Oblivion (28)

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Galalalalalalaalllaaallaala 882: Syncro Earrtthh

Five Months Ago…

Madison County Youth Correctional Facility

“God I hate this shit hole,” the juvenile corrections agent said.

“Same story every day,” the other juvenile corrections agent said.

“What do you say we break for lunch after this one?” the third agent said.

“Great. What little gift from God do we have next on the docket?” the first asked.

“Case #42069101.”

“Hmm. Name’s Julio Valdez. Age 13. Locked up a year ago for theft, assault and battery, and attacking a police officer… yep, with a parking meter.”

“A parking meter?”

“Says it right here.”

“Shit. You really think a year in here cooled him off?”

“It’s Madison. If anything the kid’s a super predator now.”

“We can’t write that in the report.”

“The fuck do you think ‘Additional Correction Necessary’ means?”

“He’s had five violent incidents here.”

“To be fair, that’s lower than average.”

“It’s not nothing.”

“Okay, cards on the table, who’s for keeping the kid locked up?” the third agent asked.

“He’s a threat to society. Keep him locked up,” the first agent said.

“He doesn’t have to be a model citizen to be released. Let him go,” the second said.

“Tie breaker’s on you,” the first said.

“Hmm. He’s got a violent streak but he’s not a killer or anything. He’s just kinda scrappy. Bad attitude, but last I checked that’s not illegal.”

“It should be,” the first agent grumbled.

“Ah fuck it. There’s a ham sandwich in the cafeteria with my name on it. Let him go!” the third said.

“Case #42069101 is now closed. You’re a free man, Julio Valdez. Don’t fuck it up,” the first agent said, stamping Julio’s case file with a giant blue stamp.

Now

“Okay, Year One students, I need you all to pay attention,” Professor Salvador said. Everyone quieted down. “The Talent Revelation Test is very simple. But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. When you’re ready, step forward and your Talent will be revealed.”

Everyone went single file like they had before. Julio was closer to the front this time, much to his annoyance.

“I hope I got something cool,” Zach said.

“Nah, it’s probably an ass related power,” Donovan chuckled. Zach didn’t say anything. “Cuz you stink. Get it? You… man you’re dumb!”

“Hey, keep it down back there,” Julio said. Donovan got red in the face. Julio would have been scared if it didn’t look so stupid.

“Miss Glau, are you ready?” Salvador asked the nervous first year. She nodded. “Good. Then step forward.”

Salvador had placed several items on a pedestal in a specific fashion.

“What do I do?” Polly Glau asked.

“Just reach out with your hand and concentrate on the items sitting there. Let your mind expand. The rest will play out as it will,” Salvador said.

She swallowed nervously and nodded. She reached out with her hand. There were four items in front of her. A glass bottle, a bowl of water, a wooden spoon, and a tiny plant with a single green leaf.

“What happens now?” Polly asked.

“Just concentrate. Let your body fall away and set your mind free. Your Talent will reveal itself, don’t worry,” Salvador said.

“What if I don’t have one? What if… what if I’m just a nobody?” Polly asked.

“Then we kick you the fuck out of our school and you move on with your life,” Salvador said, his stony visage pressing down on her like a two ton weight. Polly shook so bad she could barely stand. “Now concentrate, Miss Glau. Concentrate.”

Polly reached out even harder. With tears in her eyes she concentrated as hard as she could. The items on the pedestal began to vibrate. Then, the wooden spoon softened and started to bend.

“Ah, very good, Miss Glau. Your Talent is matter-based it looks like. Tell me, do objects around you change when you feel overwhelmed or scared?” Salvador asked.

“Y-yeah. I accidentally melt chairs sometimes,” Polly said with a nervous laugh.

“Fascinating. Next,” Salvador said, marking something on a checklist. Alex stepped forward. “Mr. Hirokawa. Just like Miss Glau, reach out and concentrate.”

Alex did so. The objects on the table shook. Then the glass bottle began to moan and howl.

“What does that mean?” Alex asked.

“You are a psychopomp,” Salvador said, marking his checklist.

“A what?”

“A Speaker to the Dead. And a guide. You have a connection to the next life, Mr. Hirokawa. A lot of people would pay top dollar for a Talent like yours,” Salvador said, that faint smile of his peeking out ever so subtly. “Next.”

Zach stepped up.

“Mr. Li. If you please,” Salvador said.

Zach shrugged and reached out with his hand. The pedestal instantly began to react. The glass bottle glistened with condensation, the bowl of water vibrated, the spoon glowed with a warm aroma and the plant sprouted another leaf. Everyone was very impressed.

“Nice. You have, like, all the powers,” Julio said.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Zach shrugged again and tried not to smile.

“Mr. Li, you have an unusual Talent. Not one I see very often. It is gut based. Gustatory adjacent. Very strong vibes coming from your digestive tract.”

“Cuz it’s connected to his ass, right?” Donovan chuckled.

“Mr. Montgomery, another peep out of you and its detention for the rest of the day,” Salvador snapped. Donovan’s face scrunched up into a red ball, but he said nothing. “Mr. Valdez, if you please?”

Julio stepped forward.

“So I just do this?” Julio asked, holding his hand out.

“Yes, but with less talking,” Salvador said.

Julio closed his eyes. He concentrated. Concentrated on what? He let his mind expand. The objects on the table were within his reach. But what was he supposed to do? He felt his awareness encompass the four items on the pedestal. They began to glow with a radiant heat.

“Interesting. Pyrokinetic? No, something else,” Salvador said, jotting down notes.

“Am I doing it? Is something happening?” Julio asked.

“Just keep going, Mr. Valdez,” Salvador said.

Julio bit his lip and pushed his mind further. The items on the pedestal hummed with intense power. They hummed louder and louder and louder. Then the items and the pedestal both exploded in a bright flash of white. Everyone screamed in surprise. Julio and the first years behind him were thrown back by the blast.

Salvador stood motionless, untouched and unaffected by the energy. In fact, a faint red shield was visible for just a moment before dissipating with the smoke and dust.

“Fascinating,” he said, marking something down in his notepad. “You have an affinity for explosions, Mr. Valdez.”

“What the fuck happened? Did I pass or whatever?” Julio asked, picking himself up off the ground.

“That… remains to be seen,” Salvador said, staring Julio down.

“Dude, what are you?” Zach whispered to Julio.

“Aaahh! My face!” the Fitzpatrick kid screamed. Salvador rushed to him.

“Stay calm, stay calm,” Salvador said, turning the kid’s face back and forth. “Glass shards. The damage appears to be surface level only. Luckily you were wearing glasses or you would have been blinded.”

“Aaaaah!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” Julio tried to say. Salvador shot his pointer finger in Julio’s direction.

“I will deal with you when I return. Everyone stay put and work on your claires. Come now, Mr. Fitzpatrick,” Salvador said as he led the kid to the school nurse.

“That was freaking mental, man,” Zach said once Salvador had left.

“Did I do it wrong? I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Julio said, looking at his hands.

“There’s no such thing doing it right or wrong! But you sure have something special and unique inside you, that’s for sure,” Amanda said with a wink.

“Great,” Julio sighed.

“You know what it is?” Donovan said, stepping through the ring of students. “You’re a freak. Just like Ass kid over here.”

“What is your problem, man?” Zach asked.

You’re my problem. All of you sick nicks. I don’t know what charity gave you a pity ticket to come here, but I earned my right to be at this school.”

“How did you do that?” Amanda asked, her chipper attitude dampened just a smidge.

“I’m a Montgomery!” Donovan exclaimed, beating his chest. “That’s how!”

“So you didn’t do anything,” Amanda replied.

“Shut your face, bitch!” Donovan yelled, red in the face again. “I’m lightyears ahead of all of you! I already know what my Talent is! My dad paid a professional Talent Agency to test me and I’ve been practicing all year so I’m way ahead of you suckers.”

“You shouldn’t… call people… bitches,” Amanda said, eye twitching. “That’s a dirty word. Yep! A dirty word, yes sir! People shouldn’t call other people dirty words.”

“Oh my God shut the fuck up, bitch,” Donovan screeched. “Nobody cares what you think!”

Amanda’s fist clenched.

“Stop… calling me… that… woooooorrrd,” Amanda said, her whole body tensing.

“Or what, bitch? What are you gonna do about it, bitch? Nothing! You fuckers can’t touch me because if you do, my dad will kill you,” Donovan said, doing a little jig.

“Is your dad an assassin or something?” Julio asked.

