This story is by Anthony E. Savasta and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Pat…? Earth to Patrick…Patrick Smith!” my teacher said.
Hearing my full name was always a good way to get my attention. I turned my head from the window and met his eyes. He began to continue his lecture when suddenly the bell rang. I gathered my things and sped towards the hallway to meet up with some friends. The traditional senior farewell bash on the football field was later tonight. It was all I could think about. As students exited the classroom my teacher reminded us one last time of our final writing assignment. I didn’t know it then but this was the last time I would walk out of the classroom, of this school.
Later that night we pulled up to the football field. I had never seen it at night with all the lights out. I could make out the outlines of other teens on the field, music coming from an unknown source. The moment we waited four years for had finally arrived. I don’t remember too much from that night. Light beers had fogged the memory. I recall mingles, laughs, and typical hi-jinks. And then light.
We all thought it was the stadium lights raining on our parade. That we had been busted. Everyone started running. I ran into a keg and fell over. I could barely feel the pain. I watched, a mouth full of fake grass, as my friends sprinted away giggling like madmen. I looked to the stadium lights and to my surprise they weren’t on. There was a loud hum all around me. The screams and laughter of the other partygoers had drowned it out but now they were gone. I was alone on the field. I turned on my side and glanced upward. I saw the outline of a peculiar mass. It looked like a giant whale swimming through the sky. It passed over ominously.
The light it emitted grew stronger until I could no longer bare to look. I closed my eyes. Suddenly the sound had ceased. The light had lessened and eventually faded all together. There are large gaps after that. How long I kept my eyes closed, if I slept at all that night, is still unclear to me.
At some point I did open my eyes. The crunchy and itchy turf from the field was no longer beneath me though. Instead I felt thick sheets of rough tiles overlapping one another. I was on my roof. Judging by the position of the sun it was early in the morning. I stood up and peered outward. It struck me that I had never actually been on the roof before. The view was stunning. As I scoped the surrounding area, I began to realize the immense amount of detail before me. I could see runners over by the park. I could read their lips. No. I could hear them. I could also make out the tiny logos on their sweatbands and even the perspiration flowing down their bodies.
As I got lost in the details a slight breeze picked up around me. It whirred and shrieked ever so subtly. I could feel it like a wave of water, every part of it expanding around my body and conforming to my outline. It had shaken a nearby tree just forcefully enough for leaves to detach from it. I swear I anticipated them flying past my ear, their crispy asymmetrical wings setting each one on a unique trajectory. I watched as they flew away dispersing in different paths. How did I get up here exactly? There was no ladder in sight. How would I explain this to my mother?
I crept over to the front side of the house and looked down. There was no way for me to land without breaking something. What other choice did I have? I crouched low, clasped the edge, gently lowered my legs, and hung from the side as to decrease the length of my descent. I hung there for a few seconds. Just last week I could barely manage a pull up in gym class but now I felt weightless, almost as if my strength would allow me to hang here forever. I let go though and braced for impact with the ground below. It never came. Instead I stayed exactly where I had been, my hands no longer clasping the edge of the roof. I was floating. I continued to look down in absolute astonishment waiting for the fall to begin. As I floated there the door beneath me opened up. It was my mother retrieving the morning newspaper. I frantically grasped for the roof and pulled myself back up to evade her gaze should it have turned upward. I wouldn’t be expected to be home for a few more hours. I looked down at my feet, said a tiny prayer, and began running to the opposite side of the roof. When I reached the edge, I used all my might and pushed off. I was flying. Boundless. I set my course for the local diner where the other seniors would be.
I reached the diner. I was about float down right in front of it. I caught myself though and flew towards an alley way to land in where no one would spot me. I needed time to myself to figure this all out. For now, it was to remain a secret. I walked out of the alley and towards the diner. There was a large banner overhead which read “Congratulations Seniors!” I walked up to the door and entered. I saw my friends and classmates squished into a tiny booth. I joined them, almost forgetting what had just happened to me. I was still a teenager and these would be some of my last memories with my classmates.
We sat and reminisced over the last four years and what our plans would be for the next four and beyond. Outside a feud was escalating between a man and woman. I was the only one to notice. My enhanced senses would not let up. It felt like they were growing stronger by the minute. I overheard cries of infidelity from the previous night. Their voices continued to rise. Now everyone else in the diner had heard and turned their attention towards them. Only I could hear the subtle cracking of knuckles and movement of limbs as the man raised his arm. I wasn’t thinking. I acted prematurely. Before anyone could even process it, I darted at lightning speed, taking the doors off their hinges, and slammed the man into a brick wall at the opposite end of the street.
I stood in the middle of the street; cars stopped in front of me. I turned towards the diner; all eyes fixated on me. The woman began to scream and ran over toward her lover’s limp body. He was dead. I could make out no sound or movement from him. I was frozen. In the distance I could make out the wailing of sirens. They were approaching fast. My adrenaline was racing. I pushed off the ground with all my strength causing the pavement to splinter and create a tiny crater.
I hovered above my town. It was not as beautiful as the first time I flew over it. Below lay chaos and destruction now, all caused by me. Police cars screeched to the scene. The officers darted out of their vehicles; firearms drawn. A shot whipped at me, the bullet hit me in the chest and fell to the ground. I didn’t feel a thing.
“I was trying to help!” I shouted at the crowd. Another shot was fired. I shouted even louder. “Stop it!” The force of it sent a powerful gust forcing a cop car to roll into a nearby building. Glass shattered everywhere.
“Hold your fire! Listen son. We just want to help. Why don’t you…uh…float on down and we can talk thi-” He was cut off by a shrill and desperate voice. It was my mother.
“Patrick! Patrick Smith!”
It shook me to my core. She kept repeating my full name over and over. I could make out the tears in her eyes as they ran through the intricate wrinkles in her face. I took one last look below me. I’m still not sure if it was the right decision. At that time though I felt there was no redemption for me. Not in her eyes and certainly not in anyone else’s. I fled. I took one last look at the one person who showed me true compassion, that only of a parent towards their child, and left Earth.
I had been gifted with the power to overcome any obstacle. I wasn’t ready for the endless strength and the discipline it would require. I would learn though. I would learn where this power and the whale in the sky had come from. And only then would I be ready to return.