Castle Roland


by Eric Aune


Chapter 35

Published: 8 Apr 14

Ethan and Dylan followed their mentors outside. Once outside they split up. Ethan and George Nim headed out to the meadow like area that the boys had been playing in the day before. Luke Provo led Dylan along the front porch to a place where there were some wooden chairs and they sat down.

"Dylan, from what I understand y'all are an Empath, right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now don't go startin' all that sir sh….stuff. I'm Luke. Now my job is to help you train yer skill as an Empath. How much practice have you had with yer gift?"

Dylan thought about the various times that he had used his gift, especially once he realized what he could do. "I've had a lot of practice with it."

"Really, tell me about it."

Dylan proceeded to tell Luke what he had done in using his gift and about when he first started experiencing the feelings of empathy that he had started getting several months before. Luke mostly listened. He laughed when Dylan told him about how he got his friends hard. When he started to tell that part, he had stopped before telling what had happened, but Luke noticed that he hesitated and kept telling him that he needed to know everything if he was going to help him. So blushing furiously he told of what he had done to his friends.

When Luke finished laughing he sat up, "It seems ta me you've had a lot of practice with using your gift. So there may not be much I need to do to help you, but we'll try some things out. Why don't you first center yourself like you were taught."

Luke watched Dylan close his eyes and relax. When he deemed he was ready he started giving him instructions.

"Dylan, what I want you to do is to reach out with your gift and try to sense what I feel. I'm going to try and change what I feel. Keep your senses just on me, no one else."

Dylan nodded. While Dylan reached out with his empathy Luke started thinking about things that would cause his feelings to change. Some emotions he just couldn't replicate, such as fear, since it is hard to pretend to actually feel afraid without something to actually frightening you, although he did try to bring up that feeling. Dylan detected; happiness, anger, sadness. Luke was able to replicate those feelings by thinking of something from his life that caused those feelings in him. He also tried to vary the intensity of the feelings and Dylan got a sense of that as well.

"Okay, you were able to pick up my emotions that I was trying to project. Now try to reach out with your gift and try to sense anyone in the near vicinity. Also, I want you to do it with your eyes open, but stay centered."

Dylan nodded and got to work. He found that eyes closed or opened didn't make a difference in using his gift, it was a little harder to remain centered, but he found that he could. Luke watched and noticed that Dylan's eyes got a faraway look. His eyes were open, but they didn't seem to be seeing anything. They were sort of glazed over. Dylan felt Luke's emotions and then he slowly started reaching out. He found Sean since he was familiar with how he felt and there was another person, he figured was Brett. Both of them seemed to be feeling content in doing whatever they were doing, something related to computers he was sure. Reaching a little farther out, he felt a very familiar person, Ethan. He sent a bit of love towards him and got an answering feeling, and then Ethan talked to him.

< Stop, you’re distracting me. Go away. Love you. >

< Love you too. >

The person near Ethan seemed very neutral, very controlled; he thought that might be Ethan's mentor. Then he found someone who he was sure was Logan. From him, Dylan felt changing feelings, he didn't know what that was about, maybe later he'd ask Logan what he was doing. Near him was his mentor, from him he felt a mixture of curiosity and surprise. He didn't feel anyone else, so he started going farther afield. He soon started to reach others, such as one he identified as Ian and the other as Dakota, with them were their mentors. Dakota was feeling some excitement, while the mentor felt as if he was feeling approval of whatever Dakota was doing. Ian and his mentor felt very focused on what they were doing. He was brought back by Luke calling his name.

"Dylan. Dylan."

"Huh, what?"

"Where were you?"

"Oh, I, uh went a little further than the house."

"How far?"

"Um, wherever, Dakota and Ian are."

"Okay. Let's try something else. You said you can project feelings onto others?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Okay, do that to me, so I can understand it a little better."

Dylan nodded. First he had to figure out what he wanted Luke to feel. He thought about when he saw Jamie when he had gotten to Dylan's house after his escape and projected that feeling of fear that he had felt to Luke. Luke for his part was surprised to feel his heart start to beat a little faster, similar to the anxiety he felt going into battle, like adrenaline was being fed into his body fueling the fight or flight response. Then it changed and he felt good, like something good was happening to him. Then he was all warm inside, cozy, contented and then….

"Whoa there cowboy, let's not go there."

Dylan giggled.

"I don't think that I need that demonstration."


