Zane [Sensitive Content]

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    the M E G A

    “Zane, you’re part of something bigger than yourself — and without you, the world won’t be the same. You might not understand what it is yet, but you’re going to do something so important and amazing that no one else is capable of, and the world will thank you for it.”

    These desperately-constructed thoughts run through my head as I restrain myself from pressing the razor blade against my own wrist. Already, my heart was pounding in my chest like the foot of a scared jackrabbit thumping its foot on the ground. And I hadn’t even done anything to myself yet. The few reasons I had to live — or at least keep myself from self-injury — swirled around my head like a relentless plague, spiting my every suicidal thought. I knew the truth, though; they only resurfaced to remind me how pathetic and illogical it would be to kill myself, especially now, when honestly, my situation wasn’t nearly as bad as other people in my own age group. The tumultuous teenage years… the “rebellious phase”… all the teen-angst I was going through… it would pass soon enough, and I’d be all the wiser for it.
    “You’re going to be needed someday.”, I say to myself in the mirror. I try to keep a straight face, but all I can do is chuckle cynically to myself.
    “Yeah, right…”
    I toss the razor blade on the floor and return to the edge of my bed to bury my face in my hands, holding back a flood of tears triggered by remembering everything wrong with my life and seemingly meaningless existence on this vast and chaotic earth.

    I took one last look through the string of text messages in my phone — the name at the top clearly read “Katrina”, and simply sounding out her name unleashed another painful wave of precious memories through my already spinning head. My finger scrolled all the way up the little screen, all the way back up to the first series of short conversations between us.

    Hey, are you going to Russel’s party on Friday?
    haha xD no, ive got other plans
    Oh, ok. Did he invite you?
    LOL no, i dont know him that well
    I see. Well, I guess I’ll see you at school tomorrow.
    haha sure did you do ms morocco’s HW ?
    I’m still working on it. Is it tough for you too?
    sorta. i think i’ll finish it in class xD
    Well, if you need help, you can ask me.
    sure thing zane catch you later

    It was one of those embarassingly pitiful one-way attractions that every teenage kid going through puberty hopes he’ll never have, although it seems to happen to a majority of them, and in the worst ways possible. I’d known Katrina since kindergarten, and our families have always been close, but since acquiring an attraction towards her, I’d become somewhat distant, for fear that my true feelings would push her away from me. It was a plan several pondering, procrastinating months in the making, and although no time ever seemed right, I took it upon myself to finally muster up the courage and say what I’ve wanted to say all along. I scrolled down to the top of a long list dated 3:22 PM February 9th, 2011.

    Katrina, can I ask you something?
    whatever you want, kiddo
    Well, its not easy for me to say, but I want you to hear me out.
    why ? :'( are you moving or something ?
    Actually I wanted to ask you to be my Valentine.

    Then, nothing until 6:57 that night — and she’d responded fairly quickly until the last text.

    im sorry tyler already asked me
    besides, weve been dating for a while now, i thought you noticed ??

    The sting of heartache hit me again, and I fell back onto my bed, with my feet still hanging over the edge. I dropped the phone submissively onto the pillow and took a deep breath. Speaking for myself, its true that boys must see girls through some kind of filter when they’re in love. Immediately after she told me about Tyler, it all became clear; how she only hung out with me and my friends at lunch when there was a football meeting and the way she smiled in class whenever he answered a question or how everyone besides me referred to them as “Tyler and Katrina”. What would she want with me, anyways? All i’ve got to show for are above-average grades and a gamerscore of a quarter-million on my xBox 360 profile. And not that I’d proudly display it, but I did have a pretty formidable collection of adult entertainment hidden away on my laptop. Tyler was on the varsity football team and first in line to receive all kinds of scholarships from the best colleges around, not to mention he was friends with all the teachers and high school staff. Everybody wanted to be Tyler’s friend, and although I didn’t associate with him that much regularly, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with him if the occasion ever arose — and yet, I hated him with more than enough passion to put him in the ground if only there was a way to do it legally, and without Katrina becoming stricken with grief, and if I could live the rest of my life with the assurance that he was a necessary sacrifice for my own happiness and survival.
    It was all worthless speculation… nothing I could say or do would ever change her mind or give me any peace of mind, so I just cried and fell into a sleep haunted by nightmares of having the girl I loved taken from me time and time again, condemning me to a lonely existence full of bitter anger and envy. In most of these twisted dreams, I was the tragic hero of my own unwritten story… ever reaching for the light, but all too often falling short. As I tried to hold onto the rare sequences in which Katrina and I lived happily ever after, that ever-familiar whine of an alarm clock bled through my thick skull and shattered every fictional world I held so dear.

