Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 21

The next few minutes were a blur. I stood there, knees locked, thinking obsessively about what this might mean. Yolanda was speaking at the podium about the historic era of peace that ‘Auntie’ presided over and how she was looking forward to carrying this mantle forward and extending this unprecedented era of collaboration amongst the houses. There was applause throughout the hall as she perfectly nailed the pitch and tone the room was wanting to hear from her at that moment.

I just remembered back to my past and how this Yolanda didn’t match or sort out with the Yolanda I had been dating for the past several years. And how in heaven’s name had all this been going on without my knowing about any of it? The Cranial world. The Houses. Auntie’s parties and their circles of friends and influence. And there I was bobbing along through the middle of it, completely and totally clueless. And soon, the attention would turn my direction, and I would now be the certain of the excitement and the fun. What would I be required to do? And to what end?

Eventually Yolanda finished her rousing speech and turned the lectern back over to Trill and Ghost House to speak. “What a historic moment! We salute TK House and their new leadership. Yolanda, welcome!” At that the hall applauded again. “And now we turn our attention to the team that has been influential in identifying and supporting the first Cross House in a many years. It is because of him that we are here tonight. So please join me in welcoming Bentley Swift!” The crowd stood as they applauded raucously. Which was startling actually. I assumed I was a threat to the Houses and that this was going to be troublesome for them.

While they were cheering Bea squeezed my hand and then whispered my direction, “I’m proud of you. You will be just fine. You can do this.” It became almost a mantra as the cheering continued. A prayer almost. I didn’t think she actually believed any of it, rather that she was more willing it to be true than anything else. Here words of affirmation continued to repeat until the applause died down and the individuals throughout the hall finally took their seats.

“Team, thank you for your hard work and preparation… you can be seated now.” And she indicated seats front and center along the side that had been reserved specifically for them. As Bea let go of my hand I didn’t know what to say. Or even what to think. My mind was numb. I so needed the support of the team and these people I’d come to respect and trust. And to watch them walk away was almost too much to bear.

Once the team was seated Trill continued, “And now I hand off these proceedings to Leif, the Head Interviewer for these proceedings.” And out from the side of the hall behind a curtain swept out a man with a monk-like cape that was the most brilliant scarlet red I’ve ever seen. He strode out to the open area of the hall and dropped his cape to the floor. Leif had this timeless quality about him. He was bald, and wore all black beneath his cape. Black turtleneck, black slacks and loafers. My first impression of him was that he seemed like a bullet in flight. An object at rest that seemed perpetually in motion.

And then he yelled out, “Empaths!” and just like that a nearly transparent rectangle box appeared around the two of us. It ran the length of the open area of the hall. Surrounding the box was the audience, safely outside the shield. And then I understood the fireworks were soon to begin. Leif spoke again, but this time to the audience surrounding us. “I expect that the trials will occur over the next several days. The Councils want to understand the capabilities and the power of our new recruit in intricate detail before a ruling is made.”

Leif started cracking his knuckles and his neck as if he were limbering up for something. Was he expecting me to get ready as well? I was more in the mood to sit down and wait for all the nonsense to stop. Then he wandered over and dropped his voice for only me to hear. “When I accidentally kill you on this floor, in front of all these people, I will publicly apologize and weep for your death, and the loss of your potential. But know this…” and with this he began walking all the way around me.
And as he did, my brain recalled the words of Gerard that said, ‘Here is the key. Whatever you do – do not listen to him.’ Was this the “He” that Gerard was speaking of? ‘Why couldn’t these ‘wise men’ speak in plain English?’ I wondered to myself.

“Know this…” he repeated. And then with the slickest, most disgusting voice imaginable he said, “I am your shack…”


I remember the sun, the warmth of its glow and the billowing of curtains in the late summer air. I had spent most of the morning down by the pond. Mainly fishing and swimming. I’d even finished reading Moby Dick earlier that morning while laying out on the dock. I remember thinking that Ahab and his obsessiveness with Moby Dick bordered on insanity really. I remember those days before I had a Moby Dick of my own with curious fascination. They were almost idyllic in their innocence. Regardless, the day was the absolute picture of perfection for a boy like myself.

Earlier that week I had even figured out how to use a air generator to pump air to the bottom of the pond so as to make my exploration of the pond depths even easier. I had been working on a quill and ink diagram in my moleskin of the pond’s bottom. I had started by using a small inflatable raft and a long pole to take soundings. These depth measurements were taken every three feet and recorded vertically and horizontally throughout the pond. This was a difficult process to complete in this way and so I began trying to figure out ways to stay underwater longer.

For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why a simple garden hose pulled to the bottom of the pond and secured above the water wouldn’t work. I tried several different methods in order to try and make the simple garden hose work before I realized it was futile. But I was on my own out there while my parents worked far and wide throughout the farm. Sure, I helped out in the mornings, but my father had made it clear that childhood was critical, and to allow me time to play and spend time outside was just as important an education as books. And so I spent that summer running far and wide across the county enjoying the gorgeous weather to myself.

That particular day though was a bit more quiet than most. Normally I remembered my father running the tractor on the north fields. Or my mother out hanging up laundry in the meadow beside the house. But today, when I finally thought about it, as particularly quiet. Almost too quiet. Something tugged at the outer fringe of my consciousness … and beckoned me to come. And so I went wandering.


A quick back hand from Leif snapped my jaw from right to left. In a distracted way I watched as a curl of blood snapped out of my mouth and arced its way into the air. And the crowd took in a collective gasp. I was off balance. The Shack? How did this man know about the shack?

I needed to stall, and so I just walked away. I wandered over to the thin whisp of bluish semi-transparent shield and touched it. It was a bit of an elastic band that pulled against the four minds that held it in place. When I touched it I could see each of them clearly. I looked up at the ceiling and noticed that the room’s two chandeliers dropped inside the shield. ‘Don’t think that’s particularly smart’, I said to myself with a chuckle.

As I began my walk back Leif I noticed that at some point weapons were dropped inside the arena. Swords, axes, throwing knives… things of that variety it seemed. Why not just hand us a couple of machine guns and get it over with I wondered.

I walked straight up to Leif, who hadn’t moved an inch, and said “I’m sorry… did you say something a moment ago? I don’t think I caught it.” And then as his lips began to move I glitched him still. I walked around to his side and came in close to his ear and said, “If you speak of my shack once more, once… I will gut you.” I dropped the glitch and began walking away.

As I was I had my back to him I was hit with the most extreme pain I could imagine. I looked down at my lower half and realized that I appeared to be on fire. I forced my mind not to panic despite the pain and noticed that the flame was semi-transparent and didn’t seem to carry the same weight as a normal burning fire. It definitely hurt any less, but this flame was in my mind, a psychic trauma. I searched for the area of my brain that was under assault and noticed an area throbbing in distress. I poured an Emp counter to the obvious Empath attack it was receiving. My counter thought was Bea’s eyes, which was the last picture I mentally took of her as she began to walk away. Slowly the fire dimmed and screaming pain finally ended.

I turned to meet my opponent now. I lifted both hands out towards him and flicked my index fingers my direction, indicating him to come. To do his worst. But his reference to the shack had most of my brain elsewhere. Previously the shack was my battle cry. But now, it had completely sapped everything in me. And then he was hurtling my direction. I watched with fascination as he flew. I was corkscrewing his way through the air at a ridiculous speed and would be here in milliseconds. I began to slide out of the way, but I didn’t jugg, or invoke any mental acuity to the task and so I moved way too slowly. Leif hit me, center mass, like a freight train. I heard ribs crack on impact and I flew backwards to the wall and slammed into it at startling speed.


I wandered up to the porch of our old colonial and heard the echoing of the steps crossing boards in desperate need of repair. I held onto one of the poles holding the awning up, and watched out across the fields. Father’s tractor was stopped out in the middle of the late summer corn. I saw a laundry basket sitting in the driveway. And thought both to be strange.

With a bit of curious tugging I walked into the house and wandered through the main floor. All the windows were open and the screen doors were in place. A wind had kicked up from somewhere and was blowing random papers and a few loose items into the air. Curtains kicked up wide parabolic curves that struck me as extraordinarily beautiful for some reason at that moment. I didn’t cry out or call to my parents. Something didn’t want to break this quiet which seemed an almost holy space. I continued my search throughout the upstairs, with nothing but a few scattered hints as to my parents having passed through this space earlier that day.

I think some part of me knew. I couldn’t have. But I really think that I may have been avoiding the inevitable. And so I continued my wandering search until the entire house was covered front to back. And then I headed out to the barn. I walked with a bit of a sing-songy gate to my step as I went. And as I strode through the barn doors I was greeted with the first signs of distinctly obvious signs of any sort of chaos.

The horse stall doors were open and the horses were gone. But it was the shotgun laying on the ground that held my attention.


The wind had definitely been knocked out of me with the impact of his battering ram to my chest. I surveyed the damage laying there on the ground and determined that I definitely had broken a rib or two. And then I began to throw up from the pain. I felt stupid at that for a second. Realizing that I was tonight’s entertainment and here I was puking on the floor.

As I started to get up, I wiped my mouth and decided that if the audience was wanting a show – I would give them a show. If they were hoping to see examples of each of the house’s skills used tonight, I would do better than that. I would use them all simultaneously. I watched as Leif picked up a long sword from the pile and turn to face me with a wicked smile on his face. And then I snapped a glitch that I think I could have held forever if I’d wanted to. And I ran over to my own pile of weapons and selected five throwing knives. Then I cartwheeled and backflipped my way back to Leif who was tracking me with his eyes as I came. And at the last second I Juggernaut infused my throws of two knives that stood in the air a few feet from where I released. I disappeared by mentally stepping into Bea’s arms like I had done earlier today. Then I released the glitch and watched as the knives flew over my shoulders and as they went I angled them home with TK guidance along the way.

Leif had nowhere to run as he was released from the pause of time. The knives had him bracketed on the outside. And I was on the inside. At the same time I crashed his senses with raw mental pain. I reverb of mental sound that was like a shockwave to Leif’s system.

The knives caught him in both shoulders and pinned him to the shield. And as I began to walk his direction in my invisible form I was transfixed at the similarity of the image. A memory. A deep foreboding image from the shack stood before me in the present day.

And then due to the shock of the image, or to the earlier images of the shack, I do not know, but my system completely shutdown. And as it did, my brain began to quote T.S. Eliot’s, Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock back to me as a death nell of my sudden impending doom.

“And I have known the eyes already, known them all–
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,”

Leif pulled himself from the wall, both knives in his shoulders still, blood streaming down his chest. And he could see the mental collapse on my face. And he laughed aloud at that.

“And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,”

And at that moment the knives, swords and axes leapt off the ground and began hurtling my direction in a glorious spiraling arc of death.

“Then how should I begin – To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?…
And how should I presume?
And how should I presume?
And how should I presume?”

I was distracted by the beauty of the weapons and their distinct and unique paths, and then I saw a flash of my parent’s faces the last time I saw them alive. Bathed in sun. Radiantly full of life.

And that was when salvo of weapons slammed home.