Author’s Note: drawn with a color pencil
We didn’t go too far to get our physical. The room was right around the corner, a couple doors down from the cafeteria. Other people were lined up, waiting for their turn. Everyone was unusually excited to get themselves checked. Following behind the stream of other men, we got ourselves lined up as well.
What else I did noticed behind the long line was that everyone of us had some kind of barcode on the back of their neck with a designated number written in black. My hand raised up unconsciously to the back, running my fingers down hoping that I wouldn’t have it on as well. The chances were high that I would have something similar, but it still bothered me immensely. I assumed the people who kidnapped me, tagged me when I was unconscious.
When I gazed behind Marcus’ head, I saw the same barcode with the number 11. Timothy pushed back his hair by rubbing his hand across the back, and the number 44 was blantly shown in black. I couldn’t tell what the number was on Jones, it was well hidden behind his thick hair.
“You’re going to like the girls here,” said Marcus, “Definitely some of the hottest around.”
“He’s not joking, and there’s not just one to choose from.” Timothy smirked alongside Marcus. His hand was over his head, enjoying their conversation.
“Sorry for cutting in, but the numbers on your neck. You stated that it was the order of admittance correct?” I asked, trying to change the subject. My curiosity of there being more to the numbers was a lot higher than thinking about girls right this moment.
Marcus stopped grinning. His shoulders tensed, while he turned towards me.“Why?”
I got the feeling that he didn’t want to talk much about the numbers, but I needed answers.“Just wondering if there is any special meaning behind the numbers or it’s just to tag everyone?”
“Well…” Marcus hand glided over his bald head. His shifted from one leg to another, looking a bit unsure if he should say anything.
“Cueball here doesn’t want to say it, but I’ll say it for him.” Timothy pointed towards Marcus. “First off, our numbers tell you our admittance entrance. Marcus is number 11, one of the oldest ones to be brought here. I’m number 44, while Jones is 22. With that being said, every double digit numbers with the same number usually have a special meaning, making them unique.”
“Can you explain a bit more?” I was curious on what these experience could be about.
“Numbers 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, and 99, all have some similarities. Marcus, number 11, here was the first person who fought against two different types of demons and survived. Jones, number 22, over there was the first person to meet a child demon, number 33 was the first instance where a female Ouroboros succeeded. Majority of them were males until she came along. Then followed by me, number 44, I escaped just by a hair from a demon, but that wasn’t the special thing that happened. We found out that there were special advancement to all Ouroboros like some kind of hive mind.”
“Unique powers or specialities.”
That got me thinking for a minute, does everyone has a special ability, if so what was mine? What could I do that would be considered unique? Maybe I could summon fire, or even control water with my mind. Who knows, that could be cool in a whole another level.
Just when I was thinking about special power, Timothy spoke. “Number 55 had a run in with a first female demon, and let me tell you, they fight dirtier than any male demons you will ever come across. Simon, number 66, escaped with his life against an Archdemon, number 77 is the first child Ouroboros, and number 88 fought against the second known ancient type demons that you don’t see very often, a Chinese type. Then we have you, number 99, the first case of a successful kill in the oldest known demon that has been either killed or thwarted by your hands. Every time the numbers keep increasing, it has been a known fact that something special will happen. Though, the problem lies in survivability, decreasing our chance as a whole to grow.”
“Just like he said,” Marcus intervened, “two out of three Ouroboros that awakens gets killed. The last surviving one either doesn’t make it here in time, or dies. Information is key when surviving out there in the real world. Right now, we are all temporarily safe from the demons.”
“Exactly, temporarily.” Jones repeated Marcus words like a parrot. “That temporarily could end any minute now. That’s exactly why we should leave.”
“No, what Marcus said about staying here is the better idea. For five years, this place have been a sanctuary for Ouroboros and will continue to be one for us. The moment we leave this building, we will be picked off one-by-one by demons. Right now, we don’t have anything to fight against them. It’s considered suicide if we walk out there with nothing in hand.”
“Still, we have a fighting chance.” Jones didn’t sound to sure of himself, his voice was becoming quieter by the second. “We’re all sitting here like lame ducks ready to be picked off if an invasion occurs.”
