Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 26

The seating was packed. And they had even shrunk the arena in order to get more seats around the periphery. And even behind the seating there were people standing everywhere they could just as long as they could make it into the hall. ‘Well,’ I thought dryly to myself ‘at least my demise will be well attended.’ And then I laughed to myself.

Sumner had just run up to our group as we were walking in and asked, “Remember when you told me to remind you every time you did something weird? Oh I don’t know like talk to yourself, or laugh at your own jokes? Or act like some sort of deranged zombie from the apocalypse?” I stared at him blankly – obviously wondering what he was talking about. “Yeah, so you’re doing it. Like now. That thing.”

“Great,” I said. “Thanks for the heads up.” And then I remembered the note. “Did you get the message to Barley?”

“Oh yeah. I delivered it for sure. I may have messed with the poor guy some while I was at it.” He laughed then at some inside joke. I shook my head at that. Whatever, as long as the message was delivered successfully. “What are my odds tonight?” Instantly regretting the question the moment it left my mouth. Bea looked at him with a stern look that said, don’t even. “Oh wait, what? What are my odds? Now I have to know. Bea. What are you trying to hide?”

Sumner responded, “He’ll find out anyway Bea,” and then with a sheepish voice he said, “50to1.”

FIFTY?! Leif’s performance last time definitely was turning things in his favor that was for sure. I guess it made sense.


As the match started Leif sat down in a chair he had had brought out specifically for him. With a cocked eyebrow he asked if I’d like one too. On a lark I agreed and another identically high-backed chair was brought out. They were separated by about ten feet or so. I dropped into mine like I had been hiking for twenty miles.


“When are we beginning?” I asked ignoring his first question.

“A couple minutes ago we began,” He answered with a chuckle. “Will you speak with me a moment? Before we begin to ‘perform’?”

“Why not?”

“Tonight, one of three things will happen. I will either kill you, you will kill me… or we can walk off together and head to the Capital City together. These Council members have no idea what they are doing. They couldn’t contain us if they tried. Come with me, and I will show you sights you could never imagine. I know that the Council has told you of the tour. But you will be an animal on display. They have ways of mentally chaining the powerful and keeping them from bucking or baring their teeth. You will wish yourself dead if you come to them with the Council. Come on your own, with me, and I will show you true power.”

I was a little shocked at how brazen he was being. Couldn’t they hear him? Obviously not. Or else he wouldn’t be speaking so freely.

“Your answer Ben” he said sternly.

“Never. Before this match is over I will stand over your lifeless corpse with a rattle of bones, and a chuckle spread from ear to ear.”

“So be it. Then die.” And just like that I saw the shack standing before me looming like a horror gaping wide, ready to devour me whole.

I was sobbing. My young frame already knowing what I was going to see. Somehow, I understood what had happened. It was in the air and written on the wind. The birds had flown and the earth had recoiled at what had been done here. I stumbled as I began to draw closer to the shack. I fell to the ground and as I began to stand up I noticed that my hands were covered in blood. I wondered how I had hurt myself. And when I looked down I saw a stream of blood coming from the shack. My cries increased into inconsolable screams. I was immediately filled with rage and despair simultaneously.
But I couldn’t go near the gaping maw of that place. I wouldn’t go in.


It was clear that this battle was going to be boring to watch from the sidelines. Leif was content to sit there and throw vision after vision my way. He knew from our previous match that this vision was enough to beat me without lifting a finger. And so he hit me with it over and over again. I wished myself dead.

I did everything I could to block his attack, to free any portion of my brain I could to counter. But the sheer horror of what I was seeing before me was enough to make me insane. Eventually I stumbled out from under the mental chaos enough to hit him with an Emp-push that he quite literally laughed off with a minor flick of his hand.


Staring at the blood on my hands I cringed and realized what had to happen. In came to me in a flash. Both versions of me knew what I had to do. I had to walk into that shack and embrace the scene that awaited me there. That was the only way to not be destroyed by it. To counter the hold it had on me. And so, with tears bursting forth, I strode into the gaping wide mouth of the shack.
And what awaited me there poleaxed me where I stood.

