I crawled out of the tunnel as fast as I could. Their voices echoed behind me, I needed to move faster. I circled around back towards the slide, hoping they wouldn’t notice. It was to no avail.
Two boys cornered me on the playground. They were both at least a year older, and much bigger.
“Silas Weaver? More like Silas Beaver!” guffawed Richard, while Sam laughed behind him.
“Just look at those teeth! His mom probably can’t even look at him without barfing.” I clenched my fists and trembled. Richard turned around to talk to Sam, “I bet he-” but I ran.
I squeezed by Richards thick side and darted under Sam’s arm. Even then, I was fast.
“Hey, stop!” One of them shouted behind me, but I kept running. I reached the playground monitor, and hid behind her.
“What are you boys doing?” She asked me sharply.
I pointed at them, and said the magic word I learned at last weeks assembly. “Bullies.”
She whirled about, and faced Richard and Sam.
“Come. With. Me.” Exchanging terrified looks, they followed her inside.
“You too, Silas.”
We went straight to the main office. She brought the bullies inside, and told me to wait.
Some time later, she brought the sullen boys out. They apologized, and promised to stop.
The monitor turned to me, and said “We have received several reports of these boys being bullies. They won’t bother you again.” Richard and Sam walked off, and I hugged her leg.
“You did the right thing, Silas, I’m proud of you.”
The next day, they broke my front teeth, and I switched schools.
10 Years Later
“How was school, Silas?” My dad said, smiling at me.
“It was fine,” I replied as I put my backpack on the couch.
“Do anything interesting?”
“Well, the weather was a little wet during track, but other than that, not really.”
He looked out at the torrential rain and smiled to himself, then returned to typing on his computer. For the past couple of days, he’s been working on some new project, a romance novel this time.
I left the den, and walked down our main hallway. It extends down towards my parents room, and the foyer. The staircase starts somewhere in the middle. I climbed the stairs, went up to my room and powered up my laptop. After slogging through about an hour of homework, I went downstairs to watch some TV. I sprawled on the couch, and my dad glared at me; “Try to keep it down, OK?” I gave a noncommittal grunt in return.
A few hours later, I rubbed my eyes and turned to the clock. It was 6:30. “When’s Mom gonna be home?” I asked.
“She said she’s going to leave the office at six to pick up Kepler from the vet, so probably ’round seven.”
“What’s for dinner?”
I smiled to myself, fend-for-yourself nights were my favorites. After gorging on steak tips and spaghetti, I walked upstairs to my room. It took another hour, but I finished my homework. I went downstairs, where my dad was washing up from his and mom’s dinner.
“Hi mom” I said, hugging her.
“Hey Silas,” she replied, hugging me back.
“How was the office? Did you sue anyone else today?”
She chuckled. “Just some idiot who drove his car into his neighbor’s collection of prized lawn gnomes. He claims they were possessed, and he was killing them in self-defense, but there’s really no proof.”
I grinned and plopped back on the couch, turning the TV back on.
“Your turn tonight” I announced as I tossed the remote to my dad as he joined us.
He nodded and flipped to some generic action thriller, like always. My mom sighed, and snuggled in with us.
About two hours later, I went back up to my room. Movie night was always fun in our house, but I was tired as hell. After brushing my teeth, I fell asleep.
I blearily opened my eyes, and felt an all too familiar sensation from my lower torso. Rolling out of bed, I walked over to my bathroom door. To avoid waking anyone else up, I shut it quietly behind me, stepped over to the toilet, and let it rip. The nearby window provided all the light I needed, then I gently flushed, washed my hands, and went back to bed. Before I could fall back asleep though, I heard the tinkle of glass breaking downstairs. Immediately, my heart started pounding and I sat up and listened. Oh god an intruder? I thought to myself.
My parents’ door opened, and I heard the heavy footsteps of my dad walk out into the short hallway. There was a loud click of a light switch then my Dad yelled.
Noise exploded from below and I got out of bed. Shouting and thumping emenated through the floorboards.
“Oh god no,” I moaned before turning on the lights. People ran through my house, and my mom screamed.
“Oh fuck!” I said, quietly. I ran back into my bathroom, shut the door, and locked it.
I heard voices now, clearly and distinctly without the yelling.
“Bastard hit me! I’m gonna fucking end him!”
Someone let out a muffled scream, then I heard a loud smack.
“Shut up bitch!”
I heard more thumps and an ominous crack. My mom stopped screaming, which was far worse. My hands began trembling with worry.
“Go check upstairs,” a hard voice ordered.
“Oh fuck fuck fuck fuck” I whispered as some boots clomped up the staircase. My phone was downstairs, the window was too small. A sense of doom crept upon me; there was no way I could escape.
