The Benefit of the...

By Rhyo

Jim sat in his SUV, looking across the parking lot, across the nicely manicured lawn, populated with sun-worshiping students, across the large ornamental fountain to the doors of Hargrove Hall.

He rubbed his jaw and let out a long sigh. Was he really going to go through with this? When he'd come here for the first time, two days ago, and met the kid, his first instinct had been to walk out of the room rather than listen to the crazy ideas. His second instinct was to throw the kid up against the wall for suggesting that he could be that kind of... freak.

And then the thing with the garbage truck. Any normal person, any sane person, would have stayed safely on the curb and shouted at him to get out of the way. But not Sandburg.

They'd spent the rest of that first day working on his senses and that night he'd had a raging headache, a strange ringing in his ears and a crawling sensation across his skin. Dinner had been tasteless. But when he'd awakened the next morning he felt... clear. Sharp. Like his senses had been blurred before but now he had found his focus. With his heightened senses actually working, the world was just more. It wasn't all good, but he could see possibilities in it now, where before he had only seen padded walls and a straightjacket.

The senses were a gift, Sandburg had said. A winning ticket in the genetic lottery. An extra edge.

Jim gripped the steering wheel. He didn't want an extra edge. Hadn't asked for it, hadn't asked to be overwhelmed with things he didn't want to hear or smell or see. What if this new control was an illusion, one that would slip away? What if his first impression of Sandburg had been right, and the kid was a complete flake? His hands tightened and then he forced himself to relax.

He got out of the truck and walked toward Hargrove Hall and the second meeting with Sandburg. It was a question of trust, he told himself. There weren't many people or things he put trust in, but he'd give Sandburg's methods a chance, the benefit of the doubt. He'd take Sandburg out to the mill site to look for clues in the Switchman case and then take it from there.

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