The message on his phone was from Amber. It had been months since he heard from her. For a while, they talked every day. Their connection was sudden and intense, but burnt out almost as quickly as it started. Jake tried dismissing the significance of Amber in his life, but was having a difficult time convincing himself.
The fact that Amber lived in Massachusetts while he lived in Nevada didn’t really seem to help. Despite the distance, Jake felt very close to her. The fact that Amber seemingly wanted nothing to do with him, was the only thing keeping him from pursuing something.
But when he got her message after he dropped off his now ex-friend, everything he tried to push down came rushing to the surface. He responded to her message with an excitement one should never experience when doing something so mundane as sending a message.
She asked him if he could come visit.
Jake’s response was something he didn’t think he’d ever write. “I’ll book a flight today. I’ll need a place to crash. I can’t afford the flight and a room.”
He pressed send.
He waited for a response. After a few hours of hearing nothing, he decided she was playing a game with him and went to bed. He was thoroughly disappointed. “Was I too eager? Why would she ask if she didn’t want me to answer? Why message me after months of barely any contact with something like that, only to drop off again?” he asked to himself. The next day, he checked into his messaging app to make sure that it didn’t get rejected. The message was delivered, just not checked.
Meanwhile, Amber and Brandon were busy. They were seeking out carriers of the mutation in order to ensure more of the new ones were born. They would find the carriers and make sure they got together to increase the birth rate of the new ones. At the same time, they were locating the new children that had been born on the basis of chance. There were fourteen new ones since Brandon in Massachusetts alone.
Jake was glad he didn’t book that flight, and tried once again to write Amber off.
About a week later, Jake met Tina. Tina was an attractive woman he had actually met once before when he was in a relationship. Because of that, he previously never really got to know her. He was getting a coffee at the shop by her work. She was there on her break. She caught him looking at her, because he thought she was attractive. He didn’t remember who she was. She thought he did.
“Jake?” she asked.
“Hi!” Jake said, pretending to know the woman standing in front of him.
“Wow, I haven’t seen you since that party! You look great! What have you been up to?” she asked him.
“The party,” Jake thought. “Oh, I know her. Her name is Tyra. No, Tina!”
“Nothing much, just living. I did just get my pilot picked up though. They were hesitant about it because I would have to telecommute the scripts. What about you, Tina?” he asked as if to prove to her that he remembered her name.
She told him about her life as they sat down with their coffees. The attraction between the two of them was undeniable, and before he even left the coffee shop he kissed her. He asked to see her again, and they made plans to go out on her next day off.
Amber felt the kiss. She was right in the middle of telepathically persuading the doctors and instructing them in the correct way to handle a premature birth of the latest new one. A wave of sadness, betrayal, anger, and confusion swept over her.
Brandon felt his mother’s reaction. “He thought you were ignoring him. Humans need to protect their emotions,” he thought at her.
Amber realized that Brandon was right. Jake could not know that Amber was able to read his mind. He could not know that she was excited that he was going to book a flight to see her. He could not know because she knew she never even bothered to check his message. And unless she invaded his mind, he could not know she wanted to be with him. For some unknown reason to her, she didn’t want to play with his mind.
“He is not important to the plan,” Brandon thought to her.
Tina and Jake went out as often as they could. They really clicked, and Jake soon found himself completely forgetting about Amber. After a while, they became official; and started to talk about the future.
Amber tried to ignore it, but found herself increasingly agitated with their relationship. Every time they kissed, she felt as if she had been punched in the mouth. She started to think about Jake nearly all of the time. She began to neglect the plan and the network of new ones she was trying to build.
“You either need to acquire him, or jettison him,” Brandon thought to his mother.
“Acquire? Jettison?” Amber asked her son out loud.
“I was being dramatic,” he replied. “He could be an ally, but he is not required.”
“I require him,” Amber told her son.
“He seems like a nice person. But he is a person,” Brandon told his mother.
“He is more than a person to me. I wonder why it has taken me so long to realize that,” she said, returning to speaking through thought.
“We evolve. Now acquire him. I need you on your game. The next phase is particularly delicate,” he thought to her.
“I know.” Amber thought as she started to formulate her plan to bring Jake to her without harming him or Tina. She picked up her phone, and messaged Jake.
Tina’s earpiece buzzed. “She sent him a message.” Tina smiled as she realized that all of the hard work her agency had been putting in was beginning to pay off.