A Bolt from the Blue

by D'Artagnon

Chapter 2

Gathering Clouds

The Sunday morning after the pool party, Glen woke early. His physical therapy sessions with Jasmine had instilled in him the idea that if his limbs felt stiff he needed to stretch. He went through a few simple yoga poses, Chase oddly trying to match Glen's moves as much as doggy anatomy allowed. The boy felt oddly at peace following the exercises. As if his body was trying to tell him something, like it was demanding more stretching, building, growing. Like it was building the energy inside him.

He glanced to the mirror in his room. The Lichtenberg scars still showed plainly against his pale chest. He remembered in the many photos that Mom had shown him that he had once had a healthy outdoorsy tan. He wondered for a moment if getting his skin kissed by the sun again might minimize the look of the fractal scars, dim their dark blue bird-shape some. Of course, that would mean exposing the scars and the rest of his skin to sunlight. Publicly. Glen still had misgivings about his parents, or anyone else for that matter, seeing the freakish marks on his skin.

Especially if they started glowing again.

Glen pulled a shirt over his chest and drew a warm pair of fleece sleep pants up his legs. He had gone to sleep in just his underpants, and had been glad for that. As soon as he curled himself under his blankets, Chase had jumped up at the foot of the bed, curling up as much as a great Pyrenees dog can. The dog was a furnace at night, and at some point, Glen had just flung the blanket and sheet down as far as his thighs to cool off.

As soon as he had dressed, Chase looked up to Glen, then to the door and whined. "Need to go out, boy?" Glen asked. As if in reply, the dog's tail began a rhythmic thumping on the carpeted floor. "Okay, let's go," Glen said, heading for the stairs. He wasn't sure how he knew that the dog would need some "outside" time. Although he did feel a similar urge to find the bathroom after letting the dog take care of his imminent business. The canine immediately began his routine outside as Glen stepped back inside. The dew glistening grass of the back yard shared a chill with the air. Glen retreated inside to the downstairs bathroom, right off the kitchen and mud room, and took care of his own bladder's needs.

The house still felt quiet, as Glen flushed the toilet. He let the dog in, amidst much tail wagging, panting and shoulder nudges to Glen's knees. He decided he would go back up to his room and explore it some more, discover all the treasures and secrets and lost memories of Glen-that-was. So far, he had found out that the person he had been wasn't the nicest person, the best friend, or the most loving member of his family. The more he looked into it, the more he felt a solid separation from *that* Glen was firmly in order.

He refilled Chase's water bowl, which the dog happily lapped into, and then took the stairs back to his room. His hand darted up, unconsciously, to the well-worn wood of the bannister rail. He stopped at the first landing, realizing that he always reached for this flat disc of wood atop the bottom rail post every time he went up the stairs. "The body knows things it has done before," Jasmine had told him. "We call it muscle memory." *Maybe I haven't lost all of Glen-that-was,* he thought, ascending the stairs with soft steps. He didn't know what the schedule was for early mornings yet, but he didn't want to wake anyone by clumping up the stairs.

He got to the doorway of his room, the door still open from letting the dog out before, when a soft sound emerged from Carolyn's room. He had figured out quickly that his room w as the first at the top of the stairs, opposite the bathroom, and his sister's room was next on the left, with their parent's room opposite hers. He passed by the laundry chute and the door for the dumbwaiter, as well as the small linen closet. From that position, midway down the hall, he could see Carolyn's door was partly opened. The light in the room was slanted by the early morning sun, spilling warm yellows across the many pinks in the room. The large four poster canopy bed in the middle fairly dripped in pink bedding, featuring a lot of stylized kittens in different poses.

The room's owner was sitting at a small round table with four matching chairs and two of the folding chairs used during the pool party the day before. Each chair was filled with a properly propped up stuffed animal. An elephant in a white tutu, a large cat that Glen identified as a snow leopard, a sock monkey, two different sized Winnie the Poohs, a baby doll, two Barbie's and a Ken sitting on the same chair, and a much bedraggled looking Elmo all sat around the table in various states of "upright," all in the midst of high tea.

Glen was uncertain what to do. He listened in, watching his little sister play. He noticed right away that she was speaking softly, playing the very proper and polite tea party hostess. He leaned against the wall, grinning at the scene before him. Carolynn was very cute, he thought. Adorable. No wonder she had their father wrapped around her little finger. She was charming and precocious.

And then he overheard her discussion with her guests. He thought something was odd about her speech at first, and quickly realized that she wasn't speaking with her usual lisp.

"Yes, Mrs. Bagley, this is a new tea pot. Stupid Glen broke my last one. He should have stayed 'sleep in the hospital. Everything was so nice wh ile he was gone. Mommy was sad, but he wasn't being mean to me anymore. And he wasn't shouting at Mommy when Daddy was workin' and stuff."

She poured a pretend cup for the Poohs, telling Mommy Pooh how nicely behaved Baby Pooh was. Then she turned to look at Elmo, almost facing the door. Glen slid back out of sight, keeping his back to the wall.

"Why yes, Mr. Elmo. I think you're right. Glen is a big stupid head meanie. Everybody thinks he's all better, but I know. He's still horrible. Absolutely atrocious."

Glen was impressed with his little sister's vocabulary, despite her mispronunciations, as well as her candor. Dr. McCoy had hit that nail square and true; Carolynn did despise him, vehemently. And it seemed that Glen-that-was had completely earned it. He gulped realizing that his former self's crimes were mounting. He heard Carolynn's voice catch, breaking into a minor sob.

"He used to push me, and thump me with his finger on my ears. And he would pull my hair to get the TV remote. And he'd break my things and laugh. And… and he'd call me names, and squirt water on me and hide my left shoe. And… "she paused, a tremble crossing her face, "and he'd… punch me and push me down. He's a poopy-head! I hate him!" And she broke down, crying. "I wish he'd never woked up at the doctors. I wish he was gone for good!"

Glen was shocked, and shaken to his core. He felt hollow. He'd hurt this little girl, and apparently done so just to hurt her. Just to see what kind of reaction he could get from her. It felt like some sick game, using his power as an older brother to intentionally upset her.

This must change, Glen thought. But how? He slunk back to his room, uncertain of what to do. But he did know one thing. Glen-that-was had a strong hold still. It was up to Glen-who-is to fix it. And he knew who to ask on how to do that.

Church had been mystifying to Glen. The patterns of standing, sitting, kneeling, praying, singing, it was confusing to him. He followed as best he could, watching how others around him seemed to behave. The music was pretty but seemed oddly sad. As if there was something being mourned instead of something celebrated. The readings seemed odd as well. Glen wasn't entirely sure who the people talked about in the readings were or how they related to anything in the world around him. Glen found it interesting but he didn't feel spiritually moved by the words. In the end, he felt certain that he was missing something. He resolved to talk to his mother about it later.

There were three things that Glen did get out of going to the church. First, the majesty of the architecture. It was soaring, the granite stone cool to the touch. The detailed stone and wood work inside, the soaring spires and statues behind the alter, the sculpted angel figures riding up into the high vaulted ceilings at the top of the columns, from these, Glen could easily see why people came to this place for spirituality and enlightenment. It had a serene feel. Those who had worked to make it had put so much effort and so much talent into just the building itself. For something to be so strong and so beautiful, so breath taking, it was no wonder to Glen that this was a special place.

He was also enraptured by the huge stained glass windows. Some of the meaning of the scenes depicted went over Glen's head, but the artistry, the complex colors and paints, the way the sunlight outside brought the glass parts themselves to life, these made Glen's heart beat a little faster with wonder. It was if someone had taken the same care that they had built into the physical structure of the place and worked that same skill and talent , that same dedication and effort, into sculpting light itself.

The third thing he was enraptured with was the many people he saw. All different ages, heights, body types, facial features, hair styles and colors, racial and skin tone variations, such wondrous variety. As he tried to follow along with things, he noticed all levels of attention in the church. Kids playing, adults who were just paying lip service to the ritual, some who prayed with belief, some who seemed to be there for more social contact reasons, especially kids his own age who were making eye contact with each other more than the books in the pew or the speakers at the altar. The part that seemed to make the most sense to Glen was when the priest invited the parishioners to greet one another instead of sitting and standing in regimented rows.

It was like a festival of handshakes and hugs broke out. People turned and smiled to each other, offering hands, saying "Peace be with you." And meaning it. It was almost as if people forgave each other for the tiny slights they gave each other during the week. And they reaffirmed their connections to one another. As that brief time of exchanging "peace" ended, they began to sing, to each other this time, instead of to the religious figures. That part made the most sense to Glen, and he smiled hugely through it. His mother brought his head to her shoulder during the singing, and Glen found his mouth knowing those words.

After church was a different matter. The parish hall, built into the basement of the church, became a hive of activity after the service. Donuts and coffee, and Kool-aide for the younger set, were set out buffet style. Mom explained that this was a chance for fellowship, so that people who didn't meet normally during the week could catch up, talk about the small things in their lives . Glen nodded, not quite understanding. He decided that he'd observe and remain quiet.

Glen kept an eye out for faces, hoping that perhaps someone would appear familiar, trigger some memory. But there were so many, moving, weaving in and out of the crowd, talking loudly to be overheard among the others also talking loudly. Laughing adults, children chasing around, folks lined up for seconds at the donut table. Nothing jumped out at him to spark a reminiscence. The chaotic yet orderly flow of folks just being together in the underground facility didn't help Glen to pick any one person to focus on. It seemed like everyone had an idea of what to do except Glen.

Jill and Jason were there, together. Glen got the feeling that they had sat together in the church during service. Likely in the back. Jill seemed to make a show of holding Jason's hand. And of purposefully ignoring Glen, although he had the feeling that she made it a point to always be within line of sight of where Glen stood with his family.

Oddly, Glen didn't see Peter.

After the fellowship meeting seemed to be closing, families going their separate ways, the volunteers helping to clear away the very few remaining donuts and beverage accessories, tidy up the tables and such, Glen's family piled into the family car and drove away from the church. Glen recognized the streets as they flew by, taking note of street names and different landmarks. How the one road had a canopy of interlaced branches arching high overhead. The placement of different statues. Route numbers and marquee signs in front of businesses. Even the signs of construction at the site of the YMCA, "restoration coming soon!" as one placard promised. He used the ride to help fill in the map in his mind.

The family drove across the large Main Street stone bridge across the river. Aga in, he was struck by the architecture of his home town. There were towers on the bridge that looked like miniature lighthouses. He found his eyes following the structures even after they passed over, until a screen of trees and buildings blocked his view. It was almost as if the towers were watching him in return.

Sunday dinner was apparently a tradition, and that tradition led to a large Italian restaurant called The Roma. It was a modern looking building, tall and well decorated with shrubberies and a clean parking lot. As Glen got out he could see the river, just beyond the restaurant, with what seemed to be boat dock facilities and outdoor tables.

The place was packed with people, but there seemed to be no waiting time. What struck Glen the most, however, was the smell. The air was flooded with the scents of simmering marinara sauce, the smoky wisp of sausages, the cloying but enticing aroma of cheeses and salads with their crispness and dressings. And over all of it, rolling through the air and teasing Glen's nose, was the crisp, salty, yeasty, buttery trails of garlic bread sticks being brought to tables in red and white checked cloth enshrouded baskets.

"Smell something good, boy?" Dad asked, helping his daughter find a seat.

"It all smells good," Glen replied. Mom smiled and Glen couldn't help but smile in return.

"Now that's a Glen statement," she beamed. Carolynn shot him a very perturbed frown.

A waiter walked over, a towel draped over his forearm. "Ah, the Bergerons! Hello my friends!" he said, his arms wide as he approached the table. The heavy Italian accent grated on Glen's ears for some reason. It wasn't that it sounded fake or forced, just something about the man and the sound of his voice made Glen feel… awkward. The man fished out a set of crayons and a page with coloring book anima ls engaged in some sort of beach play, placing them in front of Carolynn as he rounded the table. "And young master Glen! So good to have you back again." The waiter gave Glen's shoulder a gentle slap. "So, lemme guess. Someone wants baked ziti parmesano with a smothered meatball on the side, eh?"

Glen felt suddenly very uneasy with this man standing behind him, resting his hand on Glen's shoulder like that. There was something familiar and uncomfortable about it. He felt his scars across his chest twitch and grow warm. He hoped that the glows weren't forming, showing through his shirt. He'd taken to wearing darker colored shirts as a way to cover that possibility. Still, he noted his body's reaction to this man's voice and touch, and tried to remain calm.

Mom noticed the look on Glen's face. "I think we need a few minutes with the menu, Giuseppe," she said. "Glen is still having some memory troubles."

"Ah!" Giuseppe, the waiter, replied. "I will start you with some salads and bread sticks then? The usual for drinks?"

"That sounds like a good start, thank you," Dad said. The waiter moved off, waving at other people in the restaurant as he headed towards the kitchen area.

"You okay, son," Glen's dad asked, leaning closer. Across the table, Mom and Carolyn were sharing the coloring page, each making suggestions on which colors to fill in the beach ball's stripes with.

"I don't… I don't know." Glen squirmed a moment, wishing yet again that his memories would just return all at once instead of seeming to trickle in at their own pace. He found himself touching his own chest, feeling his heart racing a bit, without any reason why. He suddenly worried that he might be glowing again. "Uh, where's the bathroom?"

"By the coat room," Dad replied, pointing. "You okay, son?"

"Yeah. I'll be right back," Glen s aid, standing and heading off to the Men's room. He passed by the kitchen entrance as he did, the smells lifting his way making his mouth water even more. In the bathroom he passed another boy about his age, a boy that gave Glen a wide berth, a look of apprehension on his face at seeing Glen.

Yet another person who had a low opinion of Glen-that-was, he told himself.

He quickly moved to the large handicap patron's toilet stall, in the back of the bathroom. It seemed to be a more private place to look at his chest, since that stall had its own sink and mirror. Glen lifted the bottom of his shirt, his hand drifting over the scars there. He felt them slightly warmer than the surrounding skin, but their stark blue color was still flat. Just veins showing through skin. He slowly traced over the lines, seeing again how they did resemble a raptor in flight, spread over his chest.

Doc said it's tied to emotion. That's the key. Okay, so… he thought, what's making me so upset here? He closed his eyes, imagining himself standing in a large empty field, trees and boulders in the distance almost making some kind of monolithic site. He breathed in slowly, still running his hand across his Lichtenstein scars. He felt his heart beats slowing, his anxiety easing. I'm here with my family, it's just dinner after church, it's no big deal, he told himself, exhaling slowly. I'm safe.

He was so focused on examining his scars and self-meditating, that he didn't hear the door to the bathroom open, and lock. Nor did he hear the stall door open until it creaked. He snapped open his eyes and saw, in the mirror behind him, the waiter, who was openly groping himself through his loose fit trousers.

"Oh yeah, show me some skin," Giuseppe said, his accent less Italian and more Bostonian. "I missed your sweet mouth, boy." Th e waiter lifted the front of his apron, reaching for his zipper.

"Uh…" was all Glen could think to say before the man had his hands inside his pants, fishing his junk out through the fly of his tented boxers, which poked out at Glen. "I don't…"

"We don't have a lot of time, you little bitch!" the waiter said, trying to wiggle himself out. "Unless you want me telling everyone you come in here to jack it, you best get to sucking my cock. I still have the pics of you doing it on my phone." He roughly grabbed Glen's shoulder and spun him about, getting a good look for the first time at Glen's chest and the scars upon it. "Fuckin' hell! You really did get fucked up by that lightning, ya little cocksucker. Gonna look good with my jizz running down your skin this time, for sure."

"I gotta get back to my family," Glen said, lowering his shirt. He tried to walk past the now randy and rampant adult, who finally managed to pull his unit into open air. However, Giuseppe moved quickly, using his body to bar the boy's path out of the stall.

"Not yet. You can get back to Mommy and Daddy and your little brat sister after you've sucked me off. Or have you forgotten all the evidence I have of you painting the walls in here?"

"Let me go," Glen said, raising his voice slightly as the waiter put his hand on Glen's shoulder.

