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Author's note: This story is inspired from my dad, who made a movie about it. The characters are mine, but I can't take credit for all of it. I really like this book, though, and I hope you do too.
“Did you do your homework?” Cameron Johnson asked me as I opened my locker in the morning.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Me too!” Cameron said hurriedly, leaning on the locker next to mine. “I didn’t really understand it at first, I mean, I hate clouds, but then I went on Google and found the answer pretty quickly.” I rolled my eyes. Cameron cheated a lot. I wasn’t completely sure why I hung out with her, to be honest. She seemed to be attached to me, though most of the time she just got on my nerves.
I pulled out my books and looked at Cameron. “You asked if I had completed it. Not if I had done it right.”
“Ohhh. Did you?”
“No! I had it so mastered in class; Mr. Sullivan even told me that I was getting it better than anyone else!” I slammed my locker shut and sighed. “I hate doing work at home. I can never do it.”
Cameron flipped her blonde curly hair over her shoulder and began walking towards the room at the end of the hall, saying “Don’t worry! Jack and Toby won’t have gotten it either.”
I nodded because I knew it was true. I, Toby, and Jack always came to school with faulty homework. Ever since third grade we had banded together and even tried to help each other complete it, but time and time again we got fidgety and ended up doing something else. My mom had even gotten me an ADHD and ADD test, but results were negative.
I was eleven years old. I had straight, auburn hair and blue eyes. My two friends, Jack and Toby, were both also eleven. Jack had brown hair and a tiny spray of freckles across his face with brown eyes, and Toby had dark hair with blue eyes.
Taking my seat next the door, I couldn’t help but look up at the red light faintly glowing in the light panel above Jack on the other side of the room. Was it really a camera?
“Ok, guys!” Mr. Sullivan stood up as the bell rang. “Pull out your homework and have it on your desk so we can go over it!” I looked around the room and saw Jack and Toby wincing as they pulled out their papers. Toby caught my eye and shrugged. I nodded back and he leaned over to whisper something to Jack. In a few seconds we were looking at each other, frustrated.
“Toby!” Mr. Sullivan smiled at him. “Can you read me number one?”
“Um,” Toby cleared his throat. “Um, yeah. ‘Identify the type of triangle shown below.’”
“And the answer?” Mr. Sullivan prompted. Toby swallowed and looked up.
“I—I didn’t get it.” Mr. Sullivan walked over and looked at his paper. Then he gave him an irritated look.
“Mr. Jenson,” he addressed Toby. “Please explain to me why you have none of your homework completed.” Toby was silent. “I am waiting.”
I could see Jack’s face reddening. He hated it when anyone got on Toby’s case, especially when he knew it wasn’t Toby’s fault.
“I couldn’t do it,” Toby said quietly.
“Why?” Mr. Sullivan looked around the room. “No one else seems to have had so much trouble with it!” I noticed that his eyes rested for a moment on me and Jack, but then he was turning back to Toby, who was cowering under the teacher’s fierce stare.
“It’s every assignment, Toby,” Mr. Sullivan pointed out. “There is something wrong. You cannot continue to slack off with homework when everyone else is doing theirs!” He walked around behind Toby to look more carefully at his packet. Jack looked like he was about to jump on him. I tried to catch his eye, but he was staring at Mr. Sullivan with so much concentration that it was a wonder that the teacher didn’t feel it.
“You did not even attempt it!” Mr. Sullivan exclaimed as he looked at Toby.
“I did!” Toby cried. “I just didn’t get it!”
“Mr. Jenson, you will stay after school with me and we will have a discussion about this—”
“Stop!” Jack was standing up now. “Stop! He tried! He just couldn’t get it! Get off his case!”
“Mr. Calloghy, sit down,” Mr. Sullivan said in a warning tone. He stepped over and put his hand on Jack’s shoulder.
Mr. Sullivan and Jack jerked backwards as an electrical current swept through them and into the light above. Jack glared at Mr. Sullivan.
