Adam waited inside the tiny gray waiting room, consisting of a few wooden chairs, a rectangular fish tank with a few goldfish swimming about, and—what Adam had his focus on—a blue vending machine.
“T-They’re all out of it…” Adam was staring in dismay at the item slot labeled “B3”, as it was currently empty. Although the majority of the other beverages had plenty in stock, this drink was the only one he desired. “My apple soda…”
A door across from him suddenly swung wide open—a spiky-red haired man entering the room. Gazing through the sunglasses that he wore indoors—something Adam always questioned—he read something on a clipboard in his hand.
“Let’s see… Adam Grayson? You here, whoever you are?”
“You know who I am…” Adam sighed. “Listen, who do you think you are?”
“Thomas Peck…? Father to one of your best friends? Sounds like you don’t know who I am—”
“I’m talking about the apple soda here in the vending machine. I’m one of the only people you have as a patient, and you didn’t think to stock up on apple soda?”
“Right, right… Forgive me. I’ve been quite busy, you see.”
“And why is that a thing you’re doing now?” Adam pointed at Thomas’ bare chest as he merely wore an open white lab coat.
“Cause I’ve been able to work out a lot more recently, and I want to show off these abs I’ve been working on. Anyway, enough about me…” Thomas’ expression grew serious. “Ready for another checkup, Adam?”
Adam did not respond. He simply stood up and walked into the room with Thomas.
A few minutes later, Adam was putting his shirt back on—the examination already complete. He sat on the exam table while Thomas rolled around the white office in his black computer chair. The man brushed a few pieces of metallic junk off to the side at his desk as he began writing down a few notes.
“Well, physically, you’re fine. That’s usual.”
Adam sat in silence—the scribble of the pen on paper, the only thing audible in the room.
“Have you had any injuries since your last visit? You know, the kind that is enough to leave a mark?”
“Nothing I can remember…”
“I don’t see anything, so if you did, it would have healed. I assume by now I don’t have to explain why I ask you about that?”
Adam took a deep breath. “…If I have awakened to a Concept, your best guess is that it can heal any injuries I take, based upon how I…” He trailed off, glancing at the ground.
Thomas nodded his head while turning toward Adam. “But we can’t be sure about a Concept, based upon the true reason why you come here. You don’t have phantons, Adam. At least, they’re somehow undetected by our equipment. However, based on the tests I’ve done… I truly believe you don’t possess them, somehow.”
Adam was silent. Thomas scratched his head, leaning back in his chair.
“Let’s review a few things. Looking at the basics is always a great step into solving a mystery.”
“I don’t need a review—we’ve talked about this stuff before…”
“I think the review will be good, though?”
“I think you should have been a teacher!” Adam yelled, although clearly in the form of harmless banter.
“I’m an engineer, doctor—teacher would be adding too much onto my plate…” Thomas chuckled.
“Well, go on. Let’s get this over with.” Adam sighed in frustration.
“All right,” Thomas cleared his throat. “First of all, phantons. The things you don’t possess. Every single person should have them, as we’ve determined they help fuel the energy of life, so to speak.”
“That is correct, yes.” Adam nodded.
“We first stumbled upon this strange issue with you earlier this year, after you… well, got injured. Despite clearly having your own blood all over you, there was no wound. It had healed. How did this happen? The obvious answer would be the phantons within you went through a process known as ‘awakening,’ and you obtained a Concept.”
“Mr. Peck, what is this ‘Concept’ you speak of?” Adam asked sarcastically.
“Great question!” Thomas played around with Adam’s act. “When phantons awaken, they strengthen to an enormous degree. Doing so, a person can obtain a superpower, in a nutshell. For example, your friend that night happened to actually awaken a Concept. Faith became able to generate and control flames, didn’t she?”
“So, basically, you’re in quite the tough spot right now.” Thomas sighed, tapping on his desk. “All because of Unity.”
“You would think a group that uses Concepts to fight off evil would not be scummy. But, it’s all due to that damn executive running things…” Adam clenched his fist.
“Right…” Thomas scratched his head. “You’re lucky, you know me. I can keep on doing these ‘experiments’ on you to keep them away. If you had a legitimate Concept, the golden rule is that one has to join Unity and fight for their cause, else you be labeled as a criminal. You not having phantons is a whole other issue. They want to know how this phenomenon is happening.”
“As long as we keep up these appointments, I’ll be okay. But…” Adam paused—his words having difficulty in coming out. “What… will happen when you find out the truth? Cause I know you are actually researching it. You’re not just making up random nonsense that will appease them.”
“Well…” Thomas pondered. “Depending on the results, you’d be sent to an actual lab for further testing, or used as if you had a Concept. The later completely depending on if we can figure out how to tap into that power.”
“I mean, I’ve gotten the occasional bruise or scratch since then, and that power hasn’t worked on any of them,” Adam explained. “It certainly isn’t automatic, at least currently.”
Thomas leaned in and placed his hand on Adam’s shoulder—a serious expression on his face. “Whatever you do, don’t do anything drastic. We can figure all of this out. Between myself and Pam… we’ve got your back.”
“Worried, are we?” Adam chuckled.
“We all are. You’re whole situation has… made us worry nonstop.”
“…I’m sorry about that.” Adam stood up, stretching out his body.
“You don’t need to be.” Thomas sighed, turning back toward his desk. “Like I said, don’t do anything drastic. However, if you have any ideas, feel free to explore them. I’ll keep researching the matter until our next appointment.”
“All right…” Adam began to walk toward the door.
“You’re meeting up with Brandon and Jerry before you leave the city, right?” Thomas asked him. Adam turned around, nodding at the scientist’s question.
“Remember, they’re there for you, as well.”
“I know…” Adam sighed. “Thanks, Thomas. I’ll see you later.”
With a small wave, Thomas watched as Adam left his office. He brought his attention to the notes he had been taking on his desk. “Now, let’s see… If I can gain additional access to the network, then maybe I can—”
Thomas paused. Out of the corner of his eye, he swore he saw something.
A quick glance to his left revealed nothing—merely the room in its natural state. Thomas shook his head rapidly.
“…I really need to get more rest, don’t I…?”
At the top of a skyscraper that stood tall in Nexus City, there was a young woman with short hair—jet-black that matched the building. Her sapphire eyes peered down upon the city as she reviewed the information she had just obtained.
“He’s been one I’ve been keeping an eye on… I’ve really narrowed down my list at this point. And I think, maybe—just—maybe…”
Her navy-blue sweater and black pants—clothes one would not be caught wearing in the summertime—rustled in the strong gales blowing around her.
“I should make a move… before it’s too late.”
The girl’s body began to turn transparent. A moment later, she had vanished into the wind.
Next: Chapter 3
Previous: Chapter 1
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON: