2 Week Contest 3
Topic Sentence: How may I help you?

Winner: Clare

By Clare

Emma had known that she was different since she turned thirteen. She had started doing these weird, impossible things frequently, without knowing how or why she did them. Now, at age seventeen, she had more control over them. She considered herself gifted and cursed at the same time. Sometimes she wondered if she had developed these powers just so she would have something to save herself in all of her many near death experiences. Like when she had just turned thirteen, and had almost gotten run over by an out-of-control truck. Before she even knew what was happening, a purple/white pulse of what looked like pure electricity shot out from her body, sending the truck skidding in a different direction. It had also shattered windows in houses and cars a quarter of a mile all around her. Everyone blamed it on the small quake that also seemed to have emanated from her body. That was only the first time.
And the time that she went on a field trip to an old historic farm with her class, and somehow, when there was only her and a few other kids in the old barn next door, the roof collapsed. It had been secure before, because it was check regularly for weakness, due to all its visitors. But somehow, it had chosen to collapse while she was inside. The heavy boards that should have crushed them all were pushed away by the same purple/white energy. She, along with the other kids, had survived, but the questions that had followed had forced her, and her parents, to move. Accidents like that had happened regularly ever since. But every time, that strange energy-like pulse would save her, or save people around her. She seemed to be like an accident magnet. A big red target or something.
But it wasn’t always the energy pulse that saved from these mishaps. Sometimes she floated up into the air, almost like she was flying. Other times she would just turn invisible to hide. She and her parents (her being an only child) had moved regularly ever since she had turned thirteen. Questions had always followed her wherever she went, like a plague.
She always wondered what it was. Why it was. Why did it, whatever it was, pick her? Was she born with it, or had she caught it like a sickness or something? It hadn’t showed up until puberty started, so it could be either one. She didn’t think it was anything like evolution, because when things supposedly evolved, they did so slowly. She didn’t really believe in the concept of evolution anyway. So she assumed it was just something in her blood, though neither of her parents had any powers as far as she could see. She didn’t ask them though. She hadn’t told anyone about her strange powers. They were just too... strange. Only two things would happen if she did tell people. Either they would stick her in some lab somewhere to be experimented on continuously for the rest of her life, or they would be just wouldn’t believe her. So she had managed to dodge all the questions, and all the accusations, since the powers had started. She was a professional liar by now.
Lately, in the last year or so, she had managed to avoid even the accidents. She could see the signs of disaster earlier now, and either got out of the way before it happened, or subtly fixed the problem if other people were in danger. She had been saving people a whole lot lately. Now it seemed like she was kind of a waitress.
“How may I help you?”
“Hey, could you save my life?”
“Sure thing!” Big smile, helpful hand. Yup, that was her. The waitress/super hero. It was cool to be able to save people, even though they never knew. Usually she fixed the problem before it even started to happen, so most of the time people would go on, never knowing how near death they had just been. She sometimes wondered if she had acquired a new power, the ability to see accidents to come, or if the many near-death instances had taught her to be watchful of everything. Lot of her friends (yes, she had finally managed to get some friends, after a few horrible years of being a loner) had commented on her skittishness. She was known for her constant jumpiness, and usually shy manner. She was kind of shy, but most of the time she only act shy to an extreme to hid her secrets. She still had friends though. Not best friends and no one she was really close to, but just people to hang out with during lunch break, go to occasional parties with, etc. She was like that quiet nice girl that everyone likes, but no one seeks out for a best friend. She had managed to stay in one place for the whole year though, so she was content. It was funny hanging out with these other kids whom she had saved each at least twice, without them knowing a thing about it. But then again, she was convinced that she was the bad luck attractor here. So technically, it was her fault that the almost accidents ever even happened, so no thanks was really due. She was just grateful that they were all alive.
She thought that things would stay as they were. Not an easy life, but far better than she had had ever before with the powers. She had thought that now she had control over the powers, she would be able to endure. That nothing would change. That she would continue saving people from the small but often fatal accidents that happened every day in Washington DC.

But she was wrong. Things always can change, and most of the time, they do.

