Riptide

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Chapter 39

I hugged her so tightly. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close to me, never wanting her to leave again because she was my last hope of escaping. I told her how worried I was and allowed myself to sigh with relief as the sound of her quiet laughter echoed across the damp cell. After a while, I released her and asked her why she had been gone. I demanded to know what it was they had wanted with her. She ignored my question and instead took my hand and lead me up a latter which seemed to appear out of thin air. We climbed it in complete silence. It lead to the living room of my home, where my friends and family were waiting for me with great, big smiles on their loving faces. My sister bounded toward me with great leaps, coming extremely close to knocking me onto the wonderfully familiar black wood floor of the room. She giggled and grabbed hold of my shoulders to assist in my regaining of balance. She then yanked me close to her chest and wrapped her muscular arms around me. “I’m never letting you go again,” she whispered in my ear, her voice almost menacingly happy. I ignored this and leaned into her embrace, so grateful to be with her and everyone else once more.

Jagger pranced up to us happily and jumped up onto his back legs, clawing at me as if to say, “if you leave us again, bad things will happen.” I brushed my feeling of terror away and removed myself from Charlie’s arms to pat his head. My mother and father then laughed simultaneously and wrapped their arms around one another over us as if to create an impenetrable barrier. For a moment, I was blindly happy, before… I began to feel suddenly like I was drowning as my family began to move closer together, squishing me more tightly together. I tried to tell myself that this was simply what a hug was supposed to feel like. I knew how idiotic this sounded, but I wanted so badly for this to be the perfect ending I had dreamt of for so long that I clung to any possible thing which could tell me that I was the problem, not them. I wanted so badly to go home that I almost didn’t care how this happened. I simply needed to go home, but this was not it.

I gasped for air and clawed at the people who surrounded me. I tried to use my powers to free myself and realized I was back in my handcuffs. I watched Chloe try to come through to free me but was pushed away. She eventually gave up and joined in crushing me.

Out of the blue, a swift tug on my arm pulled me free from my prison. I began to run along with whoever had pulled me free. I looked to the side and saw that it had been Peter who had pulled me away. I glanced behind my shoulder and realized the crowd was simply watching what would happen next. I stopped running. Peter pulled me in for a quick hug before releasing me and telling me how worried he had been. I laughed and asked what had happened when I was away. He ignored me and took my hand once more, the handcuffs seeming simply to disappear from around my hands. He practically dragged me through the crowded streets of people who stared at me angrily. I looked down at my clothes and realized that I wore my hero suit. I pulled away from him and tried to hide the suit, yet Peter only smiled warmly and extended his hand to me once more. I took it hesitantly and was thrown into the air, but it wasn’t Peter who had thrown me. It was myself and I had taken Peter along with me. I was no longer in control of my powers. We flew from rooftop to rooftop, all the while I couldn’t stop thinking about Peter, what he thought of this, if he was okay, whether or not he was okay with my double-life, suddenly, an instant wave of guilt smacked me in the face. I wasn’t really much of a hero, having basically abandoned my city. What had become of it while I was away? What have I done? “I should’ve fought harder,” I thought to myself, disgusted at my inability to fight off five regular people. “And why did this happen? All because I couldn’t remember to check if someone was unconscious before celebrating that I was victorious,” I hated myself for this. I looked about my scrambling city, which after coming so close to better was now a thousand times worse than it had been. After months without a hero to protect it, the city I had promised to protect was now scrambling for survival. I glanced around at the flaming buildings, broken shops, destroyed property, smashed roads, torn powerlines, and awful amount of terror in my citizens’ eyes. “I’m sorry,” I whispered and forced myself to land on top of a building with Peter.

“Oliv,” he said, looking deeply into my eyes. “Please come back.”

“What do you mean?” I asked worriedly, ignoring the small voice at the back of my mind which told me how far from home I was. “I’m right here.”

The sadness in his eyes spoke louder than his words as he gestured to the broken city around us. “No,” he said. “You’re not, but we need you,” he said. Out of nowhere, the sky erupted and a huge black void opened up just a few buildings away. At first, nothing happened. This gave me an awful false hope. Peter glanced at it with a disturbing submission as if he had known this was going to happen. He grabbed my arm tightly. “Something’s coming,” he whispered, saving most of his strength to stop himself from being sucked into the black hole which had finally begun to swallow the city around us. I held onto his hand with all of my might, never wanting to let him go again. “Please,” he said quietly. “Come back.”

“Peter,” I yelled as I began to lose grip on his hand. “Peter, I can’t do this alone,” I told him as he was pulled closer to the ever-hungry, ever-growing forceful void. I was beginning to lose my footing. He didn’t respond, he simply continued to stare out at the void. “Peter, I’m sorry,” I yelled.

“It’s okay,” he told me, his courage seeming to shatter before my eyes. I watched a tear break loose from its manly imprisonment as Peter was pulled into the void of nothingness. And then he was gone. He and everything else I had ever known was sucked into the limitless void and I was left alone in the darkness of my solitude once more.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered as a single flaming tear of my own tore itself free from its imprisonment of my making and burned a pathway into my cheek as it fell to the moldy cement floor of my confinement. “I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough.”

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