Sherdan had been preoccupied all morning by Anya’s remark the night before. She had said her future husband was a hardened criminal. It had been the first time she had referred to a relationship with him in a positive way, if you could call being a criminal a positive thing. Either way, it had made it very difficult to focus on his work.

The chief of police had phoned when he had finally heard of the arrest claim out on Sherdan. He’d also been informed of the interesting barrier they had. Sherdan had laughed and refused to explain. He’d warned the mayor. Admittedly he had wanted a little more time before needing the lines of defence he was already using but he’d made his point.

The news had featured him and his compound all the morning. It showed clips from his interview as well as a few home videos of the police trying to walk past the barriers. None of the reporters could explain what had happened and, although they also interviewed the police officers, none of them could comment on what was wrong. There had been fresh requests for interviews as well as a huge boost in applications.

Sherdan had spent most of the morning talking to the security guards as the police kept trying to come in and arrest him. It was important that the guards didn’t do anything threatening that would give the police a reason to use violence in gaining an entrance, especially shooting at anything or anyone.

Around mid-afternoon, Hitchin sent Sherdan an email informing him that the injection for Anya was ready. Sherdan finished up what he was doing and left the security commander in charge of the command bunker. Now that he could give her an ability he wasn’t going to waste any time.

Hitchin was eager to inject Anya himself and Sherdan couldn’t see any reason to object. He would then be on hand if any immediate health problems arose.

Sherdan hoped that, even if it made her angry at first, she would finally decide to be his bride and embrace her new life with him. Their conversation the night before had shown him that their relationship was progressing nicely.

Despite the recent encouragement, Sherdan was still nervous in the car on the way to see her. Hitchin seemed entirely unaffected but Sherdan couldn’t talk to him. He didn’t want to let Hitchin know how much he wanted Anya to be willing. Allowing someone to say no to him wasn’t normal and not something he wanted people to be aware of.

He led Hitchin upstairs to her room. The last thing he expected was for her to not even be there. He noticed the pile of her clothes in the middle of the floor and assumed she was having a bath or shower. How wrong he was. He ran from the room as he reached for his radio.

“Anya’s got free again. Please mobilise all security teams. Don’t let her reach any of the perimeters. Be advised the police are still lingering at several of the major barriers.”

“Yes, Sir,” Graham replied. Sherdan then sat himself down at his desk to pull up the camera feed for her room. Hitchin came in several seconds after.

They watched for half an hour before the saw Anya stood in front of her mirror in the clothes that he’d seen on the pile, staring at it intensly.

A noise from behind the two men made them both jump and turn around.

“Hello,” she said as she walked into the room, pulling down her t-shirt as if she’d only just put it on. Sherdan’s mouth fell open before he stood up. He walked towards her and raised his arm to backhand her. She shrank back, her eyes wide.

“Sherdan!” Hitchin yelled. He was pointing at the screen.

“What?” Sherdan was furious and didn’t appreciate the interruption. Anya grabbed his arm bringing his attention back to her.

“This,” she said as she disappeared. Both men gasped. Her clothes came towards Sherdan before they fell to the floor in a heap.

“I seem to have an ability,” she explained from somewhere in front of him. He reached out his arm and waved it in front of him. He couldn’t feel anything. “That was right through me.”

“Oh my God.”

“I’m still working out exactly how to do everything so excuse me a moment.”

Sherdan watched Anya’s pile of clothes lift up and leave the room. He then turned to Hitchin. The surveillance footage played behind him, completely forgotten by everyone. Sherdan suddenly regained cognitive thought.

“Stand down security. Anya has been found.”

“As you wish sir,” the radio answered.

“Hitchin, I don’t think we’ll be needing that injection.”

“No you won’t be,” Anya answered as she rejoined them.

“I would like to run some tests,” Hitchin said as he got up out of his seat. Sherdan nodded as he smiled at her.

She stood there, before him, with an ability; an ability that would enable her to leave and yet she was still here, looking relaxed and calm. Not only that, she had a light in her eyes and a grin on her face which said even more to him.

“I’d like to start with a blood test.” Hitchin interrupted the unspoken conversation.

“Of course Hitchin, I’ll bring Anya into the lab tomorrow. For now, I think the two of us need some time alone.”

“I’ll see you both tomorrow then.”

Hitchin didn’t get a reply. Sherdan held Anya’s gaze and everything else was forgotten. Neither of them noticed the scientist leave. Sherdan went towards her and took both of her hands in his.

“I’m sorry for getting angry just now.”

“You’re forgiven.”

“Will you show me your ability again?” She nodded and within seconds all he could see was her clothes. He could still feel her hands in his. His eyes went wide as he gave her fingers a squeeze.

“There seems to be two stages. This is where I’m invisible but still solid, and this one…” she said as her clothes became a pile on the floor for the seventh time that day. Sherdan grinned.

“I think I like this part.”

