A boy’s shocking personality.

The old Mustang pulled into the school parking lot, its motor rumbled a deep purr as it moved through the rows. When an acceptable spot was found the car nosed into it. Without so much as a cough the motor cut off. Its red paint gleamed in the morning sun; fresh wax having been lovingly applied.

Hans Madison stepped out onto the pavement. He put his hand on the door frame and jerked it back for a moment, then slammed the door with obvious ire. Trying to think of some way to avoid getting zapped like that again, he reached up and adjusted his long, blond ponytail.

He looked about and noted that his new car had drawn the attention of several girls. He had promptly lost it. He shook his head. He wasn’t bad looking, handsome he’d even been told. He took great pains to be polite and considerate. And he was in pretty darn good shape too.

Of course a good part of his being in shape he could easily attribute his good friend and Kendo partner, Hasaki Jinsoku. Jin-kun to his friends.

The sound of a skateboard drew Hans’ attention. With none other than Jin-kun careening his way upon it. At the last possible moment, Jinsoku came to an abrupt stop in front of Hans, his board flying up into his hands, as though drawn by magnets.

“Whoa, Hans! Bitch’n wheels! Fersure I thought it was you drivin’ it.”

Hans always got a blast out of how his friend spoke. Jinsoku had never even been to California, but with one’s eyes closed, hearing him speak for the first time, one would think, “big, dumb, blond, surfer dude.” That contrasted greatly with his slender, wiry build, straight black hair, in a head band today, and the high cheekbones one would expect from someone born in Japan.

“Oh, and good morning to you too, Jin-kun,” Hans remarked sarcastically.

Hans placed a possessive hand on the roof of the gleaming vehicle. “You remember when I was 16 and Dad promised me that if I could drive for two years without a dent he’d go half on a car with me. He didn’t think I’d saved up as much as I did, but he came through.”

Jinsoku eyed Hans’ car greedily. “Cool. I wonder if my uncle would do that for me?”

Hans raised and an eyebrow. “Didn’t you wreck his last two cars?”

Board in one hand, Jinsoku shrugged. “Too true, Dude.” He poked Hans in the chest. “Bet you never get a girl in the back seat. What with your shocking personality and all.”

“Jin.” Hans flipped Jinsoku off.

“Heh heh. So when can I borrow it?”

Looking Jinsoku in the eye, Hans flipped him off with both hands. They laughed and chatted on their way into the old brick building. A sign read “Riverside High School” with a stylized raven in black and red school colors on either side. So it was no coincidences that a particularly large and venerable raven, a familiar sight around the school grounds, eyed the encroaching students from atop the doorway. As he began loudly scolding the students, they began to press forward. That always meant First Bell would be ringing soon.

Once the yard cleared, the raven’s kin would be along to harvest food scraps conveniently dropped by the kids. It had been suggested that being his reason for wanting everyone hurried along. A small price to pay to have a living mascot.

They split up at the first hallway intersection, waving each other off. Hans barely noticed that other students gave him wide berth. It had been that way all through high school. He just had that little problem that caused people to keep their distance.

Hans stopped before his locker. Someone had removed the carbon discharge tape again. He reached tenuously for the combination dial. If he grabbed it just right . . .

Hans heard a “crack” just as he felt a sting, right under his right shoulder blade. Someone had touched him on the back and had gotten a big static shock for it. That was his problem.

Hans turned to see one of the shortest guys in his class, and his only other friend, Dave. Dave’s wavy black hair had been cropped short over the weekend but in few short weeks it would be long and wavy again. He had his big pack today, the top of it towering over his head. Hans would bet this one had a good twenty or thirty pounds of books, “Space Doc” toys, and who knows what else in it.

“Dave? Are you OK?” he asked.

Dave rubbed his fingers, as he said in his oddly deep voice, “My hand’s a little numb. Man, how one guy can build up so much of a static charge is beyond me.”

“I’m sorry. You should have let me ground myself first.”

A passing feminine voice said, “Carrying anyth ing for me, Donka?”

Dave paused to wave back at the gaggle of girls walking by. “Only a torch, Donna,” he said with a half shrug.

Hans never got that kind of attention. Come to think of it, nobody got the kind of attention that Dave “Donka” Gordon got from girls. It wasn’t fair.

Dave turned back to Hans, saying, “Ah, it’s not your fault. I should know better by now.” He muttered, more to himself than to Hans, “They sure seem to be getting stronger lately.” Then he smirked. “You’re Mr. Varnir’s aide for third period. I hear he has one of those static generators set up. Maybe he’s found a cure for your condition.”

Hans stopped outside the teacher’s lounge. “Wise guy.” He waved Dave off. “You’d better get moving or you’ll be late for Home Room. I have to hit the teacher’s lounge. Someone decided that faculty and student aides should take a First Aid class.”

Dave grinned broadly, saying, “You’ve got the class. I’m teaching it. Got certified last week.”

“No kidding?”

“No joke, and I’m getting extra credit for it. I’m gonna be just like Dr. Bob on ‘Space Doc.'”

“I told you there’s more to life than that TV show.”

“Yeah.” Dave’s eyes gleamed. “Now, outta my way. I’ve got a class to teach.”

* * *

It had taken forever for third period to arrive. The last week of school always seemed longest and at the same time, most frantic. Only a few days until summer, but there were still finals to study for.

There really wasn’t much being taught the last week. Even the instructors liked to have a little fun between reviewing for finals. In this case, Mr. Varnir, a portly little man, with a wise, yet friendly face, was going on about static electricity, which most of his students already knew about from freshman and sophomore year classes. But it was entertaining as he made sparks jump between objects. Hans tried to concentrate on scoring tests, but every pop and snap made him jump.

Dave leaned over and whispered to Hans. “You look nervous.”

Hans didn’t look up, but replied, in a musical, you-already-know-the-answer tone, “I usually try to avoid static.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Varnir seemed to have caught that.

“And now we need a volunteer,” he chimed. “Mr. Madison, I understand that you are something of an expert on static electricity. Why don’t you come up here for a ‘hair raising’ experience?”

Hans looked up to see that he now had the full attention of the class. “Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea, Sir.”

Mr. Varnir patted the globe of the generator. “Nothing to be worried about, Hans. You’ll just stand on this rubber mat and touch the sphere while it runs.”

It occurred to Hans that: 1) he had the longest head of hair in the class, at least that didn’t include copious amounts of hair spray; and 2) he should have known well enough to play hooky on a day that Mr. Varnir had a toy to play with.

“I . . .”

Grinning evilly, Dave said, “Go for it, Hans.”

With a thumbs-up, Jinsoku added, “Do it, Dude.”

They had plenty of practice, so no need to cue each other the class started chanting: “Hans, Hans, Hans.”

They were doing it to him again. Oh well, it wasn’t like anything bad could happen, hopefully.

Throwing up his hand in resignation, to the cheers of the class, Hans agreed, “All right already. I’ll do it.”

He undid his pony tail and stepped up to the globe, placing his hands on it. Mr. Varnir turned the generator on. It spun up and whirred. Nothing happened. Only the hum of the generator was heard. Waiting, still nothing. Not so much as a hair wafted out of place.

Stepping toward the generator, Mr. Varnir mumbled, “Maybe the belt’s come loose.”

As Mr. Varnir reached for the switch on the base, a bolt of electricity shot out from the globe to the water tap, then the overhead light, then an outlet, then they were all over. The lights flared and went dark revealing a circle of electricity, about 2 feet across, where the globe used to be.

Through the circle, Hans caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman. It was her pale blue eyes that caught his attention. Eyes just as wide as his own, looking back at him. With a shock of almost recognition, she stepped toward the circle. As she reached out, it chose that moment to snap itself closed.

≪Duat! What was that?!≫

The lights flickered back to life. A thin wisp of smoke rose from the remains of the generator.

Mr. Varnir just stood there, for almost a full minute. Then he simply waved his hands to dismiss the class.

* * *

It was almost lunch time anyway. Since it was a warm day, hinting at a warmer summer, Dave and Hans sat on a bench outside.

In spite of his size, Dave was a baritone. He was also barrel chested and strong winded. He was once thrown out of a bowling alley for making too much noise after someone told him a dirty joke.

Still excited from class, Dave easily drowned out the din of the other conversations around them. “I think it was some sort of video reception. Just think, if we could duplicate that, there would be no need for televisions. You could just project a screen anywhere you like. I bet I could get my hands on one of those static globe things.”

“Dave.” Hans’ tone was flat.

“Huh?”

“No.”

“But we could be rich.”

“NO.”

“We could be famous.”

Hans said, still deadpan, “We could be dead.”

Jinsoku plopped down beside them.

“Dudes, that was awesome. Too bad we can’t tell anyone.”

“Huh?” Dave coughed out.

Looking at his longtime friend, Hans asked, “Jin, what are you talking about?”

Jinsoku held his hands out as if framing something, “‘Bizarre Science Experiment Opens Window To Alternate Dimension?’ You think talking about that won’t land you in the loonie bin? I’ve spoken to everyone else, including Mr. Varnir. They’re all going to keep mum. Guess I shoulda started with Dave, think’n about it.”

“Huh?”

