Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blend

Blend
"Blend" was first published in January of 2013 in
Mustang's Monster Corral. Thanks Mustang!
Travis Wilfreit sat slumped with legs pretzeled, his backbone grinding against the hard stones of the painted wall. On the opposite side of the gym, beautiful Claire Bertrand stood giggling with her friend Bethany. The sound drew a gruff bark from the PE teacher, and the two girls went back to pretending to do their stretches.

Her hair was even more colorful than usual today. The deep azure of the past two weeks was now streaked with crimson on one side and snow white on the other.

"Hey check it out, I think stutter-magic's got a hardon, heh."

"Oh shit, ha, I think you're right!"

"Careful there Wilfreit, you w-w-wouldn't w-want to accide-de-dentally kno-kno-knock her up! We'd have to call up the CDC to come quarantine your o-o-offspring!"

Travis did his best to ignore the group of asshole morons guffawing and pointing at him from a few yards away. He stared at the floor between his legs, but his heart was pounding and hot blood was rushing up his neck into his cheeks; he was sure she had heard the comment from across the gym. Already he was beginning to feel the onset of that dream-like lightness in his chest, the sensation that always preceded one of his flip-outs.

Abruptly he got up and marched left along the wall, wending his way around clumps of slobbering vacant-eyed teenaged bodies until he reached the arched doorway leading to Gym B. As he passed through, he could feel the PE teacher's eyes on the back of his head, but he knew the man wouldn't say anything. Not to him; not now.

The big empty vastness of Gym B opened up before him. Travis moved left along the dividing wall until he reached the middle. The lack of people made it better here, but the feeling had not yet subsided. Find a distraction, and focus on it. Read a book or even just stare at something until you come down. He sat down and stared at the floor for a long time.

Something was wrong. Travis went through his mental exercises over and over, focusing on the floorboards in all their detail: the way the overhead lights gleamed in their lacquer, the narrow grime-filled cracks between the old planks, the very grain of the wood itself. He stared and stared, but the feeling wouldn't go away; if anything, it was getting worse.

A girl's laugh rang out from Gym A on the other side of the wall behind him. Travis put his hands over his ears and hunched his face closer to the floorboards. All he wanted was to disappear. To escape this place; to escape the feeling. But it continued to rise in him.

Desperate, he squinted his eyes until the boards blurred. That was better. He did it some more, and began to pretend he was actually inside the grain of the wood.

He could feel the fibers around him; he could even sense the pressures still holding the flesh of the long dead tree together. There was a funny odor, of oak and lacquer and glue. Travis smiled; it was cool and dark in here, and the light-chested feeling had begun to leave him. He lifted his head and looked around.

It was not exactly sight, but he could *see* through the wood all the way to the end of the board, where it met the painted stone blocks of the wall. How awesome it would be if he could be inside the stone, too, he thought. And so he tried moving, and was delighted to discover that he was able to travel along the grain of the wood unhindered.

As Travis blended from wood into stone, he *stood* and looked back. He could *see* everything in the big empty room behind him, but there was no sign of his body. It was gone; he was actually here.

Free, Travis *laughed* out loud. He laughed even louder when he peered from his hiding place in the wall into Gym A and saw the spooked faces of his PE class, backing away from the wall. This is real, he marveled.

"HAHAHA!!!" he bellowed. Everyone, including the PE teacher, scattered for the exit in a screaming panic.

Travis smiled. Taking a long, deep breath, he exulted in the musty old smell of the stone surrounding him, permeating him. He now knew, without a doubt in his mind, what he had to do. Who he was.

He would teach them, and they would be sorry. He would teach them all.

But right now, he had a whole new world to explore. Feeling suddenly full of energy, he dove, hurtling through stone and wood and metal, blending deeper and deeper, faster and faster. Travis laughed the whole way down.

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