    6:15 AM

    The digital wedges making up each number burned their annoying dim light into my adjusting eyes. The clock violently vibrated across the desk next to my bed, adding to the bothersome cacophony which shouted and yelling from the speakers inside the awful machine.
    Monday. I’d spent the whole weekend locked away in my room, leaving only to grab a bite to eat or do whatever chores my parents left for me to take care of while they were away at work. I hardly talked at dinner, and refused to join them when they would invite me to watch a movie with them in the living room. Although Mondays were usually the worst day of the week for me and so many other reluctant teenagers, today felt different, somehow. It didn’t necessarily start any better or worse than the typical school week day, but something stirred inside me — a kind of uneasy restlessness and energized invigoration that continued to spark up and flare deep in my chest. I shook it off as just another side-effect of a broken heart, and got out of bed for the first time since Wednesday. It had snowed Thursday, so we had an extended weekend. I probably wouldn’t have gone to school anyways, but it was nice knowing I didn’t have to make that decision.
    Downstairs, either everyone had left already, or they were still asleep. Regardless, I popped a waffle into the toaster and sat at the table with my head lying on top of my crossed arms.
    “Just a few more seconds of rest.” I promised myself; never a good idea when you’re on a schedule. I remember hearing the metal from inside the toaster scrape up and eject my waffle, but it failed to pry me from my already deep slumber. The irradiation from a beam of sunlight through the kitchen window in what finally woke me up, after almost an hour of sitting slumped over on the table. My grogginess disappeared as soon as I realized I had no idea how long I was sleeping. One look at the clock confirmed my fears, and I made a dash through the house to put together my school supplies into my backpack. As I passed the kitchen, I yanked my cold disc of sweetened bread out from the slotted oven and hurried out the door, fumbling with my house key as I struggled to keep the waffle in my teeth.
    The last kid had just stepped through the door of the bus when I finally rounded the final corner onto the sidewalk where the big yellow vehicle always stopped at precisely 7:24 each morning. I grimaced at the clock on my phone as it ticked on to read “7:25 AM”, and picked up my already fast pace to reach the compressing doors just before the driver shifted gears and hit the button to retract the lighted stop sign. The overweight lady at the wheel made a double take when I appeared at the door, but with some mercy and slight annoyance, she switched the lever over and let me inside. I took the first seat I could find, which was next to a kid whose name I didn’t know. I don’t think anyone usually sat in the same seat as him, but he didn’t seem to pay much attention to me anyways, so I kept to myself for the whole ride to school. I must have dozed off several times, but each bump in the road jolted me awake. The other “well-rested” teenagers smirked and chuckled each time my head dropped or I looked around startlingly.
    As fate would have it, first period was Intermediate Algebra with Mrs. Morocco — and my seat was right next to Katrina’s. She was already in the room and sitting with her friends, laughing and talking with her friends by the time I arrived. I sat at my assigned desk and wondered if she even noticed me come in. After the bell rang, I saw Katrina glance my direction from the corner of my eye. Throughout class, she stayed in her chair on the other side of the room with her friends, leaving me alone and brooding with my other indistinguishable classmates. The first agonizing hour of the day flew by surprisingly quick, and before I knew it, the students had emptied out of the room with the sound of another irksome bell — everyone except me and Katrina piled out, and she unexpectedly appeared on the outside of my desk and waited patiently for me to gather my things and head for the door. Once we were outside, she stopped me and forced a smile which evaporated a second later.
    “Hey… I want to talk to you later. Are you doing anything today at lunch?”
    Surprised, I shook my head and hoarsely responded, “No.” Katrina lightly smiled again and started to walk away.
    “Okay. See you then.” With a wave of her hand, she disappeared into the crowd of bundled up kids ranging from the ages of fourteen to eighteen. Behind the school buildings and the imposing, snow-capped mountains, the sun rested ever so brightly just above the horizon, and I wondered what made it so happy. As I regained my composure and headed in the direction of my next class, a sizable cloud formation rolled in front of the hot orb. I had other things to think about, but somehow I noticed just how odd it was that the first cloud since the snowstorm last week would be big enough to cast a shadow over the entire school.

    When lunch finally came, I was starving, and I helped myself to a meal from the cafeteria before joining my friends at our usual spot in the outside quad. I figured Katrina would come find me, since I never knew where her and Tyler ate lunch, and I waited. None of my usual pals came to join me, but another group of kids congregated nearby where it was usually empty, and I started to get worried. Halfway through devouring my spongy hotdog and nearing the end of a small bag of chocolate milk, Katrina finally showed up. With the sun at her back, I couldn’t help but be in awe of how marvelous she looked: her naturally darker blonde hair looked almost evangelic in the sun’s light, and the plaid buttoned-up shirt she had on hugged her body in such a way that all the little details of her arms, shoulders, chest, and hips blossomed into accents that were impossible to ignore; her skin-tight blue jeans clutched her waist and legs without a single wrinkle or tear, leaving me to admire her sleek, slender thighs and calves. In my eyes, she was the very image of perfection — her skin was free of any rashes or blemishes, and her petite chin and nose molded her face into such an innocently beautiful design that I choked every time I saw her. This time was different, although I still felt a pit in the bottom of my soul when my eyes came across her. To be polite, I set my tray of food to the side and got to my feet, wary of whatever it was she had wanted to speak with me about.
    “Hi, Zane…”, she said, in her softest voice.
    I replied with a sort of grumble. “Hey.”
    That awkward pause that ensued whenever serious matters are concerned came over both of us, and for a while, we just stared — and avoided staring — at each other.
    “Um…”, she finally started, only for her confidence to fall short. More nervous than i’d ever been in my life, I scratched my head until she opened her mouth again.
    “Zane, I’m sorry… I never knew you liked me, and Tyler’s the first guy to ever really ask me out.”
    When she said his name, I felt my fists involuntarily clench. “Yeah.”, I said under my breath.”
    “I kept thinking you were going to ask, but it never happened, and now i’m with him, so there’s nothing I can do, really. I actually did like you for a while, but I guess I didn’t wait long enough… I’m so sorry.”
    My eyes lit up at her last bit of information, and I lifted my head to look at her. I would never have the audacity to suggest she break it off with Tyler, or that she see me on the side, so I went back to my sulking and kept everything I was thinking inside my cramped little dome. Katrina put her arms around me and hugged me tight. Only after registering the fact that she was hugging me did I put my arms around her, with significantly less force. When she decided she was finished, she quietly said, “Goodbye.” and turned to leave. I could tell something in her eyes was off, and I foolishly convinced myself she would never cry a single tear over me, although that would have been the only logical explanation for the redness in her cheeks and the solemnity in her upturned brow.

