A Stranger Knocked at the Door

It was a normal Saturday afternoon, and Marci was making dinner. Onions were frying in the pan, there was chicken in the oven, and Oliver was playing with toy planes, casually whizzing them through the living room. All of a sudden, a stranger knocked at the door.

“Hide!” Marci told Oliver.

Oliver just continued playing with his planes as the stranger knocked again, this time with more force.

“Oliver, you need to hide. A man is at the door.”

This time, Oliver stopped his planes, picked them up, and went to the designated hiding space at the end of his closet. Marci opened the door.

“Who are you and what do you want,” Marci snapped aggressively.

The man calmly pulled out a small square photograph of a young boy, who looked about nine years old.

“I’m looking for this child. His name is Oliver Wicks. Have you seen him?”

“No, I haven’t, and I would appreciate it if you could leave my home now,” Marci replied.

“Ma’am, I’m just looking out for him. I’m trying to protect him.”

“I’ve never seen him in my life.”

The man flashed a smile. “That’s okay, just give me a call if you see him. I really just want what’s best for him.”

The man extended his gloved hand, revealing a long, dark scar across his arm. In his hand was a card with a phone number and a name on it. Red Sun Labs, it read. Shortly after the man left, Marci went to Oliver’s room.

“Come on, Oliver. Pack up your stuff. Time to leave again.”

Without saying a word, Oliver quickly put everything in his room into an old, battered suitcase. Marci led him out of the small cottage and into her car. The car was an ancient Ford pickup truck Marci had purchased from a used car dealership. It had more than 150,000 miles on it and could only go up to 50 miles per hour.

Right before they left, Oliver said, “Mom, you forgot to give me my medicine.”

“Oh right, sorry,” said Marci.

Marci fished into her purse and took out a bottle containing several bright red pills. She took out three and gave them to Oliver, who swallowed them. Marci put the pills back into her purse and began driving again. After a few hours of driving, Marci pulled over into the parking lot of a small gas station.

Marci walked into the store and told the man at the counter, “I need the usual, new passport, new license, new house.”

“Okay, that will cost $335,” the man behind the counter said.

“What! I don’t have that kind of money. It used to be cheaper.”

“Sorry, Marci, my landlord keeps raising the lease. The prices can’t be as cheap as they used to be.”

“Come on, Marius, you owe me for what Oliver did for you two years ago.”

“Give me a break, Marci! I wouldn’t have gotten in that situation were it not for you in the first place.”

“Fine, Marius, but if anything ever happens to you in the future, don’t expect me to bring Oliver to save you. He’s not a superhero, you know.”

And with that, Marci plopped a few wrinkled up bills on the desk and walked out of the store.

As Marci got into her car, the man ran out of the store holding the money and shouted, “Hey! This is only $200! Give me the rest of the money!”

“Too bad,” Marci shouted back, and she got into the car and started driving.

As Marci was driving, Oliver asked her from the backseat, “Mom, why did Mr. Malum come to look for me?”

Confused and suddenly worried, Marci asked, “Who’s Mr. Malum?”

“He’s the man that came to the house. He was in charge of helping me with my powers at the school.”

Oh no, this is worse than I thought, Marci thought to herself.

“Mr. Malum just came for a short visit. He wanted to make sure you were safe.”

Oliver didn’t say anything. He just kept playing with his planes, as if nothing had happened. Eventually, Marci stopped the car next to a small red shack on the side of the highway. The shack looked similar to the previous one they had lived in, and the one before that, and the one before that. Marci and Oliver had never lived in the same place for more than a year. As much as Marci wanted to, she knew it was too dangerous.


As Marci and Oliver settled into the new house, a feeling of nervousness began to settle over Marci, as she contemplated what she would do next. She knew she would have to face more people from Red Sun Labs eventually. She couldn’t run forever. And she would also have to tell Oliver the truth at some point about what had really happened, and why they were constantly on the run. After mulling it over, Marci decided it was finally time to tell Oliver what had really happened.

“Oliver, come here. I need to tell you something,” she shouted across the house.

Oliver came to the table where his mom was sitting. “What?”

“Remember how a few years ago I came to the school you were at, and I took you to live with me?”

Oliver nodded.

“Well, when I took you from there, I was really rescuing you, because the people that were working there, like Mr. Malum, were actually trying to harm you. They were trying to use you so they could do experiments on your abilities.”

“Oh,” Oliver said, not really showing much interest.

“The reason we have been moving from place to place is because people like Mr. Malum have been trying to get you back, so they can do more experiments.”

“Can I go fly my planes now?” asked Oliver.


Shortly after her discussion with Oliver, Marci heard a knock on the door. She went to open it, and her heart dropped when she saw who it was. Mr. Malum was at the door, with three other men, all holding guns. Marci tried slamming the door, but Malum held it open.

“I’m done playing games. I tried to be nice, and you didn’t listen. I need Oliver now. I know he’s with you. Your friend at the gas station told me everything.”

All of a sudden, Oliver came out from his room. He looked enraged, and his eyes were glowing bright red. Before anyone could say anything, Oliver flicked his wrist and sent all four men flying in the air, instantly dying on impact with the ground. A look of pride came across Marci’s face. Oliver had saved them. The men were gone, and she didn’t have to worry anymore. But when she turned around to look at Oliver, she saw he wasn’t there anymore. Oliver had gone back into his room and was playing with his planes, as if nothing had even happened. Marci smiled, and she and Oliver lived the rest of their lives without ever having to worry again.