks were useless. April also bothered Erica a bit, which she chalked up to her own upbringing.
   Erica did not want to be here. She also did not want to be back at the boarding house with the other sad mutants and superhumans. Having to deal with them, the caretakers, the scary guards, and the government looking over Erica’s shoulders. Her choices were minimal but with the Guard she had to survive about two years and then Erica would be free. They set up a new identity, put her back in school, and they put put money in her pocket. Even more when all was finished.
   Erica could survive that time and then put the spandex superhero nonsense behind her. That’s why she’s here. It whats best for me, she thought.