Charles Prime, a dear friend of mine,
has decided to let someone else write his book: his best friend.
Hopefully I do not disappoint him too much, and dear reader,
we would appreciate it if you also paid attention to
the first book: The Mind-bender.
Also, this story itself will change over time, as we both
argue over the details. Charles can be very particular.
"Adian!" said Marissa. A plump short girl, with a tomb-boy attitude that fit the stereotype well.
"Marissa!" I exclaimed, a big smile on my face at the sight of a good friend. She left Barlington about a year ago, along with Shareldine. Marissa walked towards me, carrying some shampoos to put away.
"What's up!" she exclaimed, kneeling beside me as she let go of the bottles.
"I never thought to see you again," I told her, putting away the last of the bottles before me. I then began to help her, just to give me a reason to stay longer.
"Dude, I know," she responded.
"What have you been up to all this time?" I asked, both of us struggling to fit the bottles on the over-crowded shelf.
"Just going to school, and work. I had been working over at the new Barlington, but I decided to come back here. There was a whole political thing going on over there," she said.
"And Shareldine?" I asked, curious. Both her and Shareldine were two sides of the same coin, and the only thing that deferred between them was minute physical traits and marriage.
"Dude, she loved Oklahoma. We used to talk almost every day, but now I only hear from her every other email she sends me," she told me.
"I am glad she is doing good," I responded, a warm feeling spreading throughout my body.
"Yeah, she is even having another baby," said Marissa.
"Really?!" I exclaimed. "Congrats!"
"Yup," she responded, shoving the last shampoo bottle into the over-crowded shelf. We both stood, and made out way towards the grey carts parked at the edge of the walk-way.
"Ya?" said Mrs. Vega, a tall thin woman in her late forties to early fife-tees. She had curly blonde hair, her green eyes capturing us in their stare. Marissa and I nodded. To out left, a group of associates were busy unwrapping the merchandise, processing the material, and then putting it to rest on the grey carts. Marissa quickly got some hair-curlers and made her way back down the isle. I got some soaps and creams. We could hear Mrs. Vega reminding the group of guys to separate the merchandise properly by color. I never thought to return to my human life, but as I traveled the world in my purest of forms, I discovered how to transform into a human again. In time it was not just a shell, but a true manifestation of my humanity. My family does not know I have returned, and neither does any organization that keeps a look out for meta-humans.
"Finally!" exclaimed Marissa, as we both met up at the grey cart again, now empty. The group of guys had just finished and were wrapping up. The past few months saw to it many changes. Edwin, the last remaining member of my group left without notice. Even co-workers who had been here before me and my group, many had gone or transferred to the new Barlington around the corner. David, our department's lead was promoted to manager of the new store, while Joe (manager of our department) was let go and replaced with a new person: John.
"Ya, vamanos," said Stine. He was a short fellow, and had his hair as short as someone could have it without being bald.
"Yeah," I responded, Stein taking with him the table and all the boxes strewn throughout. Robert, Marion, Merium, and Rodolfo followed Stein, each of them carrying something so they did not look unproductive.
I looked to Mrs. Vega, who had begun to recover a box of socks, displaying them on a wall at the edge of the isle.
"When you come back from break, help me with the two boxes here," she said, nodding towards the two gigantic boxes filled to the brim with oils, creams, shampoos, and conditioners. I nodded, then making my way down the isle after the group, as they raced towards the break room. We all had to be mindful to not be rude to customers beginning to fill the store.
When I arrived, Beto had taken a seat next to Stine, as Mrs. Merium began to prepare their little banquet. Beto had just graduated from High School, and a year later came to work for Barlington. He was a tad shorter than I was, but his masculine and hard-headed character fit well his muscular physique. At times he could be such an ass. Robert and Merion, both sat at the table next to ours. Robert and Merion both were on the heavy side, but unlike Beto's and Stine's crude character, both Robert's and Merion's were little a bit more flexible and accommodating.
