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The Secrets of MapleWood

By AJPrice All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Fantasy

The Program

THE PAMPHLET’S EDGES WERE SCORCHED as though someone had run a lighter close to its sides, slowly allowing the flame to blacken the corners. The marks were almost invisible to the untrained eye but she had been taught to look for these signs for a while now. Tucked away safely in the glove compartment of her car, Heather Jackson worried about the brochure and glanced at her son nervously out of the corner of her eye. He was so much like his father . . . it scared her.

The car hit a large bump in the road and they both jolted forward. Heather panicked while the brunet next to her appeared to be unfazed. They came to a halt in front of a tall white building, looking so out of place in comparison to the ever-present flora of the town.

Without a word, Jayden grabbed his bag from underneath his seat and opened his door, slamming it close behind him, not that his mother expected anything less. He hadn’t spoken since she had informed him that they would be moving from Houston, Texas to MapleWood, Ontario. The country-like setting was different to Jayden who was so used to city life. It was quieter; more serene.

He had trouble adjusting to new things and yet Heather couldn’t help but feel slight disappointment. She hadn’t heard her son’s voice in over three months and when she had gone into his room to collect him that morning, his boxes were still packed. He slept on the bare mattress and while his clothes were strewn across the floor, his Houston Rockets poster remained tucked away in one of the many boxes that were scattered across the otherwise bare room. He was still hoping they’d move back.

‘I’m sorry Jayden,’ Heather thought to herself, watching her son’s retreating form. ‘We’re here to stay. I just hope you understand this is all for you.’


Jayden Jackson had grown up in the busy city of Houston, not the quiet, secluded town of MapleWood. He didn’t like it one bit. It was like forcing someone who lived in New York to move to the prairie. The change was too big and too sudden.

He gripped his bag tighter until his knuckles turned white and shoved one of his hands into his pocket. He ignored the whispers that seemed so loud to his ears. Everything was loud to him, being used to such loud noises had made it background noise for him, but without the white noise, it was the world’s most annoying soundtrack.

“Who’s the guy in the orange shirt?”

“I dunno, I bet he’s new.”

“Yeah but I mean, who’d move here? People spend all their time trying to leave, not to come in!”

“I guess he’s just stupid.”

Jayden gritted his teeth. They didn’t know he could hear them perhaps. That could be a very good reason for why they were talking so loud. Or maybe they were just awful whisperers. It could go either way in his opinion.

As Jayden watched his feet, he couldn’t help but notice how very little dirt there was. His shoes were caked in mud and he was certain he was leaving a trail with each step he took and yet there was no litter, not a rock out of place on this paved pathway. How was that possible?

The second he opened the glass doors and entered the nightmare that was high school, he was lost.

Where the heck was he supposed to go?

The interior was cleaner than outside and he could see his reflection in the tiles. He felt strange as his shoes squeaked against the floor and with their dirty soles he had no doubt he was tracking in mud. There was a strange feeling in the air that made him feel suffocated. He was certain that not all high schools were this clean.

Looking up at the signs, he searched for some kind of indicator that would tell him, at the very least, which wing he was in. ‘Where’s a map when you need one?’ How could a town this small have a school this big? From what Jayden had seen outside, the building had four floors and from the length of the hallway that was taunting him, he’d say it was pretty big in length, not only height.

BANG!

Jayden was roughly shoved into a locker, his shoulder now surely gaining a bruise. People couldn’t bother to look where they were going? Jayden rubbed his sore shoulder, rolling it back as he mumbled mediocre profanities. Looking up, he could see the sign MAPLEWOOD HIGH AUDITORIUM.

‘Well, one good thing came out of all that,’ hethought to himself before he approached the large black doors and cautiously opened them.

There were over a hundred people in the auditorium and there wasn’t much room anywhere to sit. Eyeing the room, Jayden decided the best place to sit had to be near the back since no one would notice him.

Taking out his iPod, he raised the volume to avoid hearing anything.

Orientations were stupid in his opinion. Weren’t you supposed to go through those really annoying speeches before school started so you could decide which school you wanted to go to? Since MapleWood was small the only option he had was MapleWood High since his age had him in high school according to Canadian law, or at least, MapleWood law and there was only one high school in the entire town.