“I can pass through anything in this state.”

“Go back to being solid but invisible,” he requested. He soon felt her hand touch his. He reached out and took it firmly, pulling her closer and closer to him.

“Sherdan,” she warned. He reached out and grabbed her left arm. Despite not being able to see her, his lips met hers several seconds later.

Just as he’d suspected, she didn’t protest or stop him. He wrapped his arms around her invisible body. She finally thought he had gone too far and melted out of solid form and out of his arms. He sighed.

“I was enjoying that.”

“A little too much. I’ve still not made my mind up about your friend’s vision.”

“Yet you are still here.”

“God wants me to be.”

“You want to be with me, you mean?”

“I will go wherever God called me without reference to anyone else.”

“So why do you think you’re here?” he asked as he sat down.

“I don’t know yet, for now I’m here.”

“I want us to marry.”

“I know. You’re going to have to be patient.”

“Don’t keep me waiting for too long.” Sherdan watched as her clothes got up and walked from the room again. A perfectly visible and attired Anya came back. She sat in the seat opposite him.

“For now I will stay here and, for the most part, do as I’m told.”

Sherdan felt like swearing. All control he had was gone and she knew it. Anya could do as she wished and nothing could stop her. His only hope was her belief in her God. He knew she had no respect for Hitchin’s prophecy or vision.

He sat for some time so deep in thought he didn’t remember that he wasn’t alone. He stayed that way until she got up, came over and knelt in front of him.

“I know that you’re not happy that I won’t do what you want and you can’t make me, but I’m here now and not going anywhere. I believe in living in the present.” She kissed him on the cheek. “I don’t know about you but I’m famished.”

She smiled at him and he couldn’t help but respond in the same manner.

For the first time since she had been in his house they ate together in the dining room. He’d never had a woman eat with him in that room and he enjoyed the change. She looked completely at home in the dining chair; sat back, her meal finished and an half full glass of wine in her hand. He’d had the dining room lit by candlelight and she looked beautiful in the flickering glow.

They spent a very pleasant evening together. The third out of the last four. They talked of nothings all evening. She loved to watch sci-fi films and they discussed their favourites for a long time. Oddly, they agreed on most of the good ones. Not long after, they were both sat side by side, watching a film with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

He had to carry her up to her bed again after their evening’s entertainment. She smiled at him from her bed once he’d tucked her in.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“What for?”

“For making my life exciting.”

“Was it dull before?”

“Not exactly dull but no where near as interesting as it has been the last two weeks.”

“Well then, you’re welcome.” Anya smiled before rolling over and closing her eyes.

Sherdan lay in bed thinking of the last few days for many hours. He felt happy despite his lack of control concerning Anya. She had stayed.

For the next few days he would be able to focus on the development of the program. There were many hurdles still to overcome and things were moving faster than even his original predictions. It was good that he had planned ahead.

Anya came with him willingly to the laboratory in the morning. She didn’t want a huge number of tests but she wished to eliminate the possibility of her having been accidentally given the enzyme. He agreed at the logic.

Hitchin had already prepared to take blood samples and test them. Sherdan left her with his friend while he went to continue his work in the command bunker. He didn’t really want to be with them while they investigated the source of her gift. He hadn’t been able to tell she had one let alone what it was. This unsettled him. His own ability should have alerted him to hers.

He hoped that there was a slight difference in her blood work somewhere but he didn’t want to be there when they found out. For now he had other matters to sort out.

The check had come back on the young woman from the latest group of residents. She had lied about her age. She was only seventeen not nineteen and the worst part was that she hadn’t got her father’s permission to be there. They had essentially given a minor the drug and helped her run away from home.

Sherdan sighed. They couldn’t let her leave, but legally they would have to let her father take her home. He’d have to think long and hard about what to do with Ellie. Now he had two girls to worry about not just one.

He had the information passed on to Hitchin so he could confront the child. Sherdan would leave it up to him to decide what to do after that.

He turned his focus back to running the compound. Other than the hiccups with Anya, everything had been going according to plan. Their final line of defence was now fully in place.

Sherdan was also going on the TV the following day. It was time he did another news interview to announce some more of his plan. He wouldn’t be anywhere near as prepared as he had for the first interview and it would be live. He would have to think on his feet, but that did not bother him.

Hitchin soon emailed him to let him know that he had finished with Anya. She’d refused to allow any tests other than the blood test. Every time Hitchin tried anything else she used her power to move. Sherdan went to the laboratory as soon as he noticed the message.

Anya sat on a swivel chair at one of the desks, spinning cutely and making him think of their evening in the snow. Hitchin ignored her and was processing the blood samples he’d taken. She smiled when she saw Sherdan, but didn’t stop her circles.

“How’s everything going in here?”

“Well,” Anya replied. Hitchin’s face said otherwise.

“I can’t get Miss Price to allow any further testing.”

“No more is necessary for the moment,” she said.

