I come across another park, all lush lawns and palm trees, with a few rows of big shrubs. That’s where I head. The sun is rising, and people are already starting to fill the beach a hundred yards away, but I nestle down into the bushes until I’m as far out of sight as I can be. My body aches. My chapped lips burn. But at least I’ve gotten a little water.
Rey’s voice rings in my head, like some kind of taunting ghost. I know exactly what he’d say.
This is what you wanted, isn’t it? You’re off your little island. You got what you asked for. Welcome back to the real world.
I groan. It’s all I have the strength to do. Then I close my eyes and slip into darkness.
When I wake up, the sun is starting to go down. I’ve slept through the entire day, but I’m better for it. I’m still weak getting to my feet, but I don’t feel like I’m immediately going to collapse.
What I do feel is hunger. So much hunger that my stomach cramps at just the thought of food.
I have to find something to eat.
I take a quick stock of everything I own—dirty linen shirt, cargo shorts, sandals that are about to fall apart, and a duffel bag that holds an alien Chest. It’s not a lot to work with, but I’ve also got telekinetic powers.
I wonder briefly if the flying has to do with my telekinesis or if it’s something different altogether. I’m anxious to try it out again, but my stomach twists and I know I’m not doing anything unless I get some food in me. I find a water fountain in the park and drink until I feel like I’m going to burst, but it doesn’t really help that much with the hunger pangs.
In the near distance are buildings and lights, and I head in that direction. If there are lights, there are probably people. And if there are people, there’s probably food.
It doesn’t take long before a sweet smell invades my nose. It smells like food I remember eating at a carnival in the Caribbean before we went off the grid. I follow it through a few streets as the buildings get bigger and the lights get brighter, keeping to the shadows as best I can. People pass me by, but they don’t pay me any mind. In fact, it looks like they’re purposefully avoiding the sight of me—probably because I look like a homeless person, and the last thing they want ruining their night is to have to talk to some destitute kid.
And then I find it: a street fair or carnival or whatever it is they call it here in Miami. The road is blocked off and swarming with people, but more importantly, it’s packed with food trucks and little stalls selling what look like crepes and burritos and tacos.
It feels like all the blood in my body is rushing to my head. People. Everywhere. After so long on the little isolated island, it’s intimidating to see such crowds.
Calm down, I tell myself. Just take this one step at a time.
I grab a seat on steps leading up to yet another little park—it’s as if they can’t get enough of them in this city—and start to stake out my options. I could use my powers to float a taco over to myself, but the stands are small and the food is being watched. Besides, Rey was always our cook, so I don’t even know what half the things I’m seeing are.
I realize how terribly unprepared I am to be back in the real world. I should have planned better. I thought I’d show up in Martinique with a boat—something to trade. I don’t have any money. Not even a penny. Just my Chest.
And my Legacies.
My stomach twists again with hunger and I realize what I’m going to have to do: steal. Use my telekinesis to lift some cash off someone down here. Somewhere in the back of my head an alarm is going off—this is an abuse of your Legacy!—but I ignore it. I’m starving. I’ll worry about paying the people back later.
My eyes scan the crowd. There’s a group of people standing nearby. They’re well dressed in suits and dresses and polished shoes. They definitely look like they could afford to lose a few bucks. It takes me several tries—the first few times I tug at someone’s wallet, they reach to their back pocket to make sure it’s still there—but eventually a leather billfold slips out, and I quickly shoot it into the bushes.
I don’t move yet, but count backwards from one hundred, watching to see if the guy notices his wallet’s missing or not.
As if on cue, my stomach makes a terrible gurgling noise when I get to “one.”
I stroll casually over to the bushes and retrieve the man’s wallet. It’s packed with cash. I grin, shove the bills into my pocket, and then head for the food stalls.
I stop at the first one I see. It’s some kind of Cuban food, and I end up with a greasy sandwich of pork and cheese that drips all over my hands when I bite into it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. When it’s gone, I move on to tacos, then ice cream. My stomach is filled up quickly, but I push through and keep eating.
I’m halfway through my ice cream when I realize someone’s watching me.
I casually walk away, and he less-than-casually follows me from a distance. I glance over my shoulder just long enough to see him tap something into his cell phone, his eyes never leaving me. It’s possible he just thinks I’m trouble based on how destitute I look, but it’s equally possible that after I ran away from the beach this morning, whoever it was that snapped a picture of me reported me to the police.
I can’t take that chance.
I make a beeline for a side street. Once I’m around the corner, I start running. The last thing I need is for an officer to start questioning me, or report me, or worse, try to take me into custody. Then I’d have to make a scene and use my powers and probably alert half the Mogadorian army to my presence. No, I just have to get away.