Chapter 1: Morning Exposition
Early morning rays flood through the open blinds in the pair of windows against the bedroom wall.
A propeller plane passes by low overhead. Such a familiar sound. The boy in the bed stirs slightly. Cory's eyes flutter open, and quickly blink shut and open again.
He rolls his eyes back, groans, and exhales, now very awake. Calm. It's a quiet, pleasant morning. Feels just like the day before, Cory reckons. The mornings and days of summer vacation were starting to blur together.
From his bed he looks out the window, through the blinds, into the bright light of morning. Hard to distinguish anything. When he looks away, the white light of the blinds sears into his eyes, casting their image around everything else around the walls of his room. The bed. A desk, a dresser, a cabinet of clutter. Baseball memorabilia coats a few smaller shelves perched about the room.
Cory Danby rolls out of bed and glides downstairs to breakfast, a bowl of cereal waiting to be poured and a biscuit ready to be split and dripped with honey.
An average breakfast for an average young man. Average height and weight for a sixteen year old, cut out of the mold of an average American golden boy. Short, light brown hair. Unassuming clothes and demeanor.
Average, plain, and ordinary, he eats with his head slumped up against his fist, alone at the kitchen table and alone in the house on a weekday morning.
Dressed, he steps out the front door and into another hot day in Central Florida. As moist as the air was, the plants around the house and out back would still need watering. It was Cory's job for the time being; taking care of the house.
Cory walks down the short paved path to the street and takes a look up and down. To the left, a long, straight street lined with houses, heading back out towards the main boulevard. To the right, another house or two before the street takes a sharp L-turn to the right. A tall, dark jungle of a forest rises up where the street turns, behind the older house straight ahead in Cory's line of sight.
He retreats to the backyard, retrieves the garden hose, and sprays the failing gardens lining the wooden fence that boxes in their lot and yard.
Hot. He sips a drink from the hose, then arcs the spray back over his head for a fountain effect, rolling his head back to feel the mist and watch the rainbows dance in and out.
Cory flicks the hose off and turns his head around. Patrick and Erika, two neighbors and friends, are watching perched against the opposite side of the fence, standing in the front yard.
"Yeah. Something like that," Cory shouts back. "What's up?"
"We're going out to breakfast, or lunch, or whatever it is now. Wanna come?" Erika asks.
Erika shrugs. "Somewhere close. We're walking."
From the older house in front of the forest, Erika's mother screams for her. "Erika! You're not getting out of this!"
"Guess your mom's up," Patrick chuckles.
"Not getting out of what?" Cory calls over.
"Uck. We're clearing out some of the brush back against the woods, she's obsessed with keeping our lawn looking clean. She had me rake it yesterday! Want to come help?"
"Not really, to be honest."
Erika frowns until Cory cracks a grin.
"Hold on a sec, I gotta…get-" Cory spins around with the garden hose and sprays it towards Patrick and Erika, chasing them away from the fence.
"Agh, don't!" Erika shouts, ducking safely away while Cory laughs. He drops the hose and follows them away.
The bright, invited jungle springs up from behind the back of Erika's fence and shaded backyard. Colored pinwheels are tied onto posts at random intervals, spinning gently.
Sticks, branches, and cones litter the ground around the fence. Patrick, always the jokester of the group, is trying to hook Erika's glasses with a long and crooked branch.
"Cut it! Cut it out!"
Patrick stalks her around the yard with a deviant grin, tapping her shoulder with the end of the branch.
Cory walks along the opposite side of the picket fence, searching for larger branches that can be tosses further into the trees or over the fence and into a pile. Eyes cast down on the ground, he catches a glimpse of a dull gleam on the floor of dirt and dead leaves, something that must have caught sunlight at the right angle and reflected back up.
Indifferent yet curious, he bends down to sift for whatever the object is, turning leaves and twigs over with his hands.
Cory never sees whatever the reflection object is.
Before he can utter a shout, or do so much as blink, an explosion of color and light rushes through him, soaring in from all direction in a millisecond and enveloping him in its bath. He disappears inside the thunderclap, as everything within vision fades into a bright green, then down into an infinite white as the sounds of the humming forest and the roar of the explosion whistle away.