HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 28

Magh took Nila’s hand and stood on shaky knees. They quickly disappeared into the crowd. Frederica and Tommy sat together for a long while without speaking.

“Your friends are very strange,” he said finally.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“I like them.”

“Me too.”

“Sorry I blurted out that stuff about Angela.”

Frederica shook her head.

“That was my bad,” she said. “Don’t beat yourself—”

“Hello again!”

The guy from before appeared out of nowhere. He took a sip from a glass of whiskey and plopped down in Nila’s chair.

“That seat’s taken,” Frederica said.

“I know,” he said. “By me.”

Frederica crossed her arms. The man grinned.

“You seem a little out of place here,” he said. “The angry one dragged you along, didn’t she?”

“What does it matter?” Frederica asked.

“Well, I was just thinking about this place I know,” he said. “It’s not far. Just a couple blocks. Might be more your speed. Want to ditch this hole and check it out?”

“Not really,” she said.

“Maybe some other time, then?” he said. “How about you give me your number and—”

“She said she’s not interested,” Tommy said.

The man glanced at Tommy for a moment then returned his attention to Frederica.

“You may not be as attractive as your friends, but you can do better than this kid,” he said. “He barely looks older than twelve. What you need is—”


Frederica slammed her fists on the tabletop and a blue flame erupted from the man’s glass, licking his face. He jumped out of the chair and brushed the embers from his goatee. He glared at Frederica. She caught the faintest glimpse of his sad life but managed to keep his mind mostly at bay.