Axel had always gotten changed and left the locker room long before anyone else entered, purposely avoiding situations like this. His day dream from earlier had clouded his mind, and he now found himself in the worse of possible scenarios. Pb, Peter Brown, the unwakeable nightmare had captured him once again.
"Told yeh he was listening." smirked Pb's long haired friend standing behind him.
Jeff was the J that completed PB. He was always behind him, always making things worse for Axel. He was a thin teenage boy that seemed like the type to always be listening to punk rock. His long hair dropped out of the beanie reaching down to his back.
"Hey look everyone it's the dreamer Axel!" Peter proclaimed loudly. Laughter erupted from students looking outside.
"So where are you hurrying off too huh buddy? Are you going to blow our minds again with your spittle again?"
"Spitting up a lugy? What are you a retard?" Jeff mockingly said.
Pb laughed. "Hey Axel what do retards sound like?" mocked Pb tightening his grip on Axels sweatshirt.
Axel looked around the dugout hopelessly searching for help, finding the only students not participating in his ridicule, off minding their own business. From the corner of his eye he saw his teacher Mr. Bené out on the practice field.
"Maybe I he let out a yell…"
"Hey" PB said as he grabbed Axel by the neck and slammed him into the wall again. "I said make retard sounds!" he said firmly. With those words little dots began to pop up on the surface of Pb's face. They quickly began to multiply in succession, slowly turning his skin pigment into a greyish tint of black.
"P…..B" Axel groaned as he started to lose breath
Suddenly the room started spinning. The voices of his jeering peers began to slowly fade until their voices came to a mute, and soon their images began to fade as well. Axel found himself alone in some other strange dimension.
He was no longer in the alleyway dugout leading to his schools track and field. He instead found himself in a room in a house pinned to the wall by some invisible force.
As Axel fought and struggled to free himself from the invisible impedance, a fire began to warp and transform itself revealing the outline of a man.
From the depths of the flames a man dressed in rags proceeded through the fire wholly unscathed. His body was tightly wrapped in some kind of paper from the bottom of his toes to the bridge of his hair. The burning sarcophagus, slowly crept toward Axel, swinging his arms side by side as he approached.
"NO" Axel screamed in terror "NOT AGAIN!"
It was too late, the man appearing from the fire grabbed Axels arms scorching them with flames.
He began a wicked chant as Axel screamed in pain
"By the flames of Prometheus I lay these embers upon this child... Die now and from the ashes and be reborn!" The man yelled
"So" PB said "how does a retard sound?" he said violently
Axel returned to his senses looking down at PB and the crowd of tormentors.
"AURAUARURAU" said Axel as he fought for air. "AAURRU". Everyone in the area ached with laughter.
"Alright Boys! Stop fooling around!" came a voice from the center of the field. "Get your asses out here before I have you running laps!"
PB let go of Axel and exchanged smirks with Jeff.
"See you after school, buddy" he said cruelly patting Axel on the shoulder.
Axel slid his hoodie over his head as he walked back to the locker room examining his arm. His head was lowered in defeat but his eyes were wide open, like he had been struck by lightning.
"That memory" he said depressingly as he firmly grasped his arm. "I wish that was a dream...".
He lifted up his sleeves revealing scorch marks of previously burnt skin, proof that the memory was in fact no dream.
"Dreams….. Memories…. Reality… It's becoming harder and harder to find the difference" Axel thought as he grabbed his arm.
"Yo Ax" Reggie said, emerging from the locker room.
Axel quickly dropped his sleeves down as he intercepted Reggie.
Reggie approached with a clench fist, holding something in his hand.
"You were in such a rush you dropped this man!"
Reggie reached out and handed over to Axel a gold necklace glittering in the light.
"You shouldn't leave something like that on the ground!"
"Your right", Axel said, admitting as he put it around his neck.
"Is that new? I've never seen you with that before" Reggie curiously asked.
"No, I always wear sweatshirts so it's usually not visible, but I;ve been wearing it since my first day here" Axel answered.
"It's definitely got a weird shape…. but its nice man! I dunno if you should bring it to school though, at least not when Pb's looking" Reggie said out of concern.
