Figuring things out on his own didn't work so well.
Melissa insisted she wasn't leaving him alone until she found out what was wrong with him, especially when Desmond decided telling her Cylo could suddenly jump higher than he could would be a good idea. Now that she had more than one symptom to go on, she was a blur of flipping pages, hums and hahs, and frowns of concentration and frustration.
"Gah, these books are useless!" she complained, slamming the most recent one closed.
"Does that mean I can go home now?" Desmond asked hopefully.
"No, that means I'm getting a computer."
Desmond sighed and flopped lazily onto a chair, letting his backpack fall heavily to the ground beside him. He, Melissa, Paul, and Cylo were all hanging out in the library while Melissa looked up symptoms and rare diseases. Melissa, and by consequence of trying to get in her good books, Paul, were the only ones who actually wanted to be there, though.
"Okay, you're getting a computer. Good for you. And I need to be here why?" Cylo challenged.
"So you can tell me if you feel any new symptoms, or remember any old ones. And to keep me company, loser."
"I don't have any 'symptoms'..."
Ignoring him, Melissa navigated to a medical website and began searching. Her features grew increasingly foul.
"What's wrong, Mel?" Paul queried.
Melissa shot him a look. "Don't call me 'Mel', Dergle. And what's wrong is that apparently this whole jumping higher thing isn't a symptom in their database."
Paul was too busy brooding over being shot down to wonder what that meant, but Cylo jumped on it.
"See? I told you, I've just been working out. Now can I go home? I'm going to miss the boys."
'The boys' referred to a group of online friends Cylo, Desmond, Melissa, and now Paul, played video games with nearly every day after school. Part of the reason Paul fit in so well was that Desmond and Cylo had met the boy in an online match and got their butts handed to them. It was the one thing he was better at than the other three, and he was proud of it.
"Yeah, go for it. Tell them I'm sorry I couldn't make it."
"You're staying here?" the three guys all said, in differing tones of voice.
"Yeah, I'm going to keep looking. Go have fun, guys."
Paul looked like he was planning on staying, but Melissa waved him off. Cylo looked like he was planning on trying to convince her to give it up, but he knew better than to argue with the stubborn girl. Desmond just looked happy to get out of there.
* * *
While the other guys did their pre-game insulting and cajoling, Cylo played with the controls, spinning his video-game self in circles and jumping around. It was his way of getting rid of the pre-game jitters he always seemed to get, his way of clearing his mind. Other people smack-talked, he made an idiot of himself.
But something was weird. He checked his settings to be sure they hadn't changed, and a puzzled look came to his face. He selected 'sensitivity' and maxed it out, then tried it over again. That seemed better; his controller was no longer responding sluggishly to his movement. It was probably broken or something.
But once the game was started in earnest, he realized that his controller wasn't the problem at all. Everything was responding slowly. Where normally full controller sensitivity would have made looking around in a controlled manner difficult, he found it to be normal, and everyone else seemed to be moving in slight slow motion.
By the end of the game, he found that this difference had a huge effect on the results; for the first time in his life, Cylo had won. Paul looked hurt, Desmond looked flabbergasted.
"How did you do that?" Paul demanded, looking suspicious and maybe even angry.
"Ha! Doesn't feel nice to be the loser for once, does it?" Desmond quickly shot back to Paul. And to Cylo, "Been working out your hands, too, Champ?"
"I don't know guys... I... I'm tired. You guys keep playing, I'm going to bed. Tell my mom I'm sick or something."
The other two gave him a look, but eventually just went back to the game. He trudged up the stairs to his room and flopped onto his bed, staring at the ceiling. He wasn't tired in the least, but he didn't feel like sitting down stairs with two people who thought he had some kind of disease. He needed to think.
What is going on?
Am I sick?
How do I fix it?
Can I fix it?
He was starting to panic, but he also felt extremely tired all of the sudden. He pulled his blanket to his chin and closed his eyes, but his mind still raced, right until he abruptly fell asleep.
What the hell is wrong with me??