Anger is an Energy
Gareth had always been an angry child. Even back when his mother had had to attend parents evenings on her own, she had sat with a mixture of shame and dread as a succession of teachers had shuffled their feet and fidgeted uncomfortably while finding ever more creative and varied ways to ask if everything was alright at home. They would tell her things that she already knew or could guess well enough; Gareth didn't mix very well. That, while being creative, he found it hard to express himself in front of others. And in one shame filled meeting, that Gareth had killed the school hamster in an argument about Danger mouse.
This is not to say that Gareth was spoilt; far from it. There was not much abundance in the Jones household, even with just him, his older brother and his mother abiding there. He didn't demand things unreasonably; he didn't expect preferential treatment at all. But there was always an air of darkness about him. Sometimes his mother wondered if his father had some kind of psychic vision of life in the future with Gareth in the world and made the decision to take off before he was born. Whatever the reason, one night Mr Jones snuck a suitcase in the back of his car, and let himself out of the back door while the rest of his family were watching Eastenders, leaving a pregnant wife and his 2-year-old son Alfie to fend for themselves.
And so fend for themselves they did, weathering the rough with the smooth, and doing as best they could. Alfie went from strength to strength, taking on the mantle of man of the house as soon as he was able. Mrs Jones (she kept the name, despite all her friends telling her to revert to her maiden name of Pratt) worked hard to provide for her two sons and Gareth grew to be a hansom child. However, from the age of 5 even the neighbours could tell that there was something not quite right about the youngest Jones child.
Maybe it was the occasional bangs and thumps that echoed through the terrace houses adjoining theirs, which seemed to emanate from Gareth's room. It could have been the tired look of fear that crept into Mrs Jones' face whenever he was near. But mostly it was the fact that Gareth never smiled. At least, that was the conclusion that friends and neighbours drew, as no one had reportedly seen a smile on young master Jones' lips.
On his 8th birthday an effort was made to invite his fellow classmates to a party, held in the back garden of the modest terrace house. Favours were asked and cashed in, tables were borrowed, and even entertainment was booked, in the form of Uncle Sparko, a friend of a friend's cousin who was an aspiring children's entertainer. Of the 25 children invited, an impressive 8 actually turned up and for the first 30 minutes at least things seemed to be going ok. Gareth sat at the head of the table and while not actually smiling or talking to his guests, seemed content to watch proceedings. Then, without warning, Uncle Sparko burst a balloon while attempting a particularly tricky model of the Eiffel Tower and Gareth unleashed his wrath on him. Witnesses to this event reported seeing a subdued children's entertainer under a barrage of abuse from an irate 8 year old. Uncle Sparko himself took himself off soon after complaining of a headache and a nosebleed.
From this age upwards, changes seemed to come over Gareth. If someone incurred his displeasure, rather than shouting at them, he would merely glare at them. Apart from the unsettling nature of being glared at by such an angry young lad, the unfortunate victim would start to complain of feeling a headache coming on. This rose to a migraine as Gareth neared his 13th birthday. Poor Mrs Jones was the usual brunt of displeasure with Alfie a close second, although his teachers had started to show more absences than usual, or to let Gareth get away with murder at school; anything than have the morose child glare at them.
As with most children, puberty was a milestone. Sudden growth spurts saw Gareth nearing the 6-foot mark, and although acne had claimed parts of his face, it still left him a certain attractiveness. His hair grew to a long thick brown cascade and his frame filled out to the stature of a man. He took to dressing in black and walked with a stoop, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders or to bring himself in line with his other shorter classmates. His schoolwork had suffered as no teacher had the inclination to correct him, and as the examination board were safely locked away behind closed doors immune from his glare, he left school with one GCSE in pottery; his dreams of following his brother Alfie into a career of engineering in tatters. The events that followed the receipt of his exam results have become the stuff of legend.
"Well, what did you get?" Try as she might, she couldn't disguise the fear that crept into her voice.
Gareth slid the knife under the flap of the envelope and peered in. The usual frown that played across his face had sharpened into a furious look of hatred. He fished out the letter and, following a cursory glance, screwed it into a tight ball and let it roll from his hand onto the floor.
"Nothing," he spat. "One lousy GCSE in pottery. What the hell am I going to do with that?"
His mother felt a wave of nausea pass over her, as if someone had run a greasy finger over her brain.
"Now it's not all that bad. You enjoyed pottery, didn't you?"
Now Gareth turned his gaze onto her. She tore her eyes away from his, but the feeling that someone was squeezing her head remained.
"Enjoyed it?" he hissed. "I enjoyed it, but not as something I want to do for the rest of my life. How am I going to become an engineer now? It's so easy for Alfie, swanning through University. He's set for life. I'll be making the plates he eats his expensive dinners off."
"Now that's not fair Gareth," she stuttered. "Alfie studied hard…"
"I studied hard." The outburst sent her reeling but she held her footing. God help her, but he was getting so strong these days. Recently she had started fearing for her safety when Gareth was in one of his moods. "Do you think I was slacking all these weeks?" he continued.
"Of course not dear, but..."
"Oh you don't understand. None of you do. You haven't got a clue."
And with that, he grabbed his black overcoat and strode through the front door, letting it slam shut behind him.
He pounded the pavements; letting his feet guide him while his mind spun. What did she know? What did anyone know? People pretended to care but what they really wanted was to get the better of him. From the pathetic souls trying to gain his favour in the class room, to the teachers who wanted him to tell them about himself, the poor excuse for a psychologist he had been sent to once who showed him pictures of ink spots and asked what the represented to him. He had been so enraged by this intrusion into his head that the psychologist had called the session short by 35 minutes with a migraine and a flowing nosebleed. No one cared or understood. Even the few times he had tried to approach girls; the look of disgust on their faces had said it all.
His feet carried him along the lanes, through the park and into the estates. The green grass and trees gave way to concrete and litter, CCTV cameras and broken glass, graffiti and burnt out cars but he didn't care or notice. His mind was raging now, conjuring up images of himself as a poor elderly potter, making cups and plates for his rich brother to use and smash. He kicked a can that loitered in the kerb and as it rattled to a noisy halt he heard the catcalls for the first time.
"Look who it is, guys. Marilyn Manson."
This comment was greeted by sniggers and laughter and as Gareth turned he saw 5 lads leaning and sitting on a brick wall adorned with indiscriminate spray painted pictures.
"I thought you lot only came out after the sun set." More laughter and high fives. They could have been brothers, they were so similar. All jogging bottoms or jeans riding low, hooded tops and baseball caps showing no detail of their faces save the nose and mouth.
"What you doing on our turf, friend?" The question was addressed to him, but no friendship was implied. Gareth considered running for it, but he didn't know where he was anymore. A bolt for freedom might take him further into the lion's den. He turned to face them.
"OOOOhhhhhh, look at that face." This brought yet more laughter. The ringleader seemed to be the tallest figure that had just jumped down off the wall. He turned to the others to make sure they were watching. "You got to turn that frown upside down."
As the ringleader spoke, the others fanned out until Gareth could only just make out their presence from the corners of his vision. They were now within 6 feet of him, blocking any attempt of escape. He felt a ripple of fear pass through him, but as quickly as it came it was replaced by another sensation; power.
"What's your name, friend?"
He turned to face the ringleader. "Gareth."
"Well Gareth, who said you could come through our estate?" No smiles now, just nodding and flexing of muscles.
"Now you ask; nobody. Did I need permission?" His voice was steady, but it did nothing to deter them.
"What if I came and stood in your garden? You wouldn't like that, would you?" The ringleader offered a wide smile, and Gareth noticed his missing teeth.
"Not really, no."
"There you go then." He spread his arms wide as if an agreement had been reached.
"Well, I'm very sorry," Gareth said, the sarcasm dripping from his words. "If you'll excuse me, I'll get out of your garden," he looked around at the litter and concrete, "and be on my way."
The effect was immediate. "You disrespecting me?" The ringleader had cocked his head to one side in disbelief, while the others tensed, ready for action. The ringleader advanced on Gareth. "Are you taking the piss, Goth boy?" He pronounced this 'goff.'
There were no smirks or smiles now, just shuffling of feet and intimidating poses. Gareth never took his eyes from the ringleader, but he was aware of the changing positions of the other gang members.
"You gonna let him get away with that, Nab?"
