Jerry Miller began his life as a normal boy. He was born and raised in Miami, Florida. His parents were kind, hard-working, and completely normal. Before he spoke his first word, however, he already discovered one of his many superpowers, proving he was anything but normal. He tried hiding his powers and living like an ordinary boy, but daily challenges and lack of self-control forced Jerry to reveal his powers on numerous occasions. With Jerry’s powers now out in the open, what will happen next? Will he be accepted by friends and family? Will he live up to expectations? Will he become a true hero or crumble under pressure and fail the world?
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About the Author
Before teaching and writing books, Michael Moran was adventurous and tried different activities to test the waters, literally. He was a lifeguard for seven years, working for beaches and water parks. He was also a sailing instructor for eight years at a summer sailing camp. He was caught in storms several times and was afraid he wouldn't make it back to shore, but his stubbornness and determination luckily prevailed.
His friends and family say that his best qualities are his kindness and love for helping others. He often volunteers to be the designated driver and makes sure everyone has fun and arrives safely at their destinations, whether it's a wild party or formal event. At the end of the day, Michael is known for being a good friend, husband, and son.
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By Michael Moran
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Michael Moran
All rights reserved.
"The doctor says there's no hope. Our son may never talk and could have a disability. He may never be like other children, and we have to come to terms with it. Who says that to a mother?" Sandra asked her husband.
"Don't worry, honey, he'll talk soon. Jerry understands us perfectly and responds in his own way. Look at how he plays with Happy."
"Tom, he points at the dog and makes noises. That's not talking — that's chirping, like a bird."
Tom chuckled at the thought of his son chirping like a bird, but Sandra did not laugh. She smiled half-heartedly because she loved her husband, but she was looking for relief. Tom continued talking and tried his best to make her feel better. "At least he's a cute bird and healthy too. He eats well, runs around, and does everything else a normal kid would. It'll work out soon, I promise."
Sandra turned, looked into her husband's eyes, and said, "Tom, don't make a promise you can't keep. I love you, and I'll hold you to your word beyond the grave if I have to."
She kissed her husband in bed and gently leaned against him as he read a book titled Where Did Conservatism Go? This was a typical night for her, always worrying about her son.
It was the year 2001; Jerry was four years old and still could not speak. Most children begin talking after their first or second birthday, but not Jerry. Like a good mother, Sandra Miller tried everything possible to help him. She read stories aloud, played music and word games, watched educational TV shows, and read parenting magazines. She tried anything proven to help children learn, but nothing worked. Sandra asked friends, family members, professionals, and even strangers for advice, but nobody had a clue. Sometimes people had the nerve to judge her, as if she was responsible for her son's inability to speak. Sandra felt like a complete failure, but her husband always comforted her.
Thomas Miller was an old-fashioned American man — following traditions and exercising patience at all times. He owned and managed a successful private business selling boats in Miami, Florida. He appreciated every penny he earned, making sure to save up or spend it on his wife and son. Having few employees and completing most of the work himself, he often arrived home late on weekdays but always made sure to leave weekends open for his family. Sometimes he felt tired and wanted to complain, but he never did. He believed everything happened for a reason — good or bad — and always found a way to learn and grow from his experiences. He also believed his son would speak one day when the time was right. He never stopped believing in Jerry, not for a second. When Mr. Miller tried comforting his wife, however, she cried.
Sandra Miller was a strong Cuban woman. She only wanted to be the best wife and mother in the world. She never graduated college, but she had a flexible job that allowed her to earn money and take care of her family's needs. She worked as a writer for a magazine company, which allowed her freedom to leave work whenever needed to help her husband or son, all in the name of research for her magazine articles. She always cooked dinner, maintained a clean house, did the grocery shopping, and made sure her family was happy. She was the glue that kept everyone together. There was only one thing she could not do: find a way to make Jerry speak, which led to her inevitable crying at the end of each night in bed.
On one special night, however, Jerry woke up with a secret desire. He was not crying or making a fuss; he was a good little boy who often had trouble sleeping. Unbeknownst to his parents, Jerry could hear every sound in the house: his father flipping a book page and his mother crying softly. He also heard everything happening in his neighborhood, including animals and insects, arguments in other households, kids sneaking out of their rooms, and even late-night television shows. Jerry was too young to understand everything he heard, so each noise caused distraction and fear. The only way Jerry ever slept well was when he buried himself under blankets and snuggled with his mother. Therefore, he rolled out of bed to go to his parents' room.
