Ace's Story Continues

When the plane landed in London, Ace and Alisa rushed across the airport to catch their connecting flight. They made it just as their section was boarding. They boarded, took their seats and began to relax. A few minutes into the flight, however, trouble arose. Terrorists had also boarded the plane, and they began their hijacking operation.

In an instant, Jack was on his feet to challenge one of the hijackers. A woman screamed in the back of the plane as the tall, muscular man pulled out a knife that he had managed to sneak past security. Jack stood his ground, throwing his shirt to the floor and revealing his own muscular build. The man charged Jack knife first. The reporter side stepped the assault and put his left elbow into the hijacker’s right shoulder. The big man screamed in agony and fell with a thud. Two of the flight attendants threw boiling water on his face to keep him down.

Jack made his way to the first class area. Fortunately, none of the passengers had been harmed. A second muscle man jumped out from the seats, catching Ace by surprise, and slicing his right arm open. However, the strong reporter was not fazed. He snapped around and came down on his assailant’s neck with a smooth judo chop. One of the men sitting in the second row warned him that the cockpit had been breached, and the terrorists were most likely flying the plane.

Thinking quickly, Ace grabbed the two fallen men’s knives and then busted through the cockpit door. It was as the passenger had said. The pilot and co-pilot were tied up and the other two hijackers were flying the plane. When the door was knocked down, the man in the co-pilot seat got up and drew his blade. In a swift motion, Jack moved in close to him, and stabbed up in to his left shoulder. The terrorist dropped like a sack of potatoes writhing in pain. Jack secured his knife too.

The plane began rolling side to side when he tried to remove the man from the pilot’s seat. He managed to regain his balance and stab through the back of the chair into both shoulders of the hijacker. He let out a yell of agony and collapsed forward on the controls. The plane went into a steep nose-dive, but Jack moved the man, and pulled up before too much altitude was lost.

He got up, went to the two terrorists on the floor of the cockpit and drove his elbow into their spines, paralyzing them almost entirely. He then untied the pilots so they could resume their proper positions. He then went back to the unconscious hijackers in the passenger area and paralyzed them as well.

He looked at his wife, smiled and then blacked out. His right arm was drenched in blood, and all the adrenaline and action caused the wound to bleed faster than it should. Fate once again smiled on Jack, there was a RN on the plane who was able to slow the bleeding and stabilize his condition. The plane landed in Greece, and Ace was rushed to the hospital.

A few days later, the reporter woke up dazed and confused. Reporters from major news networks were outside his room, thank you balloons were placed next to get well ones, and his arm had several stiches in it. Then he remembered the fight on the flight. He sat up slowly, and looked around the room again. Alisa was asleep in the chair next to his bed. She heard him move, and she jumped wide-awake. A wave of relief engulfed her and she leapt into her husband’s arms.

“Oh my gosh. I was so scared,” she said. “I thought I was going to lose you when you got up to fight. And then you disappeared behind the first class curtain and I heard you scream and thought it was all over. Then when the plane started to roll I was sure you made it to the cockpit, but then we dove and I thought that you’d been killed again.

“Then I saw you stumble back to our section. Your arm was bright red and you could barely stand. Then you smiled at me and fell down and I once more feared the worst. Then this RN rushed to your aide. I knew you were going to be okay, but I was just so worried.” Then she yelled, “Don’t you ever do that to me again!” and she buried her face in his shoulder and started to cry.

Ace brought his arms around his wife and held her as she cried her eyes out into his shoulder. He kissed the top of her head, and tears formed in his eyes too. Then, he spoke:

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t ready to meet my maker yet. I had to save my life, your life, and the lives of every single passenger and crewmember. I promise, I will never pull a stunt like that again. Just one question: Who was the RN that saved my life?”

“She’s right outside. If you want to see her, I’ll go get her,” replied Alisa.

“Wait until the press leaves. I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. I simply did what needed to be done.”

“You don’t want to make a big deal out of this! You saved an entire flight from four well-built, well-trained and armed hijackers. You’re to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor from all three branches of the military. You’re to be knighted by the Queen. People want to meet you; they want you to speak to crowds. Face it, you’re an international hero.”

“Yes, but if I thank her in front of those sharks out there, they’ll think I only did it to look even better. If they want a quote afterward, I wont stop them. But not before.”

“That makes sense. I’m glad I decided to marry you. You really are a kind person, and you treat everyone with equality. You are the greatest.”

They kissed, and he pretended to fall back asleep as Alisa left to fetch some food and water. Later that night, when the journalists went home, she brought in the RN.

“Mr. Griffin, how are you feeling? You look much better than when we first met. I’m Sara Jess.”

“Please, Ace or Jack. And Ms. Jess I want to thank you, for saving my life so that I may enjoy it with my lovely wife. I will always be grateful to you. You have my deepest and sincerest thanks. If there’s anyway we can repay you, just let me know. I owe you at least one,” said Ace.

“Call me Sara, Ace. And I was just doing my job. I should be thanking you. Although, there is one thing I would like you to do for me” replied the nurse.

“Absolutely. What do you have in mind, dear?”

“When the press returns in the morning, would you mind thanking me on TV, in front of all those reporters? It would mean the world to me if my friends and family could see I saved an international hero.”

“While, I must caution you against this, I agree. But Sara, know this: the press will not view the thanks a sincere, and both of us might come under heavy fire from them. Are you willing to live with that possibility?”

“I am.”

“Well, then I guess it’s show time. Good night Sara, sleep peacefully.”

“Good night Jack. Heal up soon. Alisa. I’ll see you both in the morning.”

The next day, Sara showed up around eight. She was wearing the same outfit she wore on the plane. When she got to Ace’s room, she found he was already awake, watching the news. One of the networks was running an extensive story about him.

“He came from a troubled past,” said the reporter, “his parents gunned down when he was just sixteen. A life of crime followed the assassination. Then one day everything changed. He was arrested, sentenced, and eventually rehabilitated. He went from four jobs and eighty hours a week to deputy editor of the Williamstown Press. And now he’s an international hero. This footage, captured from a smartphone, shows Jack ‘Ace’ Griffin fighting four hijackers while in the air. He is currently recovering, in stable condition. There have even been rumors that he will be released from the hospital at the end of the week. We haven’t been able to talk to Mr. Griffin yet because he’s been asleep. However, we hope he wakes up soon and that he makes a full recovery. Back to you.”

“That’s horseshit,” muttered Jack.

“What?” Alisa and Sara asked.

“They don’t care about my health. They just want me awake so they can finish their story and move on to the next one. If they had any integrity, they would check up on me after a few days on my own. These people make me sick. They are a disgrace to journalism. I’m sorry. Sara, good morning, are you ready for your big day?”

“I am,” she answered, “thanks again.”

“It’s the very least I could do. Now can you help me sit up, so I look somewhat respectable when they get here.”

The cameras arrived two hours later. All the big stations were there: Bear News, KTPCH, and CNS. Some local stations were there, as well as the AP, and American, Asian, and other European stations. Guards were posted in and outside of the room and they searched every person…extremely thoroughly. The let three stations in at a time, and Jack delivered his thank you each time, and nothing more.

They were finally done by 1:30. The guards searched the room for anything suspicious, then sat down to relax. Ace turned on the TV, heard his name, and turned it off immediately. Then, a nurse brought him his lunch and he ate in silence. Finally, someone spoke.

“Thank you for today, Jack” said Sara. “I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.”

Then, before he could respond, she kissed him on his lips. Alisa turned bright red, the guards stood up, and Jack pushed Sara off him. The color drained from her face when she realized what she had done.

“Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. I just was caught up in the moment and I don’t know what happened. Oh, I’m so embarrassed. Alisa, Jack, please forgive me,” Sara squealed.

“No” said Alisa, but Ace thought otherwise and said, “Yes.”

Again, both girls asked, “What?”

“We will forgive you. Not because you saved my life, not because I feel I owe it to you, but because it’s the right thing to do. Alisa, it was one silly little kiss and I didn’t kiss her back. It means nothing to me because I love you. For goodness sake, she lost control of herself for a moment. Can’t you see the effect it is having on her already? We don’t need to make worse.

“That being said, Sara, I think it’s time for you to go. I am still very appreciative and grateful for what you did for me. In time, we’ll come to laugh about this, but right now, you need to leave. Have a safe journey, and stay healthy. If you ever need a favor give us a call, we would be happy to help you.”

Sara thanked the couple once again, and then left the room. Several days later, Ace and Alisa finally were able to enjoy their honeymoon. They walked along the coast, saw the ancient ruins, and sampled the fine cuisine. Jacks arm healed, but he would bear a scar two lengths of the blade.

Their trip home was much smoother, but arguably just as eventful. The British Parliament had the couple flown in and transported to Buckingham Palace for Jack’s knighting ceremony. Sir Jack Griffin was then flown to DC on Air Force One, where he met President B. Porter. He was presented the medals soon after he landed. He and Alisa were flown home aboard a military helicopter.

When the pair got back to Williamstown, they were greeted with thunderous applause. Alex and Ilya were the first people Sir Ace and Alisa saw when they deplaned. They hugged their fathers as if they had been away for many years. For the rest of that week, they weren’t charged for anything, and after that, they still received huge discounts.

The newlyweds returned to their apartment. Exhausted from all the excitement and jet lag, Alisa went to bed. Sir Jack intended to join her, but something about that video of him fighting the terrorists kept bothering him. He went online and looked up the original video. It started just before he removed his shirt. Then when the fight began, he saw what he thought he saw that day at the hospital: a blue aura appeared around him. As the fight continued the aura became darker, and a whooshing sound emanated from it.

Sir Griffin heard the sound and saw the blue when he was fighting, but he assumed it was an illusion due to blood loss. Suddenly, the noise stopped, and the aura disappeared. The video captured Jack passing out. He hit the floor so hard he shook the entire aircraft. Frantically, he scrolled through the comments looking to see if it had been edited from the original. But every comment suggesting such had the same reply: “This is straight from my smartphone.” Had this always been there, Jack wondered. But now was not the time for wondering, it was a time for sleeping. He took off his pants and his shirt and snuggled up next to his wife. Soon he drifted to sleep, the aura whooshing in his head.

The next morning, Ace was sent back to reality when his alarm clock buzzed at 6:30. He rolled out of bed and slowly shuffled to the bathroom. He switched on the light, blinded himself temporarily and did his business. When he went to the sink to wash up, he noticed something strange in the mirror. His body looked swollen and a faint blue glow encompassed him. Convinced it was his mind playing tricks on him, he chose to ignore the abnormality. He shaved, showered and began dressing. There was a problem, though, because none of his clothes fit him properly: they were too tight.

“Honey?” called out the reporter.

“Yes what is it, dear?” she replied from the kitchen.

“Can you come here for a second?”

“Be right in.”

She walked into the bedroom and gasped. Torn shirts were littered across the floor and Jack was standing in the middle of them, trying to put on another. He got it on and tried to motion to put on the pants that were around his ankles. However, when he moved, the shirt tore right off and fell to the floor. Frustrated, he pulled another one from the closet and began to put it on.

“Ace, why don’t you put your pants on first, and just leave your shirt out?” suggested Alisa.

He replied, “That’s a great idea! Why didn’t I think of it?”

The hulking reporter stooped down, pulled up his pants, and buttoned them. Then, they sagged down just above his buttocks. Not only were his shirts now too tight, but also his pants were too wide.

“These fit before I left, I don’t understand what happened. I need to get new clothes as soon as possible, which means I’ll have to go into work late. I had better call Alex,” said Jack to himself. “Fortunately my sweats still fit. Okay, honey, I’m going to go shopping, I’ll call you when I get to work. I love you.” With that, he gave his wife a kiss and left. He went straight to Sharp Dressed Men to get pants, shirts, and jackets.

“Welcome to Sharp Dressed Men. My name is Mike. What can I do for you today sir?” said the owner.

Ace got a big smile on his face, and in his best Austrian accent said, “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle,” chuckled and then said, “But really, I do need new dress clothes, mine no longer fit.”

“Well, then,” replied Mike, “right this way. Do you know your measurements?”

“I did before I left, but now I have no clue. I do know my pants length is 34.”

“All right lets size you up.”

After two hours of figuring out sizes, Jack was on his way with brand new clothes. He showed up to work it was already 10:30. He had just an hour and a half to turn in one of his articles. Faster than lightning, he began to type a story about the University of Williamstown Chiefs failing football team. They had just fired their eighth head coach in four seasons. The Chiefs hadn’t had a winning record in over ten years, and there was talk of the program closing up shop and turning its focus to other sports. He finished the article at 11:55 and rushed it to Alex’s office to be edited and published.

When he got back to his desk, he finally was able to call Alisa. He told her about the clothes, and apologized for not calling right away. Since he had no other stories to work on, he would leave around two and head to the gym for about an hour. He told her he loved her and he would see her after the gym.

Two o’clock rolled around, and Sir Griffin headed home to change into proper gym clothes. He got to the gym and went straight for the weights. He picked up a pair of 45-pound dumbbells, but they felt much too light. He tried 50, 60, 70 and each wasn’t enough. Then he went all the way to the 150 pound ones. He finally felt some resistance. He moved to the bench and readied himself to lift over 200 pounds. He did and with little resistance. At the end of his workout, Ace had lifted nearly 1000 pounds and hadn’t even broken a sweat. He left the gym and headed for the doctor.

“I don’t get it doc. Before I left I was in relatively good shape, and strong, but this is insane. I distributed 1000 pounds throughout my body today without even breaking a sweat” said Jack in a concerned manner.

“Well,” began the doctor, “I certainly am at a loss. Your muscle mass has increased, but your weight hasn’t shot up. When the urine sample comes back, we’ll know about the steroids. The strangest thing is though…”

“What is it, doc?”

“You seem to have a blue glow flowing around you…sort of like an aura. When did this start?”

“I noticed it in some video footage from me on the plane, then again today in the mirror at home.”

“Incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hold on just a moment, I’ll go check on your sample. Be right back.”

When the doctor left, Griffin began to worry a little. What was happening to him, and why? Was there something special about him no one had discovered, or was he dying from exposure to something? The results came back negative and the doctor sent him home.

Jack Griffin walked into an empty house. There was a note from Alisa: Gone out with girls, back later XOXO. He went to the fridge, grabbed water and sat on the couch to watch cartoons. He heard a key being put in the door, and the nob turned. He jumped up, hoping it was Alisa. It was, but she wasn’t alone. She walked in and four big men with automatic guns walked in behind her. They were followed by a shorter man, dressed in a white suit with a white fedora and a pair of shades.

“Alisa! Are you okay? Did they hurt you?” shouted a glaring Jack.

“I’m fine, and I will be as long as you do what they say,” replied his wife in a very worried tone.

“Hello, Jack. You’ve certainly changed since I last encountered you. Seems like you’ve gotten your life back on track: an apartment, a job, a wife, and you saved a plane” said the man in white.

“Who are you, and what do you want with me? Money? Jewels? TV?” asked Ace in a hostile manner.

“After all these years, you don’t recognize me. Well maybe this will jog your memory. Sweetie, could you come here for a minute?” the man in white replied.

In walked a blonde woman. She was shorter than the man was, and she had a great figure. She had blood red lipstick and nail polish and her hair reminded Jack of a lion’s mane. It all came back to him. She was Cydney, and he was Gabe. Stunned, he slumped on to the couch, speechless.

“That’s right Jackie,” said Cydney, “it’s me. It’s us.”

“What the f*** do you two sons of b*****s want?” asked Griffin, his blood beginning to boil. His fists clenched the couch tight and his brow furrowed.

“Not much. Just you, dead” replied Gabe coldly. “You see, since you saved the day, no one pays attention to us big shots. So, with you out of the picture, excuse the pun, me and my baby can go back to being in the spotlight. Okay boys, line him up.”

Sir Jack Griffin rose again and he let out his anger in one great yell that shook the building right down to its foundations. His blue aura appeared very clearly now. The four men cocked their guns, and aimed right for his vitals. He sprang with quickness, like lightning, and drove a solid punch to each man’s stomach. Jack picked them up one at a time, threw them out the door, and turned to Gabriel and Cydney.

“Get out now, before I do something I’ll regret. I don’t ever want to see you two again. Good day to you” he said very sternly.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Gabriel fired three shots right at Alisa and laughed the most evil laugh anyone has ever heard. The rich man grabbed his actress wife and raced out the door. Jack jumped in front of the shots and hit the ground, then followed the pair out side. Despite having three bullets in his chest, Jack raced up the street after their car, but he couldn’t catch them.

Just then, Ace heard sirens and a loud crash followed by more sirens. Alisa had phoned the police while her husband and his assailants had been talking. One of the policemen had crashed his car head on with Gabe’s car. The other cop car continued down the street and radioed in for a medevac. The columnist was airlifted to the hospital and had the bullets removed. He was sent home in the morning.

