Justyce, Inc. – Episode 5

Episode 5: Frozen Fisticuffs

Erik didn’t really have a plan of action after he left Bryson’s apartment. He had decided that he wasn’t going to his class. There was just too much on his mind to focus on schoolwork. A pleasant stroll through the park might be just the thing he needed to clear his head. When he was about halfway through the park, he started to hear noises. He slowed his pace and left the path. From behind a stand of bushes, Erik peered into the big picnic area, which was situated right in the center of the park. What he saw, he could hardly believe. There were two… for lack of a better word… monsters terrorizing a family near the barbecue pit.

One of the creatures looked like a mythological centaur. The centaur was a female. Her long chestnut brown hair matched the color of her horse body exactly. The second monster was something like Erik had never seen before. It had the basic shape of a man, and Erik could see that it had human facial features, but the skin had a reddish hue, and things that the family threw at him bounced off as if the skin was a hardened shell. The creature’s left arm ended in a relatively normal-looking hand, but the right arm ended in what looked more like a giant claw. Erik wondered to himself if this could be his own fate. Were these monsters caused by the effects of the blue meteors? Would he turn into a monster? He’d have to find an alternate path to get home. Erik snapped a couple pictures with his phone, then turned and ran back towards the school.

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Two ambulances pulled into Newville General Hospital and dropped off their patients. There was a flurry of activity in the emergency room. Both William Fuller and Brett Greene were in critical condition when they arrived. William had numerous broken ribs and internal injuries. Blood was dripping out of his mouth and nose. Brett had cuts all over his face and upper body. He also had a broken left arm and crushing injuries to both legs. Both men had glowing blue rocks in the pockets of their jeans.

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“Ashton! Wait up!” Harvey yelled as he closed ground on his friend.

Ash heard someone yell his name and stopped. He turned around and saw one of his closest friends, Harvey Kastala, running to catch up to him. Ash took a seat on a park bench and waited for Harvey.

Slightly out of breath, Harvey sat down next to Ashton. “Hey, Ash.”

“Why are you here, Harvs? Shouldn’t you be in class right now?”

Harvey waved the hall pass in front of Ash. “I’m in the bathroom. Duh!”

Ash rolled his eyes. “Go back to school, Harvey. I’m fine.”

“What happened? I saw the vice-principal walk you off school property?”

“I… I’m not sure what happened. My desk fell apart, and they blamed me. Destruction of school property. It’s been a weird day, Harvs.”

“I know. My dad’s unit is on high alert because of the meteors. They think there’s more to it than that.”

Ashton’s eyes grew wide. “Do you know what they think is going on? Are the meteors dangerous?”

“Ash, what are you not telling me? What happened at school?”

Ashton sighed. “You know me too well.”

“You’ve been my best friend since kindergarten. Now spill it!”

“Ok. Alright. Well my strange day actually started before I got to school. I was passing by the antique store on Park Avenue, well where the antique store used to be anyway. It burned down in one of the fires last night. I stopped to check it out, and I noticed a bright blue rock in the ashes. It was stunning so I picked it up. The damn thing started glowing and made my whole body feel weird. I don’t know why, but I kept it.” Ash pulled the rock out of his pocket and showed it to Harvey.

Harvey started to reach for it, but Ash pulled it back. “No! Don’t touch it. At least not until I finish my story. Then you can decide for yourself.”

“It may be too late for that.” Harvey reached into his pocket and pulled out his own four small blue stones. “They’re a lot smaller than the one you have, but I felt the same energy pulses throughout my body that you described. So, please, I need to hear the rest of your story.”

Ash reached out and placed a hand on Harvey’s forearm and stared deep into his bright blue eyes. “Oh, Harvs, what’s happening to us. I hope to God that you don’t experience what I did today.”

“Tell me. Ash, what happened?” Harvey asked.

Ashton relayed his story to Harvey. He told him about the floor tile and about the pencil and finally about the desk collapsing. He explained, to the best that he knew how, that none of it was intentional. His body was vibrating so fast that he could barely follow his own movements, and he had no conscious control of it. “So, that’s my story. It can’t be a coincidence. It’s gotta be related to the stones, right?”

Harvey was about to respond when an older boy came running out of the park. Harvey thought he recognized him. Erik? Something like that. He thought the boy graduated with Gavin. “Dude, where’s the fire?” Harvey said as the boy ran over to where Harvey and Ashton sat.

“There’s not a fire, but there are two monsters in the park, and I think they’re chasing me! We have to get out of here!”

“Whatever drugs you’re taking, you need to quit,” Ash said just before an arrow flew out of the trees and stuck in the bench right between Harvey and Ashton.

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Bryson was nearly out of breath by the time he reached Grace’s apartment. He took a few minutes to gather himself and then went upstairs and knocked on the door. He heard Grace from inside the apartment, yell out, “Come in!” Bryson opened the door and went inside.

 “Bryson, what happened to you? Your clothes are all torn. Are you okay?” Grace asked.

“I need your help, Grace. Even more now than when I called you. Have you seen the news yet this morning?” Bryson was pacing nervously as he talked. The events of the morning had him pretty freaked out.

“Are you talking about the meteors and the fires? Yeah, I’ve seen all the footage. What’s that have to do with the fact that it looks like you just went ten rounds with King Kong?”

 “Turn on your TV. Maybe you can see it for yourself. You gotta see this, or you won’t believe it. I don’t believe it, and it happened to me.” Bryson waited while Grace turned on the TV.

“What is this, Bryson? This can’t be real. Is this a movie stunt? Wait… is that you?” Grace looked from the TV to Bryson and back again. “What…what is that thing?”

“It’s not a movie stunt. I just fought a freaking minotaur or something close to a minotaur anyway. It called itself Taurus the Bull. It was after two other people, but I found myself right in the middle. It was looking for these.” Bryson pulled the blue rocks out of his pocket.

“Are they pieces of the meteor?” Grace asked, reaching forward.

Erik closed his fist around the rocks. “Don’t touch them. Something happened to me when I picked them up. I… I’m different now, Grace. I could read their thoughts, the two injured guys in the car, and Taurus. His thoughts were jumbled, but I know he came from the docks, and there was a big explosion down there during the meteor shower. It has to be all tied together. I think that the rocks turned him into that monster and gave me powers.” He lifted Grace’s coffee table up with his mind, spun it around, and set it back down.

Grace was in complete shock. She could not believe or understand what she was seeing, even though it was happening right before her astonished eyes. Bryson had been right. If she hadn’t seen it for herself, she would have never believed it. She didn’t want to believe it even now. “This is a lot to take in, Bryson,” Grace said, running her fingers through her long dark hair. “What else can you do?”

“So far, I can read minds and move things with my mind. If I can do anything else, I haven’t discovered it yet.”

Grace looked closely at Bryson. “Your eyes have changed. They are a much brighter green than they were before. You’re not wearing colored contacts, are you?”

Bryson ran to Grace’s bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. He came back into the room and sat down again. “They are brighter. It has to be connected. My friend Erik Reilly found a meteor, and his hair changed color. Give me a minute to send him a text. I have to see if he’s experienced any other changes yet.” Bryson sent Erik a text, which was not immediately answered. “I have to go look for him. Will you help me find out what’s happening, Grace? The army showed up while I was fighting Taurus. I know you have high-level contacts in the government.”

“I’ll do what I can, Bryson. Go look for your friend. Keep me in the loop. Lay low. You were on that video clip. The army will probably come looking for you. You may want to stay somewhere other than your apartment.”

“That’s a great idea, Grace. I didn’t even consider that. I’ll find Erik and let you know if anything else happens.”

“Buy a new phone. Call me when you and your friend are both safe. I’ll contact my sources and wait for your call.”

“Thank you, Grace. I knew that I could count on you.” Bryson practically ran out of Grace’s apartment and down the street toward Erik’s house.