    After school, I thought I would walk home instead of taking the bus, as I still had a lot on my mind and needed time by myself to clear everything up. After a few minutes, I came to a set of railroad tracks out on a dirt mound, far from any houses or other signs of sophistication. With no train in sight, I climbed up the hill to sit on the tracks, hoping to rest my legs and find some source of inspiration. Dead trees void of branches littered the desert landscape and appeared to stretch for miles in every direction, but I had a good idea of where I was in relation to my house. I used to play out here when I was younger, and when my friends and I thought more of life than sitting on a couch with a game controller and staring at a strobed screen full of colors and noise. Of all the things whirling around me head, a train’s whistle seemed to grow louder than everything else, and I laughed, shaking my head at the coincidence — except it was no coincidence. Once the whistle was loud enough to subdue all my other vivid daydreams, I got up and whirled around in time to see the front end of a locomotive engine baring straight toward me. Stepping backwards, I tripped on a plank of wood in the tracks and fell back onto my rear. With the train too close for me to do anything else, I put my arms out in front of me and braced myself for an unimaginable amount of pain that could only result in my own death.
    Instead of the gruesome sound of crushing bone and flesh, a symphony of grinding and buckling metal came to my ears. When I opened my eyes, I saw that the cars behind the engine had lifted into the air and slammed back down onto the tracks, and the front end had a rough impression of my body.
    As if surviving wasn’t peculiar enough, upon examining myself, I could find no cuts, bruises, or signs of any damage to myself whatsoever. Still, my whole body shook and my heart pounded as though the threat of being flattened was still looming. In a matter of seconds, everything readjusted, and I could stand still again, but I quickly realized that whoever was inside the train would have been severely injured from such a powerful impact, and I rushed over to the side of the engine to check on the conductor. With one surprise after another, I discovered there were no passengers and no engineer — just empty ruined boxcars and a huge pile of broken steel up front. It was all so much to take in, and I wasn’t sure what was real anymore. I started to feel dizzy and vomited on the tracks. I ran for home as fast as I could, just wishing this day would end and I could go back to my brooding seclusion again.
    Even if I was stupid enough to try and explain what had happened, there wouldn’t be a soul alive on this planet who would have believed me.



    ok, I read your warning however the rules of this forum forbid adult material

    Rule 4) Keep Things Family Friendly – tries to maintain a more or less family friendly environment therefore no profanity is allowed, also we forbid the posting of any content that contains nudity or is of a pornographic nature.

    I will give you time to copy your story in the event that you do not already have a saved copy before deleteing this.


    the M E G A

    Right, sorry. If I make sure to properly censor it, can I continue to share it here? By adult-themes, I really just mean things not necessarily appropriate for all ages, but I can work around PG limitations if you want.
    If you’ve already read the whole first post, is there anything that’s going to be a problem as far as following the family friendly rules? (I can already think of one, but i’ll let you point it out)



    I haven’t read the entire story as of yet, but will do so shortly, If you can edit and keep things within PG-13 then we will have no problems … Voilence is fine but nothing to gory, mention of nudity is also fine, but again nothing explict or sexual in nature. Simple thing to keep in mind, if you wouldn’t want a 13 year old to read it, then don’t post it.



    ok, I did not find anything overwhelmingly objectionable in this first chapter, if you keep things in a similar vain than we should be good.


    the M E G A

    Thank’s much, big K! Please let me know if I ever cross the line — I’ll do my best not to, but I hope you’ll serve justice if I lose sight of the goal ;)

    I somehow managed to convince myself it was all a dream, and I was just about ready for my life to return to normal — until I heard the TV blaring downstairs and got up from my bed to investigate. There stood my mom in her bathrobe with a hand over her mouth, staring intently at the screen. I wiped the sleep dust from my eyes and announced my presence by saying, “Good morning, mom.”
    Caught by surprise, she gasped and turned toward me, stepping away just enough so I could watch the morning news.

    “… after consulting with all local and out of state railroad companies and carefully examining the wreckage itself, it has been determined that these cars were elaborately painted and constructed to be life-sized train models. What’s most interesting is the human-shaped indentation on the front engine, although no bodies have been recovered as of yet. There is still speculation as to who or what was driving the train forward, and whether or not this has all been one big, very dedicated prank. We hope to have more information about the mysterious crash later today, but until the debris has been cleared, we’re advising pedestrians to stay clear of the train tracks just to be safe. Back to you, Fred.”

