An excerpt from my debut novel Loading: Life. Please Enjoy.
THE HEALING ORB stung as its energy drifted over Hero’s stomach. He winced but dared not complain. He didn’t want his teacher to chew him out even more.
“So instead of coming to school like you promised, you decided to take a stroll through the city and pick up some new friends?” Poison dripped from Kirk’s words. “Nice to know my students respect me.”
Hero focused on his health bar, his headache slowly fading.
“And not only that,” Kirk continued, “but your uniform is torn up. Again. And your hair is filled with clumps of dirt. Seriously, boy, what am I going to do with you?”
Hero eyed the sliver of bleach blond hair that had fallen over his teacher’s glassy eyes.
“Not like it matters,” he muttered. “My hair is dirt anyway. I’m a freak for having this color, Kirk.”
“It’s Mr. Kirkland. And just because brown hair is a rarity, doesn’t mean you’re a freak.”
“People think I am.”
The man sighed. “Boy. I promised your grandfather I would take care of you. But I can’t do that if you’re not willing to work with me.”
“Shouldn’t the nurse be healing me?”
“Unlike me, she gets to enjoy her lunch–”
Coughing shook the orb slightly; Kirk nuzzled his mouth to the inside of his elbow until the spurts ended.
“Getting a cold?”
The man applied more pressure on the orb, shooting pain through Hero’s wounds.
He flinched. “Hey!”
“Tell me why you’re running around with Cassius and his gang.”
“That wasn’t Caz.”
“Oh? Then why do I feel some energy from his ore lingering on your wound.”
Hero hated Kirk’s ability. “Should it matter, anyways?”
“Yes. Especially since he was beating you to a pulp. And the fact that, as your guardian, I have the right to know.”
“Yeah, well I have a right to parents and not brown hair. But I guess we’re both screwed.”
Harsh, glassy clear eyes bore into him, making him shrink back. His attention shot around the room, trying to find something to focus on besides those eyes. Needles, gloves, beds, anything. He caught sight of the window, the sky seeming to flex with new colors as the wind blew, a low humming reaching his ears.
“I didn’t mean it, alright? I’m happy the way things are.”
“Sure . . . I’m just worried. Your attendance has never been that spectacular since– since the start of junior high. And now you’re in the tenth grade and so close to graduating. I just don’t want you to fail due to not being present.”
“What does it matter? It’s not like I’ll get a great job.”
“You might if you try hard. I just don’t want you ending up like Cassius.”
“A guy who never had to finish school, runs around and does whatever he wants whenever he wants? A guy who can take down wild beasts if he wants to, just because he can? Nah. I don’t want to be like that.”
“You want to be a high school dropout that can’t even rely on the police, because he’s afraid they’ll stick him in jail for what he’s done?”
“Might be better than here.” He huffed. “Besides, it’s not like I can get far after school’s done. No SA.”
“Hero.” Kirk’s hand patted him on one of his tensing shoulders. “I know it must be difficult, but who’s to say you won’t develop one later.”
He jerked away, jumping out of his seat. “I’m not a special little cupcake, ya’ know! I don’t have one now. I won’t ever have one.”
“Special abilities develop at different times. There have been cases–”
“I’m a freak, Kirk! Everyone knows it! They just take one look at my hair and sense no SA, and they know I don’t belong!”
“You are not a freak.”
“Then what do you call me?!”
Kirk grabbed his arm. “A boy who cannot see how important he is.”
“Don’t give me that crap.”
The man sighed, letting go of him. “I’ve healed you enough. You should be good to go back to class.”
The energy flowed back into the man’s body, his eyes returning to their normal silver.
“Please get there before lunch ends. You don’t want to be late today.”
He stared out the window as Kirk walked to the door.
“And, boy . . .”
“Please be careful. Without an ability . . . you won’t be able to defend yourself properly . . .”
The door slid open, then closed, leaving Hero alone.
He walked over to his inventory bag and flung it over his shoulder.
“I hate this place.”
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(c) E.N. Chaffin. 2017. All rights reserved.
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