For a moment, there was nothing. No light, no gravity, nothing. And then suddenly, everything was on fire. Even before he'd opened his eyes, he could feel pure power coursing through his veins. He couldn't compare it to anything else. He'd never been burned alive or hit by lightning, but he guessed that what he was feeling was somewhere in between. If he'd have to put the feeling into words, he'd say that he felt alive more than anything. His whole body was pulsing with overflowing life-force, threatening to burst and destroy this human shell he was chained to.
When he finally did open his eyes, his vision seemed to confirm this, because lifeforce and the flow of energy was all that was left for him to see. Now, all the shapes he used to recognise as humans and objects, looked like shadows, without details, as if they weren't really there. Instead of details, he now saw ghosts with one fleck of light in each one of them. He recognised these flecks of light as the energy source of each living being.
They were all connected one way or another, creating a brilliant, multi-colour web of flashing trails.
His attention was drawn by a peculiarly bright light connected to his own, which shone so brightly that it nearly blinded him. He reached out a hand to touch it and was relieved to feel the soft touch of a human cheek underneath his fingers. The feeling was sobering and for an instant, the bright lights dimmed and the ghosts came into focus. He found himself staring into familiar, deep blue eyes and realised that the person they belonged to must have been saying something to him before he'd reached out. Well, it didn't matter either way, because he couldn't hear anything at all. He blamed it on the sound of the erratic beating of his heart echoing in his ears. He smiled apoligetically and placed a feather-light kiss on the lips of the bright light's ghost and immediately, the ghosts faded from view again.
"Don't worry," he said in a reassuring tone of voice. "I know how to set things right."
He located the biggest conjunction of energy flow, which connected the earth to the universe, stood to his feet and walked straight towards it.
Alex Black thought of himself as a level-headed person. A difficult problem could be solved easily once it was analysed thoroughly. He also thought his father, Mar Black, to be the same. That's why Alex was starting to feel nervous as he watched his dad swipe furiously at his tablet, frowning deeper and deeper with each page he saw.
"No. No. No! Damn it! None of it is any good!" Mar yelled in frustration and threw his tablet angrily across the room. Luckily, his dad never did anything uncalculated, and so the poor device landed unharmed in the plush couch next to Alex.
"What the hell, dad?" Alex asked in surprise. His dad wasn't the type to throw stuff when he was angry.
"Hu?" he asked gruffly as he'd been focusing very deeply, but then noticed the worried expression on his son's face. "Sorry, my boy. Did I hit you?"
"No, but it barely missed me. What's wrong? I've never seen you this agitated before?"
Mar heaved a heavy sigh.
"It's this project I've been working on."
Alex nodded. He had a rough idea of what his dad did for a living. He knew he was a researcher at a company called Bright inc. One of their main source of income was creating more efficient types of solar panels, windmills and the like, but they were always on the lookout for new types of energy sources.
"It just doesn't progress no matter what we do," his dad continued. "It's not in danger of fading out anymore, but it's far from usable. It's gotten to the point were the other researchers have started questioning my judgment."
"That would indeed be a problem," Alex thought. "Since you're the lead-researcher."
"That's nothing new," he said out loud. "Those idiots have always questioned your work, it has never bothered you before. What changed?"
"It's not that something changed. It's that, even against my better judgement, I'm tempted to follow one of their suggestions," Mar explained and his frown screwed a little deeper again. "They suggested we expose my project to another similar energy source that we discovered a while ago to see how it reacts."
"Why is that against your better judgement," Alex asked as he didn't see the immediate problem.
"Because, with the current ratings, my project could destroy a country if things go wrong," Mar explained with a reluctant sigh. "It would be like the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs all over again. It is why we live in this remote town."
"Dad, don't be ridiculous," Alex said. "It's only a one hour drive to the nearest village. And if I'm not mistaken, this energy source could blow up even if you didn't expose it to anything, right?"
"Technically speaking, yes, but-" Mar started defending his point, but Alex interrupted him.
"Oh, come on dad! You've been studying this thing for ten years-"
"Twenty years," Mar corrected.
"-if anyone can prevent a calamity, I know it's you," Alex continued undisturbed.
"I don't think you realise what you're lobbying for," Mar said with a shake of his head, clearly disappointed at his son's shortsightedness. "The energy source we'd be exposing my project to hasn't been manipulated before and is therefore unpredictable. Not to mention that they are fixed into place while mine is mobile, so we'd have to move to a different town if we're going to start this new project."
Alex pressed his lips in a taut line and didn't know how to reply for an instant. That was a curious bit of information.
He loved the town they were living in. It was ridiculously small and away from everything, but also quiet and peaceful. He noticed his dad study his face and realised that he was actually asking if he'd be ok if they moved.
"You are the only family I have, dad," Alex said after thinking it through. "I'll follow you wherever you go."
Mar gave him a sad but loving smile. It was quiet for a few seconds.
"Ok. Let's hope we're not testing a bomb," his dad finally said in a strained way as he raked a hand through his hair and Alex laughed.
Five months later, Alex walked through the big white gate of his new school. It was a beautiful day in the middle of the summer vacation, not a cloud to be seen in the blue-blue sky and a lovely cool breeze to make the heat bearable. There was nothing Alex would rather be doing than sit in the shade of a tree and read his favourite book, but no such luck. From all the things his dad could have forgotten, he had to forget to submit the registration forms to his new school. With only two weeks to go before the start of the new school year, he had remembered that he'd left the little detail unfinished and had sent his dear and only son to fix the problem.
Alex entered the small courtyard under the shelter which transitioned into a bigger, broader playground and realised he didn't know where to go.
"Oh, great!" he muttered and started looking around for signposts. He already quickly discovered there weren't any, except for those of the toilets, which he didn't need. He was trying to figure out which way to go when he noticed someone giggling in the distance.
