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Flux by Mark McDonough

Read Online Flux by Mark McDonough Young Adult Book

Overview: The future: Dark. Destroyed. Ruined. A place where humans are almost extinct. And filled with aliens. A freak accident sent Vic and her friends there. But the Shift in time wasn’t their only change. Each of them also developed powers, powers that allowed them to fight back and to find a way home. Now, they’re back. They know what’s coming. But is the future set or can they change it? Either way, it’s time to find out.


Read Online Flux by Mark McDonough Book Chapter One Free. Find Hear Best Young Adult Books And Novel For Reading And Download.
Flux by Mark McDonough

Read Online Flux by Mark McDonough Book Chapter One

Everything was … normal. Well, normal-ish.

Vic let herself slump against the wall as she took in the crowd in front of her. Everyone was smiling. Laughter rang throughout the hall. An occasional louder voice pierced the general noise and even a bit of pushing and shoving but even that was all in good fun. An air of excitement permeated the air, of expectation, eagerness and waiting.

Which made sense, considering.

But what really bombarded the senses were the visuals. Everywhere she looked a riot of colour met her eyes. There, the reds, greens and yellow of a superhero sidekick. Right behind, a large purple dinosaur towering over everyone else, a black mesh in the middle of its neck. There, to the right, not far from the front of the queue, were Mario and Luigi, complete with big hats, coveralls and hats, just like Paul and Alana had once been wearing days ago.

Vic frowned. Days ago?

But was it?

She guessed that that was right. At least from a certain perspective. She’d certainly lived through those days. Those long, terrifying days of a world gone mad where the few people that still survived lived in secret deep underground while on the surface of the planet, nature steadily reclaimed all and aliens, aliens roamed about as though they owned the place.

Which they did.

Aliens.

Her eyes darted about the crowd. There were aliens dotted all over the place here. Big ones, small ones, ones with swords or blasters or pincers or helmets all standing patiently in line. But these aliens, these were from TV shows and movies and cartoons and video games. Aliens created from the imagination of humans. And while they were all scary or silly or a combination of the two in their own way, what they were, what every single one of them had in common was one thing. They. Were. Fake.

Not real. Bogus. Figments of the imagination. Make believe.

And absolutely nothing like the real thing.

She’d seen the real thing. Right up close and personal. And not just her either. The six around her, her friends, her best friends now, especially after everything that they’d gone through, they’d seen them too.

Aliens that looked like giant, overgrown grasshoppers. Hoppers they were called, at least by humans who couldn’t pronounce the alien language that their name was spoken in. Aliens with wings that could let them fly. Well, fly for about thirty metres at a time but that was more than enough to scare the crap out of anyone, especially when there was a whole swarm of them flying at you. And that didn’t take into account when they were carrying laser guns and shooting at you. Not that they really needed the guns or the other super advanced tech that they had, not with their super strength that could knock through a door that was being braced with the heaviest, biggest things that could be found.

An ice-cold shiver raced down Vic’s spine.

Instantly, she froze.

Her eyes darted about, searching, searching even as the rest of her senses gave her own body a once over.

No, everything seemed normal, well, normal enough when you’re standing to the side of a giant crowd waiting to get into a Comic Convention. Nothing dangerous at all that she could see.

As for her body … there was nothing. Well, nothing that hadn’t been there before. Yes, the entirety of the left side was a complete mess of cuts and scrapes and bruises and dried blood all down her face, arm and leg. Which one would expect when having been shot at by the afore-thought of aliens and their big guns and the concrete pillar that you’re hiding behind gets half blown to hell. There was also her right ankle but that was just a twist, not a break or anything like that – another souvenir from the aliens, well, escaping from them by dropping down through a hole in the roof to the floor below.

But of anything to accompany the shiver, there was nothing. No tingling sensations or goosebumps or shortness of breath or narrowing of her vision. Nothing at all to indicate that she was experiencing a premonition.

Premonitions. Vic shook her head making strands of her honey-blonde hair stick themselves to the side of her face. Absently, she reached up and pushed them away, wincing as she did so.

Premonitions. Her power. Superpower even if you liked. She could now feel it when something was about to happen. Usually something bad. It’d taken ages to work out and she still wasn’t used to it but it’d come in handy.

But superpower? Really? Something right out of a comic book or movie.

She snorted at the irony of it. She had a superpower. A real, live, honest-to-God superpower. And she was standing in a hall filled with hundreds of people who would give anything to have what she had. Or what any of the others had.

X-ray vision.

Telekinesis.

Camouflage.

Being able to hit anything accurately.

A personal shimmering forcefield.

Between them, they had them all, courtesy of their little time-travelling jaunt. Well, to be honest, Vic wasn’t sure what caused the powers to manifest within them. All she, all any of them knew, was that before the world went mad and they shifted through time, they were ordinary teenagers with nothing special about them at all. And then they’d been caught in that tunnel where the very air had grown thick and a fierce multi-coloured electrical storm had erupted all around them.

And the next thing they knew, the six of them were waking up in the future, a future that none of them recognised. With powers of all things.

An unexpected wail pierced the susurration of the hall and Vic jerked upright, her head whipping about. It came again and her heart sped up.

Was it the aliens? The Hoppers?

Movement to her left caught her attention and her head froze, her eyes narrowing as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing. A child, a little girl, maybe five or six years old, dressed in a frilly outfit of pinks and yellows, blues and greens was standing there, her tiny fists clenched, her head thrown back and her eyes screwed up tight. Vic saw her little chest expand before another loud, piercing wail erupted, echoing up and down the hall.

Before she’d even gotten completely into her stride, a man, obviously her father, was there, dropping to his knees even as he scooped her up. One arm rubbed her back even as the other pushed her head into his neck, somewhat burying the noise.

More movement a little behind them had Vic focussing on a woman scurrying about, pushing between the crowd, her head down and looking from side to side. Suddenly, the crowd parted and Vic saw it at the same time as the little girl’s mother: a toy wand with coloured ribbons on one end and a golden star on the other, lying abandoned on the ground.

Instantly, the mother scooped it up and scurried back to the little girl and her husband. The wailing stopped the instant the wand was back in the little girl’s hand.

“That’s a relief, I think I was about to get a headache,” Matt stated.

“Worse than the whine of those blasters,” Paul agreed.

Vic couldn’t argue there. And considering it’d only been the night before that they were being shot at …

Vic’s mind froze. Last night? Well, yes, it was. From her perspective. From their perspective. But for everyone else, last night was a century or two in the future. The future! Last night was the future. But it was their past.

It was more than enough to give her a headache. Or a mental breakdown.

Closing her eyes, Vic stamped the thought down and shifted about to take in her friends.

Alana looked dead on her feet. Her eyes were half-closed and her hair – usually so perfectly brushed with that one lock that fell over her right eye – a mess, a thousand times worse than the way Vic’s hair was of a morning when she first woke up. But really, was it any wonder? Even Alana trying to comb it with her fingers hadn’t been enough to counter the static electricity of the electrical storm that had brought them back through time again, let alone the battle with the Hoppers.

Beside Alana and mostly holding her up as a good boyfriend should do, was Paul. He, too, looked half-asleep, which wasn’t surprising knowing his propensity for sleeping in until noon if he could get away with it and none of them had slept in close to twenty-four hours. Vic doubted that he could move a pebble with his mind right then, let alone the gigantic concrete pillars that she knew he was capable of.

At the back of the group, half-turned away, was Tolan. He, of all of them, appeared to be awake. Not only awake, but on guard. Tolan had really stepped up in the future. Normally he was fairly quiet, not as quiet as Ray, of course – no one was that quiet and withdrawn – but … reserved. Maybe that was a better description for Tolan. But in the future, he’d helped hold them together. More than that, he’d even become decisive, a leader and definitely someone who they all could count on.

Matt and Ray had obviously decided that standing was too much effort. Both were sitting against the wall, Matt with his long legs out in front of him, his arms folded and his head starting to nod; and Ray with his legs pulled up tight against his chest, his arms wrapped about them. For a second, Ray appeared to almost disappear, to blend into the background and Vic had to blink hard to get him back into focus. His camouflaging power was incredibly useful but boy did it make it hard at times!

