Flash Fiction, Short Story

Existential Angst (Act III) – Esteban Mayorga

6 months later…

Act 3: Why me? (again)

I can’t sleep.

Every night, i’m kept awake by the screams from that day, from that night.

God i’m an idiot. How did I not realize what I was about to do? How did I not feel it happening? How could I let it happen?

The day started with the sound of war. Jets of flame arcing from entrenchments full of pyromancers, setting everything ablaze and creating a dense haze that you couldn’t breath in without choking. We fought tooth and limb, but there was something out there destroying us, picking us apart limb from limb.

It was another speedster, even faster than me, but this guy had no problems with killing. He pulled bullets out of the air and shoved them down the throats of those closest to me. He tore their vocal cords out and then used them to strangle my friends, my family. It was horrific, going into that world where everything but me seemed to sluggishly drag through the air, and then watching someone run through like a psychotic little kid. He was grinning the whole time, the bastard was in a state of ecstasy.

I charged, and I guess he didn’t know about me either, because the look on his face said that he needed a new pair of pants right then and there. I tackled him to the ground and started beating him, just ramming my fist into his face over and over and over. He clearly had no idea how to fight, but he did know enough to use his speed against me. He started vibrating like a bomb about to go off, and I had to let go to stop my arms from getting burned off.

A second later, and he was already halfway across the battlefield, and what I saw terrified me more than anything else in my miserable little life. He had a 9 inch combat knife in his hand, and it was drawn back, ready to thrust it right into Valentina’s eye.

I ran after him, and it was like the whole world stopped. A real stop this time, no drifting through the air like molasses. Except for him, standing there, the knife dripping closer and closer to Valentina. I didn’t stop running though, not for a second, not even when the world stopped.

I launched myself off my feet into his midriff, and we both went cartwheeling through the sky. I hadn’t really noticed how fast I was really going. We landed and all his ribs broke, at the least. My left arm was about as beat up as it could possibly be, and I have no doubt it broke in too many places to count just then. I ignored it. I just wanted him dead. I really, truly, wanted nothing more than to end his life.

I hoisted him by the collar and ignored the pain jolting through my left arm, drawing my right arm back like a piston, preparing to murder him.

I hesitated for a split second, and he opened a solitary eye, the lashes lazily whipping through the air like fishing rods. I looked into that eye, and I saw him as a human being for the first time. I saw that he had desires and hopes and dreams and urges.

And it made me hate him all the more. It made me hate the fact that a human being could  do the things he had done. An ache to end his life blossomed inside of me, and I obliged.

I put every ounce of fury, of hope, of desperation and cynicism and disdain into that strike. I felt the air burn against my skin as my arm twisted out of it’s chambered position, any and all body hair ignited; and soon after my skin followed suit.

My fist made contact directly between his eyebrows, and I felt his skull fold in on my hand at the same time every bone in my forearm shattered and punctured the muscle. Thousands of tiny bone fragments speared through his brain tissue before what jagged crushed remnants of my arm went straight through his head.

That punch actually created a shockwave. A shockwave. And not just enough to break some windows, but enough to put a dent in the whole city. One of the thrusters that kept the city afloat was wrecked, and the city started falling from the sky.

To this day, I have no idea how I survived that blast, but if I can break the sound barrier with my fist, I guess I shouldn’t be trying to apply logic to my body. I lost consciousness right as we started falling, and I didn’t wake up until last month. Valentina and the rest of my family found me, and some of the cryomancers kept me alive by just straight up freezing me.

Apparently the world at large had no idea super humans even existed, so when a flying city crashed into rural kansas, the news exploded all over the world. Every survivor of the crash, including myself, was put into an intensive care facility for at least a month. When the first of us came to, our story was told, and we became international celebrities. Funny how people love an underdog story, even if the underdogs did a few messy things, like murder en masse and raze buildings.

Valentina and the others pieced together what I did, and they built me up as the hero of the revolution. When I came to, I was heralded as a war hero, and the U.S. government offered us shelter and whatever else we needed until we could set up a real life here.

I decided to make a rather unorthodox request when they told us this.

The repair and restitution of the flying city as a school for superhuman individuals. When this inevitably raised some eyebrows, Valentina and I prepared a speech to try and persuade the government and the public to my way of thinking. I gave it yesterday, and it went something like this…

“I realize that my adoptive family and I have fought long and hard to bring down that city and those who stood behind it. But now it has been destroyed, and there is nowhere for a superhuman to learn control. We have no safe haven as a new species, but we desperately need one. What will happen now, when a superhuman is born to an ordinary family? When will their power manifest? During school? What will their power be? Spontaneous combustion? There must be a safer way to handle superhumans, and I propose we use the city and the systems it already had in place. But to avoid the rather obvious problems brought about by it’s previous leadership, I propose that this city be controlled with total transparency to the outside world. Whoever made it in the first place is not gone, make no mistake. There is a force somewhere in the world that made a substantial profit off of my people. I intend to stop that force by shining the light on it for all the world to see; to stop it from taking advantage of us ever again, and I need that city to do it. Please consider my request.”

Now, either that sounded like the ramblings of a madman, or it was very persuasive indeed. Fortunately, it seems like the politicians at least found it persuasive. People are saying the vote is expected to pass by next week.

I still can’t sleep at night. Half my family is dead, and I probably could have stopped it somehow. I still hear their screams at night. But i’m hoping that what i’m doing now might atone for it. I’m trying to make the world a better place, because no one should ever have to feel their arm going through another human being’s skull. Especially not if that’s the last thing they ever get to feel with that arm.

Now, I could just settle down on a farm in kansas, milk dogs, sheer sheep, that kinda thing. But I would be out of place. It’s not home. Home is on that city, training with what’s left of my family. Home is going to be helping those like me, helping my people survive.
Maybe here, of all places on all planes of existence, isn’t such a bad place after all.

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