Friday, July 27, 2012

THE POWER CLUB Chapter 4: "The Power of Darkness"

Absolute darkness
Absolute darkness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         
 Chapter 1     Chapter 2      Chapter 3
           
            “It musta' been a fluke,” said Arick.
            A week had passed, and Damon still could not re-create the second darkspace.  He shook his head.  “I can feel the darkness growing stronger somehow.” Or maybe he only wanted to feel a change.  Every time he tried to make the darkspace darker, Arick could easily find his way around the playground.  “You’re just remembering where things are,” he finally said, exasperated.
            “No, I’m not!” Arick retorted.
            Andy joined them for awhile, but then some other boys invited him to play football.  Neither scrawny, four-eyed Arick nor Damon, who wasn’t much of an athlete, were invited.  So, they continued to practice their powers on the lower playground.
            Then, one day, it happened again.  Damon felt the darkspace expand just as Arick bumped into the a retaining wall.
            “It’s like creating a second layer of darkness,” Damon boasted, “like spreading chocolate frosting on a cake.”
            Arick’s power was growing, too.  It took him longer and longer to detect his way through the second layer of darkness, but, eventually, he could.     One day in early fall, Arick didn’t meet Damon for recess.  Damon ran to the side of the building, where kids in his class sometimes hung out, and found Arick with his eyes closed, talking to some of them.  Damon ran up to him.
            “Damon?  ‘s that you?”
            “How d’ya know?”
            Arick opened his eyes.  “I can tell who people are now, just by their  'blip'!”
            "Wow!"  Damon was impressed by how both of their powers were growing.  “Did you forget?  We’re supposed to meet—”
            Arick blinked several times and put on his glasses.  “Oh, that’s getting kind of old.  I want to play during recess, not work harder.”
            Damon wandered the lower playground alone, feeling rejected yet again,when he felt someone watching him.
            He studied the backside of the school building and jumped.  A long, narrow face with black eyes bore down upon him from a third-story window.
Damon hadn’t seen Calvin Goodrich since the second grade.  His power was so dangerous, the teachers kept Calvin away from other kids.  His parents dropped him off before school began and picked him up after everyone had left, because he had to take special classes.  Damon couldn’t remember what Calvin’s power was, and nobody had talked much about him in five years.  Damon wondered how long Calvin had watched him and Arick practice.
            Even though he remembered Calvin as a nasty, mean kid, Damon felt sorry for him.  He waved to the small face in the third story window.   Calvin didn’t wave back.  He just stared at Damon, his black eyes burrowing into Damon as if he were studying an insect under a microscope.
            Damon shrugged off the chill running down his spine and went back inside the school.
***
            Damon thought the Power Club might practice with him unofficially, but when he asked Vee Evans on the way home from school, Vee stuck his nose in the air.  “We don’t have time for amateurs,” he told Damon before running off.
            Danner, an eighth grader, might have been willing to help, but he had been chosen as a crossing guard; every day, he stood across from the school at the corner of 92nd and Ellingham to let kids cross.  Damon had no opportunity to ask him.  Kyle, a ninth grader, attended the district’s high school several blocks away, so Damon rarely saw him unless they happened to run into each other in the neighborhood. 
“You’re worrying too much about this stuff,” Damon’s mother said after she got it out of him why he was acting so blue.  “Just because you’ve got a power doesn’t mean you should forget what it’s like to be a normal kid.”
            “But I’m not normal,” Damon said with pride.  His mother looked as if she had been slapped.  “There’s nothing wrong with being normal.”  She glanced out the living room window at the huge oak tree that separated the side yard from the back.  The leaves were changing to brilliant hues of red and yellow.  “It’s going to be cold soon,” she said.  “Why don’t you go outside and ride your new bike.
            It wasn’t brand new.  Damon’s father bought it for him for his birthday.  Damon had thought the sleek, two-toned, blue ten-speed was cool when Kyle rode a similar bike—two years ago.  Compared to the old Mustang Kyle was now rebuilding with his own dad and the motorcycle Danner planned to get for his next birthday, any bike seemed childish.
            Damon didn’t want to hurt his mom’s feelings, so he went to the garage and got the bike.   If he rode it up and down the alley behind their yard a few times, he thought she would be satisfied.
The purple-grey mixture of gravel and concrete stretched the length of the block.  The alley was maybe wide enough for a compact car and a half to fit.  Even better, it’s uneven surface descended at a sharp decline, making for hazardous travel—perfect terrain for riding a ten-speed bike.  Maybe being normal isn’t so bad, after all.
Damon hadn’t been to the “low” end of the alley since the year after he’d moved into the district, when an older kid named Larry Endicott had chased him and Eldon away.  Larry wouldn’t reveal what his power was, but he claimed to own the part of the alley he called “Larry’s End”.
Damon hadn’t seen Larry in years.  For all he knew, Larry had moved to another part of the district or been sent to Alaska, where kids who abused their powers were sent.
Damon guided his bike down the alley with his feet off the pedals, past rows of garages and yards much like his own.  He approached Larry’s End before he realized it, passing very close to one of the yards.  A huge rosebush protruded claw-like into the alley, and nearly snagged Damon before he swerved away from it.
Then something stretched out from the backside of the rosebush and aimed directly at him.

