Reads: 42

When it was first announced, and the sirens went off, everyone was in a frenzy. People had different ways of preparing for it. Some gathered supplies and bunkered up, hidden in their homes. Others packed up, then left town, and a few went about their lives normally, like if nothing happened.

The first week of it was hell.

Avajay couldn't get any peace or quiet with everyone running back and forth. Their emotions of panic bombarded him every day, making him feel queasy. Plus he had his own worries to deal with.

His parents were split in opinion. Ma wanted to leave town, while Pops believed they should stock up on supplies and wait it out. Avajay loved his parents with all his heart, but all he wanted was for them to stop talking for at least five minutes. He couldn't handle all their bickering at each other. And could they please leave him out of their arguments?

Avajay understood them wanting his opinion, but he was stumped.

He wanted ma and pops to be out of harm's way. It was just, he wasn't sure if he could give up their home and the memories they made there. Didn't help, that he couldn't sort his feelings out. Since the townsfolk's emotions were mixing with his own. Thankfully after a few more arguments and many sudden downpours inside their home. Ma eventually gave in and decided to go with pop's idea. The week after, things started to die down. Then the week after that, everything relatively returned to normal.

Most reasoned if A-level threat monsters were approaching. Then they would already be here.

Logically speaking, it was sound reasoning. Realistically though. Avajay wasn't sure.

He wasn't the only one who had his doubts. Many other residents of the town were skeptical. There was reason to be. Just because it'd been three weeks without any incident didn't mean they were safe. Avajay agreed with this reasoning at first. But the more he thought about it, the more questions appeared.

How did they even know A-level threats were coming this way?

Avajay assumed Juvenile sent scouts. With flairs that catered to searching and identifying approaching danger. However, if that was the case, why hadn't anybody been given updates on how close the monsters were?

Curiosity was getting the better of him. He felt a craving to know more. But he couldn’t get answers by himself. With no leads or prior information to go off on, Avajay needed to resort to asking others.

His parents said they were too young to remember the last time the sirens went off. So next, he set off to find answers from the older townspeople. His first, and thankfully only stop, was the community water siphon. Located in the center of town, it was their main source of water. Unless you didn't mind boiling it every day.

It was a massive structure that also served as their beacon. Standing well over ten thousand feet long. The water siphon was a cylindrical tube. Which stretched past the metal walls juvenile was domed in. That reached up to the clouds and sank deep into the earth.

It absorbed moisture from the atmosphere and sucked any water within the earth. Then later filtered the water somewhere throughout the tube. Till it reached the container that stored the water. Avajay wasn't sure how the filtered and groundwater never intermixed with each other. He did ask once, but the explanation went well over his head. So Avajay decided not to worry about it too much. Overall it was highly efficient, although it looked a bit goofy. As the container was a square box stuck in the middle of the tube. Sorta if someone decided to put a cardboard box in-between two straws.

Avajay walked over to the faucets where people drew the water from. They were about three feet above the ground, attached to the water siphon on all sides. There wasn't a single gap of space left, as they tried to make as many faucets as possible. In total, there were probably two hundred of them.

He spotted Mr. Finnbuckle, known as the town's drunk. He got on most people's nerves. Avajay didn't mind him since he always told the most fascinating tales of the Hollows period. Although he wasn't alive during it. Mr. Finnbuckle knew a lot of people who were. The Hollows was only about two hundred years ago, so it made sense. But what's surprising is that before the arrival of flairs living past hundred years was rare. An oddity even.

He learned when flairs first appeared in the Upbringing. People discovered they had newfound vitality. Allowing one to live longer than usually a hundred twenty years. For example, Mr. Finnbuckle was around ninety years old and still moved like he was in his fifties.

Currently, Avajay's main source of entertainment was hunching down on one knee. Filling plastic jugs with water. His caramel skin glistened against the sun showing spots of old age littered across his body.

"Mornin' Mr. Finn."

He turned his attention to Avajay. "Ahh, if it isn't that curious little fellow, um. What was it again?"

He hiccuped. "Avin?" As usual, he was drunk and tended to have trouble remembering Avajay's name when he was.

"It’s Avajay."

"Oh, Avajay! Why yes, of course! I was obviously joking." He laughed. “I was only having a bit of fun."

Avajay rolled his eyes. That's what he said the last too, and almost every other time before that.

"Sure you were. Anyway, I have a couple of questions to ask."

