Book 1: Justyce Begins
Episode 5 – A Firefly and a Pocket Watch
Oliver Mills was having a dreadful day. His girlfriend left him. Ollie’s landlord kept nagging him about late rent. Then his car wouldn’t start, and Oliver missed the bus. That caused him to walk to his job interview, and Ollie was already running a half-hour late. He wondered what else could go wrong today when Ollie heard the screaming. Great, someone was robbing the credit union. Ollie ran across the street to hide. He peered out from behind a bush in time to see two security guards flying backyards out of the credit union front windows. Ollie knew he should run in the opposite direction, but curiosity got the better of him.
Oliver heard more screams from within the bank, and then he saw something he couldn’t believe. A lady with a scorpion tail and a lion creature walked out of the credit union’s front doors carrying large duffel bags, presumably filled with money. Ollie stepped back to hide within the bushes, and his foot slipped on a metal object. Kneeling to look at whatever he almost tripped over, Ollie dug the item out of the dirt and brushed it off. It was an old pocket watch. Ollie doubted if it would even still work. Curious, he opened the front case and cleaned the glass face. The time looked right. Ollie checked his phone, and sure enough, the watch’s time was exact.
Oliver pulled the crown to check if he could still set the time if needed. The watch looked antique. Maybe it was worth something if it still worked perfectly. Ollie was about to push the crown back in when he noticed something else odd. Everything today was weird, but this was beyond all the rest. A butterfly hung in the air right in front of him, floating there, not moving. Oliver glanced around. He could move, but nothing else moved. He peered through the bushes. Even the monsters stood frozen in place. Ollie absentmindedly clicked the crown of the pocket watch back in place, and everything roared back to life.
Erik screamed and started beating at his body with his hands to try and extinguish the bright yellow flames. “What the hell? Why am I on fire, and why am I floating?”
Cancer sneered and stepped closer to Ash and Harvey. “While your fiery friend is beating himself up, I’ll take care of the two of you. I can sense the blue stones. Give them to me, or the consequences will be severe.”
Ashton pulled Harvey’s unconscious body away from the crab creature, then stood between his friend and the terrifying monster. “You’re not getting the stones, and you’re not getting to my friends without a fight!”
“Ash! Duck!” Erik yelled.
Ash looked behind him and saw Erik with his arms out and intense concentration on his face. Ash didn’t hesitate. He dove on top of Harvey to protect him from whatever was about to happen. Just as Ash dove, he felt a searing heat above him. Ashton saw a stream of yellow fire emitting from Erik’s hands and striking Cancer directly in the chest.
Cancer ripped his burned shirt off when the flames stopped and threw it on the ground. “That hurt, boy, but I’m still standing. What else you got?” Cancer said, taking a step toward Erik.
“Damn! Those flames were hot, but they were too light and airy. I wonder if I can adjust the heat levels?” Erik mumbled to himself. He kept an eye on the advancing crab creature and tried to take a step backward. Erik was still floating and had lost his sense of balance. Erik did a summersault in mid-air as he stepped back before regaining control. Once he was upright again, Erik threw another stream of fire at Cancer.
The crab slowed his advance. “That’s annoying, boy, but you’ll have to do better.”
Erik clenched his fists and closed his eyes in concentration. He pictured himself creating a massive ball of fire to throw at Cancer. Erik felt himself fall, and his feet hit the ground. Erik stumbled, but he stayed upright. When Erik opened his eyes, the flames covering his body had changed from a bright yellow to dark orange. Also, he was holding a giant ball of fire. Erik threw the fireball as hard as he could. It hit Cancer with a thud, knocking him off his feet and sending him twenty feet backward.
Erik glanced over at Ashton. “Get Harvey out of here and help the others down in the park. I got this.”
Harvey was awake but dizzy. Ash helped Harvey get groggily to his feet, and the two friends disappeared into the trees heading toward the park’s central section.
When Ash and Harvey cleared the tree line and looked down into the park, the centaur was still firing arrows at people as they tried to run away. Ashton put a hand on Harvey’s arm. “I’ll be right back. Let me go and help these people.”
“I can help. Just let me clear my head. I’m still a bit dizzy.”
“Sit down, Harvs. I’ll be right back.” Ashton said and was gone in the blink of an eye. Harvey looked around and then spotted Ash fifty yards away, knocking an arrow out of mid-air and helping a lady escape into the trees. Harvey couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His best friend was a bona fide superhero! He took out his cellphone and started taking pics and videos of the action.
Cancer got up and charged at Erik. Erik tried to form another fireball, but the crab was on top of him before he could get one ready. Before Cancer reached him, Erik tried to float but couldn’t get off the ground. Cancer struck Erik right in the midsection, and the two tumbled to the ground. Cancer knelt on Erik’s chest and raised his claw above his head, ready to strike. Erik raised both hands and shot a small fireball right into the crab’s face. Cancer rolled off Erik, and Erik leaped to his feet. He willed his flames to get hotter again. Erik’s whole body glowed with yellow fire, and he rose into the air. That was the key. The orange and red fire was heavier and better used for fireballs, and the yellow fire was hotter, lighter, and perfect for flight. Erik was starting to figure out his power. He wondered what else he could do. He’d have to experiment when he wasn’t fighting for his life!
Finally gaining a little control over his new power, Erik fired shots of the yellow fire at Cancer, making the crab yelp in pain and roar in anger. Erik knew he couldn’t defeat the monster this way, but he tried to lure the creature away from his friends and the innocent bystanders in the park. Erik led Cancer to the east, away from the high school and toward the docks.
Ashton was busy dodging arrows and carrying people out of harm’s way. His confidence grew with each person he saved. Unfortunately, with overconfidence comes complacency. Ash failed to notice Sagittarius leap on top of the boathouse to gain a broader range for her arrows. Ash set a small boy down inside the tree line and turned back toward the lake. Before he could move out of the way, Ash was struck in the left shoulder with an arrow. The force of the blow caused him to stumble, and then another arrow embedded itself into his right thigh. Ash fell, moaning in pain.
Harvey saw the scene unfolding right in front of him, but he couldn’t do anything to stop it. Harvey yelled for Ash to turn around, but his friend was too far away and couldn’t hear him. Harvey stood up, slid his phone into his pocket, and ran as fast as possible across the park. Harvey reached Ashton’s side just as the other boy fell to the ground. Harvey looked up at the centaur, standing on top of the boathouse. “Leave my friend alone! What do you want? Why are you doing this?” Harvey barely noticed that his entire body felt tingly, and blue electric sparks ran back and forth between his fingertips.
“I’m here for the blue stones and will kill anyone who has them. I will also kill anyone who stands in my way. That means your friend must die, and you too, by the looks of things.” The centaur said as she notched another arrow into her bow.
“I won’t let you kill him,” Harvey said. As Harvey’s anger rose, the electrical sparks multiplied and arced in the air around him. Harvey looked at himself in wonder, not understanding what was happening. Harvey didn’t even notice as Sagittarius let loose the arrow and let it fly directly at his chest.
Ollie scowled. No. It couldn’t be. It’s not possible. No way. Ollie pulled the crown back out, and everything froze in place. He thought, “If giant scorpions and lion-minotaurs are real, why not magic pocket watches that stop time?” He looked at the watch, then back at the scene in front of the bank. Ollie spun the hands of the watch forward. Everything moved forward at the same pace at which he moved the hands of the pocket watch and stopped when he stopped moving the hands.
Ollie noticed that, forward in time, the scorpion lady drove her stinger into the chest of one of the security guards. He stepped out from his hiding spot and twisted the hands in reverse. Ollie watched as the tail pulled out of the guard’s body and the wound closed. Even the clothes knitted back together. Oliver Mills realized that he was now in complete control of time.
