September, Present Day
The sun rays peeked their way through the bedroom window, and onto the sleeping form of Maxwell Trenton. The 20-year old was in a deep and peaceful slumber until...
The young man started to stir in response to the sound of his name being called out from downstairs.
He was fully awake now and looked at the clock radio sitting by his bedside.
He was supposed to be up half an hour ago. He then heard a light knocking on his bedroom door, followed by the sweet sound of his little sister’s voice.
“Max! Daddy wants you to come downstairs!”
“Ok Abby, I’ll be down there in just a minute”, Max replied.
He quickly got out of bed and changed in a hurry. Before going downstairs, he took a brief glance over at his desk where the cause of his impromptu sleeping-in lay.
On the desk were several freshly, printed-out articles with headlines such as Why Psychologists Say You Really Can Lift A Vehicle Off A Trapped Child, Police Officer Lifts Truck & Frees Stuck Woman, and How Adrenaline May Help You Lift A 3,500 lb. Car.Max stuffed the articles into a desk drawer, and went downstairs.
“Decided to sleep-in today, Son?” Jackson Trenton teased.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I guess I went to bed a little bit too late last night and just overslept”, Max replied as he came into the kitchen.
“Well. I’m gonna go drop Abby off at Mrs. Turner’s house for the day, then I’m headin’ over straight to the shop,” Jackson said as he grabbed his car keys and came around the kitchen counter.
“Oh, and don’t forget to go bring that extra sander we have over to Kenneth at the fire station.”
He then looked at his daughter, “Come on Sweetie, let’s get going!”
The 9-year old brunette ran up and jumped into her big brother’s strong arms, “See ya later Max!”
Max smiled and hugged her back tightly, “Have fun today, OK kiddo?”
Abby jumped back down and ran toward the front door where her father was waiting.
Before leaving, Jackson turned toward his son once again.
“Make sure you get to the shop as soon as you can. Paul’s out sick today, so we can use all the help we can get.”
“Sure thing, Dad”, Max replied reassuringly.
Jackson smiled warmly at the young man.
“All right then, Son. I’ll see you there.”
After Jackson left, Max went back to getting ready as quickly as he could. Max is a full-time firefighter and EMT, but usually just works two 24-hour shifts a week. He spends the rest of his weekdays working at the part-time job he’s had since he was 14 over at the local carpentry shop alongside his dad.
Before leaving to start his day, Max went out to the garage to obtain the sander he was about to go deliver. He quickly found the tool hanging off the wall above his father’s work bench and walked over to grab it. He then stopped and glanced up at the wall before him.
He was looking at one of the thick, metal hanging hooks that was installed there for their tools. This one in particular was all bent out of shape and rendered useless due to a heavy object falling on it last year and was just never replaced. Max looked down at his own two hands and thought about something for a moment. The realization of his day being behind schedule already quickly came back to him. He then quietly dismissed the brief thought he had in his head just momentarily before, grabbed the sander, and left for the fire station.
As soon as he got to the station, Max walked straight towards Chief Kenneth Hadley’s office. Kenneth was a good friend of Jackson’s, so Max had gotten to know the local Fire Chief fairly well over the last few years before he began his own career as a firefighter and EMT, now working for Chief Hadley.
He gave a few knocks on the office door to signal his entrance, and opened it to find Kenneth sitting at his desk.
“Hey Chief! I just swung by to drop this off for you”, Max said as he held up the sander.
Kenneth smiled as he took the tool from Max’s hands.
“Thanks a lot Max! Ours broke the other day. My wife will be happy to know our old cabinet doors in the kitchen can finally get refinished!”, Kenneth said with a chuckle.
Max noticed that his boss seemed to be extra cheerful today.
“You’re in a pretty good mood, Chief. What’s the occasion?”, he asked.
“Well, my niece is driving in tonight to stay with us. She’s going to attend her senior year of high school here, so she’ll be living with us in the mean time. It’s been a while since I’ve spent time with her; it’ll be good to have her around for a while!”
Max briefly thought to himself how he didn’t know that Kenneth had a niece, but didn’t have the time to inquire anymore about it right now.
“That’s great, Sir! I actually have to get going though. My dad needs me at the shop.”
Kenneth smiled and nodded, “Alright Max, I’ll see you later. Thanks for the sander once again!”
Max waved goodbye to the man, and left for his truck to get to the shop.
As Max was driving, he was lost in deep thought about something that had been on his mind over the past week.
1 Week Ago
It was a late, stormy night. Max was on shift at the fire station, and him and a few others were taking part in a little roadside assistance. Someone got their car stuck in a muddy ditch during the chaos of the storm, right outside of town. They hooked their vehicle up to the stuck car, and Max went behind to push. As the vehicle started moving forward, Max pushed with all the strength he had.
All of a sudden, the car was in Max’s hands - one foot completely off the ground. Alarmed and taken aback he let go and tumbled backwards as the car thrashed back into the ground with a loud thud. The car then quickly came out of the ditch with no problem. Thinking he was hurt, some of the others came up to Max and asked him if he was okay. It seemed that the rain had blinded everyone else from seeing what just happened. Max could only quietly nod in reply to their concerns.
Max didn’t know what happened exactly. All he remembered was pushing that car, and then feeling something give. It was as if the car lost all its’ gravity. In that brief moment before the shock and surprise sank in, Max couldn’t recall the car feeling remotely heavy at all. It’s been on his mind ever since, and he still has yet to find any perfectly, logical explanation. He didn’t have time to think too much more about it as he drove into the heart of town.
Humbleton was the small town that Max was raised in and had grown to love over his twenty years. It was the kind of place that always felt familiar. With the red-brick buildings with flat, green rooftops, the smell of sun-dried laundry that always lingered in the air, and the sounds of warm, friendly greetings filling the streets; one couldn’t help but feel as if they were coming home every time they came into Humbleton.
The young man pulled into the first available parking spot, down the street from the shop. He got out and started walking with a brisk pace towards his destination.
Max slowed down however and felt his heart flutter a little in his chest as he saw who was walking toward him from the opposite way. It was a young woman with light-brown hair and a bright smile.
She waved excitedly upon seeing him, “Hey, you!”
It was Alicia Anderson. Alicia grew up just a couple houses down from where Max did. They’ve been best friends for as long as they could remember. She also happens to be the girl Max has been in love with since the 7th grade.
She hugged him, in a way that old friends do.
“You working with your dad today?”
Max nodded and returned the smile she gave him.
“It looks that way. I’m afraid I’m running a little late though...”
“Yeah I understand. I’m on my way to work myself”, she said as she pointed to the barista uniform she was wearing.
“I’m trying to get in as many shifts as I can before the endless joys of lectures, research papers, and group projects start next week!”, she said playfully, “But, hey! I’m sure we’ll be hanging out soon. I’ll catch you later!”
“All right, I’ll see you later”, replied Max.
He then went on to work in a much better mood than what he started the day with.
In the late afternoon, Jackson asked Max to drive out to Creekville - a neighboring town that was about a 45 minute drive away - to pick up some needed parts for the shop. Welcoming the opportunity to have some time alone to think, Max didn’t mind making the trip at all.
When he pulled up to a stoplight, Max glanced over at the glove compartment in his truck. He opened it up and took out a pipe wrench that was nearly bent in half. He gazed at the twisted metal tool in his hand and recalled how he acquired it in the first place.
Two Days Ago
Max was working at the fire station that day. When they weren’t putting out fires or treating car accident victims, firefighter sometimes did odd jobs around the station to help maintain the place. That day, Max was repairing a leaky pipe under one of the bathroom sinks.
As he was tightening a stubborn joint on the pipe, he put a little more force into the wrench he was using. That was when it contorted in half.
Perplexed, Max stared at the wrench in his hand. He examined it to see if maybe it was defective or old. But no; it was a perfectly good, steel metal pipe wrench.
‘Did I do that?’ the confused fireman thought to himself.
The pipe was still leaking and now his tool was useless. Max looked at the pipe for a moment, and then down at his bare hands. Acting on a hunch, Max grabbed the joint and twisted until the leak stopped. Taken aback once again, he looked down at his hand. It was like twisting a cap back onto a soda bottle. Why was it that easy?
