Chapter 1



February, 1947

He was gaining on me! I was already pumping my bicycle peddles as hard as I could, but that bastard was so much bigger and stronger than me that I really had very little chance to escape.

I had been bullied by him since I transferred to this school four months ago. He sat right behind me in the string of classroom desks and just would not leave me alone. He kept poking me in the back until I could take it no longer; suddenly, I whirled around in my seat and stabbed him in the hand with a freshly sharpened pencil as hard as I could. The point went in about a quarter of an inch and broke off. The bastard let out a sharp grunt, stared me in the eye, and muttered, "I'll get you!"

I knew I was in serious trouble. My only hope was to cut out of school as soon as the last bell rang. I ran to grab my bike and head for home. Since it was Friday, I would be safe for a few days if I could get home before I was caught. I was pumping as hard as I could and not paying enough attention to the street ahead of me. I never saw the crack in the pavement; my bike stopped dead and I didn't.

I had no idea how long I was immersed in blackness. Finally, I struggled toward the light, but I was sorry I did—I had the world's worst headache. Then I heard the voice of an angel, "Don't try to move, honey. I'll get the doctor."

A minute or two later, with a great rustle and bustle, the doctor came dashing through the door. "Bruce! Bruce, what a relief! You're awake at last! Hell, it's 1947—you'd think that somebody would come up with a safety helmet for bicyclers!"

After a quick, but thorough, examination, he turned to the nurse and said, "Please have somebody tell the McLouds that their son is awake and they can see him, now."

"Dr. Johnson, what's wrong with me and can I have something for the world's worst headache?" I groaned.

"Bruce, I'll give you a complete rundown as soon as your parents get here. No point in repeating myself. Meanwhile, nurse, please get him some aspirin plus codeine for the headache."

About a half-hour later, another storm came through the door. This time it was my mother and father, both appearing to be overjoyed that I was finally awake and back in the land of the living. After some gentle hugs and kisses from both parents, things settled down a bit and Dr. Johnson began to explain, "I'll go into a little more detail than usual, since Bruce really doesn't know what happened. Bruce, first of all, you have pretty routine breaks in your left arm and wrist, which I am sure you have noticed by now. But the really significant injury was to your head. You literally cracked your skull when you hit the pavement and had a major concussion. This has had you knocked out for almost four weeks, so don't be surprised at how weak you feel. We have learned a lot about physical therapy as a result of the war, so you should be up and about in a short time. But, stay off your bicycle for awhile! We want to keep you in the hospital for a while longer to be sure there's no relapse and to start you on your physical therapy. Well, any questions?"

My mother immediately wanted to know when she could take me home, but Dr. Johnson wouldn't say anything beyond that it would depend on how I responded to therapy. Dad just said that he was glad to see that the McLoud hard head was at last good for something, and he was looking forward to me getting home safe and sound.

At the end of three more weeks, I was released from the hospital with an admonition to keep up my exercises and permission to return to school as soon as I felt like it. School work was no problem since I was in the sixth grade and already reading and doing math at eleventh grade level. I had already read the textbooks from cover to cover, so I really had no catching up to do. All I really wanted to do was to return to school so that I could graduate to middle school.

Ah, there's the rub. As soon as I returned to school, no doubt I would encounter the bastard again. This time, there would be no escape, since I did not have my bicycle. Oh, well, I might as well get the agony over with, so I decided to return to school the next Monday.

Mother delivered me to school and even ushered me all the way to my room. It was a little embarrassing to be babied like that; I fully expected to be teased for the rest of the day. However, I was really surprised when I did not get even a sneer from the bastard. But I would not get off!

At lunch time, as usual we marched to the lunch room. We had a hour for lunch. Of course, we did not need an hour to eat; the unused part of the hour was playtime. When I walked out of the lunch room to the yard, who was the first person I met—the bastard. This time, he did sneer at me and ordered me ahead of him to a secluded part of the yard. Once we were out of sight of the adults, he grabbed my left arm (he was left handed) and raised his to strike me. There was a great pain that shot through my arm because he pinched down exactly on my broken wrist. Without thinking, I reacted by pushing at his chest as hard as I could to try to break away. Suddenly, there was a tremendous jolt of pain in my head and the bastard went flying about fifteen feet away. Not being completely stupid, I ran like a bat out of Hell.

