Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 4

I was still a glitching juvenile when I had my first square off. What’s funny is that I didn’t even know what was happening until it was already too late. And by the time I realized I had barely enough time to save my life.

Auntie’s formal dinning room table had to be something like 40 feet long. When I first saw it a year before I couldn’t imagine how that behemoth could possibly be used for anything that resembles anything human. It was something more accustomed to being in the hall of the gods not in rooms manifested by people. And yet, here we were. Almost fifty of us, buffed and shined to a polish that was almost unreal. And even still there was enough room for another 10 or 15 more around this gigantic table.

And the silverware. Heavens almighty. Just the spoons alone would have paid for a masters degree. I didn’t even know what half of them were for. I planned on watching Yolanda religiously for the queues on the order and usage that she was sure to give me without fail. Right now, deep underneath her smiling veneer, she was scared witless I’d do something incredibly stupid in front of God and everyone. It was obvious. She’d been fussing about this yearly fund raiser for so long I wondered if it wasn’t wiser for me to over-glitch myself into a puking mess instead of attending. But she made it clear that if I was planning on not attending I should be missing my head. Anything less would have been a faux pas of enormous proportions.

The entire group was standing behind their chairs before sitting down. How did everyone know to do this? I was so confused. I wasn’t even aware where half of these rituals even came from. Was there a book somewhere? A manual? The rules of dress. The rules of conversation. The rules for etiquette. Just piles and piles of rules. It made my head swim really.

And that was when I felt a weird glitch pull and then a push. I had never been on the receiving end of glitch before so I was more than a little bit confused. I guess my powers of perception were increasing as I even immediately knew the source of time shift. Immediately one individual glowed in my mind like a branding iron.

He was blonde. Not like sandy brown blonde. More like albino beach blonde, blonde. And his hair was dishelved in a sort of ‘I know it’s a mess, I meant to do that’ sort of a way. But the thing that caught me completely off guard was his suit and his cravat. He wore the most outlandishly bizarre looking cravat and handkerchief combo I’d ever seen. Not that I’d seen many. My entire corpus of knowledge in this space had occurred in the past month planning for this fundraiser. The cravat on this fellow seemed to have been plugged in it was so puffed up. And it was polka-dotted of all things. Navy and orange. But somehow the oaf pulled it off. I had to give him that.

I whispered over to Yolanda and tried to get her attention as we stood behind our chairs and waited for some as yet unknown clue. “Psssst. Yolanda? Who’s the dandy in the polka dot cravat??”
She looked at me with one steely-eyed glance and then looked away. I guess I was on my own trying to figure this guy out.

And then time slowed. It didn’t stop completely because I saw him coming. Somehow I was able to use my own powers to watch him as he sauntered my direction. Everyone else was completely concrete in their postures – he was the only one moving. Even I was locked the way I was standing behind my chair when the glitch started… save for my eyes.

It actually makes me shutter thinking back to this first attack. I knew so very little about this world and the possibilities, it almost didn’t seem fair. Now that I think about it, I would never in a million years consider attacking a juvenile today. Wouldn’t even consider it. But there were other forces at work in my experience and so I think I understand why he came. But it doesn’t make it an easier lesson to learn at the time. And it was a lesson that almost ended my life.
Regardless, the cravat was on his way. He was definitely enjoying the upper hand of glitching first. He even pulled out a top hat from behind his back and placed it on his head before continuing my direction. Which was when I noticed he was even wearing white gloves. I’ll give him this, this Glitcher definitely had style.

I did all I could do to just keep my eyes on him. It was a different reservoir of power that allowed me to keep up with him… a totally different skillset I knew nothing about until this moment. But it was one of those foundational skills that came to serve me well in future confrontations.
And then all of a sudden there he was standing right next to me. I guess my control lapsed? Or he was done playing? Regardless there he was next to me. And his cane was in my face. The silver handle was cold on my cheek. It was then that I realized that the end would come extremely quickly – but I’d feel it all the same. Being glitch beaten meant the blows didn’t come in succession, but all at once and would therefore be all the more painful.

But at that moment, I wasn’t entirely sure what Mr. Cravat’s intentions were. Did he mean me ill? Was he just having a gander? I seemed to remember feeling like the situation wasn’t good. But at the same time I’d never watched anyone else glitch before. I definitely was dealt a short hand on purpose. I was at a terrible disadvantage.

