imaginary archive (ib_archive) wrote,
imaginary archive

[story] in mercy's shadow, nothing grows

author: jack vivace ([personal profile] finch)

Jude woke up screaming, and I woke up right after her. I grabbed her, trying to calm her down. "It's a nightmare, Jude, it's just a nightmare."

"No, no!" she shouted at me, fighting to get away from my arms.

"Jude, please, what is it?" I said, and then I heard it. The crash. That wasn't traffic, that was way too close. Then there was more sound from the front of the house.

I let go of her and she bolted toward the front of the house. I followed, looking around frantically, trying to figure out what was going on. I was worried about her, too - she didn't seem to care that there might be danger.

I heard squealing tires, but there was just a hint of lights at the end of the block by the time I made it outside. The front door was intact, but there was a huge hole where someone had hit the porch. That must have been the sound I heard.

That was when I understood why Jude was screaming. We'd turned most of the yard into a garden as soon as we'd moved into the house, with all kinds of vegetables and berries, flowers and fruits, basically anything and everything she could coax into growing in the wet Portland springs and dry summers.

The front yard was a muddy mess of tire tracks and footprints, and Jude was bent over at the edge of it, cradling a sunflower that had fallen. No wonder she'd woken up screaming: her power was the ability to communicate with plants, and she had an especially close relationship with the plants in the garden. They were like... not quite her children, but something close to it. Like she was a nursery school teacher and they were her students.

My first thought was that it was a drunk driver. Then I saw something was hanging on the tree near me, so I went around to get a better look at it.

My heart dropped into my stomach. It was a sign on a string. It said: "Oregon is for humans."

It wasn't that we were ashamed of ourselves, because we weren't. Jude and I are both legally registered supers and we did our mandated government service, the whole nine yards. She still works with the community garden groups she met while she was doing hers, and I volunteer down at the transition house for supers in the foster care system. We've always had an open door policy for anyone who needs it - and when you work with those kids, you know a lot of people who could use a hand.

Apparently nine yards worth of community service isn't good enough for some people.

I put my hands on Jude's shoulders, but she didn't look up. I went inside and called the non-emergency police number. The dispatcher who answered told me they'd send someone over pretty soon, and to be careful in case they circled back around.

"It's not unheard of," he said.


"As soon as the adrenaline of running wears off, they'll think of something else they should have done. Maybe something bigger. And sometimes they come back to do it. Please be careful."

I went ahead and fetched my wallet with my state ID and registration card as well as Jude's purse. I left them by the door, just in case the police needed it. I'd just finished rounding up a jacket for Jude when headlights cut across the yard and I dropped into a defensive posture. Old training dies hard.

It was just the police car, though.

When the officer got out of the car, she clucked disapprovingly at the signs and the mess in the yard, then came over to us.

I explained what I'd heard and Jude's reaction. The officer bent down and whispered to Jude, and my wife allowed the policewoman to walk her back over to the front door.

She sat on the couch and I wrapped the afghan around her. The officer walked through it again with her while I heated water and made tea. By the time I came back in, Jude looked more comfortable.

"Just to clarify, are the two of you superhuman?"

"Technically," Jude answered. "Class C. Mostly harmless."

The officer nodded. "If we hear anything, we'll keep you informed, but the odds..."

I nodded. "Do you need the signs? To... I don't know, dust for prints or something?"

"I'll take them," she said, but I wasn't sure if it was official or if she was trying to spare us the pain of dealing with them. The officer took several photos of the tire tracks and the boot prints in the yard, as well as the damage to the porch. "I'll file this tonight so your insurance can get started tomorrow."

"Thank you." Jude and I led her out to the patrol car, and I helped her take the signs down.

We were alone again in the yard all too soon. There were plenty of nights we'd spent out here, sitting on the porch, just watching the neighborhood. Now, though, the yard felt like it was no longer ours.

"But what do we do now?" Jude's voice was quiet.

I just looked at Jude and shook my head. "I don't know? We start over, I guess."

Jude was plainly angry now, her fists clenched tightly at her sides. "But who would do that? Pull up a whole garden just to be hateful about something we can't even control?"

I tried to find an answer, but I couldn't come up with anything more profound than "people suck" and that didn't quite seem to fit the enormity of the situation. A few of the crops had been harvested - the asparagus, green beans and strawberries, mostly, the earliest of early harvests. And they'd left the fruit trees alone, aside from staplegunning their hate signs onto the trunks. But there was no way around the fact that most of the harvest was gone.

Considering at least half of it went to Jude's food bank projects and most of the rest went to feeding whoever turned up at the house needing to eat, it seemed less personal than it ought to have. It was an attack on the community.

The signs had also made that clear. "Oregon is for humans." "All supers are villains." Whoever had done it hadn't cared who they were lashing out against. Most likely they just wanted to make sure that someone got hurt.

I took her hand. "We can look at it in the morning and decide then. Come on. I'm sure the daylight will help."

I didn't think it would help the garden, but I hoped it would help my anger.

the end
Tags: author: jack vivace, book 41: superpowers, story

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