I rewrote the first 2 chapters because they sucked, hopefully you’ll agree.
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The morning light wakes him up, the smell of coffee keeps him awake. He can hear the birds chirping in the distance as he stretches his tired limbs into action. He leaps up, slips into his shirt and haphazardly trips on his pants, falling headfirst into the wall.
“God dammit it's gonna be one of those days isn’t it.” He mutters as he hoists himself up by his bedpost, snapping it nearly in half. “Damnit!, I guess it matches the other now.” On his way to pick up a roll of tape from his cluttered desk he double checks to make sure his window is shut. “I swear to god I felt a breeze roll in just a second ago.” After shoving it down and re-locking it, and crudely taping his bed post back together, he’s satisfied enough to go get breakfast. He leaves his cluttered room filled with science and adventure books and dusty old toy guns. While making his way downstairs he glances at the family photos on the wall of the staircase: family pictures, baby pictures, even pictures of his much younger mother and father. Before he can lament, a voice calls him from the dining room: “Breakfast is getting cold!”.
As he turns the corner of the staircase into the dinning room, his slim figure manages to somehow hit the only thing in the entryway, namely his mother. “Cullum! Watch where you’re going! And hurry up and eat, I need some things from town and I’m too busy to get them.” Cullum scratches his head and yawns before he realizes what his mother said. “What?! No I told you yesterday, this is my first day without schoolwork in weeks, I’m going out.” “Well now you’re going to the store to get milk and a couple of other things, so get to it once you eat.” “But mom!-“, before he can finish sitting down, his mother interrupts: “No buts!”
“Fine! I’ll be looking for a new mother while I’m at it.” “Pardon?” “Nothing!” He reassures her. As she was putting away the last dishes in the sink, she looks out the window as someone does when looking for someone in a crowd.
“So how did you like Mr.Kowalski?” Cullum drops drops his fork onto his plate. “He seemed fine ma.” “Just fine?” Cullum kneads his forehead as he continues to stare at his plate. “Well what do you expect me to do? Call him dad? You just met!” “Don’t you talk to me like that! I put this roof over our heads I don’t need to justify who I’m seeing!” “You’re the one who asked!” “You watch your mouth! Mr. Kowalski is a wonderful man who runs a very successful business!” An intense silence follows until Cullum gets up from his chair and grabs the list from the table.
He slings on his coat and heads into the cob web infested basement to retrieve his bike. He can hear his mother shout. “Be careful!” He slams the back door hard enough to crack part of the wooden frame. “Oh fucking great, another thing I get to fucking fix.” Muttering to himself, he kicks the foundation of the house, leaving behind a hairline crack. “What the fuck! How much give does this thing give?” He rubs his hands across the crack trying to see if it’s eroding or giving way, but as he puts pressure on the crack it feels sturdy. ‘I guess it just fell into place or something, I don’t know I’m not an engineer.’ He hops onto his bike and rides onto the bike path. “Hopefully it doesn’t stay so windy though”.
He takes off on his bike and rides the old cobblestone bike path into town. While he rides through the woods alongside his village, he glances at the vine covered houses, taking care to avoid the red roofed farmhouse just outside town as he knows the owners dogs had a habit of chasing bikers for miles.
Past that are several acres of fenced in farmland, although not in as pristine a condition as they had been when he was a child, he’s always admired the run down barns, he always thought they were charming in away, how they survived the decades of use, and even in their current state of decay made the country side that much more beautiful. ‘it almost makes the city look good in comparison.’ As soon as the smell of freshly baked bread and cooked kebabs hit his nose he knew he was within distance of the city.
As he follows the weed ridden bike path into the city, he begins an argument in his head with his mother. ‘I don’t get why you need to ‘look for a man to take care of you’, I do all the shit around the house anyway, you just sit in your kitchen baking pies and cakes while looking for dates on your computer to feed your pies and cakes.’ The path Cullum is riding is filled with many ups and downs, shaking his concentration as he tries not to crash.
‘You can’t just be happy alone with me? You really need some random guy to come into our house so you can what? Feed him? It doesn’t seem like any of those guys have an issue affording food.’
He’s so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t notice the child crouching over in the middle of the bike path playing with some small spindly looking bug until he’s right up on him. “Shit kid, watch out!” He shouts and waves his arm as if to try to move the child with his mind. At that moment a rogue gust of wind seemingly knocks the kid head over heels into the grass beside the cobblestone bike path, narrowly missing Cullum as he flies by the now sobbing child. “Jesus what was that? Did he trip? I know it’s windy but I didn’t think it was that windy.”