"Strange," he thought. "Shouldn't a school be deserted during the summer break?"
He followed the sound that seemed so out of place in the empty school building and found two girls sitting on a bench. They were both good looking, with delicate features and long hair. The word "Barbie dolls" came to mind, but it didn't quite seem to fit them. It didn't actually matter "why" they were there. Instead, Alex praised himself lucky that he'd found someone who might be able to give him directions.
"Uhm, sorry," he asked warily. Two pairs of eyes looked up at him in surprise. "I'm looking for the secretary's office?"
One girl seemed to panic, while the other answered calm and composed: "Sure. You pass through those doors over there," she said while pointing, "and at the end of the corridor, you'll find the secretary's office. But I don't think anybody will be there today, so you'd better head upstairs to the principal's office. You can't miss it."
"Okay," Alex said as he looked back from the door to the girls. His gaze was automatically drawn to the girl that had panicked earlier. Her blond hair was shining brightly in the summer sun, and she was watching her friend with admiration, which made her blue eyes sparkle. He must have been staring because suddenly their eyes met, the admiration instantly turned into panic again, and she started nodding frantically.
"Cute," he thought as he smiled.
"Okay, thanks! Bye," he said instead, gave a small wave and took off.
As the confident girl had predicted, he had found the principal's office fairly quickly. He was just about to knock on the door when he heard a shout coming from inside: "Woohoo! Finally free!"
The door swung open and a boy, a little taller than himself, came rushing out. He noticed Alex barely in time but managed to stop before knocking into him. They stood there for a moment, staring at each other, both rather flabbergasted.
"Sir? I think someone's here to see you," the boy said. The principal, who was sitting at his desk, stood up and came to the door.
"You must be Alex! Your father called ahead," he said while pushing his glasses back up on his nose and turned to the boy next to him. "Alex will probably be in your homeroom coming school year. Alex? This is Jasper."
"Really?! That's great news! If you ever need somebody to show you around, just give me a shout," the boy called Jasper said rather excitedly. He seemed genuinely happy about the announcement.
"Ok," Alex said, caught a little off guard by his enthusiasm. "I'll remember that."
"Ok, Jasper. You can hurry off now. Go and enjoy your newly regained freedom," the principal said while smiling and turned back to Alex when Jasper had taken off. "Please come in!"
Before long, Jasper found himself in the courtyard again and laughed to himself. It had been a while since someone new joined their class. The science course package wasn't very popular at their school. He was sincerely curious about his new classmate.
"Ah, there he is. Jasper!" someone called his name.
"Jeez, we've been waiting here for ages, and when you finally surface, you just stand there!" a second voice said. "Come on, tell us. How did it go?"
He didn't need to look up to know who the voices belonged to; Otto and Jessy. The three of them had been best friends ever since kindergarten. He would recognise them anywhere.
"Sorry ladies. I was distracted by the good news I received earlier," he said while grinning. He loved it when he knew something they didn't.
"Does that mean you passed?" Jessy asked. She didn't like it when he knew something they didn't.
"Of course!" he said proudly. "Not extremely high scores, but passing grades for all subjects. But..."
"What do you mean? No extremely high scores?" Jessy interrupted him unsatisfied. "You dare say that? After all the time we spend tutoring you?!"
"Yes," Jasper said, still trying to continue and only then realised what she had been saying. "Wait, what? No! That's not..."
"Really? Cuz it sounded like you did," Jessy bickered on. Jasper frowned incredulously at Jessy and looked over at Otto for help, but found none. Otto seemed to be enjoying their bickering.
"Ugh, seriously. These two," Jasper said as he raised his eyes towards the heavens, but ploughed on; "A little earlier, I discovered that we will be receiving a new classmate next year."
"Really? And how do you know that?" Jessy questioned. She obviously didn't believe a word he said.
"The principal introduced us just now."
There was a brief pause before Otto suddenly gasped.
"Was it that boy with black hair and blue eyes?"
"Yes," Jasper answered, curious to how she knew.
"My God, Jessy! He'll be in our class!" Otto screamed overjoyed while tugging at Jessy's sleeve. Jessy merely grinned. "Did you see his eyes?! Brr, I'm getting goosebumps all over again when I think about it!"
"Yeah, he did have a rather bright shade of eyes," Jasper admitted reluctantly. He felt a sharp pang in his chest from seeing Otto this enthusiastic over another boy. However, he'd never show it.
"Aren't you lucky?" Jessy said. The way she'd said it made Otto and Jasper freeze into place. They both slowly turned to look at her, hoping they hadn't heard what they thought they'd heard. But sadly enough, Jessy's sly grin confirmed their suspicion.
"Oh no, Jessy, please. Not the matchmaking again. You know I hate it," Otto complained.
"Hmm, maybe I won't need to. I saw the way the two of you were looking at each other. Don't deny it!"
Jasper felt another pang of jealousy. Otto flushed bright red but straightened dignified and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
"Still no matchmaking!"
"Oh no. Not this again. You don't even notice boys flirting with you until they nearly kiss you!" Jessy exclaimed annoyed.
"Not true!" Otto bit back, even though she knew it was true. It had nearly happened. Just once though. "Seriously. Don't," Otto said, her expression somewhere between pleading and stubborn.
"Ok, ok!" Jessy gave in. "But if I see a chance to get you two together, I'll take it!"
"I think I can live with that," Otto laughed.
"Ok, ladies! Are you done fighting?" Jasper asked jokingly. "Well then. How about we go eat that ice cream I promised you two for helping me?"
Hi there :)
I'd like to append an author's note to every chapter, even though I have no clue what to write in them... ^^;
Anyway, thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment.
With kind regards,