“Okay. Tell me again from the beginning.”
“Seriously? You know I’ve been in this police station for 3 hours now right?”
“Just start from the beginning sir.”
If you had told me that my day would start off with a complete stranger putting a gun to my head, I would have called you an idiot that and some other not so friendly things, if you catch my drift. Today was supposed to be just like any other Friday: Large box of pizza, sweatpants and an all day Law & Order SVU marathon. In some weird crazy way, I guess this is my punishment for actually trying to be a productive human being.
I woke up this morning in a stranger’s bathroom. My body was sandwiched in between a grimy toilet seat and an equally disgusting shower, shrouded by what I would later figure out as a Family Guy shower curtain. I stared at the figures on the curtain, trying my hardest to make my brain function and my vision focus. Four figures projectile vomiting is what greeted me through the early hangover haze. I’ve never seen the show but based on the curtain, I think I get the gist of it.
With a banging headache I began to stock of myself, assessing the damage my actions last night might have caused. I reach into my pocket and pull out my cell phone, a shattered screen with specks of blue, green, and yellow reflected my face in a jigsaw pattern. I pat down my jacket, hoping to feel the square bulge of my wallet. With no such luck, I began to pat myself down feverishly like my entire upper body was covered in flames, hoping the wallet would magically present itself. After about a minute I give up, accepting the fact that my wallet and whatever money I had in it are long gone.
I peeled myself off the floor, trying my best to walk straight as my head spun like a well shaken snow globe. With shaky steps, I made my way out of the bathroom and into the hallway. Lined along the walls were other poor unfortunate souls, in various drunken states. I trudged my way through the scene with heavy steps, not really caring whose limbs I stepped on. A large red bearded man was positioned upright on the steps, unconscious. His mouth was open and he had drool dripping down his cheek. I’m pretty if you look up the word disgusting in the dictionary this is the picture that would be associated with it.
I skirted past the whaled behemoth and carefully walked down the stairs. The living room was worse than the upstairs hallway. The entire bottom floor reeked of beer, sweat, and vomit. From the stairs it looked like I was walking through the carnage of a civil war era battle. Bodies awkwardly layin on bodies: lamps, vases, even framed pictured lay shattered and broken on the floor. I continued my way toward the door, passing some poor kid with the words “freshman” written on his forehead in black sharpie along with other crude statements covering his cheeks and neck.
As I walked out of the house the fresh cold air hit me square in the face like a bucket of cold water. It was exactly what I needed to jolt me out of my hangover haze and into sobriety…not exactly “sober” but just across the sober line, able enough to text somewhat coherent sentences without too much effort “sober”.
Losing my wallet wasn’t a big deal. After all, I’ve lost things when I was hammered before. Homecoming freshman year, I lost my cell phone, my glasses, and my dignity (I’m lookin’ at you big Bertha). Finals week sophomore year, I lost my pants, my neighbor’s car keys, and somehow my roommate’s pet Boa constrictor. I would have felt bad about it if I weren’t so proud of myself. Turns out we somehow snuck the thing into the Tri Sig House. They freaked when they found him the next day curled up in their fridge. A year later and they still don’t talk to us, how selfish of them right? My wallet is about the only thing I haven’t lost, really. I guess statistically it was bound to happen.
I walked down the street, past the old flower shop, past the family dentist, and past the corner store that Mr. Franklin ran. He was old but he was cool. If you were nice to him he’d tell you stories about when he was a fighter pilot back in ‘Nam. Plus, he was blind as a bat, so you get alcohol basically with any ID pretty easy. I walked past the student Laundromat, past the bookstore and pharmacy, and made a right at the corner of street, at Mr. Hoa’s all you can eat Chinese buffet. “Finest Spring Rolls on the East Coast!” he’d always say. The spring rolls tasted like wet grass rolled up in yesterday’s newspaper, but when you’re a broke college student, price trumps taste any day.
“Yo, Deacon, wait up!”
