Chapter 1 - Too Much Fire Can Kill You
I hit the alarm clock when it rang. It fell on the floor and it stopped from ringing, probably broken. But I don't mind, Dad was the one who bought it and put it here. Even though I hated Monday mornings, I have to keep my butt moving before Dad scolds me again and let me do some chores.
Dad and I didn't have some good father and son relationship ever since Mom was still alive. Don't get me wrong, we're in good terms. What I meant was he isn't like the fathers out there who take their sons for a walk, play balls with them, watch concerts and live basketball games. It only got worse when Mom died. He has been so distant to me. He always pours his time fixing his old, broken car. But I understand him that's why I give him some space.
After I took a shower, I walked my way to the kitchen and smelled-- a burning egg?! I sprinted towards the kitchen and saw the pan with black smoke coming out from it. I was coughing nonstop as I walked towards it so I used my shirt to cover my nose.
I grabbed a bucket full of water and splashed it on the pan. I was breathing heavily as I dropped the bucket. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to calm myself and I started calling, "DAD!"
I already lost count on how many times I've reminded him not to leave the kitchen when he's cooking. Last summer, he almost burned down the house 'cause he went to the garage to fix his old, rusty car (which I doubt that it would be still fixed) and forgot that he was cooking something!
Dad glided in the kitchen and had this apologetic smile plastered on his face. "I'm sorry, Pyr! But you know what? The engine started! I was so excited that I forgot everything!"
If you're all wondering why my dad called me Pyr. Well, that's because it's my second name and I don't use it. I began hating that name when people started teasing me with it. They call me "Pear", like a pear tree even though it's pronounced as "Payr".
"Old habits die hard, right?" I said, sarcastically and then he laughed. But when he saw me that I had a serious expression he stopped.
"Dad! This is the second time you almost burned the house! Soon we'll be roasted humans!" I know it was wrong to yell at him but he was going overboard!
"I know, I know, sorry..." he looked down and mumbled something.
I scrunched my eyebrows. "What are you mumbling, Dad?"
He tilted his head up and smiled. "Nothing! Oh! You're gonna be late for school! Come on, I'm gonna cook!"
"No. Seriously. I am going to cook. You might forget about it again."
He chuckled. "Oh come on, Pyr. I'm not gonna do it again. Promise. Cross my heart." He gestured his hand, crossing his heart.
"Dad, please stop calling me 'Pyr'," I said while air quoting the Pyr.
"Why? Don't you like it? Your mom was the one who chose that name."
I decided to shut my mouth after he mentioned Mom. An awkward silence filled the room while Dad was cooking eggs. He usually don't mention Mom or anything related to her. But I guess he already moved on.
"I'm finished!" He turned to me and put the egg on my plate. He sat in front of me with his chin rested on his hands. This is weird. He usually go back to the garage after cooking and now he sits there and watch me eat. I didn't mind him and just grabbed the spoon and fork and ate.
"So, are you busy this weekend?" Dad asked. I stopped eating and looked at him with wide eyes. Did he just asked me that?!
"Uhhh... Maybe? Why?" I lied. We have a group study this coming weekend and maybe I could pass.
"Let's go fishing!" He yelled that made me choke. I reached for the glass and drank it.
"Are you serious?! What made you think that?! Are you sick?!" I yelled. He was really acting strange!
"Yes. Well, I thought that we need some bonding time. You know... Build this father and son relationship and no I'm not sick," he said, smiling.
"Okay." I simply said. I stood up and grabbed my bag on the chair. I was about to put the plates on the sink when something hit the glass window. Fragments of the glass were everywhere. And then I saw a rock on the floor. I looked outside and my blood boiled when I saw the guy responsible for this. Mason. His friends were laughing and I saw him smirked.
"WHAT THE HECK IS HIS PROBLEM?!" I bellowed as I punch the wall beside me. I felt my Dad's hands on my shoulder and made me face him. He was saying something but I couldn't hear him. The movement of his mouth made me realize that he was telling me to calm down. Well, I can't do it! I'm really fuming mad right now! I was thinking of ways to make Mason pay for every damage he'd done to me. I even imagined him on fire that made me snap out of my thoughts.