Lastly, there was Kadee. She was standing close to Alana, right in the middle of their group. Her eyes were wide, her lips slightly parted as she stared at everything all around her. Vic couldn’t tell if it was amazement at what Kadee was seeing that was on her face or shock or disbelief or a combination of all it with a bunch of other emotions thrown in for good measure. Which made perfect sense. Kadee would never have seen anything like this before in her life. She’d never even heard of anything like this Con before either, not until Vic and the others had tried to explain it to her. Somehow, Vic didn’t think that they’d done it justice. Understandably, really. Kadee was from the future, after all.

They’d never even considered bringing Kadee back in time with them, even though getting home had been their whole goal from the instant they’d realised that they were in the future. It’d just … happened.

And really, it was for the best, bringing Kadee back. At least Vic hoped so. She had to believe it was. The future that Kadee had grown up in was horrendous. Her parents had been taken by the Hoppers when she was a little girl and she had no idea what had happened to them, if they were even still alive. It was why Kadee had been out that night, searching, looking for her parents. Instead, she’d come across the six of them, fresh from their time-travel, in a world which made no sense and about to be seen and captured by a squad of Hoppers.

She’d helped them. Gotten them somewhere safe, deep underground. She’d shared her tiny cave with them, fed them, even helped them learn how to use their new-found powers. And what had it gotten her? Captured by the Hoppers, that’s what. None of them could stand the thought of their new friend in the hands of the alien grasshoppers and so they’d gone to rescue her.

As rescue attempts went, well, she was no longer being held prisoner and tortured so that counted as a win. Right? Even if Kadee was now in a world that she was totally, completely unprepared for?

“Anyone see any signs as to where the First Aid Station is?” Vic asked.

Matt’s head came up, his brown eyes briefly making contact with hers before sliding past to fix on a point above and behind her.

“Inside,” he said, punctuating his one-word answer with a gesture.

Turning, Vic looked to see what he was pointing at. The sign suspended from a pair of chains far above their heads where everyone could see it, simply read ‘First Aid’ and pointed towards a currently closed set of doors.

“How do we get in?” Alana asked.

“Do we need to, though?” Paul asked.

“Dude,” Ray retorted, gesturing not only to Vic but to the splotches or deep red on the ground around where Kadee was standing.

The fact that there was one very distinct bloody footprint only emphasised his point.

“Sorry,” Paul muttered, only swaying slightly at Alana’s shove.

“Alana does have a point, though,” Tolan interjected. “Getting in is going to be problematic at best. I don’t know about the rest of you but my ticket was on my phone. Which got fried in the electrical storm that sent us to … you know where.”

This last was said quietly as a group of three girls dressed as characters from Sailor Moon strolled past.

“Same.”

“Yeah, mine too.”

“Yep.”

“Right, so none of us have tickets. What about money?” Tolan asked.

Reflexively, Vic patted her pockets although she had no idea why. She rarely carried cash at the best of times – her card was enough to buy her anything she wanted. And that was in the little pocket inside her phone case which was … Vic frowned. Actually, she had no idea where it’d ended up. Somewhere in the future, of that she was sure. Not that it mattered. What did matter was that she didn’t have it right then.

“I’ve got my dad’s credit card,” Ray stated, holding up a battered brown leather wallet.

“Really? Your dad just gave you his credit card?” Paul asked disbelievingly.

Ray shrugged. “I’m not supposed to use more than a hundred bucks, though.”

“Does anyone else have anything?” Tolan asked. At the shake of everyone’s head, he focussed on Ray. “We promise to pay you back, just as soon as we get home.”

“Definitely,” Matt agreed.

Vic dropped down to one knee beside him, wincing as she did so.

“Thanks Ray, this really means a lot,” she said. “And it is an emergency.”

Again, Ray nearly disappeared from view, something he did anytime anyone focussed on him.

