The Red Envelope
The room that they had now passed into was much more impressive than the previous two combined. It was a stone room; floor to ceiling was grey rock. The whole area was basked in warm yellow torch light, lit by torch upon torch that lined the walls. Three podium-like structures protruded out in the middle of the massive room, each having a different symbol scrawled on its rocky surface. Tom approached the "Fire" podium; it glowed faintly red as he got closer.
Curious, he raised an open hand palm down, over the piece of stone. Red light rose from it, in the shape of tentacles, and enveloped his hand completely. The light was so great, that he was forced to shut his eyes. All of a sudden though, he began to feel something, something deep inside his subconscious. Ancient warmth spread over his body, while his mind began racing with thoughts of buildings, cars, boats, trees, even bodies that were all engulfed in flame.
He gasped and stumbled backwards as he regained control of his mind, the images disappeared instantly.
"Tom, are you ok?" Jennifer asked when she heard his gasp. Tom shook his head in a vain attempt to clear the drowsiness from it.
"I'm…" He paused to catch his breath "I'm alright; just had a weird trip is all." He managed to finish. She held the look of concern on him for a few more moments, finally decided that he was fine, and turned back to looking at the "Water" podium.
She too had a curious mind, and had seen Tom perform his trick with the fire stone, why couldn't she? As she approached it, she steeled herself for what the stone may do to her. Just as Tom had done, one hand palm down was placed over the water stone. A blue light raced up to meet Jennifer's hand, surrounding it similar to the red light. A sudden sensation slammed into her like a wall, a feeling of calm and understanding touched the subconscious of her own brain, bringing with it images of oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. She didn't stumble backwards, however, and lowered her hand after the light had receded. Tom was watching her complete the process, and raised a hand to get her attention. He lowered it quickly as a wave of nausea passed over him. He swayed on his feet and fought to stay conscious. In the end, he lost that battle; he fell backwards and hit the floor with a thud.
"Tom, are..." Jennifer's sentence was cut off, as she too began to sway back and forth. Her head spun, her eyes rolled up into her head, and she passed out; landing in the dust next to Tom.
"Wake up, Thomas. Time for school!" Mrs. Burke yelled up the stairs to her son. Tom threw the covers off of him and shot out of bed. He examined himself in the mirror, nothing strange. He remembered everything that had happened, but it seemed as if it was all a dream; a fantastic dream.
"I'm getting ready mom!" He yelled back down the stairs. Mrs. Burke returned to the kitchen to make herself breakfast. Tom walked over to his dresser and chose a red American Eagle shirt, a pair of dark blue BKE jeans, and some socks. He dressed quickly and grabbed his backpack on his way down the stairs. Jenny was waiting for him in the living room, tapping her left foot in annoyance.
"Hurry up! We're going to be late!" She barked when he came into sight.
"You could have left without me, you know." He responded with a smile. She grabbed her purse that was lying on the couch and pushed him towards the door.
"See you tonight, mom. Love you!" Jenny yelled into the house as they made it down the porch and out of their yard through the chain gate.
They arrived to school shortly, the 1st hour bell rung as they entered the door. Sam had met them halfway from his house and walked with them. Three periods later, Thomas was in English class.
Snake Williams was also in Thomas' English hour; he sat one row to the left, and two seats back from Tom.
"Hey bro, watch this." Snake whispered to one of his friends; also a member of the gang he was in. Snake threw a paper wad towards the kid in front of him, a small-framed nerdy looking boy whose nose constantly whistled when he breathed, nailing him behind his right ear and making him flinch. Snake and the two other boys laughed and began crumpling up more paper.
"Leave him alone." Thomas said. Snake jumped at the sudden demand that was made towards him; they all stopped crumpling and throwing paper to look at him.
"What's it to you, Dirt?" Snake growled at him. Thomas gritted his teeth when the word "Dirt" was used, because that was the name that Snake and his pals had given him; mainly of how Tom let everyone walk over him without standing up for himself.
"I said" Tom leaned forwards so Snake could hear "Leave, Him, Alone." He repeated. Snake smiled to show his crooked teeth.
"This is different, he's actually threatening me!" Snake howled with laughter, as did the two beside him. Tom didn't laugh, didn't smile. He just glared as Snake and his pals laughed in his face.
"What are you going to do about it, Dirt?" Snake asked, once he had regained his composure. Tom looked back a few seats to Sam, who shook his head in a quick "No" there was also an expression of fear in his features. Tom returned his eyes back to Snake, who was still watching him. Snake's eyes were a cold brown. He was a pale, long-haired youth, around the age of twenty, as he had been held back a few grades. His hair was black, as was every shirt he owned, basketball shorts were also an everyday thing for him. Tom's eyes softened and he sighed; he knew that he and Sam weren't a match for Snake's gang of twenty or so members.
