Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Le Story

I smiled as the flickering strobe lights touched Dante’s head, for an instant, igniting it a weird shade of atomic red. He was never hard to find. I leaned forward in the booth as he and his cluster of friends worked their way through the throng. There was Irina, hair twisted up in a stylish Gordian knot, single pearl strand wrapped around her neck. She had interesting stories, and I liked hearing her talk just for her faint accent.

Matthew ambled behind Dante, twisting sideways to pass a group of girls, most of which twisted to look him over. I rolled my eyes. The guy couldn’t help having an aristoi father and a model mother, but the least he could do was take advantage of it. He turned into a Michelangelo statue when cute girls talked to him. Reportedly good to look at, but a conversational dead end.

Dante glanced up at me, waved, got his feet tangled and vanished into a thick clump of dancers. Matt glanced at Irina, laughed, and reached down, fishing Dante out by his collar. Dante reappeared, swatting Matt off. They vanished into the shadows of the stairs and reappeared a moment later at my booth.

I smirked at Dante. “Nice move, twinkletoes.”

He slid into the other side of the curved booth and shot me a death look. “Shut up, Chance.” He held up one hand and let flames dance on his fingertips. The smoke curled to the ceiling, melding with cigarette fumes already inhabiting the space.

Irina glided in next to Dante, setting her purse on the table. “Now boys, play nice.”

Dante extended the flame on his pointer finger. “I will, in a minute.”

She merely smiled, an enigmatic curve of her lips. Dangling her hand above his, she let water emerge from her skin and roll down her fingertips. The drops hit the flames and sizzled.

Dante slanted a glance at her and nixed the flames. “Killjoy.”

I whistled. “Wow, what did Joy ever do to you?”

Dante slugged my shoulder. “Shut up and be a gentleman.”

“Ouch.” I rubbed my arm. For being not more than a living skeleton, Dante packed a punch. “I am one.”

Another female joined the conversation. “Really? I’ve yet to see that side of you.”

Dante usually tried not to grin, because his incisors gave him the look of an emerging vampire, but I don’t think he could help himself this time. “Hey, Vani.”

Jovani Cortez, the current bane of my existence, strode into sight. She was porcelain beauty. Black curls streaming down her back, perfect figure, pale skin. I could only figure somewhere in her making, God slipped up, because she had the personality of a bulldog. She smiled back at Dante. “Sorry I’m late.”

Dante kept smiling. Smirking, really. “No worries, the rest of us just got here, except Chance, since the lazy bum has nothing better to do but wait around for us.”

I let that one pass. Half the afternoon I spent forging a passport for myself. Due to exploits like that, I tried to tell Dante as little as possible about what I did. He was legit, much unlike me, and I didn’t want to drag him down to my level. As it was, my time in this town was an hourglass running low.

Vani cocked an eyebrow as she pulled a slim cigarette from her purse. “That does not surprise me.” She sat next to Irina and extended the cigarette to Dante, widening her eyes like an expectant schoolgirl.

“What am I, the human lighter?” Dante sighed and ignited a flame on his thumb, touching it to the end of the cigarette.

Vani smiled prettily and took a drag. “This is the clean version of friends with benefits.”

“Cigarettes are terrible for your health,” I said.

She looked me over with an air of boredom, as if I hadn’t spoken. “Except for you, because snark does not count as a gift.”

I shrugged. “Third children are always sketchy. Some are lucky, some aren’t.”

She smiled. “Hence your appropriate name, Chance.”

I gave a skeleton grin in return, all teeth, no humor. “Cute. I’ve never heard that one before.” It was her favorite joke.

Vani waved her hand at me. “I know, I am adorable.”

Dante took the moment to snort. “You two are pathetic.” He glanced at Irina. “Dance?”

She tilted her head, running a finger along her strand of pearls. “Maybe.”

He adopted his best little-boy face. “Pretty please?”

She smiled, the dim lights shading her cheekbones. “Convince me.”

I grimaced and looked away as Dante laughed, threaded his fingers into her hair, and kissed her solidly. “Oh, for the love, Vani, let them out before I hurl.”

She practically tumbled from the booth as Irina and Dante slid out, bodies indistinguishable as they melted into the shadows.

