Authors: D.A. Smith
The Hidden Paths to Power
By D.A. Smith
This story is a work of fiction. Any people, places, things or events, are intended as fictional representations. None of the people, places, things or events, should in any way, be viewed as factual representations.
Cover Art by D.A. Smith
The work is rated for teens and older.
A Monstrous Perspective:
Nothing Less Than the World:
Old Powers Reborn:
We stood there, facing each other on the cusp of a war between us. I displayed all my rage and hate at the boy who’d lead me down a path I could not have foreseen. He stared back with as much hate because I refused to give him what he wanted.
Now he was poised to take his anger out on the world and it’d be my job to stop him.
Why were we at such odds? That was tough to answer because I didn’t live in his head. I can only speculate about why he felt the issues between us were worth the cost to innocents that had nothing to do with us.
As I stood there waiting to see what he would do next, I thought back to when it began…
I suppose the real beginning was when we started high school together. We’d been in the same schools since kindergarten but had little in common.
If I forced my brain to remember, I think Ryan Gilpatrick and me, Deana Boller, talked maybe five times before high school. I don’t believe I flaunted that I was the blonde, popular girl. I went to school, hung out with my friends and never went out of my way to be mean to anyone.
We lived in Aurora, Colorado which meant the population of kids to socialize with was huge. Was I supposed to feel bad because one boy slipped my notice?
The start of our freshman year was nerve-wracking for all those entering a new world. I spent my days just getting used to the environment and the difficulty of the work. I was chased by nearly every boy but hadn’t allowed boys to take up my concentration. I had a legacy to uphold and it was important to me to uphold that legacy.
The four girls I called my best friends were all I wanted.
Where in the rulebook does it say that if someone gains an obsession with you, you’re obligated to give that person your attention?
Maybe much of what occurs later could have been prevented had I been aware of this issue.
That, I think, is where the real issue started. I didn’t even know Ryan well and hadn’t been a priority for me. That’s no excuse for how he reacted.
Half our freshman year was in the history books, when I came to school one morning to see Trevor McShane, the school bully, harassing Ryan. I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing even knowing what I know now.
Ryan was the school target for all the mean things anyone wished to dish out because he let others bully him. I never joined in as I saw Ryan for what he had the potential to be. He was the smartest kid in school and had a fondness for inventing gadgets. Unfortunately this love of the mechanical left Ryan with little desire to get out and run or play a sport or anything that would give him some muscle.
I came up behind Trevor saying, “You look like a dork holding him like that. Why don’t you let him go and stop looking like a fool?”
Trevor let go of Ryan and spun around, “I think I’m going to get a kiss in payment for sticking your nose in my business blondie.”
I got a little perturbed, “I’d rather kiss the droppings left by Mr. Carter’s rats.”
Trevor decided that my being a girl didn’t rank high on his priority list and swung his fist.
Having a dad who was a tad overprotective of his little girl meant, I’d been in lessons since I could walk on how to protect myself. I ducked the clumsy swing and came up with my books to his nose and my knee to his groin. It was interesting to see which part of his body he felt the need to protect with his hands as he slumped to the ground.
This situation quickly gained the notice of the hall monitor when he finally showed himself. The black guy, who was supposed to be keeping an eye on this part of the school, took the three of us into the office.
Trevor had a reputation as a bully so it didn’t take long to convince the vice-principal, Mr. Fredericks, who started everything. Trevor was suspended for three days. I was suspended for a day, which was mostly to appease Trevor’s mom who felt her little boy was just the most precious person and couldn’t possibly have deserved what he got. I was taken out for a nice dinner by my parents after they heard about it.
The troubles with Ryan began shortly after that.
At first, it was just showing appreciation for me sticking up for him, then he’d find excuses to be around me all the time. I explained as gently as I could that he didn’t need to carry on about it. It really started to become an issue when Ryan’s brown-haired head would appear frequently near my house during the summer.
Then came the week of homecoming during our sophomore year.
Ryan found the courage to ask me to the dance. I saw that he dressed nice for the occasion and was touched by the flower he brought to go along with the asking.
I didn’t want to embarrass him so asked him to follow me to a secluded place by the school. When I was sure no one was listening, I told him I wasn’t going to the dance. I tried to let him down gently.
I guess some could say, what came of that moment, I should have seen but didn’t. I saw his face fall but didn’t see anything to indicate where things would go from there.
Ryan called in sick for the rest of the week. I wasn’t sure how to feel. I talked with my mom and she agreed I handled it well, since I didn’t go out of my way to hurt him.
I was at home as I said I would be on the night of the dance. I was in my room listening to my radio and studying. I maintained a 4.0 average in school because I meant to follow my dad in the FBI and meant to be at the top of the class. My dad was my hero and it just felt right that I would carry on the family tradition which spanned four generations of agents.
My attention was taken by the radio when a special news report began. My jaw must have felt comfortable resting on the floor because it took several minutes before I could pick it back up.
The news was detailing a massacre at Rangeview High School, the place I called home for several hours every day. One witness said several small, robotic things came from under the tables and chairs and started exploding. Kids were falling left and right from sharp pieces of metal slicing into them.
