Every day. Every freaking day. Dominic ran out of his house and down the street. He didn’t stop running until he reached Anthea’s road, a couple of streets down. He stopped himself at the intersection and held his knees, struggling for breath. He felt a bit better, but his step father’s words were still ringing in his ear. “Damn kid can’t do anything right” “Where the hell did you get such clumsy fingers?” “If you drop another can I might just drop one on your head, you hear me?”
“Yes, dad.” Dominic stood up and ran his fingers through his hair. “Sure, dad.”
He looked down the street. He could see Anthea’s little blue house. Sure, it was only five o’ clock, and trick or treating didn’t start until six. She wouldn’t mind if he came over a bit early. Thank goodness he still had his costume on. His house was toxic. He wasn’t about to go back in there.
He trudged to her house and knocked on the door a couple of times. Mrs. Hayes answered the door. “Dominic?” She smiled. “Just can’t stay away, can you?”
Dominic feigned a smile. “Yeah, guess not.”
“Well, come in.”
Dominic gratefully came into the house. He was a little surprised to find Meredith already sitting at the kitchen table, in the middle of a chess game with Anthea. Only Meredith looked up as Dominic came into the room.
“Hey, Dom.” Meredith gave him a quick wave, then went back to concentrating on the board. She only had her king, knight, rook, and two pawns left scattered on the board. Dominic smirked. One of these times Anthea was going to lose. It was unnatural for someone to win that much.
“Hey, Anthea,” Dominic said loudly, tapping her on her back to get her attention. She jerked, and one of her pawns collapsed on the board. She whipped her head around.
“Don’t…don’t do that,” she snapped, putting one hand to her back and staring at Dominic. Dominic took a step back.
“Whoa, sorry. What’s wrong?”
Anthea relaxed and sighed. “Nothing, just a bit jumpy today. Probably since it’s Halloween.”
“Oh…Okay…” Dominic didn’t think that made much sense, but he didn’t question it.
Anthea took Meredith’s rook with one of her knights. “Check. Help yourself to some of the candy on the counter, Dominic. My mom bought way too much.”
“Thanks!” Dominic made his way over to the counter where a large bowl was sitting. He looked for anything chocolate and chose one at random.
“So what route are we taking?” he asked, popping the candy into his mouth.
“Same as last year, probably,” Meredith said. “We got a decent amount of candy.”
“Yeah, I remember that.”
“Okay I give up.” Meredith tipped her own king over. “Hey Dom, let’s go make sure our costumes are good.” Dominic followed her into the downstairs bathroom. They used the mirror in there to make minor adjustments to their capes and hats.
Anthea played with her black knight, staring after Dominic. She had never held a secret from him, should she…
She set the knight down. No. No one finds out. One person is enough.
Jason wandered through the streets of Toronto, searching for something to steal. His eyes rested on a family sitting by the fountain. He smiled and walked around the other side, passing by them. As he passed, he twiddled his fingers behind his back. He imagined his fingers were grabbing the wallet in the back pocket of the man…
The wallet twitched. Just as Jason walked by the family on the other side, the wallet flew out of the man’s pocket and landed in his hand. Jason quickly placed the wallet in his own pocket and walked on.
Meredith was helping her mom with Thanksgiving pies when her cell phone rang. After wiping flour off of her hands and excusing herself, she swiped her phone’s screen to answer it and went into the next room. “Anthea?”
“I have fuzz,” she said. Meredith’s phone reception was a bit spotty, so she wasn’t sure she heard that right.
“Sorry, you have…what?” Meredith plugged her left ear with her finger and brought the phone closer to her other ear.
“I…have…FUZZ.” Anthea’s voice sounded breathy, like she had just been running.
“I still don’t…fuzz?”
“Fuzz, Meredith. On my antennas.” It had been a few weeks since Anthea had shown Meredith her extra limbs, but Meredith immediately knew that’s what she was referring to.
“Okay, so you have fuzzy things growing out of your back. Seriously, Ani, you should get those things looked at. Maybe amputated or something.”
“But I think I know what they are now!”
Meredith huffed. “Antennas?”
“I just called them that because I knew you would know what I was talking about. But from now on I’ll be referring to them as wings.”
