Dissimulants: Parks had never heard of them; few people had. They lived among humans from the start, and remained unnoticed for a long time. People wrote off the few they discovered as witches, and in later times called them insane. Most Dissimulants learned to keep themselves a secret; what they could do, they did alone. It wasn’t until now that Dissimulants found each other; and they’ve started to fight back.
A shot came from behind. Parks heard it, which meant the bullet missed its intended target. His wheels sparked along the Page Street asphalt as his skateboard picked up downhill speed. He’d seen the car several times that night, but now it was chasing him — fast.
It was a Crown Vic, which Parks assumed were police; anyone on the street knew that if it wasn’t a taxi, a Ford Crown Victoria meant cops. Parks was a street skater, sixteen years old, and a runaway; avoiding cops was like a job for him. He noticed it hanging around Haight Street, but didn’t pay much attention at first. Cops in the Haight were as standard as panhandlers.
When he did realize that they were watching him, it was almost too late. The Vic passed by him on the street going the opposite direction; a man and woman were inside. Parks locked eyes with the guy, who was driving, and they both knew the cover was blown. With only a few seconds before the Vic could turn around to chase, he needed to get off the main drag, get lost, and maybe zigzag his way down into the neighborhood. Making a quick left, he tore out to hide in the shadows and weaker streetlamps of the residential part of the Haight.
It was in trying to find a safe place to run or hide that got him here, on Page Street. And that was when the black Crown Vic showed up again, closed in, and started shooting. He was moving fast, but not doing anything to make it happen. This block of Page was a steep hill, and gravity gave him all the speed. It was like a video game, like he wasn’t the one moving; street lamps, parked cars, and potholes rolled past him while he swerved and weaved to steer to avoid them. It was easy riding, but his mind wasn’t resting. A problem was in front of him — two problems, actually.
Page Street started to level out over the next three blocks, and then it went straight up after that. He had to find a way off the street before that happened. He wasn’t going to outrun a car up a hill.
The other problem was more urgent; the end of the block was coming at him quick, and the traffic light at the intersection had just turned yellow. He wasn’t going to make it through before the cross traffic got the green light to go. Most drivers won’t run over a kid with their car if they can avoid it; if for no other reason than it’s a hassle dealing with the police report. It’s the cell phones, screaming backseat brats, and every other distraction that makes it a coin toss whether or not they will see things in time to hit the brakes. But stopping, and letting the Crown Vic get at him, was no option either.
Parks ran the red light.
It was a free roll, crossing the intersection, and the traffic started to go. He plowed through in front of the first car; already moving, it slammed to a skidding stop. Parks swerved just enough to skirt past the bumper. The horns started from the cars behind that car. They wanted Parks to know how mad they were, but the honking was music to him; the stopped traffic had the Crown Vic blocked. Parks was able to slip right down onto the other side of Page.
Still coasting, but this part of Page Street wasn’t nearly as steep; he was dropping speed, and kicked at the ground to add some of his own energy to pick it up. His plan was to get to the end of this block and turn right, make a couple of turns and end up on Pierce; it dead-ended at Duboce Park. There, he would jam up the wheelchair ramp and into the park, where the Vic couldn’t follow. Crossing the park, he’d lose them while they had to drive around it to the other side. It was a good plan, if he could make it there ahead of the cruiser. At Pierce, turning the corner without slowing down, he heard the open roar of the Crown Vic; the blocked intersection had cleared.
He turned from one street to the next; taking advantage of the lead while he had it to stay just out of their sight, so they wouldn’t know which way he turned. But the park was probably too obvious, and they remained at his back — closing in. What he really needed, now just two blocks from the park, was a way onto the sidewalk; a break in the endless parked deathmonsters that lined the curb on both sides of the street. If he could get to the sidewalk, the police couldn’t stay behind. So he searched. His head steady and forward, so only his eyes moved, back and forth like prison searchlights. “Find it,” he growled to himself. There just had to be a way out of this; there always was, for him.
But he didn’t have the power to outrun a car; it was only thirty feet behind him as he crossed Waller Street. And there was one block to go to the end. They were close enough for a good shot now, and that’s what he expected. He closed his eyes and braced himself for the explosion; he was too far from the park to make it. But the shot never came. Instead, the car moved in closer; close enough that Parks felt heat from the engine on his back. A second later he felt the bumper touch the back of his legs. Then, like a vacuum cleaner, the underside of the car sucked at him, pulling him in. He lost balance. His skateboard rolled out from under him. Dizzy; a strong urge to throw up; Parks blacked-out.
Screams — tires desperate to grab a piece of asphalt — bounced off the houses from all around. Parks came back from his blackout, on his skateboard, and fighting to stay on. The Crown Vic was at the end of a long skid, a few yards in front of him. It plowed into the wall that bordered Duboce Park; spraying stones and concrete as if a shotgun had fired them.
Parks slid sideways and came to a stop. He stood for a few seconds, watching, and trying to make sense of what had just happened; he couldn’t. As far as he knew, the car had hit him. It had felt real, that was for sure; he couldn’t have just imagined that. But after, just before he came back from the blackout, was the craziest thing to accept.
He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, staring down the street; but he saw movement inside the Crown Vic, and realized they were still alive. They would know, they would have seen it, but he sure as hell wasn’t sticking around to ask. Parks jumped back on his skateboard, and kicked off in the other direction.
The ride home was noisy, with siren screams all around; someone in the houses must have called in the crash. But Parks didn’t pay them, or anything else much attention; he couldn’t stop thinking about that feeling; he couldn’t ignore what he knew had to have happened. The Crown Vic had driven through his body.