Ripped From the Headlines
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I stared at the television, barely catching the words, as I helped Helen into the chair.

"…gone, nothing left but a giant hole. The hurricanes reported in the region were actually the result of air and water rushing in to fill the…"

"Come on, come on," I said, flipping to another channel. I couldn't care less about North Korea. I was looking for the big news.

"…gap between the two sides is wider than ever. The Secretary of Defense is defending the secrecy, saying it was for our own protection. The president denies…"

This was better, but still not quite there. "Look, I know you hate it when I flip through the channels, Helen," I said, "But for God's sake, the whole world's just changed! Aren't you excited?" I just couldn't understand why she didn't look more excited. I'll never understand women, I'm afraid.

I tried another, as I brushed a fly from in front of my face.

"…having any knowledge of these events are being asked to come forward. Sources in Parliament have confirmed that the Global Occult Coalition is partly funded with crown…"

I shook my head. Not quite there yet. Helen's expression was disapproving. "I'm sorry," I said. "But you don't understand what it's like for me. You're normal. I've never fit in. I've never belonged. It's easy for you, but there's never been a place for me." I changed the channel.

"…money like anyone else, Robert. Our clients have refined tastes, and we do our best to attend to them. I don't think you'll find that we've done anything illegal. I wouldn't call…"

I put my hand on Helen's. "Everything's changed today. There are others like me. Can you imagine? I'm not alone. Not really." I shook my head suddenly. "Oh, no, no, I didn't mean it like that. Of course I'm glad we met. But we've only known each other a few days, and I've been wanting to find other people like me for all my life. Imagine, like, okay, like you were the only one in the world who could see. Nobody else knew what blue even was, let alone what it had to do with the sky. Can you even think how lonely that would be?"

"…for a trial by the international court. The SCP Foundation has so far refused to consent to an…"

"Look, we can get on with things in a minute. Just let me find one good bit. Someone will be talking about it, you'll see," I told Helen. I changed it again, and this time was rewarded by a young woman being interviewed in a studio. "Here, look!"

"…examination, because some of the doctors were kind of creepy. But it wasn't bad for the most part. Just awfully lonely," she said.

She was blond, in her early twenties, it seemed. Pretty face, though not so pretty as Helen.

"And all because of your… talent?" the interviewer asked.

Boorish man. Glasses. I can't stand a man in glasses. Puts me on edge.

"That's right," she said. "They said it could be dangerous."

"Can we see a demonstration?" asked the interviewer.

She nods, and is handed a photograph. It shows another man, dark skin, fine suit. As soon as she takes it, it begins to move.

The host calls backstage, and the dark-skinned man walks in. His picture matches his movements. When the girl touches the picture, the man jumps, and says he could feel her touching him. A close-up shows his skin indenting in the spot where she puts her finger. The camera zoomed in to let everyone see how her finger goes into the photograph.

"Have you always been able to do this?" asked the interviewer.

"Since I was younger, at least," she says.

I turned it off. We'd seen enough. "Oh, Helen," I said, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. "It's so wonderful. I'm not a freak anymore. I belong, for once in my miserable life, I belong." I reached over and stroked her cheek lovingly. It was pale, but there was still a hint of the rosiness she'd had the day before.

I brushed the flies from her skin. We'd been talking long enough, and it was time to get on with it. If people spend too much time dead, they start to smell, and people just don't understand. I tore the skin and flesh from her arm and pulled off her ulna, and began to chew, muscles around my jaw swelling and growing to let me crush the bone. Once I finished, it was time to look outward for once.

The world was new, and for once, I felt I had a place in it.

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