“Oww!” he yelled. “You shocked me!”
Mr. Sullivan looked nervous. He looked up at the light and then back at Jack.
“I… Yes, well…” Mr. Sullivan cleared his throat. “Mr. Jenson, you are freed from your after school discussion. Class, today you are taking the summative for your weather unit. Tomorrow we will begin the solar system.” With that he walked to the front of the classroom and began passing out tests.
Jack sat down, fuming. I stared at the test in front of me, wondering what on Earth had happened. Glancing up at Mr. Sullivan, I saw him look at Jack and faintly heard him murmur, Actually, I think you shocked me…
“Mom? I’m home!” I shouted as I walked in the garage door.
“Alright! I’m in the kitchen!” she called back. I walked in and set my bag down on the tiled floor. “Did you get homework?” she asked as she studied her computer screen.
“No,” I replied. “It’s glorious.”
“Yes, it is.”
I washed my hands and took out Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was a really good book, but I could barely read one page. I kept thinking about what Mr. Sullivan had said—how he thought that Jack had been the one to shock him. Surely it wasn’t that important of a thought that he couldn’t keep it to himself?
“I’m going to get your brother,” my mom told me as she walked towards the door.
“Alright,” I mumbled. As soon as the door closed, I whipped out my phone. I could text my friends anytime, but it was so much easier to discuss something when you were actually talking to them. I punched in Jack’s cell phone number. He picked up on the second ring.
“Ken!” he exclaimed. (I can’t get him to stop calling me that!) “I was hoping you’d call. Toby’s here; I’ll put you on speakerphone.” I did the same for him.
“Hold on, I’ll get Cameron,” I said, and started another call. We do four-way calling a lot.
“Hey, guys!” she sang. “So, what happened today, huh?”
I heard Jack sigh. “He shocked me, that’s what. I couldn’t stand him being such a jerk to Toby.”
Toby laughed nervously and I could imagine him brushing his black bangs out of his blue eyes nervously.
“You—you didn’t have to…” he stammered to Jack. “It was fine.”
“Hmph…Well, that’s not the mystery here,” Jack said. “Why would a teacher shock a student like that? It’s not very professional.”
Cameron laughed. “You looked like you had been electrocuted!”
“Umm, are you sure you didn’t shock him?” I asked.
“What makes you think that?” Jack demanded. “I mean, I would have if I could, but I can’t do it that strongly.”
“Then how did he do it?” Toby wondered.
“Don’t ask me,” Jack snapped. “Casey, why would you think I did that?”
I quickly told them what Mr. Sullivan had murmured at his seat. There was a silence on the line. Then Cameron spoke.
“Uh, guys? What if it was just some built up static and it happened to shock Jack and Mr. Sullivan? I mean, you’re all acting like it was World War Two all in one zap of electricity.”
“No one can shock that hard!” Jack yelled over the phone. “You didn’t feel it, did you, Cameron? It hurt really badly!”
“Geeze, sorry!” Cameron put on an offended voice, which irritated me. I don’t know why. Apparently it bothered Jack too, because his end suddenly had “static”.
“Casey? Ken? I think the connection’s breaking!” he yelled through it. I got his point. Pressing a button, I ended Cameron’s call.
“Whew!” Toby sighed. “We should do that more often.”
“She’s so annoying,” Jack agreed. “Right, Ken?”
“Yeah.” I wasn’t about to lie. Thinking it to myself a hundred times a day made it impossible to say that I didn’t think so. Suddenly, I heard something. “The garage door! My mom’s home!” I shouted.
“Alright. See you at school, Ken!” Jack called.
“Bye, Casey!” Toby said.
I slid my phone into my pocket just as the door opened.
