As a first post of the year treat (and seeing as I missed last month’s chapter), I am posting the next two chapters as one.
Chapter Three: Exiled
Soon after the initial madness settled down, small groups of people began to band together, forming communities. Some called themselves ‘Clans’, others ‘Bands’, still others called them ‘Gangs’. Other names included Groups, Hives, Colonies, Communes.
One of the largest growing clans in the early weeks was Thorsclan. -Encyclopedia Britannica.
We had heard of Thorsclan, how they had started to rise in power in Central New York.Originally from New York City, Thor had begun what he called ‘protecting’ cities. For a small price, of course.
Thor was a Flight Major, with an added bonus of electrical power thrown in. He looked like the Norse god slightly, with long golden hair and a face that screamed ‘former teenage heartthrob’. The only thing that didn’t look right was his eyes, which weren’t white, but rather a strange murky gray.
The Mayor of Syracuse didn’t have much control anymore, but he still made an effort to ‘hand’ the city over to Thor. Thor took it, with thanks. One of his first rules, however, was that all other clans must be disbanded.
Phillipsclan said no. Thorsclan got angry.
It came down between me and Thor, standing in the middle of South Salina Street, just like in the old westerns. Behind me stood Phillipsclan, or what was left of it, anyway. Behind him stood the entire city of Syracuse, and more beside. Even Mrs. Taylor stood behind him.
“Judith, go to Mrs. Taylor,” I ordered, and my sister looked at me with fear-filled eyes. But she did as she was told, running across the space to her pseudo mother. “Everyone else, do you understand what it means to stand next to me?”
The eight around me nodded. Two of our number had just followed Judith, and now it was down to Drew, Gwen, Weston (Strength Major), Arthur (Minor), Gabe (A flight Major) Pyro (Fire Major) Samantha (Minor) and Kincaid (Unsure on this, either Martial Arts Major, or maybe a super cool Minor)
“Melchizedek Phillips!” yelled Thor.
“Yep, that’s my name,” I called back. Thor’s voice boomed back.
“I hereby exile you and anyone belonging to the clan named Phillipsclan, from any land under the authority of myself, Thor. We will kill you on sight.”
“Okay, thanks, bro, we’ll be out of your hair in a second, don’t worry.” I turned to the others. “We ready?”
“As ready as we ever will be,” Gwen said.
“I’m not asking any of you to be here, you know. You can leave anytime.”
“Dude, you saved us,” Gabe said. “I’m not just going to throw that away. Plus, who wants to be stuck under that jerk?” he hooked his thumb at Thor, who bristled obviously. “Come one, let’s go,” he said, turning towards the car waiting for us.
Drew started the car as the rest of us turned, slowly climbing the rope suspended from the door frame. From behind Thor, the voices of Liam and Sarah could be heard, crying out for their brother. Someone held them back, I couldn’t tell who.
“Arthur, why are you leaving them?” I asked, and he shook his head.
“I can’t give you all the reasons, but I know Thor from before. He’s not exactly fond of me. I think that he won’t hurt Liam or Sarah, but he would kill me, without hesitation.”
I nodded, letting him climb the rope. The last person, besides me, was Kincaid. “I better not be making the wrong decision here,” he said, grinning at me, his crooked teeth matching his messed up face. He was older than me, by about a year, and I had nothing but respect for him. With ease, the dark-skinned boy climbed up the rope into the car. I followed close behind.
As the door closed, I moved towards the front. “Drew, take us out of here,” I said, and he grinned, albeit a bit sadly.
“As you wish,” he replied, switching the car into drive. I climbed onto the seat so as to stand next to him. He looked at me, a sarcastic jab on his lips.
“If you dare say anything about how old I look, don’t,” I said, referencing a joke he and Kincaid had made several days earlier.
“Actually, I was going to ask if you had shaved today? Your chin looks as smooth as a baby’s.”
I pushed him off the seat, to which came the cry from Gabe, “Don’t harass the driver!”
Everyone laughed. Which is kind of stupid to say, because it would have been hard not to laugh at such a statement
The first day was the hardest. It always is, getting used to a new routine. We had twenty-four hours to get through the Pennsylvania border. Which was pretty easy, considering that it takes less than two hours to do so.
