Chapter 1 – Evan

In a small classroom at Oceanside Technical School, a boy sat at his desk, propping his head up with his hand. His messy, light brown hair fell just above his hazel eyes. He turned toward the adjacent window, staring outside at the bright blue sky, not focused on anything in particular, but envying the freedom. His teacher, slim and plain-looking, stood at the front of the classroom, textbook in hand. She pushed her square-framed, red glasses slightly up her nose as she spoke.
“Here, we can see where dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately stopped Japan’s involvement in the war,” she explained, her brown eyes locked onto the boy looking out the window.
“Mr. Farrant,” her voice boomed.
The boy turned listlessly to see the teacher staring at him.
“Yeah,” he responded apathetically.
“What resulted in Japan’s surrender during World War II?” the teacher asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“I literally just said it.” She sighed. “You aren’t paying attention again.”
“Yeah.” He nodded, turning his head to stare absently back out the window, simply wishing he could be away from the classroom.
The teacher shook her head and resumed the lesson.
Every second in the classroom edged along at a snail’s pace. Evan spent his time moving his eyes between the window and the clock. Thirty minutes to go, then twenty-nine. He sighed. After what felt like an eternity, the bell rang and the boy stood up hastily, grabbing his bag.
“You don’t get to leave, Mr. Farrant,” the teacher told him, her brow furrowed. “Let’s have a little chat.”
He rolled his eyes, walking up to the front of the room. This wasn’t the first time he had to stay after class. Lately, it seemed as though that was all that he did. As such, he found himself skipping days on a whim. What was the point in coming if his attendance wasn’t appreciated?
“Evan, what is going on?” the teacher demanded, once all of the other students had left the room.
“What do you mean?” Evan replied.
“Don’t do this,” she groaned. “I know you’re intelligent. You were able to breeze through your previous years at nearly the top of your class. Don’t you want to graduate?”
“My grades are high enough that I will still graduate, even with a bad year.” Evan shrugged.
“At the rate you skip school, I doubt that,” the teacher said, shaking her head. “With your grades, you could have been summa cum laude. You’re going to have a hard time getting into college.”
“Don’t waste your breath lecturing me,” he spat, glaring at the teacher. “I showed up today; I’m not obligated to be your accomplishment.”
“I don’t think of my students like that,” she replied tepidly. She wasn’t used to being accused by her students. “You were so adamant. You challenged other students and teachers alike. I don’t understand what changed. Help me to help you.”
“My life isn’t your problem,” he said, staring coldly into her eyes.
“You used to talk about how you wanted to change the world,” she continued, exasperated. “With the state of the world as it is now, it could use someone of your caliber. You could easily make a difference.”
“What’s the point?” he asked, annoyance becoming evident in his voice. “I don’t give a damn about a pissing contest between countries. People don’t want to live peacefully. They want to prove they’re better than one another. People will always look out for themselves before others. There is no resolving that.”
He pulled out a game cartridge from his pocket and held it up. “It’s far more exciting to delve into fantasy worlds, where anything is actually possible.”The teacher wasn’t sure what to say. They had had this conversation multiple times. Persistence wasn’t working.
“I need to go now,” he declared, turning to walk out of the classroom.
“Wait!” she called out.
He kept walking, his eyes staring off at the exit in the distance. All around him, students were gossiping and laughing amongst themselves. Each group he passed reminded him more and more of how isolated he was. He often felt that he no longer had anyone to confide in. As he opened the door to the courtyard, he remembered that he had work this afternoon.
Of course, he hadn’t been in a hurry to get to work. Like school, he felt that he had just been showing up to get lectured. The only benefit of work, as opposed to school, was that he could earn some money. He walked slowly down the sidewalk, heading away from the school and deeper into the town, eyes unfocused and hazy.
He turned off the sidewalk and through a parking lot toward a mid-sized building. As he entered, he made his way to the back of the store, to the break room. The store was fairly small, but had a good selection of products: food, hardware, homeware, toys, and clothes. However, being a small operation, it certainly couldn’t compete with larger, more specialized shops. He himself was only one of few employees, and, until recently, he had been employee of the month and on the fast track to a management position.
A sharp voice cut through the air. “Late again?”
Evan turned to see one of his co-workers, a girl of his age with short black hair and pale skin, sitting at a table in the middle of the break room on her phone. He almost never saw her without dark eyeliner and black nail polish. To add to the image of “rebellious teen,” she bore a small stud pierced through her nose.
“So?” Evan responded lazily.
“I guess you’re not so perfect after all.” She smirked. “Up until the middle of summer, the other associates — me included — really didn’t appreciate your exhausting work ethic. You give our generation a bad name.”
Evan had made his way to a wall of cubed lockers. The combination lock on his clicked as it released. He pulled out a red apron, promptly tying it on over his clothes. He turned to face the girl. This is how it was, working hard got him resented, and the opposite got him scolded. Not that any of that mattered to him anymore.
“You must be so proud of me now, Eleanore.”
“I told you not to call me that,” she scoffed, glaring at him. “I know that you know its Elle.”“My bad.” Evan smirked, making his way past her and towards the sales floor.
“Wait!” Elle called out.
He stopped in place, turning to face her once more.
“You have a good look in your eyes now,” she said, stepping forward to close the distance between them. Face-to-face, she was just slightly shorter than Evan, and her own emerald green eyes stared into his. She moved her face closer to his own, whispering in his ear, “Empty, just like mine.”
Evan watched her wearily as her gaze continued to edge ever so slowly toward his own. He hadn’t exchanged many words with her before, but her whisper was curiously sad. However, it was short-lived as her voice reverted back to its usual sharp banter.
“If you ever want to hang out some time, that’d be cool,” Elle added before pulling away and smilingly coyly.
Evan shook his head slightly. “You know I’m taken.”
“Not that I really care about anything like that.” Elle winked, retaking a seat at the nearby table to become completely absorbed in her phone.Evan turned around and made his way out into the hall. On the walls between the break room and the sales floor hung various clipboards with printed lists attached. The first thing he always did when he got to work was check his assigned section, see if anything needed to be restocked, if anything was damaged, or if there was anything that looked untidy or unprofessional. The sections alternated depending on the week. Reading the clipboard, today it looked like he was assigned to clothes.
He made his way toward the clothing section, clipboard in hand. He moved mechanically through the various hangers and stands of clothes, barely checking, eyes moving listlessly from side to side. Everything seemed fine, at least by his standards. If he was nitpicking like he had been in the past, he may have adjusted and refolded some of the picked-through and wrinkled clothes. However, unable to bring himself to care, he continued down his checklist. As he turned around, he bumped into a shorter, bulgier woman with light curly hair flowing out from a modest hat.
“Excuse you!” She scoffed, scowling at him.
“Ah, sorry,” Evan said softly.
“Oh?” The woman exclaimed. “You work here? I was beginning to think that no one did, it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone around. Don’t blame me if anything gets stolen because the store isn’t keeping an eye on anything.”
“Okay…” Evan responded, thrown back by her comment. “Do you need any assistance?”
“Obviously,” she spat back. “I know you have this shirt I want; I saw it the other day. I’m not seeing it now, so where are you keeping it?”
“Well, it could be sold out,” Evan advised. “Do you know what it looks like? I can always help you search, or I can check in the back.”
The woman hastily withdrew a small flyer. The shirt in question had been on sale the previous week, which had clearly been outlined at the top.
“Oh,” Evan nodded. “That sale ended just the other day, and I believe we did actually sell out of this particular shirt.”
“I was busy that day,” the woman stated matter-of-factly. “But, I’m here now, and I have the flyer. You guys carry the shirt, and you need to honor this deal.”
Evan stared in disbelief. This certainly wasn’t the first time he had dealt with someone who was so obstinate, but lately it didn’t take much for him to lose his temper. He attempted to conceal an exasperated sigh, but apparently, it did not go unnoticed by the woman.
“Look!” She shouted, raising his arms along with her voice. “You need to find this shirt now! Call a manager if you have to!”
Evan rubbed the back of his neck. “Sure. Just wait a moment while I go get them, and in the meantime, I’ll double-check the back for you.”
He gritted his teeth, making his way into the back room. As he made his way to the back room, he could feel the woman’s indignant stare burning through the back of his company vest.Evan ducked into a nearby corridor, knocking on a familiar wooden door that read “MANAGEMENT.” Upon entering, he was greeted by an older man wearing a suit and tie, with straight, dark hair that he always wore combed-back.
“There is a customer who wants to speak with you,” Evan alerted him. “It’s in regards to the sale that has already ended; she’s pretty adamant about getting what she wants. I’m going to double-check the back to see if we happen to have any.”
The manager sighed, standing up. He turned, his gaze lingering over Evan for a moment. “Very well, and don’t think I didn’t notice you were late. We need to have a talk tonight before you leave.”
Evan nodded before turning and heading into the stock room. Great, more lectures, he thought. The room was fairly small: a few shelves scattered with boxes. It was almost as though no one had ever attempted to organize it since the store had opened. He walked along the perimeter of the room, thinking that at this point, even if there was a shirt left, he would rather that woman leave upset than get what she wanted.
Luckily, they were legitimately out of the shirt. He smirked, making his way back onto the store floor to spot the manager still talking to the frantic woman.
“This has been a terrible experience!” The woman seemed to be ranting. “The staff is practically nonexistent, the one I did find rudely ran into me before telling me that you guys wouldn’t honor your own sales.”
This woman is exhausting, Evan thought before managing to get a word in. “I’m sorry to say, but as I feared, we don’t have any more of that shirt left.”
“Alright, go help out up front at the registers,” the manager stated before turning his attention to the woman.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but that sale was specifically for those dates…” the manager’s voice faded out as Evan left the area, walking up to see Elle manning the only open register to a long line of guests. He weaved through the line to the nearest register, motioning to the next guest and ringing up their merchandise.
Each customer seemed to be more annoyed than the last about the lack of staff and the extended wait times. By the end of his shift, the last thing Evan wanted to do was deal with the manager. He knocked, opened the door and stepped into the office. The manager was at his desk, completely engrossed in his computer.
“I’m here,” Evan announced, shifting impatiently from side to side.
The manager continued typing at his computer for a minute before looking up to see Evan. “Take a seat.”
Evan did, watching as the manager continued to type frantically on his computer.
“So, what was it today?” The manager asked, somehow still typing.
“Sorry, I just –”
“That was more of a rhetorical question, Evan.” The manager interrupted him. “By the way, where is your name tag?”
Shit, Evan thought as he raised his arm to touch the left side of his chest.
“I know things have been hard the past couple of months.” The manager sighed, finally raising his eyes up to face Evan. “But, this is getting ridiculous. I was expecting you to bounce back to how you were over time. Between lateness and poor work ethic, clearly it’s only getting worse.”
Evan could only nod in agreement; arguing back had become pointless as he never managed to make good on any of the changes he tried to promise.
“Go ahead and take off the next week,” the manager stated, turning his complete attention to Evan now. “If, after that, this attitude persists, we are going to have to let you go. That’s not a threat, it’s just a fact.”
Evan stood up slowly, turning away and heading to the door.
“Evan,” the manager called out. “You’re a good worker. Even today, you at least tried to put forth some effort with that ridiculous woman. Please, don’t go down this path.”
Evan said nothing, leaving the room and heading towards the entrance of the store. He made his way out into the parking lot where a girl with shoulder-length blonde hair and pale skin stood, waiting. Her light blue eyes fixated on Evan.
“You’re late,” she stated, although she was grinning.
“Sorry, Emma,” Evan said softly. She was the one person he tried to avoid disappointing. “The manager kept me, again.”
“And?” She sighed.
“Well, he gave me…like, a final warning,” Evan explained. “They want me to take off this next week, and if I don’t start going back to work mode, they’re going to let me go.”
Emma shook her head. “It’s not like you want to work there anyway. Maybe you should really think about that during this week.”
“Yeah.” Evan lowered his eyes to the ground. “Anyway, are you ready? My aunt works late tonight, so we can go to my place.”
“Okay.” She smiled, glad to just be in his company. “Anyway, I certainly won’t mind having more time with you this week.”
They clasped hands, fingers lacing together, the brisk air whipping Emma’s mid-length hair around her face as they walked down the side of the road. It was already autumn; the trees had transformed into a collage of browns, reds, and yellows.
“I’m glad summer is over,” Evan breathed out.
Emma’s face crinkled as she grumbled, “But now it’s going to be cold.”
