You’d think being the son of a famous scientist would be full of flashing cameras, models, and overall respect, right? I thought so too. It’s anything but glamorous, let me tell you. During the week I live in an apartment and drive myself to school. It’s also where my dad thinks I am most of the time: sitting around doing homework like a good boy. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I busy myself with nightly activities that involve getting into trouble. Don’t worry, though, I’ve never been caught. And I don’t plan on doing so any time soon.
During the weekends, I ride my bike into the woods, where my father spends his life, wasting away in a cabin. It’s where he insists he’s “taking notes” and “collecting data” for his oh so important “scientific breakthrough.” Believe me, he hasn’t gotten jack ever since he secluded himself.
It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that I don’t obey him. He shouldn’t be shocked if I got arrested (which wouldn’t happen, since I never get caught) or killed in a bar fight. He brought this on himself. He did this.
I looked up from doodling on my notes. I had been completely lost in thought. Damn, what did he say? “Sorry?”
“What is the last step?” Mr. Dahl, my awful calculus teacher, waved to the smart board with his marker.
I glanced at the long, messy equation, “I would know if I could read the damn thing.”
Last bell is my best friend. I scooped up my backpack and hurried toward the door with everyone else, just barely missing Mr. Dahl’s grasp. I pushed past the mob and burst out the doors with a heavy slam. I grinned and breathed in the fresh air—well, as fresh as this polluted town could get, anyway. I only stayed in Mr. Dahl’s class today because he caught me trying to sneak out at lunch.
I dug my keys out of my pocket and unlocked my faded truck. I slid into the driver’s seat and adjusted the mirror. I could see a group of bulky, mean-looking guys headed my way, shouting. I poked my head out the glassless window and waved to them as I slammed on the gas pedal and ripped out of the parking lot, skimming a car as I sped into the street.
I turned up the volume to the radio as high as it could go (which wasn’t as high as I would’ve liked, but enough to draw attention).
It wasn’t long before I pulled into my apartment complex. I cut the engine and skimmed over the orange buildings, rose bushes, and courtyard statues. I grumbled a retort under my breath, and lightly chuckled at my crude humor before I jogged up the stairs two at a time. I stopped at my room, patting down my pockets for my card.
I paused as my eyes drifted down to the lock. It was green and the door was slightly opened. “Shit…” I whispered.
I lightly pushed it open and stepped through. It was dark. When I tried to flick on the lights, nothing happened. I grabbed an umbrella from the bucket I had by the door and stepped further in.
My furniture was turned over, trash dumped on the floor, and my bed sheets were in the hallway. I felt my heart leap and I instantly looked toward my nightstand. I dropped the umbrella, fell onto my knees, and crawled over and opened my drawers. I breathed a sigh of relief as I found my “soda” cans still in place.
“Jesus. What happened?”
I nearly leaped out of my skin as I whirled around to stare at a 14 year old boy with fluffy brown hair and bright eyes. He stood in the doorway with his head tilted slightly to the side. Joshua Blake. The smartest kid on the damn planet, if you ask me. He was going to graduate next year, probably as valedictorian. “Not completely sure, but I could guess.”
“Got into trouble again?”
“Looks like it.” I stood and dusted my hands off.
“You should go to your dad’s house, just encase they come back.”
“Yeah, I think I will.” I ran a hand through my blonde hair. “You volunteering again?” I decided to ask as I beckoned him in and headed toward my room to pack my bag.
“I actually was looking into labs around here.” Joshua said as he stepped over a pile of glass. “Do you want me to call the police? This place is really messed up.”
“No.” I said a little too quickly. I felt my face burn at his questioning expression. I turned away and packed faster. “I don’t want to worry my dad, y’know? Because of his important work and everything.”
Joshua fell silent as he folded one of my shirts and handed it to me. “I was actually, uh, I came here to ask if, I don’t know, (it was just a thought), if I could meet your dad at some point and ask him some questions.”
I snorted a bit. “That’s why you came here?”
“It wasn’t the only reason! You’re a good friend of mine, too.” Joshua sighed. “Never mind. It was a stupid idea.”
“I was kidding, Josh. I’ll ask him about you when I see him. Just don’t expect him to jump at the idea of speaking to, well anyone, really.” I zipped up my bag and slung it over my shoulder.
“Yeah, no problem.”
“I should, I mean, I gotta go. I’ll see you later?”
“Yeah, definitely. I’ll text you what he says.” I said as I waved him goodbye.
“Thanks again!” He grinned as he exited my apartment.
I paused before I left, and took a look at my nightstand. I couldn’t help but sneak one of my “soda” cans and place one in my bag before I swung the door closed.
I jogged down the stairs and hopped into my truck. As I stared the engine, the radio blared on. I winced and turned it down. I glanced apologetically at an elderly couple sitting outside on a bench, who had been feeding the pigeons until I scared them off.
I sighed and pulled out of the parking lot. My mind trailed off as I took the all too familiar route to the cabin. I could still vaguely smell cigarettes on my torn leather seats from a few nights ago.
Tapping to the beat of the song that was playing, I took a turn at the edge of the woods and parked my car. Walking to the cabin was the part I dreaded the most. It was the time for me to come up with lies about my week and grades at school.