I didn’t have to turn around to know who it was calling my name. Jon Martinez and his identical twin brother Bobby. They were two annoying 13 year olds trapped in the bodies of two 18 year old kids who somehow made it to college. They even had the high pitched pre-pubescent voice to match. They were known for their trademark brand of humor; constant over the top pranking and unnecessarily crude fart jokes. They also had the uncanny ability to speak in unison seemingly at will: inflection and all. No doubt a side effect of the alien nest they spawned out of.
“Dude, what happened to you?” Jon asked, inspecting my disastrous appearance “You look like hell man.”
Bobby darted in front of me and picked up the conversation while walking backwards. “Yeah brah, you look terrible. Did the wittle baby not get much sleep last night?”
It’s been less than 30 seconds and I already wanted to strangle the both of them. “Do we have to do this now? Don’t you two have to get back to whatever zoo enclosure you escaped from?”
The both of them laughed in unison like a pair of hyenas on helium.
“Good one bro,” Bobby said, still snickering. “Where you headed? A bunch of us are gonna go day drink over at the old stadium. You comin’?”
While I do enjoy a good day drinking session, the idea of drinking with a bunch of underclassman didn’t appeal to me in the slightest, especially not with these two. I tried my best to come up with a good excuse to give them, but nothing came to mind “Sorry boys, not today. I have a sweet date with that scary old lady at the bank.”
“You mean the ol’ bird with the missing teeth and the mole on her nose? She loves us!” Bobby said, flashing a toothy smile with nothing but devilish intent behind it. “Day drinking can wait, ain’t that right Jonny? After all how often do we get to see the ol’ bird in her natural habitat?”
Jon matched both his intent and his smile. “Brother, when you’re right, boy, are you right!”
The two of them walked in front me, darting from one thing to the next while playing some weird word association game. It was part English, part Spanish, and part weird twin gibberish. Watching them made my head spin, reminding me that I was far from completely sober. It was like watching the most realistic and exhausting National Geographic special ever.
I followed the two lunatics up the steep bank of steps, breathing hard with each rise and fall of my sluggish legs. The bank was modeled after old Greek architecture. Think Pantheon but much smaller. Old worn stone steps leading right up to tall Corinthian columns that supported the large cornice overhead like strong stone body guards. If you looked closely you could see the bats sleeping in the shadow of the portico and column head up high.
I followed the twins into the banks glass doors, trying my best not to look like we were associated in anyway. I worked my way through the snaked turnstiles, inching forward as each patron in front of me was attended to. The bank used to be a huge draw for the town back in the 50’s and 60’s but over the years the upkeep and the town’s steady decline sent the once illustrious bank into a state of steady decay. In a few years they’d probably end up tearing the whole thing down.
The interior of the bank was as dated as the outside. There were large wooden desks that hadn’t been used in years sat in rows along one wall, resembling the kind might see in a black and white film from the 60’s, and wooden teller booths with Plexiglas shields lined the opposite wall. The open floor was occupied by old blue velvet turn stiles, organized in an elaborate and unnecessary series of twists and turns. What I saw as a simple tool to create order Jon and Bobby saw as a military obstacle course. Jon crawled under a series of ropes while bobby pretended to throw grenades and subsequently barrel roll behind the nearest stationary object.
I was so embarrassed by the display that the two were putting on, that I hadn’t noticed the other bank customer’s gawking. A mother shielded her sons face as he pointed and laughed. An elderly woman just shook her head and mumbled something inaudible under her breath. The three tellers behind the Plexiglas shield turned beat red. Miss Mayble Jones, or the ol’ bird as the twins had called her, rolled her eyes in utter disgust.
As embarrassed as I was, I had to hand it to them. Their antics made the customers in front of me hurry, not wanting to be collateral damage to whatever fallout was undoubtedly coming the twins way. Within minutes of entering the bank, I was standing at the front of the line waiting to see a teller, and just as luck would have it, the first available teller was Miss Jones.
“Good morning, Miss Jones,” I said with a somewhat sarcastic tone.
She looked at me, arms crossed, eyes cold. “Do those two…animals, belong to you?”
I looked back the Jon and Bobby. Somehow they had managed to get a hold of two yard sticks, and were using them to sword fight each other. They each tied one of the white cloths that had been covering the desks around their necks for added effect.