After walking a few steps down the hall, Jerry found his parents' room with the door slightly ajar. He used both hands and slowly pushed it open. Sandra was lying in bed, crying quietly in her husband's arms as he tried to comfort her. When she heard the door open, however, she quickly wiped her tears away, looked toward the door, and saw Jerry. With a sympathetic and tired tone, Sandra said, "Hey, munchkin, having trouble sleeping again? Come to bed with us."
"You can't always coddle him, Sandy. Sometimes you gotta be tough and tell him to go back to his bed."
"Tom, we have our whole lives to be strict with him. For now, I just want to cuddle with my baby and —"
Thomas and Sandra suddenly grew silent and still. They looked at each other and asked, "Did you say something?"
They looked at each other again and then at Jerry, who was at the edge of the bed staring at his parents. Sandra and Thomas could not believe their ears. After four years, their son finally spoke his first word because he wanted a cookie. They jumped out of bed, hugged their son extra tightly, picked him up, and ran downstairs to the kitchen. Sandra was hysterical! She paced around the house, called all her family and friends, and told them the story repeatedly of how her son spoke for the very first time.
Thomas opened a cabinet door, took out a box of vanilla cream cookies, and placed it on the dinner table in front of his son. Then he sat, watching in awe, as Jerry repeatedly said the word cookie and ate all the cookies he wanted that night.CHAPTER 2
"Who's that?" a girl asked.
"I don't know," a boy answered.
"Why doesn't he talk?"
"Maybe he's scared."
"Maybe he's sick," another girl said with a worried voice.
"Can he hear us?" another boy asked.
"I don't know, but let's see."
It was just another day in elementary school in the year 2005. Second-grade students were outside enjoying recess time, climbing monkey bars, going down slides, and playing hide-and-seek. All the children were running, jumping, yelling, and playing together, except Jerry; he often hid alone inside a large cement tunnel. He could not communicate well with others because he was still learning how to talk. They would ask questions, make up stories, and poke fun at Jerry, but he could not respond. He did not like attention and tried to keep his distance, but his classmates were persistent and approached him daily for interrogation.
"Hey, you, what's your name?" a boy asked.
"How old are you?" another boy asked.
"Do you hate us?" a girl asked with a scared voice.
Try as they may, the children could not reach Jerry. All their questions remained unanswered. They soon began speaking among themselves.
"What's wrong with him?" a girl asked.
"I don't know," a boy replied.
"I know!" the group leader exclaimed.
"You do?" everyone asked curiously.
"What is it?"
The group leader gathered everyone and whispered, "He's got cooties."
"Yuck! Everybody run!" a little girl screamed, and everyone ran away frantically.
Anytime something like that happened, Jerry either stood still in confusion or ran away to another hiding spot. Unlike other children, Jerry could not understand the world for special reasons. He could hear everything and everyone in the classroom, every whisper and every rumor. If there were classrooms next door, he could hear those children and teachers too. It was too much information for him to process. Everything entered his mind simultaneously and confused him. The only person he could understand was his therapist, Ms. Astuto.
She was a polite and patient young woman. She worked alone with Jerry in an isolated classroom, far away from everyone else. He could still hear the outside world, so she tried giving him headphones to reduce incoming sounds, but he did not like them. Eventually she provided small pillows for Jerry to hold up against his ears. That way he could feel comfortable and focus on Ms. Astuto's voice. She would teach him reading and writing skills and only ask one question at a time. She would speak, write the question down on paper, and wait for Jerry to respond. No matter how long it took, Ms. Astuto never lost her patience. If Jerry could not respond with words, he would draw a picture. His drawing skills were poor at best, but Ms. Astuto considered his drawings better than no response at all.
By fourth grade, Jerry finally learned how to communicate properly. Unfortunately, he caused trouble for many people along the way. With his super-hearing, Jerry told Ms. Astuto everything he heard during school.
"I heard students talking badly about Ms. Hampton. They said she was mean and old and smelled like a dead rat. They say bad things about me too. They don't like me very much; they think I'm dumb. A few weeks ago, I heard Ms. Peterson talking to Mr. Smith, and she liked him. They went out on a few dates, but this week I heard her crying on the phone. She said that Mr. Smith cheated on her. What does that mean?"