“Huh? No.”

“Is he a hitman for the mob?”

“No. Of course not.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it, Amanda. I could probably kick his dad’s ass,” Julio said with a wink.

Donovan’s whole body turned red.

“What? No way! He’s much bigger than you and he can move whole mountains with his mind! He’s the most powerful sync on Earth!” Donovan screamed, stomping his feet.

“Holy fuck, would you calm down? Do you need to take your meds?” Julio asked.

“No! You calm down! Ass breath!”

“Wow. This is just sad. I feel sad for you,” Julio said, shaking his head.

“Grrrrr! Fuck you!” Donovan yelled.

He took off his shirt, flabby flesh jiggling for all the world to see. Julio suppressed a laugh. Then Donovan’s red body expanded, growing bigger and bigger until he was almost twice his normal size. His skin was hard and puffy and he looked absolutely pissed.

“Wait, your Talent is you’re a blow fish?” Julio asked.

“Nice,” Zach said, high fiving him.

“Shut up! You two are useless wastes of space! I’m bigger and stronger and smarter than you!”

“Okay, I’ll make this real simple for you, tough guy. Stop being a bully or I’ll blow you up,” Julio said, lighting up his fist with searing white energy.

“If you do that, my dad will kill you! He’s the strongest!” Donovan squealed. His puffed up chest made it hard to talk.

“Okay, enough of this,” Amanda said, her voice completely unchipper now. She put two fingers on her forehead. “Desinflació màxima.” Her eyes flashed blue. Donovan deflated so hard he left a crater on the floor.

“What the? What the hell?” Donovan asked, eyes wide, breath labored, laying on his back.

“There. Much better,” Amanda said, perkier than ever.

“Fuck. Is everyone here, like, freaky powerful?” Zach asked.

“What else do you expect from the world famous Potter School?” Julio shrugged.

5 Hours From Now

“Exploded, you say?” Professor Rivera asked, looking out the window of his office.

“In a flash of white,” Salvador said, sitting cross-legged in the seat across from Rivera’s desk.

“What is he doing now?” Rivera asked.

“They’re in Vasquez’s class now, wrapping up the day.”

“White. White. You know what this means, Claudio?” Rivera asked.

“No, not exactly,” Salvador replied evenly. Calmly.

“His energy is coming straight from the source. The prism that is his body is not refracting it through the base chakras. It’s just… pure energy.”

“I don’t understand,” Salvador said.

“I barely understand it myself, and I’m a world class expert on syncs,” Rivera said, rubbing his floor length beard.

“You know why he’s here, don’t you?” Salvador asked.

“Of course I do. Anyone could see why.”

“So what do we do?”

“I’m not sure yet.”

“Are we going to have to… make him disappear?”

“We’ll figure that out when the time comes.”

They were silent for a spell. Rivera waited for Salvador to continue. He knew there was more troubling his old pupil’s implacable mind.

“Juan’s been sniffing around again,” Salvador began.

There it was.

“He does that. That’s his thing,” Rivera said.

“He’s getting too close. Between a record low year for admissions and Juan and now this Julio kid, we’re about to bite off more than we can chew.”

“The Potter School has been through worse. We’ll be fine, Claudio.”

“But Professor Rivera…”

“Please, Claudio. You can call me Emilio here.”

“Emilio. Sir. We can’t afford Juan’s bullshit right now.”

“I’m keenly aware of this.”

“Then why haven’t you acted?”

“Because I don’t have a murder boner for the man!” Rivera spat. Salvador’s gaze narrowed. “I won’t let this feud between you and Juan jeopardize the mission. I… we need to stay focused.”

“As you wish,” Salvador replied. He had more to say, but he kept it sealed away. Another time, perhaps.

“We proceed as normal. We don’t have a choice.”

“I disagree, but I’ll follow your lead on this,” Salvador said.

“Your opinion is duly noted, Claudio,” Rivera said, rubbing his tired eyes. “Keep me informed on the Julio situation. I’m off to see the Fitzpatrick boy now. Be a dear and get started on the letter to his parents for me, would you?” Rivera asked as he grabbed a bag of medical tools from under his desk.

“Yes, sir,” Salvador said, firing up the tele-typer.

* * *

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzpatrick,

We regret to inform you of the death of your son, William…

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