The comment came from Gareth's far right. So the ringleader had a name.
"No way is he gonna get away with that. Think you should make a donation to our cause, and then maybe you might be able to walk out of here." The gap toothed smile was back, but there was no humour in it.
Gareth could feel a tingle run through his body. Where there should have been fear, there was only power, and the undeniable feeling that he was in control of the situation.
"OK, fair enough. I have something I can donate to your cause."
He delved his hand into his coat pocket and rummaged around.
"Anything less than an iPhone is gonna get your legs broke." This came from the same voice that spoke up before. It sounded like a 12 year old's.
"Here we are," Gareth announced and pulled his hand out of his pocket, fist clenched, middle finger raised and brandished it in Nab's face. So angry was Nab that he pulled his hood down. Gareth could associate with the look of hatred on his face; he had seen a similar face looking back from almost every mirror he had ever looked into.
"Right, that's it. You had your chance, you gonna be dead for real now." Nab grabbed for Gareth's hand but he snatched it away. He jumped backwards as the two gang members on either side of him reached for his coat. He felt the power sharpen into a point, and the familiar anger wrapped around him. As Nab shouted orders for the gang to surround him, Gareth glared at the figure on his right. It was the owner of the young voice, and as he shot him a stare, the figure wheeled around and fell to the floor as if he had been struck. This temporarily unsettled the other gang members and they paused, looking down at the body slowly stirring on the floor. Nab was the first to recover.
"Don't just stand there, get him." He pushed another identical lad towards Gareth and he had time to study the snarl on this one's lips, spittle flying as he screamed in rage. One more glare and the scream died in his throat, his head whipped back and he fell unconscious to the floor. Gareth felt a hand pound into his shoulder and grip a handful of coat and flesh. He cried out more in surprise and felt the hand rip away from his shoulder and heard the sound of a body making contact with the graffiti littered wall. Nab and one remaining gang member stood open mouthed now, their looks of rage and confidence replaced with that of fear. The other lad turned tail and fled, but Nab was rooted to the spot. Gareth turned his glare onto him. At first there was no obvious reaction; his look of fear was seemingly as far as it could go, then a trickle of blood appeared from his left nostril. Gareth advanced on him, his gaze never leaving his eyes, and the nearer he got, the more the blood flowed, now from both nostrils. Nab seemed to be trying to speak, all that came from his mouth was a strangled stuttering sound.
"Who's the big man now, eh?" Gareth spat. His head down, his eyes boring into Nab's, his feet carrying him ever closer. "Why should I ask the likes of you where I go? Why should I ask anyone anything anymore?"
His voice grew ever louder, echoing around the grey walls and paving slabs. He was now within inches of Nab's face, their eyes locked. Gareth was the taller of the two by a good foot. Despite this, Nab seemed to summon one last reserve of defiance, and a hand shot out and grabbed Gareth's throat. No sooner had his hand touched flesh than Nab's body flew backwards, as if he had been struck by an invisible lorry, and careened into the brick wall 20 feet behind him with a sickening crunch of bone. He fell to the floor like a rag doll and lay motionless. Gareth watched impassively.
The other gang members were picking themselves up and limping hurriedly away, at least two of them seemed to be crying. Gareth paid them no attention; he merely regarded the body on the floor as a widening pool of blood seeped from it. His face was a mixture of anger and curiosity.
That had happened about an hour ago now. Gareth had calmly straightened his coat, and stalked away, leaving one remaining gang member hunched over the body at the foot of the wall, calling the name of Carl over and over again. Gareth wondered how he came to go by the name of Nab.
The sun was now directly overhead, warming the day through, making Gareth hotter and hotter in his coat. This made him angry, and people who approached him on the pavements felt themselves grow dizzy, get headaches or even cross the road for some strange unexplained reason. A few who resolutely stuck to their path talked later about feeling themselves barged out of the way by invisible hands as they passed the solitary figure of a young man wearing black.
