Echoes of Power
Parts 36 – 40
The two cooking pans were sizzling, the frying oil was boiling under the fries and as Alexandre noticed it was almost ready. He had been so focused on the glass that he hadn’t noticed the steaks were almost starting to burn. That is also when he realized the music had stopped. He looked at his music player, the few songs it had started playing earlier were already finished. The teenager then wondered how much time had passed since he had passed out, he looked at his phone. It had been almost thirty-five minutes.
“Damn it! This could’ve been dangerous if I hadn’t woken up so fast!” He swore as he thought about the consequences of him having stayed unconscious a few more minutes.
He also saw that his father had left him a message saying he wouldn’t be back until late that evening. When is he going to rest? Sighed the young man with light-colored hair. His father had always been like this, working around the clock with very little pauses to relax and breathe. One day he’s going to fall apart from exhaustion… He took another long sip from his glass before deciding to eat now and think about all this later.
The fries and the meat were slightly overcooked but still edible and he made quick work of eating his fill, leaving only a very small portion for a later hunger or his evening meal. As he ate his mind went back to what had just happened and he played the scene over an over in his head, he still had a bit of trouble fully realizing what he had done. The first word that came to mind when he tried to explain what he had just done was magic. He had done something that should be impossible.Many would have either believed themselves crazy or tried to explain it in any rational way they could think of but he knew better than to do that.
He had done something, though he didn’t know what, that went against everything he knew or believed in (well, not everything, but almost) and yet he accepted it as fact. How could he be so calm about it? Sometimes he didn’t know himself. Perhaps what he had seen all those years ago and the existence of the voice helped, or perhaps he was indeed completely crazy. In any case he completely believed it. But this discovery also brought many questions.
How had he done that? What exactly was it that he had done? Was it all he could do? What was the link with the mysterious voice? What did it mean? Were there other things he couldn’t imagine in this world? He already had the answer to that question: of course there were. Did Bryan know about this or was it something completely unknown? The only things he knew for sure were that it required an extreme level of focus to accomplish that feat, this meant it was exhausting, both mentally and physically.
The teenager felt sore all over his body, he could swear he was discovering new muscles he didn’t even suspected existed with each movement, and he felt tired, as if he hadn’t slept that previous night. If anything he knew he wouldn’t try anything of the sort again anytime soon, he would probably die of sheer fatigue if he even tried it again at that moment.
Alexandre suddenly looked around, anxious as he thought someone might be observing him, what if someone had seen him? But he saw nothing, he was completely alone in the house and there wasn’t a single life sign coming from the street. He sighed, he was over thinking things, why would anyone be watching him? His father and him were completely normal people living completely normal lives, nobody would be interested. Then the thought that there might be other strange things happening in Echo Valley crossed his mind, what if he wasn’t the only one? No, he couldn’t think about that! He didn’t even know what he was able to do exactly yet!
Finding out more about his… He thought for a second, not knowing what to call what he had just done. Ability? No, he wasn’t sure it was even him that had done it. His thing. That seemed the best word to use at the moment since he didn’t even know anything about it. Finding about his ‘thing’ was the priority before anything else. He got up, putting his late in the sink and couldn’t help the wince as pain waves coursed through his sore body.
“I think I’ll go take a nap and leave the thinking part for later…” He said to no one but himself before slowly and stiffly walking out of the kitchen towards the living room.
He lied down on the large and comfortable sofa, programming his phone to ring an hour later and closed his eyes, letting the fatigue take over. The teenager drifted off in a matter of minutes. His sleep was completely void of dreams, he floated into a dark and infinite space, among shadows and warm winds. When he woke up an hour later as his alarm rang loudly through the room he groaned but immediately noticed he was rested, at least mentally. He didn’t feel as exhausted anymore and despite the still present ache in all his muscles he felt as if he could go through another day without a problem.
He straightened on the couch, getting up in a sitting position, before slowly standing up. His body seemed to have rested a little after all, it still ached all over but not as much as earlier he realized. Well that’s good at least… He went to the bathroom to relieve his very full bladder before walking back to the kitchen and proceeding to wash the dishes he had left as is an hour earlier. As he finished his short albeit repetitive task, he noticed the rubber ball on the counter and thought about giving his ‘trick’ another try.
He hesitated a second, unsure if it was a wise idea, before giving in to his impulsive curiosity and grabbed the round object. He made it roll on the counter, a bit faster than earlier, focusing on the image of it slowing down before hitting the ground as hard as he could. The ball rolled over the edge and started falling.