I kept a low profile during the rest of lunch period and then slipped quietly back to my desk. Strangely, I never again saw the bastard. I later found out that he went directly to the principle's office right after lunch and dropped out of school; he was over sixteen years old, so he could do that. What a relief! The rest of my school year was much easier.

My mother picked me up after school and took me home. After that day, she always delivered me and picked me up on school days for the rest of the year, unless I had another ride.

Naturally, when I got home that fateful day, I wondered how I had so easily gotten away from the bastard. To my surprise, I found that I could remember exactly what happened in excruciating detail; in fact, I could remember everything that happened since noon that day.

I replayed over and over my strange adventure until finally I noticed something odd: I had never touched the bastard! He went flying before my pushing hand had even started to move! Now, I was really interested. It was easy to associate the pain in my head with the push, so there was a connection. For a couple of years, my father had been buying the pulp science fiction magazines, and I read every word. Therefore, I was familiar with the concept of Extra Sensory Perception and wondered if that explained my strange experience. I was willing to put up with pains in the head if I could work ESP. I determined to test myself right away.

Since I had already done it once, I decided to try Telekinesis. I sat in the chair in my room and looked around for something to move. I decided to start small, so I tried to move the pencil on my study desk. Nothing happened! What was I doing wrong? Oh, yeah, I had ordered the pencil to move, but I had not told it which direction. This time, I told the pencil to move up and it jumped to the ceiling where it appeared to stick. OK, I had told it to move up, but I had not said how far to move. Details, it's all in the details. Obviously, I needed to practice. But wait, where was the pain I had felt before? Could it be that I would no longer feel the pain? Maybe, the original pain had been caused by "tearing" the cover off my ESP and that was it. I sure hoped so. In any case, I decided to put off testing any other potential abilities until after I had a reasonable control over my TK. Oops, I had better get that pencil off the ceiling before it falls and hurts someone.

Next question? Who could I tell of my great good fortune? I was bursting to tell somebody—but wait. Maybe I should think about this awhile before my big mouth gets me into trouble. I can't tell Mother; she'll think that I am sick and need to rush to the doctor. I can't tell Dad; he'll brag about it all over town (he already does brag about my grades). I have no siblings and I have not had time to make close friends, since we have only been living here about six months. Oh, well, I'll just try to keep a cap on it.

OK, back to practicing TK. I kept at it until supper and appeared to get it pretty well under control. I would try something else after supper. When Mother called, I left immediately for supper; I was famished.

Mother's main remark at supper was, "Bruce, where did you get such an appetite? You've eaten twice as much as you usually do. I just don't know where you put it all."

Dad rescued me with, "Oh, don't nag the boy. Remember that Bruce has had to live for weeks on hospital food, and now he has a chance to eat the good stuff you make."

Nothing more was said on that subject.

Not long after returning to my room, I noticed that there was a buzzing in my head. It sounded like a radio somewhere off in the distance. I started paying attention and realized that I was "hearing" my mother and father's thoughts. With only a little effort, I was able to understand exactly what they were thinking. I quickly tried to find a way to block these thoughts, since this could get embarrassing. I remembered one of the stories about "shielding" against a mental probe, so I started to build my own shield. I tried various things until I got a workable shield which would service itself without my specific attention. Once all external thoughts were blocked, I worked on admitting only one source at a time. This took a little more effort to learn, but once learned, did not need constant attention. This was enough work for one night, so I went to bed.

I spent the next week working on my other abilities until I had honed them to my satisfaction. I was most pleased to discover that I had a healing ability. I quickly completed the healing of my broken bones, though not much was really required. I did set up a routine for my subconscious to scan my body regularly and repair any defects found. I had to work a bit before I was able to kill invading bacteria and viruses, but I had that resolved in relatively short order. I practiced on my parents: Mother had the tiniest of breast cancers beginning to form which I was able to kill; Dad had the beginnings of arthritis which I cleared up. The only limitation of my ability to heal was that I had to touch the bare skin of the patient, but a simple handshake was sufficient if it lasted the necessary few seconds. I was gratified to find that I did not need any conventional medical knowledge to do the healing; the body knew what it needed and had no difficulty telling me.

