Read Zero II Online

Authors: Jonathan Yanez

Tags: #Children's Books, #Comics & Graphic Novels, #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Adventure, #Children's eBooks, #Superheroes, #Fantasy, #Superhero

Zero II


Zero II





Jonathan Yanez





Text copyright © 2014 Archimedes Books

All Rights Reserved











Present Day

“Another drink, sir?”

In fact, can you just bring the bottle over? I think that will be easier for
both of us.”

certainly can, sir—would you like to be informed of the price? I mean
before I go get it?”

knew she was trying to be polite. Deep down he understood what was going
through her head. She was doing the math on how much he already drank,  adding
that to the cost of the bottle. “No, I don’t need to know the price. Just bring
the bottle please.”

caught the surprise in her eyes even as she tried to hide it from him, turning
to go. The waitress bobbed with a bounce of her blond curls and was gone.

smirked to himself and brushed a dark blonde strand of his own hair behind his
ear. He could feel the expensive fabric of his tailored shirt press against his
muscular chest and arms as he reached across the table for the book that lay face
up in front of him.

the book alone looked out of place in such a high-end bar, even he realized
that. The book reminded him of how he had felt as he made his own transition
from plain and ordinary to, something else entirely. Something he was still
trying to understand.

He could feel eyes on him from the
female patrons in the bar and the staff. He witnessed his waitress murmuring to
her coworkers while grabbing the requested bottle of 1939 Macallan.

The pages in his book gently ruffled,
his fingers touched familiar passages. The pages were like old friends. He
couldn’t help but smile as he remembered exactly how many times he had read the

The lighting in the bar was dim, which
would have posed a problem to anyone else but him. He could see the words on
the page as clearly as if he were sitting at a bench in the park with the sun
on a cloudless sky.

He heard her before he saw her. “Here
you are, sir. The most expensive bottle we have. I had to convince my manager
that this wasn’t a joke but when I told him who ordered, it he practically ran
to fill the request.” She placed the newly dusted bottle of whisky on the
table. “You come here often?”

He put the book down, blue eyes making
contact with her own. “From time to time. Usually there’s a different waitress

“Oh, I’m part of the day shift. I’m
just picking up extra hours.” Her eyes fell from his, hesitated too long on his
muscular torso and rested on the book that was placed on the table. “Spartans,

He nodded, “Spartans.”

An awkward silence filled the space between
the two as the attractive young woman grasped for a follow up line. The line she
never had to use before, men had always felt obligated to fill the silence in
an attempt to please her. “Ummm… can I pour the whisky for you?”

“No, that’s fine you can leave the

She cleared her throat, once again at
a loss for words. “If you don’t mind me asking, who are you? I mean the entire
night staff seems to know you and I think every woman in here has asked about
you since you sat down.” Her face reddened even as she asked the question.

He looked at her, he really looked at
her. She was pretty, young and carried herself like a woman rather than a girl.
High energy and a steady smile made her not only attractive but even
approachable. He didn’t blame her for the question in all fairness it was one
that he had been trying to answer for the past four years. “I don’t know. I
don’t know if I’ll ever know. The last few years have been a blur of temporary

This was clearly not the answer the
waitress was expecting. “Oh, okay. Well, let me know if you need anything. My
name is Sophia.”

He nodded as she turned and left. Part
of him wished he had been nicer, but it was the truth. Alan Price opened the costly
bottle of whisky as nonchalantly as someone would open a water bottle. He
poured himself a generous portion. As the glass traveled from the table top to
his lips he thought back to the first night he realize that life would be more
of a mystery than he ever thought possible.

Four Years Ago

Alan’s whole body tingled. He felt
warmth emanating from the very core of his being. Air leaked slowly, almost
painfully into his lungs as his mind fought for an answer. The fall that should
have killed him, the plummet from the business building dozens of stories up
left him standing on his feet rather than a stain on the cold cement ground.

Alan’s eyes darted around him, above
him, everywhere, anywhere that would provide an answer to why he wasn’t dead. There
was nothing that could have stopped him. Alan never felt so alone. No one would
believe him even if he could explain what happened.

