October 28, 2016 by dellanioakes
The Man Who Wasn’t There is the second book in my Miracle, Mississippi series. (The first is currently being shared here ever Wednesday and Sunday)
Miracle is a made up town outside Natchez. As its name implies, it’s a magical place where the strange and unusual are more or less natural. Brian, Jordan and their friends are teenagers who are descended from a long line of druids who battle an ancient evil, which can use the elements against them. They, in turn, can also wield the elements to fight it. Brian can manipulate all the elements, but earth is his most potent and devastating. He’s having trouble controlling it and gets angry when he sees Jordan kiss another boy on stage, causing a minor earthquake.
The floor shook, this time the director and her assistant took note. Jordan’s frown deepened.
“What was that?” Mrs. Faust asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe a train?” the girl replied.
Mrs. Faust glanced at her watch. “Not time for one.”
There was another shudder. Jordan’s horrified gaze met Brian’s.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Faust. I want to wash the taste of his tongue out of my mouth. He tastes like cigarettes and fruity Mentos.” She hurried off the stage.
“Sure. Take ten, kids.”
There was another rumble. Jordan rushed up the aisle to where Brian stood. Grabbing him by the arm, she dragged him out of the theatre.
“Stop that right now! It’s over. He’s just an idiot who thinks he’s God’s gift to women.”
“You don’t know how bad I want to punch him,” Brian growled. His hands balled into fists and the windows rattled.
“Yeah, I do. You have to calm down,” she cautioned. “Please, Brian. Go splash water on your face or something.”
Brian wouldn’t move, so Jordan dragged him to the men’s room. It was empty. She shoved him inside, following him. Jordan wet a paper towel and tried to mop Brian’s face with it. He blocked her hands, breathing rapidly, his anger still strong. The mirrors and sinks shivered. Bits of plaster fell from the ceiling.
Pointing her finger at him, Jordan concentrated a spurt of frigid water at his face. Sputtering, Brian looked at himself in the mirror. Red in the face, he was covered in water and tiny ice crystals. His shirt was wet and the slush was dripping on his pants. A warm wind dried him.
“Better?” Jordan glared up at him. “Because this is stupid. He’s just some dumb boy who thinks he’s way hotter than he is. He got fresh, I took care of it. I don’t need you to protect me, Brian. I’m pretty good at doing that myself.”
Sighing, he hung his head. “You’re right. I’m sorry. And I deserved that.”
“You deserved way more, but I don’t want you bringing the school down on my head because you’re angry.”
“You’re right. I’ll wait outside for you.”
“Okay. Good plan.” She kissed his cheek and went back to the stage.
Brian shuffled outside and flopped on the grass. His phone rang. “Yeah, Chase.”
“Dude, was that you?”
“Was what me?”
“We had tremors at football practice. Coach is freaking. He was gonna call the fire department or something, but it stopped.”
“Romeo dove for Jordan’s tonsils. I got pissed.”
“That’s it? Jeesh, Brian. What’s up with you?”
“Not much, Chase, except I’ve got a psychic Rider on my shoulder.” Stopping himself before he lost his temper again, he took a deep breath and repeated Meru’s mantra. “Sorry, man. I’m edgy and I don’t know why. I feel like there are icy spiders running up my spine.”
“Bhhhg,” Chase shuddered. “Great, now I feel that way. I’m on my way.”
“You’ve got football.”
“Things are such chaos right now, Coach won’t notice. Where are you?”
“Outside the theatre.”
“Stay put. I’m coming. I need to tell Marissa and Mom. Hang tight.” He hung up.
Brian didn’t want to go against Chase’s instruction to stay put, but he was worried about Jordan. Phones weren’t allowed during practice, so hers was off and in her backpack. If something was about to happen, she needed to know. He’d headed toward the door when Chase called to him.
“Where are you going?”
“Marissa’s on her way. She’s at chorus. Mom’s coming.”
Mrs. Finley joined them a few minutes later. “What’s happening?”
“No clue. Brian said something about icy spiders and I realized I’ve felt like that the past couple hours.”
“Me too. I thought it was just me.”
“What do you think it is?”
“No idea,” she replied. “But I’ll bet it has something to do with that.” She pointed at a dark cloud low on the horizon. It moved quickly toward them.
Dora Finley pulled out her phone and dialed 9-1-1 reporting a tornado.
“Our emergency system hasn’t registered it,” the dispatcher said.
“Look out the window,” Dora said, leading the boys inside.
“Oh, my God!” the dispatcher said before hanging up.
The town warning siren went off. Students and adults ran for cover. The cloud moved quickly toward the school, specifically toward Brian and Chase. Glad to be inside, they followed Chase’s mother down the hall to her office.
“Go inside and wait. These are all interior walls and there’s only the window in the door. Go!”
“Where are you going?” Chase asked.
“To help with the drama kids and the choir.” She took off.
Brian and Chase exchanged a look. Their girlfriends were in drama and choir.
“No way I’m sitting in here,” Chase said.
Brian was already out the door and down the hall, running toward the fine arts building. Fortunately, it wasn’t far. Wind wailed around the building. Windows shuddered, walls shook. Screaming people tried to find a safe place to ride out the storm. By the time the boys had reached the theatre, the students had taken refuge in the dressing room. Brian determined that Jordan was safe and followed Chase to the choir room.
This room was in chaos. Three large windows sat high in the wall. Two had burst, showering the room with broken glass. High winds circled, flinging glass in razor-like shards. A clutch of people tried to hide under the risers in one corner. Another two hunkered under the baby grand piano. Sheet music whirled around, slicing through the air.
The wind increased when they opened the door. By some miracle, the flying glass missed both boys. Their clothing whipped around them as they assessed the situation.
“Chase!” Marissa screeched from under the risers.
“I told you to wait,” his mother called, fear tinging her voice.
They huddled under the risers, not far from the supply cupboard.
“Get in the supply room,” Chase ordered.
The door popped open. The chorus members rushed toward the open door. When they were inside with the door shut, Brian and Chase faced down the wind. Though it whipped their clothing, the debris didn’t touch them. Concentrating on the source, Brian filled himself with calm, sending it forth like a wave. The wind stopped howling, paper and glass dropped safely to the ground.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes