Home > Novel (Fiction) > Sci-fi/Fantasy > The Serpent Tattoo: A Prophecies and Destinies Novel > Chapter 1
The Serpent Tattoo: A Prophecies and Destinies Novel
Author's note: I already submitted this, but I decided to change the title, and resubmit it, and it's a little edited.
That Gym Class“That is so cool,” a guy I didn't remember the name of said as he examined my birthmark.
“Wicked cool,” another guy added.
An entire crowd was encircling around my elongated arm, and I girl I believed was named Gracie, traced the swiveled, snake-like pattern around my arm up to my elbow where it ended. Just about the entire gym was making a fuss about it.
My mom told I've had this weird, snake-like birthmark since I was born. It even had the shape of a snake's head on the back of my hand. It was a little rough around the edges, but you could still make it out. Anytime I showed it to someone, they would be amazed by it's appearance, and how it seemed to slither across my left arm. I liked it. Even without the constant awe it received, it made me feel special somehow.
Personally, I don't think it was the fact that it looked like a snake that drew people to it, but more so it's odd coloration. Starting at the head, it was a faint red that shifted its way into orange and yellow, and glided into green and blue, with a little purple tip.
“It's pretty,” Gracie said. I smiled at her, and my eyes began to wander across the gym as everyone continued to caress my arm.
The bleachers were a bland tan color, and mounted high against the wall, about 20 feet. The bleachers and the floor were a couple shades off, but both were equally as depressing. The bright blue and yellow court lines tried to create a more upbeat atmosphere, but they just threw everything off, and made the gym look mismatched. The hoops were down, but they were really low. A seven year old could make a shot. The walls were nothing more than white brick. It wasn't exactly the best gym in the world.
I looked to my left, and saw a girl out of the standard yellow shirt and blue shorts that everyone else was in, but instead a pink t-shirt, and jean shorts, smuggling in the corner with a book. Her long, dark hair was tucked in a side ponytail, slung neatly over her right shoulder. She looked so calm, serene, peaceful.
Her name was Eden. I recognized her from a couple of my classes. I didn't really know her but I knew of her. She worked at our local SPCA after school, and on weekends, she volunteered at the soup kitchen. Her little sister was blind, so she went to a special school. Once a week, Eden would read to her little sisters class. She was probably the nicest, most kindhearted person you'd ever meet.
My attention was drawn to a sudden pressure on my arm. My head snapped to see five meaty, hairy fingers. Before I had time to react I found myself pinned against the blue squishy - but firm - mats that lined the bleach white, brick wall. The impact hurt my ribs, and forced the wind out of me as well as forcing my eyes shut, but I didn't have to open them to know who it was.
“Well, doesn't Jace think he's all special. ?” a mocking voice said breathing hot air into my face.
I opened my brown eyes to Liam Mitchell. His face was chubby – and way to close to mine for comfort – along with the rest of his body. His sandy blond hair was sticking to his forehead. Gym didn't even start yet, and he was already sweating. The gym crowd backed away from us.
He was a pretty tough guy, at least he was compared to me. I've known him since elementary school. When we were in second grade he would flush my glasses down the toilet. Now it was eight years later, and aside from the fact that I don't wear glasses anymore, nothing much has changed. I never understood what his problem with me was. I never did anything to him, at least I don't think so. I guess bullies were just insecure.
“Are you going to answer my question?” he asked, his voice a little harder along with his grip, as he shoved me farther into the blue mats by my arm, forcing my shaggy dark hair to fall into my eyes. He was a lot stronger than me. Trying to wriggle my way out would be a pointless, wasted effort. Even if I smacked him or something with my free arm, it wouldn't do anything. I looked around. No teacher was in sight. Damn it.
I turned my head back to Liam. He was still breathing his hot, cheesy onion breath into my face, making me gag a little bit. And then I smiled.
Getting an idea, I slowly reached into my pocket. He was too fixated on my face to notice. Feeling the small pack of orbit gum, I retracted my arm from my pocket, and held the pack out to Liam. “I think you could use this,” I said, offering him the pack of gum.
