Chapter 2: Rebirth
By Kelvin Rodeo
October 16. It’s my birthday today. My sixteenth birthday, to be exact. I’m pretty excited about partying it up at the beach after school with Seth and the rest of our friends. I feel like this is a huge milestone in my life! I get up off my bed and walk over to look at myself in the mirror. I stare at this image of this boy, with his short brown spiky hair and his bushy eyebrows which are umbrellas over his hazel eyes, and his cleft chin which closes out the rounded triangle that is his face. My face. I smile as I run my right hand over my six pack, taking pride in the results of all my best efforts to stay healthy. A body like this doesn’t come cheap. Especially not when pretty much all of your cultural food that you grew up eating is fatty and meaty. Now more than ever, I’m glad I made the decision two years ago to move to a diet inspired by my ancestors. The ancient Chamorros had a plant-based diet and lived well into their hundreds, and judging by what I’m seeing in the mirror, I’d say I have a pretty good chance of replicating their success. I start getting ready for school, then I head downstairs for breakfast.
After breakfast, I head on out to the bus stop and get on the bus to school. When I get to MHS, I’m greeted by Seth, who gives me a hug as he wishes me a happy birthday. However, as soon as our bodies connect, the unexplainable scar on my forearm, which I have no idea how I got, starts to tighten up and I feel pain emanating from it as if it were an open wound again. Something feels wrong about this, and I immediately push away from Seth, who has now taken on the same ghastly appearance that he had in my nightmare.
“No…NO!” I scream in horror as I continue to back away from him. “This can’t be real, I must still be dreaming right now!”
Seth smiles that same evil smile he has in my nightmare and says, “Oh, it’s real, Justin. I am coming for you. Those weren’t just dreams.”
“But…HOW?!?” I demand. “How is this even possible? You can’t be real, I need to wake up right now!” I’m pinching myself, trying to inflict enough pain to hopefully wake myself up in the hopes that this is really a dream. No such luck.
Seth laughs maniacally and says, “It’s useless, boy, you’re not gonna wake up because this isn’t a dream. You’re really here. I’m really here. And I’m really going to get you!”
I take off running and leave campus, completely forgetting about school for the day. I run past the courthouse, past the public library, and past the Joeten Shopping Center. I keep on running in this same direction until I reach my uncle’s house in Susupe, never stopping or looking back once out of fear that Seth might be chasing after me. I finally arrive at my Unko Ton’s house in front of Susupe Lake. He lives in a simple little house, it’s a one story concrete building painted white with a triangular brown roof lined with solar panels. His front door is always open at this time of day, and he told me it’s because he loves to feel the rush of air coming from outside. I walk up his front porch, unlatch the screen door, and enter his home, still trying to catch my breath.
My uncle comes out of his room and sees me doubled over in his doorway, panting. “What’s wrong, boy? Aren’t you supposed to be at school today?”
I look up at him and reply, “Unko Ton…my nightmare…I think it’s about to come true!”
“Nonsense,” he says, “you know that’s just a dream!”
“But si Seth, Unko Ton! He looked the same this morning as he always looks in my dream! And he even told me that he’s coming to get me!”
His face suddenly shifts into a more serious, concerned expression. “I was hoping that this wouldn’t happen today, boy…your father was, too. But it is your sixteenth birthday, after all.”
Puzzled by the supposed relevance of my sixteenth birthday, I ask him, “What does me turning sixteen have anything to do with what happened to me when I got to school today?”
“Oh boy,” he starts to say. “You better sit down for this one, Jus. There’s some things about our family that you need to know. Some things about yourself, too.”
“Like what?” I ask as I take a seat at his coffee table.
“Well,” he says, then takes a few moments to collect his thoughts. “Our family….our family has….powers.”
“Powers? What powers?”
“Powers of all kinds, it depends on the person. But we are all born with powers in our family. When we turn sixteen, those powers blow up exponentially and we need to learn how to properly channel them or we’ll become overwhelmed.”
“Like what kinds of powers are you talking about nai?”
“Powers like telepathy, empathy, pyrokinesis, cryokinesis, telekinesis, aerokinesis, geokinesis, precognition, things like that. You have powers, too, you know.”
“But I just want to be a normal teenager, Unko Ton!” I say. I somehow know that what he’s saying is true, though I still don’t want to believe any of it.