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“Gav, I know we gotta check in with dad, but just promise me that we can come back and look for Obie. I know he’s close. I can feel his presence through the feather.” Logan said as he reached for the car’s door handle.

“Ok, Logan, I promise. As long as dad doesn’t say that we can’t, I’ll bring you back here.” Gavin started to go around the car to get into the driver’s side, but before he could, he heard a loud yell, and he looked back just in time to see a large shape hurtling toward the car. “Logan! Get down!” He yelled.

Logan looked around, and his eyes widened in shock and fear. He dove toward where his brother stood, barely getting out of the way in time before something big hit the car with a crash. The car windows all shattered at once as the car was hit with enough force to knock it onto its side. Logan rolled onto his back and looked to see what had hit the vehicle. He couldn’t believe his own eyes. What he saw stood on two legs like a man. From the waist down, it could have passed for human, with one exception, where its massive legs muscles burst through the jeans, long dark grey fur showed through the rips. The same hair covered the creature’s bare upper torso. The beast’s upper body was humanoid in shape. It was just over six feet tall with broad shoulders and heavily muscled arms ending in larger than average hands. Logan could see the once human face, which was now distorted and covered in the same grey fur. Its ears were pointed and closer to the top of its head than human ears, but the most shocking feature of all was the set of enormous, curved ram’s horns protruding from the sides of its head.

“W-what are you?” Logan said, his voice shaking with fear.

The beast turned toward Logan and snarled. “I am Aries the Ram, and you will give me the blue stones, or I will crush the life from you and take them anyway.”

Gavin leaped in front of his brother and faced Aries. “Stay away from my brother, you freak. If you want anything from him, you’ll have to come through me first.” Gavin turned his head to look at Logan. “Get behind the car, Logan. Hurry!” Logan scrambled backward and crouched behind the overturned car. Gavin set his feet and faced his foe.

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After Bryson left her apartment, Grace Santos scrolled through her contacts. She almost clicked on one of her top government sources, but then thought better of it. She didn’t think that anyone in the government would give her a straight answer to this even if they knew. Instead, she called a number that he had not called in years. He called an old college friend, Caleb Justyce. She didn’t exactly hang out in the same circles anymore, but Grace knew that this problem was something that would pique the interest of Caleb. The call went straight to voicemail, but Grace left a message and waited.

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Bryson ran the three blocks from Grace’s apartment to Erik’s house and banged on the front door. Erik’s father answered the door. “Hi, Bryson. What brings you here?”

“Hi, Mr. Reilly. is Erik home?”

“No. The last I saw him, he said he was going to see you. Didn’t he show up? That was quite a while ago.”

“Yeah, he was at my place earlier. I thought he’d be home by now. I guess I’ll walk through the park and see if I can meet up with him. He’s not answering my texts.”

“Is everything alright, Bryson? Is it something important?”

“No, Mr. Reilly, there’s nothing to worry about. When you see him, just tell him to text me.”

“Ok, Bryson. It was nice to see you again.”

Bryson was a little alarmed that Erik wasn’t home yet. He should have had plenty of time to get here by now. He turned and started walking quickly toward the park.

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“You are either brave or extraordinarily stupid,” Aries sneered.

“I will not let you hurt my brother,” Gavin stated, fists raised in front of him.

“Gavin, come on! Let’s run!” Logan yelled from behind the overturned car.

“Too late for that, boy,” Aries said as he butted his horns against the car, pushing it further off the road.

“What do you want from us?” Gavin asked.

“The blue stones. Give them to me willingly, and I might let you live.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t have any blue stones,” Gavin said, slowly backing away from Aries.

Aries sniffed the air. “I can smell them. You can’t lie to me, boy. I’ve had enough talk. Prepare to die.” Aries lowered his head and charged.

Gavin dropped to his knees and raised his arms over his head in an effort to protect himself. He gritted his teeth, closed his eyes, and prepared himself for the impact. The impact never came. Instead, Gavin heard what sounded like breaking glass and then a loud thump which came from behind him. He opened his eyes and looked warily around. There were shards of ice all around him, and Aries was now between Gavin and Logan. Gavin couldn’t figure out what had happened, but he quickly sprung to his feet to place himself, once more, in between the monster and Logan.

Aries’ eyes narrowed. “I knew I smelt the stones. You’ve been affected by them, so now you must die!” Aries charged at Gavin.

Gavin side-stepped the charge and swung his fist at Aries. Before his punch struck its target, Gavin felt an extreme coldness run through his body. A cocoon of ice formed around his fist just as the blow landed. The ram was nearly knocked off his feet as he stumbled away from Gavin. Gavin looked down in awe at his ice-covered fist. He thought about how cool it would be if his whole body were protected by the ice, and then it happened. Gavin was now covered in an icy armor from head to toe.

Aries watched as the ice formed around Gavin. Hoping to catch Gavin distracted, Aries lowered his head and charged. He hit Gavin full-force in the mid-section with his horns. Gavin was thrown back and smashed against the car. He was unhurt, but the icy armor shattered into a million pieces. Gavin saw Aries closing in on him.  He tried to move out of the way, but he was pinned up against the car. Gavin raised his arms in self-defense, wishing he had something to throw at Aries. Streams of ice shot out of Gavin’s fingers and struck Aries square in the chest, knocking him backward. Frost continued to stream out of Gavin’s fingers until the ram’s legs were frozen solid.

Gavin leaped to his feet and rushed around to the other side of the car. “Logan, come on! That probably won’t hold him for long. Let’s get out of here.”

Logan’s dark brown eyes were wide open and staring. “Gavin, you’re a superhero!” He ran over and hugged his brother.  

“Whatever! All this might make me believe your story about angels a little more, though. We can talk at home. Let’s get out of here before he breaks free,” The two boys turned and ran down the road as fast as they could, leaving Aries behind.

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Grace sat at her desk and thought about her visit with Bryson, trying to wrap her mind around not just what he told her, but what she had witnessed with her own eyes. He picked up her coffee table using his mind. An hour ago, she would have laughed at the idea. Now her focus was on trying to figure out how it happened and how to proceed. There wasn’t just Bryson to consider, there was also the monster that he fought. How many others were out there? She knew that Caleb was the best shot at finding answers. Grace glanced at her phone again. Still no return call from Caleb. After a while, she decided to go straight to Justyce Labs and talk to Caleb, face to face. Caleb was the smartest person that Grace knew. Caleb had graduated from high school when he was fifteen, and he had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering by the time he was eighteen. When Grace started college, Caleb was twenty-eight and working towards his third master’s degree. Now, he was thirty-seven had his own research lab. If anyone could figure out what was happening, that man would be Caleb Justyce. Grace left her apartment, avoided downtown, and drove as fast as she could to Justyce Labs.

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Harvey and Ashton both leaped off of the bench. “Dude! I thought you were joking. Who is chasing you?” Harvey said.

“Yeah, I thought you said monsters, not crazy bow-wielding maniacs?” Ashton quipped.

“I did say monsters, and I meant it. One is one of those half woman and half horse things from mythology. She has the bow. The other one is a guy who looks like he has a shell and a mutant claw for a hand! They’re not chasing me, but we need to get out of here! They’re in the middle of the park, terrorizing everyone in sight!” Erik replied, pacing back and forth.

“A centaur and a crab man? Are you trying to prank us? Where are the cameras?” Harvey said.

“Harvey, duck!” Ash yelled!

Harvey looked up and saw another arrow, this one heading straight for him. He didn’t even have time to react. Then something barreled into him, and Harvey landed on the ground on his back. The breath was knocked right out of his lungs. He coughed and blinked and tried to roll out from under whatever landed on him, then he saw that it was Ash. “Ash? How? You were way over there.”

“I… I’m not sure.”

“I was looking right at you, and I didn’t even see you move. One second you were next to me, and then there was a blur and a gust of wind, and you were on top of your friend.” Erik said.