He pays attention only briefly as he sees the sign welcoming him into the city center. “Better be more careful here, if they see me plow into some kid I’ll be lucky if the cops just let me off with a ticket.”
After finding a spot to park his bike, he began to search for the first thing on the list: “Vanilla extract, great more cake, your dates won’t stay for any other reason, might as well bribe them” ‘Stop muttering Cullum, everybody is always able to hear and they always think your crazy or high or both.’
He enters the crowded Supermarket and begins his search. ‘The only thing “super” about it is how stupid it is.’ He took a moment to think about how stupid that joke was before sulking into the store. He begins his search by rummaging through the baked goods area of the store first. ‘It’s gotta be somewhere over here.’ He thinks to himself as he rummages around the shelves looking for that tiny bottle. As he searches, his mind wanders. ‘I wonder how long Mr.Kowalski’ll last before he gets spat on, I hope he doesn’t leave before she shows him her wedding dress.’ He laughs as he turns around to look at the shelf behind him, shoving cans of condensed milk and sugar around, knocking a can onto the checkered linoleum floor. ‘I wonder what he’ll do when he doesn’t want any more cake, god help him, hopefully he puts in my grades before she loses her shit on him and not after.’ Finally he sees the bottle of vanilla extract hiding on the corner of the shelf, apparently it’s the last one. ‘Damn, maybe today wont be so bad after all.’
He gathers the rest of the items on the list and makes his way to the checkout, and Seeing as how it was a Friday afternoon the day before a holiday, the place was packed was only getting fuller. Checkout line 1: filled over capacity, old women and middle aged men alike nearly fisticuffs over who was in line first. ‘I can work out as much as I want but my lanky ass is still no match for post menopausal housewives’ He thought.
He looks over to the second line, which is naturally filled with the elderly and their assorted bags of fiber supplements and arthritis medication, but is at least half filled with his fellow schoolmates, chatting about various weekend plans and buying various brands of energy drinks and alcohol. ‘Right I’ve got two choices: I can choose rabid old people fighting over whose scooter was ahead of whose walker, or I can listen to a bunch of my classmates talk about who fucked who…’ He’s interrupted mid thought by an old man beaning another old man over the head with an apple and screaming “I said I was here first you son of a bitch!”. A scuffle soon ensues and it turns into an elderly free for all, cane on cane, prune to prune action. ‘I don’t really have much of a choice at this point I guess.’ Cullum walks past the escalating perfume explosion and into the second line.
“Just avoid eye contact, get the last thing on the list and leave and you can finally enjoy your weekend.” He hates being stuck in the line, but he can’t help but eavesdrop as the line moves slowly forward. “So Joseph asked me out” one girl says. “That’s great! Where are you two going? I know this one place-“ The line continues to move at a grandmas shuffle, as well as this conversation, so he tunes in to another conversation: “So what’re you doing tonight?” “I’m just gonna get fucked up with my girlfriend and watch a movie, you can come too if you want, bring Mary too, my girlfriend was just asking-“ Cullum was now the third to last person in line, he could feel the cold air from outside creeping into the building from where he was standing, he could feel the breeze and hear the sounds of passers by, and just as the person ahead began to finish paying for their groceries: “heeeey Cullum! Whats good man?”
‘Come on!’ Cullum screams in his head as he flashes a smile. “Hey Dan how's it going” A fake smile plastered on his face so cheesy you could smell it, he awkwardly shuffles the bag in his hand and shuffles ever so slightly forward.
“Good man pretty good, say me and some friends are about to go see a movie, you should come.” “Sorry I gotta run some errands.” The cashier handed Cullem the change before pulling her wrinkled hand back “Oops sorry, wrong change sir, just a moment.” ‘You sure picked a great time for your Alzheimer’s to kick in didn’t you?’ His awkward shuffle is halted by the old woman exchanging her hand to return the proper change. “Just keep the change.” Cullum turns his attention back to the teenager waiting for his answer. “I’ll pass, I got errands to run.” “But-“
Cullum walks out without another word as his schoolmates watch him leave. ‘I feel kind of bad but at the same time I really don’t want to hang out, it’ll just turn awkward at some point and fall apart. I don’t have time to deal with relationships right now anyway.’ His thoughts interrupted by a child pushing past him. “Ugh” Cullum pulls out his phone to check the time. ‘It’s already almost 10, I feel like the days already mostly gone.’
