Sep 04 2011

Patrick Harris’ Review Forum

Published by at 11:27 pm under Review Forums

Faster than a bottlenose dolphin. More powerful than a raging typhoon. Able to save the day even when the day is already long and dark — a blue blur arcing through the sky, it’s WATERMAN!

 
Waterman, a superhero aided by water powers and dependable allies, and dedicated to preserving the peace and prosperity of mankind. Waterman, the scourge of every criminal and supervillain alike. Waterman, protector of the northern metropolitan, Elko, Nevada.
 
But soon, his beloved hometown will need all the help it can get. Little does Waterman know, the city of Elko has been infiltrated by an evil that seeps seamlessly into schools, government, and homes. They are cold, calculating, and flawless in their execution; their agents are everywhere, bloodthirsty and cunning. They are THE LISTERNERS, a timeless cult that must be stopped before their ultimate dastardly plans cast a city into a darkness from which it cannot return.
 
Who better to save the day than Elko’s most beloved, and only, superhero! It is Waterman who must fight the Listeners craftiest agents, ARNOLD HUNTFURT and GARGOYLE. Waterman, the protector of Elko, who must discover what they are up to before they bring the city to its knees. Yet the more he works against the sinister villains, the more their paths seem to be centered on the same origin. The Listeners seek what he has already found: the source of his power, an artifact that transformed a normal young man into a high-flying hero. The object that forever changed the life of Eric Atl.
 
Eric Atl was exceptional before providence found him. He was the fastest swimmer in his school, surrounded by loving family and faithful friends, and madly in love with Water. Not necessarily the water he would one day control, but the girl just out of his reach: MELISSA WATER. They were best friends, even if he hoped for more.
 
Eric was also a young man without direction. With high school winding down to a close, he yearned to know what life had in store for him and what he was meant to do. He wanted purpose.
 
His wishes were granted in a seemingly superfluous event: the Red Springs field trip.
On an auspicious day in February, Eric, Melissa, and twenty other classmates go on an Archaeology field trip chaperoned by Mr. Arnold Huntfurt. The destination is Red Springs, site of the ancient Siouwatchican tribe. The Siouwatchicans were Aztecs who had fled to present-day Nevada when the Spanish Conquest threatened their empire. Before being found and killed by a reconnaissance group of conquistadors, the Siouwatchicans buried seven of their most prized artifacts in the sands. Rumors surround the site, whispers of magic relics that turn men into gods.
 
While digging for relics to study in class, Eric and Melissa uncover a peculiar silver disk. Within seconds of either touching the artifact, they are cut by it and their blood trickles across its surface. Two of Eric’s friends, JOSEPH HARIT and JACK NOLAN, and the Archaeology teacher, Mr. Huntfurt, arrive and are in turn cut by the disk. There is a flash of light, Eric thinks inexplicably of how great it is to be normal, and they all fall into unconsciousness. Eric Atl and his friends would never be normal again.
 
When Eric next awakens, he has no memory of the event. Within days, Jack and Joseph have gone missing. Random citizens in Elko begin to disappear with no trace. Siouwatchican artifacts begin to unearth themselves. Eric begins to develop the ability to control water and . . . fly? Melissa grows closer to him, encouraging him to take flight as a superhero, perhaps sporting a classy W and swooping in to save the day. All the while, the Listeners gather their strength, finalizing their preparations to finally lunge and sink their teeth into the world.
 
In the end, of course, Waterman and his friends will stand triumphant — but at what cost? Is success worth the casualties of war? Is Eric prepared for encounters ending in heart-wrenching tragedy? Dangerous expeditions to find mind-bending relics? What madness will be unleashed along the way? Eric soon learns the feud between Waterman and the Listeners is an event that has been destined to occur since the birth of the Aztecs.

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19 Responses to “Patrick Harris’ Review Forum”

  1. Patrick Harrison 12 Sep 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Chapter 1: Hero

    No one wakes up and says, “I’m going to be a hero today.”
    —Major General Mastin M. Robeson