“Hi, Casey!” It was my five-year-old brother, Rick. His dirty blonde hair and olive green eyes looked dull compared to Jack’s spiky blonde hair and vibrant green eyes. He dropped his bag and came galloping over and rested his chin on the head of the couch. Rick and I have a special kind of relationship. We have two other sisters: Ray and Beck. Ray is thirteen—two years older than me. Beck is nine years old, and… We don’t get along. Thankfully she has a school overnight and Ray will be home late.
“Wash your hands, Rick,” my mom said as she put his backpack into the pantry. He ran over to the sink. Sliding around so that my back was to him, I pulled out my phone again. A text had popped up on the screen. It was from Cameron.
Hey? What happened?
There has never been
a connection problem
I groaned inwardly and tapped back a reply.
Look, I don’t know.
We all just broke up.
There was an immediate reply.
Well why don’t we try
again? Maybe this time
it will work.
I don’t think it will.
Besides, Jack can’t do
I put my phone back into my pocket before she could respond.
“What’re we having for dinner tonight?” Rick asked Mom as he opened a pack of fruit snacks.
“Burritos,” Mom told him. He made a face. I loved burritos, and basically any other Mexican food (I don’t mind spicy, either), but I have a problem with melted cheese. It is sooo disgusting. I got a text on my phone.
So, what do we do
tomorrow? I mean,
about Mr. Sullivan?
nothing? What do
u think we
could do, Jack?
Hang on, I’ll put Toby
on. Toby here. I think
that we should do nothing
like Casey suggests.
Wait, why is ur
text sounding like
ur talking to
both of us?
Maybe because we r
hiding in Mr. Sullivan’s
bushes? Just a thought.
Ur WHAT? R u
Gotta go, Sullie’s comin
See u tomorrow, if
Ur so supportive.
Sometimes I wonder about them.
When I went up to bed that night, it took me a while to fall asleep. I kept thinking about the boys, and if they were alright. I also thought about tomorrow, and whether Mr. Sullivan would say anything about it. Yawning, I realized that for once, Cameron might be right. It could have just been a normal static buildup that zapped Jack. Or vice versa. We could be overreacting about it all. With that thought in my mind, I drifted off to sleep.
It seemed the moment I opened my locker Cameron appeared.
“So what’re we gonna do? You know…” she glanced around. “About Mr. Sullivan?”
I grinded my teeth together. “Nothing,” I replied evenly. Her face fell, and I didn’t feel the least bit sympathetic. I grabbed my books and hurried to class.
“Alright, everyone on the carpet,” Mr. Sullivan said as soon as everyone was there. “Casey, can you hit the lights?”
I nodded and flipped the switches. Once we were on the carpet, Mr. Sullivan pulled up an electronic rotating model of the solar system on his SmartBoard. Jack grinned from his spot next to me.
“He never saw us,” he whispered. I rolled my eyes and tried to listen as Mr. Sullivan droned on for a while about rotations and years and gravitational pulls. I zoned out for a while, until Mr. Sullivan asked me,
“Casey, could you get the Styrofoam balls? There should be some on the shelf by the sink.”
I walked over to the shelf and peered into the box. Empty. Glancing around, I saw another pack on top of the cupboards, which were definitely out of my reach. Mr. Sullivan even had a hard time getting anything up there.
I stopped and looked around, irritated. Why can’t they make the cupboards lower? Jack leaned back and raised his eyebrows at me. I pointed to the Styrofoam balls. He smiled and shook his head.
I turned back to the cupboards, closed my eyes, and stood on my tip-toes, reaching with all my might, and suddenly I felt them underneath my fingers. I opened my eyes in surprise and they widened in shock and terror.
I was level with the top of the cupboards, which not even Mr. Sullivan has achieved. Either I had stretched to a very tall height or… I looked down.
I was flying.
There was nothing between my feet and the floor except air. My eyes bugged out of my head and I almost fell, but I fumbled for the rim of the top of the cupboard and grasped it, breathing heavily. Soon I felt myself floating higher and the only thing keeping me from hitting the ceiling was my hands on the cupboard. I pulled myself back down to where I was before and looked at Jack for help. He was gawking at me, mouth hanging open and eyes as big as saucers. As I watched, he slowly raised his hand.
