If We Were Having Coffee: Leaving Home

Is it strange to be missing a home you haven’t even left yet? That’s the question I thought to myself at 2 am this morning as I packed for my trip back to Virginia. I’ve only lived in my new apartment in Tucson for four months, but I already consider it home. Why would I believe such a thing? Because of all the great times I have had there so far and because of the people that made it home. Like my roommate and friend, River Ludington. Strange guy, pretty groovy, lover of hiking and biking and all that jazz. He also has a knack for building random contraptions and brewing beer. We’re basically complete opposites in personality and activity wise, but we fit together well. The icing on the cake is that we work together at the Raging Sage Cafe and it’s tons of fun.

The Sage is also part of why I consider not just that apartment, but Tucson, home. My place is only a 15 minute walk from work, which is fantastic because I can just cruise down the street on my electric skateboard, Genie, and be enjoying some coffee and delightful conversation with my work friends. I’d love to say more about them, however, I don’t have the time. The North Carolina airport WiFi is about to run out and then it’s back to playing Pokemon for me.

Anyway, I know my visit to see my family in Virginia will only be for a month, but during that time, I won’t be working or napping in the back of cafe or watching Community with River and another friend of mine, Talya. I won’t be riding my skateboard or be sleeping in my own, comfy bed. And I won’t be able to hang out at my favorite place with the eccentric characters that have brought me joy these past 8 months while sipping a hazelnut cubano. It’s a little sad to think about, however, I am also pretty excited to enjoy a White Christmas in good old and crappy Winchester.

Advertisements

Pokemon 20th Anniversary!

Yo, readers. I’m returning to blogging in a spectacular way with an amazingly crazy story. A Pokemon fan fiction. And before you lose interest because you think Pokemon is for kids and dumb and whatever, I suggest giving my spin on one of my childhood favorite games. I am not only writing this fanfic to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, but to also share what I have learned from my life in a world unfamiliar, meanwhile, similar to ours. For those who don’t know me, I am a realist. Therefore, this story, all though meant to be light and kid friendly is going to be written in a more young adult type of way. So, its’ more like rated pg-13 than pg. And to clarify, I am writing this more for myself than others because I love Pokemon. And because of that, I am throwing out all the rules to whatever writers follow and putting not just myself in the story, but everyone I know as well. Where and when a person from my life will appear in the story and how they will affect it will be more or less random. There’s not really a set plan with this one, I’m mostly making things up as I go along. That also means the writing style may change a teensy  bit throughout the work because I have 2 editors helping me create a more riveting narrative. My first editor is one of my best friends, Breanna Gushiken, while my second editor is my eldest sister, Elisha Frazer. So far, I’ve completed the 1st episode, which is 27 pages long, so I am gonna split the episode into small parts for easy and quick reading. Ok, I’m done rambling. Have fun reading.

 

Pokémon Generation Neo:

Episode I

The Adventure Begins

Part 1

            I ran up the hill to Professor Elm’s lab as fast as I could. I couldn’t believe my parents let me sleep in late! They knew how long I’ve been waiting for this day. This very dehydrating day. I slowed down as I stared up at the nearly cloudless sky. The summer sun was baking my body. Sweat rolled out of my beanie. I saw the guys in front of the lab as I arrived at the hilltop. My friends were sitting in the grass with a Cyndaquil I had never seen before.

Damn, I think I’m too late. I ran to them and put my hands on my knees. “Did…I make it?” I could barely breathe.

“No, bro. You’re thirty minutes late. There are no more starters for you to get,” Brett said as he gave Cyndaquil a pat on the head. The others just shook their heads in disapproval.

“Nice, Maze. You had one job,” Andrew laughed.

“Yea, Maze, we called like four times,” Sam chimed in. Jose just sat there and laughed. My friends suck sometimes. I sat down beside Brett.

“I overslept. I went to bed late last night and, and, well this happened.” I was mad at myself, but at the same time, I just didn’t care. I always ended up messing things up for myself that I became used to it. Even now, I continually screw things up. “Sorry, Brett, I guess we’ll be leaving town tomorrow instead.” We’ve planned this for over a year. Brett would finally graduate high school and we’d travel the world as Pokémon trainers. I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t you get your starter when you turned ten? Well, it’s because the laws were changed years ago.

You see, the generation before my friends and I was called the “hero” generation because they solved so much of the turmoil that started occurring in the world. The numerous world threatening events caused the governments of every region to change the trainer age from ten years old, to fourteen. However, many parents saw the raise in age to force their children to finish high school before being trainers, just like my parents. I know, my life sucks, but not after today.

“How about you spend the night at my house, Maze, so we make sure you wake up on time.” Jose was almost always helpful. It was a good idea though.

“Yea, then we can play games and watch movies all night.” Sam didn’t understand the point of us hanging out tonight.

“No, you idiot, we don’t want Maze to stay up all night because then he’ll be late again.” Andrew understood, but he didn’t need to be so harsh. I just laid down in the grass and watched the clouds go by. I was in no mood to argue with them today. After a few minutes, I saw the professor looking down at me. I swear that guy’s wardrobe is filled with the same outfit. A green dress shirt, brown khakis and loafers, and his lab coat. The five of us turned our attention to him.

“Hey, doc. What’s up?” I said. He pushed up his glasses.

“Hey, guys. Maze, I was sad to see you didn’t show up today. Are you alright?”

“Yea, I just overslept, everything’s groovy,” I reassured.

“Oh ok, then I’ll be glad to see you tomorrow to get your Pokémon, right?” I nodded. “I’ll be here as early as eight in the morning, so you’re welcome to stop by then.”

“Will do.”

“Very good. Now, to the business at hand. I wanted to ask you all a favor.” We all gave him questioning glances. Cyndaquil was also paying attention.

“Okay…” Brett said. It wasn’t very often the professor would ask us a favor.

“Sure, professor, whatever you need,” Sam said. If any of us wanted to back out before, it was too late now. Thanks, Sam.

“Great. You see, I lost a small black case in the woods this morning and don’t have time to look for it until tomorrow because I have a ton of research to do today. I’d be grateful if you could search for it.” The professor gave us a smile. The five of us shared shrugs and nods.

“Yea, we’ll look for it for you. Which part of the woods did you lose it?” Brett asked.

“I lost it somewhere near the path that leads to Tohjo Falls. Thank you guys so much for your help. Just let me know if you find it or not,” Professor Elm said as he walked back into his lab.

“I know what I’m not doing today,” Andrew pronounced. We just glared at him. That behavior was expected from Andrew. He was always too lazy to do anything helpful, but in the end, he helped anyway. “I’m joking, I’m going, don’t worry.” And good thing he was helping because I sure couldn’t.

“Well, have fun with that, I’ll catch up with you guys later and help,” I said as I got up.

“Where are you going?” Brett asked. Cyndaquil was eating an Oran berry from his hand.

“I’ve got work at the café until six. I’ll search after, though, I promise.”

“You better, we’re not searching on our own!” Brett yelled as I walked down the hill. There’s four of them and a Cyndaquil, so I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘on their own,’ but whatever. I just waved and went off to work.

Later that night, I went off into the woods. I was pretty tired, but I said I would look for that mysterious case, so I had no choice. I called Jose right after work and he told me him and the others were taking a break from searching, so I went searching on my own.

It didn’t take me long to reach the area that the professor told us about, however, I could not find that case for the life of me. The area near Tohjo Falls was big. The trees grew so high that for many of them, it wasn’t possible to see the top. And this wasn’t one of those bright green, nicely cut grass type of woods, it’s one of those woods with the semi-tall grass and leaves of shades of brown and dark green covering the ground. I spent an hour and a half looking and decided to take a break. I just decided to go exploring and hang out with the Pokémon in the area. Pidgeys and Spearow flew over me while Caterpie and Rattata scurried through the grass and climbed up the trees. As I walked randomly through the forest I had come across the weirdest phenomena ever. Not really, but it was weird. A guy in a black uniform with a giant red ‘R’ on his chest was walking several feet in front of me until he just disappeared. It was like he walked through space time because the entire space he walked passed rippled like a pebble in water.

