Chapter Four: Going Through Changes

Dr. Richard Xia Hu was in the middle of his lecture on reptile cellular mitosis at the University of Michigan at Flint, when his mobile vibrated.

"Dick, it's Tommy. We have a bit of situation here and need your expertise. Think you can leave class early and head up to your place on the lake? We'll meet you there as soon as we can."

"We? Now hold up Tommy you know I don't get involved with DBRC issues, not after Project Hellfire."

"Doc that's what this is about. I'm with subject Prometheus and he just leveled half a city block for the hell of it. We managed to tranquilize him, but have no idea how long he'll be out."

"No this can't be we were sure the boy's powers were exhausted by Day Zero. Dear god in heaven if they've begun to manifest now there is no telling the destruction that he could cause," Richard said and remembered back to that awful day.

The year was 1996 and Travis was barely two years. Sarah took her eyes off him for just a moment and he wondered outside the PX in Bayreuth. He drew the attention of two unsavory characters clad in tank tops and caps embosomed with 88. The elder of the two was bald and had a beer gut pocked with stretch marks. He approached the boy and coaxed him closer with the promise of a candy bar. When the boy was within arm's length the younger produced a cloth laced with chloroform and little Travis was down for the count.

They took the boy to an alley three blocks away and once there doused him with gasoline. The younger male hesitated, the gravity of the situation an albatross around his neck. Disgusted the older man snatched the matchbook from him and struck the match. It precessed through air and hover for a moment before it made contact with the boy. The liquid heat enveloped him and Travis screamed his lungs out. The younger male tried to put out the flames but the older male kicked him in the balls then stomped his face in. He was about to deliver the cu de grace when a shockwave ripped through the alley.

"Oh mein gott," he said and lasted a few seconds more before he bled out. The shards of brick and cement that leaden his body had done their job well. Travis stood over the body and laughed as it was engulfed by his black flames. Five minutes later agents from the Department of Biological Research and Control arrived and engaged the boy. After a protracted battle they were finally able to subdue the boy. For three years they used him like a lab rat. They forced Travis to combust several objects beginning with wood chips and eventually he graduated to slabs of Titanium and he nearly destroyed the entire complex in the after math.

The Day Zero started with Travis being woken at 4AM and having his vitals recorded for the millionth time. As usual it was Agent Smith's duty to get the boy to cooperate. He removed the tazer from his belt clip and electrocuted the boy until he passed out. Travis regained consciousness and began the experiment. All was going fine until a portal open in the middle of the room and a giant spider with razor sharp talons on its legs appeared. The creature rushed forward and left a path of bloody confetti in its wake. Soldiers poured into the lab but their guns were no match for the creature's exoskeleton and they were torn asunder. Finally the beast came to Travis. The boy stood in the corner and cried as the monster approached him. It raised its front legs and brought them down, but stopped at the last moment. It regarded Travis with a puzzled look then bowed.

Sensing the thing wanted him to climb on its back Travis obliged and the two began a whirling ballet of death. They reached the outside of the facility after many skirmishes with the soldiers, whose bullets melted like butter before the boy's inferno. The DBRC lost half the research staff and most of the guards that day and as acting Department Director Dr.Hu decided to shut Project Hellfire down and monitor the boy until further notice. Travis and the spider creature parted ways and the boy was returned to his family with no memory of the incident and his powered never manifested again. His father was given a promotion and a large pension for his compliance. Shortly thereafter children all over the world developed paranormal abilities and Travis became sick. It was DR. Hu's belief these events dissipated the boy's powers, but he just realized they had been hibernating. He barked at his TA to take over the lecture and hauled ass off of campus. He arrived home after 40 minutes and made the necessary proportions: hand cuffs, restraints, tranquilizers, and c4 charges. He channel surfed until the trio arrived two hours later.

Travis awoke some time later and found himself restrained to a bed with an IV drip going. He attempted and failed to free himself and his actions alerted the others. Jenny was the first one at his side.

"Sweetie, how are you feeling? We had to sedate and restrain you after you tried to hurt us when we escaped the hospital. What's the last thing you remember?"

"Care telling me why I have a massive migraine and the last thing I recollect was that peculiar red haired boy accosting me, and then him and his ruffian associates assaulting me," Travis said.

"Ok sweetie that's good but try to calm down with what I'm about to tell you."

"How the hell am I supposed to remain calm when you tell me that?" His point was emphasized when the water pitcher next to his bed shattered.

"See that's what I was talking about. You have to keep calm or things have a tendency to shatter around you. You took out half the parking lot when we tried to sedate you. One more thing, don't freak out but you haven't been talking this entire time," Jenny said bracing herself for the boy's reaction.

What!?

