Authors: Jerry Hart
studied the kid for a second. Michael was fairly tall, but really skinny and
pale. Marco outweighed him by fifty pounds, at least. He approached the lanky
redhead and looked slightly upward at him.
he launched a fist at the kid’s face.
punch never landed. Michael had caught it in his own hand and was now crushing
Marco’s fingers. Marco could actually hear them breaking. With his other hand,
Michael grabbed his opponent’s throat.
then Marco was flying through the air. He landed
on another pinball machine, breaking the glass. Before he could even think
about what had just happened to him, he felt rough hands grab his shirt and
yank him off the machine. Suddenly he was flying through the air again, this
time crashing face-first into a fighting game. He landed on the floor in front
of the game.
more,” he heard himself say through a mouth filled with blood as he tried to
crawl away from Michael.
made your choice,” the redhead said behind him.
said you’d let me throw the first punch,” Marco said next, not knowing why it
was suddenly in the air again, but this time Michael merely held him up. Marco
realized subconsciously his feet weren’t touching the ground, and he had to
look down at Michael.
did say that, didn’t I?” Michael grinned. “I said I’d let you throw the first
punch. And you did.”
spit blood in Michael’s face. “You really going to kill me?” he asked
sarcastically, though he really was scared.
used one hand to wipe away some of the spit from his eyes, and Marco was
startled to see he was still being held up. How strong was this guy?
said the redhead. “I’m definitely going to kill you. I gave you a choice, and
Marco was thrown straight to the floor. The breath was knocked from his lungs
and at first he couldn’t move. He just lay there for a moment, faintly aware of
a voice yelling from behind the counter—the cashier, trying to get out of the
storage room where Michael locked him.
around, Marco saw the entrance to the arcade only a few feet away. He had to
started crawling, not knowing where Michael had gone. At that moment, he didn’t
really care. He just wanted to get away from the redhead. Something was wrong
with that kid—he wasn’t human. He couldn’t be human. He was some kind of demon
or alien. Marco had never believed in either until this moment.
he continued to crawl, he thought of his best friend, Curtis, who had tried warning
him about fighting a stranger. Marco should have listened. He was always
getting into trouble, and Curtis had always been there to bail him out. Though
there was no way Curtis could have known this would happen, Marco still
regretted not leaving with his friends when he’d had the chance.
now he was going to die in this arcade, at the hands of a lanky redhead.
grabbed his foot and pulled him slowly away from the doors. Marco spun on to
his back and kicked out. His foot connected with Michael’s face, but the kid
barely noticed. Marco felt like he’d kicked a wall instead; his ankle felt
fighting me,” said Michael soothingly. “Just accept you’re about to die.”
kicked out again with his other leg, this time connecting with Michael’s knee.
Michael ignored that as well.
should consider yourself lucky,” the kid said to Marco. “At least you won’t be
around when my brother and I take over the world. There’s no telling what my
brother Jason would do to you.”
that, Michael placed a foot on Marco’s chest and pressed down. Marco heard and
felt a few ribs crack and was instantly stunned. He stopped struggling. Michael
reached down and grabbed a handful of hair and pulled his opponent’s head a few
inches off the ground.
see if I can do this without a knife,” said the redhead.
what?” asked Marco.
then he found out.
he crossed the intersection to get to his street, Les thought again of the
redhead. There had been some weird gleam in his eye he didn’t like. And why had
the guy tried causing problems between Les and Curtis? It didn’t make sense. It
was almost as if Michael were testing Curtis to see how he’d react to that
statement. Les was shocked to find Curtis refusing to take the bait.
now there was animosity between Curtis and Michael.
Michael wanted that in the first place? If not, was he now prepared to have a
total stranger hate him?
was standing at his front door before he realized it. His house was near the
end of the long street, so the walk had to have taken a few minutes. Yet, those
minutes had gone by in what felt like seconds. He couldn’t stop thinking about
Michael, and he very much wanted to stop. He got a very bad vibe from the
redheaded stranger, and hoped to never see him again. Would Michael frequent
that arcade from now on?
let me never run into that kid again,” Les whispered aloud as he looked for his
house key. Would his prayers be answered? He truly hoped so. The last thing he
needed was to get into more trouble. His grandmother despised trouble, and made
him swear he’d stay out of it when he’d moved in with her.
parents had also been strict about rules, which is
why he decided to move out of their house. As old school as Granny was, she was
also less observant, which meant he was able to get away with a lot more stuff.