The enormous change in her life happened on September 14th, in the year 2032.The world was pretty messed up by this time. People were still always at war with each other, and up until this time, alternate fuels were still too expensive in comparison to oil. But there had been a breakthrough in science recently, and the President was going to give a speech at five o’ clock that day, formally and officially introducing this new cheap but efficient form of fuel to the United States. It was to take place right outside the White House, which, despite all the many changes in this fast altering world, had managed to continue to be the home of the President of the United States throughout the years.
Most of the high schools in the surrounding areas had decided to make a field trip of it, therefore on chilly Tuesday, Emma found herself stamping her feet to get the blood circulating, waiting in the huge crowd that had gathered in front of the White House. She felt especially stupid because she had forgotten there was the field trip today, and was wearing a short sleeved shirt and jeans with her normal everyday shoes. She had forgotten to bring her coat, so she was pretty cold, after standing outside for an hour, waiting for the President to make his appearance. Most of her friends had offered their coats, but she didn’t want to take away their warmth so she did what she always did. Endured.
She looked around apprehensively through her sheet of dark hair that hid her from most of the world. She wondered when the accidents would start to happen. Would the White House decide to suddenly collapse or something? With this huge of a crowd, there were bound to be some accidents. If she truly was bad luck, here probably wasn’t the best place to be. Oh well. Another hour and she’d be out of here. One of her friends, Tracy, had bought her a hot cup of coca from the stand, seeing her so cold and without a jacket. Emma sipped it gratefully, sucking in the warmth.
Finally the President, surrounded by body guards and the like, stepped out onto the steps of the great building and raised his hand for silence out in the crowd.
“Thank you for coming everyone. I have some exciting news that will change the future in the automobile industry...” he started. Emma listened quietly, but she already knew all this from the reports floating all around on the news. Instead her mind wandered to the surrounding people. What accident was about to happen? There always was some accident or another just waiting to happen. Suddenly a tingling filled her. She slowly started to panic, looking around frantically. This had happened a few times before, and always before some huge accident happened. Usually bigger than she ever encountered normally. The tingling feeling got stronger, and something told her to look up. She did.
All she could see was a small dot that kept getting bigger. Like it was falling.
Emma took in a sharp intake of breath.
“What’s wrong?” a friend named Tom asked, in a half whisper. Emma didn’t answer. Her eyes were glued to the spot that kept getting bigger and closer. She was pretty sure she knew what it was.
A bomb.

What a more perfect place to bomb then the White House while the President is giving a speech? Emma swore softly and thought quickly. What could she do? She knew she had to do something. Like her classic line said, “How may I help you?” Though no one else seemed to realize their death was only moments away, Emma was pretty sure they’d all be screaming “SAVE US!” if they did. She had to help! But her secrecy! There was no way to stop this, and remain unknown. She had to choose. She could survive herself even if the bomb hit, she was sure of this. She had surrounded herself with a sphere of energy before in fire and water and practically everything else, and she had never been hurt. But she could let all these people die, especially not her friends. And the President. If he died, the whole country would go into panic. She had no choice.
“MOVE!” She yelled to the people right around her. She could feel people staring at her. The whole crowd had been relatively quiet listening to the speech, so her loud voice got the attention of a lot of people. She even saw a few cameras swerve her way out of the corner of her eye. But she didn’t care.
“Move!” she insisted again, pushing people, including her confused friends, away from her.
“What’s going on?” Another friend asked, rather irritated. But Emma paid no attention. Her eyes followed the swiftly approaching bomb, probably a nuclear bomb. She heard a few gasps and screams as other people noticed it as well. It was getting too close. It was now or never. She silently prayed this would work, and leaped into the air. She didn’t come back down, which caused even more confused gasps and more and more people started to cry out and look up at her. She was no longer aware of them though. She was high in the air, at least fifty feet, and she was bracing herself physically and mentally for what was about to hit her. There wasn’t much time to prepare though. It was already too close. She forgot about everyone and everything. Her only thought was to stop the bomb. She put up her hands and a pulse of purple/white energy went shooting towards the bomb. It took a few seconds, but it finally slowed the bombs descent to a standstill. It floated there for a few seconds, suspended in the air by the energy, before it was surrounded by it and was sent shooting back into the sky. Emma prayed desperately, trying to keep as calm as she could. Would it be high enough before it exploded? She was sure there must be some timer on it to make it go off in case it didn’t explode on impact. It could explode any second. She pushed with her mind harder, even going a few more feet in the air with the effort. Then....

