The Cold Shoulder
Gwen stifled as yawn as she walked towards her home.
It was nearly ten o’ clock and the sun had long since set, leaving the town in darkness save for the random street lights.
She had agreed to babysit for a family friend until they got back from a late meeting.
Her mother had offered to stay up to drive her home, but she knew that she had to be up early the next morning, so had declined the offer.
She was walking past the city hall when a strange light inside caught her attention.That’s odd. That doesn’t look like a flashlight. It looks like elect…
Her eyes widened as a small disbelieving laugh escaped her throat. “Oh, you are kidding me.”
She reached up to pull her hair from its braid but stopped, a small, mischievous smile pulling across her face. I wonder…
Trydan whistled quietly through his teeth as he flipped through the many files that filled the large metal cabinet, using a bolt of electricity for light.
He had been looking for nearly an hour and was becoming more frustrated with every passing minute.
Doesn’t anyone use paper to file things anymore? All of these are from decades ago!
He pushed the drawer closed before moving on to the next one.
Surely there’s something here!
“Looking for something?”
He let out a startled yelp at the voice and spun around. His eyes widened in panic when he spotted Gwen standing in the doorway.
“Gwe… um, hi!” He chuckled nervously. “What brings you here? At this hour? At night? When it’s dark?”
Gwen laughed. “My dad kinda works here. What are you doing here, Trydan? I thought you only robbed important places.” She crossed her arms and leaned against the door frame. “The only thing you’ll find here is paper and receipts.”
“So I’ve noticed.” He started to stick his hands into his pockets but stopped himself.
That was one of Dylan’s nervous ticks. And the last thing he needed was his girlfriend starting to compare them.
If she finds out who I am…
He shook away the thought, trying desperately to conjure up Trydan’s easy going, no care attitude. But her standing there staring at him with her big green eyes was making it difficult.
“Do you mind if I ask what you’re looking for?” Her voice pulled him from his thoughts and she nodded towards the files. “I can save you some time.”
His eyebrows lurched. “Um… I’m just looking for files on… some of your dad’s employees. I hear some of them have some nice… vases.”
“Ye-ah.” He let out a nervous laugh. “They’re great for holding things. Like flowers.”
A snort escaped her lips before she could stop it. “Okay, don’t tell me.” She straightened and turned to leave. “The files for the employees are in the records room down the hall. Second door on the left. If you’re looking for people like…the sheriff, all of those are in the tan cabinet closest to the window, second drawer.” She stepped out of sight, but leaned back to smile at him. “And the Password to the computer is 9 22 01, the date of the comet crash.” She let out a small hum. “And also my birthday.”
“Mine too,” he answered automatically.
She blinked in surprise. “Oh. That’s cool.” She shot him a smile. “The files are also password protected, but my dad only has the brain capacity for one password. So they’re all the same. Have a good night, Trydan.” With that, she was gone.
He stared after her, a small, dopey smile pulling across his face.
“So many reasons to love that girl,” He whispered to himself as he turned to the computer. “And they just keep multiplying.”
It was past midnight by time Trydan climbed out through the skylight to the roof, a stack of papers in his hands.
“Why didn’t you just zap up here?”
He spun around, gripping the papers to his chest. “Menjie!? What are you doing here! Don’t scare me like that!”
The girl in question simply shook her head. “What are you doing here? Stealing fast food menus?”
He rolled his eyes. “No, for your information. I was getting some info on our friend Strazak, and the press conference he’s holding tomorrow.” He waved the pages in the air. “I got the set up for the stage and I think I can just zap him when he’s not expecting it.”
Menjie’s eyebrows lurched. “No you can’t.”
“Because you and I both know that won’t work and will only make you look more like a villain.”
He shrugged. “How is that a bad thing? I am a villain.”
“No you’re not. You’re just a trouble maker.” She pointed a warning finger at him. “No zapping the sheriff. He could dodge and you might hit someone else. Now we need to get home before it gets any later. Let me know what you find in those files.”
“Will do.” He headed for the edge of the roof, but stopped when she spoke again.
“Aren’t you taking the wires?”
“Nope, I can’t.” He nodded at the paper. “These would be ash before I got home.”