It was at this time that I found my true calling in life: I was to do my utmost to rid the world of bullies. This may sound trivial, but consider this: Hitler and Stalin were the greatest of bullies; pimps are bullies; thieves are bullies; etc.; etc. I decided that the place to start was at my school. I only had to wander around my school yard during recess while keeping my mind receptive to the feelings to those nearby; I would have no problem spotting either bullies or victims.

To my surprise, the first bully I found was a girl who loved to verbally abuse her victims. Whatever started her on her path of abuse, she was remorseless in heaping more and more verbal shit on her target. I admit it, I was impressed at the degree of imagination exhibited by this bully, but I was disgusted by the level to which she had reduced her victim. Now what was I to do? I could hardly physically attack the bully for several obvious reasons. Then I had an inspiration: I caused her such intense pain in her gut that she crapped in her panties, so much so that there was actual spillage onto the ground. She was now the target of instant derision. She immediately ran away to try to repair the damage, but before she got too far, I cursed her with the command to have the same experience the next time she even thought of abusing someone. I was sure that she would need only one more such experience to mend her ways.

This little scene caused so much consternation and discussion on the playground for the rest of the day that I could not find any more bullies. I rode home that afternoon with a very smug feeling. I had not considered all of the possible consequences.

My next experience with curbing a bully was almost a disaster with fatalities! While Mother was driving me home, we were accidentally the cause of what is now called road rage. We were in the left lane of a multi lane street and needed to move into the right lane to make our next turn. Mother signaled her desire to pull over into the right lane and there was nearly room. If the driver to our right had only slowed down a little for a moment, Mother could have pulled into the open space and then would have shortly made her turn to clear the space, but she didn't. Apparently, Mother thought there was room and pulled over to the right and then made her turn.

The driver behind had to hit her brakes very hard to avoid a collision. She appeared to explode into rage and try to frighten Mother by following her around the turn and then driving much too close on her rear bumper, all the while leaning on her horn. This pissed me off, so I hit her with my bully stopper. This caused her to jerk her steering wheel and drive up onto the sidewalk where a child was playing. I was able to move the child out of the way before she was struck, but I could not keep the wayward car from hitting a tree. The damage was minimal, but everybody involved was frightened shitless. This showed me that I had to be more responsible in the way I cursed people, and I had to modify the curse to keep it from being life-threatening. Such was the life of a superhero; I wondered if Superman ever had such a problem?

The next day at lunch time, I saw two boys fighting. I went running over to see if this was a bullying problem. I looked into the mind of each of the boys and found that they were fighting over a disagreement about Babe Ruth versus Ted Williams. I decided that this was none of my business and left before one of the adult monitors showed up.

As I walked away, I saw a little girl crying. I went over and asked her why she was crying. She was a second-grader and was hungry. It seemed that a fifth-grade boy had stolen her lunch money. I asked her to point out the guilty boy. She looked around and said that she couldn't find him. I still had a dime in my pocket which I gave her and told her to get a carton of milk to drink. I thought that would hold her until she could get home. Meanwhile, I had a picture of her abuser taken from her memory.

The picture wasn't very clear, since she had been terrified when she was accosted. However, the picture was clear enough that I could identify him when I checked his memories. Every afternoon, the whole school met in the Assembly Hall for 20 minutes of singing; the school board was nuts about group singing! At that time, I could scan the fifth-grade boys and pick out the culprit. Except that I couldn't!

There were six boys who all had the memory of stealing lunch money from second- and third-graders. This had the appearance of some sort of gang activity. I decided that I had better look into this situation more deeply before I took any action. All of the boys were still carrying the money they had stolen and intended to meet somebody after school. I couldn't get a clear picture of who they were meeting, so I needed to try to follow one of them when school let out.

My mother was going to pick me up after school, so I needed to delay her, somehow. I wondered if long range TK would work. I would try to hide her car keys in the sofa cushions. She kept her keys in her pocket and she always sat on the sofa while she listened to her afternoon soap operas on the radio. That should give me enough time if I could make it work.