I slid out and quickly pulled out my “soda” can. I popped it open and took a big gulp as I leaned against my truck’s door.
I checked my phone to see a text from Joshua.
Josh: Dont forget plz :,)
I rolled my eyes and placed it back in my pocket before I started my journey through the woods. I scooped up a branch and dragged it behind me like I saw in a movie once. It was an oldie that I could only watch either online or on something that played vhs tapes. It had to do with cowboys, I know that, but I wasn’t sure of the plot. I really only paid attention to the fights and bad graphics.
I took another gulp and tossed the branch. My eyes drifted to the trees, where I knew fake bird houses with security cameras in them were. “Paranoid old fart…” I muttered as I stumbled over a large root.
It wasn’t till I neared the cabin that I finished my drink with one last, big gulp. Feeling powerful, I crushed the can and tossed it behind me with a satisfied smirk.
“Yo! I came a bit—urk—a bit early!” I said through hiccups as I approached the front door. I shook my head and stepped through the usually unlocked door. “‘They’ll come for my work, I must have security measures!’ you say, yet you—you leave the door unlocked.”
I flicked on the lights to see piles of papers tossed about everywhere. A bit messier than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary. I threw my backpack behind the couch and headed to the kitchen. The refrigerator door was open, refreshing me with cool air. Nothing but old sandwiches and energy drinks. I sighed and clicked open an energy drink.
“Daaaaaad!” I called as I slammed the door shut.
Nothing responded but empty silence.
I pursed my lips and headed up the creaky stairs. The hallway, where I used to stick scribbled drawings on the walls, was overlapped in maps and constellations. My heart twisted painfully, but I wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t my fault Dad was...well...Dad. So what if I didn’t have two parents that wanted to be apart of my life. I’m not going to sulk about something I never had.
I shook my clouded head and pushed into Dad’s office. More cluttered mess around his multiple security tv screens.
Slyly, I glanced both ways in the cabin hallway and eagerly made my way to my father’s spinny-chair. I slid into the seat and grabbed onto the mouse. It took me some time to figure out how to work the old machine, but finally, I rewinded it.
“Let’s see where you went you crazy little…” I frowned and paused it. I pushed play and leaned in closer.
A truck pulled up and out hopped a man. He walked up to the door with a package and rang the doorbell. Nearly as soon as my father opened it, he slammed it shut again. Unfortunately, there weren’t any inside cameras. I skipped ahead and watched as a group of men busted into the house and dragged my unconscious, bleeding father out.
I stopped the footage and zoomed in on the truck’s logo. My hands searched for a notebook and pen while my eyes were locked onto the screen. I badly sketched it out and scrambled for my phone.
Bzzzzt….bzzzt…“this is Joshua Blake—,”
“Sorry I can’t take the phone right now. Call me back later.”
“Josh you little shit!” I snapped as the beep played. “You need to pick up the phone. Something happened and I think you can help.” I placed my phone down and watched the footage again. The more I watched, the more I began to panic. My mind was fighting through the cloudiness to get a grip on what was happening.
I chewed on my nails and flinched when my phone started to ring. I instantly picked up when I saw it was Joshua, “hey! Can I meet you somewhere or—? You’re on your way?? No! I mean, I don’t know if they’re still here. Let me just—meet me by my truck!” I ended the call and took a video of the security footage.
It wasn’t long before I was racing down the stairs, snatching my bag on the way to the exit, and bolting down the path to my car. I was panting by the time I made it to the road. I felt a bit unsteady and nauseous from the run, fear, and alcohol in my system. My hands shook from panic and the energy drink. Not a good mix.
I waved to Joshua, who was riding on his blue bike. He slammed on his brakes and half tripped off, tossing his bike carelessly behind him. His eyes were wide and his messy brown hair was hidden under a NASA baseball cap.
As he let out a rain of questions on me, I picked up his bike and put it in the back of my truck. “We need to get out of here first.” I hopped into the driver’s seat and waited until he swung open the door to the passenger side and buckled in.
I slammed on the gas pedal as soon as he shut the door, and careened into the road. He inhaled sharply and gripped the side. “What is this about!” He said over the wind from my open window.
I tossed my phone at him while I kept my blurry eyes on the road. “You know what the password is!” Was my explanation.
He unlocked my phone and tapped into photo album to find the video. He clicked on it and remained silent for the rest of the drive. He replayed it multiple times with a sheet-white face. He twirled his hair with his finger as he did when he was nervous or disturbed.
I pulled to a stop outside of a pizza place with a shaky breath. My hands were locked onto the wheel as if I was frozen in place.
“Alex…” Joshua murmured.
I released my grip and turned toward him.
He licked his lips nervously, “I know you’re not a big fan of the police and all, but they’d be a big help right about now…”
“Yeah.” I sighed and rubbed my temples. “But before I go to them, I need to ask you something.”
He waited expectantly with round eyes.
“You said you’ve been looking into labs and stuff. Well a lot of ‘em aren’t too fond of my old man. I was wondering if you recognized that symbol.” I nodded to the paused video.
Joshua zoomed in as far as he could with narrowed eyes. He lightly shook his head, baffled. “I do.”
“You look like you’re about to say ‘but’.”