    Eric Atl had always loved Water and nothing would ever change that. He liked, but did not necessarily love, the natural element he found most relaxing to be in, nor the element that fortified the Aztec empire. Rather, he loved the girl.
    Melissa Water was the girl of Eric’s dreams. She had fair complexion, blonde-brown hair, a curvaceous figure, and that seductive, knowing, half-smile that said, I know what you’re thinking . . . and I’m thinking it too. But it wasn’t just her gorgeous appearance he was in love with, but her witty personality and unfailing kindness. For these reasons and many others, Eric could not talk to Melissa any better than an ape could be civilized. He stared at her, mispronounced things when around her, and could not stop thinking about her.
    In fact, Melissa was on Eric’s mind that very morning as he got dressed. The scent of her perfume filled his nose as he drove into Elko for the swimming meet. Her songbird voice filled his ears as he stripped down to blue swimming trunks and goggles. And that smile. . . .
    Within seconds, Eric himself had a goofy grin on his face, a tell-tale sign of what he was thinking.
    That was why he won the medals, why he tried his best. Every time he hit the water at the start of a race, he wanted to win for her. He could hardly wait to see her smile again.
    Today was no different. He felt jittery as he stepped upon the starting block. His competition today was eleven other swimmers, each much smaller than he. But he had the strength advantage.
    The plastic-metal grooved platform was shockingly cold beneath his bare feet but gave him traction on the slanted surface. He stretched his fingers to the bar on the edge of the block, head nearing the water. The sting of chlorine filled his nose. Whoever cleaned the pool did so with an excess of chlorine that was nearly nauseating to the senses and bleaching to the trunks. He loved that smell nearly as much as he did Water.
    He stood back up, fastened his goggles over his eyes, began swinging his arms in circles, and closed his eyes. All around him were cheers and yells, a jumble of incomprehensible voices. But in the darkness of his mind, he could focus, blocking out all noise. All there was in this moment was Eric and the fifty-meter swimming lane.
    “Swimmers, at your marks!”
    Eric’s eyes snapped open and dropped down. He staggered his feet, his left leg extending back for balance. His hands gripped onto the bar, his right thigh pressing against his stomach. Weight centered on the balls of his feet, his muscles tensed, his quads throbbing slightly — he was ready at any moment to push off. From previous races, he knew the water was chilly and it would keep him moving.
    Focus, he thought. Focus on the race. Freestyle, 100 meters, all for her.
    The buzzer sounded, the crowd fell silent for hardly a millisecond before roaring back to life, and the race began. Eric’s legs exploded forward as his arms pulled, propelling him off the block and deep into the water. He flew forward, lacing his fingers in front of him, pumping his legs uniformly. Underwater, the roaring crowd was muffled. Beside him, Eric saw faint flashes of the other swimmers already surfacing.
    Already halfway across the pool, Eric surfaced for a breath, the thunderous crowd’s noise filled his ears like a gunshot, and he was off. He felt light, near weightless, gliding. His right arm swung into the water, his abnormally large hands pushing back water, followed by his left arm, then his right. His legs kicked persistently, propelling him through the water. He moved like a machine, cool and efficient with a perfect rhythm of strokes and the occasional breath. Out of his peripheral vision, he could see nearby swimmers behind him, falling further back. Eric did not let up, he could not let himself. He pushed past the burn, kicking with all he had, pushing his arms through the water faster and faster.
    It was this moment that Eric loved about the sport of swimming. It was him and only him. No looking for the other racers to see if he was ahead. No coach yelling in his ear to do better. It was Eric’s determination and his willpower. He had to give his best every second, straining, pushing, never letting up, focusing constantly. Give up a smidge, not try as hard, and he would be last.
    Through his goggles, Eric spotted a tell-tale black X: he was coming up to the wall on the opposite side of the pool. With dolphin-like reflexes, he flipped through the water, connected his heels with the wall, curled into a ball, and pushed off. He was propelled forward at breakneck speed twenty meters through the pool, resurfaced, and was back at it, judiciously rotating his arms like a windmill in a twister, pumping his legs up and down in a frenzy of white water.
    His breathing was faster now, but still controlled. He fought to raise his head above the splash for a gulp of fresh air.
    He could see the end now.
    The end, he thought and his heart leapt, just like the end of high school. It’s coming.
    He forced himself to stop thinking. The wall was meters away, and he knew in his heart he was winning. The adrenaline surging through his veins picked up, carrying him. The white-hot burn in his triceps and shoulders intensified.
    Seconds before he touched the wall, he closed his eyes and smiled underwater.
    For Melissa, he thought, and his hand hit the wall.
    Eric surfaced to a cacophony of noise. Spectators had run off of the bleachers to the poolside, many to his lane. There was his family — Wayde, Tahira, and Ben — followed by many of his friends — Ethan, Sara, Joseph, and Jack. But in front of them all, staring at him with that knowing half-smile, was Melissa.
    Everything that occurred from that moment on was a blur. Eric shook hands with the swimmers in adjacent lanes to his. Melissa helped him out of the pool and he became self-conscious that he was only wearing swimming trunks. Eric’s dad, Wayde, threw a towel over his back, clapping him hard with a, “Great job, son!” Tahira was hugging him now, Ben was yelling at the top of his lungs, “You broke a record!”
    Eric looked over to the screen on the far side of the building. He was in first with a minute and half a second, breaking the Elko County School District record.
    The swimmers were ushered over to a multi-leveled platform that had always reminded Eric of the Olympics. A clean-cut official was speaking into a microphone, but there was so much noise echoing around him, Eric could not hear correctly.
    Two swimmers took the lower levels of the stage for second and third place. Through the static-filled speaker and crowds, Eric heard his name. He stepped up and bowed his head forward as the official placed a gold medallion around his neck that fell cold upon his chest.
    He could see Melissa smiling and he held up the medal with a smile of his own.
    And for that moment, surrounded by his friends and family, everything was perfect.
    * * *
    Dried from head to foot, Eric scrambled into his clothes.
    The adrenaline was finally fading away, leaving his fingers shaking and arms sore. Fellow swimmers gave Eric a slap on the back as they walked by on their way out of the locker room.
    “Congratulations, Dolphin-Boy!”
    “Yeah, way to take the water, man!”
    “Keep at it, Atl the Paddle!”
    Eric felt his face crack open with his well-known smile, an unnaturally broad smile that showed every single tooth in his mouth. He loved his life.
    Of course, what was there not to love? He was a Spring Creek High School senior who studied as hard as any other teenager for tests, thought about education less every day and more about girls, and spent quality time with friends trading war stories about interactions with members of the more attractive gender. Everyday, he came home to his loving parents, Tahira and Wayde, and his ten-year-old brother, Ben. During his free time, when he was not beating his brother at Guitar Hero or blasting ducks out of the sky for sport, Eric swam. No other sport or hobby offered the quiet solitude of just his thoughts and those fifty meters of blue.
    Several times when he swam, he was overcome with animosity as to what the future held for him. Today had been no different. He often caught himself wondering if he was ready to leave home and take on the world — it seemed an awfully large place. If he were to take on the world, what was he to do? What was he meant to do? At times, this unease grew into a numb hollowness within him that his life was directionless and without meaningful purpose. His parents constantly tried to abash these fears by imploring that he was predestined for greatness with much to be proud of: a loving family, a strong heart, and a sound, thoughtful mind. He did not dare tell them that the latter of these two frequently gyrated around Melissa.
    Eric grabbed his backpack carrying his wet trunks and towel and headed for the door. Feeling the gold medal drum against his chest, he walked with his head up and shoulders back. He felt like a hero.
    Like many generations before him, Eric admired heroes both super and mortal. His family caught movies, read comic books, and soaked up stories about great acts of selflessness. At times, Eric wished that there was such a career choice to be a superhero, but alas, it was an out-of-reach dream that only existed during sparing instances like this.
    He did have the look of a hero: startlingly blue eyes set in an angular face accompanied with a carefree smile, dishwater blonde-brown hair that was flipped in all directions from the swim, and a sturdy, broad swimmer’s body. Oval glasses rested on the bridge of his nose, a precarious place from where the spectacles usually slipped off during moments of quick movement. Just as regularly as the sun would rise, Eric wore a blue tee-shirt and blue jeans.
    Eric approached the chrome door and took a deep breath, knowing what lay beyond the locker room doors. Without a doubt, his parents and friends would be waiting for him through this door, maybe Melissa too. . . .
    He pushed against the door. The fresh air caught him in the face, and the flood of people closed in on him. Behind his friends and family was Melissa, smiling that perfect way. That smile meant more to him than the gold medal dangling around his chest or the pride in his heart.
    “I told you rubbing the beard would work!” Jack Nolan laughed. Over Jack’s well-tanned skin was his supposedly lucky beard that he insisted Eric rub before ever swimming match.
    “Party at Eric’s house tonight!” Ethan Cartmen shouted.
    “Cheers!” Joseph Harit and Jack Nolan replied in unison.
    “Shouldn’t you ask the host before having the party at his mother’s house?” Eric’s Mom asked his friends dryly. Sara Mandell started laughing and crying at the same time.
    Eric’s Dad, Wayde, grabbed onto his shoulders and whispered amid the shouts, “Hey, son, great job.”
    He smiled. “Just a guy, tryin’ to do my best.”
    “When will you realize you are destined for greatness?” shouted Ben exuberantly.
    “Speaking of doing your best,” Wayde smiled and glanced back at Melissa, “a lovely lady behind me parked a couple blocks from here. She needs an upstanding gentleman such as yourself to walk her to her car.”
    Before he could stop himself, Eric was smiling again.
    * * *
    “See you at home, Eric!” his Mom called from across the road.
    Eric waved as the last of his friends and family got into their vehicles and drove away, leaving him alone with Melissa. For a moment, they both stood on the sidewalk, Melissa looking around at the world, Eric looking at what made his world.
    Melissa was point-blank, no-doubt-about-it, if-you-had-to-ask-you-were-blind, drop-dead gorgeous. Blonde-brown hair swished around her cheeks and fell to her shoulders, while almond brown eyes were set in a smooth, unblemished face. Whenever she smiled, which happened quite often, her thin red lips would reveal perfect white teeth. Her curvaceous figure was slender but somewhat toned. As always, Melissa applied little or no makeup — in Eric’s opinion, she never needed any — wore tight blue jeans and a horizontally-striped shirt that morphed to her body.
    Eric’s father had once told him that Melissa could not completely perfect, that perhaps she had a flaw or two on the inside. He refused to believe it. Even an imperfection was just another part of the marvelous—
    “Well, I’m parked on the other side of the park,” Melissa smiled. Eric snapped out of his daze.
    “I’ll walk you,” he said before he knew he had spoken.
    “That would be wonderful.”
    You’re wonderful, Eric thought. Humorous but witty, independent but caring, sarcastic but charming.
    Wet backpack tossed over his shoulder, feeling awkward with his unkempt hair, Eric walked beside Melissa across the street and along the park’s walkway. The Elko City Park was an acre of green in between the Elko High School’s swimming pool and Elko’s main street, a walkway surrounding the perimeter. On the east side of the park was the Northeast Nevada Natural History Museum; an assortment of jungle gyms and swings covered the west. Groves of aspens and pine trees were spread throughout the park’s back forty. Eric and Melissa followed the walkway, winding through the trees toward the forefront of the park.
    “You must be bouncing off the walls,” Melissa said excitedly. “You won!”
    Eric’s stomach tightened and the butterflies inside began to fly. He felt brave, daring.
    “Yeah. Yeah, I did,” he said, staring at her. “Thanks for coming to watch.”
    They passed under two towering pine trees. Melissa accidentally bumped into Eric to avoid the nettles.
    “I couldn’t imagine being anyplace else. You are absolutely amazing in the water,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone swim so fast before, so fluid.”
    “I’ve never seen anyone laugh and cry at the same time, but Sara does that pretty good,” Eric replied. Sara Mandell and Melissa were best friends.
    Melissa was laughing now. “Yeah, she does,” she said breathlessly. “I can’t imagine anything funny enough to laugh and cry at the same time.”
    “Look to your left. This face makes my Dad laugh sometimes, and that’s saying something.”
    “You can’t make me laugh and cry,” Melissa smiled, looking daringly at him.
    “I would never make you cry,” he said earnestly, and Melissa’s cheeks instantly turned a deeper shade of red.
    Not missing a beat, Melissa batted her eyelashes and said in a confident voice, “Good. My Dad told me if any boy ever made me cry to sock him in the gut.”
    Eric laughed nervously, not doubting that she would.
    “By the way,” Melissa said, “did I ever thank you for my Christmas present? The picture of the Dragon Bloodbloom?”
    Trying not to do anything too stupid, Eric bobbed his head repeatedly.
    “Well, thank you again,” Melissa said. “It was very sweet of you. Technically, there’s only one on Earth every century, but thanks to you, now there’s two.”
    Eric smiled queasily. Technically, the one was a picture and the other was a myth.
    When Eric had found out Melissa’s favorite flower was a Dragon Bloodbloom, he had researched it. It was a rare miracle flower that could cure any disease and halt death. Many believed it to be nonexistent. South American myth claimed that to find the Bloodbloom, one must look through a double prism to see through the flower’s disguise, a typical gathering of daisies and dandelions. Eric kept his mind open, and left the possibility that the Bloodbloom may be more than just a myth. He paid an artist to draw the flower and gave it to Melissa, earning him a brief kiss on the cheek.
    Bringing up the gift seemed to be an opening for Eric. Should he pursue and ask her out?
    The butterflies started doing the backstroke in his stomach.
    “AryofweeisSatday?” Eric stammered, his brain no longer functioning as it normally did. “I’m sorry,” he murmured.
    “Don’t be,” Melissa smiled back. “Just might want to put your tongue back in your mouth next time you want to talk.”
    They continued on the walkway for several minutes without talking, letting the white noise of the city fill their quiescence. For reasons Eric did not understand, it was great just walking with Melissa, being around her.
    Next to the Museum, the walkway took a right and ran parallel with Elko’s main drag, Idaho Street. In between the cement lanes and the park walkway was a line of fourteen pine trees with yellow sashes tied taunt around their trunk. Fifty yards further down was the Horizon Hospice Memorial Rose Garden, a gathering of rose bushes and blossoms, and the Dreamer Memorial, an elevated dais filled with fertile soil and pink orchids. In the center of the circular platform was a bronze statue of a kneeling man steadied by his plow. Stone benches were in front facing the street.
    Eric and Melissa reached the memorial and paused at the front. Up close, the pink orchids were vibrant, their petals withholding a rich purple, their branches willowy and a deep chocolate brown. The centered man kneeled upon his plow, glancing down with a kind-hearted smile. He had a balding head, high cheeks, and walnut eyes. His clothes were baggy, wrinkled around his knees and belly. In one clenched hand were crushed petals, forever held. Around his feet was a cluster of dandelions and daisies.
    Eric looked down to the stone pedestal on which was written the purpose for the memorial.