Matthew, who’d been sitting silently, trailed out behind them. “Since Dante’s distracted, I’m gonna slip out of here.” He nodded me. “Night, Chance. Vani. Have fun with the lovebirds.”

Vani shuddered. “Sweet Jesu, save us.”

I studied her as she slid back into the booth. “That creeps you out?”

Her lips puckered as if she’d bitten into an unsugared lemon. “Of course it does. They’re gifted aristoi, sickeningly in love, and will go on to have gorgeous, gifted children. If we’re lucky, we’ll get married, maybe, and go on living mundane lives.”

Her bleak version of the future was what I hoped for. Actually, I’d be pretty happy with living through the age of thirty.

Vani looked sharply at me. “What, no snarky comment?”

I shrugged. “Look at that, we agree on something.”

She eyed me with suspicion. “The world just stood still.”

“Maybe.” We sat in silence for a few minutes. I started to relax, letting the beat in the music pound in my mind, drowning out my worries.

“Well, I am going to go dance.” Vani set her purse on the table and looked at me. “Don’t go snooping.”

I kept my eyes half-closed. “Don’t worry, princess, if I need lipstick I’ll go get it off someone else.”

She huffed and turned, scarlet dress swirling around her knees. She really was a beautiful girl, but prickly as a cactus. I slouched further and lapsed into a half-doze, musing on how odd it was that a dead quiet room scared me too much to sleep, yet I could fall asleep to four-on-the-floor music pulsing loud enough to blow my eardrums. The blame probably fell on my erratic upbringing.

Someone stopped by the booth. “Evening, Chance.”

I jolted straight up and got pinned to the booth with a flash of blue electricity. By the time I got enough breath to swear, Luke Jenkins was staring me down, mouth creased in a half-smile. “You knew I’d catch up with you.”

The only words screaming through my mind were censor-worthy. I lifted my right hand a couple inches out of pure reflex, just to see another flicker of electricity leave Luke’s fingers and slam into my shoulder. The bolt shot down my arm, leaving it tingling and paralyzed. I clutched the edge of the booth with my left hand, gritting my teeth as my stomach threatened to eject my dinner.

Luke shook his head. “Come on, kid, you know better than that. You start getting fancy with your mind tricks, and I go crazy and kill some people.” He shrugged, as if genuinely sorry. “I can’t help it, it’s reflex.”

I conquered my nausea for the moment. “Not mind tricks.” The first time we met, he was hunting me. I was a cocky brat and used my gift on him. His electrical system went nuts, and I woke up with a splitting headache and most of the hair burned off my body.

“Mind tricks, puppet tricks, same difference.” He jerked his head toward the stairs. “Come on.”

I paused for a moment, scanning the table for available weapons. My choices came down to a glass of water, or Vani’s doll-sized purse. Crap. I took my time standing. The trick with these situations was to stretch the enemy’s patience to the edge of the cliff, and no further. If I moved too slowly, Luke would move me along with his cattle-prod fingers.

“Good,” said Luke. He clamped one hand on my shoulder. “Keep moving. You know the drill. Back door.”

Devoid of options, I started down the stairs. A girl in a short pink dress giggled as I walked by, careening sideways into me. I placed my hands on her shoulders and carefully edged her away. If the idea I was trying to trick him even dallied at the edge of Luke’s mind, I would wake up in a lot of pain and probably the responsibility for some citizen deaths.

We reached the floor, packed with a mass of bodies. Sweat, cigarette smoke and perfume mingled in the warm air as I pushed through the crowd. I could feel my pulse throbbing in my wrists. I’d escaped Luke twice before, but I had a feeling he wasn’t operating solo this time. As much as it hurt his pride to have partners, letting me slip through his fingers again might be deadly. Some of the less charitably inclined aristoi paying him to bring me in had a three-strikes-you’re-out policy, and out meant six feet under.

Crimson silk flashed on the dance floor. Vani twirled a few yards away, eyes closed in rapture. I stopped and absorbed the sight of her for a moment. “Let me say good bye to her.”

Luke laughed. “You think I care whether your girlfriend ever sees you again?”