“A lot of weird stuff has been happening today,” Ash said, getting up off of Harvey. “Maybe we should do like Erik said and get as far away from here as possible.”

Harvey leaped to his feet. “No! If they are hurting people, we need to try and help! I want to at least get a few pictures to send to my dad. These creatures may be the reason that his army unit was activated.”

“This is a stupid idea, but I’ll show you where they are. As soon as you see them, you’ll change your mind and agree with me.” Erik said in frustration, but he led the other two boys through the trees and into the picnic area in the center of the park.

“I thought you were exaggerating, but that does look just like a centaur,” Harvey said.

“She’s firing arrows right at that family. Harvey’s right. We have to at least try and help.” Ashton said and took a step forward, and then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

“Ash? Where’d ya go? Erik, what happened?” Harvey said, looking all around.

“It’s the same as when he tackled you. A gust of wind, and he was gone. Wait. Isn’t that him over by the pond?”

“It can’t be. That’s over a hundred yards away. How would he…”

Erik heard a thump and turned to see why Harvey stopped talking. The first thing Erik saw was the mutant crab monster, but then he saw Harvey lying face-first on the ground at the creature’s feet. Erik clenched his fists. “Get away from my friend, you freak!” To Erik’s surprise, the monster took a step back. Then Erik felt a gust of wind, and Ashton appeared.

“Harvs!” Ashton yelled and knelt by his best friend. Ash looked up at Erik, and his eyes grew wide. “Erik! You’re on fire… and you’re… floating!”

Erik looked down at himself, and his own eyes widened in shock and fear. Ashton was right. His entire body was engulfed in flames, and he was floating a foot off of the ground.

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Coming Soon: Episode 6 – A Firefly and a Pocket Watch

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 4

Erik Reilly rolled out of bed and turned on the television. He saw news reports on every channel about the meteor shower and the fires, but, oddly enough, there were no reports of any meteors being recovered. Erik thought that was bizarre. Surely, if he found one, others must have as well. Maybe, just like him, they kept it quiet due to the strange behavior of the rocks. Erik didn’t have any classes today, so he decided to text his friend, Bryson Indiana. Bryson loved mysteries. Hell, Bryson even had his own private investigator business. Sure enough, Bryson answered right away, and, as soon as he found out it was about the meteors and fires, he was interested. Erik turned off his television and practically ran out the door.

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Gavin drove up yet another street in his search for Logan. Finally, he spotted him. He drove past his brother and pulled off the road right in front of him. He got out of the car and walked right up to Logan. “What the hell, Logan? Are you trying to worry Harvey and me? With all that’s happening, you decide to just wander off and not answer your texts?”

Logan looked confused. “What are you talking about? What’s happening?”

“Didn’t you get the text from dad? Or any of the texts from me? Have you seen the news?”

“No. I didn’t watch any news? I left the house early. And I don’t have a text from dad. Shit, what time is it?” Logan looked down at his phone. “Dang. I never even turned my phone on. I’m a little preoccupied, Gavin. I’m sorry. I meant to go to my class. I didn’t realize it was almost ten o’clock already.” He said while turning his phone on. “Here’s the text. What does this mean? What’s going on, Gavin.”

“There was a strange meteor shower last night. The meteors were glowing with a blue light. It was strange, but I wouldn’t have been too concerned. What’s got me worried is that the army must be worried. With the text from dad, I just don’t know.” Gavin said. “Your turn. Why are you out so early and not in class?”

“They were glowing blue, you said?” Logan sighed. “You might think I’m crazy, even with all you just told me.” He pulled the feather out of his pocket and showed it to Gavin. “My friend Obadiah gave this to me. It also glows with a blue light. Gavin, Obie plucked this out of his own wing. He’s an angel.”

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Carl Chambers sat in quiet contemplation. So much had happened since last night. Most of the twelve members of his group experienced at least minor physical changes. For some, the changes were dramatic. They all felt different. After their strategy session this morning, he sent ten of them out into the town to search for the blue meteor stones with orders to kill anyone who had already touched them. Carl wanted their group to be the most powerful beings, not only in the town but in the world. He glanced over at the other remaining person in the room, Danielle Gordon.

“Dani, have you figured out how to balance and properly move with that.” He pointed at the six-foot-long tail that curved up and over Danielle’s head.

“Yeah. It pretty much just came naturally. It is surprisingly maneuverable.” She swung the tail around from side to side.

“If you’re sure, then we have a job to do.”

“Collecting rocks like everyone else?”

“No. If we are going to rule this town, and eventually, even more, we need cash. What do you think about robbing the Newville Community Credit Union?”

“That sounds absolutely perfect to me, boss man. Let’s go.”

Carl stood, shook out his golden mane, and led his scorpion-tailed companion out the door.

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Bryson rushed home to turn on the news and catch up on the stories about the meteors while he waited for Erik. He didn’t have to wait long. Less than ten minutes later, there was a knock on his door. “Come on in,” Bryson yelled.

Erik rushed in and closed and locked the door behind him. “I see you’re watching the reports about last night. Have they said if any meteorites were recovered yet?”

“No. Maybe the meteorites were too small to find or were destroyed in the fires that they caused.”

Erik grinned. “I find that hard to believe. I found one right behind my house last night!”

“Show me! Did you see it fall from the sky? Are you sure what it is?”

Erik took the blue rock out of his pocket and held it in his open palm. “Before you touch it, I have to tell you something. Yes, I saw it fall from the sky. I pulled it out of the charred remains of that big maple tree in my backyard. My dad is gonna be pissed. He loved that tree! But, anyway, as soon as I picked it up, it started giving off energy. It pulsed throughout my whole body. I… I feel different, Bry. I feel stronger. Hell, it even changed the color of my hair! Weird, right?”

“I noticed the hair. Bright red looks good on you.” Bryson winked.

Erik blushed. “Thanks, but you know I only like girls. You just don’t give up, do you?” Erik smiled shyly.

“You’re even cuter when you blush. Broaden your horizons, bro. Bisexual is the only way to go! So many possibilities!”

“Can we please get back to this?” Erik waved the meteorite in front of his friend.

Bryson smirked. “Ok. He reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out his own four blue stones. “I went for a walk to investigate the fires, and I found these. I felt the energy pulses that you described. I haven’t experienced any physical changes like you with your hair, but you’ve had yours since last night, and I just found these an hour ago.”

“What do you think it means? What’s happening to us, Bry? I’m scared, but I’m excited at the same time.”

“I have no idea, but it’s obviously going to be my top priority to find out. There’s a reporter friend of mine that’s helped me with a lot of my cases that I’m going to call. She should be able to help me. She has a lot of contacts in the government that I don’t have.”

“Reporter? Government? Can you trust her?” Erik thought for a moment. “Do you think we should turn these rocks over to the authorities?”

“To answer your first question, yes. I trust Grace about as much as I trust anyone. To answer your second question, no. I can’t tell you what to do with yours, but there’s no way in hell that I’m turning mine over to anyone until I find out what they are and what they’re doing to us. If we give them to the army, the best-case scenario is we won’t find out anything. The worst-case scenario is that nobody ever sees us again. Once they find out about the energy pulses, we’d be lab experiments forever.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“Let me investigate. Let me get Grace involved. You carry on with your everyday life. Go to class. Have fun. I’ll be in touch.”

“I knew you’d know what to do. That’s why I came here first. Thanks, Bry. I’ll text you if I notice any other physical changes or feel any other effects at all.” Erik said as he left the apartment.

Bryson was on the phone with grace Santos, and then out the door heading for her apartment before Erik had been gone five minutes.

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Gavin didn’t look convinced. “An angel? Are you serious? That’s impossible, Logan. Maybe he’s part of whatever is going on. The army is involved. You need to be careful. I think you should stay away from him until we talk to dad.”

