“The exams will be tomorrow, so you’d all better make sure that you’re ready for it. I don’t have to tell all of you to get rest and eat breakfast, do I?”
Jason rolled his eyes as he watched his friend making googly eyes at the girl sitting next to him. As if they weren’t already in a lot of trouble for the last stunt he pulled with her.
His friend turned to him with a grin. Then he frowned, pointing at him. What the h--- was he talking about?
Jason looked down in confusion. He gasped in pain as his arms lit up in dark hues, blues, purples.
“Is everything okay, Mr. Hook?” The teacher asked, her eyebrows rising.
Jason let out a small yelp and stood up, flinging his chair behind him. His arms were bleeding now, old scars reopening.
He couldn’t take it anymore! He burst through the door in a rush, racing for the bathroom. His body burned, as though acid coursed through his veins. He needed to get under some water.
He released a breath as soon as the water washed over his arms, soothing the excruciating pain.
His chest pumped up and down, slowly now. And it looked as though the pain was gone. For now.
He gazed into the mirror. His pale face was streaked with blood. But for what reason? There were no cuts or burns. There wasn’t even a wound.
He splashed water in his face, hoping that all the blood would just go away. But when he looked again, the blood was still there. And it kept flowing.
“Jason, are you all right, son?”
Jason cleared his throat before answering, “I—I don’t know.”
The principal came in, his face full of worry once he saw him.
“What happened to your face, Jason?” He asked. Jason took a step back, tears in his eyes. What was happening to him? What had just happened to him?
“I—I tried to wipe it off. I tried to get rid of it…I don’t understand…” he mumbled.
The principal held up his hands, “Calm down, Jason. We’ll figure this out.”
Jason peered into his gentle brown eyes and watched as he placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m going to call your parents, okay? I’m gonna have you take the test early. Before anything else happens.” He soothed.
Jason nodded, suddenly feeling exhausted. He dropped to his butt on the floor and closed his eyes. He just wanted to get away from all this. He wanted to disappear.
Jason’s body lurched out. He screamed. His bones twisted in unusual ways, snapping and protruding from his skin. His muscles tightened, as though he were having a whole body Charlie horse.
He gasped for air, clutching onto his legs, trying to pull them in, but the pain was too strong.
The door flung open, his father coming to his side.
“Jason. Jason, open your eyes.” He said.
Jason’s eyes fixated on his father, pain striking every part of his body.
“What’s going on, Dad? Why is this happening to me?” He cried. His father picked him up, cradling him in his arms.
“You’re going to be all right, Jason. We’ll get the test back tomorrow morning and then we can begin treatment. I promise you, we’ll fix this all.” He said.
Jason felt the tears rushing down his cheeks. He wanted to wipe them away. He wanted to stop crying, but the pain was too much. It felt like he had hundreds of protrusions erupting from his back.
“Focus on my voice, Jason. Focus on my voice and ignore the pain.” His father said.
Jason sat there, twitching as the pain drifted off him, lying in his father’s arms. He closed his eyes, mentally exhausted.
He went through the whole rest of the day, fighting off pain and taking the test. To find out what he was on the abnormal scale. And how powerful he was.
“Goodnight, my boy.” His father whispered in his ear.
Jason peered down at his hands, watching in curiosity as they slipped through his bed. He wondered if it would work with all his body parts. He stuck his head down, feeling as his head slipped through and then stumbled back. The rancid smell still filled his nostrils. What did he have under his bed?
“We’ve got your results. Are you ready?” His father asked, peering into the room.
Jason smirked, “Okay, let’s see them, but I already have the feeling I know them.”
His father raised a brow, but didn’t question him on it. They walked into the kitchen together, a grin spread across Jason’s face.
“Well, you look happier today.” His mother said, setting down a plate full of pancakes in front of him.
“Where’re the results?” He asked. His mother smiled and handed them to his father.
“You’re sure you’re ready for this? As soon as these are open, your life will change.” His father asked.
Jason nodded, “I have to know.”
His father sighed and unfolded the papers. A few seconds later, his brow furrowed and he gawked at Jason.
Jason snickered, “It says phasing, doesn’t it?”
His father shook his head, “No, it says phasing and gravity control.”
Jason’s jaw dropped. That couldn’t be true! It must’ve been a mix up! No one had two powers!
“There’s gotta be a mistake! I can’t be two different factions!” He exclaimed.
His mother looked to his father, “What’re his ranks in each of them?”