Mr. Sullivan appeared not to notice, though. I was feeling sick.
“Mr. Sullivan?” Jack asked cautiously.
“Not, now, Mr. Calloghy.” He continued teaching. Jack glanced at me again.
“MR. SULLIVAN!!!” The teacher wheeled around and glared at Jack.
“What is it? What is it, Mr. Calloghy? This had better be worth i—”
He stared as Jack pointed.
Toby leapt to his feet. So did the whole class. I heard screams and yells and I tensed with embarrassment and fear, but that only caused chaos. I was jerked away from the cupboard and slammed to the ceiling. Everyone was screaming now. I couldn’t unpeel myself and my back really hurt. My head had hit, too.
Mr. Sullivan rushed over, but Toby and Jack beat him there.
“Casey!” Toby yelled. I could see Cameron running towards us, laughing at my predicament. I was filled with fury at her. I found myself wishing with all my heart that for one moment she could feel what it was like to be up here, being laughed at. One minute I was thinking that—the next she was screaming.
She was rising through the air, whirling around in circles. A few students snickered at her as she struggled not to throw up, but Jack and Toby were still trying to get me down. I was staring at Cameron, though… Gaping, really. Then, we both fell. Jack and Toby’s strong arms caught me; she had nothing.
Mr. Sullivan went to check if she was alright, and then immediately sent her to the nurse’s office to get some ice. Jack and Toby helped me to my seat. Everyone crowded around me, asking questions. Like I knew how I had just done that! Jack stood in front of me like a police officer, keeping people away as best he could.
“Back to your seats, everyone!” Mr. Sullivan shouted over the noise. “I have some… explaining to do.” At that most of the kids hurried to sit down, and Jack shoed away the rest. I put my head on my desk. Jack and Toby sat next to me and for once Mr. Sullivan didn’t seem to care where they sat.
“You may have noticed,” Mr. Sullivan began, “that there is a light in the panel in every classroom.” I sat up at this statement, but was immediately overcome with dizziness. Toby went to the coat closet and brought back his jacket for me to rest my head on. They made sure I did.
“If you have ever asked a teacher here about it, they will have told you that it is a camera to make sure you do nothing bad.” Jack was keeping his hand on my back now to keep me from sitting up in shock.
Mr. Sullivan was staring at the three of us.
“It’s a restraining pull.” He looked at the rest of the class. “It contains a radiation that shuts off a certain part of your brains. It has been used on you since you entered kindergarten. We usually only need it around now.” He glanced at Jack. “Emotions that are strong enough may enable your minds to break through this ‘shutdown’. This will enable you to use that part of your mind for a brief period of time.”
“Why did she fly?” Ben Richards asked incredulously. “Brains don’t help you do that!”
“Yours do,” Mr. Sullivan said simply. “When Mr. Calloghy was able to break through the shutdown, he used his… power… without restraining it, and it hit the ceiling where the restraining pull. This, I believe, resulted in the deactivation of the restraining pull, which means that all of you can use your powers now.”
Everyone glanced around nervously, as if one of them would explode.
“Come on,” Mr. Sullivan prompted. “Think for a second. Do you feel anything? Try stuff. Experiment.”
Everyone sat quietly. Suddenly, I heard a snapping and sizzling sound behind me. I turned and saw Jack staring at his fingers in awe. Every time he snapped them, a bolt of electricity glowed and then died. As I watched, the sparks grew stronger until he didn’t have to snap anymore—his fingers were glowing with electricity. It would give Thomas Edison a heart attack.
Toby was looking worried. When he saw me looking at him he smiled a little and rested his head on his elbows, staring off into space. Suddenly, something moved. Not in the classroom. Not an object. He began to move. He transformed.