“Come with me, please, Gav. Let me show you what I found.” Logan led his brother back to the crater in the field. They both walked to the center of the crater. “Look. Doesn’t that look like the imprint of a body? And look at the size of this crater. And the footprints only lead out of the crater, not in.”

“It is all very odd. I guess odd is the theme of the day. But an angel, Logan? I just don’t know. It could mean just what I said. He could be a part of whatever is happening.”

“Wait. One more thing. The feather was glowing a bright blue earlier and look at all these little rocks. They’re all glowing blue. Explain that! Touch one, and maybe you’ll understand.” He picked up a blue rock and tossed it to his brother.

“What the hell? It feels weird. Like it’s pulsing or something.” Gavin was now just staring down at the glowing blue rock in the palm of his hand. “Grab a couple more rocks so we can show them to dad when he gets home.”

Logan stuffed a few more blue rocks into the pocket of his jeans. “Gavin, I think Obie is out here somewhere. I’m worried that he may be hurt. What do we do?”

“Let’s go home and see if dad is there. If dad isn’t home, we can drive around and see if you see your friend. But, Logan, we have no way of knowing where he is… or even what he is. You have to understand that we probably won’t find him.” Gavin said.

“When I hold the feather, I can sometimes feel if he’s close. I can’t get an exact location. I appreciate you trying to help. I really do.” Logan said.

“Let’s go and see if dad is home yet,” Gavin said, and they walked back to his car.

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Ashton Connors sat in his math class, trying to calm his nerves. He couldn’t seem to sit still. His mind was in serious overdrive, and he hadn’t even had his usual latte that morning. Ashton heard a cracking sound, and he looked down. The tile underneath his foot had splintered as if someone hit it with a hammer. “Shit!” He thought to himself. “I hope Mr. Bailey doesn’t see that or he’ll blame me for sure!” In his nervousness, he started tapping his pencil even faster. Ashton watched, spellbound, as his hand moved so fast that all he saw was a blur. With another loud crack, the pencil completely drilled through the desktop.

“Mr. Connors, what is going on back there?” Mr. Bailey asked as he turned from the blackboard and looked directly at Ashton.

“Nothing, sir. Everything is fine.” Between the broken tile and the pencil sticking out of the desk, Ashton was so worked up that his whole body started to shake. He could barely follow his own movements as his desk started to vibrate.

“Mr. Connors, whatever it is that you are doing, please stop this instant!” You’re disrupting the class, and if I have to speak to you one more time, you’re going to the principal’s office.”

“Mr. Bailey, I…” Ashton started to say, but then… CRASH!

Ashton’s desk fell apart, and he landed amongst the pieces on the floor. The students closest to him leaped out of their seats and backed away.

“Ashton! What have you done? Are you ok?” Mr. Bailey rushed to Ashton’s side.

“I… I’m alright. I don’t know what happened.”

Mr. Bailey’s eyes took in, not just the disassembled desk, but also the smashed tile and the pencil impaled through the desktop. He shook his head. “I don’t understand why so many of you kids have to be so destructive. Come with me, Mr. Connors.”

Ash opened his mouth to try and defend himself but quickly closed it again. It was no use. He couldn’t even explain what happened to himself, never mind trying to explain it to someone else. He sighed and followed Mr. Bailey out of the room.

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As Bryson drove through town, he took a right turn onto Sunset Street, and suddenly a car came flying out of nowhere and landed on its roof directly in front of him. He slammed on his brakes, but still smashed into the side of the other car

Shaken up but basically unhurt, he got out of his car and rushed to see if anyone needed help. Bryson got to the other car, looked in, and saw two men, both were unconscious. The vehicle lay on its roof, and both doors were damaged and wedged shut. Bryson peered in through the smashed windshield to see if he could pull the victims free. The driver was pinned in by the steering wheel and looked unconscious. The passenger was hanging upside down from the seatbelt and moaned softly. Bryson dialed it into 9-1-1 and reported everything he saw. After he hung up, Bryson crawled into their car to see if he could do anything while he waited for the paramedics. From out of nowhere, Bryson started feeling pain all over his body and then heard a voice. He looked at both men, and they were both unconscious. Yet a voice clearly said, “Oh God, please help me. I can’t feel my legs. I hope Brett is ok.” And someone different crying, “Oh my God, what was that thing. It looked like a bull. I can’t believe it picked up the car like it was a toy. Why can’t I wake up? Where’s William? I can’t see anything!”

Bryson shook his head. What the hell just happened? Was he hearing their thoughts and feeling their pain? He started to search and see if he could find the names William or Brett anywhere in the car, but then he felt a totally new set of feelings. Suddenly he was filled with white-hot rage and heard a roaring inside his head so loud it felt like his skull may bust in two. He fell to his knees and grabbed his head. Slowly he turned back towards the road and then wished that he hadn’t. He found himself face to face with something that should not exist outside of the movies.

The creature was at least seven feet tall and looked to Bryson almost like a minotaur out of Greek mythology. He could still see human features beneath the dark brown fur. It had a brown leather-like hide that completely covered its massive body. It’s head closely resembled that of a bull, except the muzzle wasn’t quite so prominent. The creature also had large sharply pointed horns protruding from the top of its head. Its arms and upper body would put the bulkiest bodybuilders to shame, and its tree trunk thick legs ended in hooves instead of feet. Bryson could not believe his eyes. He was almost too stunned and scared to react at all. He tried to slowly back up, but almost immediately hit up against the wreckage of the cars. Bryson nearly fainted from shock when the creature began to speak.

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Harvey was staring outside, lost in thought, even though he should have been paying attention to his calculus teacher. He was startled out of his reverie when he noticed his friend Ashton Connors walking out of the school, closely followed by the vice-principal. They walked to the end of the parking lot where Ash kept walking off of school property, and the vice-principal turned and walked back into the school. “What was that all about?” Harvey thought to himself, then he raised his hand.

The teacher acknowledged Harvey. “Yes, Mr. Kastala?”

“May I go to the restroom, please, Mr. Sawyer?”

“Can’t it wait until the end of class?”

“Not really, sir.”

“Ok. Fine. Go. Make it quick.”

Harvey grabbed the hall pass from Mr. Sawyer’s desk and nearly ran out of the class. He ran right past the bathrooms and out the front door. When he got to the street, he looked all around, trying to see if he could find Ashton. Bingo. He spotted Ash across the street, just entering the park. Harvey dashed off to try and catch up to his friend.

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“Stand aside or share their fate. The stones they possess must be mine.” The bull creature stared at Bryson with its red glowing eyes and waited for him to move.

The thoughts that ran through Bryson’s head were, “Could this thing be talking about one of the blue meteor rocks? Can he possibly know that I have one too? Can I live with myself if I just let him do whatever he wants to these injured men? What do I do?” The words that came out of his mouth were, “Are you really a bull? I called the cops already, should I call animal control instead?” 

The creature roared and charged right at Bryson. He reacted without thinking. He ducked under the creature’s outstretched arms and extended his own arms out towards the bull, palms outward. He felt a power surge through him, and he saw the beast thrown through the air back towards the center of the street. The bull was even angrier now. “Who are you, little man? You must have a blue rock, too. Taurus the Bull shall grind your bones to dust and take it from you!”

“Taurus the Bull shouldn’t refer to himself in the third person. It’s pretentious, especially for a heifer like you.” Quipped Bryson.

The bull lowered its head and charged again. Bryson tried to do the same thing he did before, but it didn’t work. Pain exploded in his right side, and he was lifted off the ground and tossed thirty yards down the street. Bryson smashed into a row of mailboxes. He looked back towards Taurus and saw that the bull was trying to pull one of the men out of the car. Bryson was scared, but he knew he had to try and protect the men from that monster. Bryson groaned and stood up. He thought about how he had thrown the creature using only his mind. He needed to access that power again. Bryson looked around at all the mailboxes and posts, broken and scattered at his feet. He closed his eyes and pictured himself picking up a mailbox with his mind. When Bryson opened his eyes, one of the mailboxes was floating in the air in front of him. He concentrated, and the mailbox flew at an incredible speed and smacked Taurus right in the back.

The creature snarled and turned to face Bryson, letting go of the man in the car. Taurus strode forward, head lowered, and yelled. “I’ve had enough of you, little man. I’ll beat you into a pulp and then finish what I came to do.”

Bryson crouched behind his pile of mailboxes and started sending them out at Taurus. Taurus, caught off-guard by the sudden rain of metal, stopped and covered his face with his arms. Seizing this as an opportunity, Bryson let his new weapons fall and sent his power out at the Taurus, sending the creature flying about fifty yards backward through the air.

Sirens wailed in the distance, growing ever closer. Bryson glanced in that direction. He saw two police cars blocking the end of the street, but not moving any closer. Bryson waved at the cops, trying to get them to come help. They needed to help the men in the car, even if they didn’t want to help him fight the giant nightmare bull monster. Bryson knew the cops saw him, but they moved no closer. While he watched, an ambulance drove up. The police initially stopped the ambulance, but Bryson heard raised voices, and then the ambulance pulled onto the sidewalk and drove past the police roadblock. Help was on the way. Now all he needed to do was distract the giant homicidal cow.

Bryson positioned himself in between the ambulance and Taurus. The bull was back on his feet and ready for a fight. He could hear the creature’s jumbled thoughts. “You’re from the docks? Who were you before you became Mad Cow Man?” Bryson asked with a smile.

“Get out of my head!” The Taurus yelled. “I’m gonna shut your wise-ass mouth for good.” Taurus charged at Bryson. Still listening to the bull’s thoughts, Bryson easily dodged the charge. He kept taunting Taurus and kept leading him further and further away from the paramedics and the two men in the car. By the time the bull realized what Bryson was up to, it was too late. They were three blocks away when Taurus noticed the ambulance driving away in the other direction. He turned to head back towards the scene of the accident when two army helicopters landed in the street.

Men poured out of both helicopters. The bull started forward, then thought better of it and ran off, roaring in frustration. Bryson considered checking on the men in the car, but he caught random thoughts from the army guys. They planned on questioning him, so he decided to leave before they could grab him. He darted down a side street and disappeared into the city.

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Christine Justyce heard the boy stirring in the living room. She peered in to see if he needed anything, and she saw that he was already back to sleep. She picked up her phone and made a call. As soon as the other person picked up, she began to speak. “Caleb, it’s me. I need you to come over to my house right away.”

“What’s wrong, sis?”

“An injured boy showed up at my house last night. He’s hurt bad. Can you come over right now?”

“Why did you call me and not an ambulance or the police, Christine? What else is wrong?”

“He has two very large, very raw wounds down his back. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“I’ll ask again. Why call me? What’s happening, Christine?”

“His blood is blue. Like a bright glowing blue. He showed up covered in mud right after that strange meteor shower. Caleb, I don’t think he’s human.”

“I’ll be right there.” Caleb Justyce hung up the phone and headed to his sister’s house.

Coming Soon: Frozen Fisticuffs!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 3

Episode 3 – Monsters and Heroes

Bryson Indiana stepped out of the shower, still thinking about all the strange fires he saw the night before. He absolutely had to go investigate. After getting dressed, he checked his appointment calendar. No clients were coming in today, just a reporter that he had to meet up with later that morning. His private investigator business had finally started to take off. Three new clients in the last week! He really didn’t need a new problem to solve, but his curiosity wouldn’t let him not have a look around. Those fires were beyond weird. Besides, he needed to walk to Starbucks to get his morning coffee anyway. He finished tying his shoes and pulled on a hoodie. He grabbed his favorite beanie on his way out the door. Autumn had finally started to take hold in northern Virginia.

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            Carl Chambers woke to the sound of a crash. He opened his eyes, but his vision wouldn’t focus properly. Carl got shakily to his feet and stumbled into the union hall bathroom. His body felt weird, and he was having trouble concentrating. His head ached, and he put one hand up to massage his temple and felt a massive amount of thick curly hair. Hair that hadn’t been there just the night before. He looked down at his arms and saw they were covered with what looked like golden colored fur. The muscles in his arms were rippling and appeared to be growing right before his eyes. He rushed to the mirror and saw a face that he barely recognized. His appearance was still warping and changing. He rushed to the doorway and called out to his best friend and right-hand man, Rick Myers. “Rick! Rick, get in here! Something is happening to me!”

Carl heard the same clip-clop of hooves on the wooden floor that he heard last night just before he blacked out for the second time. Then, he heard Rick’s voice, but it was deeper and more gravelly. “Something has happened to all of us, Carl. Something strange and powerful.”

Rick turned the corner, and Carl jumped back in surprise. What Carl saw, he barely recognized as his best friend. He could still make out Rick’s facial features, but that face was now covered in brown fur and horns were growing out of the sides of his head. Rick was now close to seven feet tall, and his shoulders were broad enough where he would have to turn sideways to enter most doors. As Carl continued to gape at his friend, he noticed that Rick’s legs now ended in massive hooves instead of feet.

“Oh my God, Rick. What is happening?”

Rick waved a hand at Carl. “You tell me, boss man.”

“I think it was from the meteor last night. I felt the power emanating from it, but I never expected these physical changes. I don’t know for sure what is happening, but I feel incredibly strong!”

“Carl, I have horns growing out of the side of my head. It’s weird, but you’re right. I feel so powerful!”

“You said it’s happening to everyone? Are they all still here? I want to see.”

“They’re still here. Some are just waking up. Some are happy, but not everyone. I think we may need to finish that meeting that was interrupted last night.”

“You’re exactly right, Rick. This could end up being the best thing to ever happen to us.” The two best friends strode out into the union hall meeting room to assess what had happened to the rest of their friends.  

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Bryson walked to the edge of Newville Park, noting scorch marks on several trees. He knelt down to get a better angle to take some photos, and his trained eyes noticed a couple odd looking blue stones. He picked them up to take a closer look, and nearly dropped them again. He felt a surge of energy rush through his entire body. Peering at the rocks in the palm of his hand, Bryson observed that they seemed to glow and pulse with energy. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, and then he slipped the two blue rocks into the pocket of his jeans.

Bryson stood next to one of the scorched trees and oriented himself, so he was looking straight at the portion of the docks where he had seen the fire last night. Spinning around one hundred and eighty degrees, he was now facing directly at the high school baseball field. He still needed that coffee, but he was in an investigative mode now. Starbucks was too far out of the way; he’d settle for the Dunkin Donuts next to the school. He walked slowly, scanning all the buildings he passed for signs of fire.

By the time he reached the antique shop, Bryson had four blue rocks in his pocket. ‘Brett’s Antique and Thrift Store’ must have been the destination of some of the firetrucks that passed his house in the night. He was just about to continue on toward the school when he got a text message from Erik Reilly.

Erik: “Bryson, I need to come over and talk to you about something. It’s kind of important. Are you home?”

Bryson: “No. I’m on a case. Can it wait?”

Erik: “I don’t know. Something weird is going on. Did you see all the fires last night?”

Bryson: “Yes. That’s what I’m investigating. I’ll go home now. Come right over.”

Bryson slid his phone back into his pocket and nearly ran home.

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            The boy woke up lying on a wooden floor in front of a big fireplace. He was disoriented and couldn’t remember where he was at first, then the events of the night before came back to him. After he stumbled away from the muddy field, he walked towards the only light he saw. It led him to this house. He didn’t know what else to do, so he knocked on the door. A lady answered the door, and then the boy didn’t remember anything else. He must have passed out. He couldn’t remember much of anything. When he tried to remember before last night, all he could remember was the feeling of falling from a great distance. The boy was still exhausted. He laid his head back down and fell asleep.

