|Absolute darkness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
“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.
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.