I was shocked for sure, but I was more intrigued than anything else. Have you ever had that moment when you are surprised by something and should be scared and question everything, but instead you are like, ‘cool! How’d that happen?’ That’s exactly how I felt. I ran up to the spot where that guy disappeared and investigated the area. Nothing seemed wrong. The grass was grass, the trees were trees, and the leaves were definitely leaves. I stretched my arm out in front of me and part of it went through the ripple in space. Like when Alice and Eevee went through the looking glass only this was even trippier. My success in finding this anomaly made me smile. I walked into the ripple and was surprised to find on the other side…the same stupid forest. Like no space station or different part of the world, no, I was still in the same place. Except now, there was a two story red and white building that wasn’t there before. I looked to the sky to find a huge grid-like field surrounding the area above the building that spread to the ground. It must have been what I stepped through to find this place. And what was being used to keep this place a secret. No wonder no one had ever seen this random building in the middle of the stupid woods before.

I spotted the guy I saw moments before go inside the building. I tried to follow him in, but I needed to scan an I.D. badge at the door. Like I was gonna get one of those. Instead, I snuck around, looking for another way inside. I looked through the windows to see what was going on inside and found even more people wearing black uniforms. I couldn’t place where I saw that ‘R’ logo before, but right at that moment, I remembered. It was the Team Rocket logo. A bunch of them were running around with vials of colorful fluids, huge cables, and stacks of papers. Some of them even had lab coats on. The inside was well kept too. It had the same messy but organized layout as a hospital. Sparkling floors, sterilized walls, and random computers and tech at one side of the room. I didn’t know what the heck these weirdos were up to, but I knew I had to find out.

As I lurked around to the back of the building, I caught a glimpse of a girl with long, black hair enter the hideout. I caught the door before it closed and held it ajar just a tiny bit so that it looked closed from far away. I walked right in after seeing no one in the hall. I was really proud of myself for obvious reasons. Who wouldn’t be happy about successfully sneaking into some place you obviously shouldn’t be entering. I didn’t need a bunch of signs reading ‘Danger’ and ‘Do not enter’ to know that I was doing something extremely stupid and dangerous, but, you know, yolo. Anyway, that hallway had nothing in it, except for one entryway to the basement level. Like I was going to do something as dumb as go down into the creepy basement. I just decided to observe the rest of the place and get evidence to show the police later.

I knelt down as I snuck a peak into the main lobby. It wasn’t really a lobby as it was just a huge area with tons of computers and crap, but let’s just call it a lobby. So, this lobby was the same room that I saw through the window earlier. What I didn’t see earlier was this big red and white platform in the middle of the room with the random pedestal on one side of it. Above the platform was this metal frame-worked indoor balcony that made up the second level. Several Team Rocket goons were setting up video cameras that were looking down at the stage. Apparently, they were getting ready for some kind of show or experiment or something.

“Help us…”

            The feeling of anxiety washed over me after I heard the disembodied voice. It was like it came from my own head, but I know I wasn’t thinking it. Deciding to just brush that incident as nonsense, I took a few snapshots of the lobby with my Pokégear.

“Please…help us.”

            There it was again. At that point, I started to get some very eerie vibes that I just couldn’t ignore. I had to figure out who was calling me. Unfortunately, the place where I thought the voice was coming from was the creepy basement I was trying so hard to avoid. But, you know, fuck me, right? The voice called again and I whispered, “I know, I heard you the first two times. Just hold on, alright? Geez.”

The basement level was just as haunting as I thought it would be. There was light in the halls, but it was dim and blue, making it possible to see down them while retaining the ‘beware-of-jump-scare’ vibe. That disembodied voice could’ve been behind anyone of the many doors down there, but I didn’t want to take the chance to open a door and be caught by a bunch of Team Rocket nerds. The further I walked through the halls, the more my vibes grew. It felt like my body knew where to go without explaining why. I guess that’s what they call instinct. One hallway I walked down felt strange. Like I was close to something important. That feeling got stronger the closer I reached the door at the end of the hallway. I reached for the doorknob when it suddenly turned on its own. Out of fear, I jumped into an open room behind me and hid behind this huge bookshelf. I listened to the echoed footsteps go past the room and I slowly peeked down the hall. The woman walking down it had an empty cage in her hand. Whatever that thing was used for must be in that room, I thought.

Creeping closer to the source of my wonky vibes felt like one of those points in your life when you think to yourself, If I do this? How could it possibly affect my life? And then you do the thing in question and realize, How could it not?

What I saw in that room was the worst thing I had ever witnessed firsthand. At first, I couldn’t see much because one light was barely on in the center of the ceiling, so all I saw were tuba sized cages with small, glowing eyes in some of them. All those eyes staring at me made me incapable of moving my legs.

Over here,” the voice reached out. I hesitantly crept further down the aisle of cages. I heard a soft purr coming from one cage and went toward it.

“Are you the one I keep hearing?” I asked as I peeked inside the cage. The glowing brown eyes seemed to get a bit closer and then in an instant, they appeared mere inches from my face and the creature bearing them would have clawed my face if I hadn’t jumped back and fallen on my ass already. “Okay, groovy, not you. I won’t bother you anymore.” That’s when I recognized the creature in the cage. It was an Eevee. An angry and defensive one at that. It paced around, keeping eye contact with me. A few Pokémon in the other cells started to purr as well and it was in that moment that I realized Eevee and all of its evolutionary forms were being held against their will by Team Rocket. But for what?

Glad to see you found us, human.”

            I looked around at the icy blue Glaceon, to the blazing Flareon, and to this colorful Sylveon that laid in a corner of its cage licking off a wound on its arm. Then I felt a cold chill at the back of my neck like I was being watched. I turned around and in the cage to the right of the sleeping Umbreon were the piercing purple eyes of an Espeon. I looked through those unblinking eyes and felt empowered as if this ball of light purple fluff was determined and confident. In what? I had no idea, but I knew that I wanted to do whatever was in my power to help it. I just needed to know one thing. Standing in front of its cell, I asked it, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Espeon’s eyes shifted from seriousness to curiosity. “Your voice sounded female, but it’s really hard to tell with most Pokémon, so I thought I’d ask.” Espeon gave a smile as I heard it chuckle in my head.

“You are a very amusing human. Yes, I am female, but I do not know how that matters at all.”

“I don’t know. I was just curious.”

“More curious than knowing about this dungeon? Than knowing what this place and what my siblings and I are here for?”

“I mean, those were definitely gonna be my next few questions,” I said. It was strange. This Pokémon wasn’t as jumpy and ferocious as the others. She was calm and kind. “So, what is Team Rocket doing to you and your siblings?” I took a seat. Espeon’s eyes turned blue before she spoke.

“About a month ago, we were brought here as the humans’ test dummies. You call them, ‘Team Rocket’?” I nodded. As she told me her story, images of her and her family being captured and caged up by Team Rocket appeared in my head.

            “To test what?”

“I’m not sure. However, we are put on a stage of sorts and our energy is drained into different crystals that the humans study.” More images surfaced. I could see an Eevee and a Sylveon be chained to a round stage and electrocuted until they fell unconscious. I also witnessed a few of Espeon’s siblings being tossed into the kennels with fresh, bleeding, wounds on their bodies. The images were so graphic and depressing, that I started to tear up. I could not believe what had happened to these Pokémon.

The platform I saw upstairs must be what she’s talking about, I thought as I wiped my eyes. Though, that didn’t explain any of their behaviors. “How is it that you’re so calm while your siblings are…?”

“Hostile? Mistrusting?” She knew the exact words I was thinking of using. “The experiments affected each of us differently. At first, the fatigue was bearable, however, after so long, most of us have lost hope and have grown spiteful and melancholy. I, on the other hand, still remember what it was like to be free and remain hopeful for my family’s sake.”

            “You still trust humans? And why me of all people?” Why did she ask for my help?

