The Power In Me – Excerpt of Short Story by Philip Wardlow


Power

The Power in Me

Three Ping Pong balls revolved in midair, each one following the other in a tight circle as they flew.

*

“I shouldn’t be able to be doing this, Carl!” she yelled at the bald little man sitting across the table from her in the dining room of her house. Carl was wearing a smug little grin on his face that annoyed the hell out of her. He was always full of himself, today more than usual. He obviously knew more than her. Shit! She was losing her concentration. One of the balls slipped out of it’s rotation and fell.

*

“True and not true,” Carl replied back glibly to her as he deftly caught the falling ball with his left hand, inches before it hit the table.

*

“What the hell is that supposed to mean!” she said, her eyes staring ahead at the two remaining balls still rotating in front of her. She thought of a figure eight, and immediately the balls begin to swirl in that configuration. It was equally cool and frightening at the same time, she thought, but Carl didn’t have to know that.

*

“Angela, you have taken to this extremely well. It seems you are a natural. I have to give our co-workers credit. They were betting you would do well the first time right out the gate. Not many can pull off even one ball this quickly, let alone three. Guess I will have to pay up when I get back to the office.” Carl chuckled to himself, rolling the little white ball he had caught back and forth between his hands on the dining room table still smiling at her smugly.

*

Angela took her eyes from the two remaining balls, which spun and looked directly at Carl.

*

“You mean there are others who can do this? Out with it, Carl, I’m sick of the games. You’ve been playing them too long, first with my husband, now with me. Be straight for once, or for god sakes I’ll shove these balls down your goddamn throat.”

*

Carl’s smile slipped a little her under dark stare. He involuntarily swallowed when he suddenly realized the balls were still continuing to spin in their figure eight pattern without her looking at them. Damn, she’s good, he thought, and arrogant. A lot like him more or less, he thought, but still soft.

*

“Well.” Angela said to him, more of a command than a question.

*

Carl ignored her tone. “You remember that project three years ago that kept Scott away so many hours at night?”

*

She remembered all too well, the late nights, and all the arguments that followed, telling her he couldn’t discuss his work with her because she didn’t have the clearance. It still rankled her a little to this day. Angela only nodded as she looked at him as the balls continued to spin, so Clark continued.

*

“We had found something amazing. To be more exact it found us. One of the lab geeks directed to synthesize some of the proteins from a plant brought back from Brazil accidentally combined two cultures in the synthesis we were working on with the lot. The other plant was from an older expedition we had done years ago in the Congo in Africa. Scott had pulled it himself from the incubator a few days later. Lot Forty-Two.”

*

Angela noticed Carl’s eyes dilating and his hand gestures became more animated as he spoke. This disturbed her for some reason and she didn’t know why.

*

“Oh, the things Lot Forty-two revealed to us, Angela!” Carl found it hard to contain himself as he talked.

*

“We didn’t know how much until we began the human trials. You did not know this, but Scott, was one of the first volunteers. The committee had been paranoid of it getting out to the general public so everything was done in house; very hush hush.

*

“I am sorry to say this ,Angela, but he was a fool.” Carl said flatly to her from across the table.

*

An invisible force compressed against Carl’s chest, to send him flying and to go slamming into the wall behind him. Plaster crumbled around his head and tumbled off the nice black suit coat he wore. Now I am going to have to go to the dry cleaners tomorrow, he thought idly.

*

“Release me, Angela.” Carl said quietly. She indeed is a natural. In front of her the two balls still wove their figure pattern in the air. If only it could be different.

*

Angela saw no fear in Carl at what she had just done to him. More so, a calm demeanor seemed to settle into him, like a mask had lifted. She herself was scared at what she had just done. Where had it come from? This was so much different than revolving balls in the air. This new power seemed to have welled up inside her and she had just let it go all at once at him in a stream. It was still flowing; like a fire hose turned wide open at the hydrant.

*

“Why say such a thing about Scott?” Angela’s dark eyes seemed to glow as she stood up and walked slowly around the table to him. Carl just stared at her, not blinking. The force increased upon his chest as he sank even deeper into the wall.

*

Because he knew the initial trials were unstable, he knew it could possibly kill him. But he went ahead with it anyway. He wanted to be one of the firsts. His vanity won out and it was his undoing in the end. ”  Carl gasped for breath from the pressure she was exerting on his chest.

*

“The drug he and the others had taken was unrefined, the levels too high for their system. The power consumed him; it drove him to lash out violently with the power for no reason. You must have suspected.”  Carl looked at Angela challenging her to disagree as he fought to breathe.