    Here lies the Stone Bird Hero
    Artzaina Zain
    Reminding us
    Take the chance, make the choice — it is the sacrifice of many for one
    Make the choice, take the chance — it is the sacrifice of one for many

    In the back of Eric’s mind, he remembered an old fable that Artzaina Zain had used the legendary Dragon Bloodbloom to save a couple in distress.
    “That’s pretty deep,” Melissa whispered, referring to the memorial’s last few lines. “Makes you wonder which one Zain lived by. Which one is right?”
    “Depends on what you believe,” Eric shrugged. “Chances or choices?”
    “The good of the many, or of the one?” she shot back.
    “Is there a difference?”
    “Of course there is,” Melissa answered. “You of all people should know that.”
    “I should?” Eric asked with a raised eyebrow, and promised himself to never take Philosophy in college.
    Melissa turned around and sat on one of the stone benches, looking up at the enormous pine trees and yellow ribbons. Eric followed suit, making sure to sit with a couple inches distance between them. Not too close, but not too far away.
    “This is a cluttered little town, isn’t it?” Melissa said, looking out at the congested street. Police sirens echoed from far away, growing fainter with each passing second. Over the building tops was Lamoille Summit, the hill that separated the larger city of Elko from their hometown, Spring Creek.
    Across the street from the memorial were a bank and a vacant gravel bed. Parked in the gravel, an ice cream truck named Mr. Happy McGee’s closed its window and started up. Above the traffic, Eric could hear a soft melody begin.
    He turned and looked at Melissa.
    Do it, he thought and grit his jaw. Just do it.
    “Areyoub—” He stopped, forcing himself to speak slowly and with deliberation. “Are you free this Saturday?”
    Melissa smiled that stunning smile. At least she had understood him this time.
    “Er . . . no,” she said.
    Eric froze. Again. Did no mean yes, she was busy, or did no mean no, she was free?
    “Well. . . ,” Eric stammered. “Would you—”
    He was interrupted by Melissa exclaiming, “I do!” She clamped her hand over her mouth, her eyes widening. From behind her mouth, Eric heard a muffled, “I’m sorry.”
    Still jingling, Mr. Happy McGee’s ice cream truck waited for a break in traffic and pulled onto the four-lane street.
    Melissa took her hands away from her face, placing one of them on Eric’s leg. An electric current shot through his body.
    Halfway through the two middle lanes, the ice cream truck choked up and died.
    Eric smiled, urging her to say something.
    Horns blared, tires screeched. Eric and Melissa turned just in time to see — CRASH! — a southbound black Sedan slammed into the passenger side door of Mr. McGee’s truck. Seconds later — CRASH! — a Mitsubishi Lancer on the opposite side rammed over the tire, pierced the back side of the steel-framed carriage. The ice cream truck shuddered violently, tire treads screeched sharply, and it fell onto its side, the cabin landing on the Sedan.
    Eric and Melissa leapt to his feet.
    “I’ll call the police,” Melissa said, already pulling out her phone. “You go help them!”
    He nodded in agreement, dropped his backpack, and was off.
    Eric ran to the driver’s side of the Sedan, catching his glasses as they tried to slip off his nose. Through the broken glass, he could see the driver was unconscious. Although the front doors were crushed by the ice cream truck, the back seat door was accessible. He tried the door handle, and, by a stroke of luck, the door opened. Working quickly, he reclined the driver’s seat and unstrapped the driver from her seatbelt. Tenderly, he pulled her out, and sprinted back to the sidewalk.
    * * *
    Melissa placed her cell phone in her pocket.
    To her satisfaction, sirens started up in the distance, but they were still quite far away.
    Eric ran up to the sidewalk with the Sedan driver over his shoulder.
    “What can I do?” Melissa asked as he placed the women on the sidewalk. Once sure that the lady was breathing, he unzipped his backpack and withdrew his swimming trunks, wrapping them around his hand.
    “Help Mr. McGee,” Eric said, pointing to the front of the ice cream truck.
    “Is that his name?” she laughed.
    “I don’t think now is the time for niceties,” Eric shrugged and they both took off at a run.
    At the front of the truck, Melissa climbed up the side, noticed that the sideways engine was making odd croaks and clicks, and opened the door. The driver sat sideways in the seat, fighting against his pillow-like air bag, white talcum powder covering his face.
    “Are you okay?” Melissa shouted.
    “The seatbelt is stuck!” he replied exasperatedly, jerking against the strap.
    Melissa pulled a switchblade out of the driver’s pocket and snapped it open. With a flick of the wrist, Melissa severed the seatbelt.
    “Way to use your resources, Mr. Happy McGee,” she said and extended a helping hand.
    “That’s not my name,” the driver replied.
    “How ‘bout Doppy? Come on.”
    Melissa turned to go, but a burst of fire sprung out of the hood and surrounded them.
    * * *
    Swimming trunks in hand, Eric ran for the Mitsubishi.
    As he rounded the ice cream truck’s front and ran past the oil pan, he heard the distinct drip of gasoline and crackle of fire.
    “Oh, boy,” Eric muttered to himself, realization dawning. This was a distinctive sign that the fuel line had ruptured and gas was running onto the engine exhaust. In a few minutes, the truck would explode.
    * * *
    Eric ran over to the Mitsubishi. Both driver and passenger were fine, straining against their doors. He tried the driver’s door, but the handle snapped off. They were trapped.
    “Watch out!” he shouted. He wrapped his trunks around his hand and balled up a fist.
    The driver got the idea and ducked out of the way.
    Eric swung with all his might — CRACK!
    The safety glass cracked but did not break. Eric jumped up and down, holding his wrapped fist, holding back a string of obscenities. His glasses bounced up and down on his nose.
    He wound up, swung again, and was rewarded with the crash of glass caving in.
    “Can you get out?” he said through gritted teeth. The people nodded and climbed out of the broken window.
    Knuckles burning with pain, Eric turned back to the ice cream truck and his stomach dropped. The front tire was on fire while putrid smoke issued from the hood. Melissa and the truck driver were trapped on top of the cabin, looking around the sides to decide on the least dangerous route of escape.
    “Oh, boy,” Eric whispered again. He raced over, unraveling his wet swimming trunks from his fist. Near the fire, he wrung his trunks on the fire, dousing the flame.
    “Jump!” he shouted, extending his arms to Melissa.
    She leapt over the dwindling fire, her blonde-brown hair flying back, and landed in Eric’s arms. He yelled for the driver to do the same.
    “Let’s go!” Melissa shouted once the driver was on the ground.
    The truck’s bottom gave off a thick burst of smoke and the tire was on fire again.
    “Hey, Happy McGee—” Eric shouted.
    “That’s not my name!” he exclaimed back.
    “Angry then?” Melissa threw in.
    “Is there anyone inside the truck?” Eric asked over the crackle and smoke.
    The driver’s eyes opened wide, haste forgotten. “Oh my G—”
    Overcoming the impulse to run for it, Eric bounded back to the truck. He leapt over the tire, making sure to hold his glasses, and into the carriage.
    Inside was already an inferno. Fire licked the carpet and plastic wrappers. Liquids were bubbling, paper cones burning like marshmallows. Smoke clouded the cabin with noxious fumes. A freezer was lying in the far left corner, mist coming from its emptied spaces. A young woman lay unconscious on the floor, pinned down by a crate of ice cream.
    Eric stumbled over to the lady. He placed his trunks over her mouth and nose to filter the smoke fumes, and pried his fingers in between the metal crate and her. He lifted up, but it refused to budge. Eric stood back up, breathing hard and trying to remain calm, but it was too hot to concentrate.
    Wish I was in the water again, Eric thought. The race seemed like it had been ages ago.
    It was like a light bulb clicked on. He ducked down, removed a bucket of melted ice cream from the crate, and pulled off the lid. Eric turned and splattered cold, watery mess on the walls, dousing the flames.
    He opened a dozen more containers, two at a time, pouring the liquid ice cream onto walls, others onto the lady to keep her cool. With no buckets left on the crate, Eric wrapped his hand around the crate and heaved with all his might. Arms warm and stretchy like rubber bands, the crate lifted.
    With another heave, Eric lifted the ice cream crate completely off and tossed it to the side.
    “Time to go!” Eric shouted to himself, but wished he hadn’t as he inhaled a mouthful of smoke.
    He squatted down and picked up the woman in a cradle hold, coughing uncontrollably. Charm bracelets on her right forearm tinkled rhythmically.
    Eric looked to the right. Fire was covering the hole he had come through. The retractable door at the back was cluttered with fire and melting popsicles. There was no escape.
    Suddenly, there was a waterfall rush of liquid, replaced by an audible sizzling. The fire filling his entrance grew wildly. Fire exploded everywhere around him, singeing his hair, burning his flesh. The odd combined smells of rubber and gas hit him in a draft of smoke so dark he could not see. His eyes began to burn. He heard the charm bracelets jingling, and he knew where to go—
    * * *
    Held back by a beefy fireman, Melissa jumped as the air was broken by a loud BOOM!
    Mr. McGee’s ice cream truck and the Sedan exploded in a fiery cacophony of orange-yellow flame and smoke. The cabin disappeared in a plume of smog and flying debris while the carriage was torn apart, flinging steaming metal parts in every direction. Crackles of sparks shot out of the truck’s skeleton. Glass tinkled to the pavement, having been rent from the windshield and windows. No movements or human sounds came from within the truck carriage.
    No one had left the truck. Eric was still inside.
    Melissa felt the fireman’s grip on her lessen and she slipped away. She raced back to the truck, ignoring the sparks, smoke, and small pops. As she approached, the smoke cleared away from the carriage, revealing a desecrated shell of wreckage. Crates of melted plates, burnt buckets, and boiling ice cream littered the street and remnants of the truck. In a burnt corner lay a blackened freezer, the door swinging half open.
    Melissa looked around, feeling a lump grow in her throat, as though about to cry.
    Nothing. Not even ashes. She felt numb—
    Crack!
    The freezer crashed open. The lid’s hinges broke with a sound like nails on chalkboards. Crammed into the freezer was Eric and a young lady, torn-up trunks dangling from her face.
    Eric was a mess. His glasses hung disjointedly from his ears, his shirt was burnt open, his hair was singed, and his whole body blackened from the smoke. Some spots were bloody: his knuckles and his right arm in an attempt to shut the refrigerator on his arm. Thankfully, he did not appear too badly burnt.
    Eric crawled out of the freezer and smiled at Melissa sheepishly.
    “Eric!” Melissa shouted, pulled him to his feet, and wrapped her arms around him in a warm embrace. “You survived! I mean of course you survived! Why wouldn’t you?” Quite suddenly, she let go, stepping back. She blushed, flipped her hair to the side, and punched Eric in the arm, “That’s for making me think about crying!”
    Eric gave an exhausted sigh. Words escaped him.
    His blackened glasses cracked loudly, leaving thin spikes across the lenses.
    “Are you okay?” she asked. She tried to look into his eyes, but they would not focus.
    “Iyam now,” Eric slurred and fell forward onto her, unconscious.
    Melissa stumbled under Eric’s weight, trying to prop him back up. He was still breathing, but clearly needed medical assistance.
    Police officers and paramedics ran into the destroyed carriage. Several loaded up the young lady on a stretcher while others took Eric off Melissa. She ran after the paramedics toward an ambulance.
    “Hold up!”
    A hand caught Melissa by the arm, stopping her from getting into the ambulance with Eric. She turned to find the Elko Police Chief, Riley O’Malley, holding her arm.
    “Who are you?” Chief O’Malley asked, squinting his eyes suspiciously.
    “I’m Melissa Water and I need to go with Eric,” she explained and tried to release the Chief’s grip.
    “Lieutenant Water’s daughter?” the Police Chief asked, and Melissa nodded in response. “Not so fast, you need to tell me what happened. I need a statement.”
    “The truck exploded and there were two people inside. He managed to get into a freezer with the lady.”
    “What’s his name?” the Chief asked.
    “His name’s Atl. Eric Atl, sir.”
    Almost instantly, Chief O’Malley’s face lit up. “Eric Atl, you said?”
    Melissa nodded again.
    “It’s a miracle he didn’t die,” the Chief said quietly. “The freezer should have exploded or at least the heat should have killed him.”
    “Seeing as how he’s alive and quite well,” Melissa shot back, “I’ll be going.”
    As she ran off, Chief O’Malley said to no one in particular, “Of course. Wouldn’t want to miss anything amazing.”
    * * *
    “He really didn’t want to host the party.”
    A voice replied. Male.
    “Oh, come on. If he didn’t want to host the party, he would have told us.”
    A girl’s voice now: “And we would have had it at your house.”
    “Mine? Why mine?” Another female, but Eric knew this one. Her voice sounded like singing birds, like a waterfall.
    “You have the biggest house,” the one female told the other girl with the songbird voice, “and besides, Eric totally likes you. There’s no place he would rather be than in your—”
    “He doesn’t like me.” Her name was on the tip of his tongue.
    “Does, too.”
    “He does not.”
    M . . . Me . . . Mel. . . .
    “Does, too!” four voices shouted at once.
    Eric’s eyes snapped open. Blurry at first, his vision came into focus.
    “He’s awake!”
    “Really, Sherlock?” Joseph said sarcastically.
    Standing in a horseshoe around Eric’s bed was Ethan, Sara, Jack, Joseph, and Melissa. There was Ethan Cartmen with his green eyes, stringy red hair, and gaunt appearance from seeing one too many fights between his manic-depressive mother and alcoholic father. Next to Ethan was his girlfriend and Melissa’s best friend, Sara Mandell, looking cheerful with her large ears, oblong face, toothy smile, wide blue eyes, and swimmer’s body. At the end of the bed stood Jack Nolan, the incredible soccer player who had suffered one too many knee injuries to continue sports after high school. Eric could always rely on Jack for honest opinions and strokes of good luck. Beside Jack was Joseph Harit, one of Eric’s shorter and quieter friends. Joseph’s birth mother, Sophia, had died while giving birth to him. His father, Noah, had remarried quite recently and was a History teacher at their high school. At home, Joseph lived in fear that his father would reject him and walk out, a notion his friends had tried to console to no avail.
    Ethan, Joseph, Jack, and Eric met in preschool and became inseparable friends. They bonded through experience and a childish friendship that their names had first letters in common: E’s and J’s. When Ethan began dating Sara sophomore year, Melissa fell into their group. The six of them had been best of friends ever since.
    “Way to go, buddy,” Jack joked. “You nearly blew yourself sky high.”
    “But first, you had to save Mr. Happy McGee,” said Joseph.
    “That’s not his name,” Melissa laughed to herself.
    Eric squinted, trying to remember. The last thing he could recollect was being very content.
    Joseph held up a newspaper. Below an extensive article was a picture of the gutted ice cream truck. The headline read:

    TEENAGER SAVES VICTIMS OF CRASH, SURVIVES EXPLOSION
    Reporting from Carl Stentons

    The memories flooded back to Eric — the race, making a school record, walking Melissa to her car, stopping at the Dreamer Memorial, the crash, the lady and the freezer. . . . And now he was in a hospital bed. His arms had been scrubbed clean of smoke and ash, revealing a couple of scabs and blisters.
    He did not want to be a hero if a hospital bed was all that awaited him after every save. How did superheroes do it time and time again?
    Superpowers, my dear Watson, a voice inside his head replied mockingly.
    “Does this mean we get to have two parties?” Sara joked. “One for the race, one for him surviving?”
    Ethan leaned over and patted Eric on the head.
    “While some of us are too concerned with our social lives,” Ethan said, giving his girlfriend a joking grin, “the rest of us are glad you’re okay.”
    “Your parents are outside,” Melissa added.
    “So. . . , about this party,” Jack interjected.
    “Yeah!” Joseph shouted. “Whose house? Clearly you didn’t want it at yours, Eric.”
    “Melissa’s house!” Sara said.
    Melissa shot Sara a frown.
    “No.” Eric shook his head. “No parties. I’m—”
    “A hero!” Melissa smiled that perfect way.
    “No,” Eric insisted and felt himself shake his head. “I’m just a normal guy try—”
    “Oh, come on, Eric,” Melissa said with a smile. “Every girl loves a hero.”

  2. Danion 13 Sep 2011 at 2:30 pm

    That was good. I liked it. Only thing is those -CRASH- things which distracted me. Love the Star Trek reference. 🙂

  3. Patrick Harrison 14 Sep 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks Dani, I’m glad you liked it, and I’ll work on the -Crash-Bang- things.

  4. Patrick Harrison 14 Sep 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Chapter 2: Origin

    All that you know is at an end.
    —The Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