    My mother pulled me in close to her and put her hand on the back of my head, holding me tight and nestling my hair with her forehead. I could tell she was crying. I can always tell when she’s crying.
    “Oh, that’s right over where you boys used to go and play all the time… I’m so glad you were nowhere near there when it happened. After what happened to Curtis, I don’t know if I could go through it all again…” She was sobbing so hard I thought I might begin crying just by association — and her merely mentioning Curtis made me want to give her a lecture about how nothing “happened” to him… but right now, that could wait.
    My eyes kept returning to the scene on the television. The locomotive and its haul looked so strangely familiar, and I was about let it go when it finally clicked in my head. I finished consoling my mom and rushed to my brother’s room upstairs. Just past the door, as intact as the day it was set up close to seven years ago, stood the long-coveted miniature model train community, complete with flashing lights, tunnels, and automated controls for directing where and when each engine traveled. I carefully lifted one of the rows of cars and turned on the TV in my room. Sure enough, the trains depicted in the crash were identical to the string of toys in my hand. I woozily dropped the trains and sat down on my bed, trying to piece together all the details. I could still hear my mom sniffling from the other room as she got ready to leave for work.
    “It’s getting late, Zane. You better have something to eat.”, she called.
    I responded inaudibly then shook my head in an attempt to clear my head of all the confusion. I said “Yeah.” again so that she could hear me and pulled on some clothes. As I left the room, my foot knocked the set of trains to the side. I glanced back and forth from the toys and the blank TV screen for a short while longer.

    Despite the recent trauma in my life, nothing like it happened again for quite some time, and I carried on as normally as I could. School was still boring, riding the bus was a chore, and my classmates were as dumb as ever. Katrina and I didn’t see each other as much, which was to be expected. The hurt didn’t seem so bad, though, especially since I was still worried about the other life-changing event that happened the same day. No matter how I looked at it, there was no way of denying I had some hand in putting the train right were it happened to be. But how or why did I do it? It wasn’t a conscious decision… and the fact that it perfectly resembled the model from my brother’s set meant that it must have somehow manifested from my subconscious. And how had I not been killed or even injured by the collision? The possibility of them being holograms or hallucinations was out of the question — other real people had touched and seen them, but only I remained doubtful of their real existence.
    Like the reporter said… probably just some elaborate hoax…
    A few weeks went by, and I had almost completely forgotten about the incident. Incrementally, I returned to my normal self. I talked to my family at dinner and watched movies with them on the couch; I was cheerier with my friends, and Katrina and I had even started to wave and say hello to each other again. I tried not to acknowledge her when Tyler was around for courtesy’s sake, but for the most part, the damage to my psyche had already started to mend itself. But as I had already learned, nothing in my life was ever as simple or easy as I was led to believe.

    After a long day at school, I stepped off the bus and headed toward home. I hadn’t noticed anything too out of the ordinary, save for a van parked in the neighborhood that wasn’t usually there. Wanting only to get home and relax, I paid no mind to it, even after its engine revved up and the vehicle began plodding down the street in my direction. Before I knew it, the van had pulled out in front of me, with a pair of men in ski masks ready to open the back door and pull me inside. The hoodlums wasted no time in gagging me and tying my hands with rope, which I found most uncomfortable. I had no idea just how long they drove before stopping abruptly in the parking lot of our local supermall. Gunshots and sirens could now be heard outside the car, and now I really started to panic.
    My dad was a cop.
    Even the idea of my dad getting hurt because of me was enough to put me into shock. For that reason, I really struggled with everything I had to try and get away before a shootout occurred between the would-be kidnappers and a large detachment of the Sacramento police department. I could see enough of the showdown from the tinted windows of the van, but I was too far away to make out faces. Regardless, somehow I knew my dad would be there, and I couldn’t help think of how ironic or coincidental or fateful it was that he should be rescuing me after responding to the report of an anonymous teen seizure. The masked criminals had since left the van to hide behind it as a shield from the oncoming bullets — not all the officers present had been fully informed of the situation, so I was in danger on both sides of the battle. After a couple minutes of twisting and turning, my gag came loose, and I wriggled far enough out of the rope on my hands to crawl toward the back of the van. I had to freeze right where I was when I saw who sprang up from behind the door of a recently parked cop car; there stood my dad with his pistol aimed straight at the criminals behind the van, and mirroring my dad knelt one of the armed kidnappers, his finger already on the trigger of his own high powered handgun. As futile as it seemed to yell a warning, I screamed at the top of my lungs for my dear old dad to look out, although it wasn’t my voice that saved him.
    The milliseconds in which my dad and the criminal exchanged bullet seemed to go by slower than minutes, and what transpired brought shivers to my spine. I had seen plenty of videos on the internet about real battles in war, and I played enough violent video games to become desensitized to real life blood and gore, but what made me sick was the recurrence of strangeness which simply would not leave me alone. As the criminal’s bullet sped toward my father, I watched it begin to lose its metallic luster and silvery shine, transforming into no more than a spitwad of harmless water that gently splashed onto my dad’s cheek. With a tortured smile, I watched as he startlingly wiped his face and examined the clear liquid; once he had ensured it wasn’t blood and his overall health was intact, he fired several more shots in succession at the kidnappers. With the threat largely taken care of, it was up to my dad to check on the abducted child — and what a shock he got when it was my face he strained to identify.

