Chapter 5-Lives Everywhere

The city. All the noise and smells would be tolerable by themselves, but only if he didn't have to listen to the uncountable voices of the people scrambling everywhere. Take that, and mix it with the brightness from the sun to make it more unpleasant. He just wished the clouds would do their job about the light. One woman, way too happy about the day, commented on how nice it is for it to be so sunny. Alex wanted to kill that woman.

One enjoyment he did manage to pull from people was their ability to make. While he wandered through the city and slowly looked around, he usually found himself floating around the electronics store. It wasn't random either, since he was looking for it.

His red eyes focused on items through the windows without blinking. "I think now that I'm here, the first things I need are a source of info and a place to stay. I wish those facility pricks hadn't taken my computer. Now I have to start over."

He wandered into the shop and started looking at particular things. "What do I need? Some thin wire, some plastic. Two plastics, I need a screen too."

His gaze stopped on a sliding phone, then a handheld gaming system. He smirked when he picked up the game. "The right size body and screen, and the phone has the keyboard. I can just mix and match parts."

He pulled the money out of his pocket, with something else. "Good thing I took the dead guy's card, but I can only use it here so I don't get tracked. I'll save the money for a hotel."

Tucking the money away, he then took both electronics with a set of little tools and went to checkout. He gave the cashier guy a fake smile and slid the card. The card took and he headed out the door, tossing the plastic card in a trash can.

"I don't know, what do you think I said?!"

The sudden sound ripped Alex out of his steady thoughts and into a scene going on to his left. Eight people gathered just inside the mouth of an alley, and seemed to argue with themselves as four against four. Actually, more like one to four.

One of them, a girl, shoved away from four guys who apparently weren't on her christmas list, while three boys her age watched from behind her. The four in front were taller and older, and even looked a little more like they lived in that alley. Alex only stared quietly.

The girl herself could be pointed out by her hair, which didn't quite want to lay down without poking up a bit all over the place. Her short brown hair and tan complexion separated her pretty well from the three boys behind her. One of the taller four, a guy who couldn't wear his cap properly, put his hand on the girl's shoulder. "You know what I think she said? I think she said something about us living in a paint shop and looking like idiots."

Alex understood the paint comment, they looked like they had no more room for tattoos.

The girl smacked the guy's hand away and looked ready to spit on them. She was completely stunned when a hand came up against her face, and fell over against one of the shorter three. Instead of crying, which is what a part of Alex expected, she turned her glare back up. "I've been hit harder, you single brain cell pricks!"

Two of the taller guys grabbed the other three now. She tried pulling one off when the unmoving guy from the other side patted her on the head. The sudden touch made her jump away. "Now look, miss thing. I think you owe us an apology." The one speaking, who seemed to be the leader by the other three's reactions, smiled at her. "Maybe whatever cool things you four got'll make us feel better."

Her anger-stained face headbutted him.

"I'm not saying sorry for you gangster wannabes knocking over one of my buddies!"

One big hand was gripping her hair before she even noticed. The boss didn't sound as nice anymore when he growled out a sentence. "Then I guess the problem isn't gone."

A string of chuckling kept the leader's other hand from raising in response to the girl's hit. The gang of four, the taller one, looked over to see Alex giggling like an idiot against a street light.

Along with the punks, only the girl turned her head halfway. They all sported annoyed faces, waiting for Alex to stop laughing, but he started pointing too and laughing harder. The boss stood up straight.

"Something funny, kid?" the leader asked. When he got no answer, he nodded one of his thugs over toward the boy. Alex drew his red eyes up to the one standing in front of him, when the boss spoke again. "Wanna let us in on the joke?"

The laughing boy rubbed his near tear-stricken eyes and quieted down finally. "Um, sure. She got you really good."

Alex indicated his nose and the boss noticed a thin stream of blood running to his chin. He glared at the girl, and she glared back. "Look, boy, if you think that's funny, then-"

"I know you're talking, but can we just finish this? I'm still looking for a place to live." Alex waved him off and pointed forward. "How about we do this in your little alley?"

The boys who were with the girl just stared at the thugs' boss as he scoffed and held an arm out to the alley, asking Alex to step in. Alex handed his bag to the girl and told the other thugs to follow. They all vanished into the gap in the bricks.

Exactly five seconds later, three of them burst out of the alley at full speed. All of them were covered in heavy bruises and a few cuts, and Alex had the last one by the shoulder. The last one was too busy dealing with the shooting pain of the boy's grip running through his shoulder to move.

While the other four watched, Alex's other hand lifted. He brought his hand toward the punk's face slowly, grinning. The thug managed to grab and stop his hand at the last second, ending with a single finger against his forehead.

"You move like a freak!" The wannage gangster let his anger get out and started sputtering anything he could think, even if his thoughts didn't go far. "If you didn't know all that kung fu, then you couldn't do nothing!"

"Quiet." The single word stabbed through the noise as the punk stared up. "You were four, and still don't know how to fight."

An arrogant grin passed across the thug's face. "You still can't do anything with your arms stuck like this."

