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Chapter XVII

10/12/10

Chapter XVII

 

Three weeks later

 

            “Reach out.” Guru said to Electric Blue, the girl formerly known as Celia Cordalis.  

            “Focus.  Direct your abilities.  Don’t just reach out blindly, find the sources of electricity around you and pull from only one source.” 

            “I’m trying.” Electric Blue said.  The young girl was having trouble concentrating on  what Guru was saying, and keeping her balance at the same time.  The owner of the Factory had her standing on one foot two feet in the air atop 4×4 wooden beam while blindfolded.  Electric Blue, or Blue as she was called by most, waivered on the end of the wooden plank. 

            “I can’t feel anything.  I’m trying so hard to keep from falling to concentrate on my abilities.  I don’t want them to flare out of control again.” 

            “You haven’t had a flare up in almost two weeks.  You’re doing fine.  You just need to breathe deep and focus.”  Guru walked around the teenager while she wobbled. 

            “Your power is different than most, even your adopted sister.  Her power is reactive, while yours is proactive.”  Guru began. 

            “Where Little Ghost’s powered is activated by emotion, you’ve been holding yours back out of fear.” 

            “Why is it that she can’t talk in her ghost form?” Blue inquired. 

            “Concentrate.  This is your training session, not hers.  Now, you can’t control your powers with fear.  You can’t control anything with fear.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.” 

            “What?” Blue said in surprise.  Guru’s words caught her off guard and she almost feel of the beam.  She actually allowed herself to smile. 

            “Did you steal that from Yoda?”   

            Guru chuckled.  “Yes, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  Fear breeds resentment and anger.  Your ‘flare ups’ as you like to call them are your powers rebelling against you.” 

            Guru stopped in front of Blue and stood.  He raised a hand and held it up to her face as close as he could without touching her. 

            “What are you trying to do, push me down?”  Blue asked. 

            “You can feel me.  I’m not touching you, but you can feel me.  The electricity is the same way.  Your power is greedy.  It yearns to be free.  To reach out and take hold.  It’s wild and untamed.  Reckless.  You fear its power, so you try and trap it inside you.  Locking it away is not controlling it.” 

            Guru moved his hand from in front of blue’s face and reached into his pocket.   He pulled out a 9volt battery and held it in his palm. 

            “Stick your hand out.” He told Blue. 

            Electric Blue reached out slowly, trying to keep her balance.  Guru took the battery, and ran the contact points across Blue’s index finger.  The young girl shuddered and wobbled on the wooden beam.  Blue could feel the stored power inside the battery.  He body felt as if it had been charged for a brief second.  The hairs on her arm stood up. 

            “Ahh!” Blue said unconsciously. 

            “You feel that?” 

            “Yes.” 

            “You feel your power inside you?  It feels like it’s been awakened.  It’s hungry.  But it hasn’t been awakened.  You keep it caged inside, and now I’ve just poked it with a stick.  It’s wants out.  It wants more.” 

            Guru gripped the battery between his fingers and held it up to Blue’s face. 

            “Do you see it?” 

            “I,” Electric Blue began.  “I can see it.” 

            Blue’s body became still.  She stood perfectly balance on the beam.  She didn’t waiver or falter. 

            “The electricity it looks different, not like I’ve seen before…” Blue’s voice trailed off.  She suddenly realized that she could see the electricity. 

            “I’ve seen it before.  During my flare ups.  I could see the currents.  I could see where it all moved and flowed.  No, not see it.  I could feel it.  I can feel how close the battery is to me now.  I can feel it all.” 

            “Good.” Guru said.  He stepped back, taking the battery with him.  “Now, the trick here is to let you power out, but slowly.  Remember, it’s not a separate thing.  The power’s a part of you, embrace it.  Slowly.” 

            Guru continued to walk backwards, moving away from Electric Blue.  He held the battery behind his back. 

            “Can you still see it?” Guru asked. 

            “Yes.” Blue answered.  A smile slowly crept across her face.  “It’s behind your back.” 

            “What about now?” Guru questioned.  He turned and threw the battery to the back of the factory room. 

            “I…” Electric Blue started to speak.  “I’ve lost it.  It moved to fast.” 

            “Focus.  Listen for it.  It’s calling out to you.” 

            Blue’s hand reached out.  She could see/feel the electricity all around her.  Her power wanted it.  It wanted it all.  No, not her power, her.  She wanted it.  Guru said that her power is a part of her.  She could feel herself wanting to grab the electricity around her.  To take hold of it and draw it all in.  It sang to her like electric sirens.  Calling to her.  Trying to bring her close.  Trying to pull her in. 

            “Grandmother.” Celia said with a huge smile. 

            Guru could see Blue letting the power embraced her.  It was almost as if it was taking her over.  She had a right to be afraid of it.  Electric Blue’s power was strong, hypnotic, and addictive.  Guru felt a wave of fear wash over him.  He didn’t want to make another mistake like he did with Conquest. 

            “Blue!” Guru called.  “Listen to my voice.  Stay focused.  Breathe.” 

            Blue suddenly snapped back to reality.  She realized that she hadn’t taken a breath and inhaled sharply.  Her mouth felt like it was full of bees.  Her tongue buzzed and vibrated against her teeth. 

            “Center yourself.”  Guru said calmly.  He attempted to bring her back to her neutral state.  “Remember your task.  You feel it calling to you, don’t you? The electricity.” 

            “Yes.  It’s like voices in a crowded room all screaming my name.” Blue answered. 

            “Try and drown out the others.  Listen for just that one voice.  It’s quieter than the others, but familiar.  You know it.  You just have to listen for it.” 

            “I can…  I can feel it!” Blue cried out.  “The back corner.” 

            “Good.” Said Guru.  Walked closer to Electric Blue, moving slowly. 

            “Now, I need you to power down.  Don’t’ lock it away, just put it to sleep.  Breath.  Relax and breath.” 

            Guru continued to walk to her.  His voice got softer as he moved closer. 

            “Now, comes the hard part.  You’ve drawn in some electricity.  Don’t force it out of your body, let it flow naturally back to where it came from.  As you power down, you’ll break the connection.  Let the current flow backwards through your body.  Don’t rush it.  Just let it move at its own pace.  Keep breathing.” 

            Blue listened intently and did as Guru directed her.  She was 2 weeks without a flare up and wanted to keep it that way.  In her mind she pictured one of those signs that read “14 days since an accident.” 

            Electric Blue’s body tickled as the last remaining tendrils of electricity exited her body.  She trembled uncontrollably, and almost fell off the wooden beam. 

            “Very good.  You can take off the blindfold now and hop down.”  Guru said.  The smile in his voice made Blue feel proud.  

            Electric Blue jumped down off the wooden beam. 

            “I did it, didn’t I?  I was able to draw the electricity in, and let it go without overloading or blowing things up.”  Blue was elated.  She finally felt like she was getting somewhere.  She felt like she was one step closer to being Celia again. 

            “You’ve done very well.  Continue to practice and do your breathing control exercises.  We will meet again next week.” 

            Electric Blue was beside herself.  She couldn’t believe it.  She couldn’t wait to get upstairs and tell Little Ghost and Diamond Dog what she had done. 

            “It’s funny you two found each other.” Guru said.  He kept his back to Blue.  “You are yin and yang.  Your power scares you, so you try and run from it.  Her ability is activated by fear, which is why she can’t talk when in her ghost form.  It’s a form of subconscious self protection.  That what her power does.  She becomes invisible and intangible to hide away from the things that she doesn’t like or is afraid of.  Speaking would negate that.  She would be vulnerable.  The two of you are so much alike.” 

            Blue just stared at Guru, waiting to see if he would turn and look at her, but he didn’t.  After a moment of silence, he walked to the door at the back of the room.  Blue turned and ran to the stairwell and up to the second floor.   

            Guru stopped once Electric Blue had left and turned back to the factory room floor.  He wasn’t sure what he had seen, but either way he would never tell her.  For a brief moment, he could have sworn that she wasn’t touching the beam anymore.  It looked like Electric Blue was hovering in the air.  He didn’t want to admit it, but she was right to be afraid of her power. 

******

 

            Charles looked at Jonni, sitting despondent on the couch.  Her legs were pulled up to her chest in an upright fetal position.  She hadn’t eaten a full meal in over two weeks.  The computer in her office was silent and hadn’t been turned on in the same amount of time.  Charles felt powerless as he watched his wife fade away.  He had to do something. 

            Charles went to their bedroom and headed straight for the walk-in closet.  He knew what he wanted, and exactly where it was hidden.  Hidden.  A funny word for something he kept conscious knowledge of and hoped that he would never have to use.  Who in their right mind would ever want to purposefully ask for help from someone who casually walked between worlds? 

            Charles opened the old heavy footlocker on the floor in the very back of the closet.  Inside the trunk was a smaller very ornate box made of cherry wood.  The outside was detailed with image that Charles couldn’t quite make out.  It seemed as though they moved and were different each time.  Charles removed the smaller box and walked out of the room, leaving both the trunk and the closet door open. 

            Charles returned to the living room to find Jonni still sitting in the same position, barely even aware that he had left the room.  Charles opened the box and pulled out the four inch blue candle that was inside.  He took a candlestick off the fireplace mantle and replaced the candle in it with the blue one. 

