When he was small, he had always dreamed of being an astronaut. Unfortunately, he was hopeless at astrophysics, but that had not stopped him from becoming the best geneticist at NASA.
The day he... [+]
There I was, waiting in line. A mother with twins came in at almost the same time I did. Those two living dolls were bawling their poor eyes out, and the mother looked as though she hadn’t slept, eaten, or bathed for three days, so I let them get in front of me. I thought, No big deal.
She responded with “thank you” before immediately being called up to the next open desk. I learned, much to my distress, that she was creating college accounts for both kids. At least bad luck in my life is consistent.
The only other open desk suddenly closed, and while I was in the midst of trying to keep bad vibes out of my brain, a man, tall and handsome, silently opened the door and sneaked in front of me. There was no way I would tell him to get back to his place in line; he must have hired a cupid.
Since my attraction wouldn’t permit me to cut, I waited. It was no surprise to me that when the mother finished creating the accounts, the cupid-hiring angel in front of me also wanted to do something that took forever. He was creating a retirement account for him and his newly-wed wife.
Once he was done, I began to step forward when a heard an echoing, cliché voice. I looked around thinking someone was messing with me. After all, the voice had declared, “You have been chosen.” No one seemed to notice it, so I started to worry that my recent large quantities of stress were driving me to insanity. The voice continued, “You have shown remarkable patience, responsibility, kindness, perseverance, and courage this day. You have been selected to become the Protector of Power.” (Strangely, that last bit seemed to echo dramatically). At this point, I must have looked insane. I was sweating, twitching, and likely very pale. Contrarily, I felt stronger. The voice had stopped, but the echo remained in my ears, reminding me of something I didn’t yet believe.
“Are you all right?” The accountant and the angel both stared at me worriedly.
I couldn’t answer.
I turned around and left the bank. Unlocking my yellow 1971 Ford Pinto, I practically fell into the driver’s seat. I grabbed the steering wheel with both hands, my knuckles turning white from my extraordinary grip. “Okay,” I whispered to myself. “I just heard a movie playing in the back room. I’m fine.” Inserting and turning my car key, I started the engine and began to drive away, all the while cursing myself for losing my spot in line just as a man walked into the bank. Leaving the parking lot, I turned right, completely forgetting to check my driver’s side for cars in my puzzlement. A car t-boned me, but I was not in the car. Somehow. I saw the inside of the car structure before landing on the ground ten feet away. My car sat smoking in the middle of the road while I remained on the sidewalk, unharmed, at least physically. Mentally, I think I was permanently scarred. Don’t ask me about the physics, either. I just know that I wasn’t hurt all at by a car hitting my driver’s side at 40 miles per hour, and I appeared ten feet away from the incident without purposefully moving anywhere.
I stood up and walked to the other driver still in his car. Leaning into the open window, I asked, “Are you okay?” The poor man screamed and passed out. When I turned around, I saw some pedestrians had already called 911.
A few hours later I went to the hospital to check on the other driver. After introducing myself to the hospital staff and requesting a visit, I was told I wouldn’t be allowed in. The man thought he had killed me, the staff member explained, and when I poked my head in the window, he thought my ghost was taking revenge. My diagnosis was that he watched too many horror movies.
I wasn’t sure how I had teleported or phased with whatever powers I was bestowed with. Maybe I had simply been thrown from the car. I went for a walk to clear my head since my car was damaged beyond repair in the crash. This must have all been related to the voice. I decided to name the voice “Echo.” Halfway through the walk, I realized my sci-fi binging must have altered my brain to think I could become a superhero.
None of that mattered as I watched a toddler run through the intersection toward the ice cream shop. The first line of traffic had missed her, but the next wouldn’t. I didn’t hesitate to run to the child and grab her just as the next light turned green. A car pulled out of the gas station and drove toward us, not leaving time for me to run or dive out of the way. I could only shield the girl as the driver noticed us standing there when it was already too late. The interior of the car flashed before my eyes before it disappeared behind me. Beneath me was the sidewalk. The car stopped, and the driver stepped out. His mouth hung open comically, and the toddler still in my arms laughed. I smiled and waved. “Bye!”
It took a minute for me to locate the toddler’s guardian, but I saw her standing at the opposite end of the intersection with her hands over her mouth. “Don’t do that again.” She pointed her index finger at the little girl and shook it vigorously during her ranting before hugging her and crying.
I smiled and walked away thinking, That is the bravest I’ve ever been and will probably ever will be.
Meanwhile in space . . .
“This isn’t the one we wanted to pick.” Zyerm pointed a long green finger at the holographic screen before his frog-like face.
“What do you mean?” Vebrm leaned over in his large chair to view the screen. “Valentina Cortez,” he whispered to himself. He scratched his slimy chin in consideration. “That name doesn’t sound familiar.”
“No,” Zyerm answered. “It doesn’t because it’s wrong. We were supposed to bestow the title upon her.” He stabbed at the screen in another location.
“You mean . . . we picked the wrong human?” Vebrm shifted in his seat uncomfortably. “The Protector of Power was supposed to be brought up here to clean the ship. Should we still teleport her?”
“Maybe we can go to another planet.” Zyerm thought for a moment. “What about Planet Qurlt? It has inhabitants who might be willing.”
“Yes,” Vebrm whispered to himself, quietly at first. “Yes, that could work. Qurlts live in swamps, so they might be willing to clean our ship with its own swamp-like conditions. After all, the Protector of Power job position does sound appealing.”
“It does,” Zyerm laughed. “It makes other beings not think that the job is a janitor. We do need someone to clean the floor while we conquer the universe. Power,” he patted his aptly-named lightspeed spaceship, “needs someone to look after her while we are on other planets. It is good we loaded the Protector of Power with the ability to move out of harm’s way. Sometimes those lavatories do not keep everything stuck on the ceiling as it should be. The Protector needs a lot of courage to have that job position. It’s a shame no one wanted it on our home planet.” He paused. “What do you wish to do with,” he used the screen as a reference, “Valentina Cortez?”
“Take back the power. I am sure she won’t notice it missing.”
“All right.” Zyerm pressed a button on the dashboard. Light spilled into the cabin before rapidly compressing into a hovering spherical ball in a clear tank at the back of the room. “Where do you want to go for our midday snack?” His voice echoed horribly.
“Your voice is echoing again.”
Zyerm coughed. “I know. I need to start using those Earthly cough drops. About our midday snack, let us go to . . . the Earth’s moon. I hear the dark side has wonderful rock.”
“Off we go then.”