Bearing in mind that I completely changed Chapter One, Chapter Two has also had a radical reform. This is only the second draft phase of the novel, so any feedback would still be greatly appreciated.
Wayne’s eyelids flickered slowly open. Light flooded in. He blinked a few times, becoming accustomed to the light. There was a slow, regular beeping sound that filled the room. Wayne thought it sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it.
Where am I? He thought, drowsily turning his head to one side.
It took him almost three seconds to move his eyesight from the white ceiling above to a window to one side. The window was blocked by curtains which diffused light into the room. He was lying on a thin bed less than a metre from the window.
He turned his head to the other side. His movements didn’t seem natural. He’d to fight to remain awake.
Next to his bed a bag hung on a tall stand. A thin plastic tube ran down from the bag underneath his sheets. A greenish liquid ran sluggishly through the tube. Curious, Wayne pulled back his sheets.
The tube ran into his arm.
Wayne’s eye’s widened. He grabbed the tube and looked away. This was going to be painful. He closed his eyes and pulled on the tube. He waited for the pain to arrive. It didn’t.
Wayne cautiously opened an eye and peered at his arm. The tube had been pulled out. There was a tiny puncture where it had been. As he watched, it tightened up on itself and faded, leaving behind perfectly smooth skin.
“What the heck?” Wayne said.
The bag must have been pumping some sort of sedative into his body. Wayne suddenly felt a lot more active. The beeping noises from the apparatus beside his bed increased. It must have been measuring his heart rate.
Wayne hurled the sheets to one side and sat up. He was stilled dressed in the same clothes he’d woken up in. He was about to stand up and go over to the door when it opened.
A middle-aged man with bags under his eyes walked into the room. He saw Wayne and smiled.
“They said the tranquiliser could keep a buffalo under,” he said, walking over to Wayne and extending his hand. “My name’s Robert Thad, but you can call me impressed. Or Rob.”
Wayne shook his hand, feeling confused.
“Where am I?” he asked. “And what the heck just happened? I thought I’d … been stabbed.”
Hurriedly, Wayne looked down at his chest, expecting to see the shards of glass still sticking out of it. There were holes in his shirt, but unbroken skin underneath. Rob pulled over a chair that had been hiding in the corner of the room.
“Emergan Hospital,” he said. “And yes, you were stabbed.”
He looked at Wayne strangely, like he was wondering how to deliver the next line.
“You were dead for twenty-three minutes,” he said, slowly.
“Come again?” he asked.
He thought he just heard this man say he’d died.
“You died,” Rob said.
Right, so my hearing’s fine, Wayne thought.
He wanted to laugh. This was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. But at the same time he’d a feeling Rob was telling the truth. Wayne was sure that he’d been stabbed in the neck by Manuel. Surely that would kill anyone?
“Hold on,” Wayne said, his brain refusing to move out of first gear. “If I died … how come I’m not … well, you know, dead?”
Rob took a while to answer.
“This might sound a little strange to you, but hear me out,” Rob said. “Have you heard of … superheroes before?”
Wayne nodded enthusiastically. Every few nights, the news ran stories about masked vigilantes or someone who had supernatural abilities. There didn’t seem to be too many of them, though – the same ones cropped up again and again.
“Well that helps,” Rob said.
He took a deep breath and furtively glanced towards the door.
“I work for a school,” he continued, apparently satisfied that they were alone. “It’s called the Aeon Academy. It’s a place for people who are different – people with unexplainable abilities. I’m offering you a spot.”
Wayne wasn’t sure if he’d heard right. He’d just been offered what he’d always dreamed of as a child. A chance to be spirited away from the horrible orphanage into a new and better life. He hoped that this was real and he wasn’t dreaming.
Rob took the brief silence as hesitation.
“Of course, if you want to stay here, that’s fine. I understand that you might be very attached to your friends at the orphanage.”
Wayne shook his head so fast he almost went dizzy.
“No!” he exclaimed. “I want to go. I was just thinking how much this would suck if I’m just dreaming.”
“From a legal point of view, your agreement makes things a lot easier. You see, technically you’re dead.”
Wayne raised an eyebrow.
“If you hadn’t chosen to come to the school, it would have meant a lot of paperwork for everyone concerned. As it is, our plane leaves in two hours. Follow me.”
Wayne trailed Rob out of his room. A staff member rushed to stop them, but Rob dismissed the man with a flick of an official-looking card.
“What was that?” Wayne asked.
Rob made sure no one was looking.
“A very good copy of a secret service card,” he said.
“But won’t they notice that I’m gone?” he asked.
They passed a security camera.
“And how about the cameras?” he added.
“Very good questions,” Rob said. “Emergan Hospital store their patient details and security camera footage on the same database. The moment we are on the plane to the Academy, your details will be removed from the system.”
“That’s so awesome. This is like being in a spy movie.”
Rob told Wayne a little bit more about the Aeon Academy and what had happened to Wayne on their way down through the hospital. The police had arrived at the street corner where he’d been stabbed five minutes after he’d been killed. From the sounds of it, Manuel’s gang had tried to run for it, but failed miserably. The thought made Wayne feel even better.