"Now do it again, but this time, I'm going to try to resist you. If you feel that what you're trying to project isn't getting to me, I want you try harder. Try to break through my defenses."

Dylan started again projecting the feelings. Luke could feel them and tried to resist. He found that he couldn't until he thought of a different way and he brought up a memory that helped him change his feeling to match that. Dylan felt the change and was actually surprised for a moment before sending a different feeling. Luke felt the change and made a change as well. For the next several minutes, they strove back and forth. When Luke changed his feelings, then Dylan would try to counter that. Inwardly Dylan smiled and then he changed the feeling he was projecting in quick succession, and Luke couldn't keep up. Dylan was able to successfully project whatever he wanted into Luke and finally Dylan used his secret weapon.

"Fuck! Okay, I give."

Both of them were a little sweaty, but Luke was a bit hot and bothered because of Dylan's last attack. They both sat back and relaxed. Dylan felt a little dizzy and closed his eyes until he felt Luke gently put his hand on Dylan's shoulder. He opened his eyes.

"Are you okay Dylan?"

"Yeah, I just feel a little dizzy and tired."

"Maybe because you had to struggle against my resistance."

"I guess. Some of the guys said that they feel that when they use their gift a lot."

"Could be. Well, I think that is enough for today. Let's go get something cool to drink. That last attack of yours is so not fair and it is really hard to resist. I know your gay, and I wonder how that would work against females."

"I never thought about that. How are we going to find out?"

"That's a good question. I don't really know. I'll talk to Gabe. Now let's get a drink. I'm a bit tuckered my own self."

The two went to the kitchen and then to the media room where they joined Logan. When Jim saw Luke come in with Dylan, he got up and the two men left the boys to their own devices.

Ethan and George Nim went out into the large meadow area behind the house. He was carrying two rolled up bundles under his arm. The temperature was in the high fifties to low sixties, so it was cool, but comfortable enough since they were wearing coats. George said nothing as he handed one of the bundles to Ethan. When he unrolled it, Ethan saw that it was a closed cell foam ground pad; the kind that backpackers and campers used to put underneath their sleeping bag to insulate them from the ground. Once George was satisfied with it, he sat down and crossed his legs. Ethan followed suit and did the same, positioning himself across from George. So far George had not said a thing once they went outside. George was watching him silently. Then he pointed at his head. Ethan was confused and pointed at his head. George nodded and then looked at Ethan.

"What I…."

George quickly put up a hand to stop him and pointed at his head once again. Ethan furrowed his brow still puzzled for a few moments and then he thought he understood what George meant and he slowly reached out.

< Is this what you mean, sir? >

There was a moment of surprise on George's face, but then he smiled and nodded. Ethan was trying to be careful not to read George's mind, to be courteous.

< I don’t just read people’s minds sir. It wouldn’t be right. >

< You have my permission to converse with me this way. I only ask that you do not probe deeply. I appreciate your courtesy. If you can hear me nod your head so that I know and we will begin. >

< Very Well. Since you apparently are a Telepath, I wish to conduct our training, for the most part, mind to mind. I am not a Telepath of course and until you just spoke to me, I admit that I was not sure you really could do so. So keep your mind focused on me, so that you can hear my thoughts and answer me by projecting into my mind. >

< Yes, sir. >

< Good. Now tell me how long ago did you realize that you could do this and how much practice you have had using the gift. I want to know where you are in your training. >

Ethan nodded and received an answering nod.

Ethan started telling him about how he had first heard the buzzing in his head and the doctor visits, and then how he got to the point where he could read minds, and his struggles to block out the buzzing. He told how he had started to pick up thoughts from people. The clearest were from his friends who he was around all the time. He started to tell that his gift was how he discovered that his friends were gay and how they felt about each other. When he stopped himself, George noticed and questioned him.

< I’m sorry sir, but I will not betray my friend’s confidence. I accidently found out about something and it’s not right for me to tell someone else without their permission. >

< An acceptable reason. Okay, that is it then? >

< Yes sir. >

< We will continue. Do you know how far you can use your gift with another or sense another’s thoughts? >

< No, sir. I’ve never really tried. >

< Then it is time you tried. I want you to reach out with your gift and try to detect the thoughts, but not probe deeply into anyone’s mind, as you said that would not be courteous. >

Ethan nodded and closed his eyes and began to quest forth with his mind. He was closest to the house, so he found the minds of those people first. He found Sean and Brett first. He could tell that they were busy building a computer as their surface thoughts were about that task. Next there was Logan and Jim Peterson. They were talking about some item or something that Logan had in his hands. He went a little farther and found Dylan. That brought a little smile to his face. They were talking about feelings and such. He could tell that Dylan was embarrassed about something and he went a little deeper until he found what it was and he chuckled a little.

