White Noise

Max wasn't planning on getting kidnapped.

Overview

After an unusual day at school of mute goth kids, disappearing acid burns and the feeling of someone hunting for him, Max just wants to unwind at home. When a stranger appears in his room and abducts him, he witnesses the murder of his parents and becomes the prime suspect.

Max soon finds himself on the run with several other abducted teens, all being hunted down because they've developed unnatural powers. Even with his new allies and newfound ability to heal, Max can't get too comfortable. He knows that the people looking for him are still out there - and they're closing in.

Details

Ebook


File Size: 714 KB
Language: English
ASIN: B00OSXPUM8

Print


Publication Date: Dec 23 2014
ISBN/EAN13: 0991884647 / 9780991884643
Page Count: 268
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6" x 9"

Excerpt

Chapter One


It was just an off morning. His phone had shut off all alarms for the day, he fell out of bed when his mom came to wake him up, and he burnt his hand on the toaster, but that was all over now. He’d leave his house and have to concentrate on school and friends soon enough. Everything would be normal soon.

There was definitely no one out there looking for him, no matter how much he felt like there was.

Max fumbled with the laces on his shoes. He couldn’t just slide them on today, instead having to untie the laces and sit there to tie them back up. At least he wasn’t late yet.

“Are you home tonight?” his mother asked him. “Your father’s home early and he said he wanted to try something different for dinner.” She sat next to him, pulling on her own shoes for work and putting a pair of heels in her bag. Max looked at her, his mom looking back, her red hair pulled into a strict bun and the smile on her freckled face not quite meeting her eyes.

Though he looked more like his father, Max had his mother’s colouring and shared most of her expressions. He knew the one she wore now well.

“I don’t have to be,” Max said. He finally got his laces back in order and picked up his backpack. “Especially if it’s anything like the tuna casserole.”

“To be fair, the recipe did not specify canned tuna.”

“I’ll just go to Jeremy’s house tonight.”

“If you don’t have training tonight, you’re coming home. You aren’t going to let your mother be the only one with food poisoning, are you?”

“You aren’t going to let your only son get food poisoning again, are you?”

“If you don’t have lifeguarding tonight, then you’re coming home,” she said. “Who knows? It might be good.”

“So pizza if it goes wrong?”

“Pizza,” she agreed. She let Max out the door first, locking it behind both of them.

While she drove off, Max made his way down the street, trying to figure out why his feet felt funny. That nagging feeling that something was wrong today wouldn’t leave him, so he did his best to ignore it.

He went to Tara’s house and knocked. “Hey,” she said after yelling her goodbyes into the house. “You look awful...” She was out a moment later, looking him over and tilting her head at his shoes.

Max followed her eyes down and saw what had her confused. Of course his shoes were on the wrong feet. He sat down on the front step of her house and switched them. “It’s been a bad morning.”

“What did you do to him?”

Max looked up as he finished his laces and saw Jeremy coming over from a few doors down. He had his backpack slung over one shoulder and looked at Tara with a grin creeping across his face under his crooked nose. He was limping a bit from a fall in a basketball game a week before, but still pounded a fist into his hand like he was planning to make Tara pay.

“He did it to himself,” Tara said, smiling.

Sometimes he wondered why the two of them didn’t just date already.

Max got to his feet and started walking to school, the other two falling in step beside him. He felt better with the two of them with him, if only because someone would be able to stop him from doing any other incredibly stupid things this morning.

The smile had not left Tara’s face. “So besides forgetting how shoes work…”

“Had a run in with the floor and a toaster this morning, too,” Max said, holding up his hand to show them the burn. When he looked, it had already faded away. “Something’s just off today.”

“Forget your meds?” Jeremy offered.

And then he realized. His alarms didn’t go off. He’d forgotten to take his Adderall.

Today was going to suck.

He glanced back at his house, but he wasn’t going to head back now. He could handle one day without it. Instead, he took out his phone and set an alarm to remember to take it when he got home.

“Even if he did forget, he’s never this off,” Tara said.

“Maybe he’s going to discover he’s Batman today.”

“You mean my parents are going to get shot?” Max asked, pocketing his phone. Jeremy didn’t hear him.

“Except you’re not cool enough for Batman. Maybe Robin.”

“So who’s Batman?” Tara asked.

“Me, obviously. You can be Batgirl. You’d look better in the costume.”

“I really need more girl friends.”