He grabbed the wrench and walked out into the locker room while trying to put all these pieces together. His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of approaching voices and footsteps. Max quickly hid the wrench in his locker and went about the rest of his day pretending that he didn’t just have the weirdest experience of his life, all over again.
Between the incident with the car last week and what happened with the leaky pipe just a couple days ago, Max honestly had no clue what to make of what was going on. Sure, he’s always been pretty strong. Probably a little bit stronger than the average man even. But he’s never been able to lift cars and bend steel as if they were nothing.
He hasn’t talked to anyone yet about what had been going on with him lately, not even with his father. Max has been trying to find a rational and believable explanation for his recent episodes of extraordinary strength. Maybe it was just an adrenaline thing. After all, both incidents happened while he was on-duty as a fireman. This was why he was up until 5 AM last night, doing internet research on possible scientific causes for what happened to him.
Max continued his drive to Creekville, completely lost in his own troubled thoughts.
“Damn it!” she exclaimed.
It got dark very quickly, thanks to the huge storm that appeared out of nowhere. It was bad enough the road wasn’t lit (which she didn’t understand at all, it’s the 21st-century for crying out loud!), and now the heavy rain made it nearly impossible to see.
She was frustrated. She wasn’t too thrilled about where she was driving to in the first place, but this just made everything worse! She pushed the shoulder strap of her seatbelt behind her, and scooted to the front edge of her seat in an attempt to get a better look at the dark, windy road she was driving on.
As the road curved, she turned the wheel too sharply. Between that and the slippery surface, she lost control of the car. It spun off the road and headed straight towards a tree. She slammed the brakes on in reaction, but the impact was still strong enough to send her upper body forward and into the steering wheel. Then everything went black.
Max was on his way back into Humbleton. It was storming, which wasn’t too uncommon during this time of year. As he was driving down the road he recognized a sight he had become all too familiar with from his job. There was a car sitting on the side of the road. It was when he realized the car was crashed into a tree, that he pulled over with no second thought. There was a person inside, who wasn’t moving.
Acting quickly, he got out of the truck and was already on the phone.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“This is Max Trenton. I’m on off-duty fireman and I’m currently off of Route 50 where there’s been a car collision with a tree.”
He came up to the driver’s side window and peaked in. The driver was a young girl, probably a teenager. She was slumped over the steering wheel, unconscious, and had blood running down her face.
“There’s just one victim and she’s unconscious and bleeding. We’re going to need an ambulance” he stated to the operator.
“We’re sending someone now, Sir.”
After getting off the phone, Max’s next task was to examine and treat the girl’s injuries as best he could until the ambulance arrived. He tried the door handle, but it was locked. He looked around briefly to make sure no one else was around before he grabbed the edge of the door, and pried it back enough to be able to reach the girl inside. He carefully pushed back her dark hair to examine the wound on her forehead.
Thankfully it only looked much worse than it actually was. It was just a cut that happened to bleed a lot. She appeared fine otherwise and didn’t seem to have any neck injuries, so it was safe to move her.
He undid her seatbelt, and carefully lifted her out of the wrecked car. Max didn’t fail to notice how her unconscious body felt virtually weightless in his arms, when normally it should have felt fairly heavy at the very least.
Max brought her into the cabin of his truck to protect her from the rain. He laid her down carefully across the seat, and made sure to keep her head elevated. He grabbed his first aid kit and preceded with cleaning up the wound and the blood off her face.
It was then she started to stir.
“Miss, can you hear me?” he asked plainly.
She groaned and started to open her eyes. “
Ma’am, can you hear me?”, he repeated.
The girl finally opened her eyes and paused a moment before realizing what was happening.
“Where the hell am I?” she exclaimed as she sat up suddenly, only to be met by a wave of dizziness.
Max steadied and held her still.
“Ma’am, you’ve just been in a car accident. You were unconscious, so it’s best that you stay put until the ambulance arrives.”
“‘Ma’am’? Dude, how old do I look to you?”
“Ok, Miss, do you remember anything that happened before you crashed?”, Max replied calmly. He was used to this sort of thing. It wasn’t uncommon for people to respond with anger to such a stressful situation.
“Crashed?” She looked out the back windshield and saw her car smashed up against a tree.