“Ah. Well, see you tomorrow.” She sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I feel like he’s got something planned for tomorrow. I just don’t know what.”
“I’ll keep my ears open.” He shot her a two fingered salute. “See you later, Princess!”
She shook her head as he leapt off the roof. “One day I have got to find out why he calls me Princess.”
“I’m back,” Dylan mumbled as he walked into the living room and plopped down on the couch.
Smokey raised an eyebrow at him. “You were out late enough. Did you bring back anything expensive or did you just rob places of their menus?”
He rolled his eyes. “What is it with everyone and menus tonight?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, cloth bag and tossed it to her. “I was looking for files, which I found. But that was sitting on the desk. Thought you might like it.”
“Ooh! A ring!” She quickly put it on and held her hand up into the air. “I need more light.”
Without turning his attention away from his papers, he sent a spark of electricity flying into a nearby light bulb, causing it to shine brighter for a few seconds before it busted and doused the room in darkness.
Smokey huffed. “Well, someone’s got my attitude today.” She grabbed her TV remote and flipped the channel ‘til it showed a picture of their house and hit rewind.
Dylan glanced up from his papers as the light bulb repaired itself and things around the room began to move. “How far back are you taking the house? To when it was built?”
“Nope, I lost my keys. I thought while I was rewinding things I may as well figure out where I left them.”
“They’re taped to the top of the ceiling fan. Where they’ve been for fifteen years.”
“Oh! Duh. I forgot because I had them yesterday, when I went back to the past.” She stopped the rewind and shrugged. “We’ll just leave the house like this. The dishes are done so it’s perfect.” She tossed the remote onto the coffee table and fell back into her seat. “What are you doing?”
“Skipping school tomorrow.”
A slow frown worked its way across her face. “Mind if I ask why?”
He glanced at her briefly. “I want to keep an eye on a jerk who’s been making life difficult.”
“Fair enough.” She got back to her feet and reached out to ruffle his hair. “I’m proud of you! It’s the first time you’ve skipped school since the second grade! I was starting to think you liked being a model student.”
“Not a chance, Aunt Smokey.”
“Good.” A long, loud yawn ripped from the woman’s mouth as she turned towards the hallway. “Make sure you take a jacket tomorrow.”
His eyebrows lurched. “It’s supposed to be in the eighties tomorrow. It’s a record high for this time of year.”
She shrugged. “Then don’t.”
He just shook his head as she walked to her room, then turned his attention back to the files.
“Reports of these beings have begun to rise,” Sheriff Calloway said, addressing the dozens of cameras that lined the front of the stage. “And it has even been discovered that some are within our own town. We’ve had one terrorizing us for years by the name of Trydan. He’s reckless and dangerous and he will be brought to justice.”
Gwen resisted the urge to roll her eyes, knowing the action would be caught on national television if she did.
She stood with her parents behind Calloway, because her father wanted everyone to know that they supported him… even though he was very aware that she did not.
Her attention was pulled to the edge of the crowd and a small smile pulled across her face.
Dylan had decided to watch the press conference instead of going to school. She was glad he was there; it gave her something to think about other than the fact that she was literally standing three feet behind the man who had tried to kill her.
“Also know,” Calloway continued, “We are preparing a system that will be able to hold these villains and neutralize their powers. So then, we can not only help ourselves, but can help many counties and even states by having a controlled environment to hold these out-of-control beings.”
Gwen stiffened. He’s going to have an endless source of power shipped to his front door unless we-
“Contain me!?” a woman’s voice shouted. “Think again, sheriff! I will not be contained!”
Gasps filled the air as a layer of ice began to creep across the ground.
Before Gwen had a chance to locate the newcomer, Dylan was jumping up onto the stage and grabbing her hand.
“Let’s go!” he yelled above the chaos. “We need to get out of here!”
“Safety first, Gwendolyn!”
“Okay, okay, fine.” She followed him as he ran towards a nearby store. Not that she had any choice since he had a vice-like grip on her hand.
He pushed her through the front doors and turned to leave, only to be stopped by her hand wrapping around his arm.
“Where are you going?”
“To hide somewhere else,” he responded. “That way we’re harder to find.”
“Okay.” She released him and smiled. “Thanks, Dylan.”
He grinned. “Of course.” With that, he ran away.