My bedroom door crashed open with a bang. The thug walked in and stopped. I heard him ruffle around the sheets and blankets on my bed. He walked over to my bathroom door, and rattled the knob.
“I know you’re in there, come out now and we won’t hurt you.” I stayed quiet, praying he wouldn’t enter.
He sighed, loudly. “Kid you’ve got one more chance to come out, or I come in.” I leaned against the door, and braced my body against it.
I heard him sigh again, and a rustle of clothes. The handle next to me started to glow with heat, but I couldn’t feel anything radiating from it. I dove away from the door and sprawled on the ground, facing the door. The doorknob glowed white and melted, splattering on the ground. The man pushed the door open, and I got my first view of the intruders.
He was tall and bulky, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a ski mask, like an old timey robber. Then I saw his hands, one was vividly red, the other a deep blue. My eyes widened, I knew who he was. State Shift.
About a week earlier
“Hey, change the channel, put on the news,” my friend Jimmy told me.
“What, why?” I asked.
“My sister just texted me, those burglars from the city struck again!”
I quickly changed the channel, and turned up the volume.
…the gang has robbed four houses so far, and this one makes five. So far, their M. O. has been to sneak into wealthy residences, steal everything of value, then sneak out. Only once did they resort to violence, and left one survivor. This crew is reportedly led by the metahuman Veer and his lieutenant State Shift. It consists of at least two non-powered members. They are considered very dangerous, and the SVRA should be contacted immediately if seen.
Two grainy and blurry pictures popped up on screen. A short, reedy man with dark eyes had a caption naming him Veer. Next to him was a man wearing a balaclava, who had red and blue hands, and a caption that said State Shift.
Veer and State Shift are both wanted for breaking and entering, burglary, murder, and rape. Mr. Groselan has put a bounty on both of them, for their defeat or capture. We go now to his released message.
A serious looking old man in a suit appeared on the screen, standing in a graveyard. “My name is Mr. Groselan, and the two metahumans known as Veer and State Shift invaded my late daughters home, raping her and beating her so severely she died later of her injuries.” His hands were shaking badly, but he continued with a grave look on his face. “Their crew is responsible for the deaths of my grandchildren and my son in law. They cannot go unpunished for any longer. I am offering a reward for the person responsible for bringing these,” he spat on the ground “men to justice. One million dollars each for Veer and State Shift, five hundred thousand for each member of the gang. That is all,” he said, the camera shutting off after capturing the tear on his cheek.
Powerful stuff, the news lady said. And now, to Bill with weather.
“Damn,” Jimmy said. I nodded silently, and switched the channel back.
The villain stood before me. A hulking man, his very presence was intimidating. I looked into his cold eyes, pleading without words.
“Sorry, kid” State Shift told me. He held his blue hand out, and a blade formed out of solid air. “But Veer says no survivors.” He lunged towards me, and I froze, looking behind him, out the small window.
Something inside me jerked, and I Moved, leaving my bathroom behind and appearing in my backyard. I sprawled out onto the dark lawn, my eyes burning as the world became monochromatic. My mind reeled; I’m colorblind?
The bathroom window broke open, and State Shift stuck his hand out. I tried to teleport again, but instead, I Looked. State Shift gestures, and blades of solidified air erupt from the ground, impaling my body. I jumped to the side, rolling away from the shards into the bushes.
Ok ok, I have to get away, get the police, the SVRA, anyone! I blinked my eyes, still offput by the lack of color, and reached out to Look again. Instead, I Grasped the world around me. My eyes widened at the feeling of a bunch of hands moving around me. Telekinesis too, but I need to Look, dammit. I need to know if I’m in danger! I screwed up my face in concentration and- 10 seconds. A car drives down the road -sighed in relief.
I sprinted away from my house, choking down the fear. Entering the damp woods behind my house, I ran as fast as I could through my new shadowy world. No time to think about the color, just fucking run. I burst through the trees and ran across the soft grass.
Mrs. Hildebrand was a widow who paid me to tend to her yard. She was my closest neighbor, and has always been nice to me. I jumped up her front steps, and mashed my finger on the doorbell while pounding my fist into the door.
“Mrs. Hildebrand, please open up! It’s a pretty fucking extreme emergency!” I said as loud as I dared, the robbers could be searching for me. About a minute later, the lights flicked on, and the door opened. I stepped inside and shut the door behind me.
“Silas, what’s this all about?” She asked me, as I pushed past her and grabbed the phone. I held up one shaking finger to silence her, and dialed the authorities.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“Hello, my name is Silas Weaver. I live on 16 Alderbrook drive, you need to send help, fast.” I replied with a slight voice crack.
“Calm down. What is wrong?”
“Men have entered my home. They-they hurt my parents. I recognized State Shift.”
“Help is on the way, and the SVRA have been alerted. Can you tell me what happened?”
“State Shift broke into my room and then bathroom. I uh, escaped out the window and ran to this house. He mentioned Veer, like the supervillain. I think he’s in my house as well, please send help!” I gushed out, quivering.
“Stay where you are, Veer’s gang is extremely dangerous. You’re lucky to have escaped.” I dropped the phone, and it hit the ground with a clatter.
“It’s going to be alright, dear,” Mrs. Hildebrand hugged me tightly, stroking my hair. I broke down, and grabbed a tissue. Mom and Dad. They’re in there with them. I left them, how could I leave them? I glanced down at the tissue, and Grabbed it with my mind, holding it just above my palm. I’m a Metahuman now, I should be able to protect them. Every time I’m confronted, I run away. No more. I stopped crying, and clenched my fists. No more weakness, I’m strong now. The fear was gone, only anger remained. Strong enough to save my parents, to stop the bad guys. Some part of me screamed at that. I was too weak, too inexperienced, too pathetic. I wasn’t strong enough, it seemed to yell. I don’t care. I’m so fucking tired of choosing flight over fight. That ends today.
I shrugged out of Mrs. Hildebrand’s embrace and walked to the door.
“Silas, where are you going?”
“Back to my house.”
“But I thought the police officer would have told you not to do, well, that.”
I looked her in the eyes, all too aware of the lack of color. She stiffened in surprise.
“I don’t care.” I cut her off just before she opened her mouth.
“I have to do this.” I shut the door, and started running back to my house.
That small part of me kept talking though. I had no combat experience, and was going against a group of well armed, veteran metahumans. The SVRA or the cops should be getting there any minute now. I can help, maybe I can sneak in and, and, and kill them. A sense of finality filled me, I’ll save my parents, and kill the men responsible for this. I can see the future, teleport, and move things with my mind. I can do this. That small part of me fell silent, and I reveled in the crazy, desperate feeling welling up inside me. It’s do or die, Silas. It’s time to take back my home.
I reached the edge of the woods, and stopped. I closed my eyes, and reached for the power. I opened them, and Looked-8 seconds.I run out onto my lawn, and collapse as a bullet flies through a window and hits me– and decided to wait. I counted to ten, and- 10 seconds. I run out onto my lawn, and reach the house safely- ran as fast as I can.
I reached the wall of my house, and crouched down- 10 seconds. I climb up the tree and ease open the nearest window and shimmy in. The exiting goon turns around- and counted to ten again. Apparently, my Vision cuts out at ten seconds or death. Good to know, so- 10 seconds. I ease up the tree, and enter the window, and shimmy in undetected- I entered my house.
The window opens into the guest bedroom, which is undisturbed. That made sense, the men are looking for valuables, and we don’t have many in this room. I grabbed the solid glass paperweight by the nightstand.
Edging up to the doorframe, I concentrate and accidentally Moved back to the window. Damn it, these powers are fucking annoying, I need to be more careful. I creeped back to the door, and- 10 seconds. I peer out to the right, into the upstairs hallway, where the door to my room stands ajar at the opposite end, at the top of the staircase. I quickly turn to the left, and see the goon entering my dad’s office at the end if the hall.- counted to ten. I snuck into the hall, and turned to the left. Concentrating, I Look and Move at the same time- 4 seconds. The man spins about at my sudden appearance, and guns me down- dropping to the floor at my reappearance. The goon doesn’t notice me, and continues rifling through my dad’s desk.
Ok, just like a video game, just whack him in the head really hard. I fingered the paperweight in my hand, and slowly stood up. Swinging as hard as I could, I slammed him in the side of his head, right above the eye. He fell to the ground with a loud crunch. I lunged toward him, and hit him again. The bloody paperweight fell from my hand, and I puked all over him. Holy fuck I just fucking killed a man, holy shit.
“Walter? What’s wrong?” A voice came up the stairs. Panicked, I reached for the power again. A rushing noise filled my ears, building to a deafening climax. Then, suddenly, it stopped. I heard only my blood flowing and my heart beating. Everything else was silent. I spat to get rid of the lingering vomit taste, and it flew two inches before halting in the air. Time stop? That’s new. The rushing noise began again, and I ducked behind my dad’s desk as it reached a crescendo. I felt time return with a jerk. My spit hit the ground with a plop, and I heard footsteps come up the stairs. Again.