The bomb, nuclear for sure, exploded. It was high in the air, but it seemed to shake the air, and though it was surrounded by the purple/white energy, the sound was deafening, and the explosion was incredibly bright. It was as if the moon, sun, and stars had collided and exploded. Emma held on for as long as she could, determined to contain the whole blast, including radiation, in the purple sphere that held it, until it was high enough in the air. She managed to contain it for a whole minute before the full force of the bomb hit her. Her heart stopped beating for a moment as the shock hit her. The impact made her go crashing to the ground. She hit the ground hard, in the space that she had cleared in case this did happen. She laid there, completely limp.
“EMMA!” her friends screamed. There was panic and chaos all around. Many were in shock of what had just happened. The President had been immediately brought to someplace safe, and though most security guards were concentrated on the President’s safety and getting the chaos back in order, there were plenty left over to come rushing to where Emma had fallen. They weren’t the only ones. New reporters, camera men, and other wondering people came rushing. Others ran away.
One boy in the crowd, dressed in all black, was running, pushing people out of his way, desperate to get to her first.
No one around her was moving towards her. Afraid she might be dead. And afraid of her.
“Emma?” Tracy said. “Oh my gosh, I think she’s dead,” she wailed.
Right then Emma opened her eyes. Everyone around her recoiled, stepping back. Emma looked around, confused for a second, but then remembered what had happened. She jumped up and everyone moved back even more. She looked around panicked. She knew people were bound to be after her. And she was right. Right then a man in an officer’s uniform yelled, “Stop right there!”
She didn’t know what to do. Who knew what they’d do if they caught her! So she disappeared. There were more gasps and cries of shock and surprise.
“Where’d she go?” The man asked, finally breaking through the line of people surrounding Emma. She stumbled backwards, and then turned around and ran. People grunted in surprise as she bumped into them, invisible to their eyes. She ran from the crowd, as far as she could. She finally collapsed in an alley way, panting and gasping. Though there was nothing visibly wrong with her, she still hurt all over from the bomb. She sat there, back against the black wall of the alley. It was already getting dark out. Finally after five minutes of gasping, she brought her knees up and hugged them against her chest, and cried. Big racking sobs that hurt her already aching chest. She would never be able to go home. She would have to live alone now. No more friends. Nothing. How would she survive? People would know her face. There would be people out to get her. She was glad she had done it though. The thought of letting all those people die made her sick.
She sat there and cried for a while, until the hard sobs subsided into quieter ones.
“You alright?” a voice asked. Emma jumped up and stumbled back farther into the alley way. It had come from the shadows by the entrance to the alley.
“It’s okay!” the voice said hastily and apologetically. She tensed even more.
“Get away from me,” she said, her voice hoarse from crying.
“I won’t hurt you,” the voice said gently. The person stepped out of the shadows. It was a boy her age, perhaps a year older. He was dressed in black and had raven black hair, but he didn’t really look Goth. More like he was wearing a disguise. Emma stayed where she was, still tense. “What do you want?”
“That was incredible,” he replied.
“What?” Emma said, cautiously.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but that quick save with the bomb tops it all off. I didn’t even see it until you were in the air.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied, feeling panicked, but not letting it show.
“Wow, you’re good,” his voice was tinged with humor.
“What?” she asked, confused.
“At lying. Wish I was that good,” he replied, smiling.
Emma didn’t know what to say to that, so she remained silent.
“You’re not alone, you know,” He said, his tone now serious.
She didn’t answer, so he continued. “You’re not the only one who can do things. You’re not alone. “
“What are you talking about,” weakly trying to keep up the charade.
“You know what I mean. Now you won’t be able to go home. If you want, you can come with me, and stay with your own kind.”
He lifted a hand to stop her. “Watch,” he said, and he put his hand out towards her. In a second, it was incased in a green/white energy. Emma gaped.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” he said, humor back. “I’m Gabriel, by the way.”
Emma remained motionless, trying to decide if it would be smart to trust this stranger. Finally she decided that she didn’t really have any other choice. She stood up slowly and wiped cheeks with her sleeves to get rid of the wet tears.
“Hi, I’m Emma. How may I help you?” she said, putting on a big goofy smile to hide her fear and confusion. She wasn’t afraid of the boy though. Not really. More afraid of what was to come.
“What?” it was his turn to look confuse. She just shook her head ruefully.
“Just a stupid joke of mine.”
He smiled. “I think I know what you mean,” he replied after a second of thought.
“Well hello Emma. You don’t have to come with me, but you would be welcomed if you did. What do you say? Do you want this?”
She hesitated, and then said, “Yes.”

Read Clares other writing here: http://www.goodreads.com/story...

Read other stories from this contest here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic...

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