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By Ronald Montgomery
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Ronald Montgomery
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Chapter OneTravis: The Homestead
April 29, 2007
I laid there in the park beside her, waiting for her to say something, anything. All I wanted was to know that she was okay with my decision. Both of us staring into the sky, I could only think about what I had just told her ... I joined the army.
That was the best lie that I could think of to explain why I was going to be gone for the next few years. I wasn't sure if she would be able to handle the truth let alone comprehend it. I believed lying to her was the right choice. Telling her the truth would have only made the situation more complicated. I never wanted to leave her, but it was the only way that I could try and do anything with my gift.
"How long will you be gone?" She asked with fear and sorrow in her voice.
"About two years, minimum," I told her. "But I will write you every day and I'll try and call you whenever I can. Unless you just want to end it here. I would understand. I don't expect you to wait for me."
She sat up and rolled on top of me and began to kiss me.
"I never want to call it quits with us, Travis," she said. "If you think this is the right path for you, then I will follow your decision and I will wait for you."
"I didn't think you were going to be this supportive. I mean, I hoped you would have been," I said to her. "I love you, Amber, more than you know."
"I love you too, Travis," she kissed me again and rested her head on my chest. "When do you leave?"
"I'm leaving in three days. We are flying to Cincinnati and from there going to Fort Rucker," I said lying through my teeth.
"That's so soon," She said with her eyes tearing up. "We barley have any time left together."
"That's why we have to make it count."
Two Days Earlier
April 27, 2007
"Do you want to make this world a better place? Do you think you were born to help the world? Then click here NOW."
That's what the blinking advertisement read. The words seemed to jump off of the screen. The swirling colors in the background drew me in. I thought, why not see what it's all about? I might as well check it out, maybe a good job opportunity. I clicked on it and all this information popped up and then ones and zeros started running down my screen. Then my computer turned off.
"What?!" I yelled trying to turn it back on, but nothing worked. "Damn viruses, I should have figured as much."
I packed up my things and drove to school. There were only two more days of my high school education left. Soon I'd be off to Penn State with Amber. When I arrived at school I met up with my friends in the cafeteria until the bell rang. While in class, all I could think about was that damn popup. How could I have been so stupid to click it? That was like asking for a total computer meltdown. At the time, it seemed like I had to. Like my body had no other option, but to click it. The bell rang and the rest of the day passed by quickly.
The next morning I had to walk to school because my car wouldn't start. First my computer, now my car, what else could happen, I thought. All of the sudden, two white vans came out of each street surrounding me. I stopped and watched as men in black suits came out of them, and towards me. My heart was racing. By the time I had decided to try and run away one of them had already grabbed me. I attempted to break loose, but he was stronger than me. Another man grabbed my feet. I tried to struggle, but there was no use. They were too strong. They threw me into one of the vans. I blacked out.
A light turned on, as if someone had shined a flashlight in my face. I was tied to a chair with, what felt like, rope. There was a man sitting on a chair in front of me. He seemed comfortable, as if he had been sitting there for a while. He was wearing a tan suit and a black tie. It didn't look cheap, so I knew it was no ordinary kidnapping. I could have as figured that out by the team of men that picked me up. He seemed about thirty or forty years old, he had very short hair, slightly longer than a standard military cut.
The ropes were tied tight around my wrists. I tried to get free, but it was pointless. Both my feet were bound as well. I didn't know what to do. I assumed there was no point screaming. The room was all white and the door was about ten feet away from me, the man was about five.
"Hello Mr. Travis Hartman. Five-eleven, one-hundred and eighty-two pounds, dark blonde hair, brown eyes ... looks like we got the right guy. So, how are you this fine afternoon?" the strange man asked.
"Where am I? What is this place? Who are you people?" I asked angrily.
"Now now, calm down. Don't worry, you're fine. Actually, you are better than fine," he said with a chuckle. "So Mr. Hartman, how do you think you can make this world a better place? Why do you think you were born to help this world?"
Immediately, I remembered the advertisement that I clicked on my computer. The questions were strangely similar. "What is this place?"
"So, let's cut to the chase. What can you do? What's your power?" the man asked.
"Power? What are you talking about? I don't have a 'power'. I'm just an ordinary kid."
"Actually, you're not. The advertisement that you clicked on was designed to attract the energy in people that gives them strange and powerful abilities and ward away those who do not. Therefore, only people with abilities will click on it. You clicked. So I'll ask again, what's your power?"
"I don't know. I've never done anything special."