“I wonder why he wanted to split up...” She shrugged. “Oh well, I had to find a way to get away from everyone anyways..”
Trydan stared at the scene below, an amused smile on his face.
People were slipping and falling everywhere. He couldn’t help but find it hilarious.
She sure does like to freeze things.
“Huh.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, opening up his browser app.
“So, what’s the scoop?” Menjie asked as she landed on the roof behind him.
“Um, a freezy woman is on the loose and she appears to like turning the ground into a skating rink.” He glanced up at her with a crooked smile. “My aunt told me to bring a jacket today. I guess I should have listened.”
“What, can she see into the future or something?”
“Future, past, alternate realities. She can see pretty much everything.” He chuckled. “She’s like a Santa Clause who gives coal to the kids just for fun, because she likes to watch them cry.”
“Yeah, she’s a gem.” He stretched his arms above his head. “Let’s go find Frysta, shall we?”
Menjie raised an eyebrow. “Frysta?”
He showed her his search page. “Yeah, it means frozen in Swedish. It fits, don’t you think?”
She rolled her eyes. “And what’s her real name?”
“No clue.” He pocketed his phone before cupping his hands around his mouth and shouting. “Yo, Freezy woman! What’s your name?!”
Menjie glared at him. “Seriously? We could have had the element of surprise!”
“Oh, where’s the fun in that?”
The both leapt back as a pillar of ice shot up in front of them, carrying a tall, thin woman.
She was snow white from head to toe with a small underlying tone of blue. Her hair was straight as a pin and hung down to the middle of her back.
“There you are!” Her voice sounded like she was talking through a tunnel. “I knew you’d show up. All heroes show up eventually!”
Trydan huffed. “See, this is why I didn’t want to help you. People start assuming I’m a hero!”
Menjie rolled her eyes and turned her attention to the frosty woman before them. “Look, we don’t have to fight. We can all calm down and talk it out.”
The woman snorted. “I’ve tried talking! It doesn’t work! Well now, I’ve gotten a better offer! And all I have to do is put you on ice.”
“You don’t have to.. There’s a better way!”
“Not for me, there isn’t!”
They dove to the sides as a large, jagged sheet of ice shot towards them, ripping up parts of the roof and covering the entire area in a layer of frost.
“Whoa, there Frysta!” Trydan exclaimed. “We were just trying to talk!”
“Her name isn’t… ugh!” Menjie pushed back to her feet to address the woman again. “What’s your name?”
“My name is Saoirse Caitriona Moloughney, and I will be the last person you ever see.”
There was a long moment of silence as the two teens stared at her, then Trydan looked over at his companion.
“Well?” he asked slowly.
Menjie gave a small nod. “Frysta will work.”
The woman let out a scream of rage. “Do not mock me! I could trap every person in this pathetic town in ice if I wanted to!” A slow, smug smile crossed her face as she began to move away. “Or, maybe I do want to.”
She spun around, the ice below her feet turning in a small incline that she gracefully slid down. “Surrender or I’ll just freeze this entire city!”
Ice flew out in all directions, covering buildings and cars. People who were trying to run away were suddenly stopped as their feet became frozen to the ground.
“What’s the plan?” Trydan asked.
“Well, she’s an elemental so I need you to find out her weakness. We’ll do what we did last time. I’ll distract while you find out how to stop her.” She shot him a smile. “Plus, there’s less of a chance I’ll fall. Enhanced agility has its perks.”
He snorted as she teleported away. “Sure.” He crossed his arms. “Well, if it’s the obvious answer, I’d say her weakness is-” A shocked, pain-filled gasp tore from his lips as a scorching heat slammed into his back, sending him flying across the roof.
He rolled to a stop near the edge, gasping for breath as a familiar figure slowly walked towards him.
Strazak chuckled darkly, motioning to a figure in a long, dark cloak that was following close behind. “Remember my friend? As I recall, you have a problem with water.”
Where is he!?
Menjie dodged a dangerously sharp icicle and looked around, trying to find some indication that Trydan was anywhere nearby.
Frysta let out a long screech. “Why aren’t you falling!? This is ice! Ice!”
“I have really good balance.” Menjie watched as the woman stopped to catch her breath. “You don’t want to be doing this, do you? You’re not a villain.”