Hans glowered at Dave, “You’re so eloquent, Dave.”

Dave shrugged.

Incredulously, Hans turned back to Jinsoku, “Alternate Dimension? You’ve been watching too much anime, Jin.”

“Guys, think about it. Did you even look at the babe?”

Hans mumbled, “I was . . . still recovering.”

Dave closed his eyes and recited, “Long black hair, slender build with pert, high breasts, high cheekbones and a narrow chin . . .”

Jinsoku rolled his eyes. “The ears. Didn’t you see the ears?”

At that, Dave was barely able to contain his enthusiasm. “Yeah, I saw ’em. It had to be a ‘Space Doc’ episode. I was telling Hans we must have caught a video broadcast of some sort.”

Jinsoku looked Dave in the eye. “Oh yeah? Which episode? If anyone would know, you would.”

Dave shrugged. “Um. I figured it was a new episode, maybe coming off a satellite feed to the station. But now that I think of it, there’s nothing new coming on for a couple of weeks. Maybe it’s some other show.”

Shaking his head, Jinsoku said, “Nope, that was an elven princess in distress, probably locked up in some tower. I think she was going to try jumping for the window before it closed. She’s lucky we didn’t end up with a half of an elf. Heh heh.”

Shaking his head as well, Hans stood up. “And I thought Dave’s idea was far fetched.”

A bell rang. Students started heading back into the school building, Hans and Dave among them.

Jinsoku looked at his unopened lunch box. “Bogus. I didn’t even get to eat yet.”

* * *

Hans gave Jinsoku a ride home after school. Jinsoku lived with his uncle in an apartment over what had originally been his grandfather’s dojo.

A dojo that Hans and Jinsoku had spent many hours in, almost from the first day they had met. What had originally started out as playing “ninja” had evolved into the regular practice of Kendo, with Jinsoku teaching Hans what he learned from his uncle.

“You’re not coming in, Dude?” Jinsoku seemed disappointed. “You’re getting good enough, you might win tonight.”

Hans made a one-handed shrug. “Jin-kun, I call it good when I can just score a point on you. Why is it that I have to be the one that competes? You’re the best of us.”

“It’s not appropriate for the sensei to compete.”

Hans pursed his lips. “I’m your only student as I recall. Anyway, I don’t have time tonight, or this week. I need to study for finals. And I want to put some finishing touches on my history paper. It is due tomorrow.”

Jinsoku shrugged. He never had to study and could produce lengthy, error free papers, references and all, literally on demand.

“Alright Dude, but you’re gonna train double hard once school’s out. We’ve only got the summer left before you head off to college.”

* * *

Hans parked outside the house he shared with his father and walked inside. Hans noted yet another raven, his school was too far for it to possibly be the same bird. It practically looked him in the eye before flying off.

“What is it about this town and ravens anyway?” he thought.

His father was already home, reading a book in the living room. An arched eyebrow, a shrug, and a subtle smile told each that all was right with the other. They would talk later. There was always later.

Entering his room, Hans tossed his books onto the bed and sat in front of his computer desk. He reluctantly looked over at his grounding plate, a piece of sheet metal with a wire leading off from it. Unfortunately it was necessary if he didn’t want to have to spring for yet another computer. He reached over to it and got a big, fat, blue spark as a reward.

A rare curse escaped his lips. That one hurt, really hurt. Biggest one since, who knows when.

Still waving the tingling fingers of his right hand, he powered up the computer and monitor with his left hand. It started coming to life, only to suddenly go dark and silent.

Hans arched back, his hands on his forehead, “No, not now.”

The lights flickered and went out. Sparks arced everywhere. As Hans backpedaled in his chair, a ring of electricity, big as his desk, formed between him and his computer.

The apparition floated in place. Thinking it would be a good idea to run, Hans stood up and inspected it closely. It seemed remarkably stable, front and back.

≪She’s up to something.≫

Then he heard the voice.

“Help me. Please help me.” It wafted gently from front side, the side facing his vacant chair, of the circular, whatever-it-was.

“Who’s there?”

Peering into the front of the weird circle, Hans could see the same woman as before. Her ears really were pointed. She had a lithe figure, long black hair, ruby lips, and, wasn’t wearing anything other than the mist that wrapped about her. He could almost make out her . . .

“Please, you must help me . . . save my people.” She held her arms out imploringly.

Perplexed, and cautious in spite of the fact that there was a naked woman trying to get his attention, Hans reached toward the surface of the image. Upon touching it, he got sucked in with a jerk and a brief, startled yell.

Next:
CHAPTER 2–CONFUSION

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Copyright AndyOH! (Andrew F. Odendhal)
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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is coincidental.