    Every girl loves a hero, but every boy loves sleep.
    Sleep had always been Eric’s favorite hobby second only to swimming and eating, and for that reason, everything this morning seemed surreally sweet, if only for a moment.
    The curtains were open to flood light onto Eric and his warm, cozy bed, evaporating all problems. Much like a ship on a calm sea, his mind bobbed in and out of sleep, stalling in that perfect moment of comfort.
    Eric had been released from the hospital with a clean bill of health and a couple of scabbing blisters on his arms. Within a day, he returned to school as a hero. He had broken school records with an amazing swimming race and turned around to survive an explosion.
    “All in a day’s work,” Eric had said, but was quite uncomfortable with all of the attention. Perhaps that was why he liked swimming and sleep so much.
    As he lay here, he had a comforting sense of familiarity, of safety in those warm blankets. There were no problems, no worries. Not a single thing mattered. It was only this, only peace.
    Without warning, there was a sharp, hollow knock on Eric’s window. He dismissed the sound amid his dreams and sank deeper into the covers. The rap of knuckles came again, sharper and more urgent this time.
    Eric’s cell phone abruptly came to life with bugling trumpets and Tom Jones: “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone!” The front screen read: Incoming Call — Melissa.
    Eyes wide open, Eric reached over, muted his cell phone. The screen faded to read Wednesday, 7:00 a.m.
    Oh, boy, Eric thought.
    He leapt out of bed. Tapping at his window, cell phone in hand, was Melissa with her sparkling blonde-brown hair, her brown eyes, her smile, her — well . . . now was not the time to be thinking of that. Today was the Red Springs field trip and Eric was supposed to give Melissa a ride. He had slept in.
    He vaguely wondered if Melissa could hear his phone through the window.
    Feeling like a blur, he ran to his closet, put on a white shirt and glasses, and ran from his room, to the right, through the living room and foyer of the Atl household, and to the front door. He slipped into his shoes, tightened the laces, took the keys to his beat-up Chevy from his pocket, and wrenched the door open.
    Melissa stood on the steps, her arms crossed in front of her, a bemused smile on her face. For a moment, the rush was forgotten and the two caught each others’ eyes. She smiled as friendly as always, and he gave a sheepish, longing smile.
    “Correct me if my hearing is wrong, but was my ringtone Tom Jones?” she asked, one eyebrow receding into her bangs.
    Eric wished he could keep it cool and under control, but there was no hope at all when it came to boy-meet-pretty-girl.
    “W–Well, uh, yeah!” Eric stuttered in reply. “Uh, you’re how? I mean, how’re you?”
    Melissa giggled, “I’m fine, Eric.”
    She paused a moment longer, as though expecting him to say something more. Bashful, she pointed at his Eric’s truck, smiled infectiously.
    “We should probably be going.”
    With that, she turned and strode over to the truck, her hips swinging from side to side in the tauntingly tight blue jeans.
    Eric tripped as he followed.
    * * *
    The sun began to rise above the mountains, the golden rays extending into Spring Creek, chasing Eric and Melissa down the highway.
    For the first time in ages, Eric was actually holding it together and having a civilized conversation with Melissa. He had only stuttered twice since they had started driving, and had not said anything embarrassing. Yet.
    Maybe it was the oldies station they were listening to, which she had said was her style of music. She hummed along with Norman Greenbaum and Gloria Gaynor, laughed when Tom Jones came on, and sang at the top of her lungs with Frank Sinatra.
    The main topic of discussion was the day’s upcoming events. Eric and Melissa’s Archaeology class was taking a field trip to Red Springs. Normally, they sat in the back of class, tediously identifying ancient artifacts or daydreaming. When the fieldtrip was announced, the students were ecstatic about the chance to escape the classroom and explore the artifact-rich hillsides of Red Springs. In the late 1500’s, an advanced civilization of Native Americans settled in Elko County before being massacred by the Spanish Conquest. The Archaeology trip was educationally motivated to find artifacts of value buried in the sands.
    Every now and again, Melissa antagonized Eric about the Archaeology teacher, Mr. Arnold Huntfurt. Tight and firm, intolerable of mediocre excuses, and quick to anger, Mr. Huntfurt had a soft spot for Eric. Around other students, the teacher was grumpy and antagonistic, but when alone with Eric, he was especially kind, always asking Eric how life was at home, if his parents were treating him right, what he was planning for the weekend. . . . Every now and again, Huntfurt would hold Eric after class, or give him detention for ridiculous reasons, just to talk to him. If anything, Eric wanted to be on time for the fieldtrip to avoid any reason to get a detention.
    “But he likes you so much,” Melissa would joke.
    “And he’s a conniving snake,” Eric would shoot back.
    They pulled into the high school five minutes late. In front of the school was a yellow bus. Students were already aboard, watching as Eric parked cock-eyed. They scurried out of the truck and sprinted to the bus.
    Standing at the bus’ entrance was Mr. Huntfurt. He was a tall, bulky military man accompanied with a buzz cut, sharp hazel eyes, a squashed pug face, and a firm body build. Intimidating was one of the nicer descriptors students used for him.
    “Late, Mr. Atl,” Mr. Huntfurt said, putting stress on every consonant.
    “Isn’t everyone sometimes?” Melissa joked and looked up at the bus. Ethan, Jack, and Joseph were staring at him, eyes wide. Other students were leaning against the windows, curious to see how Mr. Huntfurt could get Eric a detention.
    “Very. Funny,” Mr. Huntfurt replied, each word like a car’s backfire. “For your tardiness, both of you will now owe me a five page summary of what we are doing today, and its importance in the world.”
    “Leave Melissa out of this. It’s my fault she’s late,” Eric said.
    “Inexcusable,” Mr. Huntfurt laughed. “Tell me, Mr. Atl, why do you think you have the right to be late?”
    “I—” Eric began, but the teacher interrupted.
    “Just because you have a hero complex does not give you the authority to question mine. Chief O’Malley informed me of your gallant efforts the other day. I recall him saying, ‘Brave, but stupid.’ Sheer heroics won’t excuse you,” he whispered venomously. “A week’s worth of after-school-detention for your . . . tardiness.”
    Melissa let out a string of questionable words.
    “Would you like a detention as well, Ms. Water? Or were you trying to earn Mr. Atl more than a week?”
    Melissa fell silent.
    “For this field trip,” Huntfurt shouted so that everyone on the bus could hear, “no one is allowed to be around Mr. Atl. He will sit alone and work alone. He will not be spoken to. If you are caught with him, you will face a month’s worth of detention. Is that understood?”
    No one responded.
    “Get on the bus,” Huntfurt told Melissa. Furious but resigned, she went up the stairs and sat in one of the front seats with Sara.
    Huntfurt turned back to Eric and gave him a stiff smile.
    “Nothing personal, I hope,” Mr. Huntfurt whispered kindly.
    “You really want to be friendly after you gave me detention?” Eric asked. “You’re all nice and pleasant to me, but acid to everyone else. It doesn’t work both ways—” It took every ounce of Eric’s restraint to not finish with, “—hypocrite.”
    Mr. Huntfurt’s face hardened as though he knew what Eric was thinking. “Maybe that will change after today.”
    “I hope it does,” Eric said sincerely and got onto the bus. He walked to the back and sat on his own. The bus’ motor turned over, rumbling up a storm in the back, and pulled out of the school.
    * * *
    Red Springs lay approximately twenty miles south from Spring Creek. The region was an assortment of sandy hills covered in red soil and littered with artifacts. Juniper trees dotted the hillsides.
    Approximately half an hour after their departure, Eric stepped off of the bus to grab a spade, avoiding the Archaeology teacher. Ethan, Jack, and Joseph each grabbed a shovel, muttering farewells to him, and went their separate ways. It was clear no one wanted to test Mr. Huntfurt’s resolve.
    Abandoned and alone, Eric set off into the hills. He ended up on the left side of a wide drainage, surrounded by peeling junipers.
    Nearly another half-hour later, Eric had dug fifteen holes, pock-marking the hillside like acne. Tired, he sat down in the dirt, looking around. The nighttime cold snap had worn off into the warm spring morning. The sun was nearing the middle of the sky. Above, clouds swirled stark white against the blue sky, forming into odd figments of his imagination. There might have been a dragon . . . no, now it was a snake. In the north was what appeared to be a feather bed that swirled and twisted into a billowing fire. Directly overhead, he thought he saw a white tree, but the next moment, the separated, axing the tree in two at the trunk.
    A hand touched Eric’s shoulder. Alarmed, he looked over to see Melissa.
    “Hi. . . ,” he said weakly as he stood. His mind was slowly melting to mush.
    Melissa’s hand slipped from his shoulder to his hip, preserving contact.
    “Hi,” Melissa responded, keeping her composure.
    “I’m sorry about Mr. Huntfurt.”
    “I didn’t end up getting the detention. What did you say to him anyway, after I left?”
    Barely whispering, feeling rather clumsy and slurred, Eric replied, “Just . . . some stuff.”
    “Well,” Melissa smiled, “I wanted to thank you. You’re such a good guy, always doing nice things for me, like giving me the Bloodbloom and standing up for me. It means so much.”
    “You’re worth it,” he muttered, but did not know if it was audible.
    Her other hand took his. Any thoughts quickly left their minds.
