“And here’s Charlie, the last one”, said Mother as the new addition to her foster home passed through the mirror.
Charlie hated this new life.
He had spent 15 years being a spoiled only child and all of a sudden he had to share a room with six people.
Norman’s sleazy attempts to seduce Ruth were quite pathetic to watch, as it was blatantly obvious she had a thing for Boris, but Charlie didn’t care much about this ridiculous dynamic, he found all three of them insufferable.
And then there was Dominic, the oldest of the pack and also the laziest, all thanks to an ability to elongate his limbs which gave him the superpower to remain seated at all times.
Gretchen, the youngest, was always crying about being homesick and Charlie would have to hypnotize her each night just to get her to shut up.
While most of his new family could not resist Charlie’s master manipulations, as he could see people’s true emotions in the form of an aura and therefore could exploit their weaknesses, two people seemed to be immune to his powers.
One was Mother: outsmarting her was impossible, because of her incredibly vast knowledge she couldn’t easily be fooled.
And the other was Clara: her clairvoyance permitted her to see right through him.
It was such an unsettling feeling for him to know that someone could read him like an open book, a power that he usually held over everyone else, and yet there was something quite beautiful in truly being seen.
From past experiences, Charlie knew that every time he saw someone’s body radiate with golden light it meant that he had gained their affection. And as the time passed, Clara’s light became brighter and brighter and for once in his life he felt loved for who he really was.
He made a promise to himself, one way or another he was going to leave the house and take Clara with him.
And one day an opportunity came knocking at their door.
Gretchen’s fragile psychological state had caused her to develop a high fever with hallucinations. Mother stood by her bed for days, trying to comfort the child, giving her potions that should’ve eased her pain, but had no effect. After two hopeless weeks, it became obvious that the help of an expert was needed.
Doctor Redove was a humble man in his late twenties, an old soul with a calm demeanor and an indecipherable expression.
But what had sparked Charlie’s interest was the fact that the man had come from The Village on the west side of the island.
He had travelled by train and had a round trip ticket in his briefcase, a bag in which Dominic’s long fingers had no problem getting into.
“Hey Dom!”, whispered Charlie, catching him in the act. “You know that Mother has a trunk in the attic, I bet that one of us could fit in there”.
Dominic gave him a puzzled look.
“I know you have the ticket”, continued Charlie, “Let’s run away together!”
Dominic rolled his eyes: “You seriously think I’m going to carry your dead weight around?”
Charlie snatched the ticket from his fingers and gave him a very stern look: “Yes you will and you know why? Firstly because if you don’t, I will rat you out. And secondly, because you’re not going to survive long in The Village without money and I know where Mother keeps her heirloom”.
“Wait...really?”, replied Dominic in disbelief.
“Well, think about the one place Mother doesn’t want us to explore”.
Dom’s eyes widened: “The forest?”
“Yes, and I think I know the exact spot. I’ll go up to the attic and get the trunk. Meet me at the giant tree, make sure no one sees you”.
Throughout this whole conversation, Charlie had pretended to be oblivious to the shifting light in the shape of a human near the stairs. A light that had changed color as the seriousness of his speech had intensified. And as he watched that light run towards the garden, where Ruth was, he smiled to himself: too easy.
Clara was fully immersed in a book, when Charlie grabbed her by the hand and took her to the attic.
“What’s going on?” whispered Clara.
“Get in the trunk, we’re leaving this hell hole!” Clara hesitated, so Charlie showed her the ticket:”Everyone’s distracted, it’s now or never, get in the trunk!”.
Clara obeyed but, as she was setting foot inside the suitcase, her eyes rolled to the back of her head, she started shaking uncontrollably and her mouth filled up with foam.
“Not now, Clara!” said Charlie as he tried to force her into the trunk, but she was so agitated that he couldn’t hold her down.
Then all of a sudden, her body collapsed to the floor and with the faintest voice she murmured: ”Charlie, what have you done?”