The room began to fill with the delicious scent of the egg, bacon, and refried beans Mrs. Merium had brought. Beto got up to take out the tortillas from the microwave. I sat beside Beto, as he sat down once again and lay the stack of tortillas in the center of the table. Everyone welcomed themselves to a taco or two, as I indulged in a cup of fruit and yogurt. The small room became filled with the T.V.'s constant bombardment of novelas and noticias, as the group began to talk in earnest. A sense of deja-vu washed over me, as memories of the previous people who sat where they now sat filled my mind.
"Que paso wey," exclaimed Beto as he grappled me by the shoulder in comfort. I shook my head as I took the last spoonful of yogurt.
"Ya vamanos. Ya nos pasamos de los 15 minutos," said Mrs. Merium, her pony tail swaying side to side as she quickly put away the utensils and plates back into her large pink lunch bag. Beto, Stine, Robert, and Merium all quickly got up and tucked in their chair as they made their way out. I turned off the T.V. when they had gone, once again reveling in the quiet. Yet, just as quickly my own time had come, as the timer in my phone rang. My 15 minutes were up. I threw away the yogurt cartridge, the napkin, and put away my water bottle in the fridge. I returned to the accessory department, but the boxes of oils, shampoos, creams, and conditioners were gone.
"Yo los procese, Adian," said Mrs. Vega as she passed by.
"Oh...," I uttered, quite pleased at the fact that I would not have to do it.
"Pero, tu me vas a comodar las cajas de calcetines que me quedan," she tells me, pointing to boxes stacked neatly at the end of the isle.
"Sip," I respond, quite pleased. I got to work, careful not to disturb any of the customers coming and going, and also was alert if anyone needed help.
Mrs. Vega sudden appearance left me speechless for a moment.
"Si," I responded, recovering from the shock, and pointed to the box.
"Bueno, cuando termines, ya te puedes ir," she told me, quickly walking off and disappearing within the sea of people. I quickly merchandised all the socks, and took the empty boxes to the dock, mindful of the coming and going customers. Then, I punched out and made my way towards the exit. Some people still working said their goodbye's and good-luck's, and courteously I responded to them. I had to be mindful of the cars as I walked across the parking lot; the people; and the occasional abandoned cart. Until I was quite removed from most prying eyes, I willed my power to rise and teleported to the plaza's roof.
"Hello Adian," said Claire. I sensed him within the building a short while ago.
"Hello Claire," I responded.
"I would not have not known of your return, if not for a scout near-by," he told me. Claire's soulful blue eyes peered right through me, a small smile tugging at his lips.
"I wanted to keep it that way, but alas, it seems you all were waiting," I responded.
"We have a lot to talk about," he told me, taking a step closer. Claire had filled out the last couple of months I was away, his blue shirt countering to his muscular and cut physique.
"I do not wish to talk of it today," I said, rising a few inches into the air.
"Soon, then," he said, rising into the air towards me.
"Maybe," I responded, teleporting away. I materialized in a secluded area close by, an abandoned house behind me. I had founded this small little house a few weeks past, when a certain feeling had me returning to my birth-place. Defeating Yggdrasil used much of my humanity, leaving me unable to return to my human form, forcing me to leave. I wondered the world, and encountered many interesting places, people, and creatures of myth. The combined knowledge and experience opened my mind to perceive my powers in a different light, and question my humanity. It dawned on me that I still had some of it left.
A strange wind gently swept through the secluded area. The trees rumbled and grumbled, while the decaying house behind me moaned and protested.
"Yes?" I asked.
I sat on the light post. The morning's darkness kept me hidden. My mother quickly walked down the old wooden steps. The dogs (eight of them) circled her for attention as she made her way towards the old gray truck; the silent night disturbed by the car's rumbling and grumbling. My father quickly walked out of the house, rubbing his eyes to get at the eye-buggers. They both got on the car, and with a heavy heart I watched them leave.
I rose into the air, enjoying the feel of the cold wind. The neighborhood was the same since I last saw it. In my travels, I would still teleport home and reminisce, but also kept an eye on my family. Claire, David, and I battled Yggdrasil here, and feared that other organizations or entities would come to investigate.
"We need you to return."
Claire hovered a few feet from me.
"Leave me alone, Claire," I responded.
"We cannot ignore this, Adian. You know this."