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As soon as Logan was up, showered, and dressed, he ran downstairs. He wolfed down a quick breakfast and threw a couple pieces of fruit and some trail mix into his backpack. He wasn’t quite sure where he planned on going yet, but he could still feel Obadiah’s presence nearby. He slipped on his shoes, slung his backpack over his shoulder, and poked his head into the living room. “Harvey, I’m going for a walk. I don’t have a class until ten. Tell dad and Gavin for me, please.”

Harvey glanced up from his phone. “Really? Ok, bro. See ya after school.”

Logan left the house and started wandering up and down the streets of the town. It’s not like the feather was a GPS that gave him specific directions. He could only get a faint sense of direction and distance. About ten minutes later, he heard police sirens, and soon after that, he saw two army helicopters fly towards the center of the city. Thankfully, the feather was leading him in the opposite direction. He’d been walking for another fifteen minutes when he passed by the high school baseball field. The feather started glowing just like it had last night. Logan turned and walked into the field. Everything looked burnt, and he could still smell the smoke.

In the center of the field, right where the pitcher’s mound used to be, Logan found a huge crater. In the mud, he saw footprints leading away, but he didn’t see any footprints leading toward the crater. He crawled down into the hole and saw what looked like the muddy imprint of a body. The feather pulsed and flashed in his hand. Did something happen to Obie here? He was now even more determined to find his friend.

Logan crawled out of the crater and followed the footprints. A blue glow off near the edge of the field caught his attention. He walked over and looked down. He found two small rocks that glowed with the same blue light as the feather. He picked them up and felt them pulse in his hands. A wave of energy washed over his entire body. He felt different. Changed somehow. Maybe Obie could explain what happened when he found him. Logan put the two rocks in his pocket and continued following the muddy footprints.

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Carl walked out into the union hall’s meeting room and scanned the room. The creatures, his closest friends, were all spread out. Carl leaned his head back and let out a ferocious roar. All heads spun toward him, and he spoke, “Friends, gather around the table and let us continue our meeting.”

You’ll excuse me if I don’t sit at the table,” quipped Lisa Jensen.

Carl turned his head to speak, “I expect…” he stopped when he saw Lisa. From her head to her waist, Lisa looked exactly the same, but where her lower torso and legs should be was now the body of a beautiful chestnut-colored horse. Carl began again, “No. Take the end of the table across from me.”

Brent Irons pounded his fist on the table, a fist which now was more claw than fist. His hand was bright red and hardened into a shell-like substance. Brent’s fingers were fused together, and his thumb was elongated and had a serrated edge. “Do you really expect business as usual, Carl? Look at us! How can we even go out in public? We’re freaks! Jayden was suffocating for no apparent reason, I’m not even sure if he’s still alive, and you want to continue a business meeting?!”

Carl looked around. “Where’s Jayden now?”

“Luke took him into the kitchen,” Brent answered.

Carl tapped Rick on the shoulder, “Go check on them.” Then he turned to the rest, “Let me address the questions that Brent brought up. Can we go out in public? Yes, I say, and let them fear us! We are not freaks. We are amazing and powerful beings. Do I expect business as usual? Hell no! I expect that now instead of ruling Newville Heights… we can rule the world!” By the time Carl was done with his speech, the rest of the assembled group were pounding on the table and cheering.

———————————————————————————————————————

Harvey turned the game off on his phone to finish getting ready for school, and when he did, he noticed a text from his dad. The text was a group text which was also sent to his two brothers. The text read: “Boys, they activated my unit this morning. There are reports of strange activities and possible terror attacks in the city. I may not be able to come home tonight, or possibly for a few days. Watch out for each other. Stay safe. Dad.”

Harvey flipped the television on and turned to one of the twenty-four-hour news channels. He could hardly believe what he was watching. Could this be real? They were showing amateur film clips of glowing blue meteors racing across the sky and fires raging all over the city.

He was still watching when his oldest brother, Gavin, walked in and stood behind him. “Harvey, did you get a weird text from dad?” Gavin looked up from his phone. “What the hell are you watching?”

“The news, I think. Weird, right?” Harvey said.

“With this text from dad, I’d say it must be accurate, or at least the army thinks so. It sounds like the army thinks it’s more than just meteors.” Gavin said.

“Should I go to school?” Harvey asked.

“Yeah. Go ahead. I’m sure the school will cancel classes if whatever is going on gets bad. I don’t have a class until the afternoon. I’ll keep an eye on the news and watch for any more weird texts from dad. Where’s Logan?”

“He left already. He went for a walk. He said he doesn’t have a class until ten today.”

“Ok. I’ll try and get a hold of Logan; you just get ready and go to school.” Gavin sat down and sent a text to Logan, and Harvey finished getting ready for school and left the house.

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Rick Myers walked into the kitchen of the union hall. Whatever he was expecting to see what he saw wasn’t it. Luke Adams was standing by the sink with his arm outstretched. Luke’s hand was held out palm facing upward, and his fingers were extended. Luke had a look of intense concentration on his face. The first shock, for Rick, was that the water that ran from the faucet arched upward and rained down on Jayden Stone, who sat on the floor and leaned against the sink.

Jayden, himself, was the second shock, though, at this point, nothing should shock Rick, considering his own transformation. Jayden’s skin had transformed into what looked like bluish-green scales. His eyes were narrow and a deep amber color. There were two slits on the sides of Jayden’s neck that were slowly opening and closing. Rick guessed that they must be gills and that they must be the problem with his breathing. Rick stepped further into the room and cleared his throat.

“Luke, Jayden, is there anything I can do to help?” Rick asked.

Water started spraying all over the room as Luke looked at Rick and lost his concentration. “Wh-what… Rick? Is that you? What is happening to us?” Luke got the spray of water back under control, but Jayden stood up from the floor, not looking quite so out of breath.

“Shut the water off, babe. I think I got this under control now.” Jayden said, between deep breaths.

Luke’s green eyes shone with concern. “Are you sure, Jay? What about the gills?”

“Yes, I’m sure. I think my body got confused when the gills formed and tried to breathe through them. I seem to be able to switch back and forth between the gills and my lungs. It’s actually kinda cool.”

Luke switched off the water and rushed over to his boyfriend. He wrapped his arms around Jayden and pulled him close. Jayden took a step back and pushed Luke away. Luke had a look of shock and confusion on his face. “Jay, what’s wrong?”

“Look at me, Luke! I’m some kind of grotesque freak! I have gills and scales. You don’t have to pretend to still want to touch me.” Jayden said with tears streaming down his face.

“I’m not pretending, Jay. I love you. You are still you, and that’s the only thing that matters to me. You are still beautiful to me.”

“I… we can talk more about this later,” Jayden looked over at Rick and motioned towards the meeting room. “What’s going on out there with everyone else? It sounds like a party.”

“Carl restarted the meeting. He’s getting everyone fired up. We should get out there and find out the details for ourselves.” Carl turned and walked out of the kitchen, followed closely by Luke and Jayden.

————————————————————————————————————

Harvey decided to take the shortcut through the park to get to school. On his way there, he noticed lots of burned trees and scorched grass. “Weird,” He thought to himself. “All the burned trees seem to be in a straight line.” The line of burned trees was, coincidentally, right along Harvey’s route to school. Right in the center of a burned patch of grass, Harvey noticed a bright blue stone. After seeing the news reports about meteors, Harvey bent down to take a closer look. He picked it up, and the stone began to glow and pulse in his hand. Harvey’s whole body felt weird. He shrugged and stuffed the rock into the pocket of his jeans. By the time he got to school, Harvey had found and pocketed three more stones.

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin fixed a quick breakfast for himself and sat down to channel surf and see if he could figure out what was really going on. He was engrossed in all the news reports of the weird meteors and fires causing damage and the conspiracy theories about the army taking over the investigation. After he grew tired of watching the same video clips over and over, he got up to go looking for his Logan.

———————————————————————————————————–

.

Carl glanced over when Rick re-entered the meeting room, followed by Luke and a third figure who must be Jayden. “Good. I’m glad you three could join us. We were discussing plans for taking over the docks and then the entire town and beyond. We have to search the city and find as many of these blue rocks as we can. No one else must be allowed access to them.”

“What if others have already found them?” Lisa asked.

“Kill them. We can’t allow anyone else to gain the powers that we have. We should even name ourselves to strike fear into the people.” Carl said.

“Like individual names or the group?” Luke asked.

“Both. Let me think.” Carl answered thoughtfully.

“We could be The Freak Show,” Brent said with a laugh.

“No. No. Look around. It’s obvious now that we’re all here.” Carl said, looking from face to face. “We are The Zodiac. Literally. Look at us. Leo the Lion, Taurus the Bull, Cancer the Crab, all of us. We all fit the zodiac. That’s who we are… The Zodiac Club.” Everyone at the table looked around and nodded in agreement.

Coming Soon – Episode 4: Mid-town Mayhem!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 2

Episode 2: The Meteor

Erik Reilly glanced away from his computer and looked out the window. A flash of light in the sky caught his attention. As he stared out the window, Erik saw what, at first, looked like a shooting star. This puzzled him. He shouldn’t be able to see any star, shooting or not, through this driving rain. Then there was another bright flash of blue light. He watched in awe as, just as the shooting star or whatever it was broke through the clouds, it exploded into several pieces. One fairly large piece fell towards the docks and the biggest one and a lot of little ones continued over Erik’s house and towards Newville Park. Little specks of blue fell like rain in the meteor’s wake.

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Carl Chambers pounded his large fist on the table. “Full house? How do you have another hand like that, Myers?” Carl threw his cards into the air.

Rick Myers shrugged his shoulders. “Lucky night I guess.”

“No one is that lucky.” Carl grumbled.

“I don’t know why we all even play. The two of you argue every single week.” Lisa Jenson complained.

“We’re here for more than poker. That’s why. You know that, Lisa. Now that he has all of our money, we may as well get down to our real business. We need to tighten control of our territory. I’m sick of these piddly little street thugs thinking they can come to my docks and rob people. If anyone is getting robbed, it’ll be by us!”

And then the meeting ended with a bang. A literal one. Carl was just getting warmed up with a speech about his plans for their next moves to take over more of the town. He was ambitious and wasn’t satisfied running Newville Heights and the docks. Carl wanted it all. Then, as fate would have it, a massive meteor smashed through the union hall roof and changed all their lives forever.

———————————————————————————————————————

Logan Kastala awoke, with a scream, from the worst nightmare he could ever remember having. He felt as if he had been falling for hours, and his back felt like it was on fire! The pain subsided now that he was awake, but he still felt it. That’s weird, he thought. He could never remember a physical reaction to a dream quite like he was feeling now. He was just about to fall back to sleep when he noticed the glowing blue light. He leaned over towards his nightstand to see what it was. The feather! The feather that Obadiah gave him was glowing! Logan picked up the feather and immediately felt that Obie was close by. Somewhere on Earth for sure. He desperately hoped that meant that he had not gotten into too much trouble with the other angels. Logan clutched the feather close and drifted back to sleep. Tomorrow he would begin his search for Obadiah. He never looked out the window or he would have seen blue streaks falling out of the sky right over his house.

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Erik went outside to get a better view. He ran to the top of a hill right behind his house. Drenched in seconds, Erik brushed the water out of his eyes and watched as tiny meteors fell all around him. He watched some of them hit the ground. Suddenly, a tree not twenty yards behind Erik exploded in flames. In his excitement, watching the tiny meteors hit, he lost track of the big one, but he thought it was still heading toward the park.  

“Wow!” Erik thought. The rain put the fires out quickly. Erik ran over to the remains of the tree. A small, glowing blue rock sat right in the center of the blackened and burned tree. Erik waited for the rain to cool the stone before he reached in and picked it up.

The meteorite was no bigger than a marble. When he finally picked it up, Erik almost dropped it again. It wasn’t hot anymore, but it started to pulse in his hand. With each pulse, he could feel waves of energy going right through his body. Erik wasn’t sure what was happening to him, but he immediately felt different, stronger. He liked the feeling. He put the rock in the front pocket of his jeans and ran back to his house.

———————————————————————————————————————

The meteor at the center of the storm hit the baseball field behind the high school with enough force to leave an impact crater and rattle the windows of nearby houses. A shockwave was sent deep into the earth, awakening an ancient supernatural force. The shadow peeled itself away from the wall. It could sense the power of the being directly above, but more importantly it could smell a world full of delicious evil just waiting to be devoured.

———————————————————————————————————————

Everyone in the union hall jumped to their feet and backed away from the glowing blue rock. Part of the ceiling collapsed, and the wall caught fire. Carl felt waves of power emanating from the stone and he leapt into action. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and yelled to his friends. “Don’t just stand there! Grab the rest of the extinguishers or buckets of water. We have to put this fire out and cool down this rock. I think it’s important!”

Water and chemicals were sprayed on the already glowing and pulsing meteor rock. The chemicals began to bubble and boil then the entire rock exploded into a cloud of blue dust and steam. The twelve people in the room were covered in the dust. They all began coughing as they breathed in the steam. Carl dropped to his knees and then collapsed onto the floor. He looked around, through blurry eyes, and saw all of his friends on the floor around him.

———————————————————————————————————————

The boy groaned as he tried to lift his face out of the mud. He felt disoriented by the overwhelming number of sensations he was feeling. The most immediate was the almost unbearable pain in his back. It felt as if someone was ripping his muscles right off the bone. He could not remember ever feeling such pain before. As that thought crossed his mind, it occurred to him that he could not remember anything at all. The boy had no idea where he was, how he got there, or even who he was.

The boy, with significant effort, sat up and tried to clear his head. The pain in his back made it nearly impossible to concentrate. He opened his eyes and wiped the mud, rain, and hair out of his eyes. The cold, driving rain that pelted his face and body helped to ease the burning pain in his back just a little and helped him to clear his thoughts. He was cold and wet. His clothes were torn, dirty, and smelled of smoke. The smell of smoke was also thick in the air. The entire field he was in was empty, burnt and in places, still smoldered. The rain helped to put out some of the small fires.

He got up and stumbled off into the direction of the one light that he saw. He hoped to find help, or maybe someone might know who he was or how he got here. All he knew right now was that he needed to leave this field and get out of the rain.

———————————————————————————————————————

Bryson Indiana was awoken in the night by the sounds of sirens. He stumbled out of bed and out onto his patio. The first fire trucks he saw were racing toward the school, but when he looked, the fires appeared to be past the school, maybe the baseball field or a house close by. Just as he turned to go back into the house, he noticed the other fires. There were small fires in what appeared to be a nearly straight line all the way from the school in the south to the Newville Docks in the north. Bryson’s curiosity was piqued, but it would have to wait until morning, right now all he wanted was more sleep.

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Carl rolled over and pushed himself up to a kneeling position. He felt weird. Strong. But weird. It was difficult to comprehend all the feelings that coursed through his body. Intense pain nearly caused him to black out again. He looked down and saw tan hairs sprouting out on his arms and hands. His hands were growing and changing, nails turning into claws. He tried to look around for his friends, but the blue mist still hung over the entire room. He called out for help, but his own voice sounded like a growl. He heard other growls answering his own, and just before he blacked out again, he heard the distinctive clip-clop of hooves on the wooden floor.