“But,” he exited out of the photo album and clicked into google. “The company was shut down in 1962 for illegal use of radioactive materials. They shouldn’t exist anymore.”
I took my phone from his hands and stared at the black and white picture. My eyes skimmed over the page until they reached the address. It was a few towns over, but it was still in the state of New Jersey.
“Alex.” Joshua snapped me back to reality. “Police. Help. Remember?”
“Yeah…” I spoke as if I was in a trance. “Thanks, it means a lot.”
He looked a bit uncertain. “Do you want me to come with you? To the station?”
I shook my head silently and plugged the address into google maps.
“No. No, no, no.” Joshua snatched my phone out of my unsteady grasp with a scowl. “Police first.”
I clenched my fist and turned back to the wheel. As soon as I put the car in reverse and turned out of the lot I murmured, “you’re a real pain in my ass, you know.”
“Right back at you.” He crossed his arms with a smirk and hid my phone from sight.
I blanked out on the ride to the station, but suddenly we were there. I parked a few blocks away and hopped out.
“Why’re we so far?” Josh questioned as he followed me down the street.
“There’s a group of people that live around here that would gladly put my head on a pike if they could. They recognize my truck.”
“But they wouldn’t try anything in front of the station.” He protested.
I purposely crushed old leaves and a twig under my shoe. “That’d be true if their leader wasn’t the son of the sheriff.”
Josh caught up to me and zipped up his blue jacket as a gust of wind blew in from the mountains. “That’s a load of crap.”
I shrugged and glanced around the neighborhood. The streets were mostly deserted, with the exception of a family walking their Labrador. The fence to our right was leaning with the weight of vines and bushes growing in between the metal. Clouds drifted over the dying sun for a long moment, making it colder than it already was. As we neared a parked car, I perked up at a familiar voice on the other side of the street.
I hissed a curse and ducked behind the car, with Josh on my heel. He was small enough to hide behind the massive wheels. I put my index finger to my lips and tipped my head toward the incoming footsteps.
“—shouldn’t’ve let ‘em borrow your money. It was stupid of you.” The deep voice said as it became closer.
“I told you before, I needed a reason for us to go after him. That’s the rules.”
“You right, you right…”
The voices trailed off until they turned a corner and disappeared. I let out a breath and stood. Josh followed my lead. Thankfully, he didn’t ask any questions or press for answers.
The rest of the way was silent. He kicked a rock here and there and cast quick glances at me, but he didn’t speak. It felt like hours before we reached the station.
As I opened the door, there was a little ding to announce my arrival. Before I made it to the front desk, an officer rounded the corner. She had blonde hair pulled back into a braid, tired brown eyes, and a frown on her face. Her scowl deepened when she lay her eyes on me.
“You must be batshit crazy to be here.” She growled as she slammed down her coffee on the closest desk and stormed over to me.
I took a step back with my hands up, “woah, woah, woah. I’m not here to cause trouble.”
“The only reason you’re not behind bars right now is because we somehow have zero evidence for everything you’ve done.”
“I know, I know.” I tried not to let a smile curl my lips. “I’m here to report a crime.”
“Let’s be civil, now.” I frowned. “I come in peace.”
Joshua spoke before she could, “Miss, my friend’s father has just been kidnapped and we have evidence. This is a matter of urgency. We only come here seeking help.”
She looked at him as if it was the first time she noticed him. She glanced over his jacket and NASA cap before she turned back to me. “Is this true?”
“It is.” I confirmed.
She sighed and tipped her head in a general direction. “Follow me.”
She lead us to the back, where all the desks were cramped together and officers sat typing away on old computers, eating salads, and chatting amongst each other. It was true that this town didn’t get a lot of criminal activity, and when they did, there was a great amount of excitement. Finally, she came to a desk with a stuffed swan, a pile of cheesy cards, and two Manila files. She slid into the chair behind it and motioned to the stool in front of her desk.
I exchanged a challenging glance with Joshua, but before I could make a move, he quickly hopped onto it with a triumphant smirk. I frowned and turned back to Officer Harrison.
“Well?” She crossed her arms and raised a painted eyebrow.
Joshua unlocked my phone and showed her the video. Her eyes widened ever so slightly before they narrowed. “Where’d you get this?”
“My dad’s security system.”
She nodded slowly, “If this is fake…”
“As much as I’d like to help you, I think you need to bring the original copy in for anyone here to believe you.” She said as she handed me my phone back.
I snatched it roughly from her and turned toward the exit without another word. I heard her call after me, but I ignored her. The one time I come asking for help, she doesn’t believe me. That’s what happens when you believe in the law. I know that now.
I shoved open the door and began walking back to my truck. My mind had forgotten all about Joshua as I climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
My thumb pressed against my phone screen, and Siri began to tell me directions. I spun my truck around and headed down the street, with my enraged, blurry mind set on finding my father.
“Right over the hill you’ll find it. Mind me askin’ what newspaper this is for?” A red-headed gentleman with suspenders and crooked glasses peered at me with beady eyes.
I flashed a smile and said, “the good one,” before I started toward the autumn woods. It was colder here than my town, and the trees were much more...dead, you could say. My fingers were curled tightly around my backpack straps. They itched to pull out a wad of cash and go to the nearest bar, but I resisted. It was necessary that I’d be sober for what I was going to do next.