On queue, Mr. Finnbuckle sat down. Positioning himself crisscrossed on the barren rocky ground. It didn't look comfortable and was a weird place to sit with so many people around. Nonetheless, Finnbuckle patted the ground. In suggestion for Avajay to also take a seat. He was reluctant but wanted answers, so he sat. Mr. Finnbuckle, in return, sagely stroked his beard and spoke.

"Ah, I see you need my wise wisdom once again."

Wise wasn't necessarily a word Avajay would use to describe him or his wisdom. It was more knowledgeable than anything else. Well, knowledgeable for someone who looked like a hobo. His everyday attire consisted of a tattered sleeveless cloak. That, he might add, could sink up a whole room. Red fingerless gloves to match his also red toboggan. Which didn't go well with the dirty brown of his cloak and shorts. And to top it all off, Mr. Finnbuckle thought wearing socks was immoral. So he wore flip-flops everywhere he went. Avajay let him stay on his high horse though and spoke in a monotone voice.

"Yes, oh mighty one, please lend me your wisdom."

Finnbuckle flipped his long black locks, which had a few streaks of white, and held his head high.

"Why, of course, ask away."

Mr. Finnbuckle acted like this whether he was drunk or not. But one thing Avajay couldn't complain about. Was his eagerness to answer his questions.

"I was curious how the higher-ups of Juvenile knew about the A-level threats that were approaching?"

"Oh, I see," he stroked his beard again, "so we're wondering about the Insighters."

"Insighters? Never heard of them."

"Yes, that's not surprising as they are hardly talked about. They were first established when Juvenile was still being built. To act as an emergency line that could detect any threats that would approach. Consisting of a team whose flairs specialize in danger sensing."

Avajay thought back to his gift, thinking this sounded like that spider sense thingy.

"Although that's not what their whole team is composed of, they-"

Finnbuckle's face turned a sickly green, followed by several seconds of him puking.

"Not again!" A lady called out.

"This is the fourth time this week." Another one said.

"Can you please throw up somewhere other than the water siphon Finnbuckle!"

Avajay blushed. While he wasn't the source of this anger, he was still associated with what was. "Uhh, I think we should go."

Finnbuckle stood with his hands on his hips.

"Nonsense!" It seemed he had fully recovered. "I, nor my young companion will be leaving here till I say so!"

"Here he goes again. It's best to leave him alone before he goes off on another of his tangents!" It was a young man who spoke. Jill, he thought his name was. Beyond that, he didn't know much else.

"If Jill says so, I guess it's probably for the best." A voice spoke out.

They were still a few mumbles and groans from a few others, but overall, everyone calmed down. It seemed Jill had some authority over him. Avajay could feel it. The people here looked up to him. Maybe it was his huge stature.

"Jay!"

Mr. Finnbuckle snapped him out of his thoughts. Again sitting crisscrossed on the ground. Disregarding the puke that was next to him. Avajay didn't mind the smell; he'd grown accustomed to it. With how many times it'd happened when the both of them talked. Although that didn't make it look any less disgusting.

Finnbuckle stared at him with bulging eyes, waiting for Avajay to sit back down. Taking a seat, he sat a little further from Finnbuckle than last time. In case he decided he needed to puke again.

"Think I sobered up somewhat from that. Ready to continue kid?"

"Yea, go ahead."

"O-K! As I was saying earlier, their team isn't only composed of danger-sensing flairs. Animal mind transference ones are a part of the squad too. Usually entering the minds of birds or quick land animals. Depending on their flair, some can do so with monsters."

This surprised him. Avajay hadn't thought they could enter the minds of monsters. He wondered how that felt, but he'd have to ask them rather than Mr. Finnbuckle.

"So to answer your earlier question completely. First, they have the Insighters see if any threats are near. And if so, they get the mind transference team to scout the land."

Huh well, that was easier than he thought. Avajay figured he'd have to go all over town looking for answers.

"Looks like you knew everything I wanted again. Thank you, Mr. Finnbuckle."

He sat up and gave Avajay a courteous bow. "No problem kid, but with that, I bid you adieu."

"Adieu?"

"Some old forgotten language. Means goodbye. I'll be on my way now. Got more drinking I need to do, you know?" He shrugged with a grin on his face.

Avajay weakly chuckled.

"I guess. Have fun drinking."

He gave off a hardy laugh. "Oh, trust me, kid, I will.”

With that, he was off. Stumbling back to his house, which was somewhere in the upper districts.

Mr. Finnbuckle was an odd person containing vast amounts of knowledge. Sprinkled with a hint of mystery, since no one knew his flair. He never told anyone, and anytime Avajay asked, Finnbuckle brushed him off. Avajay's theory was that he was embarrassed by it. Heck, it might be that he can hold his liquor better. Still, he knew so much, Avajay sometimes worried if all that Mr. Finnbuckle told him wasn't true. However, if what he said today was true, then where were those monsters now? Why hadn't the higher uppers pressed the issue more in the past weeks? Or at least gave an ok that everything was fine now? There were still too many questions that went unanswered. Sadly he'd have to put those questions off to the side until he took care of his little experiment first.

-----------------------------------------------

Pop!

Avajay crashed on top of a heap of trash. He'd gone to the town's junkyard to test his flair. To see how specific an area Avajay could teleport to and the requirements for doing so. Hence why he was at the junkyard.

Rarely anyone came here, having their garage dumped off instead. Even if someone did, it would be impossible to spot him. As the piles of trash were at least twenty feet high in almost all directions. Trash was littered everywhere. From discarded food and broken machines to even animal corpses. There was hardly even a safe place to step. But he still rather be covered in grime and dirt than be out in public with people watching him.

Avajay wasn't shy, but he didn't want anyone to know his business. Although… he guessed it did have to do with him looking like an idiot.

Rather than teleport, Avajay slid down the mound of junk. Using his flair so many times brought on a headache, and so far the headache, nor the smell was worth it.

For two hours, he’d been trying to teleport between trash. Specifically between a red high-heel shoe and a chewed-up piece of rope. And for the past two hours, Avajay's been… well, moderately successful.

During the week his flair manifested. Avajay discovered how he actually teleported. Or what he preferred to say, "popped" places. It dealt with his desires. First, he needed to go to that void where all his sensations left him. To do so, he concentrated on being somewhere else. Anywhere was fine. Pinpointing where he wanted to go came afterward. As long as he wished to be somewhere else, his flair would react by transporting him to the void. Where, both, nothing and everything existed. Somewhat of an in-between place, a medium. Like waiting at a rest stop for one of those trains, he read about. In it, Avajay felt he could go anywhere, even places he'd never seen. Still, that "space" felt imaginary. His five senses left him, and gravity was a joke.

Avajay didn't feel human while being there. He felt more like a speck of dust being blown in whichever direction he wanted to go.

Apart from him, there were strands, like pieces of strings. At least, he thought they were. It was hard to explain, much less describe, as he couldn't see anything. Whatever they were, it didn't matter. What mattered was that those strings connected everything to each other. Avajay could feel them all interlocking, like a massive spider web. And he, Avajay, could move along the web. Like a droplet of water, with the winds pushing him along where he desired to be.

The catch was he needed to let his desire consume him. Avajay needed it to be the only thing he cared about. Focusing and concentrating on that desire until the sizzling started. Resulting in a force, that he hoped, pushed him along the web where he desired to be. The massive web was entirely too big to tell where he was. Sometimes Avajay feared he would end up lost on it without being able to find his way back. Although he did develop a makeshift way of telling where he was at.

Avajay realized the sizzling grew louder the closer he grew to his destination. Once the sizzling pounded against his head, or what seemed to be his head, it changed. Rather than a push, it became a sharp pull from a rope tied to what felt like his stomach. That's when the sizzling peaked, ready to explode. Which Avajay thinks is what creates the popping sound when he teleported. Then, poof, he was at a different location.

What he was doing now was practicing popping to an exact spot. Instead of wherever he was dragged to. Although, trying to control where he went on that spiderweb, resulted in very little success. At least he was learning.

Avajay's head was mush from all the sizzling and explosions. And he still couldn't successfully teleport between the shoe and rope. Only managing to get behind, in front, and once popping above the two pieces of trash. Avajay rubbed his nose. That one hurt.

He even tried focusing on being next to only one of them. Hoping it would land him on the inside between the two objects, but even that was proving difficult.

Stumped, Avajay was pretty much done for the day. He laid down on the trash-ridden floor. The smell didn't bother him much since the pulsing pain in his head canceled out the stink of the trash.

The sky was its usual rustic orange. Apparently, though, it used to be a brilliant blue. He was used to the idea of the sky being its current color. But, Avajay wished he could see how it looked blue. Blue was his favorite color, and it wasn't much of it these days.