“I know that not all humans are terrible. And it’s not like I chose to have you help us. You were just the only person to hear my voice.”

“Oh, so I was just a lucky coincidence, huh?” I muttered. A bit disappointed in the fact that I wasn’t chosen for any particular reason.

“Yep, that’s basically it,” she said with a laugh.

“You don’t have to agree with me,” I snapped. I felt offended, but Espeon’s smile made it hard to be too hurt, so I just laughed along with her. Though, I knew that it was not the time to lollygag. I had to find a way to free all of those Pokémon. I stood up and investigated the cage. A card reader was positioned as the lock of the cell. I had to get my hands on an I.D. card. “I’ll have to grab a Team Rocket I.D. to open this cell.” I was speaking to Espeon, but I could swear that the Umbreon beside us scoffed at me. “What? Do you have a better idea?” I asked it. It just looked at me, looked at Espeon, growled something to her, and went back to sleep. Like, I was standing right there and was completely ignored. I’m pretty sure it insulted me also. Espeon turned to me.

“My brother means well. He just doesn’t believe in you like I do.” That did not make me feel any better. I had to stick it to that Umbreon.

“Well, I’ll just have to prove him wrong. I’m gonna get the key and I’ll be back as fast as I can.” I walked back towards the hall and as I passed Umbreon I said, “And you can suck it.”

Creeping through the hallways was easy, the hard part was finding empty rooms with an I.D. card randomly in it. The best way for me to get my hands on an I.D. was to snatch one off someone. I found one woman who had her card swinging off the side of her skirt. I clung to the wall as I followed her down the hall. She went from room to room collecting papers from scientists, so I guessed she was just an assistant or something. Finally, she stopped to answer a phone call from her boss. As she stood still, giving a progress report of the work being done, I tiptoed behind her, carefully snatched her card, and snuck back towards Espeon and the others. Unfortunately, I was a little late.

            While staying in the shadows, I witnessed a guy walk past me with two small kennels. My heart skipped a beat when I saw Umbreon and Espeon inside them, trying to break free. I couldn’t let them get their energies drained again. They couldn’t suffer any more abuse. I didn’t know how, but I was going to stop Team Rocket’s experiments.

To be continued…

I’m Still Awake

Hey, Everyone. To those who still read this blog, I am here to say…I’m ready. I’m back, I’m alive, and I’m ready to get back to what I love doing. Writing fun stories. I have spent all summer on one giant and epic story that will probably run till the end of time. It’s the story I’m choosing to make my return with because it’s about life. Not just life, though, but my life. I’m going to share with everyone what I learn and have learned from life from my perspective with everyone that I know, have known, or come across on my journeys. Couldn’t I just write journal entries on my life? Yes, whoever is asking that question, I could, but that’s a little more personal than I would like and my way is more fun. Also, I already write about my life in a journal, so that would be redundant.

Anyway, I would like to tell everyone where I am at in life and it’s sort of a weird place. Albeit, it’s my apartment, but it is also a place of peace. I am going to school, earning my creative writing degree, working at my kick-ass job, the Raging Sage Cafe, as a barista, and paying bills for my cozy and cheap condo with my 2 roommates and I am sincerely happy. I am at a happy and nervous and exciting place in my life and I honestly don’t know what to do but to keep walking and explore. This condo I’m living in is officially my first apartment and I ended up in a very nice place for how cheap the rent is. It became even nicer after finally got a bed after the first month here. And then it became even better after my roommates and I bought a kitchen table and a second couch. I like to refer to my new couch as my napping couch because, well, the obvious. Ever since we got the couch, I made it my mission to nap on it as much as possible. When I come home from class, sleep on the couch. Come home from work, sleep on the couch. Finished homework at four in the morning, I might as well sleep on the couch because I got class at eight.

Speaking of which, it’s 2 a.m. and I’m still awake. Why? Because one of my roommates had a barbecue today, which turned into a party that lasted until 12:30 and my place was a mess. I’m not mad or anything. I had a ton of fun, actually. I finished work late, so I missed the BBQ, but I enjoyed the party. We watched Pokemon on Netflix and played drinking games – with the good beer, thank the gods – and played volleyball and Cards Against Humanity. I had a blast. It was the first college party that I didn’t regret going to. That wasn’t just a waste of time. My roommates goofy friends and the laid back and geeky atmosphere of the party reminded me of hanging out with my friends back on the east coast and our laid back, geeky activities. But without the alcohol. After everyone finally decided to leave, so I could sleep, the apartment was a mess. chips and dip all over the table and counter; Cards and various empty beer and vodka bottles on the floor; leftover lettuce and tomatoes on the kitchen counter and dirty dishes lying around. But guess what? We had one roll of paper towels left; a swiffer and wet jet, but no pads; no broom or dustpan; and we were out of trash bags. So, being the only sober and conscious person, I walked down the street to the grocery store and bought all the cleaning supplies we needed. Needless to say, my apartment is clean once again and I can now go to sleep without any worries. The best part is is that all the food and drinks leftover is mine to devour for the next week. And no, not the booze, I mean the sodas.

Anyway, after all of that, I successfully received the notes of edits on my latest story from my second editor and am ready to publish part one on here. However, before I just come out with my story, I wanted to make a not so brief introduction. This was all just to let the world know that I am still awake.

 

Madre

Happy Mother’s Day! Today is a day that I would like to express my appreciation to all the women in my life who have been mother figures to me and who I have had the pleasure of knowing. Most importantly, I’d like to express my appreciation to my mother. She has always been there for me and always will be. I love my mother and I may not always say so or show it, but I do. I am very lucky to have my mom around and there will never be a day that I don’t need or want her guidance.

Madre

            There lives a boy who travels a lot. Always on an adventure. He goes by many names, but the one that always resonates in his mind is the name, Little Red Boy. Only one person calls the boy by this name and that’s how it should be. His madre gave him that name even before he could remember. The little red boy loves his mother so much, there are no words to completely describe it. When the boy looks back on his life, he remembers the days when he would wake up in the morning for school and watch T.V. with his madre. She’d also prepare him breakfast whenever she could. If not a bowl of cereal or some scrambled eggs, then she would at least make him his favorite cup of tea or cup of hot chocolate in the winter.

The little red boy obtained his love for movies, musicals, and books from his madre. Even when she was utterly exhausted, she’d take the time to read him a story at bed time, or watch a movie on a late Saturday night. His madre would wait outside every morning to watch him get on the bus for school. Whenever he was sick, she did everything in her power to keep him from feeling the pain he suffered from. And when he had to spend hours in the hospital, she stayed with him to keep him comfortable and to teach him all he needed to know, so when the day came that he needed to do it alone, he wouldn’t be scared. The boy hated hospitals, but when his mother was by his bedside, he felt safe. He could rest in peace. The boy learned so much from his madre. He learned about life, about history, other cultures, authors, musicians, artists, other countries, religion, how to live, how to love, how to live the way that makes him happy, and so much more.

The little red boy’s mother is the most amazing woman he knows. She is strong in every sense of the word. A strong heart, mind, body, and will. The boy loved that his madre was as fierce as she was. Everyone knew not to mess with her. It made him happy because it meant he never had to worry about her. She is like Cleopatra. Queen of her kingdom. She rules it with an iron fist and a heart of gold. She takes care of all of her loved ones with no exceptions. No matter how much her family may piss her off, she will be there for them when they need her. She is like Mother Teresa in that way. She’ll even take in those who are not her family and treat them like so. No matter how little her and her family have to offer. The boy’s madre is like a star. Her beauty and brilliance is unmatched and unwavering. She has traveled great lengths and has been through so much in her life, however, she continues to get up every day and liver her life. Not only for her children, her husband, her family, but for herself. People may find her love strange because of how blunt and brutal she may seem, she is so out of love. She would not bother to be honest with those she did not love. The little red boy grew to adapt that same quality to his madre’s dismay. However, he loved that quality. While others will listen to her out of fear or the sense of necessity. He listens out of respect and wanting. And those who truly know her would do the same.