"Get on your knees, you fuckin' silly ass punk, and blow me!" The adult shoved Glen down hard and poked his penis right at Glen's face. "Suck it!"

Glen resisted, stood, but the man was stronger. The two struggled, but Giuseppe used a dirty fighting trick and thrust his knee into Glen's stomach. The boy bent over in pain and was pushed to his knees. Gasping, Glen felt as Giuseppe wrapped his fingers in a hank of Glen's hair.

"Now suck, pussy boy," the waiter growled, his face near Glen's ear. "And do n't you ever think you can deny me again. Suck it!"

Glen felt the man again push his penis at Glen's nose. He could smell the sweat of the waiter, the over use of cologne. He felt his own anger rising, his body warming. And a tingle rippling across his chest.

Glen opened his eyes, looking up to the man who was trying to push his penis into Glen's lips, still holding a shock of his hair so closely his scalp hurt. Anger turned to resolve, resolve that would up causing Glen to clench a fist. His eyes flashed, a brilliant blue-green light that was matched a moment later in his fist, and lingered.

Giuseppe noticed the change in Glen's eyes and backed up a step, releasing Glen's hair. Hair on Giuseppe's own head suddenly stood up, bathed in static. Glen snarled, gathering his strength. His body seemed to know exactly what to do.

"What the fuck!" The waiter exclaimed, his back coming into contact with the stall door, shutting it behind him, blocking his own escape.

Glen stood, suddenly, his fist lashing out at Giuseppe's head. The fist connected, glowing, crackling, smashing energy into the waiter's head at the same time as his knuckles connected. Glen actually jumped with the punch, putting his whole weight and strength into the uppercut. The energy blasted, crackling as it fizzled against the waiter's face, dropping him like he'd stepped on a live wire. He fell to the ground, twitching.

"Never touch me again!" Glen shouted, his hand still crackling with power, his body warm, tingling. He turned from the man on the bathroom floor, wriggling like a landed trout. He leaned heavily on the sink, his breath coming in gasps. He looked up into the mirror and the memory flooded back.

He'd been maybe 11, maybe 12. The "no reason boner" had been bothering him all through church that day. He couldn't control it. Pube rty was showing its usual horrible timing. Getting into the car had been embarrassing, having to use his Catechism book over his hip and lap area. He'd practically rushed into the bathroom at the restaurant when the family arrived. And as he'd had his pants down around his ankles, seeking at least a temporary relief from the pressure in his balls, the almost painful hardness of his young erection, he didn't know that in the next stall, someone was recording him. Videoing the entire thing from a cell phone aimed over the top of the stall.

The blackmail had been an easy thing for Giuseppe to set up. Almost as if he'd done such things before. The predatory nature of it, the power and shame held over younger Glen had done something to Glen-that-was. Hardened his spirit, darkened his soul. But it was only the tickling of something else, some other memory buried deep. Glen had been forced to performing orally for this man. Forced to masturbating for him, even placing his body on more depraved display for the waiter's desires.

And somehow, Glen grew to like part of it. More, it seemed to echo back to something earlier in his life. Something half forgotten, told to himself that it was just a bad dream. Something that "never happened," but that left its mark on Glen. The feelings roiling in him, reliving memories from that time up until his memory loss. The shame, the odd eagerness within him to do sexual things, even as it made him feel degraded. The way Giuseppe had seemed all friendly and polite to his parents, but held the video over his head, demanding that Glen do as the waiter commanded.

Glen felt suddenly very sick. He barely got his face aimed down as the donuts and punch burst back out of his mouth. His vomit spattered into the sink, an odd pink color.

He looked up into the mirror, seeing the pulsing co lor in his own eyes, the rippling tracing of sparks lighting up his scars on his chest. The pattern clearly looked like and angry bird of prey bathed in electric light, shining brightly through his shirt. And then, looking into his own eyes, seeing the weird power flowing through him, he realized something else.

He was floating almost two feet off the ground.

His eyes opened in more panic. The lightning crackle seemed to subside. His own bangs fell from the static lift they seemed to randomly gather lately. The glow in his eyes lifted, faded back to his normal green color. Slowly, Glen's feet found the floor again and he grasped the sink tightly.

Behind him, Giuseppe groaned through chattering teeth. "Whhhuutttt theeee fuckkkk," he whispered, barely able to draw in the breath to speak. Glen turned on him at once, raising his fist. The waiter cringed fearing another attack. Glen felt his anger lift, could still feel the tingle in his chest, ready to return that power to his command.

But he stayed his hand. Instead, he took pity on the wretch on the floor before him. The man was scum, to be sure, but he was clearly beaten. He had no power over Glen any more.

Except for one thing, Glen realized. He quickly went through the man's clothing, checking pockets like he'd seen police do on the television while recovering in the hospital. He found the object he was hunting. A plain iPhone with the white casing.

"Is this where you have all the images of me?" Glen asked, keeping his voice low, but enough of a growl to his voice to keep a bit of fear in the man on the floor. He could smell that the waiter had lost control of his bladder and bowels after Glen's attack.

"YYee… yyeee… hess," Giuseppe jabbered, nodding his head rapidly.

"If you ever think of touching me or any other kid again, I'll bring this to the police. Understand?"

Giuseppe could not trust himself to speak, so he simply nodded. His arm seemed to be spasming painfully, cradled against his chest.

"You will move out of town. I'll give you a month. If I see you in this restaurant or around Canterbury ever again, I'll hunt you down, show this to the police and you can choose, either face me, or go to jail as a kid toucher. And you know what they do to kid touchers in jail, don't you?"

Again, Giuseppe nodded vigorously, his eyes showing real fear now.

"If I ever hear of you touching other kids, even just friendly hand-shakes," Glen said, controlling his anger. He let a tiny portion of the electricity channel down his arm into his hand, to spark between his fingers and thumb. Giuseppe gasped at the spark, realizing that Glen had brought the sparking palm directly over the waiter's exposed, limp penis. The threat was clear, as was the puddle that Glen realized Giuseppe was laying in. The scent of urine lifted to Glen's nose. "You get me?"

"I geeegee… I geegggggee… I geaaaa… understand," he stuttered.

"Good. Then we're done here," Glen said with a finality and confidence that felt oddly natural. _Perhaps some of Glen-that-was still has some uses,_ he thought to himself. He stood, straight and as tall as he could, and straightened his shirt. The glow in his eyes and his fist and his chest all seemed to be gone. His breathing was normal, controlled, relaxed.

He walked back to the table, a little disturbed at what he'd just done. He pocketed Giuseppe's cell phone, not sure what he'd do with it, but knowing for once that he'd taken back some control over the life he had lost, and maybe even helped other boys in similar state.

"Everything okay," Mom asked, as Glen took a seat again.


"Your hair's a mess," she replied. "I have a comb in my pur se if you need one."

"I'll comb it later," Glen said running his hand through the stray sticking up strands above his eyes. "Wow! Carolynn! That looks awesome. Did you color it all yourself?"

His sister looked up at him with a hateful but curious expression. "Mommy hewped. I did this part." The little girl said, pointing towards a teddy bear in an old timey bathing costume next to the giant beach ball. She'd colored the stripes in alternating sea green and hot pink.

"I like it," he grinned to his little sister. "What else did you do?" She looked confused, but grinned a little at his modest praise, and showed him the page more. He hoped that what had happened to him with Giuseppe never had a similar event in her life. A swell of brotherly protectiveness rose in his chest. He wasn't sure where it really came from, but he got the feeling that this was part of Glen-that-is, not Glen-that-was. He realized that the two parts of him didn't need to be completely at odds.

A pretty young woman, her dark hair pulled back in a tight pony tail came up with their drink order and said that their server had suffered an accident in the kitchen and that she'd be serving them instead. Glen smiled and picked up the menu as the rest of his family ordered. He settled for a large dish of chicken linguini alfredo.

It was the best dinner he'd ever had in his short return to life.

The night after the family visit to the Roma saw a welcome change in the house. Glen and Carolynn sat on the floor of the living room, using the coffee table as a work space. Glue, construction paper, crayons, safety scissors, bare cores of toilet paper rolls and paper towel centers had gone into rather extensive use to build a castle. Carolynn led the direction of the construction, naturally. She listened to some of Glen's suggestions and tog ether they worked on the massive sprawling structure. In the end, it was enormous; an old deck of cards coopted to serve as the guards manning the parapets. A few careful snips and folds allowed the cards to stand up in parade rows, walking patrol routes and manning the battlements. A card garrison for a paper fortress. Alice would be impressed. The castle towered nearly three feet over the coffee table.

Chase observed all with the cool disdain of someone who had no idea what was going on, but didn't have enough interest in the activity to give it any attention. He lay by the front door, patiently. And with intent.

When Dad came through to tell Carolynn it was time for bed, he paused, looking on his family. His wife lay on the couch, her book held to the side from time to time as she watched her children playing together. Something that Dad knew he and she had not seen in a long time. A very long time. The changes that seemed to be Glen's new pattern pleased him. He sort of missed the scrappier Glen, but…

He leaned against the entryway, watching the scene before him and had to consider what had changed in Glen. He was less aggressive than before. Less self-centered. Less… angry, Dad realized. Less of a, well, a jerk, he realized. And how he was now making an effort to be nice to Carolynn. Before, he'd treated her like she was a drag on his life. As if his little sister was being a pain in his whole existence. Dad knew that prior to the lightning strike Glen had been mean, intentionally cruel, even, to her.

And yet now, here were his two children, playing politely, working together, creating a childhood masterpiece. He never thought he'd see such a connection between them again. Dad moved back and drew his cell phone out of his pocket, snapping a silent picture of his family. As he tucked the phone back i nto his pocket, he caught his wife looking up at him, clearly enchanted by the peace and domestic tranquility going on before her. And then she grinned at him, the secret grin. One only a wife gives and that only a husband fully understands.

"Bed time, my girl," Dad said. Carolynn pouted, clearly also enjoying being the center of Glen's attention.

"But we just finished," she whined. "Five mower minutes, Daddy? Pwease?"

"It will still be here tomorrow. Say goodnight to Mommy and Glen."

Carolynn, much put out by the inconvenience of a bed time, got to her feet with much drama. She shuffled to her mother and whispered "goodnight," getting a hug and a quick smoocher. She turned to her brother, who was gathering the left over bits of materials not used in their creation. His back was to her, unaware. She rushed forward and clamped herself to his waist, laying her head against his ribs.

Glen was caught unawares and was startled for a moment. Then he realized it was Carolynn's arms wrapped around his narrow waist. He had tensed a moment and closed his eyes, exhaling slowly to relax. He had felt a surge of energy in his scars, but with that simple breathing exercise he quieted it, eased the energy back to a resting state.

Tenderly, Glen lay his hand on his little sister's head. * So small ,* he thought to himself as his fingers curled behind her ear.

"Thank you for helping me," she whispered, low enough that only Glen could hear. Without the usual lisp, he noticed.

"You're welcome," Glen replied, honestly. For a moment the siblings stood like that, just enjoying each other's company. Then Carolynn yawned, hugely and pried herself from Glen's side and walked towards her father, arms out for a pick up. Glen watched as his father lifted the little girl and cradled her against his shoulder before walking towards the stairs. It was then that Glen noticed two important things. First, Chase seemed to be perked up, even as he lay before the front door, his head canted to one side in a universal sign of doggy confusion. The second thing was that Carolynn's hair seemed to be sticking straight up in places, statically charged.

"I think someone wants your attention tonight as well," Mom said, poking a leftover playing card from the castle guard into her book, marking her place. "Feeling up to giving Chase a dubbya-aye-ell-kay?" she asked, trying not to excite the dog with the "w-word" spoken aloud. It was clear, however, that this particular old dog knew that old trick. His tail began thumping between the front door and the hard wood floor with a sudden and steady rapidity. "I'll clean up here if you take him out."

"Deal," Glen said, somehow feeling that was the right thing to say. It felt natural. "How about it, Chasey? Wanna go for a walk boy?" the dog's tail thumping increased, and he licked his own muzzle. *Could it really be? After all this time? Walkies?!* Chase's face seemed to say. "Wah-alk?!" Glen intoned. Chase sat up, his face open, tail a ceaseless weapon of mass destruction. "Where's the leash?" Glen said, looking to his mother. The canine thought it was directed at him, however, and he got up, trotted to the small wicker basket of dog toys and scampered back to Glen's side, leash in tow.

"Ah, wise guy, I see," Glen spoke, kneeling to attach the leash to the fluffy dog's collar. "How's that feel?"

Chase licked at Glen's face and hands, impatient. There was walking to do! But Glen suddenly realized something sort of important.

"Uh, Mom?"


"What if I don't remember how to get home?" He stood beside his dog, his eyes cast down in shame.

"Chase knows where he's going. He can get you back home. Besi des, you do have your cell phone. You can always call the house if you get lost. We'll come find you."

"Oh. That makes sense," Glen said, feeling dumb.

"We'll always come when you need us, Glen. That's what families do."

A weird feeling swept through the boy. A warmth, a quiver, a solid feeling that this was right, that this was where he had always belonged, and that for some reason, he had forgotten. He stepped to his mother's side and leaned against her. They embraced for a moment, mother barely able to rest her cheek on her son's crown, Chase walked up beside them.

"I know I was a real butt-head before. I can see it in how everyone talks to me, looks at me. I can't say I wont be a butt-head again, but I'm trying not to be. Thank you for staying by me."

"Anytime," she said, squeezing him tighter. Beside them, Chase whined. "I think someone has been promised something he hasn't had in a long time. Just don't let him get tangled in Mrs. Anderson's rose bushes again. That woman will scream my ears off about dog piss ruining her prize American Beauties 'til the cows come home."

"Is that a long time?"

"However long it is, she's likely going to be your English teacher when school starts, so be nice."

"Yes ma'am," Glen said, stepping back from his mother. He turned to Chase and with a "let's go" they were off. Once through the front door, the dog decided to push the limits of his freedom, leaping down the steps like a young pup chasing squirrels around the elm tree. Glen felt himself pulled slightly off balance as the Great Pyrenese surged against the leash. They moved sporadically down the street, led by the dog's ever twitching nose. Glen, laughing, struggled to keep up with the dog's lurching gait.

Dog and boy walked on, the boy mostly dragged happily behind the dog, and passed by a well-groo med yard, heading up a slight rise. The yard was a riot of tiny statuary. Gnomes, birds, a rainbow painted ceramic turtle with an actual live butterfly on its back. A tiny cartoon horse, a kitten with it's thick, stubby tail lifted high over its back while it was in smiling pounce mode. The sorts of front yard decorations one might be ashamed to admit were on their eccentric aunt's front lawn.

From that menagerie of brightly painted artifacts, a meeting was taking place.

Unicorn stepped forward, his body colored a ridiculous metallic fuchsia color. The statue he animated was spattered in places with water droplets from the automatic sprinkler system. The greater spirit shook its mane, spraying other statues nearby as they too "woke" to continue their conversation.

Near Unicorn, a leafy patch moved near the flowerbeds, letting three other small figures walk forth: an elegant eagle who waddled regally, a gnome with a tall, pointy hat and gray beard equally pointy, and a slinky black cat who stretched and arched before striding forwards with tail held high. The assembled party gathered near a bird bath to the left side of the walkway to the house. Other small spirits began moving about on the overly manicured and meticulously arranged front lawn. In the languid orange light of the New England dusk, several small birds fluttered down to the bird bath to refresh themselves before the meeting, then hopped down in a flash of feathers. The gathered spirit creatures assembled, standing, sitting and otherwise reclining in a loose circle.

"Brother, why must we meet like this," the turtle asked, a slight whine to his voice.

"Is it not fun to play, oh, what do the human's call it?" Unicorn said, his fuchsia skin fluttering.

"Dress up," the gnome replied, darkly, regarding the farmer's overalls he had painted on hi s current form. "They call it dress up."

"Yes! That's it!" Unicorn replied and nodded to the gnome. "Thank you, Grandfather."

In typical fashion, Grandfather Thunder sat on Turtle's back, shooing away the lazy butterfly. "Turtle brings up a valid point. Why must we do this? We have other ways to hide. Not as if the mortals have the senses to discern us anyways. This playing around seems unseemly."