Aggravated, he makes his way to the dairy. ‘Do you not even notice that it’s the same brand of milk as at the store?’ Cullum reignites the argument in his head as he makes his way to the dairy. ‘Can you just not read? Do you just never pay attention to anything? How were you even allowed to keep me?’ Cullum kicks a can, sending it flying down the road. ‘Why the hell did you even want to keep me? Just to use me to clean up the house or go shopping when you didn’t feel like it? Because I was the only person you knew you could keep in your life no matter what?’ Cullum grinds his teeth as he walks by a pile of papers, just as a gust of wind blows them down the sidewalk.
He turns into the entrance of a dark alleyway, the trees inside the alley block light from coming inside. ‘Weird, even during the fall it’s somehow super dark, I would’ve thought that at least now it would’ve been less dark.’ Cullum hops over the metal chain and the no trespassing sign and begins to walk through the poorly maintained cobblestone walkway into the alley.
‘I hope to god I don’t get robbed like Jake did, then again I’m not selling my dads shoes to buy crack but whose keeping track.’
Cullum looks around the unkempt alley, its weeds sprouting between the cracked cobblestone walkway, a tree sprouting out of a well that’s been clearly neglected for years if not decades, a bush on either side. He looks up to the number posted above the boarded up building to his right. ’13? Spooky.’
He looks toward the other end of the alley on to overhear a voice speaking into a phone coming directly towards him. There he sees a woman, slightly taller than him, her brown coat making her slim figure seem much larger and intimidating, her short hair coming halfway down her neck.
Her shoes make a noticeably quiet sound as she walks down the poorly maintained walkway. “Target… Package… In hiding… Name…” ‘What the hell is she talking about? This I gotta hear.’ Cullum slings his bag over his shoulder and turns around before hiding behind one of the bushes. He tries to be as invisible as possible.
‘This is too good to just pass up, I gotta know what she’s talking about!’
The woman stops in front of the abandoned building as she continues her conversation.
“I’m on his tale, he knows I’m after him, he’s made sure to blend in and stay out of sight, but don’t worry, I’ll have him and the package soon.” She clears her throat and adjusts the collar of her coat, turning away from the bush, causing Cullum to miss part of what she says before she turns around again. “I’ve tracked him down to this town, he’s more than likely in the town center still, according to these receipts. I’m going to find him, I’m going to kill him, and I’m going to get it, I just have to find out exactly where he’s hiding.” There’s a pause as she waits for the person on the phone to finish their sentence. Cullum watches the woman’s face sour as she responds. “You know when I see him he’s not going to go anywhere, so tell your lackeys to fuck off.”
Cullum trembles, though not in fear, rather he trembles in excitement. ‘It’s like the plot of an action movie! And it sounds like somebody’s about to get their shit pushed in too.’ Cullums excitement stops as he realizes that his trembling is shaking the bush that he’s hiding behind. At that same moment the woman turns around as if she’d heard something. Cullum watches the woman stare in difference directions, looking around, before her eyes settle on a small bottle. He feels the blood run out of his head as the woman picks up the bottle. “Vanilla extract?” ‘Oh shit.’ Cullum tries to slowly make his way out from behind the bush when he steps on a twig. The woman’s head snaps up, her expression changing from surprise into a cold hateful stare.
“I see you, you know”
Looking dead center at where Cullum is hiding She puts her fingers in the shape of a rectangle, all her fingers parallel with her her index fingers, and stares one eye through as if looking through a magnifying glass. “You’re not very subtle.”
“SHIT!” Cullum shouts as he leaps out from behind the bush. ‘I have to get out of here, fast! There’s no way she can keep up with me wearing that shit, if I can just book it out of the alley I should be alright since it gets me in the middle of the market!’ Before he can even hit the ground, the mysterious woman shouts “You’re not going anywhere.” And balls her fingers into fists, though keeping the rectangle in tact as she continues to stare at him through it.
‘-Huh?’ Cullum still hasn’t hit the ground, 3 seconds afterwards he still hasn’t, as a matter of fact, he can't move anything. ‘What the hell is happening? Why can’t I move anything? I can't even stare in a different direction!’ From the corner of his eye he sees a leaf from the bush, floating in the air, unmoving. From the corner of his other eye he sees a couple of twigs, stranded in mid air, unmoving. ‘What the hell is this??‘ In shock, he focuses his attention on the woman, who continues to stare through her fingers.
‘What the hell is happening!?’ He tries to scream but is unable to even move his tongue. “How long did you think you could run for?” He hears her say. Unbelievably, on top of hearing her, he sees her move towards him, eventually making her way to the center of his vision, all while maintaining that strange hand gesture.
“What exactly were you doing behind that bush? Surely to god you weren’t hiding behind that bush the whole time.” As she moves closer he watches her expression change again. “Wait, you’re not-“ She sets her hands by her sides as Cullum falls onto his back. “Damn, that’s unfortunate, I really thought this would’ve been my quickest job by far.”
Cullum scrambles up and against the wall of the decrepit well as he shakes in fear. “What the fuck just happened?!? W-w-what did you do? Who are you?!” She moves her hands behind her head and leans backward slightly. Looking to the sky. “My name I won’t say, I think there’s some things not just everybody should know.” She puts her hands on her knees and leans towards Cullum, who is now so terrified he can’t even shake anymore. “But seeing as how I can’t really let you live after what you experienced I feel like it would be wrong not to tell you how you’re about to die.” She puts her hands on her knees and leans into the terror stricken Cullum.
“Well, you see what I did with my fingers? How I was looking through them when everything stopped? Well see, I have a special ability so to speak.”
“W-what??” Cullum says in an airy whimper. The woman moves in closer to him.
“I can stop time.”
“What the fuck do you mean ‘you can stop time?’” Cullum barely manages to half groan out as he adjusts himself against the remnants of the well.
“Did you hit your head so hard when you fell that you went deaf or are you just exceptionally stupid? I said I can stop time.” Cullum can only stare in confusion and exceptional terror at this. ‘That doesn’t make sense, you can't just stop time, and things were moving around me even though I couldn’t move, hell even she moved. She’s not serious, she’s just fucking with me, she’s fucking with me and then she’s going to kill me,’ Cullums face turns even whiter as he comes to this realization. ‘She’s gonna kill me!!’ As he continues to sit there, frozen in fear, she stands back up and puts her hand into her coat pocket. He can see her fiddling around looking to grab something.
“Anyway, I’m afraid you’ve heard too much, and obviously seen too much, and as funny as it would be I can’t exactly have you running around screaming about the woman who can stop time with her fingers, or going to your superiors, so I’m going to have to kill you now, it's nothing personal.” As she says this, Cullum frantically looks for a way out of the alley. ‘Ok, I can’t just sit here and wait for her to kill me, there has to be a way out, the way I was running towards is too far away and on top of that she’s standing in the way,’ He looks towards the way he came from. ‘That’s it! I didn’t notice because I was in a panic, but the way I came is at least 20, no, 30 feet shorter than the other end of the alley, meaning if I can just get to my feet fast enough I can get away from her, I’ll be home free!’ “Hard pass.” At that Cullum kicks himself upward, his upper body catching up with his lower half just a second before he lands, and he finally is able to make a run for the alleyway entrance.
‘I did it! I’m home free! Fuck the milk, after a visit to the police station I’m going the hell home! Can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m actually happy to be going home!’ Just as his foot makes it into the sunlight, just as he feels the warmth of safety, the taste of freedom, Her voice calls from behind him.
“Like I said,” is the last thing he hears before he begins slowly moving backwards. “You’re not going anywhere.” ‘Eh?’ he feels control of his body loosening more and more, with his foot moving itself back into that cold concealed ally. He starts moving backward at an increasing rate of speed, to the point where he is doing a full sprint, in reverse. ‘What??! What the fuck is happening to me??!’ Before he know it he finds himself fly into the air only to stop above the ground, his back leaning towards the well and his feet crouched, ready to hit the ground.
Quickly, he realizes that he’s right back in the position he was in when he jumped to his feet, only now, he is unable to move. The woman, now sweating profusely, is staring at him, breathing heavily and grinning. “I guess I forgot to mention I can reverse time as well, whoops.” ‘This can’t be happening! This is a nightmare! There’s really no way I can get away from her?! Am I really doomed to die in this dank, dark alleyway? Killed by a psychopath with fucking magical powers or something??’ “Listen,” He hears her say, watching her move closer, putting her contorted hands closer to her eye so as to keep him in her frame. “As fun as this is, I’ve got a schedule to maintain, I’ve spent way more time here than I thought I would and I’ve got deadlines to meet, plus, this is exhausting to keep up, so I’m gonna have to end this, now.”
She flashes her eyes down toward her pocket. ”There’s a knife in this pocket, it won’t be painful, it’ll be over with pretty quickly so, I’m going to unfreeze you now, and before you have time to hit the ground, this knife will be stuck in your forehead. Really you have no idea how much practice it took to be able to throw a knife into somebody when they’re falling to the ground.”
Cullum feels his heart pounding, it cand be described best as a man being chased by a wild animal, desperately pounding on a locked door, desperate to get in, desperate to be saved, knowing his demise is only a few painful moments from arrival. “If it makes you feel better...” His attention quickly changes from the pocket to her lips as these words left her lips.
“You look a bit my age, young, naïve, you don’t even know what’s happening right now, I almost feel bad for you.” She breaks her pose, her right hand flies into her pocket with exceptional speed. Her body positioned perfectly to throw at full force.
Cullum begins to fall, the woman lets fly the knife. Cullum watches as the knife flies towards him in almost slow motion, wether this is part of her ability, or simply how he is processing his imminent death he doesn’t know. Panic takes over. ‘THIS ISN’T HAPPENING, I’M NOT DYING HERE, I CAN’T DIE HERE!’ Mid fall, he flails his right hand as if to try to swipe the knife away, and kicks his left leg full force, for what reason even he isn’t sure. At this same moment, even the mysterious woman feels as if time is slowing down, and in this moment she sees her knife fly towards the boys head.
Not a second later, the knife is flying toward the ground by her right leg. Her eyes widen in shock as she follows the knife's path, flying at such a high velocity it appears only as a blur to her, into the ground behind her with an audible metallic clang. A sense of shock overtakes her as she watches the boys foot fly towards her. It misses, by at least a foot. But it doesn’t feel like it, as a matter of fact it feels as though she’s been hit by a weightlifter in the center of her stomach.
Spit flies out of her mouth as she watches a visible indentation form on her stomach. She can’t process the immense pain before she is flung full speed into the wall behind her. “GUAGHH.” is the only thing Cullum hears after he hits the ground along with an ear shattering smash, convinced it must be the sound of him dying. ‘Oh god I’m dead! This is it! This must be what hell is like!’ he peers out his eyes out of curiosity. ‘It looks weirdly like that alley I died in.’
Before he can accept his premature death, he opens his eyes and sees the now battered woman crumpled up against the wall, struggling to get on her feet. Shocked, Cullum looks at himself and inspects himself for any bruises or knife wounds. “I’m alive? I’m alive! I’m really still alive!” His celebration is ended by the coughing and groaning of his would be murderer as she finally rises to her feet, albeit slumped over a garbage can.
‘Ok, I’m not sure how I managed to survive, but judging from how she’s holding her stomach, and the fact that that knife isn’t sticking out of me right now, I have to assume I managed to deflect it, how I did that I don’t know, but if I just pretend that I know what I’m doing, I might be able to get some answers out of her.’ Cullum stands up, dusts himself off as nonchalantly as possible, and makes his way over to her, chest puffed out and as confident as he can.
“H-hey you!” He flounders almost immediately as she switches her gaze from the floor to his eyes. “W-what the hell is your problem? Who are you?? What the hell did you do to me back the-“ Before he can finish his interrogation she throws the garbage can at him and bolts down the alleyway. “Hey! Stop!” ‘She’s can’t get away!’ Determined, he tries to grab her but misses, she’s faster than he thought. But as he pulls his arm to his side he sees her get flung into the ground, following the path his arm made. A large gust of wind picks up the leafs beside her. A wave of realization washes over him as he watches her struggle to get up again. “Wait, that kid, when I tried to wave him out of the way he was flung too, same with the knife, and when I kicked at her she was flung into the wall, and every time, every single time, there’s a large gust of wind.”
His gaze goes back to his now outstretched hands. “Can I somehow move people with that much force? Does that mean that like that woman, I’ve somehow got a power like she does?” This revelation brought on by this chain of events that started with a shortcut to a dairy store will change the life of this young man as well as the lives of many other people. There is a concept known as the butterfly effect. If there were to be a picture, or an example of a great chain of events cause by something so insignificant, it would be a picture taken at this exact moment. On any other day, at any other time, in any other place, nothing so bizarre or interesting would have ever happened. Life is a series of these small decisions ballooning into ever greater adventures. While everybody has their own stories, this one just happened to be written down.