Ollie thought about the day he’d been having and decided to take fate into his own hands. Luck and fortune had spit in his face for years. It was time for that to change. Oliver left the crown, pulled out, and slipped it into his pocket. The first thing he did was pull the security guard out of the range of the scorpion’s tail. There, that was his good deed for the day. Now it was time for Ollie to take care of himself. He found a pick-up truck parked on the street. The driver was frozen in place just outside the truck. Ollie took the keys from the driver’s pocket and pulled the man onto the sidewalk. Then he went back to the front of the bank. Ollie took the duffel bags one at a time from the monsters, emptied them into the truck’s cab, and returned the bags full of rocks.
Ollie sat in the truck, took the watch out, and pushed the crown in. He started the truck and drove off. Oliver Mills was gone before the truck owner realized what had happened. He never looked back, or Ollie would have seen the scorpion strike the sidewalk full force with its stinger and yell in rage and pain.
Erik led Cancer around the park’s edge and then caught a whiff of ozone in the air. “That’s weird.” Erik thought. “There’s not a cloud in the sky, much less a thunderstorm.” He shot another fireball at the crab and floated higher into the sky to look around. Erik looked toward the lake and spotted the centaur on the boathouse. She had her bow raised. Erik looked to see what she was aiming at and saw his two friends. Ashton was on the ground, and Harvey was standing between Ash and the centaur. Erik saw that Harvey was the source of the ozone smell. Blue electric sparks danced around Harvey as he stood defensively in front of Ash. Erik noticed that Harvey was not making a move to get out of the way of the arrow, so he turned toward his friends and flew as fast as he could, shooting flames out in front of him the whole way there.
Harvey felt the heat before he saw the fire. He looked up to see a flaming arrow disintegrating on its way toward him. Then Erik was landing next to Harvey, covered in bright yellow fire. The centaur cursed and reached for a new arrow, but Erik let loose another stream of fire. Sagittarius reared up to escape the flames, causing her to lose her balance. She fell to the ground but quickly got to her feet. Sagittarius reached for her bow, but it was ablaze on the ground near the boathouse.
Cancer ran up, slightly out of breath, to stand next to Sagittarius. “You can’t beat us! The Zodiac Club will destroy you all!”
“Just watch me!” Erik said, his eyes glowing white. The yellow fire first turned bright white and then became tinged with blue. Erik floated even higher in the air as his flames got more intense and hotter. Cancer first covered his eyes, then gave up and jumped on Sagittarius’ back, and the two raced off into the distance.
Erik’s flames just kept getting brighter and hotter. Ash and Harvey had to back away from Erik. The intense heat drove them back, and they shielded their eyes from the bright light. Both boys yelled as loud as possible, letting Erik know the monsters were gone. He didn’t seem to hear them.
Ash looked at Harvey. “What will happen if he can’t stop heating up, Harvs?”
“I don’t know, Ash. I don’t know.”
A voice from behind them startled the boys. It was Bryson Indiana. “Harvey? Ashton? What is going on? Is… is that Erik Reilly?”
“Yeah,” Harvey said quickly. “He can’t hear us. We were under attack by monsters, but they are gone now. We’re trying to tell him that he can relax and cool down, but he won’t listen! Can you help us?”
“Let me try,” Bryson said. He knelt and closed his eyes. Bryson tried to focus on his newfound powers. He sent calming thoughts out toward Erik to connect with his friend.
Erik’s mind was awash in flames. He couldn’t find his way out. Erik frantically tried to regain control, but everything got hotter and hotter. Then a familiar voice called out to him. It was Bryson. Erik closed his eyes and let Bryson’s voice guide him out of the flames.
Logan slid his phone into his pocket and turned off the tv. He looked over and saw his brother grinning at his phone. “Who are you talking to, Gav? Has Harvey answered yet? Anything new from dad?”