Frysta frowned. “I have to do this.”
“That’s none of your business.”
“You’re trying to skewer me with icicles, I think it is.”
Frysta scoffed. “Oh, Honey, no. I wasn’t trying to skewer you. I was just trying to distract you.”
“Distract me?” Menjie’s eyes widened in horror. “Trydan!”
“I think that’s enough,” Strazak laughed. “I think it’s safe to say he is thoroughly soaked.”
Trydan coughed, pushing the water out of his face. “Seriously? It doesn’t take an entire ocean! Were you trying to drown me?”
“Not at all,” Strazak responded. “I need you alive.”
“Really? You could have fooled me.” He slowly got to his feet. His hair, now black as coal, hung down around his silver eyes. “What do you want? My powers? Well, good luck finding them when I’m wet as a dog.”
“No, I have other plans for you, boy. For both you and your partner.”
Trydan tensed. “She’s not affected by water, so you may need to find a different tactic.”
“But I know her weakness.” Strazak reached out and grabbed a fistful of the boy’s shirt and yanked him forward. “See, I know that you’re no hero. You have no heart and no conscience. But Menjie, Menjie is the hero. She defends and protects. She does everything in her power to keep people safe. Including you.”
A spark surged across the boy’s body, but quickly died out. “You’re a jerk, you know that!?”
“Maybe. But soon, I’ll be the most powerful man in the world.”
“Let him go!” Menjie demanded as she stepped out of one of her portals. “Now.”
Strazak motioned to his companion. “Would you like to do the honors?”
Anger surged through Trydan’s body as he reached up to grasp the hands holding him. “Leave her alone!” With a vicious yank, he managed to break free and stumbled back to Menjie’s side.
“You look terrible,” she commented, taking in the boy’s drenched appearance. “You weren’t kidding when you said water drained you.”
“Haha, very funny.”
Their attention was pulled to the cloaked girl who slowly made their way towards them, water dripping from her fingers. “It looks like Strazak was right. You really will defend anybody, whether they deserve it or not..”
Instead of responding, Menjie took a step back, glancing at the boy. “What are we calling this one?”
“I don’t know. Aqua?”
“Really? That’s all you got?”
A low growl crawled up his throat. “Believe me, there’s a lot of things I wanna call her right now. How about Viz? It’s water in Hungarian.”
“Works for me.”
Viz laughed. “I love that you didn’t have to google that. Makes me think that under that mask you’re just a nerd.”
“Take care of them,” Strazak called as he turned away. “I have things to take care of. You know what to do.”
Viz grinned. “Oh, do I ever. And I’m going to enjoy it.” Streams of water shot from her hands, lashing out in large, whip-like arcs.
Menjie easily dodged them, but Trydan wasn’t so lucky. One of the streams caught him across the chest, sending him sprawling on the ground.
“Are you okay!?”
“Sure.” He huffed. “I love being assaulted with water.”
Viz laughed. “Well, since you’re useless, I think I can just focus on her!” A wall of water as wide as the building they were standing on shot up behind her. With a simple wave of her hand, it flew across the roof.
Menjie jumped through one of her portals to avoid it, but Trydan was just knocked down again.
“This really isn’t funny!” he snapped.
“Well I think it is,” Viz retorted. “I find it hysterical.”
Menjie reappeared beside the boy. “I need to get you out of here before she kills you.”
He waved her off. “She’s not going to kill me. Don’t worry. Just do me a favor and get one, really good punch in.”
She sent him a smile. “It’s a promise.” Then she disappeared again, only to pop up behind Viz, stealing her attention away.
He let out a deep breath and leaned back on his hands, watching as the two girls battled it out.
Menjie was making good use of her portals, using them to shoot Viz’s water back at her. She would try to turn invisible, but it didn’t do much good since they could see the waves her movement made in the ankle-deep water.
A small frown pulled across his face as a nagging thought tugged at the back of his mind.
He was forgetting something. Something important…
A small shiver crawled down his spine as a cool breeze swept across his skin.
Wait… cold. His head snapped around, searching desperately for one individual who appeared to be missing.
“Menjie!” he shouted as he scrambled to his feet. “Where’s Frysta!?”