I knew exactly what was going to happen as soon as I got the idea, but it would be worth it. A simple punch in the face compared to his suspension was a cake walk compared to other things he's done to me. I took a deep breath, stiffened, and closed my eyes, bracing my self for the impact.
I didn't feel anything, but his grip on my arm let go, followed by by a thud, and an “ow!”
I opened my eyes to Liam on the floor, and my best friend, Tia Edwards– who like Eden, was out of uniform – standing over him with her hand on her hips, facing my way so I could see her face.
She was in cut off shorts with fishnet stockings, a gray shirt with a big Sharpie logo on it, and chucks. Her uneven bob was styled in it's usual way, the longest piece that fell in her face being curled, and the rest straight. Through the bob, you could just make out the bar in her ear that accented the stud nose ring, and eyebrow piercing.
“Were you going to hit him?” she asked. Liam just sat there on the floor, not saying a word.
“Are you going to answer my question?” she repeated the same question he asked me not to long ago. She cocked her head as she said it, and you could see the underlying blue dyed hair better that was best seen in the curl, and a few strands here and there. Again, he just sat there, and I watched as I rubbed my left wrist.
“Just like I thought. So here's how this is going to work. You can stay on the floor, and I'll proceed to kick you in the face and work my way down, or you can stand up and walk away like you didn't just get body slammed by a girl, and continue to be a d-bag for the rest of your days. Your call.”
He hesitated a little, but he eventually mad his way to his feet. “Whatever,” he said as he walked away. I followed him with my eyes as he walked over to the corner of the gym in front of that Eden girl. He bent over her, and did what looked like teasing. She ignored him at first, but he snatched her book away and threw it across the gym. Eden didn't do anything but put her head down.
“What a perfect asshole,” Tia said, shaking her head. She turned to me with crossed arms, and a smug look on her face. “You can thank me now.”
I raised my eyebrows at her. “For?”
“Saving you. Again,” she answered cocking her head again.
“You didn't save me,” I argued.
“Oh, quit lying to yourself, Jace. I've been saving you since second grade.
I bit my lip. Technically she was right. One day, when Liam cornered me in the bathroom, I decided to let someone know, and screamed for help for the first time. Tia heard. me. To her, it didn't matter if it was the boys bathroom or not. She barged in anyway, and jumped on Liam's back to try to force him away from me. It was actually how we met. Of course, back then, she didn't look like a cross between a biker girl and a hipster chick.
“I had it under control.”
“You were controlling nothing.” To any other person that would've sounded harsh, but I knew Tia. She was just poking fun at me.
The sound of a whistle turned my attention to the far side of the gym. Mr. Morris was wearing his usual sweatsuit, though no matter how baggy it was, it failed to conceal his bulging gut that looked so out of place when compared to the rest pf his body, and Yankees baseball cap. He raised his hand as if to call us over to his standing point. Me and Tia obeyed. Eden practically ran, even if she wasn't in uniform. I don't blame her. I would do anything to get away from Liam. Everyone else eventually fell in.
“Today we are playing dodge ball,” he started, not bothering to take attendance, or even check who was dressed in uniform. “This side over here, that side over there,” he said, separating us into 2 groups. I groaned, and I looked at my arms, that unfortunately resembled toothpicks. I wasn't that strong, and I definitely couldn't throw a ball at any force that couldn't be caught. Liam was on the other side of the gym, smiling menacingly at me. Unless Tia could protect me and herself at the same time, I was doomed. I dragged my feet to the wall of the gym along side Tia as Mr. Morris lined up the balls at the halfway mark.
“You all know the rules. No aiming at the head, all balls caught, the person who threw them is out, and the catcher can bring back another player, and if you get hit, you're out.” He slowly raised the whistle to his lips, ready to blow. Everyone else but me shifted into position to start running for the balls. I just faded into the background behind everyone else. The unmistakable, dreaded anticipation that was building inside me was beginning to go into overflow, and I could feel my heart pounding. Mr. Morris looked both ways, making sure everyone was ready, took a deep breath, blew the whistle.
I'm sure the anticipation for others was beginning to ease, but for me, it was at an all time high. I could see Liam charging for the ball in the middle, but he wasn't looking at the ball. He was looking at me. Just like when he had me pinned against the wall, I closed my eyes.
