Brian tells his and Jordan’s parents, as well as Neil and Cynthia, about his ultimatum to Chase. Their parents are accepting of it, Neil and Cynthia aren’t.
“That’s harsh,” Neil said.
“That’s tough,” Brian countered. “Good night, Jordan,” he said, giving her a kiss. Waving to the others, he left the rest of them in the living room.
“You’re just going to let him do that?” Neil appealed to Jordan.
“He’s made up his mind. If I interfere, he’ll just resent me. Putting aside emotion and looking at it logically, he’s right. As much as I love Chase and admire Marissa, it’s the right decision. I’d hate to see it happen now. So would Brian. He believes that by making the threat, it will force them to work together.” She paused, listening as Brian drove away. “I hope he’s right.”
Brian walked into an empty house. Elise was with his parents at Jordan’s, so he had the place to himself. Heading to his room, he tried not to think about everything the day had held. It made him sick when he thought about how he’d spoken to Chase. The anguish in his friend’s face had wrenched at his soul, but Brian knew he’d done and said the right thing. It was his hope that out of desperation, Chase and Marissa would make more of an effort. As much as he liked and admired his friends, he knew they were both shallow and stubborn, wanting what they desired at the expense of the other. Jordan wasn’t like that, and neither was he. At least he hoped not.
He had a long shower, standing under the water until it ran cold. With a flicker of his fingers, he warmed it up in the pipes. Nearly an hour later, he dried himself with blasts of warm air and pulled on his boxers. He started music playing on the stereo, an old album of his grandfather’s, Meddle by Pink Floyd. The strange, trippy music washed over him as he lay in the dark. Brian closed his eyes, not to sleep, but to let Echoes fill him. To him, really good tunes were like magic. He could get pumped up or mellowed out by the right melody. Right now, he needed to relax and let his spirit heal. He’d hurt Chase terribly and he felt his friend’s pain. He couldn’t afford distractions either.
His mind’s eye filled with swirls of color, playing across his vision like an internal kaleidoscope—shifting and changing every few seconds, in time with the music. His breathing deepened as he entered a trance-like state. Voices filled the music, which weren’t normally there. He felt himself floating, buoyed by the air around him. Dozens of voices spoke to him at once, none more compelling or louder than the others, all on the same level. Though he didn’t focus on any single message, he heard and comprehended them all. These were the spirits of the other Circle leaders, giving him their knowledge. He wondered, fleetingly, if they had spoken to David this way. Would they also speak to Neil?
“Why me?” he asked them. But he received no answer.
Though he’d hoped, he hadn’t expected one. It was like asking the sun why it continued to blaze, or the moon why it rotated around the Earth. Because. Because someone had to, and he had the genetic fortune, or misfortune, to be chosen for the job. He didn’t want it. Most days, he’d have given it all away to have a normal life with every day teenage problems. He’d love to be completely oblivious to spiritual things and think about his chemistry exam or how to ask a pretty girl on a date. Instead, he was thrust into something he couldn’t even begin to comprehend, with powers that most people would consider freakish, if not evil.
“If you had to, could you give it up?” One voice said louder than the others. “If you had to, could you give up the girl?”
“I don’t know,” he whispered.
The voices all picked up the words, speaking them over and over. He felt them closing on him, coming nearer with each repetition. First, they spoke in unison, then in a cacophony of chaotic disunity, circling and nudging him.
“Could you give up the girl? Could you give up the girl?” Over and over, with different emphasis each time.
“No!” Brian bellowed, sitting up in bed. “No! I couldn’t give up the girl. I couldn’t. I couldn’t.” Weeping, he curled over, holding his head. “I know what I asked him to do,” he whispered. “I know. I only said what you told me to say. Help him. Don’t force him to choose. Don’t make me choose. Help us all.”
He’d never considered himself particularly religious, though he’d grown more spiritual over the last couple of years. Impossible not to, given what he did. But he found himself praying, without knowing who the prayers were directed at. Was it God? Was it another omnipotent being, whose name he didn’t know? He and the others spoke of the Powers That Be. What were they, exactly?
“I don’t know anymore,” he whispered to the night. “Show me the way. Please.”
His phone rang, startling him. He’d thought he’d turned it off. It wasn’t his mother, but his grandfather on his father’s side. Thumbing the screen, he answered.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes