When Bug was six, she got kicked in the head by a horse. By all accounts, that’s how she should have died. That she lived was a tiny miracle but it’s an old story, the one about how she went blind. When she was twelve, she got her brand new cybernetic eyes. You could even call it a brand new lease on life.
Bug could see again. She could run. She could hop and skip and do all of the reckless things that other twelve year olds did and got to take for granted. More than that, Bug’s sense sharpened. She could hear, smell, taste and see things that other twelve year olds couldn’t. Bug could even talk to lightning.
Her name was Sadie but by the time she turned twenty six, nobody called her that anymore. Everybody who knew her just called her the Bug, short for the Lightning Bug. That was, everyone from the mailman to the scrawny kid who mowed the lawn for twenty bucks a pop. Bug wasn’t exactly crazy, people would say. Just a little weird. That was okay, most would say. Every small town’s got their own little slice of weird.
Though she wasn’t exactly an outcast, Bug had fallen into the habit of living like a hermit. She worked at home as a freelance writer, paid her bills online and had groceries delivered to her doorstep twice a week.
Come a rainy night, Bug would go streaking across the open field behind her house, pink galoshes and open raincoat barely offering any protection. The rain would come down in buckets. Lightning would crack like a whip along the ground and the thunder would come crashing down. Bug would look more alive than anyone could ever imagine. She would listen to the messages hidden within the chaos and she would nod, smile and yell her answers back.
Dr. Phyllis Carter arrived at Bug’s front door at 2:55 pm on a Tuesday afternoon for their weekly session. The counselor’s knuckle was poised to knock when the door opened. She was ushered inside and offered tea. Dr. Carter followed the young woman inside.
Bug was a plump, round-faced sort. Today, she wore her hair in a chignon bun and a vintage cream and black polka dot dress that complemented her lovely ebony skin. To be honest, seated on Bug’s soft leather couch, Dr. Carter felt nothing but drab by comparison in her ordinary slacks and button-up shirt. To say that Dr. Carter envied Bug’s fashion sense would be an understatement.
“Thank you,” she smiled, accepting the dainty tea cup that Bug offered.
Today’s tea was Darjeeling with a hint of raspberry. “Excellent selection, as always.”
Bug merely gave a slight nod and a smile. She sat in one of the chairs across from Dr. Carter.
“Last week, you mentioned the voices,” Dr. Carter began. “You said they tell you things?”
“Hmmm,” a nod and Bug took a sip of her tea.
“What kinds of things?”
“They tell me all kinds of things,” Bug answered with a shrug. “Random things like rising sea levels and atmospheric readings. Bird migration pattern changes. This one time, there was that pod of whales that beached themselves on Cape Horn. It was after the fact, so hardly anything of consequence really.”
“I wouldn’t say of no consequence,” Dr. Carter objected. “You were right about the earthquake off the coast of Japan, and the hurricane that hit Aruba.”
Bug chuckled. “So what are you saying, Doc? I’m psychic?”
“You know I’m not saying that.” Dr. Carter replied patiently. “I’m not saying that at all. What I mean to say is that there is probably some scientific explanation for your er… condition.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“Your optical implants for one thing. The technology was experimental and this all only started after you got them, right?”
“Can’t say for sure.” Bug shrugged. “To tell you the truth, it’s crossed my mind but that’s only half the equation, right?”
Late that night, it rained again. Bug donned her raincoat and galoshes. She ran. She laughed. She danced around and she sang in the rain. The air around her crackled. Lightning struck so close by that it made the hair on the back of her neck stand at attention. The sky rumbled, lit up with a blue glow. The nanobots in Bug’s eyes throbbed and hopped to the beats of the rogue nanobots crowding the sky.
“Of course not!” Bug yelled back up at the hovering clouds. “I didn’t tell her anything.”
The rain petered out. The lightning and thunder rolled away with the clouds. Bug’s gaze followed them into the distance.
“You guys don’t have to worry,” she murmured. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
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