Fram Gage lives in Biality Orphanage. It's an okay place, except for The Ability Chamber, which is a fantastic arena within the orphanage where the children compete and race using superhuman abilities such as Super Strength and Wall Climbing. Fram especially likes it, until he and his friends are in a competition where the rules have changed. Their lives are in danger, and they don't know what to do. But a special ability--one they never imagined--gives them hope to make it through the competition safely.
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Fram Gage and The Infinite Ability
Copyright © 2011 by Desmond Shepherd
“Come on, Fram. Quit being such a wimp. We can’t get hurt,” Bagger Carson yelled. He gripped a brick window sill with his left arm, which kept him from falling four stories to the sidewalk below. A breeze caused his loose fitting green t-shirt to ripple, and the cuffs of his baggy tan shorts slapped his knees. The veins traveling down to his biceps bulged outward. He swung his other arm onto the sill, grabbed it, and hoisted his body up and into the opened window.
Fram Gage watched as Bagger’s short, stocky legs slid from view and into the building. Four stories was high. Too high. He’d have to scale the wall like a spider to get there. Even though he’d been assured of his safety, it was difficult to put himself in harm’s danger. He wasn’t a thrill seeker; he didn’t care about looking death in the face.
“Fram!” Bagger yelled down. His head stuck out the window just missing the top because of his purple Mohawk. Most days, he kept it hair sprayed hard like a rock, with five different points reaching up into the air eight inches. “We got to make it over to finish. Whoever loses is toast. Why don’t you just play along? Don’t let your massy pants keep you from moving.” He grabbed at a brick on the sill, ripped it from the building with his strength, and threw it down to the sidewalk below. Fram jumped to the side two feet, even though the brick landed 10 feet away from him.
Fine, Fram thought. He had to do it anyway; it was a part of class. Of all the things they taught, the physical training was the hardest; but Fram enjoyed it the most. He knew it would come to this; it always did. Go through the motion, run a race, get sweaty, and get a loss rubbed in his nose. But he couldn’t lose this time. He dressed right for the occasion—a skin tight, black t-shirt and black spandex pants with a green stripe down the leg; “massy” pants. With the clothes wrapped around his thin frame, he knew it wasn’t the most masculine outfit, but it was the best one for a chance at a win. Don’t ruin it this time. You always find a way to fail.
Fram reached his hand toward the redbrick building. The climb to the top would be six stories. Bagger might think he had a head start and even gave Fram a fighting chance by slowing up and urging him to compete. When his hand contacted the brick, they suctioned to it like a leech looking for blood. It freaked him out. It was like his body had a mind of its own, but he knew it was all an illusion. Just an illusion. Albeit a very real one. He reached his other hand high, and it too clung to the wall. Next his feet. He kept them bare, because if he didn’t, they’d just cling to the inside of his socks and shoes. Why’d they assign him an ability like this. Sure, he couldn’t get hurt, but he still felt the scrapes and bumps on his feet as they happened. His feet clung to the wall, and he crawled up the side of the building.
“Oh, it’s on,” Bagger said when Fram reached the second story. “Don’t worry, Fram. You’ll be toast just like every other time.” Bagger’s head disappeared into the building.
“Not if I can help it,” Fram whispered.
He alternated right hand up, left hand up, right leg up, left leg up. Within 30 seconds he went from the ground below to the fourth story window where Bagger taunted him. He peeked his head into the window. Not much there. There never was. All the details were left on the outside. The insides were included if they would be used extensively. Barren, cream colored walls and an open door were in the room. Fram could almost see Bagger running out that door and up the stairways to the roof. That was his only way up. The fifth story window was too high for him to jump to the ledge. It gave Fram an advantage, because he just had to move upward. While Bagger managed the maze inside the building, Fram would scale the wall and be on the roof in seconds.
As he thought about this, it reminded him he was four stories high. He turned his eyes toward the street, and instantly became dizzy. Fear made him realize what he did. If he fell from that height, it would hurt. It would kill him. No … wait. It wouldn’t. He’d be fine. He can’t get hurt like that. But as he looked down to an empty street with perfectly painted yellow lines going down the middle, he wondered what the impact would be like if he fell. What would stop him from getting hurt?
No. He couldn’t think about that. It’s what he always did. Didn’t matter if it was accepting defeat, not taking a risk, or just making a stupid move, he wouldn’t lose this time. He snapped his view away from the street and gazed up at the sky. White, puffy clouds stood still above him, and in them he swore he recognized the face of a woman. But he brushed it off. The rooftop was two more stories up, and his muscles were starting to burn. He had to move quick and without thought. He alternated his hands on the brick, climbing further skyward and then reached the ledge of the rooftop. He pulled himself over and dropped a foot onto the roof. Dust sprayed up at his feet where he landed, and a cool breeze caressed his face, evaporating the sweat dripping down his forehead.
To Fram’s right, 20 feet away, the rooftop door was closed, which meant Bagger hadn’t made it up. Straight ahead was the finish line. In the distance, the other students waited to see who would make it there first. They were 400 feet away, which isn’t far, but traversing the next two obstacles was the hard part.
Fram ran toward the next building. This one was made from metal. Sunlight reflected off the building, causing a glare. He raised his left hand above his eyes and examined his next obstacle. The space between the buildings was 40 feet. Too long for Fram to jump. He could try, but he’d fall short of the other rooftop and land on the wall about halfway down. Then he would have to crawl up again, slower than before because the other climb exhausted his arms. On the south side of the roof, a wooden plank connected the two buildings, making a bridge to the next building. Fram hated that option. It meant he’d have to look at the empty street below as he crossed.
