Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 2

Imagine your heartbeat, between pulses, lied the source of all your strength. You have to read your heart, understand the flow, and keep in step with the rhythm. Now imagine a river coursing through your body, starting at your brain, flowing down the back of your neck, and down the spine. The river runs past your heart, the organic turbine of this scenario, and from there the flow of energy shoots through your arms and out the palm of your hand in any direction you so choose.

He can't see it happening but he can see the result of it happening.


Ben always enjoyed his small commute to school, especially when his car made the entire ten-minute trip without dying on him. He passed the empty pastures of grass, the morning sun rising to meet him. The back roads of Arp were serenely tailored to his morning experience in rural America, driving with his seat reclined, windows down, and hip-hop music blaring. It’s the cool thing to do.

After the third song, he arrived at his high school and found his usual parking spot. Ben cut the engine, threw his backpack over one shoulder, and the automatic lock chirped at him as he walked towards the entrance. His security was nil as a pair of not so friendly classmates greeted him.

“What's up fag? It must suck being poor. I’m surprised your shitty little car made it,” the boy said.

Ben stopped and said, “Sup Kevin. I see your steroids are working. Have you seen the twins lately?”

Kevin sat with his girlfriend on the tailgate of a dually that his mom bought. Both of them laughed away Ben’s comeback and felt like they were better for it. Kevin's girlfriend chimed in with, “You know, come to think of it, I've never seen you with a girl, Benny boy. I wonder…”

Kevin's turn. “Yeah some people are just different I guess. You’re missing out, but I'm sure your ass doesn't mind.” Kevin brought his girlfriend closer and started kissing her neck.

Ben had to think of something quick, but his mind fumbled with a witty quip. With no sight of a good comeback, Ben put a hand behind his back and focused on the rhythm, ignoring all the warnings his grandfather gave about using his powers in public. All the while, Kevin and his girlfriend still egged him on.

The truck's passenger door opened with a click and hung there unattended. Kevin looked back and got off his tailgate, his laughter dying down. He reached out for the door to push it shut, but it was not going to be pushed around anymore. A pause of thought delayed Kevin before he tried again ultimately ending up with the same result.

“Having trouble?” Ben asked.

Kevin flipped Ben off as he got behind the door and shoved it with all his weight. The door gave way as the bully fell face first to the pavement. The truck rocked from the slamming door and his girlfriend jumped with a small yelp. A heavy breath of young angst escaped Kevin to chase away the embarrassment, as he stood, brushed himself off, and returned to his seat.

Then the door opened again.

“At least my doors work,” Ben said, walking away with a smile on his face.


Geometry was well underway when Ben slinked in, but something was different about the class. His friend Theo enlightened him.

“Psst. Hey, you see the new girl?”

“Wher-” To his right he saw a pair of bright blue eyes looking at him past three rows of desks. Her hair was a soft flow of brunette waterfalls resting on her shoulders. She wore a black short-sleeved blouse and a black knee length skirt that absorbed his attention. Her features were small and elegant, complementing her thin nose and eyebrows. In a hanging moment, Ben thought of her as a life sized doll, not moving or adverting eye contact, just sitting there.

Wow. What's her name? Where did she come from? She looks beautiful, his thoughts buzzed.

Theo reached up and turned Ben's head forward. The teacher, along with the rest of the class, was staring at him.

“I have a good idea of what you’re thinking, Benjamin, but this is not anatomy class. Can we please pay attention?” Ms. Armey said.

The other kids in class snickered and made little comments. As the teacher continued her lecture, Theo whispered to Ben, “That was awesome.”

Dammit Theo. Now I probably look like a creep to that girl. I still want to find out her name. Maybe I'll have another class with her later on today.

During class, Ben would occasionally glance over at the new girl to build a more in depth mental picture. Sweet she’s also taking a few quick seconds to look over at me, he thought.

The bell rang and notebooks filled with math questions were tucked away to be forgotten until tomorrow. Ben stood at one end of the mob blocking the exit into the hall as he noticed, standing on the other, was the new girl. The students funneled out of the room and he saw that the two ends would soon meet.

He thought of things to say, Hey my names Ben, followed by the obvious questions, What's your name? and maybe some small talk mixed in, so this one time at Wal-Mart

The crowd dwindled and his opportunity arrived.

This is it. The first time I'm going to talk to her. The first time she's going to talk to me. Wait. What if I fumble up my words? No that's not going to happen. I'll just be casual. Wait. What if she asks me about why I was staring at her? Ben walked by, looking at the back of the person in front of him, and used this chance to pass her without any acknowledgement of her existence.

Accepting defeat, he told himself, It's not going to ruin everything if I just bide my time. Worse comes to worse I'll talk to her tomorrow no problem.

Ten minutes later, when he set up his table in Chemistry, the new girl took a seat cattycorner to his.

I’ll get another chance, and soon.

The tardy bell rang and shortly after the Chemistry teacher walked in. The classroom quieted down and he began roll call.

“Charles. Carlos. Edward.”

Wait a minute. He's going to say her name. Sweet, when I talk to her I can go in with a little more information. She already knows my name so we'll be even.

“Mon. Samantha. Vincent. It looks like we have a new student today. Could you say your name please?”

“Cindy Mandolin.” It was a velvet voice covered in sweet syrup. Ben repeated her name in his head, using her inflection.

Chemistry came and went, and now his second chance to talk to her arrived. Again, he waited for people to file out of the room. Luckily, Cindy waited the same way she had in Geometry, but unfortunately, Ben over thought the situation again and stopped himself from making any progress.