Rob went on to say how he’d been called by the school and taken a flight to Emergan, hired a car, driven to the police office, and been directed to the Emergan hospital.
They arrived in the hospital’s reception room. Instead of going over to the entrance, Rob directed Wayne into a tiny shop.
“There’s a reason why I had to get over here so quickly. The media are all clamouring to get a picture of you. Some idiot junior officer had a conversation with a friend about this boy who’d come back from the dead. In a café. At lunchtime. Anyway, a reporter must have heard because now all the papers want an interview.”
Wayne felt a tiny bit flattered, but at the same time quite annoyed. No one had shown him any interest when he’d been another reject in the orphanage, but now that he’d died, everyone was suddenly interested.
“Uh, then why did we come in here?” he asked.
Rob walked over to a rack of hoodies. He grabbed one and threw it at Wayne.
“You need a disguise. There might be more than just reporters waiting outside.”
“You mean … super villains and that kind of thing? Why would they be interested in me? Surely I’m not a threat.”
Rob raised his eyebrows.
“That’s not what they’re thinking. They’ve just heard of a – how old are you?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know when I was born. The orphanage told me that I was around two when they found me, so I must be about … about twelve? Twelve or thirteen.”
“I’d go with twelve,” he said. “Generally, people with powers develop them a few months before their twelve birthday. It takes around half a year for them to fully develop from that stage, but again it can be longer or shorter. Anyway, my point is, you’ve just fully recovered from dying. You couldn’t possibly have had your powers for more than a week at most. Every two-bit villain out there’s thinking; ‘well, if this kid’s like this now, how strong will he be in six months’ time?’ Believe me, they have good reason to be afraid. I’ve been with the school the last eight years, and with one or two exceptions I’ve never seen anyone at your level. Not this early on in their development, at least.”
Wayne wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He didn’t even know what his power was. Rob bought the hoodie and gave it to Wayne.
“Put the hood up and pull the drawstring tight,” Rob said.
Wayne adjusted the hoodie and followed Rob back out into the reception room. A set of glass sliding doors opened. Hot air breathed into the foyer. Rob led Wayne outside. A half-dozen reporters sat on the side of a man-made pond. They had cameras and tape recorders at the ready, but apparently didn’t recognise Wayne. Next to the hospital was a police station, and next to that cars streamed up and down a busy road.
Wayne bit his lip as he waited for the sound of a camera snapping, but they got beyond the reporters without any fuss.
“We made it!” Wayne whispered to Rob.
“I guess I did get here quickly enough,” he said with relief.
They walked along a brick path into the car park. It was alarmingly full, which had led to some drivers parking in rather unorthodox positions. A black four wheel drive with tinted windows was mounted halfway up the pavement, tilted at an alarming angle to one side. A luxury salon had parked on top of a line of flowers. Rob walked past the first few rows of vehicles and pointed to a non-descript hatchback with his car keys. There was a clicking sound as the car’s doors unlocked and its lights flashed on and off.
Rob opened the driver’s door and was about to climb in when the baseball bat hit his head. He slumped to the ground.
Wayne, about to get in the back, turned around frantically. The four wheel drive’s doors were open and four burly men, each wearing a balaclava, stood around them. Three held a baseball bat. The other one was empty handed.
The men charged towards him, covering the distance deceptively quick relative to their large frames.
Wayne dove inside the car and across the back seats. He wiggled across them and dropped out the other side, next to the unconscious form of Rob. The four men broke into two and streamed around the car like water flowing over a rock.
Wayne grabbed the bat that had knocked Rob out and swung it at the nearest man. He stepped backwards sharply, much more agile than Wayne had given him credit for. Wayne tried to press his advantage, but there was one behind him now. He swung his bat towards him, but was far too slow. The man’s bat crashed into the side of his head with the force of a hammer.
There was a moment of stillness as Wayne and the man looked at the remaining ragged stump of the bat. Wayne, releasing that this was probably his best chance, stepped forward and put all his weight into a thundering right hook. The man crashed to the ground.
The others back off nervously, holding their bats between them and Wayne. The reporters near the entrance of the hospital had heard the noise, and came over to investigate. Next door to the hospital, a policeman ambled out of the station and looked casually towards the hospital. He saw the masked men, yelled something back into the station and sprinted towards the hospital’s car park.
The balaclava-clad men ran for their car, dragging the semi-unconscious man Wayne had hit with them. The piled into the car. It shot off onto the road and disappeared into the distance. The policeman came to an uncertain halt by the side of the road. After a few seconds he turned around and ran towards his car, parked in the secure car park underneath the station.
Wayne, still standing by the hatchback in shock, felt a hand on his shoe and jumped into the air.
“What happened?” Rob asked blearily.
Wayne brought him up to date. His hands were shaking.
Rob frowned when Wayne finished. With an effort, he hauled himself up off the ground and pulled himself into the car. The reporters, stunned by the event, hurried back to their bags to grab their cameras. Others ran across the car park towards Wayne and Rob, hoping for an interview. Both groups would be too late to get anything.
“Get in,” Rob said, starting the ignition. “We really need to go.”
Thanks for reading!