Echoes of Power
Parts 41 – 45
When the teenager woke up again it was day outside, this time his alarm clock indicated it was not long past 9 a.m.. He remained like that, lying comfortably under his sheets, for a few long minutes, looking at the ceiling as he tried to remember the dream he had had during the night. He remembered a pair of intense blue eyes and having been chased by a strange creature but the rest as already fading from his memory. It happened often when he woke up, he usually found himself unable to tell what he had dreamt about, only what he had felt like, and even that was not so often. Finally he decided to get up and putting the T-shirt from his pyjamas back on -he usually took it off to sleep as it didn’t feel comfortable- he walked to the bathroom to clean himself a little and to relieve his full bladder.
Hi father was still snoring on the couch when he passed by the living room on his way to go eat his breakfast. He placed the tome of Soul King on the table before filling a bowl with cereals and cold milk into it and pouring himself a glass of orange juice. He sat down and opened the book where he had left it the day before and resumed reading as he started eating. The conflict had begun a few tomes back and was getting to its culmination point, the young man knew its end should come soon. He hope that it wouldn’t happen in this one though, he still wanted to see the situation between the antagonists and the main characters a bit more. The protagonists still had a long way to go before being able to fight back with what they were thrown against and that is why, as he read the last few pages, he almost choked on his food.
One of the main characters had finally managed to reach the bad guys’ lair but, as he walked in, he found the place deserted. Only the body of one of the main antagonist’s generals remained, he was dead, his own sword piercing through his torso and holding him against the stone wall almost thirty centimeters above the ground. A surprised expression was visible on the man’s face and a large bleeding wound on his chest in the shape of two parallel lines. What the…?! Thought Alexandre, trying to understand what was going on as he read the final page of the sixty-fourth tome. He had to go back several times before he finally noticed the strange shadow in the background, the same that had been there since the beginning of the series at key moments.
A small smile appeared on his face when he understood what that could mean for the next part of the story.
“Awesome.” He whispered, knowing he and Bryan would surely spend hours talking about it.
The only problem was to resist the urge to send a message to his best friend immediately. Somehow he would have to restrain himself though.
“Good morning Alexandre, did you sleep well?” His father asked with a yawn as he walked in the kitchen.
“Hey dad!” Replied the young man with a smile. “Yeah, I slept quite well despite waking up once around three or four o’clock this morning. I had a strange dream.” He added as his father raised an eyebrow quizzically.
“And how was the couch?” The teenager then added with a small smirk.
“Meh, frankly it wasn’t that bad…” Replied the older man with a shrug. “Your mother and I did invest quite a sum into it after all.” He added, returning the mocking smile.
“Yeah, I did hesitate to wake you up yesterday but you seemed to be sleeping so well I decided not to…” Explained Alexandre as he drank the milk left in his bowl.
“Well I won’t hold it against you don’t worry son.” Said David as he took out some ingredients to prepare himself a more consistent breakfast.
“Wow, thank ou father, your kindness knows no bound.” Replied the teenager, his smirk getting bigger as he stood up and put his dishes in the sink. “Well, have a nice breakfast, I’m going to take a shower!” He exclaimed as he picked up his book.
Alexandre walked up to the bathroom to take a warm shower and clean off the layer of grime he swore he could feel accumulating on his skin. Once he felt clean and refreshed enough he went back to his room and got dressed, opening the window once it was done to let some fresh air inside. The weather was good that day too, a few white clouds were drifting slowly across the blue sky and the air was warm already, the teenager knew it was going to be a good day. He sat on his bed and pondered if he should try his little experiment again, he was so impatient to do it again! But non, he knew it wasn’t a good idea to do it now, he had to wait for the right moment, when he would be alone.
So instead he took out his books and worked on the assignments he had been given for the week-end, finishing the biology and maths exercises he had to do for the following week. Finally his patience was rewarded two hours later when his father called him.
“Alexandre? I’m going to do some shopping, the fridge is almost empty. Do you want to come with me?” He heard his father ask from downstairs.
“Do I have a choice?” He asked back.
“Of course.” He could feel the smile in his father’s voice.
“Well in that case no, I’d rather not.” Replied the teenager.
“Very well, in that case you can prepare yourself some sandwiches. There’s all you need in the fridge. I should be back later in the afternoon.” Sad the man in his forties.
“Ok dad, no problem!”
“See you later Alex, try not to do anything stupid!” His father exclaimed as he put on his coat and opened the door.
“I won’t, you know me!” Replied Alexandre with a smirk.
He then heard the door close behind his father and was once again alone in the house. The sound of the engine faded away as his father drove away towards the commercial center. The light-haired young man almost regretted not going with his father, he would’ve like to take a look at the books and the video games, but this was a golden opportunity to test his power! My thing, he immediately corrected himself. This was a rare occasion to do so and he knew he wouldn’t have much time to try anything before the next week-end. He closed his notebooks and rushed downstairs, checking his father was indeed gone before picking up the rubber ball he had tested the previous day.
The teenager noticed he was playing with the ball, unconsciously rolling it in his hand. He stopped, looking at the spherical object as it rested in his palm. He struggled with his thoughts for a minute, desperately wanting to give his ‘thing’ another try but unsure if he would succeed. I have to focus, I need to absolutely want to make it slow down while its falling, if I don’t it won’t work… He took a deep breath and let the ball roll out of his fingers and onto the counter, focusing on it as much as he could as it rolled ever closer to the edge.
“Nestros! ”He exclaimed as he willed it to slow down with all his might.
