Well, what do you know, here's Chapter Two of "The Mighty." I must be a mad man, letting you read something I wrote. I hope I'm not making a habit of this. Please, stop being so welcoming and encouraging. It makes me want to keep giving you free pieces of my soul in book form. Gah! You're all the worst. I hope you choke on this. Or enjoy it. If you want. But it's on the internet, so good luck burning it.
CHAPTER TWO (check an earlier post for Chapter One, you maniac, don't start here)
MR. GERALD WAS just as tall as he was wide. The collar of his purple dress shirt pinched a thick fold of skin toward his chin, nearly obscuring it. It pulsed and vibrated erratically as he spoke. Wyatt thought a man of his stature would’ve had a deeper voice, but Mr. Gerald’s came out as a nasally whine.
“This is your room, you’ll have it to yourself for now,” the giant man said, mopping at his forehead with a limp tissue. “Lunch will be in about ten minutes, Mr. Alec will call you when it’s your turn to wash up. Until then, you can get settled.”
Wyatt nodded, but Mr. Gerald’s voice was little more than background noise. He was far too busy examining his new surroundings to pay the words any heed.
The corner room on Dorm B was spacious and smelled sweetly of lemon furniture polish and window cleaner. It contained one bed, one dresser, one desk, one chair, and one wall locker; all wooden and all bolted to the hardwood floor. The floor was scratched and scuffed so as not to reflect a single ray of light. Not that much light came through the quarter inch of safety glass that wrapped around one corner. The windows were equally as tarnished, scratched to a milky white. They didn’t open.
“How many other kids are here?” Wyatt asked as he craned around the wide man and peered down the long hallway. It was lined with numerous doorways, presumably bedrooms, some open, others shut.
“Ah, well, with you, that makes thirteen,” Mr. Gerald wheezed. The I.D. badge hanging from his thick neck showed a far thinner man, smiling. “During the week anyway, less on the weekend. You met half the group on the fields when you got here.”
“Wrong. I met more than half on the fields,” Wyatt said. “There are seven others on dorm right now, six would be half. And thirteen is bad luck.”
Mr. Gerald scowled, but said nothing. His bald head shone with sweat and rivulets ran from his temples. Wyatt grinned lopsidedly at the towering man and adjusted his thick framed glasses. They hung for a moment, then slid back into a seemingly impossible angle.
Mr. Gerald forced a smile and teetered from the room, his worn tennis shoes protesting each step with a loud squeak.
Wyatt shrugged at the interaction. He couldn’t blame the man for being in a poor mood. Wyatt could feel his own mood sour with each passing moment. The sterility of the dorm was oppressive. He turned to survey the room again. Sterile and suffocating.
A single garbage bag sat atop the bed, marking the entirety of Wyatt’s worldly possessions. He tore into it and fished out a slim wooden stick the length of his forearm. He whirled in place, brandishing the crude wand in one hand, and snapped it at an enemy.
“Fireball!” he yelled. He spun to his right and shot out a socked foot in a disjointed high kick. “Wy-Ahh!” was his battle cry.
Lightning crackled from the end of his wand and tore a neat hole in an advancing goblin’s chest. Smoke trailed from the ragged orifice as it collapsed with a groan. Wyatt let out a cackle and leapt atop the bed. He whirled in all directions, daring his enemies to challenge the great wizard, Wyatt the Mighty!
He faced the advancing horde of snarling goblins. There was no end to their numbers. His wand crackled and snapped as he spun a tight circle atop his hill, sending forth bolts of lightning and orbs of fire. He laughed as the goblins howled in pain and dismay. One reached for him, but a swift kick sent the green-skinned monster sprawling. A lightning bolt turned it to ash.
His mind flickered to his previous battle on the field. Acid fury pulsed through his veins and his grip tightened on his wand. He sent forth a wave of fire, searing a crowd of goblins. He paused to listen to their cries, and grinned. Craig will wish himself as lucky next time.
In a matter of moments he reduced the entire goblin army to ash. Satisfied, he dropped onto the bed, awash in sweat, gulping air.
“Wyatt, you’re up!” Mr. Alec called from the hallway.
He took another moment to survey his handiwork and catch his breath before tucking the wand into the waist band of his shorts and heading for the bathroom.
“What are we doing after lunch?” Wyatt asked as the water ran over his hands. It was ice cold.
Mr. Alec leaned back in a rolling office chair, his legs propped against the wall near the bathroom door. “After lunch, you’ll have some chores to do and then we’ll head back outside for an extra rec’ if everyone does what they need to and we don’t have any more issues.”
“Like casting make believe spells like an idiot?”
Wyatt whirled at the voice. Craig stood grinning in the open doorway directly opposing the bathroom.
Mr. Alec smiled and looked to Wyatt. “Yeah, no more magic crap.”
“It’s not crap,” Wyatt said. He flicked his wet hands at Craig. “Water!” he shouted and grinned lopsidedly.
The tall teen made to lunge at him, but Mr. Alec rolled in front of him before he could move. “Knock it off, Wyatt. We don’t start crap here,” he shouted.
Wyatt scowled. Craig held up a pair of middle fingers and smirked. Wyatt brought a hand to his waist band, fingering the end of his wand beneath his superhero t-shirt. He wanted nothing more than to unleash an unrelenting tempest of lightning, fire, and wind, but thought better of it. In such close confines it would be difficult to avoid collateral damage. You lucked out again, Craig…
He had turned back to the sink when Craig said something that set his blood to a boil. The words plunged into his mind like a hot knife, bringing his rage to a head. The words themselves were lost immediately, but the anger remained.
Mr. Alec said something as Wyatt lunged, but his mind was otherwise engaged and he couldn’t process it. All he saw was Craig’s stupid grin. He drew the wand and thrust it at the grin in one motion as if it were a dagger. There was a time for spells and a time for pure physical violence. This was the latter.
He couldn’t tell if he ever reached the grinning bully. Something solid slammed into his chest, drove him into a wall, and dragged him away from his prey. Craig’s laughter rang off the concrete walls and echoed within Wyatt’s skull. He protested in fits and starts, spraying spittle and shouting things even he couldn’t decipher. His vision was clouded with blacks and reds. The pressure in his ears was overwhelming. Surely his head would rupture.
Back in the corner room of Dorm B, he caught his breath enough to stand on his own. In another moment his vision cleared. Mr. Alec loomed in the doorway, a firm scowl pasted on his bearded face. He was shouting something and gesturing wildly, but Wyatt’s ears found no sound and he couldn’t read lips.
Wyatt’s senses didn’t completely recover until Mr. Alec left and the back hallway emptied as the other residents transitioned to the front for lunch. Wyatt collapsed onto the edge of his bed just as Ms. Abagail rolled into view. She propped her legs against his door frame and took a swig from a colored can.
“That stuff is bad for you,” he said without looking up from the floor. He could feel every vein twitch beneath his skin.
“Yeah, I know,” she said and took another long draw. “But, you don’t want to see me without my caffeine. I get all crazy.” She drew a wide circle around her ear with her finger.
Wyatt arched his bushy black eyebrows and glanced in her direction, but said nothing.
“Kind of a crazy first day, huh?” she said.
Wyatt shrugged. “It’s OK. I won’t be here long.”
“Yeah, you told me. Look, it was real sucky of Craig to mention your grandma like that, but you can’t just attack people here.”
“I hate him,” Wyatt blurted. His hands tensed into claws and a flood of emotions washed over him again. How dare he talk about her.
He gritted his teeth and stood. Ms. Abagail was saying something, he could see her mouth move in between gulps of energy drink, but the words were lost in the tempest that swirled throughout the room. Where did the storm come from? His eyes darted about, searching. Lightning struck his desk and thunder shook the walls. I need to escape…
His eyes fell on the tall wooden wall locker in the far corner of the room. The urge to hide was too much to resist. Ms. Abagail called after him as he curled into the tight confines, but her voice sounded distant and garbled, as if she was underwater. Or he was.
The wall locker was little more than an upright coffin. It was a tight squeeze for a boy of fifteen who, admittedly, was a little thick of body. Wyatt’s knees pressed against both the unyielding wood and his own chest. His arms crossed on top, each hand wrapped around the opposing shoulder. His broad hips forbade the door from shutting all the way and a sliver of light transected his prison.
The violent tremor in his body fell away at once and his head cleared in the tight space. His mind still swam with visions of his knuckles against Craig’s smirking face, but the tight walls wrapped him in stifling comfort. Outside, the strange storm raged, tearing at the wooden furniture. He doubted the bolts would hold for much longer.
Absently, he reached into the collar of his shirt and drew out the long hempen string that always hung from his neck. A piece of driftwood the size of his thumb hung from it. The wood was crude and asymmetrical, roughly polished, smooth in some places and splintered in others. The jade stone embedded within it glowed in stark opposition to the drab wood. It was no larger than his thumbnail, dark green, and perfectly smooth. It sparkled in the shaft of light and was warm to the touch.
It always brought comfort to look at it and he would often lose himself staring into the tranquil jade stone. He did so now, freeing his mind from all thoughts. He ran a finger over the wood and drew it across the stone. He pulled back suddenly, slamming his elbow against the wall locker. He plunged his finger into his mouth and stared incredulously at the gemstone. It burned me.
Something in the stone caught his attention. It looked like a spark, an almost imperceptible movement of light and energy. It arrested his heart and the pain in his finger faded from consciousness. There, another spark. And another. They bounced wildly within the jade gemstone, lighting it up like an ember of green fire.
“What the…” he whispered, drawing the pendant in line with his eyes.
He slowly brought his finger to it again. As soon as his finger grazed the smooth surface a jolt of fiery pain shot up his arm and forced him to pull back. His head smacked against the wall, but his gaze never wavered.
Eyes wide, he watched as another spark flitted across the stone and burst from the surface, spiraling into the shadows of the cramped wall locker. A pair of sparks soon followed, bursting toward the top of the space, banishing shadows as they floated down to him. The amulet glowed brightly and a cascade of green sparks burst forth, momentarily blinding him. When he could see again, hundreds of sparks filled the space, slowly floating down to cover Wyatt in a green glow. He sat rigid, not that the space allowed much movement.
The mysterious sparks pulsed and shifted. Thin tendrils sprouted from the mystical orbs and crept along his legs and arms. Magic seeds, Wyatt thought, as he watched them pulse and grow. Ethereal roots grabbed at his body and pressed tightly against his soft flesh. Wyatt gasped and found he couldn’t breathe. The tendrils of energy had reached his neck and were slowly twisting around, cutting off his air. Warmth flooded over him and the light grew too bright to bear. He squeezed his eyes shut and braced himself against the prying green seeds.
It felt as if his body was on fire. He was being burned alive. Consumed. Is this what it feels like to die?
And then it was gone. The warmth, the light, the crackle of a million impossible sparks…
He eased his eyes open.
It was all gone.