He ignored the bumbling professor who stood at centre stage underneath a single spotlight with rectangular glasses and a balding head of red hair, gripping a briefcase so tightly his knuckles looked white. He had fun thinking about what he could possibly be talking about. Reading his body language was interesting. He found that the man seemed to bite his lip often, look down and then mumble something before his mouth mouthed the same word as before. So either the guy was a nervous wreck or he had a stutter. Judging by the sweat that gleamed under the spotlight, Jayden figured it was the first one.

Jayden was close to asleep before something broke through his loud music. His name. There were various other names that followed his and he was certain there were more before hand. Immediately, he got paranoid and sat up straighter in his seat.

“-please stay behind.”

‘Is tracking mud so bad I got detention on my first day?’ Jayden wondered in a panic. The professor waited as each student left and Jayden watched them leave, wondering why someone hadn’t told him that dragging in dirt was against school rules. He watched the different shoes- high heels, sneakers, flip-flops and the occasional pair of boots- before the door shut behind them and the room fell into silence.

“My name is Franklin Wexler and I’m the principal of this school for the idiot in the back row who’s listening to his music. Take those earphones out and I’ll be taking that iPod once this is over,” the man ordered.

Jayden’s eyes widened.

What happened to the stuttering idiot who stood before him not two minutes prior? The man seemed to have noticed his shocked expression and merely grinned- no, smirked. Who was this maniac?

“Pop quiz,” he shouted suddenly as Jayden hurriedly pulled his earphones out of his ears. “You are all here for one reason and one reason only. Can any of you blockheads tell me what that reason is?”

‘They let a guy who calls kids “blockheads” be the principal of this school? Who does that?’ Jayden wondered to himself. He tucked his iPod into his pocket along with his earphones and stared straight ahead to make sure this psycho didn’t chop off his head.

He saw someone raise their hand timidly.

“Parker!”

There was a mumbling sound.

“I can’t hear you!” Wexler screamed. “Speak up!”

“Magyck,” came the quiet yet slightly louder reply.

Immediately, another hand shot up; paler than the tanned one before.

“What is it Adams?”

“Do you have any idea how psycho you sound right now?” a voice asked. They sounded bored to death, as though they would rather be doing anything but sit in an auditorium with a man who should be tested for being a sociopath. “You’re wasting our time and couldn’t you have said this before when there were others around? I mean, sure they were stupid -though none dumber than Warren- but they were witnesses. You know, in case you go on a psychopathic killing spree.”

Though Jayden didn’t find Wexler’s sanity to be completely present, he wouldn’t have taken it that far, never mind saying it to the man himself. He watched as the tips of Wexler’s ears turned red and his fists clenched. The man took a deep breath before continuing.

“Can anyone add to Parker’s less than satisfactory answer?” Wexler demanded the crowd as though they were soldiers at boot camp. “Did any of your parents educate you enough so you could answer me?”

Another hand raised itself though more confident than the Parker guy and yet not as confident as the Adams boy.

“Jennings!”

“Magyck, spelt capitalM-a-g-y-c-k, is the ability to have control over one of the four elements; fire, water, earth or wind,” the boy replied.

Wexler squinted at the one who answered before he frowned. “Dimwitted, no one teaches kids anything these days,” he muttered. Sighing deeply as though it was a tragedy, he began to correct the “Jennings” boy. “Magyck is indeed having the control over one of the four elements, however it is more. You airheads have to learn that when we say ‘Magyck’, we mean anyone and everyone in MapleWood High’s Advanced Students in the Arts of Magyck, Defence and Conversus Program or the Program, for those too lazy to call it by name. The Program is for those who have Magyck and it’s more prominent and obvious.

“To make things simpler for the pea brains around here, we say that Magyck is the ability to have control over an element, however in truth, Magyck is also the ability to tame beasts and transform objects into other beings as well as manipulating nature.”

There was a scoff.

“You have something to say Adams?” Wexler demanded.

“Nothing,” said Adams though it was clear that it wasn’t nothing. “Just that the ability to change the molecular structure of anything is physically impossible. Only a lunatic would say it was real.” Jayden felt like telling him that if he didn’t shut up, this “Adams” guy was going to die but clearly the boy didn’t care much for living because he was soon saying, “Just because you’re insane and can’t tell the difference between fiction and real life doesn’t mean you have to drag us down to your level of insanity.”

The man growled, curling his lip before narrowing his eyes on someone who sat in the middle row. “Now, moving onwards, when I call your name, you’re going to take the test required for your placement in the Program,” Wexler declared.

