Chapter 2: Faded Converse
Our first few days in town went off without a hitch. Tommy and I were approached by tons of people who really wanted nothing more than to welcome us to their little shithole town, and Tommy and I tried very hard to act like we appreciated the gesture, it's just that we've lived so long bouncing from place to place, never making any ties in any of the cities we've lived in that it's a little hard to not be rude and distant. I'm sure we offended a fair percentage of the population, but when you're like us, it's dangerous to make friends.
The thing is, Maybee is a boring place. The entire town consists of one street, and honestly about the only interesting thing anyone can think of to do is head down to the old quarry off of Old Mill Rd. You can't swim in it, its freezing cold and way too deep. There isn't even a beach, just a sheer drop into icy cold black water. Theoretically you could fish but no one ever catches anything because the only thing that lives in the quarry is catfish and they mostly stay at the bottom. Basically kids from town just go and hang out by the water. It's sort of like a party spot.
Nope, definitely not my scene. Mostly I spent my time wandering around town.
Mostly I spent my time thinking about Claire.
I hadn't talked to her since my first day, though I had seen her around a lot and I'm ashamed to admit that I had sort of been keeping an eye on her by reading the minds of those around her. The school was small enough that I could keep track of everyone in the entire place no matter where they were on campus. Doing this I was able to watch her in every class, during lunch, and also on most of her walk to and from school. I don't want to call it stalking, and maybe I was taking things a little too far, but no one had ever interested me more than she did, and I kept telling myself it was only until I knew why she was different.
Even with Claire as a distraction, school was still not a fun time for me. I hated my classes, I hated my teachers, I hated how I had to listen to the snide comments they would make about me, both behind my back and in the privacy of their own heads, I hated how I had to take it all, I hated not being able to say anything to anyone. But I couldn't afford to lose my temper. I couldn't afford to let the electricity flow.
"You are a worthless piece of shit!" Tommy yelled at me one evening
"Language please, Tommy." Dad said calmly, "Now Tyler, don't give in, I can see you want to let the electricity out, keep it in check." Dad paced the basement floor; hands clasped behind his back, watching the expression on my face grow angrier and angrier. This was a common scene in our house. It always had been, ever since I gained my father's ability. We would meet in the basement and Tommy would delightfully shout insults at me until I lost my temper, then I would try to hold my powers back. I don't think Tommy realized how close to death he so often was, but Dad was always there to siphon off the worst of it. The worst Tommy ever got was about the same as if you had stuck your finger in a socket. It hurt like hell but it probably wouldn't kill you. "Keep in mind, Tyler that this ability is different from you're others. Here you are manipulating something physical; you're controlling the elements so to speak. Your other abilities are more mental in nature. You're constantly using and therefore practicing them, even if you don't realize it. It's important to put a conscious effort into using your electricity because that's the only way you're going to get any practice. It's the only way you are going to remain safe."
"Oooh, my name's Tyler, and I can't control my powers..." Tommy said in high pitched imitation of a girl's voice.
I strained to keep my abilities in. I could feel it rising, building, gaining strength and power. It swam inside me, picking at the edges of the mental barrier that was holding it back. I hated it when Tommy did that girl voice; it was the only sure way to piss me off. I could feel my face turning red. I clenched my fists, trying very hard to hold it in.
"Tommy, go upstairs." Dad said wisely. Tommy bolted from the room, slamming the basement door shut behind him. "Tyler, calm down. You know he was trying to make you angry. We've been doing this for years now and he always resorts to that voice, deep breaths now." Dad said. I took a few deep, shaking breaths and when I had calmed considerably I unclenched my fists. Dad walked to the far side of the room and placed some pop cans in a row on the table. "Okay, I think it's time you let off some steam. Anyway you've earned it; I thought we were going to have an explosion on our hands. You did very well."
And so target practice began. It was my favorite part of these lessons because I actually got to use my gift instead of holding it in. I was getting to be a pretty good aim too. I successfully hit six out of ten cans first shot. It was still nowhere near as good as Dad who could send out a five pronged lightning bolt and hit all of them in two shots. But I was getting there.
Eventually Tommy ventured back downstairs and apologized. Twenty minutes later it was like the whole thing had never happened. Dad and I had set up twenty cans and were having a competition to see who could shoot them all down the fastest, and Tommy sat on the back of a couch along the far wall under the window cheering us on.
"Seriously Dad, do you want him to win? How could you miss that? Oh, good shot Ty!" he added after I hit one and made it go spinning sideways to knock down two others. I made a couple more hits, cans flying, ricocheting off the cold basement walls with an odd ping.
I raised my hand to hit my last can, I took aim, and
"Stop!" Tommy yelled. "Someone's outside!" he hissed. I ran to the window, immediately looking for the thoughts of whoever it was. Nothing. I had a feeling that wasn't a coincidence.
I peered out the window just in time to see a pair of faded red converse disappear behind the bushes.