< What? >

< Sorry, it was something that Dylan was thinking about. >

George nodded for him to continue. Ethan found the building where the treatment room and the armory were located. He found Dakota and could tell that he was having a blast. Ethan wondered what was causing that and quickly found that he was shooting a handgun. He found Gabe nearby, and picked up thoughts that were gun related as well. He moved on and found Ian and "Doc", he picked that name up from the man, so that is how he thought of him. They appeared to be thinking about the insides of a person. He went farther and he thought he could detect Jamie, but it was a bit faint. There was his mentor nearby as well, but Ethan couldn't tell what he was thinking. Jamie was faint, but a little clearer, probably because he was more familiar to Ethan. He picked up something about building or stacking or something like that. He sent out trying to find Josh, but could not locate him anywhere. He came back and opened his eyes.

< Could you hear me? >

< Um, when? >

< I said your name a couple of times. >

< Oh, sorry, no I couldn’t. >

< Where were you then? >

< Over at the other building where Jamie was. >

< So if you are not concentrating on me, then you don’t hear me. So tell me what you have found out. >

Ethan told him what he had picked up from each of the people that he could detect.

< I couldn’t read anything from Jamie’s mentor, but I could get some faint reading from Jamie. I couldn’t detect Josh anywhere. >

< So your range is a few hundred meters. I believe that your friend Josh is much farther away than that if I know Muldoon. So I can see that one of the things that we will want to see is if we can extend the range. The farther you can detect or communicate with others could be beneficial. >

< Makes sense. >

< The next thing that I want you to do, is try to read my mind, while I resist you. When you are ready, begin and do not stop unless I tell you to stop. >

Ethan nodded and a few moments later he began. When he sent his mind forward, he ran up against a wall of nothing. He could read nothing from George, not even his surface thoughts. He pushed harder, but the wall wouldn't budge. He pushed against it for what felt like several minutes, but could not breach the wall. After pushing against this wall he came up with different way to look at it. He focused his mind into a narrow point, like a drill and pushed against the wall of nothingness. He increased the strength of his mind push and he started feeling progress. In his mind he pictured a large drill against a stone wall. He felt his mind started to penetrate the wall. Somewhere far away he felt as if someone was calling his name. He detected cracks in the wall radiating outward from where his drill was and then he suddenly got a feeling of love coming over him and his concentration was broken and the wall was back.

< Ethan! >

< Huh, what? >

< What happened? >

< Um, Dylan sent a feeling at me and I lost my concentration. >

< Could you tell him to leave you alone. He is interrupting your training. >

Ethan didn't answer right away.

< I told him, he apologized. >

< Okay let’s continue, stay centered and keep focused on your task. >

Ethan nodded and waited a moment before beginning. He came to the wall and then quickly switched to his drill attack. Again the wall continued to resist his probe. This time because he went to his narrow focus push, he felt the cracks radiate out from his narrow point. The cracks started to widen and then he felt the wall fall and the first thing he heard was….

< Enough! >

Ethan pulled back and opened his eyes which he hadn't even realized he had closed and looked at George sitting across from him. George had sweat running down his face and Ethan realized that he was a little sweaty as well. He also realized that he had a little headache and he felt kind of tired. George looked at him and nodded.

< Did you read anything from me? >

< No, other than hearing you say enough. >

< I am very well trained mentally because of my training in martial arts since I was very young. >

< It was like trying to get through a wall, I finally did and then you said enough, so I stopped. >

< Yes, I could feel that, which is why I told you to stop. It appears that my mental training was what allowed me to resist you. It appears that someone who does not have my training and is prepared, can resist you for a time. Any person without that preparation would have no chance of keeping you from reading their thoughts. How do you feel? >

< I’m okay, but I have a little bit of a headache and I’m a little tired like I’ve been working out. >

< I’m not surprised. We have been working on this for some time. I, too, have a headache. I think it is time for us to break for the afternoon and get something to drink. >

< Sounds good, I’m a little thirsty and hungry too. >

< Let’s head to the kitchen and see what we can find. I think some of your friends may be done as well. Why don’t you check? >

Ethan reached out and found that Dylan and Logan were finishing up. Dylan said that he was heading to the media room.