"-- down, Nick! Snap out of it!" Dad yelled. He was shaking my shoulders really hard that my head lolled. It was weird that I couldn't hear him earlier.
I moved away from Dad's hold and panted. Why was I panting? It feels like I've used all of my energy. I looked at Dad and what I saw in him was fear. Fear of what?
"Dad? You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah. I am. Are you?" He worriedly asked.
"Of course! Why wouldn't I be--" I stopped mid sentence when I saw the stove, table, and the chair on fire. "What the heck happened?!" I looked at him and saw him shrugged. I noticed that he was just relaxed while I was here panicking, afraid that we might turn to ashes sooner or later.
I quickly grabbed the bucket, which was now empty. "Damn!" I ran over to the sink and filled the bucket with water. I looked at Dad again who was just looking at me with a smile on his face. Why is he smiling?!
"Dad! Do you know what the word helping means?!" I yelled. This wasn't the time to fool around!
"Oh. Right!" He grabbed the nearest hose and splashed it on the stove. I, on the other hand, poured the bucket on the table. Once the fire was out I dropped the bucket and breathed heavily.
"What just happened?" I asked not taking my eyes off the table.
"The stove's broken and I remember putting a lighter on the table. I forgot to turn it off so that what's happened," Dad replied.
"But--" I was cut off when Dad started pushing me out of the house.
"You'll be late so go. And here's your bag," he handed me my bag. I absent-mindedly took it. And as if on cue, the school bus arrived and beeped which caused me to jump.
The door opened and I saw, Tipp, the bus driver. "C'mon, boy! We ain't got all day!" He said in a british accent. I looked at Dad and he just gave me a reassuring smile.
"I have to go and buy some new things. Stay out of trouble, okay?" I just nodded at him before turning my back and stepped into the bus.
x x x x x x
Gym Class a.k.a Pandemonium.
One of the reasons why I hate school. Not that I'm not athletic, it's just that Mason and Coach Paul teams up to make my life miserable. You see, Coach Paul doesn't care if he's hurting us in anyway. That's because he's bitter. Reason? He's divorced, his 7 year old son ran away from home in his 30th birthday.
"Nick, I heard Mason screwed up your locker. Don't open it if you still value your rep," Simon whispered. We were sitting on the floor, circling coach Paul as he explained the mechanics of the game.
"Again?!" I groaned. "What did I even do to make him hate me like this?"
"Bro, you didn't do anything. I think he's jealous."
"What?! Why?" I asked, shocked. He's like the most popular kid in this school and he has everything. Why would he be jealous of me?
"You've got someone he doesn't have," he smirked. I looked at him in disbelief. "Wanna know who?"
I nodded. "It's me. Poor guy, I rejected him when we were in 2nd grade. I didn't know that he's still in love with me," he then chuckled. I thought he was going to be serious this time but then I remembered that this guy's nuts.
"Funny, Si. Funny," I glared at him.
"Oh come on, Nick. Don't be so serious. Loosen up for a bit," he stretched his arms and stood up. I didn't notice that coach Paul was already finished explaining the mechanics of the game. I was about to stand up when something hard hit my head.
I heard the students laugh and laugh like they were watching a comedy movie. And I was the stupid one. I massaged my head while standing up and saw Mason laughing too.
"Heads up, Pear!" He yelled and then threw his head back, laughing again. I felt my body getting hotter and I was trying my best to calm down.
"What the hell's wrong with you, Mason?!" Simon boomed. Silence filled the room. I'd predict that this would be the end of Simon Green.
"You're siding with that loser again? You'll soon become a loser of you still hang out with him! He and his father are the same they're both losers! He can't even fix his damn old car!"
Let me change that statement a while ago. This will be the end of Mason Woods. Coach Paul won't mind anyway if he died.
It seems that the calm down thing didn't work anymore. I don't care if I'll get in detention later on. I'm just so mad right now and my body's getting hotter and hotter. It was like I was on fire! But I didn't mind it. All I could concentrate is that I'm really angry right now and I'll burn them to ashes!