My vision went blank and unresponsive. My heart stopped and the world paused in mid-motion around the sun. There in the shade of this place, were my parents. Or what remained of them. They had been nailed to the walls and had been violently tortured. And they had died painfully. Very very painfully. The reservoir behind my eyes let loose and the magnitude of my aloneness threatened to capsize me there in that place.

There on the floor was the cover of my father’s T.S. Eliot book of poetry. It had been ripped off and was covered in blood. And that was where something came unhinged in my mind. Their broken and tattered bodies made no sense to my little brain. But the T.S. Eliot book made sense to me. It represented time together that would never happen again. It represented memories that would age and decay from this day forward. It represented an entirely different life of pain and second guessing. I understood that my life had been shipwrecked then and there.

And it was then that something snapped inside my brain and I became completely unresponsive to the larger world around me.

Eventually my vision began to clear and my brain began to release the memory of my parents. But I continued to sob here in this arena. I knew that by walking into that memory and embracing it I had mastered a portion of it somehow. I had slid out from under its hold somewhat. But Leif didn’t realize this. Not yet anyway. And so I continued to silently cry at the memories of my parents.
And then leaned down into my chair, pressing my face against my knees. And then I kicked my face up towards Leif suddenly and threw absolutely everything I had to the pulse. I completely knocked him out of his chair and he slid across the floor, rolling and spinning as he went.

He stood slowly and dusted himself off. “The boy has become a man.” Leif said sarcastically. “You will wish you’d taken my offer. I will make you regret your decision.” And then he turned to the weapons assembled on both sides of the arena, throwing them at me indiscriminately.

I chuckled at this. At the repetition of it. I deftly deflected each one as they came. The rain of weapons continued in a perpetual loop of metal clanging and chaos. And then I began catching each one mentally and throwing them Leif’s direction. Leif kept up with me at first but then he began to fall behind. And then with a wipe of his arm he knocked them all to the ground in frustration.

I stood then. And began walking his direction with resolution and determination. This was almost over now. I could feel it.


Detective Barley’s eyes were still adjusting after coming into the hotel out of the bright sunshine of the setting sun deflecting down into the mountain valley. And Jacob was still completely unsure as to why he had agreed to tag along. In the hours proceeding the magical message that appeared in light across the living room of Barley’s apartment, that said, “Meet tomorrow @ 3:00, Cathedral” the two had rapidly began investigating the appearance like nothing they had ever done before. Barley used local resources to get access to the street cameras for several hours previous. Jacob used a few of his black arts Artificial Intelligence programs to track and anticipate everyone coming and going throughout the city for the previous six hours.

And eventually they had found their culprit. There was Sumner staring straight at a Parking Lot camera and then, just like that he disappeared at the exact time the lights began appearing in Barley’s apartment. At first Barley questioned the data – but the timeline was solid. It was just the result that didn’t make sense. But, being a huge proponent of Occam’s Razor, and seeing no simpler explanation, it had to stand that Sumner had time traveled into the apartment at exactly 3:52 pm. Jacob personally thought Barley was smoking crack to make that leap – but he had no other explanation for his own data.

The tricky part was finding him again. Barley was nearly rabid on this point… that they needed to find out what they were dealing with. And showing up tomorrow at 3:00 pm tomorrow could possibly be the worst idea they’ve ever had. And so they began the process over again, this time backwards as they watch for their time traveler to appear again. Jake had begun search at about 4:30 and going forward. But Barley was adamant that they should be searching for exactly 3:52 pm somewhere else. And so, when Jake finally agreed, and they started the simulations and path analysis, a tracked appeared out of nowhere at 3:52 pm two blocks from Barley’s apartment. There, as clear as day, was Sumner.

Jake filled his six screens with two photos. One of Sumner by the parking lot camera a block from Barley’s place. And another of Sumner two blocks going the other direction. Both at exactly 3:52 pm. And all of this assumed he was also in Barley’s apartment exactly at that same time as well. But the only evidence they had there was the lights. Which for Barley was plenty, even though he hadn’t thought to get a picture of them. Then it was just a matter of letting the AI track Sumner all the way back to his destination. Which appeared to be an old hotel on the other side of town.
And now here they were a few hours later, making their way through the lobby. Jake was very unsure about this whole idea and wondered exactly if Barley was completely all up there or not. Regardless here they were and now they didn’t know exactly what to do. And so Jacob followed Barley as they continued moving further through the hotel.


I had been hearing voices I didn’t recognize and had even heard the crowd gasp a bit behind me. But I hadn’t put two and two together. I had turned the tables on Leif and that was the only thing I could think about. But the voices were so close now I couldn’t avoid them any longer. And so I Emp checked the area behind me like a echo-locator. And surprisingly, I saw two individuals standing about ten feet behind me… both well within the arena. What was happening? Instantly I believed it was Leif summoning some hologram, or some feint that I didn’t yet grasp. Flipping through the air to the other side of Leif I was now able to see both Leif and the two visitors simultaneously.

And then I recoiled a bit as I saw Detective Barley and Jacob the hacker wandering through the hall. They were obviously oblivious to everyone’s presence. But they continued wandering further into the hall, obviously looking for something or someone.

Leif’s lip curled a bit at this and then the next thing I knew he was behind them both. I cursed at myself for losing focus. And quickly began calculating the fastest ways out of this jam without letting either of these two bumbling idiots from getting crushed like a bug. I didn’t have a whole lot of options. Leif had the upper hand now that he, in effect, had two hostages. He understood I was connected to them somehow. He gathered that I would prefer them not dead. And just like that Leif realized he preferred them splattered across the floor in a radiant Technicolor wash of bone and gristle.

“Leif, let them be. They are not apart of this.” And then it was clear that the two men could hear me, even though they couldn’t see me.

Barley was the first to respond, “Hello?! Is someone there? Ben? Is that you?”

Oh this was getting worse and worse by the second. Leif flashed me a smile that was all bones and blood. I quickly yelled their direction while not allowing my eyes to leave Leif’s, “You two need to leave this place as quickly as you physically can. Run!” And then a series of events were played out between Leif and myself that seemed to explode from synapse to actuality at light speed.

Leif TK’d towards Jacob and I responded by going to block. But I’d over committed when I realized Jacob was just a sacrificed pawn for his larger prey. Leif bounced back across to Barley and catching a knife he’d flung across the distance moments before he swiped it up through Barley from his groin through his face in a blindingly fast motion. I threw a glitch too late and saw the detective in mid-vivisection, blood splattered against the ceiling. I slammed into Leif knocking the knife out of his hand and then proceeded to beat him over and over again. Barley’s death had kept me from concentrating hard enough and I lost the glitch a moment later.

And then in a heartbeat the worst thing imaginable happened. Leif was standing outside the barrier, next to my beloved Bea, with his knife up to her throat. In that split second I saw Barley’s blood sliding down her beautiful throat and I flashed back to the shack and the horror’s within.

“I am you Ben. I am your creator. And I will be your destroyer.” Leif’s voice was abstracted and tinny sounding to my seething mind. “I am your shack. I was there that day. I watched as your parents were dismembered and your sins were atoned for.” He continued speaking but nothing registered. The hate welled up within me like a roiling tornado. I small silent voice inside my brain yelled at me to stop, but I’d been taken over by this rage in a madness that was blistering hot now. I didn’t understand what it was that he was saying exactly or what the actual words meant. But something inside my soul – the animal within – completely understood. And it was that animal now that was acting.

The pulse actually came from the ghost center of my brain, which is probably what saved most everyone’s life as it wasn’t primarily a physical blast. But primarily an Emp concussion. Even so, the floor cracked. The walls buckled. The ceiling crumbled. And I wondered abstractly if my rage had just killed myself and Bea. I threw my voice to the beautiful angel standing across the way, “I’m sorry I said. I’m so so very sorry. I love you.”

And then the hotel came down in a roar of lions and the crying of lambs.