< Dylan is finishing up and I think Logan is too. >

< Then let’s go to the kitchen. Perhaps you could grab something for your friends as well, they may want something too. >

< Sure, sounds good. >

< There was one more thing that I wanted to try, but I think that can wait until tomorrow. But have you ever tried to read an animal’s mind? >

< No, I never thought of that. >

< I think that is something that we should try during your training, but tomorrow is soon enough. Let’s go inside. >

The two of them got up from the pads that they had been sitting on and rolled them up before heading inside. George took both pads as they headed inside and to the kitchen. Dylan and Luke were just entering the kitchen as well looking for some of the same things that Ethan was looking for. He and Dylan hugged each other and then gathered the cokes and chips and headed to the media room, their mentors were with them. When they got there, they saw that Logan was there along with his mentor Jim. Logan thanked them for the drinks and the boys sat together to watch TV. The men excused themselves and left the room.

Jamie and Patrick headed toward the large garage building. Inside were various vehicles, such as some of the SUV's that had taken the parents back home. There were some ATV's and motorcycles. There was also some construction equipment, a small bulldozer, and a backhoe. There were some workbenches with tools on them and toolboxes like you see in a mechanic's garage. There was a hydraulic lift, like you would find in a garage as well. Along one wall were stacks of construction supplies, consisting of various sizes of boards, bricks, bags of concrete, etc.

"I've been told that you prefer to be called Jamie, may I call you that?"

"Yes sir."

"You can call me Patrick. Now I have no real training in your gift of Telekinesis, but since I have a background in moving things around and building things, they thought that I might be a good choice to work with you. So how much practice have you had with your ability?"

"I've practiced moving and lifting some things, but not a whole lot."

"Well let's start there. How much can you lift?"

"I don't know."

"Well let's do some work. You go ahead and pick. Whoa…"

Jamie giggled as Patrick was lifted up in the air and then he was set down gently.

"Okaaaaay. Let's try something else. Try for something heavier if you will. I leave it to you."

Jamie looked around the room. He spied the large mechanics toolbox and lifted it up. While it was up, he lifted several bricks, some wood, paint, sacks of cement.

"Not bad, but how much precision do you have with it. I want you to build a stack of all those building materials over there, so that they are exactly as they are on this side. After you have done that, I want you to return them to this side."

Jamie nodded and started doing what he had been asked. Patrick found a stool at the workbench, sat down to watch Jamie at work. It did not take too long before Jamie was done because he didn't move a little at a time, but entire stacks. When he was done, he looked at Patrick expectantly. Patrick looked around the workbench until he found a box of nails. He opened the box and walked over to where Jamie was standing and dumped the box of nails on the floor.

"That was good. Now I want you to really show me precision. I want you to stack these nails one on top of the other lengthwise to the ceiling or until you run out of nails whichever comes first."

Jamie looked at the pile and within moments the nails started to move. Patrick resumed his perch to watch. Slowly the stack of nails began to form. It was slow going and Jamie realized that this was much harder than just lifting something or moving things around. He had to balance each nail on the point to head and keep adding a nail to the stack. The more he added the harder it was to keep the others stacked. When the stack was about halfway to the twenty foot ceiling he felt the stack starting to wobble. Jamie felt it starting to fall and quickly stepped back out of the way as the nails fell over.

"Sorry, that was a lot harder than it sounded. They don't weigh much, but having to keep the lower ones in position while I added to the top of the stack is hard."

"That's okay. We'll work on this in your training as we move forward. Now I want you to try to lift the most weight that you can, start with the heaviest vehicle in here, probably the backhoe, then the small dozer and then any of the SUV's. This time try not to drop any of them. If it is too much, don't lift any of them very high. That way if they drop, it won't be a long drop."

Jamie looked at the large backhoe and reached out for it with his mind and his hand. He tried to feel it. In his head he could feel the strength and weight of the steel that was used to build it. He wrapped his mind around it and pushed. Slowly it rose off the floor until it was about a foot up in the air. Jamie took a breath and looked at the dozer. He did the same as he had for the backhoe and got a feel of it. Within moments the dozer quivered a little and slowly rose up, but it was slow and shaky. Jamie had one hand palm up pointing toward the backhoe like he was holding it in his hand. His other hand was doing the same with the dozer. Patrick could see that he was grimacing a little like he was lifting a heavy weight, his face was a little red and his arms were quivering.

