The energy from the colliding attacks caused an explosion that sent Chris flying backward. He regained his footing, aiming his fingers toward the battle, in case he needed to aid Derek.
As the dust settled, Adam was lying on his back while Derek stood above him. He held his arm; fingers twisted and skin charred. Adam, on the other hand, was missing his entire arm. Although his body was attempting to heal itself, the World Mirror’s aura had dissipated, and Adam had found himself unable to move.
“This is your limit right now, it seems,” Derek stated, holding up his ruined arm—examining it. Through Adam’s eyes, he noticed the blue energy flowing in erratic directions inside Derek’s arm. Aside from the burns he had received, Derek had seemingly fixed the damage done by Adam.
“My Ability allows me to transfer phantonic forces throughout my body. This action flings myself around, letting me move my limbs faster than I normally could, with much greater power. That’s what I was doing during most of the fight. I can also use it like this, to temporarily force my bones back together.” Derek held out his hand.
“You lost your right to a choice. You’re coming with us. Don’t worry, I think you’ll find it to be a good thing for you.” Derek bent over next to Adam.
“After all, don’t you want to see—”
“Derek! We’ve got company!”
Derek looked up at Chris, who was pointing at something. He glanced over to see a boy holding onto his knees, seemingly panting. Adam looked as well; horrified to see Brandon appear in his vision.
“What… What’s going on here?” Brandon asked in a nervous tone. Chris walked up toward him.
“Nothing, kid. We’re just helping this guy out after a tornado went through here. Get lost.”
“Kid? You’re like, the same age as me?” Brandon questioned just how old these two men were. “And tornadoes never happen in Requiem! You can’t fool me!” He took a step forward, his tone shifting to a serious one.
“Just what are you doing to my friend?”
“Brandon! Don’t… mess with them. Just… let me handle it…” Adam tried to sit up, only to be stepped on by Derek.
“You can’t fight anymore. Stay down.” Derek looked at Brandon. “Like my friend said, get lost. I don’t want to hurt anyone else today.”
“I’m not gonna leave you by yourself to deal with… whatever this is!” Brandon claimed. “And… I’m tired of you thinking you have to deal with things on your own! It’s not gonna be like that anymore—”
Chris hit Brandon with the back of his hand, causing him to tumble onto the ground. Adam, in response, attempted to throw Derek off of him to aid his friend. Although this effort was futile, the World Mirror did begin to activate once again.
Brandon looked up to see the glow emanating from Adam. “What the hell is that?” Chris responded by grabbing Brandon by the throat and slamming him up against a nearby tree.
“Look, I’m not gonna tell you again. You—” Chris looked over at Adam struggling to stand up. Derek kept his foot firmly in his chest, making this a difficult task.
“Derek! I think we should really get going! If this kid showed up, then there’s bound to be—”
“Let me finish this first!” Derek yelled. “We can’t take him while he’s conscious, he puts up too much of a fuss!”
“What the hell are you doing, Derek?” Chris seemed concerned. “You’ve been contradicting—”
While Chris was distracted, Brandon managed to land a punch in his face, freeing himself in the process.
“Now—” Brandon attempted to speak but had difficulty in catching his breath after Chris had a hold of him.
“Damn… You know what?” Chris recovered quickly from Brandon’s punch. “I don’t care. If Derek’s gonna be stupid, I’ll be stupid as well. Whoever gets in our way, I’ll just blow them to pieces. It’s that simple. We don’t need to think; look at where thinking has led us, Derek…”
Chris raised his fingers, preparing to snap them. Although Brandon had no idea how Chris’ power worked, he could feel the animosity coming from him.
Just as Chris was about to attack, a piercing shriek echoed throughout the woods. Brandon’s focused shifted to the horrendous scene unfolding nearby. Derek’s foot had penetrated through Adam’s flesh; blood splattering all over the forest floor.
Brandon looked on in complete terror. Chris turned back toward him, grinning. As he prepared to attack, Brandon’s mind shifted away from the scene.
Brandon rushed into the hospital’s waiting room, almost knocking over an old lady who was walking near the entrance. After a quick apology, he ran up to the front desk.
“Hey! I’m here to see—”
“Brandon, over here.”
Brandon looked to his left to see Emma standing there.
“Is he okay!?” Brandon ran up to Emma and grabbed her shoulders.
“Yeah, he’s just resting now.” Emma was about to smack Brandon’s hands off of her, but she slowly turned away instead, causing Brandon to be the one to let go. “He’s down this way, come on. And be quiet, it’s a hospital.”
Brandon could have sworn that Emma’s eyes were red, but dropped the thought as he followed her.