“Yeah, sorry. They haven’t been house broken yet,” I responded, embarrassed.
“What’ll it be this time?” She asked with an annoyed tone.
“This time? I’m not sure I follow,” I responded.
“It’s always the same with you college kids,” She unfolded her arms and roller her eyes hard. “I could smell the liquor and vomit on you the second you walked into the door.”
People didn’t like Miss Jones for a reason. She was a huge ball buster. Spent had spent her whole life in this town, and watched it turn to crap year after year after year. Watched college idiots like me come and go leaving the town a little bit worse than when they got here. She was right, I did smell like I just crawled out of a sewer, but she didn’t have to be such an old kermuggin about it.
I tried my best to defrost the 5ft 2inch Ice Queen behind the glass, and took an earlier cue from the twins. “Miss Jones when you’re right, you’re right.”
She shook her head in disappointment and glanced at the twins who were now running around pretending to be ghosts. “What’s the problem? The sooner I fix this the sooner those two will be out of my sight.”
“My thoughts exactly,” I said. “I seem to have…misplaced my card—“
“Hold on,” she interrupted. She pulled out a sheet of paper from somewhere under her desk. “Fill this out, give it to me, you’ll receive a new card in the mail in 5-6 business days.”
I grabbed the paper and began to fill out the form, top to bottom. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a dark shadow shadow in the reflection of the Plexiglass in front of me. I tilted my head up, only to see Miss Jones: mouth ajar, eyes terror stricken. A cold piece of metal meet my left temple, just seconds later. It took a minute to realize what it was, but when I did my heart sank in disbelief.
“Give me all the money in the register,” a cold voice from behind me said, as the loud click of the guns hammer vibrated in my ears.
Miss Jones froze, as she stared at my face from behind the glass. Her lip quivered as she tried to say something but she couldn’t find the words.
The stranger behind me grabbed me by the back of the neck, and pointed the gun towards the Plexiglass. “Money. Out of the register. Now!”
It was a weird feeling, having the cold steel of a gun pressed against your head. It made you think about things that you normally wouldn’t. Like if I died right now, what would the coroner say about my SpongeBob Squarepants boxer shorts? Or why didn’t I make out with Carol Stevens at that homecoming frat party sophomore year? Yeah she had braces, but minor details like that seem really stupid when you’re close to death.
As Miss Jones fumbled around behind the register, all I could hear was the shuffling of the money in the register drawer. Moments ago the laughter of the twins bounced around the open room like, an invisible tennis ball, now nothing. The bank was completely silent. I turned my head under the man’s grip, looking for any sign of twins, hoping they were just rattled and quiet like I was.
“Looking for someone?” The man growled into my ears with a deep voice.
I didn’t get a good look, but based on what I saw they weren’t there. No one was there. It was just me, Miss Jones and the tellers and the man with the gun.
“I asked you a question,” he continued, putting the gun back to my temple. “Don’t you know it’s rude not to answer people when they ask you a question?”
“Just checking if you were stupid enough to try and rob a bank by yourself, that’s all.”
A word of advice to anyone at gun point: it is definitely not a good idea to taunt the person holding the gun.
Almost immediately after I finished he thrust his hard boney elbow right into the side of my head, sending me staggering back. I didn’t plan on getting hit but I figured poking the bear would get him off his game. Almost on cue, Miss Jones and the three tellers used the momentary distraction to dart through the heavy door behind them. By the time the man had turned around, it was too late, they were already gone.
I pulled myself off of the ground with my head still spinning from the man’s surprise blow. Now having distance between us I was able to size up the man in front of me. He was around my height with a scrawny but tough build. He wore long sleeves, but tattoo patterns crept onto the backs of both of his hands. He had on a black ski mask hiding his face, but through the eye holes I could see that his left eye was black and his right blue.
“Is that all you got?” I taunted. “Now it makes sense why you brought the gun.”
The man tilted his head to the side. I imagined his face must have had a curious expression under the mask. He let out a slow menacing laugh.