“Still better than summer,” Evan insisted, unable to keep the edge from his voice.
Emma always had to tread carefully around that subject. “I suppose.”
They continued onward in silence.
“Do you want to grab a pizza before we go to your place?” Emma asked suddenly.
“Uh, sure.” Evan nodded.
They continued through the city, taking a detour once they reached a small park. Children played while their parents watched from the sidelines. The two sat down on an empty bench for a moment, Emma snuggling close to Evan.
He watched the carefree families in the park. “Strange how there’s so much emphasis on the news about the current war, and yet there are people here who are completely carefree.”“I think it’s important to maintain some sense of normalcy.” Emma turned to stare at him. “Besides, you’re one to talk. You do nothing but escape into fantasy worlds.”
Evan smirked. “But, how can adults be so critical of our generation?” He sighed. “This current war isn’t one that we started.”
“Even if you place the burden on adults, you have to remember that we all breathe the same air,” she pointed out. “We’re all human. I highly doubt that enemy nations distinguishes between generations. They probably intend to kill us all simply because we stand in their way. Besides, don’t forget that we’re officially adults too.”
“I guess I just don’t care,” Evan said, and then, before he could stop himself, “Whether we live or die, it’s all too cumbersome.” He winced; this wasn’t something he would have normally said to her.
Taken back, Emma let go of his hand, her light brown eyes reflected in his own. “What does that mean for us, then? Lest we forget, you begged me to give you a chance and professed your love for me.”
Ashamed, Evan let his gaze fall. He always tried to avoid dragging Emma into his problems.
“I know what happened over the summer changed you,” she continued gently. “I am trying to support you. Please don’t forget that you still have me. Don’t throw me away.” She leaned in to kiss him.
He met her lips with his own. To him, she was a breath of fresh air in this suffocating world. He was honestly glad that at least, he had her. After a few moments, he felt a drop of rain hit his head.
“Ah. Let’s go before we get caught in the rain.” Emma pulled away, smiling at him. “We still have to pick up the pizza.”
They got up holding hands, and jogged hastily out of the park as the drops turned into a steady drizzle.
Outside the restaurant, an old man dressed in rags sat against the wall, next to the front door. In his hand was a dirty piece of cardboard with nonsense scribbled on it. He watched as the young couple made their way to the front door. His grey eyes fixated on Evan, who didn’t seem to notice.
Inside, a young girl with short, black hair glazed with pink highlights stood behind the counter. From behind her, the sounds of muffled arguing could be heard.
“What should we get?” Emma asked Evan.”Anything is fine,” Evan stated. “Pineapple?” Emma grinned.
Evan grimaced, sticking his tongue out. “Fine, anything isn’t fine. Let’s just get pepperoni.”They stepped up to the counter.”Large pepperoni pizza,” Emma said to the employee.”That’ll be $8.00.” The employee smiled weakly. “And it’ll be about 10 minutes.”Emma handed a few bills to the girl, and then she and Evan sat down on one of the available benches. The arguing in the back intensified, but the couple chose to ignore this, as Emma rested her head on Evan’s shoulder.”I love you,” she whispered softly.”I love you too,” Evan replied.Suddenly, a deafening scream echoed from the back of the restaurant. The young couple raised their heads, clinging tightly to one another before a teenage boy emerged from the back, his hands and uniform stained with red. He approached the girl behind the counter.”Jessica, it’s done,” he sneered, his dark eyes illuminated with excitement.”J… Jeff, what did you do?” Jessica stammered as she stepped away from him, her eyes focused on his dripping hands.”I freed us from the tyranny of that asshole,” his eyes wide with glee. “Now we can be together like we’ve always wanted. Whenever, wherever.”Horrified, Jessica continued to step backwards, casting her eyes away from Jeff’s. “I told you. I don’t even like you…” “Don’t be like that, baby. I’m the new boss, after all.” Jeff sneered as he moved closer to her. “You don’t want to be without a job, right?”Evan continued to cling to Emma, who had already pulled out her phone and began to dial 9-1-1. However, noticing them out of his peripheral vision, Jeff turned to see the couple.