Gareth had been walking solidly since his encounter with the gang and was nearing the town centre when he heard the sound of a siren approaching. He had been aware of sirens for quite some time now. Almost immediately after leaving the estate, an ambulance had screamed past him into the warren of roads he had just come from, closely followed by a police car. One of the officers had shot him a suspicious look, which Gareth had returned tenfold, causing the policeman to raise his hand to his eyes. Since then, the sound of sirens had bounced back and forth around buildings and alleyways as he wound his way into the town. Now one car drew near, hidden from view by a single row of Victorian terraces. Gareth continued striding down the cracked pavement, listening to the rise and fall of the wailing siren. As it cleared the last house and rounded the corner behind him, he heard the siren blip a warning and the car tires screeched to a halt, mere feet away. He didn't even look around, but heard the sound of two car doors opening.
"You; stand where you are," an authoritative voice commanded. He ignored it.
"I said halt." It was nothing short of a shout now, and Gareth took a deep breath as he stopped, the tingle of power playing through his body. He turned to face them.
The two officers were on either side of the police car. One was clearly an old hand, the other a new recruit, constantly looking to the other for guidance. The old hand fished into a pocket in his stab proof vest and pulled out a notebook. He thumbed through a few pages and peered at Gareth.
"You answer the description given of a lad responsible for an incident on the estate this morning. Where were you between the hours of 11 and 12?"
Gareth shrugged. "Walking."
The old hand sighed and adjusted his hat. "This is serious lad. Were you in or around the estate at that time?" The recruit was looking from his boss to Gareth and back again, his nervousness obvious. Gareth fed off this. He turned his gaze to him.
"I might have been, can't really remember." The recruit couldn't meet Gareth's stare, and looked at the ground by his feet. He kept blinking and running his hands across the sweat on his brow. The old hand had had enough. He reached around behind him and pulled out a pair of handcuffs, and advanced on Gareth.
"OK wise guy, I'm arresting you for the murder of one Carl Webb. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…"
At that point he was cut short as the recruit passed out in the road. The old hand turned to look at the recruit lying face up next to the car, a trickle of blood seeping from his nose. He turned to look at Gareth, a look of understanding crossing his face. Quick as a flash he pulled out a nightstick from his belt and ran towards Gareth. In an instant before the truncheon made contact, Gareth threw his hand out, fingers splayed, and the policeman was lifted from his feet and thrown backwards onto the bonnet of his car, his back breaking the windscreen glass. His head lolled from side to side, his eyes rolled back until only the whites showed. Gareth felt the rage run riot through his mind, his body and his soul. His glare fixed on the scene before him and with a grind of metal and the sound of rubber dragging on the asphalt, the police car slid slowly across the road, carrying the old policeman on the bonnet, the panels of the bodywork gradually caving in as it neared the opposite curb, the remaining windows and headlight glass bursting onto the road.
When it came to a halt, Gareth was aware of the feeling of being watched. Sure enough, behind every window was a scared face. Several figures had emerged from houses further up the road, some of which were pointing mobile phones in his direction. As he turned to face them, they scattered and ran for cover into the nearest houses. So angry was he that he considered going after them, or maybe glaring at the houses until they crumbled, but the sound of more sirens broke this thought process. The new wave of sirens was accompanied by the rhythmic flapping sound of a helicopter. Deciding that hanging around was probably a bad idea; Gareth swallowed his rage and hurried up the road.
The next few hours were spent ducking in and out of alleyways, through underpasses and subways and through the deserted streets of the town. Gareth's mind was a turmoil of anger, rage and the unbridled sensation of ultimate power. Usually the town centre was awash with pedestrians and shoppers, but today the few people he encountered hurried back indoors or ran in the opposite direction. This made Gareth angrier than he remembered being before and the constant sound of the helicopter circling overhead didn't help. More and more police cars seemed to be joining the hunt, and more than once he found himself hiding behind walls or trees as a convoy of police cars and vans raced up and down the streets he had known since childhood.
He rounded one corner onto the main high street, and as he approached the shop front of Curry's, he spied a familiar figure on one of the televisions in the display. The shop itself seemed to be shut, the doors closed and shop lights off, but the display televisions were blaring their pictures out into the empty street. As he drew near, his reflection in the glass mirrored the expression on the figure on the television. Clearly shot with a camera phone, the shaky image clearly showed him glaring at the younger police officer until he passed out. Then a brief flurry as the camera phone wavered and another shot of the older policeman being thrown backwards onto the car while scrolling across the bottom of the picture were details of what he already knew.