"Okay Jamie, let them down."

Once both were on the ground, Jamie took in some good breaths and wiped off his sweaty face with the tail of his t-shirt.

"That's pretty good, those things way thousands of pounds. Do you think you could have lifted anything else up?"

Jamie shook his head.

"I don't think so, something light maybe, but not much else. It felt like I was lifting weights."

"Well, you are in a way. Let's take a short break and then we'll continue."

Jamie nodded his thanks and sat down on another stool for a few minutes to catch his breath. It really had felt like he was lifting weights and it was a little tiring. Once he had his breath back he nodded that he was ready to continue.

"Let's go outside for a little while. What I want you to do is make one of the SUV's that is parked outside, move, you know roll around the area here. You'll probably need this."

He held a key out to Jamie. Jamie took it in his hand. Patrick kept his hand out while Jamie held the key.

"Now that you've felt it, give it back."

"What do I need the key for?"

"You'll need to put it in the ignition so that the steering wheel can turn."


"Now turn around and face the garage."

Once Jamie had turned, Patrick walked past him out of his line of sight. Jamie heard a slight movement behind him.

"Okay turn around. I threw the key over there somewhere. I want you to find the key and then use it to make the SUV it belongs to move around. Remember those centering exercises."

Jamie closed his eyes and started centering before searching with his mind for the key. He remembered the shape and feel of the key. He started about how far he thought it might have been thrown and looked in that area first. It was not easy to find and whenever he felt a little frustrated he re-centered and when his mind was calm again, he searched. It took about fifteen minutes and he pulled at the object and the key rose out of a small pile of snow. He walked over to where the vehicles were parked. He opened the door so he could see the ignition and floated the key and inserted it. He turned and it didn't move. He tried a little harder and it still didn't move, so he moved to the next one. He continued to repeat his actions until he got to the third vehicle. The key worked in that and released the steering wheel. He stepped away and tried to move it, but it didn't move. Then he realized it was in park and he looked inside until he could see the shifting lever. He pushed the button and then moved the shift to neutral. He then pushed against the back of the vehicle. It began to move, he reached out with his mind and turned the steering wheel, it was hard because there was no power steering, but he was able to do it. He brought the vehicle around in a circle and back to the starting point. He stopped it, reengaged the gear shift to park and took the key out, closing the door and then floated the key over to Patrick.

"Good job. Let's go back inside for a moment. I want you to get something from there."

The two went inside the garage. Patrick stopped in front of the pile of nails and pointed.

"Would you pick all the nails up and follow me?"

Jamie bent down to start picking them up and Patrick stopped him.

"C'mon, not that way."

Patrick then went to stand by the door and waited with his arms folded. Jamie looked at the nails and started pulling them into a pile at his feet. He then floated the box over and dumped the nails into it before bringing the box up to his hand. He then turned to Patrick.

"Well I didn't exactly think of doing it that way, but that works. Let's go."

He waited at the door for Jamie and then followed him outside. Patrick led him over to the side of the garage. Against the wall was leaning three 4 inch by 12 inch by 6 foot lengths of lumber. He gestured for Jamie to come stand with him and pointed at the lumber.

"Have you even made something fly away from you with your gift?"

"Yes, a couple of times."

"Good, then what I want you to do is make one of these nails fly to the board with enough force to stick it into the wood."

Jamie put down the box and a few moments later lifted one of the nails and then pushed it toward the boards. It tumbled through the air and bounced off.

"Keep going. Remember, I want to see if you can stick it in the wood."

Jamie looked down and tried again. Again it bounced. Then he thought of trying something else. He pointed at the box and pulled a nail up, all the while keep his finger pointed at it, he moved it so that it was pointed and then he flung his arm forward toward the boards and this time the nail stuck.

"So I'm guessing that pointing at it, made it easier."

"Yeah, it did."

"Okay, that is something we should maybe work on, since that would be a dead giveaway. You probably want to get to the point where you can just look at it without waving your arms around. For now let's just work on getting them stuck in the boards. I want you to try to do the same thing, but with more than one. Each time, try to add a nail to the group you are throwing."

Jamie centered himself and then using his hand to direct it, he began doing what Patrick asked. Gather a group and then send them at the board. When he got above ten, he occasionally lost one as it bounced.