The little red boy has received so much from his madre. His love for music, books, movies, Pokémon, classics, culture, traveling, musicals, art, Disney, cooking and much more. He has received so much wisdom from her and always puts it to good use. There is no lesson she has taught him that he does not remember. Unlike other children, the boy’s mother did not give him everything and anything he wanted. And he did not care. He had her love and her company, and that’s all he needed. Even during his travels, that’s all he desires when he is reminded of her. And not a day goes by when he isn’t. The boy often times feels that he is not fit to be her son because of all the mistakes he makes and the life he tries to lead. He does his best despite his madre’s prestige and high expectations. She is a goddess among normal people. The boy even thought that she was a vampire because of her tendency to sleep all day and work all night. Either way, she was immortal. Still is.

The little red boy has become the man that he is today because of his madre. He lives the way he wants and the way he feels is right because his madre lets him. That’s the life she wanted for him, though it may make her mad or worried. Deep down she is proud of him and the boy knows that. When the boy finally returns home, he will make sure to watch at least one movie or T.V. show with his madre. Just like always.

 

 

Complicated Lives

Happy Saturday, everyone! I am proud to announce that I finally finished the first chapter in a new series I’ve been working on called Complicated Lives. Before I get to the story, I should give some background info. For those who have read my last post know what makes someone’s life complicated. It’s not when you have a bunch of crap going on in your life or when life isn’t going your way. A complicated life is when you deal with the hardships of your own life as well as help others live their lives. My parents do it, I do it, and during my travels, I have met numerous people who do or have done the same. You may think that having a complicated life is a fairly common thing, but then you’d be wrong. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

There’s a lesson that I learned from the hit T.V. show, Girl Meets World. It’s a great show, it’s on Netflix, you should watch it. They taught people the secret of life, which is that people change people. What does this mean? It means that your life is affected by the people you surround yourself with. Your knowledge and happiness comes from those people. Many people will tell you that’s not how life should be, that you should affect your own life and generate your own happiness, but the that’s the truth. Believe it or not there is a deeper meaning to that. A hidden secret to the secret of life that I also learned from Girl Meets World. That lesson is ‘what us does for them.’ “Us” are the ones who are blessed with a stable life. The people who can wake up from their warm beds in the morning and eat pancakes with their family. “Them” are the people who are not that fortunate. No, this is not entirely about money. Money only plays a small role in this lesson. I come from a family with little money. There was never a year that we did not struggle, but my parents did the best they could to shield me and my siblings from that fact. All we knew that our parents were struggling and we didn’t know the why until we grew older. Even though we struggled, we were still happy. Even now, my family struggles with money, but we are still able to find happiness in our lives. My family is part of the “us” because we are blessed and fortunate to have loving people in our lives and we help “them.” We have kindness that we share with others. That’s something many people take for granted.

I created this story for those who know both these secrets and live their lives by them whether they realize it or not. My story is about 3 best friends who struggle to live their complicate lives after college. I hope that this will be one of my greatest stories, so any comments I can get are greatly appreciated.

Complicated Lives

By

Eliasaph Anderson

Chapter 1

            This is a story of a dumbass. His name is Ezra Best. He lives in a nice two bedroom apartment in Seattle, Washington. It has the usual apartment furnishings of the 21st century. An island style, granite kitchen connected to a living room furnished with a black microfiber sofa, a dinner table for four, and a TV. All the walls are painted with this kind of tinted sky blue instead of the generic white. This complex is a bit on the fancy side. It’s pricey that’s for sure. “What veggies do you want for dinner, Sammy?” Ezra asked as he lowered the temperature of the rice on the stove. “We have broccoli, cream corn, zucchini, and…” he trailed off because when he turned around from the fridge he found Sam holding his stupid cat right in front of his face.

“Pet Captain Meow Meow,” he announced with a huge smile on his face. For the record, her name was not Captain Meow Meow. Sam was one of Ezra’s best friends and had been his roommate for almost a year now. He’s a 23 year old, blonde dork. And also…a dumbass. He looked like an intelligent man, which he was, but he also looked like one of those guys that you can tell was fully capable of leading a four hour conversation with you about Pokémon before needing a drink of water. Ezra stared at both of them with this questionable look. He turned Sam around and inched him out of the kitchen. “But kitty,” said Sam in a disappointed tone.

“I’m cooking dinner, Sammy, I’m not rubbing your cat.” Ezra said in a monotone voice while he started the cream corn. As they waited for dinner, Sam refilled his cat’s food bowl and Ezra took a seat at the dinner table. “Sam, have you seen Kumo? I haven’t seen him since I’ve been home.”

“Oh, I got someone to walk him because he seemed sad being inside the house while we were at work,” he said as he took a seat at the table. He had an uneasy smile like he did something he shouldn’t have.

“Who did you get to walk Kumo?”

“Just one of the neighbors,” Sam chuckled and backed up into his chair. Ever since Sam and Ezra were kids, he couldn’t keep up a lie or a secret for too long. Backing away with a chuckle was how people could tell if he did something stupid. Ezra leaned towards him.

“Sam. Which neighbor?” There was only one neighbor they had that Ezra had a problem with and for good reason. “Sam, you didn’t.” Sam shrugged his shoulders. “You can’t be serious. You actually let her walk-”

“Hey guys,” pronounced a woman’s voice. She had glimmering black hair that went to her shoulders and flowed as smoothly as a river. She wore a red tank top featuring Snoopy and Woodstock, black skinny jeans with small tears, and a pair of red Toms. Her tattoos were intricate. One of a majestic bird could be seen on her right arm with a date underneath while a dream catcher rested on the underside of her left arm. She walked through the door with a Husky the size of a couch cushion, which was trying to shake off its leash. “Okay, Kumo, I’ll take it off just give me a minute.” As soon as she did, Kumo ran down the hall and jumped onto Ezra’s lap. Francine moved into the two bedroom apartment right across from the guys two months ago. She was still looking for a roommate, but did pretty well on her own. Mostly because she always came over to the guys’ place and ate all of their food.

“Hey, Francine.” Sam and Ezra greeted simultaneously.

“What did you do to my dog?” Ezra accused.

“Why do you think I did something? Look. Kumo is perfectly fine and loved going on a walk with me. Isn’t that right, buddy?” She petted him as she sat at the table.

“Because you have a habit of doing stupid stuff and I’m making sure you didn’t do anything terrible with Kumo.”

“Are you still mad about last week? I said I was sorry like twenty times.”

“Well, it wasn’t enough. I won’t forgive you so quickly for something so stupid. You’re just lucky Nick pulled us over instead of some other officer and we got off with a warning.” Ezra exclaimed.

“Exactly. It’s not like it was put on record.” She retorted in a louder voice.

“We still spent the night in jail!” He retaliated, raising his voice slightly higher, but not fully yelling. Ezra usually kept a level head and remained calm, however, Francine was one of those few people who made him loose his cool.

“Okay guys. I think we should just calm down. It’s time to eat dinner anyway,” Sam pronounced from the kitchen. During the argument, he had backed away into the kitchen to check on the food. Francine and Ezra got up and helped Sam set the table so they could eat. As they started eating, Sam asked, “How was your day, Ez?” He was trying to get rid of the residual tension in the room like Francine and Ezra were partners bickering at a counseling session.

Ezra tried to focus on Sam and push his problem with Francine to the back of his mind. “It was pretty good. I repaired a few cars that didn’t have any major damages, so they were fairly easy to fix. It was just some engine problems or a leaking gas pipe. There was one car that had a busted heater hose, so that took longer took fix, but I had help. And there was this ninja motorcycle that had crappy suspensions, so that took a few hours to fix, but yea, my day went pretty well.” He proceeded to scarf down more food.

“What was wrong with the suspensions?” Sam asked. He was very curious in Ezra’s work because he received his degree in computer science and didn’t know much about the mechanics of vehicles. He also enjoyed any distraction he could get from his own work. It took a second for Ez to finish swallowing his food so he could give a reply.