"From time to time, even such as we must remember that while we possess power and have station over the other beings in our realm, we too were once as they were," Unicorn pointed out, pawing at the ground gently. "Besides, some of us are out of practice."

"I find the matter entirely beneath concern," the cat spoke, licking its forepaw. "We have bigger matters, yes?"

"In-deed," Thunder said, apparently annoyed with his pointy hat. "As to this mortal, much hope is placed. And much granted. We have seen glimmers of hope that he can contain and control the power that Thunderbird has placed within him. I for one, am still skeptical."

Turtle spoke up, his voice sounding hoarse and wheezy, like eons of experience given form and timbre. "The boy is young still, and recently recovered from grievous injuries, both of the body and the soul. He is repairing both with astonishing speed."

"Speed isn't everything," the Cat said. "We are keeping our eyes on him."

"That was the past where he savagely injured your children, Greymalkin. I'm sure the boy he is now would be appalled at the cruelties inflicted upon free cats in this city by his former self."

"You give him too much credit, Unicorn," the Cat-spirit, Greymalkin, said. "Humans once revered my children as the divine beings they are. Now they perform heinous acts of violence and whimsy, delighting in playing with things less powerful than themselves."

"Without defending these mortals too much," Grandfather Thunder spoke up, "those are also traits of your children."

The Cat politely looked away, disinterested in Thunder's truth. "We still are wary of him. We will likely have to choose a champion of our own soon. One with more respect and courage in his heart."

Ancient Turtle seemed to shrug his shoulders. "I have the feeling if Unicorn and Thunderbird's little experiments here bear fruit, that many of us will look to such means as well."

"We shall see," Unicorn said. "Watch, siblings. Something is about to happen here."

"You have arranged something?" Thunder asked, his curiosity piqued.

"Not arranged, merely observed other events that have led to this close confluence about to happen." Unicorn glanced down briefly, as if in some shame. "Although those I do sponsor are involved, I have given no warning or instruction. This is them and this boy, acting on their own. With Thunderbird's approval as well."

"And where is brother Thunderbird?" Turtle asked.

"Watching from far above. He too predicted an event soon and he has been keeping himself distant so as to not influence the flow of events."

"A wise move on his part," Thunder nodded sagely. "We gift them, but it is how they use that gift that matters most. Not in them being told what they must do. When He arrives, we will need those that can act as the situation requires, not mindless drones that await orders to do what is necessary."

"He is definitely coming here, then?" Turtle asked, pulling his head slightly back into his shell.

"There is no doubt. He will return, and we must be ready to repel him, and his many minions. Else all will be lost."

Glen was reintroduced to just about every tree, fire hydrant, mail box, telephone pole and street sign in his neighborhood, following behind Chase's mobile nose. The dog made it a point to sniff at any standing object Glen let himself get dragged near, and then add to the scents laid there in the traditional, time honored canine fashion.

"You sure pee a lot," Glen observed, as Chase hiked his leg up to douse the base of an ancient elm whose roots had buckled and heaved the sidewalk into a fragmented mess of weather-worn jagged concrete wedges. Chase simply turned his head to the boy as if to say "it's your fault. Take me out more and I'll need to mark our territory less, since you're not helping any."

They followed Chase's nose up and down streets, over the hills that seemed to define the town. Glen took the time to memorize street names, planting his impressions of the neighborhood in his mind. He paid particular attention to where the homes and yards looked better cared for, how traffic flowed, the names of businesses and other landmarks. His memory might be full of holes, but he wasn't going to let that be a reason to not explore. He knew that his brain must know all the things he was relearning about his home. Perhaps now he could get some new perspective on it.

Crossing a busy intersection, Glen found himself glancing down the road to his right. The trees, in typical New England fashion, interlaced over the broad roadway, creating a canopy of shadow and whisper in the gathering evening gloom. A virtual elevated highway for squirrels, birds and the occasional racoon. It felt natural. Proper. Normal. The long filtering rays of the setting sun behind gave an eerie yet passive calm to the scene. It felt familiar. Tranquil. Almost fuzzy.

Chase bolted Glen back to the task at hand. Glen hadn't realized he'd paused in the middle of the road, his sneakers literally parked beside each other on the double yellow lines that divided the traffic lanes. Other scents called to the dog and he need ed to investigate. There was soo much to pee on, and sooo little pee left for today, after all.

They traveled on for another two blocks, passing other dog walkers and their insistent masters. Glen was proud that Chase would greet the other dogs in a friendly, non-confrontational way. A quick sniff, some tail wags, no aggressiveness, even when the others dogs occasionally would get their dander up. Glen quickly realized that Chase just wasn't a bad dog, and other dogs seemed to get that as well. Even one cat they ran across while hiking through the neighborhood seemed unafraid and actually sort of friendly towards the big goofy Great Pyrenese.

Eventually, they wandered into a less clean, less well maintained area. It wasn't shabby, by any means. But the houses had changed from single family homes with yards to multiple family buildings with more cars parked in the streets. Kids were out in the waning sun, still playing kickball in the street, a flattened pizza box marking home plate and a prominently depressed manhole cover in the street serving as second base. Glen noticed that the place was well lit, but the lack of grass in front of the tenement homes did make him realize that his family were lucky to live where they did, with their own yard.

As he came to the next intersection, he noticed that Main Street curved off to the left and was joined from the right by Marsh Avenue. His mind quickly found a bit of a conversation a few days before, where Glen's mom seemed amazed that Peter had crossed Marsh Avenue on his bike during the daytime. Glen immediately saw why. The road was steeply curved as it came down a hill, joining Main Street at an angle. As Glen stood on the corner watching, three cars came by from the uphill side of Marsh Avenue and barreled down the street, barely pausing at the yield sign at Main before merging with the bigger roadway, moving at high speed. One car left Main to pitch onto Marsh, tires squealing as it rounded the curve and surged up the hill.

"Whoa," Glen breathed out. "If Peter lives up here," he said aloud, but didn't complete the thought. Chase seemed to be hesitant to cross the street as well, so Glen decided it was time to turn right and explore the next block before turning homewards. Chase agreed with this course change and his tail lazily wagged as they followed the incline up Marsh Avenue. He passed a corner store where the girl at the register seemed to be dividing her attention between her iPhone and the radio, but not much else. He got the feeling that Glen-that-was might have known her name, but something about her made him feel uneasy. Perhaps Glen-that-was had been a jerk to her and he was feeling the shame of that.

But it did remind him of something. He reached his free hand back to his pocket and produced Giuseppe's phone. After the meal and the fun he'd had playing castle with his little sister, he'd forgotten he had the thing. Simply drawing it out had reminded him of what was on it. His cheeks flushed at the thought, and he hoped that in the gathering darkness, no one had seen his blush of shame.

His finger found the button at the bottom and he triggered the phone to open. Seemed Giuseppe wasn't much for securing his phone. Glen felt a slight wiggle in the device as he activated it. Almost as if it wanted to open for him. The boy filed that away for another time though. Out here in the empty, twilight shrouded streets wasn't the place to contemplate the strange feels. But it did give him a strange sense of purpose and security going through the child molester's cell phone someplace other than his home. Exactly why, he couldn't say.

Glen easily found the l ist of phone contacts, most of whom he didn't know. Some were classed as family, others as friends. Oddly enough, Glen found his own cell phone number in a group marked "Work" in the listing. Not only the cell number but also what appeared to be a list of Glen's many social media accounts. There were so many, Glen wondered how anyone could manage so much and still have time to do anything else in life. For a moment, his mind flashed back to the girl in the corner store, how she seemed entranced by what was going on in the tiny screen in her hand. Sadly, he realized that was probably something that Glen-that-was probably did a lot, too.

Glen noticed that the "Work" group had a lot of names in it. Two of which he immediately recognized. One was Jason his former friend who now apparently was with his former girlfriend. Glen still had no feelings about that. He was sure it might hit him one day, but at the present, he still felt sort of empty and hollow about it. It was more the understanding that they'd both betrayed him, that it had almost been a transactional thing. No, more he realized, it was that they thought he was stupid enough to just go on as if nothing ever happened, despite knowing that even if he and Jill were still together, she'd already abandoned any attachments to Glen. And that they'd both so easily ditched him. Not much love where there's not much loyalty, Glen realized.

He shook his head, as if to clear the fog of that event from his mind. In all honesty, he didn't remember them enough to get mad about the situation. He didn't think that Glen-that-was had been the best of friends, to boys or girls. "The selfish don't make good partners," he spoke silently as his eyes wandered from the phone screen to the dog. Chase was paying particular attention to the wheel of a car parked under a lamp po st. "Guess you know that, huh boy?" The dog looked up at Glen, licked his chops, gave a canine grin and went back to investigating the subtle scents plastered to that Civic's tire.

The other name he recognized was Peter's. Somehow, just seeing Peter and Jason's last names in the contact list seemed to make a connection in Glen's scrambled memories. Like the words found resonance with images and feelings in his mind's long, winding corridors, but the memories of those resonances were still behind thick oak doors, locked tight from the inside, and no key currently in Glen's possession could work the lock loose.

Glen took a deep breath and searched deeper into the phone, opening the videos section. The phone was loaded with a massive amount of such files. Apparently the previous owner wasn't very tech savvy. Glen got the feeling that the phone was a means to an ends, and probably also a status symbol for the pedophile waiter. The boy felt a little uneasy about what he might see on there, especially seeing how it pertained to his own past.

Glen looked through the list of files for a moment, partly amazed at how many there were, and partly disgusted at the titles and thumbnails of the videos. A few bore names that flickered at the edge of his clouded memory. Jason's name appeared almost as many times as Glen's did. Since they were once best friends, perhaps they had been to the Roma together a lot. When the incident at the beach happened, their families had been there together, so why not closer to home. The Roma seemed to be an after church tradition as well, so seeing that Jason's family and Glen's family attended the same church, it just made sense.

His finger hovered over a list of videos bearing his own name. There were more of them than he imagined. A lot more. Each one separated by exactly a week. A su btle surge passed through Glen, shaking the skin under his shirt a little. He felt certain it wasn't the cooling summertime air. Closing his eyes, releasing his breath through pursed lips, he pressed down on the smartphone's touch screen, activating the third video on the list.

Almost instantly he jumped at the sound and he had to fumble around to figure where the sound controls were. He managed to find the slider, pressing the bottom of the phone against his body to help absorb some of the loudness. When he had it down to where he felt only he could hear, he glanced around to see if anyone reacted. The street was mostly empty around him. Only Chase seemed to be moving nearby, and the dog was busily sniffing about the base of a hawthorn bush, clearly not interested in anything else.

Glen pulled the phone out far enough away from his body to look at what the screen showed. The video was only about two and a half minutes in length, barely 20 seconds into the events, when Glen looked down. His eyes widened and noticeably shifted from their normal green to a more aquamarine color, giving off a slight amount of inner light to rival the screen's crystal clear backlit image.

The image before him shocked Glen so that he dropped the leash, his hand going to his mouth in embarrassment and horror. On the screen, a younger version of himself was sitting on the back of the toilet in the Roma's bathroom. Minus clothing. The only thing that Young Glen wore was a red, white and blue woven-band bracelet, and a Boston Bruins cap. Young Glen's face was twisted with worry and confusion as he sat, semi-hunched over, bare as the day he was born. Young Glen's belly button stood out; he was a little chubbier than Glen now, and his young erection was lifted towards it, but just barely visible in the weird lighting of the bathroom stall.

"Lift your right foot up, bitch," Giuseppe's voice commanded. Young Glen faltered for a moment, causing Giuseppe to threaten him. "Pick it up, fag! I want to see your foot."

Reluctantly, Young Glen lifted his foot up, pointing it towards the camera. He had to put both hands back on the tank to keep his balance. As the foot came up, Glen's body opened to the light more, showing his young boner, his bare pubis and the mounds of his buttocks.

"Yeah, that's the shit. Twist it around," Giuseppe commanded. Young Glen twisted his foot around, getting the heal of his foot into the image area. His toes swiveled around, displaying the flat top of his foot, the inner protrusion of his ankle, back to the curved inner sole surface and back around, pointing his toes. "Do the thing," Giuseppe ordered, softly. The camera wiggled a little.

"You said you wouldn't do that this time," Young Glen whined.

"Just do as you're told! Now do the thing!" the waiter hissed. Glen watched as his younger self flexed the toes of his extended foot and then spread them wide. For some reason, he felt simultaneously sick at what he was seeing and, oddly, a rise in his pants. Glen watched as the man behind the camera moved closer, the camera lens picking up details along the sides, top and bottom of Young Glen's feet. And then the man reached out to caress Young Glen's foot, sliding over the small appendage, as far up as Glen's knee and calf muscle.

On the screen, Young Glen seemed to be getting frustrated and confused by the man's advances. He wasn't happy about it, clearly. "Jerk your shit!" Giuseppe whispered, harshly.

"You said you weren't gonna do this," Young Glen protested, and he started to pull his leg away from the waiter. But the adult wasn't feeling generous, it seemed. He reached forward and pulled harshly on Young G len's leg, pulling it up so that the camera advanced past Glen's knee, more of his body being shown off, but the movement of the camera preventing any details from being promoted. Glen had to lean back against the bathroom wall as he was grabbed.

"You stay still, you little cock sucker!" Giuseppe whispered, leaning in. "Jack your shit!" the adult ordered again, the camera moving rhythmically. It panned down for a moment, showing the adult masturbating furiously, the child's body exposed, spread legs tensing. Young Glen clearly was unable to get away from the man's grasp, but he was also clearly not happy with anything happening.

Glen tapped out of the video, closing the phone all the way down. He felt bile rising in his throat and barely managed to choke it back. Beside him, Chase seemed to notice the change in Glen's demeanor and he sat, leaning his head on Glen's knee. Rage, confusion, dozens of dark, sad and embarrassing emotions swirled in Glen's mind at what he had seen. He knew already that Giuseppe had abused Glen-that-was for years. But seeing it, realizing that what he saw was just the tip of a whole flotilla of icebergs that the man had done, and done to Glen and his friends, no less, it was startling.

As was his body's reaction to seeing the videos of his younger self. There was shame, sympathy for the plight of younger Glen, but also, oddly, he felt himself aroused as well. His unit hadn't lifted in preparation for direct stimulation, but the idea of being filmed, even by this abuser, the idea of doing sexual things with someone else had gotten a brief reaction from him that felt oddly favorable. He felt disgusted that the acts portrayed in those images treated Glen-that-was so poorly, like a thing for someone else's dark desires to play with. But part of him still longed for that attention, crav ed that touch.

He shook his head and wiped some tears from his eyes, realizing that while it was Glen-that-was that had done those things, part of Glen-that-is felt an interest in such things, even if the thought of that man ever touching him, or any kid, ever again sent his mind down dark paths of malice and revenge.

Still, he wondered, how much of what he'd seen was something that he wanted, just didn't want images of. Or didn't want that particular partner when he did such things. In fact, Glen felt certain the latter held the most truth.

A crashing sound drew Glen's attention. Well, Glen's and Chase's. The dog planted his feet, tail going out straight, head dropping low as he growled. The street was empty of traffic, yet the sound of something big moving on the pavement was undeniable. A shape moved through the trees, briefly obscuring street lamps. Glen felt a tingling across his chest, the scars seeming to pick up on his mood and grew warmer.

The air seemed to grow colder, a strong wind lifting from down the street. Glen seemed to be seeing things differently in that moment. A faint glimmer of light, almost like a sheen of polish, flickered over some things. Mostly metal things, or objects that had direct links to city power, like lamp posts and the high wires bearing electricity into homes. He didn't focus on that perceptual change long, however, as the source of the sound came around the corner building and raced up Marsh Avenue, in pursuit of someone Glen knew.

Peter practically flew around the corner, standing over the handlebars of his bike as he dug deep into the pedals, taking a steep lean into the turn. Glen watched as the back tire banked off the casing stone of the curb and sort of hopped back as Peter struggled to get as much speed out of his machine as possible. The look on Peter's face was a mixture or terror and effort as his lungs strained for air.