I turned to look at him. “I know you know all the aristoi in the area, so you know she isn’t one, and doesn’t pose a threat. I’m screwed, I know it, and I’m trying to make my way toward accepting it, so for God’s sake-”

He released my shoulder. “Hurry up.”

I didn’t let my surprise stall me. Three steps later I touched Vani’s elbow, pouring regret into
my voice. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry, I have to leave early. My sister just went into labor and it’s a month too soon, I need to be at the hospital.”

She stared at me, eyes blank. “What?”

I nodded and kept rambling before she could say something pithy. “I know, I wasn’t expecting it either.” When she opened her mouth, I pulled her into my arms, certain she could feel my heart about to split through my chest. Her hair was soft on my chin. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

When she pulled back a moment later, I saw the comprehension in her eyes. “I’ll let Dante know,” she murmured.

I winced. “Don’t worry about it, no need to bother him.”

She frowned. “Alright then, see you soon.”

“G’night.” I looked at her for a moment, as if memorizing her before turning back to Luke. I
realized how out of place he looked in blue jeans and a plaid shirt.

An amused smile creased his face. “Touching.”

“That’s funny coming from you, considering the Grinch’s heart rivals yours in size.”

“Cute, kid, I thought you’d outgrown Dr. Seuss by now.” He kept one hand on my back, steering me toward the dark corner exit.

I honestly couldn’t think of anything to say as I pushed into the crash bar and stepped outside. It wasn’t right to be marching towards interrogation and death on a night with a velvet sky and silk breeze. I never knew how I felt about God until these crucial moments, and now I hoped with all my might he would step in.

A black suburban idled in the middle of the parking lot. From the engine note, I’d say Luke had retrofitted it with a killer engine. He liked his vehicles to haul. I estimated I had sixty seconds left before I was in my effective hearse. Come on, Vani. I didn’t know why I was pinning my hopes on a girl who hated my guts. She was my last chance. Forty-five seconds. I felt my shirt trapping beads of sweat and sticking to my back.

As we threaded between a Lexus and Mercedes SUV, I heard a crunch behind me. Luke stumbled and swore, shoving me to the ground. Glass shattered, clear shards scattering across the cement. I rolled out from between the vehicles and pushed to my feet, facing the club.
Vani stood in the doorway, shadow streaming in front of her. She flicked her hand to the right, and the door of the Mercedes swung into Luke’s chest. He fell backwards, head connecting with the ground. That’s when people started shouting, and a bullet punched into the Lexus’ bumper. I swore and dropped, spinning to face the suburban.

A man with a handgun leapt from the driver’s side, aiming at me. “Put your hands on your head!”

I stood, slowly, as he ran toward me. With Luke unconscious, the world was mine.

He stopped a few feet away, both hands on the gun. “I said put your hands on your head!”

I smiled. “And I say drop the gun.” Pain seared my arm as he fired once. I bit back a curse and contained my grimace the best I could. Wasn’t expecting a warning shot.

He jerked his head at me. “Next one goes in your skull.”

I kept my eyes on his and kept smiling.

His gaze flickered to both sides of my head. His hands trembled once. “Fine, I warned you-”

I let my smile turn feral. “So did I.”

Something whizzed by my left ear and nailed him in the forehead. Eyes blanking, he sank to the
ground. Two other armed men spilled from the car, neither making it more than five feet before keeling over backwards. Bottle caps fell to the ground with them. I heard heels clicking behind me, and turned.

Vani was actually running, eyes huge. “Oh my God, Chance.” She stopped, stared at my arm. “You’re bleeding.” She took a deep breath. “Oh you’re bleeding-”

“It’s shallow,” I said. “Warning shot. I’m alright.”

Unhearing, she touched my bloody sleeve, fingers coming away crimson. Her voice shook. “Oh, God.”

“Vani,” I said, more sharply than I meant to. “I’m fine. It’s a scratch.”

She looked at me for a long moment before throwing her arms around me, effectively shocking
me more than one of Luke’s bolts. One of the last firing synapses in my brain told me to put my arms around her. I did, and held her there. “You really must be in shock.”

