For the preceding chapter, click here – XeoNexus Episode 1: Guardian Chapter 1
Not very far from the field where Brayden is laying a car drives up to a pleasant looking suburban home. It pulls into the driveway and the engine quietly shuts off. The driver side door opens and a black umbrella unfurls to cover the woman as she exits the car. She quickly trots up to the front door. Rummaging through her purse, the woman balances the umbrella while she searches for her keys. Droplets of rain sneak past the umbrella as it sways with the woman’s movements. She soon finds the object of her search and opens the front door. The woman enters the house. She folds down her umbrella and gives it a couple shakes before closing the door.
After placing the umbrella in a ceramic holder molded to resemble a Great Dane, the woman removes her overcoat and then hangs it in the nearby closet. The mail is at her feet which she picks up. Kicking off her shoes and setting them by the door, she walks over to the coffee table, sifting the envelopes deciphering what is important and what is junk.
“More bills,” the woman says with a sigh before dropping the bundle of notarized paper on the table. Making her way to the dining room, she removes her purse and sets it on the dining room table. It is then that she notices something is out of place. She listens for a moment. The house is unusually quiet. Unusual because there have been many a day she has arrived home from work to the sound of a television mixed with rock music blazing from the radio in her son’s room. A pattern that has not been missed by a single beat until today. It annoyed her at first, but she has grown accustomed to jumbled noises emanating from upstairs. Not hearing the familiar annoyance tickles the woman’s curiosity.
“Brayden?” she called. No answer came to her. “Brayden, you home?” the woman calls again, walking to the stairs. Again, all she hears is silence. Now her curiosity is peaked. Brayden’s mother heads upstairs to his room. Opening the door, she can see that his room is still disorderly in order. Clothes, magazines and CDs sprawled across the floor, but each was kept in their own neat pile. Posters of various bands and movies decorated the walls, providing a background for the shelves littered with collections of action figures, model cars and statuettes of dragons and other mythical creatures, and skeletons riding motorcycles. The room is of adequate size; however, the amount of stuff made it seem more enclosed.
“The least he could’ve done was make his bed,” said Brayden’s mother, looking at the misshapen mass of sheet and pillows. She has become used to Brayden’s clutter and therefore, doesn’t mind it. “He’ll just clean it up when he gets home,” she says before closing the door.
Sometime has passed since Brayden was struck twice by lightning and, amazingly, he is able to regain consciousness and slowly sit up. He rubs his head which is throbbing from pain. While he is sitting in the soggy grass trying to get himself together, questions began to race through his mind. ‘How could I’ve survived two lightning strikes in a row? Why wasn’t I killed? Why am I able to get up so easily?’ He looked at his clothes and hands while thinking, ‘Why aren’t my clothes singed or my hands burned?’ True, neither his hands nor his clothes were burned when he got struck. Brayden also checked his body and found that he is unscathed by the lightning strikes. The only evidence of Brayden ever being struck by lightning was the strong scent of static electricity in the air. With no recollection of how long it’s been since he was struck, Brayden got himself together and continued his way home.
Unknown to Brayden, he was being watched the whole time from the first lightning strike to him getting up and leaving the field. The figure in the black cloak had been standing out of sight at the entrance keeping a close eye on Brayden from a distance. The cloaked person assumed that Brayden was killed by the lightning until they saw how easily he stood up. Once Brayden is out of sight, the cloaked person turns and leaves the area, fading into empty space after a few steps.
Brayden finally arrived home some time later dripping wet from the storm that greeted him twice earlier, has now faded away. He takes out his keys and opens the door. After taking off his boots he steps inside his house. “Brayden, is that you?!” his mother’s voice came from the kitchen. Brayden takes off his book bag slowly, still aching from his ordeal with Mother Nature. His mother comes out of the kitchen. “Hey, what took you so long? You’re usually here before me,” she said as she walked towards him.
“What happened? Did you get off early?” Brayden asked as he took off his jacket and sat it on the floor.
“No, I came home my usual time,” his mother answered as she picked up the mail and looked at it again. Realizing she had already checked her mail, she placed it back down on the coffee table and picked up her son’s water-logged jacket. “Why you don’t carry an umbrella I’ll never know,” She said as she carried his jacket out to the laundry room in the back and hung it up.
“You said you came in your usual time? You don’t come home until about 7 o’clock,” Brayden said as his mother walked back into the living room.
“Brayden, it’s after 8:30. I’ve been home for more than an hour. I called Dan to see if you were with him once I noticed you weren’t home. He said you left right after school,” Brayden’s mother told him. Then she notices something odd about him. Her mother’s intuition kicks in and she asks, “Are you ok, honey? You seem a little…I don’t know…”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I…I guess I got so caught up in the storm that I lost track of time,” Brayden said, covering up what really happened.
“Well ok, but I really don’t like it when you go out whenever there’s a thunderstorm. Then again, I can’t really blame you for liking these storms. After all, your father used to chase tornadoes before we moved back here from Oklahoma, and it seems his interest in storms has rubbed off on you. I knew it would happen sooner or later considering he would sometimes take you along with him when you were younger,” Brayden’s mother said, “Just be careful ok. I don’t want you getting struck by lightning or something.”
Brayden flinches at the last statement his mother said. His mother notices the awkward look on his face and asks him once more if he was alright. “Yeah mom, I’m fine…really,” Brayden answered with a smile, hoping to defuse his mother’s curiosity.
“Well…alright. But you’ll let me know when something’s bothering you, right?” Brayden’s mother asked.
“Yeah,” Brayden assured her.
With that said she kisses him on the cheek and goes up stairs, telling him that dinner was on the table. He goes out to the kitchen and sees that his mom made fried fish and French fries. He continues out to the laundry room and puts on some dry clothes. After putting his rain-soaked clothes in the washing machine, he walks back into the kitchen and starts eating his dinner. As he is eating he takes out a picture of his father, who died six years ago, from his pocket. Brayden’s mind begins to fill with memories of his father, including a phrase his father always told him, “One day you will achieve greatness.” Brayden’s father not only chased tornadoes, but he also taught Tae-Kwan-Do and Judo on the side when he wasn’t chasing tornadoes and has trained Brayden in both martial arts styles. Brayden never forgot his father’s teachings and he thought about it more since his father’s death. He put the picture back in his pocket and finished his dinner. He washed his plate and went upstairs and watched TV. Ironically, he turned to the Discovery Channel and watched a two-hour program about thunderstorms and tornadoes. He fell asleep once the program was over.
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