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(Coming Soon: Part 3 – Monsters and Heroes)

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 1

Episode 1: The Angel

Logan Kastala’s eyes widened in fear. He saw the car speeding right for him, but he knew he didn’t have time to get out of the way. He raised his arms up to try and shield his face, and then everything went black. He was lifted off the ground, and then it felt like he was rolling. He stopped moving but could not see a thing. He was still in total darkness. He moved his arms and felt a soft barrier like a blanket of feathers. He attempted to push his way out, but then he felt another person in the darkness with him.

“Hey! What’s going on? Who’s there? What happened?” Logan asked.

What Logan thought was a blanket pulled away from him and parted, letting in the light. Logan blinked and saw his friend, Obadiah. “Obie? You’re always bailing me out of tough spots lately. It’s good we met! Thanks for the save!” Logan laughed, but he cut his laugh short when he got a better look at his friend. “Obie?” Logan said, backing up slowly. “You have wings! Am I dead, Obie? Are you an angel?” Tears welled up in Logan’s eyes.

Obadiah reached out and grasped Logan’s arms. “Don’t be scared, Logan. You’re not dead. Yes, I have wings. But, I’m still the same guy you’ve become friends with over the last few weeks.” He tried to give Logan a reassuring smile.

“What are you, though? Are you an angel? A mutant? Something else?” Logan didn’t pull away from Obadiah, but he was still nervous.

“I am what you call an angel. We call ourselves Seraphim. We are not religious spirits from a place called Heaven, though. We are a race of beings from an alternate plane of existence. Our doorway into your world opens in the space between Earth and Mars. Many, many years ago, a human saw one of us coming to Earth. They saw him “descend from the Heavens,” and the myth of angels sprang up from that sighting.” Obie guided Logan into the park while they talked. They finally settled at a picnic table off by themselves.

“Why me? Why would you befriend and help me? And I can’t see your wings anymore. Where do they go?” Logan peered around behind him, looking for Obadiah’s wings.

“The wings are always there. I can control when people see them and when they can’t. As far as helping you and making you my friend? I genuinely like you. I sense great and special things in your future, Logan. You will accomplish amazing things. I’m sure of it.” Obie said.

Logan blushed. “I’m nothing special.”

“Oh, but you are. I know it.” Obadiah’s smiling face turned suddenly serious. “I am going to get in big trouble for revealing myself to you. You probably won’t ever see me again. My father sits on the Council of Judgement, though I doubt if even he can get me out of this mess. If I never see you again, I want you to have something.” Obie’s wings reappeared for just a moment. He plucked one bright silvery feather, then the wings vanished again. He handed the feather to Logan. “Keep this close, and you will always feel my presence when I am on Earth, and I’ll be able to sense if you are in danger.”

Logan’s head was reeling. He was still trying to absorb everything that was happening. First, a car nearly ran him over. Then an angel saved his life, an angel who happened to be his friend. Now, that friend was giving him a magic feather plucked from his own wing. Could things get any weirder? Logan reached over and took the feather. “Thanks, Obie. This is all very overwhelming, but I do mean it when I say thanks. I’m just trying to wrap my head around all this.”

Obadiah reached across the table and took ahold of Logan’s hands. “Logan, everything will be ok. I promise. Even if I can’t come back, I sense remarkable things for you. You’re special, Logan. I knew it from the first time we met.” Obie leaned across the table, staring intently into Logan’s eyes.

Logan sighed and leaned forward. “If you might not come back, then I better do this now.” He closed the remaining distance between them and kissed Obadiah.

A bright flash of light caused both boys to quickly pull back from the kiss. Logan grinned and said, “Wow. That kiss made the sun brighter.” But then his smile faded. Three angels were standing around them. Two wore bright, shining armor, and each one grabbed one of Obadiah’s arms and pulled him to his feet. The third angel wore a fancy business suit. Logan could see their wings. The two armored angels had silver wings like Obadiah’s, but the other one had golden wings.

The angel in the suit spoke first. “Obadiah, son of Samael, by order of the Council of Judgement, I hereby place you under arrest. You are ordered to accompany me to the Council Chambers for your trial.”

Logan sprang up from his seat. “No! He didn’t do anything wrong! He saved my life! How can that be a crime?”

Obadiah started to speak, but Logan never heard what he was going to say. All four angels disappeared in a flash of light. Logan waited around for a while but had to give up and go home. He hoped that Obie was telling the truth about the feather. He clutched it tight and prayed that someday it would lead him to Obie.

The two Seraphim Law Keepers half dragged, half carried Obadiah through the Council chambers before pushing him down into the Judgement Seat. The Law Keepers fastened the restraints and left the room. Obie’s face contorted in rage as he turned to look at the third Seraphim. “You could have let me say goodbye to him at least. Two more minutes would not have mattered to you, Abathar.”

“If you want mercy, speak to Zadkiel. I seek only to see you judged for your crimes against our society. Crimes which you added to just before our arrival.” A look of disappointment and disgust crossed Abathar’s face. “With these new crimes, even your father won’t be able to help you, Obadiah. You held such promise.”

Obadiah sat straight up in his chair and stared directly into Abathar’s golden yellow eyes. “I did only what my heart commanded of me. If the Council judges that to be a crime, then so be it! I would do everything the same all over again!”

The doors at the end of the Great Hall opened, and six more Seraphim entered, all with golden-hued wings. Abathar took his place with the Council, three sat on each side of the table, and the last, the High Judge, stood at the opposite end of the table from the Judgement Seat. The High Judge, Azrael, spoke to the accused. “Obadiah, your father pleaded with the Council to show you mercy. We were inclined to accede to his wishes until news of your additional crimes reached us. Your crimes have tied our hands, and your sentence is set.”

Obie glared at each member of the Council. His father wouldn’t even meet his gaze. He clenched his teeth and glared across the table at Azrael. “I did nothing wrong. Not one thing I did hurt anyone here or on Earth. I saved Logan’s life and fell in love with him. He has an important future. I’m sure of it. Earth benefits from what I did. I committed no crimes!”

Azrael shook his head. “You know that interfering in a human’s life is not permitted. You also know that interacting with a human sexually is a crime. And just for your crime of homosexuality, the punishment is banishment. All three of these crimes individually are serious offenses. You committed all three. That cannot go unpunished.”

Obie blushed in embarrassment and anger. “I did not have sex with Logan! And besides, none of those things should be crimes. Love is not a crime. Humans are a lot like us. If we interact with them more, we can help them. They can even help us in some ways! Your views are ancient and bigoted.”

“My views are the views of our people. My views are the law. You kissed that human boy. If we allowed it to continue, you would have gone further. Obadiah, you know why we passed these laws. The last time a Seraphim became involved with a human, he impregnated her. The humans called it a miracle birth. Hell, they still have wars over it over two thousand years later! The Council cannot excuse your actions, no matter how much we’d like to.” Azrael walked over to where Obadiah sat. “Obadiah, son of Samael, you are hereby forever banished from our kingdom. If you return, you will be immediately put to death.” Azrael pushed a button, signaling the Law Keepers to return. Azrael and the other six members of the Judgement Council left the room.

Obadiah’s screams echoed throughout the Great Hall as the Law Keepers removed his wings and dragged him to the Plains of Judgement. He saw his father in the crowd, and he screamed, “Father! They took my wings! Father! Help me!” His father merely turned his back and walked away.

The Law Keepers opened a rift to the blackness of space above the Earth. They forced Obadiah to stand, then they pushed him through the breach.

As Obadiah fell through space, his Seraphim power leaked out of the wounds on his back. The power attracted space dust and rocks that gathered around the young Seraphim like a meteor shower. Obie entered the Earth’s atmosphere as part of the most massive meteor shower ever recorded. There were so many rocks surrounding his body that no telescope caught sight of Obadiah’s body at the center of the storm. The meteors, glowing with a bluish light, streaked through the warm August night sky on a collision course with the small town of Newville, Virginia.