Threat to Society
Chapter 2: Inexplicable Occurrences
The rest of the week passed smoothly after Cole MacGrath day was over. I had told mom about Mike's idea to go up to the ski hills this weekend, and she said it was a good idea. Thus, I pulled out my snowboard and my other equipment for shredding some serious powder and left it in the corner of my bedroom, getting psyched up every time I laid my eyes on it.
Thursday whipped by, and finally there was Friday.
There was a massive snowstorm on Friday that caused schools to close, including my school. Mike had planned for this snowstorm, and that was why he had chosen for us to drive up to the ski hills on Saturday. Mike gave me a call, checking to make sure we were still on for the weekend. I of course, said yes. I would never miss an opportunity to shred the slopes.
I was in the living room oiling the bottom of my snowboard when for some stupid, inexplicable reason, the doorbell rang. Who the freaking hell would be out in this weather? Mom thought the same thing, voicing it as she answered the door. I faintly heard the door open, and normally I wouldn't listen in on door conversations except I heard an unfamiliar male voice utter mom's name.
My ears pricked up. Mom was silent for a moment.
"Yes." She stated.
Then I faintly heard 'It's me' from the same male voice. Mom was silent again.
"Oh my god..." She sounded like she was on the verge of tears. A second later, I heard her sobbing. I felt a cold draft, telling me the door was still open. I didn't know what was going on, but I finished oiling my board and propped it up to dry, still feeling the cold draft.
"Mom!" I called. "The house is starting to freeze!" I knew she would get the joke. She used to do the same thing to me whenever I held the door open in the winter for too long. I heard the door close, followed by footsteps.
I turned towards mom to see her standing next to a man wearing a baseball cap. It was shading his face just slightly, so I couldn't quite make it out.
"I want you to meet somebody." She stated.
"Okay?" I watched the man curiously. He removed his hat. His face looked oddly familiar, but hey, I had no idea who it was. He was totally bald, maybe with a bit of dark stubble growing but that was about it. His eyes were watching me with a look of both curiosity, shock, and...fear? Confusion? All of the above?
"This is Cole MacGrath."
I was taken aback. "What?" I asked. Wasn't Cole MacGrath that hero guy? I thought he had disappeared. So why was he here?
"Toby, this is Cole MacGrath." Mom said again.
I was frowning in confusion. "Do you mean the hero guy, or somebody else?"
My mom smiled softly. "Yes, he is the hero of Empire City."
I stared at him in confusion. He was watching me as well. A weak smile curled his lips, but other than that there was nothing.
"But he's also your father."
I heard a faint ringing sound in my ears. The only reason I was still staring at the man was because I was in a state of shock. Hell, I was hardly even seeing him as my brain processed this information. This man was Cole MacGrath. This man was Empire City's hero. This man was my father.
I managed to look back at my mom, wondering if I looked just as stunned and confused as I felt.
"Come again?" I said faintly.
"This is your father, Toby."
I looked back at that Cole MacGrath guy. He still had that soft smile on his face. He looked nervous as well, as if he didn't know how to approach me. I tried to find something that would make me deny that he was my father, but I found nothing. The only thing I found was that he had the same storm cloud grey eyes as I did.
My emotions started to run wild as my shock faded away. I felt sad, happy, angry, and excited all at once. I felt sad because I had grown up without him. I never got to play ball like all the other boys. I only ever had mom, and all I had really wanted was a father. I was happy, because now I had my father. He was here right in front of me. I wanted to cry and hug him, thank him for coming home. I was angry, because he was never there. He was never there to be the strong dad and chase away the monsters under my bed when I was a kid, not to mention he was never there in the first place. I was excited, because I knew that now that he was here, we could pick up as if he hadn't been gone at all. We could go on road trips, play ball, and he could finally be my father. I had my father back.
But all of these emotions were confusing. My hands trembled at my sides as I stared at this man. I didn't know what to say to him. I had an idea whipping through my brain, but I couldn't put it to words. I wanted to yell at him, and tell him how much I hated him because he was never there. But then there was that small, nagging feeling inside me that wanted to burst into tears and hug him. This was my father. This was my father, this was my father, this was my father. He'd never been here, and now he was. I didn't know what to do. So I improvised.
I turned away and grabbed my snowboard. I snapped up the jar of board oil and the dirty rag and whipped from the room as fast as I could.
"Toby!" Mom called after me.
I ignored her, heading into my room and closing the door. I propped my board against the wall and set down the jar of oil. I then collapsed against the door and sat down. My mind began to whirl around all of the things that mom had said about Cole MacGrath and my father. She had talked with such admiration about Cole just a few days ago, but she never gave any details about my father. She only ever said he was a good man. As I thought about it more and more, the holes started to fill in when I overlapped the two. It made sense.
There was a knock on my door. "Toby?" It was mom. "Can I come in please?"
I stood up. "I guess." I stated.
Mom walked into my room, watching me with concern. She closed the door behind me.
"Toby..." She said softly.
I stood in the middle of my bedroom floor, my arms crossed over my chest. I didn't give her an answer.
"Please come out and say something." She stated. "He's your father, Toby. He was-"
"Mom," I looked at the wall. "Just let me think."
Mom sighed. "All right, Toby. But he was just as surprised as you were. I think he wants to hear from you."
I ignored her. Mom eventually left the room. With my emotions running wild, I stayed in my room for the rest of the day.
The next morning, I still hadn't come to a consensus on what to do. When I walked into the kitchen, mom was already in there. So was Cole, or my father, whoever he was. I was still confused. Both of us stopped in our tracks, me freezing in my place, and Cole/dad freezing with a fork halfway to his mouth. After a moment, I moved first, heading for the fridge to grab a glass of orange juice.
"Good morning, Toby." Mom greeted.
I didn't respond. I just proceeded to mechanically start putting together my own breakfast. Mom had made some food already, so I snapped up my share and began eating it at the table. Mom joined me...us after a moment. The silence in the kitchen was deafening. It wasn't quite awkward silence when you wish someone would say something to get another conversation going. It was a nervous silence when everyone was too afraid to speak, thinking that the second someone made a sound, something horrible would happen. Good call. Because I think I was going to have an anxiety attack if someone said anything.
Just before I felt I would snap, the phone rang. I leapt up, grateful for something to do and grabbed the phone.
"Hello?" I answered it.
Toby! It's Mike! Are you ready to go yet? I'm on my way.
"I've just gotten up, Mike." I stated. "Um..." I quickly formed an estimate in my head. "Twenty minutes, okay?"
Sure! I'll head over at...let's say nine?
"Sounds good. I should be ready by then."
Great. See ya!
"Yup." I hung up the phone.
"Was that Mike dear?" Mom asked.
"Yeah." I stated, sitting back down. "He's coming over at nine to pick me up."
Mom nodded. "He's going snowboarding with one of his friends." She told Cole/dad.
I ignored her, my hand starting to shake as I forked my breakfast into my mouth as fast as I could. I had to get out of there. I was freaking out.
When I had finally fired back every last bite of food, I quickly washed my dishes and put them in the drying rack before rushing to my bedroom. I leaned against the door again, breathing heavily. I couldn't take this. This was too much to swallow. I was the son of Cole MacGrath. I was the son of Empire City's big hero. Cole MacGrath was my dad.
I continued to shake as I got dressed in warm layers of clothing. By the time I was packed and ready to go, Mike had arrived. I headed for the front door, ready to shred the slopes as I pulled on my boots. Just as I put my hand on the doorknob, mom spoke up.
"Aren't you going to say goodbye, dear?"
I looked up. Mom was standing there, but behind her, Cole/dad was there as well. He wasn't meeting my eyes, instead looking everywhere else.
"Bye." I stated. "See you tonight." I was about to head out the door when mom's voice stopped me again.
I looked towards the man. He looked nervous as if he were thinking what to say. I didn't give him the chance. Without really thinking about it, I spoke the four words I had been thinking since mom first introduced me to him.
"You were never there."
Both mom and Cole froze. Before mom could say anything to stop me, I scrambled out the door. I knew I had said something very bad that would give me a lecture later, but hell. I couldn't stay. I knew if she had given me a lecture, I would've said more horrible things about Cole MacGrath. I was calling him Cole now. I'd decided. He didn't deserve the title of father from me. He had to earn it. I was afraid to say it, but it was the truth.
I threw my stuff into the back of Mike's car and plopped into the passenger seat.
"Yo, Toby! Ready to shred?" Mike asked enthusiastically.
I nodded. "Yeah." I buckled my seatbelt and he hit the accelerator, heading for the mainland.
It was about an hour long drive to the ski hills. Maybe a bit more. Regardless, I was totally prepared for a mind numbing experience of pure snow shredding. And boy, that's what we did. Mike and I raced our boards down the double diamond hill. We did tricks and jumps and everything you could do on a snowboard. The sun was totally gone, stars twinkling in the wintry sky by the time we got back into the car. As Mike pulled out of the parking lot, what I was going home to hit me again like a ton of bricks. Mike sensed the change in my mood almost immediately.
"You feeling okay, brother?" He asked.
I considered telling him what had happened. He was my best friend. I could trust him with anything. Yeah. I decided to tell him everything.
"Yesterday my mom introduced a man to me." I stated. "His name was Cole MacGrath."
"The hero guy?" Mike's eyes were wide.
"Yeah. The very same one."
"Wow, so he exists?"
I nodded slowly.
"Does he have electric powers?"
"I don't know!" I cried angrily.
Mike flinched. "Sorry, man."
I took a deep breath and sighed. "He's my father."
"He's your what?" Mike asked disbelievingly.
"He's my dad."
"Whoa, so you're saying the hero of Empire City is your old man?"
I looked at my feet. "I guess so."
"Man, no wonder you're so out of it." He stated. "Not only is some guy we doubted even existed is your father, but you finally met him after all these years."
"I know." I stated. "That's why I'm so confused. I don't know what to do, Mike."
"Neither would I." Mike sighed. "But who knows? Maybe it'll all work out."
"Yeah...Maybe..." I murmured.
Just then, a car on the incoming side of the road skidded slightly. Mike twisted the wheel, turning his car away from the vehicle. His car hit a patch of ice and started to slide.
"Whoa!" Mike cried. He turned the wheel again, trying to get the car back under control. Nothing doing. I grabbed onto the seat desperately as the car continued to spin. Just then, the world dropped out from under us as the car rolled into a ditch. The momentum caused it to flip. Mike and I thrashed around in the car as the car continued to roll. In slow motion, I saw a chain link fence with a yellow sign depicting a black lightning bolt with the words 'Warning: keep out. High voltage' written on it. Then we crashed through the fence before colliding with something I knew we shouldn't have collided with. I only had a second to think about that as the windows shattered and electrical sparks shot all over the car. A high pitched humming sound rolled through the air just as a long, blue tongue of electricity reached into the car and slammed into my body. I screamed as the high voltage electricity burned my skin and sent my muscles into convulsions. Next thing I knew, I blacked out.