The bouncing object, however, did exactly what it had been designed to do, it fell down to the ground and bounced back up without giving even a single sign of slowing down. But Alexandre was determined and he was not about to give up after only one try. He had managed a miracle twice with a glass, he knew he could do it with a rubber ball. He let it roll again, shouting the word as it was already mid way to the ground but without much result. He tried once more by letting the ball drop directly from his hand but it changed nothing, it still refused to slow down.
Damn it! He silently swore. Why can’t I do it? Is it because I need to concentrate more? Was it easier with a glass because I really didn’t want to break it? For a moment he hesitated to try it again with a glass but decided against it. He could do it all the same with this ball, he knew it, and so he would. He tried again but despite his best efforts he couldn’t do it and after his tenth try his head was beginning to hurt. Then, as he felt the pain throb in his skull, he heard the voice. It was back, speaking its unknown words in a low voice, but he could hear it clearly and it only added to his frustration.
“Oh no you don’t! It’s not the moment!” He exclaimed, frustration obvious in his tone, as he rubbed his forehead. “I need to focus and you’re definitely not helping!”
But the voice didn’t seem to listen to him and instead gained in intensity, growing louder so quickly he couldn’t suppress a wince, as if it was annoyed by his hesitation and his frustration. At least that’s what he felt it meant.
“Alright, alright!” He groaned, deciding to give it a shot again and to try to focus even more.
Instantly the pain seemed to lessen, though the voice was still a loud rumble in his mind. He placed the ball on the counter and pushed it ever so slightly with his finger, letting it roll slowly towards the edge, as he had already done a few times the previous day. He focused, concentrating on the object while trying to push everything else out of his head. He had to want it as much as he had with the glass and for that the only way was to focus, somehow he knew he had to will the ball to do his bidding with all his mind or it would fail again.
“Dont fall, don’t fall, don’t fall…” Alexandre started to repeat the words, ignoring the fact that it hadn’t helped last time, and completely concentrated his mind on the ball.
The teenager took in a few deep breaths, feeling his heart rate calm down as he did. At the same time he imagine the trajectory the ball would day and tried to view it in his mind as clearly as he could. It had worked the previous day so why not give it a shot again. He then felt calmer and more focused, visualizing the small sphere and focusing only on it became a little bit easier. He knew what he wanted and he knew he would make it happen.
As it finally rolled over the edge and started its descent, he watched it move very slowly, as if once more the world was moving in slow motion. He didn’t know if this was a trick of his mind or if the world really was slowing down, thought the latter seemed far more unlikely, but he was glad it was happening, whatever it was. Finally, as the ball was only a few inches above the ground he yelled the word, willing the small object to slow down.
The ball did not slow down immediately and Alexandre was about to let a disappointed sigh out, seeing the round object almost bouncing ont he ground now, when he saw it slow down. It was brief, lasting less than a tenth of a second, but he saw it happen as if it had taken a full minute. The ball slowly reached the hard surface and delicately touched down without bouncing back up. The light-haired teen suddenly felt weak in his legs and let himself fall backwards, sitting roughly on the floor as he catched his breath.
His chest heaved, his head spun and his body was on fire, as if he had just ran a marathon, but a small smile crept on the teenager’s face. He had done it again, it had worked. He really could do something incredible! He let out a stiff laugh, unable to relax because of the pain and the fatigue, and lied down on the ground, closing his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again the room was basked in sunlight and he was breathing normally again. Damn it, I must’ve dosed off… He realized as he slowly moved to get up.
He looked at the time, almost noon, he had been lying there for almost half an hour. His muscles ached but he ignored the pain as he remembered what he had just done. He grabbed the ball once again and placed it back on the counter with a smile as he stood back up. It really feels like I’ve run a marathon afterwards… Strangely I don’t feel as exhausted as yesterday though. Indeed, he could feel the painful throbbing in his muscles as if his whole body has been overused, but it didn’t feel as bad as the previous day. Perhaps it’s just my imagination though, he thought. But I think I’ve grasped something new about this ability.
As the thought occurred to him, Alexandre decided not to correct himself this time. Perhaps this was the only thing he would ever be able to do and perhaps it would always drain him of his energy like this, but he felt he could call it an ability or a power now and what’s more, his own. He had made it happen enough times to be sure it wasn’t a dream and that it was him, and only him, that had done it. I still don’t know how it is possible nor how it is linked to the voice in my head though… But he shook his head, he couldn’t hope to get all the answers immediately and even if the list of questions kept growing he had time to seek and perhaps find answers. As he was thinking about that he finally realized the voice strange voice had died down and that he was once again alone in his head.
After resting a bit and eating a couple of chocolate bars Alexandre decided to try to use his ability again to try to test his limits. All his attempts weren’t rewared with success but he felt he was gaining more control over it each time he succeeded. The teenager felt it become less and less difficult to focus on the ball to make it slow down before it touched the ground. It did take a toll on his body each time but after resting a little and sometimes eating a snack he would be able to resume his tests. He was completely drained when he finally decided to stop but his satisfaction made him completely unaware of the weakness of his muscles and the pain that coursed through his body.
He was sweating and heaving but the large smile on his face didn’t give any indication of his state of fatigue as he lay on the cold hard ground of the kitchen. Finally, after a few long minutes spent only looking at the ceiling and replaying each moment of his experiment in his head did he manage to get up and to crawl upstairs to his bed. He fell heavily on it and immediately drifted away, only to be woken up a few hours later when his father called out to him.
“Coming!” He exclaimed as he stood up, wincing slightly as a wave of pain coursed through his body.
His legs were still weak and strained but he felt less tired and a little bit more refreshed than earlier. As he walked out of his room he didn’t notice the small sphere of dark smoke get blown away from his shoulder. It stayed there, floating in midair for a few seconds without moving, and then, without a sound, it started floating in the direction the teenager had gone a moment before, leaving a thin dark trail in its path.