The rooftop door flew open, and Bagger ran out. Sweat dripped down his face, and he clearly had a rough time with the inner maze. That didn’t matter now. He approached the edge of the building where Fram stood. He stopped when he got next to him.
“You may have gotten ahead, but we’re even now.” Bagger looked at the building, then over to the plank.
“Shut up, Bags. It ain’t over yet,” Fram said. He spoke with a confidence he knew he didn’t have internally. Until recently, he always fought his battles alone, and this one was the same.
“Looks like we got two options. I know which one I’m taking.”
Bagger ran back 20 feet, stopped, and ran again toward Fram. His legs pushed hard, moving faster with each step until he reached the edge of the roof. He squatted down, while maintaining his momentum, pushed into the ground, then leapt into the air. He soared 30 feet in a perfect arc that landed him easily onto the metallic roof of the other building. He turned around and faced Fram, waved his hand and said, “Bye-bye, Toast.”
Fram knew he would never be able to do what Bagger just did. He had to walk the plank. He ran over to the wooden platform. His right foot softly touched down, then his left foot. At this pace, he knew he would never reach Bagger. He moved his feet faster, maintaining his balance by putting his arms out to each side. Then he made the mistake of looking down instead of forward. At that height, nearly 100 feet, he couldn’t help but get dizzy. He tried to ignore the feeling, but as his feet moved faster, his dizziness got worse. He lost his balance and tipped toward the right edge of the plank.
But he didn’t fall. Only his body tipped, while his feet gripped onto the plank just like when he climbed the wall. Looking down into the pit, he realized he couldn’t fall. With the plank secure and his feet clinging to it, it was like he walked on solid ground. His pace quickened, and he ran across the plank and made it safely to the other building.
Bagger was on the other side, standing at the last obstacle of the course. Fram ran to him and caught up without much effort. He stopped when he reached Bagger, rested his hands on his knees, and breathed heavily.
“What you waiting for?” Fram asked. “You could of won this easily.”
“Don’t know how I’m going to grip it.”
Before them, a large propeller, 60 feet in diameter, spun at a revolution every two seconds. The propellers weren’t meant for flying, and as such, they were just long, 10-foot high steel beams. Each one had a lip a half-inch long on the bottom.
Fram smiled, because he knew he won.
“Well, while you figure it out, I’m going to win. See ya, Toast,” Fram said. He focused on the propellers and counted them. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 1 - 2—he jumped and grabbed the propeller. The small lip for gripping didn’t matter to him because his hands suctioned to the metal without a problem. He spun with the propeller for four revolutions, kept his eyes focused on the next rooftop, and released the suction. The speed of the revolutions flung him in the air, causing him to land near the middle of the last rooftop. Another 100 feet and he would cross the finish line.
“Remember,” Fram yelled over to Bagger, “you can’t get hurt! But you sure can lose!”
Bagger scrunched up his nose and pumped his fist at Fram. Without a second’s hesitation, he jumped up and grabbed the propeller.
“Not today,” Fram said. He turned around and ran toward the finish line.
A good size crowd waited for him. All the other students, ranging in age from 10 to 13, including Tia Umber, 12, who twirled her long fire-red hair with her index finger, cheered Fram on. Bagger always won these things, and Fram always lost. They were hungry for an upset. Dr. Traisal and his assistant, Dr. Samor, waited too, though they didn’t cheer with the students. They held clipboards in their hands and wrote furiously onto their notepads as they documented what happened during the race. Beside them were two monitors, each sitting on a three-foot high cart, used to watch the aspects of the competition out of their view.
“Come on, Fram!” Tia yelled. She jumped up and down and clapped her hands. “You got this!”
“Frammy’s got it. Bet your butt!” Lanker Mason, 10, said. He was a short little kid, with small round glasses, and he always managed to make Fram laugh.
Fram liked having all the support. He liked having everyone on his side. Maybe this would change him a little. Make him a little less fearful, more sociable, more liked. At the moment he ran to the finish, he felt freer than he ever had.
Meanwhile, Bagger hung onto the propeller and got ready to dismount. During the spinning, he swung his body back and forth, trying to gain momentum on top of what the propeller already gave him. Then he released the propeller and flew through the air at a greater speed than Fram did.
That’s when Fram noticed the look on Tia’s face. She had been cheering and smiling but then her mouth formed into a big ‘O’. Her eyes grew wider. Lanker had a similar expression; he pointed his hand in the air. Fram, while still running, looked behind and saw Bagger falling toward him, feet first. He was unable to react. Bagger’s right foot hit Fram’s upper back first, knocking him over. He kept moving his feet, but they tangled up with Bagger’s arms as Bagger fell onto his back. The boys slid along the roof’s pebbly top, blowing past the finish line. The group of students split apart to avoid a collision as Fram and Bagger slid toward a three-foot high wall of brick. Their momentum pushed them hard enough that it caused them to crash into the brick, break it into pieces, and fall six stories to the sidewalk below. As they fell, Fram ended up on the bottom, and they descended quickly until they slammed into the sidewalk.
Fram was pushed into the concrete, fully under Bagger. He remembered hitting the concrete; it didn’t hurt, but became soft like a pillow. But he had a pain in his back where Bagger kicked him. Then everything went black because he passed out.
Available at the following locations:
Print edition available at Amazon and CreateSpace.