Just Another Face in the Crowd

John Smith is quite possibly the most average teenager on the face of the planet.

Until the night he renders the laws of physics obsolete and throws his city into chaos.

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5. Five

 

John bolted up in his bed, covered in sweat. He gasped for air. He felt like he had not taken a breath in hours.

He looked around, and to his shock, realized that he was in his own room. His wide eyes scanned the familiar white walls, the old wardrobe, the messy clump of clothing against the wall and the guitar propped up against the corner; there was no doubt that he was home.

His breathing relaxed slightly. It must have all been some horrible dream, he thought. He chuckled to himself, shrugging off the peculiar incident; then stopped abruptly.

He looked to the clock resting on the dresser beside his bed. The hour hand was on seven, and the minute hand was just catching up to twelve. According to another hand on the clock, it was already Saturday.

John noticed that there was no sunlight streaming through a crack in the pale green curtains that were covering the window. He was puzzled. I left school at five-thirty, he thought, how the hell is it seven at night the next day?

He rested his head in his hands and groaned. He was confused and frustrated. It seemed as if he had spontaneously been transported twenty-five hours into the future. He shifted slightly in his bed.

Suddenly, he heard a metallic ‘chink’ from somewhere along his spine.

John’s eyes widened. He could feel something wrong with himself, physically. He sat up properly and flexed his back. He heard a multitude of unnatural sounding clicks as the muscles in his back stretched.

John leapt off his bed, throwing his t-shirt to the floor. He ran straight to his full length mirror and craned his neck to get a view of what was it that he heard.

He nearly screamed when he saw it.

There were small, metal tabs stuck to his skin on either side of his spine, linked by thin wires and flexible aluminum plates. There were about sixteen in total; each was about half an inch in length and breadth, and was roughly ten millimeters tall. They were plain, except for a small LED bulb that emitted blue light on each. The light blinked every few seconds. The entire structure resembled a centipede.

John reached back and tried to pull one off. Immediately he yelled in pain. It was as if the devices were hooked into his spine.

After trying again, and once again feeling searing pain shoot up his spinal column, John collapsed onto his knees.

He curled up by the wall and looked at himself in the mirror. He was scared. He did not know what to do. Something had happened after those men had knocked him out; something that left him with some kind of metallic centipede latched onto his back.

His phone vibrated within his pocket. He pulled it out, and flipped the cover open. Rachel had texted him. She proposed going to a pizzeria within the city center that she liked. John was about to call her and explain his situation when he realized something terrifying.

He was not alone.

There were whispers. He could not tell where they were coming from, but he was sure they were there.

It was when he tried to listen closer that he came to a startling conclusion. The whispers were in his mind.

John knew he was not hallucinating. There was something else in his head, telling him things he could not understand.

Frightened beyond belief, John focused. He tried to hear what the whispers were saying.

He heard it.

Its voice was thin, and sounded like rusted metal breaking apart. There were words, but John refused to listen any more. It was terrifying. He felt like there was another entity sharing his physical being.

Suddenly, John’s ears were bombarded with extremely sharp, cutting noises. He screamed, in fear more than pain.

The sounds stopped abruptly.

John looked up toward his mirror. His face was blank.

He raised his outstretched arm and his open palm.

For just a second, there was a sound not dissimilar to an electric guitar being strummed.

And then-

The mirror exploded. Glass shattered instantly, and flew in all directions. Hundreds of tiny shards hurtled toward John’s unprotected face.

John did nothing, except blink. As soon as his eyes shut, the bits of shrapnel which would have cut his face to ribbons and blinded him stopped in midair. They hovered in place, some just centimeters from piercing the wet globes of his eyes.

John raised his other hand and snapped his fingers.

The pieces of glass fell, bouncing harmlessly off his jeans. 

The thing that was once John Smith grinned. 

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