Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 10

The group walked quickly and quietly through the darkened city streets. They walked together but were spaced out and separate. I tried to follow suit, but I was busy fussing with my nose. We’d left in a hurry and I hadn’t even had a chance to wash my face. So I’m sure I was a sight to behold. Sumner had snagged me a bag of ice just before we left and so I was trying to walk in a straight line and keep the ice on at least for a little bit to help as much as possible.

The gang was walking quietly and deliberately. If it were up to me I’d rather be talking, or laughing to diffuse some of the obvious tension that was starting to get to my head. They were here all for me after all. That was way too much stress for me. I began to feel like I had this demand to perform like a circus monkey all of a sudden. There is this expectation and stress that I will perform when the time comes. All of a sudden I just wasn’t so sure about this.

As I straggled behind this cluster of people that moved and breathed in step with one another I figured that each one was here for a purpose. Even Cat. The only thing I could figure was that they most likely represented the different councils and skills. If that were the case I wondered if maybe I could figure out which was which. Walking at the back of the pack through the middle of the street I had time to consider each one in turn.

I already knew Sumner was a Glitcher. And a really good one at that. I thought I was going to die at his hands after all. Yolanda was obviously a TK, he’d seen it with his own eyes. Thinking about it, it would seem like Beatrice was an Empath. But she also ghosted right in front of him. So he wasn’t so sure which house she represented. And Derek was obviously a Juggernaut, but I couldn’t figure that out just from looking at him. He was the weakest looking person I have ever seen. And that left Cat. I didn’t even know what to do with Cat. Was she a ghost? Was there a council that I hadn’t even heard of yet?

As the group emerged from a side street into the main city quad they began to fan out. ‘What was happening?’ I wondered. ‘Where do I go?’ I decided that they knew I didn’t know what to do so they would obviously cut me some slack, right? So I found a park bench just inside the quad and sat down.

I noticed that people were milling about here and there. Someone was playing music on a guitar and over on the other corner I could see a few kids practicing parkour. There were couples walking and talking as they held hands. And the group was busy doing this and that… all of which I didn’t understand. Cat was the most deliberate of the group. She had run into the center of the quad and dropped something on the ground and then ran straight towards me.

“Well hello busy.” I commented as she came my direction.

“That is definitely going to leave a mark.” She hollered as she continued past.

“Have some respect for your elders!” I yelled at her back as she continued running.

Once the group individually finished walking the quad they all turned simultaneously, as if by some unheard queue, and began walking my general direction. I tried to look occupied nursing my nose, I had to do something to avoid looking at them all. It was a daunting sight to see them purposefully heading my way. What had I gotten myself into? What was about to happen. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.

Yolanda stopped in front of me about ten feet away. Sumner pulled up on her right a moment later. And then there was Derek stepping out of the trees and walking over with all elbows and knees. Then there was Beatrice again standing close to Derek and avoiding my gaze. What was her deal? I mean seriously? Had I put her off that badly? What was going on here. I just didn’t like any of it, being in the dark and feeling like I’m the last to know anything.

“Let me cut to the chase. We are here to help you. To develop your potential as fully as possible in one week. Which is when your interview is set for. Normally an Alchemancer interviews with the house he or she is strongest in for membership. But seeing as though there are some who believe you may be the first true fully cross house Alchemancer the interview will occur before all four houses.”

This surprised me. Four houses? “Wait. Four houses? I count five. What am I missing?”

Yolanda answered in a monotone like this was all part of her continuing monologue… “The houses are always at war with one another. And even at the best of times there is a general air of tension between each of the councils. The fifth house that you are counting is the Empath Council. They were the most recent casualty in the skirmishes. The Emps were overrun and disbursed throughout the other four houses.”

Ah. I get it. Beatrice was a ghost, but she also had Emp abilities. “So the four houses are TK, Ghost, Juggernaut & Glitch… I mean Shift. No?”