Instead, however, we had decided to try and make it to the Adirondacks, where we had heard others were making their own clans, fighting against Thor. But to do that we had to drive several hours.
It was strange, being the only ones on the highway. It was like one of the scenes from apocalyptic movies, where the heroes are the only ones left on the entire planet, and are just cruising, hoping to meet someone.
I always found those movies stupid. Why would you waste valuable resources driving around the country when what you really needed to was hunker down, gathering different supplies, and thriving.
Suffice it to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of those movies. And I had taken the idea of the story by George Wesely Rawls Survivors to heart: Find a group of friends, then get ready for whatever comes. You will have a much better chance of survival that way. Guns also were a huge part of it, but after we all shrunk, we couldn’t exactly use them.
Like I said in the beginning, the first day was the hardest: reaching our destination. We had driven into a small resort near Cranberry Lake, parking our car near the entrance. I walked in first, leaving the others ready to help me if need be. I knocked on the glass, but no one answered. So, instead, I kicked the glass. It shattered inward, but my foot hurt like crazy. I slipped through the crack, hoping not to cut myself on the edges of the glass.
The register counter was empty, and so were the halls that I could see. I walked towards the counter, my hands balling into fists. Suddenly, a shot rang out, and I dove, rolling behind the counter. A voice called out, “Who’s there?”
“My name’s Melchizedek Phillips!” I yelled back. “If I come out, do you promise not to shoot me?”
“Nothing doing!” the man, whoever he was, shouted. “Only if you answer this question correctly. Are you for Thor or against him?”
“Considering I just got kicked out of where I used to live by him, I’m against him.”
“Wrong answer,” the man said, and the gun fired again, blasting a hole through the wood. “Thor’s my brother, and he doesn’t like to be called stupid.”
“I never called him stupid!” I said, taking a look at my attacker. His arm had become a gun. The entire freaking arm. Talk about firearms.
Puns aside, he was a huge threat. Just as he fired again, I started out, running for the door. A spray of bullets followed me, as, apparently, the man could switch between regular shotgun and machine gun.
I dove through the hole, the glass slashing into me. Well, my left leg, anyway. I hobbled towards the car, yelling for them to get it started. But no one was watching outside. My leg was cut deeply, and I struggled to walk properly. I grabbed the rope, and started climbing.
The man had come to the door now, and was firing at me. I banged on the car door, hoping that if they hadn’t heard the gunshots, they would hear me. They didn’t.
I dropped to the ground, running behind a tire. Then I saw why no one had responded. They had all been taken out of the car and tied up with (can you believe it?) rubber bands. Everyone except Weston, that is. He had a hair twisty.
I pulled out my knife, stumbling forward. The guards saw me, but not before I had thrown my knife. Inexplicably, Kincaid had been able to catch it with his hand, and slash his band bonds. They didn’t fall, they whipped off of him, and whacked the two beside him, Samantha and Pyro.
Speaking of Pyro, he began the next act, letting his hands flare up. (Does anyone mind if I make another firearm joke?) The two then proceeded to let the others loose. I turned, climbing the rope again. This time, the door opened and I rolled in. The hail of bullets still raged, but I was safer now. I ran to where we kept our ‘swords’, various knives we had shaped handles for so they could be handled by the now-tiny human race.
I threw them out the door, where they were picked up by my clan. Then, grinning, I collapsed on the edge of the floor, watching the action. My leg wouldn’t support my weight anymore, unfortunately.
Everyone turned, making their way for the rope. Pyro lit the area around on fire, keeping everyone away as Phillipsclan climbed. Everyone worked as fast as they could, and I did my best to help pull them in. After the last member pulled their ragged body in, Drew started the car. We sped off, hoping that they wouldn’t chase us.
“A bit close,” I said, sitting up. My leg still hurt like the dickens, but Pyro and Gwen were working on it. Now, I’m going to explain that phrase for a moment: The dickens hurt because they are boring! This doesn’t mean that my leg was boring, however, it simply meant that I was in a great deal of pain. Almost as bad as trying to read Bleak House for school. Ugh.
