Hello! If you are new to the blog, you can go to the archives page to find the first edition of this series! For people who read my blog through Twitter, remember that you can click on the Life and Lemons logo in the corner to visit the real site also! Enjoy this week’s highly anticipated edition!
Manipulative. Deceptive. Vile to the core. My mind churned with the thoughts as I lay in the dark hotel room. Memories clung viciously to the edge of my mind, sucking away the elation from the previous hour, the golden rush of euphoria that the use of my powers always gave. It was like a drug addict’s high: pure bliss, the tangy taste of infinite power tantalizingly within grasp. But it wasn’t like before, meaninglessly reading people’s minds in class, compelling the math teacher to let them out a few minutes early… no. This felt wrong.
I am James Blackthorn. My whole life I had lived with my power, looking into people’s minds, molding thoughts and shaping reality. At first, it had seemed intrusive and wrong… because it was. The high it gave me was disgustingly addictive, the surge of adrenaline and the power to change everything. To change the world. I had been to prisons, wiped dark thoughts from minds, compelled people to be better people, convinced my friend to ask out his long-time crush. Even with all the good, there was always that niggle in the back of my head. To abuse my power- do something wrong. Convince someone I hated to do horrible things, make a girl fall in love with me, steal as much money as I wished. It was an evil, gut-wrenching urge that I shoved down deep. It was an urge put there by my father a long time ago.
No. Stop. You haven’t let him control you. You can’t let the darkness overwhelm you because of him. Because of your… father. Even the thought sounded wrong, that word coated in venom in his mind.
I haven’t done anything too bad yet. Have I? Manipulating our way into a free hotel room was one thing. My father seeking me out, being foolish enough to get comfortable, compelling the teacher. I could let go of it all. What I couldn’t let go was her. Always her, always Vivian Rose. Pretty, sweet, a talented musician with a beautiful laugh like tinkling bells. Her life had been so blissfully… so incredibly normal. Just a girl with a crush and a knack for the french horn. I had set off a chain reaction. Trying to alter her thoughts, her powers showing themselves, my father hunting us down. It was all my fault.
I shifted onto my side, peering out across the empty room, the pitter-pattering drops of the shower the only noise in the silent night. My eyelids started to slip down like they were being gently dragged by some invisible weight. Despite the guilt writhing in my gut, my fatigue was grappling at any hold it could reach, desperately sinking me into a light doze.
Please, let sleep come… I squeezed my eyes shut, praying for the plain darkness of dreamless sleep, for the thoughts to leave my head and the guilt to evaporate from my gut. I should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy.
The instant I let my mind attempt to slip off into sleep, a million images attacked my mind like a slideshow gone nuts. Vivian’s blue eyes, wide with fear. My father’s twisted smile. Ash brown hair whipping in the wind. A speedometer screeching higher. Vivian, her innocent, blushed face tense with anger. The blank look that slid over the hotel clerk’s eyes as I meddled with her thoughts. Betrayal, utter disgust scrawled across Vivian’s face when I let the shy facade slip. My heart pounded faster, the light at the end of the tunnel (sleep, in this case) rocketing further and further out of reach with each passing second.
Please! I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I hardly knew who I was pleading to. No one would hear my cries, no one could stop the guilt that barraged my stomach or the past that poisoned my thoughts. I was all alone. There was no way I would ask Vivian for help. I had already broken her heart, shattered her perception of reality, thrown her into my twisted world of fear and lies. She had done enough already. Dealt with enough.
A million noises sounded in my mind, a discordant roar that didn’t match up to the torrent of images. Teacher’s yells. Vivian’s angelic voice. My father’s hissing chuckle. Revving motors sputtering, struggling under intense speed. The slap of my sneakers on the school tile. One blood curdling scream that sliced through it all like a knife. Everything cut out, leaving me in an empty blackness, echoes of the cry still reverberating in my ears. That scream seemed too loud. Too real. It was real. Vivian!
Before I could begin to drag myself out of sleep, two hands yanked my shoulders. My eyes snapped open and I yelped as the slim figure shook me violently. When it finally halted, she was there, vibrant blue eyes wild with something more than panic. Sheer. Terror. My heart sank like a heavy rock in a pond, leaving a trail of bubbling worries in its wake.
“James! James, wake up!” Her hand swept my cheek in a slap that left my ears ringing. It stung as bad as hydrogen peroxide poured on an open wound, a lasting sting that sent shock waves rippling through your skin.
“Ow! What is it, Vivian?” The words were sluggish as I surveyed the room. It was quiet, except for an ominous thump-thump beating in the hallway. It was a familiar sound, one I had heard (and dreaded) thousands of times before. My father’s footsteps. I would recognize them anywhere. It was the thump-thump rhythm that tortured my dreams, one that I cringed at when I was little and heard him coming down the hallway to my room. She didn’t need to say anything. I knew what it was.
“We have to go. Now. He’s here.”
Seconds raced ahead in rapid succession. My feet striking the floor, Vivian fumbling with the lock frantically, my heart a jackhammer pounding my ribs. Each little movement of her quick fingers seemed like an eternity. Just as she was about to open the door, everything happened at once. My heart soared as the handle turned under her fingers. Butterflies barraged my stomach suddenly when Vivian looked back at me, hope bright as a flame in her brilliant blue eyes. I didn’t have time to analyze the feeling, to wonder why in that moment I was so suddenly awestruck by her flushed cheeks and bright blue eyes. Then, right before the door could squeak open- knock. Knock. A dreadfully long pause. I held my breath, stepping back in horror. Knock.
