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The trail that day was cool, shaded under so many trees. The sun filtered softly through, casting a light and shadow pattern along the path. The young friends, stood by the river, talking in quiet conversation and muffled laughs. The boy held a slingshot in his hand, aiming it at rocks and branches, trying to impress the girl that giggled each time he hit his mark. Thinking it would be funny, and perhaps not all that painful, he aimed the last and smallest pebble at a passing runner. The woman wasn’t paying attention to these children, focused on her own world of maintaining her pace and breathing as she ran uphill. She was too slow to react and stop him. He hit the runner right between the shoulder blades and she yelped in pain. The young girl gasped, and started yelling at the boy. What was he thinking? Why would he do that?!

The runner turned around slowly — deliberately. She reached her arms back, opening her chest, and then brought her arms forward, tilting her head from shoulder to shoulder, in an effort to shake off the stinging pain. In all actuality, it hadn’t hurt that badly. And if she were being totally honest, it hadn’t hurt at all, but Lucia loved theatrics and was always looking for an excuse to be dramatic. Or violent. And today, she was going to have both. As she walked toward them, she made sure to act hurt. Light tears welled up in her eyes, and the end of her nose began to flush bright pink, flaring a little to let in the extra air that she needed to make her cheeks rosy, too. She held the tears well, and they threatened to brim over, an impending sob. When she finally made it over to the boy, she looked him in the eyes. No traces of anger or malice hidden within.

“Why would you do that? It’s very dangerous, and you could seriously hurt someone.”

The boy shifted nervously in his beat up AllStars.

“I – I…” was all he could stutter.

“You what?” Lucia asked, still calm. “You’re sorry? You won’t ever do that again?”

He wouldn’t look up, too embarrassed at being confronted and ashamed at his stupid action. Not knowing how else to end this awkward situation, the boy finally looked up into Lucia’s eyes. His breath caught in his chest and his body tensed, ready to scream. He could not look away. In that half second, Lucia had her hands around his throat. Her small, delicate hands hadn’t the slightest chance of making it even halfway around his neck. Her short nails gripped his flesh, impressing tiny half-moons into him. At a solid 8 inches shorter than this boy, she had to tilt her head back merely to look him in the eye. Even so, she tightened her grip, knuckles turning white. He gulped for air that was not to be found, and his face alternated between confusion and terror.

As she held him, his knees started to buckle. In an instant, he was shorter than she, and she towered over him, a predator in disguise. As a Vancouvite, she experienced her victims from their point of view. Any other creature would have been appalled by such a power. But not a Vancouvite. She relished the suffering and loved every moment. The spark of the fear, the rise of the hair on the back of her victims’ neck, the racing heart, pumping so much adrenaline to the extremities that the body began to hum in chorus with its surroundings. The pounding of the mind as it fought to remain conscious, remain sane, and to make sense of the situation. The slight clamminess of the skin, warm to the touch but chilled on the inside. She never broke eye contact, her amber eyes lit from somewhere deep within her skull.

The young girl watched, helpless on the sidelines. She tried to scream but nothing came out except great gasps of air. Finally coming to her senses, she ran off. Initially to find help, but really just to get away. As the boy squirmed, grabbing at her hand and trying to loosen its grip, Lucia let out a laugh. A low, malicious rumble, placed somewhere between a wolf’s growl and human laughter. It vibrated within her chest and out through her arms and legs and feet. It rolled it’s way into the boy’s mind, because that was the true power of the Vancouvite. Not being able to inflict pain, nor feel her victim’s, or even having unnatural strengths that no humans possessed.

No, her real power lay in the ability to control her victims. As a Vancouvite, once they were touched, only she could bring them back from the edge. Their minds belonged to her. And as such, she could see every single thought they had, their memories, their hopes and dreams, but most importantly, she could see their fears. Because fear is the ultimate motivator. Fear will cause its victim to take someone else’s life, or even his own. With the ability to control this one emotion, he was nothing more than a marionette, a Gollum sent to do bidding. And if he proved himself, if he could withstand the fear and pain and horror without giving in and killing himself, he too, could stand to become a Vancouvite. Because it was nothing more than the shell of a human that had let the insanity take over.

When looked at in a different light, insanity was not so much the absence of being sane, but the ability to look beyond the accepted reality. To believe that one could simply be “more.” Because Lucia was devastatingly cruel, it was true. Absolutely violent with a constant yearning for another victim. But she was also passionate. When she loved, she loved completely. She felt sadness in its totality and everything to her was “more.” Her strength, her weakness, her pain, and her anger. It was more than human but less than divine. Trapped in this in-between. A place where the soul has not so much been turned over or taken but rather twisted and reshaped, she became a Vancouvite. A creature that stole minds, pilfered lives, and lived on an edge where one small nudge, the slightest breeze, would push her into the screaming oblivion.

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