“It was very loose and squeaked every time the weight on it shifted. Clearly the owner was dumb enough to buy it in such a dangerous state or the bike was wrecked by someone. I was never told how it happened, but I really didn’t care as long as I got it fixed.” Francine abruptly spoke out as Sam was about to say something,

“You have a motorcycle, don’t you?!” She seemed really excited even though she’s known about Ezra’s motorcycle for weeks.

“Yep. Ez got it from his girlfriend,” Sam explained. As soon as he said that, Ezra gave him a stern look.

“I thought you said you didn’t have a girlfriend?” Francine was very intrigued now. She, as well as Sam, loved meddling in Ezra’s love life, however, he always shrugged them off whenever they wanted to talk about it. He sat back in his seat and sighed.

“I don’t have a girlfriend. I got that bike from my ex as a birthday present last year.” He was definitely annoyed now, but there was nothing much he could do about it. They were curious about his life. Especially Sam. And it’s not like he had been very forthcoming about his past. He hated talking about it. There were many depressing memories that he would rather not even think about.

“Wow. You two must have ended it on a good note, huh? I wish one of my ex’s continued to send me gifts after we broke up. Why’d she break up with you anyway?” Ezra gave her a look that he gave many of his friends at one point in time. The “You’re an idiot look”. His eyes narrowed into a glare and he tilted his head slightly. Sam started to laugh when he saw Ezra give Francine that look.

“Why do you automatically assume she broke up with me? And no, we didn’t end it on a good note, but she just gave me the bike anyway. Like a farewell present or something.” Francine was about to say something else, but Ezra spaced out and was engulfed by a particular memory.

The flashback was a bit of a blur. Like a TV channel that fizzes out while you’re watching a show. Ezra was walking out of a house, which was covered with numerous shades of brown, to the adjacent garage. The sun was shining brilliantly as it scorched the dry air. He slowly walked past the gravel yard into the garage to find a black Dyna Glide with a golden tribal print. On the headlight was an envelope with Ezra’s name on it. The handwriting was so beautiful that it was clearly from a woman. He opened up the envelope to find a letter. Because the memory kept fizzing out, all that could be read was, “I want you to have her as a good luck charm. I love this bike and I know it would be better if you kept her and fixed her up more because I know that you have the talent to do so. I love you with all my heart, happy birthday.” At the bottom of the letter was written: Love you, Natalie Moon. Ezra stared at the bike for a few seconds and then suddenly turned around. At that moment, he could hear Francine’s voice.

“Ez. Yo, Ezra, are you still with us? Did you listen to a word I just said?” Francine kept calling him as he slowly came back to reality. Sam started to shake his arm.

“Yea I’m fine,” he said as he removed Sam’s arm. I just spaced out for a moment.” He turned to Francine. “And no, I didn’t hear anything you just said.” He went back to eating his meal.

“I said that you shouldn’t worry about her. If she wasn’t into you that much then she’s not worth your time. People come and go, it happens. You should go try looking for another girl. Who knows, you might find ‘the one’.” Francine was actually concerned now. She knew firsthand what it was like having people you trust walk out on you. She realized how sad Ezra was over this and wanted to help him move on, but he was not ready for it. He remained silent.

Sam pitched in, “that’s a great idea. Ez you should go meet some girls, maybe get a few numbers.” Ezra was unsurprised how delighted Sam was with this idea.

“Coming from the guy who spent last Saturday night cuddling his cat while watching ‘Frozen’. Again.” Ezra smirked.

“Umm, excuse me, but Butterscotch loves it when I hug her,” he said as he picked his cat off the floor, “and I recall you watching the movie, too.” Sam stroked Buttersnap’s fur.

“I only watched it with you because it was the only way to get you to watch ‘TMNT 2’. I wouldn’t willingly watch ‘Frozen’, ever, let alone the sing-a-long version. Listening to you try and harmonize with Idina Menzel is like hearing Kanye West speak. What comes out of your mouth is so sad, that you can’t help but laugh.” Francine was trying not to laugh herself.

“Ez, you’re just jealous that I’m a better singer than you. And your stupid ninja turtle movie wasn’t even that great,” Sam retaliated. Ezra became wide eyed and placed his hand on his chest like he was having a heart attack.

“First of all, the hell you are, and second, don’t dis Green Arrow’s first blockbuster movie. It was amazing and did way better than the first one.”

“Okay, Ez, I’ll let you indulge yourself in your delusions for now, but you’ll have to accept the truth someday.” Sam laughed as Ezra glared at him.

“Alright, guys, we’ve gotten too far off topic. Let’s go to a bar and pick up some girls. It will be fun.” Francine seemed so proud of herself. She was so excited by her own idea.

“You say that like that’s an easy thing to do. Do you know us? That argument alone should tell you how easily it is for us to get a girl’s number.” Ezra found the idea of him and Sam getting lucky that night absurd.

“It’s okay, Ez, she’s new.” Sam assured him. Ezra nodded in agreement.

“C’mon. With me as your wingman, you’ll both be scoring. Just imagine all the women we can get if we work together.” Francine stood up and gazed at the ceiling.

“What the hell is she doing?” Ezra whispered to Sam. They both searched the ceiling. Francine looked puzzled.

“I’m having a daydream moment. Do you guys not do that here?”

The boys nodded their heads in understanding of their friend’s weird gesture. “Oh we do, we just haven’t done it in a while. When’s the last time we did one of those, Sam?”

“I’m pretty sure it was last Christmas.”

“Ah, good times.” Ezra reminisced.

“Yea, that was an eventful Christmas. We should bring back daydream moments.”

“Great idea. Maybe next week.” Francine didn’t know what to say or do.

“Fran, I’ve got a question. Didn’t you mean to say wing-woman instead of wingman?” Sam asked.

“Oh, good question, I was wondering that myself. Most women nowadays prefer being called wing-lady or something odd like that.” Said Ezra. Francine sat back down at the table.

“That’s what feminists like to call themselves to show that they can help guys get dates, but really they just fuck shit up.” Francine’s explanation made the boys laugh ecstatically.

“Burn!” Ezra announced. All of their laughter lasted for a few moments until Sam had come to a realization.

“Fran, why do you want us to help you get girls, anyway?” Sam asked. “You do so well by yourself.”

“Yea, we see a new girl do the walk of shame out of your apartment every morning.” Ezra chimed in. “Sam and I even started rating which one was the best. Most of the women come out strutting down the hall like models on a runway or like they just finished a business deal.”

“Some of them even dressed the part,” Sam added. “However, some walk out all hung over and trip down the hall, it’s pretty funny.”

“Oh yea, remember the one from last Thursday?” Ezra chuckled.

“With the one high heel and the Mrs. Frankenstein afro?”

“Yep.” They were both trying to hold it in, but neither of them could contain there laughter. “That’s the one!” Ezra had his arms stretched out and mimicked the walk of Frankenstein’s monster.

“I don’t see what’s so funny. The last woman I saw walk out of your place was, Buttersnap. And she walked right into my apartment.” Fran said over the boys’ laughter. She didn’t know why she was being so defensive. She couldn’t care less about those women, but she realized how much she needed them. Not them exactly, but what they provided.

“No need to get hostile, Fran, we’re just joking,” Ezra said.

“Yea, sorry, but it was just too funny to pass up.” Sam said as he chuckled.

“I know, I didn’t mean to act like a bitch,” Francine apologized.

“It’s ok, we’re used to it.” Sam laughed at Ezra’s comment. Ezra looked at his watch and started cleaning up the table. “It’s getting pretty late and I don’t feel like going anywhere, so we’ll go out with you some other time, I promise.”

“You two aren’t ready, I understand. So, what do you guys want to do tonight?” Francine asked. They all looked at each other.

“How about a movie?” Sam suggested after a brief moment of silence.

“Sure. Let’s watch Star Wars,” Fran announced.

“Ok. What else should we watch?”