“Are you crazy?” Adams demanded. “I mean obviously you are, but when are you gonna give up this terrible hoax?” Jayden felt a small smile surface. This Adams guy reminded him a little of his friend Brian. Never could keep his mouth shut.

“It’s not a hoax,” Wexler snapped. “Those with Magyck ability show signs once they reach pubescent age, therefore it only makes sense that we teach you to control this ability before it gets out of hand and you are incapable of controlling it yourself.

“Now Adams, you’re up first.”

“No way!” Adams snapped and though Jayden knew fully well that this Adams boy didn’t believe anything Wexler was saying, the conceited tone in his voice had an added layer of worry. “Who says I want to be in this ‘Program’? You can’t just waltz in here telling us about stuff that doesn’t exist and then expect us to jump for joy at the chance to lose our sanity at a young age. Sorry if I can’t contain my inner excitement,” Adams said dryly.

“Chase Adams you are going to stand up with me and take this test whether you want to or not,” Wexler commanded. The lights in the auditorium began to turn on and Wexler jumped off the stage before walking towards the middle row briskly. As Jayden wondered how a man who looked over forty-five could jump off a stage with such grace, he saw Wexler grab someone’s wrist and pull them into the aisle.

Chase Adams was a rather tall blond with bangs that fell into his eyes. He huffed and they lifted momentarily, his pale skin contrasting his dark sapphire blue eyes. He wore clothes that looked freshly out of the wash -baggy white pants and a baggy yellow shirt- his arms crossed over his chest, his brown leather watch catching the light. If Jayden squinted, he thought he saw something of a burgundy red dipping down underneath his shirt.

“I bet it’s cause his mom’s a scientist that he’s like this,” Jayden heard someone whisper.

“Don’t you remember? His dad was also a scientist,” someone else added.

“Top of their class in Harvard, wasn’t it?”

This child did not look like the product of two Harvard geniuses. In fact, he looked more like a boy who was an accident in Vegas. Jayden watched as Chase Adams pulled his arm firmly out of Wexler’s grip before storming out of the auditorium, making sure to punctuate each step with a loud stomp. Wexler rolled his eyes before following him outside.

The auditorium was silent for a moment until the door closed behind the two of them. The second they were out of earshot, everyone started talking.

Jayden didn’t know who to talk to or what to do and in his opinion, there was nothing to do but keep his head down and try not to attract attention until he felt a jabbing in his ribs.

Poke. Poke. Poke.

He turned to his right and spotted a boy shuffling a pack of cards, holding the deck with his right hand and shuffling with his left. That was what was jabbing him. Jayden took a moment to take in his appearance. He was average height with messy dark brown hair, his dark brown eyes concentrated on the pack of casino cards in his hand. His nose was a tad long and his fingers kept jittering as they clutched each card. Suddenly, he lost his grip and the blue cards fell to the floor.

When he bent down to pick them up, Jayden was given a shock by what - or rather, who- was sitting next to him.

There was a girl with long dark hair that fell slightly past her shoulders staring straight ahead at the stage but her pale hands were clenching the armrests of her seat and Jayden could see the tense outline of her jaw.

She bent down suddenly to the boy who -Jayden assumed- was ADHD. She tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, her piercing emerald-green eyes shocking Jayden more than her presence had. When she spoke, her voice was sweet and sugar coated.

“Warren, if you don’t stop moving, I will dislocate your shoulder. And trust me when I say it will be my pleasure.”

Jayden’s Adam’s apple bobbed and even though the threat wasn’t directed at him, he felt as though she was threatening the life of everyone in the auditorium. The boy sat up straighter, having collected his cards and turned to her, trying to meet her gaze but Jayden was certain no one could do such a thing.

“What do you want from me Wilder?” he asked. His words shook slightly and Jayden could trace the slight tremor of fear in him. “We can’t all be Little Miss Perfect with battle axe arms and combat boots which hurt like hell when you slam them on someone’s foot-”

“It’s supposed to hurt, you nimrod!”

He heard a groan from somewhere in the room.

“They’re at it again,” he heard someone mutter.

“What do you expect? They’re Warren and Wilder,” someone else said.

