Monday, May 26, 2014

(Prose) - Powers (Commonwealth Writers Competition 2014 entry)

Powers
"So I swooped down on Xetoora and finished him with a Sky Slash. Now how

awesome is that?"

I rolled my eyes. Danny was at it again. The video game freak never knows when to

quit gushing about his video game. Hold on…what was its name again?

"For the last time Ty, it's Bag-Mora! How is it that you've not caught up on the hype

since its release two weeks back?" Sweat glistened brightly on his slight double-chin

under the afternoon sun. "It's like, the greatest game ever!"

I groaned excessively. "Danny, grow up. There's more to life than just video games.

And you're probably the only one in school playing that game!"

Danny pouted, and I gave him a friendly clap to the back. We were good friends

despite our stark differences. After all, the ‘un-cool' kids had to stick together.

It was another boring day at school, which passed by quickly as usual. Danny and I

were catching up from the term holidays during the lunch break.

"Wanna come over to my house later? I need some help with the math homework."

Danny said in-between bites of his Twinkie. I knew he wanted to show me his new

game, but I agreed nonetheless; I had nothing to look forward to tonight.

******************

It was already late into the evening when I left Danny's house; I had to hurry if I

wanted to get home before dinner started. Cutting across a narrow alley, I took up

speed as I stepped up a trash can and launched myself into the air.

You see, I could do some rather cool feats. My fast reaction time and small lean

physique allows me to utilize surrounding objects to travel in the fastest speed and

shortest time possible. It is a rather rough form of Parkour, if you'd like to call it that. I

have traveled down this alley daily after I have found it to be a convenient shortcut,

but I had always tried different ways to get through it; after all, it'd be boring to reach

out for the same handrail or push off the same trash can everyday. It was also a good

way to hone this particular skill of mine.

Grabbing a pipeline, I shifted my weight and swung forward. I pushed off the wall

with my right leg and reached out for the rung of nearby a ladder. Barely missing a

pipeline which flew past above me, I spied an abnormal shape of a shadow down a

subsidiary of the alley. It was gone before I could take a second glance.

After a couple of swings, flips and spins, I landed softly on the other end of the

alleyway. I glanced at my watch and smiled: not only was I going to make it for

dinner, I have also managed to clock a much faster time of getting through the

alleyway than yesterday.

******************

At the behest of my mother, I reluctantly took out the thrash. It was already dark

outside, and the chilly night breeze did not help in lifting my foul mood. My parents

were discussing again over dinner of sending me to some summer camp, and I would

not have anything of it. I kicked angrily at a stray can lying on the foot path and sent it

rolling off towards a dark alley.

Dumping the trash into the dustbin, I was startled by the sudden cawing of a few

magpies. I frowned as a stray movement caught my eye. The clanking of a can drew

my attention to the dark alley, and I started towards it.

Sensing that it had been seen, the crouching figure stood up in an attempt to make a

hasty escape, but the sudden hissing of a stray cat beside it caused it to trip and

stumble back down. Within two broad strides, I came face to face with the mysterious

figure, and was taken aback.

A cloaked female in her early twenties sat clumsily on the ground, still stunned from

being found out. She had brown hair, tanned skin and bluish-green eyes which

betrayed the fact that she was not from around the neighbourhood. Stumbling hastily

to her feet, she swept the cloak in front of her and…vanished.

I stood rooted for what seemed like a good five minutes. I have to admit that I was

speechless. Never in my life did anything like that happen before and it spooked me

completely. Running further into the alley, I spotted nothing out of the ordinary: the

cat from before eyed me suspiciously as I passed it, but nothing else indicated that the

woman had been there. A sudden thought occurred to me: had she been the shadow

that I had noticed earlier on my way home?

******************

A few days had already passed since I have met the mysterious woman, and I still

could not get her out of my mind. Relaying it to Danny, my parents or anyone else

would cause unwanted attention and hysteria, so I had decided against it.

The fact that I had to keep this strange encounter to myself only served to make me

more frustrated, so I had decided to skip the usual visit to Danny's house that evening

and head to the park for a walk instead. I sat at the top of an apex ladder that was part

of a mini obstacle course to gather my thoughts, only to feel a sense of unease. The

lazy warm breeze and tranquil surroundings were making me sleepy, but the feeling of

being watched gave the deceptiveness of peace away.

A stray glance to my right confirmed it: the mysterious woman was stalking me again.

Pushing myself off the apex ladder with my feet, I landed lightly on the sand and

began running towards the shadowed figure that was hiding obscurely behind the

nearby trees. Sensing confrontation, the figure took off running.

Using my eyes, I scanned everything before me to find a suitable route to take; the

more I used the obstacles around me, the more momentum I would get and the faster I

would be to catch up with my stalker. Stepping up onto a wooden table, I pushed

myself up and grabbed hold of a low-lying lamp post. I swung a full circle before

letting go, and the momentum carried me forward to the next lamp post, which I

easily pushed off under me with both hands.