“Sam, its nine o’clock and you want to watch two movies? Don’t you have work to do tomorrow?” Ezra was very confused. He was glad Sam wanted to have a movie night, but Sam’s always so committed to his work that he never wants to make time for anything else. However, tonight, Sam was trying to do anything to avoid his work. He loved his job, however, the amount of assignments he had to complete stressed him out.

“I do, but I got a lot done today, so I can relax a bit.” Sam reassured his friend. He was lying and Ezra knew it.

“Alright, if you guys want, we’ll watch episodes seven and eight.” Ezra knew if his friend was over worked, he wasn’t going to stop the guy from relaxing a little. Sam and Francine agreed. As Ezra looked for the movies, the other two took comfort on the couch.

“…Ok, I just want to know? Do you guys think I’m a slut?” Asked Fran. She didn’t want to let things go. The guys looked at her. And at each other. And then looked away as they uttered words Fran couldn’t hear. “C’mon, you can tell me. I promise I won’t get mad,” she pleaded. Sam and Ezra looked at each other and back at her and shook their heads.

“Nope,” Sam said.

“No, just easy.” Ezra replied in a hushed voice.

“What did you say?” Fran said a bit too loudly than she intended.

“Hey. Don’t yell at me, I was just repeating what Sam said the other day.” Ezra had his hands raised in fear with one of them pointed towards Sam. Fran stared at Sam with narrowed eyes.

“Woah. Ez was the one who said you were a nympho,” Sam said. He started to laugh.

“You said what?!”

“That was not what I said. I said that you were probably a weirdo. Sam’s half deaf, he most likely misheard me. Like always.” Ezra tried really hard to defend himself, but no one was buying his crap. He looked at Kumo resting on the floor by the couch. “You believe me, buddy. Right?” Kumo lifted his head and stared at him for a second and laid he head back down. “Thanks, bro. You truly make me believe in the whole ‘man’s best friend’ saying,” Ezra said sarcastically. Kumo gave a soft bark as if to say, “You’re welcome.” “You suck.” Francine and Sam laughed.

“No, Ezra, you suck. And you’re a dumbass. Who argues with a dog?” Fran couldn’t stop laughing.

“Clearly, I do, so you both can just shut up.”

“You sounded like a five year old,” Sam said while Ezra took a seat on the couch.

“You’re a five year old,” Ez retaliated. He scowled and puffed out his cheeks like a toddler who had to share the toy he was playing with. The movie started to play.

“If you ask me, I think you’re both children,” Francine added.

“We didn’t ask,” the boys said simultaneously. They all laughed at the coincidence. They continued cracking jokes as they watched their movies. Neither of them wanted the night to end. They knew that once it did, they’d have to face reality. And reality sucked.

If We Were Having Coffee…

If we were having coffee, we’d be in my favorite cafe, The Espresso Bar, and I’d be drinking the best chai latte I have ever had called the chai way to heaven. It’s the chai latte of the gods. We’d sit down at the table in the middle of the dining area with the chess board. The best table in the house. After we took our seats, I’d tell you why I haven’t written any new stories in the past month. For those who truly know me, you’ve seen my serious face. I don’t show that face very often because it is the side of me I hate to bring out. Many terrible memories come with my serious, no bullshit personality.

I would look at you with my serious face and tell you I’ve been busy lately. That and I’ve had a bit of writer’s block. I would tell you that I have relapsed into the darkness. You would then put on a questionable look or if you know what I’m talking about, a look of concern would appear. I would continue my story nonetheless, not caring if you understood me or not. I had recently flew back to my parents place in Virginia. Winchester was a place I used to call home, no matter how much I hated it. I’d then tell you it was the place itself I hated, not the people. I went home for one reason and that was to help my friends. For the most part, it was a pretty good week. I visited my favorite band director and got tips on how to play the bass guitar. I spent a few days with one of my best friends since middle school. And those who know him, know that this friend can be a bit of an ass, however, I enjoy hanging out with him because no matter how bad he may treat me or how much he insults or makes fun of me, I know that he will always have my back. He supports me in almost all of my decisions and is completely honest with me. During my trip he did something I, nor anyone who knows him for that matter, would expect. He gave me an early birthday celebration and bought me a coconut cream pie, my favorite pie, and a Legend of Zelda journal to write in. This is the same friend who has known me for 10 years and never remembers when my birthday is. The last time I asked him when it was he thought the month it was in didn’t even exist, so the fact that he did that was a big deal to me. It meant that no matter what, our friendship would never wither away.

As we sit there sipping our drinks, I would then remember that I went too far off topic and get back to the main story. I was glad and flew back to see that friend because he was one of the people I was worried about, but not as much as some others. I spent time with 3 more friends during that week. One goofy guy who was down on himself last time I saw him because he didn’t believe in himself. He felt insecure because he felt that what he wanted to do with his life wasn’t as meaningful as his other friends. He wanted to be in the FBI while his friends wanted to be engineers. I told him that he shouldn’t feel bad because what he was doing was kickass and just as important as his friends stuff. I mean, he’s going to be a cop. That’s not only cool, but a noble and courageous profession. In return for lifting his spirits, he made me feel better about myself for some problems I had been going through. That weekend though, he had been as happy as can be. He had some girl troubles and we talked about it, watched a movie, and left him in good tidings. The last 2 friends were harder to help, I’m afraid, and I would soon tell you about the reason I’ve been so down.

The next friend of mine was a guy I love hanging out with because we get along so well and I feel like he understands my pain more than most. He was a bit depressed because of his college classes and he was having trouble with this girl that he was crushing on real hard. He loved spending time with this girl and became sad when she suddenly stopped talking to him. Turns out that girl’s sister had just been diagnosed with a serious illness and was deeply distraught. Not knowing that girl’s family struggle at that time he asked her something he regretted because it made him seem like a dick, which made him ashamed. We spent a lot of time together that week, however, when I left he was still in bad shape. I failed him. He also helped me bring happiness to another friend that week. A girl who fell so deep in the abyss of darkness that she made a bed there and slept in it all the time. She didn’t want to move. I don’t blame her all that much because I was the same way in my childhood. Except I walked through the darkness, instead. Even found the edge once. Almost jumped. This girl’s father had just died and she had no one to talk to. She had no real friends. On top of that, she hurt herself and was the most insecure person I’ve ever met. She had no self-confidence whatsoever.

I would ask you, “Have you ever met a gorgeous girl who thought they were ugly?” That was my first time and no matter how much I told her she was not ugly, she didn’t believe me. One day in that week, she had skipped school for a few hours, yes, she’s in high school, and my other friend and I drove her around town. We had a good day. And I could tell she had a great time. But her happiness was temporary. The warmth we showed her, the amazing light that overcame her darkness whisked away just as fast as it came. I failed her as well. I flew back home to Tucson knowing that I had failed to help 2 of my friends. I had the warmth of the desert sun on my back and felt cold.

At this point, you would probably tell me that I shouldn’t feel bad. I tried my best and that’s what matters. That I told them what I felt they needed to hear and now it’s up to them. Well, I would tell you that that’s bullshit. You may tell me that their problems are not my own, but to me, that not true. I don’t see it that way. I see it as my friends are in pain and I need to do everything in my power to make them happy. Even if it makes me sad. I have this ability that I’ve been cursed with since birth. The power of empathy. I feel the emotions of others and my emotions are affected by them. This past week, I had a chat with a friend about her depression. She didn’t show it, but she was so depressed that she wanted to cry and I knew that because I spent much of that day with her and even though it wasn’t a bad day for me, I felt stressed and empty inside and felt like crying.

As I finish the rest of my chai tea and take a moment for you to take this all in, I would tell you about something one of the most influential people in my life had said. This person is Cory Matthews from the TV show Boy Meets World. He is now in the hit TV show Girl Meets World. On the show, her taught the audience and his history class the secret of life. And that secret is that people change people. I would explain that people’s lives are determined by those who surround them, and that people’s happiness, love and strength come from others. That secret is like playing guess who with someone you barely know. It’s like trying to solve a riddle on the app of your phone. It’s like playing ‘Who’s That Pokemon’ back when you were little and you barely knew any of the Pokemon. Once you saw the person’s face, or spent points to automatically answer the riddle, or waited for the commercial break for them to tell you what Pokemon it was, the answer seemed so freaking easy. It makes so much sense right then and there that you feel like an idiot for not knowing it.

