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By Sam-TenThirtyOne All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Thriller

Influence (First Draft)

What if superheroes really existed?  I think the popular thought is it would be really cool if people suddenly had extraordinary powers.  But let's be honest, what if people started to get powers around you but you did not?  Still sound awesome?  I would argue that in fact it would be quite alarming if random people starting sprouting super powers, even more disturbing if they kept those powers a secret.  What if on top of your normal fears and anxieties you also added in the fear of somebody with super strength or the ability to shoot fire from their hands as an added threat?  It all sounds pretty cool until you're the normal person left out when all of the powers get distributed, then it's actually quite scary.  

There is always someone waiting to abuse their power or make others suffer and I am just talking about people without crazy powers, just normal assholes.  I am sure you have seen it before from X-men comics or movies or perhaps the TV show Heroes, either way somebody always is the bad guy.  I guess from pop culture we all sort of assume that if humans evolved into mutants or whatever we would all develop these unique sorts of powers and form these cool crime fighting teams in an effort to save the world.  

I can tell you firsthand that is not how it happens.  I can say that because it's happening to me.  I can't fly or lift cars or do anything particularly spectacular but what I can do is influence you.  Pretty lame superpower, well that's what I thought at first back when I thought I was the only one.

My first recollection of noticing I had something different going on was probably my junior year at high school.  I had always had a way with people.  I never struggled with finding a date or having friends, it all always seemed to go my way.  I just thought I was popular and had more than my share of luck.  I had never been in a fight or really had anything negative happen to me now that I think about it.  The moment everything started to change for me was when I was on a particular date with a girl I was infatuated with.  

Her name was Susie Walker.  I did not have any classes with her but I would see her at lunch.  I never spoke with her but I would send messages to her through her friends.  She was the first girl who denied me initially and it drove me crazy.  I finally approached her and asked her why she would not go out with me.  When she turned around to speak to me after I tapped her on the shoulder I noticed, if only for a second a weird look in her eyes.  It happened very fast and I am sure nobody noticed it except for me.  It looked as if for a moment she was...not all there.  I asked if she was alright.  She said she was fine lazily and asked what I wanted.  I placed my hand on her shoulder and suggested she sit down as she looked a bit pale.  She sat down immediately and stared at me blankly.  I sat down next to her close enough that our legs were touching.  I explained I came over to ask her why she won't go out with me.  Without even blinking she said she would love to go out with me and wrote her number on a piece of paper and ran off at the sound of the bell.

That was really weird, I thought.  What was that look in her eyes?  Why the sudden change of heart?  I had her friends ask her out for me numerous times to no avail.  What changed?  It almost felt like it happened when I touched her, like I changed something in her.  When I was sitting next to her I was thinking I should get her phone number and then she just gave it to me.  I never asked her for it but she just gave it to me like she could hear what I was thinking.  Was that it or did I tell her to do it?  Did it have something to do with me touching her?  I had never really been that close to her before today.  Maybe I need to get some sleep.  I called her that night to arrange our date.

I picked Susie up on Saturday night at 7pm to take her to the movies and dessert afterwards.  She looked ten times more beautiful outside of school than she did at school and that is saying something.  Her hair was in a ponytail and she was wearing a yellow sundress, she was incredible.  She greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek which had me taken back a bit.  Is this the same girl who would not go out with me for months?  I was not going to question my luck, this was going great and I was going to let it ride.  When we got to the movies we got some popcorn and drinks and made our way to the back row of the theater. (Cool kids always sit in the back.)

About 20 minutes into the movie I reached over and held her hand.  This was immediately greeted with a firm grasp and a glowing smile.  This is too good to be true I thought.  This can not be going any least that's what I thought.  For a brief moment my pubescent, raging hormone brain flashed an image of my lovely Susie making this day a bit better by going down on me right then and there in the theater.

Then it happened.

That was definitely the moment I realized I had something more than just luck...something way more powerful.  I needed to be sure so I decided to run some tests.  If you are going to make an omelette you will first need to break some eggs.

I started out with something small.

The next day at school I looked for an opportunity to test out my new found power.