I hope you've enjoyed this advance look at my novel in progress, THE POWER CLUB™.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.



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Friday, July 20, 2012

THE POWER CLUB Chapter 3: “Practice Makes . . .?”


 
            “Don’t run until I tell you,” Damon directed his brother.  Eldon was no Vee, but he was all Damon had to practice on until school started.
            Like a runner waiting for the gun to go off, Eldon nodded and watched Damon intently, almost challenging him.  He stood in the family room, as close to the couch as he could get, to give himself more running room.
            Damon exhaled sharply, wanting to make the darkspace come as fast as it could, and let out a “hulp!”  Eldon took off running before the darkspace spread to half of the family room.
            “No, wait—!” Damon shouted, but it was too late.  Eldon reached the living room before the darkspace had spread to half of the family room.          Damon inhaled, and the darkspace vanished. “I said don’t run until I tell you to!”
            “I thought you said, “Go!” Eldon protested as he bounded back into the family room.
            “There’s a difference between ‘hulp!’ and ‘Go!” Damon argued, but this was getting him nowhere.  If he couldn’t make the darkspace come fast enough for an ordinary 11-year-old, he would never be able to compete with the Power Club.
            “What are you boys doing?” Their mom asked a she carried a basket of laundry through the living room.
            “Nothing!” they answered in stereo.
            “Damon,” she said, looking down at him, “you should know better than to teach Eldon to lie.”
            Damon lowered his eyes.  “Eldon’s helping practice so I can make my darkspace come quicker.”
            “Why do you want it to come quicker?”
            Damon dreaded this question, but he answered truthfully.  “Kyle and Danner and Vee formed a special club.  I tried to join, but they said my power’s not strong enough.”
            His mom sat her laundry basket by the steps leading upstairs.  “Damon, I don’t want you hanging out with those boys.”
            His dreams evaporated like heat from the freshly laundered clothes.  “Why not?”
            “What if someone gets hurt?  Remember your last run-in with a special club?”
            How can I forget?  They stole my bike.  Thinking about it still made Damon angry.
            “You’re lucky you weren’t seriously hurt,” his mom went on.  “ You had a guardian angel watching out for you.”
            Damon turned around so she wouldn’t see him rolling his eyes.  When his mother started talking about guardian angels, he knew she wouldn’t budge.  He jogged back into the family room to get away from the words he knew would be coming next, but Mom only said, “No more practicing on your brother!”
            “Okay,” he said, trying to sound dejected. Whether she knew it or not, his mom had left a loophole.  She didn’t tell him he couldn’t join the Power Club.  She said she didn’t want him “hanging out” with them.  But if I join,  I won’t technically be hanging out.  I’ll be one of them.  That logic would hold up in a court of law, even if it didn’t hold up in the Court of Mom.  In any case, he’d find better volunteers once school started in a few weeks.
***       
            On the first day of school, Damon’s new teacher, Mrs. Fox, told the class about special programs.  They would be trained to use their powers for the military or to work in the district when grown.  But Damon couldn’t wait that long—not with the Power Club in his own neighborhood.
            Recess was the only other option.  Damon told his pals, Andy and Arick, to meet him by the basketball poles on the upper level of the playground.
            Andy went first.  He stood facing one of the basketball poles and took a deep breath.  He let out an explosive frost that covered the entire pole in seconds. 
            Damon went next.  He created a darkspace around another pole.