The thought of demons sneaking their way in here seem likely, but at the same time it didn’t seem quite possible with the large amount of Ouroboros living in this building. I wouldn’t be surprised if we spot them entering the premises. The chance of that happening in an Ouroboros infested building was high.
“Statistically speaking, the number of enchantments placed around the building is ridiculous. A demon waltzing in here is like announcing to every Ouroboros that they are here, knocking at our front doorsteps.”
“Enchantments?” I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of enchantments there were out there.
“Yep, the best of the kind. We got magic from Taoist, Christian, Muslim, Pagans, Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, Native American, and the list just goes on and on.” Timothy waved his hand in front of him, accentuating his words. “If one doesn’t work, just try them all.”
“Um…I’m not sure that would be a good idea.” I replied. Mixing different religions and cultures sounded like a bad concoction of test that blow up on your face if it wasn’t handled correctly. Plus, to hear that such things actually works makes me wonder what other things were out there that I didn’t know about.
“You’ll be surprised what works and what doesn’t. There are quite a bit of universal enchantments, rituals, and even spells that are passed on from one culture to the next, all of them tweaked in some way. The people who run the show behind the Ouroborus abduction have quite a bit of money, power, and sponsors for them to house everyone of us without going bankrupt.”
“How?” I couldn’t help but ask. For him to get such information meant that it wasn’t easy, unless it was given which was highly unlikely.
Timothy leaned over, winked, a mischievous smile broke out on his face. “That is my trade secret.”
Jones snorted. “He hacked the computer that’s what.”
Timothy eyes turned into slits, not liking how easily Jones spilled his information, he clicked his tongue and folded his arm in front of him. “Do you have to spoil everything?”
“What does it matter if he knows it or not. Eventually he will learn the information from someone. Plus, every time you cause trouble, I get the blunt end of your mischiefs. I rather we make a definite line here and now, so no other trouble comes stabbing me in the back.”
Timothy clicked his tongue once again, and look away as if he was caught. I didn’t really catch what Timothy was trying to pull, but the looks of it, Jones sniffed it out before it even happened.
“Timothy is our techy here.” Marcus slapped him on the back. Timothy lurched forward, and glared at Marcus for the sudden painful slap. He rolled his shoulders, placed his hands into his pocket, and turned not interested in the conversation anymore. “The best out of all the Ouroboros here in the facility. You can’t find anyone like him out in the world, especially because that is his special power.”
“Not just hacking, he’s like our whiz master in technological advancement. The one who creates, restructures, and even fortifies the enchantments place around the building.”
“Wait, that was him?!” My voice went up an octave in awe. “I thought you said he hacked in the computer to get that information.”
“He did,” Marcus leaned over, brought up his hand, and whispered behind his hand close to my face. “He also went around secretly. Added his signature touch to those enchantments to give it the oomph it needs to not break down and have demon’s swarming in on us.”
I whistled, that in itself was a whole set of different achievement. “So, what are your powers?”
“I would say mine is strength based,” said Marcus, “Physical enhancements are quite a norm in an Ouroboros. Everyone of us have some form of it physical enhancements, but there are only a handful of us who can raise body strength and speed at will.”
“Can you explain a bit more?” I wanted to know more about the type of abilities that Ouroboros has, especially at the thought of some form of magic that I never knew even existed until now. The thought of even possibly using and having my own set of skills that I didn’t know about excited me. Seeing demons was one of them, having self enhancement on a small scale might be the second, but other than that, I wasn’t sure what else there was.
“Well, Ouroborus are split into three classes: Self-enhancements, Contractors, and Spellcasters. Three-fourth of the groups of Ouroborus are self-enhancement types, while a good handful are spellcasters. Only a rare few are contractors.”
“Something like summoners of spirits is the best way to describe them.” He rubbed his hand, trying to explain it as simple as possible. I could tell that he wasn’t the best at explaining things, but he was doing a fabulous job of it for someone like me who needed information.
“Spirits?” I asked. I should’ve known that they weren’t just demons. Such thought should’ve been thrown out the window, but instead I was foolish enough to think demon’s was the only thing that I should worry about.