Ms. Astuto gasped with surprise and shock. Jerry told her all kinds of things, some of which were not very appropriate. She thought at first that Jerry was lying or making up stories. However, she believed in Jerry and thoroughly investigated. It turned out he was always telling the truth. Word spread quickly that Jerry was quite the detective and a snitch. Everyone kept their distance, including students, teachers, and staff members. Nobody wanted to be friends with Jerry because of the trouble he might cause.
In fifth grade, a new student named Ryan entered the school. He was German and Colombian, a unique mix that intrigued everyone. He was athletic, charming, and witty. He was also adventurous and loved sharing stories. Everything he said was wild and imaginative, with a clever mix of truth and falsehood, but most people could not tell the difference. Within a week, everyone liked him, and he soon became the most popular kid in school. There was only one person who did not admire him: Jerry.
Ryan thought himself the coolest guy around and wondered why Jerry did not like him. At first, Ryan felt annoyed but soon found interest in the matter. He took it as a personal challenge to get Jerry to like him. One day, Ryan approached Jerry alone during P.E. class. Jerry was sitting on the outskirts of the field playing with blades of grass. When they spoke for the first time, Ryan learned more than he bargained for.
"Are you Jerry?"
"My name's Ryan — new kid in town."
"Okay," Jerry said nonchalantly.
"Okay? What do you mean okay?" Ryan asked with attitude.
Ryan was shocked and irritated. All the other kids were excited to meet him. Jerry, however, remained relatively silent and did not seem to care about him at all. Nonetheless, Ryan continued the conversation.
"Whatever. I came to see if you wanted to play a game or something."
"No thanks," Jerry replied.
"Why not? Haven't you heard anything about me?"
"And?" Ryan asked, expecting a compliment or praise.
Jerry stopped playing with grass, looked at Ryan with a serious face, and said, "You tell different stories to everyone, which means you're lying."
"What? That's not true!"
"Yes, it is."
"No, it's not!" Ryan exclaimed.
Jerry sat quietly on the grass, and Ryan was frustrated. He thought Jerry was being a jerk and wanted to scream at him. However, he always thought people might be watching and kept his cool. He soon knelt down and whispered to Jerry, "Dude, it's part of the game."
"What game?" Jerry asked.
"Life, getting people to like you, being popular: it's all part of the game."
"What do you mean?"
"Sometimes you gotta lie, tell crazy stories, and shake things up — anything to get attention," Ryan explained.
"I don't get it." Jerry said, looking at Ryan, waiting for further explanation.
Ryan looked dumbfounded. He thought Jerry was messing with him, but, in truth, Jerry had no idea what Ryan was talking about. Jerry looked genuinely confused. Ryan took a deep breath and asked Jerry, "How many friends do you have?"
When Jerry did not respond, Ryan started shaking his head and said, "You don't have any friends, do you?"
At that moment, it all hit Ryan like a sledgehammer. Jerry was a lost kid; he was living like a hermit, isolated, and alone at school. Nobody cared about or understood him. Ryan could not imagine a life without friends, and Jerry was living that life. He felt bad for Jerry and said, "How about this. We'll be friends as long as you follow whatever I say."
"Like a slave?"
"No! I've got a lot to show you, and it'll be fun. You'll be my sidekick," Ryan replied with a smile.
Jerry remained quiet, and Ryan said, "It's your choice, man." Then he turned around and was about to walk away when Jerry said, "Okay."
From that moment on, Ryan and Jerry became the best of friends. Throughout fifth grade and most of middle school, the two were inseparable. They played games, went to parties, made new friends, picked the same classes, and met each other's families. Ryan even helped Jerry get his first girlfriend in sixth grade. It did not last very long, but it was a step in the right direction. Jerry was becoming a complete human being, and Ryan enjoyed having a protégé. In the year 2010, at the end of eighth grade, however, it all went south.
Ryan's popularity reached an all-time high when he started dating the hottest girl in school, Tiffany. She had long blond hair and always wore pink. She stood out everywhere and attracted lots of attention. But not everyone was happy about Ryan dating her.
* * *
One day, a big kid found Jerry and Ryan alone after school. They were hanging out inside an empty hallway waiting for their parents to pick them up. Jerry was playing Gameboy, and Ryan was listening to music. The big kid with huge arms and a black tank-top shirt came walking down the hallway and seemed cool and casual, but Jerry had a feeling something was wrong. He nudged Ryan to take off his headphones.
"Hey, Ryan, who's that guy?"