*

“You should remember his dark moods when he came home.   He had to be put down! Now let me go!” Carl controlled his breathing. This game is at an end. The committee be damned, he thought.

*

Angela ignored him. She pushed harder and the power flowed from her like the heat from the sun. Along with the power, anger filled her. Anger at this little man who had taken her husband away, anger at the lies he now spouted about him.  Her power escalated as her anger took a foothold in her, each resonated and drew upon the other. They were feeding each other.

*

Carl grunted as the pressure increased upon his chest. He would black out soon. Plaster continued to fall around him as he sank deeper into the dining room wall….

“Enough!” Carl intoned as he looked Angela in the eyes.

*

Carl’s eyes swam in her vision as the world seemed to flip and become darker as if the sun on a bright clear day had been suddenly snuffed out. She found herself confined in a box, a dark tight box made of solid steel. The power that had been there inside of her welling and building was now simply gone. Snuffed out, like it had never been. She heard the two balls drop to the table behind her. The darkness slowly receded as the light returned and the confining box lifted. Carl was still there just staring at her.

*

“What did you do?” Angela felt like a faucet on wide open suddenly being grabbed by the handles to being turned off nice and tight with not drip of water being allowed to let fall. She stood there stunned.

*

Carl had to practically pull himself out of the wall she had pressed him in to. He brushed off the top of his bald head along with the shoulders and sleeves of his suit. Angela noted he didn’t have a scratch on him.

*

“The power was getting away from you. You haven’t learned to control it yet. Anger is the worst emotion of all to try and control right away. I have problems with it myself. It has a flavor you might say, that the power likes the taste of, among a few others. You are the first woman to undergo the regimen. It was thought best in the beginning to have only males in the program, knowing how a woman’s emotions rule everything she does. The Committee deemed it unsafe.” Carl put on his smug smile again. The smile that said I know many things you cannot began to fathom.

*

“You didn’t answer my question. How did you take it away?” Angela stood her ground in front of him, clenching her fists. She would not be bullied. She asked him over here to get answers and by god she would get them. A flood had been opened to all the questions she had for him now. Oh, that sweet power. She missed its absence.

*

Carl admired her strength standing there in front her. Too bad she would have to be done away with. But he would do it his way, not the company’s. Not done by committee in some silent euthanasia in the basement labs then dumped into an incinerator like the rest. That never had accomplished anything except whispers behind closed doors and clandestine meetings by the others. She needed to be made an example of, a clear message to all the dissenters in the company who thought they could fight the status quo.

*

“I didn’t take it away, just dampened it. Lesson one: every emotion, be it pride, anger, love, curiosity, amazement, happiness, or fear, you are feeling at the time you draw up that power inside of you will try and manifest itself through it, if allowed to do so. Through that manifestation, the power morphs and becomes something altogether different from what it was before.” Carl held up the Ping Pong he still held between his index finger and thumb and showed it to her.

*

“The power touches the physical world in a purely unique new way other than it would have if unaffected by your emotions. You saw through anger a powerful telekinetic manifestation. The revolving balls were another matter. There you were accessing the curiosity and joy centers of the brain. A powerful aspect really which affects the weak gravitational force and the very physics which we live our daily lives by. Similar to telekinesis, but altogether very different. With me so far?” Carl asked her. Angela could here the condescension dripping from the question.

*

“Go on,” Angela said. She felt something building in her.

*

“I am sure you have already guessed that I possess the same abilities as you, but much more refined.” Carl smiled at her. What an arrogant prick, Angela thought. Her fingertips began tingling…well this is new.

*

“I have learned to create, for the lack of a better term, a null point in my emotions. This is allows the user of his power to create a menagerie if you will of aspects to first set up in the mind then release through that null point to control the physical. I simply used my refined ability to paint a picture akin to a Van Gogh or a Picasso and it send out through that null point where it changes into something even more beautiful. That is what I have done to you. I have made you think in body and mind that your power has left you, and so it has. It’s as simple as that. Where I am a Monet, you are paint-by-numbers my dear. Where you use a baseball bat to bludgeon, I use a surgeon’s scalpel to cut ever so delicately.”

*

Carl’s smug smile had left him. With eyes wide with an almost lost quality to them, he walked over to Angela and dropped to his knees in front of her. The tingling was building in her, similar to the power she had just lost but subtly very different.

*

Carl slowly reached out with both his hands toward Angela’s abdomen.

*

Angela practically jumped from his touch, clutching at her swollen belly, and that’s when she felt it. It was her baby. This new power was coming from him and he was sharing it with her. She didn’t know how she knew, she just knew. It was growing like her own had, but slowly.

*

“Come now, dear. Don’t be difficult. I wish no harm to come to your baby. What are you along? About nine months to the day if I’m not mistaken.” Carl moved towards Angela again ever so slightly and she backed up, to put him and the table between them again. He didn’t see fear in her eyes but something else. Hmm.. did she still think she had a chance? A fledgling little bird against a full-grown hawk with eyes set dead on it’s prey. And prey she would be.

*

Angela saw the cast of darkness Carl’s eyes took on, and knew she was looking at pure evil. Unconsciously, she clutched at her belly again. Almost. She felt the power in her fingertips tingling to be released. Not yet. She had to be smart this time, else the same thing might happen again. She had to make it count. No second chances. She knew she would not get one with him. Suddenly it was hard to breathe. Her throat was constricting as if someone had grabbed her around the neck. Carl smiled and walked slowly towards her. She tried to move but was rooted to the spot.

*

“You should have seen Scott at the end. Much like you right now. Helpless. Like all the rest we had to put down. I did him a favor. He was a danger to you and your baby.” Carl suddenly went to his knees with his face directly in front of her stomach. Angela’s arms involuntarily were moved away from her belly by some unseen force to be outstretched at her sides. She tried to move them, but they felt as if they were nailed to the air.

*

Carl slowly pull up her shirt to reveal her distended belly. Beautiful was the first word that came to his mind. Come to papa little one.

*

“What are you doing?” Angela tried to keep the panic out of her voice. She saw the almost possessive look when he looked at the baby in her stomach. She had to keep him talking.

*

Carl looked up at her almost if in a dream state.

*

“Why, I’m taking your baby my dear. You have only Scott to thank for his clandestine feeding to you of the regimen for the past three months prior to your pregnancy. Now your child will be the first human born from two parents possessing the power. He’s the property of the company now. Inside his DNA we shall unlock the secrets of true human potential like never before. What I and others can do will pale in comparison to what the next generation in the program shall be able to perform. And I shall direct them all. Starting with this little one right here.”

*

Carl went to place his hands on her again.

*

“No!” she yelled. She couldn’t wait any longer.

*

She stared at the two remaining ping pong balls still sitting on the table behind Carl as he knelt there. She thought of what Carl had said earlier. She let a trickle flow of her baby’s power through her. The balls floated again in the air as before. She felt Carl hands touched her stomach.

*

“What is this?” Carl sounded confused but she ignored him. She had to concentrate.

*

She thought of the plastic in the balls changing, becoming denser, heavier. More mass. She let more power flow to settle into them. The two balls dipped slightly in the air with the added weight. She sustained them with more of the power. More she asked of her baby. Heavier, denser,…more, more more and he gave her more as she poured it into the two balls.

*

Barely a second had passed, “This shouldn’t be” Carl stood up, looking directly into Angelina’s face. The invisible force constricted tighter around her throat. Besides not being able to breathe her vision was swimming again. He was trying to close her off again from the power…yet she held…more more, she asked of her baby boy.

*

There, enough. The two balls flew out in a wide arc to either side of Carl’s head to come smashing down on either side of his skull. For a millisecond, Angelina saw the two balls meet some type of resistance as if meeting a thick invisible barrier. But then the balls simply went through and sunk into Carl’s skull; obliterating it, shearing it in two from his ears up as the two balls ripped through bone and brain. Carl’s body slumped and fell to her left to lie upon her dining table. Blood spewed and trailed from his body, his heart seemingly unaware of its own demise as it continued to pump.

*

Angelina ran to the kitchen and grabbed a dish towel from the cupboard and wet it down with water from the sink faucet along with a little dish soap. She wiped off her face that had bits of Carl and his blood splattered all over it. She choked back, trying not to vomit, thinking of what she was wiping off from her.

*

She ran back into the dining room being careful not to look at Carl’s body as she walked by it to the living room at the front of the house. With lights off, she peeked through the drapes out to the darkened street. A light sedan was parked in the street under the giant oak that sat in front of her home. Two figures in shadow sat in the car. Her heart lurched. What if they were like him? She  took a long breath and closed her eyes. She realized she still felt the connection to him. That was the only way to describe it.

*

 You can do this. The words of her mother echoed in her mind.

To Be Continued…

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