Story I'm working on. I'd appreciate as much critique as possible. Thanks.
Ch. 1: Pain in Secrecy
In a little alley in the midst of Washington Square laid an abandoned storage closet that was used by most teenagers for making out on romantic summer evenings and rebelling against curfew set by their parents on cold winter nights. The storage closet had been there for at least fifty years and it still looked out of place: a giant simply attached a few hunks of metal together and then dropped it into a line of overcrowded apartments and run-down restaurants that would give a food critic a heart attack if he found out they still existed. Almost every teenager in Oakwood County knew the storage closet was occupied six days a week, and it was an unwritten rule that it was off-limits on Sundays. The reason for such a schedule was unknown however, but the theory that the youth of Oakwood County had decided church was more important than a lack of parental supervision has already been disproved.
The non-occupation rule that plagued Sundays like a 1930s movie for most teenagers was a ray of joy for a few children. They were the outcasts of school and society for various reasons: an extra arm, six legs, even an extra eye or two on the forehead. They came there to be free of slight glances and piercing stares that were blatant moles on their already shattered self-esteem. Some of the preppies who used the storage closet on the other days would sometimes stop by to toss fireballs and metal pipes through the windows, which disproved the theory that the others didn’t use their haven on Sundays because they were afraid of the menaces their society had rejected.
Every other Sunday the back right corner of the storage closet was filled by a girl who appeared to be no more than twenty and possessed beautiful brown eyes and brown hair that looked it would be tamed as easily as a mountain lion. Every other Sunday her face was contorted with slight physical discomfort as she quietly pulled out a tube from her pack, slipped a needle into it, and hooked it into her arm.
“Pain for pain,” the girl said softly. “Pain for pain.”
Ch 2: Separate but not Equal
“They’re segregating us!”
Plessy vs. Ferguson was the first thought that came to Callista’s mind. How you know you’re an Advanced Placement student: you hear a word and you immediately think of its definition or a court case.
A warm fall day had settled on Oakwood County like a favorite article of clothing, days that were usually common in October until the crisp, icy ones of November hit the town, which better reflected its personality.
Callista was busy trying to feed herself without any hands. She was telekinetic, and this was a project she had been working on ever since school started; pick pocketing physically and mentally had grown old anyway, especially when she realized the lack of money in people’s wallets equaled the lack of intelligence in their minds. Callista almost had the fork to her mouth when Orion came running over and her concentration broke; consequently her fork decided it would rather feed spaghetti up her nostrils than into her mouth.
Callista rolled her eyes as the fork dropped onto her plate. “Hate to say I told you so…although I was two years too late.”
Orion was still panting from his quick dash to his best friend, but he still managed a slight smile. “At least you were realistic. I was still having fantasies of the Mutual Manifestation Organization shoved up my butt.”
Callista grinned. “At least it’s a very nice looking butt.”
Orion smiled sheepishly. The hotness of his derriere was proportionate to the rest of his body, which contained piercing amber eyes, a glowing smile, and a chiseled face and abdomen. Callista commented on his good looks all the time but it was part of their bond; they were simply nothing more than best friends with nothing better to do but study and comment on each other’s physical well-being.
“It’s too bad I have to be segregated, for they certainly don’t know what they’re missing.” Orion looked around quickly to make sure no one was watching and then psychically swished a few pebbles on the ground—earth powers he wasn’t supposed to have. He sighed. “Just read the damn paper.”
Taking what looked to be a letter out of Orion’s hands, Callista squinted at its coal-black writing.
“Due to the concerns of a numerous number of people in our educational family,” she snorted, “the Oakwood school board has decided to separate all children, ages five through seventeen, who are believed to impose an imminent threat to their respected educational facility and faculty. Only children with extra appendages, bodily implements, and powers will be taught in the James Topeka Tyler Building…this policy will be implemented at the beginning of next year.” Callista shook her head with disdain and looked to the sky, as if hoping some spiritual enlightenment would save her school from the terrible condition of ignorance it was in. “Imminent threat? How would they know for certain that we’re going to be a danger to the school?” she cried. “It’s not like they have seers up there; we can’t even afford new textbooks let alone seers!”
“Calm down,” Orion replied soothingly. “You figured this was going to happen, remember?”
“Yeah, but it’s worse now that it’s actually happening.” Callista glared down at her half-eaten spaghetti, her face slowly distorting with fury. “I hate this. We’re all…the same anyway. I’m sick of the news reports, sick of the fear, sick--“
Her companion suddenly jumped out of his seat. “You’re about to be physically sick if you don’t move quickly. Ugly preppies ten feet around the corner.”