Jason gazed down at the chip in his arm, embedded to point out the most prominent genes in his body. Apparently, Phasing and Gravity control were some of them.
Jason tried recalling the day that the government had come into their classrooms, embedding each of the kids with the chips. But truth was, he couldn’t remember much from that day. Except for the gut wrenching feeling that his life would change. And it had.
“Rank A in Phasing and Rank B in Gravity Control.” His father said.
“That’s not bad, is it? Not that powerful?” Jason asked. His father gave a grim look.
“Rank A is the highest it can get, Jason. And…”
A knock at the door interrupted his father. Jason’s heart stopped.
“I’ll go answer the door. Jason, I want you to stay where you are, okay?” His father said.
As soon as the door opened, his father backed away with a look of surprise.
A tall man walked in, holding a sheet of paper. He turned to Jason immediately.
“You are expected to return to school at Rosalind’s School for Gifted Children tomorrow. Bring nothing, but your body.” He said, handing Jason the paper.
And with that, he left the house. Not saying another word.
Jason gazed over at his parents, whom also seemed stunned. He couldn’t believe that they’d already found out.
“Does that mean I can’t return to school to see my friends?” He asked. His parents shrugged.
“I’m gonna take that as you don’t care. So I’ll see you after school.” He said.
His father opened his mouth to say something, but Jason had already phased through the door, rushing off to the school. Hopefully he didn’t have any more attacks.
“How’s it going, Jason? Everything, okay?”
Jason nodded at the principal as he passed.
“Is everyone done taking their tests? Can I go see them?” Jason asked. The principal shook his head.
“Most of them are still going for another fifteen minutes. What are you doing back here?” The principal replied.
Jason stopped in his tracks and gazed up at the clock.
“Well, I guess I just wanted to say goodbye to my friends. I’m supposed to transfer to the gifted school tomorrow.” He said.
The principal smiled, “So what did you score as? Anything cool?”
“Well, actually, I scored as two things. Gravity control and…” He said, then phased through the door.
The principal watched in astonishment as he walked back through again.
“How did you score two? Isn’t that impossible?” He questioned. Jason shrugged.
“That’s what I thought.” Jason sighed. But that’s what the results said. And the results were never wrong.
“Well, I’m sure the ranks weren’t that bad, then.” The principal said. Jason stared at him with a blank face.
“Actually, I excel at both gravity control and phasing. Rank B and Rank A.” He said.
The principal frowned, “Well, I guess they’d really be wanting you for the Forces.”
Jason sat down at a table a few feet away, a groan erupting from deep inside his chest. He pushed his hands into his face, feeling the pressure sinking down on his shoulder further. He had only been ‘diagnosed’ with these powers for a couple hours and he already didn’t want them.
The principal sat down next to him and watched him through thoughtful eyes.
“Mr. Roosevelt, could I ask you a question?” Jason asked, looking up from his place on the floor.
The principal smiled, “You just did, but of course you can ask me another.”
Jason took a deep breath in and released it slowly, the aching in his heart making it more difficult.
“What would they do if I didn’t show up at the school? Would they force me to go anyway? Would they hurt me?” He asked.
The principal’s smile dropped and for a moment, he seemed uneasy, his eyes darting around the school in search of a living soul, then opened his mouth, “Why don’t you wanna go, Jason? What is wrong?”
“I just don’t wanna go, Mr. Roosevelt. I don’t want to be inspected like an animal and then be expected to use my powers for whatever thing they assign me to.” He huffed.
The principal shook his head, “Jason, I like you, so I’m going to be completely honest with you. If you don’t show up to that school tomorrow morning, they will hunt you down and make your life h--- until you comply with their terms. Especially someone like you.”
Jason filled with dread, wishing that he’d never been there when all the kids had gotten the chips in their arms. Wishing that he’d never received anything from those shots they gave them as kids. That d--- mutation.
“And what if I don’t ever comply to their wishes? What would they do then?” He asked.
The principal’s eyes lit with alarm, “Jason, promise me that you won’t cause any trouble. I don’t want to see you turned into something you don’t want. I don’t want to see your execution.”
Jason sat there a moment, his jaw clenching. He couldn’t agree to those terms. He couldn’t lie to himself like that.
“Jason, please. They’ll tear you into pieces.” Mr. Roosevelt begged, clutching onto Jason’s arm.
“Fine, I promise you that I will go tomorrow.” He muttered, cursing under his breath.