“Oh no my car! Argh! I can’t afford to get another one right now!”, she exclaimed while seemingly ignoring Max’s question.
“Miss, I wouldn’t be too worried about your car. You were knocked out and received a head injury. You may have a concussion, so you’ll need to go to a hospital soon to get checked out.”
“Wait, who the hell are you?”
“My name’s Max, I’m an off-duty EMT”, he politely responded.
“An EMT? How do I know you’re not some creeper from the woods?”
Max stayed silent and looked at her not knowing if she was being serious or not.
“Lighten up Dude, I was just kidding. I know you probably don’t get your kicks from pulling bloody, unconscious girls from their cars in the middle of a monsoon”, she said sarcastically.
“Look, I appreciate you trying to do the whole ‘hero-rescue’ thing for me, but I’m fine! Now, I need to go call someone about my car”, she stated while trying to get up again.
Max firmly held her back, “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. I don’t know if you heard me earlier, but you’ve hit your head pretty badly and you were unconscious.”
“So I bumped my head. Big deal”, she replied as she - once again - attempted to sit up.
He held her back once more, “You could have a concussion.”
“I’ll just go to a doctor tomorrow!”, she said trying to sit up again.
She nearly made it this time, but was hit with a strong wave of dizziness and blurred vision.
“Gah!”, she exclaimed while bringing her hands to her head.
Feeling frustrated, Max took a deep breath. People normally cooperated by this point. He gently, but firmly grabbed the young girl by her shoulders and carefully laid her back down.
“Listen, I understand you’re concerned about your car but your health is more important right now. A concussion can be a pretty serious thing if you don’t get it checked out. An ambulance is already on its way.”
She sighed; clearly annoyed.
“Fine! Whatever you say, Mr. EMT.”
‘Finally’, Max thought.
“Miss, is it alright if I clean up the cut you have on your forehead here?”
“Only if you drop the proper-speech thing you got going on right now. It’s driving me crazy how you’re talking like that! And stop calling me ‘Miss!’”
“Well, what is your name?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
Max took another deep, annoyed, breath.
‘I’m afraid “Miss” will have to do for now then.’
Max sighed as he followed the ambulance. He was exhausted and still slightly agitated from this whole ordeal over the past hour. He didn’t know it was possible for someone to talk that much, especially after hitting their head and being unconscious for a period of time.
Between asking him six times what his name was again, complaining about having to get a few stitches on her head in addition to no longer having a car, and telling him to stop calling her “Miss”; Max managed to clean up the girl’s cut, finally learn that her name was Kyra, and that she’s “almost eighteen” (which makes her seventeen years old).
He thought the ambulance would never arrive.
Despite his annoyance, Max knew the right thing to do was to follow them back to the hospital. Kyra was only seventeen, and he wanted to make sure she got to where she needed to be. He had already called his father to explain why he would be returning late.
After reaching the hospital, Max sighed again and ran a hand through his thick, dark hair. This was just not his week.
Max sat patiently in the waiting room of Humbleton General - a place he’s become much more familiar with over the past couple of years due to his job. He stood up as a familiar doctor approached him.
“Well it was a good thing you had her come in Max, because she did have a concussion. The good news is though it was only a mild one. So Miss Hadley should be just fine in about a week or so.”
‘Hadley?’, Max quietly thought as he recognized the familiar last name.
Just as he was putting two and two together, Kenneth and his wife, Alaina, came into the room looking worried. The doctor walked over to the couple and eased their anxieties.
“Can we see her now?”, Alaina asked.
“Sure. Her room is just around the corner here”, the doctor replied as he led her to Kyra’s room. Max and Kenneth fell in behind them.
Kenneth put a firm hand on Max’s shoulder, “Max, thank you for helping Kyra out and calling an ambulance for her. I couldn’t have asked for a better first responder for my niece.”
They stopped in front of Kyra’s room and watched through the glass windows, as Alaina ran up to embrace the girl with relief and joy. Kyra feigned her own enthusiasm upon seeing her aunt, but didn’t return the woman’s embrace.
Max turned towards Kenneth, put on the best sincere face he could come up with, and casually asked, “So, that’s your niece? The one who’s staying with you this year?”