And then the thing chasing Peter came into view as well. It was enormous, seemingly composed of shifting shadows. Indistinct, but large, the creature ran behind Peter awkwardly, on four legs, with a ferocity and wildness Glen had seen before but couldn't remember where he'd seen it, or in what context. No matter, the thing was angry, enraged even, and it bellowed with an unearthly ferocity. The rippling nature of its body made it difficult to figure out what exactly it was. All that could be said for certain was "big, pissed off, and fast."

"Peter! This way!" Glen yelled, releasing Chase's leash. Peter glanced around, as if he hadn't recognized Glen until that moment. The dark haired boy pedaled towards Glen furiously, the big dog by Glen's side moving to the side. Glen stepped into the darkened street, the glow under his shirt flickering faster, growing in intensity. His eyes flashed brilliantly.

The shadowy thing surged towards Peter, an inky limb thrusting forward, barely missing the back of Peter's bike. The thick appendage slammed so hard in trying to smash Peter that it left a significant dent in the pavement, buckling the road surface several inches deep, nearly a yard wide. Peter pedaled as quickly as he could, barely in control of the bike.

Glen waved his hands, shouting to get the beast's attention. That was about when Glen noticed that his hands were crackling with lines of arcing light, blue tinged dancing streamers of white electricity, snapping and popping loudly. Chase ducked behind Glen's legs as Peter's bike hurtled by, slamming into the granite cased curb. The dark haired boy pitched over the front of his bike and collapsed onto a thin patch of lawn between the sidewalk and a chain link fence. The dog went immediately to Peter's side, sniffing expectantly.

Glen found himself staring at the glows chasing around his hands, then looked up as the beast came his way. It was enormous, hunched over, roughly bear shaped, but all other resemblances to local bears vanished. In the crackling dance of Glen's energy bound fists, he could make out few details, other than the thing seemed to be writhing in its own skin, as if the surface of whatever it was wasn't one thing, but many, many things, almost working as one. Glen got the feeling he was looking at hundreds of serpents, pretending to be a bear-like beast. Its three red eyes glowed with a chemical sort of luminosity, not really bright, but certainly charged with dark emotions.

And it looked like there were several long shafts sticking out of the creature's back and neck. Slender, almost clear in some cases, but all bearing the unmistakable fletching of arrows. Glen had no idea what that meant. All he did know for certain was that the thing was still in front of him, it was chasing Peter, and now he himself was glowing in the street.

The bear thing paused, rearing up on what passed for its hind legs. It stood nearly 20 feet, dominating the street. The rippling light from Glen's hands and eyes showed the shifting nature of the thing's flesh. It roared, taking a step towards Glen. The stench of its breath was a powerful, physical thing, reminding Glen at once of rotting vegetation. The creature was less than forty feet away, but as it took its next step, it leaned forward and went to all fours, cutting the distance almost in half.

Behind Glen, and to the side of the road, Chase had turned to bark at the thing, defending Peter, who had begun gathering his wits after the crash. The bear-thing rushed onwards. Glen felt his fear, felt the power of this creature rushing to kill him, felt the trembl ing in his own chest, the tickle of his scars as they glowed, the pulse of energy in his fists, still flickering around them as if seeking release.

"The key to this is your emotions," Doc had said. "That's where you'll find your control."

He gathered it all in. His revulsion at Giuseppe. His fear from this rushing creature of nightmares. His worry about Chase and Peter. His sense of right and wrong about his family. The sense of compassion and empathy he felt for Jason and the other names on that list, realizing they'd been victims too. That little giggle his sister gave him when they had been playing castle earlier and how she smiled. All of these emotions, churned in him and he found he could hold onto them. Like the feelings were physical things, alive almost.

And in that moment, he knew he could control and power these things. Direct them, release them, make them dance about to any tune his mind could want.

And just that moment, he wanted nothing more than for this demon-bear thing to go away.

Glen pushed both hands toward the bear and felt his body tingle. He felt lighter than air, yet more solid than granite blocks. He pushed his hands outward and pushed with his mind as well, with his head and heart and spirit and soul.

Lightning dashed from his hands, spreading and forking, but mostly arcing out at the onrushing bear thing. The bear howled in agony as the blast ripped into him. Glen kept his hands pushed at the bear, keeping the tendrils of electric force rushing from his body. He could feel the scars on his chest warm and flare with light as he kept pushing the energy at the bear. The creature flipped over backwards as thousands of Joules of electricity spiked into its body, burning, blasting, frying it.

Glen let up his assault to look at the creature. His hands still pulsed with electric light, glowin g and steaming by his hips. The glowing bird shape on his chest clearly showing, bright enough to be seen even through the dark material of his shirt.

Near the center of the street, the bear thing was still. Its body still had the "mass of serpents" writhing appearance, but the beast lay on its side, unmoving. The glowing triangle of eye spots were thinned to narrow ovals, barely more than fading red lines converging near the center of what passed for the creature's head.

Glen crept up on the blasted and smoking mass of shadows, his hands still holding some of the electric energy he felt flowing throughout his body. He moved cautiously, each step taken as though at great risk. He inhaled sharply as the creature shuddered, its body sagging more to earth as a last gasp of air escaped it. Then, with a slithering motion, the shadowy tendrils that made up the thing seemed to peel away, evaporating as if smoke as they un-joined from the massive bear-beast. In moments, they were all gone, faded into the very stuff of night.

The glowing boy relaxed. He unclenched his fists and let the tension ease away. He could still feel the power inside him, feel its warm and cold tickle under his skin and still pulsing in the Lichtenberg scars on his chest, but it was fading now as well. Waiting for his next call.

"Glen?" Peter said from the curbside where he lay, knees up, supported by his palms behind him. Glen turned and ran to his friend, his eyes passing over the ruined front wheel of Peter's bicycle. Chase sat beside Peter, his tail thumping as Glen approached, but the dog whined nervously as well.

"You okay?" Glen asked, kneeling beside his friend.

"Just some bangs and bruises. Nothing too much to worry about."

"What was that thing?" the boys asked as one. They both nervously giggled at the coincidence, but Glen realized his eyes were still glowing that soft aquamarine color. Pale blue-green light washed over Peter's face, and Glen knew it could only be from his own eyes.

"Seriously, what happened?" Glen asked, trying to focus and reduce the glowing.

"I don't know. I was coming home from the bike shop, took a moment to look at the rebuild of the Y over on Winter Street, noticed it was getting dark, so I started up this way, zig zagging through the avenues." Glen knew what Peter meant about the back and forth course through the avenues. That section of town was mostly houses, but it involved some pretty steep hills. A few areas were open fields, places where grand old Victorian homes had once stood, but were vacant lots now. It was an easy way to deal with some of the steeper hills between the area around the Y and the Highlands section of town where Glen lived, and that Peter had to cut through to get to his own home.

"Somewhere in the teens, I guess near that big empty field between Franklin Street and 12th Avenue, I hear a noise. I thought it was some people talking and then there was a lot of growling. I looked around and…" Peter gestured wildly. "And then that thing was just there, like I saw it blocking a streetlamp. Had to have been over 20 feet tall!"

"It was big alright," Glen deadpanned. "Wonder what it was."

"Yeah. Hope there's no more of them." Glen stood and offered Peter a hand up. Peter looked at the hand for a moment. Their eyes met. "You shot lightning," Peter said, stating the obvious.

Glen retracted his hand, looking at both of his palms. "I know. I think…" he looked away, back towards the smoking patch on the road where the demon-bear had evaporated. "I think when I got struck at the beach… Pete, I think it changed me. I mean, I know it screwed up my memories. And it left the scars on my chest. I think, somehow, " he paused searching for words.

"It choose you?"

"Idunno if that's the right word, but it's like something woke up inside me. Something that was always there, but like, no one knows about. I know I'm not going crazy." Peter tilted his head at that. "Okay," Glen admitted. "Not crazier, at least. But you've seen what I can do now."

"Like at the pool party," Peter nodded. "You jumped that pool deck like you were flying. And no one else might have seen it, but I saw the electricity jump from your hand to Jamie's chest."

"And in the hospital." Glen closed his fists tightly, holding them closer to his chest. "Maybe I am dangerous now?" he said sadly. Chase whined sympathetically, licking his chops.

"You saved Jamie," Peter pointed out. "And you used this gift to protect me."


"I know your family are all Catholics, but my grand-parents on my mom's side, they still believed in the old ways. You know, tribal stuff. Old Pawtucket medicine man kinda things, I guess you'd call it."

"That's kinda cool."

"Well, gramps would say that what you have is a gift. A special thing given by the spirits."


"Nature has many secrets, the kind of things that people today have forgotten. In the old days, my ancestors looked to the spirits to guide them, just like you Catholics have the saints and bible and such to help you understand Jesus and God."

"Do you believe this?"

"Glen, I just watched you cut down a demon with lightning from your bare hands. I've seen your eyes glow. I saw you do like paramedic stuff with your bare hands and start a kid breathing again after he drowned. Normal folks don't do that. And it's awesome. You bet I believe it!"

"Do… do you think I'm dangerous?"

"Yes," Peter responded, guardedly. Glen's face twitched nervously at that. "But I also think you're good. You have this gift for a reason."

"A reason," Glen muttered. He reached into his pocket and pulled out Giuseppe's cell phone. He held it up so that Peter could see it. The dark haired boy gasped in recognition. "You know what this is?"

"We both do," Peter said, his voice hushed in shame.

"Then you should know, he'll never bother us again. I confronted him in the bathroom of the Roma. Well, he busted into the bathroom stall I was in and then I confronted him." Glen told Peter the story, of how he used his powers to fight off the adult, of his commands to the pedophile waiter and how he'd been contemplating what to do with the phone when the fight with the beast happened.

"I mean, if I bring this to the cops, then they will come looking for each of us. We'll have to answer questions and maybe go to court," Glen reasoned. "I don't know how stuff like this happens, but if all the police dramas on TV have it right, then we're looking at maybe months or years of dealing with this."

"Yeah. That could screw up a lot of people's lives," Peter spoke, his own face cast in shadows didn't show his blush of embarrassment. "But if Giuseppe just walks, goes free, who's to say he wont just do it again in some other town, with some other kids?"

"I thought about that. I sorta," Glen began and then realized he was standing and talking a little louder than he wanted to about this subject in such a public place. He sat beside Peter, crisscross applesauce, setting the phone down on the grass between himself and Peter. Chase decided that since his human was there, and a lap available, he'd take it over.

"I sorta looked at one of the videos." Beside him in the dark, Peter seemed to stiffen, as if expecting a physical attack. "It was one of mine," Glen said, realizing now that while he hadn't been a willing participant in most of those videos, he did have to take ownership of the fact that he did make them. They were part of his history, clouded as that history was. Which, in a way, meant that he had in his possession parts of the memories of Giuseppe's victims. An odd sort of thing for someone dealing with his own memory loss to have.

"Oh," Peter said, quietly. "A bad one?"

"I have the feeling that they got worse as time went on. I couldn't watch it all."

"Was he… was he harsh with you?" Peter asked, a tremble coming to the other boy's voice.

"I don't think he was ever nice to any of us. I only looked at that one, so I don't know what all he did with other boys, or how he was with them. Part of me doesn't want to know."


"Because, that's sort of private. And because I don't know if I want to actually remember things he did to me. Or anyone else."

"Because it's gay?" Peter asked. Chase whined as he sprawled across Glen's lap. The big dog shifted slightly so he could lay his muzzle on Peter's knee. Peter absently stroked his long slender fingers through Chase's head fur, giving the big dog special attention at the tips of his ears.

"That part doesn't bother me," Glen said, leaning back on his palms. "I guess there are some parts of memory loss that can be a good thing. If I don't remember how he abused me, screwed with my head, made me do sex things that I didn't want to do with him, then I guess I can't be hurt by them."

"But," Peter began, taking a moment to wipe a tear away from his own eye, "other people can still be hurt by what's on that phone. Like, their memories of that stuff, the guilt. I mean, what if it got out that about half the boys in school were treated like that, did those things."

"I dunno if it's that many kids on there, but there are a lot." Both boys sort of looked away from each other at that. Peter shifted his legs about, uncomfortably.

"Still. Point is, what you have there is power."

"Huh?" Glen replied, confused.

"The stuff on there could be embarrassing, even damaging to a lot of kids. And we both know… well, I know, and you can probably guess, that the stuff he made us do…" Peter shuddered, as if reliving the memories himself. Glen felt bad about bringing this up, forcing his only friend to go through it again. "If the cops ever got that, and looked at all the stuff on there, Giuseppe would be going away for a long, long time. And a bunch of kids would have to answer questions they maybe don't want to."

"Yeah," Glen agreed. "I'm not gonna ask what he did to you in these, Pete," Glen said, quietly but firmly. "I don't remember what he did to me. And I don't want to go through this phone and find out. That would be kinda creepy."

"Yeah," Peter nodded.

"But if you need to talk about it, you know, someplace more private than a sidewalk?" Glen said, trying to force a grin. "You can talk to me."

"Glen…" Peter began, haltingly. "Giuseppe may be gone, but this thing," he said, pointing to the cell phone, "this thing is power. It has some of the dirtiest secrets about most of the popular boys at school. It has secrets that could get Giuseppe, and anyone he shared videos with, into a lot of trouble. It could also be used to lock up a lot of really bad people who are doing things like this to kids. Forcing someone to do sex stuff isn't cool. Adults forcing kids to do sex stuff is really not cool. You have in that one phone the power over many people's lives."

Glen looked down at the phone, then back up to Peter. "So, what should we do?"

"I don't know," Peter said, sniffing back tears. "I don't want people to know what I did, or how much I liked some of it," he sighed.

"I get the feeling that I liked some of it too, just not the parts where he was touching me, pushing m e around," Glen admitted. "It was sort of a turn on to see myself doing things. But it was icky, too, knowing that this guy was treating me like crap. And, thinking about it now, the idea that just anyone could see it, that kinda freaks me a bit, too. I mean, it's not like just guys in the shower at gym and someone pops a bone, I guess. That probably happens a lot."

"It does," Peter replied, sniffing again.

"But, idunno, just something about that seems like it should be more private if you want it to be. I guess some people like being seen."


"I just… agh! It's not easy figuring this stuff out."

"Never is," Peter said. "Least we're in the same boat on this. I don't know what to do. Sounds like we both kinda feel the same about what's on there," he said, nodding towards the phone. "Need to think about it some more."

"Yup," Glen said, brushing his hand over Chase's neck and shoulders.

"And Glen?"


"You can talk to me about this stuff anytime too. I don't have anyone else to tell about, you know. So I'm a safe person for secret keeper."

"Wormtail…"Glen said, softly.

"What?" Peter asked, confusion twisting his features.

"I just remembered something."

"Really?" Peter smiled.

"I think it was from a book or movie. Like, my brain just made a connection when you said secret keeper. Wormtail. It connected with your name."

"Peter Pettigrew," the boys said together.

"That's from the Harry Potter books, and movies, I guess. The books had more details in them," Peter admitted.

"But all I remember is the name. Not what it means."

"I hope it doesn't mean you think I'm the same as Wormtail was. That Peter wound up being a traitor to his best friends, gave up all their secrets. In a way, Wormtail was responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents and for his godfather being stuck in Azkaban prison for over ten years."

"Oh," Glen realized. "I didn't mean that you were…"

"Don't sweat it, dude," Peter said, getting to his feet. "There are lots of other Peters in books I could be linked to. I don't take it seriously."

"Like what others?" Glen said, dislodging the dog from his lap. Almost reluctantly, he scooped up the cell phone and pocketed it.

"Peter Rabbit. Peter and the Wolf. Peter Pan. Peter Rasputin. He's Colossus of the X-men! Oooh, and Peter Parker, the spectacular spider-man. And Ghost Busters had Peter Venkman."

"That's a lot of Peters. Not a lot of Glens out there, I'm guessing."

"Look at it this way. You could be the first famous Glen. Aside from that astronaut guy, uh, gah! What was his name?"

"That's John Glen."

"Good memory," Peter grinned, bending over to lift his bike and inspect the damage. "Glenn Close?" he asked, looking up at Glen. "But she's an actor. Famous one."