            Arick timed them both, studying a stopwatch through his thick glasses. “He’s got you beat by four seconds.”
            Damon and Andy turned to face two different poles —
            “Hey, stupids!  Don’t freeze the poles!”
            Four boys ran toward them.  Eighth graders.
            “Basketball poles are for playing basketball, dummies!”a shaggy, blonde-haired boy taunted them.  “You’re going to ruin them!”
            Damon knew Andy’s frost breath would wear off in a few seconds and there were never any lasting effects from his darkspace.  “No, we’re not.”
            But the older boys didn’t seem to care what Damon had to say.  “Get lost!” the blonde boy shouted.  He stood in front of one of the frozen poles and looked up at the sky.  His body began to glow and the air around them all turned very hot.  Melted ice dropped off the basketball poles and evaporated.   One of the other boys bent over and transformed himself into something resembling a large, metallic ball.  Then other boys tossed him around and threw him toward the hoops, ignoring Damon and his friends.
            Protesting that they had been there first would have been useless.  One didn’t argue with eighth graders.
            “Come on,” Arick said with resignation.
            They ran to the lower-level playground, where a swing set, jungle gym, and castle were set up.  The younger kids had already had their recess, so Damon and his friends had the playground to themselves.   Arick ran to the jungle gym and turned to face the others.  “Damon, try your power on me.”
            Damon released the darkspace.  As his night vision activated, he saw Arick standing there, a tiny speck next to the skeletal frame of the jungle gym.  Poor Arick.  He’s just gonna stand there—
            But Arick casually took off his thick glasses, put them into a case he pulled from his back pocket, and laid them on the ground.
            Damon watched, amazed, as Arick ran to the jungle gym and climbed up on it.  His friend, who had so much trouble seeing in plain daylight, climbed to the top of the metal bars, hung off of them, and spun around with confident abandon before he leaped off and ran to the castle.
            Can he see in the dark? The idea made Damon strangely anxious until he realized Arick was using his radar vision to get around.
            “This is too easy!” Arick called from atop the castle.  “Can’t you do anything else?”
            Damon’s amazement turned to irritation.  The Power Club’s rejection reverberated in his mind.  Is that the best you can do?  He thought for a moment. 
            Whoa. . . .  What if I create second darkspace?
            He concentrated and exhaled . . .  It was like blowing into a balloon that was already full of air.  Damon feared something might pop, but nothing did.  Gradually, the darkspace expanded. 
            Arick climbed down off the castle and ran toward the swings, but stopped.  “Hey, Damon!”
            Winded from the effort, Damon didn’t answer.
            “DAMON!”  Arick’s shouted.  He stood still, frozen in one spot.  “Cut it out!  Make it go away!”
            Damon’s stomach hurt as he inhaled.  The darkspace vanished.
            “What happened?” asked Andy, who had remained outside the darkspace.
            Damon filled him in.
            “And then all of a sudden,” Arick continued as he retrieved his glasses, “it got darker.  Everything disappeared.  My radar vision couldn’t detect anything.”
            “Is it some new power of yours, Damon?”  Andy was impressed.
            “I dunno.”  Damon didn’t want to admit he’d tried creating a second darkspace.  Besides, when kids used misused their powers, they could be reported to the teachers.  He turned to Arick.  “What do you mean everything disappeared?”
            Arick searched for the right words.  “Your darkspace got . . . darker.”
           

Friday, July 13, 2012

THE POWER CLUB Chapter 2: "Tryout"



Chapter 1.