"I don't know."
"He's kinda big, isn't he?" Jerry asked worriedly.
"Don't worry about it."
Ryan shrugged, put his headphones back on, and continued listening to music — big mistake. The kid walked up with bulging muscles and pulsating veins. He looked like he was seventeen years old and did not belong in middle school. He grabbed Ryan by his shirt, picked him up off the ground, and slammed him into the wall. He began cursing and yelling at Ryan, divulging his story with anger and spit. They soon found out who he was: Seth, Tiffany's older brother, and he was furious about Ryan dating his sister. Jerry grew scared and ran off to find help, but he quickly stopped and realized, If I run away now, Ryan may get severely hurt. By the time I find someone to help, it might be too late.
Putting all his fears behind him, Jerry charged head-on at Tiffany's brother. He used his shoulder and crashed into Seth, but it did little to stop him. In fact, he looked at Jerry with bloodshot red eyes and crouched down, ready to pounce like a devil cat. Jerry turned around and tried to run away, but Seth caught his arm and swung him into the wall. Jerry scrambled to recover quickly and escape, but Seth pushed Jerry into the wall again and punched him in the stomach. Jerry fell to the floor and could barely breathe. His vision was getting blurry, and he was having trouble staying conscious.
Ryan grabbed his eighth-grade math textbook out of his backpack and hit Seth in the back of the head. Unfortunately, Seth turned around and grinned, as if unaffected by the blow and ready to rumble. Ryan retreated slowly and said, "You better back off before someone comes and sees what you've done. And wait until Tiffany finds out!"
"Don't talk about my sister!" Seth retorted irritably.
He charged forward with both arms and bulldozed Ryan to the ground. He towered over him like a beast savoring the moment before killing his prey. Then he began kicking Ryan on the floor: one, two, three times in the stomach and ribs.
Jerry watched but could not handle the reality of the situation; he inevitably lost control. His body levitated off the ground and placed him on his feet, but his head was hanging down, and his dark brown hair covered his face. Soon his hair began floating upward, revealing flaming red skin and eyes black as night. He extended his right arm, and invisible energy wrapped around Seth. It paralyzed him like a straitjacket, and he could not move. Jerry screamed, "Get away from him now!"
In one violent thrust, he launched Seth across the hall and into a wall. Crash! Seth's body accidentally smashed a red fire alarm box.
Within seconds, Jerry saw his normal, carefree life falling apart. The fire alarm sounded, and water poured down from the ceiling sprinklers. He watched Ryan and Seth run away in fear, as if they had seen a monster. He would never forget the terror he saw in their eyes and Ryan's trembling gaze before running away. Jerry felt cold and alone as water seeped into his clothes. He was lost and confused, wondering where that power came from and how he had become the enemy. He wanted to explain himself and fix things, but it was too late; everyone was gone.
Excerpted from Believers by Michael Moran. Copyright © 2016 Michael Moran. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 First Word, 1,
Chapter 2 Childhood, 4,
Chapter 3 Lost and Found, 11,
Chapter 4 Making History, 17,
Chapter 5 Test Run, 24,
Chapter 6 Big Decision, 34,
Chapter 7 Dreams, 42,
Chapter 8 Fishing, 50,
Chapter 9 First Blood, 57,
Chapter 10 Hospital Visit, 63,
Chapter 11 Dynamite City, 69,
Chapter 12 Jealousy and Truth, 76,
Chapter 13 Revenge, 82,
Chapter 14 Questions, 89,
Chapter 15 New Beginning, 94,
Chapter 16 Cutting Corners, 100,
Chapter 17 Doing it Right, 106,
Chapter 18 Calm before the Storm, 115,
Chapter 19 Advanced Training, 120,
Chapter 20 Applied Learning, 131,
Chapter 21 Reaching Out, 137,
Chapter 22 Declaration of War, 143,
Chapter 23 Final Showdown, 151,
Chapter 24 Praise and Glory, 161,
Chapter 25 Fun in the Sun, 169,
Chapter 26 A Night to Remember, 175,
Chapter 27 Emergence of Evil, 180,
Chapter 28 Losing Control, 188,
Chapter 29 Hope, 192,
Chapter 30 Final Battle, 199,
Chapter 31 Love and Loss, 211,
Chapter Bonus Content,
A Document about Auras by Jerry Miller, 217,
Teacher's Guide, 223,
About the Author, 247,