The person I was chasing, I had noticed, was starkly different from the woman I had

met a few days ago. She, or more likely he, was not wearing a cloak, but instead

sported a black jumpsuit that had numerous compartments attached to it; it was like he

had came out of a spy movie. My curiosity powered me and I pushed forward even

faster, gaining more momentum and speed as I swung and pushed past each lamp

post.

When I had decided I was close enough, I gripped the vertical section of the next

lamp post and spun around it sideways. Letting go after two quick revolutions, I

swung forward and delivered a quick drop kick to my target's right shoulder in an

attempt to halt him in his tracks.

To my surprise, the man dodged to the left at the last moment, and my foot met thin

air. I hit the ground running and continued my chase; my stalker was more skilled

than I thought. Racing out of the park, the man took a sharp left and headed for the

housing estate nearby.

Tailing him closely on a straight footpath, I took the chance to observe him. Besides

the spy-gear, the man wore reflective sun-glasses, army-grade combat boots and had

cropped gold hair. What was more unusual about him though was the constant

clicking sound that emanated from him.

The man took another sharp turn and I nearly lost him in the midst of my thoughts.

Following him into a long alleyway, I smiled at the advantage I had as I spotted

numerous trash bins, thick cables and handrails. Reaching out with a leg, I pushed

myself off a low ledge and into the air, simultaneously grabbing a sturdy water pipe.

Pulling myself up with the momentum, I kicked off the pipe and leapt forward to grab

a handrail. To my surprise, the man stepped up a trash bin and swung from a cable.

The next thing I knew, his fist was flying in my direction, and it nearly connected. I

felt the rush of wind as the man's fist narrowly missed my right cheek; a warning

punch. Undeterred, I pushed myself off a passing balcony and aim a foot at his chest.

Catching my foot with a wide hand, he flung me in a judo throw towards the ground.

All this while, the clicking, which came from his mouth, was getting quicker and

louder.

I grabbed hold of a handrail and landed neatly on a balcony. I was panting heavily

from the chase, but the man, who had landed on a balcony opposite of me, had hardly

broken a sweat.

"Why are you following me?" I shouted to him.

He smiled, but never answered my question. A shout came from behind and I realised

that someone would soon come to investigate the balcony I was on. I hastily stepped

off the handrail and took after the man who had used the distraction as a head start.

Getting increasingly annoyed by the chase, I was determined to end it. Grabbing a

broken cable, I yanked it off its other end, and flicked it at the man's feet. Like a whip,

the cable struck the man's calf with a crack. He winced, losing balance and

momentum, and fell heavily on a pile of trash bags. The stout man was up on his feet

in an instant, but a swift knee jab to the gut took out the wind in him and knocked him

back down. I have finally caught him!

It was then that I noticed the man's lifeless and distant eyes; his fall had somehow

knocked away his sunglasses. Waving my hand in front of him and gaining no

response, I made a startling realisation that my stalker was blind.

It was then that the sharp screeching of wheels made me turn around. A large black

van had stopped on the other end of the alley and men, dressed similarly as my

stalker, were trailing out rapidly from it. A dull thud and a sharp sting erupted on my

shoulder, but before I could look over it, a sudden dizziness came over me. I blacked

out before I hit the floor.

******************

I groaned as I woke up to a splitting headache. The world spun wildly as I tried to sit

up, and realised I couldn't. Struggling against the restraints that tied me to the bed, I

noticed the back of an elderly man in a lab coat at a far corner as my vision gradually

cleared. Memories of the chase and what happened before I blacked out came rushing

back to me, and panic overwhelmed me. Desperate to escape from whoever had tied

me up, I writhed frantically against the restraints.

"I see that you are awake," The man spoke calmly as he turned around to face me.

"There is no need to be afraid, you're safe here."

"W-where am I?" I croaked; my throat felt like sandpaper.

"Ah, all your answers will be answered in a moment, but not by me," the man said as

he loosened my restraints. "I apologise for the restraints; there were to prevent any

unwanted incidents as we tended to you."

Offering me a cup of water which I downed rapidly, the man, whom I guess is a

doctor, made sure that I was physically fine before leaving me, promising that he

would be back shortly. A soft click of a door signaled the doctor's departure from the

room, and silence told me I was now alone. A cursory glance to the ceiling of the

room told me I was being watched though; the lens of a CCTV glinted as it angled

itself point-blank at me.

I quickly gathered that I was in an examination room, equipped with all the usual

medicinal cabinets, beds and white walls. A brown, nondescript paper file was placed

on the dresser beside the bed. Reaching out for the file, I noticed its cover was

prominently labeled "CONFIDENTIAL", while the words "Medical Report"

accompanied it in smaller type-written text. Curious, I stole a glance into its contents.

The click from the door nearby signaled that the doctor was back, and I hurriedly

placed back the file on the dresser. I guessed he had seen what I had been doing, but

all he gave me was a kind smile before escorting a new figure into the room.

