Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 5

Ben woke as his cellphone rang on the nightstand by his bed. He flipped the phone open, but no information displayed for an incoming call.

Ben pressed the green call button and said, “Hello.”


“Who is this?”

“I'm walking to your house by the back road you take to school. There's something I have to tell you.”

“Cindy? I can pick you up. How did you get my number?”

Ben waited for a response.


He took the phone away from his ear and saw that it was off.

What the hell is going on? Does she even know where my house is? It's only been a week since I've known this person, what's her game?

Ben ran to the bathroom, showered, brushed his teeth, and then threw on some pants and a t-shirt. After he did a quick look around, making sure not to leave anything embarrassing lying about, he turned the bedroom lights off and walked out.

He passed by Evan in the living room and said, “Hey grandpa I'm going to go pick up a girl, she wants to hang out for the day.”

“Drive safe, boy.”

“See you in a bit.”

Ben forgot to turn the radio on, and his seat was in the upright position, losing him a few cool points. He only drove for three miles until he came along the stretch of road that Cindy walked. He could see her in the distance wearing the same clothing she bought four days ago at the mall. Ben pulled onto the shoulder of the road and opened his passenger door for her, but she stood twenty feet in front of his car and kept her head down.

He rolled down his window and said, “Lose something?”

Cindy wished she could smile at Ben’s joke. She picked her head up and took a deep breath. “Ben I want you to know it was fun while it lasted. I’m leaving pretty soon, and I wanted to say goodbye to you.”

In the distance, a white van approached them.

“Ben, stay in your car and don't use your powers.”

I never told her about my powers.

“You didn’t have to. I'm leaving and you are never going to see me again. It's not up to me whether I stay or go, but you can stay here, Ben.”

He got out of his car and walked towards Cindy. “Talk to me, what's go-”

“Do not make me force you to turn around.”

The white van came to a quick stop beside Cindy with small chunks of gravel sliding underneath the tires. The side door opened and three men in white suits surrounded her. One of them held two small circular devices that were glowing bright pink. Cindy turned and faced the men with her arms out and wrists together.

“Mistress Lilith, we appreciate the cooperation,” one of the men said.

The device’s diameter expanded at the push of a button. He reached out for Cindy's hands, but before the devices were placed around her wrists, they flew into Ben’s grasp. An uneasy feeling pinged in his head. His fingers felt numb to their touch and Ben's synchronized focus on his powers completely went away.

“I don't think Cindy wants to go with you three.”

“Cindy? That’s a stupid name.” Ben heard someone say at his side. Ben looked to his left and realized a spiky haired stranger, wearing a black uniform, leaned on him with his elbow on his shoulder. “Is that what you’ve been calling yourself?” His pointed chin and piercing eyes spelled trouble.

Shax cackled and snatched the two devices out of Ben's hands, as he walked towards the three men and Cindy.

“Come on Lilly, let's go back home. The Dr. is very upset with you.”

“Hold on,” Ben said, as he reached for Shax’s good shoulder. A sense of energy surrounded him followed by a wave of emotional turbulence. Dread picked at Ben's brain, his vision blurred, and a disarray of incomprehensible noise clashed all around him. The sky flashed with a bright light that fled from a growing darkness chasing away all feelings and emotion.

Ben blinked and saw Shax holding him off the ground from a tight grip around his throat.

Shax started to say something, but turned his head back to Lilly. “You think you’re fast enough to stop me?”

Shax stared her down, but she stared back.

“If he’s not worth bringing back than what’s his worth in letting him live?”

He looked at her fists.

Ben felt a sudden change in Shax's mood more noticeable than the pain covering his own body. The strange flurry of feelings and emotion returned and Ben heard a loud crunch brought by a new wave of enveloping pain. Echoes of noises and words were all around him. In his perception of time, only a few seconds passed, but the sky turned as the sun set.

Lodged into the front windshield of his car, shards of glass poked into his shoulders. Most of the bleeding stopped, and his spine was in one piece. The severe headache clutching his brain delayed his movements for ten minutes before Ben rolled to his stomach to slide off the hood. Standing on bruised legs, his split lip stretched when he winced and his swollen eye twitched. It was as if each second marked the discovery of a new wound.

Where's Cindy? he thought. He leaned against the car as he limped into the driver’s seat. What could he have done to me? Where’d they take Cin- No that's not what he called you. You answered to Lilly.


Ben came back to a worried grandfather. “Shit, boy, what happened to you?”

“They took her. These people, I think they were from that compound you told me about a while back. We have to save her.”

“You come home like this, and you want to go after these people? You’re not going anywhere.”


“Enough.” Grandpa grabbed Ben’s shoulder and straightened his posture. “I'm not going to have you run off after some dumb girl. Your parents trusted me to keep you safe, not get your ass whooped. I don't want to see you using your powers ever again, boy.” Evan brushed shards of glass out of Ben’s hair and other pieces sticking out of his shoulders.

“What do you expect me to do, grandpa?”

“Take a seat on the coffee table is what.”

Ben took a seat and said, “But I have the power to do something.”

Grandpa left for a brief moment, returning with rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. “Do you think you’re the only one that's hurt? My grandson, the only family I got left in this world, comes home bloody and beat telling me he didn't learn his lesson the first time. Consider yourself lucky.”

“What if they do something horrible to her?”

“There's plenty more girls in this world. You got to look out for number one.”

Ben stood and walked to his room leaving Grandpa with pieces of bloody cotton, damp with alcohol.

I have to do something about this, Ben thought, walking to his room. I'm the only one that knows what happened to her. And why was she sent here in the first place if I ended up being left behind? They probably went back to that compound that my grandpa talked to me about. What power did that Shax guy use on me?

His bedroom door slammed shut behind him.

Even after I have these powers I'm still weak. How can I just forget about Cin- I don't even know her damn name.

He sat on his bed with his head spinning in circles from the strange girl that came into his life. After a while of all the thinking his head ached even more, adding another layer of anxiety atop the pile. The stress wrestled with Ben late into the night until sleep finally overcame him.


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