"Good. Now I want you to send the nails as fast you can until I tell you to stop."

Jamie looked at the box and then started pulling nails barely out of the box and sent them to the target one after the other. This was a bit harder since he was both taking them out of the box and throwing them at the same time.

"Stop. Okay good. How are you feeling?"

"Fine. Kinda thirsty and…" His belly answered for him as it began to rumble.

Patrick chuckled, "Hungry too. Okay one last exercise and then we'll finish up for the day. This time, for the last few nails in the box, I want you to put as much force into them as you can when you send them into the boards."

Jamie, again still using his hand, floated a nail up and then almost as if he was throwing a ball sent the nail to the board. Patrick gestured for him to continue and he did. He pushed a little harder each time, until the box was empty.

"Let's take a look shall we?"

They walked over to the boards and looked. There were nails all over the board at various depths. Some were even sunk into the wood a bit. Patrick looked at Jamie.

"Think you can pull any of them out?"

Jamie reached out and began to pull them out. The ones that were sunk into the wood he couldn't. Patrick directed him to put the ones that he could pull out and that were still straight back into the box.

He clapped Jamie on the shoulder. "Well, I think that is enough. We have plenty of things we can work on, but you do have a lot of power there. Let's go back to the house and see what's going on. How do you feel?"

"I'm feeling a little tired, thirsty, and hungry."

"Well, I guess it has been a little bit of a workout for you. Let's go."

They headed back to the house.

Aldo drove along one of the dirt roads on the property that climbed higher up the mountain behind the main house, until he came to a gate. He stopped the truck and got out to unlock the gate. He got back into the truck and drove through, leaving the gate open behind them. He drove a bit farther until he came to a flat, wide open area of ground. The trees were cleared back until there was a clearing about fifty yards wide. The middle part of the dirt looked darker than the surrounding dirt. There was a hill at one side of the clearing and there was a large steel door set into it. Aldo pulled up next to the door and stopped the truck.

"Well, here we are. Now the fun begins."

Josh was a bit hesitant and was slow in getting out of the truck. Aldo had grabbed a bag out of the truck and had gone over to the door and was unlocking the door. Josh stood back by the truck, not sure what to do and watched.

"Hey…uh…Are you okay Josh?"

Aldo walked back to the truck and went over to where Josh was standing. He could tell that Josh was very nervous and maybe a little scared.

"Are you okay?"

"I guess, but I don't know what we're doing here."

Aldo placed his hand on Josh's shoulder and guided him toward the door.

"Come inside with me and we'll talk a bit."

Josh nodded and went along with him. Aldo waved Josh inside and closed the door behind them. He turned on a light switch and the building was well lit. Inside the door was a concrete lined structure. It had curved walls that rose up to a rounded room about twelve feet at its apex. There was a table and chairs in there and another door. At the back of the building was a brick wall that was free standing a little bit forward of the end of the building. To the side of wall there was a square and squat piece of equipment. It stood about five foot high and three feet wide. It had a door on the side facing towards the front of the building. There was a window in the door. Aldo led Josh over to the table and sat down.

"Let me see if I can make a guess as to what is bothering you. From what I have been told, you just found out what you can do and you are a little afraid of it."

Josh nodded.

"Okay. I can see that. This has to do with fire and fire can be a bit scary. Plus, unlike your friends who have had a chance to practice a little bit with their gifts, you haven't really done anything. Well that's what I'm here for. I'm going to help you get comfortable with that, especially the fire part."

"I hope so."

"Well, the first thing you need to do is be certain about what you are doing. Don't hold back."

Aldo reached into the bag and pulled out a thick white candle and a box of matches. He set the candle on the table and lit it. He looked at Josh. "Okay, let's start with something that might be easier tha, making something burn. I want you to center yourself and then try to make the candle flame move. As you can see there is no draft in here, so the flame is straight up and does not waver. You need to make it dance. Move it one way or the other. From what research Mister MacLeod has done, you should be able to do this. According to what he has found, someone with your gift should be able to open a tunnel of sorts from your mind to the flame and then when you make that connection, you can make the flame do what you want it to do."

Josh gave first Aldo and then the flame a skeptical look and gave sort of a resigned sigh and looked at the flame. He concentrated on the flame, trying to find that "tunnel" that Aldo had mentioned. Aldo could only watch him and the candle flame. They sat there silently for several minutes before Josh looked away from the flame and looked at Aldo.