"No flying, no super speed, maybe moving things with your mind?"
"No! What is going on here?"
The man looked back behind me and nodded his head, I heard the snap of someone's fingers. Black. I opened my eyes again and the same man was still sitting there looking at me. I was groggy, as if I was waking up from a long nap.
"What's going on? What just happened?" I said in a dazed tone. I tried to look to the corner of the room, but due to my angle. I couldn't see it.
"Do you know your power?" The man asked with his violent temper flaring.
"No, I have no idea. I don't know what you're talking about. I'm sorry?"
"Well then, I guess that I'm going to have to kill you. You've seen too much."
He looked to the back of the room again and I heard another finger snap. Black. I opened my eyes, awaking with the same groggy feeling. No one was in the room, the door was open, and I was untied. I got up, wiped my eyes with my fingers, and took a second to look around the room. There was a symbol painted on the back of the wall. It was a black circle, which was no more than the size of a basket ball, surrounded by three rounded black trapezoids. The trapezoids weren't evenly sized. One surrounded about one half of the circle on the left side. Moving clockwise, the following trapezoid bordered about one-sixth of the circle, and the last one bordered roughly two-sixths. The remaining portion was the total space between the trapezoids. I had never seen it before. After staring at the symbol I turned around and ran out the door. At the end of the long hallway I could see a cracked door. I was sure it was a trap, but it was the only chance that I had to get the hell out there. I ran for it, hearing footsteps, lots of them. I looked behind me and I saw a bunch of soldiers ... with guns. I ran faster, as fast as I could.
They started to shoot. I burst through the door while they opened fire. I started to run to the right after I got out of the building. I was outside surrounded by trees. It appeared as if I was in a forest somewhere, or a thick wooded area. There were trees and plants that I had never seen before. I thought, where in the hell did they bring me?
It only took a moment for them to be outside with me. I laid down into some brush. I had no plan, no idea where I was, and no idea how to escape.
There were a number of soldiers after me. I could hear them talking.
"We should split up, we will cover more ground that way," one said.
"Good idea," another said
I poked my head out of the brush, seeing one approach my hiding spot. I saw a branch in front of me, I planned to knock him out and steal his gun. I was scared; I knew if I made the slightest error he would kill me. I reached for the branch, and my hand began to feel weightless. I touched the branch and watched as my hand changed to the same color as the branch. I quickly pulled it back, touching it with my other hand. It felt coarse and jagged, but not sharp. My hand somehow became wood. I didn't freak out, but I was confused. My hand slowly turned back to normal, starting from my wrist then working up to my fingertips. I was in shock. I heard the soldier coming very close. I grabbed the branch, stood up, and smashed him in the face with it breaking the branch into two pieces.
He instantly fell to the ground. I grabbed his gun along with the knife from his vest. I took the knife out of its sheath and concentrated on my hand, attempting to repeat what I had previously done. It began to turn a clear white, nearly transparent, but foggy. I touched the knife and could feel my hand start to change, feeling cold and hard. I heard another guy running in my direction. I hid behind a tree. He ran by the tree and me, then over to the soldier I had knocked out.
"Are you okay? Hey man, are you okay? Wake up."
I walked up behind him quietly.
"Hey," I said, right behind him.
He turned around and I punched him in the head, cracking his helmet. He started to bleed from his forehead. I kicked him, he seemed unconscious.
"Stop it! That's enough," a voice said. "They're using empty clips. They're not a threat to you. It was only to scare you to make your ability awaken."
I turned around to see the man that had me in the room earlier.
"What are you talking about?" I said as I pointed the soldier's gun at him.
"I told you that they are empty clips. Please come with me and I will explain everything."
"They were shooting at me in the hallway, those didn't seem like empty clips" I stated.
"No, those were real bullets. You were in a confined space. It was easy to avoid you and only shoot at the walls to frighten you. So please, put the gun down and just walk with me. I'm not your enemy."
"I'm not going anywhere with you," I yelled as I pulled the trigger of the automatic gun. Nothing happened. There were no bullets in the gun. He was telling the truth.
"We never had any intention of killing you," the man said. "I just said that to scare you. My idea worked. There are cameras all over this place. I watched you discover your power, and it's a good one from what it seems. Come on, I'll explain everything."
I dropped the gun and walked over to him.
"So, where are we?" I asked. "What day is it? How long have I been here?"