Tasting defeat a second time, Ben told himself, Come on you can do this. Just say hi and maybe ask a few questions. It’s really nothing at all.

Now he came to his third period, U.S. History.

Ben sat at his desk fiddling with a pencil to pass the time until the tardy bell rang. On his third attempt, it flipped between his fingers the wrong way and fell out of his hand onto the floor. The pencil rolled away and hit one of the legs of another desk where a hand reached to pick it up. “Here you go,” Cindy said. Ben put his hand out and only then realized who was talking to him.

Three classes? He thought.

Cindy tossed the pencil back to Ben but his suspicions allowed it to hit his cheek and fall to his lap.

“Oh. Thanks.”

He grabbed the pencil and turned to face the front of the class. He could hear Cindy softly giggle at how he acted. This is it, he thought.

Ben turned to talk but Mr. Harrington walked up and said, “Hey there new kid. What's your name?”

Just like that, Ben's favorite teacher talked to her before he had, and then class started.

“All right class, today we have a pop quiz. It's a little lengthy so do what you can and tomorrow if some of you haven't finished we'll give you the first half of class. Take your pencils and get ready for some questions.” With that, the opportunity was postponed again.

When fourth period came around, after lunch, Ben realized Cindy was in the same class yet again. Four classes too many for Ben to consider just a coincidence, what once was youthful wonder and an instant crush turned to paranoia.

She hasn't taken any notes today. She's not even carrying a backpack or a purse. The only interaction I've seen her with other people is during roll call and that's it. That uniform looks a little strange too.

Ben held back his attempt to talk to Cindy on a later confirmed hunch that she would be in his fifth and sixth period as well. She’s up to something. That’s six for six, and she’s the only person that has this many classes with me out of the entire grade. He considered fate, but that sounds too romantic, I’ll admit I’m crushing on her.

The final bell rang and all the seniors that owned a car walked to the parking lot. Most of the kids though simply walked home from school, it’s a small enough town.

Ben walked onto the asphalt of the lot and saw a group of kids in a semi-circle.

Is there a fight?

He walked closer to the mass of kids and noticed they were standing around his car. Over the doors, wrapping around the entire vehicle, were strands of duct tape. There was a mixture of laughs and snide remarks as the crowd noticed Ben stumbling upon the prank, and amongst the audience stood Kevin, proud of what he did.

He caught Kevin’s eyes and began to stare him down. The crowd “Oohed” and the stage was set. He approached with a mindset telling him, turn around, he's going to destroy you, but Ben had to try.

“You think you’re fucking cool?” came from Benjamin.

Kevin's smile widened as he intercepted Ben and grabbed him by the collar. Ben tried to go for a right hook, but Kevin's knee sunk into his stomach, making him buckle over. Kevin then grabbed a belt loop with one hand and held Ben's short, black hair in the other.

“Give it up, loser,” Kevin said, as he threw Ben into his own car's rear bumper.

He fell to the ground and quickly got to his knees. Thoughts of hurting Kevin filled Ben’s mind. Contusions all over his body, some blunt object, a bat, a maul, anything sturdy, striking Kevin repeatedly. He wanted Kevin to cry, to beg, to run in fear. Thought after thought churned and bubbled, each thought worse than the last letting anger get the best of him. Then a new thought came to mind.

He’s always acted like this towards me, but I have powers. I can bring him to his knees. I can probably pick him up. Yeah that's what I'll do. I’ll make him sorry he ever crossed me.

The flow of his heart filled with anger, and his mind coursed in the same manner as it took little time to synchronous with himself. Down the spine, passed the heart, through his arms, and then he saw Cindy standing in the crowd. Kevin's laughing and the crowd’s cheers faded away. She stood there with the same doll like stillness from when they were in class, observing him.

Ben's arm was out front for the world to see his powers, but he took a deep breath. The option was still at hand yet he took another deep breath. Kevin egged him on and the crowd wanted more. Ben put his arm down, slowly stood, and glared back at Kevin.

The bully brought his fists up, but Benjamin turned away. He walked to the driver’s side door and started taking the duct tape off with shaking hands, a head full of dark thoughts, and his heart still thumping.

The spectators slowly dispersed, disappointed. Kevin laughed and called Ben a pussy before going about his day with a small victory under his belt.

After an hour of crawling over and under his car, the entire rolls of tape were removed. He balled the bundles of duct tape and placed them on the ground in the shape of two eyes and a C to make a smiley face. This did little to cheer himself up.

“You’re funny,” Cindy said, sitting on the trunk of his car.

Whoa! I didn’t even notice her there. “What makes you say that?”

“I bet you could have beat that guy.”

She's kind of stretching it with verbal support.

“If you were stronger and maybe taller.”

Ben paused a little and then said, “Yeah I can see why someone would say that.”

Cindy hopped down from the car and offered her hand. “My name’s Cindy.”

Ben stood and shook her hand. “Hi. My name is Benja-Ah!” A sudden sense of pressure followed by a hissing sound hit Ben’s forehead. He brought his hands to his brow, but the feeling passed, leaving him unharmed.

Cindy stood there and smiled a little. “So how long have you been living here Ben-JAH-man?”

That was nice of her to overlook my freak spasm, whatever that was. “I've lived here all my life. It's kind of lame in Arp just to warn you.”

Cindy looked around as if she could see the level of lame that was the city of Arp. She shrugged her shoulders and started to walk away. “At least it's something. Have a nice day Ben-jah-man.”

Sweet I was able to talk to her. I wish I hadn't gotten beat up before hand, but I'll take it. What was up with my head? I don't think Kevin threw me into my car that hard. Her voice sounded nice. His thoughts were everywhere and nowhere at the same time.


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