The Beholder- by Crunch

So here it is, the second chapter. Please read, enjoy, flame and/or review, and a great big thanks to my most faithful and only reviewer, SapphyreMoon!

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*** University of Pennsylvania, 2038***

I myself have never died before. Atleast, I don't think I have, and I imagine I'd remember something as momentous as that. So it's safe to say that, as I lay with my half naked body draped across the slick and chilly tiles of the pool room floor, in the gathering pond of water dripping from my battered carcass, I was dying for the very first time. And what do you know, it wasn't so horrible. Of course, I would have prefered to go out in a blaze of glory, instead of a tangled mass of burning lungs, searing pain, and liquidated limbs. But at that moment, I wouldv'e been more then happy to let death swoop down and carry me off to that big swimming pool in the sky. I should be so lucky.

"Pilot! Peel your ass off of my floor and get in here!" A voice like a foghorn bellowed, bouncing off the cavernous walls of the Penn State Pool Room and sending lances of pain through my numb and caffeine deprived brain. Groaning, I opened my eyes and surveyed the carnage around me, glad to see I wasn't the only man down. The rest of my team lay in soggy clumps, eyes closed and cheeks pressed to the tiles, gasping and gulping for breath like fish out of water. That's what we were, really, a bunch of fish out of water. Once we crawled our ways from the pool after practice, all of our energy and grace left us, and we dropped about ten notches on the evolutionary scale. So how the hell was I supposed to stand up? "PILOT!"

"Coming. I'm coming. " Doing my best to ignore the screams of protest from every aching muscle, I rolled to my stomach and clawed my way to my feet, stepping over the bodies of my fallen comerades as I staggered towards the Coach's office like a hungover zombie.

As I passed by the box-like Vital's Reader hanging on the wall of the Pool Room outside the office, I pressed my palm flat against the handprint cut- out and waited patiently as it read my body with the bleep and glow of lazers beneath my hand. "Heart Rate 100. Blood Pressure normal. Chemicals in blood stream: none. Body Fat Percentile 8 percent. Weight 155. Height 5'11 and 3 quarters. Thankyou, Mr. Pilot." The electronical voice droned.

"Really, the pleasure was all mine." I mumbled and pushed off, clawing my way along the walls once more. The Vital's Reader was a pain in the ass and no mistake, but Coach was likely to pitch a loaf if we didn't use it after every practice, so I put up with it, for lack of choice and energy to protest.

"You wanted me, Coach?" I leaned through the open doorway, bringing with me the smells of chlorine and sweat that soon mingled with the already present 'essance of nicotine' wafting through the stale office air.

"Pilot. Nice of you to show. Sit." Coach swiveled in his chair and beckoned for me to enter with one beefy arm. I obeyed, while trying to gage whether this was a 'pleasant' meeting or a 'your ass is toast' meeting. He wasn't smiling; Coach never smiles, but only his cheeks were flushed, rather then his whole face and trunk-like neck, and that was usually a hopeful sign. "Good swim out there, Pilot. Gotta keep working towards Nationals. With your grades, an' your swimming, scouts are watching you, Pilot." I nodded along with his stunted speech. "They're ALWAYS watching you. Remember that. Always gotta be on the ball."

"Okee-dokee Coachy." He frowned, and I mentally retracted my last statement. "You- you haven't heard anything from the scouts about me, have you? I mean, have they asked?"

"A few."

I licked my lips anxiously. "And, what did you tell them about me?"

"Told 'em you were a good kid, even if you were a smart-mouthed ass hole." I smiled, reasonably sure he hadn't included that last part, because for Coach, this sort of comment was rather affectionate. "Might of heard from a scout today, infact."

"Really? Who?"

"Cruise. Mr. Cruise." Coach grunted, something he did quite frequently. Coach tended to speek entirely in short bursts and grunts, his words like puffs of smoke from a steam engine. Short, harsh, and sarcastic puffs of smoke. "Called twice during practice." He reached over and clicked the bleeping red button on his answering screen. The face of a man popped up on the slim moniter, and I stooped to inspect it, ignoring Coach's wrathful glare. I'd never seen him before, I was quite sure of that, though I'd seen a thousand men like him. He wasn't old or young, short or tall, dark or light, he . With a sturdy, suited build, a stern and immovable face, average, coffee colored hair that brushed the tips of his eyebrows, and eyes that. on second thought, there was something odd about his eyes. Maybe they were a tad too shiny, or a bit too dull- in either case, they were the only things that stood out as bizarre on his extremely un-bizarre face.

"Recognize him?" the familiar grunt broke my consentration.

"No, can't say that I do."

Frowning, Coach leaned over and mumbled to the answering screen "Play message", and a gruff but unremarkable voice filled the office as the man with the unremarkable face spoke.

"Daniel Pilot, I've been meaning to call you for a while. Why don't you give me a buzz, at say, nine-ish tonight? If not, I'll be sure to give you a buzz." The image on the screen winked humorlessly, and the message ended with the clickity-clack of the CD haulting itself.

"Just don't take any more calls here, Pilot. Tell 'im if he wants to reach you, he can do it through your personal fan club hotline. Not though MY damn phone. And remember- practice till eleven tomorrow. Got Nationals coming up. Gotta work our asses to the bone."

I nodded, still trying to place the face on the screen.

"Oh, and Pilot." He grinned his sadistic grin and surveyed my throbbing body, nodding his head towards the pool. "Trust me, son. You don't know anything about real pain. Not yet."

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Stepping outside, I shivered in the chilly twilight, a huge difference from the swamp-like, muggy locker room atmosphere. Practice had run late- I didn't need to check my Rollex to know that. Above me the sun had melted from the sky, giving way to the purple-ish fringes of night. That meant I'd swam strait through supper, something I'd vowed never to do. Placing a hand on my growling stomach, I shouldered my soggy duffle bag and started the treck across campus; the man with the remarkable face and the too shiny, too dull eyes upstaged by thoughts of a hamburger.

It never crossed my mind that those too shiny, too dull eyes would soon be my own.

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Alright, if it doesn't seem like it has a point, it's getting there. Stay tuned for the next chapter. . . duh Duh DUN! The REVELATION! And please Review!