Callista didn’t doubt Orion. His other talent, sightseeing, was known by every social circle in the city for being notably accurate.
“Hey Motherload, what’s shakin’?”
Then again, Orion’s visions always arrived a bit later than he and his companion usually liked.
With teeth clenched Callista turned around. ‘Motherload’ was a term she abhorred, because it not only referred to her extra power but it also referenced her excessive cleavage. She forced a smile.
“Oh look, it’s the literal and figurative zit on our already oily society!” declared Callista, amidst the growing crowd of onlookers that was forming around her confrontation with Taurus. What she said did have some truth: Taurus was a short, rotund boy with fiery red hair, and numerous pimples of the same color decorated his face like ornaments on a Christmas tree.
“Callista—,” Orion began.
“Please Taurus; tell me when those zits pop. I heard all the money that amasses your newfound fortune was stolen by your father and then hid in your sebaceous glands.”
“Please Callista,” warned Orion.
Taurus shuddered with shock, then anger. He began moving dangerously close to his enemy. “What did you say to me?”
“You heard me,” Callista retorted, ready for battle. Her fingers were curled into tight fists, her breathing became rapid and shallow and temples pulsed intensely in her forehead—a sign of adrenaline, a sign that a power was growing inside of her.
Now Taurus was only two feet in front of her, a sight that would have been intimidating if his head was higher than Callista’s nose. What really worried his adversary was his fingers had started smoking; Taurus’ power, the only power he was supposed to have, was pyrokinesis. Callista had never been involved in a Powerball before, but she did learn from her father that freaks were easy scapegoats in times of crisis.
“Want to act on that comeback, Motherload?” murmured Taurus through wafts of smoke.
Callista glanced over at Orion, who was shaking his head with a look of enormous terror on his face. She knew that if she wasn’t involved, Orion would be looking dumbfounded with the rest of the idiots surrounding her, looking for some excitement in their mundane, pathetic lives. But he was on the sidelines, first concerned for her, silently cheering for her, willing to sacrifice himself for her if need be. She would never put him in that position.
She took a deep breath and glowered at Taurus. Callista would have been more than happy to simply narrow her eyes and walk away, but then she saw that Taurus’ eyes were dangerously averted toward something behind her.
A sudden crack whipped through the warm air and Callista became paralyzed as a huge volt of electricity jutted and jolted her body. She could feel Orion’s pain, hear Taurus’ laughter, see the glee of all the students as she reaffirmed their suspicious that she was nothing more than a coward—
Whirling her arm like a softball pitcher, Callista threw a huge ball of psychic force right into the stomach of Taurus, who flew ten feet backward like a speedily deflating red balloon. She heard the cries of fear and surprise, and wondered with a bolt of emotional pain if freak was higher than coward on her school’s social scale.
Her foe lay wriggling like an electrified moth in the grass.
Chapter 3: Freaky Father on a Friday
Tiny particles of gravel danced around Callista’s feet to the mournful tune of the wind as she trudged her way home. Being released from school two hours early would normally be cause for celebration; being released from school two hours early because she was suspended was another story. Such news would simply reaffirm to her father that she was the biggest mistake in all of Oakwood County, from her deformed hair to her tattered sneakers.
Callista’s labels had formed soon after her mother died in childbirth. She had no siblings and her father would rather have a hot iron poker shoved into his ears than be blamed for any unfortunate occurrence; consequently Callista and the family scrapbooks were objects of his torment for years afterward. Her father was named Scorpio for a reason: his emotional slurs and vibrant temper, reverberating off her mother’s pictures in an earthquake of emotion, would sting worse than any physical pain Callista had ever endured. When Scorpio was angry his enormous green eyes pulled back into his pulsating forehead, his temples throbbed to the painful tick of time, and he would release the water. At four years old Callista almost drowned thanks to a psychic state of rage imposed by her father, and ever since she possessed an enormous fear of water and an enormous fear of Scorpio.
The anvil of derogatory names had become a mountain when Scorpio remarried Capricorn, a woman who strongly reminded Callista of the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia. The thickest bond between her father and Capricorn seemed to be their agreement on the low social and domestic status of their fallen protégé. A typical conversation between the two of them was on the faults of Callista Pritchard and hypothetical ways to remedy them by cruel and unusual means.
