A stop at a cafe turns bloody as our protagonists struggle to escape a snipers bullets.
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The crowd dissipates, of the several people shot only a few are able to crawl, albeit slowly, away from the debris and blood covered café sitting area. Tables, chairs, and chunks of building blasted out of place by the snipers bullets litter the ground. Behind a lone table, Cullum and Amelia take cover. Cullum continues to blow on his cut knee which by this point has stopped bleeding. “Dammit it stings!” “Shut up boy, I’m trying to think.” Cullum looks up to see Amelia chewing her finger, deep in thought and staring off into space.
“Why the fuck are we getting shot at in the first place!? What action hero bullshit are you doing that gets you shot at regularly enough that instead of, I don’t know, screaming and losing your shit, you just sit there chewing your fucking finger??” “I told you to shut up.” Her gaze doesn’t shift from that spot on the table she’s staring at. “You can’t panic in a situation like this, you have to clear your mind of anxiety and you have to think the situation over and over until you figure out what to do.” Cullem’s eyes widen as he continues to shout. “Are you kidding me?? What are you?? A therapist now?? WE’RE GETTING SHOT AT HOW CAN WE NOT PANIC!??”
Another shot rings out, half a second later the table blows apart, shrapnel flies toward Cullum who doesn’t have time to react before the shrapnel suddenly freezes in place. Cullum looks at Amelia as she stares through her fingers. He watches her fingers change position from a fist, to sticking parallel with her index fingers. He watches her rotate her wrist so her fingers lay on top of each other before his attention switches to the bits of table now reversing back into place. Before his very eyes, the table is now in the condition it was before it was blown apart.
“This is why you need to keep calm.” She lowers her hands. “When you panic your senses become dulled and your reactions become slower, if your reactions become slower you’re almost guaranteed to get-“ Her sentence is interrupted by another shot. Glass explodes around them as Cullum turns around to see the café window shattered, large chunks of glass beginning to fly towards him.
‘Don’t panic, think this through, you’ve got what, 1, maybe 2 seconds to do something before you’re torn to shreds? That’s plenty of time.’ The first shards start hitting the ground around his feet. Instinctively he rolls out of the way of the incoming glass, his shirt being torn on a table leg in the process. Rolling, he notices Amelia staring through her hands again, unmoving as shards of glass land all around her. As he lands on his back, he notices a glimmer from the now evacuated office building.
He watches as a puff of dust rises from the spot the glimmer of light had shone.
The air cracks as he reacts in horror, realizing he’s rolled out of cover and is now in the open. “UAGHHHHHHHH!” Only a few inches away from his head, the bullet stops and shakes violently before falling to the ground.
He looks over to see Amelia breathing heavily, having stopped the bullet mid air.
Cullum rolls back behind the table as a second bullet strikes the spot he had just been in, launching dust and concrete into the air.
“Wait, why didn’t you just reverse the bullet? You could’ve at least found his position!” “Because It’s too far away, If I could control things that far I would’ve just frozen the building.” She finally catches her breath.
“And when I said don’t panic, I didn’t mean turn your brain off.” Amelia says as a bullet takes out a chunk of the table.
“Here’s another piece of advice: don’t over work your powers, it’s exhausting, it’s like-“ She pauses to think of an accurate analogy as a yet another bullet destroys a potted plant behind them. “It’s like trying to do calculus while biking up a mountain, it takes intense concentration and physical discipline. And if you over exert yourself early on, you’ll burn out sooner.”
Cullum stares wide eyed at how calm she seems despite the carnage.
“How can you just sit there and give me tips on using these powers I won’t even be able to use soon, you know, on account of the sniper that’s SHOOTING AT US?!”
“Why are you such a defeatist? We’re not going to die here, we just need to think of a way to get one over on him” Cullum almost opens his mouth again before he notices his reflection in a shard of glass. ‘Reflection…’ The word enters his mind as though trying to tell him something important. “That’s it! His reflection!” Amelia stares confused as Cullum hands her the shard of glass. “You can rewind time right? You rewound time on me in that alleyway, what if you use this glass to look for his reflection? Can’t you freeze him then?!” Amelia stares at him as if disappointed he would think something like that would work. “No, it wouldn’t, I have to be staring at him directly and not too far away, otherwise it wouldn’t work, all it would do is freeze the glass-“ Her eyes widen as she grabs the piece of glass out of Cullum’s hand throws it into the air between her and Cullum, and freezes it. Cullum watches as the glass gets shot, expecting it to shatter.
Instead of the glass, the bullet itself shatters, flinging lead in a ring around the unmoving glass shard. “Cullum! Throw that chair!” Cullum searches frantically before seeing what she’s talking about: The chair Cullum had been sitting in, laying beside the table. “Throw it where?!” “To the right! Hurry it up!” Cullum grabs the chair and throws it to his right. Before it hits the ground, Amelia freezes it in place. Cullum watches as the glass shard explodes and flies into the café’s upper floor with enough force to lodge several pieces into the concrete wall. “Get behind the chair!” “What?!!” “Don’t ask questions just go!” Cullum is understandably hesitant to leave the comfort of his blood soaked table, but gathers what little courage he has and dives onto the chair, clinging onto it so as not to expose anywhere for the sniper to shoot at.