“You wanna play that game you scrawny welp? Then let’s play,” he tossed his gun on the floor and pulled his mask off. He had a buzzed head and a black beard which made the proportions of his face look weird. He cracked his knuckles and smiled a wide toothy grin.
What happened next was a blur more or less. Before I could get my hands up to defend myself, he closed in on me with surprising speed and hit me smack in the face with a right hook. I immediately felt blood pour out of my nose, and onto front of my shirt. Before I could do anything about it, another punch hit me square in the jaw, followed by another on the opposite side. Before I knew it, I was flat on my back staring up at the ceiling trying to figure out why I was in a bank in the first place.
The man stood over me with his heavy black boot on my chest and knelt close with the same toothy grin on his face. “Where’s all that tough talk now, huh?”
Even though he was right above me, his voice sounded like it was a distant echo, almost as if he was standing on the other side of the room. I stared up at the ceiling, trying my best to focus, unable to move. I didn’t notice it at first but something about the ceiling was…out of place.
I focused as hard as I could, feeling the blood rush to my face and settle in my cheeks and around my forehead. The goon on top of me continued to talk but I tuned him out focusing over head. At first glance it looked like 2 oddly colored blobs of paint were stuck to the ceiling. That was until they started moving. Stuck to the ceiling high above both me and the bald robber, were Jon and Bobby, peering down with the same devilish smile I had seen them flash just moments before. Almost as quickly as I had noticed them, they let go falling towards me headfirst.
The creep standing on top of me must have seen the surprise in my bloodied face. He looked up; only to meet the fists of two pint sized human meteors hurtling right into his face, knocking him to the floor and turning two nearby desks into rubble. I scurried from under his boot, looking for a safe place to hide, settling for a behind a small piece of debris behind the twins.
The twins high fived each other, ecstatic that there combo attack worked. “Who’s the welp now!” They yelled in unison.
With all that force the robber should have been knocked out, but surprisingly he rose with ease and dusted himself off as if nothing had happened. He rolled his neck from side to side, showing how futile their efforts had been.
“You two again huh,” he said with a sideways smile, “That was fun. Now it’s my turn.”
He bent his knees and tensed every muscle in his body. His face turned white as snow and his eyes shone bright and intense, like he had a lightbulb behind each of his eyes. His body began to vibrate and shimmer, almost like if you saw a car driving towards you on a hot day. Then suddenly, a transparent smoky copy of himself appeared next to him and slowly solidified itself.
“It’s about time you let me out,” the copy said, rotating his neck and limbs. “You know what Z, you really gotta work on your personal demons. Its filthy being in your head you know that?”
The original-Z he had been called- looked irritated at his carbon copy. “Now’s not the time Q. We got company.” Z pointed to the Twins standing in front of them.
Q’s eyes literally lit up with malicious excitement. “Wel,l well, looks who it is.”
“Good to see you too, ugly. Been a while since we put our fists into that ugly excuse you call a face.”
Jon nervously shifted his weight while Bobby clenched his hands repeatedly. They talked tough but they were obviously intimidated.
Without answering the two pairs darted towards each other. Jon and Z dodged each other’s punches while Bobby grabbed Q by the arm and disappeared in a small cloud of smoke. He reappeared above the fray and hurtled Q towards the floor aiming for where Z and Jon were fighting. Jon jumped backwards right as Q collided with his other half knocking them both to the floor.
Bobby reappeared in a cloud of smoke next to Jon looking proud of himself.
“Come on guys, I know you can do better than that,” Jon taunted.
Z and Q rose from the debris and dusted themselves off. “Not by a long shot, kid.”
In unison Z and Q darted forward, covering the space between them and the twins in the blink of an eye. Before they were able to do anything Jon and Bobby were slammed flat into the ground with enough force to break tiles.
Z leaned in close. “How’s this for better?”
Z and Q’s eyes started shining the same intense light as when they separated. This time sparks of electricity danced out of them and began circling around their arms until they were fully engulfed in it. Then, they poured it straight into Jon and Bobby, with grins on their faces.
The two boys screamed out in pain as they were being electrocuted, their screams bouncing off of the stone walls. It was unbearable. I was in pain and my nose was still bleeding but it was nothing compared to this. I had to do something to make them stop.
