Forked lightening danced across the horizon. Thunder sang its chorus with the Cuban surf. I shivered. I used to love storms. Back home, I’d wait every summer day if it were hot enough, just to watch thunderheads move in. But it had taken all my strength to ward off those dark clouds.
Maybe it was him, maybe it wasn’t. It was too late to be hurricane season, but the satellite didn’t lie. The storm had grown so suddenly – right on time for the wedding.
I gave my all to keep that storm making landfall. I could almost hear it in the thunder, radiating in my chest: “Marco”.
Then we heard it… thunder. We had snuck out when we saw the clouds in the distance. The sun was still shining so my mom hadn’t suspected anything. We avoided the open field of wheat and stuck to the trees near the creek; we’d disappear until the storm was close.
Marc and I looked up to see black swirling clouds, and the excitement welled up in us. My mother called us, and we ignored her. This was our time; it was one of the biggest draws of the year.
The wind barreled into us like a fright train. Dust clouds filled the air and leaves were ripped off trees.
Taking a piece of wood fence with barbed wire braiding it, Marc and I forced our way to the middle of the field. Sheet lightening already lit up the clouds, glowing purple against the blackness.
“You ready?” Marc called. I nodded, grinning ear to ear. I was.
Marc raised the post, tempting the sky to release its fury. The first raindrops attacked my face, but I hardly felt them.
Each second felt like forever. Then it happened! I felt the heat and light go right through me, breaking me into a million pieces as the lightning struck. By the time I felt whole, I looked to Marc, who was laughing madly at the glowing orb floating between his hands.
I wanted to feel it, that raw energy simmering in my own fingers. It was addictive; there was no rush, nothing that could match it. “My turn!” I yelled over the wind.
But Marc held it in closer, hoarding the energy. “Pass it!” I cried.
Marc’s dark eyebrows knit forward in annoyance. “Get one yourself,” he snapped, tossing me the wooden post with his foot.
I picked up the rough post hesitantly. With the barbed wire, it rivaled a medieval weapon. All the voices in my head shouted against what I was about to do. But that glow, that heat, the incredible high of feeling every piece of me energized!
Last time, I was hardly been able to control it. Dad once said that our abilities grew stronger as we got older. But he definitely wouldn’t approve of this!
I drowned out my doubt and lifted the post into the air. Waiting, begging the lightning to take the bait, I squinted up at the clouds. Purple began to accumulate above me, growing a bright pink. I stood on my tiptoes, knowing it was coming.
Suddenly the ground beneath me evaporated! Before the grand flash, I dropped suddenly through the portal, to a concrete floor. The concocted lightening rod landed on my leg, cutting through my denim. “Ow,” I groaned, basement meeting my backside.
A flash of lightening flew across the room, only to be absorbed by a circular portal, sending the bolt from Marc’s hands, to wherever my brother had led it. Marc and I had been duped.
Keith closed the portal, glowering at Marc with all the anger he had. “You could have killed me!” he snapped.
“You think I can control lighting when I’m suddenly teleported?” Marc barked back.
“You shouldn’t be out there at all; Mom’s worried sick! There’s a tornado warning out you know!” This time, my elder brother’s scolding was reserved for me, but my anger boiled. I had been so close! He was always pulling stunts like this.
“We’re in town, we won’t get hit,” I muttered. We were on the fringes of town, with fields in the back and a street in the front.
“Which is why you shouldn’t have been out there in the first place. Drayden, someone could have seen you!”
“You’re worse than my freakin’ mother!” Marc shouted
Keith’s brown eyes threw daggers at Marc, who just crossed his arms, smiling cynically. “You know the code,” Keith growled.
I stood up rubbing my bruised tailbone; not caring about the stupid code.
“Oh yes, the code!” Marc sang sarcastically. “Everyone has to follow the code. What you gonna do? Report us?”
“You know the rules!” Keith yelled.