Crash! Vivian was thrown backwards as the door burst open to reveal him, in all his fury. Sickly white as a corpse, a vengeful phantom in his impeccable black suit. His unsettlingly pale hazel eyes landed hungrily on Vivian (still scrambling to get up), then, after a long moment, on me. A spark of emotion flashed in his gaze. Hunger? Fury? Pride? Love? Grief? Joy? Disappointment? Any one of those seemed to fit just as good as the next.
It was a look I had learned to be afraid of- you never knew if you were going to get beat or praised. From him? Both options were equally as bad. Praising meant pressure to use my powers, usually for my father’s gain or to hurt an innocent just out of pure, malicious spite. Beating? Well, you get the point. His barely-there muscles were taut under the expensive fabric as he stepped forward.
“Dad.” The word was a curse, a horrible swear that was like poison on my lips. As bad as a priest shaming his God, condemning as townspeople accusing a witch, a word that left a bad taste lingering on my tongue like a too-sour candy.
“James. I see you and your girlfriend got my message.” I faltered, my heart stuttering at his voice, how disgusting the words sounded as they dripped from his thin lips. With all the strength I could muster, I spat back,
“She’s not my girlfriend.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Vivian’s body convulse at the words, brow creasing slightly like the words put her in physical pain. I took a careful step towards her, eyes still trained on my father, looming in the doorway like the Grim Reaper.
“Ah, but wouldn’t she like to be? That’s how this all started. Ms. Rose’s desire for you, James. And that’s how this will all end.” Vivian got shakily to her feet, instantly freezing in panic. She was a deer in headlights under his malicious gaze.
“Leave,” she inched a little closer to him, body tensed, “now.” The power of the word slammed down on the room like an earthquake. I had to strain to keep my feet in place. They itched, burning to leave and run away as fast as I could. Her command, the heavenly voice so articulated and clear, made even me (who had years of training in mind control resistance) want to dart away. My father barely flinched, but I could see his left foot twitch slightly backwards. Almost imperceptibly, he moved back a little. I locked eyes with Vivian. She had seen it too.
“Ah, Ms. Rose. So powerful. On any normal human, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been able to stay for a millisecond after that. But I’m not so normal, am I?” He cocked his head to the side, staring her directly in the eyes, lips spreading into a twisted grin. While he was distracted, I began to inch around the side, slipping into the bathroom and grabbing the first thing I could… which just so happened to be a plunger. Shiny, cherry red with a rough wooden pole poorly grafted onto the plastic. Holding it by the plastic, I brandished the wooden stick, readying myself to lunge forward.
“No. You are a sick, grotesque naked mole rat of a man. Leave.” His grin widened at her words, a deranged Cheshire Cat lurking smugly in the dark. But I saw the way his feet inched backwards slightly, how shivers ran down his arms and his muscles strained. Vivian wasn’t normal like I had thought. She just may be the most powerful mind controller I had ever met. Stronger than me, and perhaps even… my father?
“Ms. Rose, I could either do this the hard way or the easy way. You see, you have a natural defense block against mind control. But I don’t specialize in mind control, I dabble in it. However, I have a much greater gift. I control emotions.” The smirk morphed into a snarl, and Vivian’s eyes widened with pain. Tears burst down her cheeks abruptly, and she clutched her heart, falling to the floor. Gasps of breath wracked her chest, face contorted in heart break. Waves of pure, causeless despair crashed down on her violently; Vivian writhed like she had never felt so much pain in her life. She probably hadn’t.
When she started to scream, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t wait another second watching the utter grief storm over those bright blue eyes, the defiance melting and her shoulders tensed with pain. Lunging, I struck him over the head with the stick. Crack! I heard the sickening crunch of the impact as his skull was smashed by the wood, which splintered into pieces. He gave a deafening roar of pain, grabbing Vivian’s wrist and yanking her up, tears still cascading down her cheeks like roaring waterfalls.
“No!” I reached for her, and my father brought up a hand. Immediate tidal waves of fear pushed me under. Grappling for his thoughts, I struggled through the fear, pushing my way into his mind. Horror clawed at my heart with icy fingers. I was hot and cold, sweat stinging my eyes. But through the racing heart and trembling body, through the pulsating terror, I pushed deeper into his mind, thrusting myself into his thoughts. I could see his tether to Vivian, coursing with palpable despair and grief like a laser beam of heart break pumping into her skull. The bubbles of thoughts floated further out of reach each time I tried to manipulate one.
Exhausted, shivering with sweat, I was about to give up. Curl into a corner and let him do as he wished with the world. I just wanted it all to end. For the fear to stop, for my heart to stop pounding like a jackhammer. It hurt. Everything hurt. More than anything in the world, I wanted it to stop. And it would. If I let him take Vivian, he would release me and I could live in peace.
With one glance at her despair-filled blue eyes, I ruled it out instantly. The pain in her face flushed away the fear. I had dragged her into this… it was my fault she was feeling this pain. Now I was going to make sure he could never do this to anyone ever again.
Instead of hacking at the tether to Vivian, I hurled all my power into one mighty jab at his core power, a glowing ball of energy that tied him to emotions. All my force into one finishing blow. For a second, nothing happened. Then I saw the grief melt from Vivian’s face. Not a moment later, his power core exploded in a blinding flash of light. A million emotions blasted me all at once. Love hate fear envy despair sadness joy anxiety awe surprise anger – all in one booming second that made my heart overload. I just destroyed his power. I thought in awe. There was only a second to feel triumph before I blacked out.