She stepped back, faint tears glimmering on her skin. “Don’t you get it, you idiot? I liked you basically from the first argument, but I couldn’t do anything about it since-” She stopped herself, eyes hardening. “Well, you know now.”

“Metal bender,” I said. “Not an uncommon gift.”

She shook her head. “Yeah, for aristoi.” She scrubbed a tear hard enough to take a layer of skin from her face. “Sorry.”

“I wouldn’t be sorry. Heck, you just saved my butt by knocking out three thugs with bottle caps.”

“How wonderful for me. It doesn’t change the fact we have no future, because I’m illegit.” She glanced to the left and stiffened. “Chance-”

I spun and pointed two fingers at one of the gunmen, who aimed at me. I smiled, and he twitched, frozen in place. “See, Vani, there’d be a problem if you were trying to match up with an aristoi.” I flicked my fingers, and the gunman swung the butt of the revolver into his own skull.
“The thing is, I’m not an untalented third son. I’m just as illegit as you.”

She took a half-step back, voice rising. “You’re a puppetmaster?”

“Well, give the lady a gold star. The secret’s out. Now you know why electric boy here was after me.”

Vani tilted her chin up. “Your gratitude is overwhelming.”

“Well, maybe it’s never occurred to you that being a metal bender doesn’t inspire the same terror being a puppetmaster does. It’s not my fault some of the worst villains in history were sadistic freaks who took advantage of people with their gifts.”

She opened her mouth, blinked, and closed it for a moment. “Look, I’m not trying to fight.”

A long pause ensued as I choked back my ego. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I overreacted.”

“Well, look at this, the lion and the…well, the other lion are agreeing for once.” Dante sauntered out the back door. “The apocalypse is upon us.” He stopped short, gaze flashing across Luke, the henchmen, and the bottlecaps. “What did I just miss?”

“I’ve got to skip town,” I said. “Luke caught up with me.”

Dante nodded slowly. “And how did Vani get mixed up in this?”

I started to speak, but Vani cut me off. “Someone had to save his sorry behind.”

“Still confused,” said Dante.

Vani held her hand toward him, and coins started drifting out of his pocket, glinting in the

Dante mouthed a few words as the coins hovered mid-air. “Holy crap. Two of you? You do attract trouble, Chance.”

I shrugged. “I know. Believe me. I’ve got to peel out of here before these thugs wake up. I’d like to be in the next state before morning.”

Dante fished a set of keys from his pocket and walked over. “Dang it, you just stole my car.” He slapped them into my palm. “You’re bleeding.”

“So I’ve heard.” I looked him square in the eye. “I don’t know when I can be in touch again.”

Dante shrugged. “You’re Chance. You’ll find a way. I will miss spreading hell through the
neighborhood with you, though.”

“Same here.” I turned to Vani. “You’re still safe here. There’s no way anyone got a good look at
you. If you lay low for a couple of days, you should be out of danger.”

She delicately chewed at her bottom lip. I could see her internal war.

“Vani,” I said. “It’s okay. It makes no sense for you to leave here.”

She nodded and blinked a few times. I almost wanted to laugh. Tough-it-out Jovani Diaz was about to start crying.

Dante coughed and shot me another death look, jerking his head at Vani. I rolled my eyes at him before embracing her. “I’ll get back in touch.”

“Okay,” she said into my shirt. “Do that.”

I said my goodbyes and strode off toward Dante’s Corvette. And thus my life continued, a series of strange gifts and unfulfilled possibilities.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I like my current layout. But not enough. I've done Converse and cars (twice)...and now I'm not sure what I want to do. And there are so many possibilities! All suggestions are welcome. I wish I were experienced enough with HTML to build my own, but alas, I am not.

I'm in a creative writing class, and had to write a short story (well, 'short' being ten pages. It was supposed to be five! I promise! It just needed more time to develop!). That said, should I post it? I'm still harboring an intense fear it's sloppy and rambling, since I'm accustomed to writing much longer fiction (i.e. novel length).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Difference

I'm realizing it right now. The gulf between safe and protected. They sound kinda the same. Unable to be harmed. I feel the difference now. Don't get me wrong. I feel 'safe' here in my dorm. I don't worry about creepy people getting in or the thing burning down. Safe is such a physical term.