“Boy, you cannot, because it’s not in your blood to be a normal teenager,” he replies.
“Because, Jus, you’re a suruhanu, and so am I. So is your father, and so was your grandfather and every male in our family for generations!”
“WHAT?!? What are you talking about? How come I never heard about this until now?”
“Because your father decided that he wanted you to have a chance at a normal life,” he says.
“Good, that’s what I want, too!”
“But he was wrong, boy. Look at what happened with si Seth! That happened while you were living your ‘normal life’.”
“So now I cannot continue living a normal life?”
“You can try, Jus, but it’s not gonna work,” he explains. “Our bloodline determines our destiny. You were never meant to be just a normal person. None of us were.”
“But WHY is this happening to me?” I ask. “I don’t want any of this!”
“Because nai, we come from a long line of suruhanus going all the way back to the pre-Contact times, and our power has only continued to grow over the ages,” he replies.
“But I don’t want any of it! I just want to be normal!” He looks at me in frustration over my reluctance to accept what I was being told.
“Boy,” he puts his hands on my shoulders. “I understand that that’s what you want. But you have to understand that you can’t always get what you want in life. Sometimes we have to answer the call of Destiny and fulfill our fate regardless of what we want in order to protect the greater good. This is one of those times. Fate has chosen you, and it would be in all our best interests if you rose to the challenge.”
“But why?!?” I cry. “I don’t wanna battle evil spirits, I just wanna help people the way that I know how to!”
He looks at me in disappointment. “You were born with that innate desire to help everyone. It’s because you are an empath and you can feel the suffering and pain of others. But I assure you, mastering your gifts and learning what it means to be a suruhanu is the way for you to truly help others.”
“How did you know that?” I look at him, shocked that he knew something about me that I have never told anyone before, not even Seth.
“Because I’m an empath, too, Jus. I know a fellow empath when I see one, and I knew ever since I saw you get into your first argument with your parents that you are like me.”
“If you already knew that since ever since, why didn’t you tell me? Surely you could feel my suffering all those times when I didn’t know why I was getting so mad and I couldn’t control my anger!”
“Because nai, your dad didn’t want you to know anything about your powers or the world that exists beyond the world you call the ‘normal’ world.” He pauses for a moment, then shakes his head. “Your dad never wanted you to know that powers are real, that taotao mo’na are real, duendes are real, and all that stuff. I wanted to tell you all this time because I knew that this day would come no matter how hard he tried to keep you from our world.”
“Then why are you telling me all this now?”
“Because he made me swear that I would never tell you anything about any of this, unless your life ends up being in danger. I’m pretty sure this is that time. He’s still gonna be pissed that I told you, but I’m hoping that he will understand.”
“So what happens next? Are you gonna train me, or something like that?” My curiosity is slightly piqued, and I can’t resist the urge to ask him.
He chuckles, “Yes, Justin, I’ll train you. But not today. I need some time to collect some things and prepare myself to take on a new student.”
I am slightly relieved that I don’t have to start today, but at the same time I’m worried about my safety. “But what if si Seth comes after me again? How will I know what to do?”
“Ahhhh, yes…” he says as he grabs a stone from his altar in the living room. He walks up to me and hands me what looks like a stone seed. “Take this, and keep it on you at all times. It will protect you from him if you cross paths before we start your training.”
“And when will that be, exactly?” I ask as I stare intently at the stone he gave me. “And what is this thing, exactly?”
“Friday. Your training starts tomorrow. Are you ok with skipping school? This is gonna be an all-day thing.”
“Yeah, shoot! I’m down for skipping school any day,” I laugh.
“As for that stone, it’s called a ‘shaman stone’ or ‘moqui ball’. It will protect you from negative energies and help you ground your own energy. Keep it on you at all times, ok?”
“Shoot,” I say, still trying to analyze this stone in my hand. “So what now? I can’t go back to school, Seth might be there waiting for me…”
“Well, you can’t go back home right now either, or your parents will find out about what happened today…I guess you can stay here until the time you normally go home from school.”
“Thanks!” I hop on his couch and turn the TV on, losing myself in my thoughts, half excited about what will happen next and half worried that I shouldn’t be messing with any of this stuff.