She shot him a quick glance as she dodged one of Viz’s attacks. “What!?”
“Frysta! Where is-”
He was cut off as a long, high pitched laugh filled the air and the icy woman appeared atop a large I spire.
“Looking for me?” she yelled, her hands glowing a bright white. “Well you found me! Congratulations!”
Ice shot from her hands in long, freezing streaks, whistling through the air at lightning speed.
Menjie could only stare wide-eyed.
She didn’t have time to run and she didn’t have any energy left to teleport. All she could do… was stand there.
Her fists clenched at her sides and her eyes closed as she waited for the impact.
It hit her full on in the side, throwing her several feet away and to the ground.
But as she hit the hard roof, she realized what had hit her hadn’t been ice. It hadn’t even been cold or hard.
She twisted around and her breath caught in her throat.
Where she had once been stood a large spray of ice. It’s jagged edges stretched up to the sky, catching the glittering sun rays. But through its transparent, frozen walls she could see the figure of a boy.
“No… No! Trydan!” She jumped to her feet and ran to the block, beating her hands against it. “Let him out! He’ll… he’ll die in there!”
“Well, that’s not quite my problem is it?” Frysta shrugged. “He’s the one that got in the way. It was meant for you.”
Menjie spun to face Viz but found she had disappeared.
Frysta tsked. “Too bad. He was a spirited little fellow. Invite me to the funeral, won’t you?”
White hot anger flashed through her body, filling every corner with a seething hot wrath.
Frysta’s laughter stopped and her smile disappeared as Menjie turned to face her.
Her eyes glowed a hollow purple, and a magenta-colored haze danced around her hands, slowly spreading over her entire body.
“Let him out,” Menjie demanded, her voice low and threatening. “NOW!”
The haze around her blasted out in all directions, slamming Frysta into a nearby wall, cutting through the sound barrier and knocking out the power. Car and store alarms all across town began to blare.
Menjie gasped for breath as the anger slowly settled, leaving her drained and exhausted.
The sound of cracking caught her attention and she spun around in just enough time to see the ice that had held Trydan shatter and fall apart.
The boy fell to the roof, gasping and shivering. Small zings of lightning sparked from his skin, but fizzled out immediately.
“Trydan!” She ran to his side, dropping to her knees beside him. “Are you okay!? Talk to me!”
He swallowed thickly and braced his hands against the ground. He let out a deep breath, laced with ice and frost. The tips of his fingers were blue and where they touched the wet roof, little crystals formed around them. His hair had turned back to red, but the tips were a light, frosty blue.
She braced her hands against his shoulders to help steady him. “Are you okay?” she repeated quietly.
He gave a small nod. “Yeah. Just… cold. Really cold.” He finally opened his eyes and looked up at her, only to frown when she gasped. “What?”
“Your eyes. They’re…” She waved her hand in front of him. “Can you see me?”
“Your eyes are such a light blue you look blind. I’m used to the glowing electric blue.”
He let out a small, quiet laugh. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
They sat in silence for several, long moments before she spoke again.
He frowned in confusion. “For what?”
“You pushed me out of the way and took the blast yourself.”
“Well, it made sense. I was useless. There was no way I could stop them, so you had to.”
A smile pulled across her face. “You are never useless. Even when you look like a drowned rat.”
She glanced towards the edge of the building as the sound of voices began to drift up to them. “We should probably get out of here. Can you make it home okay?”
He sent her a thumbs up. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
“Okay then.” She stood up and pulled him to his feet. “Be careful.”
He waited till she was gone before he headed to the rooftop entrance to the building and slipped inside.
“Dad!” Gwen called as she pushed through the crowd that had gathered, trying to find her father amongst the havoc.
Alarms were still blaring from her blast. People were pushing and shoving, some trying to find family members while others carried equipment like heat lamps and hair dryers to try and free those whose feet were still frozen to the ground.
The ice that had covered streets and walls was quickly melting in the heat, leaving the ground wet and muddy, adding to the mess that was already there.
She let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding when she finally caught sight of the mayor. “Dad! Are you okay!? Where’s Mom and Maisey?”