As they worked, I gave them the same talk I just gave you, They seemed only mildly interested. Drew turned on the radio, probably to block out my monologue. “Today,” the newscaster said, “President John Smith made the announcement that they would be fighting against the invaders.”
“I might not be into politics, but isn’t our president. Vincent Paltroni?” Pyro asked. I shrugged.
“You haven’t been paying attention,” Arthur explained. “Paltroni died when the toxin hit, as did his Vice-President. John Smith is just a man Congress put into power.”
“There’s no way his name could be John Smith,” I said, then winced as Gwen cleaned my wound.
“It’s probably just a stooge so Congress can pull the strings. The House wanted to make the decision, but Senate got to it first,” Arthur said, sitting as well.
John Smith’s voice came on over the radio. “These men, whoever they are, will not get the advantage over us. We are the United States of America. I will fight to the best of my ability to repel these invaders. Our shores will be protected.”
“As you can hear, President Smith is declaring war on whoever has attacked Boston.”
“Turn it up!” I exclaimed, as this was the first thing I had heard of it. Drew did so, and the sound nearly blasted out my eardrums. “Turn it down!” I shouted, and rolling his eyes, Drew complied
“You said-” Drew was going to make a joke that I wasn’t in the mood to hear, so I cut him off.
“I know what I said, and I’m sorry. Just let me listen.”
“Thirty people were killed, countless other injured in the attack on Thursday,” the newscaster said. “It was led by people who appeared approximately two feet high.”
“Not regular humans,” I said, and Arthur nodded.
“Maybe a group of supersized Gifted?” he said, using a super old term for Majors. After I introduced that phrase, everyone loved it. Gifted? Pfff. That word was lame. However, this was before I had started calling anyone that, so, we were limited to Gifted.
“Maybe. But there’s an awful lot of them. We didn’t have that many of any kind of Gifted back in Syracuse.” Gabriel’s reasoning was sound, but something didn’t add up for me.
“So the toxin didn’t affect these people like it did us? And if that’s the case, why didn’t we have anyone like that in Syracuse?”
“Maybe they’re not human,” Samantha said, grinning.
“Yeah, like that’s the answer, Sam,” Arthur said, smiling. Samantha smiled back, and suddenly, everyone else were interested in the ceiling or the floor. We all knew that they had a thing for each other. In fact, the only people oblivious to that fact were Arthur and Samantha themselves. It sounds wrong, but what I mean is that they didn’t know they were doing things like this.
Anyway, enough about the romance. Onto something more interesting.
We drove half an hour, pulling into a small town. We parked outside of Tony’s Convenience Store, and got out. We didn’t know how long we were going to be driving, so I had decided to stock up on supplies as soon as we could. Several cars sat nearby, and I ordered Weston and Gabe to siphon the gas. They looked at me like ‘What the heck, Dek?’ but did it nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the rest of us went into Tony’s Convenience Store. I could move easier now, apparently quick healing was part of the MiniTox’s effects.
We strolled down the aisles, picking out the things we were going to want. Without Weston to pick push our shopping cart, or Gabe to lift us to where we could walk on the shelves, it presented more of a problem than we had thought it would. So, we were limited to window-shopping.
A can of baked beans was on the bottom shelf, and Pyro, trying to be funny, pulled it off and got on, walking slowly down the row. We all chuckled, but then, something came whizzing along the ground, knocking the can out from underneath him. We all turned, and saw our enemy. Three men, dressed in black, stood at the end of the aisle, one with fire in his hands, another, tearing up the dirt, and the third floating.
From the other end of the aisle came the shouts of victory, so we turned. A man with rocks floating above his head, a woman with what looked like glue dripping from her hands, a man who looked like a Minor (as in, he didn’t have any powers, not that he was really young) and another who kept shifting between a rabbit with fangs, (Bunnicula?) a hawk, and his human form.
“We’re in trouble,” I murmured.
“You said it, Dek,” Gwen whispered back. We formed a circle, preparing to fight, but knowing that if it came down to it, we were at the disadvantage. I could hear more people coming, joined the men on one side, and the others at the, well, other side.
In the middle of two halves of an army. And everyone knows that two halves always want to make one whole.
Chapter Four: Self Preservation; or, the Art of Canning Oneself
While the main powerhouse was Thorsclan,other, smaller, clans began appearing, mostly in the Adirondacks,where they could easily repel Thor’s attacks. The strongest was one calling itself ‘Black River Clan’, but they fell apart in winter, as they could not keep warm. The next strongest was the ‘Shifters’, full of Majors who could shapeshift. They did last out Thorsclan, later joining the Adirondack clan, during the-” -Encyclopedia Britannica
Sorry about cutting it off there, but, well, there are spoilers in the next sentence. And you don’t want me to spoil the entire story for you, do you? If so, then skip to the end of the book and read the epilogue. I’ll do a recap there. Entirely in rhyme. Beat that!
Anyway, back to the story. Remember, we’re in Tony’s Convenience Store, surrounded by the enemy.
We stood in the circle, not sure what to do. I knew I had to take charge, to make sure I came forth as the leader. “Pyro, grab another can,” I ordered, grabbing one myself. The others did it also, putting cans of baked beans around them.
Soon, we had a small barricade around us, with us in the middle. “Okay, Dek, now what do we do?” Drew asked, and I smiled.
“Ever heard of a pincer movement?” I asked, and I saw a few nods, but mostly puzzled expression. “It’s what they’re doing to us right now. Get on either side of the group, so they have nowhere to go, then move in for the kill. It’s based off of what crabs and lobsters do. But there’s one thing: If you get really close to the crab or lobster’s face, they can’t reach with their arms.”
“Where’s the head?” Arthur asked, catching on.
“I have no idea, so that was actually a bad illustration,” I confessed. “But, we can buy more time if we go straight through that shelf there,” I pointed to the one that, if we went through it, would lead us to the next aisle. “When I give the signal, move your cans so we have a straight pathway to it.”
I poked my head up, looked at both sides of the opposing force. They had grown in number, with about twenty-five people in all around. And more still coming.
I nodded, and everyone pushed, pulled, teleported, or somethinged their can. I ran to the shelf, grabbing the first thing I could (toilet paper, actually) and pulling it off the shelf. The others ran to help me, tearing off disinfectant wipes, more toilet paper, and other things you would find in bathrooms. When a bar of soap passed, I slashed off a good sized chunk with my knife and stuck it in my pocket.
“My mother told me that cleanliness was next to Godliness,” I said in explanation to no one.
Our worries, however, weren’t over when we cleared out the shelf. On the back, separating the two shelves, was a thin sheet of metal. “Pyro,” I sang, and he grinned. Lighting his hand, he slowly cut a piece large enough to let us through. As we slipped to the other side, Kincaid stopped me.
“Dek, if we don’t make it out of this alive, I need to tell you something,” he said, looking at the ground. “I feel that following you is going to get me killed someday.” His voice was serious, and I shook my head.
“I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen,” I said, my head changing directions and nodding.
“Don’t say that,” Kincaid said. “Just promise me that if I die, you won’t feel like it’s your fault. Please.”
I nodded, then followed the older boy through the hole. He knew more than he was telling, I could tell. But I didn’t press the matter.
We pushed through the next shelf with ease. It was a cooking supplies shelf, so we mostly were pushing spices out of the way. Gwen was the first one on the ground, and looking both ways before crossing, she dashed to the other side. Drew followed, then Pyro, Samantha, Arthur, I was the last one, speeding across the gap so fast that I suspected they didn’t even see me.
We huddled there, waiting. Then, cautiously, I dashed up to the edge of the aisle. The people on the side had started to advance on where we had been. I motioned for the others to join me, and they did so. We sprinted around the corner to the next aisle away from the clan.
We needed a place to hide, and quickly. The ‘Tony’s-Convenience-Store-Clan’ would soon find that we were gone, and come looking. And with the numbers they had, it was easy to imagine the result. (If you don’t understand what I’m trying to say, then please close the browser and read Dick and Jane)
Then I spotted it: the perfect hiding place. They were like Mason Jars, except that they were smoke colored, so that you couldn’t see inside. “Get in,” I ordered, and my crew obeyed.
“I’m going to have to put a lid on, so it looks like there’s something in here,” I said.
“There is something in here,” Drew complained.
