A return of something cold, something from the past.
|Johnny Golightly walked in silence, except for the crunch of pavement stones as he approached Sir Farwen’s School for Boys. After this weekend, he wasn’t exactly afraid of being alone. Instead, he was afraid of what his own mind tried to do when left to itself. Cold, a chill ran down his back. Mist escaped his mouth as he walked.
He wore black, like he always did—school uniform or not, and walked briskly in the morning autumn breeze. He carried his case after a weekend away at home, a once-monthly privilege at his boarding school in Scotland, which his parents picked because he could take weekends at his grandmother’s, a few dozen kilometers away. His gray scarf covered his face, and out poked a tuft of black hair and two blue eyes that he always thought were too easy to read. Right now, those eyes looked very worried.
Johnny’s walk from his grandmother’s car to the dorm went fast enough, and he quickly engaged the first person he saw to draw them into a conversation, to distract his thoughts. He saw his friend Roger near the display case with the school’s rugby trophies and photographs. One photograph even had his grandfather’s image in it, who also had black hair and light-colored eyes like his grandson. Johnny was following in granddad’s footsteps, also on the rugby team, except his weekends away.
“Roger,” he exclaimed, “Glad to see you. How was the weekend? What happened at the rugby match? I’m sorry I had to miss it,” and he tried think about other things, anything but Julian.
Right before his weekend away, Johnny and Julian were competing for top scores in a Chemistry class with Prof. Wimpole. At 17, his boarding school upbringing reinforced Johnny’s competitive nature, and he was always trying to out-think and outdo. When his performance didn’t match his expectations, his temper always rose to his face, turning beet-red whenever he felt slighted. When Prof. Wimpole left the scores for the semester’s first exam posted outside his classroom, Johnny and his schoolmates gathered around. Prof. Wimpole always used a coding system like all the professors at Farwen’s, so no names were written on the results sheet. But Johnny knew Julian’s code. He saw it just above his own name at the top of the list.
“Good try, Golightly!” Julian said, smacking him on the arm. “Better luck on the next exam, eh?”
“You prig, I’ve gotten better scores than you in every class but this. You just think you can impress Prof. Wimpole so you spent your whole week studying Chem. And only to get a couple of points above mine!” Johnny replied, his face going red.
“Look at him,” Julian gestured around him, “Johnny’s gone brawny again, he’s like a red Hulk!” This drew a few laughs, but Julian saw the cold anger in Johnny’s face and left with a couple of friends.
Before this weekend at his grandmother’s, he wouldn’t have thought too much about it, but he had just learned something about himself. Something perhaps he always had known?
“You’re an eidolon, Johnny,” his grandmother said, “a living spirit version of the dead. Haven’t you felt the cold? Haven’t you ever noticed the way that you can sense others’ thoughts and control them?”
Johnny didn’t know how they had gotten onto this strange topic, and he always wondered why his mother had warned him about Grandmama—now he knew. Or was she not crazy? Hadn’t he always felt… other? Different?
He began to worry about Julian. Could he hurt him? Not physically, surely. But could he somehow hurt Julian with his mind?
He was glad that the bell for class would be ringing soon. He excused himself from his conversation with Roger and walked to his Calculus class. No Julian until next hour’s Chemistry class with Prof. Wimpole.
He waited impatiently to see if what he feared had happened. Had he killed Julian? Could he really control his thoughts? The hour passed and he walked to his Chemistry class.
“He’s alive,” the whisper escaped Johnny’s lips. “Thank goodness.”
Julian sat and looked over at Johnny, “Let the competition continue, eh, Johnny?” he chuckled.
Prof. Wimpole walked over to Johnny. He was very old and spoke and walked slowly. “Johnny, my boy, great work on the first exam. You know, when I saw the name Golightly, I was afraid I was going to have another rugby career on my hands.”
“How’s that, professor?” Johnny asked.
“Your granddad never told, you, eh?” he smiled weakly.
“No. Actually, my granddad died the day I was born” Johnny replied.
“Well you see, I was his professor for Chemistry too, about forty years ago—been here that long. And, well, John Golightly was never… up to snuff in my classes. I hated to be the one to fail him, knowing it would make him lose his place on the team. He never forgave me, sadly,” explained Wimpole.
“You what?” Johnny asked, shocked.
Julian, overhearing, laughed out. “Hey Johnny, at least you’re not as big a loser as your granddad!” Julian chided.
Something inside Johnny woke. A wisp of some past memory. He remembered Prof. Wimpole as a young teacher, through his grandfather’s eyes. Hate blinded him. He vowed revenge on that man that ruined his life, that took away his chances. He turned toward Julian, his blood chilling. His blue eyes shone strangely. The bell rang and the professor continued on to the front of the room. His thoughts tuned in to Julian’s. “Now class, let’s begin,” Johnny heard.
“Now class, let’s begin” Johnny heard again, somehow through Julian’s mind. “This week we’re studying electron clouds, an enigmatic pattern of negative charge, floating around. We can never be certain where these negatively charged particles are!” Johnny heard, again as an echo.
Johnny stood up—no, that’s not right. Johnny stood Julian up. He rushed at Prof. Wimpole, with killing in his eyes. Revenge was finally his.