Mark sighed with relief when he caught sight of her. “Gwen! Oh, thank goodness, I was worried half to death! You mom and Maisey are fine. Can you please call them and let them know you’re okay? I have to clean up this mess here and figure out how we’re going to contain the ice lady. I’ll see you at home!”
“Okay.” She turned to head away from the chaos. As she pulled her phone from her pocket she caught sight of Robert Calloway and stopped.
He had Frysta handcuffed and was leading her to a waiting vehicle, a satisfied smirk on his face.
What really struck her as interesting was the fact that Frysta wasn’t trying to fight him. She was just going along. Not looking the least bit concerned or angry.
What did he offer her? What did he want her to do? They both look too satisfied to have lost but… they look like they won. They didn’t… did they?
She was pulled from her thoughts as her phone chimed in her hands, alerting her that she had received a text from Dylan.
She smiled as she opened it and read: Hey Gwen! I am home and wanted you to know that I’m alright. I wanted to make sure that you’re okay too.
A soft chuckle escaped her lips as she typed out a quick reply then pulled up her Mother’s contact and called.
“I told you to wear a jacket!” Smokey declared as Dylan walked into the living room.
He rolled his eyes. “You couldn’t have told me why?”
“That would have ruined the fun.” She walked over to him, taking his face in her hands and looking him over. “Well, you seem to be back to normal. Your eyes are vibrant and shiny and your hair is completely red and bouncy.” She took a step back. “And the electricity powers?”
He formed a spark between his fingers and shrugged. “Full power.”
“Good!” She spun around and went back to her seat, her nephew trailing close behind.
Sabrina chose that moment to enter the room, a smirk pulling across her face. “Hey Cuz, what’s chillin’?”
Dylan spun around, his hands clenching into fists at his sides. “Really?” he ground out through clenched teeth. “What was that!?”
“What was what?”
“You know what!” He threw his hands into the air. “You trying to drown me on the roof! You, of all people, know that it does not take that much water to put out my powers.”
Sabrina laughed. “Oh! So you figured out that I’m… what did you call me? Viz?”
He rolled his eyes. “Of course I figured it out. I knew the moment you spoke. You’re the only one with that bratty twang in your voice.”
“Whoa-ho children!” Smokey bounced back to her feet. “What’s going on?”
Dylan pointed to his cousin. “She’s working with Strazak and tried to drown me.”
“No I didn’t. I let you get air.”
“Oh, you’re a villainous sidekick!” Smokey clapped her hands. “I’m so proud of you!” She grabbed her daughter in a hug. “You’re one step closer to becoming as great and feared as me!” She pushed the girl back by her shoulders. “Of course, you’ll never be as great and feared as me, but you can get close. Also, don’t kill your cousin.” And she hugged her again. “But I’m so happy!”
Dylan rolled his eyes. “So my Nemesis’s sidekick is my cousin. Ironically, it doesn’t surprise me.”
“Well, anything goes in this family.” Smokey grinned. “I’m looking forward to family dinners! They are going to be glorious!” She waved her hands in the air. “Alright you two, go get cleaned up for dinner! I’m ordering take out from the twelfth century!”
“Well, I did what you asked,” Frysta snapped. “I encased the redhead in ice. I don’t know what good it did since his little girlfriend busted him out.”
Calloway waved her comment away. “You don’t need to worry about that. You did as I requested and the results were more than satisfactory.”
“Then I get my reward.” She crossed her arms. “You said if I did it that you would get me back to normal. I did it, so now you keep your end of the deal.”
Calloway chuckled, motioning for her to follow him down a long hallway. “But of course. Just follow me and get your life back.”
Dylan was laying on his bed, staring at his hand, a deep frown on his face.
Random little sparks shot across his skin before fizzling out with a hiss.
Everything had been normal until just a few hours earlier, when his electricity powers had suddenly started to short out. They would work for a few minutes, but ultimately they would fizzle out to harmless little bolts that wouldn’t defeat a static spark.
He let his hand fall to his forehead, a long groan escaping his lips. “What did you do to me? And how long is it going to be like this?”
Releasing a deep breath, he rolled over onto his side, pulling his blanket up over his head. Hopefully everything will be back to normal tomorrow.
As he dozed off to sleep, he didn’t see the frost slowly creeping up over his windows, nor the little flurries that hung suspended in the air.