    Four men with extensive criminal backgrounds were admitted to the hospital for multiple gunshot wounds, and I was questioned at the police station for hours before my dad I returned home. In the car, I replayed the scene in my head a million times, each time coming to the conclusion that these strange events could not be ignored any longer. I thought about saying something about it to him, but after both of us went through such trauma, I figured he wouldn’t believe me anyways. It remained my secret in the days to follow, although I couldn’t leave the notion alone. Twice now I’ve experienced greater forces at work, forces either under my control or directed through my own concentration. It wasn’t so difficult to explain how, while my emotions were jumbled, I so strongly envisioned death that its bringer manifested through a locomotive, but I came to my senses before it could carry out its original mission. Just as well, I could imagine my desire to keep my father safe must have, in one way or another, changed the properties of the bullet which should have ended his life.
    So I stand here, in the middle of the wooded desert, staring, pondering into the distance, hoping for the assurance that these supernatural events aren’t just some random string of pranks being played by gods of yore, or some cosmic entity.

    “That tree is on fire.”, I repeat in varying intensity, with my open hand stretched out toward my lifeless victim.
    “That tree is on fire.”, I keep saying, promising myself this isn’t as stupid as it sounds. Because…
    “That tree is on fire!”

    The embers from the bonfire flicker in my eyes as I revel in my accomplishment. Soon enough, the tree is reduced to a burnt formation of ashen branches and black twigs. A real, genuine smile, the first in a long time, spreads across my face.
    “Boy, if she could see me now…”


    the M E G A

    I worked at trying to control my powers every day, but there was only so much I could accomplish through strict concentration. Still, there was no way of knowing exactly how I was able to do the things I could do or why, but I reveled in pushing my limits and seeing just what I could pull off. Until I got good enough to completely predict what happened when I exerted myself, it was a good idea to leave it a secret. Even after weeks of attempting to hone my abilities, I still felt woozy every time, and the more strenuous feats made me vomit. So far, I hadn’t noticed any adverse effects of these powers, although I had a feeling trouble was right around the corner. Everyone knows from comic books and other media that once you get powers, you’ll have to use them in some way other than just helping yourself eventually. “With great power comes great responsibility.”, or something like that.
    As I got better, I became more bold with the execution of my talents; in class, occasionally, I would strongly imagine writing on the board, and whatever I thought would appear… usually. This led to quite a bit of amusement at the expense of my instructors and the other students, since I would try to rewrite a classmates answer or insert typos into teachers’ lectures — and all the while, I was never suspected. Who or what could incriminate me? The way I pulled off my little pranks left no evidence. I started to wonder what else I could get away with…
    And to think I wouldn’t even be alive to enjoy these gifts if I had been braver in February…

    Even so preoccupied with mastering these powers, my heart and mind kept coming back to Katrina. I would see her walking with Tyler every passing period and at lunch, and I tried not to stare too long, but sometimes it was just too tempting.
    “Zane!? Hellooooo!”
    One of my friends waved his hand in front of my face while the other two snickered and started throwing ketchup packets at each other.
    “I said, Ms. Carter knows so much about the dinosaurs because she is one!” Derek had a knack for making lame jokes, and unfortunately, my attraction to them was just as bad.
    “Ha! That’s so funny I fell off my dinosaur.” We fake laughed at each other to the point that other kids around us started to give us weird looks. We finished joshing each other, and I set my eyes on Katrina again. She and Tyler were sitting under an awning in the quad, about to dig into their lunches. God, she even ate in a way that made me crazy for her. Suddenly, I had a mischievous idea.
    “Hey, guys, hold on a second…”, I said, which was enough to make Robert and Nate hold off on challenging each other to see how much of their hot dogs they could fit in their mouth.
    “You see that guy sitting with Katrina over there?” A trio of nodding heads bobbed behind me.
    “Watch this…”
    I waited for the perfect moment to begin focusing in on the milk pouch in Tyler’s hand, hoping to make it burst right in his face when he brought it up to take a drink. After a few grueling seconds, the jock lifted his beefy arm and opened his mouth, preparing to squeeze a stream of liquid dairy down his gullet, and I closed my eyes to help to process along.
    The result was far from anything I had hoped or expected.
    “AAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGHH!!!” A scream of pain echoed through the school — a sound so violent and gut-wrenching that, for the first time in recorded history, the school fell dead silent at lunchtime. I opened my eyes as soon as I heard the yell, and what I saw filled me with fear and regret. Tyler was standing over the bench where he had been sitting with steam rising off his body; his face was an unnatural shade of red, and several boils covered his skin. The leather from his varsity jacket melted instantly. My first thought wasn’t, “Hey, who threw a pot of boiling water on Tyler Gorman?”
    No — it was, “Oh my god, what have I done?”
    What hit me the hardest was the worry and despair in Katrina’s eyes as she watched a pair of volunteer proctors take Tyler by his arm and lead him to the nurse’s office. I felt to terrible for something I didn’t even want to happen. All I wanted to do was take petty revenge on the kid by embarrassing him in front of his friends, but it was clear something went wrong. Until then, I never
    had any problems playing out exactly what I imagined — whenever I failed to concentrate hard enough or something distracted me, the powers just didn’t activate. Maybe that was the problem: this time, I was thinking too hard.
    Without any indication to my friends, I left to follow Tyler, hoping I could help somehow. Inside the nurse’s office, I overheard an assistant in the storage room gasp when the nurse told him about Tyler’s condition and remark how under-stocked they were. In the office, Tyler continued to pant and breathe manically, grimacing at the disfigured monster staring back at him through the mirror. When the nurse returned to the room, she bared down at me with a fierce look.
    “What are you doing here!? I’m busy treating someone right now — if its not life-threatening, please wait outside!” She didn’t even wait to make sure I had left before returning to Tyler’s attention with a bag of ice wrapped in a towel.
    “No, hold on — i’m his brother! Zane… Gorman! He has a medical condition, let me see him first!” As the words escaped my mouth, I realized I had no idea what I was doing, but it felt like the right thing to do. Before I had finished talking, the nurse opened her palm toward me and resumed her stern glare.
    “Identification?”, she said in her most authoritative voice, to which I panicked and told her to wait a second while I dug through my pockets. Now I really felt I was in deep; without any proof, there was no way she would leave me alone with Tyler…
    But hello, there was something in my front pocket after all — the fingers on my left hand touched the thin edges of a pair of plastic cards and I carefully tugged the objects out to show them to her. The nurse lowered her glasses and stooped down to get a better look, then sneered and walked back toward the door in her flashy heels.
    “Alright, you have a look at him, “Zane”… but if you need anything, I’m right around the corner.” She slammed the door as she left, bestowing me with an odd sort of reassurance. I sighed and turned the cards around to see for myself. One was a medical information card with Tyler’s picture on it and various bits of information concerning his health insurance policy and contact information; the other was a school I.D. card not too different from my own authentic I.D., except the name clearly read “Zane Gorman”. I indulged in a celebratory gesture and put both cards away as I walked in front of Tyler. He was sitting on the table in the middle of the room crying in a deep voice with his big hands covering his face. I hesitated grabbing his arm and tried to find just the right approach to the situation.
    “Tyler, here — let me see.” After noticing my fingers on his elbow, he relaxed slightly and lowered his hands.
    “Ooh, this isn’t good… we’re gonna need something pretty strong to dull the pain.” I tried sounding as professional as possible, all the while praying Tyler didn’t see through my ruse. I started fumbling through the cabinets in the office to either find or create something to put the kid to sleep.
    “H-hey… you’re Zane, right?”
    I gulped and paused my rummaging for half a second.
    “Since when did you start working for Miss Bowen?”
    I closed my eyes momentarily and lifted a syringe out from the drawer. Of course there was no way of knowing exactly what liquid was inside the needle, but right now, I had to be sure.
    “I know you get all the best grades in English class, but what makes you qualified to–!” Without warning, I stuck Tyler with the syringe and slowly squeezed the mystery fluid into his bloodstream. Within seconds he was down for the count, and I was free to take a swing at fixing what I had done to him. I took a deep breath and put my hand over Tyler’s face.
    “Put him back together,”, I chanted.
    “he was never burned. Put him back together…”

    On my way out, I paid Ms. Bowen a visit. She sat comfortably in the swiveling chair at her desk, reading a women’s magazine.
    “Nurse Bowen?” I tapped on the door as I entered her personal office. She glowered at me under mascara-drenched eyelids.
    “I think you’ll find my brother won’t be needing any further treatment. You can see for yourself if you like — but if he asks what happened, just tell him you’re the best nurse in Sacramento.” I shot her a wink and a smile before slinking back outside through the patient room. I kept the image of Tyler’s perfectly restored face to cheer me up — which was little more than a dent in the gnawing memory of his horribly burnt visage. Above all else, I would definitely have to be more careful with my abilities in the future.
    Power and responsibility.“, I reminded myself.


    the M E G A

    “Dude… your shirt…”
    Derek had to point out the spots of blood running down my chest for me to notice them. By use of pointing at my nose, he also drew my attention to where the blood had come from.
    “Oh, sh–!” I yanked some conveniently places tissues out of the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt and started wiping away at my nostrils and upper lip. I didn’t usually get nosebleeds from anything outside of gross physical contact, so my concern over something that should have been a minor inconvenience was drastically higher. Thinking back, it had been a few days since using my powers had made me puke, and I had been exerting them quite a bit today; first there was Matthew in second period, who spent most of the class throwing balls of paper and firing spitwads at the other students — whose backpack zippers mysteriously disappeared, sealing the contents inside; then Mr. Daniels in fourth who “didn’t agree” with the free-response answers on my Economics test, and had quite a conniption when he couldn’t find a single working whiteboard marker that could write the rest of class…
    While in front of my friends, I kept myself from having a nervous breakdown, but once I got to the bathroom and saw my bloodied reflection in the mirror, the shaking, twitching, and tears came by themselves. The runny stream of blood fluctuated in volume and consistency, with periods of small droplets escaping through my nostrils, and others where it looked as though entire chunks of flesh rolled down my lips. Ever so slowly, I regained my composure and stopped pulling from my own bottomless box of tissues. Instead, I found the paper-towel dispenser attached to the wall and retrieved a single brown sheet — the last sheet in the container. I cleaned myself up as best I could and let out a deep, heavy sigh into the mirror. Since learning about my powers, I hadn’t taken particular notice of how I looked, but I noticed something was subtly different about me. Not only my face, either; I could just barely make out a dim, yellowish glow emanating from my skin and weak vibrations pulsing throughout various parts of my body. I interpreted these symptoms as a surge — or even an excess — of energy stored inside me. I wondered when these side-effects began to take place, or if they were even noticeable by anyone else.
    The lunch bell rang. Suddenly, I remembered that my next class was all the way on the other side of the campus, and I bolted out of the restroom. In my haste, I left the blood-soaked paper towel there in the sink and chuckled to myself at the thought of someone finding it. I started to feel bad, in case it would have made someone faint, but I figured it wouldn’t be the most horrifying thing the people at this school have ever witnessed in a high school restroom.