            Charles grabbed the box of matches off the mantle and shook it.  He knew there were matches inside, but it was a habit to always shake the box.  He picked the remote up from the coffee table and turned off the stereo.  He pulled a match out of the box and lit it.  Jonni’s eyes followed Charles as he moved about the living room. 

            Charles lit the wick of the blue candle and stepped back from the table.  He made a fist with his left hand and held it palm up at the center of his chest.  He held his right hand up in front of his face, palm out, as if he was an alien arriving on earth and saying “We come in peace.” 

            “W-what are you doing?” Jonni asked.  Her voice shook from misuse, as if she wasn’t saying them right. 

            Charles was happy to hear her voice.  The only times she had spoken recently was to ask “Where is she?” and “Why did she leave?”  Each time it was between heavy sobs that stuck in her throat. 

            “I’m calling Johnny Wonder.” Charles said. 

            “Johnny Wonder.” Jonni repeated unconsciously.  Her eyes widened, and her mouth stayed open. “No.” Jonni whispered.

            “Johnny Wonder.” Charles began.  He closed his eyes while he spoke.  “I have need of your services.”

            An aroma of lilacs and motor oil with an undercurrent of burnt hair filled the air.  Johnny Wonder stepped into the living room from around the kitchen corner. 

            “What could be of such importance that you would summon me twice within one lifetime, Charles Abernathy Reinhart?”   Johnny Wonder said.  He voice was hollow and echoed as if he were talking down a metal tube.  The sound of his voice came from behind Charles and Jonni even though he stood in front of them. 

            Jonny Wonder was a sorcerer of sorts.  He was a balance of magic and the supernatural throughout all worlds and planes of existence.  He existed on this world and had a relevant version of himself on parallel universes.  In this universe he went by the name Johnny Wonder.  He was known on other universes as The Magnificent, Alistair Kingsley VIII, Saxon Carter, and The Source of All Things, to name a few. 

            “It’s our daughter, Celia.”  Charles started.  “She’s missing.  She ran away from home about a month ago.  I need you to find her.” 

            “Your daughter.  Celia Agatha Cordalis.  The progeny of Jonni Cordalis and Colonel Courageous.” Johnny Wonder stated.  His tone was void of any inflection or emotion.  His words, were shocking. 

            Charles felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him.  Colonel Courageous was Celia’s father.  Charles had wanted to know, but he would never ask.  He never expected to find out.  Now that he knew, he didn’t know what to do.  The shock of it all.  Charles felt like he did that day in Washington Square.  The day the Touch… 

            “I would think someone with her abilities would be more than capable of taking care of herself.  You worry needlessly.”  Johnny Wonder stated flatly.

            “We need to know where she is, Johnny.” Charles said.  He looked into the mage’s eyes, searching for some emotional connection.  There wasn’t any. 

            “Will you help us?”  Charles asked. 

            “You have called upon my services.  I cannot refuse.” 

            Johnny Wonder stared at the former hero.  “Your selflessness is rare, Charles.  Your heart rules over your sense of reason and logic.  It guides your every move.  It’s a shame the world will never treat you as fair as you’ve treated it.  If I still had a heart, I would weep for you.” 

            Charles couldn’t help but question the sorcerer of worlds.

            “What do you mean if you still had a heart?  I traveled with you to the center of the Neverworld to free your heart from the Soulless Maws.  You gave me the candle of summoning for helping you.”

            “No, Charles.  I went into the Neverworld to hide my heart from myself.  Such is the existence of Johnny Wonder.  Your heart, though, is big enough for two people.  Weep for us both.” 

            Charles felt used.  The Neverworld was like nothing he had ever experienced or wanted to.  He was haunted for months afterwards.  The world that he knew barely made sense to him afterwards.  He couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead.  Even worse, he didn’t know which he would rather be.  The things he saw…  He could never have imagined such creatures or the world that they could live in.  Even now, the thought of that world put a knot in his stomach the size of an SUV. 

            “I will find your daughter as you have requested.” 

            “Johnny?” Jonni began.  She couldn’t find the words. 

            Johnny Wonder looked at her red solemn eyes and knew what she wanted to ask.  He knew why he was there even before he had been summoned.  Such is the existence of Johnny Wonder.

            “No.  This is not the time that I told you about years ago.  That day has yet to come, but it is coming.”  Johnny Wonder said to her.  His words crept into her ears from behind her back.

            Johnny Wonder walked down the hallway into the darkness, and was gone. 

            Jonni wanted to smile.  She wanted to laugh, but couldn’t.  It was still going to happen.  She knew the day would come, and though she was happy that time wasn’t now, it was still on the horizon. 

            Jonni could never shake the feeling of dread she felt the day seventeen years ago.  The day Johnny Wonder appeared before her and said that her daughter was going to die before her eyes.  Before her eighteenth birthday Celia was going to die, and there was nothing Jonni could do but watch.

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