Afflictions: Part Three

Welcome to Season 3 of Earth 2! Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Arte was trying to fight off sleep after a long day. Saturday was date night, but given the occasion, Arte had opted for a full date day. It was their anniversary, after all. First they went out for lunch at a bakery, then they’d stopped by the botanical gardens. After that, they had a nice dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse, and then they made it to the theater for a production of Les Miserables. She loved spending time with Ashley, of course, but after a long day she was exhausted.

“Hey Arte?” Ashley rubbed her shoulder. “I’m super happy we decided to stick with Vanessa and everyone. I think being here with you, and doing stuff that really helps people makes me the happiest I’ve ever been.”

“Yeah, I was worried about you at the start, but so far it’s been okay. I’m glad I get to work with you.” Arte sat up, and leaned up against Ashley.

She was quiet for a moment. “I think I’m really just glad I get to be with you at all… It feels like not that long ago I was wondering if I’d ever see you again.”

Arte hugged her tight, and whispered into her ear, “I’ll never let anything like that happen to you again.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They sat in silence for a moment, enjoying each other’s company. Arte really did mean what she said. Now that they worked together, there was no reason she couldn’t be ready to protect Ashley if something happened. She would be ready the next time something happened. She had powers and backup now.

A moment later, Arte felt a mental alarm. The tripwire laser she’d set had just gone off, and it only did that for humans. Someone was sneaking around outside their window. She jumped out of bed and pulled on some sweatpants.

“Is something wrong?” Ashley started to get up.

Arte motioned for her to be quiet, and made her way to the window. It was dark outside. She carefully lifted the blinds, and conjured a small translucent green rectangle. She lifted it up to the window, and looked through the rectangle. A thin young person was tiptoeing around their house. It wasn’t Zoey, since she was on a trip right now, and nobody that lived with her or next door was that size. She slipped on some shoes, and made her way downstairs. Ashley followed closely behind her, holding a pistol that Arte had bought for her. As they reached the back door, Arte motioned for Ashley to stay where she was. She conjured a green triangle and handed it to her. It would change colors if she needed backup.

Arte quietly slid open the back door, and stepped outside. Whoever it was hadn’t come around to this side of the house yet. She set to work making a series of four connected rectangles, about as tall as she figured whoever it was could reach. Once she’d done that, she pulled out her phone and got the flashlight ready. She took a deep breath, before jumping around the corner and shining the flashlight.

There stood, now blinded by the sudden light, a thin teenage girl with long red hair, wearing a purple sweatshirt with a white heart on it. Arte sighed with relief, as the teenager began to scramble away. She’d seen this girl a few times when she picked up Zoey from things. Her best friend, and, as Arte had put five dollars on, future love interest.

“Jessica it’s fine, it’s just me.” Arte was pretty sure it was fine, but didn’t dissipate the cage, just in case.

The teenager hesitantly turned back to face her. “Aren’t you Zoey’s sister or cousin or something?”

“Close enough.” She shrugged. “So what are you doing here?”

“Isn’t this Zoey’s house? She hasn’t been answering my texts, so I wanted to check in on her.”

“Not quite. She lives over there” She pointed in the direction of her house. “She’s out of the state right now. Why don’t you come in?”

“Oh…” She looked down and thought for a moment. “Sorry to bother you, but do you know when she’ll be back?”

“Oh, about three weeks or so.”

“Gotcha…” She sighed. “Oh well. Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll just go now.”

“Do you need a ride or anything?” Arte called after her, as she turned to walk away. She felt a little bad that she came all this way, especially if she walked. She knew Zoey didn’t have a car, but wasn’t quite sure about this girl.

“No thanks! I parked a little down the road.” Jessica smiled and waved. “Sorry again about bothering you.”

“No problem…” Arte shrugged and went back inside.

“So, who was that?” Ashley asked, as she closed the door.

“Oh just one of Zoey’s friends. Evidently she didn’t know that Zoey was on a road trip right now.” Arte shrugged and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. That scare had definitely woken her up.

“Was that the one that I gave a ride to the mall one time?”

“Yeah, we’ve both met her once or twice. I think she already knew I’m a super, so I figure Zoey must’ve told her.

“Gotcha.” Ash followed her into the kitchen and leaned on the counter. “I hope this trip does her some good. She’s seemed a little down lately.”

“I hope so too…” Arte nodded. “It’s a little weird Zoey didn’t tell Jessica about the trip. I think she’s pretty much her best friend. At least she’s the only one she talks about.”

“Does Zoey have many friends at school? She doesn’t seem to talk about them or spend much time with them if she does.”

“Yeah, I’m not really sure.” Arte had definitely been a little worried about Zoey overall. “She only really talks about Jessica, and I think her relationship with her is at least a little complicated… I don’t wanna make her talk about it though.

“I think she’s probably fine.” Ashley moved in close. ”She does have you, after all.”

“That is true. I must be pretty great if you stick with me.” She went in for a kiss.

“C’mon, let’s go to bed.” Ashley winked, before leading her by the hand.


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Hello everyone! I’m coming up on an eventful few weeks, so please don’t be surprised if things run a little behind. I should be able to still get posts out on time, but links and pages may be updated slower than usual, and comments may not be approved for a while.

Photo Credit: Original

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