"Nothing, forget that I said anything." He replied to Snake's question. One of Snake's bushy eyebrows shot up on his forehead.
"Nothing? That's what I thought." He said with a smile, turning back to torment the boy again.
The day ended with a slow note. Tom, Sam, and Jenny kept getting angry glares, and were ignored for most of the day, even the nerds kept away. In fact, it wasn't until school had ended did anyone approach them. As they exited the building, they were met by almost a dozen men; they were all part of The Pact, which was Snakes' gang; a white supremacist gang, none the less.
"Heard you was mouthin off to tha boss, can't have that." Was said in a high-pitched voice by one that wore a green bandana on his head; He slurred his words, and had lost almost all of his teeth. Sam stepped forward and put himself in front of Jenny and Tom.
"We didn't mouth off to anyone. We'll be on our way now." Sam said as he started forward. Another large thug blocked his path and shoved him back to where Tom and Jenny were standing.
"You're not going anywhere, Mudskin. I'll deal with you in a minute." The first one said, someone grabbed Sam from behind and pinned his arms behind his back; struggle as Sam might, he couldn't break free. Another man caught Jenny and pinned her arms also, the remaining fifteen surrounded Tom.
"Let my friends go!" Tom yelled.
"What are you gonna to do about it, Dirt?" The one that held Jenny yelled. A skinny man behind Tom suddenly shot forwards and grabbed his arms, and then the members in front began punching him unmercifully. Jenny cried out and struggled to get free, which only made her attacked hold tighter. One blow landed on his ribs, another on his jaw; after a while they let him drop to the ground, and began kicking him.
"How's this feel, Dirt? Feel pretty good?" They yelled and spat down at him.
Tom began to feel the ancient warmth again, like he had in his dream, only this time it was much greater. Every muscle in his body twitched, and there was a large explosion around him that sent the gang members flying away. Sam and Jenny had stopped struggling and were watching with amazement as Tom slowly rose to his feet.
"Tom, are you ok?" Sam yelled over to him. Tom didn't respond to him, he simply walked over to an unconscious man in the street, and looked at him. Sam noticed that something was on Tom's arms.
"Tom, your arms! They're on fire!" Sam yelled with concern evident in his voice. Tom turned around and looked at the men that held Jenny and Sam, his arms were indeed on fire but he wasn't in pain; his eyes were also the color of lava. He began walking towards Jenny and Sam's captors, each step he took burned his footprint into the asphalt.
"Let them go." He said as he approached them. The two men let them fall to the ground and ran the other way as fast as possible. As they picked themselves up from the ground, the flames on Tom's arms disappeared and his eyes returned to normal; he also fell, unconscious, into a pile on the ground.
In the poor district of town sat the base of operations for The Pact, one of the biggest and most dangerous gangs in Lawrence. Pact territory was determined by neighborhood; if your neighborhood chose to voluntarily join The Pact, then several of its members were sent to your area to begin recruiting new members to join the cause; with each new district assimilated into The Pact there was a district officer chosen to lead it. Since most of the gang's secrets are unknown to the public, why they were created remains a mystery to this day.
Several Pact Runners, much less than what was sent to kill the three teenagers, came sprinting into the Patchwork district; panting and exhausted, they were taken into a nearby house where they awaited the arrival of Patchwork, the district officer.
"What was that kid?" panted a skinny youth around the age of sixteen. He wore a white wife beater with a silver chain dangling down from his neck, black shorts that were past his knees in length, and worn out grey and black sneakers.
"I don't know, I simply don't know." Replied Joseph, the alpha of their Runners; he turned and put a hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Listen to me, Ben, we're safe now. They couldn't have followed us into the Patchwork district, impossible." Joseph reassured him. Ben seemed to calm down a little; because he sat down and started playing with his switchblade, a common relaxation method for him, and waited for Patchwork. There was a loud, three timed knock on the door of the small house. Joseph went and answered it.
"Hello, Runners." A deep and soothing voice entered the room from a medium sized, muscled man. He was almost seven feet tall, and had visible muscles in his torso and legs; a long scar ran from the length of his left hip to his right shoulder. His head was shaven, his eyes were dark brown; almost black.
"Patch, I'm so glad you've come!" Ben said as he put his switchblade into his pocket, and ran up to hug the man. Patchwork embraced the small Runner, and held him out at arms' length.
"You need to tell me what happened, and then we will fix this problem." Patchwork responded, as he led the Runners into another room to rest.
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