"I can't do it. I don't know how."

"Yes you can. You…."

"NO, I can't."

Aldo could see the frustration on Josh's face. "I've got an idea. You ever light off firecrackers or anything like that?"

Josh was puzzled by the change in conversation, trying to figure out what firecrackers had to do with making the flame move. "Yeah, sure."

"We'll take a little break and light off my kind of firecrackers outside."

"Um, okay."

Aldo got up and went to the other door in the building and unlocked it. He came out of the door with an ammo can in his hand. He was almost acting like an excited little kid. He gestured with his head for Josh to follow him. Outside he lowered the tailgate for the truck and set the ammo can down. He looked at Josh with a twinkle in his eyes.

"You ready for some serious fun."

He opened the can and inside were several cylinders with a thin green rope like thing coming out of them. He took one of the smaller ones out, it was about two or three inches long, lit the fuse and then threw it to the center of the open area. There was a loud explosion of smoke and flame.

"YEAH!" Aldo yelled out his excitement.

He looked over at Josh. "You want to throw one?"

Josh's eyes lit up. "Yeah. What are they?"

"M-80's. I make them myself. Sometimes I like to just come up here and blow shi…stuff up."

Josh took one of the M-80's that Aldo handed him. Aldo instructed him to hold it up, ready to throw and he would light it. Josh nodded and watched as Aldo lit the fuse and Josh threw it hard. It hit the ground, and bounced a couple of times before it exploded.

"YEAH! Cool! Can we do some more?"

Aldo nodded and for the next few minutes they took turns throwing the M-80's. The area soon had several new black spots on the ground and it smelled like burned fireworks. Both the man and the boy were giggling and laughing by the time the box was empty. Aldo closed it up and they both walked back into the building.


"Hey buddy, you don't have to call me sir, call me Aldo."

"Okay Aldo. You said you made those? I've heard of M-80's, but I thought you had to go to Mexico of somewhere like that to get 'em. How'd you get 'em?"

"Well, I was an explosives expert when I was in the army. If somethin' needed blowing up, I got to do it. It started when I was a boy. My dad got me a chemistry set and it soon got to be bigger than both of us. Anyway, when I was in the Army, I received further training and I got to be real good with explosives. I've just continued my hobby with making them, but I do it mainly for fun now."

They entered the building and Aldo put the empty ammo can away into the other room, locking the door behind him when he rejoined Josh. They sat down and Aldo looked at Josh. The candle was still burning, although it had burned down a little bit.

"I have an idea to help you. Let's start with the centering training you did this morning. Close your eyes and find that calm place in your mind. I know that you haven't used your gift very much, but your mind knows how to do it. We just have to make the connection in your mind so that you can make use of the gift when you want to, instead of accidently."

Aldo watched Josh sit with his eyes closed.

"That's it, take some slow deep breaths and let them out."

As he watched Josh, he could see Josh's face smooth out as he calmed his mind down. When Aldo thought that Josh had reached that calm state, he kept his voice calm as he asked Josh once again to try to affect the flame.

"Okay buddy, just keep those calm thoughts in your mind as you open your eyes and look at the flame. You know what to do."

Josh opened his eyes and Aldo could see there was a different look in them. Josh turned to the candle and looked at it. Aldo turned his attention to the flame. There was nothing for several moments and then the flame wavered a little before the flame leaned to the right and stayed in the position, perpendicular to the tabletop. Aldo smiled.

"Awesome. See you can do it."

Josh smiled, but his gaze stayed on the flame. Aldo saw the flame change direction and move in the other direction and then in a different direction.

"Josh, can you make the flame go out?"

Josh looked at the flame, it was now straight up without wavering. Again nothing happened right away and then the flame slowly went down and then it was out. The wick glowed for a moment or two and then it was completely out.

"Yes, sir. Very cool. Well done Josh. Now can you relight the candle?"

"I'll try."

"Good. Mister MacLeod told me that when he had you light that log, he had you think about friction, like rubbing your hands together until they get warm. When you did that you had to touch the wood. When you did that you hadn't had any training on centering your mind so I think you can do it without touching the wick. Let your mind do the work, it already knows how to do it; you just need to focus it on that small wick."

Josh nodded and focused once again on the wick. He imagined rubbing the wick faster and faster. In moments there was a slight glow, and then a flare and the candle was lit. Josh smiled at his success. Aldo reached over and patted him on the shoulder.

