Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 3

The sky darkened as clouds loomed overhead. A rumble of thunder in the distance teased her, alarming at first, but it drew her in. The wind picked up slightly and played with her hair. Small droplets of water came in a wave of sound that grew into a downpour. Cindy put both her hands up and smiled.

“It's so pretty,” she said.

Both hands came to the center of her chest and her eyes watered from her own tears. It’s so silly to act this way, she thought, shaking her head. The beauty was not in the rain, but the way it moved, disbanding from the sky to travel where it pleased. Her fingers ran through drenched bangs and her damp uniform hugged her body. She walked to the center of the street and spun around in the splendor of nature.

“Maybe after the world has changed it will still rain like this.”

A house nestled on the side of the road nearby. She walked down its driveway and to the front door. “This one will do.” Cindy put her hand on the doorknob and noticed the floor mat that read, “Welcome.”

She nodded and said, “Thank you.” The door lock clicked open and she was inside. Cautious voices came from the living room to interrogate their uninvited visitor however, as the residents walked to the front door, every person in the house fell fast asleep.

She stepped over a large man as she entered the living room. “Why don’t they hang their television off the wall?” Cindy's attention then turned to a deer head hanging above the fireplace mantel. The deer held its postmortem thousand-yard stare as she pet its neck. “I wish you were real.” Cindy saw a coat rack in the corner of the room and had an idea. “There you go, Mr. Deer,” she said, placing a ball cap on Mr. Deer's head.

Moving from the living room and into the master bedroom, she walked three steps inside and stopped. “This must be the kid’s room.” The closet door slid open and all the hanging clothes fell to the floor in rows. “Nothing there.” The dresser drawers opened one by one and spewed their contents onto the carpet, as neat as the closet had. “Nothing is even color coordinated. What is wrong with these people?” She then saw a pair of all grey sweat pants and pull over hoodie. “This will do I guess.”

Now in her new attire, she would have to clean her wet clothes. A nook between the living room and hallway contained a washer and dryer unit that had a load of wet laundry inside. The washer door opened and the gob of laundry hovered in a ball and fell on top of the man in the living room. After looking over the machines carefully, she opened both and took note of all the silent hints they gave her. Her uniform slid inside the washer. Cabinet doors above the dryer swung open and a bottle of tide reported for duty. The bottle turned upside down and the cap unscrewed itself. When the cap left the lid, it calmly lowered from the bottle’s neck and a thin stream of blue liquid filled to the first layer marker on the inside. The bottle finished with its mid-air handstand and stood back on the shelf while the cap poured onto her clothes.

“There. That wasn’t hard,” Cindy said.

Before the cap returned to the bottle, Cindy caught sight of a wooden nub sticking out of the cabinet’s shelf. The item jumped down and landed in her grip. She slowly drew her next breathe as she eyed the revolver in her hand. “It’s heavy.” She rotated her wrist to view all angles of the gun, as this was a day full of new experiences. “Hmm.” She aimlessly pointed the barrel at the wall in front of her and pulled the trigger.

In the small length of time it took the expanding gasses to propel the bullet at supersonic speeds, the barrel kicked back and clipped Cindy above her right eye. Everything inside the nook expanded from an extreme pressure that crumbled anything that did not fly out of the room. All the furniture in the house rearranged itself to the outer walls of its room and every window shattered. The front door blew off its hinges and even the car outside rolled over.

Cindy gently placed the gun on what was left of the washing machine, and rubbed the small mark above her eye. There wasn’t any blood, just a small sting. “Woops,” she said. She pressed the start button a few times and luckily, the machine still functioned.

Later, she took inventory of all the food by aligning them on the kitchen floor next to a mangled body that still had unconscious life in it. She liked reading the boxes and looking at all the pictures of different people trying to tell her how delicious their brand of hotdogs are, or how cool it is to eat chocolate rice cereal. The oven was another machine she had yet to master, but the microwave was the only thing left in the kitchen that worked.