    * * *

    “How well is the data compiling? Do we have anything substantial yet?”
    A thin old man with white stubble on his face kneels down beside a significantly younger uniformed man in a chair. Both men eagerly scan the computer screen in front of them, about ready to drool over the results from a highly complex program never released to the general public. The younger man grinned.
    “It’s still got a few minutes to go, but I’m seeing some very promising patterns already. See here, where the energy spikes–?”, he points to the end of a graph among a multitude of different charts and slides of information, all overlapping on the little monitor. The older man nods.
    “This one happened around noon yesterday: somewhere in the southern portion of Fremont High School, our sensors picked up sudden, minuscule increases in tectonic, gravitational, kinetic, and radioactive energy within about a mile or two mile radius of the area of triangulation. We still don’t have exact coordinates or a positive identification yet, but we’re more than 99% sure its the kid we’ve been keeping our eye on for the past five years.”
    “The Adams boy… yes, I had a hunch he’d be the one.” The grizzled old man stood up with some difficulty and put a hand under his chin.
    “Sir… how do you think we should proceed now?”
    The old man looked right past his underling as he turned to try and get a response.

    “Get another team together — an experienced one, this time… lord, it surprises me what a few ex-cons will do for a few hundred grand, but Jesus are they dumb…” The old man walked with a slight limp over to a keypad on the wall and punched in a series of numbers.
    6 – 7 – 6 – 4 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 6
    A green light came on just above the keypad and a sliver of light in the shape of a door’s outline appeared in the metallic wall, giving some illumination and character to the dark room full of angular equipment and the occasional blinking light. The old man stuffed a newspaper under his armpit and pushed hard against the wall. Bright sunlight flooded into the small chamber, and he stepped out into the contrasted outdoors. At the computer, the young technician turned his head back to the screen after hearing a distinct pinging sound and began examining the program’s finished results. As his eyes read the concluding line of information, he gasped and stood up to say something to his boss, but the firm click of the seamless wall coming back into place assured him it was too late to pass on his concerns. Distressed at the product of the compiled data, he grabbed the windbreaker hanging on his chair and started climbing down a ladder leading down into a circular hole in the floor.
    The old man waited a minute for eyes to adjust to the glaring rays and continued walking across a grassy field occupied only by a few trees and a couple families out for a picnic in the park. A squirrel darted behind the man as he strutted away and came to a stop just before reaching the spot where the fellow had suddenly appeared. The critter sniffed the air briefly and put its tiny fingers against an invisible wall before returning to its quest for survival and sustenance.

    * * *

    By far, I’ve had stranger dreams, although I’d be hard pressed to remember when. Aside from being a silent observer, this seemed the be the first sequence to ever not directly include me. Worse yet, the people in my dream certainly sounded as if they were talking about me — and what was the deal with the technologically saturated theme? I was never too into all that robotic, future convenience mumbo jumbo… so why would it choose to show up where I have, more or less, complete control over everything going on in my subconscious? Chalking it up to yet another side-affect of these randomly spectacular powers, I shrugged off the weirdness and got out of bed to start my day.
    When my tube of hair gel was suspiciously refilled and my comb appeared to have been wiped clean of all the loose strands and dandruff, I immediately checked my nose to see if I had somehow used my abilities without realizing it. I still wasn’t certain whether it was my over-exertion that caused the concerting symptoms, but it didn’t hurt to check anyways. When I came downstairs, I found my dad at the table, reading today’s newspaper with his reading glasses.
    “How do you like your new comb, son?”
    Reaching for a plate in the kitchen cabinet, I froze out of relief and let out a huge sigh.
    “Works like a charm.”, I responded. I sat facing the window as I waited for my waffle to finish toasting. For just a moment, I closed my eyes and tried to reflect on everything that happened yesterday — to my frustration, everything up in my head was all jumbled around, and it was impossible for me to linger on any one thought for very long.
    “My god, would you look at that…” My dad’s exclamation quickly returned me to my senses, and I stared out the window with him. For nearly fifteen whole seconds, the sky had turned a devilish light red, nothing like the early morning pinkish hue when the sun just began to rise over the mountains, no — the sun had already lifted high enough to showcase a clear blue landscape overhead. This phenomenon was no act of nature, and for some reason, I failed to acknowledge it as an act of mankind, either.
    Both of us commented on how strange it was that the sky turned red for a while, and I grabbed my cooked waffle on my way out the door. Aside from the constant worry over possible repercussions and reasons for my powers, I started the day off feeling relatively good. And yet, just when I thought everything was fine, another whim of fate caught me by surprise.
    I hardly even remember feeling the dark hood tightening around my neck as another gang of kidnappers hoisted me by my arms and legs up into some vehicle or another. All I could do was grunt in annoyance and hope these criminals knew just what they were in for.