He searched desperately for any
pedestrians, anyone to confirm that he wasn’t crazy, that he had flown or at
the very least hovered. There was no one. The business district that teemed
with human traffic during the day was a desert of tall buildings and empty

Alan would have stayed there, stuck
searching for an answer that seemed unexplainable if not for the wails of
distant sirens. It came back to him in a second, the security guard on duty
must have called the police. 

Waiting and trying to explain to the
police what transpired seemed like a joke. Maybe they could have helped him but
adrenaline was surging through Alan’s veins at a sickening pace. In that moment
he decided to run.

Tuxedo jacket trailing behind him Alan
ran away from the sounds of the nearing sirens and to a future that seemed more
bleak and alone than ever.

Four Years Ago

Going home wasn’t an option. In a
weird kind of way Alan felt like he was starting his life from the beginning. He
had nothing. Any money he once owned was spent on the tuxedo and haircut that
night for the school dance. He was alone, vulnerable and above all confused.

The wind that pushed him over the top
of the building reminded him of how alone and helpless he really was. Even now
it buffeted him from side to side. Alan wrapped his slender arms around himself
forcing his body not to shiver against the cold.

He was in the heart of the city. The
business district was only a few short blocks from downtown. Alan made his way
down the street.  So wrapped up in how he managed to escape death only
minutes before, his current destination seemed the least of his worries.

This is crazy. You’re going crazy.
There is no way you should have survived that, no way. How… But…

Alan felt as though his mind was
tearing. Synapsis were firing at a frenzied speed and theories ranging anywhere
from some kind of cable or net he couldn’t see hindering his fall to an alien
being catching him out of some kind of intergalactic pact with humanity filled
his head.

Alan shivered despite his best efforts
as cars drove by and lights passed him. The downtown district of the city
played to its rough reputation with harsh brick buildings and cement walls.
Hotel and motel lights blinked off and on, welcoming any visitor with signs of
vacancy. Hot dog stands and all night diners reminded Alan of the last time he
ate and at the same time his current lack of money.

“Hey, hey, kid. Where ’ya going?”

Alan looked to his left. In a dark
alley between two closed buildings stood two men. The one that had addressed
him was easily twice as wide as he was. A hooked nose and deep scar on his left
cheek told Alan all he needed to know. Alan knew what a bully sounded and
looked like even if he wasn’t at school.

Instead of trying to reason with the
man or engage him in conversation, Alan put his head down and quickened his
pace. His eyes searched up and down the block for anyone that could help, but
much like his fall from the building, there was no one around.

“Hey, did you hear me!? I’m talking to
you clown.”

Alan refused to look back yet he could
hear the footsteps of the two men as they started to follow.

“Stop walking!”

The footsteps behind him quickened,
turning into a run. Alan felt panic seize his heart yet again. Before any
thought could be put behind his action, he too began to run. As if fueled by
some primitive instinct his legs shot into action underneath him. An image of an
antelope being chased by lions flittered though his thoughts.

Even as he ran he knew he couldn’t outpace
his pursuers. Not only was he wearing rented tuxedo shoes, Alan was anything
but athletic. His body was built for events more along the lines of spelling
bees and chess tournaments, not sprints.

Alan gritted his teeth. The cold wind
blew across his face. The sound of pursuit was growing and he only had seconds
before they were on top of him.

Just get to the next block. You can
duck inside that motel. Don’t stop, run!

Alan didn’t make it: the motel was
within shouting distance now but even as he filled his lungs to yell for help,
he felt a firm hand grab his left shoulder.

Then it happened again. Fear, panic,
adrenaline, and the will to live surged from someplace deep within—someplace
only recently discovered. Alan felt warm as he ran forward trying his best to
shrug off his pursuer and make it to the next block.

Alan ran as though the very dogs of
hell were behind him. In what seemed a second, the grip on his shoulder
released, the pounding sounds of pursuit faded and the scenery around him
blurred for the briefest second. He stopped, forgetting about his pursuers and
wondering why his vision had been distorted. Alan found himself well passed the
motel that had just before only been a single block ahead of him.