‘Warren and Wilder?’ Jayden looked at the two of them in confusion. ‘At it again?’ These threats and screaming matches were normal? Jayden couldn’t imagine it. Then again, he did remember almost all of his friends in Houston fought over the silliest of things.

“You are scum!” the girl snapped in response to something Jayden hadn’t heard. He cringed. That was pretty harsh. His hand slowly inched towards his iPod. Wexler hadn’t confiscated it yet and it seemed most likely his only escape from the two bickering preteens.

“Will someone please just stop them?” someone moaned.

“Are you kidding me? This is better than cable!”

“SHUT UP!” the bantering two said in unison, glaring at the auditorium in general, unable to pinpoint who had said this remark. They then turned back to each other as though there had never been an interruption and were currently glaring at each other in dislike.

Jayden peered at them both.

He was an expert when it came to reading people. This girl sat with confidence in her voice and yet at the same time she was uncertain. She was gripping her seat, as though trying to control her anger though it wasn’t working.

The boy would stand up to her but he would also flinch away when she advanced towards him, threatening to hurt him and when she called him names, he didn’t even blink but there was something that flickered in his eyes; hurt. Jayden gathered he was used to the remarks but that didn’t make them any less painful to hear.

Jayden regretted sitting in the back row deeply and intensely, wondering what had possessed him to sit himself down in the back above anywhere else.

Just as he was thinking about the greatest way to die at his own hands, he heard the auditorium doors open and thanked God. He was in the middle of apologizing for almost giving up hope on Him when he heard the gasps.

“Is that . . .?”

“I think it is!”

“But-”

“I know!”

Jayden turned towards the back entrance to see Principal Wexler walking back up towards the stage while the blond stood rooted to the spot near the back doors.

Chase Adams looked like he had gone through hell and back.

His hair was windswept from what looked to be a tornado, his pants splattered with mud and his squeaky clean shoes were now destroyed. His shirt was singed horribly, his clothes themselves soaked to the bone. Jayden could see a scar starting from a little above his right ankle going into his shoe. His hands were clenched at his sides in fists, paler than Jayden remembered and his sapphire eyes looked murderous.

“Life sucks,” he muttered. “It really does.”

There was complete and utter silence and then-

“Dude, you’re a wreck.”

Everyone turned to see who had spoken and the boy who had been sitting next to Jayden was now standing and shrugging his shoulders. “What? It’s true,” he said.

The girl standing next to him flicked him in the head.

“Oh come on, we were all thinking it!”

Wexler didn’t look prepared to deal with the boy’s incompetence and instead called up the next person to take their test, a Valerie Anderson. The girl looked terrified when she stood up and Jayden couldn’t blame her. What had happened to Chase?

The crowd waited in silence as Valerie stumbled towards the exit, scared for her life and Jayden understood.

“You new?”

Jayden turned to see the boy staring at him with a lopsided grin on his face. “Dude?” he asked, waving a hand in front of his eyes, waiting for some sort of response from the mute boy. “Hello? Anyone there? Did you leave your tinfoil hat at home on Tuesday?”

SMACK!

“OW!” The boy turned to the girl next to him. “What the hell?” he demanded. “It was just a question!”

“Idiot,” he heard the girl mutter.

The boy turned back to Jayden. “I’m Jesse Warren,” he introduced himself and Jayden couldn’t help but notice the slight cringe he made when he said his name, as though he hated it.

“Jayden Jackson,” Jayden said, his voice a little hoarse since he hadn’t spoken in a while. Jesse’s eyes widened when Jayden held out a hand to him as though he had grown three heads. “You shake it,” Jayden told him.

Jesse cautiously shook his hand and Jayden noticed that he was the first person he had seen who had a tan. Jayden looked over Jesse’s shoulder at the girl who was rolling her eyes at the boys’ interaction. “Who’s she?” he asked.

“The one with the green eyes who could turn Medusa to stone?” Jesse asked. “Carmen Wilder.” He shrugged. “She’s kinda . . .-”

“Freaky? Scary? Utterly terrifying? Not even human?” Jayden supplied.

“You said it, not me,” Jesse said quickly and he looked over his shoulder nervously at Carmen, as though trying to predict her movements.

They were amusing, he’d give them that.

Maybe moving wasn’t that bad.

He and Jesse talked while people went in and out of the auditorium, almost no one nearly as bad as Chase had been. Jayden began to relax, his iPod long forgotten as he talked to Jesse about almost everything from his favourite music to the greatest comic book of all time.

