Garice was ready to go home.

Sore, tired, and with an ache in every limb he heaved the four bags filled with presents and struggled his way up main street which was now beginning to empty as people hurried home for dinner. With the sun falling, the air was growing colder again which was helped along by the gusts of wind playfully blowing snow along the streets and through the air so that it could hit your face, stinging your eyes, and leaving your face colder than before. All of the excitement, and pleasure that had pulsed through him during the day after visiting shop after shop were gone. Now all he wanted was to curl up with Myclen and a cup of hot chocolate and watch t.v., and maybe wrap a few presents before it was time for bed. Sadly, that would never happen for as he rounded the corner to turn onto his street he ran full into Roger Davies. So unexpected was this that Garice slipped and fell, and laid sprawled on the sidewalk. His gifts as well were distributed higgly-piggly in all directions. Struggling to right himself by grippiing onto the brick wall so as not to slip again, Garice looked towards Roger, and now saw that as usual, his small band of cronies were with him and they looked murderous. Roger’s face was stunned and Garice thought he knew why. After the initial accident happened, Roger was not sure who he had run into. If it was an adult, or an older kid, he might have to apologize and help them gather the fallen items, but upon seeing Garice the whole situation had changed. Not only were they not going to help, but from the look of evil joy which even now was replacing Roger’s shocked expression, he felt instinctively that running was his only option, but he knew he couldn’t. Even without Roger and his friends there it would take several long minutes to gather everything up before he could set off again. “Look here boys, seems like we’ve found ourselves a juicy little fly. It’s an ugly one at that but still it might be to play with.” Roger said in a voice barely controlling his glee. His friends laughed and stamped their feet. They looked like vultures who had come upon a hidden feast and were now getting ready to eat it. There was something in the way Roger said “play” that Garice did not like. This was not the first time these boys had cornered him alone. Sure they had mocked, insulted, and threatened him, but then they would walk away laughing and that would be the end of it. He was not sure how he knew it, but Garice felt that this time would be different. He was frightened and he knew it, but oddly there was something else there as well sitting in his chest. It was as icy as the ground beneath him, and yet hot as an inferno. It was this something that made him hold his ground. It was anger. He was wet, cold, tired, and almost as though this point had been building up for as long as he had known them. He decided it was time for it to end, even if it meant dragging himself home bloody and broken.

“Hey Roger, is it true that you send your moronic friends to threaten and blackmail your wrestling opponent before each match? I’ve been hearing that’s why you have such a good record. And here I thought you had at least a grain of intelligence. Guess I was wrong.” There would be moments in Garice’s life when the danger surrounding him was worse, where death was a real probablility, and something as small in scale as getting beaten up would have been far more welcome than some of the more frightening possibilities, but at those times he would be more prepared for them. Now however he had to admit that as angry and determined as he was, the fear that enveloped him was complete. But still he stood his ground even as Roger’s laughter died away. The fact of the matter was that Garice HAD heard this very thing about Roger and his friends. For the last few months wispers had circulated about school, so much so that the school was launching an investigation into the possibility that these allegations were true. Several times Roger had been called to the principals office and questioned by the authorities and in every case he had come back looking forlorn. There was no such expression on his face now. His face screwed up in a look of barely controlled rage. He bent down, his face so close to Garice’s that their noses practically touched. “What did you say filth?” he said so quietly Garice was positive no one else could hear. Mustering up all the courage he had Garice replied “I think your pathetic” and before Roger could do or say anything he clenched his fist and struck hard and fast. As his fist struck Roger’s face, Garice almost smiled. It might have been wrong. There were a dozen different ways he could have handled the encounter, all more honorable, but Roger never would have stopped to think about honor, not when his buddies were busy kicking him around for the next ten minutes. The surprising blow spun Roger full around and into his friends who barely caught him and managed to remain upright. Garice could have run. Every nerve in his body told him to do it, but he knew he would barely get a few yards away before being caught. Any leverage or modicrum of respect he had gained by standing up to his longtime nemesis would have vanished instantly. Shaking his head like a bewildered dog Roger leaped at Garice. He watched as Roger pulled his arm back. Garice closed his eyes cringing slightly and waiting, but nothing happened. When he opened his eyes it was to see for the fourth time Roger’s face contorted in amazement. Looking down he saw the source of that amazement. Roger’s hand was barely half an inch from Garice’s face but had gone no further.

Before either of them could utter a single word Garice’s body began to tingle. It was similar to the feeling when your arm falls asleep but it encompassed his entire body. Every inch felt alive and building in strength! The wind began to pick up and swirl around his body even as Roger, now wild-eyed and scared desperately pulled at his arm to get away. It was plain that even Roger knew something was happening. He called out to his friends but they were so entranced with what was occurring that they did not hear him until he screamed and they rushed forward and began to help. Meanwhile Garice could do nothing but watch. He had no idea what was happening to him even as the tingling appeared to be building to a crescendo along with the wind which was so strong now that it was picking up chunks of ice and snow that spun through the air and were either sent sailing to smash into walls leaving cracks or destroying windows in a few abandoned buildings that lined the street. One even hit Roger’s best friend Eric Cormer in the arm dislodging him from the others and sending him flying for ten feet where he lay clutching his arm and moaning in pain. The other two had managed to pull Roger’s hand back an inch or two when the buildup of tingling in Garice’s body exploded. His head was pulled back and his body rigid. He was staring at the night sky so beautiful and clear. For a second he could see the stars twinkling and shining so perfectly and then there was nothing but white, the purest of white. It enveloped him and encased him, so warm and yet so powerful and suddenly it was gone as quickly as it had come. In a flicker of time Garice sagged to the ground. He felt as though he had just finished running a marathon without any preparation or practice. His tiredness was so complete that even now his vision began to go black and he fell to his side and stared up the street. Before falling into darkness or death or whatever it might be, he noted a few things which sluggishly forced their way into his brain. One was that Roger, Dan, John, and Eric lay on the ground with Eric the only one moving slightly. He hoped they were alright. The other was the black cloaked men now incredulously running along the street and rooftops towards them, and then darkness folded over him.

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