Chapter 18

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“You have to admit.” I packed another book into the box. “It’s all turned out quite well. I don’t need to worry about halo certification, and we get a nice, long break for you to learn to control your newfound power.”
“They think we’re prophets, Alex.” Lilly sighed. “I controlled a priest. This is not a good thing.”
With the bureaucratic stuff taken care of, I was helping Lilly pack up. She wanted to get as far away from the Academy as possible, before she “polluted another priest’s mind” (her words). My stuff was always packed up to give to my next of kin, so we were going to head out as soon as she was packed.
“Yeah, I know.” I shook my head. “It’s pretty messed up. All I’m saying is, it works out well for us. We should be thankful.”
“Look, Alex.” Lilly set down what she was holding. “This isn’t going to be easy.” She pulled out her chair and sat down. Head in her hands. “They’re going to expect us to be prophets. And we’re not. You may be able to fool people into thinking you’re born-again, but this requires actually getting the answers from God. How are we supposed to do that? We can’t make God talk to us.”
“We’ll figure something out.” I set down the book I was holding. “I know I have no right to speak for your God. So… we won’t say anything unless you approve of it, okay?”
“You think I can speak for God? No way. I–I don’t even go to church as often as I should. I’m in no way qualified for this.”
“You’re more qualified than I am.” I sat down on a box next to her. “And going to church has nothing to do with it, anyway. That’s where you go to hear about what other people think of God. Not much point in a prophet who just reiterates what everyone’s already heard.”
“That’s not the point. The point is, my connection isn’t strong enough.”
“I guess there’s not much we can do about that… but we really only have two options here: either go along with it and learn to be prophets, or admit that we’re not.”
“I think we’d be better off just admitting it.”
“And then we’d be calling that priest a liar. And then we need to explain how I came back from the dead.”
“I guess it would hurt Father John if people found out… but how long’s he going to believe it for, anyway? Once he snaps out of it, he’ll think back to what you said, and–” She looked up. “He–he will snap out of it, right?”
“I… I don’t know,” I admitted, “The effects will probably fade, but… I don’t know how your power works.”
“It has to wear off. If–if it doesn’t… I mean, who knows how many times I might have done this before? How many people might… be thinking the wrong way because of me.” She buried her head in her hands again.
I didn’t know what to say. What to do. Tell her not to worry about it? That never worked on me.
I reached my hand over and stroked her wing gently.
She looked at me.
I pulled my hand back quickly. “Sorry.” I blushed. “I just…” Awkward. Crap.
“Thanks.” She smiled weakly. “Feels nice.”
I smiled back and resumed stroking. “Different subject: where are we going? With everything that’s going on, we can’t split up, so…”
“There’s no way we’re staying with my dad. He’d never believe I became a prophet.”
“Yeah, I’d rather not have to tiptoe around your family, either. The Lab is the clear choice here.”
“My place,” I explained, “It’s a big science facility. They can help you learn to control your powers. And they’ve got great food.” I smiled. “And an awesome supercomputer.”
“You live in a lab?”
“Free employee housing.” I shrugged.
“Huh. And they’ll let me stay there, too? You’re sure?”
“Can’t imagine why they’d say no. They’re always on the lookout for new subjects.”
“Spirits reborn as mortals. The Lab’s investigating the phenomenon. You won’t need to do anything major. They’ll help you figure out your powers, and take some notes along the way. That’s all.”
“So what do we tell them about this whole ‘prophet’ thing?”
“The truth. There’s no reason to hide it. Hopefully we can get some advice about it, too.”
“They won’t tell anyone?”
I laughed. “They’re pretty good at keeping secrets. Trust me.”

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