As the two reached the room, they saw Pam on the phone with someone outside the door.
“Your son almost died and is in the hospital! You can’t even come back to see him!? What kind of father are—” Pam put the phone down as the other side had hung up on her.
“You’ve seriously become one goddamn son of a—”
“Mom, quiet down.” Emma hushed her mother. Pam nodded, realizing her behavior was out of line. She put her phone in her pocket, letting out a sigh.
“Thank goodness you’re here, Brandon. Faith’s in there with him right now.”
“All right, I’m going in. Jerry should be here soon as well.” As Brandon reached for the door, he noted that his body was shaking. He hesitated, unsure of what to do or say.
“Don’t worry, Brandon. Just go in.” Emma patted him on the shoulder, preceded by a light shove into the room.
Brandon looked over to see Faith’s back to him, sitting in a chair next to the bed. He then saw his friend lying there with his eyes closed.
“H-How is he?” Brandon slowly walked up to Faith’s side. She turned to him, eyes clearly strained from crying, yet she had a smile on her face.
“Hey, Brandon. He’ll be all right.”
Adam opened his eyes and looked at the two of them. Faith put her hands around Adam’s.
“Hey, buddy! I’m here!”
Adam remained silent for a moment. His gaze shifted to the other side of the bed, where there was a window with the blinds currently closed.
“I messed up…”
“You-You didn't’! It’s all right! You just… I just—” Brandon clenched his fists, tears beginning to form.
“You’re my best friend… you’ve been there through so much. You hate sports, yet you try to come to see my games as often as you can. I’ve been so focused on all of that bullshit, I never noticed you were struggling…”
“None of us did. We were so busy doing other things… we couldn’t take the time out of our schedules to check how you were.” Faith looked down at the floor.
“I don’t want you guys to feel bad… I didn’t do it for that to happen… Why did I do it?” Adam held his hand on his head. Brandon swiftly took hold of it.
“I’m not gonna undermine the meaning of the word ‘friend’! I know Faith feels the same way! We’re gonna be here for you through this. Screw everything else!”
“Undermine, huh? Didn’t think I’d hear you say a word like that... “ Adam paused. “It’s our senior year. You guys have to prepare for the future. You don’t need to help me out—”
“I said SCREW EVERYTHING ELSE!” Brandon yelled. A few seconds later, Emma walked up behind him and slapped him in the back of the head.
“How many times do I have to tell people to be quiet tonight?”
Brandon turned toward Emma, clearly pissed. “Hey, I’m having a moment here!”
“He’s alive. You’ll have plenty of moments in the future.” Emma looked around the room. “We’ll all have moments together. I think that’s what life’s about, don’t you? Sharing all kinds of things with the ones you love.”
“Ew, does that mean you love me?” Brandon asked as Emma grabbed hold of his ear.
“Your moment must already be over if you’re acting normally again.”
Faith chuckled at the scene unfolding next to her. She was interrupted by Adam squeezing her hand. She looked over to see his eyes closed again, yet this time with a smile on his face. Brandon and Emma noticed this as well.
“Sharing all kinds of things, huh?”
Brandon gritted his teeth.
“Yeah. I’m gonna share all kinds of stuff with you, Adam!”
There was a change occurring within Brandon. He did not notice it, yet sparks of electricity were forming around his body. As Chris unleashed his attack, Brandon vanished.
The next thing he knew, Brandon was landing a kick right in Derek’s face. His leg lit up in fierce blue electricity as it sent Derek flying into the nearby trees. Simultaneously, Chris’ attack had destroyed the tree that Brandon was in front of.
Brandon was able to land with one knee on the ground. It was only then when he realized what had occurred.
“What in the—What… What did I just do!?” Brandon examined his body in a panic. “What is happening!? What—” He paused, taking into account that Adam was right next to him with a hole in his chest.
“Adam! Are… you…” Brandon’s fear for his friend shifted into confusion, as he noted the white aura coming from the wound. Adam opened his eyes, revealing that they too had the same glow.
“Bran… don. Watch… Watch ou—”
In an instant, Derek was right next to Brandon with his hand wide open. With incredible reflexes, Brandon jumped out of the way before Derek could grab hold of him. The power put into the grab was strong enough to create a gust of wind. Brandon readjusted his footing as he landed to prevent being knocked over.
Derek proceeded to send a flurry of punches and kicks at Brandon. Using his new power, Brandon was able to evade the attacks faster than he could register them. Derek slammed his foot onto the ground, causing the shock wave that was able to send Brandon back a few feet. Regardless, he still stood.
During this process, Derek was able to move over next to where Chris stood. Brandon was next to Adam, with his guard raised. Electricity cracked the air around him, as he dashed at his opponents.