Cindy ate her pizza in the living room with a stack of paper towels separating her meal from her borrowed sweat pants. She looked up at the deer head as she ate. By this time, the deer wore a tie around its neck and a coat hanger hung from each antler. The five-minute dinner was mediocre. She couldn't get over how small the bedrooms in the house were or the loud washing machine. Every room was cramped with furniture that wasn't even leather, and the carpet was a disgusting faded yellow.

A sense of adventure came over Cindy. She swallowed a bite of pizza and said, “This must be what camping is like.”


The downpour developed into a thunderstorm. Ben pulled up to the driveway and drove into the vacant spot next to his grandfather cutting up an apple and watching the lightning dance in the distance. He waved and said, “Hey Grandpa. What are you doing out here?”

“Come and join me, boy. This is what I used to do for fun when I was your age, and the lights are out.” Ben pulled up another plastic chair and sat to his grandfather’s right, poorly hiding the lump on his head. The old man noticed the speckles of glue residue on his passenger door, and put two and two together. “So what did you learn at school today?”

The tussle with Kevin played in Ben’s mind. “You know, high school stuff. A little bit of rhombuses and hexagons.”

“I wish I was as lucky as you, boy.”

“I don't feel so lucky.”

“You should start counting your blessings. I never finished eighth grade and worked on my daddy's farm until I joined the Army, and here you are about to finish high school. Unlike me, I know you can do more than just get by after you graduate.”

Grandpa offered him a slice of apple and he accepted it.

“Now it looks to me like someone got under your skin today. Mind telling me how it happened?”

Ben told him everything.

“So you didn't hit first?”

“I tried to hit the guy first. It didn't work out that way.”

He nodded and said, “At least you didn't use your powers, damned things. You don't know what it can do to you. If only you were-”

“Normal?” Ben leaned forward in his chair and said, “I don't want to be normal. What's so great about this?” he said, as he put his arms out. “It's just a house, and all I have is a shitty car and my clothes. I'll most likely get a boring job after high school and apply for community college because that's the normal thing to do, or join the military so they can pay for everything. It's all been done before, grandpa. I got a few normal friends, and I got a few normal memories of going to the movies or the time I sprained my ankle. All these normal things aren’t getting me anywhere.”

“Benjamin, did you put socks on this morning?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“This morning when you rolled out of bed and put socks on your feet you were already ahead of fifty percent of the world. Some people never even see cars, or let alone own them. I know you've taken a fondness to your powers but don't let them own you. Even the most normal of things in life can be unique in their own way. You want to know what the happiest moment of my life was, boy?”

He did want to know. Ben’s eyes told no lies.

“It was the day me and your grandma bought a water heater, the same one we have to this very day. It was her birthday and our old water heater tank gave out, so we drove up to Tyler and I bought the one she wanted. After that, we drove back plain and simple. The time I spent with her on that normal day, I wouldn't trade for anything.

“I remember getting a call to come into to work that morning and I could have easily said yes, but she was what mattered to me. It was shortly after dinner the sudden heart attack took her away. If I hadn’t of spent that day with her, I wouldn't be sitting here with a happy memory, only a feeling of regret.”

Ben looked away and shook his head slowly.

“Be thankful for what you have, because one day you’re not going to have it anymore. That's just the way things are.”

“I'm looking at my socks a little differently now, grandpa.”

Grandpa ruffled Ben’s hair and Ben sprang from his seat and said, “Grandpa, I'm just having a bad day. I like my car, and living here is great. I'm just sore about getting beat up in front of this girl and-”

“A girl?”

He left that part out of the story. “Ugh yeah there's this new girl at school and I tried to talk to her,” Ben started to blush, “but that's not important. What I'm trying to say is maybe I'm not supposed to be normal. Maybe I'm meant to have these powers. I mean every kid wants to be superman, right? What if I get good at my telekinesis and I can save people? Think of what I could be?”

Grandpa smiled and said, “You’ll be what you make yourself out to be.” Without warning, he threw the core of his apple at Ben. Ben tried to smack it away but the core hit his forehead.

“Hey, what the hell?”

“Looks like you'd better keep practicing if a fruit can get to you. Let's go to the den and see if you can work on your little gift. Tell me more about this girl too.”


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