"Yeah, I think I knew that. I remember weird obscure facts all the time, can understand just about anything I see or read, but I can't tell you what Jill looks like naked, or how many marsh mellows I can stuff in my mouth, or what my favorite movie is."

"Awe crap!" Peter exclaimed, squatting beside his bike. The front wheel was severely bent out of shape, a deep twist pulling about a quarter of the rim off to the right where the wheel had impacted the granite casing stone of the curb. The bend was so deep that the wheel would not turn through the front fork of the bicycle. "Well, that's screwed for life," Peter lamented.

"You should have seen yourself. You were so fast, dodging that bear-thing," Glen said, smiling with his voice. "If I hadn't been so scared and pissed when fighting the monster, I'd have been impressed."

"Yeah, well, now I'm gonna have to replace the whole wheel. Maybe the front fork, too."

"Is that hard to do?" Glen asked.

"No. Just time consuming. And it means I'm gonna have to walk it to the shop tomorrow."

"Maybe my mom could give you a ride."

"I can't ask that of her."

"I can," Glen replied brightly. Chase wandered off, spotting a fire hydrant that needed his personal inspection and canine stamp of approval.

"You already saved my life from two monsters, Glen. I can't ask your mom to do something like that."

"Two monsters?"

"Yeah. The bear-thing, and uh, the cell phone."

"Oh. That bad?"

Peter looked up at Glen from where he squatted beside the bike. "I know you don't want to, but you need to know exactly how much you saved me tonight," the dark haired boy said. "When you are alone, and safe, and sure no one will know… I want you to look at one of my videos on that phone."

"Pete, I…"

"You need to see!" Peter cut Glen's protest off. "You need to see what he's done to others, even if you don't want to know what he did to you." Glen felt tears coming to his eyes, seeing the fury barely held inside of Peter's own eyes. "I need you to see. I need you to know how much you running that prick off means to me, even if you didn't do it for me. You have this gift for a reason, Glen. I don't want to force you to anything, but I think you should realize that the old you is gone now so that the new you, and this gift, maybe it's so you can fix the things that old you did wrong as well as things that were done to old you."

Glen stared into Peter's eyes, unwavering, seeing the truth laid bare there.

"What if what I see… what if it makes me feel different about you?" Glen asked.

"That depends a lot on how you feel about me now."

"Guess that's right," Glen replied. Chase wandered back to the boys, something clutched in his mouth. Glen almost didn't see it in the darkness, only catching glimpses of it as the light caught on the clear, shiny surface. "Whatcha got there?" Glen asked, kneeling beside the dog. "Whoa!"

"That's an arrow!" Peter gasped. "But it's made of… idunno, clear!"

"Some kind of crystal," Glen guessed. "But even the fletching's soft, like feathers, but clear like the rest of it."

"That's way cool. And it's long. Are arrows made this long now?" Peter asked.

"Hell if I know. Where did you find this, Chase?" But the dog was unaware of the question, sniffing around the grass for some errant movement, perhaps a cricket jumping away. "Can't be a coincidence," Glen surmised.

"What do you mean?"

"Monster coming out of the dark, chasing you. I thought I saw some straight things sticking up out of the wiggly stuff the bear-thing was made of. Guess it could have been more of these."

"Yeah, but then," Peter began, looking around nervously, "if someone was shooting arrows at the bear-thing, why didn't they show up to help when you nuked it?"

"I don't know. Maybe they're shy?"

"Not sure I like the idea of someone tossing arrows around at monsters and not checking on those the monster winds up chasing," Peter said. "Not exactly good manners."

"Yeah, well, let's get you home. Chase and I will be your honor guards," Glen grinned. He looked around and found the dog happily peeing on the post of someone's mail box. "Provided he can be counted on to not drench anything standing still long enough."

The boys got underway, taking turns lift-walking the injured bike the short distance to Peter's house. It was a modest three family stack, Peter's family occupying the second floor. He picked up the bicycle, wounded front wheel and all, setting it over the time worn chain link fence that abutted the street at Peter's home. Peter gave Chase a very canine satisfying head scratch and then surprised Glen with a sudden and strong hug.

They stood like that, Peter embracing Glen, Glen slowly getting the idea and returning the hug, for about five seconds. Long enough for Glen to get used to the feel of Peter's body holding his own. Long enough for other feelings to stir in Glen, but not enough for them to lift and become noticed.

"Thank you," Peter said, more than a whisper, less than out loud, beside Glen's ear. He then broke the hug, stepped through the open gate and took three vaulting steps up the six stairs to the front door of the row house and was inside before Glen could even say good-bye. He looked down at Chase, who sat patiently, chewing on the "human" end of the leash.

Glen lifted the arrow again, to look over the glassy, smooth shaft, then back to the dog. "You find the strangest things when we go walking, don't you?" he asked the dog. A few half-hearted tail thumps and a questioning look back towards the way home Chase's only reply. Glen gave the arrow a long last look before taking the leash from Chase's mouth. "C'mon, boy. Mom will be worried that you tried to pee on the whole town if we don't get back soon."

Chase walked steadily beside Glen, contemplating how to accomplish that very goal.

Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, watched as Chase, Glen and Peter nursed the wounded bicycle away from the scene of the battle.

"Well, that's not exactly how I thought tonight would go," Bethany said as she watched the two boys, the wounded bike and the dog proceed up Marsh Avenue, around a bend in the road.

"What was that, Bethy?" came the voice from her radio earpiece.

"We can stand down for the rest of the night," she replied. "The creature is gone, but it was not by our hands."

"What happened?" a different voice, slightly older sounding, asked.

Beside Bethany on the roof of the Marsh Street Laundromat, Jack stood up from his crouched position, relaxing the pull on his bow. The short recurve was augmented by a system of pullies that gave the weapon considerably more speed and power than a normal bow of similar size would have. He had been learning how to do wondrous things with the weapon. Tonight had been one of his final tests, helping to hunt down a dream monster that had been on a rampage of late. A physical challenge to help his changeling allies, and prove he was worthy to stand beside them in battle.

"Our quarry was vaporized by an unknown supernatural wielding lightning," Jack replied into the group communications link. The others all wore their communicators in small clips that snugged up behind the ear. The communications array was of his own design and build, in fact. But Jack himself needed no such gear, his own computer brain's transmitter able to handle the task.

But that is another story.

"You mean we gone tru' all de trouble o' chasing that thang out into da open so you could go all Robin Hood on 'is ass, jus' so someone else could beat ya to it?"

"About the size of it, Nick," Jack responded. "I appreciate the effort, but this does reveal to us something I've suspected for a while now."

"That there's more of us out there?" Kenny chimed in.

"Apparently. Damnit!" Bethany swore. "Guys, they picked up one of the arrows."


"The dog traveling with the two boys picked up one of the crystal arrows," Jack repeated for the group.


"Heading uphill on Marsh Avenue," the boy on the roof replied. "Bearing a broken bicycle. There is a dog with them."

"Oh, right. I see them. We'll pursue from the Umbra."

"Watch yourselves, Cody," an adolescent voice ordered with that simple, yet unquestioned note of authority. "All four of you woofers go. We'll be following on our side. Bethy, Jack, stay in place until the two in question are out of sight then make sure no more of the arr ows are hanging around out there. Kenny, Paul and I will be there shortly."

"Roger that, Robby," Bethany replied.

"I'm sorry, guys," Jack repeated.

"Don't worry, Babe," Paul's voice sounded over the com-link. "I'm sure it was probably something none of us expected."

"Yup," Jack replied. "And there's more to it. I overheard their conversation."

"From way up here?" Bethany asked, looking to Jack. "We're nearly 30 yards away?"

"I heard it, and recorded it. We may have more than just another supernatural person in town on our hands. I believe I heard evidence of a crime. One you all may have issues with. I know I do."

"Roger that, Jack," Kenny's voice said over the link. "We're almost to Marsh Avenue."

"Good. Because I want to help these guys, if we can," Jack said.

"It's what we do," Cody replied.

"This is really bothering you, isn't it?" Bethany asked. Jack simply nodded. She made a show of preparing her own bow and equipment for the leap to come, an action that Jack knew was meant to be a signal to him to copy. She was a good teacher, and he needed to learn quickly. They checked to make sure the coast was clear before leaping over the edge of the laundry's façade and quickly they split up, searching the various arcs they had loosed arrows in.

But to Jack, whose mind worked far faster and multi tasked far easier than any humans' could, there were other matters on his mind. He had already taken the liberty of using his computer link to copy the information on that cell phone in Glen's pocket. Copied, reviewed data, checked links, noted e-mails and message transfers and basically done all the research and testing that a computer forensic expert could do.

Together, with Bethany, and later with Robby, Kenny and Jack's own boyfriend Paul's help, they found the remaining two arrows and melted back into the night. Other plans needed to be discussed once the evidence was revealed. Jack already knew what he wanted to have happen, and how he felt about the two boys he'd witnessed doing extraordinary things tonight. He was sure the others would be of similar mind.

But that is yet another story.

A sudden flash from the sky and Thunderbird stood proudly among the spirits disguised as garden ornaments. He spread his wings far and uttered a loud series of blue jay chirps in triumph. The other assembled spirits seemed pleased as well.

"Did you see, Brothers? Did you see?" Thunderbird trumpeted. "My chosen one has done well! Fought and won against a powerful Dreaming beast given flesh and purpose! He has used my gifts without corrupting them!"

"He has done well," The Crow spoke, idly crunching on a cricket that had wandered too near. "So far."

"Your praise is well received, Grandfather," the blue jay responded brightly.

"Indeed, Brother," the fuchsia unicorn said, shaking his iridescent mane. "He did spectacularly, especially in defending the mortal."

"Which mortal?" Turtle asked.

"The other human child," Unicorn replied. "The one on the bicycle."

"Oh, right," Turtle said, somewhat lacksidaisically. "I thought you meant some other mortal. Is that boy a mortal?"

"Well, he is not immortal," the crow said, gulping down the last of the cricket. "Humm, tasty. I forgot how much these physical beings delight in simple pleasures like taste and digestion."

"My champion is following the path I have put him on so well," the blue jay said, almost strutting.

"Ah, but there's the rub," Thunder said. "He may be powerful, he may be proceeding well for the moment. I would chasten you to remember that once given power, this species often falls to their own corruptions and base desires. You may have shoved him onto the path, but it is still his road to navigate. And an unclear road it is."

"I have to do something," Thunderbird replied to the older spirit. "He is coming, and all that He brings with Him."

"I appreciate your efforts, I am simply reminding us all that we must be cautious, we must be vigilant, and above all, we must not be overconfident. That path has failed us twice before."

A solemnness crept into the assembled garden ornaments. Each lost in his own thoughts until Cat finally spoke up.

"We will watch; we will be ready. And this time, those of us who stood to the side will not let the tragedy occur again."

"I should hope so," Thunder spoke, looking off to where Glen and Chase were walking home. "We put much hope in these fragile creatures. If only they put such hope in us."

"They once worshiped my kind as their protectors," Cat spoke, his voice sounding far away and distant.

"Egypt was not your fault, Cat," Unicorn spoke up.

"Just as Atlantis was not Phoenix's fault," Thunder added. "Gaia chose for her children to be her defenders, and we aid in that. We can help move the pieces, but we do not run the game, for fear of unleashing forces that could destroy us all."

Turtle simply turned his head to Thunderbird and winked. "I like what you have done. And I have a good feeling about these boys."

"I have only chosen the one boy, Master Turtle," the blue Jay responded, as if explaining something to a confused elder.

"Oh, yes. Just the one," Turtle replied, seemingly lost in thought. "Juuuust the one."

Days passed. Little by little, life returned to normal. Glen kept learning about things he should know, but was experiencing for the first time. No great moment of clarity shook his memory back into place, no rush of understanding about Glen-that-was. But plenty of time for Glen to reflect on things in what was coming together to be his life. Reflect and appreciate.

Glen had done as Peter asked, waiting until he was all alone, with only Chase with him, to watch one of the videos with Peter's name. He found himself crying as he watched it. But he watched the whole thing, just once. When it was done he put the cell phone on his desk and lay on his bed, sobbing. So many conflicting feelings spiked through Glen. He cried himself to sleep, feeling a lot better about banishing Giuseppe.

Thursday morning dawned gray and cloudy. A smattering of clouds broke off of the pile lifting over the eastern hills and drifting across the face of the town like ships departing a distant coastline. Chase's insistent nosing prompted Glen to wake up just as the dawn light spread patterns of purple and rose, orange and ruddy grays across the sky. Obviously there were more things that needed to be peed on.

Glen took the dog out and let him roam the back yard, searching for places that needed scent upgrades. He was still going over the images left in his mind from the fight last night, from his talk with Peter, from the things he'd thought about while walking and watching people. And still high in his list of important thoughts was the question of what to do with the cell phone, and the horrible things stored there.

It wore on him, slightly. He came back into the house with Chase leading the way, a look of perplexion on his face.

"Good morning," his father greeted him in the kitchen, lifting a cup of coffee to his lips.

"Morning, Dad. What's for breakfast?"

"I think for you, probably cereal and OJ."

"That does sound good," Glen said, absently scrubbing Chase's ear.

"He seems in great spirits," dad noticed. "You, less so. Trouble sleeping?"

"No, sir. Still getting used to being me, I guess."

"Ah. And no trouble from your scars?"

"My what?" Glen said, his hands unconsciously going to his chest.

"Kiddo, I might not be the smartest guy in the world," he said, putting the coffee cup down, "but I do notice things. I know why you didn't want to get into the pool at the party."

"You do?"

"Those scars on your chest are nothing to be afraid of. You got struck by lightning and survived it. They should be a mark of pride."

"Really?" Glen said, suddenly feeling very young and tiny. "I didn't think anyone knew about them."

"I saw them when your mother was taking Carolynn to the bathroom." Glen's face shifted in confusion. "It was shortly after you were out of surgery, in the first recovery room. Several weeks ago. Doctor was changing your bandages and I saw. He explained about them to me. Your mother knows about them as well; I just don't know if she's seen them."


"She will see eventually, unless you plan on wearing a shirt everywhere you go. And so will your sister."

"Yeah, I guess. I was just worried, you know?"

"That people would treat you differently?"

"Yeah," the boy said, blushing.

"They already do, Glen. And that goes both ways. Watching you and Carolynn last night was like watching two completely different kids."

"I wasn't very nice to her, you know, before."

"How did you know that?"

Glen shrugged. "I heard her talking to her dolls about me yesterday morning. It wasn't good."

"I'll bet. You know, siblings do fight. Me and my brothers and sister fought like animals chasing the same hunk of meat."

"But you guys seemed okay at the party," Glen pointed out.

"Well, that's just human nature. Siblings fight, but they make up. Same with friends. Who knows if you and Jason will be friends again?"

"Yeah, probably not."

"At your age, you are auditioning people still."


"Think of it like this. Right now you are at a point where you aren't really a child anymore, but you're not fully grown. Your body is going through massive internal and external changes, so is your mind."

"That I can believe," Glen deadpanned, opening the fridge and bringing out the OJ.

"Well, while you are figuring out who you are," the father said, taking a class out of a cupboard and setting it down by Glen on the counter, "and all your peers are doing the same, you are also testing out different people to see how well they fit with your life."

"Like trying on clothes?" Glen asked, pouring himself a glass of juice.

"More like shoes. But exactly like that."

"Never thought of it that way," Glen said, putting the bottle down. He and his father picked up their respective cups and took deep, satisfying sips.

"But that's not the only thing bothering you, is it?" Glen's father asked.

"Am I that easy to read?"

"To those who *can* read, yes."

"Was I always so simple to figure out?"

"You were never simple about anything, Son," the father grinned. "What's bugging you?"

"It's complicated," Glen said.

"Almost always is. I was once a kid too, Glen. It might have been last century," he grinned, getting a smile and snort from the boy. "But most of the things you will go through, I have either gone through as well or know someone who has. Dear Ole Dad might surprise you with some of the things he's survived."

The boy nodded and inhaled deeply before beginning. "I met someone yesterday. Someone I knew from before," Glen said, carefully. His father sipped at his coffee more, nodding for Glen to continue. "This person… he's done some pretty bad things, to a lot of people."