“Nestros.” He said in a loud voice.
He waited for the ball to slow down as he saw it fall, almost in slow motion, but nothing happened and he felt a ping of disappointment creep into his mind as it bounced on the ground. Damn it! He swore. I can’t do it… Is it because I can’t focus enough? Or because I don’t want it to stop badly enough? He didn’t know but he was determined to find out. He looked at the empty glass nearby before shaking his head. No, it wasn’t the moment, he was too tired anyways…
He hesitated a second, unsure if it was a good idea, before shaking his head and walking towards the room where the computer was installed. He chose to let his body rest before trying anything again, if doing his ‘thing’ twice got him so exhausted he couldn’t just mindlessly try it out like that, he had to be careful. Plus it might have other consequences he couldn’t see or foresee yet, he had seen enough movies to know that everything usually came with a price. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t think about what had happened and try to analyze it in more detail.
He thought about writing his experience down in his notebook, the same one he had inscribed the voice’s words, but the risk of being discovered and thought to be crazy, or worse, was there and he absolutely did not want that. Finally the teenager turned the machine on and launched Defend the Ruins, his favorite game, which was also the only one he allowed himself to play. He completed his daily quests and a dungeon before deciding he needed to train his abilities, which he usually did by spending long periods of time in the training fields.
When his father finally came home Alexandre had just finished his twelfth round of training with the high masters of the Citadel, silently hoping his best friend wouldn’t connect all the while for fear of being tempted to tell him about what had happened. Bryan was the only one he trusted enough to speak to and not seem too crazy, but he feared his friend would not react well to the fact he knew about his… secret. The light-haired teen therefore prefered to wait to speak to him and have some time to think on it.
“Hey Alexandre, I’m home!’ He heard his father say from the corridor.
The teenager looked at the time and was surprised to see it was only 7:42 p.m., his father wasn’t supposed to be back that early. Not that it bothered him, he had already taken care of the broken glass from his small ‘experiment’, he had also washed the dishes and done the little work he had to do. Plus it was the week-end, he was free to use his time as he wanted.
“Hey dad!” He exclaimed in return. “In the office, I’m coming!” He added as he got up and walked out of the room.
His father was putting his coat on the rack and his shoes away.
“How are you back so early?” Alexandre asked with surprise.
“Well I miraculously managed to solve their problem after a few long hours of searching when I asked what they had done up ’til the server crashed. And it turned out one of their technician had made a mistake in the latest configuration, they hadn’t even thought to check that…” He replied with a sigh. “And you, how was your day?”
“It went well, I cooked steaks and fries for lunch with some carrots, it was quite good. Then I played a game on the computer and read a bit. I didn’t have much to do this week-end so I didn’t work much, I’ll finish my homework tomorrow, don’t worry!” He added with a smile as he saw his father’s brows furrow. “And there weren’t any calls, there was some mail though, I put it on the counter for you.”
“Thank you. But I do hope you are planning on working this year too, I know classes have barely begun but it is still not a reason to slack off.”
“I know dad, I promise I won’t slack off this year either. I know it’s an important one,being my last and all…” Said Alexandre with a light roll of his eyes.
They both knew he was a serious student and that he worked to achieve good,if not excellent, grades each year. His father still liked to remind him what was on the line every now and then even if the teenager found it more annoying than anything.
“You better son.” Replied David, unable to stop himself from smirking lightly. “Now, I’ll go change and take a shower before preparing dinner tonight.”
“Don’t worry dad, take your time!” Said Alexandre with a smile as his father headed off to the bathroom. “I’m in no hurry!” He added before going back to the computer.
He had time to finish another quest and level his skills up before his father called him for supper. They watched the news while eating. The conflict between the countries of the Eastern Gulf and the ones of northern Africa was now apparently in a critical state and could, from what the anchor was saying, develop into a full-blown war soon if tensions kept rising. Despite what the international control authority had tried to do in the last years, things didn’t look any better and the rebels weren’t helping with their attempts to overthrow the governments.
Alexandre liked to keep himself up to date most of the time and, even if he didn’t actively seek information he still liked to gain it when it presented itself to him. Once the new report was over he got up and took both his and his father’s plate to wash them in the sink before going to his room to allow his father some time alone to rest. He hesitated to finish the tome of Soul King but instead decided to read the novel he had started weeks before and still hadn’t finished, that way he would be able to eat his breakfast while reading the end of the manga the next morning. He walked back downstairs a bit before midnight to wish his father a good night and found the older man already asleep on the couch, the TV still on.