While engrossed in the images before him, Gareth suddenly became aware of the steady thrum of helicopter blades hovering nearby. Turning and peering up at it, he could just about make out the pilot's face staring back at him. As soon as he realised he had been seen, the helicopter wheeled violently away and dropped behind a row of houses. Too late though, as no sooner had Gareth spotted the helicopter, 4 police cars and 2 vans hurtled towards him from either end of the street. Skidding to a halt, Gareth watched as at least 15 armed policemen hustled out of the vehicles and fanned out to surround him against the glass window of the shop. They were carrying a variety of firearms, all levelled at him.
Various voices shouted commands at him. He ignored them all, and let the anger build. The power flowed from him now, as a wind gusted from out of nowhere. One voice rose above all others, aided by a megaphone.
"Down on the ground, NOW," it yelled. "Down on the ground with your hands behind your head."
Gareth glared around searching for the owner of the voice, but he couldn't make it out.
"Armed police," it continued. "Down on the ground or we will shoot."
Unable to find the source of the voice, Gareth shot the man directly in the middle a glare, causing him to shriek, drop his gun with a clatter and sink to his knees, holding his head. The other men on either side of him shot nervous glances from their fallen comrade and back to Gareth. They seemed to waver.
"Hold the line," the voice yelled. This seemed to galvanise them back to position while one man dragged his fellow officer to safety. "I will give you until the count of three. One…"
The wind whipped Gareth's hair around his face, but his glare was fixed. Litter danced on the breeze as he scanned the line of men before him.
The feeling of control surged through him. His muscles suddenly felt tight, as if he had been constricted for a length of time. He stretched his arms out and fanned his fingers.
"Final warning." The voice seemed to have lost some of its authority. Gareth found himself wondering if it had ever given the command to gun down an unarmed teenager before. A couple of the policemen had cocked their guns. A spike of hatred drove into his heart.
"NO," he yelled. Each and every officer facing him felt his gun forcibly ripped from his hands. Several of them suffered broken fingers as the weapons wrenched themselves free. The guns flew towards Gareth's feet and landed in a pile. The policemen clasped their injured hands and stared in disbelief as Gareth's coat and hair danced in the wind. His face contorted into a mask of anger, and his feet seemed to hardly touch the ground. The televisions behind him continued to show the footage shot earlier, while the glass in the window seemed to flex and bend, until it shattered into a million pieces, cascading over his head and shoulders. The voice with the loudhailer was silent now, but more sirens could be heard in the distance. Gareth fought to contain the brilliant hatred that flowed through his body. He felt light, powerful, invincible. He stretched his legs out and felt his feet leave the pavement for an instant, his body suspended in the middle of the windstorm that had blown up. Staring around him, he pushed the array of policemen and cars back to the other side of the road, ignoring the shouts and cries of protest. Turning his back on them, he stalked towards the centre of town. Something was driving him there, telling him he must go.
It was only a couple of streets away, but as the cries and shouts of the policemen he left faded away, more shouts could be heard from the town square. More helicopters circled above, and as he glanced up, he noticed some of them bore the khaki colouring of the army. He rounded the corner into the town square and surveyed the scene.
It was an old town, and the square bore the remnants of another time, mixed with the convenience of modern life. Smooth granite pavements bordered ancient cobbled streets. Old brickwork was hung with fluorescent signs. Ancient oak beamed buildings boasted double-glazing. Not a huge square, more of a central car park, it was bordered on all sides by shop fronts, all of which had been hastily evacuated. Shutters were sometimes half down and lights were left on. Of the signs of life, the only examples were dressed in khaki, huddled behind armoured cars and land rovers. More helicopters circled overhead and Gareth strode into the centre, next to an old bandstand that doubled as a hang out for the town's youth once the sun had set. He climbed the steps and glanced behind as the road he came in from was blocked by more army land rovers and foot soldiers. More shouts issued behind their lines, directed at each other, nothing was spoken to Gareth, leaving him free to turn around and take in the sheer number of soldiers organising themselves around him. His anger surged along with the wind; the power filled him totally. He felt his feet lift from the concrete of the bandstand floor again, drawing shouts of amazement from the assembled soldiers. He raised himself fully two feet in the air and turned himself around and around while the wind flowed around him like a tornado. His hair stood on end and his coat flapped. His eyes burned with intensity as he shot glares all around, causing various soldiers to cry out in anguish and fall to the floor.