Come on, come on. I focused again, and Looked- 10 Seconds. State Shift enters the room, and discovers the body. He examines it and- that is very bad. I quietly scanned the top of the desk, and grabbed the scissors and a stapler. State Shift ran in as I pulled my hand back.
“Walter, what the fuck? Aw hell.” State Shift ruffled the body. I looked down, under the desk and into the hallway. This better work. Reaching out with my mind, I Grabbed the door to the guest room, and slammed it shut.
State Shift whirled around, and got up from the body. I needed to time this right, so I Gazed into the future and- 10 Seconds. State Shift quietly approaches the door. I Move behind him, unnoticed, then stab him in the neck with the scissors.- now! As State Shift neared the door, I looked over the top of the desk and Moved right behind him. I buried the scissors in his neck, and he collapsed with a yell.
I fell on top of him, trying to pin him so I can stab him again. State Shift screamed, and blood jets from his neck. I got off him, leaving the scissors. Taking a precious moment, I Looked- 10 seconds. A voice calls out from below, and footsteps approach the stairs. State Shift’s flailing slows down from blood loss. I run back to the guest room-
“Shift? Shift!? Aw fuck!” A man shouted, as he began to run to the stairs.
Meanwhile, I had already run into the guest room, tossing the stapler aside. I ducked back out the window, and dropped to the ground. I have to avoid a direct confrontation, buy time for the SVRA and the police. On the ground, I started running around to the front of the house, my stomach heaving. Oh God forgive me, I killed another man. If it wasn’t empty, I would’ve already hurled.
I ran by the side door and stopped. I rang the doorbell a couple times, to piss off whoever was left. Shit. That was stupid. Now they’ll know I went outside. I wasn’t thinking straight, and I had a blistering headache. I needed a second to rest, so I dove behind a hedge that bordered my house.
I sat on the wet ground, between the bush and my house, and breathed. My heart was pounding rapidly, and I needed to think. Slowly, I inhaled and exhaled. Alright, I’ve got precognition, teleportation, telekinesis, and time stopping powers. There’s at least two more left, and Veer is one of them. How do you fight someone who redirects motion? Just then, a wailing siren pierced the night. I peered through the leaves and saw approaching lights. Finally, the cops are here!
I snuck up to the end of one side of the house, peering around the corner to the front. Several police cruisers pulled up, and officers piled out of the them. They assembled behind their cars, and a drew their guns. One officer got out a bullhorn.
“This is the police. Come out of the house with your hands on your head, now.” I Looked- 10 seconds. A burst of gunfire erupts from the upper window on the opposite side of the house, gunning down three officers- and shouted “Upper right window!”
Most of the officers looked towards me, at the window above me. Too late, I realized my mistake. I had said right, my right, which was their left. Gunfire erupts from the window, mowing down four officers. One of them returned fire, apparently he had heeded my advice. The gunfire stopped. My front door burst open.
A man stepped out. Even in black and white, I could tell who he was. Veer. He raised his hands like a conductor, a pistol in each. Cackling madly, Veer began firing randomly into the air as the cops shot at him. I froze up in a combination of fear, panic, and wonder as each and every bullet arced nearly through the air, curving in circles to strike the police officers. In seconds, they were all dead. I looked on in horror as Veer kept laughing, pulling his triggers until he heard clicks.
I picked up a stick. Focusing, I Rushed. As time froze, I ran forward, bursting out of the underbrush in a sprint. Veer wasn’t close enough. I was feet away when time started with its precious cacophony. I swung with my stick, but he smiled and I fell forward, my momentum driving me into the ground instead.
“You little fucker,” he snarled “You killed them, and you’re going to pay!”
I gazed up at him, stunned from hitting the ground so hard. He pulled out a gun and Crack!
I woke up in the hospital, a soothing presence in my head. Hello, Silas.
“Who is this?” I groaned hoarsely. No need to speak, my name is Thinker Prime, from the SVRA. You are in the hospital, you were shot.
That’s right, he directed the bullet into your left shoulder. It was intended as torture. Luckily, I stopped him soon after. You see, he has no telepathic defenses, and an unusually weak psyche. It was simple to shut his mind down.
The voice hesitated, and sounded sad. I’m truly sorry. Your mother didn’t make it, and your father is in the ICU right now.
I screwed my eyes up in pain, and began to cry. I failed.
You did not fail, you are responsible for stopping a group of killers and thieves. That is admirable.
But I couldn’t save them!
You had your powers for all of ten minutes, and you managed to stop the group.
I should have saved them!
Once you are healed, you should join the SVRA. Make sure you won’t fail to save anyone else ever again.
I clenched my fist in anger as I looked out on my grey world. I won’t fail, I promise.