Nothing that would send him to prison, but he still had his fun.
only he didn’t have to have all his fun alone. He wasn’t very popular with
other people his age, though, much to
Curtis had offered a kind hand once before. It was a shame Les had screwed it
up with his “joke.” Every time he thought of that night, his heart raced with
embarrassment. He wished he could go back in time and undo that night
altogether. He’d even looked up spells in one of his books in hopes of finding
something that would help him.
such luck, though there had been some spells on making him more popular and
buff. None of them had panned out, however. None of his magic really did. He
never managed to get rich and powerful, and his magic crystals only collected
dust in his desk drawer.
Les knew he was special in some way. When he was younger, he’d managed to make
things happen without aid of spell books and magic crystals. Once, when he was
ten, he accidentally set a cat on fire just by looking at it. And then, when he
was thirteen, he made a bunch of rocks move on their own. The rocks danced
around in circles and even stacked themselves into a pile right in front of
yes, Les was special. He could get things done. Or, at least, he’d been able to
when he was younger. None of his abilities manifested in any way now. When he
turned seventeen, he resorted to books and amulets to help. He even joined
clubs he’d found online, where he met others who had the “gift.” Most of them
were just crazies, but others had actually shown signs of being able to
manipulate the world around them. Les had even dated a girl from the club for a
it was not meant to be—she dumped him two months later. He still thought of her
every now and then. He even called her one night, when he was feeling extremely
lonely, but she’d yelled at him and said if he ever called her again, she’d
make his “toys” come to life and kill him in his sleep.
were not toys!
They were life-sized replicas he had in his room, and he had paid a pretty
penny for them. Though that argument had been brutal, Amanda had ignited a
wonderful idea in Les. What if
could come to life? That would be amazing!
that moment, he heard a noise behind him. He spun from the front door but saw
nothing there. The sound had been of bushes rustling. He looked at the bushes
next to his grandmother’s brown car, and they swayed in some invisible breeze.
Les shivered and unlocked the door before quickly stepping into the house. He
knew something was out there, and it had been watching him. Once inside,
however, he didn’t feel better. He could still feel the eyes on him, through
the door. He could almost swear he also heard breathing.
he been followed home?
Of course not. What a silly thought. He was just Les. No one wanted to be
bothered with him. Sure, he had a bag full of quarters, but it was only five
dollars’ worth. He could still feel eyes on him, however, so he ran to his room
and locked the door.
Owen thought he heard an
explosion, but he was not sure; there were a few things distracting the little
blond boy. The sounds of plates and silverware clanging in the background
bugged Owen Walters. He could barely hear the TV, even though he was only two
feet away from it.
so close, son,” said his father from the dining room. Owen didn’t even bother
to look at him; he simply backed away a little. The smells of potatoes and
steak were filling his nostrils. He couldn’t wait to eat. Owen was certain his
dad made the best steaks in the world. Sure, at fourteen, he hadn’t tasted
every food in existence, and even though he’d had steaks at the local
steakhouse in town, he was still certain his dad’s won out in that contest.
waited for dinner, he thought about the upcoming weekend. He had gloated about
his dad’s grilling skills to his best friend Cullen Matthews for a long time
now, and this weekend, he was finally going to show what was what. His dad and
Cullen’s were going to have a barbecue cook-off Friday evening. There was also
something else Owen was looking forward to this weekend, though: the trip to
the city on Saturday. Owen loved going to the city with his dad. It was a shame
they didn’t do it very often. Living in the country was nice, but the lights
and the sounds of downtown San Sebastian, with the live bands and the
interesting people walking around, were not to be denied. It beat doing chores
clanging of the silverware on the dinner table grew louder.
What is Dad doing?
Owen wondered. He
turned around and saw his dad was nowhere near the dinner table—the plates and
glasses were shaking all by themselves.
But now the
table was shaking. Everything was shaking. Owen jumped to his feet and stood in
the middle of the living room, too scared to move. His dad ran in and grabbed
him, pulling him to the nearest doorframe.
right, son. It’s just an earthquake,” his dad said, a level of disbelief in his
never experienced an earthquake before, and by the sound of his voice, his dad
had never experienced one either. His father, Russell, was in his mid-forties,
a little gray showing in his blond hair; Owen greatly favored him. “The Walters
genes run strong,” Russell was always telling his son.
was shaking violently now. An ear-splitting sound rumbled the house even more.
It sounded like an explosion. Owen looked out the nearest window and saw the
field just outside grow bright as day.
