Chapter 16 – Lindsay
I busied myself by bending the wrought iron patio furniture in my backyard and then fixing it back into the correct shape. My mother would freak if she knew what I was doing. Heck, I was freaking.
When I checked my watch and saw that I’d been waiting for the boys for over a half hour, I got really impatient. And when a superhero has abnormal strength and is tapping her foot impatiently, that’s bad news for the patio below her. So I moved a potted plant over the cracks I made in the cement, so my parents wouldn’t see.
Then Nick sauntered up.
“Okay, where’s Cal?” I said, letting myself breathe out a bit of relief.
I folded my arms and stared at him. “Did you see him after school?”
“What am I, a babysitter?”
“Nick!” I yelled. I lunged at him and saw his eyes widen in fear. “We’re all in this together, you jerk!”
Nick stepped back, probably afraid that I’d suffocate him if I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Fine, crap! If I’d known this was going to be such a pain I never would have hung out with you up in the tower.”
“Well, none of us knew what this would be,” I said, letting my voice become quieter. Nick was a jerk, but I didn’t need to remind him of that with every sentence. He had to be freaking out as much as I was.
“Where do you want to go?” Nick finally asked.
I thought about it, making sure I moved to the grass before I tapped my foot again. “I guess… we should probably check the astronomy building.”
I’d hoped Nick would tell me that I was being paranoid, but he just nodded.
“You’re right. That’s probably where they are.”
I didn’t need to ask who he meant by “they”. We didn’t need Cal’s foresight to know that he was in big trouble.
Chapter 17 – Nick
The entire way to the tower, I had to basically hold Lindsay’s hand and speak in soothing tones, like a damn sugarplum fairy. It was getting on my nerves.
But when we finally got to the tower, I have to admit, even I got a little shaky. We didn’t really know what we were up against, right? What if Cal was up in that tower with the creepy dude— I mean, what did we know about the dude’s powers, really? I knew firsthand that he could mess me up. And Cal was the only person who was able to fix it. But what if the guy had some other powers that we didn’t know about, and what if Cal was already a goner?
We stood at the entryway, staring up at the top of the astronomy tower. The sun was getting lower in the sky, and I knew my mom would start getting worried. And that made me mad, because I’m a kid, dammit.
Lindsay was biting her nails, practically shoving her hand down her throat with anxiety.
“You better stay here,” I said.
“No, Nick!” she shouted at me. “We’re in this together.”
I sighed. The girl was pissing me off.
“You need to stay here,” I began again.
She cut me off again. “We’re a team. We may be freaks, but we’re freaks together!”
“No, Nick,” she interrupted. “You’re not going anywhere without me. I refuse to wait down here while stuff goes down up there.”
She looked up to point to the top of the tower. It was my chance to get rid of her.
I pushed her down on the ground as hard as I could, since I didn’t know if her super strength would mess me up. She went background, falling first on her butt, then thudding her head against the cold earth.
I couldn’t risk waiting around to see how much damage I’d done. I took off running up the steps of the tower.
I glanced back once to where Lindsay was motionless on the ground, her eyes closed.
Chapter 18 – Cal
My mind was working overtime. The man—I called him the Jelly Man in my head— had taken me to the tower, where it all began. When we got in the room, he’d locked the door and had been nervously pacing back and forth for what felt like hours.
I kept my mouth running. I told him about school and bullies and the chess club and girls. I talked about everything except for my powers. I spoke while I made my mind do mathematics and see what my options were. They were scarce, and none seemed like a plan I wanted to carry out.
He was sweating, or it was just his jelly-like glaze covering his skin. He continued crossing the room. He barely looked at me.
I was running out of topics when the Jelly Man spoke for the first time.
I shut my mouth.
“I know you were here. I know you up here when you weren’t supposed to be, because I was up here, too. But we weren’t the only ones were we? Who else was here?”
I tried to look like I didn’t know what he was talking about.
He walked over to me with his arm outstretched. “Tell me, kid.”
I cowered away from his reach and his eyes gleamed.
“You know, don’t you? You know about the monster I’ve become.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know anything. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a high schooler who came here on a field trip and I got lost, and now you’re really scaring me.”
The man came toward me again, his fingers practically dripping with the gross gel.
“Leave him alone!”
Nick’s voice came from the other side of the door. The man glared at the wall, and paused for a second. But when nothing else happened, he inched toward me again.
“I said,” Nick’s voice came at us. “Leave him alone.” Nick stepped through the wall, through the locked door and into the room.
The man stared at us.
TO BE CONTINUED (one more part, I promise — ish)