    Melissa smiled, an awkward silence filling the air.
    Eric grinned uneasily. What he wouldn’t give to simply say, “I like you, I’ve always liked you,” but his tongue seemed bound with translucent glue, his brain’s messages severed from his mouth.
    “Do you want to . . . you know, go out with me? I mean, ifyoudonwanna, that’s okay. But if you want to. W–W–Will you?”
    The voice came from somewhere Eric could not locate. Had he really said that?
    She looked daringly into his eyes with that amazing charm. “Are you asking me on a date next Saturday?”
    Eric did not answer.
    The both of them were very close. His senses became overloaded, smelling her sweet perfume that had a vague scent of rain, her beautiful hair borne on the breeze.
    For some reason, Eric became awkward, overcome by the sense that he was intruding Melissa’s physical privacy. He stepped back, tripped over his feet, and tumbled down the hill. With a loud thump, Eric came to a rolling stop, crashing into the bottom of the drainage. There was a sudden, swift sensation of sand moving out from under him, like an hourglass leaking, and the ground was gone. He fell through the hole and, with a crash of water, into an underground stream. Gasping for breath, he leapt from the depths of the freezing water. Goose bumps popped over his arms as though appearing like lily pads on a pond of skin. He saw a glimpse of Melissa running down the hill after him, and the sand beneath him gave way, pulling him back into the water.
    A hand reached in water after him. Eric reached out, grasping onto Melissa’s hand and pushed off the ground. She pulled, dragging him out of the stream by his belt loops and shirt.
    Once some feet away from the hole, Eric and Melissa found their feet. A minute breeze chilled his dotted skin, making him shiver. He was drenched from head to toe, his white shirt translucent and skin-tight to his chest.
    “Geez, Eric,” she smiled and wrung her hands into his, inadvertently making him shiver more, “that was very graceful.” The quip’s humor was lost in the moment.
    And for that seemingly miraculous moment, Melissa and Eric were closer than ever. They both looked straight at each other, breathing hard. Melissa’s brown eyes burned like fire into his blue eyes. His horizon narrowed so completely that all there ever was or would be to him was the sanctity of Melissa.
    Cautiously, Eric inched forward, tilting his head to the right as Melissa’s head went to the left. It was pure magic. Her breath was on his lips, he could smell her hair.
    Her lips inched forward. They were practically touching, wet clothes on dry, faces almost meeting. Static could have erupted between them, but they would not have noticed.
    A bright light flashed in Melissa’s eyes —“Ah!” she suddenly screamed — and she pulled away from Eric.
    “What happened?” Eric asked, looking into her eyes. For a moment, he thought static had generated between them.
    Melissa looked past him at the pool of rushing water. A trail of sand grains trickled down the hole and into the water pool below. At the bottom of the river, distorted by the water’s prism, was a sphere of light.
    Eric knelt several inches away from the ledge, reached into the frigid water, and extracted the object from the bottom. He stood up and cleaned the sand off of the object, holding it out for Melissa to see. It was a palm-sized metallic, perfectly circular disk thin as a crepe. In his hand, it felt weightless.
    “What is it?” Melissa asked. Eric turned the disk in his fingers, reflecting the sun in his eyes.
    “It looks like a disk,” Eric said thoughtfully.
    Melissa looked up at him, “Why thank you, Captain Obvious, Admiral of the Duh. You’ve just been promoted to Captain Captain Obvious.”
    Eric forced himself to frown. “Heads, we keep it from Huntfurt. Tails, Huntfurt never gets this little do-dad.”
    He flipped the disk off his thumb. The disk danced through the air, reflecting the sun. They watched it fly up, linger in the air as if levitating, and come back down, gravity finally taking back control of the object. Eric reached out to catch it, but the disk evaded his grasp as though it had a mind of its own, and cut into his right forearm, drawing blood. The disk tumbled to the ground, performing a pirouette upon the dirt and sand before falling flat.
    Melissa plucked the disk from the ground. No dust clung to the shiny object. Blood dotted the edge of one side.
    “What’s that?” a close voice called.
    Eric and Melissa looked up simultaneously to see Joseph and Jack come down the hill, both with spades over their shoulders. Ignoring the twinge in his arm from the cut, Eric clapped hands with his friends.
    “Where’s Ethan?” Eric asked.
    “Getting chewed out by Mr. Huntfurt,” Joseph explained. “He found a bottle cap buried a foot in the ground, told Huntfurt it was his long-lost inheritance.”
    Before long, the quartet’s attention was drawn back to the peculiar disk.
    “Can I take a look?” Joseph asked.
    Melissa opened her hand, extending her palm and the disk toward Joseph. Just like that, as he took the disk from Melissa’s hand, the disk’s edge cut her on the pinkie. A spurt of blood landed on the edge of the disk, directly across from Eric’s blood.
    “Oh,” Joseph joked, “sorry.” He chuckled and looked down at the artifact, suddenly absorbed by the shining disk and blood.
    Jack looked over to Joseph, “What did you cut her for?”
    “I didn’t mean to,” Joseph shrugged.
    Just like that, the disk fell free from his grasp, the edge grazing the lower right side of his palm. The disk clattered to the ground with an odd ring on rocks and sand that it had not made before. Three pools of blood trickled across the disk.
    Jack swooped down while shaking his head and picked up the disk.
    “It is harmless,” Joseph said with another chuckle.
    “Tell that to our bleeding extremities,” Eric muttered.
    “Yeah!” Joseph concurred. “Tell that to our ex . . . whatever Eric said.”
    “You just don’t know how to handle it,” Jack quipped. He fingered the disk, allowing a trickle of blood to slide into another directly across. “I, however, am an expert at what I do.”
    “You are not. Besides, I got burnt by the cigarette lighter I found. Add that and the disk, life gets painful,” Joseph complained in a mock whine.
    “Oh, it’s not that bad, you big baby,” Melissa said and took Joseph’s hand into her own, studying the cut and burn.
    With Melissa’s attention elsewhere, Jack inched closer to Eric.
    “So, did you ask her out yet?” Jack asked him.
    Eric shook his head and opened his mouth, but—
    “Why are you wet?” Joseph piped up.
    Jack looked Eric up and down, suddenly realizing he was wet. A grin broke his face.
    Eric shook his head like a dog, comically spraying water in all directions and indicated to the hole in the ground. “I fell in.”
    “Twice,” Melissa added.
    “How?” Joseph continued inquiring.
    “Tripped and fell down the hill,” Eric answered.
    “Why did you trip?” Jack asked, but it seemed as though he already knew the answer.
    “What are you all doing here?” For the second time, another person had joined their group unannounced.
    Questions forgotten, Eric looked over Melissa and Joseph to see Mr. Huntfurt. His buzz cut head and deep-set eyes seemed diminished by the bright sunlight and breeze. Notwithstanding his lack of composure and overwhelming formidability he usually had, Mr. Huntfurt still looked as though he were about to throw a fit of rage and anger.
    In the back of his mind, Eric feared for his friends gathered around, but now doomed.
    The teacher skulked over to them, his eyes dancing over Eric’s bleeding forearm to the disk in Jack’s hands. His eyes grew in excitement.
    “What do you have there, Mr. Nolan?” Mr. Huntfurt asked when no one would say anything.
    Jack lifted the disk higher, looking at Mr. Huntfurt. “This?” he asked, crossing his eyes and jutting out his jaw to appear thick.
    “Give that here, Mr. Nolan,” Mr. Huntfurt demanded, extending his hand.
    Jack glanced at Eric and flipped the disk. Just like that, the disk’s edge grazed Jack’s pointer finger and was tossed into the air. In the next instant, a fourth drop of blood had spiraled through the air and fell upon the disk.
    Mr. Huntfurt reached with his left hand. Just like that, the disk danced through the air and sliced into Mr. Huntfurt’s left forearm. The teacher let out a growl of pain and looked to the ground to see where the disk had landed — but there was no disk on the ground.
    It was floating.
    As though it had changed its mind in mid-fall, the disk floated three feet above the ground and began spinning in miniature pirouettes. Transfixed, everyone inched closer into a tight-knit circle around the spinning disk. Had Eric not been so transfixed with the disk that defied laws of physics, he may have been repulsed by the idea of being so close to Mr. Huntfurt. He may have even noticed how jovial and pleasantly expectant the teacher looked under the abnormal circumstances.
    The disk stopped and fell flat as though on an invisible table. The five blood pools faced the sky. A baritone hum became audible, and the disk began to vibrate, shaking to the side in a horizontal fashion, but it did not spin or fall. Across the disk’s surface, spindly lines formed and etched the disk in two parts, one half as a spider and one half as a many-armed human. Eric’s blood was on the spider’s abdomen. A rivulet of blood ran straight across, cutting through the circular center. Eric’s nose was filled with the scent of hot metal.
    Suddenly, streams of color poured from the disk’s blood spots. From Eric’s blood came a flash of blue flurries, sparkling and shining in the sun. To his left, Joseph was consumed in a vibrant red light the color of flame. Straight across, Melissa was swarmed in an emerald green. Jack was covered in an earth brown light, while Mr. Huntfurt swam in white light.