He walked in the door at nine the next morning. The apartment was empty and Alisa left him another note: Please come back, again. Call me when you get home. He immediately picked up the phone and called her at work. She was very relieved to know he had survived again. They hung up and he sat on the couch and turned on the TV. He was drifting off to sleep when there was a knock at the door.
Jack went to the door, opened it, and became wide-awake. Standing in his doorway was Skylar, the new Chief-of-Police for Williamstown, and about a half dozen officers dressed for combat. Skylar had a stern look about him; his men were ready to draw their weapons at a moment’s notice. Jack had to take a step back and blink a few times to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

Finally, the chief broke the silence, “Good afternoon, Sir Griffin.”

“Just call me Jack, Skylar. To what do I owe your visit?”

“One of my sergeants is dead, and you’re our prime suspect.”

“Are you serious? Which one, and why me?” replied a stunned Ace.

“Dillon. And we have security footage of you fleeing the scene.”

“Chief, I mean no disrespect, but I think you have the wrong guy. I haven’t seen Dillon in months.”

“Jack, I’m not questioning you, but you’re our only lead, so I need to bring you downtown. You aren’t under arrest…yet.”

“Okay, I’ll come with you. If it’s possible, can I see the footage?”

“We’ll see when we get to the station. Let’s go.”

Jack got into the back of Skylar’s squad car and they drove to the station. Skylar led his suspect to the interrogation room. There was one table, one chair, one ceiling light and a TV hooked up to a VCR. Ace took his seat, and Skylar stood opposite of him.

“Can I get you anything?” asked Skylar. “Water? Coffee? Sports drink?”

“I’m okay, thank you,” answered Jack.

“Alright, let’s begin. You were hospitalized yesterday with three gunshot wounds, yes? Small caliber, correct?”

“Both are true. It was about five o’clock yesterday. I was released this morning at eight.”

“Did you know that the caliber that was lodged in your chest matches the caliber of the WPD standard sidearm? Did you know that the sergeant’s gun was missing three rounds?”

“No and no.”

“I see. Sir Griffin, yesterday at approximately 5:30, four assault rifles were found in your apartment. The bullets found in Dillon were of the same caliber as the four rifles. Were you aware of this?”

“I knew there were four rifles in my home, nothing more.”

“Okay. Let’s go to the tape for a minute. It is film from the cameras at your apartment complex. There you are, running up the street, fleeing the scene of the crime. There’s a trail of blood behind you and here you can see the three bullet holes. So my only question is, why did you do it?”

“I didn’t kill anyone. I was shot in my apartment. There should be some bloodstains there, and if you check, the bullet casings should be close by. I was running up the street after the man who shot me. One of your officers crashed his squad car into their car” Ace said calmly. Then he thought for a moment and said, “I think I may know who killed your sergeant.”

“You’d better, if you don’t wanna end up behind bars. Now, talk.”

“Yesterday, did you arrest a Gabe and/or Cydney Daehworra? They were in the car that was smashed up. Gabe is the one who shot me, and they had four bodyguards wielding those guns. I fear the guards shot Dillon. Did you check the footage from the cameras on the other side of the building? The side where the murder happened?”

“One of my men said he did. I believe it was officer…I don’t remember his name. I think it was Daeh Worra. Oh no. He was the one who crashed cars…they got away. I’m afraid you’re right. One thing is certain, you didn’t kill Sergeant Dillon.”

Just then, Ace and Skylar were interrupted by another officer. He ran in to the room, pale as a ghost, a look of fear in his eyes. “We have a shots fired call,” he paused, “from Williamstown Elementary.”

“Alisa!” shouted Jack. He tried to run out the door, but Skylar stopped him. The police chief told him he could come, but he must not rush into the situation, to let his boys handle it. Jack agreed and they were off to the school, sirens blaring. When they got there, they saw a black limousine start to pull away. The chief made a sharp turn and ran into the car’s driver side. Ace hopped out of the squad car, tore off the back door of the limo, and found Gabe pointing a gun at him, again.

“I missed yesterday, but I won’t miss today. Don’t worry, Jack, this will only hurt a lot” said Gabe.