“…customers,” he said softly to himself.Emma froze, her finger hovering over the last 1.Seeing the phone in her hand, Jeff raised his left arm, pointing his finger at her. A red star, tattooed on the back of his hand, began to glow as a small orb of flames swirled at his fingertip.”Drop the phone,” he said sternly.She slowly placed the phone onto the floor, Jeff’s eyes piercing through her like daggers.”Kick it away from you,” Jeff commanded.Emma nudged it with her foot, causing it to slide into the middle of the room.At once the mass of flame shot forward like a bullet. It struck the phone, enveloping it in flames before exploding into fiery bits that scattered along the floor.Jeff let out a cackle as everyone stared in shock.”W… what the hell was that?” Jessica stammered.”My power, baby,” Jeff bragged, turning to face her.”Do you think we can make a break for it?” Emma whispered to Evan.He didn’t respond, his body shaking and his eyes widening with fear. How did he get into this situation? He always tried to stay passive, and go with the flow. He hadn’t been standing out in any way. Why can’t I just live my life peacefully he thought.”Let’s put on a show for our customers,” Jeff said to Jessica, raising his hand up and groping her breasts. “Everyone loves dinner and a movie.””Stop!” she cried out, backing away further only to hit the solid wall behind her. Tears began to flow down from her face as she realized she was trapped.”I don’t have to listen to that anymore.” Jeff grinned, tightening his grip on her body. “I’m not just some third-rate pizza boy that you can look down on anymore.”He grabbed the collar of Jessica’s uniform and with a single motion, tore it away, revealing a black, laced bra.”I knew you weren’t so pure.” Jeff licked his lips. “Now let’s see if they are as good as I imagined.” He reached his hand hungrily toward her breasts.Jessica screamed, grabbing a nearby pen and impaling his oncoming hand. He groaned, blood spurting from the wound as he gritted his teeth.
“Now’s our chance,” Emma whispered to Evan, yanking him by the wrist out of the front door.”You… bitch…” Jeff grunted, tearing the pen out with his free hand. His breathing became heavier as a gush of blood burst from the open wound and down his hand. He suddenly slapped Jessica, the force of the blow sending her to the ground.”I thought you were the one. I would have taken such good care of you,” Jeff roared, glaring down at her.Jessica raised a hand to her throbbing cheek.”You’re just an asshole!” she screamed, before spitting at his face.”I guess you aren’t a very suitable girlfriend after all.” Jeff wiped the saliva away somberly. “Girls are supposed to swallow.”
He reached down with his left arm, tightening his hand around her neck. She clawed at his grip, gasping for air. The tattoo on the back of his hand began to glow bright red. She felt heat against her neck, building slowly from a warmth to an intense burning. Smoke rose from her neck as her skin melted away, flesh and blood running freely down the front of her body as she frantically tried to pull away.
Her eyes rolled back into her head as her body fell limp and her neck gave out, the skin and bone completely melted away. Her body fell to the ground while her head remained in Jeff’s hand, blood oozing from her open throat. Jeff dropped her head next to her body, into a pool of crimson. Both Jessica’s blood and Jeff’s tattoo began to glow a bright red, resonating with one another. Her blood began flowing through the air like a ribbon, converging into the red star on Jeff’s hand.As the blood finished draining, Jeff turned toward the booths. ”At least there’s another girl waiting for me.” But the store was empty. “Shit,” he murmured.Emma and Evan had made it to the street outside, where the rain had become a raging torrent. The two stumbled haphazardly, struggling to figure out which direction they were headed. We’re finally safe, Evan thought, turning to see Emma looking around frantically.Suddenly they heard a loud crash, and turned to see that the door to the pizza shop had been smashed down. Jeff was rushing towards them, the drops of rain seeming to evaporate into steam in his wake.
“No!” Evan shouted, taking a step back.
Emma glanced at him, smiling, before stepping forward to put herself between Jeff and Evan.”Not so fast!” Jeff screamed, his voice echoing through the parking lot.He swung his left arm through the air. Flames erupted from the ground, running horizontally across the street from behind Emma and Evan. Evan stared in disbelief. “What can we even do?” He had faced these situations numerous times in video games, but this wasn’t a game. He didn’t have a special power or tool to combat this lunatic.
“Don’t worry.” Emma smiled at him. “This is just like a video game, and no one has more experience in those than you. You’ll think of something.”