"Thanks," Axel said gratefully, "It was a gift from my mother before she passed" Axel said nostalgically.
Axel lifted up the necklace bringing it to eye level. He admired its carefully crafted gold pendant, a symbol his mother had once explained that he had forgotten in time. It had been several moments before he realized how long he had left Reggie beside him in silence.
"Also thanks for the concern" Axel said shifting towards Reggie. "But PB isn't interested in something like this, he thinks it makes me look like a girl hehe" Axel laughed halfheartedly, attempting to water down the remark. He stared back nostalgically into the necklace reflecting on his mother's legacy.
"Yaknow Ax, my father once told me something wise about people like PB" Reggie said, placing his hand on his chin.
"What did he say?" asked Axel?
"Someone whose mind is made of false values, will never comprehend anything of real value" Reggie said, putting on a serious adult-like impression.
"Wow" Axel remarked "that's very wise"
Axel thought back to the calculus class he had slept through earlier, seemingly triggered by the word value.
"Did he say anything about the Intermediate value theorem? I could use some help with that!" Axel asked curiously.
"Hahah Actually he slept through his calculus classes too! He also used to say "Why work smarter or harder when a computer can do both better!" Reggie said laughing
Axel chuckled softly as he rubbed the underside of his wrist. "Real value huh? I wonder if my values are real? "He thought.
"Well I'm gonna head up to the field, good luck Ax" Reggie said smiling.
"Thanks" Axel said as Reggie took off.
Axel took another look down on his chain remembering his mother's words.
"You are never alone my son, the light of the father shines brightly within you! That is your true power".
He smiled admiring the necklace one last time before making his way to the field.
"WHAT THE!" Axel screamed
A rush of heat trickled up his spine, giving him the presence of something huge right behind him. Sporadically spinning around he got ready to intercept the force.
"There's no way, I felt someone right behind me" Axel said
Strangely enough, he found nothing occupying the space between him and the gym door. He continued to spin, looking up at the trees and then to the rocks surrounding the school, but inevitably found nothing there.
"What are you losing your mind now?" he laughed as he turned to continue his journey.
It wasn't more than 2 steps before he felt the same presence again. He spun around expecting to encounter the force, but couldn't see anything behind him that had changed. Axel anxiously whipped his head around, trying to find the source of the persistent rubbernecking. Someone, somewhere, was watching him, and whoever they were, they were watching him intently.
"619, you really shouldn't stare at people like that" said a man in the distance.
"But…. he's the same as me" a teenage boy answered in response.
A man and a young boy stood 80 feet in the air, atop of the school's flag post far from Axels view. They were standing back to back on the small spherical finial at the end of the pole whispering to each other.
"Interesting, is that so", the man laughed. "Then would you care to meet him? Maybe you two could foster a friendship of some sort."
"I'd like that very much!" The boy said gleefully closing his eyes and pumping his fists.
"Remember the promise you made to me if I find you a friend."
"I promise," the boy said sincerely. "I promise once you help me find a friend, I'll help you find the friend that you lost…But….. You have to make sure we're really friends first!" The boy exclaimed
"And how will we know that?" The man asked
"I read somewhere that friends have secret handshakes, so… as soon as that happens!" The boy said eagerly.
"Good", said the man happily, "I promise to make you friends, but you mustn't use your powers, no matter what!" The man said waving his finger
"Are you forgetting 619? What happened to all your other friends at the facility? There are few who can see your power without being filled with terror."
The boy looked down at his hands as they sparkled with blue light. After admiring them the light slowly began to fade returning them to their normal state.
"If it's what I have to do to find a friend… I'll do it no matter the cost!" He said diligently.
"Good" said O'Brian smiling, "Now why don't we introduce ourselves to your... friend?"
"Awesome!" The boy said, taking off in Axel's direction.
"EHEM" said the man grabbing the boy mid jump.
"I will do the introductions." The man said, taking lead.
"Let's have a little fun now, shall we?" He said with a grin "Before we show him the magnificence of this world let's first show him a little chaos"