The Red Haired Wonder
Chapter 1 (Re-Written Version)
Six months, six months of peace . . . it was unreal! In fact it was complete insanity. Yes I realize I’m being completely paranoid, but after being hunted all my life, a normal day is the WIERDEST possible thing that could EVER happen. Hunted? What the he-double hockey sticks- is going on here?
Okay, quick recap. My name is Maximum Ride. Yes, yes I did name myself. I am 98% human and 2% bird. I have wings, I can fly. You get the picture? There are five others like me. There’s Fang, my current and emo boyfriend (he doesn’t know I call him that); Iggy, my blind best friend and personal chef of de Flock; Nudge, my chatterbox of a little girl whose obsession is in …clothing, yuck; Gazzy, the Gasman, and eight year old pyromaniac and partner in crime with our chef who was named quite literally for his talent of producing, well, gas; lastly was Angel. Let’s not get into my description of her just yet. Our relationship has been very rocky the past six months ever since she tried to usurp my position as the Flock’s unofficial, totally official leader.
Six months ago, the flock and I had been in Hawaii saving my Madre’s dear life. We managed to get her away from Mr. Chu only suffering mental damage and emotional strain. I’d take bullets over that emotional pain crap any day! Mom was a strong woman, but she needed the norm of her humane life. She temporarily ceased all workings with not so human creatures i.e. experiments like the flock, and was resting in her home with my half sister Ella. She resumed her normal life as a vet, and insisted that the Flock and I laid low for a year. Her experience with Mr. Chu gave her a taste of the Flock danger and hunt or be hunted life style. Needless to say, it didn’t sit with her well. We decided to settle down for a year in our new home in the Colorado Mountains.
Our home in the mountains was damn awesome! It was just like our old E-shaped house, but this one way more decked out. Nudge totally upgraded our technology. Our box shaped TVs and monitors were replaced with flat screens and laptops; we also had something called High-speed internet, a god bestowed gift I swear to god! But that’s not what you want to hear huh?
Fang and I . . . well I feel like such an idiot for pushing him away for so long. How could I not have realized that Fang was literally my perfect half? He was it for me; there would be no looking in the future. I’d like to think that we’re subtle about our feelings in front of the flock but judging by the way Iggy and Gazzy are always gagging . . . I’m starting think otherwise.
The flock was all chillaxing right now. Iggy and Gazzy are planning to blow sh-tuff up, Nudge was off being a girly girl covered in her Magazines (Don’t let that fool you; she secretly has super electronic controlling device thingie under all that girly garbage. I’m starting to think the magazines are a cover up from some evil scheme she was plotting. It just might be the end of the world if she managed to pair up with Iggy and Gazzy. I’m shuddering just thinking about it) Angel was playing with Total and Akeila at the moment. I was . . . trying, and might I add failing, at making a PB&J sandwich.
It was TORTURE! Iggy is punishing me and I know it! So far a burnt the bread, smashed the jar of jelly, and caramelized the peanut butter (don’t ask). Damn Iggy, he’s gonna pay for not making me a sandwich when I nicely ordered him too earlier. I cackled evilly and tipped in half a container of habanera pepper flakes. The first bite went to my dear friend Iggy (Insert evil Laugh here: MVHAHAHA).
I put on a cheesy smile and skipped into the living room. “Hey Iggolasaurus, get your butt in the living room,” I say sweetly, not really though. Fang gives me a scrutinizing look; I giggle and wink at him. He rolled his eyes and went back to . . . well whatever it is Fang does on a laptop. Sweet mother of God, I was turning into a girl. I scrunched my nose in disgust.
A moment after I called Iggy, a huge BOOM went off in his secret evil laboratory in the basement. Thundering steps came up and in marched a scorched faced Iggy with black soot sprinkled across his face like powered sugar.
“What happened to you?” I cackled madly at Iggy’s new look. He glared, and blew his now dirty blonde bangs out of his eyes (Don’t know why considering he was blind anyway).
“You’re what happened!” He shouted throwing his arms up into the air, fuming with anger. Then he went about rambling about not calling him stupid nicknames, and something about his experiment blowing up in his face because of it. I drowned it out of course. I was just nice to pretend I was listening. “NOW WHAT DO YOU WANT?” He concluded his rant. I grinned and held up my master piece.
“I wanted you to be the first to try it,” I say sweetly. The anger drains out of Iggy’s face leaving him looking dumbfound. A light pinkish tint colored his cheeks. Was Iggolasaurus blushing?
“For me?” Iggy murmured with disbelief. I smiled sweetly, again, and thrust the plate into his hands. I caught Fang snorting at the computer screen, or at me. Nudge looked up from the magazine to watch Iggy with doubtful eyes. Looks like she’s on to me. Iggy smiles and takes a huge bite out of the sandwich. Three, two . . . o-
“HOLY SHIT MAX WHAT IS THIS?” He screams, his face turning red under the black soot. He ran for the kitchen in blind haste, crashing into the wall first. I bent over, and held my stomach as a soundless laughter escaped me. Iggy put his entire head under the kitchen tap, and gulped gallons of water in at once.
Fang, Nudge, and Gazzy (who came when Iggy screamed) all snickered at our blind friend’s fate. Iggy took deep breaths and stormed back into the living room where I innocently sat in Fang’s lap. His arms were wrapped around my waist, and his head leaned onto my shoulder. His deep throaty chuckles made me quiver with delight. I hid my smile, and kept a straight face.
So you like it?” He gave me a disbelieving look.
“ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME???” I doubled over laughing. Iggy’s face turned a royal shade of red from embarrassment and tears leaked out of his eyes as he fanned his precious tongue. I probably killed another one of his six senses. He can’t see, he’s blind duh, I killed his sense of taste, I’ll probably scream until he loses his sense of hearing, and Iggy doesn’t have nearly enough of a brain for the 6th sense.
“Damn it Max, I’m never letting you in my kitchen again!” Iggy all but stomped his foot. I pouted not so innocently, sometimes I forget the acting is unnecessary since the dude is blind anyway.
“But what if I’m hungry?”
“I make the food in this house!” He growled back, and continued fanning his tongue. I grinned triumphantly as the idiot took the bait. I leaned back into Fang and snickered. His arms tightened around me, and I eased myself into his grip.
“MAX!” Iggy shouted, which unfortunately happened to be right in my ears. I glared, and moved away from Fang. We were currently on the couch with Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel watching a movie when Iggy stormed out of the kitchen.
“Ig, I’m right next to you,” I tried to keep the annoyance out of my voice but I’m guessing by the way he’s smirking at me right now, I’m not succeeding. Stupid blonde always knew how to get under my skin.
“Sorry, blind kid, remember?”
“Yes Iggers, you certainly have a disability.” I rolled my eyes; he ignored my new nickname, and thrust cash into my hands. Was today my birthday?
“Thanks to your …creation in the kitchen earlier, we’re all out of food. Go restock in the nearest town.” He commanded in almost a motherly tone. What I tease, I rolled my eyes.
“Yes mother!” I saluted, and pulled Fang to his feet with me. “Come on Fang, let’s get going.” He nodded and we made our way out. We both ran and took off into the mid-day sky. I looked over at his face; his eyes were looking straight into mine. I felt my cheeks getting hotter, oh great I’m blushing. I quickly looked away. Neither of us were talking but it was a comfortable silence.
I smiled into the warm sunshine thanking my lucky stars that my flock was safe, and I had Fang right beside me. It felt so good to stretch out my long speckled brown wings their full fifteen feet span, and exercise them with light flying. Despite the harshness of our life style I wouldn’t trade my wings for the world! Being thousands feet in the air, having the wind softly caress your face as it filters through your hair, and have the warm sunshine sprinkle down on you . . . no amount of words could ever describe the feeling of flying.
We landed in a secluded woodsy area and crouched behind some trees to make sure no one was looking; Fang and I quickly straightened ourselves out and tried to act casual as we crossed the street. I felt Fang’s hand slip into mine, I smiled at him and reached over to peck him on the cheek. I think I saw him smiling but who knows? I went down isle after isle with Fang, getting all that we needed: junk food, candy, pop, frozen chicken, and Monster- only all the bare essentials. Note the sarcasm.
“You know, now that were taking a break, maybe it’s time we learn something new.” I say after a while. We were currently grazing down isle by isle. “I mean we both know that we’re severely lacking in the educational department.” He just nodded his head, going along with my decision. I frowned; he managed to make me his girlfriend, and I still can’t get him to completely open up. I never pried at Fang’s reason for being the quiet emo kid especially if it had to do with our past -which I’m sure it did- then some things were better left alone.
“I’ll head over to the bookstore; you buy the groceries and meet me out in five,” Woah, that was the longest line he said in a while, this time I nodded my head. I squeezed Fang’s hand with a smile, and turned away. I wish now that I never let go of that hand.
I paced outside the book store for about ten minutes now; Fang still hadn’t come out. I was getting paranoid. What if he got captured by flyboys, or M-Geeks, or what if Mr. Chu is taking his revenge by kidnapping Fang and he needs my help right now? My mind ran in circles coming without thousands of different scenarios of what could possibly be keeping Fang so long! No, I need to calm down. Fang can take care of himself, besides if something really happened to him, he would have flown out to check on me by now. I continued my perpetual pacing.
5 minutes later……..
10 minutes later……
20 minutes later ……
After an eternity, I decided that this was RIDICULOUS; Fang should be here by now. I ditched the groceries and rigidly stalked into the “family friendly” bookstore that was holding Fang hostage. There were many long isles of books on display, and the store was set up almost like a mini maze. I frowned when I realized finding Fang wouldn’t be so easy. Please let it be that he just got lost inside the book store. At first, Fang was nowhere in sight. I checked everywhere, and then felt like the stupidest bird kid ever because I saved checking the education section for last. And they say I’m supposed to be some advanced intelligent specie.
I saw red, the ugly shade of red I detested all my life, over Fang. I held my breath and pretended it wasn’t real. But it was. It was as real as the breaking of my heart. No breaking would have been humane, my heart was literally shattered. Fang was there, but so was Lissa, the Red-Headed Wonder.
I watched, maybe Fang would push her away and this would all be some big mistake. But he didn’t even realize I was there, watching. Lissa had her lips latched to Fang’s like a leech sucking the blood out of its victim. Fang was eagerly kissing back in a way that he never kissed me before. I won’t deny that the kisses between Fang and I have been rather innocent so far, no more than a peck. But this was different. His tongue slid into her mouth and twisted around hers.
Fang’s arms slid around Lissa’s waist taking a tight hold of her ass. Lissa complied by pressed her rather revealing breasts against Fang. She wrapped her legs around his body, and Fang easily cradled her. Her arms wove around his neck and into his hair. They kissed and kissed and kissed. I waited for the end of this torture. But I guess there wasn’t one.
I took a wavering step back, bumping into a shelf of books and promptly knocking it over. The crush alerted the leeches and their lips pried away from each to finally notice my presence. I took one look into Fang’s eyes and took off running.
Tears rolled down my eyes before I could hold them back, but I kept my face straight. I ran out of the bookstore, unfurled my wings and jumped straight into the air. My body reacted while my brain shut down. I flew in speeds that I never knew I could possibly achieve. Tears rolled out my eyes probably more the harsh wind lashing at my face. My mind hadn’t yet comprehended what just happened back there.
I think my mind blocked out both pain and fatigue because I was flying, quite possibly at the same speed as an airplane, for approximately an hour. I yelped as an intense pain shot through my wing. It cramped and refused to flap. I wasn’t flying anymore, now I was falling. I fell from thousands of feet in the air, ungracefully. My wings felt like they were being torn apart as the resisted. In the last possible second I twisted my body so that I was taking a nose dive instead. It instantly took the pressure off my wings. I gritted my teeth and willed them to open up.
But I was a moment too; my wings finally opened up and caught my fall, but not enough. I crashed into large branches. As I plummeted downwards pine needles and sharp branches tore at my skin. I desperately throw my arm out to grab one of the branches. And I succeeded, except that my strong grip on the branch jerked me upward and nearly ripped my arm out of its socket. I immediately released the branch and fell to my doom. I instantly blacked out when I connected with the forest floor.
That was a foolish thing to do Maximum. An annoyingly familiar voice pulled me out of my blissful sleep. Go away; I wanted to yell at it. But images started pouring into my mind, and I awoke with a startled gasp.
Lissa and Fang, Fang and Lissa, lips latched like leeches. I felt bile rise to my throat, I pulled myself so I could empty the contents of my stomach. My heart retched in my chest. My world shattered around me. My heart felt like it was torn into two, stomped over by a stampede of elephants, and thrown into a blender just to be shredded into strips. Tears leaked out of my eyes, slow at first. When I fully registered Fang’s betrayal a deep sobbed bubbled out of my chest and tears streamed down my face with a new speeds.
Being tortured by the school, getting experimented on and cut into, being chased, being hunted, fighting and killing to survive, trauma, physical pain, hunger pains . . . they were all nothing compared to Fang’s betrayal. Being hated, wanted, sneered at, hunted, taunted, or coveted, I could handle because I knew my enemies would all be like that. The one thing I always counted on was that my flock would always be at my side no matter. Even if we were separated we were still loyal. But a betrayal and a personal one too, within the flock was not something I could ever be prepared for.
Maximum don’t be overrun by emotions The voice tried to warn me. I ignored it. I don’t even understand why? How could he do this? Fang was the one that pushed me into realizing my feelings for him, why would he go through all that if he never liked me? I trusted Fang with everything I had, I gave him my heart, I gave into these vulnerable feeling for him. And then he goes behind my back to suck faces with Lissa.
As my heart gave out under the canopy of trees in a forest of who-knows-where, I sobbed like I’ve never cried before in my life. I thought about everything Fang and I fought through and everything we stood for. Our beautiful memories through all the gory ones were shattered. Through my pain and delirium, one thing made clear to me: I could never face Fang again.
But never seeing Fang again means I had to leave the Flock, right? What kinda leader what I be if I made them choose between Fang or me. Fang’s betrayal had cut way too deep for me to ever forgive, but I wasn’t going to divide my flock because of him. No, I would take my flock away from that traitor. If he can betray me so easily, I wouldn’t dare leave my precious family with him.
The thought of taking my flock and leaving reminded of why this happened in the first place and had me bawling all over again. I cried into my arms, and uncomfortably sat with my back against a tree. Where was I anyway?
Texas, the voice answered for me. I ignored it. Maximum you are over reacting. You need to go back to the flock.
“Shove off!” I screamed aloud, for once the voice complied and left me alone. I knew it was still around; it wouldn’t give the opportunity to pester me for a tiny insult. I brooded into my arms again. Maybe I was overreacting. This kinda thing happens to regular humans all the time right? But I’m not a normal human and my relationship with Fang was anything but normal.
We survived for the last fifteen some years of our lives because we trusted each other. We looked out for each other’s backs, and made we had all the living essentials. Fang was my comfort in this demonic cruel world. But now all that was torn away from me like having hair ripped from your leg during a wax. Oh great, that was fabulous thought, way to go Maximum, you’ve lost it!
Losing that trust left a huge gaping hole in my heart. Ugh, if was a normal human being I wouldn’t have to go through any of this sh-crap! I wouldn’t be so tormented by Fang’s betrayal. I wouldn’t have such a weird deep bond with that boy or my flock. Right now I wanted to be a normal human so bad that it actually caused me pain. Just for day, no a few moments, I wanted to go somewhere where I could just be a NORMAL teenage girl. But who would I go to? Who would help me? After what Fang had done to me I don’t think I could ever trust another guy again in my life. UGH, I feel like I’m in one of those never ending soap operas, I hate this feeling. I feel like I can’t trust ANYONE at all, not just guys.
I hate my life!!
A new vicious thought seeped into my brain. I gasped at its presence. Did I really just think that? Despite all the sh-crap this world threw at me I never once hated my life because I always had my flock with me to show me that something in this world are worth living for. But then this thought . . . I don’t think I ever thought that before in my life, not when I was in the school, when Omega tried to kill me, when I killed Ari, when they kidnapped Angel and it was my fault I couldn’t protect her, or when they kidnapped my Mom.
Oh, that’s it. MY MOM! I could go see my mom and Ella. They lived with these kinda normal emotions and stuff all their life right? Maybe they could explain what was going on with me. I trust my mom and Ella. I love them. And in this moment, I needed them.
I didn’t think. I threw myself into the air and flew in dangerously sharp angles. My sense of urgency supplied my wings with a sense of adrenaline and I was soon flying faster than I fighter plane. Okay minor exaggeration, but the speed was exhilarating. At another time I might have enjoyed this flight, but my heart and head were terribly shaky, dangerously shaky. For a moment I wondered if this is what it would be like to fly drunk or with a hangover and then laughed humorlessly at my train of thoughts. Shi-crap, I was breaking down, and breaking down fast.
I tried to focus on more positive thoughts. I’d see Mom again. And Ella! They’d know what to do. They’d know how to fix me. Maybe Ella will know how to make me feel better. Yeah and maybe Santa Claus really does exist. No one can save me from this remorse…this betrayal…
Once I saw some familiar land marks, I retracted my wings as I dived into the woods behind their house. That was the thing about my Mom, after the Chu events, she moved out of her suburban ranch-style home in moved into a more recluse cottage style house closer to the woods. Mom was shaken up though she hid it well the last time I saw her, it was a traumatic experience for her. I feared she or Ella would never recover from getting a taste of my world. But oh how wrong I was…
I watched them from the cover of the trees, laughing and playfully pushing each other around in Mom’s kitchen. The smell of chocolate chip cookies drifted from the open window and brought a fresh set of tears to my eyes. That smell…that sight it was all so comfortingly familiar and yet completely alien to me. They were happy. Mom and Ella were happy, away from me, away from my life style, and away from my horrors. If I tried to interfere in their lives again I could put them in danger or worse scar my blood family irreversibly.
I chickened out. I, Maximum Ride, was too afraid to face my own mother and half-sister. But…just for once in my life…I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to be the spoiled brat who tried to win all her mother’s attention and then childishly stick their tongue out at their younger sibling. Put them in danger or be selfish. I was torn.
I slumped up against the tree and sat there until all the tears were out for good. I didn’t let myself think, just feel. I deserve this kind of torment; I don’t deserve Mom or Ella. Maybe I’m not even worth Fang’s love. That’s why he cheated on me, he needed someone better. I heard thunder rumbling from the sky, the sun completely hidden but benign storm clouds. I wiped face free of tears and practiced smiling a couple of time so I wouldn’t scare mom. I imagine my smile came out looking like a grimace. I brushed the dirt off my jeans and made my way around to the front of the house.
I stopped at the door; my hand was hovering about a millimeter away from the door bell. ‘Was this really the right choice?’ I thought to myself. I didn’t get a chance to decide because at that moment the door swung open.
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