I could feel her location; she was now on the sofa. I sensed the keys and eased them out of her pocket. I had to do it slowly enough to that she wouldn't notice anything happening. Just as I had finished pushing the keys under the cushion, I felt a sharp pain in my side and heard, "Move out, McLoud! You're blocking the row." This was enough to bring my attention back to my location. I got up and marched back to my home room with the rest of my class.

When the last bell sounded, I hurried out to wait for the fifth-graders to show up. I watched them walk, as a group, over to a young man who was standing at the edge of the school yard. When I scanned him, I got a rude shock! He was a "runner" for a group that was hitting every school in town. He had the six White schools in town to hit and there was another "runner" for the three colored schools (this was in segregated south Alabama). The minimum take from each school was $10, so the income from this simple shakedown was a minimum of $90 per day. This amounted to over $16,000 for a school-year! To me, this was bullying on a grand scale! I knew I had to do something!

Just then, I saw my mother drive up, so I was through being a detective for today. My mother commented on how quiet I was as we rode home. I was working on how I was going to put a stop to this plundering of children.

I had to find a way to work after school. I needed an alternate way to get around so that I did not depend on others for transportation. How about TP (teleportation)? I would see what I could do as soon as I was alone.

Up in my room, I gave the matter a lot of thought. The first try should be a short distance just to test the concept. I walked to one corner of my room and concentrated on the opposite corner. I pictured the target corner as completely as I could and then visualized myself standing there instead of here. It was easy! Suddenly I was standing across the room, but I was naked! I had to move my clothes, too! I started laughing at myself when I realized my mistake; nothing moved unless I specifically ordered it to. My TP worked, but I had to practice!

I redressed and practiced moving back and forth across my room until I thought I had it nailed. By now, it was getting toward supper time and I realized how hungry I was. At supper, Mother commented, "Bruce, I can't understand how you can eat so much and never gain weight. I wish I could do that."

Back in my room, I picked a more distant target. I needed to be able to move to and from school without being noticed, so I needed to find a secluded place near the school that I could use for a waypoint. Nothing immediately came to mind, so I decided to put off that decision until I could be sure I needed it. For the moment, I decided to TP to a spot in the playground behind some bushes. I built up a mental picture of the target and "jumped." Success!

Now, to go home. I visualized my bedroom and jumped to the corner of my room that I had been using for practice earlier in the day. Fortunately, it was behind my hall door, because my mother was in my room. She was facing away from me, putting some clothes in my dresser. She looked up and gasped, "Bruce, you scared me to death! I didn't know you were in the room."

"I'm sorry, Mother. I didn't mean to scare you. I was trying a thought-experiment and didn't hear you come in."

"Oh, that's all right, dear. I just was putting up some clothes that I had washed, today. You didn't answer when I called, so I thought you were somewhere else," she said as she walked out.

Almost caught! I had to be more careful and not assume things! This demonstrated that I had to examine my target zone before jumping, or I could get into serious trouble. For one thing, my mother was obsessed about seeing the doctor at the slightest thing out of the ordinary. If she knew about my ESP abilities, I was sure that she would have me before a panel of doctors before I knew what hit me. She was the last person I could confide in!

This looking before jumping was no real problem—I just had to remember to do it. That playground area was sufficiently isolated that it would do as my waypoint if I simply checked it first.

Now, how to get Mother to agree not to drive me to school? I knew one boy whose father drove him to school on the way to work. I could fake a ride with him every day; that would satisfy my mother. I could tell her that I would meet my ride a block away, so she would not need to see me get into a car. I hated to lie to Mother, but I couldn't think of a better solution to my problem.

I also told her that I would go with that boy to the recreation center run by the YMCA after school and I would walk the two blocks home from there. She fell for the deception, so I was free for the afternoons.

The next morning, I found a place in our backyard which had sufficient privacy and memorized its details. I jumped from there to the schoolyard bushes and walked into the classroom. I was the first student there and my teacher was a little surprised to see me. I told her that my mother had an appointment that morning, so had brought me by earlier than usual. Boy, the lies were piling up! I hoped that I could remember them all and keep them straight.

That day, instead of chasing bullies, I spent my free time in planning my after school excursion.

For the rest of this story, you need to Log In or Register