“Come on, ya bastards!”
Before Derek and Chris could move, a massive flash of light filled the area between the two and Brandon. As it dimmed, a figure appeared. It was none other than Charlotte in her true Ouderkirk form. She put her hand behind her back, which was enough to stop Brandon’s charge, causing him to fall onto the ground.
“I think you’ve made enough of a ruckus. If you don’t want to be caught, I’d suggest leaving now before people arrive.”
“Heh, don’t tell us what to do.” Chris raised his hand, snapping his fingers. A spark flew out of them directly toward Charlotte. Charlotte swiftly formed a circular shield in her hand, flinging it at the oncoming attack. The shield spun right through the spark and into Chris’ face, knocking him out cold.
“How could you…?” Derek rushed at Charlotte in rage, fist raised. Charlotte created a long sword and used it to whack the punch away. Before he could retaliate, Derek’s vision was filled with Charlotte’s sword falling down toward him, the slash easily capable of killing him. However, he was then met with the hilt striking him in the head, sending him tumbling over next to Chris. The two had each been knocked out in a single hit.
“We’ll leave you two here to deal with whoever arrives.” Charlotte’s sword fades as she turned to Brandon. “Hurry, pick him up. We’re leaping out of here.”
“L-Leap…? Hey, wait… Aren’t you Char—”
“Yes, ma’am!” Brandon ran over and picked Adam up. Charlotte then grabbed hold of Brandon’s arm.
“He really doesn’t listen to his own advice, does he?”
Before Brandon could react, they lit up in blue light and accelerated at incredible speeds away from the area. As the three landed behind Adam’s house, it was then when Brandon started to scream.
Charlotte returned to her standard form and put her hand over Brandon’s mouth.
“Get him inside—quickly!”
A shadowy figure appeared above the unconscious Derek and Chris. All that could be made out was a strange metal mask in the shape of a duck’s face. An ominous voice echoed throughout the woods.
“We learned a lot today, didn’t we?”
The shadows enveloped the two and faded like a flame, warping them away from the scene.
Adam lied in his bed with the covers over him, panting heavily. Charlotte put her hand on his forehead, noting how hot it was. The coldness from her body interacted with it, causing a tiny bit of steam to form.
“He might have been able to heal from his wounds, but he overdid it. That’s a bad fever.”
“Adam… What the hell is going on!?” Brandon couldn’t help but lean on the nightstand next to Adam’s bed. He seemed to be extremely exhausted.
“I would explain it, but I’m sharing your exhaustion. We all need to rest, but we need to take care of Adam.”
“Don’t worry,” Brandon took out his phone. “I’ll get Jerry over here. You already talked to him about this stuff, didn’t you?”
Charlotte nodded. “That would probably be the best… course… of action…”
Brandon watched in shock as Charlotte collapsed onto the bed next to Adam, arm draped over him.
As he texted Jerry, Brandon sat on the floor and leaned up against the bed. His eyes slowly closed.
“Well, we’re all lucky, aren’t we…?”
Faith, alongside her mother, was running in the woods toward the source of the sounds they heard minutes prior.
“I can’t tell exactly where it came from, just that it was somewhere over in this direction,” Pam stated. “Faith, you go left, and I’ll go right. Do not engage anyone or anything you come across. Call me immediately.”
“Got it.” Faith agreed to her mother’s terms. Pam smiled and patted Faith on the back—the two going their separate ways.
Faith ran for about two minutes before she came across a clearing. Unknown to her, this was the same clearing where the confrontation just occurred. Also unknown to her, was the fact that the area seemed to be restored for a second time.
“There had to be trees knocked down. What else could that noise have been?” Faith began to walk around the area cautiously, trying to find anything out of place.
Faith stopped dead in her tracks. Seemingly out of nowhere, a figure appeared across the clearing. It wore a hood and seemed to have a circular mask that looked like a clock, minus the numbers and hands.
A memory erupted in Faith’s mind. Years ago, there was a fire at her house, which injured Emma severely and almost killed the two of them. However, the very same figure that now stood before her was in that fire.
Faith’s eyes widened. “Are… Are you from… back then?” Faith asked. The figure stood motionless while Faith took a step forward.
“I saw you… and the next thing I knew, I woke up on my front lawn next to Emma. And my house… was back to normal. Did you save us?”
The figure was silent. It clenched it’s fist and started to shake as if it was angry about something. It looked down and off to the side. The next thing Faith knew the figure had disappeared.
Faith reached out her hand, as the wind picked up around her. She noticed that her face seemed warm all of a sudden. Slowly, she put her hand up near her eyes.
She was crying.