“I’m going to need you to hold your breath. I’ll try and leave a crack, but I don’t know how I can do that.”
“Uh, Dek, I had a solution,” Pyro said. “I’ll just make a tiny hole in some letter, so they can’t see it.” He picked up one of the lids, inscribed with the label Mason.
“Or we could do that,” I said, getting to one of the jars. A holed lid was put over me, and I hunkered down, trying to fit. My head bumped the lid, and I struggled to stop it from doing so.
I peered out my smoky den. I couldn’t see anything, besides the jars beside me. Faintly, I heard the noise of people finding out that their quarry is gone. In other words, the sound of complete and utter anger.
The ‘Tony’s-Convenience-Store-Clan’ came into the aisle, hounding for our blood. My pulse skyrocketed as they came up and tried to see into the jars. But trying to see in was harder than trying to see out, so they moved on. We continued sitting there until, finally, Pyro tipped his jar over and crawled out. We all proceeded to follow his example, not caring if the ‘Tony’s-Convenience-Store-Clan’ was going to find us or not.
I studied the other side of the aisle, the one we had not touched yet. Smiling, I said one word. “Condiments.”
The ‘Tony’s-Convenience-Store-Clan’ heard us banging around and came back, as quick as they could. But this time, we were ready. From the bottom shelf, we had gotten a ‘Family Size’ container of vegetable oil, a stick of butter, and as many bottles of Maple Syrup as we could find. The latter we had poured out around us, so that they couldn’t get close, unless they were flying. Maple Syrup is, after all, the stickiest thing you can put onto pancakes.
The oil we added to the maple syrup, let the two mix. The butter we also melted and spread around. Then, we grabbed some pots and sticks and formed a convenience store band. Granted, our music was some of the worst you could ever hear, and the lyrics (created by the magician himself, Drew Taylor) were horrendous. They went something like this:
“Oh, we’re trapped in a convenience store!” (Bang on the pot, bang on the pot) “Not exactly convenient, if you ask me. Which no one did, so nevermind” (See former parentheses, see former parentheses) “Why couldn’t we have gotten stuck in a Walmart?”
By this time, the ‘Tony’s-Convenience-Store-Clan’ had reached us. They stared at the mixture with something akin to disgust, which is what I would feel if I saw it. Then, shaking their heads, they charged in….and got stuck on the maple syrup.
“Fire light, fire bright,” Pyro said, igniting his hand.
“Don’t, you fool!” one of the people yelled.
“Let us go in peace,” I said, and they shrugged.
“Okay. But only if you beat the turtles.”
Turtles? After Thor, Mr. Firearm and, come to think of it, the shrinky thing, turtles sounded easy.
“Why not?” I said. Ha ha, let’s all laugh at the little cute idiot. Because that’s what we were dealing with here. Well, what they were dealing with. (Just so you know, I’m the cute little idiot)
Everyone grinned, and, laughing (which should have tipped us off to begin with), led us out of the store and into their backyard. It turns out that Tony’s Convenience Store was right next to a golf park, which in turn, was right next to a river. The group that had taken us belonged to the golf park, and had been stuck there ever since the shrinking happened.
This in and of itself wasn’t surprising, but what they had done with the place, now that was surprising. Instead of hunkering down in Tony’s Convenience Store, as we would have done, they had camped out on the golf course. The most interesting feature of said golf course was the turtle pit.
Unfortunately, I’m not joking here. The ‘Tony’s-Convenience-Store-Clan’ had rounded up seven turtles from the river, and trapped them in a pit about two feet deep. The pit they had dug using an Earth Major. (Just for future reference, Arthur’s kid brother Liam turned out to be an Earth Major. Pretty cool, all the different things he could do)
Our group was shown the pit, then, smiling and laughing, they pushed us in. Gabe and Weston weren’t with us, and we were alone with seven turtles, some snapping, some not. I looked at Pyro. “You think you could fry of of these for supper?”
He laughed, thinking I had made a joke. “Nah, this would be to much for us.”
“Pyro, seriously. I need to know. Can we get out of this alive?”
“Come on, Dek,” Kincaid said. “It’s a good day to die.”
I remember his words from earlier, about how he expected to die if he followed me. I shook my head. “Not today, it’s not. Now, let’s show these idiots how Phillipsclan fights!” With those brave words, we waited for the turtles to attack. You would think they would move slowly, but that wasn’t the case.
They sped across the expanse between us in seconds, their beaks snapping. I jumped, flipping over one of the ugly heads, and landing on the shell. The beast tried to turn, and catch me in its jaw, but I was too quick, leaping out of the way. The others did their various things, except for Arthur and Samantha, who were both Minors, and thus, couldn’t really do anything, well, major. Or Major. Not sure about how that should be done.
Kincaid’s hands flickered. Literally. Pyro’s hands flickered. Figuratively. The flames on his hands, however, did flicker. Together, they attacked the turtles, one roundhouse kicking them, the other cooking them.
As I danced with my seven partners, I called out to Gwen, who was busy keeping herself, her brother and our two Minor friends alive. “Take them to the water!” I called, and instantly, the four disappeared. I slapped my forehead, or to be more precise, I face-planted on the nearest turtle shell. I had meant for her to take the turtles, but I guessed the humans would do as well.
Our odds had gone from seven against seven to three against seven, and let me tell you, the majority was not on our side. As I flipped over another bone-crushing beak, I contemplated the meaning of life. Mostly about why it would ever end in so short a time.
I thought that I was invincible, spinning and jumping around the (insert-your-own-fancy-word-for-turtle-because-if-you-don’t-I’ll-end-up-cursing). Unfortunately, I wasn’t, and landed in the open mouth of a (censored) turtle.
See? I told you I was going to curse. People these days, they just don’t listen.
I could feel the beak begin to close around me. I fought with it, pushed, kicked, did anything I could, but all the while, felt my bones began to crack. Suddenly, it stopped. I looked up, out of the pit, and saw someone leaning over us. He had a youthful face, and a small golf club was clutched in one hand.
“Stop this, Guntar,” he said, standing upright. I felt myself moving, being drawn to the top of the pit. I landed softly on the dirt and looked at the kid again. He was probably around eleven or twelve, most likely there with his family when the shrinky thing happened. .
The other two in the pit rose as well, landing next to me. “Is that how Gabe feels?” asked Pyro, and I shrugged.
“Probably it’s a little bit different, as he can control it.”
“Yeah, hadn’t considered that,” Pyro acquiesced, turning his gaze onto our savior. “Who’s the kid?”
“The name’s David,” the ‘kid’, replied, turning back to us. “I have what people call telkintic powers.”
“You mean telekinetic,” I corrected, and he raised his club threateningly.
“I can put you back there,” he said, pointing to the turtle pit. “Or you can accept my telkintic powers.”
“Phillipsclan, let’s go,” I whispered, and Kincaid nodded.
“Right, because we can so outrun who knows how many Majors, as well as a telkintic one who can just grab us anytime.”
A big burly man came up. “What is it, Davey?” he asked, his lips forming a sneer. “Don’t like to see bad things? Maybe you should go back to your dolls.”
David’s voice grew cold. His bravery was astounding. I got the feeling that he wasn’t all he seemed. “Guntar, how about I make you into a life-sized puppet? I could, you know. I could just make your arm, oh, I don’t know, whack into your own face,” Guntar’s arm sprung up and slapped himself across the face. “Or, what if I made you trip?” Guntar fell, face first, into the ground.
“David, stop,” I said, walking to him.
“Get away!” he cried, slamming into me with his ‘telkintic’ powers. I rolled along the ground, rising to my feet. Gritting my teeth, I moved back to him, wincing as the wound in my leg started to flame with pain.
“David, stop,” I repeated, and he turned to me. What I saw creeped me out more than a man with gun barrels for arms, or even the giant rat that I had to fight. (Long story, but suffice it to say, rat traps don’t always kill the rats) I saw pure and utter hatred. Nothing could stand against such loathing.
I shook my head. “David, I’m sorry,” I said, turning away. “Come on, Pyro, Kincaid. Let’s go.” I left the golf course, heading for the water. I turned back when I heard a sniffling noise. David was kneeling before Guntar, crying.
And Guntar was laughing.
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