The Terra Core

A young man is forced from his home to the stars after a terrible crime (inspired by a dream I had!)

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2. The Beginning

~~My name is Adrian Adams. I sometimes get called Double A. Or just Double. I was born in England but my parents moved to New York City, USA, at the age of four.

I grew up in Staten Island, surrounded by busy people and doing my best to get by at school. I was lucky really- my father was a lawyer and my mother is a doctor- so they paid for me to go to Staten Island Academy when I was old enough. I did ok, studied hard and all that- but I didn't pay as much attention as I should have.

I guess I didn't do myself any favours. When I was fourteen I met a girl, who was a little rough around the edges, and she led be astray a little. Her group of friends were actually pretty cool people, but they were from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, and my parents- especially my mother- didn't approve of them. I had a few rows with them, would sneak out of the house a few times to hang out late at night, and neglected my studies.

Then my dad died when I was fifteen.

The bottom dropped out from my world then. Mom tried to hold it together but she was grieving as much as I was. I loved my dad- we didn't see eye-to-eye about my friends, but he took me to basketball matches and baseball games and we explored New York together. He was more than my dad- he was a buddy, a pal, someone I could talk to anytime, about anything. Then one evening in July, as the sun was setting... well, I remember watching a Projection, and the next thing I know I'm hearing pistol fire. Loud, explosive pistol fire, right outside the house. My mom leapt out of her skin and bolted out the door, with me right behind...

And then I saw my dad, staggering against the fence, as some low-life punk sped off in my dad's car- and I saw the blood spreading out over his shirt. He looked at me, as the life drained from his eyes, and his hand tried to reach for us, then he let out a gurgle, and collapsed.

I don't remember much after that. My mom was screaming, the neighbours were out in force, and police cars hovered overhead for a bit, lights flashing long into the night. I think I tried to sleep but I couldn't. I was excused from school for several days- I remember stealing some of my mom's whiskey to try and dull the shock and pain. My mom- bless her- she told me later she noticed but didn't try to stop me, because she was barely coping herself.

It turned out the punk who shot my dad had wanted the car- an old Ford Lightening Mark III- for a robbery of a nearby post office. The guy shot a couple of security guards there, killing one and seriously wounding another- before making off with nearly ten thousand dollars.

The idiot in question was caught on several cameras. I knew that because in the papers his face- which he'd badly concealed using what looked like his mother's tights- was everywhere. The fool had chosen virtually see-through attire to hide his face and as such had failed miserably to do so. I took one of the posters and gave them to my girlfriend's slightly unsavoury friends, asking them to tell me if they saw the guy. I didn't exactly know what I'd do if I found him- I was a tall, lanky teenager and this dick was well-built, and armed- but as the days passed to weeks my grief turned to anger and rage.

Then, one day in early September, came the day that changed my life.

My mom was talking on the vid phone to her sister in England. We were making arrangements to head over there and spend some time away from the scene of our pain. My school was understanding, though I was expected to download the lesson plans and work to my tablet and at least try to get on with some of it whilst away.

I was idly tinkering with my tablet when my girlfriend, Chloe, messaged me. 'We found him, come quick', was all it said. That was all I needed to hear.

I left the house, sticking one of the big kitchen knifes into my rucksack. I caught a subway train to Brooklyn, where Chloe and a couple of her male friends met me.

"He's gone down there." Chloe pointed down one of the alleys off a main road. The sun was starting to set and twilight gloom was setting in, but the roads and skies were still quite busy, and people were bustling about, heads down, either listening to music or on their phones. A group of teenagers walking about didn't attract any attention.

The alley was dark (the sun was blocked by the tall buildings either side) and the air felt cold, though I wasn't sure if that was just me. I only had a t-shirt and jeans on, but the chill I felt... well, I was about to confront my father's killer, after all.

There he was, walking down the alleyway, toward the other side and out onto the next street. His big black coat looked tatty and his hair was quite long, and unkempt. In his left hand he held a bottle, which I guessed was booze.

"Hey!" I shouted. "I want to talk to you!"

The man stopped and jerked around. Yup, that was him alright- the man whose face had been plastered in newspapers and on TV. Whereas the police had somehow failed to find him, my friends and I had.

"Whadda ya want?" He slurred. I started walking slowly toward him. Chloe was on her phone, summoning more of our mutual friends. This thug wasn't getting away.

"You stole a car a few weeks back, from Staten Island. You shot a man and left him for dead. Don't you remember?" My voice was almost alien to me. It felt harsh, raw.

"So what?" The man took a long swig from his bottle. His eyes looked puffy and glazed, the result of substance abuse perhaps? I noticed the scar on his right cheek- long, and fairly deep. This guy had been in the wars.

"The man you killed, was my father. He was a good man that you robbed from me, just so you could go and steal and kill somewhere else!" I kept walking slowly toward him. Behind the man I noticed a couple more of my friends were blocking the far exit to the alley, standing watch.

"People die kid, your daddy, so what? I got stuff I need to do and he got in the way." He sounded so casual about it, which sent sparks of rage down my spine.

"Yeah well, I don't care about your crap. You're gonna answer for what you did."

The man scoffed. "Whose gonna make me? Some kid like you? Piss off kid, before your mamma loses another family member."

I was nearly at him now, and that was the final straw. I screamed, lunged at him...

I don't really remember the rest clearly. He hit me a few times, but he was drunk, and therefore slow. I hit him a few times too, but I don't think he felt it. I got my hands on my rucksack and pulled out the knife, and slashed at him a couple of times when he swung for me... we fell to the floor, wrestling and knocking over trash cans...

The next thing I knew, the knife was embedded in him, and he was gasping. Somehow, I'd gotten the knife into the side of his neck- blood was spurting everywhere- and he was gagging and gasping. There was a look of shock in his eyes, and he tried to grab at the knife, then at me- I kicked his hand away and staggered backwards against the wall, as the man struggled to stand, to pull the knife out. He cried out in pain when he tried to move the knife, and collapsed back to the floor.

By now members of the public had heard us and several of them pushed past my friends. They saw me, wide-eyed in shock and fear, and they saw him, bloodied and dying. Someone called an ambulance and someone else called the police.

****

I spent the night at the local police station, being interviewed over and over. My mother had been distraught, unsure whether to slap me or hug me when she'd visited. The man I'd stabbed had died after a few hours, whilst under the surgeon's knife. I didn't know whether to revel in his death or bawl my eyes out at what I'd done.

I think the police sympathised with me a little. My friends and I had found this guy, and they understood why I wanted to confront me. They'd also pointed out how incredibly stupid I'd been- they'd found a gun in his possession that for whatever reason he'd not used.

I felt awful. My mother could have lost me that night. I'd been selfish and not once considered the impact on her. I also felt kind of elated to have caught my father's killer- the adrenaline rush was something else.

The police informed me I'd be charged with murder- unless I pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a lesser charge. Technically, there was no way out of the murder charge- I'd taken a knife to the fight- but the police were prepared to overlook that because of the circumstances. If I pleaded not guilty, there was every chance the prosecution would convict me and I'd do time in a junvnile detention centre. No thanks! I still faced that possibility

So, I pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The court case sticks in my mind...

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