"It was one time, and in a point in which I was at my most powerful," I said. In the months that I traveled, being in a state of pure energy, the universe just opens up to you. The Earth's secrets laid bare. Yet, knowledge of those secrets came at a price, and it was not for long when I noticed that I was not the only powerful being.
"We have to join together, or we will fail," he said, coming closer.
"We have failed," I answered. David's life had come to an end when I sealed away Yggdrasil. She used so much of her life-force in our struggle, but by sheer will she survived as long as she did. "You said it was the right thing to do, even though I knew better..." I said.
"We have failed to contain what she became," he responded. I was in the northern part of the world, close to Canada, when Claire found me. He wanted me to try and strip his mother of her human shell, but I warned him that it was not possible. I was able to transcend my humanity out of evolution and sheer will. No one forced me. He convinced me otherwise, and she had come along convinced as well. I succeeded, but at a terrible price. David's soul shattered, unable to exist without a physical body, or so we thought.
"I am sorry," he uttered as he hovered right in front of me, taking me within his embrace.
"No," I responded, pushing him away.
I banished them all from my home, once more the night's silence a reprieve. My attention was stolen by my brother quickly walking out of the house. I had not senced the car that had parked in front of the closed gate. The dogs went ballistic, barking madly at the car. My brother, a chubby fellow who was lucky enough to have been gifted my father's genes when it comes to his hair--long and straight. Mine was curly, like my mothers.
"Dude!" exclaimed one of his friends as he opened the passenger door. They greeted each other in handshake, as my brother got on. They were going to the beach today, and I could not deny that I was quite jealous. When I was younger, no matter how much I begged and pleaded, my parent's favorite word was no. To my younger brother it's yes. It did not worry me too much his adventures and escapades with his friends. My younger brother had always this charismatic way of being friends with good honest people. A tad wild and mischievous, but overall good friends. The black truck quickly sped down the neighborhood, and turned left, and quickly was out of sight. I gently landed on the dirt parking way, the dogs circling me, barking at my approach.
"Hey ya'll," I said, letting go of the power I was using, once more visible. They all began to cry and jump in excitement, pawing me for attention. My home was still the same way when I left, a run-down piece of earth that had seen 100 years, but it was my home. The weared-down stairs creaked as I walked up, and stood before the entrance. The dogs made it quite difficult to walk in, but to my surprise another dog greeted me. A chihuahua, and its name was Chestnut. My mother got him a few weeks past, since one of her co-workers was giving them away for free. My younger brother tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted. Chestnut was barking and howling at me, and would have awakened my sister, but I put him to sleep. A family member that had stayed with us--with them-- for a long time, moved out a while back. My mother had moved the table out of the way, and much of the mess he had made, she had compartmentalized. There was more space in the living room, but the kitchen was still cramped with the two refrigerators and the table still in the corner. The hallway's darkness was palpable, but I was able to reach my old room--to my right. I passed right through the door, my older sister asleep, yet my dog Merlin barked at my intrusion. I had to use my powers again, becoming invisible, but you cannot change your scent.
"Merlin!" my sister exclaimed. Merlin stopped barking, but kept growling, showing me his teeth as I traversed deeper into the room. My stuff remained untouched, even the mess on my computer desk.
"Merlino," I uttered. Merlin responded to my call, yelping with happiness. The white poodle's tail wagged feverishly. I wanted to reach out and pet him, feel the fluffy curly hair through my fingers.
"Merlin!" exclaimed my older sister again. I snapped out of my reverence, and made my way out of the room, traversing through the wall behind me. Merlin followed along, jumping onto the other bed against the wall. He stood on his hind legs, and pushed aside the curtain with one of his paws, feverishly scratching the window.
"Why do you do this to yourself?" asked Jose. I was not surprised. If we are close enough to each other, we are aware of each other.
"Hey Jose," I responded mentally.
"Why do you keep coming back here?" he asked me.
"Because this is my home. This is my family. My entire life I lived in the span of a few miles going in which ever direction. A tad boring at times, but peaceful," I answered. He never truly forgave me for disappearing. Now, he has a girlfriend, but every time that I have to come to visit he has acknowledged me.
The sun's first rays broke through the horizon, reminding me that I needed to go.