“Look at the big brain on Brad!” hollered out Sumner. I blushed a bit at this. But when he shot me a grin that could light the entire city I was encouraged.

“So I’m guessing that you are starting to understanding that this assembly of powers is rare. No?” asked Yolanda.

“Uh, is it?” I hadn’t consider this. “What about our love birds?” I said looking at Beatrice and Derek. “I’m guessing that sort of relationship has to file quite a bit of paperwork, no?”

Derek threw a look my direction and was about to answer when Beatrice jumped in instead. “I have enough Juggernaut in my skill set to be a dual member of Ghost and Juggernaut.” My eyes went wide at this. Empath, Ghost and now Juggernaut too? She was a force to be reckoned with apparently.

Yolanda waited to make sure I didn’t have any other questions. “Light it up Cat.” She yelled across the quad. And suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end as I felt a shield of some sort snap and glow into place over the entire quad.

“Woah woah… what the heck is that? It’s crashing my senses.” I said as I closed my eyes.

“It’ll settle down in a second. The shield that Cat is providing will allow us to practice here in anonymity and under cover.” Answered Yolanda. “Anyone walking through will only see the quad and nothing else. Cat is quite skilled. You’ll see.”

“Hidden in plain sight.” I said almost to myself. So now I understood Cat’s role for the evening. Did she have any other skills I wondered? Better yet, do I have that skill hidden somewhere in this skull of mine? But now was not the time for idle curiosities.

Yolanda stroked her chin a bit and then said, “I’ve tried to consider the best way to get at your maximum potential and I think I just came to a decision. You will head to the center. And we will come for you.”

“All of us at once?” Sumner asked incredulously. And then he laughed a bit and shrugged his shoulders.

“What are the restraints, the rules?” asked Beatrice with what seemed like a hint of excitement at the possibilities. That or concern. I couldn’t tell which.

“No rules. No constraints.”

Derek smiled some and then said, “Not that I mind, but we could accidently snap our precious crossbreed in two and then what? The house’s retribution would be swift and stunning.”

Catching on to Yolanda’s line of thinking Sumner jumped in and said, “Well then, if he’s that easy to break then he’s not a true crossbreed now is he? No offense buddy.”

I was incredulous. “Sure, no problem, Sumner. Stands to reason. Sounds like a fantastic litmus test. If he dies he wasn’t the one we were looking for. If he survives all the better.” I said more to myself then anyone else using third person to describe myself. And then I looked directly at Yo and said, “Look, I don’t even know what is possible yet. Or how the powers I have even work. This could end me up as a road stain in about 30 seconds flat… and most likely it will be of my own doing.”

Yolanda chuckled some at that. “Yes, that is a very distinct possibility.” I could see that she considered not saying what she was thinking but she continued anyway. “I thought about walking you through the skills and their various uses but over the past several weeks you have shown a penchant for using your powers in ways that many of us didn’t think possible. But you’ve also shown your most amazing potential when the chips were down. I just think we won’t be able to teach you anything in front of a whiteboard.”

And just like that I understood where this was going and I decided I’d had enough talking. If we were going to dance I figured that it would be better if it were on my own terms. And just like that I had decided to act. I snapped a glitch down and began to run. As I ran past Beatrice I stroked a finger across her cheek and noticed she was frozen in mid-phase of disappearing. She must have seen my glitch coming. A portion of my brain tucked that bit of information away… ‘Yeah, that’s going to be important’ I thought.

I was juiced at this point. Completely running on overdrive. My brain, I noticed, was running parallel thought streams simultaneously. I saw my glitch holding steady and it was beginning to time the best opportunity to drop it. And this glitch center of my brain was monitoring the available strength reserves there. I was also evaluating the path ahead with several streams of consciousness. I felt an Emp portion of my brain scanning for hostile attacks or thin-slices on my glitch. I scanned the darkness ahead for logical places to hole up considering at every level what I was up against.

I was alive. That fact may not last long I thought, but this was really living.

