- Brook -
It’s getting dark. I should’ve been home by now.
The remaining light from the sunset disappears, quickly being replaced by the dark blue of approaching night.
I hold the house keys between my knuckles, Wolverine style. My eyes dart back and forth, alert and in search of any sudden movement. I hate being outside alone at night.
The line of familiar neighborhood houses doesn’t look very friendly at night. They loom over me, making me feel smaller than usual. The dark spaces in between the houses look like they can hide anything. By now, I can practically hear my heart beating through my chest.
I quicken my pace when I suddenly hear footsteps behind me.
′Please just be someone walking their dog,′ I silently plea. I take a left, hoping that the footsteps don’t follow. But to my horror, they do.
The streetlights flicker on. I glance to the side, my shadow on the sidewalk accompanied by three others. Men, by the shape of it.
And they are not on the small side.
Alarms are going off in my mind, screaming ′Danger, you are being stalked! ′
Do I pretend I don’t notice them? Do I run? Will they get me before I get to safety? I’m so close to home I can almost feel the couch that is calling my name. I’ve never wanted to binge-watch Netflix so badly before. I wish I’d never had the sudden urge to go for a walk so close to sunset.
I’m fifteen feet away from home when I decide to just make a break for it.
My feet hit the ground in a steady rhythm, going faster and faster as my fear grows. Heavy footfalls come from behind me, letting me know my stalkers are giving chase.
My front door is getting close, so close.
I’m reaching out for the doorknob when a solid force hits me hard from behind. I’m falling forward, then stopped abruptly by a thick, muscular arm. The arm wraps around me, holding me in a vice-like grip, leaving me unable to move. I open my mouth to scream, only to have a rough cloth stuffed into my mouth.
My scream comes out muffled and quiet, and I feel like I’m choking on the cloth. I try to spit it out, but the cloth stays in my mouth. The person holding me starts to drag me back with them.
I struggle with all my might, slowly wiggling my way out of the strong grip. I’m almost able to elbow my captor in my face when another person comes. They each grab an arm, their grips like pythons. The pressure feels like enough to break my bones.
I’m no match for these men, and I’ve never felt so helpless. I’m not even able to bite them or head-butt them. The way they hold me tells me they’ve done this many times before. I’m just another victim.
The engine of a car comes closer and closer until it’s right behind me and my stalkers. Somewhere inside of me knows that if they put me in that car, I’ll never be able to get help.
Tears flood my eyes as I watch my home get farther and farther away. So close. I was so close to getting away. I would’ve locked the door and ran upstairs. Then I would’ve called 911, the police would’ve arrested these stalkers, and I would’ve been safe.
The feeling of my helplessness and frustration starts to build up. I feel it in the pit of my stomach, a warm pulse of energy. I’ve felt it before, but never so strongly as now. The feeling makes me feel powerful. I hold onto it, letting it build up until I feel it’s hit the brink.
It happens a second later. A blast of light, coming from nowhere. Then suddenly I’m on fire. Red, yellow, and orange flames dance around me in synchrony. The sudden heat blows my captors back.
I barely notice. All my attention is on the fire that covers me. I pear down at myself, shocked. What’s happening to me? I wait for the pain to come, but it doesn’t.
′Oh my gosh,′ I panic. ′My nerves must already be damaged by the fire. I’m going to die.′
But deep down inside of me knows that I won’t burn up. I never will.
Movement near me grabs my attention. I watch as a burly bald man along with his dark-haired friend crawl away from me, horrified. They must be the ones that were stalking me. I glare at them, causing them to scramble to their feet and begin running to the waiting car.
Anger courses through me with the need for justice. I don’t bother thinking as I aim my hand at the fleeing men and shoot. A fireball of pure blue flame hits them. The men barely have time to scream before all that’s left of them is ash.
The driver of the waiting car sees this and doesn’t waste time pressing the gas pedal, lurching the car forward. I don’t let him get away, though. I throw another flaming blue fireball, and it hits the middle of the car, setting it on fire.
The next moment, it explodes. Pieces of metal shoot out like shrapnel. I cover my face and close my eyes, waiting for the bits of metal to cut into me. Nothing happens, though. Hesitantly, I open my eyes.
I find the charred remains of the car, pieces of melted rubber and metal coating the road. My eyes trail to the floor in front of me. The metal that should’ve hit me lays in melted puddles of silver before me.
I stand there for a moment, just me and the destruction I created. It takes a moment before the realization of what I just did hits me. ′I shot fireballs with my hands like a maniac. I turned those men into freaking ash. I’m a human flamethrower.′
I look down at myself and notice that the only thing covering me now is the fire. My clothes must’ve disintegrated from the heat.
The shouts of neighbors drag me out of my shocked daze. The lights of the houses near me start turning on. People peek through their curtains, wondering what’s going on.
I run to my front door, cursing when I realize that I melted my house keys. I contemplate using my fire ability, but I don’t know how to. The last thing I need right now is to accidentally burn my house down trying to get inside. Cringing at the money it’s going to cost me, I ram into the door.
I do it twice before it swings open. Slamming it shut, I try to blow out the tendrils of fire that caught onto the door. Once I’m satisfied that there isn’t anything else on fire, I will myself with everything in me to just not be on fire anymore.
I start to panic that I’ll be stuck like this forever when it finally works. With my main problem taken care of, I move on to the next one. My hands now free, I take the cloth out of my mouth and swallow with relief. The taste of the cloth lingers in my mouth, but I ignore it.
Leaning against the door, the awareness of everything that’s happened hits me head-on. The drowning feeling of being overwhelmed engulfs me. Everything plays out in my head, again and again, leaving one question that seems to burn itself into my mind.
What the heck is wrong with me?