Meredith laughed. “Seriously? What, do you think you’re some kind of angel or something?”
“I’m dead serious!” Ani’s voice sounded even more forced now. “You haven’t seen them lately. They’re wings, I tell you!”
“All right, all right.” Meredith lowered her voice. “Do you want me to come over to your house or something?”
“At some point.”
“Well, thanks for being specific. I don’t know what you called me for then.”
“I couldn’t keep this to myself,” Ani whined.
“Yeah, well. Next time you have to tell me about your ‘wings,’ just fly on over here, won’t ya?” Meredith chuckled to herself.
“Fine.” Ani’s voice sounded hurt, and Meredith felt a pang of guilt. “But don’t complain when I wake you up in the middle of the night with a thump on your roof.”
When Meredith jerked awake in the middle of the night two weeks later, she thought Christmas had come early. She could have sworn she’d heard Santa’s reindeer on her roof in her dreamy haze. Fully awake now, she realized that was nonsense and that she should go back to sleep. But something had woken her up.
Anthea lay dazed on top of Meredith’s roof. She still felt like she was dreaming even though she felt sharp pain shooting up through her right foot. She must have sprained it when she landed.
She noticed that Meredith’s window was open, despite the cold. Crazy girl was probably going to get sick. But then she was always cold-blooded, preferred the cold anyway.
Anthea slid down the roof, careful not to put too much weight on her ankle, and slipped through the window.
Meredith glanced around her room, trying to spot anything that might have made a sound in the draft while she was sleeping. She nearly choked as something fell into her room from outside. The dark shape made a large thump onto her floor beneath her window and began to grow.
Meredith tried to yell to the shape to go away, but her scream felt like a knife slicing her throat. Her fingers fumbled for her lamp shade pull string next to her bed, and when they finally found it she yanked on it like it was her only source of tangible comfort. The light flooded the room, and Meredith was blinded for a second. When her eyes had adjusted, she stared in shock at her best friend standing in the corner of her room with only her pajamas on.
“Ani?” Meredith held her hand over her fluttering heart and blinked spots out of her eyes. “What the hell are you doing in my bedroom in the middle of the night?”
“To show you these.” Anthea limped towards Meredith’s bed, and something behind her rustled. Meredith stared in awe as bright blue feathered wings unfolded behind her. They filled up most of that side of the room, and they twitched and swayed like they wanted to be flying.
“What the…” Meredith sat up in her bed. “Can…can I touch it?”
Ani walked closer, and one of her wings stretched out to Meredith’s bed. “Sure, but be careful. They’re still fairly new.”
Meredith reached out her hand and tapped a feather with her finger. It felt smooth and strong. And very very real.
“Okay…” Meredith took a deep breath and looked at her friend. Her friend with wings. Ani has wings. She actually…has…wings.
“Meredith?” Ani tilted her head. “You’re not freaking out on me, are you?” Ani took Meredith’s stunned face in her hands. “I can’t afford to have you freak out on me. Not now.”
“No, no.” Meredith cleared her throat and swung her legs around her bed to rest on the floor. “I’m still here. I’m still sane. For now.”
“Thank goodness.” Ani folded her wings back up and sat down on the end of Meredith’s bed. “Because I’m not completely sure I’m sane.”
Meredith took her blanket and put it over her friend’s shoulders. “Yeah. Going out in the middle of the night, in December, with only your pajamas, and crashing into people’s houses unannounced. Yeah, you’re pretty cracked up.”
Anthea laughed. “You’re the one who left your window open.” Meredith realized that Anthea had red streaks down her face. Despite her joking and supposed calmness, she must have been crying.
“Hey,” Meredith said soothingly, wrapping her arm around Anthea’s shoulder. “We’ll figure this out.”
“Yeah, I know.” Anthea rested her head on Meredith’s shoulder and broke her strong facade. “I know.”
Sitting on an overturned dumpster and leaning against a brick wall, Jason thumbed through the day’s earnings. One hundred twenty one dollars and twenty six cents. Not bad.