Another puff of air heralds the bullets arrival. It tears through an umbrella and into the bottom of the chair, but as expected, the chair doesn’t move and the bullet simply crumples up and rolls onto the ground.
“Good! Now get behind the lamp post!” Cullum turns his head to see a lone lamppost, decorated tastefully in the blood of a previously four-limbed woman. “Listen it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just that-“ He takes another look at the blood soaked poll before turning back toward Amelia. “I just feel a little petrified is all.” Amelia continues to stare at Cullum as another bullet creases the chair before landing into the café staircase. ‘I don’t really have many options do I?’ Cullum dives behind the post as another shot rings out, this time though it knocks the post half way over before it’s frozen by Amelia. Cullum does get to watch the chair he was just clinging to split in half before flying into the entrance of the café though. “Cullum!” “Amelia! there’s nothing else to throw!” The distance makes it increasingly difficult to hear each other “At this distance I can’t keep anything frozen for long! I’ll throw something but I need you to jump out first! He’s starting to time his shots better and if I throw something now he’ll shoot you before you can get behind it!”
Cullum is at this point sweating buckets and trying not to pass out from both the exhaustion and the fear. “What if I jump out and he shoots me before whatever you throw can get there?!” “You need to trust me and jump!” His attention is broken by a speeding bullet flying past his face. “NOW!”
Cullum pulls at his hair before taking one last deep breath, and jumping out into the open.
‘It’s a clear line of sight here! I’m totally in the open! There’s nothing I could hide behind if she can’t throw anything fast enough!’
He lands on his feet but can’t help but fall to a knee after he lands.
‘No, she hasn’t screwed up yet, her plan’s been working so far so I don’t doubt that she’ll-‘
His train of thought is obliterated by the sound of a gunshot.
To his absolute horror, there’s still nothing around him.
He turns his now terror stricken face to Amelia as he realizes she hasn’t thrown anything.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! THROW SOMETHING!”
She doesn’t reply.
Slowly the world around him beings to fade to white as he watches the bullet trail come at him.
‘Was that it? Was she just trying to get me in the open to get rid of me? Was she just luring me out into the open where I had no hope of hiding? Nowhere to duck behind for cover?’ He, for the second time today, readies himself for death to overtake him.
He closes his eyes and-
The bullet stops.
“HIT THE BULLET!”
He opens his eyes and sees a red faced Amelia screaming at him at the top of her lungs.
“CULLUM! PUNCH THE FUCKING BULLET! NOW!”
Cullum frantically reels his arm back and, accompanied by a strong gust of wind, punches the bullet as hard as he can, trying to aim in the direction the shots had been coming from.
Amelia breaks the rectangle as fast as she can, flinging her hands into the pile of glass in the process. The bullet that was seemingly destined for Cullum’s head now flies backwards following its previous trail even faster than when it came down. There is another puff of something as the bullet reaches it’s target, but instead of air, it’s a puff of blood.
Cullum watches in amazement as a figure falls out of the window of the office building and hits the ground with an audible thud.
Amelia pats Cullum on the pack. “Congrats on your first kill.” “You could’ve gotten me killed.” Cullum says, pale. “Why did you lie about throwing me something to hide behind?!” “Because you wouldn’t have gone if I said ‘hey Cullum, go stand in the open and get shot at, I want you to try to punch that bullet.’.” Cullum steps away from Amelia and turns to face her and the café, both covered with blood and dust.
“Well, this was great and all-” he starts to step backwards, tripping on a motionless body. “Yea that does it, I gotta go, I’ve got errands to rerun and a therapy session to book so if you’ll excuse me I-“ “Wait a minute.” Amelia steps towards Cullum, who’s stopped moving. “Don’t you want to learn how to handle your powers better?” “Well I also don’t want to get shot either, and besides you already answered my questions and I don’t want to be a burden.” Cullum takes another look at the blood soaked body at his feet. “And being detained by the police wasn’t ever really on my bucket list so I’m gonna get going.”
“You mean you have no interest in figuring out whats going on? There’s no part of you that wants to know why you were nearly killed twice today? Listen, I know I told you that I didn’t want you following me.” Amelia moves even closer to Cullum “But I think you could be useful, and honestly I wasn’t expecting them to be this desperate to keep-“ She catches herself. “Ahm, Regardless, I want you to come with me in case I’m in a situation like this again.” Cullum stares in her direction but is really staring into space as he thinks about what she’s telling him.
“Besides.” She says. “You don’t want to be running around murdering people by accident, I can teach you how to control yourself, we can think of it as a deal if it’d make you feel better.” She outstretches her hand. “What do you say? I mentor you and let you know what’s going on, and you help me whenever I’m in a tough spot. Deal?” Cullum stares at her bleeding hand before looking into her eyes.