“Right, let’s go,” Tolan instructed.

Slowly, with both Vic and Kadee leaning heavily on Paul and Matt, the seven of them made their way down the hall to the ticket booth.

As people are wont to do, especially in a crowd, there were many who looked at them as they passed. If they thought anything of the dishevelled group, most with ripped or torn clothing much of it caked in blood, nothing was said. Vic supposed that they were just thought to be greatly costumed, as though they were pretending to be people from some dystopian movie – something that was much closer to reality than anyone knew.

“I don’t think we all need tickets,” Vic said, glancing at Ray. “Just me, Kadee and one of you to help us inside.”

“Vic’s right,” Alana said. “Besides, I don’t think I’m up to spending all day here.”

“I’ll take them in,” Paul stated.

“You sure?” Matt asked. “I know you’re strong but …”

“Who says I need to use my muscles,” Paul smirked.

“Babe, are you sure you should be using your power like that?” Alana asked.

“Probably not a good idea to advertise what we can do,” Tolan added.

“I can be subtle,” Paul protested, clearly insulted.

But as it turned out, none of them needed to buy a ticket. As soon as the girl selling the tickets understood that they really were injured and bleeding – a feat that took far longer to explain than anyone could have guessed – the seven of them were ushered in through a side door accompanied by a purple-shirted attendant sporting a lanyard and straight to the First Aid Station.

“What happened?” Vic was asked.

It was a question that she’d been dreading and also one that she knew was coming.

“We were mucking around on our way here. I climbed up the side of one those weird arty statues down near the river. Showing off, you know? Well, I lost my grip and fell. Scraped my side on the way down and I think I twisted my ankle as well,” she lied.

“Hmm,” the woman frowned. “Those art sculptures aren’t playground equipment. I hope you’ve learnt your lesson.”

Vic barely managed a quick nod before she continued.

“Now, let’s have a look at you. Nothing seems overly serious, just a lot of scrapes, really. Okay, we’ll start at the top and work our way down. Move your head this way.”

What followed was a continuous series of being prodded and poked by gloved fingers, wipes that produced tears in her eyes with how much they stung and left either streaks of red or yellow antiseptic stuff and finally a multitude of large Band-Aids and strips of gauze. Lastly, her right shoe was removed and her foot gently turned this way and that.

“Yes, just a sprain,” the woman nodded as she reached for a bandage. “It’ll probably hurt for a few days and it’d be best if you didn’t put too much pressure on it or walk on it if you can help it.”

“My friends will help me,” Vic assured her.

In a chair beside her, it looked as though Kadee had been through the same treatment, both of her feet now wrapped in bandages as well.

“I don’t know what you kids were doing,” Kadee’s medic, a slim man with a thick salt and pepper beard, said sternly, “but you need to be more careful in the future.”

“We will,” Tolan replied.

“If you’re all done, I’ll take you back out,” their purple-shirted attendant smiled.

“Thanks,” Vic replied, wincing as she stood.

Thankfully, Ray was quickly at her side, slipping her arm over his shoulder and his arm around her waist.

Their progress back out of the Con was much slower. For some inexplicable reason, Vic found that her injuries felt more pronounced, hurt more now that they’d been seen too. But maybe that was because she was now fully aware of them, whereas before she’d been able to mostly ignore them?

Getting through the crowd that was still lined up waiting their turn to enter the Con took a fair bit of effort. Eventually, they were able to slip between Iron Man and a group of Smurfs to reach the main thoroughfare. Thankfully, a door leading outside wasn’t far away.

A breeze hit Vic’s face as she stepped out and she closed her eyes, savouring both the coolness of it and the slight smell of petrol fumes in the air. This was the way the world was supposed to be, not the bizarre dystopian catastrophe that the future was.

“Not exactly the Con experience I was expecting,” Paul said.

“Yeah, I thought it’d last longer,” Matt agreed.

“I’m just glad we got to see it at all, even if we didn’t go in,” Alana stated. “Especially after … well, everything.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Vic snorted. “Now what?”

“Now we go back to where it all began,” Tolan stated decisively.

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