Relief filled the man’s face. His mouth opened to say something, but just at that moment, the bell rang. Kids poured into the hallways everywhere, exchanging looks of exhaustion and curiosity. And Jason understood the anxiety that passed through each of them. All of their lives would change whether they were abnormal or not.
“Hey, Jason, bud! What are you doing here?”
A thin smirk spread up Jason’s face as soon as he caught sight of the tall, stocky boy heading toward him. His green eyes twinkling with something like anticipation.
“I wanted to see you before I have to say goodbye for good, Vince. I scored on the abnormal side.” He replied.
“Well, that sucks dude, but I can’t say I didn’t see that coming. Everyone was talking about how you walked out of Chemistry with blood trailing down your arms for no apparent reason.” He said, then his eyes trailed over Mr. Roosevelt, surprise flickering before he could cover it up.
“Was I interrupting something?” He asked, looking between the two.
“Actually, Jason and I…” Mr. Roosevelt started.
Jason shook his head, “No, you weren’t interrupting anything. I was just waiting for you and Jack until the testing was over.”
The principal gave him a look, obviously wanting to continue on with the conversation, but Jason shook his head. He was done with it all. For now, anyway. Mr. Roosevelt had made it clear that he would have to go to that school the next day.
“So what did you score on the test then? I bet it’s cool with all the pain that it put you through!” Vince exclaimed.
“Gravity control…” He started.
Vince’s eyes lit with excitement, “That’s so cool!”
Jason sighed, “And phasing.”
Vince’s face went blank, “Are you…”
“No, I’m not kidding you, Vince. Why would I kid about something like that?” Jason hissed.
Vince sat there a moment before his contagious grin returned, “Do you know how cool that is, Jason? You can walk through walls and float in the air!”
Jason opened his mouth to say that he couldn’t actually float into the air, but he didn’t know that for sure. He hadn’t stumbled upon those powers yet. He could possibly float in the air. Or make others float in the air. He wasn’t sure yet.
“The thing is, I haven’t actually gotten my gravity control powers yet.” He said, silently hoping that he never would.
All that would just be wonderful. Maybe then they wouldn’t force him into the school, though, he hardly doubted that could work.
Vince looked down at his watch, still stunned, “Well, Jason, I’d hate to cut one of our last conversations together short, but I’ve gotta get back home. My mom is waiting for me so we can go to the movies before my results.”
Jason frowned, “Why don’t I walk with you? I can talk to Jack later.”
“Okay, I just need to go grab my stuff. Hold on.” Vince said, then took off after his locker.
Jason felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around. The principal was still there, his eyes looking at him worriedly, “You’ve got to b…”
Jason shook his head, “I’m done talking about it, Mr. Roosevelt, I’m done. I understand that you’re worried about me, but I can’t handle anymore. I just want to go home.”
“But Jason, please…” He started again.
“Okay, dude, I’m ready!” Vince shouted from behind. The principal and Jason locked eyes a minute or so before Jason turned to Vince and nodded his approval.
Jason swallowed hard before heading into the four story building. With the new students being fished out from the other schools, the regulars at Rosalind High were given the day off, but that didn’t make his day any easier.
Every kid going into the school knew that there would be more testing before you were actually placed into your classes. Tests that would last all day and night.
Jason was sure that his would be an all-nighter because of his testing into two factions.
When he walked in, he was surprised to find that everything was in tiptop shape. The whole place reeked of chemicals and newly refurbished wood, classrooms and offices trailing down most of the hall. When he looked up, he was surprised to find a spiraling staircase, giving more space for the rooms. There must have been more people than he thought.
Jason’s eyes flittered to the side of him, startled. A young girl about the age of nineteen stared him down.
“Uh, Jason Hook.” He stammered. The girl gazed down at a piece of paper and wrote something before returning the gaze to him.
“Room 231.” She said.
Jason looked at her in confusion, “Why? What’s going on there?”
She sighed, “Look, I don’t have time to go through this with every new student. Just go to the room your assigned and the advisor there will explain.”
Jason was taken aback. He hadn’t meant to get on her nerves or anything. He’d just wanted to know what they were going to do to him.
“Okay, I’m sorry.” He said. He heard the door close behind him, and watched as the girl turned to another boy, looking around stunned as Jason had only a minute ago.
Jason started walking down the hall, peering into the classrooms as he went by and he’d started to notice a pattern. Two adults to one student. The student would sit at a table, the adults pouring over them, asking questions, marking stuff down.