"Outstanding. How are you feeling?"

"Okay, but I'm a little thirsty."

"I can fix that. I'll be right back."

Aldo left the building and returned a few moments later with a couple of cokes. He handed one to Josh and opened one himself as he sat back down. Josh finished drinking and let out a burp.

"Sorry, excuse me."

Aldo answered him with one of his own as he stood up. Josh watched as he went into the other room again and came back out with another ammo can and big smile.

"Let's go have some more fun."

Josh agreed and followed him outside. When Aldo opened the ammo can, he pulled out a cylinder that was longer and a little bigger around than the M-80's and held it up. It also had a longer fuse.

"This is an M-1000. Some people call them quarter sticks. These are more of the sit on the ground and run away rather than throw. They are more than enough to either kill or seriously injure a person if it went off in your hand."

Aldo took the explosive out to the center of the cleared area and lit the fuse, before hurrying back to the truck. They waited for the longer fuse to burn down and then a much larger explosion. They could feel the concussion wave.


"Your turn, here."

Josh took one and ran out there. He could see a small crater in the ground and he placed his in there and lit it. He ran back to the truck and waited. A few moments later there was a big explosion. Both of them did a fist pump. Josh heard something a looked over at Aldo.

"It sounds like someone is over at the range."

They waited silently and there was another gunshot followed by a faint ting.

"Yep, we have metal silhouette targets on the range and that was a hit. Hey, I just had an idea? Do you think you could light one of these from here?"

"I don't know."

"You game to try?"



He and Aldo both went out to the spot and put one of them into the slightly deeper hole. Back at the truck, Aldo coached him to center himself and then try to light the fuse. Josh looked out to where the M-1000 lay. He started going up on his toes.

"What's wrong?"

"I can't see it because it's in the hole."

Aldo ran out there and put it up on the opposite side of the hole from them. Once he was back Josh began to focus his mind on the fuse. Aldo waited. Josh just stood there looking at the explosive. There was an explosion and Josh jerked back. He put his hand up to his head.

"Man that was hard."

"What made it hard do you think?"

"I think it was because it was far and I could barely see the fuse."

"I wonder if it would work better if you had binoculars to see it easier. We'll have to try that later."

He saw that Josh was leaning against the truck tailgate. Aldo closed the ammo can.

"I think that's enough for today. We'll get back to work tomorrow and try a few new things. Why don't you get in the truck, I'll be right back."

Josh agreed and got in the truck and waited. Aldo came back out, locked the door and they were on their way. He stopped on the other side of the gate to the bunker area.

"Josh, why don't you lock that gate."


He got out and quickly closed and locked the gate. Once he was back in the truck, Aldo drove back to the main compound. When they got there Aldo suggested Josh go inside the house and find his friends. He clapped Josh on the back when they parted. Josh hung his coat up inside and started looking for his friends. He heard voices in the media room and made his way there where he found most of the boys were there, including Jamie. Jamie got up and hugged Josh.

"How'd it go?"

"It went okay."

"Good, let's relax until dinner."

They sat down together and watched the movie that was on the TV. A few minutes later, Dakota joined the rest. They talked amongst themselves about what they had been doing all afternoon. A couple of hours went by and it was time for dinner. They went to the dining room, where they were joined by Gabe and Brett for dinner. After dinner, Brett got their attention.

"Gabe and I have heard from your mentors and it sounds like you guys did a lot of hard work today. I hope that for the rest of the week, you continue your hard work. There is still more things to learn and that's what we will be doing for the rest of the week. Thank you for working so hard. I'm proud of all of you."

The boys had dessert and headed back to the media room to relax some more before going to bed. While they were there, Ian told them about his homework assignment to scan all of them. He told them about Doc's comment about non private areas, which got some giggles from the boys.

Although Logan did speak up, "What about my private areas?"

Ian blushed, "Maybe I'll do my homework with you later when we get to bed."

"I can live with that."

All of the boys agreed to the scan. They cleared one of the couches for Ian to use for his homework. He found no problems for any of the boys and his scan helped increase his knowledge of human anatomy. He found it very easy to center quickly and then scan them. Later, after watching TV for a while, and since they had been working their gifts so hard and a good meal, they were all soon falling asleep. They headed upstairs early and cleaned up before getting in bed. They didn't go to sleep right away, but they didn't get too energetic before their weariness overtook them and they fell asleep, cuddled up with their partner.

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