“Like hell you will,” replied the reporter. With one kick, he knocked the gun out of the car. He knocked out Gabe with a second. Bang! Cydney had fired a bullet went his left shoulder. Ace jumped in the car and subdued her with a right hook. “Get these two in cuffs, I’m going inside!” With that, Jack entered the building, and then let out a scream that shook the earth. Alisa was dead: two to the heart, one to the head. A pool of blood and crying secretaries surrounded her. Jack raced back outside. He was tackled before he could make it to the limo.

“Don’t do it,” said a strange voice, “it won’t do you any good. It’s what they want. Let the police handle them. You’re emotions are out of control, but they can become your greatest asset. Think, don’t be hasty.”

“Who- who are you?”

“A friend. We’ll meet again, very soon” answered the stranger.

Before Jack could reply, the man left without a trace. The knighted reporter slowly got to his feet, walked inside and fell to his knees. He looked at his dead wife, and he placed his hand in hers. It was still warm. He closed his eyes, thinking about their life together, starting with the train ride. He remembered the dating, the wedding, and the honeymoon. He thought about the little things she did that bothered him and the little things that he loved. Then, Jack wept because all of those things were gone. He never even had the chance to say goodbye. Her hand became ice cold, and he opened his eyes. He set her hand down and knelt next to her, crying. Jack was alone, again.

Alisa’s wake and funeral were held a few days later. Soon after, Gabe was tried for murder in the first degree for the death of Sergeant Dillon. Cydney was tried for killing Alisa. The trials lasted several months, however, both suspects were convicted. They were sentenced to life in prison without parole. Ace watched the events from a far. He only attended the trials to provide testimony; he wasn’t even present for the sentencing. The following day, he received a call from a writer for the Associated Press who wanted a quote about the decision.

“They took my entire world from me yet I get no satisfaction from their conviction—their sentence will never fill the void in my life” Jack told the writer coldly.

No longer able to afford the apartment he and Alisa rented, Griffin moved back in with Nate and Andy. He was forced to sell most of their possessions too. Ace started missing more work each week, and some days he didn’t even bother to call in sick. He was frequenting bars from happy hour to last call. His life was spiraling out of control again, but he didn’t care. Then, one night at the bar, a hooded figure sat down next to him.

“Give up the drinking now and get you life back on track.”

“My life is on a fine track, thank you very much,” replied Jack, drunk and irritated.

“You had so much, and now you’re throwing you life away. I don’t want to take you yet,” said the figure, hitting the bar with an object. “Don’t make me take you.”

Ace may have been drunk, but he recognized the object that struck the bar: a scythe. He was sitting next to, having a conversation with, and being a smart ass to Death. The reporter set his drink down, and turned to face Death, but he was gone. He turned back to his drink, took another sip, and passed out on the bar. He was stirred by a tap on the shoulder. Jack jumped back, but he was looking at himself, no one in the bar seemed to notice.

“I’m going to show you where you’re headed if you keep this up,” said Death, appearing by Jack.

“Am I…”

“No, just unconscious. Come, walk this way and have a sneak peak.”

They walked no more than five paces, and suddenly they were in a courthouse.

“That’s you, on trial for armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and second degree murder. You robbed and killed your roommates and you severely injured your family. You get two life sentences…for now.”

“What do you mean for now?”

“Well, your cellmate is Gabe. You beat him to death to avenge Alisa and Dillon.”

“Then what happens?”

“You die. Cydney escapes from prison and shoots you after your sentencing. Puts one right between your eyes and you are killed instantly. I cannot see the rest; it is beyond my power. However, this doesn’t have to happen if you sober up right now. Here’s where we started. Please take my advice, your life literally depends on it.”

With that, Jack returned to his body and Death vanished. The writer paid for his drinks and left the bar immediately—happy hour was still going on. He got back to the apartment and went to the bathroom. He took a good look at himself in the mirror and cringed. He was a wreck and could’ve easily been mistaken for a bum. Ace staggered to his bed and passed out. Death, who was following in the shadows, helped the man out: He flushed all the alcohol out of his system and repaired his liver and brain. Sir Jack awoke the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to start anew.