And then he arced his cane backwards to tee off on my face. I actually didn’t see the movement but I sensed it. I felt the cane cutting through the air and that was when I began doing whatever I could to prevent the impact.

It was when I stopped the cane inches from my face in mid-glitch that I was shocked.
I later learned that what I’d done was called thin-slicing. But at that moment all I knew was that I didn’t want to get clobbered in the head by this buffoon’s cane. And so I had glitched his glitch. I sliced between the slice which apparently requires perfect aim. And since then I have had to try repeatedly to get such a critical maneuver accomplished with very little success. At that point I was only operating on survival instinct… but it worked.

I think I might have been more concerned about the social implications of getting poleaxed in the middle of Auntie’s social benefit. More worried about that then the specific life and death moment coming my way. If this guy slammed my head with his cane the moment the glitch ended I would spewing blood in a geiser across this entire group of well to dos. I figured that Yolanda’s emerald green taffeta dress would be ground zero for this chaos.

I guess my subconscious had decided this fight would be better outside. And so it did what it needed to do to make that happen. And as I walked away, on a lark, I took his polka dotted handkerchief with me. I wandered out of the grand dining room and out to the grand staircase. But by the time I’d left the dining room I realized just how heavy it was to keep a sub-glitch going like this one. It began to feel like I had an elephant stepping on my head.

I’d made it to the first landing and turned to face the direction Mr. Cravat would be coming from when my vision exploded in a cacophony of whites and blinding hues of blue. And then there he was again. He was standing a few feet below me casually walking closer and closer. But this time he had a curious look on his face as if I’d just pulled off a miracle and he wanted to know the secret. Which, looking back on it, I guess I had.

I still hadn’t figured out what Cravat wanted. But he obviously wasn’t in the mood for talking. And to this day I’m not even certain of his original motivation minus chalking it up to the obvious primal urges of glitchers. Regardless it is what it was. I’d slipped into this underworld of power and now some finely dressed demon wanted to take my head clean off my shoulders.

And then time sped forward. I saw everything clearly and yet it was in double and triple time. He rapidly uppercut his cane into my gut with rapid succession. Then he slowly removed his perfectly white gloves. Fast forward and I saw him pulling the handkerchief out of my clinched fist. And then he began to repeatedly slam his fist into my face as I stood there frozen in time. It was all happening so quickly that I wondered if maybe it wasn’t really happening, that it might have just been a vision.
Except for the pain that is. The pain grounded me in the reality of the experience in a way that nothing else could. And then, as clear as I see this words scrawled across the page now, I saw what the outcome would be. He would knock me unconscious and then toss me into the back of his jaguar or some other luxury car. He would then drive me out to the coastal highway and drop me unceremoniously off the cliff onto the rocks below. And right now there was nothing I could do about it.

And so I held my breath and relaxed. Even as he was pummeling me there in the foyer I breathed in and then remembered the derisive comments that Yolanda underhandedly cut me down with. I remember the laughing stock I was at this event. How out of place I was. I pulled in these rude comments and I owned them like never before. And there, deep within me I felt a rising crescendo of untapped power at my fingertips. Besides I thought… I wasn’t about to get my head smashed in by a Burberry cravat of all things.

And nothing happened. At first.

For what happened next I have been both hunted and praised. If cravat wasn’t there experiencing it with me I would have dismissed as a lunatic and carted off to some nondescript psych ward on the edge of the city and sedated with so many mood altering drugs I would quickly have quit believing it myself. But he was there. And that changed things.

Like I said, at first, nothing happened. One moment gloves and cane were burning arc after arc into my line of vision. Ribs were broken, a tooth was missing and my nose went in a different direction. I threw up blood in one second and even before it hit the ground my jaw was cracked and broken. And then it stopped. There was a sound that actually scared me deep into my core. A screaming freight train of a sound. It was a sound of archangel Gabriel coming in fury and fire. And then everything went quiet.
And I could feel it. As clear as anything. My finger was now on a button. Pressing it things began slipping backwards. There went the overhand blow that cracked my jaw. The arc of blood from my mouth was sucked back in and disappeared. If I pressed harder on the button the faster it would go. Zzzzzztttttttt. The tape continued rewinding faster and faster now. Here is cravat retrieving his handkerchief and beginning the fusillade. And all of a sudden, there we are lining up at our chairs again, assembling for dinner. Firmly pressed and perfectly presented.

With that, I lifted my finger off the button and time proceeded forward again. Only this time, Cravat was outright staring at me from across the distance of the table. His eyes were as big as an owl’s. It was then that Cravat broke all protocol and tradition by leaving his spot behind the chair and walking slowly and intentionally around the outside of the table and the waiting guests to come all the way around to me. This time not outside of time, but fully in time, and everyone at the table was watching him out of the corner of their eye.

“May I introduce myself? I am Sumner, Sumner Newton of Newton Systems.” And I knew immediately who this guy was. He was the son of the eco-energy baron. The man that had finally figured out how to make money off of being green and he’d changed the world in the process. And in so doing had made trillions of dollars.

I eyed Yolanda for permission to introduce myself and all I could see in her eyes was a look as if I’d just won the lottery. I figured that was permission enough and so I spun around quickly, at this he flinched if only a second, and stuck out my hand in greeting. After that, somehow he got the two of us excused for the most important social event of my young life and he spent the next hour or so grilling me about what had just happened.

“Ben, let me get this straight… so you didn’t even know there were others of us who could shift.”
“Glitch. I have been calling it glitching.” I said this resolutely like, it was fact.
“Chief, after what I just saw happen in there– if you wanted to call it spaghetti I’d call it spaghetti too. So I’ll restate the question your honor. You didn’t know others could glitch?” he asked with one eyebrow fully cocked and in its upright position.

“Yeah. That’s right.” I felt a little stupid at that now. “I mean, I had guesses. I saw things, and experienced other inconsistencies before that led me to believe that there probably were others out there. But I had never met one.”

“Wow. Just wow. And you’ve only been glitching as you call it… only a couple of months now? Seriously? MONTHS?” Sumner was almost exultant at this. It wasn’t really a question but a proclamation. “Do it again. Come on. Do it again.” He laughed at that, and from then on I knew we would be friends.
“I have no idea how I did it in the first place – I’ll probably never reproduce it again.” Answered honestly. But I had more than one clue. Which was more than he had – and that made me his senior in the world of glitching by a long long way. “Before we proceed any further though – you have to explain to me why.” I asked honestly. I came off sounding like a boy that had just been broken up with who wanted to know the reason. It was the wrong note to sound, but I couldn’t help it. He had just beaten me within an inch of my life and now we were laughing together? I needed to understand.

“It’s the way the order works. The Shift Council – I mean, the Glitch Council – has said…”
I quickly interrupted at this. “The wah? There is a council? Like some sort of governing body?” I had no idea.

“Yes. They create rules for um, glitchers. And anyone that stands out, or breaks these rules, has a bounty put on them. And the order self polices. Sure, there are specific men who’s job it is to enforce the laws but generally speaking the shift society – will join together to enforce the laws. Its too important. If the public at large catches on we will all be endangered.”

A veil was lifted from my eyes. Just like that. Worlds within worlds were unlocked to me now that I hadn’t grasped before. And somehow I had broken these laws without my even being aware of them.
“So why didn’t someone just walk on over and say – here are the bylaws and rules. Pay close attention to subsection 4 of addendum L. And sign here that you are in receipt of these rules and that you will abide by them.” I was half serious. How do new initiates find these things out? I was almost killed afterall.
“Well, generally speaking, new Glitchers aren’t quite as brazen as you were. They have far less power and impact. So normally speaking anyway, there is more time to confront them and steer them clear of the cliff.” Sumner laughed at this a minute and then continued, “You on the other hand were a Glitch Council nightmare. I hadn’t seen a bounty that big in a long time. Not that I cared about the money mind you. But a hit that important would have catapulted me up the ranks exponentially.”

“The ranks? There are ranks now?” I laughed in confusion and waved off his attempt to start to explain. “No, I’ve had enough for one day. I think we should at least make an appearance at the dinner. I’m famished now anyway.”

Sumner laughed out loud at that. “I bet you are. I bet you are. But before we do, will you accept my apology?” With that Sumner stuck his hand out and held it there as I stared at it. What did I have to lose by shaking this man’s hand? What’s the worst that could happen? I shook Sumner’s hand and just like that, the incident never happened and we became inseparable.