“Nope. I haven’t heard from either of them. We should go look for Harvey right now. I have plans later tonight,”
“Plans?! Who are you texting? What are you planning?”
“I’m texting Becky. I told you I have a date tonight, don’t you remember?”
Logan’s jaw dropped, and it took him a moment to answer. “Yes, I remember you planned on going on a date, but that was before the town was attacked by monsters. It was before dad was called up to active duty. Your date was before our little brother went missing. Most importantly, it was before you turned into Ice Boy or whatever you wanna call yourself. How can you still go on a date as if nothing happened?”
“All the superheroes date, don’t they? Like Spiderman and Mary Jane? Or Lois and Clark?”
“At least you didn’t say Spiderman and Gwen Stacy. She was murdered by the Green Goblin. Most superhero significant others have short life spans.”
“Logan, I know a lot is going on, and yes, we need to find Harvs before I go, but I need this one normal thing on this crazy day. You can understand that, can’t you? Plus, Becky is the hottest girl in school. I don’t know why she said she’d go out with a dork like me, but I do not want to screw it up before our first date.”
Logan raised his eyebrows. “I’m not hitting on my big bro, but you’re a hottie, Gav. And you’re smart and interesting. I don’t understand why you don’t have all the girls and half the boys fighting over you. Especially now with those cool blue highlights you put in your hair. They totally match your eyes. Becky is the lucky one, not you.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t dye my hair.” Gavin reached up to touch his hair as he walked to the bathroom to look in the mirror. Gavin walked back out and stood in front of Logan. “I don’t understand. It must be a side effect of the ice powers.” Gavin shrugged. “You’re right, though. It does look good. I hope it stays like that.”
“Can we go look for Harvey now? If we find him and he’s ok, I promise I won’t complain about you bailing on us and going out on a date.”
Gavin grinned. “Deal.” Gavin reached over and ruffled his younger brother’s hair. “Thank you for what you said. It means a lot. Now let’s go find our little brother.”
Erik was finally able to turn his flames off. He regained control of both his mind and body. The first things he saw when he looked around were the emerald green eyes of Bryson Indiana. “I thought I heard your voice, but from inside my head. What’s happening, Bry?” Erik started to wobble a little bit, and Bryson guided him to a park bench and sat down.
“I think it’s those rocks, Erik. I don’t know how or why yet, and I also need to figure out why they affect different people differently. I can read minds and pick up things with just a thought. You… I don’t know… you turn into fire?” He motioned toward Harvey and Ashton. “They both have powers, and there are the people who have been transformed into evil brutish monsters.”
“I don’t turn into fire. It’s like the fire is inside me. It’s always there waiting for me to call it forth. I’m learning to control it, but I’m not there yet.” Erik said.
“Maybe the people who turned into monsters were already evil. They were doing bad things, and it sounded like they had a master plan. I think there’s more of them.” Harvey said.
“There’s more to it than that.” Bryson looked thoughtful. “There are definitely more of them. I fought one earlier today that looked like an old Greek minotaur.”
“Wait… a bull, a crab, and a centaur. No wonder they called themselves The Zodiac Club. I sure hope there’s not twelve of them!” Ashton quipped.
“That is a horrifying thought, but one to keep in mind. I suggest we all keep in close contact while we’re figuring this out for our safety and to keep an eye on the monsters.”
Erik took a close look at Harvey. “You’re Gavin Kastala’s brother, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. I’m the youngest. I’m Harvey.” Harvey extended his hand and then quickly pulled it back. “Is… is it safe to touch you?”
“I could ask you the same question, electric boy,” Erik smirked.
Harvey looked thoughtful. “Good point! Also, if we’re naming ourselves, I think Thunderbolt makes a more ominous name than the electric boy.” Harvey huffed out a laugh.
Ashton slapped the palm of his hand against his forehead. “Oh geez, what’s next? Spandex costumes?”
“Maybe in your fantasies,” Harvey smirked.