“There’s not only demons in this world. Contractors, makes a deal with the natural spirits. Their usually passed away animal spirits. So far, there haven’t been any fantastical ones of yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if one does come up.”
“Then what about spell casters?”
“They usually fall under the unusual case of people who can use their energies like magic. We got Timothy and Jones here who would fall under that category. Jones is able to manipulate fire to a certain degree.”
Fire? That was pretty impressive, seeing some form of magic wasn’t normal in this world, so it was something that I would love to see Jones do. This wasn’t just magic tricks, but genuine magic.
“Jones, here can only light up a small flame the size of a lighter. There’s no point in trying to make him do anything grand. You’ll be disappointed if you were expecting anything.” Timothy squashed my hope in seconds. My own fantastical thought of him doing some kind of wide scale magic was what I drew up in my mind, maybe even going so far as doing fireworks that’s never been seen before, but it seems that wasn’t the case.
“Hey, I can do more than light a flame.” Jones snorted. “I can now light two flames with both my hands at the same time.” He accentuated his word, holding up two fingers in front of him. Even his chest were puffed up, making it seem like it was some kind of great achievement.
“Prove it.” Timothy replied, not believing a single word.
“Fine. Move back, or you’re going to get burnt.”
I took a couple steps back, the others did the same. With anticipation, I watched as Jones seem to bend forward, slouching his shoulders. His shoulders tensed, sweat started to break out on his brown skin, and his eyes narrowed, focused on the task at hand.
A minute pass by, then another, so far nothing happened, making me start to get bored at waiting in the silence.
“Hurry up, blackie. I don’t got all day,” said Timothy. He was shifting back and forth on his legs.
“Don’t call me that.” Jones hissed.
“Yes!” barked Jones. “Its makes me lose focus and I feel like you’re giving me a pet name!”
“Then you have some serious practicing to do, especially if you can’t turn on one flame,” scoffed Timothy. “I on the other hand, can do what I can with just a snap of a finger.” He snapped his finger, and blew at it as if smoke were coming out.
I felt a sudden influx of energy around Jones. The best way I could describe it was the swirls of red energy danced around the tip of his fingers. It sparkled and moved, rubbing against each other, causing an electric spark. Until finally, the spark caught on fire, and a small flame erupted out at the tip of his finger.
“I did it!” Jones happily cried out, showing off his power in front of us. The small flames, the size of a lit candle, danced around at the tip of his finger without going out. Energies continually swirl around, feeding the flames in a steady beat.
I was highly impressed to see the flames even magically appearing without any other fuel source, except the swirl of energy that kept it alive. Was it possible that I could do something like that one day? If so, what could I do that would equate to elemental control like Jones? The thought of maybe being able to use electricity to zap people or have some kind of ice power to freeze the ground sounded exhilarating.
“You only brought up one. Where’s the other?”
“Hold your damn horses, i’m working on it.” Jones grumbled under his breath, saying a couple of words in a foreign language that sounded close to Jamaican. He glared at Timothy for rushing him.
“Work faster, the line is moving.” Timothy took a couple steps forward, advancing the line closer. We eventually made our way towards the door frame.
Jones once again, brought up his finger up to chest level. He then focused intently on his second finger that was next to the first. The flames, that he lit, started to waver and dim. I could tell that the magical flow of energy was shifting towards his second finger. It was small shift, not to strong but strong enough to make the second flames cut down in size, the energy started to spin and wave. Electricity sparked outwards until finally the second flame burst on.
“See!” Jones spoke with a smirk on his face. “I told you I can do it.”
“So? What purpose does it serve? Light a cigarette? I believe Simon would need a hand on that. He does smoke.”
“My god. Do you not know when to shut up?” Jones were getting irritated at Timothy’s jabs. His flames on his fingers started to increase in magical energy, turning brighter by the second. Even sparks of small white electricity started to crackle, giving it a whole different feel itself, almost intimidating making me worried.
I stepped a few steps back, not wanting to be caught up in his raging emotions. The swirls of energy around his fingers were intensifying by the second, even the energy around Timothy was rising. His was a straight dark blue and the energy hoovered around his head like a halo.