God, this backpack is destroying my back. I thought with a scowl. My shoulders were aching from what I had in it. Daddy-o better be very thankful when I pull him out of this shit.
The land turned uphill, killing my already sore legs. I lifted my hood when I reached the top of the hill. I paused by a large pine tree and dropped my bag.
Below was a gated, old factory with faded, yellow radioactive signs. From what I could see, there was a truck parked inside the fence line. The same one from the security tapes. I ducked down behind the tree and opened my bag. It would be some time before the sun set—about three hours or so. It was enough time to relax and read up about this place.
I popped open a bag of sunchips I bought from a vending machine and used my backpack to prop up my phone while I watched YouTube. The videos I could find said the same thing: it was a prosperous company that was taken down in 1962 when one of the employees came up and described the type of materials being used. Once his story reached the public, it wasn’t long (about three months or so) before it was shut down. The founder was sent to prison for importing illegal goods, unfair treatment of employees, and an underground lab that tested on chimpanzees. There was even an instance where the tests were on a human.
This is some horror movie shit. I thought as I crunched on another chip. Unfortunately, the contents of what exactly the company was doing is disclosed to the public. But although this was fascinating and all, it didn’t give me any idea as to what they were doing with my father.
I groaned and leaned back. This (and I mean this in all sincerity) is bull. I crumpled up my chip bag when I discovered it to be empty, and tossed it toward a nearby bush.
Surprisingly, I had wasted enough time watching videos and cracking dark jokes to myself that the sun had set. I stretched obnoxiously and cracked my knuckles. Never thought I’d have to bust my dad out of trouble. I opened my bag and pulled out bolt cutters before I started down the hill toward the abandoned factory.
My shoes slipped on the mud, causing me to inhale sharply, but I kept my balance. My breath swirled out of my mouth like fog. When I reached the old metal fence, I began to cut through with my bolt cutters. A tingling sensation started at the base of my neck and spread to my shoulders. I was getting a bit anxious, like I usually did when I was doing something I shouldn’t.
Finally, I created a hole large enough for me to go through. The two circular windows on the top floor drooped like eyes and the staircase that swirled around it reminded me of a mouth. The factory seemed to sulk and frown at me as I stepped through the mud and dead grass to get closer. It gave off a dead aura, as if ghosts wandered these grounds on occasion. I couldn’t help but think about the experiments they did in the basements.
The wind that blew past my ear sounded like a soft sigh, creeping me out more than I already was. I shook the nerves off and picked up my pace. There were multiple, square buildings that were used as dormitories for the workers back in the day. They surrounded the factory with the same expression—drooping windows and open doors for mouths that never spoke.
My heart nearly stopped beating when I heard the squish of boots plodding toward me. My first instinct was to run into one of the dorms, which I did. I ducked down below the window when I was inside and tried to steady my breath. I had accidentally left muddy footprints on the splintered wood but, thankfully, it was dark out. Six bunk beds—three on each side of the room—and a broken mirror sat in front of me.
“—is in the basement.” A radio crackled outside. “Do not approach unless given instructions.”
“Wasn’t going to anyway.” A scratchy voice coughed sarcastically to himself. He stopped walking, suddenly. He let the quiet wind break the silence, but otherwise, he didn’t move.
My mouth felt dry. What’s he doing? Move, dammit! My eyes sluggishly traveled to the broken mirror. I saw his reflection staring back at me—a black soldier-like suit, a maroon skull helmet plastered over his head, and black boots half sunken into the mud. His shadowed eyes stared at the mirror, and I could guess what he saw in it.
I didn’t move. He saw me, but I didn’t move. Something in my mind told me not to.
He took a small step forward, but hesitated.
An idea sparked in my head. This guy must’ve been a newbie. He was obviously as scared of me as I was of him. I just had to scare him more.
A small smile crept onto my lips and I tilted my head to the side. I slowly raised my hand and watched as he took a step back.
“Search the grounds! He escaped.” The radio crackled.
The soldier jumped and fumbled for his radio. “Where did he head off to?”
“We think he’s off factory grounds. They found a hole in the fence.”
“On my way.” He turned and ran off without looking back.
I sighed and slumped down for a moment, enjoying my victory, before I stood and crept toward the factory.
By now, it was deserted except for the few stragglers. I pressed my back against the side of the factory and held my breath as they ran out of the entrance with their radios crackling.
I waited a few more moments before I found a side entrance, flung open the steel door, and entered. Yellow lights flickered from the tall ceiling, illuminating the old, rusty machines and—banners? My eyes lifted to the long black banners with a red skull imprinted on it. I felt myself pale. What the hell did dad get into…
I stumbled over ancient coiled wires as I made my way around the conveyor belts and ducked under dangling machinery. The room itself was rectangular, with a walkway around it. As I came to the opposite side of the room the door was, I discovered a staircase leading—you guessed it!—to the basement.
Biting back a half-annoyed, half-fearful sigh, I twirled the bolt cutters in my hand and stared down the steps. The farther down I went, the colder it became. Dim lights poked out from under the stairs so that at least I knew where I was going.