Alan shook, his chest heaving as he
sucked in cold air that stung on the way down to quivering lungs. He turned in
a circle. The motel he was desperately trying to reach was now a block behind
him. He had to squint to see the men chasing him. They stood barely visible in
the dark, two blocks down.

Alan couldn’t see their facial
expressions but the men weren’t moving. They looked like they were talking to
each other, just as confused as he was. Alan was shaking, not from the cold,
but from what had just occurred.

He looked down at his hands that
vibrated with the fear of what was happening. His heart was still racing, the
answers he so desperately needed still not coming.

Breathe, relax, you’re safe. You’ll
figure this out. Can you really move that fast?

Alan took a deep breath. There was
another motel on this block. Apparently he passed it while he ran. Alan took a
step toward it now, a step toward the two men that had chased him.

They watched him approach. From two
blocks away Alan could hear them scream as they turned and ran.

Four Years Ago

A bell attached to the shabby motel
clanked as Alan entered. The entire waiting room stank of stale food and sweat.
A bulletproof glass booth to his left half obscured a pale elderly woman who
looked him up and down without hesitation.

Alan swallowed hard as he made his
best attempt at a smile. “Hi, I uh—I need a room for the night.”

The woman, clearly judging Alan, put
down her gossip tabloid. The magazine she placed on the counter showed a blurry
picture of a fight scene, taking place on a crowded street in upstate New
York.  The woman squinted through her thick glasses. “Only one night? Need
a deposit homeboy.”

“Oh well, you see I’m kinda short on
money right now bu—“

“No money, no stay at momma’s palace

“Wait, what? Did you just call this place
a palace?”

The woman raised an eyebrow.

“I mean of course it is. It’s an
amazing palace. Listen, I don’t want a handout, I’ll work or…” Alan groped
through his jacket and pant pockets searching for anything that would allow him
to convince the woman to let him stay. His right hand felt the form of his
empty wallet, his left hand closed on the hard steel keys of the stolen car and
his cell phone. “Look! Look, I have this cell phone; it has to be worth one
night. Please I just need one night.”

The elderly woman motioned Alan to
slide the phone under the dense glass window. She pursed her lips as she
rummaged though apps on his phone. “This have internet access, homeboy? Wi-Fi?
Bluetooth compatible?

“Yes, yes, it has everything. Very top
of the line.”

“Hmph, okay, one night.”

Alan nodded vigorously.

Even as the woman reached behind her
for a worn set of keys with a red tag that read #7, she hesitated. “You in some
kind of trouble, homeboy? Momma don’t like having trouble at the palace.”

“No,” Alan lied through his teeth, “I
just need a place for the night. I won’t bring momma or the palace any

“Okay,” the woman released her grasp
on the room key and let it slide under the window.

Alan grabbed the key before the woman
could rethink her offer and left the office. The woman seemed anything but
interested in Alan as he caught her looking down on her new phone.

The walk from the motel office to his
room was short. The entire complex was made up of only a dozen or so rooms. The
furthest motel apartment was only a few yards away from the lobby.

The motel formed a kind of horseshoe
shape around a poorly maintained pool. There were weeds growing up the side of
the fence that surrounded the water and its uninviting green tint.

Alan wasted no time in finding his
accommodations for the night and letting himself inside. The room was what he
expected, small with a scent in the air that reminded him of must and mold.  

He flicked the lights and closed the door.
Alan took in his new surroundings; lumpy bed to his right, a small dresser and
TV that looked like they came from a different century and a door further back
that Alan guessed led to the bathroom.

What are you doing? What are you
going to do? What’s happening to you?

No answer came as he reluctantly sunk
into the worn mattress. He knew he couldn’t go home. Not only after “borrowing”
Tony’s car and being humiliated at school but especially now after experiencing
whatever it was that was happening to him.

Alan settled on the bed staring up
into the ceiling. Still fully clothed, still with the light turned on, still
with no answers. He forced his mind away from the thought of sleeping on a bed
that had probably been part of a murder scene at one point or another. Staring
at the white cottage cheese ceiling that practically screamed of asbestos, he
drifted off into a fitful sleep.

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