“Tss, he must be exhausted…” He whispered to himself as he turned it off and went to check that the door was locked.
He drew the curtains and made sure the shutters were drawn before walking back upstairs, leaving only the small light on the coffee table on in case his father woke up later during the night. He changed into his pyjamas and put his headphones on as he lied on his bed, listening to music as he looked at the clear night sky through the window.
The teenager didn’t know how to explain it but listening to music at night provoked some sort of melancholy in him and it helped him think better, he felt more aware and alive in those moments. They were rare and never lasted very long so he tried to enjoy them to the fullest. His thoughts usually went off into many directions as he kept following them and he ended up thinking about something completely different of what had triggered his interest in the beginning.
That evening he was thinking about earlier during the day, he still couldn’t believe that he hadn’t dreamt all of it. He, Alexandre Parson, a completely normal person and nobody had managed to do something that was supposed to be completely impossible simply by thinking it. And he had done it twice in a matter of minutes… He didn’t understand what it meant nor why he was able to manage such a feat -be it magic or something entirely different-, and even less how he could not freak out about it.
Why hadn’t he become completely crazy after such a miracle? Why wasn’t he telling anyone about it? Was he seriously basing himself on all those movies he had seen? Or was he in fact becoming crazy enough to accept this without hesitation? He didn’t know the answer to these questions but if there was an answer he wanted to get, it was to that mysterious voice. Where did it come from? Was it really an invention from his own brain? And why did it come and go like this? This mystery was one he desperately wanted to shed light on since he was a young boy. As he kept thinking about all this he felt his mind slip away and soon he only had the strength to take off his headphones before drifting off to sleep.
In his dream he felt so small in the middle of a forest of tall grass, almost three times his height. He was lost and he could feel something chasing him, he was running as fast as he could but never seemed to be able to get away far enough, the thing always close behind. The only chance he unconsciously knew he had was to follow the shining light that stripped the ground under his feet. With each new growl of the thing he felt it getting nearer. The line that marked the safe path kept changing color and direction to delay the fateful moment when he wouldn’t be able to flee anymore. He had already been out of breath for long and painful seconds when he arrived at the foot of the biggest mountain he had ever seen, he was sure of it as it completely hid the moon from his view.
He looked up, trying to see the tip and realized it wasn’t a mountain but a tree, an immense tree, with a majestic foliage and a trunk as big as a mountain. He understood that he couldn’t run anymore, his escape ended here. He could only wait for the creature to catch up to him and let it finally end this, his destiny had been set and he couldn’t get away from it. He heard himself inhale a deep breath before he turned around and sat down cross-legged on the soft earth, he closed his eyes and tried to calm his heart which was now beating wildly. Finally, he felt his shoulders relax, his heart slow down and realized his fear was slowly leaving his body. He wasn’t afraid anymore, he had accepted what was going to happen, it was meant to be. He heard it approach, its quiet but heavy steps on the earth, the sound of the grass moving around it as it parted along its way.
He heard the creature circle around him a few times, he felt its eyes fixed on him and watching him, it was studying it prey. It finally came back in front of him and stopped, every noise dissipating as it stopped. Only then did he dare open his eyes, slowly, and looked straight in front of him. His met a pair of electric blue orbs, nothing else was visible of the creature, it was as dark as the night. He felt the power of the eyes that were fixed on him and knew he wouldn’t stand a chance, not in a million years, but still, despite the powerful aura, he looked back, his eyes did not waver. An eternity seemed to pass before he blinked. The creature blinked at the same time and when he opened his eyes again he only had time to see two blue lightning bolts fiercely jump at him before everything went dark and he fell.
The teenager woke up as his body crashed into the dark liquid. He was sweating, his sheets were damp and he could see the stars out of his opened window. He suddenly tensed and looked around the room, his eyes darting to every corner. Then, only when he realized he was back in his room, Alexandre started to relax and allowed himself to lie back down on his bed. His dream had seemed so real… It wasn’t the first time he dreamt so vividly but it always had the same effect on him when he woke up. He also realized it was still dark outside, he still had a few hours of sleep left. He sighed in relief, he absolutely didn’t like to get up just after a dream like this and he still felt sleepy, before getting back into a comfortable position. His heart was still beating fast but his mind was slowly relaxing and once more he found himself drifting off.