He shifted position to flex his cramped wings. The puny things looked more like a plucked chicken than anything else, but he was hopeful they would become something more impressive soon. These chicken wings aren’t giving me any luck with the ladies, Jason thought with a chuckle. He thought he saw the edge of a blood red feather peeking out from among the gray fluff covering his wings, but maybe that was wishful thinking.
When Anthea woke up on stacks of pillows on the floor, it took her a few frightening seconds to realize she has spent the night in Meredith’s room.
She jerked up. “Meredith? What time is it?” Anthea heard a grumble from the bed next to her, then saw Meredith’s hand grab for her clock.
“Five in the morning. Why are you up so early?” Meredith set the clock back down and pulled the covers closer to her. Anthea wanted to go back to sleep too, but she had to get home before her mom noticed she was gone.
Anthea got up and stretched her aching back. “Remind me again why I’m sleeping on the floor?”
Meredith groaned and threw her covers back off, giving Anthea a dirty look. “Because your freaking wings would take up the whole bed. There was no way we could share. Now please let me go back to sleep.” Meredith covered her face with her covers and sighed.
Anthea grinned. “Fine, grumpy guts. You never were a morning person.” She set the pillows next to Meredith’s bed in a neat pile and went over to the still open window. Cold air blasted in and made her shiver, but it also filled her lungs and made her feel more awake, alert, energized.
“See you later,” Anthea said to the bed. An exaggerated snore answered her. She laughed and stepped out onto Meredith’s roof.
The wind buffeted Anthea, making a whistling noise through her feathers. She crouched and turned her head towards her house. Though it was still dark, she could still see the outline of her house because of the porch lights they left on every night. Anthea got up, took a deep breath, and let the tilt of the roof pull her down towards the edge of the house. Just as her right foot kicked off from the edge, she unfurled her wings and held her breath. She felt gravity pull her towards the bushed in Meredith’s yard, and her whole body jerked as the air caught her wings and slowed her descent. She glided for a second or two before beating the air with her wings to gain height. Only then did Anthea let herself breath. That part will take a lot of getting used to. Good thing I’m not afraid of heights.
Her landing was a lot smoother than her first one. She shimmied down to her own open window and popped into her room.
She quickly jumped into bed, tucked her wings underneath her, and pulled her covers up over her. Despite her quickly beating heart, it only took her a few minutes to drift into sleep.
Midnight, or some time around there. Perfect time to practice.
Jason sat cross legged on one side of the dark alley. There were a dozen empty Vernors cans lined up in a row about four meters away from him. Jason took a deep breath and flicked his finger upward towards the can farthest to the left. It jumped off the ground and floated up for a meter before pausing in midair. Jason kept that one there as he lifted the other cans in the same way. When they were all stationary in a neat line, Jason twisted both hands and envisioned them stacking on top of each other. The light-weight cans easily shifted position with his movement and made a vertical line.
Jason relaxed his hand, and the cans dropped back to the ground with a clatter. He turned his attention to the unopened paint cans lying behind the now unorganized pile of soda cans. Each weighed at least four kilograms. Raising both hands in front of him, one palm up to lift them and one palm out to steady them, Jason slowly lifted the cans, higher than he had lifted the soda cans. Despite the brisk wind whipping through his tank top, a warmth spread through his body, radiating from the base of his neck and creating a solitary bead of sweat on his forehead. Once he was satisfied with the height the paint cans had gained, he lowered his steadying hand and jerked his other to the left. The cans smashed against the brick wall, breaking open and splattering dark paint over the bricks.
Finally, Jason leapt to his feet and walked down the alleyway until he was standing next to a broken down Mini Cooper. In an effort to not completely melt his brain, Jason placed his hands on the rusting metal. He found out early on that direct contact made telekinesis a lot easier.
Jason put his right foot slightly back and closed his eyes. Three breaths should do it. One…two…three…
As he exhaled his third breath, Jason lifted his hands. The car creaked after him and reluctantly let go of the cold ground. He slid one hand off of the car and held it there for a few seconds before dropping his other hand. The car quivered in the air, then dropped with a crash to the ground. Jason leapt back as a hubcap clattered next to his feet.
Well. Not bad.
Jason left the dripping walls and wrecked car behind him as he walked out of the alley.
The police are going to have one hell of a time trying to figure out what happened here.