The man before me was tall and burly in stature, but the aura he radiated was kind and

warm. Donning office-wear, the grey-haired, tanned skin man was quite a head-turner.

With a friendly smile, he extended a thick hand to me.

"Good evening, young man! My name is Mr Neils," he boomed as he vigorously

shook my hand. "And welcome to the Human Powers Agency, or HPA for short."

"The what?" I immediately frowned, confused.

Seeing my reaction, Mr Neils laughed as he sat on a chair by the bed-side. "Forgive

me for the confusion. Let me explain: we are a top secret government-run

organisation, responsible for the all research, dealings and utilisation of human

powers. We hire and train people with extraordinary abilities such as you."

"What, you mean like a superhero league or something?" My mind was already

swimming, and his explanation did not help.

Mr Neils snorted in amusement. "There are no such things as superheroes in this

world, young man. What we have, instead, are people who have managed to go

beyond the average limits of the human body to be able to demonstrate amazing

prowess of the senses and other exceptional abilities. Take me for example: I possess

strength well beyond that of the average human."

Taking out a flat nail from his pocket, Mr Neils pressed it between his thumb and

index finger, flattening it with ease like a piece of chewed-up gum. Seeing my eyes

widen with amazement, Mr Neils roared into laughter again.

"I must commend you on taking down one of our agents. Alonzio may be visuallyimpaired,

but his skilled use of echolocation makes him a tough opponent even for a

skilled martial artist." Mr Neils threw the flattened nail into a nearby waste basket.

"Seeing your abilities in action, the HPA is considering to hire and train you as one of

our agents. However, due to government regulations, we can also do so when you

reach the age of twenty..."

All the rush of information was making me dizzy. "So...I took out a blind man, got

taken out myself by an organisation that I have never heard of, then become a

potential recruit for their cause?"

Mr Neils cleared his throat. "You can put it that way, in a rough sense. I know you

must be startled about being brought here against your free will, and for this I must

apologise. Seeing we are a top-secret organisation, there was a risk of us being

exposed to the public if you had managed to get anything out of Alonzio. We had little

choice in the heat of that moment but to take you out, and bring you here."

Mr Neils for a breather, and I was glad he did so. A new world filled with many

unknown wonders and dangers had just replaced my peaceful world of normalcy, and

I needed time to let that sink in. A sudden thought then hit me.

"Why was the HPA tailing me in the first place?" I asked, looking up at Mr Neils.

"Well, as the sole agency tending to the matters of human powers, we are responsible

for the constant monitoring of people we have identified with such abilities. You just

happened to notice Alonzio while we were monitoring you, which is a rather rare

occurrence…

"Anyhow, we will have to send you back right now. We can't hold you here for too

long," Mr Neils took out a pencil-like device from his shirt pocket as he checked the

time on his wrist watch. "But before that, we'll have to use this…"

"What is that?" I asked, intrigued. It was metal rod with a small button on its side and

a light encased on its end.

"This, is a memory-wiping device," Mr Neils said, spinning the device lightly from

finger to finger. "Due to our top-secret nature, it is required by regulations that your

memories of this evening be erased. Hopefully, we'll see each other again in five years

time, eh?"

As Mr Neils raised the device between us, a question suddenly popped into my mind.

"One last thing Mr Neils. Do you have anyone in the HPA that teleports?"

Mr Neils laughed as he aimed the device at me. "That's a superhuman power;


something like that doesn't exist." My vision was then enveloped by a bright flash.

******************
Human Powers Investigation report

Subject: Tyler Powers

Age: 15 years

Gender: Male

Status: Civilian

Remarks: All other information has been deemed as

classified and will be withheld.

Report description: Subject was placed under a hypnotic

state when tests were carried out as consent to

participation has not been given by subject. Subject was

made to undergo SHPT. The results are as follows:

a) Subject displays enhanced visual prowess, showing the

following abilities:

i) Enhanced sharpness of vision; clarity of vision

is well beyond perfect eyesight

ii) Limited 'binocular' sight; able to see details

and objects at a substantial distance clearly.

iii) Enhanced night vision; able to see more clearly

in the absence or in low quantities of light

than average humans.

iv) 'Slow-motion' vision; able to see fast-moving

objects clearly

b) Subject also displays enhanced physicality:

i) Subject has high reflex speeds

ii) Subject has above-average physique, allowing

him to perform above-average physical feats

c) Subject possesses exceptional mental capabilities,

leading to subject having abilities as stated in (a) and

(b).

Conclusion of report: Subject shows great potential, and

has been recommended for recruitment upon the age of

twenty. Agents will be engaged for subject's enlistment

on a later date.

END OF REPORT
******************

Picking myself off the dusty footpath, I coughed as I took in the exhaust of a van that

was getting further away by the moment. The sky was already dark, and I'd be lucky if

I were to even get any leftovers from dinner. I had a lot of explaining to my parents to

do, but that did not matter. As I took a step towards the neighbourhood mall, I smiled.

I remembered.

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