But then a bright light peaked through my eyelids. I opened them to see we were all surrounded by a blinding, unexplainable light. Everyone stopped running, even Liam, and started looking around dazed, trying to guess what was going on. I did the same. I knew this kind of light didn't come from the artificial florescent lights of the gym. This light was more natural, and brilliant, like a thousand suns surrounding us. Everything in the gym, the basketball hoops, the bleachers, the mats on the walls, even the walls themselves, ceiling, and floor seemed to disappear, and it was like we were standing on an ocean of light, but the ground still felt solid. I looked at Tia, who was also staring at me. The look on her face was one of obvious confusion.
“What's going on?” she mouthed to me. I only shrugged, showing her I was just as freaked out as she was. Eden in particular, was probably the most scared. She folded her arms across her chest, as if she was trying to comfort herself. I looked down. The ground was starting to reappear around my feet, but it wasn't the gym floor. It was dark gray cement. I stared at it, trying to figure out how it could have changed. The floor began to expand, which meant the ominous light was starting to fade. The floor crept under the soles of others, and they all stared at it as well, probably doing what I was doing. After the floor, the light dimmed everywhere else, and when it cleared, we were surrounded by what looked like the inside of abandoned ruins.
The hallway was filled with sounds of panic. Everyone was shouting, some were angry, others desperate. I moved closer to Tia.
“What the hell,” she said as I got closer. She started searching along the walls for some kind of escape, but no such luck. “We gotta get outta here,” she said in a rush. She turned back around and started banging and kicking on the wall while everyone continued to shriek.
“Somebody help!” she yelled and banged in unison.
The sound of a whistle brought everyone's panicked screaming to a halt.
“Now look,” Mr. Morris started, his voice shaky, “I don't know what's going on either, but screaming our heads off isn't going to help anyone.” He tried to sound in control, but the look on his face showed he was just as confused as everyone else. “Let's just all stay calm and -”
“Yes. Please stay calm.”
A sadistic, but seductive and clearly male voice turned our attention to the shadows, interrupting Mr. Morris. The click of heels became louder and louder. All of us were staring curiously into the shadows, and a figure began to take shape. It inched closer, and finally came into view as he stepped out of the shadows.
The first thing you notice would be his hair. It looked like a long, black waterfall, so shiny and silky, and fell mid-waist. It covered half of his face, which was a direct contrast to his hair. His skin was pale white, and his eyes were a deep purple. He was dressed it a dark red pants suit, and boots. In left hand he held long brown, polished looking cane. On top of it set a translucent black stone that seemed to glow from the inside. I don't know why, but it gave me a bad feeling that matched the same feeling I got from the man holding it. In his right hand was a dusty, ancient looking book. He looked human, but I could tell he wasn't.
Three other figures emerged from the shadows behind him. The first one was a woman. She was average height, and her hair was short and blonde. She wore sunglasses, and I couldn't see her eyes. She was dressed like an assistant, wearing a white blouse with gray pants and suspenders. The second was a girl who couldn't have been older than 13. Her brown hair was in pigtails, held there by red bows, and was wearing a white mini dress with a big gold bow wrapped around her waist, that had a red outlining, and was decorated by gold embroidered flours. The bottom half looked like a wrap around that flared a little at the bottom. The third was a guy, and unlike the others, he floated out of the shadows. His dark hair was spiked and messy, and had a little bit of make-up around his eyes, standard black mascara with green eyeshadow. He was draped in a black muscle shirt, with a green sash that matched his eyeshadow, and shimmering blue, baggy pants. I could tell all of them weren't human.
We all stared at them, unsure of what to say. The one with the cane, who I guessed was the leader, stepped forward. His eyes scanned over all of us. Some kids inched behind others.
“My name is Nero,” he said, his purple eyes staring at us intently. He pointed to the one with the blonde hair, “This is Reagan,” he said, and then gestured to the little girl, “this is Lila,” and then pointed to the guy with the spiked hair and make-up, “and this is Cyrus. You may or may not be wondering what you are doing here.” A few students nodded ever so slightly. Me, I just stayed still and tried not to draw attention to myself.
