The catcher went dormant for an hour after dropping us in this tunnel. I had no idea where the catcher had taken us. Its source of power was a mystery; I had none and neither did it so far as I knew.
I tested it to see if I could move while it waited. Still, nothing. I sensed a bit of stubbornness. I tried emptying my mind. I concentrated on nothing. When it was ready, we moved. Nothing in my ability affected this.
We walked forward in the dark. Its sight was eyeless and also, somehow, independent of any available light. The details were there but not distinct. I could see tracks, mine cart or railroad, leading into a deep tunnel. There was no light as far as we could see, no exit to the outside. I imagined the air was cool as well, but temperature was not a factor as long as the catcher enveloped me.
We trudged on. The direction we trod was moot. I looked for clues as we went. We were alone, or it would speed its progress toward a new host. Just a slow, steady walk. All I could do on my own was think and how much of that was being guided? How much had been filtered to suit its purpose?
I’d started counting after our 3rd step. I was in the thousands when the first pinprick of light was visible. It appeared as normal light, brightening as we made it closer. The tracks were not immaculate and in dire need of maintenance.
I could not feel the warmth of the desert we entered from the tunnel, but I could see the wavering of heat rising from the rocky, sandy ground. The tracks went straight from the tunnel but veered to the right now. Our path was the same from the tunnel, moving to some unseen landmark.
The landscape was hilly and uneven. I theorized the catcher would begin to see mirages as we went. We crested a second hill when I saw what I assumed was a mirage. Another figure was coming toward us, mirrored exactly, step for step. Its body was just as smooth, just as dull grey as this one. Simultaneously, the catchers ran at each other. There should have been a collision. We stopped within arm’s reach of each other. The mirror effect would only make sense if what was ahead really matched what was behind. The only duplicate was the two catchers.
We reached out a right arm, touching the other’s left shoulder. It did the same. I did not notice the significance of that until later. Seconds felt like hours. Nothing else was visible other than the shimmer, but I felt a difference. A seemingly seamless transition of one parasite to the other host was nearly complete. Where I felt calm before, I felt a strong anger now. It would not show me why I should be angry. I knew it could not read my mind or thoughts, only feelings. It brought these feelings with it from its former host.
It put aside its anger to show me its past. These sights were different from what the other catcher showed me. From its memories, I could tell it was not the parasite I had unwillingly assumed and just as unwillingly shed. It would not show me who its former host had been, but it was ready to show me these other details. I could not tell if these were past or future, memories or visions.
This catcher tracked down Galen and forced him to let it feed on him. It fed but did not attach. This allowed it use of his powers, even briefly. It followed him to Guerra’s stronghold. Galen planned to take the power from Guerra’s men and captives just as he had taken back the power he had given me. Galen fled to Earth when this catcher prevented him from stealing more power.
I didn’t quite get that. I had been taken twice now and I didn’t feel any weaker now than I was before the first catcher attached to me. Other than the lack of my powers and the catchers’ imprisoning of my free will, I was just the same as I had been a week ago. Either I had a stronger life force from this or they did not feed on me. This one must have the ability to read my mind because it showed me an image of me before and after my powers were given. If neither fed on me, what was the design for me?
The next image, more silent video than picture, was of West Eastboro. It moved fast toward the strip mall. I could see Betty. She was Galen’s captive. His left arm restrained her while he held his glowing right hand at her throat. It was twilight and in the low light the blue glow of his power showed me the fear in her face. She was crying. He could fry her at a whim.
Galen yelled at the catcher. I was horrible at reading lips so I didn’t even try to guess what he said. If this was a vision, I need to stop him. Everything I had seen in my mind this last week was memory. The scene shifted. There was smoke and debris. In the rubble of the mall’s buildings, I could see my broken body. I was dying if not dead. The view moved away from my body and toward Galen. Betty was in a heap on the ground. He was smoldering a little but otherwise not hurt. The vision stopped there.
I had to get to Betty to make sure she was safe. I had to stop Galen. But how could I do that if I was dead?