"Hurtful things?"

"Maybe. Certainly things that would be embarrassing if others knew."

"Sounds like this person is not someone I'd want my son associating with."

"I have… some memories about this person. Memories that could get him into a lot of trouble."

"Legal trouble," the father asked setting down the coffee, a serious expression on his face.

"Probably. I don't remember enough about law stuff to know for certain, but I think it would be very bad for him." Glen met his father's gaze and didn't flinch as he prepared himself for the next bit. "And while I'm not ever going to be around that person anymore, I am kinda stuck with what to do with the memories."

"Go on."

"See, while I remember parts of it, I don't know all of it. All sides of it."

"Something we all have to deal with is our own perspective, son. But I like that you are thinking of this in more than just how it affects you. Part of me is already wondering if I should contact a lawyer or a police officer."

"Wait!" Glen said, looking to his father with pleading eyes. "There's more."

"Okay, I'm listening."

"This could affect a lot of people. The memories, they aren't just of this person behaving badly around me. It's of him behaving badly around a lot of others."

The father shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, his stance becoming more defensive. "Glen, I know you are trying to be protective of someone, hopefully not this guy. He sounds like a, pardon my French, a scumbag. Did he hurt you?"

"In the past maybe he did. My memories aren't complete on that. But he wasn't good to me." Glen wasn't sure why, but he felt a tear welling in his eye, and he unconsciously whipped a hand up to wipe it away. The father crossed the distance between them and drew his son to his side, hugging him fiercely.

"You know I'd do anything to protect you," The father said, whispering into the boy's hair.

"I know. Part of me's always known."

After a few moments of just holding, the father realizing that his boy was still fragile, but becoming a man, the boy realizing that his father had love and wisdom in equal parts to share, they separated, each picking up his respective cup.

"Ahem, Okay, so… tell me more."

"My worry is, if I give out these memories, a lot of people might have to answer embarrassing questions."

"I see. And that is one of your big concerns? Not just what wounds it might reopen, but what embarrassments it might cause?"

"I'm still not sure of a lot of the social things," Glen nodded. "Some might not want their involvement known."

"You said that this person wont be bothering you anymore?"

"He's leaving. At least he better be leaving," Glen said with dark menace. The father's eyebrows lifted in surprise hearing that tone from his son.

"And in leaving," the father said, scrambling to cover his reaction to the boy's shift in mood, "his, uhm, let's say abuses… will end?"

"Yeah, basically."

"Glen, I want to think about this some. It's complicated, as you say. So It needs time for me to think about it from different angles. I'm gonna ask you a couple of questions now, for you to think about, and we'll talk more about this later tonight. Agreed?"


"First, I will keep this to myself for today. But, and I cannot stress this enough, I don't keep secrets from your mother, especially about things that have to do with you and your sister. You cannot build a family or a spousal relationship without complete honesty and trust. So, until you and I deal with this more, it'll stay just between us, but your mother may eventually know as well."

"Oh, jeeze," Glen said, blushing.

"It's the package deal, kiddo. I know it's a cop out to say, but one day you will understand what it takes to make a relationship work."

"Okay. It'll be embarrassing to talk to Mom about this stuff, but okay."

"That was actually my next question. If you only want to talk to me about it, you know, guy stuff, I will tell your mother. She'll probably understand your reasoning and respect your privacy. Depending on what we decide to do about all this."

"That makes sense. Thanks, Dad."

"Okay. Now! This is kind of important. If you have in your memories evidence of a crime, one that has hurt a lot of people, like you say, you have to consider this: is it more important to prevent people from being exposed about what has hurt them, or in bringing things into the light, are you helping them deal with tougher problems and preventing further abuse. Because, the way you are saying this, it sounds like someone is using sex to hurt other people. Few other things in life inspire secrecy and corruption as people abusing others sexually."

Glen blushed and looked away.

"So, it has to be a balance in your mind. If you've found a way to stop the abuse, that's fantastic, son. That's a form of moral heroism." Glen looked up, his eyes hopeful. "The question is, can you help other victims by exposing them as well as the abuser, or do you let them stay safe in their anonymity?"


"I do hope that you weren't going to use those memories for your own gain. Such information could be devastating to the others hurt like this"

"I don't want to use it at all," Glen said, staring down into his OJ. "Although, part of me wants to let those affected know that they are safe now. Like, I don't want to tell all their secrets, or even know all their secrets. I just want them to know that it wont happen again, and that their secrets are safe."

"My son, that's the most grown up thing I've ever heard you say. You make me proud."

Glen smiled.

"I know a few people in the police department. Old friends from school. If you do want to bring this to the authorities, that can be a way to do it quietly. I will say this, though. The law has mercy with justice as it's credo…"

"What's a credo?"

"It's a path, an oath. Uh, an idealized way of thinking about or doing things. Like a motto."

"OH! Okay, sorry."

"Like I was saying, the law has mercy as well as justice, but once we start things rolling with the police, once an investigation begins, there is no turning back. It has to be all or nothing."

"I understand."

"Your memories will be tested. Harshly. You may have to talk about things you don't want even your mother and me to know about. Similar to your scars."

"I know," Glen sighed. "Which is why I think I want to talk to the others hurt like this first, if I can."

"Because more than just your life is affected?"

"Yes. And they should have a say in it too."

"Can you do me a favor, son?" the father sighed.


"Stop growing up so fast. I missed so much of your life working as much as I do. I don't want to miss any of your second chance. It's my second chance too."

Glen smiled and this time he stepped to his father's side for a hug.

Glen's mom readily agreed to picking Peter up for work, even to transporting the injured bike. Dad busied himself before leaving for work himself by putting the bicycle rack onto the back of the family SUV and loading Glen's bike up on it. The family thought was that Glen's bike needed some upgrades and adjustments, along with an inner tube replacement. Glen could then spend the day with Peter at the Schwinn shop after his follow up appointment with Dr. McCoy. Mom had some errands to run and it wasn't much of a ride home from the hospital.

It all made so much sense.

Glen kept the "memory" phone with him, and was reintroduced to his own cell phone. It wasn't the fanciest of things, but it had lots of messages waiting for him upon restarting it. Glen could feel the pulse of energy in the small device, and how it almost welcomed his touch. He promised himself he'd dig deeper into his phone later, realizing that this was another path to understanding Glen-that-was.

As the family set out, Glen and Carolynn getting along nicely, Glen called Peter's cell phone and found out that the boy was just getting ready to head out the door. He could hear arguing in the background. Peter kept the call short and said he'd meet up with the family in front of his house.

Arriving at Marsh Avenue, the shouting inside could be heard from the street. Open windows on Peter's floor let the sound out enough so that people passing in their cars on the busy street would never know the turmoil going on within. But those who slowed down long enough, or those just walking, the shouting was all too easy to make out. So everyone in the SUV heard the argument when Glen jumped out of the car to help Peter load up his bicycle.

"Maybe I should go up and say hi to your mom," Glen's mother said.

"No!" Peter almost shouted. "I mean, uh, probably better to just not get involved," the dark haired boy amended. "Besides, Glen's appointment isn't too far off."

"We have plenty of time," Glen's mom said, glancing at her watch. A few choice expletives punctuated the air above, and Peter's eyes sought the ground.

"Maybe later, Mom?" Glen proposed.

"Maybe," she replied, looking up towards the open windows above. Thoughts of what trouble may lie inside that apartment clearly had her worried. But with the children with her, she decided that this wasn't the time for confrontations escalating. She gave Peter a grin, shifting a lock of his hair out of the way. "You okay, buddy?"

"Yes, ma'am," he grinned back, but there was a sadness to his expression.

"Hop in, buckle up," she replied. Peter got in between Glen and Carolynn, his eyes nervously flicking between the console before him and meeting Glen's Mom's eyes in the rear view. The silence along the ride over was only punctuated by the sounds of traffic and 90's Pop from the radio. The Schwinn store was first along the way, so Glen and Peter hopped out to remove the bikes from the back rack.

"They always like that?" Glen asked, his accent seeming a slight bit thicker than normal. Peter just shook his head in answer. "Better or worse?"

"That was mild," Peter responded. "Sometimes they'll like, throw stuff. Hit each other. Like that," Peter shrugged. "I get the feeling that they like fighting. Not sure if they love each other anymore, but they both love to fight."

Glen lifted Peter's bike off the rack and Peter helped guide it away from the car. Glen got a sudden thoughtful expression on his face. "Maybe they just like to hurt."

"At one point I thought that," Peter said, setting the kickstand on his bike. The warped front wheel made finding the sweet spot balance difficult. "It's like they don't feel like they deserve to be treated right, ya know? Like they trust each other enough to hurt each other just enough to feel right in how they hurt. Or how they need to hurt each other."

"That's pretty fucked up," Glen agreed, undogging his bike from the rack. The bungee cord unhooked and twisted in his hand, releasing tension on the bike rack. He barely caught the bike as it started to slip off the rack's long support bars.

"I know your mom means well…" Peter began.

"But it would make things worse for you if she said anything to them," Glen finished.

"For someone who can't remember stuff, you sure seem to know a lot of things about folks," the dark haired boy grinned.

"I guess without all of the old bullshit in the way, I can see the current bullshit for what it really is."



"Probably should keep your bullshits to a minimum around your mom. She'll wash your mouth out with Irish Spring and holy water."

"You may be right," Glen agreed, grinning. "Where do we bring these?"

"We can put them in the back. I have a key. There's a door on the loading dock, where the old man does a lot of the repair stuff. He's teaching me to do frame welding and custom set-ups."

"Dude, that's awesome. They let you play with fire?!"

"Nothing compared with what you play with lately," Peter countered, fishing a jangling key lanyard from under his tee-shirt, up through the neck hole. As soon as he got the key out the impact of his words seemed to hit him, double meanings, and he blushed.

"What?" Glen asked, unsure of what affected Peter so.

"I'll tell you later," Peter said, busying himself with the three door locks, two deadbolts and the one in the knob. Once the side door off the loading dock was open, Peter strode in calmly, confidently, directly to a series of wall switches. He flicked through three, illuminating the back end of the shop and turning off the light over the door itself.

Glen felt a tiny shift around himself as each circuit on the wall was opened or closed. It was a subtle thing, just a feeling like blowing wind passing over the tiny hairs of Glen's forearm. Movement. Tingles. Somehow, he knew he was feeling how the electrical energy, the lightning in the walls, as it were, was moving. He blinked at the understanding of that.

The boys stood the bikes up beside a tool bench inside. Peter made a quick look around the shop, making sure everything was okay, and then led Glen back out, locking the door behind them. They hopped back into the Bergeron family vehicle, belting themselves in securely.

At the hospital, Glen's mom pulled the SUV through the front entrance. As the boys made to get out, she turned around and leaned over the back seat. She made eye contact with both boys, giving them both the "Mom Look" as she prepared to speak.

"Okay, you both have your phones?"

Both nodded.

"You have money?" Glen nodded, but felt weird when he saw Peter just staring ahead, awkwardly. "Okay, here's twenty for snacks and drinks. You know the stores along the way from the hospital back to the bike shop?" she asked Peter. He gave a single nod. "Okay, tell Mr. (McMillian) to call me once you boys figure out what repairs and upgrades you need."

"You don't have to pay for my bike repairs, Mrs. Bergeron," Peter said, softly as Glen pocketed the twenty spot. "I love working on bikes. It'll give me a chance to practice. Besides, I'm the one that broke it."

"Let me worry about the parts at least," Glen's mom offered. "It's the least I can do."

"Okay," the boy submitted. It appeared clear to Glen that Peter wasn't used to getting positive attention from adults, especially from adults he respected. Glen realized that that Peter tended to fade into the background around other people, even adults that praised him. Yet he'd also noticed that the dark haired boy always knew which way the social wind was blowing around himself. He could read adults moods easily and seemed to know exactly how to navigate those moods in order to remain unseen. He had become very good at avoiding confrontations.

"Call me if you need anything or if you go somewhere other than the shop. Everything is new to Glen now, Peter, so he may ask you a billion questions, point you at every little landmark."

"We'll be okay, Mom."

"Okay. Have fun boys," she said, turning back to the steering wheel. Glen leaned forward and patted his mother's shoulder, and then gave his little sister a hug in her car seat before ducking out of the car. Peter waved as the car door closed.

"Mommy, are you crying?" Carolynn asked, her high pitched voice sounding concerned.

"Just something in my eye, Sweetie," the mother replied.

"Oh," Carolynn nodded. "I like how Glen's all better now."

"Me too," The mother agreed, watching as her son and his friend entered the hospital. "Meee too. So, you ready for an adventure?"

"No. Unless there's princesses and ponies!"

"Let's see if we can find some then, okay?" she smiled, putting the car into gear.

Glen and Peter took the elevator up three floors and walked about 300 feet of hallway twists and turns to the Neurology Department. The department secretary easily directed the two through a few simple turns to the private office and examination room of Dr. McCoy.

The office was rather large, with the desk set more to the side than facing the door. *Less confrontational, * Glen thought. The rest of the office was set up more for conversations, two short couches of the kind frequently called "love seats" and three matching chairs upholstered in soft material surrounded a low table. It had a well-worn but well-loved appearance, with soft lighting from a pair of tall lamps that looked like chess knights. Book shelves lined the walls, but didn't dominate. They did contain books but also had small figures obviously made by little hands, pictures of friends and family, and, oddly, a realistically painted statue of a sea turtle, seemingly coasting effortlessly in some vast, swirling ocean current, just going with the flow.

The door to the exam room attached to the office was open, showing similar furniture themes as well as the perfunctory examination table. Simple paintings adorned the walls, showing seaside scenes, colorful fishing boats at anchor, landscapes mirrored in bodies of calm water below, and puppies in large flowerpots. With a sudden bit of insight, Glen realized that the paintings were framed jigsaw puzzles, careful formatted and sealed in glass.

Much like his memories. The metaphor didn't escape the boy.

Dr. McCoy was not alone in the office. Dr. Marcus, the surgeon who had been Glen's primary care physician during his recovery was seated in one of the love seats, sipping from a Styrofoam cup some strong bitter liquid. Glen put it in the same category as coffee, but for some reason the drink seemed much stronger, and laced with dark, rich aromas.

Also in the room, seated in one of the recliners, was Glen's physical therapist, Jasmine. She sat at the end of the chair, her spine upright, making her look taller than she truly was. She greeted Glen and Peter with a wide, warm, genuine smile, rising as they entered the office.

Sitting on the table, lifted off of it by the tastefully disheveled landscape of travel logs, old Reader's Digests and sports magazines, was a large metal suitcase, clam-shelled open, with several devices that looked electrical in nature. There were long probes with metal points poking out of different colored plastic sheathing. There were three devices that looked like they should be sitting beside a computer or maybe plugged into a car. One of the objects stood out the most, was a simple wand looking device, shaped oddly like a feather, but apparently made of some translucent green crystal, like jade.

"Ah, Glen! And young Peter," Dr. McCoy greeted them. "Have a seat, boys."

"Your parents aren't joining us?" Jasmine asked, folding her long fingers across her knee as she sat.

"My Dad has work. And Mom is out running errands with my sister. I think they hare registering her for school."

"I see," Dr. Marcus said, putting his coffee down. From the angle of the suitcase and the objects inside, it seemed clear to Glen that the devices belonged to the blonde doctor. His eyes seemed to be drifting back and forth between the objects and Peter, as if there might be a conflict with Peter being there.

"Am I to understand that you want Peter with you during our examination?" Dr. McCoy asked.

"We were going to hang out at the bicycle shop after this. I figured it would be nice for Glen to get to see this part of the city. You know, hike it."

"I'm okay with Peter being here. I trust him. And he may have things to tell you that you probably wouldn't believe if you only heard it from me."

"You might be surprised by what we believe," Dr. Marcus said, again nursing his drink.

"Huh?" Glen returned with a twist of teenage confusion.

"We've all done turns in various emergency rooms. Jasmine was in the Navy before coming to work here, so she's seen some pretty horrific combat trauma overseas."