After what seemed an excruciatingly long time, I reached the bottom. A heavy, steel door with three lock pads was just swung open. I’m not genius or anything, but this is a little suspicious. I kicked open the door, charged in with my weapon at the ready, to see—
Wait, no. There’s something.
The room reminded me of an old hospital, except way freakier. A cage large enough to fit at least two people sat in the back. Next to it was a desk and an old monitor that didn’t seem to work. In the center was a...actually, I have no clue what it was. A large black and green rock thing sat in a transparent box, slowly, almost lullaby-like, glowing and fading. I felt a natural draw towards it. As soon as I put one foot down toward it—
I heard a rifle load behind me and the muzzle dig into my back. “Put your goddamn hands up.”
I instantly dropped the bolt cutters and put my hands up. “No problem!”
“Where’d you come from??”
“You see, I’m a bit lost—,” my voice squeaked at the end.
When I hesitated, he repeated his demand louder.
I quickly did as he asked with a quiet, “okay, Jesus…”
It was another one of the masked dudes. He looked at me up and down before he questioned, “how’d you even get in here?”
Before I could answer, a shovel come crashing down on his head with a loud SMACK. I stumbled back and bumped into the caged rock thing as he fell forward.
Behind him stood the shovel-wielder. Crazy brown hair, short beard, wild eyes, and lab-coat wearing—my dad sure was a mess, but he loved an entrance.
“Hey, dad.” I grinned. “Right on time.”
“The hell are you doing here??” He growled ferociously and gripped a fistful of my shirt, bringing me in close so I could feel the full force of his anger. “What the hell?”
“Me? What the actual hell are you doing here?” I spat back. “You seriously wouldn’t think I’d try to find you if you were kidnapped right in our own damn home?”
He released me with a shove and started pacing. “Did you at least go to the police?”
“They just didn’t exactly believe me…”
“What?” He spun around with a murderous glare. “So they’re not coming?”
I warily shook my head.
“What did you think would happen here? You come in here, sneak me out, and we leave happily ever after?”
“Okay, okay!” I snapped back, “enough with the damn roast. What are we going to do?”
We looked up at the same time as the ceiling above us shook and dust filtered down like mist. Someone was coming.
“You let me handle this. Go get cover.” He said as he traded out the shovel for the rifle and dragged the unconscious body to the side.
I made my way around the half-podium that the contained rock sat and hid behind it. The wait for someone—anyone—to enter the room was the most mentally screwing thing I’ve ever been through. Every tiny adjustment I made, every small noise my throat created, breathing, even my heart beats—they all seemed excruciatingly loud.
Then I heard a click of a steel door.
“Don’t move,” my father growled.
“Wasn’t planning to, darling.” A surprisingly smooth, female voice countered. “But I must tell you, I’ve been on the wrong side of a gun before.”
“Then you know how this goes.” He shuffled around until he stood in front of me and the rock. But which he was guarding, I wasn’t sure of. “It’s coming with me.”
She scoffed. “You believe you can simply walk out of here with that? You’re not stupid, Michael. At least not that stupid.”
“Call off your dogs.”
Her silence indicated her annoyance. Or was it amusement? She clicked her radio, “stay out of the factory.” There was a moment before she murmured, “happy now?”
“Now you’re going to stay there while I—,”
“Honey, you think I would come in here unarmed? Do you honestly want to bet on who could pull the trigger faster?”
“I don’t need to.”
I saw through the reflexion of the floor my father turning his rifle toward my direction.
“Either way, I’ll pull the trigger, even if it’s after you, and I’ll blow us both up.”
Another few, painstaking moments.
My eyes trailed to the side, right in time to see the soldier from before start to stir. My heart dropped and my throat constricted as he began to sit up. I found my voice right as he stood up and yelled, “dad watch out!”
The woman turned the corner as the soldier and my father fought on the floor, their weapons scattered far from them. She was tall with curly red hair (probably dyed). She, like her men, was clothed in the black suit. Her thin lips curled into a snarl and her eyes were wide in fury. “Pest!”
I scrambled to my feet and dodged a stomp. Before I was completely standing, she swiped her long leg across my chest and sent me tumbling into the not-so-sturdy podium. She paused and held her breath as the box rocked back and forth from the hit.
An awful idea came to my head. I snatched the container and held it close. The rock on the inside glowed and faded a bit brighter. Now that I was closer, I could hear it humming. It sounded like someone trying to speak through a glass wall. And yes, the slowly rising heat it started to give off did worry me.
By now, the soldier and my father had stopped fighting to stare at me in shocked horror.
“Boy,” The lady said first, visibly tensed, “you have no idea what that is.”
“Then tell me.”
“It’s an extremely unstable meteor. It could explode at any given moment.”
“So if I shake it up a bit I could blow us all up? Sounds like a badass way to go.” For once, my crude humor came in handy.
She took a step back and motioned for her soldier to do the same. “We kept it here, in this abandoned place, so that it wouldn’t hurt anyone. We’re not bad guys.”
“Oh, yeah, the guys wearing skulls hiding in an hellish factory, who, in fact, kidnapped a renowned scientist, to do who knows what to this space thing aren’t the bad guys? I might be flunking three classes right now, but I’m not that stupid.”