"Gareth, stop that." It was the same voice as before, hiding behind the megaphone. "We don't want to hurt you."
Despite the white-hot rage bursting from within, a wicked smile spread to his lips.
"Doesn't look like that from here." His voice was amplified, and bounced off the shops surrounding them. "You brought enough soldiers to start a war."
"We just want to talk to you. You've hurt a lot of people today; we want you to stop."
"Why should I?" The shout caused more soldiers to grasp their ears and wince. 3 or 4 of the shop windows shattered.
"Because they don't deserve it."
"Everyone deserves it. I am going to make you all pay." The roof of the bandstand had started to shed tiles, the slates ripping from the roof and joining the maelstrom surrounding Gareth.
"I have someone here who wants to talk to you. It's very important. We're coming out now. Is that OK?"
Gareth said nothing, just continued to turn amidst the tornado of litter and slates. He stopped when he saw an army truck cross the lines and drive slowly towards him. He glared at as it pulled to a halt and two men got out. He noticed that even from a distance they were wincing, obviously in pain. Both men were in their mid 40's, but only one was in army fatigues. The other was tall, thin and slightly balding, but still had quite a striking appearance about him. They both braced themselves against the wind and the pain.
"Gareth, my name is Major Delsey. Can we come forward and talk?"
The van that carried them began to slide sideways back to the army line, while the two men's feet were dragged towards the storm within the bandstand. It was getting increasingly hard to see Gareth; such was the intensity of the wind and the amount of litter and debris being whipped up around it. When they were within 20 feet they stopped. Major Delsey had to shout to make himself heard.
"Gareth, this man needs to speak to you. It's vitally important. Please let him."
With that, Major Delsey was thrown back onto the cobbles and dragged back to the army lines, while the second man was pulled forward again. Several TV film crews covered the enfolding saga. One or two from the safety of helicopters, but most had set up behind the army lines. From that distance all that could be made out was the figure of Gareth shrouded by the storm and the other man, tall but leaning into the wind, shouting to make himself heard. The tall man was straining with every ounce of his strength and all the film crews could pick up was the expression on his face; veins standing out on his neck, his face reddening, and the thin trail of blood from his nose. The bandstand had almost totally disintegrated by now. There was nothing left of the roof, and the iron supports were being bent and flexed as if made from rubber. The surrounding hoards held their breath as the scene played itself out in front of them. The wind had engulfed the entire town square by now and people were shielding themselves from the flying debris being hurled at them.
Then, with a shock wave that sent them all reeling backwards and that shattered the few remaining windows of the square, the wind was gone. The debris rained onto the cobbles and then all was silent, save one sound; the sound of crying. As the soldiers and film crews picked themselves up and tentatively peered into the square, they could make out the taller man standing over the hunched figure of Gareth, who was curled into the fetal position sobbing uncontrollably. Nothing was said, nobody moved for what seemed like an eternity, apart from the tall man who moved to Gareth and placed a hand on his shoulder. Eventually two nurses hurried over with a blanket and helped the stricken lad to his feet. Draping the blanket over him, they led him to an ambulance and ushered him inside, closing the door behind him. The ambulance pulled slowly away.
Major Delsey had recovered by now and led the tall man away from the devastation of the bandstand towards the line of army vehicles and into a waiting jeep. On the way through, the film crews all managed to regain their voices and crowded round the pair, while the rest of the soldiers quick to recover tried to keep them back.
"Sir, sir. Quick question for Channel 4 news? Who are you?"
"BBC news here, what did you say to him?"
More and more questions were fired at the tall man, but they all amounted to the same basic two. With weariness in his eyes that took even the most veteran reporter aback, he turned to them after climbing aboard the jeep.
"You want to know who I am? I suppose you will find out soon enough. My name is Colin Jones, and I am Gareth's father."
The newshounds fell on this information and redoubled their questions.
"And what did you say to him?" was the question that came from all directions.
Colin rubbed his eyes and turned to the massed film crews.
"I told him I was sorry."