“Yeah, but they wouldn’t be as much fun as us,” Max said. He let his mind wander into the conversation and away from whatever was wrong with him this morning. That feeling that someone was looking for him still lingered in his mind, but discussions about superheroes were enough of a distraction to keep him from obsessing over it.

The feeling of someone looking for him didn’t return until they got to school. Outside the door he spotted a woman dressed in an all white pantsuit and her black hair pulled back. She conferred with two others, these all dressed in black and moving their hands rapidly at one another. None of their mouths were moving.

“Deaf goths?” Tara asked as they walked past them and into the school. “That’s new.”

“You think they’re new?” Max asked, trying to push back his unease. She might be the one looking for him, but he still didn’t know why anyone would be looking for him. As near as he could tell, there was no reason anyone would want him.

Jeremy shrugged. “Maybe? You finish the math homework from last night?”

It’s just the lack of meds talking, he told himself. Except that not taking them doesn’t make you paranoid.

***

Over the course of the day, he got used to the feeling of someone trying to find him. He was not difficult to find. If they really wanted to talk to him, all they had to do was go to the office and pretend to be his parents or someone important.

They were in the halls all day, just wandering around the school between classes. The woman in white was only ever with one of them at a time, he noticed, while one of the two kids she watched would be off on his own somewhere else. No one paid attention to them beyond getting a good look at them, the school never having seen anyone in full goth attire before. The chains, spikes and dark hair falling in their eyes on top of an entirely black ensemble was not in fashion right now – especially not in the late May heat.

At lunch, he met up with Tara, Jeremy and the rest of his friends, but could not stop thinking about what the goth kids and the woman in white were really doing here. They barely said anything about them, leaving Max to quietly speculate on it while his friends talked about upcoming finals and plans for the weekend. He could barely bring himself to care about what was happening in his classes today, much less what the weekend held. From what scraps he heard, it sounded like a lot of studying. The girls were going to Ashley’s house tonight, since her parents were going to be away, and they were going to make a party out of it with none of the guys.

Maybe the woman in white was like the special needs teacher for the two goth kids. He imagined they needed one who knew sign language. Or maybe she was their social worker, trying to force them to attend classes and failing because one was constantly running away. They looked old enough to be seniors, if not older.

It all had nothing to do with him, of course. So why did he still feel like there was someone looking for him?

He spotted another one of them again roaming the halls while he was getting his Chemistry books from his locker and no woman in white in sight. That paranoia of someone looking for him got stronger and Max tried desperately to ignore it.

He turned away and heard a familiar yelp behind him. He turned back and saw Ashley, one of his friends, bump into the goth kid. She fell back and dropped her books, her binder splitting open on impact with the ground.

Max went to help, the goth kid bending down to help get her papers together. It was quick, Max handing her a stack and the goth guy handing her another one, keeping his head bowed. His hands alternated between a closed fist rubbing his chest and pressing both palms together in prayer and bowing.

“It’s okay,” Ashley said, backing away from him slowly into Max. “I should have been looking.”

The goth guy looked up and smiled gently, rubbing his fist on his chest again. Underneath the fringe of hair, red eyes looked back at them.

Ashley jumped back into Max. The goth guy noticed and held his hands up, backing away slowly.

“Let’s get to class,” Max said, ushering her along and nodding to the goth guy as he turned away. No, if he was looking for Max, he would have done something. Instead, he turned away and went back to his slow meander through the busy halls.

“Did you see his eyes?” Ashley asked once they were up the stairs. She sounded shaken.

“Yeah,” Max said. “Those were some weird contacts.”

“Hey, are you busy tomorrow?” she asked, not looking at him.

Max thought about it as he held the door open for her and the next three students that walked into the chemistry lab. “I’ve got training in the morning, but if you need me after that I can do something. What’s up?”

“Uh… math!” she said. “I need some help with math.”

“Sure,” he said. “I’ll give you a call, I guess?”

Ashley nodded and took her seat. Max took out his phone and made a note of it before he forgot, taking his own seat by the window. Tara was already sitting, books out and tapping her pen against the textbook as she tried to finish the reading for today. She barely paid attention to him as he set his bag down and took out his own books, their teacher beginning the lesson shortly after.

Max could not bring himself to care about the lesson. There was an experiment to do and while their teacher explained how they were supposed to do it, he kept thinking back to that goth guy. He felt like something should have happened there. Their eyes should have met and he would realize that it was Max he’d been looking for all day. Something should have changed right there, but he’d walked away so easily.

But there was no one looking for him.

“Can you stop with the leg?” Tara asked, glaring at his bouncing leg before looking back at him. “It’s really distracting.”