I winced at my father’s tone. “I’ll tell you after we get out of this mess.”
The lady’s attitude suddenly changed. Her eyes shifted from me to my father. “Alright, boy, I’m going to tell you how this works. You give back the weapon, and I won’t kill your father.”
The soldier leaped at my dad and put a pistol to his head.
“Hey!” My voice nearly shook.
The meteor under my palms was beginning to get really hot.
“Hand it over now.” She held out a pale hand.
Okay, Alex, think. My options were: give her the thing and have both my dad and I get tortured, or don’t hand it over and have my dad die. I felt something in me I’ve never felt before: a sense of assurance. I knew what to do.
Through the tension, I cracked my famous smirk and forced out a chuckle. “I told you, I don’t mind going out with a bang.”
“What do you—?”
I dropped the glass container and listened to it shatter in satisfaction. Her eyes widened as my dad let out a yell of horror and she leaped toward it. I panicked and fell down, covering the screeching green meteor with my body. In a matter of seconds, a painful bright green light lit up the room as bright as the sun on any summer day. My core screamed as the heat enveloped every part of my being.
I didn’t know how it was possible, but I could feel every particle of me melting and rearranging. My screaming cut short when the excruciating, agonizing, pain reached my head and it all got too much to bear. Green filled my vision and swallowed me whole in heated anguish.
I was laying somewhere, I knew that much. My eyes were squeezed shut, and I couldn’t stop trembling. My fists clenched to try and stop, but it only made it worse. Is this what a seizure feels like? Am I having a seizure?
My eyes flicked open. I stared up at a familiar blue ceiling with painted airplanes. As I looked around, I realized I was in my old room—in dad’s cabin. When did I get here?
I frowned and sat up with a wince. I glanced around the room to see everything as I left it—an open closet filled with paper airplane books, miscellaneous items on my night stand, and a mirror right next to the door. I stared at my reflexion. I was missing a shirt and shoes, but I could guess I left them somewhere near here. My disheveled, sandy blond hair was plastered to my forehead in sweat. My eyes had black bags under them.
It wasn’t until then that I felt how hot I was. I muttered a curse to the air conditioning before I stood and made my way into the hallway. Dad’s office door was open. With a sheepish smile, I walked in and slid into his chair. I’ve always wanted to check out the security tapes. Plus, I didn’t remember how I got here, anyway. I must’ve been so drunk. Damn, I probably had the best night of my life.
I rewinded the tapes to five hours ago. Nothing. I frowned and went back farther, but still it didn’t show me entering. I couldn’t have been that wasted...I backed up to eight days ago, and then I finally found something.
The tapes showed something falling from the sky—like a glowing comet or something. I flinched when it landed right outside the house, creating a massive crater in the woods. To my amazement, it stood like a person, and stumbled toward the cabin door, flickering as if it was struggling to stay on. It grabbed onto the doorknob and ripped it off, bursting into the house. Since there weren’t any security cameras inside, I could only hear crashing from the video.
I paused it in horror and felt sweat trickled down my forehead. Why was I so damn hot? And what the hell was that? I stumbled out of the chair and into the hallway. Once I got to the top of the staircase, I could see the full force of whatever that thing was.
The couches were overturned, there were holes in the walls, black footprints burned into the floor and handprints on the staircase. My breath caught in my throat and I stumbled backwards, tripping over myself.
Then, it all came back to me.
After the meteor exploded in the lab, my first thought was to go home. I was suddenly there, and throughout eight days, I suffered in agony as my atoms realined and combined with something else.
I scrambled toward the bathroom and tried to throw up, but nothing came out. My hands fumbled around until they found the sink. I splashed cold water on my face to cool me down, but it didn’t affect me in the slightest.
In a matter of heart beats, I turned on the shower as cold as it could go and leaped in with my shorts on. My skin crawled and sizzled, causing me to shout out and turn it off. I began to panic as my blood lit up my skin in green light. Its heat spread throughout me till I was trembling with an unknown power. I struck my fist through through the wall in anger and fear. As I did, my skin died down to its original color and hue. I fell to my knees, cradling my bleeding fist.
My lungs wheezed and constricted as I tried to catch my breath at the bottom of the tub. Oh my God...I’m supposed to be dead. Dad—
I curled up and rested my forehead on my knees as I let myself sob. I killed Dad.
Unfortunately, my phone had been destroyed in the lab. I was going to go to Joshua’s house, but I realized he was probably in school. Dizzily, I walked along the outskirts of town until the school came into view. My hands still shook under my hoodie, but at least I wasn’t horribly hot anymore.
I winced and covered my ears as a whale-like scream of a microphone blared across campus. On the field, there was an assembly. From what it looked like, the whole school was there.
“Can everyone hear me?” The principal murmured on the mic. When he got a response, he started. “As everyone knows, Michael and Alexander Jones went missing last week. As you all know, Alex was a student here. As troubled as he was, he had to deal with this as well. He was seen a few towns over by a tourist, going into an old, shut down lab. A few hours later, that same building, being as unstable as it was, blew up with him in it.” He paused to let his words sink in. “Through the rubble, his father’s body was found. Although his has not yet been claimed, officials have declared him deceased.”
