Donnie pressed his hands tightly over his ears, trying to block out the terrible sounds that were seeping through the paper-thin bedroom wall.
Didn't she know that he could hear them in there?
Of course she did, if she even bothered to think about it, which he was sure she didn't. The only things she cared about, other than herself, were her boyfriend Hank and the horrible little creature that they had made together.
Donnie looked over at the crib, where his baby brother Ben was sleeping peacefully. HALF-brother Ben, he reminded himself sternly, and if they woke him up, Donnie would be the one who'd have to get him a bottle, or change his diaper, and try to get him back to sleep.
With Donnie's luck they would probably end up making another one. It certainly sounded as though they were trying, in any case. He buried his head in his pillow, but that only slightly muffled the barrage of shouts and moans from his mother's bedroom.
Adults were weird, and sick, in Donnie's opinion, and Arlene Paris was among the weirdest and sickest of them all. No wait, it was Arlene NEUMAN now, or at least that's what she called herself. He hated the way she always took on the last name of whatever man she happened to be with. What was it last time? Pravat? What kind of name was Pravat anyway?
Donnie scowled and squeezed his eyes tightly shut.
It wasn't like that was really even her name. She was still Arlene Paris, no matter what she called herself. Even her drivers licence still said so.
He used to have fantasies where his father would just show back up one day, and his mother would suddenly change back into whatever he imagined that she used to be.
Lately though, he just wished that his father would come take him away. Forget about having the perfect family, all Donnie wanted was to get away from the one he had.
He hated it here, hated everything about it. Most of all though, he hated the people he shared the tiny three-room apartment with; or the Brat, the Bitch, and the Bastard, as he sometimes thought of them.
His father hadn't come back though, not yet anyway. Deep down inside Donnie didn't really expect him to, had no reason to really, but he still held on to that tiny shred of hope anyway.
His father had become ridiculously wealthy by now (in Donnie's fantasy world at least) and once they were away from this awful place, they would never have to worry about anything, ever again. No more store-brand macaroni and cheese, no more shoes from the thrift store, and best of all, he would never have to see his mother, Hank or that stupid baby ever again.
Donnie closed his eyes and let his face break into a smile.
He wasn't sure how rich people actually lived, but he always imagined a really big house, and lots of servants. That was the best part (other than being permanently rid of his so-called family that is)... all of those people, those ADULTS, running around, doing whatever Donnie told them to.
He was startled out of his favourite fantasy by the sound of footsteps outside his door. He cautiously tilted his head to one side, and realised that the noises from the next room had stopped.
Donnie held his eyes closed, as the door creaked open.
"Donnie, honey," his mother whispered, in that annoying voice of hers, "Are you still awake?"
"Is he asleep?" Hank asked, from behind her.
"They both are," she answered, walking over beside Donnie's bed.
"Good," Hank said, still outside the door, "I say we follow their lead. I've got to work in the morning."
"Okay. I'm just going to get the baby."
Donnie could hear her, as she rolled the crib out of the room. He almost wanted to open his eyes, say something, but he didn't know what to say. Nothing he said would matter to her anyway.
"Goodnight, Donnie," she whispered, as she closed the door.
Just listen to her, talking down to him, pretending that she actually LOVED him. Donnie knew better. If she loved him, everything would be different. They wouldn't have to live like this, and Hank and Ben wouldn't be around.
If she really loved him, things would be better. They would have to be.
Donnie shifted around fitfully, before eventually drifting into a restless sleep.
[end excerpt from Chapter 1]
Donnie jerked open his eyes, squinting in the bright morning sun.
What had happened?
He took a cautious breath. There was no pain, so he took a deeper one. The air was crisp and fresh, and it suddenly felt very good to be alive.
As he shifted positions, he felt the concrete step pressing uncomfortably into his back. That's right, he was still lying outside. He had been... Donnie shook his head. His memory seemed foggy for some reason.
The gas! He needed to get further away.
He raised himself up, and started down the stairs, stumbling awkwardly as they ended suddenly.
Where was the sidewalk?
Donnie looked up. Where was the road for that matter?
As he turned around to look back at his apartment, all of those questions shrank away to nothing, in the face of a much more important one.
WHERE WAS HIS APARTMENT?
[end excerpt from Chapter 2]
Donnie lived this way, up in his castle, for many years, and probably would've done so for many more years, but one day, everything changed.
He felt it immediately. The world was... different somehow. It had changed.
He wasn't sure at first, what it meant, but over time, without even really being sure how he knew, he became convinced that another child had arrived on Afterlife. And another child, meant another Wizard.