I would tell you that I live a complicated life. Not just because of my own problems, which are more than I care to admit, but because I take it upon myself to support the lives of my friends and family so they can live one filled with more joy than my own. Am I a good person? No. I’m just a dumbass who doesn’t have anything better to do. A guy who’s soul is tainted by guilt and sadness that he feels he will seek redemption by helping others. Actually, that’s not very accurate. Is my soul tainted? Yes. Have I done bad things. Yep. Do I seek redemption? No, I don’t care for that. I just feel that helping others achieve a joyful life is the right thing to do, so I do it. Meanwhile, in doing so, I have ended up making myself feel a little depressed and it’s affecting my school work, my writing, and my time with my friends who do nothing but make me laugh.

At this time, I would stare into my empty cup and wish I had enough money to buy another. I would then lighten the mood by putting on a smile and telling you about this cute girl I met on my flight and about the fun time I had with my parents and my old boss at the museum I used to work at. I would look and ask you for advice on what I should do and finally realize that you were never there to begin with. That you were just a figment of my imagination. Then the entire cafe would dissipate into the air and leave me back in the tiny park next my dorm. I had been staring at the stars when I drifted off to sleep around 4 am. Then I’d walk back to my room and go to sleep for another few hours until I had to get up for class. That dream would be pushed to the back of my mind, soon to be forgotten.

I apologize for my readers for not posting a story this time, however, this technically was a story. I usually would never share any of these things with people I thought couldn’t handle it, but I know not many people actually read my blog, so it wouldn’t matter anyway. And that it is my blog and I don’t really care at this time to reveal a bit about myself. This is something that I needed to get off my chest and hopefully, in doing so, some people have gained something out of this story. I have no idea what that should be, but I have this strong vibe that this post might be a tiny bit helpful to someone somewhere besides myself. Expect plenty of new stories to be posted this month and my usual joking self. To my friends and family…thank you.

 

Volt and Ash Part 2

It’s been a while, but I’ve finally finished another story to share. Ha…llelujah. Go ahead, somebody from the crowd give me an “amen!” And don’t worry, it’s now culturally acceptable for white people to do it too. Mostly. It depends. Anyway, I’m not the religious sort so church is not my cup of tea, though, I do applaud those goodhearted human beings that do and will reward you with a break from whatever deity you wake up so early to pray to and a healthy dose of comic book fan fiction created by your friendly neighborhood writer. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

A New Dawn:

Volt and Ash

Part 2

Austin started to adjust to his situation the more he ate his burger. He spoke very little since the ride over to S.T.A.R. Labs. He ended up embarrassing himself when he bombarded Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow with questions. He asked them how they got their powers, how they operated missions, if they were going to the Watchtower, and if he was going to meet the Flash. Maze wasn’t able to stop him from ranting because Maze passed out hard after a few minutes on the jet. When he fell asleep, everyone got worried because his body started to absorb the electricity from the jet. Austin could have sworn that Batman was about to attack his friend, so he lightly blasted Maze with smoke until Maze woke up. Austin informed his friend of what happened and Maze apologized with a laugh.

From that point on, Austin spoke carefully and made sure not to do anything that might piss off his idols. Maze on the other hand wasn’t concerned in the slightest. If he was, he did a great job not showing it. Austin was also too tired to want to do anything but sleep. After having a recorded interrogation with Black Canary for an hour and waiting even longer in a cold cafeteria for the Justice League to decide what to do with him, sleep was all he could think about. He stared at his cell phone. Lifeless. Probably filled with messages from his girlfriend and his family.

Maze watched Austin as he chowed down his second burger. He loved In-N-Out burgers. So simple, yet so deliciously perfect. Unlike his situation. Attending college to get an engineering degree with a crap ton of debt and loans to pay for was complicated enough. Now he had to deal with the world of super heroes and villains. Even though he hated his situation and just wanted to go back to his apartment and sleep for a whole day, he also felt oddly excited. He had always dreamed of getting powers and being a hero. He finally had the power to make a difference in the world. To save lives. Unfortunately, becoming a hero was not as easy as he would have liked. After almost getting beaten up by Batman because he did something he wasn’t aware of or even control, going through an annoying interrogation that was recorded for some reason, and having to wait for what seemed like eternity in the coldest room ever with some of the young heroes from earlier guarding the exits.

Maze finished his fries and picked up Austin’s phone. He slowly pumped it with electricity until the battery on the screen turned green. He then proceeded to do the same to his own phone. “It’s four in the morning. Wake them up and let them know you’re safe before they report you missing.” Maze got up and stretched. He was preparing for any hero who finally decided to confiscate their cellphones.

“Thanks, bud.” Austin smiled as he tried calling Selene. “Nice to see that you’ve got your strength back. All you needed was a nap and some food, huh?”

“Well, that and sucking the power from a jet, causing it to almost crash, perked me up a bit, too. I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna play with my powers while we wait.” Maze started to lift a table with his electricity.

“Nah, I’m good, I’m too tired to do anything else today. Just don’t destroy anything, you’re in enough trouble already.”

“I unknowingly threaten to bring down one plane and everyone wants to throw a fit. I don’t think we can stress enough how new these abilities are.” He tried blasting the ground to hover in the air, but didn’t get enough height.

“Are you trying to fly?” Austin asked as he set down his phone. He couldn’t reach anyone.

“Yea, I’ve always wanted to fly. I just don’t know how to do it with these powers.”

“Let me try.” Austin stood up and gathered smoke into his arms. He blasted the floor and soared into the air. “Woah, this is fucking great!” Austin hovered across the cafeteria as Maze looked on in amazement. Austin lowered to the ground right in front of his pal and was filled with excitement. “That was insane! Did you see that?!” He made sporadic movements as if he was trying to pump out even more excitement.

“That was totally awesome. I’m disappointed that I can’t do it, but that was cool, either way.” Maze couldn’t help but laugh at his friend.

“I guess it’s just not one of your abilities, bud. You could do what Static Shock did and use a disc to fly around. Like a trash can lid.”

“Yea, but I don’t want to copy someone else. That’s not cool.”

“Yea I feel ya. What else do you want to try?”

“I thought you were tired?”

“I was, but I’m jonesing now.” At that moment, Black Canary walked into the room and the boys went silent.

“Nice to see that you’re making yourselves comfortable,” She said as she walked towards them. “I have some news for you guys.” Maze and Austin turned to each other and talked some things over before turning back to their jailer.

“No offense, Black Canary, but if the news isn’t about us getting a hot shower and some sleep, we’re not interested,” Maze declared.

“I understand. We will get you properly arranged soon, but first, we need to go over some important information that has to do with your new abilities.” The boys gave each other questionable glances and silently agreed on what to say next.

“Okay, we’ll listen, however, what did you mean when you said you’d get us ‘properly arranged’?” Austin asked. The boys had an inkling of what their host meant and hoped that wouldn’t be her answer.

“The League has decided to keep you boys here for a few days in order to run some tests. We think that the mist you two were effected by activated your meta-genes, causing you to develop super human traits. Unfortunately, we can’t be sure without running tests and then we can see how else the mist may have affected your body chemistry.”

“And then can we go home?” The duo asked simultaneously. They stared at each other in shock. Canary was also stunned. She recollected herself and sighed,

“I’m not sure. It depends on the results of your testing.” The duo knew they had no choice, so they agreed. However, they both knew there was more that Canary wasn’t telling them.

“We’ll do the tests as long as you are completely honest with us, we’re in our twenties. We can handle it.” Maze hated when people beat around the bush. He wanted people to just say what they wanted to say straight out. “And you can start by telling us how many days we’ll be here, exactly.”