There was a ripple of horrified murmurs throughout the crowd.
My mouth dropped. What the actual hell???
“And now, Joshua Blake would like to say a few words.”
I felt myself began to shake. “Screw this.”
“Alexander wasn’t as he let others think he was. He was stubborn, for sure, but his heart was in the right place.”
I turned on my heel at Josh’s voice and raced back toward the woods. I was not going to listen to my own memorial. Besides, from how unsettled and nauseous I felt, I could probably blow up at any second.
Wait could I actually blow up?
As I paced through the woods, crunching leaves and twigs under my feet, a thought came to me. If I could explode, then I can’t be here. Surrounded by people that are in potential danger. Of me.
When I came to the cabin, my feet carried me to my dad’s office again. It still hadn’t settled in me that dad was actually dead. If I made it out, he could’ve too. He’d know what to do.
My fingers skimmed over his files until they found the one labeled ‘1’. I opened it and wrinkled my nose at the dust.
Or should I say Night 1?
I have set everything up perfectly. The sky is cloudless, and I have an exact view of meteor X. I estimate its arrival to be in a year.
Positioned north east
Is at a steady speed
Appears to be embedded with an unk. green material
I shut it and pulled out the last file, on his desk.
Meteor X has landed. The noise it made when it fell from the sky was similar to that of a screeching bird or a firework.
The pen trailed off the page. I grimly put the pieces together that this was when he was found. They must’ve taken the meteor as well. That’s why they wanted him.
I rubbed my stinging eyes and tossed the files onto the ground. If this is what caused my father’s de—
Then no one should be able to have it.
I rushed into my room and packed as many clothes as I could find, even if some were my dad’s. Then, I searched the kitchen until I found a bottle of gasoline and coated the house in it until I couldn’t smell anything anymore. Once that was finished, I dug out a lighter I used to hide under the couch and shakily stared at it.
I was about to set fire to my dad’s house. I must be going crazy.
“Always wanted to torch this place. Didn’t think it’d be like this though.”
Sighing, I turned the lighter on and tossed it onto the floor. Nothing made sense anymore. And I had a feeling nothing would again.
I stood outside and watched the hungry flames tear apart the cabin. The sun had set long ago, yet the shadows somehow gave me comfort.
My feet lead me toward the highway. Every kid has thoughts about running away. Hell, I’ve even done it once. Spent the night at a friend’s house without my mom knowing. It wasn’t long till I was found out. But this—this was nothing like anything I’ve ever done before.
Legally, the whole Jones family is considered deceased. I’m now a living, walking nuke bound to go off at any second.
You’d think being the son of a world famous scientist would be filled with flashing cameras, models, and overall respect, right? Wrong. It’s anything but glamorous, let me tell you. During the week I travel across states until I find a secluded place to spend the night. I spend my new life learning and controlling my new abilities—my cross to bear. I torture myself with guilt and search for something—anything to ease the pain or cure me. All the while I struggle with the weight of my father’s ‘disappearance’. But after years of nothing, I decided that if I couldn’t help myself, I mind as well help others. So, I stepped foot into the world of vigilantes. I know, I know: dangerous and stupid. But when have I let that stop me? It started off rough, believe me, but I think I’ve gotten this hero thing down. So now, while I live in an apartment in New York and maintain a stable job during the day, I busy myself with nightly activities that involve me getting into trouble. Don’t worry, though, I’ve never been caught. And I don’t plan on doing so any time soon.
“Okay, how do I look?” I grinned at my German Shepard, who stared blankly back at me. “Is the tie too much?” I threw off the tie. “You’re probably right.”
“Wish me luck.” I winked and closed the bedroom door behind me.
It took me forever to find this gray button down shirt, and the price sucked, but hopefully it’ll be enough.
I opened my white door to see Heather, a lean, short haired Latina with fascinating gray eyes. Her chin length hair was curled.
Good, that means she’s taking me seriously.
She wore a nice blue crop top under a gray leather jacket and black skinny jeans. In her arms was a wine bottle. “Hey, you.” She smiled.
“Right on time.” I moved out of her way to let her in.
As she passed me, a caught a whiff of her perfume.
Her steady eyes examined my small apartment. They skimmed over my brown couch, tv, curtains, and fireplace.
“I’ll take that,” I motioned to the wine bottle.
She handed it to me and followed me into the kitchen. “So, I’m thinking we order pizza.”
I popped open the wine bottle and took out two glasses. “Simple. I like it.”
She chuckled. “It’s not just any pizza, Alex. It’s the oldest pizza place in the city.” She pulled out her phone and placed in an order. “Boom.”
I handed her her glass. “So, the theme for this weekend was action. What movie did you decide on?”
She smiled slyly and dug into her purse. “It’s an older one.”
I watched in amusement as she showed off her movie: Superman. “The original.” She confirmed.
Whistling, I lifted my glass and took a gulp.
She paused for a moment. “That’s a new shirt, isn’t it?”
“Don’t like it?”
“No, it looks good on you. I like a man that can pull off a button-down.” She turned her head toward growling coming from my room. “You have a dog?”
“Yeah, he gets a little skiddish around new people.”
“I used to have five dogs growing up. You should let him out.”
