Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 15

The sunrise exploded across the Colorado mountains without warning or notification. The morning clouds had dropped low into the valleys throughout the past few days. But just now they gave up the ghost and decided to pull a hasty retreat. The sun blasted its way across the vista in front of us like it was heralding some better day had arrived.

We were all up now. It would have been impossible to sleep through the ruckus and chaos that Sumner had caused after he realized it really was Beatrice standing there in front of him. I for myself just laid there and grinned like a Cheshire cat. Eventually I slowly walked over to her and gave her a gentle hug – but I sensed DJ close behind and figured I didn’t need to push my advantage at this particular moment.

Soon after we saw that the sun was beginning to do something magical outside and so we stood there together watching nature explode forth in a radiant beauty only possible in the Colorado mountains in midsummer. No one was talking. We were all listening to the sounds of the woods all around us. Occasionally we could hear a random elk bugling but mainly it was the birds that kept the air filled with calls and joyful exclamations. A few minutes later Derek walked out with a tray of steaming coffee cups. He passed one out to everyone, including Cat, who could put coffee away with the best of them. Derek handed a cup to Ben and then placed a hand on his arm as if to say… that was really something quite amazing. He shook his head as he wandered off to hand out the remaining cups. Bea’s was last. Derek was about to say something but she placed her hand on his lips to silence him. And so he did, he nodded and then quietly took the tray back inside.

Once the sun was fully up and the magical moment had passed, I turned and wandered inside. All of a sudden I was tired. Not physically tired. I had been sleep deprived before. But tired to my emotional core. My bones ached with this tiredness. They throbbed with the pain of it. Sitting on the couch I dropped my face into my hands and zoned out. And in a flash I began to see the pictures of the last few days. The explosion. The drainage ditch. The hiding and dodging police. The fear. I would never tell anyone about the past three days. And how horrifying they were. Being shattered by the explosion, left for dead, and then running for my life. I held that memory close to my heart and clenched it until it disappeared.

And then suddenly a smile crossed my face. Bea was sending me an uplifting thought from what we had just seen come over the mountain top. How sweet. She was willing me to smile. And yet, it was so weak still. But the thought was extremely kind. I looked over to where she sat on the other couch and flashed her a smile and mouthed the words ‘Thank You.’

Sumner threw a pillow at me and then said, “Alright your Highness – tell us the story. What happened. What’d we miss. Because I for one know I missed a whole lot.”

Cat jumped on my back and said “Yeah, start from the beginning and explain to me exactly why you almost blew my young face clean off with that blast.” She laughed at that and then scurried over to Yo’s side and curled up next to her.

“I am sorry about that Cat. All of you. I apologize. Guess I wasn’t in a great frame of mind at that moment.” I sort of shook my head at the memory of it. So I began from the beginning and explained in detail what happened. I left out the shack completely from my retelling. But I did say that someone crashed my emotions and battered me into oblivion, to a point that made me completely unhinge. No one asked clarifying questions on this point I am sure because I made it painfully clear I wasn’t interested in elaborating.

Yolanda leaned in and said “I am going to want more of an explanation as to how you hit me with all those pictures at once. And if you are up to it more than a few of them I don’t understand at all. Right?”

I figured that was coming at some point. Short term gain… long term pain. Never mind the fact that I made some of them up from scratch to really unsettle her and give me that extra edge. “Sure. I’d be happy to walk you through it.” I tried to stay as abstracted as I could at this. I didn’t want to commit myself to any sort of emotional exchange right now. I just couldn’t deal with that drama right now.

Derek leaned in and caught my eye, “But how did you keep from getting blown to oblivion by the blast pumping into your face? I figured you were a goner. That was really quite stupid you know, right?”

“Yeah. But when you’d rather be dead than endure that barrage anymore you’ll do anything… anything…” I intentionally let them see just how bad the pictures of the shack had impacted me. Someone in this room had emotionally pillaged me completely and I wanted them to know I didn’t appreciate it. “But as for how I survived… I’m not 100% sure. But I think what happened was that as soon as I started shoving the Emp shield into the magnifier I simultaneously started throwing all my reserves into my Juggernaut for protection. That’s the only thing I could think that might have saved me. I really don’t know how I did it DJ.”

“You do realize I’m not stupid right? This DJ moniker. I get it.” He grinned at me and jugged a pillow at my head. I didn’t see it coming and it knocked me clean over and off the couch.

An epic Jugg infused pillow fight could be fun. But I didn’t think Auntie would appreciate her beaux’s Chalet getting destroyed in a pillow fight of all things. And so I decided a restrained response would probably be appreciated for once. And so I responded with a laugh and said “Nice shot.” as I got up off the ground and dropped back onto the couch.

Then Bea spoke and cut through the levity of the moment like a knife. “I saw things that really scared me Ben. You have an enormous psychological gaping wound that is just fodder for any Emps you tangle with. You understand that right?”

I quickly became defensive at this. “Yeah, and apparently you were ready and willing to do anything took to win the other day. A little heads up would have been appreciated.”

Yo jumped in to her defense there. “Slow down there Tex. I’m betting even DJ…” she shot a smile at Derek at this “can see what Bea is talking about here. Its obvious Bentley. I don’t think any of us know what it is that has you so broken. But it radiates all the time.” She walked up to me and put her finger directly on my chest. “Right there – a huge gapping hole.”

DJ interrupted the awkwardness of the moment and responded, “For the record I can’t see anything. I don’t know what you guys are talking about. And does no one know that my name is Derek? I’m just saying.”

Sumner smacked him in the head at this. “Stay on topic DJ!” More laughter followed this.

Then Bea got up and walked over to the huge windows that faced the Rockies around us. And as she did everyone knew she had something to say, so we waited. And after a moment she spun around and faced the group and leaned against the window with her arms folded in front of her.

“Here’s the deal. Our lives now firmly rest in your lap right now. Cat can tell me if I’m wrong here, but I see us inadvertently spending a whole lot of time together for the foreseeable future until we can figure out what to do next, or some way to get out from underneath the gaze of the government.” Yo began to object to this. She wasn’t feeling at all kind about having her position as leader of this group questioned by the most junior member of their group. But Bea threw a look at Yo and she held her tongue. “But the problem is this. You are broken Ben. Damaged. And unless we know what it is that plaguing you we won’t be able to help you.” I began to speak but she cut me off too. “We are not a team, but we are going to have to work like one for now just to stay alive. And so you are going to have to either trust us – or maybe we should just go off on our own.”

She had a point there. “Well, I was doing my best to not talk about this – but if you all – minus you DJ – ” Derek saluted a thanks to Ben at this. “know about this already then what’s the point?” I got up and walked around the couch and stood behind it with my hands firmly planted on it. I guess I was looking for some form of security and the couch was my mode of protection at this point.

“Back at the quad I was unmatched by you guys. You were all over me. I just didn’t stand a chance.” I continued.

Sumner laughed audibly at this. “Were you in the same match I was in with you? Because I saw you thin-slice me into oblivion dude. Yeah, I had you for a second there, but that helped me how exactly? You anticipated most every move that Yo and I tried to coordinate. You were always a step ahead.” Yolanda frowned at this. This wasn’t going the direction she wanted it to go at all.

“Whatever.” I said blowing the back-handed compliment off. “All I know is that I felt on the verge of losing every moment of that match. About the only thing I did right was to jump out on my own at the beginning. Everything else went sideways from that point forward. Nothing went to plan at all.”

Derek put a finger in the air indicating he wanted to speak, but he was struggling with the words. “See… the key to coming out on top of a match has nothing to do with your plan.” He paused again and then decided to just say it. “Its your adaptability that is key. I’ve never seen anyone think so fast and stay out in front of an opponent so thoroughly.”

Sumner piled on, “Right, like when Yo and I were going to tag-team a force throw against you… you saw it coming. Not only did you see it coming, but you saw that Yolanda was critical in that equation. I couldn’t do anything without her. And so you shut her down. By what? By throwing years worth of garbage up in her face. So many different jagged emotions that she couldn’t deal with it all and she just shut down. I mean, who does this?” Sumner shook his head and continued, “Chief, that isn’t planning, that’s amazing improvisation and like DJ just said, that is the key.”

Yolanda had had enough. “Look… that was a fluke. It won’t happen again if the same fight goes down again. He doesn’t win twice in a row. It just wouldn’t happen.”

Bea was just so mad at this she didn’t know what to say. “Seriously? You think we could take him? Honestly. After what you saw him do in the quad? He blew up half of Durango Yo. We have half the country’s law enforcement organizations after us because of this guy. When was the last time you had a local police officer onto you because of some cerebral glitch you pulled?” Yolanda stared at the floor with her jaw set. “We could let the two of you game together once if you’d like. Ben could only Emp. You two could tangle and we could see what would happen. But I think we all know exactly how that would go down.”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “this is fascinating and all, but please don’t forget that
I am sitting right here. And I’m more than a little new to all of this. What are you guys talking about? What game?”

Cat sprang over at this and sat next to me. “Here, watch.” And she drew up a maze in my mind’s eye. “Games are only for two – but I suppose you could do more – and you are both dropped into the maze. And then its just an Emp scrum from there. A bit of hide and seek. A bit of combat. A bit of gamesmanship. You get the idea.”

“Ah. Thanks for the tutorial Catherine.” She screwed up her nose at this. And I tussled her hair. “So let’s play Yo!” I said as I sat Cat back up on the couch.

Yo was grumpy now. “Thanks for the invitation Bentley, but no thanks.”

“Anytime!” I said with mock enthusiasm.

Yo shot me a glance that would kill and then said, “I really think we need to stop wasting time and start coming up with a plan. Right now we are pinned and wriggling on the wall. We have got to decide on a next move.”