Now he saw
something else—little pieces of flaming debris were crashing down. After a
moment, the field grew dark, the house instantly stopped shaking and everything
was quiet once again. Owen looked to the TV; the screen was filled with static,
the cartoon he’d been watching now gone.
let him go and walked out the front door. “Stay right there. I’m
check it out.”
right where he was. He saw his dad through the nearest window, staring at the
flaming debris that had crashed onto the field. He saw Dad look up toward the
sky. The field grew steadily bright again, as if the sun was quickly rising.
Owen felt the house shake once more. He closed his eyes…
…and when he
opened them again, he saw only a steering wheel. His head throbbed viciously as
he suddenly remembered he was in a silver Honda; he often got these headaches
whenever he had such dreams. He looked to his side, the passenger seat, and saw
wrong?” Owen asked.
here,” said Chris, pointing past him. Owen saw a white, one-story house across
the street from them. Two figures were on the front porch. One was a short
dark-haired girl, the other a tall, skinny boy with dirt-blond hair. The two
appeared to be making out.
quickly into his rearview mirror and slid his blond bangs from in front of his
forehead. He was now two years older than the boy in his dream.
made its way from the porch into the house. Owen and Chris grabbed a black
backpack from the backseat of the car and got out, jogging silently to the
house across the street. The grass was wet from the storm that had hit earlier.
The moonlight caused the whole area to look abnormally bright. It was a chilly
October night in San Sebastian, Texas. Chris and Owen, who were wearing
matching black hoodies and tattered blue jeans, ran to the side of the house,
trying to peek through one of the windows.
looking directly into the dark living room. The only light source came from the
foyer. There was no sign of movement.
they?” Chris asked.
are, I’m going to throw up. We need to hurry.”
quietly, and then suddenly hunched down to hide himself. “I think I saw them.”
He and Chris
slowly peeked into the window. Owen had indeed seen them. The boy and girl were
in the hallway, entwined in each other’s arms, kissing passionately. The girl
was wearing a pink blouse with a white skirt. The guy was in a brown turtleneck
and white pants. It was a step up from what he’d worn at the Trails hours
earlier. Chris started to shiver as he lowered himself back down.
later, the boys looked back into the house. The couple was gone from the
hallway. Owen tried the window; it was unlocked. He opened it, and then he and
Chris crawled in. The living room was plainly decorated, a brown couch being
the only main furniture. They listened for any sign of movement before they
proceeded. They found none. Chris reached into the bag and pulled out a pistol.
Owen grabbed a crossbow, his weapon of choice.
for this?” Chris asked. “Remember, aim for the heart.”
the other one at the tree house; I know what to do.”
scream cut through the air like a knife. It was coming from a room at the end
of the hall. Owen and Chris darted toward the door, but halfway there, it
opened and the girl came running toward them, crying and screaming. Chris
grabbed her and held her behind him. She screamed and struggled in his grasp,
but he settled her down quickly.
moment, all was silent. The tension was intense.
The girl was
sobbing, frozen in terror. The bedroom door was cracked open, a light
flickering in the dark room. It looked like a TV was turned on in there.
something sprang from the dark room. The guy was running toward Owen and Chris
on all fours, and he was smiling.
And there he
was, in front of them—the one Owen and Chris were after. His name was Eric. It
was just hours ago that he and his friend had attacked that girl in the tree
house and then escaped. They’d tracked him to a nightclub downtown shortly
after where he and this innocent girl had been having what looked like a great
this guy would not get the chance to harm anyone else. Tonight they’d had the
element of surprise because Eric hadn’t seen them, couldn’t have possibly known
that they were still on his tail after he’d fled the Trails.
an arrow at Eric, who dodged it, causing that arrow to shoot straight into the
wall behind him. Eric was stunned by the attempt, though. Chris took that
opportunity to trip him, and Eric face-planted straight into the front door.
for him, pistol in hand, but Eric was too quick. He turned around and grabbed
Chris by the throat. Owen saw the guy toss Chris into the living room like a
rag doll. Eric stood back up to full height, and Owen was taken aback by how
tall he suddenly was. He seemed to have grown a few inches. Maybe it was Owen’s
mind playing tricks on him. He feigned pulling the trigger on the crossbow.