The opportunity presented itself when I received a D on my chemistry test.

I approached my teachers desk moving to the side of her so I could place my hand on her shoulder.

I showed her my test and told her, "I think this was supposed to be an A."  She looked at me dazed and said, "You are absolutely correct, my mistake!" 

Needless to say high school was a breeze.  I graduated with top honors and had my choice of colleges I could attend.  This was fun.

I would continue to test the boundaries of what I was able to do.  I started to become bored.  When things become too easy the sense of excitement goes away.  I needed to amp it up a bit.  It was time for some more tests.  I needed to get that omelette made and I had hardly cracked any eggs yet.

Let's try something a bit bigger.

One of the questions I had about my influence over people was how long does it last?

Is it permanent?  Does it only last for a short period of time?  Maybe it just needs to be reset from time to time like a clock.

Only one way to find out.  I just needed a guinea pig.  And then my roommate walked in.  He will do.  He will do just fine.

It's important that you understand that my roommate and I got along just fine but I needed a test subject and it just seemed easier this way.  He had decided to leave school and follow in his fathers footsteps and takeover his sales area.  You see his father recently passed and had a fairly lucrative traveling salesmen gig.  I never asked what he sold as it seemed weird to discuss those details after his dad just died.  We only had a week left until the semester ended and he would start his new career as traveling salesmen racking up the frequent flyer miles.  

I needed to do something extreme to really test the boundaries of what I am able to do.  Maybe I am underestimating the limits that I can achieve with this?  For the most part I have dabbled in day to day annoyances and simply made them easier.  I guess I was having so much fun I never stopped to think what I could really do to make a difference.

On my roommates last day he shook my hand, I held it tightly and did not let go.

I looked him in the eyes and told him he will not only be a great traveling salesmen but he would also be the most deadly serial killer this country has even seen.  He will travel from place to place wreaking havoc in whatever poor city he should arrive in.  He asked me how will he know who to kill.  I told him it would simply come to him as if by some divine intervention has stepped in.  I told him this will eat at him if he avoids his task at hand.  He must fulfill this desire or it will consume him.  The last thing I said to him was every New Years Day he would call me and update me on his body count.  It was important that we never came in physical contact after this so I could see how long my influence would last on him.  I also told him he would never see me as a victim obviously.

He has called me on that day for the last ten years.  Quite a body count and still rising.

It would appear my influence is permanent or at least as long as I want it to be.  I suppose I could influence him again to make him stop.  But I won't because this is now getting interesting.

Like high school, college was just a place to go to lay hands on professors to get good grades.  I would have any girl I wanted and pretty much do as I pleased.  I am sure it sounds great but I felt empty.  This was boring.  It reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode where a criminal dies and thinks he is in heaven.  He always wins at gambling.  He can have any girl he wants.  He could rob a bank and never get caught.  He could do everything that he loved in life but the risk wasn't there.  There was no adrenaline rush.  He became board only to realize that he was in fact not in heaven.

He was in hell.

That is where I was until this happened.

I was driving through the city when an asshole was tailgating me.  He was honking for me to get over but I didn't want to.  I have lived my life doing what I want and some ass was not going to change that.  His road rage prompted him to pull to the next lane and aggressively pass me and cut me off almost causing me to hit him.  I pulled into the next lane, speeding up to pass him showing him my middle finger as I passed.  His rage went through the roof at that point.  This guy floors it and cuts me off again but this time I slammed into him.

With an airbag in my face and fog in my brain I was trying to understand what had just happened.  All at once my door flung open and somebody punched me in the mouth and was yelling profanities at me.  My jaw sore and eyes watering I could make out a silhouette of what I assumed was road rage in human form.  As the cobwebs cleared from my head the yelling seemed to be cut off by what sounded like a siren.  Not like a fire truck siren but like the quick beep a cop does when they want you to be alerted to their presence.

As the officer approached the scene I made my way out of my car only to see the cop attempting to calm down Mr. Road Rage.  He was cursing, pointing at me and throwing out threats like rice at a wedding.  My thoughts were clear now.  Fuck this guy.  I walked over to the police man, touched his shoulder and told him to shoot this fucker in the face.  In a split second the officer unholstered his Glock and shot Mr. Road Rage square in the face.  I told the cop that he never saw me and the reason he shot this guy is he tried to grab his gun.

My car could still drive so I left the scene.  I have not felt this much excitement in years.

That is when things began to change.

I started to see myself as some sort of untouchable gunslinger except I never had to kill anybody.  I could influence others to do it for me.  Don't get me wrong I am not the bad guy here.  I don't kill random people like my salesmen buddy but if you fuck with me, we are going to meet at high noon for a shoot out.  Except I won't be doing the shooting or the dying.  Wait, am I the bad guy?

I continued to move through life with ease earning wealth and recognition if that is what I desired in the moment.  I would have the occasional lapse and have somebody murdered who insulted me or just pissed me off but even that became boring.

Then I met David.

David was a socialite who seemed to have worked his way into the good graces of somebody.  I met him at a party for wealthy people who have more money than they know what to do with.  It was an opportunity to network and find investors who were willing to dig into their pocket books and shell out some dough.  I noticed David because he seemed to be gliding through the room talking to everyone and making everyone laugh and have a good time.  He was stealing my shine.  I needed to meet this guy and shake his hand.

I made my way through the crowd and stopped in front of David.  I put my hand out and introduced myself.  He clasped my hand with both of his hands and I felt it for the first time.  

He was in my head.  

He was trying to influence me so I fired back and our hands released.  We stood there for what felt like hours but was only seconds.  We said nothing.  He reached over and touched a man next to him and the man turned to look at me and I saw anger in his eyes.  I reacted quickly and turned around and touched a group of men talking in a circle.  

It was about to go down.

In mere moments I had half of this party ripping David to pieces with their bare hands.  David seemed to be only able to influence one person at a time.  His angry buddy was the first to get shredded.

Those who escaped my influence ran screaming while my mini army disassembled David like zombies do on the Walking Dead.  It was carnage.  When it was over there were like twenty old rich guys standing there covered in blood with dazed looks in their eyes.  I said thanks and left the party.  

Best party I have ever been to.

So there are others who can do what I do.  The thought of others doing what I could do was horrifying to me.  I can't have that.  Nobody is going to rain on my parade as I have a good thing going here.  I needed to see if there were others so I started to search.

Once I began looking it became apparent that there were plenty of others.  

You just needed to know what to look for. 

Anywhere there was rioting or chaos captured on video if you knew what to look for you might be lucky enough to see the root cause.

Sometimes you see nothing but every so often you see somebody just taking it all in, as if watching the bomb go off so to speak.  They simply light the fuse and watch the fireworks.

I wondered if any of them were stronger than me.  David was weak so he was easily dealt with.  What if the others influence is stronger or what if they move from petty fight starting to something bigger?  It took me years to fully understand what I can do and refine my skill but perhaps I needed to think bigger if I am going to continue this charmed life of mine.  I am not going to let anyone get in my way...ever.

So it was time to actually make the omelette.  All the eggs have been cracked and it was time to really fulfill my destiny.  I was given this power and I am no longer interested  in small time bending of will.  I am going big.  I need to make sure I am protected and am able to remain the only super human being.

It's like I said it does not happen like it happens in the comics.  There are no masks, no capes, no super-friends.  There are no random fantastical powers popping up everywhere.  It would appear that maybe this is the next step in evolution or perhaps I have tapped into more than 10% of my brain...who knows?  It seems like this is the only power that is being distributed at the moment, at least that I know of.

There is no good versus evil. There is only me versus everyone else.  I am not willing to share the spotlight so I have decided to strike first. 

Somebody always ends up being the villain.  I now am sure that I am in fact the bad guy and I am completely ok with that.  I won't sit and wait to see which of us figures out how far this power of influence can take us or what we are really capable of.  I know what I am capable of.  

Terrible things.  Very terrible things.

Which is what has lead me here.  The presidential birthday bash.  Only the wealthy elite and those with great power or influence are in attendance.  I represent the latter.

I am next in line.

I can't wait to shake the president's hand.

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