"Well right now, we are on an island. This island is called The Homestead. This is where we test all of the new comers' powers and rate them on a scale of one to five," he explained as we entered back into the building. "A level one ability is a weak or uncontrolled power. A weak power for example, being able to melt. A level two ability being a somewhat honed power, being able to use your power at will or a useful power, such as being able to melt other things. A level three ability is a more advanced and even more honed power. A level four is an extremely advanced, possibly dangerous power, Such as telekinesis or being able to dehydrate the body."
We were walking down a hallway with a bunch of dark rooms.
"And what about what a level five power?"
"Well, a level five, there are only a few level fives that we know of and he is one of them." We stopped in front of one of the doors.
"I don't see anything."
"One minute, we just have to wait for my assistant to show up."
A door opened down the hall and a man came out and started walking towards us.
"This is Zander; he can generate a dark field up to ten feet in diameter and up to twenty feet away. While in the field you are unable to stay awake. That is why you kept falling asleep when we met earlier. Oh and by the way my name is Jacob Perin, but please just call me Perin. It's nice to formally meet you, Travis." I shook his hand and his assistant was now next to us. "When he first came here Zander's power was only to see perfectly in the dark and with time and training his power developed into what it is today. He is a great asset to us here. Hopefully, you will be just as valuable to us, Travis."
"Hey, nice to meet you, Travis," Zander said. "So what can you do?"
"I'm not to sure how to explain it. I can show you. Watch."
I stuck my hand out and tried to do what I did earlier. Nothing was happening. I tried to force it. I concentrated so hard.
"Hey, don't hurt yourself. You just figured out that you can do something extraordinary. You have a long ways to go before you can do it at will. I've been here for five years and I just recently perfected my power," Zander said.
"You're right," I stopped trying.
"Zander, could you please remove the field around this room?" Perin asked.
"Yes sir. No problem," he said and then snapped his fingers.
The room became visible. There was a person in the corner of the room, curled into a ball. He seemed about fourteen years old.
"Now, don't get upset, Travis. It's not what it appears to be. We aren't holding him captive; he wanted to be put to sleep for a long time. It is for the best. Merrick is very dangerous. Luckily, we knew about Merrick before his power developed," Perin asked.
"Why is that?"
"Well, this young man is the cause of some of the natural disasters from 2003 to 2005."
"How is that?"
"His body has effects on the planet. For instance, if he loses control of his power and his body starts to shake, then there is an earthquake." Perin explained.
"Can't you teach him to keep it under control?" I asked.
"Merrick lost control for just a minute on August 23, 2005. That's the date that Hurricane Katrina formed off the east coast," Zander said.
"Are you sure that it's not just a coincidence?" I asked them.
"There are countless other things that have happened due to Merrick, but we won't get into that. Merrick is one of few people with a level five power that we know of," Perin stated. "Now to answer your other questions from earlier, you've only been here for a few hours since this morning. It just seemed longer because you were asleep."
"Will I ever get to go home?" I asked. "Do I have to stay here?"
"Well, the decision is completely up to you. I mean, you won't be able to hone your skills without help. That's what we offer here," Perin said.
"Honestly, Travis, this is the best place for people like us. Without them I never would have been able to control my power. I used to be a thief, but they helped me. Your life will be better here," Zander told me. "After they think that your power can no longer be developed then they will let you go, or you can stay and work for them helping them find other people with abilities. Then, if you want, you can help train others. Assuming you're good enough."
"What do you say, Travis, will you join us?" Perin asked.
"Yes, but is it okay that you bring me home so that I can say goodbye to my friends and family?"
"Yes, of course. We will bring you home today and in four days we will come pick you up from Lehigh Valley International Airport. We'll call you the day before we pick you up," Perin said, "Under no circumstances can you tell anyone that you are going to an island to help hone your special powers. You need to think of an excuse."
"I told my parents that I was going to war. It's an easy lie to cover and I still write them every day," Zander recommended.
"That's not a bad idea. Thanks Zander."
"Will there be other people like me?"
"Yes. The ages of the other students vary. We like to get the students as young as possible, so we can train them for longer. We don't look for many older people to recruit into the project. If we do, we usually train them to be instructors. It's harder to convince older people into joining. It's also harder to train them with their power. Our targets are usually around your age," Perin explained.
"I guess that makes sense. What exactly am I going to be trained for? Like is it a special mission or something, fighting off evil aliens or something crazy like that?"
"No, Travis, nothing like that. When you get back more will be explained."
Excerpted from Project Dominium by Ronald Montgomery Copyright © 2012 by Ronald Montgomery. 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.
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