After the last two days, though, I do not feel protected. Over the last two days, I've had two nightmares. Bad ones. Not general bogey-man monsters with snakes crawling from their mouths. Specific dreams that make me panic. It takes a lot to make me panic. The first night, I dreamed there was poison gas in the dorm, and I was having a major asthma attack like one I've never actually had. It felt so real. My chest refusing to lift more than an inch. I stumbled down five flights of stairs, trying to make it around the lake to the school apartments. I almost made it, but I collapsed in the parking lot. Black asphalt. Cue end.

Dream two: a close family member was dying of some disease. Leukemia, maybe. Three weeks to live. I recounted every stupid thing I'd said and reiterated how much I loved her. That dream I try not to think about. The asthma one is just creepy to think about. If I think of the second one for more than thirty seconds, I feel my pulse beat faster and tears forming in my eyes.

Tonight, a girl did something to her knee. Pretty sure she didn't tear the ACL, because she'd be in more pain, but I ended up driving to the hospital with a couple others to make sure her mom was there. It was a continuation of the last two days. It feels dark. I 'know' life is a battle. I feel it now. I will keep fighting. I just need a moment for the tears to coalesce and fall.

This is when I crave protection. I wonder if it's how some crave alcohol. It's almost like I need it. I know I don't. I've gotten through nights like this before. But I want it so much. It's a physical ache. What I want sounds silly, perhaps. Simple, but so complex. I want someone to talk to me on the phone til I fall asleep. To just...hold me. Doesn't even have to speak. Just understands. Just doesn't let go. Just is there.

That is protection.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some quick rambles

Homework. Is. Evil. I want to shoot it all. With an AK-47. And then I want to burn the shreds. And then I want to take the ashes, seal them in a lockbox, and drop them in the middle of the Atlantic.

Love is weird. I'm really not sure what to do with some of it. For the rest, I'm just enjoying the ride.

Ultimate Frisbee is the most amazing sport on earth. Now, playing it for three hours after racing earlier in the morning may not have been the smartest idea, but dang was it fun.

And now...I will be in bed at 9:30. 5:30 wake up for practice. Woooooot. Hear the enthusiasm in my voice. The only good thing about practice being that early is it's really dark. Makes the time go by faster.

Hasta luego!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Scraps and Rambles

It's pretty late. Nearing midnight. Today started at 5:30. I've taken a couple short naps, and am now on benadryl and close to crashing. I just have too many thoughts brewing in my head, and I'm too tired to do a poem about them. Perhaps tomorrow?

But anyway.

Love. Curious beast. I've learned a lot in that area over the last year. Most of it was painful. Now that I'm farther along, I can see it was necessary. Kind of sucks, but it was. Now, second time around (well, vaguely second-time around) I'm doing things a lot differently. As a very wise friend of mine put it, guys fall into trouble cause they are extremely visual. Girls aren't so much different - we just get in trouble with our imaginations and get emotionally wrapped up to an unhealthy level in possibilities and dreams.

I used to think vaguely, at some point, love was something that just kind of happened. I mean, I thought you could vary degrees of love of your own choice, but 'falling in love' was a happening you had little control over. Now, I see it differently. I believe it's much, much more of a conscious choice. And - I don't even know if it's this way for everyone, so this is sort of not really a generalization - I think love, romantic love, really should work like this: boy meets girl. They're friends for a time. Just regular, good friends. No romantic thoughts even involved. And eventually, they just love each other. It may grow into romantic love, but even if it doesn't, it's a good friendship based on love.

Did that make any sense? I hope so. It's late, as I've said, and the rambling is G'night!

Monday, September 7, 2009


So I just logged into blogger, and it was in a foreign language. Not even something I could read, like Spanish or Italian. Heck, I could probably even read enough French to figure out how to change it back to English. So after messing around, I found out my settings were for the Netherlands. How in the world did that one happen?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Yes, it has been a month

A very, very busy month. I'm not sure if blogging is a good idea for me right now as I've started up sophomore year. Aka, I'm not sure if I'll be posting more than a couple times a month, which somewhat defeats the purpose to me. I don't know. Thoughts?