A white dove landed on top of a nearby trash mound. Hardly any monsters roamed the sky. Making birds one of the most populated animals of the old world that were still around. Avajay thought back to the Insighters. Curious, he called out to it.

"Hey! You, up there! Can you hear me?"

No response.

Even if it was an Insighter, Avajay wasn't sure if they could talk while in an animal's mind. "

Um, look, I don't know if you can talk or not. But if you can, and you are an insighter," it turned to look at him "can you please tell me what's the current situation with the A-level that was approaching?!"

Still no response.

"If you know, then please tell me! I'm worried about the townsfolk. I'm worried about my family."

Again, no response.

The bird started to fly off. Oh no, you don't. Avajay closed his eyes and focused on being near enough to catch that bird.

Come on, flair. Now was a better time than any to put him exactly where he wanted. Feeling where the sizzling was strongest. He focused with all his might to will himself along the web. All he needed was a couple of centimeters, no more than that. Avajay moved at speeds less than a snail's, pouring everything he had into reaching the dove. His consciousness was starting to fade from the strain, his brain ready to explode.

Panic filled him. What would happen if he passed out while in here?

Fear dissipated his concentration. Allowing the unknown force to pull him where it wanted. The sizzling reached its peak, a force tugged at his stomach, and then; Avajay popped like a bubble.

He snapped his eyes open. The dove hadn't gone far. Where he teleported was a couple of feet away from the bird.

"Wait!" Avajay reached out to grab the bird, but it flew out of his reach.

Ready to sulk, despair hit him fast. Avajay hadn't realized in his haste how high up the trash pile was and how high the bird flew from it. He was about a mile high with nothing but garage and hard ground below.

Closing his eyes, Avajay concentrated… nothing happened.

His head hurt too much. Plus, his current level of panic prevented him from focusing. Screaming for help wouldn't help as nobody was out here. If anyone was, it wasn't like they could do much if they didn't have the appropriate flair to help.

The ground was approaching fast, and he couldn't think of anything.

"Somebody, anybody, help!" Avajay knew it was useless to shout, but he'd hate himself if he didn't try.

Silence.

He was alone out here. Soon to meet his end. The ground grew nearer, ready to take his life. Avajay closed his eyes, bracing for impact. Then, he stopped.

Was he dead?

Avajay cracked one eye open to see the current situation.

He was still in the junkyard, but about a meter above the ground.

"How-"

"Me."

He was interrupted by a woman's voice to the right of him. Upon turning to face her, Avajay immediately blushed.

Beautiful was an understatement. The woman's smooth skin was snow white. Her cold and calculating sapphire eyes pierced into his. Causing goosebumps to run down his arm. She had eyes of a predator stalking their prey.

However, what stood out the most to him was her hair. Braided into a crown. With the rest of her silver curls falling to her shoulders. What caught his attention wasn't the design, but rather how clean and neat it looked. Not a single speck of grime or dirt could be seen. Nor was there any stray hair or knots.

How had she been grooming it so well?

Hairwash was scarce, and bodily cleaning products were expensive. On top of that, having time to consistently comb one's hair was considered a luxury nowadays. She didn't seem real.

"H- hi."

She gave no response. Only stared at him with those scary eyes.

"Um, are you the one that saved me? Or am I dead? And your one of those so-called angels the Palliwacks up in north always talk about?"

After a few more moments of painful silence, she spoke.

"Yes, I saved you, and no to the other questions." She spoke in a dry and emotionless tone. "Also, can you please get down?"

Avajay realized why he survived. She caught him, now carrying Avajay princess style.

"Oh, uh, sorry."

In less panic than before. He teleported out of her arms, back on the trash compacted ground. For the first time since meeting, her facial expression changed. Into one of dull interest.

"I see, that's how you were up there."

"Yeah, my flair is teleportation." Avajay wasn't sure if he should have told her but felt compelled to.

"Interesting."

"Oh! Thank you, by the way. How'd you even-"

Cut off by a sonic boom. The woman took off into the sky, her silver hair shining against the sun.

Avajay stood there in shock and amazement. He hadn't realized it before, but the air around him had grown colder from her presence. Now warming up with her departure. With so many questions running amock in his head, all he could muster up was.

"Sh-she can fly?"


Submitted: September 22, 2022

© Copyright 2022 random.ex. All rights reserved.

Chapters