“You guys.” I called out, hoping to catch their attention.
“I swear, you always have to run your stupid mouth, pissing me off every seconds. If you’re not careful, I’ll burn it off if I have to.”
“Are you threatening me?” Timothy spoke, he took a few steps closer, their nose were almost touching each other. None of them backed down, and instead seem to be in a standstill. Jones whole hand caught on fire, even to the point where his clothes were starting to burn.
Shit. Anymore of their fluctuating emotions, Jones is going to catch on fire completely and possibly become a burning corpse if he doesn’t know how to control his emotions. Marcus didn’t seem to want to step in, instead he watched their catfight with interest.
“Guys!” I shouted, taking the initiative, I pushed my way in-between the two. “Calm down, this is not the place to start a fight. Especially you Jones, you’re whole hand and clothes are caught on fire.”
Jones pulled back in alarm. He started to wildly flail around, trying to douse the flames in panic. Instead, the flames became bigger, the energy that was swirling around his hand intensified, making it twice as harder for it to go out.
“Damn it Jones, get that under control before you burn the whole building down,” snapped Timothy. He lurched backwards, trying not to get caught up in the flames. Sweat started to form on his face and body, his lips becoming a thin line.
“You’re not helping!” Jones snarled. He patted his hand with his other.
“Someone, get a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket!” Marcus shouted, directing others. The people who were watching, scrambled around trying to find a either one.
The magic around Jones hand became chaotic, fueling his flames. It became a tangled mess, swirling and knotting together to the point where a tight circle was forming and growing bigger by the second. I could tell that influx of energy was becoming very dangerous, and the flames weren’t helping it either.
Something in me pushed me forward, my hand came up towards the congested energy around Jones’ hand, flowing outwards towards me. The heat hit me in waves, my eyes partially closed, my arm in front of me. I saw a slight glow different from the other swirl of energy in the knot, it was a golden color, that seem to radiate with power. Without thinking, I reached over and pulled the string of energy. The swirl shivered and smoothly started to calm down.
The flames on Jones’ hand, eventually became a flicker. He was able to snuff out the flames without a fire blanket with his other hand. He let out a sigh of relief, when the flames finally disappeared.
“Did you do that?” Jones gazed up at me with awe. “What did you do to stop my flames? I felt your energy from you when you did whatever you did.”
The other two curiously searched me with their gaze, wondering what I had done as well.
“Didn’t you guys see it?” I waved my hands towards the swarm of energy that appeared a moment ago.
“See what?” Marcus asked. Not sure what I was talking about.
“Yea, the influx of energy around the flames that Jones summoned, and even how Timothy had a swirl of dark blue energy around his head.”
“I didn’t see anything.” Marcus wasn’t sure what I was talking about, he turned towards the others. “You guys?”
“No.” Timothy shook his head side-to-side.
“I was too busy, keeping my flames under control,” said Jones.
Marcus even asked around the others, but they all answered with a no. Eventually, he came back towards me. A smile broke out on his face. “This could be your special ability.”
“My what? Special ability.” I didn’t think much that this gift to see energy was even considered special ability until now. Also, pulling the energy with my fingers was a whole new thing in itself. Gazing at my hands, I thought over what I did, but I couldn’t figure out how I did it exactly.
“You’re the first one out of 99 of us that is able to see energy.” Marcus clasped me on my shoulder. He still gave me his usual painful clasp on my back, that I didn’t quite like, especially because it jerks my head forward, giving me a neck pain.
“No one else can see it?” I rubbed my hand on my shoulder and rolled it a couple of times to great rid of stinging pain.
“Well, everyone has some form of sensing ability, that is how we are able to see demons, though seeing energy is a whole another scale in itself.” He was chuckling to himself, excited over something that I didn’t know. “I’m liking our little group more and more now. Anyways, we should get going. It seems our pretty ladies are waiting for us.” He pointed towards the door, where there were no one else but us blocking the way.
My thoughts swirled in my head, and I took the step ahead, before I heard a calm sweet voice call out my name.
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