“Yeah,” I muttered, irritated at being robbed of my chance, “just leave us alone, and you can follow your own bloody rules.”
Marc’s triumphant smile crowed over my brother while I walked past them and headed upstairs. Keith wouldn’t tell. Mom and Dad insisted he keep an eye on me, but Keith never told them; as if he were doing me a favor.
Some favor! I yearned for the energy of a thousand volts, for raw power hewed by nature that I could harness. Keith’s meager teleportation ability had ruined everything!
The day it all changed, I had found him outside the back of the high school. I skipped class, but it was only math, and I sucked at it. We always met here. He’d sneak a drag, and I’d sneak a beer. Since we were little, Marc and I had shared a bond. Not only did we have the same ability, but almost everything about it, I had learned from him. The lightning, that was years ago. Since then we created our own storms, honing our skills and techniques.
If my brother found out, he’d report us. But we had gotten sneaky since childhood. For me, jumping class, drinking beer on the grounds, that was about as bad as I got. I don’t think I could stand it if my mother smelled drugs on me – so I refused the drags. Those with abilities, aren’t supposed to use drugs. They alter the mind, and that can be a dangerous thing when you have an ability.
But I never needed one like Marc did. My parents were mildly annoying in the way most of us resented. But his parents, they were different. I looked down at his bandaged arm. Marc had taken off his jacket and was focusing on the edge of the horizon. It was late fall, but storm clouds were amassing, heading towards the empty gopher-holed fields behind the school.
“You doin’ that?” He nodded. “It’s a little late.”
A low laugh heaved from his throat. “Who’s gonna know?”
I shrugged, and cracked open the beer from my pack. “Does it hurt?” The bandage was what was left over when his dad had gotten drunk. His mom wasn’t much better. My parents had long since banned me from his house. I didn’t mind much.
Marc just shrugged it off with a sneer. He didn’t talk much anymore. He was crass when he did. But there was still one thing that made him happy. “So, what you gonna show me?”
That playful smile appeared, almost as if we were kids in the creek again. He threw the drag away, and ushered me towards the field. We stopped near a hole, where not long before an alert gopher had been patrolling.
Marc positioned himself right in front, and told me to crouch down low. We waited. “Is something supposed to happen?” Putting a finger up to his lips, he told me to keep quiet. Finally, a tuft of fur popped up, and in a moment, it would have darted back down.
But it couldn’t. The unlucky animal was locked in Marc’s gaze. A high-pitched scream came from it, and I saw wisps of smoke evaporate from its eyes. A second later it was dead. Marc heaved in a long, satisfied breath, but I couldn’t stop staring. Its eyes were bright red when they had been black.
“What did you do?” I asked, masking my unease. This was different.
“Remember in science, about every being having electricity?” Marc said.
“You listened in last years science?”
“Shut up,” Marc slurred. “You can take the energy from the gopher, if you stare at them in the eyes and siphon it out.”
“But that kills them.”
“So?” Marc asked, as if I be dense. “It’s just a lab rat.”
I suppose we dissect frogs in biology, and I guess if I really wanted to go into science, there would be rats. But I wasn’t a scientist.
“Come on, you try.”
I didn’t want to, but Marc got ugly sometimes when he did drugs. So, I waited at a nearby hole, thunder clapping in the distance. When the eyes of that poor creature met mine, I thought of it like siphoning electric current from a socket. I focused, and it was that easy.
But the feeling! Mom had once told me every creature has emotion. I didn’t expect that much. The fear; the adrenaline; the pain; I stopped, and the gopher keeled. Its stomach still heaved, so I knew it be alive, but I was panting like I had just done a sprint.
“You didn’t finish?”
“It takes a lot out of you,” I lied. Marc cocked his eyebrows at me like I was crazy. I looked at the little animal, still outside his hole. He didn’t have the energy to run back in.
“Are you gonna finish it?”
No, I wasn’t. But to make Marc happy, I took hold of him, and thought I might try the opposite. I could feel the slow heartbeat and quivering beneath my fingers. Focusing, I siphoned my energy, through my hand, cradling it. Suddenly, the creature’s tiny claws scratched me and he burrowed back into his hole.
Marc rolled his eyes at me, knowing I purposely botched it.
The buzzer for the end of the day rang, and we made our way back towards the school. Passing the gopher he killed, I looked to those red eyes, and didn’t think it fair. Marc’s back was still turned; I reached down and touched it. There was no heartbeat, no energy. Whatever passed through my fingers reached a dead circuit – there was no giving it back.
“What are you doing?” Marc called. His eyes scowled at me, accusing me.
“Just checking.” I had a sneaky suspicion he could tell I was lying.
After washing my hands, I made my way to my locker, envisioning red eyes.
“Drayden, you okay?”
I jumped. My senior brother was checking in on me. “Yeah, why?” I asked, sounding annoyed.
“What?” We didn’t talk at school, and frankly, I liked it that way. All the girls thought he was hot: dark hair, tall, no crook in his nose from a stupid hockey puck like me – aggravatingly flawless.
“You just, don’t look –”
“I’m fine alright!”
Keith rolled his eyes and walked away.
The text message said: MARCO.
Our childish game had become code. MARCO meant trouble. I texted POLO so he knew I was on my way. It was two in the morning. I slipped on some clothes and went to sneak the keys for Dad’s truck. I was in the driver’s seat when a circular glow produced my brother in the passenger seat.
“For pities- I can’t do this now!” I yelled.
“Where are you going?”
“What are you, my babysitter?””
“I know about the goph –”
“I don’t have time for your crap!”
Keith’s face darkened, probably wondering why he bothered. So did I. He disappeared and I started the truck.
At Marc’s family farm, the storm was intensifying as I climbed the stairs. Lightning flashed, gravitating towards the house. I knew it was Marc. The door was open and I rushed in, expecting chaos – but all was quiet. The power was off, and wind whistled through broken windows.
His voice sounded eerily calm.
It was coming from down the hallway. “Polo?” I answered. It was a question, more than an answer.
“Marco.” I approached the last door in the hall, from where his voice had echoed. It was slightly ajar, and I pushed it open. My mouth dropped. Marc’s parents were both on the floor, completely still. The lightning flashed and I jolted back when I saw the bright red that reflected off their open eyes.
The door behind me opened. Marc was there, holding a Johnny Walker, three quarters empty. His smile made me tremble, terror welling up inside me. He could not have wanted this. “Marc what happened?” I asked. I prayed he’d say it was an accident, but he just laughed, a low amused laugh. He finished the whiskey in two gulps. “It was an accident,” I pressed, “you didn’t know what else to do.”
He did have a mark on his left eye. Then the lightning flashed, and I saw something else: in his eyes a sheen of red, but alive with menace.
“What’s the matter Drayd?”
“Marc, we have to tell somebody alright. We’ll…we’ll sort this out!”
He snorted, and shook his head. For hating his old man, he was turning out surprisingly like him. He threw the whiskey bottle across the room and I cringed as it shattered. “You see Drayd, we’re not like the others. We’re stronger.”
“Marc I –”
“You know it.”
I didn’t want to believe this. I couldn’t.
“You and I, we don’t need no one pushing us around. Nobody can stand in our way.”
Something happened to him, his slurred speech was only gibberish. This was not my best friend! “Marc, our abilities are never supposed-
“They’re POWERS Drayd. Powers!” he corrected sharply. “Call them what they are. Power scares people.” He hissed the words like they be some kind of mantra. He began stalking towards me. Betraying my fear, I stepped back. “And they were scared. I looked into their eyes and I felt it!” This was said with more glee then regret, and I suddenly wished I wasn’t alone. He backed me out of the hallway. “I felt it, that fear. They used to make me feel that. But when their energy fused with mine, I became more powerful, and they became weak.”
