Let me know what you think and stay tuned for updates on the process of self-publishing. I hope it won't cost a fortune, or I may need to start a Kickstarter campaign!
The image flashed across his brain again and Jake rubbed his eyes to make it go away. He knew what it was and why he was seeing it, but he didn’t want to deal with it. He shouldn’t have to, not at his age. He should be having a normal life, going to baseball practice, sneaking a smoke behind his mother’s back and cutting the occasional class to prove he was a normal teen, except that he wasn’t.
It was all his father’s fault.
His father had taught him to see; to see what nobody else could see. To see far away and see what was hidden. His father had taught him to read people, events and places from afar. And now his father was sending him images. Things Jake didn’t want to see.
There was nothing especially terrible about them, except that they were an unwelcome intrusion and made him feel uncomfortable. He didn’t want to see where his father was; the man had left.
“Hey, you listening?” Jessica nudged him in the ribs, hard. The school bus bounced across the potholes like it had lost all suspension. It was the oldest bus in the fleet, used to pick up the rowdiest kids along the rural routes in Washington. The seat covers were torn and the windows covered in permanent marker graffiti; some good, most terrible and just about all of it lewd.
“Yeah, I’m listening,” Jake grumbled. She might be his girlfriend, but he was getting tired of her constant chatter about clothes and parties and celebrities. “When’s the party and where?” he said in his customary gruff voice, the one he’d adopted after his father left for one last mission. It had only been a year since his dad got called up for a special and highly secret project, but it felt so much longer. Jake’s mother could barely cope and Jake felt sure she would start something with Mr. Caruthers, the high school football coach. He’d been hanging around for weeks now, supposedly helping her out with chores around the house, but acting as if he was about to own the place.
Why did Dad have to go away? Jake was mad at him and wanted him to come home to make everything right again, but that was little-kid dreaming. Life didn’t work that way.
“Now that you have your driver’s license you can pick me up in your mom’s car and maybe we can go somewhere afterwards.” Jessica leaned suggestively against his shoulder and looked up at him with eager and expectant eyes. Her eyes were her best feature, big and round and deep blue. Aside from that she had an okay body, it was shapelier than most girls in his class. He wished she wouldn’t bleach her hair, though, it made it look unnatural, almost like straw.
Everyone said he was lucky to be with her. His friends all thought they would marry after high school graduation. He could keep his job at Ramon’s garage and be all set. Why bother with college?
If they only knew. Jake had very different plans. He was determined to get out of this small town. Rural Pacific Northwest was not his scene. Any place had to be better than this.
The bus squealed to a stop in front of James Madison High. A standard one-story, sprawling school building that every day reminded Jake more and more of a prison. Throngs of teens in flannel, fleece and jeans shuffled into the building. The new principal stood at the door greeting each kid who walked past. It was his way of showing that the kids mattered, but Jake knew better. If each kid mattered then why had nobody suggested to him he try for a top science college or even just community college? His math scores were off the charts and the only thing keeping the school scores from being at rock bottom.
Yeah, he was ready to get out. The sooner the better since it was obvious that nobody cared about him.
“Ah...” Jake doubled over at the searing pain in his head. This was not supposed to happen. His dad said that only on rare occasions could you feel the pain of others. What was happening to his dad? This was not like before.
“Dude, you okay?” A hulking figure stood over him and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Yeah, no worries,” Jake said to the prize offense-player of the football team. “Hangover, sunlight’s too bright,” he said, knowing that was the right answer. Besides, Brandon would never in a million years understand what was going on in Jake’s head, or his life.
“Awesome, dude.” Brandon slapped him companionably on the shoulder, which nearly sent Jake sprawling. At six feet, 2 inches he wasn’t exactly small, but his slender frame was no match for the over 200-pound mass of Brandon.
All through calculus Jake was plagued by the images his father sent him telepathically, no matter how hard he tried to shut them out.
An idea started to form and by lunchtime he knew what he had to do.