Evan’s heart sunk as he listened to her. His face was white with fear, and he couldn’t think of a single thing to do.
Noticing this, Emma nodded, kissing his forehead. “Then, I’ll keep you safe.”Jeff had nearly reached them. “You aren’t going anywhere!””Are you stupid!?” Emma screamed, exasperated. “Do you think it’s smart to do this outside? A wall of fire?! Seriously!? You must want to attract the cops!””Let them come! They can’t stop me!” he shouted back, his eyes lit up with joy. “I welcome a chance to let the world know of my strength! My whole life I’ve only been looked down on! Now, I will take my rightful place in society! I will be respected!”
Emma bit her lip, frustrated. The best she could hope to do was stall for time.
“First I’ll kill the boy, and then you and I can have some real fun!” Jeff cried out maniacally.Finally finishing his trek across the parking lot, Jeff stood face to face with Emma and Evan. His long, dark hair was soaked by the rain and draped down in front of his face. He flicked it aside with his hand before reaching out to touch Emma’s cheek. “I’ll take real good care of you.”Then Evan snapped. Before Jeff’s hand could reach her, he raised his arm, grabbing Jeff’s wrist. “Quiet this whole time.” Jeff glared at Evan. “And all of a sudden you think you’re a big boy now? You think you can just stand up to someone like me?!”He pulled his wrist free and then raised his arm to slap Evan across the face.Evan grunted, reeling backwards. He threw a punch at Jeff. As Evan’s fist flew forward, Jeff’s body began to glow red, the drops of rain becoming steam as they fell toward him. Before Evan could stop, his fist landed in Jeff’s face. On contact, an intense heat seared Evan’s knuckles. He withdrew his arm immediately, rubbing his burnt hand with his left.Jeff smirked. “You can’t even touch me, boy.” Then, thrusting an arm forward at Evan, he shouted, “Die!” Suddenly, Evan found himself on the ground. He groaned and looked up to see Emma, whose chest had been pierced by Jeff’s bright red hand. Both Jeff and Evan stared in shock. Blood flowed from the hole in Emma, covering Jeff’s hand as his tattoo began to glow brighter. He pulled his arm out from her body, and she collapsed. Evan leapt to his feet to grab her before she hit the ground. “No, not you too…” He began to cry as he pulled her closer.His thoughts raced of all the times they had spent together. She had been his everything, nurturing and pushing him, always patient with his indifference and mistakes. She brought him more joy than anything or anyone else in this world, and she was all he had left. And yet, what had he ever done for her? Even today, he had told her he’d rather die. He felt horrible; the entire last few months he had simply taken her for granted. If he had known this was how it was going to end, then he would have made more of an effort so she wouldn’t have had to babysit him so much. She didn’t deserve this. “It should have been me…” Evan gripped her tighter.Emma stared up at him, smiling weakly with a single drop of blood running down from her lip.”See… I knew… that… you cared,” she managed to stammer as she coughed, splattering blood onto Evan’s clothes.
It was too much. Tears poured from Evan’s eyes as he closed them, gripping Emma tightly as her body went limp. He was now completely alone, and there was nothing he could do.”Crying again?” Jeff said in disgust. “That bitch was more of a man than you can ever hope to be. If you had been a real man, you wouldn’t have let her die for you. You’ve ruined my fun.”
“I don’t care,” Evan sputtered softly. “Just hurry up and kill me too.”Jeff glared at him.
“Well… you do act like a woman,” he said softly. “No one would have to know. A hole is a hole… I’ll just use you for some release and then kill you.”Jeff reached down toward Evan when suddenly, everything around them froze. The drops of rain had stopped in motion, and the world seemed fuzzy. Despite it being night time, with looming dark clouds, the world seemed much brighter, almost grey.A voice called out, echoing, “Do you want to live?”Consumed by thoughts of Emma, Evan simply closed his eyes, the tears flowing more than ever.
The voice called out again. “Boy, do you want to live?”