“Marc,” I said, my feet suddenly planting themselves. This was wrong. “You killed them.”
Marc shrugged drunkenly. “They stood in my way Drayd. What was I supposed to do?”
“I would have come. I did come!” I shouted angrily. “You could have done anything, you could have shocked them, you could have stunned them; you didn’t have to kill them! There’s no giving it back!” My rage stunned him. He looked at me blankly as I ran my hands through my hair, pulling at it in frustration. “I shouldn’t have let it get this far.”
“You gonna stop me Drayd?” His words sounded hurt.
I turned from him, tears threatening their way to my cheeks. “I should have stopped this long ago.”
A gentle hand gripped my shoulder. “I thought we were friends.”
“We are,” I said, my voice cracking, “which is why I – I have to –”
“What? What do you have to do Drayd?” I felt the hand tug at me, and I turned to face my best friend. But there was a monster, red light shimmering from eyes full of hatred. Once they connected, I couldn’t break free. Power transfers can’t work two ways. His intent had been clear, mine had been clouded by shock and grief. I felt all my energy transferring to those hungry eyes. I screamed in pain, desperately fighting it. There was no power to siphon off of, no power but the one killing me.
Suddenly, I was wet, splashing into a puddle. I could feel the howling wind and pounding rain. The transfer had been cut. I couldn’t see, my eyes were burning. Hands gripped my arms, but I couldn’t move my own. “Drayden! Are you alright? Drayden?” I thought I was imagining it – the voice of my brother.
The waves felt cool, but I was tense. The storm was raging, still trying to break through my barrier.
“Don’t tell me you’ve been fighting that for twenty-four hours straight?”
Keith had snuck up on me. Styling a uniform, with an impressive amount of metal pinned to his chest – he looked flawless for just arriving. Typical.
“I didn’t know you’d make it,” I said.
“You’re my brother. Besides, Ma would have a fit.”
I laughed. She would.
“You scared of him?” Keith asked, nodding towards the hurricane.
“I’d be a fool if I wasn’t.”
Keith pulled a tiny metal container from his pocket. Closing his eyes, he opened it to reveal an orb of blinding light – a power up.
“Take it before it blinds me, and kick his ass!”
My hand reached out and the energy of a thousand volts powered through me, breaking me into a million pieces. I grew stronger, forcing my heat barrier in, smothering the storm and the force fighting within it. I could hear Marc’s cry of rage as his strength gave way. Then…silence.
Back upon the beach, I looked out at a starry sky. Finally, I could breath.
My shoulder felt Keith’s nudge of approval. “Well done,” he said, then began walking towards the hotel.
“You didn’t come just for that, did you?” I questioned.
Keith’s wry smile teased me. “And miss seeing you in a tux?”
I shook my head and caught up to him.
“So, Sam? I hear she’s nice?” he said.
“That’s all you heard?”
“I know a bit more.”
I stiffened. Keith could still interrogate me; it was officially in his top-secret job description. But he simply chuckled with that easy, warm smile, “but I think you two might just be perfect for each other.”
I should have known. Keith’s always had my back.
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In the beginning the descriptions of lightning were beautiful. It vividly brought to my mind the striking purple flashes. I have to say, I was very confused at the beginning, until you mentioned they had powers. I would suggest letting the reader know of something necessary about the characters before the events occur that make the knowing of those characteristics necessary. Even if you want to keep it a kind of mystery, it makes reading a lot easier, and doesn't keep us guessing. It's a small critique, but overall, this piece was amazin...
Thank you so much for the comment and the suggestion! I can't edit it anymore (grrr) but I really appreciate the feedback. My stories are all part of a series I'm writing. So the fact that they have powers is already addressed in the overall story, but I forget that until then they're standing alone. 🙄 I'm so glad you enjoyed it overall. Thanks for the wonderful comment. 😊