"Three tours in the Middle East," she nodded.

"Five years trauma center in Mass General," Dr. Marcus added, putting his drink down. "I saw stuff there that made me quit smoking, cold."

"So you see, Glen, Peter, if odd things have happened, please, feel free to tell us," Dr. McCoy said. "You wont be censured, ridiculed or insulted. The world is often a stranger place than most people are willing to admit. Sadly."

"And we are here to help," Jasmine said. "May I begin?"

"By all means," Dr. McCoy shrugged, settling into what was obviously HIS chair. Glen and Peter took the empty love seat, each choosing opposite ends, leaning on the arm rests. Dr. Marcus reached forwards and pressed the flat surface of one device, apparently activating it.

"We are recording," Dr. Marcus said, leaning back and sipping at his drink.

"For the record, we will timestamp this file when it is saved," Dr. McCoy intoned, clearly. "This meeting is for the follow-up with Patient: Beranger, Glen, a 14-year-old male who is recovering from a lightning strike while standing in about a meter of ocean water approximately 8 weeks ago. Present at this meeting is GP Dr. Anthony Marcus, as attending physician and Physical Therapist Jasmine Caine. I am Dr. Abe McCoy, neurology. Also at this meeting is Peter Johnson, also 14, male, and friend of Glen, here for moral support.

"This is an assessment of Glen's recovery and anecdotal record of his experiences since awakening. It should be noted that Glen is experiencing mild amnesia, characterized by full language and cognitive recall of social norms, physical motion and coordination, but lack of memories about social contacts and emotional bonds. He has no detectable neurothapy, no facial dysplasia and suffers no headaches. Glen does have extensive fractal scaring on his chest from the lightning strike, which we will cover later in this assessment. PT Jasmine Caine will begin our examinations."

Jasmine had Glen go through a series of yoga poses and stretching exercises, occasionally tapping his limbs into proper position, making pokes and prods of his muscles and joints. She talked continually through her examination of him, explaining what she wanted of Glen and giving a running commentary of her evaluation. She seemed very happy with his progress and felt that he was in better shape now than before his encounter with the lightning bolt. Peter tried to copy a few of the poses as well, but looked skeptically at some of them.

Dr. McCoy went next, asking Glen to remove his shoes and socks. He then began a detailed examination of Glen's neurological responses. With the aid of a long, metallic probe with a ball-shaped end, the doctor pressed strongly into the soles of Glen's bare feet, rolled the probe down both sides of Glen's spine, and even performed the old "knee jerk" reaction test. He even brought out a tuning fork and struck it may times, bringing the base end to differing places on Glen's head.

At each test the doctor would announce what he was doing and the response usually saying something like "normal response," or "above average reaction time." Dr. McCoy ended his part by asking Glen how he felt during the examination so far, if there were any unusual tingling in his extremities, or if he had any unusual breathing responses or panics. The doctor concluded that there seemed to be no neurological damage to Glen's involuntary muscular systems.

Then Dr. Marcus began his exam. He had Glen open his mouth, looked in his ears and nose, which partly horrified Glen and caused Peter to cover his mouth to keep from laughing. Dr. Marcus used different optic enhancers to look into Glen's eyes, which caused both Glen and Peter to stifle any humor. Glen wondered if his recent ability to cause glows from his eyes would leave some visible sign.

A blood pressure reading, check of the resting heart rate and a stethoscope across his bare back and chest to check his lungs confirmed that Glen was as fit as any 14-year-old boy deserved to be, and then some. Then Dr. Marcus put down the traditional medical equipment in his metal suitcase and picked up the jade feather. The doctor smiled at Peter and extended the feather his way.

"Would you hold this for me for a moment," Marcus asked, turning his head to the case in a distracted sort of way. Peter reluctantly took the object, surprised by how light yet solid it felt, as if the concept of a gemstone feather itself wasn't odd enough.

The doctor then picked up a strange yellow clad device with two long metal probes attached by a black and a red rubberized wire. He turned the device on, clicking through a few settings on a large dial. The device squeaked and chirped as Dr. Marcus calibrated it. He then set the long device down on the table near Glen, holding the red probe in his right hand, the black probe in his left.

"This is a standard voltmeter," Dr. Marcus said. His eyes sought Glen's with a warm smile that still left Glen feeling a little apprehensive. "I have it set to measure electrical resistance right now, called Ohms."

"Uh, okay," Glen replied, nervously.

"Normally, the adult human body resists electrical energy at a threshold of about 100,000 ohms. That's dry skin, mind you," the doctor grinned further, almost comically. "If you were sweating a lot, or standing hip deep in a liquid mass, that resistance of your skin drops to around 1,000 ohms. Now, how is that significant?"

Glen and Peter shrugged together, solemnly.

"The resistance determines how the energy affects the body. Electrical injuries are ridiculously dangerous, for many reasons. You can have massive chemical changes, fibrillation, neuropathy, physical burns…"

"I'm sorry," Glen interrupted. "I don't understand what neuropathy is."

"And what's fibrillation?" Peter asked as well, still cradling the jade feather in both hands in his lap.

"Well, neuropathy," Dr. McCoy explained from his comfy chair, "is basically damage to the nerves themselves. It causes pain sensations, lack of muscular control, can even cause temperature problems and circulatory problems from the individual nerve fibers either misfiring or not connecting to the control mechanisms. Most often we see it in people who have diabetes or a stroke. But it can be a symptom of many things."

"Fibrillation is a little more difficult to describe," Dr. Marcus picked up. "It involves the electrical energy in your muscles. You've heard of people on medical shows talk about using a defibrillator to jump start someone's heart?" The boys nodded. "So, fibrillation is the lack of that electrical energy in your muscle fibers, like in the heart, either forcing the muscle fibers to go full contraction, or full relaxation. Neither of which is good."

"Especially for the heart and lungs," Jasmine put in.

"When your heart goes into fibrillation, the muscle fibers of your heart go from following the regular program of Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump," Dr. Marcus said, tapping his fingertips over his chest, "like that, to a state of confusion. They start firing off at different times, different strengths, out of rhythm with each other. This causes your heart to stop beating regularly, strongly, pushing the blood around your body. It can even cause the muscles to react against each other so strongly that it can damage your heart, like a pulled muscle."

"Oooh!" Peter said softly.

"All these things can happen when you get hit by lightning?" Glen asked, looking at Dr. Marcus.

"Essentially, yes. Now we have two things we need to measure here. Glen survived an enormous amount of energy in that lightning strike while standing in the ocean. Even if the energy of lightning wasn't so massive…"

"One point twenty-one gigawatts!" Peter spouted suddenly, getting looks from everyone in the room. "Sorry, Doctor. Go on."

"The amount of power is affected by something called Ohms law. Current is proportional to voltage when resistance is fixed."

"Oh. Math," Glen deadpanned.

"Which means, the lower your resistance, the greater the effect of the voltage in current."

"Huh?" both boys said as one.

"You want the short form of it?" Dr. Marcus asked, grinning.

"Please," Glen said, looking a little lost.

"It means, the lower your resistance, the bigger the power bites," Dr. McCoy supplied. "Since wet skin has less resistance to the energy in general, it ramps up the power and damage potential of the energy by a factor of 100."

"So… one hundred twenty-one gigawatts?" Peter said, in awe.

"Got it in one, kiddo," Dr. Marcus said. "So, what does that mean? It means that something about Glen's body is either highly resistant to electrical energy, or is sympathetic to it."

"Sympathetic how?" Glen asked. "Like as a channel for the energy?"

"Or a battery to store it," Dr. Marcus nodded. "We wont know until we get some more information. We have ideas. Theories."

"And those needle things you got there will help you know which way that is?" Peter continued.

"Wow, cute and smart," Jasmine said, earning a head turning, ear glowing blush from Peter.

Glen's face seemed to flatten, taking on a serious cast. "Okay, so that's one thing. You said there were two things."

"Glen," Dr. McCoy began, leaning forward in his chair. "We have seen what happens to full grown men when they get hit by lightning. Even a few that have been struck while standing in puddles, dripping wet from thunderstorms, one who was even standing in a water hazard at a golf course. The results are almost always not good. In the case of those who were wet, they almost always die, instantly. The body just cannot absorb that much power without it going through you and seeking violent escape, often making the body rip itself apart with uncontrollable and powerful muscular contractions. I don't say this to scare you.

"We… we cannot explain with science alone how you survived. And now, we've heard from you, seen evidence of our own eyes, that you are exhibiting abilities with electricity that just do not exist in humans naturally."

"Not with science alone," Jasmine affirmed. "And with what we know about the accident when you were still in a coma…"

"And what I observed the day you went home…" Dr. McCoy said, touching Glen's shoulder. The boy's eyes widened realizing what that meant. How these three medical professionals all knew his big secret. "Relax, Glen. So far we haven't told your parents about this. But we needed to consult as a team to understand this phenomenon. So we could help you understand."

"B-but what i-if we can't figure it out?" Glen stammered.

"There are many things about the human body we still don't know or understand, Glen," Dr. Marcus said. "We've seen hints that some superhuman acts may be more common than previously suspected."

"Superhuman?" Glen and Peter said, simultaneously, getting a swapped look between the boys.

"Yes," Jasmine said. "We've seen evidence of it all the time. Even in sleepy little Canterbury. Last year, a mother on Franklin Street managed to lift a GMC Sierra that had fallen off a jack stand, trapping her husband and 4-year-old son. About a year ago, a 6-year-old girl ran fifteen miles in 10-degree weather during an ice storm to escape a kidnapper. She did that fifteen miles in twenty minutes. In January, a man from Amesbury was T-boned coming off I-495. Split his pick-up truck in half right through driver's side… not a scratch on him. And just this last summer, a boy standing in three feet of sea water survived being directly struck by lightning."

"Me," Glen said, softly.

"You," Jasmine confirmed with a nod. "We've been documenting such things, trying to come up with explanations. You are the first case we've had where the ability seems to be repeatable."

"Boy, is it!" Peter said. Glen shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

"What do you mean, Peter?" Dr. McCoy asked.

Peter quickly relayed the events of the weekend. Including Glen saving his cousin and the weird monster made of serpents that seemed to melt into shadows after Glen blasted it. The three medicos listened raptly. Glen blushed profusely. He didn't know how to handle being the hero of someone else's story, still not sure if he was even the hero of his own yet. Glen did supply some details with Peter's narrative, but both boys backed up the other's story completely.

Neither boy mentioned the nearly clear arrow, as if by silent agreement.

"Sounds like you had an adventurous weekend," Dr. McCoy replied when Peter's tale ended.

"There's more," Glen sighed. Haltingly, and with occasional back and shoulder rubs from Peter, Glen told the story of how he'd run off Giuseppe the previous Sunday. And, with trembling lip and reddened ears, Glen revealed why he'd run Giuseppe off. And the evidence.

"I still have the phone," Glen said, a tear tracing down his cheek. "And I did what you asked me to, Pete," Glen admitted, his body stuck between sorrow for what his friend endured at the waiter's all to grabby hands, and anger at having let the bastard get away so lightly. Glen's eyes picked up a slight glow and his chest felt warm and tingly as the fractals pulsed dully with energy.

Peter stood in front of Glen and embraced him, the two boys silently crying as the medical team looked on.

"On that note, I think we'll take a break," Dr. McCoy spoke, softly yet solemnly. "Why don't you boys rest a minute in the exam room whilst we old people talk. I left some chocolate milk in the little fridge in there, and there is a plate of my wife's home-made brownies. Help yourselves."

"Thank you, Doctor," Glen replied. He and Peter entered the exam room and Jasmine quietly shut the door.

"That... was not what I expected," Dr. Marcus said, slouching back on the couch. "This kid, heck, both of these kids, have been through hell."

"And yet they are still sweet kids. Not a mean bone between them," Jasmine agreed, sitting on the edge of the couch with her hands clasped between her knees. "But he is clearly capable of using his ability at will. From what they both described, they encountered some sort of shadow-spawn, that night. And Glen fended it off all by himself."

"Emotion seems to be his route to controlling it. Or at least to unleashing it," Dr. McCoy nodded. "We have uncorked more than just a case of superhuman excellence and resiliency, my friends. This is truly beyond any of our wildest dreams."

"If what Glen says is true about what is on that phone, we are required by law to act," Dr. Marcus pointed out. "Our role in this is pretty clear."

"But if we say anything, we are also giving up Glen's secret," Jasmine postulated. "And risk compromising ourselves as well. I agree, this man must be brought to justice, before he can start all over again with kids in a new town. And the kids he's raped here will need therapy."

"I think, despite the dictates of the law, that what Glen has done is for the best. And I think that we, dear friends," Dr. McCoy said, reaching into his desk drawer and pulling out a large clear challis. He poured into the glass about two fingers of brandy from a green glass bottle. "We must deal with this Giuseppe person in our own way. I doubt he will escape what's due him," the doctor grinned, taking a sip. He passed the challis to Jasmine, who inhaled deeply of it before taking a sip as well. She in turn passed the cup to Dr. Marcus who held the cup and swished the contents about a few times.

"If you're saying what I think you're saying…" Dr. Marcus began.

"You can assume that I am," the dark skinned doctor replied, inclining his head.

"Then we will have to keep this secret with Glen and Peter, and hope that they can keep secrets as well. They both readily told us everything."

"They trust us," Jasmine responded. "We do have Glen's best interests at heart."

"Yeah, they trust us, but should we trust them?" Marcus countered. "Glen is still figuring things out. And Peter's bloodline…"

"I'm well aware of what is in Peter's family history," Dr. McCoy replied. "We all know what is at stake here. Glen, and Peter for that matter, are good kids about to be in way deeper over their heads than either of them is ready for. They displaced a conglomeration of shadow serpents. Glen has exercised moral authority and stayed his anger over a former tormenter, and used his powers to save a life. We cannot turn them in to those who would abuse, or attempt to coerce them into doing objectionable things."

"Yes, we've seen where that path leads," Jasmine said, eyes cast down to the table for a moment. Brightening, she looked to Dr. Marcus. "Wish we had others like us around when I was their age."

"Here-here!" Marcus cheered. He swished the contents of the challis again. "If we do this, how much do we let him know about us?"

"For now, the Covens must remain a secret. I know that we can eventually trust both boys with the truth, but the less they know about us, or the others around town with psychic abilities, the better. For the boys," Dr. McCoy said, "and the other telepaths. Glen is a level far above any of us. He may well represent a new stage in human evolution, even beyond our capabilities."

"So our plan should be to guide, hide and abide?" Jasmine intoned, as if reciting from scripture.

"That and get this Giuseppe person well and truly off the grid, for good," Marcus said, finally taking a sip from the challis.

"Indeed," Dr. McCoy replied. "I have a feeling that we've not seen the last of such surprises as Glen."

"And Peter. Such strength for such a little guy. His shoulders already have a full load."

"I agree, my dear," the older doctor commented. "He should be protected, given a chance to be a kid."

"He works at the bike shop. I'm surprised that ole master McMillian hasn't said anything," Dr. Marcus said, handing the challis back to his elder.

"We'll see what he says on the matter," McCoy replied. "There may be a reason."

"What about Glen?" Jasmine asked.

"We do as we said we would, just at levels he doesn't understand yet. As you say, as it is written: guide, hide and abide."

"Wash, rinse, repeat!" Marcus interjected with a wry grin. "We still need to get data from him, see what he's capable of."

"I think he'll be more than happy to let us, especially since it does help us understand how he does it. That much power, like Peter and Glen both described…" Dr. McCoy shook his head sadly.

"It should have killed him," Jasmine said, sadly. "Right? I mean, each time he uses it, the energy involved is mind-numbing."

"At the very least, any human channeling that kind of power, even at very low amperage and voltage, should be unconscious, burnt, more than likely fried from the inside out. Yet he is doing this, almost casually." Dr. McCoy leaned back in his chair, the fingers of his left hand split around the stem of the challis. "By all accounts he was a rotten kid before. Now he's the soul of civility and humility. And likely able to kill every one of us with a single flash from his eyes."

"So we protect him?" Dr. Marcus said.