Sir Jack Griffin began the day by going through some of his late wife’s belongings. He made piles of clothes to donate, organized documents for her family, and threw everything else away. As he was grabbing a box from the closet, it popped open and its contents fell to the floor. They were mostly old receipts and bank statements, but one piece of paper caught his eye. It was a sheet of notebook paper, folded into eighths. He picked it up and opened it. He read the title on the paper: “Word Clutter.” Alisa had written Ace a poem. Without further delay, the editor read the poem aloud:
“It is difficult for me to put emotions into thoughts / Thoughts into words / Words into sentences / For me to express the way I feel about you

“I sit down to write you / With all these good feelings inside / But when the thoughts reach the paper / They are never good enough for you

“Telling you ‘I love you’ is simple / Because it is undoubtedly true / But telling you in other than words / Is a skill I have not yet achieved

“Though it does not mean I cannot show you / In our silences together / The moments not cluttered by words / I tell you I love you in a simpler way

“For it is in those moments I know this is real / The comfort I feel next to you / Is unmatched by any other / Nor does a second place draw close

“Has it really been such a time we’ve dated / Yet it seems like no time at all / For nothing can count our time / Spent in love

“If my affection for you was to flicker / I must not be sane / For it is unlikely so / That I will again stray away from you

“For my feelings I profess to you / Have swept me off my feet / More than you can ever imagine / No matter your attempts

“So I must now bid this poem adieu / But before I go / Be reminded / That I love you.”

Ace finished reading the poem with tears rolling down his cheeks. He sat there crying, holding the paper next to his heart. Alisa would never know that Ace literally felt the exact same way about her. He screamed out in agony and sorrow. The receipts, the documents and the clothes whirled about the room, and then settled back down. Jack felt very dizzy all of the sudden and he passed out on the floor. He was woken up several hours later by another knock at the door. Startled, Griffin hopped up to his feet, strode hurriedly to the door, and opened it.

“Good afternoon, Jack Griffin. It’s nice to see you again,” said a man Jack didn’t recognize.

“Hello, sir. What can I help you with,” replied a very confused reporter.

“I told you we’d meet again soon. I’m back. Allow myself to introduce…myself. I’m S.G. Yeldar. May I come in? I’d like to discuss something very important with you.”

“Uh…yeah, yes, come in, please. Sit down. Would you like anything to eat or drink?”

“I would love some rice with a sports drink, if you have it.”

“Yeah, just let me microwave the rice real quick here. What color drink would you like?”

“Orange or blue.”

“They’re not very big; would both be alright.”

“Absolutely.”

Okay, here’s your rice and your drinks. Now, what is so important, and when did we meet before?”

“The day your wife was slaughtered. I was the one who tackled you. I want to talk to you about energy.”

“Look, buddy, I use energy efficient lights and appliances. I recycle and conserve water. Go to somebody else with this.”

“No, your energy…as in the blue aura that surrounds you,” said S.G. hinting at further knowledge.

Ace stared at him, got very tense and said two words: “Go on…”

“You see, Jack, every living thing has energy. That’s how they function. Very few creatures can focus that energy. You can. Your focused energy produces the aura you see around you. It also heightens your strength, speed, and awareness, in addition to increasing you tolerance for pain. The ancient Chinese warriors called it chi. In Japan, it was know as Ki. Either way, you can tap into it and materialize it beyond an aura.”

Yeldar then showed Ace what he was talking about. The man closed his eyes, took a deep breath and shouted briefly. As he stated, his focused energy appeared around him. Then, with intense concentration, he held up his hand and balled up some of his energy. The ball was glowing so brightly that Jack was having difficulty looking at it. S.G. closed his hand around it, and it disappeared. Then he made another ball in his opposite hand, but this time, there was no aura around him.

“You don’t need an aura to draw from you energy,” he said closing his hand. “You just need focus and serenity. The energy comes from inside you, all you must do is coax it out. Now you try.”

Jack took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He held up his hand and focused his energy. A ball began to form, slowly; but, as he focused more, it formed faster and clearer. He was successful in harnessing his energy.

“Very good. Now, for the issue of your control. You can’t go off emotions of anger or hate to fuel your energy, like the day Alisa was killed. A clear head will keep you alive. That is all I can teach you, the rest you must learn as you go. When I feel you are ready for more instruction, I will return. But for now, focus and control is your training. Good luck, and good day.”

S.G. Yeldar got up and left Ace to think about what he just learned. Little did he know that his first test was waiting for him. He sat down and turned on the news. A story was just breaking: the editor-in-chief of the Williamstown Press had been kidnapped and was being held in a warehouse. Jack’s anger began growing inside him; he jumped and ran out the door in a blind fury, stopping at the corner. Then he remembered S.G.’s words: “A clear head will keep you alive.”