“Huh?” Max hadn’t even realized he was doing it. How long had he been doing that? “Sorry.”

“You were doing it all through lunch, too. Are you okay?”

“Fine. Why?”

“Because now that I know how dangerous that stuff is, I’m not touching it. I’ll take notes.”

Max pulled on the gloves and looked at the chemicals in front of him. Each was labeled with masking tape and felt pen, and he knew he had to put them together somehow. Somehow. “What am I doing?”

Tara let out a frustrated sigh and slowly walked him through the first step of the experiment, passing him her notes for the procedure so he could follow on his own. Acid and a base to cause a reaction. There was a chance of a severe injury if they did it wrong or spilled it on themselves. Sometimes he wondered why anyone would let teenagers, fire and chemicals interact under such poorly supervised conditions.

“Max? Leg.”

“Sorry,” he said, forcing his leg still. He continued to try to measure out the liquids, but it was so tedious and he could feel Tara and half the class watching him struggle to get the levels just right. He was pretty good at estimating. He could probably get them about right without staring at the meniscus like a dork.

“So what’s the plan for tonight?” Tara asked.

“What?”

“The guys are getting together to do something, right?”

“Oh. Don’t know.”

He could feel Tara looking at him, but he didn’t look back. There was an experiment to do. Things to boil. He needed to concentrate on not blowing this stuff up. He checked the notes for what he needed to add next.

“You are completely out of it today. Seriously, is everything okay?”

“Fine,” he said quickly. He let out a breath and poured the chemicals into the larger heated vial. If anyone was going to not call him a dumbass, it was Tara. “You ever feel like you’re being watched?”

“That’s probably just Ashley,” Tara said. “She’s been looking over all class.”

“I don’t think that’s it. She just asked me to come by and help her with math tomorrow.”

“Oh no, she didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?”

“I’m sorry, but I have to do this now. Max, do you like Ashley?”

“What? No! I mean, she’s a friend, but not like that. It’s just math.”

“Why not? She’s nice. Cute. Not a total dumbass.”

“She’s… not my type.”

“So what is your type?”

Max frowned and poured the next set of chemicals into the boiling solution. His type? How did this turn into a conversation about his type? He was worried that there were people coming for him even though he couldn’t think of any reason behind it. Even now he felt like the woman in white was trying to close in on him with her goth guy henchmen. This was not the time for trying to figure out his love life.

“I don’t know why we’re talking about this,” he said, turning to look at her. “I mean, it’s just math. It’s not like-”

“Max!” She jumped back, her eyes on the experiment.

Max turned back, already feeling something hot dropping onto his jeans. He pulled his leg back from the steady stream of acid that spilled over from the boiling beaker and tried to push the papers out of the way as it spilled across the desk.

The teacher was by moments later, pulling both of them back from the desk and pushing Max to wash his hands in case he got any acid on them. He cut his pant leg off as well, blisters already forming on his shin. Max rinsed off what he could.

Tara helped him out of class to the nurses office. She carried both of their bags and let Max lean on her, Max limping as the pain settled in. His leg burned, but he gritted his teeth and tried to ignore it as best he could. If someone really was after him right now, he wouldn’t be able to fight back. It would be the perfect time for the woman in white to make her move.

Except she isn’t looking for me. No one is coming after me.

“Sorry,” she said after they were half way down the hall. “But how do you not notice there’s acid spilling on your leg?”

“If I remember right, someone was distracting me.”

“Oh sure, blame me because you were a dumbass.”

“No problem.”

“What’s really going on, Max?” she asked. “This isn’t really because Ashley’s been staring at you all day. She’s done that before. What’s really going on?”

“It’s just been a really bad day,” he told her. “Everyone has them right?”

They said nothing and they kept walking through the halls, getting closer and closer to the nurse’s office. Max realized that the paranoia of something coming for him had stopped. Maybe it was because the halls were empty and he couldn’t imagine eyes watching him through the crowds. Maybe he finally managed to convince himself that the woman in white wasn’t some mysterious figure looking to add him to some secret collection of under aged boys. Whatever it was, he felt the weight lift off of him. Maybe the rest of the day would actually improve.

“Hey, are you sure you need the nurse?” Tara asked. “That looked a lot worse in class.”

He looked down at his leg. The blisters were gone, instead leaving a long, very wet scrape. It didn’t even hurt that much anymore.

“Just for a band-aid,” he said.

Okay, so maybe no one was coming after him, but if they were, this might just be the reason why.

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