I dropped the glitch and then threw over a picnic table with a minor flex of juggernaut infused strength. ‘Yeah, that felt good.’ I thought. I knew I was going to have to bring that strength to bear on this fight or else I’d be torn to pieces by Derek the Jealous. Hahaha I laughed out loud at that. DJ. That would stick. ‘Concentrate!! I yelled at myself. ‘They are out to kill you. For real dead! Get your head in the game.’

And in rapid succession all my advantages quickly went in the toilet.

It’s difficult to explain the speed at which things move in a sparring match like this. For example, I quickly learned that Juggernaut thrown objects can break the sound barrier. As the item thrown passes by your head the air around it explodes as it tries its hardest to get out of the way. And what’s even worse is when the object thrown gets glitch multiplied.

When I dropped my glitch the first thing Derek did was to tear a no parking sign out of the ground and hurl it across the park my direction. Sumner quickly glitched and ran up to the sign hanging in mid-air and threw his weight into the throw as well. The sign only moved a foot or two further into the air, but as soon as he dropped the time shift the sign was screaming at over 650 miles per hour.

I barely saw it coming. Luckily the sign struck the picnic table I’d overturned moments ago and exploded into a million pieces. The sound and the carnage was really something to behold. I found myself lying on my back in the bushes wondering if I was dead. I definitely had just had my bell rung that was for sure. Shaking off the inner-ear chaos from the explosion I decided I was running out of time. They’d have me quickly surrounded if I kept laying here.

And then out of nowhere there was Yolanda standing in the clearing. She was hovering with a rock threateningly above her hand. Wait, where was Beatrice? She’s coming. Yolanda was a feint. I could feel it.

You two want a feint, I’ll give you a feint. I prepped a glitch, let it simmer to announce its presence, then began to invoke it. And at the last second I didn’t. And with startling speed I bounded out of the trees in a pile of juggernaut infused back springs. As I went I felt Beatrice’s emp outline beneath me as I shot away.

I would have chuckled a bit at that except that I felt her invisible form quickly follow on my heels. I also saw Yolanda throw herself across the distance in a TK lift in quick pursuit. And I thought I was being so clever. When I snapped out of the handspring I found myself face to face with Sumner. Crap. And there was my new best friend Derek right behind him. I was surrounded. And I really didn’t have time to go one on one with Sumner, which I knew he was about to do. He’d seen me coming and had the drop.


I didn’t even have a chance to try and thin-slice he came at me so fast. I tracked him as he came but that was about all I could do. He was determined to make a point right there in front of his peers. I’d beaten him last time, but it wouldn’t happen again. The only thing I managed to think was, ‘Just not the nose!’ and then everything went white again with red-hot pain. My brain instantly pumped my juggernaut levels up just to keep the pain manageable and keep me from passing out when the glitch dropped. A separate part of my brain was surprised that that was even possible.

As the blows rained down in rapid succession I began to panic. I sensed that Derek, Beatrice and Yo were enjoying the show. And they’d be ready with their own attacks as soon as Sumner let the bubble drop. I needed a play and I needed it fast. But right now I was not in the most advantageous of positions to do anything really.

And then it went from bad to horrific. I saw a picture in my mind, one from my past that I willfully avoided thinking about for years. It was of an outbuilding and not just any outbuilding. It was from my uncle’s farm – from my youth – the place of my reckoning. I’d always thought of my life in terms of before and after the shack. Where was this coming from? It was like someone had pried open my brain and began using my own terrifying memories against me. Beatrice? Was it the kiss? Did I give her some power over me I didn’t realize? I didn’t know what was happening so I didn’t know how to defend against it.

At that moment I didn’t fully understand that Emp attacks could sidestep glitches because they jacked directly into the brain and didn’t require time to invoke.

If my heart hadn’t been paused by time it would have exploded from the mounting fear that slammed into me. I felt betrayed that Beatrice would do this to me. She promised she would never terrorize me again. She promised. And this way?

The shack loomed close in my brain. And in the shadows of the windows I saw the horrors there as if they had happened yesterday. Who in their right mind would uses these memories against me? I silently begged Sumner to snap my neck as he continued to pummel me from within the safety of his bubble in time.

And then, suddenly, I was very afraid for my new friends.

The rage that took hold of me was quite frightening to experience. Some sane part of me stepped out the back door and walked over to the nearest rock to sit and watch. As the tsunami of hate flooded over me my mind opened up and I instantly saw possibilities layered on top of possibilities in an array of options.

After the calm and the wounds had been attended to – the team begged me for details about what happened next. But I’ll admit, I’m about as ignorant as to what happened as they are. The next thirty seconds are a complete enigma to me. But I will do my best to explain the logic and the process as to what happened in a sequential pattern, even though that isn’t how they occurred.

As one section of my brain began formulating the necessary calculations to thin-slice out from under Sumner I also realized Beatrice needed to be shutdown. The shack was on the verge of paralyzing me mentally for good. And that would be when I’d just wander back to my apartment and take my own life.

As I stepped out of Sumner’s shift and into my own I realized just how badly he’d pulverized my poor body. Everything screamed out in an agony of pain. I wondered if my arm was broken as used it to punch him in the trachea. Figured that would drop him long enough to let me get at Beatrice. I then dropped the glitch and thrust myself into the air with a blast of misaligned TK that sent me spinning Beatrice’s direction. She saw me coming and blasted me with a sudden last-ditch effort. All I could see in my mind was her kissing me.

The attempt would have worked if the sane part of me were along for the ride. But he wasn’t. And the rage flared even brighter. I launched straight towards her invisible mid-section that I saw as clear as day through her Emp vibrations. At the last second though there was Derek standing between me and my target. Got to give him that, he was willing to lay himself in front of a train for his girl. And with that I unleashed hell fury and pile drove them both into a crater in the earth.

A second later I found myself in a tangle of limbs and dirt coughing up blood.

And then there was Yo. Oh, and Sumner too. And the two had devised some sort of chained attack that was milliseconds from coming my way. I couldn’t expend the energy to even begin to anticipate what that was going to look like. I only knew the most rudimentary of truths. The key to this fight was the device that Cat had dropped in the center of the quad – the magnification device she was using to shield us. I knew it was protecting us from prying eyes but I also guessed that it was just a projection tool of some sort.

And so to throw Yolanda off balance I Emp attacked her with every mental picture or image I had of her over the past year or so from my perspective. Good and bad. The ugly and the happy. She would be reeling with all of the emotional data for years. But all I knew was that she wouldn’t be expecting it. And it would throw off this latest coming attack.

As Yolanda was visibly was knocked off balance from my attack I casually walked backwards to the projection device. I looked around at the quad and at the last second I noticed a couple walking slowly through our hidden battlefield. And yet the rage inside me didn’t register them, the shack was all I saw. I took a look at Sumner, Yolanda, Beatrice and Derek, they were the ones causing this horror and it had to be stopped. And then as the shack continued slamming into my consciousness over and over again I hit the device with an Empath shield like I had hit Beatrice with the first day I had met her to shut her emotional barrage down.

I probably would have inadvertently killed Cat if she hadn’t seen me coming and intuited what I was about to do. She just barely had enough time to disconnect from the amplifier in the quad and dive into a protected space. The wave was much bigger than I’d expected. And I was the biggest recipient standing directly over the magnifier. The moment I launched the pulse I sent everything else I had into a protective juggernaut clinch and then hoped for the best. The quad exploded in a blitz of chaos and shattered glass as every single building along the front of the quad was hammered with a cacophony of violence.

As I began to pass out from the shock of the blast thankfully the image of the shack flickered, faded, and then died.

A moment later a woman in rollers and a bathrobe looked out from her home that had just had the front blown off it. And as the reality of what had just happened dawned on her, she began screaming at the top of her lungs.