Ash blushed. “No comment.”
“If you two are done awkwardly flirting, can we all exchange cell phone numbers?” Bryson laughed.
After the four boys exchanged numbers, Harvey clapped Ash on the shoulder. “I have to get home and check in with my brothers. We should probably get off the streets anyway. I’m not ready for another fight! Do you need to go home, or do you wanna hang at my place?”
“I have no reason to go home. Let’s go.” Ash looked a little sad, but he gave Harvey a small smile.
“Hey, guys, before you go, do you know anyone else who may have come in contact with the meteor rocks? Harvey, what about your brothers?” Bryson asked.
“Logan left early this morning, but he didn’t say anything about the blue rocks. Gavin didn’t know anything about them because he looked confused when we saw a news report. Our dad is in the army. I’m pretty sure they know something because they activated his unit, and the only one at school that did anything weird was this guy.” Harvey pointed at Ashton and grinned.
“Yeah, the thing with the desk was bizarre, but now I know it was related to the whole superspeed thing I got going on.” Ashton shrugged. “To answer the question, no, I don’t know of any other freaks but us.”
“Ok, guys, stay in touch. Harvey, text me after you talk to your brothers.”
“I will. See ya later.” Harvey and Ash turned, jogged out of the park, and took the turn toward Harvey’s house.
As the other two boys ran off, Erik turned to Bryson. “All that power in the hands of teenage boys just trying to figure themselves out. I hope there aren’t many more rocks out there. This could be a global disaster.”
Bryson gave Erik a half-smile. “We’re not doing much better than them. You nearly went supernova! You’re right, though. Someone needs to take charge of this thing. We need to know who was affected, how many rocks are still unaccounted for, and why we all react differently to the meteors.”
“Harvey said the army is involved. Won’t they figure all that out?”
Bryson rolled his eyes. “Never trust the government, Erik. Even if they do figure it out, they’ll never tell us. If the government got their hands on anyone with powers, they’d be lab rats for life… or turned into military weapons. I’m gathering my own data, and I have a friend who is an investigative journalist who is also working on a few leads.”
“I trust you, Bryson. That’s why I followed your voice out of the fire.”
“You want me. I knew it.” Bryson smirked.
“Don’t ruin the moment, jerk face.” Erik blushed.
“Let’s go back to my place and wait for Grace’s call.”
“Quick stop to check on my dad, and maybe some burgers on the way? Flying really makes a guy hungry.”
Bryson shook his head and laughed. “I wouldn’t know, but I’m hungry myself. Let’s go.”
Ollie pulled into a car dealership and flagged down a salesman. The salesman showed him a few cars out on the lot, then Ollie asked to see the cars in the showroom. The salesman looked skeptical but agreed. Ollie spotted what he wanted almost immediately. “What about this one?” He asked.
“We can check out your loan options and credit reports at my desk. The price of that one is $78,592.00,” The salesman said.
“No loans or credit checks necessary. How much if I pay cash right now?” Ollie asked.
“No one pays that much in cash. What did you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.
“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $10k if you stop asking so many questions.”
The salesman frowned. “I can’t take a bribe. Where did the cash come from? I’m calling my manager over.” He turned to walk away. Ollie sighed and pulled the watch out of his pocket. He pulled the crown and twisted time back just a few minutes. Then he pushed the crown back in.
“No one pays that much in cash. What’d you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.
“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $25k if you stop asking so many questions.”
The salesman looked around, then bent closer to Oliver. “Let’s finish this conversation in my office.
Oliver Mills drove off the car lot in his brand-new cherry red Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R with white stripes and a black leather interior less than an hour later. Ollie’s difficult day was long forgotten; he pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Hey Siri, are there any luxury penthouse apartments for rent in Newville, Virginia?” He couldn’t stop smiling as he drove off into a brand-new destiny.
Coming Soon: Episode 6 – Puzzle Pieces