Being one of my four targets, Angel has been laid so bare as to feel more like you than any other pronoun. From now on, though, it’s certain that Angel will only ever feel like he or she, but never you again.
Watching Angel’s shocked face adjusting to this thunderbolt of an exchange we’ve just made, I know the feelings he is having, because I recall them from when I first ferried them out of my office building and saw them behind my eyes in the building’s mirrored façade on Liberty Street: “Some brand-new power—some great new capacitance.”
“Hey, baby Angel,” calls a familiar deep voice. Angel pauses, then with a dangerous smile spreading across his face he turns to see a self-assured Lucan swaggering down the Avenue towards us with Kev, thirty metres away.
Angel doesn’t reply. I watch him tweaking his new-found gaze and homing his focus in upon Lucan, who has guessed nothing odd yet. I glance at Alaia, who is staring from me to Angel with horror: yes, she’s understood exactly what has happened here. I imagine she’s also forming the same intention I’m forming: we need to get the hell out of here.
With Lucan and Kev only a few metres away from him, I surmise that Angel is still psyching himself up to turn his gaze upon Lucan—and now I see he’s done it. Followed by Alaia, I shuffle surreptitiously back to the side, where I have an equal view of both their faces: Angel with his back to the sea and Lucan facing him…
And Lucan freezes, seeing Angel’s deadly eyes where they hang upon the night, transfixing.
Lucan is frozen with weakness and terror.
My hand reaches out and touches Alaia beside me. Moving as little as possible, she and I exchange glances. I make the tiniest of head movements, down Ocean Avenue to the south, and we both start to ease away in that direction. Straight away something invisible wriggles out of Angel’s frame, like a great black squid that’s grown to fill a building until it must lift the roof and spill its tentacles out from under the eaves. This invisible squid grabs Alaia and me both, pins us where we are, wrenches our heads back around to look at Angel and keeps our eyelids forcibly open. Seeing that his head has turned away from Lucan to face us, I flinch in anticipation of some kind of eye-themed nightmare…
I find, however, that his eyes are not at all hard to look at, even when they are fixed upon me in particular—and at this discovery I experience in turn surprise, relief, interest and gratitude. He’s being easy on me, I realise: he doesn’t hate me, after all. Wow! I feel a special glow and the stirrings of a kind of love for him, on account of this great leniency towards Alaia and me.
The dark beauty of his eyes is colossally amazing, too—almost too much for me to bear, in fact.
But next he turns his head to the last person present here, and it’s a different story. I don’t know whether Alaia’s perceiving this as I am, but again I catch a stream of silent words from Angel’s eyes.
Kev obeys. Down goes his shocked face, round turns his bulky frame, and off he waddles out of sight.
I’m filled with admiration. What a show! What power!
Angel turns back to Lucan. You too! his eyes hiss. Get on back to the house—I’ll catch you later. And fearful after Kev, Lucan slopes off, weakly into shadow.
Angel swings his head around and looks at us with menace. My fear returns, for real. I see that Alaia is as malleable as me. He points up Ocean Avenue, his meaning clear: walk. Docile, she and I comply, on a forced march, two blocks northwards, back to the carcass.
Through the concrete columns I can see that the cars and cops have all gone. Angel points us through a hole in the wire-netting fence, then steers us towards the inland end of the building, where there’s a bare unfinished stairway lacking any kind of containing walls, balusters or handrails, rising eleven storeys to the top. He stands at the bottom of this, still holding us with his gaze, and points up. “Come on up, you little monkeys,” he says, with the ceremonial glee of some infernal pixie ring-master. “Let’s breathe the fumes in, and paint the night red!” As Alaia and I step forward, I’m startled to realise that the vicious, lisped exuberance of this utterance is in fact the very first thing he has spoken aloud, since my powers were transferred into him, despite the barrage of verbiage that feels as if it’s been fired through the air since then.
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