Yet aside from the verbal criticisms Callista’s life really could be much worse; she simply learned from experience to stay out of her father’s way as often as possible. She lived in a nice house and had a large plasma screen television in her bedroom. Her house was at the pinnacle of a large hill, and her bedroom window looked out over all of Oakwood County below. At night the view, lit by the four moons from all directions, was very beautiful. Sometimes after a bad day she would imagine she was on one of those moons, playing and dancing with alien creatures among the tapestries of the stars.
The day was growing darker, and the wind’s icy melody was beginning to bite Callista’s cheeks as she slowly ambled up the hill toward her house. She could feel Wind Dragons writhe on icy pools of fear through her ravenous stomach, which were growling in terrified anticipation by the time she opened the front door.
Callista quickly glanced around. Not a soul was in the living room, a place piled high with oak furniture and comfortable chairs that she would hate to become the place of heated confrontation. She quietly tiptoed into the kitchen, empty of human life, and then made her way to the foot of the stairs. No piece of carpeting was undisturbed, and no sound was visible in the eerily silent household. Callista gradually, stealthily began making her way step by step up the stairs, she thought she could make it into her room, she was going to make it, and then the voice of death grabbed her body from behind and forced it about five feet into the air.
“Wanted to see me so early?” There was no warmth in that frozen utterance, only slight surprise and anger bordering on contempt.
Callista turned around. Her father stared back at her with crisp green eyes and a nose so sharp it looked as if pupils were blinking in its nostrils. His brown hair laid untamed like his daughter’s across his forehead, and a mouth of shock and anger curled at the corners—a sign that its owner was shocked and vigorously angry.
“Hi Dad, I—“
Scorpio held up his large hand to interrupt her. “I got a telepathic message from your principal this morning.”
Callista gulped. Green mirrors glared in her direction.
“Yes, a telepathic message,” Scorpio stated. “While I admire the…efficiency of such messages I never really liked the rudeness. Scared me to bits right in the middle of my morning shower; I thought my faucet was talking to me.”
Callista snorted, trying not to imagine her omnipotent father cowering in front of the watchful eye of the faucet. Her father heard and turned around sharply.
“You,” he declared suddenly, pointing a large, crooked finger at his offspring, “you are a walking disaster.”
Oh God. Oh God here it comes.
Scorpio paced back and forth, obviously growing more and more perturbed as water began cackling in slow drips from the ceiling.
“How dare you? How dare you cause me this stress now, with the baby coming and everything?”
A ray of joy that had pierced Callista’s painful domestic life was Capricorn’s baby boy, which was due in less than a week. Seers and physicians alike had predicted him to be incredibly powerful; his genetic makeup was the most convoluted and contained more chemicals in one strand than the doctor had seen in two years. Callista was sure the new baby would epitomize everything that she wasn’t and that Scorpio and Capricorn wanted. However, hopefully with some sisterly influence the boy wouldn’t be as much of a jackass as his parents.
Callista sucked in her breath in apprehension. The dripping was becoming louder.
“I—I wasn’t thinking.”
Her father hissed. “Do you EVER think? And when that remarkable occurrence arises, do you ever think of anyone besides yourself?”
Callista opened her mouth, and then closed it, realizing the futility of an argument with an authority figure. The dripping was faster now, and a small puddle of water was forming under her feet. Green mirrors waited intently for an answer, and then stared evilly at the growing pond on the floor.
“No, no you don’t think do you,” Scorpio began to mutter. “You are nothing more than a selfish, spoiled brat, you were that way ever since she died, always crying, carrying on—“
Drip, drip, drip.
“Always worrying about who would take care of you, it was always yourself, never us—“
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, DRIP.
The pond was becoming a lake. A lake of fear, a lake of hopelessness. A lake of tears Callista would create when she could escape to the sanctuary of her bedroom.
“How do you think she would feel?” Scorpio spat, as if his ex-wife was a cockroach. “How do you think she would feel if your mother knew you were like this?”
Callista remained frozen in a sea of terror.
Callista couldn’t take the hostility anymore. “Don’t bring my mother into this!”
The power shattered the glowing balls of emerald fire. The watchful eye of the faucet awoke and sent a huge blast of water through the ceiling, landing right on Callista, screaming in horror.
“I CAN TALK ABOUT ANYONE I DAMN WELL WANT TO!”
The flow of tears began to play with the water streaming from the cracks above Callista’s head. The familiar feelings of failure began to rush through her veins, and dragged her up the flooded stairs and into her room.
And the sun set that night as a father cried in anguish and a daughter mourned her loss.