I stood staring at the vomitus mess on the floor before me. The amount of blood not only bringing the concern of my immediate health to light, but also having me once again questioning my own longevity. The migraine felt as though something was trying to chew its way through my skull from the inside, and my organs felt like they were wrapped around a drill, screeching as it had reached its maximum torque. I cannot continue like this, the abilities that define me clearly also robbing the life from me.
I looked to the mirror, only to see the toll that this latest episode had taken. My eyes were bloodshot, the wrinkles at their corners growing deep, too deep for someone so young. Each episode is worse than the time before. If I had known this was the price of my gift, I would have used it more sparingly in my youth, but my naivety has led me here 23 years later. The wealthiest person in the world and maybe I won't be alive tomorrow.
"You idiot, you foolish, foolish man," I uttered to myself as I rinsed my face with cold water. The sounds of all the voices calling me, now starting to get through as I stopped tuning them out. "Get yourself together. Time to go shake some hands." A sigh and a last look in the mirror as I turned to the bathroom door.
There was a time that all the "thank you's" and praise was flattering. All the questions were parlayed into a meal for my ego, not that I ever had any answers. I didn't know how I could bend time. I just knew that nobody else could, so their envy and admiration became my empire. I didn't realize that it had a price, and now it's expected of me in any situation. I'm selfish if I don't turn back that moment that a mother lost her child or that the family dog got hit by a car. And no matter how much praise I get or money I'm paid, it seems insignificant anymore.
And then it begins, the now routine inner struggle, the feelings of selfishness. My sickness seems insignificant compared to the consequences of not saving that little girl from falling off the balcony like I just did, but then again, I shouldn't have to put my own health at risk because some parent isn't doing their job. So I shake a bunch of hands and give a bunch of hugs and take a bunch of 3-D's and I'm heading back to The Clinic.
Elle is perhaps the one person in the world that I even care to talk to anymore. Dr. Elle, the only person in the world who doesn't want something from me. Her hazel eyes shown more blue today in harmony with her vibrant blue blouse and turquoise stone necklace. I called from the skycar as I flew over, so she was waiting at the door as I arrived. Her hair was a rainbow of undertones, from red and silver to blue and green, a young prodigy in her own right, a year younger than me. She met me with a smile that was half welcoming and half scolding, as my visit wasn't social. She knows me better than I know myself, and perhaps sees my circumstances in a better light, because I choose to ignore it most days, and she is there in her sultry voice to remind me that I am mortal.
"Off trying to save the world again? Damsels in distress and the like?" she asked, nudging my shoulder as I stammered through the doorway.
"What were you asking?" I said, in part to give her a hard time and in part because I was mesmerized watching her lips move and had barely heard what she actually said, buying time to gather my thoughts.
She sighed, "Come on, we've already begun prepping up the usual."
By usual, she meant the usual battery of tests, but this time wasn't the usual. Aside from being the most extreme reaction I've had to date from time-bending, there was an addition that I was still trying to wrap my head around. Was it even real? Amidst bending time, while everyone else was still, I had a thought enter my head, almost like a voice inside my skull, deep and concise, but it was evil and malicious, as if in that moment when time was stopped except for myself, that there was someone or something else there in the realm of displaced time with me, trying to incite me into harming those around me in their frozen and vulnerable states. It scared me, enough so that I couldn't tell Elle.
Written byNate Wilkus
This Story Won
- "Boundless Night" Honorable Mention.