Evan shook his head, “No! Just leave me alone already!”He felt a warm touch on his shoulder, and opened his eyes, slowly looking up to see the old man from outside of the pizza shop. Despite his considerable amount of wrinkles, Evan couldn’t tear his gaze from the man’s luminescent blue eyes.”She gave her life for you. Would you waste that sacrifice?” the old man asked.”I just don’t have anything else to live for…” Evan cried, tears continuing to run down his face.”You have a choice,” the man said. “Don’t be so hasty to choose death. Let me help you. I will give you the power to take revenge, as well as the opportunity to rebuild.”Evan looked up at him, unable to comprehend what this old man was getting at. He seemed to be treating it like it was a game. Evan looked down at Emma once more. “It’s not like there’s some spell I can learn to bring her back.”
“Oh ho ho…” The old man chuckled. “On the contrary, if you accept the power I offer, the same power that this boy wields, then you can travel to a world of magic. There, you can master powerful healing spells, even one that may be capable of reviving the dead.”Evan stared up at him in disbelief, the words barely registering.The old man held out his hand. With a flash of light, a pale blue crystal in the shape of a flower sprouted out from his open palm. “You want your parents and your lover back, don’t you?””How do you–” Evan began. “Reach out and take it, if you wish to save Emma!” the old man’s voice boomed.Before he realized it, Evan had reached up and grabbed the crystal, shattering it. Energy erupted from the man’s hand, pouring into Evan’s and then flowing through his body. Suddenly, he cringed at a sting in the back of his right hand. He looked to see a blue line starting to etch a shape into his flesh. Once the pain subsided, Evan was left with a five-petaled, pale blue flower tattooed onto the thin skin of his right hand.As Evan regained his wits, he looked to see the man was gone and time had begun to flow again. Instinctively, he reached up and grab his assailant’s wrist. Jeff’s bones began to creak and crack under the pressure of Evan’s grip, until finally, a loud snap echoed throughout the empty parking lot.Jeff howled, grabbing his wrist and stumbling backwards. “What the hell!? Where did that come from?!”As though in a trance, Evan raised his right arm, carving a figure eight into the air. The drops of rain began to pull together, forming into several different orbs of water.”How!?” Jeff screamed, a large mass of orange flames erupting from his body for just an instant. “Were you holding back this power this whole time!? Why let that girl die!?”Jeff raised his left arm as flames began to flow freely from his open palm, creating a massive orb of fire. Evan’s body seemed to continue to move of its own accord. He steadied his hand just over the water orbs floating before him. Spreading his fingers apart, the orbs of water began to bend to his will, stretching out into cylinders.”Damn you!” Jeff cried, throwing the orb of flame at Evan.As the flame cut through the drops of rain, leaving a path of steam, Evan felt a sudden warmth in his free hand. He reached out, a pale aura shrouding his hand, and wrapped his fingers around the flames, clenching his grip and dissipating the flames with his bare hand.“I…impossible!” Jeff stammered, taking a step back.
“How does it feel?” Evan smirked, suddenly aware of how powerful he felt. “How do you think that girl behind the counter felt?”
“W…what?” Jeff took another step back, his body trembling.
Evan’s smile quickly turned to disdain. “How do you think Emma felt?”
“You’re crazy!” Jeff turned his back to Evan, sprinting towards the distant pizza shack for cover.Fueled by his rage, Evan clenched his hand into a fist and the cylinders of water suddenly froze over, becoming sharpened daggers of ice. They shot forward, piercing Jeff in the stomach, chest, and throat. Evan watched as Jeff tripped forward, collapsing onto the ground, the shards of ice protruding from his still body and oozing blood from underneath.As though he had done so a thousand times before, Evan slowly made his way over to Jeff, kneeling and placing his right hand into the blood. The blood began to flow upward into the flower tattoo on Evan’s hand. Now glowing a faint blue light, the tattoo began to soak up the blood, staining it a deep crimson. When all of the blood had been absorbed, Evan’s tattoo returned to its usual light blue color. In turn, his entire body began to take on a similar pale blue hue. It felt as though his body was being tugged and pulled at.
His gaze moved over Jeff’s impaled body before lingering on Emma’s figure. He let out a weak exhale as fresh tears began to pool in his eyes. “At least she looks peaceful,” he whispered, the aura around his body growing heavier.
He shook his head furiously, wiping away his tears with his sleeve. This wasn’t the end, he thought to himself.
“Emma! I will save you! I lo —” his voice cut off. His body had become completely consumed by blue light and he was shot upward, being pulled into the night sky before fading away as if a shooting star.

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