            “ISTHATTHEBESTYOUCANDO?” shouted Veryl Evans as he raced past Damon.
            “That’s not fair!” Damon shouted back.  “Hold still!”
            Veryl—Vee, as he preferred—ran circles around Damon, easily evading the darkspace.  His voice seemed to come from everywhere.  “If we were criminals, we wouldn’t hold still.” 
Damon tried to make the darkspace come faster.  But it came slowly, as always, a gentle cloud flowing out from every pore of his body.  By the time it spread ten feet, Vee was cackling from the other side of Mackintosh Park.
            Damon inhaled, making the darkspace go away, and glowered.  Vee could run faster than anyone else in the district and, though six months younger than Damon, was already a founding member of a club.  Damon, four months past his thirteenth birthday, still hadn’t been invited to join a club.
            That, he determined, was about to change.
            Damon turned to face his next opponent, Danner (“Don’t call me Danny!”) Young.  The fourteen-year-old liked to show off by standing at six feet almost always, but, no matter how tall he could grow, Damon would make sure it wasn’t tall enough.
            Damon closed his eyes and inhaled, envisioning the darkspace flowing straight up as far as it would go.  When he opened his eyes, his “night vision”activated.  Only Damon could see inside the darkspace, though everything appeared black and white, like an old-time cartoon.
            But Danner didn’t appear worried.  He flexed his muscles and started to grow: ten feet . . . fifteen . . . twenty.  Then, to Damon’s dismay, the older kid’s head disappeared—a sure sign that he had grown too large for the darkspace.  Then his torso and legs turned confidently away from Damon and simply walked out of the darkspace.
            “HEY, DAMON!” someone close to him shouted.   “THAT’S A NEAT TRICK!”
            Damon turned to face his third opponent, Kyle Powell.  At fifteen, Kyle was the oldest member of the Power Club and the most powerful.  So why is he just standing in the dark, shivering?
            No one could hear inside the darkspace unless Damon wanted them to, so he willed a hole—“a soundspace,” he called it—to open.  “Hey, Kyle, why are you just standing there looking stupid?”
            If Kyle was embarrassed, he didn’t show it.  “I don’t teleport when I can’t see where I’m going.  Might merge with a tree or something.”
            Perfect. If Damon could defeat Kyle, he’d be in the Power Club for sure.
            “So, is this it?” Kyle said, looking around at nothing.  “Can your darkness do anything else?”
            It doesn’t have to. Damon carefully closed the soundspace so Kyle wouldn’t hear him.  Then he ran toward Kyle.  All I have to do is trip him.  A feeling of immense power overcame him as approached the unsuspecting kid, then—
             . . . fft!
            Kyle disappeared—as did the darkspace!  Damon found himself floating.  He couldn’t sense anything.  He felt as if his body were liquid, being scrambled and rearranged.  His head lay on his torso.  Now it jutted from under his left knee.  His thumb protruded from the opposite side of his hand . . .
            Normal sensation gradually returned.  Blue sky . . . hot summer air . . . birds chirping . . . and Damon found himself standing in mid air.  He fell three feet to the ground, landed on his feet, and fell to his back.  The park spun, and he felt sick.
            He forced himself to sit up, not believing what had just happened.  Kyle teleported ME!  He looked around and saw a huge, twenty-foot, black cloud floating above where he’d been standing.       Awesome!
            It was his darkspace.  The black cloud lingered like a small child separated from its parent.  Then, slowly, it did something Damon had never seen it do before.  It turned grey and vanished, leaving behind its sole occupant, Kyle Powell.   
            Kyle jogged over to Damon.
            “I thought you said you couldn’t teleport when you can’t see where you’re going!”  Damon scolded him.
            “I said I don’t teleport.  A sly grin came to Kyle’s lips.  “But I keep my teleporter field on, just in case.” 
            “But you could’ve—”  As sensation in his legs returned, Damon struggled to stand and talk at the same time.  “You could’ve teleported me into a tree.”
            “Nah.  I know Mack Park pretty well.  I just had to make sure you were a few feet off the ground.”
            Vee and Danner, who had returned to his six-foot size, joined them.  “You musta tried to attack Kyle, didn’t ya?” Danner teased.  “Don’t feel too bad.  I used to do the same thing.”
            “Yeah, but you tried to sneak up on me more than once,” Kyle responded.  “Maybe Damon’s smart and will learn his lesson the first time.”
            They bantered back and forth like as if they had known each other a long time.  But Damon felt both in and out of the group.  He found himself laughing at jokes that weren’t funny.  “So, what happens next?”
            “Now,” Vee answered, “we vote.”
            “. . . in private,” Kyle added.
            Damon took the hint and jogged several feet away toward the sandpit where a group of younger kids—ords, probably—were playing on a slide.  He snuck a glance back once or twice to see the three Power Club members huddling like football players.  When he glanced back a third time, Kyle was running toward him—alone.
            Damon steeled himself.
            “Your power’s okay,” Kyle began, “but it’s not strong enough for the Power Club.  You need more practice.”

What Does The Power Club Have to do with Poetry?

Photo by  Morning Brew  on  Unsplash  . . . well, not much. But all writers should write a variety of things, so I've been exploring my ...