I set down my glass, chuckled, and made my way to my bedroom. As I opened my door, my dog barked and licked my hands. “Hey, Leo.” I lightly grabbed his blue collar and murmured, “don’t make me look bad, bud.”
I kept my hand on him and lead him into the kitchen. Leo growled a little, but stopped with a tug on his collar.
Heather squatted down and held out her palms for Leo to smell. After that, the dog wouldn’t leave her side. He let her pet him and he sat right beside her.
My eyes drifted toward the awning window. The curtains were parted so that I could see the twinkling lights of the city. It’s been quiet—the city, I mean. For some reason, that made me feel on edge.
“Must be the pizza.” I murmured and made my way to the door. I opened it, paid, and returned to the kitchen with a pizza box.
We made our way to the couch, popped in the movie, and ate.
Heather, after a bite, raised her slice and said, “welcome to New York. Home of terrible traffic, rude citizens, and the best damn pizza on the planet.”
“Well not every citizen is all bad…” I shrugged and glanced at her.
“Some restrain themselves, but we all have a little bit of that native New Yorker in us,” she said with an accent.
“New Yorker,” I tried the accent.
“You’ll get there.”
She sighed and fed the crust to Leo before she cuddled up next me and watched Superman fly for the first time in the movie. Sighing, I allowed myself to relax and sink into the moment. I would’ve never thought my life would go in this direction, but I’m glad it did.
Once again, my eyes drifted toward the window. The streets were awfully quiet tonight. Empty, even. A flock of black birds flew down into the streets a few blocks away, but that was it.
“It’s a quiet night.” I commented as I adjusted my position.
“That’s weird.” Heather said without looking away from the tv.
“There was supposed to be construction going on all the way through the 23rd a few blocks from here. Maybe they went home early.”
She turned and looked up at me with her head tilted to the side. “What’s wrong? You’re tense.”
“Nothing.” When I saw the disbelief in her eyes, I shrugged, “just some office work on my mind.”
She was cut off when the power shut off in the building. “What the hell?”
I pulled out my phone and flipped on the flashlight. Leo was sleeping with his chin on his paws, and Heather was watching me with worry.
Sighing, I untangled myself from her, “I’ll go check it out. It’s happened before.”
“Hey,” she lightly pulled me back and planted a kiss on me. “Come back quickly. And be careful.”
“Always.” I got up from the couch, unlocked the door, and exited with a quiet creak.
The hallway was dark, of course. The old floorboards squeaked when I passed over them and climbed down the stair access. Once I made it to the lobby, I met the electrician. He shuffled over to me with a limp, “sir, I’ve got this under control, I need you to go somewhere safe. Did you come from upstairs?”
“I did, yes.”
“Sorry, sir, but I can’t have you go back up. Safety reasons.”
Damn. “Alright.” I clicked into my messaging app and texted Heather that I’d be there once the lights came back on. Bored and irritated, I stepped outside in the cool, misty air. The smell of smoke was extra pungent tonight. I wrinkled my nose and glanced across the street.
Nothing but apartments, dumpsters, sewers, and a stray cat.
Then, it happened.
Fire erupted into the air from a few blocks away. And with it, a CRASH. Shit, shit, shit! Instantly, I turned into an alley, ditched the shirt and phone. Curling my fists, I allowed the heat to wash over me.
Beneath my skin, my blood began to glow green, until I was merely a man-shaped light. Bending down, I pushed myself off the ground and shot into the air like a rocket until I was high enough to be mistaken for a shooting star. Leaving a comet tail behind me, I whizzed through the storm clouds until I found whatever was causing the fire.
What. The. Hell.
From what I could see, in the middle of a sectioned off street, was a battle scene of hooded men and a—fiery monster??
Going with my instincts, I sped down and landed in the center of the ring, shining bright light in everyone’s faces to give me a moment to process. I locked eyes with him. Spewing flames surrounded him like an aura, and wings made of fire extended from his back.
I rose my hand and shot a laser beam at him. (Yes, I have learned a lot since I first got my powers.)
He flew into the air to dodge my attack, so I followed him into the storm clouds. Thunder cracked loudly as I took another shot at him, which he simply dodged. As he flew toward me, I grabbed onto him—through the flames—and sped downward toward the street.
If I die, Heather, you better take care of Leo.
But, at the last second before we hit the ground, he turned the odds on me.
Green and red light erupted from the crater we created and washed over nearby cars, which were flipped on their backs and began beeping. All the windows in the street were shattered.
For a moment, the impact had caused me to momentarily forget where I was. Groggily, wincing, I pulled myself out of the rubble, flickering like a broken flashlight.
I looked up to see two men—one who let down his cloak to reveal a chiseled chin and light blue eyes—and the other who was dressed in some sort of robo-cop getup. They both spoke at the same time and gave each other an odd, daring look.
I turned to see the flames retracted into the ‘monster’. He was an Asian man, maybe a year or two younger than me, with lean limbs and ripped clothes. He stared at us three with a confused, almost interested gaze.
I need to call Heather. Was my first thought. I think I’m going to need a rain check on our date...
About the Creator
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. Every chance I could get I was either writing, drawing, or telling anyone who’d listen my stories. Throughout high school I self published three books on Amazon. Enjoy my short stories!