Chapter 1: Mark
Chapter 1: Mark
Snow! Where you off to?”
That’s a new one. Or, so one would like to think in this situation. A young boy, seventeen years of age walked with his back to the muscular boy, a senior, near the bleachers. It made sense though. After all, he had white hair. Such was an unusual thing, especially in 2026. The teen wore a dark grey t-shirt and black jacket on top, with sleek blue jeans and rugged sneakers covering his feet.
“Hey! I said where ya going?
Track starts soon!” There it was again. That name. The teen offered
a look over his shoulder and shrugged at the muscular teen who’d
been calling to him.
“Not today Nathan. I’ve got somewhere I
need to be.” He said back to him. Nathan folded his arms over the
sleeveless blue shirt he wore and huffed.
“Not letting the nicknames get to you are ya?” He called back. The white haired teen shook his head.
“Nothing at this point would bother me. I’m used to it by now.” He replied simply. Nathan slumped his shoulders in disappointment. This teen, Riy Veilheart. Poor kid. The thought crossed his mind as he watched the youth walk away from the school track without emotion, turning a corner and disappearing from view.
This kid. What an interesting guy. Nathan thought to himself as he turned back towards the school track and frowned. It was a shame really. This track was more than six and a half miles around the field, with the typical football goal posts at either end and bleachers accompanying both sides.
Snow, as Nathan liked to call him, was talented as an athlete. He could run the six and a half mile track in under eight minutes, an impressive feet. One would wonder why a talented youth wouldn’t want to go to track meets. Then they’d stop asking when they heard about his history of being relentlessly bullied. All over his hair. How stupid, Nathan scoffed to himself.
“Hey Nathan!” The teen looked over his shoulder towards the high school building to see the track coach, Duke, approaching. The man was in his mid thirties, though his appearance would suggest otherwise. A standard build, with the black-white striped shirt and whistle that soccer coaches wore. That was because Duke was a coach of that too. He wore black pants and had grey hair, and as he walked over to Nathan he cocked a brow.
“Where’s Veilheart?” He asked. Nathan shrugged and folded his arms behind his head.
“Doesn’t want to be here.” He answered. Duke sighed heavily.
“I understand the boy’s got problems with bullies, but that shouldn't be a deterrent.” He responded. Nathan looked up to the sky, feeling a drop of water splash on his forehead.
“Everyone lives differently. We all handle things differently too.” He said. Duke shook his head and turned as he heard the doors open behind him, noticing the other members of track file outside.
“Today is fine. If he misses another day, I may have to kick him.” He stated. Nathan scowled.
“Coach-” His sentence was cut short by the dismissive wave of a hand from Duke as he walked towards the track.
“It’s not up for debate Nathan. This track is heading to state soon. We need to be ready.” He responded, sending a tense glare the teen’s way. “With, or without him.”
stuffed his hands inside his coat pockets while crossing the highway
from his school, walking past a line of cars on his left side all
waiting to cross the street. The junior student turned another corner
and walked down a hill-type street, passing by several houses and
even a large outdoor pool. He frowned.
Living in 2026 is supposed to be a great thing. Earth is now home to electric powered cars, people could own private planes, and computer technology has never been more advanced. Holograms were being studied and manufactured, and security was good at schools. Social issues were being dealt with still, but society as a whole was making great strides in bringing people together of all kinds. So even for a teen with white hair, it should be fine, right? Not really.
Riy glanced to right as he came up on an intersection, watching the flashing of the traffic lights overhead and listening to the honking of cars as he waiting for his turn to cross. It really did suck, being him. Getting called names, pushed around, victim of the typical bully one could say.
“Kind of wish Don would stop sending me on after school errands.” The boy said to himself, checking his phone. A simple black and silver flip phone, contrary to what many other kids had these days. The honking of cars, pounding of rain and the flashing of lights all mixed for what was a migraine inducing scene, but thankfully the cross light turned green, and Riy jogged quickly across.
Honk! Oh quiet, the teen thought to himself. There was still people who impatiently honked at people to cross, and accidents still happened. Reaching the other side of the street, Riy reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. A list of food supplies were on it, ranging from dairy products to fancy meat to buy from a deli.
Looking around, Riy groaned. Why did he have to do this? Don, his father’s brother was out of town for the week. Yet he still made these lists. The junior student stopped his gaze on a building on the right side of the street now. Small in size with a sleek blue roof, and a logo visible on the front window. It looked to be a tattoo parlor. Riy squinted, trying to get a closer look. Alistor’s Tattoo Parlor? What kind of a place was it?
“I wonder…” The teen murmured, glancing back down at his list. Nope. No tattoo parlor on the list. Still, he knew that Don left extra money in case the boy needed something to do. This looked interesting. He waited for the light to turn green again and jogged across. Passing by a few men and women, the student walked towards the front door of the parlor, glancing over it once again before grasping it’s handle and pulling it open. Bells jingled.
“I’ll be right there! Hang on a moment!” Came the voice of what Riy presumed was the parlor’s owner. The youth looked around the interior of the building, noticing all sorts of jewelry hanging from wires overhead, as well as posters on the walls around and piles of paper scattered about.
There was a cash register to the far end, and a door that led to what looked like a storage room. Several chairs lined both sides of the building, and pictures were layed out on the desks in front of them. Walking over to them, Riy reached down and picked one up. A number of different tattoo designs. He saw a dragon-themed one, a raccoon, a bird, a moon, even a sphere with swirling water. There was also-
“Good afternoon!” Riy spun around to see a man standing in the doorway at the far end. Messy, wavy brown hair fall down the sides of his head, a thin moustache and beard accompanied this. A nice simple dark dress shirt covered his upper body, and wearing dark blue jeans with brown boots.
“Hello…” Riy muttered. The parlor owner smiled with a nod.
“Welcome to Alistor’s Tattoo Parlor! Here for one, I presume?” He greeted. Riy narrowed his eyes in suspicion at first, then relaxed.
“It couldn’t hurt, I guess.” He answered quietly. The man, named Alistor nodded with hands on either side. Seeing the teen’s unease, he pointed to his hair.
“Nice hair you have. Looks good.” He complimented. Riy arched a brow. Compliment? That was new. To him at least.
“Uh thanks… it came from my mom’s side.” He responded. Alistor just nodded and, after a brief silence motioned with his head to the photos laying around.
“Well, why don’t you pick one then. Let me know which one you want!” Riy nodded slowly as he walked along the edge of the desk, staring at the different photos of tattoos. A bird clutching an egg? No, too boring. There was a tiger eye surrounding a symbol, but that seemed too overdone. He’d seen all kinds of tattoos like it.
Then there was one that stood out, at least to him. It was, strange. Looked like a pair of ears side by side, with markings on either side and joining at the center. Riy lifted up the photo and turned to Alistor.
“What about this one?” He suggested. Alistor leaned sideways as the youth held it out, taking hold of it. He nodded with a content grin.
“I can get behind this. It’s one of my newer designs. You’ll be the first to get it.” He replied, then turned to the row of chairs. “Take a set then, and take your jacket off. I’ll get started.” Riy complied, taking a seat in the middle most one, removing his jacket and draping it over the back. Alistor walked over with tools in hand.
“Where would you like this one?” He asked. Riy pointed to his right forearm.
“There’s fine.” He said. Alistor nodded, and started working. Prick! The sensation was brief, but the teen felt it. He knew tattoos could be painful to get, and this reaffirmed it. As Alistor worked, Riy thought of something.
“How long have you been working?” He asked. Alistor shrugged.
“Twenty five years. I relocated here recently.” He answered. Here, in the middle of nowhere in Washington. How strange. Riy glanced over to his right arm, watching the man work and sighed. This would certainly add a reason for people to make fun of him, but who cares. After all, it couldn’t get any worse. Right?
minutes later, Riy stepped outside the parlor, with a wave and a
thank you to Alistor before shutting the door and turning towards the
horizon, noticing that the clouds had parted and he could see the sun
beginning to set.
“Starting to get late. I should hurry home. I can get groceries tomorrow.” He said to himself. This thought didn’t last long, as he felt his stomach growl and he sighed with slumped shoulders.
Resigned to his duty of errand boy, Riy marched on forwards down the sidewalk towards the big building in the distance, with a sign out front that said “Target”. This was the closest store to his house, so it was convenient. Walking quietly, the junior wrapped his jacket around his waist, noticing that it wasn’t that cold. This in turn showed off his fresh tattoo to the world, though he didn’t care.
He grew closer to the Target store, seeing the parking lot come into view and noticing how full it was. Pulling out his cellphone, he saw it was almost six in the evening. It was that late huh. He put his foot forwards, starting to walk when he heard the sound of footsteps behind him.
Eerily close in fact. He spun around, but saw nothing. Looking to the left and right briefly, he tentatively turned back around and continued on his way to the front of the store. As he walked away, a figure stepped out from behind a nearby corner, running a hand along an object at his side.
"The target has been spotted moving towards the market.”
The doors opened automatically for Riy as he stepped inside the Target store, seeing the familiar interior, also remembering its complicated layout. Checkout stands in front of him, carts and baskets to either side and the main isles were beyond.
“Man why did I have to go out this late?” He muttered to himself, running a hand through his hair. He knew he had to though. There wasn’t any good food in the fridge back home, and only a few cups of coffee left. It wouldn’t last him through a night of homework. He started forwards, walking quickly past the self checkout area and into the first isle which had bags of chips, cookies and other junk food.
Riy grabbed a bag of nacho cheese Doritos, smirking. He loved these, though knew they weren’t good for him and felt guilty. Don would scold him if he was here. The teen grabbed a bag of chocolate chip cookies, and moved forwards.
Then he went to the bread and buns isle, grabbing two loafs of whole grain bread. After that, he went to the pasta isle, snatching two boxes of noodles. As he did, Riy saw something weird out of the corner of his eye and looked.
But it was only a man. Wearing a large black trenchcoat with silver buttons and shoulder plating. Short black, and well combed hair too. Shrugging to himself, Riy grabbed some more food and headed for his next destination which was the frozen meats.
Glancing over the assorted types, he raised a brow. Should he get ground beef, or pork meat? Both, he thought to himself, and turning to go to his last stop. Then he saw him again, that man from before.
Furrowing a brow, Riy walked away slowly from the area towards the produce section, heading for the apples, and as he picked up a few and placed them in his basket, something crossed his mind. This would be a pain to carry home. Placing the last apple in his basket, Riy made his way for the school supplies.
“Stop yelling at me!” He heard while passing by a couple arguing in the flour isle.
“That’ll be two hundred and fifty dollars.” This came from the nearby jewelry store. Riy shook his head as he walked up to the backbacks on stand, and took hold of one. Twelve dollars, wasn’t too bad. It help carry everything home. He was content with this, and walked over to one of the self checkout stands, placing his basket down and the backpack.
“You need any help there?” Looking over his shoulder, Riy saw one of the workers at the store, an elderly man. Shaking his head with a friendly smile, Riy offered a “no thanks” and starting scanning his things. Beep! One scanned. Then two. Beep! The repetitive noise filled his ears, coming from all around. The second to last item in his basket however, didn’t scan. Riy frowned.
“Come on, stupid thing.” He muttered, trying it a few times. He might need some help after all. Turning around to see if the worker was still there, Riy was startled to see the same man in a trench coat from before, just a few machines over on the other side. Feeling a bit panicked, though not knowing why, he began frantically running his item across the scanner, until it finally registered.
Beep! Sighing, the teen scanned the last item, the backpack, and proceeded to pay for it all. Once he put the money in, a short pause followed by a beep occured, and Riy took the receipt that came out of the machine, as well as the change. He bagged all of his items, save for the backpack and walked towards the front exit. He then knelt down right at the door, and unzipped the backpack, putting everything he’d bought inside.
“This will at least make everything easier to carry home.” He whispered, zipping it back up and slinging the bag over his shoulder. Walking past the automatic doors and back outside, he looked up. It was full blown night time now. The streetlights were on, traffic lights and car lights were shining and creating a weird effect. Riy took once step forwards.
“Hey you!” He froze. Slowly turning around, the teen saw the same man from before yet again, and now he was nervous.
“Can I help you?” He asked, somewhat shaken. The man walked up to Riy and grabbed a fist full of his shirt.
“Yeah you can. You’re coming with me.” The man snarled, releasing a musky breath onto RIy’s face. He shoved the man away and stepped back.
“Like hell I am.” He shot back. The man reached underneath his coat, and grabbed hold of something. Then he pulled back, something emitting a metallic sound and revealing what looked very much like a steel sword.
“You are coming with me boy. One way, or another.” The man hissed. Riy’s heart pounded against his chest. Was he gonna be mugged? Or kidnapped? Not wanting to have either happen, he did the only logical thing that entered his mind.
“Stop where you are!” The man shouted after him, raising his sword. The words fell on Riy’s ears, but he ignored them and sprinted across the street, ignoring that there were cars actively driving through. Some stopped short, honking at him but he didn’t care. He turned at the other end of the street and ran left, then turning a corner. Passing several people, he shoved a few as he hurried along.
“Hey!” He heard a woman shout.
“Sorry!” He shouted back, running along. He thought he heard a scoff, but didn’t care to look back. He didn’t want to know if that man was chasing him or not, all he wanted to do was get home and inside. He’d call the police. Yeah, that’d work. If that guy had a sword, he’d be dead in the water against guns.
Turning another corner, Riy saw his home come into view. Near a few other houses, he saw the lush green grass in his yard and the streetlights nearby. Not even sparing a look at his neighbors, he ran straight forwards to his sidewalk, up his steps and to the front door. He frantically yanked out his keys and jammed them into the door lock, his hands shaking as he turned it and opened the door. Stepping inside, he slammed the door and locked it behind him.
“Ha… ha… hah…” He huffed, slouching down against the door as he fell on his butt. He didn't hear anything outside. Feeling safe, he slowly got to his feet and started for the kitchen.
That feeling faded quickly.