Unlike Austin, Maze had trouble staying asleep in their not-so-comfy hospital beds. He despised hospitals. All his life he had to stay in one cold, sickly building after another. Now he wasn’t even in a hospital and still had to sleep in one of those uncomfortable beds. He would’ve complained about there being hospital beds in a lab facility if he hadn’t already done it days ago. Maze decided to talk a walk around S.T.A.R. Labs. Because his clothes were torn up too much to ever wear again, he had to settle for wearing clothes bought by Black Canary. At least she got the clothes he requested. A pair of blue jeans, a new black and blue jacket, even a new blue beanie. He thought the lightning bolt t-shirt was a little much, but he had no choice. It was better than wearing those stupid white jumpsuits with the yellow S.T.A.R. Labs logo on it.

Actually, the entire facility was white. The walls, the floors, the furniture. Like someone went out of their way to prove how uncreative they were. Austin told him that maybe the person who built the place was being creative by having everything in white, but Maze couldn’t accept that. That was pure bullshit. As pure as the whiteness of the halls. Whomever cleans this place should get a serious raise, Maze thought. He had reached the roof. The nicest part of the building, for sure. A wooden deck with yellow lawn chairs and a quaint yellow table to eat at. There was even a random white couch. This was the oddest area of the whole property. As if someone else found the original layout absurd and said, “screw this,” and placed this here.

It was nine in the morning and the sun was already blazing over San Francisco. Maze gazed at the colorful city landscape when he announced, “it’s useless sneaking up on me. I saw you before you came outside.” Maze didn’t bother looking back.

“So you improved your electroreception. Great job.” Canary took a seat at the table. She wasn’t dressed in uniform. Instead she wore yellow capris, a blue blouse, and heels. The only black item she wore were her sunglasses. The light of the sun reflected off her blonde hair into Maze’s eyes.

“I was tired of people getting the jump on me. I improved more than that, though. You’ll find my results from the last five days pretty shocking.” Maze smirked.

“It doesn’t seem like your jokes have improved,” Canary smiled back.

“Ouch. That was uncalled for.” Maze took a seat. “What’s with the normalcy? I didn’t think heroes got a day off.”

“We do sometimes. Being super all the time can be stressful, believe me.”

“There you are, bud. I thought you snuck off to the city aga- oh hey, Canary, I didn’t recognize you. You look good.” Austin stopped talking before he made things even more awkward. Maze’s head hang in disappointment. The two of them worked real hard to keep their ventures into the city under wraps, but they could say goodbye to that now.

“Nice to see you Austin. And don’t worry, I’ve known about your trips for a while.”

“You have? How?” Austin wasn’t the only one stunned. Maze couldn’t believe it either.

“Articles about a vigilante duo beating up robbers and stopping a gang war aren’t common in San Francisco.” Canary set a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle on the table. The headline read, “Hooded Metas Blowup Gang War.” Maze started laughing.

“Hell yea, man! We made the news!” Austin read through the article.

“What I want to know is why you had to blow up half a block of the Mission District and how you did it when there weren’t any explosives present.” Canary had the demeanor of a cop conducting an interrogation.

“Well, that’s kinda hard to explain,” Maze answered. “You see, we sorta, accidentally, combined our powers, causing a huge blast. It didn’t kill anyone, but it did destroy much of the street we were on and injured a bunch of gang members. Which also made them easier to capture, so that was a plus.”

“At least we weren’t on Mark Zuckerberg’s street or we would’ve destroyed his mansion.” Austin added. Maze glared at him.

“That’s not helpful, bro.” Canary just shook it off.

“Okay, clearly you both need more training, but I am here thank you nonetheless. You two single handedly crippled the power structure of three gangs and halted their underground drug trade.”

“Does that mean we don’t have to stay here another week and can finally go home?” Austin asked as his face lit up.

“Sorry, Austin, but no. Instead I’m here to give you the day off and taking you both on a field trip.” The guys looked at each other with uncertainty. “Oh, and while we’re in public, call me Dinah. Dinah Lance.”

Dinah drove the duo from the Financial District to the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel in Nob Hill. It was a fairly large and elegant old bricked hotel. Top of the line. The duo followed Dinah to a room on the seventh floor. After a short pause in the hall, the trio were greeted by a man in business attire. A gray haired man wearing a gray suit greeted, “Hello, Dinah. I assume these are the boys you told me about.” He shook both of their hands as they walked in a rather spacious suite. A one bed living space with a living room set with a couch and two chairs all matching the tan and light brown color scheme. “It’s nice to finally meet you two, my name is Lucius Fox. And I believe you have already met my colleague.” He gestured to a blonde boy about the same age as Maze and Austin in a green hoodie with a single orange line across it. He pushed his glasses up his nose and said,

“I’m Richie Foley. You guys met me back in Phoenix when I was Gear.” He smiled at them. The boys had no words. What the hell is going on? Austin thought. This was not his idea of a day off. Finally, Maze replied,

“Is the secret identity rule not a strict nowadays?” Everyone besides Austin just laughed at the question. Austin tried to figure out why they were brought there.

“It’s nice to meet you both. I’m Austin Parslow and this is my friend, Maze.” They both waved at their hosts. “Could you tell us what we’re doing here?” Dinah stepped in.

“Lucius is CEO of Wayne Enterprises and supplies the League with much of our technology. Richie here, also known as Gear, has the power of super-intelligence and creates many gadgets to help with the hero business.” The duo nodded their heads. They still didn’t know what any of that meant.

“Okay…” said Austin. Canary picked up on their confusion.

“In other words, if you and Maze are going to continue playing hero with your powers, you might as well look the part and equipped for potential dangers.” Austin and Maze’s eyes widened.

“Does that mean?” Maze asked. They all approached a sheet at the back of the room.

“Fellas, I present to you your very own super hero costumes!” Richie and Lucius unveiled two full bodied manikins. One had a black suit paired with dark blue boots, a leather, hooded jacket, a blue eye mask, and blue, fingerless gloves. Two blue lightning streaks ran up each side of the torso of the tight, short sleeve suit and down the arms. The same design appeared on the jacket, also black with a blue hood. On the suit’s chest was a blue V-shaped lightning bolt in a static circle. The same insignia was found on the dark blue utility belt, except in black. The second manikin had a red and gray outfit. A red mask and fingerless gloves as well as a tight, short sleeve suit. The pattern on the torso were gray flames that turned red at the tip. The rest of it was red. A hooded vest had the same design, but the hood was also grey. The outfit was completed with dark gray paints, dark red boots, and chains wrapped around both arms. Austin and Maze were so shocked, they had to take it all in for a moment.

“Holy shit! Those are our suits!?” Austin didn’t take long enjoying his moment of silence.

“I can die happy right after I try that on,” Maze rejoiced. Lucius starting explaining the details of both suits.

“Like many of current heroes’ costumes, these costumes are made out of triple-weave Kevlar-lined material that can withstand standard gunfire and most sword strikes.”

“Did he just say ‘most’?” Maze interrupted.

“And ‘standard gunfire’,” Austin added. Mr. Fox continued.

“They are also lined with Nomex-reinforced fabric which makes them fire-resistant. You’re masks, vest, and jacket are made of the same material, but not as much Kevlar. And both pairs of boots are steel-toed. You will find several accessories attached. For Austin, we have two shatterproof polymer chain whips that can attach to your person as you see fit. And for Maze, we have a utility belt with a few gadgets made by Richie to accompany your unique abilities.”

“This is so awesome. Thank you all so much.” Maze and Austin’s wildest dream was finally coming true.

“What’s with the static V on Maze’s suit?” Austin asked.

“That is his symbol. It stands for Volt. It’s your hero persona. And yours is Ash. I came up with them myself.” Richie smiled, eagerly waiting for a response on the names.

“Those are cool, but a bit too simple,” Maze replied. “If you’d give us a moment.” Austin and Maze turned around and started whispering ideas. Their expression changed from delight to disappointment to confusion and disgust over the span of two minutes. They finally turned back to the others with pride.

“We’ve decided,” Austin proclaimed, “we will be known as Volttech and Steampunk.”

End of Part 2