"Yeah I now freaky right, but it's the truth kiddo. Tommy thinks it's some type of telepathy. Oh shoot you just shattered the window. What are we gonna do with you?"

Well that would explain how Josh and I heard the other's thoughts.

"I believe I may have a few answers but first you should eat something, your body needs all the fuel it can get right now. When you're ready meet me out front and we'll discuss some things," said Dr. Hu. After Jenny released the restraints he gorged himself on eggs and sausages. Travis hopped in the shower and got the shock of his life when he caught his reflection in the mirror. His irises were now half green and red with a band of his normal dark brown in between them. And his black hair had turned blood red and grey in many spots. He hyperventilated and blew up the toilet. He picked the chucks of ceramic out of his hair then dressed in the basketball shorts and tank top Jenny left out for him.

Is this the part where the mystical Asian teaches me how to suppress my super-powered evil side with the power of love?

"Not quite you smartass, now if you're done preening yourself meet me out front and the bill for that toilet and the window is coming out of your pocket. And we'll try and see if we can't stop that thought projection you have going on. Shall we then?"

"It's not like I exactly have a choice in the matter now do I?" Travis finally managed to vocalize after much effort.

"First your parents know where you are and believe you have a new genetic disorder and are here receiving treatment for it. You will spend the rest of week here while I run more tests then report back each weekend to evaluate your condition. As for your appearance contacts and dye should suffice until I find a way to reverse the effects. Moving on, your body's systems are functioning at double the capacity of normal and you appear to be undergoing a metamorphosis, hence the increased hunger and drowsiness. I need to run more tests, but the preliminary data indicates your genome has undergone extensive alterations. There is reptilian almost avian DNA interspliced with your genetic code along with several unidentified chromosomal pairs fused with your human DNA in a quadruple helix," Richard paused to let this sink.

"So what am I?"

"That my boy is the question of the day. I haven't a solid answer yet, but all things point to you being more than human. As for your abilities they appear to be tied to moments of extreme emotion and as such you must strive not to lose control as the results could be disastrous. I suggest you thumb through a few books on meditation. As for your telepathy my best advice would be to try to get a handle on it while you're here and avoid using it while in public at all costs. Well that's all I have to say," Dr. Hu said and handed him a book on Zen Meditation. Travis thought all the "finding your center" stuff was crap, but went along with it anyways to get Richard off his back. Hu left Travis to meditate, while he went over the blood samples from the boy.

Richard's house was a two-story beige condo that overlooked the lake from which the city got its name. Bonsai trees lined the front of the property along with a rock garden done in alternative shades of black white and grey stones. Travis was seated cross-legged on the front porch and watched the waves ripple across the surface of the water. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale; he synched his breathing to rhythm of the waves and closed his eyes. The world slipped away as he traveled the winding corridors of his mind. A maze stretched out before him with dead ends at every turn.

"Center, center, my kingdom for a center," he said to himself and stopped when he hit a wall. There in front of him lay a massive black brick wall that beckoned him closer. However before Travis reached it a doppelganger materialized and blocked his path.

"Hold it kid, you are not ready for this yet. Just turn back now and everything will be copacetic," it said.

"I don't think so, who are you to tell me what I'm allowed to do? Last I checked this was my mind, err go I'm the master of this domain," he replied back.

"Fine do what you will, but don't say I didn't warn you. What do you mean who am I? Hello I'm that voice in your head that tells to stop being an epic fail, but you can call me Prometheus."

"Well at least I know what to call you when you get on my nerves."

"Whatever I'm out of here," Prometheus said and slipped back into the recesses of the boy's mind. As Travis approached the wall there came a great cry from behind it and the landscape quaked from its ferocity. Tendrils of black energy erupted from the wall and finally a solitaire brick crumbled away. From the opening in the wall came the primal bird's cry he heard during his battle with Oblivion. He pressed his eyes into the hole and what transpired next forever changed Travis. A magnificent bird composed of gold, blue and white flames lay prostrate before him; bound by heavy chains everywhere, save its right wing. It cried tears of white flames and beseeched Travis to free it. He began the arduous task breaking each chain, but despite his best efforts they wouldn't budge. He tried blasting them with his flames: nope, nothing. He tried visualizing them breaking: nada. He even tried screaming at them but they remained intact, mocking him. Frustration overcame him and he unleashed all his pent up feelings over the turn his life had taken in one last ditch blast.

SNAP.

BANG.

POW.

The chains on its upper half melted away and the bird took flight and busted into song. More black energy erupted from the wall and washed over Travis. He stood awestruck and watched as more holes formed, but then Prometheus appeared and knocked him back into the real world.

