Kansas City, Missouri
Jan 1st, 2020 - Finnegan’s Junction
The second Rosa wrapped her hand around the door handle for her apartment she knew something was wrong. Not because of anything she could see, because Rosa Ravelo couldn’t see anything. She’d been blind for six months now and was staying here with a teacher with unusual talents, learning to live without her sight. Instead it was everything else that alerted her to the wrongness.
For starters, there were no sounds coming from inside the apartment, not even the slightest whispers in her ears or vibrations against her fingertips. She leaned in close to the door and pressed her ear to the wood, listening closer. The air inside the apartment was dead and still. No heartbeats
in the normal areas, no radio on
anywhere she could hear, even the usual hum of the A/C was missing.
Rosa could normally hear and feel all of those things, usually before she even got to her door. That was the thing about being blinded by a particle accelerator accident, really. Weird metahuman powers as a side effect. Her teacher, Stick, insisted they were a gift. Maybe he was right. Now if she concentrated, she could hear a whispered conversation from across the hallway, track scents like a bloodhound, taste every chemical in a soda in order of proportion and track a fly through a room by the disturbances in the air against her skin.
At just sixteen years old, she was Rosa Maria Portacio Ravelo: Blind Super Ninja!
She felt for the locking mechanism and that was different too. As she rattled
the handle back and forth, the feel and sound of it put the tumblers in totally different positions.
Someone changed it while she was out. She sighed. Probably another one of Stick’s tests. The old bat always thought she was too soft. Like growing up with a pitfighter for a dad in this city was easy. She pulled a hairpin out of her hair and started tapping
two fingers against the top of the handle to map the inside of the lock. The mechanism was new but cheap, probably not too hard to open.
After a couple seconds spent getting a clear picture in her mind and fiddling with the lock she clicked
it open. She took a second to check the door for any sounds on the other side again and repin her hair. Then she slowly pushed the door open as silently as she could even to her own senses.
As soon she stepped inside it only confirmed her fears. The air was colder than it should’ve been with another living person inside
and there were no heartbeats
in the rooms nearby either no matter how much she strained her ears. Besides, Stick normally stank up the place
with cheap alcohol and even cheaper aftershave, like a molotov cocktail went off in an abandoned men’s cologne factory. But now it was faint, barely hanging in the air like he’d been gone for most of a day.
She tapped her white cane against the floor over and over as the sound bounced around from walls to ceiling
and painted everything in a silvery rippling glow in the black canvas of her mind’s eye. Nope, no blind ninja hiding in the corners here. In fact…
There was nothing
in the entryway to their apartment at all, or anywhere else the echoes could reach. No furniture, no radio or music player, even the A/C units were gone as far as she could tell. Just smooth, bare floors and walls
like nobody had ever lived here at all.
She breathed in deep to double check and even the chemical scent
of coolant from the fridge and the A/C unit were faded and weak
along with the scent of Stick and the old musty couch
he usually slept on.
Leave it to the old bat to have a team of ninja furniture movers, just to mess with her.
It was some trick or test or something, it had to be right? Get her thrown off by changes to familiar surroundings and get rid of obstacles before a fight. As a last resort she checked the soundproofed bedroom she used for herself, shivering a little as the sound of her cane and her footsteps
died away against the flooring and left her breathing, heartbeat and organs
as her only company. She tuned those out too. Her Eskrima sticks
- training tools given to her by Stick -were on the floor in their carrying case, smelling of clean leather and smooth hardwood,
but the room was still empty.“Hey Stick?! You better stop screwing around or I’ll kick your ass!”
No response. Not even a trace of his usual smugness.
Which meant she.
With rent due today, no job and her inheritance in a trust fund. She started struggling to fight down panic, her heart pounding in her ears like a drum solo
and her body reeking of fear.
She snatched up the sticks in their case, slung them across her back and ran out of the room faster than most people would believe a blind girl could move, letting the sound of her own footsteps and breathing
echo off the hallway
and down the stairs
to guide her.
She pushed her senses hard trying to check over the whole apartment complex. The building was pretty much empty this time of day and with her adrenaline flowing and her senses extended out to max she could already tell the only other person was...
three floors up...lone male, mid-20’s
, high on weed
Nope nope nope. nope
out for sure. By the time she finished tuning her senses back down and taking a hefty dose of brain bleach she’d already pushed through the doorway outside. Her brain was spinning and her feet were moving on their own. Can I find Stick? Yeah right Rosa, find a ninja master who taught you everything you know about tracking in the middle of Kansas City. Great plan.
she stopped mid-step. Okay so I’m officially in ‘homeless blind orphan’ territory. At least until I can contact that lawyer in charge of my trust account. Where do I go? Paul’s pub, the Arsenal. If he’s not there maybe I can crash in the back but he’ll know what to do.”
she started taking her usual shortcut through the park nearby, making sure to keep her senses dulled down and only really paying attention to the things in her immediate vicinity, feeling things out with her cane both through touch
and the tap tap tapping
echoes of it against the street so she didn’t get into any accidents. She had way too much internal screaming in her mind to really do anything else but go on autopilot. Where would she go from here? What would she say to Paul when she talked to him after six months out of contact with the old man? She’d followed Stick because he promised her control over her metahuman senses, but she’d also been using what he taught her for more than just day-to-day life so-
She was wrapped up in her own anxious thoughts when suddenly a tidal wave of sound and motion
rolled over her from the park entrance and sent her reeling. The metahuman protest was spilling out of the park as some of the protesters jostled for space. The unexpected sound of a horde of shouting, agitated people
was disorienting enough, but then someone bumped into her and knocked her over onto the sidewalk on top of that. Combined with her earlier anxieties it was enough to throw Rosa into a panic and her senses all overloaded at once. The sounds of shouting and chanting exploded in her head. She could feel each bump and crack and loose pebble on the sidewalk like a bed of nails even through her clothes and a burning hot pain in her mouth along with a nauseating warm copper taste proved she’d bit her left cheek during the fall or maybe hit it against her teeth. The different scents of each person in the massive crowd, the acrid smell of blood from her mouth and even the chemical odor of marker ink on handmade signs nearby mixed into a nasal torture worse than pepper spray.
She wanted to scream, vomit and cry all at once but she fought it all back and did her best to dull the inputs and struggle into a sitting position. She grabbed her white cane off the ground, spat the blood
out of her mouth and pushed herself up, swaying unsteadily and shaking. She was exhausted even though in reality the whole thing only took a handful of seconds at most. The protestor she’d bumped into whirled around
, his heart pounding like an artillery bombardment,
his muscles tensed
she’d learned to associate with anger rolling off of him
like stench off the river at high noon. She didn’t need any of that or his facial expression to see he was caught up in the angrier part of the rally and pissed off.
The shouting did that just fine.“What’s wrong with you bitch? You blind or something?!”
So much for a Happy New Year.@Athol