“Kind of,” Tia said sarcastically.
Nero turned his attention to Tia, he smiled slightly. He slowly started walking toward her, his hair swaying at his sides, and I felt the urge to tell her to run. He stopped at her feet.
“Well, don't you have a sharp tongue?” he said, and I silently begged Tia not to answer. She must have felt it because she just sat there with her arms crossed in from of her chest. But then Nero did something I didn't expect. He slowly held the cane up to her chest. She tried to back away slightly, but he grabbed her arm and held her there. He was staring at the translucent stone, I guess seeing if something would happen.
“It's not you,” he said, and he walked away. I could see Tia relax her shoulders. When Nero was back to his spot in front of everyone else, he said “I am looking for a pure heart. Now, whether or not that pure heart is here, I don't know, but I'm going to find out.”
“Now hold on,” Mr. Morris started, “could you be more -” he was again interrupted by Nero, but not like earlier. Nero held up his hand, and with a flick of his hand, Mr. Morris was flung against the wall. There was a crack as Mr. Morris collided with the wall, and fell to the ground. He didn't move, but blood was dripping through his Yankees cap. We all gave a collective gasp, and then we were silent as we all stiffened at the sight of the unmoving Mr. Morris.
“I suggest you not speak against me,” he said with a sadistic smile. He made his way to the farther side of the crowd. He began to do the same thing he did to Tia to everyone else, and held the cane to everyone's chest. One by one, he held the cane up, and one by one, people gave a sigh of relief as he moved on to the next. And then he got to me. He held up the cane to me, but something was different than the others. The stone became darker, less translucent, and my birthmark began to tingle, and I pulled it up to scratch it.
Nero drew a shocked breath. I looked up to see he was staring at my birthmark with disgust, and then he slowly raised his gaze to my face with that same look of disgust. I would have asked what was wrong, but as soon as I opened my mouth, Nero lifted his hand, flicked it, and I felt myself flying through the air, and landed on the floor in a heap, with a little skid, scratching my face. I lifted my head weakly to see Nero moving on, passing Tia, and moving on to Eden. I could feel the blood on my forehead sliding down, and dripping onto my nose. I wanted to get up, but I couldn't lift myself. My body was hurting, and sore, and after this, I'm sure it would be bruised.
Nero held the cane up to Eden. The black stone was now glowing even more than it was before. She stiffened, and looked at Nero, who was wearing a big grin. Something told me that wasn't a good sign. Nero grabbed Eden's arm, and snatched her away. She let out a scream, and tried to wiggle her way free, kicking and hitting his hand, but Nero dragged her away with ease. Eden might as well have been a broom to him. I was infuriated. I wanted to help somehow, but my body was still hurting from the impact of the floor.
“It looks like I have found my pure heart!” Nero exclaimed as Eden continued to try to wiggle free. She looked so scared, so helpless, and I could see the tears beginning to stream down her face.
Nero looked past the crowd to me, and half smiled. “Actually, I think I'll take everyone after all.” He snapped his fingers. “Cyrus, you know what to do.”
Cyrus nodded, and turned around. He lifted his arm, balled up his fist, and yanked on the open air, basically ripping off the fabric of space, and causing what looked like a portal to appear out of thin air. Wind started to blow my hair around my face, and I watched helplessly, as all of my classmates were sucked into the portal, one by one. Tia, turned around and ran toward me, but just when she was out of reach, she tripped, and landed on air. She grabbed my hand, and tried to hold on to prevent herself from being sucked in with the rest, but I could barely hold myself up, let alone someone else.
“Jace, don't let me go. Please.” I nodded, but I could feel her slipping, but I still held on with everything I had, which at the moment, wasn't much. Her face was urging me, but I couldn't do anything anymore. She slipped from my hand, and flew into the portal with everyone else. Nero smiled at me one last time, slowly turned away from me, and stepped into the portal, his minions following. The portal closed with a 'woosh' sound, and the wind stopped. Except for Mr. Morris, who was now surrounded by a pool of blood, I was all alone. It was silent, barren, dead. My vision was beginning to blur, and my head was beginning to hurt. The last thing I saw was a single candle on the wall as I slipped into unconsciousness.