When my entire apartment complex gained superpowers, it should have been cool. It was cool for my neighbors who got to fly, or the old lady two floors down who gained control over rodents. My little brother got to talk to cats (they won’t obey him still). For me, it ruined every chance of a normal, happy life. All because I can tell when someone’s lying, and everybody lies.
Now every morning I get up, check in with the government handlers, and head to the only job I’ve been able to tolerate since I got powers. The children I watch at the nearby daycare might be brutal with their words, but they are terrible liars. No powers needed, no itching signal in the back of my skull. A stern enough look will have them bursting into guilty giggles.
This morning the detective was waiting outside again. I dodged around the checkpoint, trying to keep agents between us, but he fell in step behind me as soon as we were clear.
“Hey, I need a favor.” He didn’t try to stop me, or get ahead of me. That was the only reason I hadn’t socked him yet. The only policeman who hadn’t tried to intimidate or guilt me into working with them.
“It’s not a criminal.”
“I’m going to work.” I tried to move a little faster, thankful I’d never gotten into high-heels as a teen. He kept up easily, his longer legs a clear advantage.
“Not right now, obviously, but maybe later?”
“I’ll buy you dinner?”
“I…” I hesitated at the crosswalk. The hand was lit up, but I could see my job on the other side of the street.
“Well I’ll check back and see if you’re free after work. You get out at 3 right?” The light changed and I hurried across, with him in tow.
“I get out at 4 today.” A sharp pain in the back of my skull made me regret the lie just a little. If I could get home and lock the door he’d leave me alone though. The agents at the checkpoint didn’t like local cops harassing the “assets”.
“4, I’ll see you then.” He gave me a weird little salute and wandered off towards the city center. I watched him walk around a corner before ducking inside to the sound of four shrieking children. The Thompson quadruplets were tearing apart the sofa looking for some small item again. They turned in unison when I entered and immediately righted the cushions before scurrying silently off into the next room.
“Oh thank god, I don’t know why but they only behave when you’re here.” My coworker looked frazzled already.
“You just can’t put up with their nonsense. The second you give them an inch they’ll run a marathon on you.”
“I saw handsome detective out there again, did he ask you out yet?”
“They just want my help again, I told him no.”
“You should do it, and then ask him out.”
“Uh-uh. I’m not putting up with their nonsense either. Listening to a bunch of thugs and weirdos talk about horrible things is not my idea of a good time.” I chose to ignore the later part of her suggestion and she let it go for the time being.
“They’re being awfully quiet, I guess we should check on them. Put your stuff away and I’ll check on the little monsters.” She took the few steps down the hall to the room the children had disappeared to as I tucked my purse away in the front closet, locking it away from prying little hands. I’d lost 3 cell phones to various water sources before learning to keep it out of their reach. Only the quadruplets and a few other children were scheduled for today, so we’d have a light workload at least.
By the time the quadruplets had been picked up by their nanny I had retrieved my purse and was waiting with the key in hand to lock up. My coworker strolled out the door ahead of me and as soon as I’d turned the key I could hear familiar footsteps approaching. My coworker was disappearing into the distance as I turned my head to see the detective stroll up.
“You know you’re not the only one who knows when someone is lying.”
“Then you don’t need me.” I crossed the street as soon as the light changed and he followed again.
“Yeah but I’m no good with kids.”
That made me stop and he finally overtook me, blocking the sidewalk in front of me.
“Just one kid. Witnessed something, maybe, but he won’t talk to anyone and when he does he keeps changing his story.”
I gripped the strap of my purse tightly to avoid swinging it at him out of frustration, “I don’t want to work with the cops, it’s too much.”
“That’s fine, all I’m asking is that you help out one kid. I’ll even try and keep everyone off your back if you agree.”
“This feels like extortion.”
“I prefer to think of it as a mutual partnership.” His normal pleasant smile revealed nothing more and all I could tell was that he wasn’t lying. It wasn’t always a helpful power. I sighed and loosened my grip a little.
“I can come by tomorrow, for a little bit.”
“What about dinner?”
“I’m going home now, detective, to eat it.” I shoved past him on the sidewalk and he let me go this time. Past the checkpoint I walked up the stairs to my apartment to clear my head. Mrs. Hannel’s rats scurried downstairs past me carrying a trashbag and I could hear more in the shadows above. A couple more floors and I shut the door to my apartment, locking it as my little brother poked his head out of his room.
“Mr. Shadow says the detective was outside again, are you gonna help solve a crime?” He asked.
“I’m just gonna talk to a kid. Not solving anything.” I retreated into my room before he could ask more questions.
“Wish I could solve crimes.” He said loud enough to make sure I could hear him through my door.
I turned on the tv opposite my bed and flipped through the channels until I found some cartoons. With the room still dark I tried to close my eyes and wait for the slight headache to go away so my appetite would come back.