Griffin took a deep breath, and calmed down. He walked back to his car and drove very calmly to the warehouse. Upon his arrival, he was greeted with machine gun fire. He dashed for cover and surveyed the surroundings. He found a weak spot in the building that would effectively stop the guns. He focused his energy into his fingertip, and then released it toward the building. A beam hit the spot he was aiming for and rubble fell on the gunners.

He walked toward a side entrance and stopped himself. That’s just what they’ll be expecting, he thought. Quickly, he race around to the front and decided to make a grand entrance. Ace Griffin formed a ball of energy between his hands and released it at the door, creating a smoldering entrance big enough for a tank. He was able to take down several guards in the process.

The knight made his way to the center of the building, where he found Alex sitting in a chair, his arms and legs bound with chains. He approached his father and pulled the chains off him. They were turning to lead when the sound of several guns being cocked echoed through the warehouse. Then a figure jumped down from the rafters onto the chair.

“Good, good. You passed your first three lessons: control and focus, energy beams, and anticipation. Now let’s see if you’re ready to pass your final test. Challenge me, if you dare.”

“All right, S.G. Challenge accepted. Bring it on!”

Jack charged Yeldar, but he missed and hit the chair. His opponent flipped and landed behind him. Ace spun around throwing punches and kicks, but failing to connect with most of them. With one punch, S.G. knocked the wind out of Griffin and sent him flying back. While he was sailing through the air, Jack again cleared his mind, focused, and sent a powerful energy beam toward the kidnapper. Caught off guard, S.G. Yeldar took the blast directly to his chest. THUD! He hit the ground so hard that several gunmen fell down from the rafters. He was beaten at his own game; it cost him dearly.

“Challenge defeated. C’mon, lets get out of here,” said Sir Griffin as he blasted another hole in the building. Father and son emerged unharmed and went home, feeling invincible. Soon after, he forgot about manipulating his energy, but he retained his strength. Occasionally his aura would show again, but he wouldn’t notice it. Jack was focused on living as normal a life as possible. But it was no easy feat. People at the gym stared when he lifted; in stores, he broke things by just picking them up; he couldn’t keep a steady girlfriend.

One thing that was going well for him was his work at the paper. His articles returned to their original glory, he was more focused and less articles appeared with errors each day. Alex noticed this positive change in his adopted son; he was sure now he could retire and pass the paper on to Ace. On Friday, he called his son in to his office.

“You wanted to see me, pop?”

“Yeah, Ace, come on in. Have a seat. I’m going to get down to brass tacks here.”

“Um, okay. Is everything okay?”

“Yes, I’m sure of it. I’m retiring on Sunday. That means there is a need for a new editor-in-chief. I want you to succeed me. You’ll start Monday.”

“I can’t…it’s your job. I can never fill your shoes.”

“Let’s face it, you’re a better editor than I am, you’re still young, and I’m too old for this job. I don’t feel comfortable handing it to anyone else.”

“Well dad, I’m very honored. Thank you for this opportunity. I humbly accept it and I only hope I can keep the paper alive and strong as you have.”

“Good,” said Alex with a smile. “I’ll make the announcement at the end of the day on Sunday and first thing Monday morning you become the boss.”

Father and son embraced and then Ace went back to his desk. Alex’s eyes filled with tears as he watched his son walk away. Jack went out that night to celebrate. He met Andy, Nate, Dylan, Ryan, Christopher and Sepeedeh at Sofia’s Diner. For the first time in many months, Jack was truly happy. Elated, he paid for everyone’s dinner and left a very generous tip. Saturday and Sunday seemed to drag on forever, but eventually it was quitting time.

“Can I have everyone’s attention please!” shouted Alex. “Today was my last day as editor-in-chief. I’m too old and too tired to keep doing this. Starting tomorrow, Jack will have my job. I expect he will be given the same respect by you as you gave to me. He accepted this position with humility and reluctantly. I’ll be here to make sure he adjusts smoothly. Thank you all for making my time here easy and enjoyable. Jack, would you like to say anything?”

“I’d just like to say thanks and that I hope to keep things running smoothly. Let’s hear it for my father and our boss, who gave us so many great years. Enjoy your retirement.”





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