“I’m telling you, it’s the Aeon Chronicles,” Jesse persisted. Jayden had never even heard of this comic book, never mind the people who had made it and was thoroughly confused when Jesse kept talking about something called “Zorbat”.

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s Spider-Man,” Jayden insisted.

“Are you kidding me? Peter Parker’s got nothing on Aeon, though I will admit he’s better than Bruce Wayne,” Jesse said. “But cool, you like Marvel? They’re way better than DC.”

“So what is this . . . Ion Chronicles?”

Aeon Chronicles,” Jesse corrected him. “Well-”

“Jayden Jackson, you’re up next.”

Jayden’s eyes widened whilst Wexler merely tapped his foot with impatience.

“It was nice knowing ya,” Jesse said, patting him on the shoulder.

Jayden gulped and pulled at his collar, feeling himself beginning to hyperventilate. He could barely make his feet move as he slowly trudged towards the door, everyone’s eyes on him. He felt his face flush as Wexler prodded his back, forcing him to move faster.

The second they were outside, Wexler held out a hand. Jayden stared at it, confused. He slowly went to take it in his before Wexler snapped and scowled. “Your iPod. You are prohibited by law to have one.”

“What?” Jayden demanded. “What kind of idiotic person gives a law against an iPod?”

“The only people who are allowed such technology is the police force,” Wexler replied sharply. “Now, if you would hand it over Mr. Jackson?” It wasn’t a request, it was a command. Jayden saw the way his grey eyes hardened behind his glasses and his grip on his iPod tightened before he sighed and dropped it into Wexler’s hand, shoving his hands into his jeans, grumbling about injustice.

“Wonderful,” Wexler said in the most sarcastic tone. “Now if you would follow me,” and before Jayden could process this, Wexler began to walk away, leaving Jayden no option but to follow him.

He raced across the damp grass, the morning dew seeping into his shoes and moistening his socks. He found himself in front of a low grey building he had somehow missed when he had first arrived at the school and stared. The bricks were painted grey and yet the paint was crumbling (no doubt some kids had been picking at it as well) and it revealed red bricks laying underneath. The grass was growing as it pleased, everywhere and uncontrollably like an ever-growing weed. There were a few windows but not many and the building looked longer in length than in width. Behind it, Jayden had no doubt there were trees.

Jayden looked up and saw that there was a bronze plaque above the black double doors, the words: MAPLEWOOD HIGH’S ADVANCED STUDENTS IN THE ARTS OF MAGYCK AND CONVERSUS PROGRAM were visible. Wexler dug one of his hands deep into his pocket before tossing something at Jayden.

Jayden fumbled and his hands grasped a small black circle. Wexler took out one of his own and ran it over a small box nearby the entrance. “Security,” he informed Jayden. He saw Jayden was staring confusedly at the small circle in his hand. “It’s your pass, consider it your way of getting in. The machines work from seven thirty in the morning until five o’clock at night.”

The small box that Wexler had passed his “key” through beeped, a small green light appearing. He opened the doors and gestured for Jayden to follow him, impatience obvious on his face.

Jayden took in his surroundings as he hesitantly stepped into the building.

It had narrow halls and the walls were painted a sickly yellow though this paint was also crumbling, worse than the paint outside. Underneath the yellow were white walls and there were three different paths, one to the left, one to the right and one straight forward. From what Jayden gathered, the building was fairly T-shaped.

“Come along now Jackson,” Wexler said impatiently, taking a turn to the right and walking down the hall. He stopped in front of the first door- one with a fire emblem on it- and opened it.

Heat immediately washed over Jayden. The beads of sweat slowly dripped down his forehead and he rocked on his heels. This crumbling, run down building had made Chase hate the world. Though there was nothing too peculiar about it from the outside, inside Jayden did a double take as he tried to gather his surroundings.

The room was slightly larger than your average classroom. There were no chairs and only a single desk where a model volcano sat. A candle was lit on the table, casting a slight glow on the volcano. Around him though, there were more candles that were attached to torches which hung on the walls, lining the room. There wasn’t a lightbulb in sight.

“Richards!”

A tall man wearing a red striped suit came forward from a corner of the room. He had a cane in hand though he looked no older than forty at oldest and he reminded Jayden strongly of a ringmaster of a circus, the top hat on his head didn’t help matters. He was also tall. Six foot, at least.