"You know you got a lot of nerve pulling that stunt just now. Do you have any idea the strain you just put on the kid? Another thirty seconds and he'd have been a vegetable. But of course that doesn't matter to you now does it? Let me make this clear to you: if you push him before he's ready then innocent people will get hurt. You want their blood on your hands, um I mean wings? Fine, then go ahead do what you're going to do, but don't for a second think I'm gonna let you slide on this one. I've had a hard enough time as it is keeping that Oblivion guy at bay and then you go and pull this? I don't think so," the boy laid into his familiar. He began sealing the holes in the wall but found that they only remained closed for a few seconds. Defeated he slipped back into Travis' subconscious and rested for the time being. Why does this kid have to complicate everything so damn much and who'd I piss off to get stuck with him, he pondered.

Travis came crashing back to earth literally as he had been floating midair while in the trace of his. The bonsai tress had been ripped from the earth and the rock garden completely destroyed. He got to his feet and took stock of the scene and shrugged it off as part of his new weird magnet life. The incessant rumbling in his tummy drew him to the kitchen where he feasted on left over eggs and bagels.

"Jesus kid you're at it again! What does that make, you're fifth helping?" Agent Anderson said.

"Seventh actually," he told Agent Smith in between bites. The man looked on at Travis and couldn't help but laugh.

"I see someone's channeling his inner Saiyan today. Well slow down partner, some of us haven't eaten yet, you know."

And that's my concern how exactly again? It's not my fault you spent the morning fornicating, now is it and what the hell is a Saiyan?

"Whoa there Travis, where do you get off busting my balls when I've put my neck out for you?"

"I don't recall ever asking you to do so." We both know your actions were engineered specifically to pull at Jenny's heartstrings and land you between her labia majora and minora.

"No fair you little shit, you can't switch back and forth like that," Tommy said.

Hey I'm famished and utilizing this method of communication I can put your ass in check and get my grub on at the same time. So go screw.

"You spoilt brat, you do realize with one call your ass could be the latest recruit for the super soldier program."

"Yes, but we both know you don't have the balls. And besides you know you're as good as rigor mortis. If I can explode things without control do you have any idea the possible ramifications of getting me enraged once I've mastered things. I dare not think you want to find out, do you? Well I'm done eating, for now that is. Enjoy yourself while you can Mister Anderson," Travis said.

"God if I weren't such a pussy and not totally crapping myself right now you would be one dead darkie," he said then dropped to his knees clutching at his chest. Tommy spent the next few weeks recuperating from getting his broken ribs from the boy's psychic attack.. Travis' life shifted into a fairly boring routine: school during week while avoiding all human contact. Then on the weekends it was off to Richard's where he got up at 5am, meditated for three hours, breakfast, homework and studying for the day, followed by more meditation, lunch and two dinners. In the two weeks that passed he learned to project his thoughts only when he wanted to and gained a grip on his explosion problem. From time to time things still blew up, but to nowhere near the degree as before.

Travis was relaxing by the lake one day when Jenny came out and told he had received a summons to appear in court Monday. Contacts hid his eyes but every time they dyed his hair the red and grey filtered through in a matter of hours. So forgetting his hair Travis appeared before the judge assigned his case and much to his surprise Josh was also there.

"In the matter concerning the incident at St. Michael's Hospital, while the preliminary investigation has yet to be concluded, it is the ruling of this court that you be placed on probation for a period of six months. Pending the results of the investigation you may be required to appear before this court at a later date for further sentencing. You are henceforth restricted from travel across state lines and must submit to random drug tests and serve five hundred hours of community service. If you violate the terms of your probation you will placed in a juvenile facility for a period of no less than three years.

"Furthermore in the matter concerning the fight at Azure Plains Prep: while I recognize you thought your life was in danger and acted in your best interest, your actions resulted in many people being needlessly injured. So it is the decision of this court that you and Mr. Giovanni attend anger management classes, as your fight was the primary impulse that led to the larger brawl, " the judge said then dismissed Travis and Josh to their parents.

"I hate you! If you had just been a normal kid none of this would have ever happened. Life sucked enough and now I have to spend time with you too. No!" Josh moaned.

"Let me enlighten you on the matter, you albino Lilliputian. You hit me first err go the onus is on you, so don't blame me due to your lack of self control."

After the heated exchange of words and a minor incident with a chair "falling" apart the boys were drug home by their respective parents. Three hours later found them glaring daggers at each other in the waiting room of Dr. Neil Adams' office. As they sat, the animosity radiated off them and Josh could hardly believe he ever liked, much less loved the boy next to him. Travis' acidic tongue and predilection for SAT league vocabulary irked Josh to no end. Couldn't he talk like a normal person for once? he thought.

"Come along boys the doctor will see you now," said Mrs. Henderson the receptionist.

 

This chapter is dedicated to David. Thanks for the words of encouragement and the same goes everyone else who's reviewed. And for those of you who haven't, shame on you.

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