Eric made to dodge … but no arrow shot out at him. Owen smiled and really
pulled the trigger this time. The arrow went right through Eric’s left eye.
to the ground, yelling in pain, as he pulled the arrow out. His eyeball came
with it. Owen saw Chris’s gun laying on the floor. He grabbed it just as the
vampire lunged for him. Owen kicked him hard in the chest, sending him flying
through the front door. Eric landed in the wet grass of the front yard. Owen
ran through the open hole that used to be the front door and pointed the
crossbow at Eric, but Eric leapt into the air faster than Owen could register
“Up here,” a
voice called behind Owen.
around and saw Eric standing on the roof of the house. He had a satisfied smile
on his face. Owen shot another arrow at the monster and missed. Eric laughed
and jumped to the roof of the house next door. Then the next roof, and the next
one. It appeared effortless for him. He just kept leaping until he was out of
seven houses away now. His left eye socket was throbbing with pain; he knew the
eye was gone for good. He wouldn’t be able to regenerate it. If he ever got the
chance, he’d rip out the eyes of the guy who did this to him.
thoughts swirling in anger, Eric didn’t realize until the last minute that his
assailant was now standing in front of him.
And now he
was making a fist.
was smashed inward. The pain was extraordinary. He fell on his back and began
rolling down the slanted roof. Owen jumped down after him.
on a trampoline and bounced back into the air. Owen kicked him while in midair,
and Eric landed on a play-set slide. Owen hopped on the trampoline and landed
in front of the slide. Eric lay there for a moment.
But only a
moment. He kicked out at Owen, connecting with his face and causing him to
stumble backward. Eric took this opportunity to tackle him. As soon as they
landed on the ground, Owen managed to kick Eric in the chest, sending him
flying up a few feet.
could land on the ground, he noticed the guy getting back up to his feet.
Suddenly Owen grabbed Eric by his damaged eye socket and slammed him to the
ground. Eric had the wind knocked out of him.
you vampires didn’t breathe,” Owen said.
know what a ‘vampire’ is, but I’m sure you’re right,” Eric coughed out.
the crossbow he had strapped over his shoulder. “If you’re not a vampire, what
“Why do you
care? You’re about to kill me anyway.”
to remain silent. He loved denying this guy the information he so desperately
wanted; the look on his face was priceless.
words?” Owen asked, aiming the crossbow at Eric’s heart. “If you’re not
pretty fast,” said Eric.
the weapon slightly. “Are those really going to be your last words?”
How did you catch up to me so fast?”
“I ran track
in high school.”
“Why do I
you’re going to kill me, you might want to tie your shoes first,” Eric said.
been sure how the boy would react to this, but sure enough, the blonde looked
down at his feet. Eric took the opportunity to kick the guy in the face, and
then jumped on top of him as he hit the ground.
punches at Eric as he tried to sink his teeth into his neck, but none of the
hits had much force. Eric grabbed the guy’s arms to restrain him.
He leaned in
closer, preparing to bite, but suddenly, a blinding light formed between the
two of them, and everything became quiet, as if all sound had been turned off.
thing Eric knew, he was flying into the air and through a wooden picket fence,
into the neighbor’s yard.
up and ran to the fence Eric had been blasted through, but the creature was
gone. Owen cursed and then looked down at the small blue-black ball in his
hand. It was the size of a tennis ball, a handy little gadget courtesy of Dan
the Man called a Rejecter. It was a mildly harmless bomb with a little round
window on one side that shot energy in whatever direction it was pointed.
get one,” Daniel always said on account of how hard they were to make.
back to the house should have taken only seconds, but Owen felt like dragging
his feet. He was ashamed of himself; he’d let Eric get away. He shouldn’t have
wasted time talking; he should’ve just killed him while he had the chance. And
the untied-shoe thing…
Oldest trick in the book,
cursing himself. Only a child could have fallen for that, and that’s just what
Owen thought he was: a child. He was a decade younger than Chris, and he hated
being the youngest of his comrades. Alyssa, who was currently at HQ in a
spiteful mood, was about to turn twenty-four and Daniel was nineteen and a
genius to boot. But Owen wasn’t anything special, not in his own eyes, at
least. Lack of self-confidence was definitely a curse of being sixteen.
As he walked
down the street, he saw a few people either glancing out of their windows or
standing on their porches, looking around nervously, no doubt wondering what
had been running across their roofs. They cast glances at Owen, and he tried
not to look back, though he knew he already looked pretty suspicious.
continued walking, he couldn’t get out of his head what Eric had said before
escaping, about not being a vampire. Owen never truly believed he was one in
the first place (it was a theory Chris desperately clung to). This revelation
from Eric himself was an eye opener, no pun intended, and something he couldn’t
wait to reveal to the others, especially Chris.