“Ah, Wexler,” the man greeted the principal. “Who do we have here? Wait, don’t tell me!” The man- who had to be Richards- let out a gleeful chuckle. “Let me guess!”

He’s a teacher?’ Jayden eyed the man strangely. Could this man -who looked more prepared to teach tightrope walkers how to flip on the trapeze and was ready to drive home in his small clown car- possibly have a teaching degree? Did anyone in this town have a teaching degree? Jayden’s eyes travelled from Principal Wexler to Professor Richards, then back again. He seriously doubted it.

“Hmm, you have the same eyes as- but no, that’s preposterous, then again . . .” Richards tapped his chin which had a subtle stubble of red hair. His blue eyes glinted mischievously. “Dare I say it, Jake’s son?”

Jayden nearly choked.

“Judging by your surprise, I’m going to assume I’m correct,” Richards said. “He looks very much like him,” he added in a quiet but not quiet enough voice to Wexler.

Jayden hated this comment.

He hated his father. His father who had left his mother in the dark of the night with nothing more than a note asking for a divorce. Though Jayden had only been seven at the time, he remembered quite clearly the broken look in his mother’s eyes as she clutched her pillow to her chest and the choked words she had forced out of her mouth to tell Jayden that his father would not be coming home. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

Jayden was the spitting image of Jake Jackson. He had the same light brown hair and hazel eyes - a mixture of green and light brown- with the same nose and apparently, he looked exactly as his father had when he was his age. He was as stubborn as his father had been and his brow would crease in the exact same places when he was confused or thinking hard. His full lips and slightly curved ears were his mother’s as well as being double jointed. However, he still had the same tanned complexion and serious eyes that could be playful as the man who had left his mother broken hearted after years of wonderful marriage.

Jayden bit back all the cold remarks he could make at this man and instead clenched his fists. He had to control his temper.

“His name’s Jayden Jackson,” Wexler introduced Jayden for him. Jayden was grateful since he didn’t trust his mouth to open at that moment.

“Ah,” Richards said. “He looks like Jake, let’s see if he’s got his talent.” Richards took a candle out of his pocket, the wick appearing to have never been used before. “This is the Ignis Room,” he told Jayden. “It means ‘fire’ in Latin, did you know?”

Jayden didn’t answer, but silently admitted to himself that no, he hadn’t known.

“Now, enough about the Romans, I want you to take this flame off the candle. Think you can do that?”

Jayden was about to tell Richards that there was no flame on the candle and moving it was impossible anyway when he found himself staring at a lit candle, the dancing flame undeniable. His eyes widened and Richards smiled.

“I do love the reaction,” he said more to himself than anyone else.

“I don’t- how . . .?”

“Now listen to me,” Richards said slowly, putting the candle on the table next to the volcano. He stood behind Jayden and put his hands on Jayden’s shoulders, sudden warmth filling him more than the room. “You see that light?” he asked, gesturing towards the candle. Jayden nodded numbly. “I want you to lift it off that candle.” Jayden was about to protest but Richards cut him off. “Don’t overthink it, just trust your instincts.”

‘Because that’s not a cheesy line,’ Jayden thought to himself. He stared at the candle, watching the flame dance slowly to non-existent music. He held his breath and closed his eyes, seeing the flame’s image in his mind’s eyes. He could see it as it slowly swayed as though there was a light breeze that didn’t quite extinguish it but allowed it to move.

He imagined erasing the part that was underneath the flame, slowly taking the candle out of the picture. His body felt cold and his limbs felt numb as he unconsciously raised his right hand and the flame followed it.

Suddenly, all the candles in the room were drawn towards the single flame that Jayden had captured. His knees shook uncontrollably and he fell to the ground, the world becoming pitch black around him.

In the darkness, he could hear whispers.

“Powerful indeed.”

“Exactly like his father.”

“Yes well, we’ll just have to control it this time.”

There was a crack and the sound of a sizzling fire met Jayden’s ears, suddenly able to see from the dim light that Richards had. On the very tip of his left index finger, there was a small flame that helped the three see.

“Let’s go Jackson,” Wexler said, guiding Jayden’s numb body out of the room, his legs working on auto-pilot as he was lead out of the building, across the lawn and back to the white building.

The only thing Jayden’s numb body could think was, ‘What just happened?’


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