    As the color collided with Eric, warmth flooded over his body. Across his eyes, stars and bright orbs flashed eerily. He felt his eyes spin and consciousness fade. His feet felt miles away from his body.
    Fight it, Eric though desperately, struggling to stay conscious.
    For a few brief seconds, Eric’s vision cleared. He saw the disk quivering in the air. An array of light covered the disk, dark and indiscernible.
    The disk let out another burst of light, black this time. Something hard and metallic clipped Eric’s right fingers very hard, shining in the sun as it flew by.
    Unable to resist, Eric fell unconscious. The darkness consumed him.
    * * *
    Eric first awoke in his semi-consciousness.
    A random thought crossed his mind that he hated the cliché phrase fell unconscious. This was only his second time fainting, the first being when he had first learned the backstroke and run headlong into a wall, and on both occasions, he felt that it slammed in rather then gently fell upon him. Things were happening and then he was in the dark, unconscious.
    Stop thinking, his mind said. As he considered this, his head began throbbing as though his brain were swollen against his skull. His joints ached and his body felt as though it were squirming involuntarily, his muscles tensing and relaxing, tensing and relaxing. He noted that he was standing up against a cool wall. Something cold and heavy was strapped across his chest.
    Eric opened his eyes, but he was met by darkness. Had he opened his eyes? From far above, he could feel a night breeze carrying the scent of rain. The pleasant aroma drove out the pungent, unpleasant stench of feces that accompanied wherever he was.
    Bright orange-red light exploded through the calming darkness, lighting the cavern Eric was in. Beneath him was a damp concrete floor, glacial to the touch. Behind him was a brick wall, which he had been bound to with thick, rusty chain. His clothes were torn and tattered, the ends charred and burnt. To either side of him were other people — one to his left, two to his right — but he could barely see them. His glasses were gone.
    Directly ahead was a blurry dark figure. As though from a horror movie, the seven foot figure was imposing and frightening, features indiscernible. The light came from behind the black physique.
    A deep cackle resonated from the dark figure. In deep guttural voices, the being called, “The time has come for your awakening.” Although the voices were a surprisingly calm drawl, there was something strange about it. Two voices spoke as one, as though a man and woman were speaking in perfect unison. And there was something about the way the voices pronounced the words, something strange.
    Eric could feel his heart thumping intensely now. Would it leap from his chest? Was this cavern where he would die? What if his thumping heart was removed from his chest? What if—
    The people to Eric’s left and right were awakening. Eric’s intestines turned and twisted as the black figure rose his featureless hands. In the creature’s right hand was a glowing object that seemed to control the light behind.
    “Our purposes will be yours, our vengeance shall be your anger, and our darkness will be your weapon.”
    The light grew brighter until, with an astonishing flash, the rays of color enveloped the austere figure. Eric’s heart raced and his mind screamed, Escape!
    Light came closer, completely blocking out the dark figure, moving like liquid. Eric had no doubt that when the light reached him, death would come.
    Escape! his mind shouted. To the right!
    Eric did not need told again.
    With strength and determination to survive he had never had or felt, Eric strained and broke the linked chain apart. Freed, he leapt away from the wall, looking away from the blinding light.
    Escape, escape, escape, his mind screamed, racing with his heart.
    Eric’s gut told him the exit was to the right, and he ran.
    As Eric sprinted along the wall, he saw the other bound people following his lead and breaking from the chains. Two people ran from the wall and bolted towards a dark threshold. The wind and smell of rain grew stronger — it had to lead to an exit.
    But, Eric thought, there was a third. . . .
    Just outside the dark threshold, he turned back. The other two looked back, too, stalling.
    Although the light blinded him and penetrated his mind, Eric could see the remaining human still struggling against the chains. He began to run back—
    FLASH!
    The blinding light filled the cavern like a tidal wave, washing into Eric’s mind, wrapping around his body and consuming him. The light wove tightly around him like a cocoon, dripping and sliding across his skin, eating away at his mind.
    Eric squeezed his eyes and turned away from the light. He was running, but he did not know why or where, just that he must run.
    For the slightest moment, before the venture to Red Springs and the whole day were stripped completely with his memory, the light cleared away from Eric.
    An angered scream reached his ears from behind, at once both male and female.
    His bare feet carried him after the other two. Ahead of him, Eric could just see—
    * * *
    He tore away the chains trapping him to the cool stone wall.
    Free, he ran. Bright light was all around him. Voices echoed through his head, not coherent enough to understand. Something dripped across his body, enveloping his senses with an odd pain. He could feel his mind losing memories. All he knew is he must run.
    Escape! his mind shouted.
    Flash!
    Eric’s eyes snapped open. Sunlight intruded his retina, blurring his vision. For a moment, he was completely blinded, only aware of the breeze echoing around him and that his legs were moving. Finally, his blindness dwindled away and he could see properly. Still pumping, his legs were carrying him down the sidewalk and to the front door of his home. The sun hung suspended at the center of the sky, indicating the time to be a little past noon.
    His heart was pounding and his head throbbed with a dying thought: Escape!
    Fully awake, Eric stopped running and looked around. No one was watching him, no one was even outside. The birds were deathly silent, the only sound coming from the breeze and his thundering heart. Eric wore his shirt, jeans, and shoes, all of which were torn and burnt. He wore no glasses but could see perfectly.
    Confused, disoriented — had he not just fallen asleep last night, why was it morning — Eric walked the remainder of the sidewalk and up to the door. As he reached for the doorknob, he noticed a straight white scar on his right arm, ever so slightly raised and running an inch length around his arm. In the medial aspect of his right ring finger was another scar, raised like a mild boil, another incision that Eric had never remembered receiving.
    Shaking his head, he turned the knob and walked inside. He held his arms tight to himself, trying to obscure the torn and burnt clothing.
    “Hi, Eric!” called his mother, Tahira, from the kitchen.
    He walked faster, huddling his body closely, murmuring, “Hi, Mom,” and continued to his room. With any luck, his mother would wait to talk to him and he could discard his clothes.
    “Eric,” Tahira called after him, “why don’t we talk while we unload the dishwasher?”
    No such luck.
    “Busy,” Eric hollered back, but corrected himself in attempts to sound inconspicuous, “gotta drop my school stuff, use the bathroom, you know.”
    Before she could object, Eric sprinted the remaining distance to his room, shutting the door as he got inside. The wooden door slammed as though he had closed it with all his strength. In a rushed manner, he took off his shirt and jeans and replaced them with new clothes that were not trashed. After this, Eric left his room in a much slower fashion, going into the bathroom. Once inside, he closed the door, but only stood there, taking up the imaginary time it would take to use the toilet.
    Why was he just walking up to the door? Why was he not in bed? What had—
    Wait, Eric’s brain declared, think this through. Be logical. You’re finishing high school and leaving home in a few months, you have to start figuring this stuff out.
    He started with his last memory. Last Eric could remember, he had jumped into an ice cream truck and it had exploded around him. He had gone to the hospital and the next day, he had been released to home with strict precautions and limitations. That night he had fallen asleep thinking about the field trip and giving Melissa a ride the following morning, dreaming about a superhero . . . and suddenly he was running home wearing burnt clothes.
    Had he escaped from somewhere? Maybe his dream about running past a stone wall had not been a dream. But what had happened?
    Memory lapse, Eric suggested to himself, amnesia. . . . Must have hit my head. . . .
    Eric felt his head for any unusual contusions or abrasions, but found none. What had happened—?
    Tap-tap!
    “Eric!” Tahira shouted through the door, making her son leap a foot into the air. “Everything okay in there?”
    Eric replied creakily, “I suppose.”
    He ran over to the toilet, flushed it, washed his hands, and opened the door. Tahira smiled and her eyebrows scrunched together.
    “Where are your glasses?” she asked, scanning his face.
    “Didn’t feel like wearing them,” Eric stuttered and followed his mother into the kitchen.
    “So, anything big happen today?” his Mom asked.
    As any adolescent might respond, Eric declared: “Nothing much.”
    “Well,” Tahira nodded, unloading a couple of glasses from the dishwasher, “what happened on the field trip? I’m sure something must have happened.”
    “Uh . . . ,” Eric murmured, absentmindedly grasping at an empty space in the dish crate, “we dug . . . holes . . . an’ stuff. Yeah.”
    “Yeah? Anything else exciting?” she asked, bemused.
    “Not that I can remember,” Eric responded truthfully.
    That night, Eric fell asleep hoping and praying that he would wake in his own bed and his memory would return. His parents shut off their reading lights and the house fell black. Somehow, the night seemed darker than it had ever been.