"Dude, come on. Don't mind-- Ow!" Simon jerked away his hand as he touched my shoulder. "You're burning! You alright?!"
"Stay. Away." I said through gritted teeth. He backed up a little with a puzzled look. I don't know what I was doing but it felt like it was gonna be dangerous and I don't wanna hurt my best friend.
And the weirdest thing happened, I stomped on the ground and then the floor cracked. It was like my foot had a mind on its own. There was fire coming out from the cracked floor. When I looked around the fire was everywhere. Screams of fear were filling the Auditorium. They went for the exit but it was already blocked by the basketball ring and now they were trapped.
I looked at my hands and there was this red fire sparks coming out. "Cool. I have powers!"
"Nicholas! Watch out!" I recognized that voice was Mason's and the next thing I knew was he pushed me and we both landed on the floor.
"What the heck did you do that for?!" I yelled and I probably didn't have done that 'cause the trash can just blew up. I couldn't control my powers or whatever this thing is.
"A simple thanks will do, Pyr" he said as he stood up and I was taken aback by it. He just called me--
"Did you just call me Pyr?!" I asked, shocked. Did he just hit his head?
He closed his eyes and heaved a sigh. "Yes, I just called you Pyr, Pyr. That's what your name is, right? Right! So... I know this might sound crazy but I was sent here to protect you."
He was kidding me right? If he was sent to protect me then why did he bully me all the time?! Is this the new way of protection?! And as if reading my thoughts he said, "I am a guardian of Exoticed. And I protect your kind from getting eaten by monsters and as for you, you're someone who needs to be hidden and to be protected." I just looked at him like he was a crazy person. I know that there's something strange going around in here but the last thing I would do is believe that Mason is a guardian and was sent here to protect me.
"Lunatic!" I bellowed and then the usual thing happened, things keeps on blowing up or just have fire and people would scream and scream. I had goosebumps, I usually feel this whenever someone's watching me or something not good was approaching or would happen. When I turned around, I saw coach Paul at the corner of the room. He wasn't panicking at all. He just stood there... Watching me. What's his problem?
"Please calm down," I glanced back at Mason who was really doing his best to try to calm me down. I'm not used to this side of his. "People might die here of you won't!"
We don't want people dying here, do we? Even though I hated the guy, I followed him. As I closed my eyes, I started counting. This helps me to make me calm.
Every count I take, I felt that my body temperature was getting back to normal. From burning hot to a normal one. The screams of people lessened and when I opened my eyes, they were all looking at me including Simon. He walked towards me with a straight face. I took a step backward but it was too late, he hit my nape and I stumbled forward. I heard some gasps coming from the crowd. I glared at him as I massaged my nape.
"I saw what you did, Nicholas," he said seriously. I looked over at Mason and he was giving me the just-deny-it-look.
"Saw? Saw what?"
"We saw it Pear! You're a monster!" Said someone in the crowd and they began agreeing with the fact that I am a monster with fire powers. Mason tried to calm them down before they would start throwing balls at me. That would totally hurt.
I took a step backwards until I ended up on the wall. The crowd kept o advancing on me. I imagined that they had pitch forks and flambeau. And I was the monster they were going to tie on a tree and burn me.
'They wouldn't burn you. You're fire will protect you.'
Oh of course! But maybe they'll-- Wait... What was that?! There was a voice talking inside my head! Could this day get any worse?!
"N-No. I'm not a--" I was cut off by a loud squeal then I saw a bird figure outside the boundaries of our school. How could I hear that when it's still far? And it looks like it was only Mason and I who heard it 'cause he had his eyebrows scrunched and the students just continued on accusing me. I looked at Simon who was smiling at me. He then walked towards me and--
"That. Was. Awesome! Do it again!" He said, jumping up and down.
"Immature, Si. Immature. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh no, no, Nick! I know what you did! I saw it! It was--" he was cut off when the glass window was shattered. I could hear something flying. I looked up and saw a...
"Run, Pyr! Run!" Mason yelled. And so Simon and I ran. Was it possible that an eagle has a body of a lion?