“Anya, please?”

“No. You can determine whether it’s your drug in my system or not and leave it at that.”

“Don’t make me angry.” Sherdan stopped her from spinning in the chair. She stood up.

“No Sherdan. I don’t belong to you and it’s time you realised it. I won’t just do what you tell me to do.”

Without thinking, Sherdan slapped her. She stood in shock for a moment before she vanished and her clothes fell to the ground in front of him. A few seconds later the laboratory door opened. Sherdan rushed after her.

“Anya, get back here now!” He looked both ways in the hallway but couldn’t tell which way she’d gone let alone if she’d heard him.

“Stupid girl,” Hitchin said when Sherdan came back, “The power of her new found ability has gone straight to her head.”

“She thinks it’s from her God.” Sherdan picked up the pile of clothes.

“She needs to learn to submit to you and your wishes; that she’s been brought her to be your wife and supporter, in all you do.”

“How can I show her that, when she can disappear when she wants?”

“That slap was probably an effective start. Show her you mean business and she’ll come around. I’ve seen it. You’ll have her in her place soon.”

“I had best go find her. She’ll want her clothes. Let me know the test results as soon as you do.”

Sherdan walked out into the hall and headed towards the nearest building exit.

“Anya?” he called when he heard a noise nearby. The fire door in front of him opened by itself.

“Anya, come on, I know you’re there. Stop hiding.”

“I will not submit to you just because Hitchin thinks I should.” He watched as her footprints ran off into the snow and towards his house. He hoped she didn’t feel temperature in her invisible state.

He went back to his work, leaving her to do as she wished. He could not lose focus on the bigger task because of a single woman. Hitchin could help him persuade her to submit to him even if that meant trying out the inhibitor for the abilities they were testing, assuming she had exactly the same drug in her system.

For the rest of the day, Sherdan worked in the command bunker. The police had backed off with their attempted arrest after the mayor had been forced to admit Sherdan had filed all relevant paperwork. On TV the news reporter had made a point of saying the only reason Sherdan had done anything wrong in the eyes of the law was because the mayor didn’t like what had happened to the roads.

The same news reporter would be interviewing him the next day and this made Sherdan even more confident it would go well.

He took Anya’s clothes up to her room as soon as he got back to the house. A small part of him expected her to be gone and back in the safety of her own home. Instead, he found her sat on the bed reading one of the books from his study.

She’d put on fresh clothes. He instantly noticed the bruise on the side of her face where he had hit her and his stomach churned. He regretted it but he could not let her know.

Anya thanked him for returning her clothing and went straight back to the book.

“Do you want to eat here or in my dining room?”

“Neither, I’ve already eaten.” She didn’t even look up from her book.

“Fine.” Sherdan left her before he got cross with her. The image of the bruise played in his head and he knew he would not forget it in a hurry. He’d never hit a woman before and wasn’t sure he liked the fact Hitchin had not only approved but encouraged it. He guessed that in her mind he’d already done a lot worse by letting her be interrogated.

He sat down on the bottom step and sighed. He had got used to eating his meals with someone and did not want to eat alone.

With his head in his hands he sat and thought. He had no idea how he was going to get Anya to marry him. If it hadn’t been for Hitchin’s vision he wouldn’t have been sure he even wanted her to be his wife. His ideal partner probably wouldn’t have had a religious faith or been so opinionated.

Anya refused to eat breakfast with Sherdan as well and she seemed more happy than not when he told her he wouldn’t be around for dinner because he had a news interview and had to be in the studio when they would normally eat. He swore as he left her room. She was being completely unreasonable.

Hitchin emailed the test results to Sherdan when he arrived at the compound. The enzyme in her system did not match the enzyme they had been giving people. That was all the information included in the email, except for Hitchin asking him to come to the lab when he had a chance. Sherdan knew that more had been found out. He excused himself from his duties as soon as he could.

“Hitchin, what other information do you have for me?”

“Ah, Sherdan, you want to look at this.” Hitchin pulled up a computer image of the blood sample on a microscopic scale. He used the mouse pointer to circle the enzyme particles in her blood. He then showed one enhanced image of the enzyme and the different shape it was in comparison to their own.

“So it’s different? Can you map the enzyme in her and see if it’s better than our drug?”

“Unfortunately not from the computer images I have of it.”

“Well, you’ve still got the enzyme in the blood haven’t you?”

“Come and see.” Hitchin led Sherdan over to the microscope and fed a slide in marked Anya B1. Sherdan looked at it for some time before pulling back and looking at Hitchin.

“I can’t find any enzyme in her sample.”

“No. There isn’t any of it left in any of the blood samples I took. It has completely disappeared from her blood.”

“Surely that should take longer?”

“Yes. It should leave traces too but there are none. It’s like it wasn’t ever there in the first place.”

“That’s not possible,” Sherdan said, frowning.

“I’m going to need to do more testing.”