It never even occurred to him to worry about the fact that he would no longer be unique in his power. He was simply too thrilled by the idea of there being someone else like him, someone to talk to, who would understand. Someone who wouldn't be afraid of him, or hate him.
The only problem was, he had no idea where to look. He could feel a presence out there somewhere, but he couldn't tell where.
In the end, he decided there was nothing else to do but go look. It might take years to find the child, maybe even dozens of years, but that didn't matter. Regardless of whatever games time and age had played with him when he first arrived, he hadn't aged one day since. As far as he knew, he had all of the time in the world.
Donnie floated up from the balcony, taking one last long look at his beautiful castle, and then took off into the sky.
[end excerpt from Chapter 3]
"You know it makes sense," Donnie insisted.
"No," Andrew said, shaking his head, "I don't know that at all."
"We need to be united," Donnie said, "Not just for the Wizards, but for the Attendants too. How will they survive if we're all too busy squabbling among ourselves to take care of them?" Maybe he could use Andrew's soft spot for the Attendants to help persuade him to go along with Donnie's plan.
"Okay," Andrew said, "but why me?"
"You were one of the first Wizards," Donnie said, "and you're one of the most powerful."
"What about you?" Andrew asked, "You were here before I was. You're the one who made the castle in the first place."
"True," Donnie said. He wasn't ready to admit out loud that he wasn't as powerful as Andrew, not even to Andrew himself. "But you're better at dealing with them than I am. I'm too impatient, and I get frustrated with them too easily." He felt that he was exaggerating the situation, but if it helped him convince Andrew, so be it.
"I don't know, Donnie," Andrew said, "Can't we just make some rules or something."
"Sure we can," Andrew said, "but it won't mean anything, unless they know that somebody is there to make sure they're followed."
"I don't want to tell anybody what to do."
"There's more to it than that," Donnie said, following Andrew around the room, as his friend paced nervously, "You'll mostly just do what you do now. You know, create things for them, talk to them, help them. Things won't really change that much."
"Then why do it?"
"Because it'll help keep us all together," Donnie said, "You saw what happened with Zamir. Next time it could be worse? If you hadn't stepped in, it could've been worse this time."
Andrew sighed, and sat down next to the wooden table that had been one of the first things he'd made.
Donnie sat down next to him. He could tell by the look in Andrew's eyes that the other boy was deeply conflicted about this decision. The right word, or the wrong one, could make the difference.
Gauging Andrew's expression, Donnie decided to just stay silent and let him think things through.
"I'll do it," Andrew said, after a few minutes.
Outwardly, Donnie just nodded solemnly, to let Andrew know that he thought he was making the right decision. Inside though, he was jumping around, shouting for joy.
This was going to solve all of their problems. He was sure of it.
"There's just one more thing that needs to be done then," Donnie prompted.
"Do we really need that?" Andrew said, making a face.
"Oh yes," Donnie said, "Absolutely. You can make it, right?"
Andrew nodded. "It just seems kinda silly though."
"No," Donnie protested, "It's not silly. It's very important."
"If you say so."
"Good," Donnie said, "While you do that, I'll go get everything else ready, and then we can start. Okay?"
Andrew nodded again, and Donnie went into the main room and told the other Wizards of Andrew's decision. He even brought all of the Attendants in to watch as well, since he knew it would mean a lot to Andrew to see them there. Besides, it wouldn't hurt to send a clear message to them about who was in charge here.
In a few minutes, Andrew came in, carrying a glittering golden object, which he handed to Donnie.
Donnie thought back to every television show and movie he could remember, trying to make sure he got this right. In the end though, he simply couldn't remember the exact words, so he just had to come up with something on his own.
"This is Andrew," he shouted, placing the gold crown on the other boy's head, "THE KING OF THE WIZARDS!"
[end excerpt from Chapter 4]
Donnie flew back to the castle as quickly as possible, rendering the ground beneath him into a meaningless blur. The boy had struggled at first, but eventually wore himself out and collapsed from exhaustion, for which Donnie was grateful. He didn't want to hurt the boy, but it was absolutely essential that he get him back to the castle before he had a chance to tap into his power again.
That first time must've been a fluke. It just HAD to be, even though it certainly hadn't felt like it at the time. Even now, Donnie's face still tingled unpleasantly from the force of the blow.
The mother was the problem. He had to go deal with her, before the boy learned how to control his power enough to stop him. Once she was out of the picture, the situation would be manageable.
[end excerpt from Chapter 5]
[end excerpt from Chapter 6]
[end excerpt from Chapter 7]
[end excerpt from Chapter 8]
[end excerpt from Chapter 9]
[end excerpt from Chapter 10]