Without thinking I picked up a broken metal chair leg and threw it as hard as I could at them. It hit Q square in head, causing him to break his concentration stopping the flow of the current.
Z looked at me with solid black eyes and laughed openly effectively evaporating the small amount of courage I had built up. “I almost forgot about you,” he said, “If you want a beating to, we’d be happy to oblige.”
With the same surprising speed, Q went from kneeling on the ground to having his hands around my neck. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you, it’s rude to throw things?” His eyes erupted in light and the sparks of electricity danced out, burning its way through every vein in my body.
It was the worst pain I had ever felt. Like every atom of my body was being shredded apart one by one. My vision went black and my mind raced at a thousand miles a minute with thoughts that were to quick to recognized. My limbs spazzed and my body felt like it was literally on fire. Then it happened. Then the pain turned from excruciating to something else, something soothing. The ripping feeling I was feeling moments before felt like a tickle. It felt like a switch had been flipped and the pain had been turned off and replaced with a hot warm comfort.
“Gahhhh,” Q yelled in pain.
It wasn’t until Q released me from his grip that I realized that it wasn’t just a feeling, I was actually on fire. My entire body was covered in the most intense dancing yellow orange flames I had ever seen. I inspected my arms and hands and realized the fire seemed to be alive.
“Looks like Deek’s gifted like us.”
They must have used my new found “gift” as a diversion because standing behind me were Jon and
Bobby. They were both showing clear signs of pain and exhaustion; Bobby leaning against a desk, Jon a chair, but they were otherwise intact.
“What’s happening to me?” I shouted, still in shock. The flames around me flared, in a wild arc responding to my panic.
“Calm down, you have to try and control it.” Jon made his way closer to me, extending his hands feeling the warmth of the flames. “By the looks of it, you’re abilities have awakened.”
“And in a big way,” Bobby limped over, favoring his right leg. “Looks like we got a little back up after all-”
Before he could finish his sentence, a bolt of electricity hit both him and Jon in the chest, thrusting them back into a desk reducing it to rubble rendering them unconscious.
“Forget about us?”
Q and Z had regrouped and were standing covered in ribbons of electricity. Q’s hand was red and wrinkled, damage done by the flames I was covered in. “Let’s see how you like a double shot of electricity this time!”
They came at me with the same impossible speed, one behind the other, but this time I was ready. I felt their movements before they made them. Q threw a punch with his good hand and I dodged it, surprising Z with a punch of my own to the gut. He hurtled backwards end over end, and I spun around and connected with a kick to Q’s torso. He doubled over, and I grabbed him by the collar and threw him across the room, next to Z who was picking himself up from beneath the rubble of a desk.
“This isn’t going to work,” Z said directly to Q. “Get back inside me, we’re stronger that way.”
Their eyes lit up and Q melded with Z in a transparent mist, like a ghost that was dissolving. Almost immediately the ribbons flowing around him intensified.
“Hurts every time,” he said standing up, loosening his shoulders. “Now where were we?”
He flashed a smile and zipped towards me, this time faster than I could counter. He threw a flurry of punches faster than I could see, each connecting with its intended target. The more I struggled to fight back the quicker he struck aiming mostly for my mid section. In a desperate attempt to get away I swallowed deep and bellowed a wave of fire from deep down inside me, effectively putting distance between us.
My entire body hurt, and I could tell that the fire was starting to take its toll. I could feel the energy drain from my body as it became harder to focus. If I was going to get out of this alive, I was going to have to end this quickly.
I rushed him first, throwing balls of fire at him which he dodged effortlessly. He vaulted a similar ball of electricity at me hitting me in the chest. I toppled over and gasped on my stomach and rolled over onto my back struggling to breath. The fire covering me, dimed to a dull roar, flickered, and then went out altogether. I still felt the hot flame inside me but I was too weak to get it out.
“Is that it? Where’d all that new found strength go?” Z stood over me, smiling.
I tried to move my body but it wouldn’t respond. This was it; the moment he would kill me. I stared up at the roof, waiting for the moment when everything would go black and it would all be over.