I got dressed and ran outside to get my bike. I think I heard my mom say stop but I was not in the mood to listen, as all four of my friends had gone that night. I was not in the mood to listen to anything other than the sound of my feet turning the petals on my bike as fast as I could make them go.
I didn’t even sense the officer that tackled me off my bike when I got close, “You can’t go in there! We haven’t cleared the place! We don’t know if we’ve found all the devices!”
I turned to the man and said with every ounce of rage I could muster, “You better be looking for Ryan Gilpatrick! He’s the only one in this school who has the technical knowhow to build those things!”
“I’ll pass that on but for now, stay behind the barrier. We can’t even get to some of the wounded until we’re sure all the devices have been dealt with.”
I think, Ryan thought, I was lying when I said I wouldn’t be there.
My mom drove up and waited with me. It was a long night but I wouldn’t leave.
The police finally got the building cleared then sent in the EMTs.
Then Megan and Erica were running at me and buried me in hugs. They didn’t know about Lisa or Karen.
I found the strength, to throw off the officer trying to stop me from running to the gurney, with the sheet covering the body. I felt sure I would see one of my friends.
The EMT tried to stop me but, I had the sheet uncovering the face, and crumbled right there, when I saw Karen’s dead body cut up in twenty different places.
I was near convulsions then saw the next gurney come out. This person didn’t have a sheet covering the face.
I ran over and had to be physically restrained, by my mom and my friends, to keep me from pouncing on the very alive form of Lisa Mortelli. She had a few gashes but the EMT gave her a good prognosis.
That was as much as I could do. I forced Megan and Erica to call their moms to let them know they were okay then announced, I was kidnapping them for the night, as we dealt with our grief for Karen.
Just before we could leave, I was approached by an officer, “I’m Detective Harold Cramer. One of the patrol officers pointed you out as someone who had a name we should check into.”
“Ryan Gilpatrick. He’s a sophomore like we are. He’s one of the most bullied kids here but he’s also the smartest. He has a love for building gadgets and he’s the only person I can think of who could’ve built those robotic things.”
“Thank you. We’ll be looking for him.”
I went home with my kidnapped friends. We piled into blankets, pillows and anything else we could think off in the middle of the living room.
I got permission from my mom, to keep the phone line open with Roberta Mortelli, as we waited to hear that her daughter would be okay. I think our presence on the other end of that open line helped Lisa’s mom get through, as my raven-haired friend went into surgery to remove some of the metal.
It took three hours before we overheard the doctor tell Roberta that Lisa would be okay.
The next morning, I had five; count them one, two, three, four, five; patrol cars pull up in front of my house, along with the unmarked car of Detective Harold Cramer. Fortunately, all of us were in pajamas, so we weren’t flaunting decency, when the detective came to the door.
I opened it and he came in with two officers, and the others were spreading out, to look around the house and my street.
I started with, “What’s happening?”
The detective waited to answer, until my parents were in the room with me. My father showed his badge and this seemed to calm the detective a little, “Agent Boller; I have a few disturbing things to tell you about. As soon as your daughter gave us a name to check into, we found Ryan Gilpatrick’s address in the school’s system and went to pay him a visit. When we got there, we found his parents murdered and in Ryan’s bedroom, we found his walls plastered with pictures of your daughter. We think he believed Deana would be at the dance and was his real target.”
I answered instead of the annoyed man who fathered me, “He might have been mad because I turned him down when he asked me to the dance. I told him I wasn’t going. Maybe he didn’t believe me but he had enough people there to strike out against.”
The detective looked at the blonde man I called dad with a smirk then got serious again, “That may be true but we believe he was, and maybe still is, looking for you. We didn’t find him at his house last night. We believe he killed his parents, when they tried to stop him from leaving with his gadgets, then let his creations loose on the school. We’re here to make sure he isn’t hunting for you. At least for a couple of weeks, you’re going to be escorted to school by officers and brought home. You’ll have to accept their presence if you want to go out to do anything.”
Tim Boller responded before he could be interrupted again, “That’ll be fine. I don’t want any arguments from you, young lady. If this Ryan Gilpatrick has become that dangerous, you’ll accept whatever protection necessary.”
I added, “I was about to say, I agree,” then asked the detective, “What about my friends? I don’t want to worry that, he’ll try to hurt me, by hurting them.”
“We can’t get approval to have officers guarding all of them. They would be safest here with you. We have several officers at the hospital where Lisa Mortelli is. They’re there to talk with the students who were hurt, and collect reports on the twenty-three dead. I’m only telling you because it’s all over the news right now.”
Can you imagine how I felt, to hear that my saying no, had the power to kill twenty-three young people?
I was strong enough mentally to know where the blame really lay but couldn’t help taking a portion of the blame. If I paid better attention, I would’ve seen Ryan’s obsession growing into what it became.
I was a mess for a while. Visiting Lisa in the hospital and going to Karen’s funeral just drove the knife in deeper. Karen was looking to become a doctor and Ryan took her away from those she would have helped.
Megan’s and Erica’s parents, after a small fuss, agreed to let them stay inside the protection offered by the police. My parent’s paid the cost to have tutors come to the house for the three of us.
Two weeks of tortuous waiting ensued.