Brian Yeaple is an aspiring screenwriter and comic book writer eagerly awaiting his graduation from Full Sail University in August with a BA in Creative Writing for Entertainment. His dream is to live and work in Japan teaching while writing on the side.
The Arc of the Lightning
The shriek of the alarm clock ripped Jane Cavalera out of a deep sleep. Groggy, she crawled out of bed in her slightly oversized Audioslave shirt and plaid pajama pants. She scratched her messy mop of short dark hair and moved like a zombie across her shadow drenched bedroom to her computer desk where she slapped the alarm off. Her feet lifted off the floor and she hovered in the air. Joints popped and cracked as she stretched.
She drifted to the window and threw open the thick curtains. She shielded her eyes as the room became flooded with sunlight. She turned and reveled in her sanctuary. Posters of The Beatles, bookshelves filled with graphic novels and manga, and her computer desk with books on electricity and flight stacked on either side of her laptop.
She plopped down on the chair and picked up a book on electricity from among a pile of other books on birds and flight. She flipped through the pages and admired the pictures of pure white bolts of lightning. She looked at her hand, gently rubbed her thumb and forefinger together, and smiled as tiny sparks snapped off of her fingers.
Letting out a deep breath, her face fell as if coming to a sad realization. She looked at her backpack on the floor by the door and slumped her shoulders.
The Sandoval High School cafeteria was large and bright. Banners draped on the walls boasted the football team's latest victory. The mascot, a mountain lion, was painted on one wall in bold colors.
allowed for plenty of space for the typical cliques to gather without having to get too close to the other groups. The jocks and cheerleaders took over the middle tables, and their excitement over the last game, or the next, often resulted in cheers, playful shoving, and the occasional throwing of food that annoyed the rest of the room. The geeky kids huddled around at one of the corner tables and played games like Magic: The Gathering or got into debates over things like whether Star Trek or Star Wars was the better sci-fi epic.
In the back corner, Jane, in a dark midi skirt and Sandoval High hoodie, had a table all to herself. She read a book on aviation and jotted notes down in her composition book.
A boy in a Doctor Who t-shirt nervously clutched his lunch tray and slowly walked through the room, looking for a friendly face. He spotted Jane and sat his tray down on the table across from her.
"Is it all right if I sit here?" he asked.
Jane looked up from her book, eyes narrowed. The boy swallowed and backed away.
"Hey," one of the geeky kids said. "You can sit with us. Leave 'crazy Jane' alone."
The boy moved over to the geeky kids' table and looked at Jane cautiously as he went.
Lacey Coleson, a petite brunette in designer jeans and sweater, iced coffee in hand, bounced into the cafeteria, followed closely by Monica Brant, a slim blonde dressed in almost identical attire. Their entrance caught the attention of the jocks.
"Lacey," one said. "I saved you a seat."
"Maybe later," Lacey said.
Jane looked up from her notes as Lacey and Monica got closer. Jane closed her composition book.
"What do you want, Lacey?" Jane asked. "I'm not in the mood for your childish crap today."
Lacey and Monica sat down on either side of Jane. Lacey took a sip of her iced coffee and nudged Jane's arm.
"What 'cha doin', 'plain Jane'?" Lacey asked. "Studying during lunch? God, you're a nerd."
"Why don't you just leave me alone?" Jane asked. "I've never done anything to you."
Monica reached for the composition book, and Jane promptly hugged it to her chest. Lacey giggled.
"What are you writing?" Monica asked. "I heard you write short stories. Can I see?"
Lacey snorted. Jane sneered at her.
"What do you write about?" Lacey asked. "What could 'plain Jane' possibly write about?"
Jane started to get up when Lacey grabbed her arm and pulled her back down.
"Not so fast," Lacey said. "You didn't answer the question."
"Piss. Off," Jane said through gritted teeth.
"We know what you write about, Jane," Monica said.
"Oh, yeah," Lacey said. "We know."
Jane eyed them suspiciously. Lacey smiled.
"What are two on about?" Jane asked.
Lacey leaned in close.
"You can fly," she said.
She locked eyes with Lacey for a handful of heartbeats before she nervously chuckled.
"What?" Jane asked. "What have you two been smoking?"
"Don't play dumb with us," Monica said. "We saw you."
"Saw me where?" Jane asked.
"The hill," Lacey said.
Jane sat frozen as the girls waited for her to say something. She grabbed her backpack and stuffed her books into it as she stood up. Lacey stood up with her. Jane turned to walk out of the cafeteria.
"Oh, Jane?" Lacey said.
Jane stopped and slowly turned back to her.
"What?" she asked.
Lacey flicked her cup at Jane, and the iced coffee splashed across the front of her hoodie. Jane jumped back, shocked. The cafeteria fell silent as everyone turned to look at the scene. Laughter broke out among the jocks and the cheerleaders.
"Careful, Lacey," one of the cheerleaders said. "She might go all Carrie on you."
Jane, fists clenched, stormed out of the cafeteria. Lacey smiled at Monica.
Jane paced back and forth on top of a massive hill. She stopped to look out over the surrounding hills, the road that wound around them, and the town of Sandoval almost fifteen miles away. The branches of a lone tall hickory tree next to her clattered and creaked as the wind blew. A ragged breath escaped from between her trembling lips.
She turned away from the picturesque view as tires screeched to a stop behind her. She looked down the hill as Lacey and Monica climbed out of Lacey's red VW Bug parked on the road next to her hand-me-down mountain bike.
"So predictable," Lacey said as they trekked up the hill.
"Why are you doing this?" Jane asked. She clenched her fists.
Lacey shrugged as her and Monica stopped a few feet away from her. Lacey smirked and crossed her arms.
"We know your secret," she said.
"How?" Jane asked.
"We followed you here one day," Monica said. "We parked the car down the road and snuck up here and just watched."
"We were going to come up and bug you when you started flying around," Monica said. "We watched you a few more times."
"And got some evidence," Lacey said as she took her cell phone out of her pocket.
Jane froze and stared at the phone.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"I'm glad you asked," Lacey said. She slid the phone back in her pocket. "You're not the only one who can do stuff."
"What are you talking about?"
Lacey smiled and turned towards the hickory tree. Monica stood back and put her hands over her ears. Jane stepped back, confused.
Lacey took a deep breath, leaned back, and lurched forward, unleashing a sonic scream from deep in her throat. The force cut a path along the ground, tore up the grass, and struck the tree, shattering the trunk. Lacey stopped her scream as the tree crashed to the ground. She looked at Jane and smirked.
Jane stood shaking as she stared at the fallen tree, a tear rolled down her cheek. She swallowed hard.
"What the hell was that?" she asked. "How can you do that?"
"I don't know," Lacey said and shrugged. "How are you able to fly?"
"I don't know," Jane said. "I discovered it kind of by accident."
"Me too," Lacey said. "I got pissed when my wi-fi dropped and yelled at the router. Ended up destroying it and putting a hole in the wall."
"I bet your dad loved that," Monica said.
"I haven't told him yet, and he avoids going in my room because that might mean we'd have to actually speak to each other," Lacey said.
The girls looked at Jane. She took a step back.
"What do you want?" she asked.
Lacey stepped towards her with Monica right behind her. She was almost nose to nose with Jane.
"We were each given a gift, as my grandmother might say," she said. "I think it'd be a shame to keep them a secret and not use them. Think about it, we could run this town."
"What?" Jane asked as she stepped back. "That's ridiculous. No, that's just stupid."
Lacey scrunched her nose, looked at Jane with disgust.
"We are practically gods, Jane," Lacey said.
"We're not gods, you idiot," Jane said.
Monica raised her eyebrows. She looked at Lacey for her reaction. Lacey's expression was neutral.
"Finally growing a spine, 'plain Jane'?" Lacey asked.
"Or maybe I'm getting fed up with your stupid crap," she said. "And now you're talking about using our abilities to basically bully people. I never thought you were all that smart, and you haven't changed my mind on that with this idiotic plan of yours."
Monica eyed the two of them and smiled slightly.
"I guess it does sound kind of crazy," Lacey said. She shook her head. "I mean, people aren't going to be all that afraid of a girl who can fly anyway."
Monica stepped back. Jane noticed and started to move away, but Lacey unleashed her sonic scream and knocked Jane onto her back. She slid across the grass and lay stunned.
"That was just a taste," Lacey said. "You saw what I did to the tree."
Jane struggled to get up. She clutched her chest where the brunt of the blast hit her.
"What's the point of this?" Jane asked. She managed to sit up. "What do you hope to gain by attacking me?"
"I'm a spoiled brat, Jane," Lacey said. "I don't like being told no."
Jane got to her feet, her knees shaky. She looked at Lacey with pleading eyes.
"It doesn't have to be like this," she said. "Before now I thought I was the only one with abilities. I felt alone. I was afraid to let anyone know because I thought people would freak out."
"Of course, people would freak out," Lacey said. "You're having a bit of a freak out right now."
"You're right," Jane said as she stood at her full height.
Lacey suddenly lurched forward with another sonic scream, but Jane leaped into the air and soared upwards. Lacey stopped and watched as Jane rose higher and higher. Monica smiled wickedly.
Jane hovered in the air and looked down at the two girls. Her heart raced as she waited for Lacey to attack again.
"Come on down, 'plain Jane'," Lacey said. "Let's do this."
"I don't want to have to hurt you," Jane said.
"Don't make me laugh," Lacey said. "What are you going to do? Crap on me like a bird?"
"Oh, if you only knew," Jane said to herself.
"All right," Lacey said as she reared up. "If that's the way you want it."
Jane backflipped as another sonic scream blast shot past, missing her by inches. She soared downward towards Lacey who screamed again. Jane flew away from the blast, but Lacey followed her with it. Through gritted teeth Jane rose higher into the sky.
Lacey stopped her scream and rubbed her neck. Monica looked at her friend.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"I've never tried to hold the scream for this long," Lacey said. "It hurts."
"Just stop, Lacey," Jane said as she dropped down and hovered a few feet off the ground. "It doesn't have to be like this. I don't want it to be like this."
Lacey sneered at her. Monica smirked.
"Well, maybe I do," Lacey said.
"If you're not going to be reasonable, then you leave me no choice," Jane said. "I don't just come up here to get away. I come up here to practice using my abilities. Just like a workout, I have 'days.' You said you've seen me fly before, but you didn't say anything about my other ability."
Monica looked at Jane, confused. Lacey prepared to unleash her scream again.
"I'm guessing you never bothered to watch me on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Probably because that's when you have cheer practice, so you didn't know that I can also do this," Jane said and raised her arm up, hand open as if holding an imaginary ball. Sparks cracked and popped off of her fingers, slowly building.
Lacey stepped back. Monica looked confused and about to panic.
Jane closed her eyes as the sparks turned into lightning that arced around her arm and down her body. The ends of Lacey's hair stood up slightly as she backed away further. Monica put her hands up as the light from the electricity grew brighter. She scowled through squinted eyes.
Lacey reared up and attacked again, but Jane rose into the air, bolts of lightning licked the ground before they followed her upwards. Jane thrust both hands down at the ground in front of Lacey. The bolt scorched the grass as it sent a shockwave out that knocked Lacey backwards. The wind was knocked out of her as she hit the ground. Monica staggered back and fell.
"Surprise, Lacey," Jane said and floated gently to the ground.
Monica stood up, her eyes narrowed. Lacey looked up at Jane.
"You think that's going to stop me?" Lacey asked.
"It was meant to dissuade you," Jane said. "But if that won't, I could always do this--"
Jane swooped in, grabbed Lacey by the arm, and soared straight up into the air. Lacey, caught off guard, screamed and short blasts of sonic energy escaped from her throat. Jane stopped about sixty feet up and held Lacey's wrist. Lacey looked down nervously.
"I didn't want to do this, but you forced my hand," Jane said.
"No, please," Lacey said.
Monica shook her head. She reached up to them, as if pleading.
Jane slowly lowered her and Lacey back down. She released Lacey once they were a few feet off the ground.
"Did you think I was going to kill you?" Jane asked, clearly offended. "Like you were trying to do to me?"
Lacey hugged herself tight as Monica wrapped an arm around her to steady her.
"I wasn't trying to kill you, just scare you," Lacey said.
"Well, now you see what happens when you do that, right?" Jane said.
Monica pulled Lacey towards the car.
"We see that now," Monica said. "We're sorry."
"And you know what'll happen if you try to use your ability to mess with people, right?"
"Yes," Lacey said.
Jane's face softened.
"We don't have to be enemies," she said. "I don't want us to be."
Monica and Lacey looked at each other. After a moment, they nodded and turned back to Jane.
"We'll consider it," Monica said.
"Good," Jane said and nodded. "Look, we have these abilities. Who knows if there are more like us, but I think it would be to our benefit to stick together, for support, if nothing else."
Lacey studied Jane's face, as if contemplating.
"Maybe," Lacey said.