Looking at the ceiling I noticed several small metal circles stuck. Fire sprinkler, I thought to myself. I wasn’t the brightest student but if there’s one thing I learned sleeping through freshman chemistry its that water conducts electricity; and Z was overflowing with it.
Z hunched over in an awkward stance and charged himself up. His eyes lit up and the electricity started flying around him erratically like it no longer wanted to be tamed. “I’ll make this quick,” he said through gritted teeth. I had a feeling he was saying it more for his benefit than mine. Trying to control all that electricity must not have been easy.
He took a few quick steps and jumped high into the air. It was now or never. I dug as deep as I could trying to pull up whatever flames were left inside me. I aimed as best as I could for the sprinkler I thought would be the easiest to hit and forced a breath, producing a small ball of fire that shot directly upwards. It must have surprised Z in his descent because he barely dodged it.
The ball hit the sprinkler head and dissipated in a cloud of black smoke. Almost immediately, the entire roof burst into a shower of water. I couldn’t see him, but based on his screams the plan had worked. The smell of singed clothing which I assumed were mine mixed with the smell of smoke and water filled the air as his screams suddenly stopped and his body fell to the ground with a heavy thud.
I stayed down drenched in water, unable to move my body as I let the exhaustion slowly take over me and turn everything to black.
I woke up 4 hours later strapped a hospital bed wearing clothes that didn’t belong to be with needles and sticky pads stuck to my arms. After a while of protest, I convinced the nurse to discharge me, at which point the cops arrived and brought me to the police station to give an official statement. That was three and a half hours ago.
“Let me get this straight,” the officer tapped his pencil on the metal table while he spoke. “You expect us to believe that you single handedly defeated an armed robber who could, as you say, shoot electricity from his body, by literally fighting him with fire?”
“Not single handedly, the twins helped out, Jon and Bobby Martinez.”
“Son, there was no one else at the scene,” the officer said raising his eyebrow. “It was only you and the perpetrator.”
“No, that’s not right. One of your guys must have messed up. Look them up they’re students here.” I pleaded as hard as I could but they still didn’t believe me.
“I can assure you, you and Mr. Zedd Cartwright were the only two people, in the bank.”
I didn’t know what to say. I knew Jon and Bobby were there and I knew that they had been hit by one of Z’s bolts of lightning. For all I knew they could be lying in a ditch somewhere, dead.
The officer rubbed the bridge of his nose, with his thumb and middle finger. “Look kid, it’s been a long day. Why don’t you head home and get some rest and we’ll see if you remember anything more tomorrow.”
Another officer drove me all the way to my apartment in his police cruiser. He tried to make casual conversation but I really wasn’t in the mood. When we reached the steps to my apartment I got of the car, thanked him, and walked up the old dirty front steps to the building. I walked up two flights of stairs and down the corridor to apartment 1012. Stuck to the front door was an off-white envelope with my name on it and nothing else. I opened it curiously and unfolded the piece of paper inside.
You are one of us. You have gifts that people wouldn’t believe even in their wildest dreams. Do not fear your new abilities, for they are as much a part of you as the hair on your head and they have been inside you since the day you were born. You are not alone. In fact, you are far from it. On the back of this sheet is an address. If you wish to find answers, go to it, someone familiar to you is there waiting for you. Inside of you is the power to do great things. Things the world has never seen before. The only question is: are you willing to give the world what it wants?”
As soon as I finished reading the note my head started spinning. I plopped down on the couch let the letter fall to the floor. I looked around the white walls of the apartment thinking about how things would never be the same after today. I looked at the letter which had flipped on its back, the ink of an address sitting on the center of the page. I pulled myself off of the couch and into my room. I had no idea where the address would take me, but two things were for certain; what happened today was real, and I was terrified. If they had answers to what was happening to me, I needed to know.
I packed as much as I could carry and grabbed my secret stash of cash from behind the microwave in the kitchen. And just like that I was out the door; with a pocket of cash, a hastily packed duffle bag, a letter from a stranger, and a head full of questions to guide me.
Read Part 2 here!