At the same second his sentence finished, something passed through his head. He didn't know what it was, but it froze his blood. It was such a familiar feeling, but he couldn't remember the word. The only thing in his mind was a thought.

"What is this?" The sudden thought was a memory from ten years ago. He was a kid and liked playing random games in the mud, so he walked home dirty a lot. One day, on the way home, a stray dog had gotten hold of him. There was so much blood that everyone thought he'd lose the hand the dog tore at. He saw the dog more than once before it attacked, and it always looked normal. The adults tried to explain to him why, but a kid like him didn't get it, the reason the dog attacked. Since that day, he's been terrified of dogs.

"Why am I remembering this?" His eyes bulged at the one person staring straight down at him. More than that, his stare moved to the hand at his forehead, and he remembered the finger pressed against his head. There was a cold sensation where the finger touched him. All he could cough out was a whisper. "What...are you doing to me?"

The face of the one holding him down moved close and whispered a strange reply. "You should run home. There are big dogs all over the place."

Within five more seconds, the last thug ran out of the alley. Out of the others, though, the last's face was stained with tears.

The four stood dumbfounded. Well, three did, but one of the boys didn't even know what he saw. Alex turned his red eyes to the girl, then his bag, then back to her. He took his stuff from her hand and started walking.

For a moment, her voice didn't seem to work. "W-wait!"

For less than half a second, he paused in mid-step, but it wasn't long enough for them to notice before they caught up to him. One of the boys spoke up. "How'd you do that?" This boy was that type of build that's right in between thin and just a bit over weight, sporting red hair in a crew cut and a particular tone in his voice. Even with one sentence being spoken, Alex still detected the tone as cowardice.

He didn't say anything, and just kept walking. The red-haired boy stopped and stared, then looked back to the others. The other two boys shrugged. Without a word, Alex just hoped they'd go away.

"Hey!" A sudden pressure took hold of his shoulder and spun him around so that he could see the girl's hand gripping him. Instead of the glare, she was smiling. "It's rude to walk off after something like that."

He snickered for the smallest second and started walking again. Now she flipped him around with both hands. "Stick around for a minute. You did say you were looking for a place to stay, yes?"

He almost rolled his eyes. "Yeah. Got anything on that?"

"First, your name." The smile she wore was almost haughty, like she just gained a hand on him. He could find a place on his own, but for some reason an image of her holding his hair flashed through his mind. It made him laugh.

"Alan." He watched her stare, keeping her from figuring out his own. "There's no way I'm giving you my name."

"Well, Alan. I'm Tanya, and these are my pets." She indicated the three boys with an impish grin.

"Friends, T. At least I am, these two're the pets." The first boy with the red hair was the one talking, while the four of them snickered. "I'm David, and these two are Bibble and Quibble."

"What the heck's a quibble?" A skinny little boy with messy black hair slapped David on the arm with a small burst of a laugh. "My name's actually Quinn, and I'm glad David at least forgot what my name was yesterday."

"Well, I would've, but you just reminded me." David smiled as Quinn smacked himself in the face.

The last boy, who wore short blond hair with glasses and an almost invisible scar next to his ear, finally spoke. "You mean Babliocordicose? Hard to say." He held up a hand in a mock wave. "I'm Mikey."

"Balibaco-I still can't say it." Tanya mumbled. "So, Alan, where do you go?"

"Go?" Alex's eyes flickered between the four of them, probably misunderstanding. "You mean where I'll be staying? Somehow I don't think you meant that."

Her voice rose back up. "No, I mean...I mean school. What school are you? You with Fallton, or Devonwood, or Westmerst?"

"That's what you meant?" He actually felt a bit surprised, because he hadn't thought about their age, or his. The fingers holding his bag of electronics felt an itch to play with his new stuff, but not with them around. "None of them, I guess."

Little Quinn chimed in. "Really? New to town then?"

"Yeah, don't know my way around yet either." Alex replied.

"If ya don't go anywhere yet, you oughta come over to Fallton High. That's our school." Tanya said it with a smile spreading across her face. "Keep Westmerst from getting a hold of you."

"T, check the time!"

Mikey pulled her back to reality and she shifted her arms around, looking at her wrists. "Crap, forgot it again!" She yanked David's arm over to look at his watch. Her attention went back to Alex, but she was flinging her arms around now. "I almost forgot you were looking for a place to stay."

She pointed up the street and motioned her hand around. "Head up past two lights, then to the left and a little apartment place'll be on the right. Look for the sign saying Bobby's Boxes."

He tried to get a word in. "Um."

"Sorry for the rush, there's a movie starting in a few minutes." The group started to spread down the street with her smacking Alex on the shoulder before running off. "Don't forget, we're at Fallton!"

The four disappeared, finally. He was left again with only the sounds of the people and cars moving past him, the bag of stuff and money kept on him, and the directions to the apartments. Even still, he was tapping a finger against his leg. "I don't actually have anything planned that far ahead. Once I got a living place, and my computer, what's next?"

He started counting on his hand, thinking anything he would need to do, which was a short list. So short a list that he was annoyed when the counting ended. "I like to hurt people, and I want a lot of people. Maybe I should try what that girl mentioned."