    the M E G A

    I thought this might be a good exercise in utilizing my powers during a real crisis, but right from the get-go I noticed something was wrong. As the van rocked around and my captors held themselves still by holding onto metal bars welded onto the interior walls of the vehicle, I fell flat on my back at such an angle that I could see under the potato sack on my head. The strange equipment lining the walls of the van looked almost identical to the computer-processors that were present in the van during my first kidnapping, except this time, there was a ridiculously loud whirring sound coming from them and all their display bulbs were blinking like the lights at an intense rave party. Shades of green, red, and yellow flashed on the masked men, who hardly paid me or the machines any attention, instead choosing to maintain a firm grasp on their bulky and menacing-looking assault rifles. It was different this time… no matter how hard I concentrated, my abilities wouldn’t activate. At first, I chalked it up to nerves and the fact that I really wasn’t prepared for such a high stakes scenario, but after almost five minutes of strenuous thought provocation, I realized my powers had remissed, and I was in some serious trouble.
    I began to panic even worse when a sudden flash of light poured in from outside and the whole van violently rocked from side to side for a few seconds. The last thing I wanted was for anyone else to get hurt on my behalf, and if the cops became involved, there was the chance my dad could be in danger again. Powerless and frustrated at my dismal situation, I started to cry, hoping that either my captors would evade the police without any bloodshed or that they would be taken down before it evolved into a deadly shootout like the last time. Another flash of light followed by the vehicle’s heavy rocking made me curious as to what weapons the SPD were using — and whether they cared that the people inside made it out in one piece.
    We sped along what I guessed must have been a highway for no more than another minute before the back of the van tipped abruptly, as if something were weighing it down. I turned around and shook the bag off my head in time to see the back door of the van be ripped off its hinges and tossed out into the street behind us. We must have been driving at least 90 miles an hour, but my eyes saw him clear as day: a tall, muscular blonde-haired, blue-eyed man dressed in a white kevlar uniform, standing effortlessly on the back bumper of the van. The man hunched over to peer inside and scowled at the masked men, who must have been scared out of their minds behind the thin cloth hiding their faces. Their fear only lasted a couple seconds, for a spray of bullet fire soon found its way heading in the superhuman vigilante’s direction. The heroic aryan retaliated by sliding back behind the door that was still intact and flipped onto the roof. A pattern of holes in the van’s metal walls followed the man’s movements, pausing only after being blinded by the bright sun when the roof of their vehicle was suddenly torn off in similar fashion to the van’s back door. With a flip, the mysterious savior jumped majestically onto the floor of the back room and got to work disposing of the criminals; a swift karate chop to the neck incapacitated the kidnapper on the driver’s side, and an almost simultaneous axe kick sent the thief on the opposite side of the van spiraling into the back of the passenger seat. As if ignoring me, the man of action marched toward the space between the front seats and relinquished the key from the ignition, initiating the van’s immediate deceleration. One more karate chop and the driver slumped unconscious in his seat. All threats taken care of, the man in white turned and kneeled down to untie the rope around my wrists.
    “I hope you’re alright, son… these hooligans shouldn’t bother anyone else for a while.”
    His voice was deep and somehow comforting, and I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the ensemble that was his combination of handsome features and chivalrous mannerisms, all with the spryness and strength of a true-to-life cinema action hero. I wondered, at first, if he had been something I wished into existence in my desperation, but looking upon the still running machines in the shell of an automobile the two of us sat in, I deduced that this fellow was of an entirely different nature.
    “Who… who the heck are you!?”, I stammered, still amazed by his feats and the perfection of his appearance.
    “If you must know, I’m Daniel–“, he said with a quick smile. “–and you must be him: son of Adams. Zane, I believe?”
    “Yeah… are you with the police?”
    Daniel chuckled and helped me up to my feet. The van had finally gotten down to about ten miles an hour and was moments away from coming to a complete stop. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked disdainfully back at the distant string of police cars with their blaring sirens.
    “My affiliation with organized law enforcement is, uh… complicated… so I’ll have to talk with you in depth later. The people I work for have been keeping keeping tabs on you for a little while now, and we’ve found your “condition” to be of dire interest to us. Still, we wouldn’t want you to do anything against your will — I’m not sure we’d be able to anyways, with the kind of skills you possess — but I’ll tell you what: if you ever feel like you need answers, come visit us here–” Daniel pulled a business card out of his pocket and planted it in my hands. “That’s currently the only address of our headquarters. We hope you’ll consider investing some time with us very soon, for all our sakes.”
    As the van finally stopped moving, the whine of a small engine crept into our ears from somewhere not too far away, and a reflective winged device soared into position above Daniel, who propelled himself into the air and grabbed onto a pair of control sticks. The gizmo’s design was not too far removed from that of a hang glider, except it appeared to be souped up with a myriad of technological gadgets and doodads. A single miniature jet engine adorned the back of the futuristic glider, and Daniel started to slowly fly away when I finished reading the card.
    “Hold on, these are just coordinates and a map of the Gobi Desert… how am I supposed to find you, let alone get to Mongolia!?”
    Daniel flashed me one last smile and gave a thumbs up.
    “I’m sure you’ll find a way, Zane… remember, you can do anything you put your mind to!” With that, the white-garbed superhero flew off into the distance, leaving me to be retrieved and questioned by the cops yet again.
    “Anything I put my mind to, huh…? Boy, that’s never been more true…”

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