Over the next couple of weeks we got into a routine. I went to school from home. In the afternoons, Elsa would pick me up, and I would study with grams for two hours, and get dropped off home. The only time the routine changed was when I was rehearsing for the play. There was one more week, and we were performing. I was excited and nervous. Apart from that, my routine ended with me finishing any assignments or homework late in the evening, and starting the process all over the next day.
I had expected to be expelled after my little fight scene, but because of the amnesia, the Principal was not himself, and it was lost in administration as the school roster had to be rotated since the six teachers were still in hospital. The doctors had given most of the teachers the all clear, and they would be returning to their jobs in another week or so. Our Principal on the other hand, nobody knew what was wrong with him, he was almost a vegetable. I had been secretly trying to heal his soul, it wasn't going so good.
As for Tomas, after the ridicule he had been given by other students, he had convinced his mum that things would become worse for him at school if she persisted. Reluctantly, she decided not to pursue it any further. As professor McGonagle from Harry Potter once said, "I got by on sheer dumb luck!"
My new friends and I were getting closer each day. I joked and laughed with my band of friends, and it did my heart wonders to see Timmy laughing and joking along with the rest of us. He was the baby of our group, and the girls smothered him because of it. He tried to act annoyed and bothered by the attention the girls gave him, but he wasn't fooling me, and I smiled to see he was lapping it up. After all, what boy wouldn't want attention from two of the best looking girls at school?
As for longhaired Sam? There certainly was a vibe between us, the dream of the two of us kept flashing in my mind at odd times, but I was a little reluctant in pursuing it. I needed to get my head straightened out before I tried something with him. After all, if I didn't, then I could say goodbye to this idyllic life and say hello to possible extermination by demons.
Kevin kept on the outskirts of my new life. Although I saw him at school, he never tried to interfere, and I felt a little annoyed at him for not trying. Even at home he kept his distance, and stayed mainly with Leon. He and Leila had managed to stay as friends; whether that was `friends with benefits' I really didn't want to know. My plate was full.
I was always aware that the veil to the other side could be weakening and that grams was weakening. She couldn't overstress how important it was I learn to focus my powers. She began teaching me how to sense the border between our world and the dark realms. It required mental discipline and, even after two weeks, I still found it hard to settle into meditation to still my mind. At the back of my head I kept seeing a ticking clock, counting down. She told me to concentrate less on school work, that it was an outside distraction. But I was adamant that I had to maintain my grades. I wanted more out of life than just fighting demons, because I had to believe that, once the guardianship changed over to me, , there had to be a life outside of battling nasties from the other side. Grams grumbled, but accepted the fact that I would not budge. I also knew why I was still finding it hard to meditate. I had two more personal issues to resolve, and I had been procrastinating. The next issue involved my siblings, and I didn't know how it would all end. It was at times like this that I wished I had precognition, but that was a talent I lacked.
I was sitting at the table when Leon and Leila came in for dinner. I had told dad that I needed a private word with them, and he and Sara had left while the help served up dinner. Just like Kevin, the twins had avoided me as much as possible, and although we had never gotten along, I still felt a pang that they still ignored me. Silly, I know, but something I couldn't help but feel.
"I need a word with you guys," I said.
"About what?" Leon asked.
"Unresolved issues," I replied simply.
"Oh, don't tell me you're getting into mum's new age crap," Leila said with scorn.
I gritted my teeth. "It's not crap!"
Leila snorted. "Whatever! I'm not interested."
That was it, all those times that I had held my anger in, this was the boiling point. I lost it. "You know what? I don't give a fuck what you think Leila. If I have to tie you to that chair to make you listen, I will," I shouted, anger making me shake.
She stared at me in shock. Colour rushed to her cheeks, and she rose from her chair. She had her plate in her hand, and I saw it coming. I watched as everything went into slow motion. I saw her tilt her plate, readying it to project into my face. She never saw me coming. I was beside her chair before she had a chance to blink, and was gripping her hand, hard. She squealed at the pain, and dropped her plate. I caught the plate with my free hand, put it on the table, and kicked her legs out from under her. She landed back in her chair with a loud oomph, and looked up at me as if she had never seen me before.
I sensed Leon behind me, and I raised my leg and aimed it at his throat. He stopped, mere inches from my shoe. I saw his hand rise to slap my foot away, but I was quicker. My toe connected with his hand and I heard a sharp, solid thwack as his hand impacted against my foot. He gasped in pain and held his hand to his chest.
"Back off, Leon," I snarled. "Now," I said to Leila, "you and I have shit to sort out." She glared at me, but remained in her seat.
Leon stared at me with shock on his face. "Who the fuck are you? I just saw you move from your chair like a blur. Maybe I should be asking, what are you?"
I closed my eyes and cursed inwardly at how clumsily I had handled this. "At the moment, I can't tell you all the details until I ask grams and dad."
"Dad knows?!" Leon said.
I stared at him. "Yeah, he's known for sometime now."
His eyes looked into the distance, his confused look slowly turning into comprehension. Whatever it was that he had realised, he was not sharing, and I was a little reluctant to scan him. He stared at me hard, opened his mouth, and then closed it.
"I need to think some things over," he said quietly, rubbing his tender hand.
"I need to talk to you as well," I answered back.
"I know that,' he said with exasperation. "Just talk to Leila first. I need to sort something out." He walked out of the room, and Leila was looking at the both of us with confusion, and a little fear.
"What do you want to talk about?" she asked, flicking her glossy hair over one shoulder.
I didn't know how to put what I felt into words. All these pent up emotions were tangled and twisted into each other. I wanted her to understand how I had felt all those times I was the brunt of her jokes. I wanted her to feel the shame and humiliation I experienced at her hands. I wanted her to understand what it was like, growing up under her and Leon's shadows.
My power flared. I felt it bubble out of me and pour into Leila. I watched as her face turned pale, and she screamed silently. I tried to stop the power flow, but it surged through me with a vengeance and pumped into her. She jerked at the surge, and turned tear streaked eyes towards me. Her mascara ran down her face, and I watched as mucus dribbled from her left nostril. She swallowed convulsively and a keening noise came out of her throat.
"I'm sorry James, please make it stop," she pleaded. "I didn't know, I swear to you, I didn't know."
All my old anger and pain had been released and now festered inside of Leila. I felt calm and relaxed and, oddly, no remorse about my actions. "For three days and three nights, you shall live in the pain and misery that you wrought upon me" I left Leila curled up under the table sobbing.
I sent a tentacle of power out and followed it through the house. I located where Leon was and walked into his room. We were like two opposites when it came to personalities and it showed in how we lived. He had bikini clad posters of Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel sprawled across his walls, with his many varied sports uniforms trailing across the floor and over his drawers. His room reeked of stinky socks and stale sweat, and it made my nose curl. There were dust-bunnies under his bed, and I saw a few cobwebs in the corners of his room. Although we had a house cleaner come twice a week, Leon's room was off limits.
He was sitting on the bed with his old toy Megatron on his lap. He had gotten it for his birthday present when he was nine. I had envied his toy when he received it. Everyone back then was crazy for transformers, and Leon had always thought Megatron was the coolest. Mum and dad bought me Optimus Prime, later on that year, for my birthday present.
He looked up at me with a sad, lost look and then down at his toy. "You're like mum, aren't you?" he asked quietly.
"In what way?"
He played with his toy, transforming it from a gun to a robot and then back again. "When I was nine, I was playing with a mate down in the ditch. You remember that place?"
I nodded my head. The ditch had been an old half excavated site where they were building a movie complex. They were setting the drain pipes and utility features into the ground when, halfway through building, money ran out and it was left untouched. Half the ground had been dug up, and the metal structure of the movie theatre had been put in place. It looked ominous to a young child. That had been the spot where all the cool kids around the block used to hang out. It had a warning, "Keep Out" signs all over the place, but we didn't care. It was something we did because it was cool. Two years later, it was turned into a shopping mall.
"Yea well, Andrew from up on the corner of Pitt Street and me were inside the old place. We had climbed pretty high, and were sitting on the metal structure about 16 feet off the ground." He went silent and looked down at his toy. I sat on the edge of his bed and waited for him. "We were battling against each other, me with Megatron and him with Bumble Bee. Soon, our battle started getting a little serious. And when he lost the next round, he knocked Megatron out of my hands." Leon began rubbing his toy all over with gentle fingers, and then continued. "I didn't think, I just reacted and went to grab onto it as it was falling. I over-balanced and fell..." he shuddered and put his toy down. "I was screaming, knowing that I would hit the ground, so I closed my eyes. Yet I didn't feel an impact. I opened my eyes and saw myself floating off the ground." He stared at me and continued, "And there was mum, standing there with her hands held out to me. I felt myself being pulled closer to her." He laughed, and then smiled. "She hugged me so hard I could barely breathe, and then she whacked my butt so hard I couldn't sit down for a week." I laughed with him at that image. "Poor Andrew had gone nearly catatonic with fear. Strangely, he never asked me what happened after that. Sometimes, I think mum might have had something to do with that, but I never did ask her. Before we got home she told me never to tell anyone what happened. Until today, I had forgotten about it myself."
I put a hand up to pat him on the shoulder, when I felt my power surge through my touch and into him. I was gripped by fear. I was nine again, and I was scared of Leon finding me. He used to punch me in the stomach and/or shoulders so my bruises didn't show. I hated his taunts about my weak physique, and the ineptitude I showed at sports. I remembered times when he had humiliated me in front of his friends, and they had jeered and shoved me into bushes or walls as a lark. All this humiliated grief and anger became a source of energy; one that screamed vengeance. It bubbled up and out of me, and I cried as I felt it sear my arms and travel down my hand into Leon.
He screamed, and I watched as lacerations opened like eyelids upon his face. They closed, healing in an instant, only to reopen again. It spread across his arms and down his body. The further down the body they travelled, the louder Leon's screams became. An icy feeling overcame my horror, and my voice came out cold and unrepentant. "For three days, you shall feel the pain you inflicted upon me." I left him moaning on his bed. I felt light and airy, and energy filled my body like never before.
Dad came home a little while later. I was in my room, when he slammed my `new' door open with enough force that there was a small cloud of plaster. "What have you done to Leon and Leila?" he asked in an ominous voice.
"Justice," the warrior within me said.
"Whatever it is your doing, James, stop it right now!"
I shook my head sadly, "I can't change this dad, and the only way they can stop this is by facing their fears and showing true remorse for their actions. Otherwise, they will feel pain for three days."
Dad's face blanched. "You started this; you can stop it."
"Dad, you're not hearing me. Only they have the power to stop this. If I decided to interfere now, I would end up doing more damage."
He looked at me, confused, and with a little bit of doubt. I searched inside myself to explain what I knew instinctively. "It's the snowball effect, Dad. For every person that they have intentionally hurt, Leon and Leila will experience the pain now, too. If it was only one person they had purposely hurt, it wouldn't affect them so much, but judging by the screams from the both of them, I wasn't their only victim. Each person they have hurt, in one form or another, is acting as their judge, jury and executioner, within their minds. The snowball is rolling down hill, with all the momentum packed behind it. If I tried to stop it now, I would be run over by that speeding snowball, and caught up in whatever it is they are experiencing."
Dad shook his head in disgust. "If your mother was alive, she would be very disappointed in you, James."
It was my turn to blanch, and I dropped my head down and looked at the floor. "So be it," I said quietly. Dad shook his head once more, and left.