  5. B. Macon 14 Sep 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I’m still working on a review of the first chapter.

  6. Anonymouson 12 Feb 2012 at 12:21 pm

    have you seen DR.Horrible by any chance

  7. Anonymouson 12 Feb 2012 at 12:22 pm

    by the way i am Dan Lee

  8. YoungAuthoron 12 Feb 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Waterman? its a good place holder for now but it is kinda weak. Poseidon? Aqua blue? H20?

  9. YoungAuthoron 12 Feb 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Hydrogen?

  10. Patrick Harrison 22 Jul 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments. As it turns out, Waterman has been picked up by a publishing agency and is coming out in December. I have not seen Dr. Horrible, Dan Lee, and to Young Author, Waterman seems to be sticking for now. Thanks again!

  11. B. McKenzieon 22 Jul 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Congratulations!

  12. YoungAuthoron 22 Jul 2012 at 4:23 pm

    CONGRATS!!!!! who is the publishing agency??

  13. Carl Shinyamaon 23 Jul 2012 at 12:01 am

    Congratulations!!

  14. Mynaon 23 Jul 2012 at 6:31 am

    Congrats, that’s so awesome!

  15. Patrick Harrison 05 Feb 2013 at 12:45 am

    Sorry about the delayed response, guys. It’s been a crazy few months.

    Waterman got published by Tate Publishing! Wahoo! You can find the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in April. They also started a site for the series: http://www.thewatermanchronicles.com, and the book is out on the Tate Publishing website.

    Thanks from everybody, and good luck to you all!

  16. B. McKenzieon 05 Feb 2013 at 1:25 am

    Awesome! Good luck, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

  17. Jacob Strainon 05 Feb 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Wow! Congradulations, Mr. Harris! I’ll be sure to buy the book as soon as it comes out!

  18. Patrick Harrison 06 Feb 2013 at 12:25 am

    Thanks again, guys!

  19. Patrick Harrison 16 Apr 2013 at 7:45 am

    Thanks again for all of the support guys! My book comes out today! Wahoo!

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