"We watch him," Dr. McCoy replied. "And we hope that he stays the nice kid he is now. Because that is probably the one thing keeping him from using his powers like a tyrant."

"And this Giuseppe guy?"

"Let us discover what Glen intends for the victims. I think we have people that can deal with the perpetrator as is fitting," Dr. McCoy said, darkly. "May Light always shine," he said, softly, his words echoed by the others as he took the last sip from the challis. "For now, we continue the examination."

In the side exam room, the only sounds were the chomping of mouths and the occasional giggle, gurgle of milk and sighs around mouthfuls. Boys and brownies with chocolate milk seems to be a universal formula for quiet contentment. The two boys sat beside an exam table, Peter choosing the rolling stool, happily stuffing the thick, soft yet crunchy squares of baked goodness into their mouths with enormous grins. And who could blame them, the brownies in question being three layers of chocolate cake, caramel cake and the fudge topping, with diced walnuts sprinkled across the top.

Glen refilled his glass with a deep brown splash of chocolate milk, needing to wash down the thick, gooey remnants of his second brownie, even as Peter was stuffing the last of his second one into his mouth, adding a swish of liquid behind it.

"What do you think they're talking 'bout?" Peter asked. Glen shrugged, lifting the glass to his face. "You think they're gonna do anything about Giuseppe? Like since we kinda told them?"

"Maybe," Glen croaked out, giving his throat a drench from his glass. The chocolate moo-juice cleared out his voice as he swallowed. "I don't know Dr. Marcus so well, but Jasmine will be sad but angry about it. Dr. McCoy is very thoughtful. He'll probably ask us what we want done about it."

"You haven't said anything to anyone else, have you?"

"I sort of told my dad about it, without saying exactly what happened or who did it. Or who all it was done to," Glen admitted, contemplating reaching for a third brownie. The echoes of that flavor was still teasing in his mind, and while his tongue was begging for more, Glen suddenly didn't want to seem to be greedy. Perhaps his metabolism was making pleas of his consciousness to have some mercy, despite the tremors of delight the baked goods caused in Glen's body.

"What did he say?"

"He was kind of happy with how I handled it," Glen shrugged. "Part of me thinks that Dad's sense of justice is pretty much based on doing the least harm to those hurt as well as making sure those that did wrong don't continue to do harm."

"So he's not going to be all crazy if he finds out… you know… the things?"

"I'm in a unique place, I guess. I can't remember exactly what was done to me. So, while I can look at the stuff on the phone and recognize it was done to me, it wasn't done to this me. I don't feel it as much as you do, I guess."

"Lucky you," Peter said darkly, setting his glass down on the sink counter. "When you saw what was done to me…" Peter started, but found himself looking at the floor, his hands going to the back of his stool.

"Pete," Glen said, looking directly at the other boy, their eyes connecting across the short span of checkered linoleum tiles between them. -*

Peter lifted his eyes from under his long fore bangs, questions written, unasked, quivering, waiting inside. "I saw. I know that… that what happened may not have been your idea. It wasn't my idea in the vid I saw of myself either. But I know."

"You do?"

As if having a hard time picking the right words, Glen continued. "I found things, some things, in what happened to me enjoyable too. I know it was wrong what he did to us. Part of me did like it, though. Part of me wants more, even though I know he probably got worse to me as things went on. I only looked at my one video and…" he paused, sighing deeply, "one of yours."

"Which one?" Peter asked, not knowing what else to say.

"It doesn't matter."

"Yes," Peter said, finding strength in his voice. "It matters. It always matters."

Glen nodded solemnly. "Without saying too much," Glen continued, "you had on a green shirt with a fox face on it."

"Oh," Peter said, his face shifting through different levels of shame and remembrance. "I know what you saw then."

"Now that I think about it, that shirt's kinda familiar," Glen said, his face twisting in confusion, a look he'd been adopting more and more.

"It should. Not sure if I should tell you where it's from," Peter grinned, relaxing from the tension of the revelation of what Glen saw. "Maybe if you think about it, some memories will come back."

"Dr. McCoy said they may come back in a rush. Like one opens a door to a hallway and some of the doors in that hallway are already open, and others still closed. But… that image. It's something we share, right?"

"Yes. But it's not personal. We share it with a lot of kids." Glen's twisted, thinking face switched to a reverse of itself, with a double blink. Peter snorted, trying to hold in a laugh at Glen's expression.

"What?" Glen asked, a little perplexed. Peter pointed to the mirror over the sink in the room. As Glen examined his expression, Peter couldn't hold back the giggles anymore.

"Guess it's true," Peter said, covering his face with his hand. "Dog owners do start to look like their dogs," Peter explained. Glen looked from Peter then back to his own reflection, then back to Peter, still confused, but smiling. He couldn't deny that he had seen Chase get similar expressions.

"You should do that more." Glen said, giving the brownies a third look.

"Do what?" Peter asked.

"Smile. Laugh. It looks good on you." Peter gulped upon hearing that, going slightly pale. Glen paused, realizing that what he'd said had an effect on Peter. "Did I say something wrong?"

"No, I, uh…" Peter stammered.

"I did. I said something that embarrassed you. I'm sorry Pete. I don't mean to upset you. I'm still figuring out…"

"No, you're fine," Peter said, perhaps a little too quickly, cutting of Glen's self-deprecation. "I just didn't expect you to say it… say it like that, I mean."

A feeling came over Glen, almost an understanding. He recognized a tension between Peter and himself. Something more than the budding rekindling of their friendship. Something that had been affecting Peter for a while, bit Glen just noticed it, and just recognized that it had been there on Peter's side for a long while. Something Glen wasn't sure he could put a name to, but for some reason, it felt good to him. It felt right and wrong and shaky and solid and empty and full and bouncing back and forth between all these extremes at the same time. Bouncing, but always returning to the center, pausing there. It felt good, in the middle.

"Middle," Glen said, suddenly, distractedly. It was Peter's turn to go from his own "bouncing" place to a confused expression and head twist.


"The clues were all there, but I only just now figured it out. And I remember," Glen said, his eyes lifting with eureka. "That shirt."


"Middle school. The fox head on a green shirt. That's from our middle school. Fox Middle School."

"That's right! Those were our gym dress out shirts," Peter beamed. "Do you remember anything else?"

"The French fries at lunch were horrible. The water fountain on the third floor, by the boy's bathroom, it didn't shoot the water very high but it was always cold. Coldest water in the school."

"Yes!" Peter said, fist pumping. "You * are* getting your memory back!"

"Yeah," Glen agreed, getting a grin but suddenly looking a little sad as well. "I just hope they're all good memories."

"Even bad ones are not too bad," Peter shrugged.

"Yeah, but what if my memories turn me back into who I used to be. I don't like who I used to be. I was an asshole."

"Guess I didn't think about that. But at least you get to choose."


"Yeah. The old you would never even think about not wanting to be who he is. You get the option of keeping the better parts of you."

"Maybe," Glen conceded. "But it also means I might remember what Giuseppe did to me. To us." A gentle silence crept between them, both lost in their own thoughts about the Giuseppe issue.

"So… you saw?" Glen nodded, sagely. "All of it?" Glen simply closed his eyes, not wanting to remember, but seeing the images replay in his mind. "Then you know… he probably did that much to you too, huh?"

"I can only guess at this point. Well, that's not true. I could swallow my fear and look at all the ones with my name on them. Own it, know the truth, ya know?"

"Yeah. Do you worry about that? About changing back?"

"Part of me wants to at least know how much of a jerk I really was. I got this feeling that I was even worse than people knew."

"And the other part?"

"There's more than just two parts," Glen said, sardonically. Peter smiled. "Like you said, this is a second chance. I'm tired of doing it wrong by people. I want to fix all the crap I did wrong."

"No one can fix it all," Peter said, sadness in his voice. "If someone could fix it, then my parents wouldn't be fighting all the time."

"Well, I have a plan to at least fix things for all the guys that Giuseppe hurt."

Peter looked up expectantly.

"But first, wanna split one?" Glen asked, nodding towards the decimated plate of brownies.

"Split? But there's five left."

"I don't think I can take a whole one right now," Glen admitted. "Share one with me?"

"I'll cut, you pour more milk," Peter agreed.

"Sounds like a plan."

The examination continued. Dr. Marcus used Peter as a baseline test subject for the electrical probe. Which required Peter to remove his shirt, socks and shoes. The probe needles sort of tickled as they touched Peter's skin. Measurements were made, recorded and then it was Glen's turn.

Glen felt no shame in taking off his shirt. He'd felt no shame in watching Peter strip off his top either, although he noticed himself paying more attention to Peter's skin than the scientific measurements occurring. Peter did catch Glen's eyes once while the tests were going on and it felt to Glen like Peter liked being looked at. Glen blushed at that realization.

Dr. McCoy noticed as well.

Glen slipped his shirt off as Peter slipped his narrow chest and arms back into his shirt. Dr. Marcus began taking readings from Glen's skin, using the probes at the same places he had with Peter. Glen tried to concentrate on keeping calm. He closed his eyes and tried to keep an image of Chase in his mind. Dr. McCoy kept notes as Dr. Marcus performed the simple measurements. Jasmine had started recording the measurements with a digital camera on a tripod. Special care was taken to document the scars across Glen's chest, even as Dr. Marcus took electrical readings there as well.

"Okay, Glen," Dr. McCoy said, inhaling deeply. "We need you to try to cause your scars to glow. Now, in the past you say you've exhibited abilities during heightened emotional states, yes?"


"Such as what?"

"Well, when I did what I did for my cousin, I don't really know what I was feeling. But when I popped off the spark before I left the hospital, it was because I was angry."

"Yes. Yes, I see. You were upset about how other people in your life were treating Peter. Is that correct?" Glen nodded, mumbling a soft yes. Again, the doctor noticed how Glen's eyes shifted to Peter before answering. "What about when you were confronted by the shadow spawn? How did you feel then?"

"Ya know, I haven't thought about it. I remember being a little afraid, but not for me."

"You were concerned about your friend?"

"Well, yeah, but… there was more to it than that."

"So, put us in the mindset you were in when you attacked the shadow spawn," Dr. McCoy directed, his voice calm and soothing.

Glen closed his eyes, slowed his breathing, adjusted his posture. All techniques that Jasmine had taught him as part of his physical therapy. "I had been thinking about the stuff on the cell phone. I was worried about Peter and Chase."

"And who is Chase?"

"My dog. He's a great pyranese. The monster was huge, even bigger than Chase. I saw the monster chasing Peter, saw Peter's fear on his face. Saw how upset my dog was. And it was like…" Glen opened his eyes, releasing a strong glow of aquamarine. Jasmine and Dr. Marcus both gasped, never having seen this effect before. "It was like all those feelings gave me something to grab onto. Something I could use and control. Like, I could feel the emotions in my hands, and I could feel the electricity there as well. Like now."

Glen looked down. He could see the glow from his eyes reflecting on everything in the room. And his chest was lit up like a neon sign on a dark, foggy, moonless night. The light was tickling under his skin, chasing in pulses of brightness amidst the duller but still luminous blue lines, clearly showing the bird of prey pattern.

"Ohmigosh," Jasmine exhaled slowly. She looked over to Dr. Marcus and nudged him. The doctor shook the stunned look off his face and moved forward with the probe.

"Are you feeling stressed, Glen?" Dr. McCoy asked, calmly.


"Dude, you're floating again," Peter noted. And indeed, Glen's bare feet were lifted four inches off the ground. Dr. Marcus placed the probes on the same scar line, one of the glowing trails flaring out from his chest towards his right arm.

"The reading's off the scale," Marcus said softly. "This device is incapable of measuring the energy output."

"Extraordinary!" Dr. McCoy beamed, his smile wide with wonder.

"Beautiful," Jasmine breathed out.

"Can you control it?" McCoy asked.

"Yes. I think I can."

"Can you show us a small flash, between your thumb and finger, perhaps?"

"Yes, Doctor," Glen replied. He held up his right hand as Dr. Marcus stepped back out of the way. Glen held his fingers together near his thumb and moved them apart, concentrating. A spark leapt into life between his fingers, linking his palm and thumb with a strong arc, while smaller dancing lines of electricity pulsed and licked out to his fingertips.

"Can you return to the ground?"

Glen nodded and the light issuing from his eyes, chest and still electro-arcing fingers diminished. Slowly, Glen's feet came back into contact with the floor.

"Dr. Marcus, would you examine Glen's eyes, please?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah." The optic tool came back up, and Dr. Marcus looked into Glen's glowing eyes. "Amazing!" the doctor breathed out, leaning back from Glen's left eye and peering through the tool into the right one. "There are structures in there that don't match normal retinal tissue, with flickering sparks moving inside. Do you have any trouble seeing, Glen? Any pain or tension?"

"There's kind of a purple flicker on some things. Mostly like electrical stuff. And sometimes I see flickers in the walls. You know, like near light switches or light bulbs or around computer stuff."

"Cell phones too?" Jasmine asked.

"Yeah, those practically crawl! Like," and Glen screwed up his face, trying to come up with an explanation. The lights on his chest died down and diminished to nothing, as did the lights in his eyes. "Like bunches of really small spiders swarming on things. Or ants. You know, the ones from nature videos that eat like everything and make bridges with their bodies?"

"You remember the nature video?"

"I guess. I don't *not* remember it. Huh? That doesn't make any sense, does it?"

"But you only see the purple, uh, spiders when your eyes are glowing?" Dr. McCoy asked.

"Oh, no. I can see them most times, just need to look closely. But whenever I have glows, it seems like most things have a little of it."

"I see. We will call your mother and reschedule a follow up appointment. But for now, everything looks okay. How do you feel, Glen?"

"I feel… fine," Glen replied, smiling at the neurologist.

"How were those brownies?" McCoy smiled.

"Ohmigod, those were soo good!" Glen said, the glow completely leaving his eyes.

"Yeah! You are so lucky your wife can make those for you like any time."

"You boys are welcome to take the rest of them with you."

"Really?" they both said at the same time.

"Absolutely. Like you say, she can make me more anytime. Why don't you go collect them, Peter, while Glen gets his shoes and shirt back on."

"I'll give you a hand," Jasmine said, rising as Peter stood up. Together they entered the exam room.

With just the two doctors in the room with him, Glen quickly finished dressing, listening to Dr. McCoy.

"So, what are you going to do about the cell phone?"

"I think…, well, he's going away, so I wont have to worry about him anymore. I was going to keep the phone in case he didn't' leave, told him I was going to give it to the police," Glen said, bending to tie his sneakers. "But as long as he's gone, I don't' need it, and I don't want to see anything else on there. But I don't want anyone to use it against the other guys. It would be embarrassing."

"So what does that leave?" Dr. Marcus asked, putting his equipment away. The electrical meter seemed to be charred, the rubbery outer casing had a slightly melted look.

"I have a plan to destroy it. And let the guys who have things on here know it's destroyed, so they're safe."

"Are you sure?" Dr. Marcus asked. "This man deserves to be punished. He's done some pretty horrible, illegal things."

"If we do it the legal way, it will take a long time. Kids will be hurt worse having to talk about it. Having to admit stuff. This way, they know they are safe."

"You are a brave boy, Glen. And thoughtful. You may have more wisdom than grown men who remember their whole lives."

"Thanks Dr. McCoy."

Jasmine and Peter entered the office, the latter carrying a small paper bag. Glen stood up, smiling at Peter. Peter smiled back. Dr. McCoy sagely noted the look, recognizing that something there had changed.

Just before the boys walked towards the door, Dr. Marcus seemed to remember something, snapping his fingers. "Oh, uh, Pete, you still have that feather?"

"Oh, I almost forgot. Here you go," and Peter handed the gemstone feather. "That's really cool. How'd they do that?"

"Lasers," Dr. Marcus replied, casually. "Seems most cool things today involve lasers."

"Yeah," Peter responded, thoughtfully. "Makes sense."

The boys headed out of the office and took the stairs down. Minutes later they were outside, walking along the street west, towards the bicycle shop.

Inside the office, the coven members stared at the gemstone feather, and watched as the creamy jade color slowly faded to white.

"May Light always shine," Dr. McCoy nodded. "This changes many things."

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