Billy strolled through the mall wondering what he felt like doing that day. The lean high school senior should have been in school but as far as anyone was concerned he was in the restroom. Though he had no idea how to start time up again it was usually a short session and it was easy for him to stop time again quickly if he had to.
He stuck his hands in the pockets and purses of anyone he thought was “rich enough” for extra cash. As he turned a corner toward the food court he heard sharp, hollow footsteps; it sounded like high heels on the mall’s tile walkways. He looked around at the other patrons but they all remained frozen.
“What the hell?” he mumbled to himself as a woman with long white hair stepped into his view. She wore a long, flowing, orange dress. Sparkling white stiletto heels on her feet proved to be the source of the sound. The strange woman wandered near to every frozen person, gave them an appraising look, then continued to the next stranger. Billy remained still hoping she’d walk by him. The woman’s heels clicked as she approached him. Her bright orange eyes roamed up and down Billy, then the corners of her lips pulled upward into a slight smile.
“Found you,” she said. Billy did not react; he hoped he could somehow fake her out. “A word of advice. It’s easier to hide in a moving crowd.” She stayed in front of him, silently staring. After several moments Billy understood that she was not going to move on. He let out a heavy sigh.
“Yeah,” he nodded. “That would’ve been better.” He gave her a shrug. “I have to wait for it to wear off, usually three or four hours.” The woman giggled lightly and shook her head.
“Nonsense,” she said. As the word ended time roared back to life as the shoppers resumed buzzing around the mall. “You haven’t been awakened yet, is all.” Billy looked around at the moving people and did some quick math in his head.
“Did you do that?” he asked. She nodded. “Awakened how? Am I like you?” Again, the woman nodded. The mall fell silent and Billy realized she stopped time.
“You,” she smiled and patted her own chest. “And I are known as Unique Souls. We’re #14, La Muerte.” She paced around Billy, forcing him to keep turning to keep his attention on her. “You are particularly powerful.” Billy shrugged.
“Not so much,” he chuckled. “I can’t even start time again.”
“That’s proof of how strong you are,” the woman stopped pacing and faced Billy directly. “Uniques generally don’t have access to their abilities until they’ve been awakened. Some slumbering Muertes can do things like stop time by holding their breath or otherwise in small spurts. You can keep it going for hours without even trying.” Billy’s eyes grew wide.
“I’m strong? I can get stronger? Alright!” he clapped his hands together and rubbed them greedily. “Let’s get me awakened. How do I-” Billy blinked. “OOWWWWWWWWWW” After the blink, he felt a searing pain on his chest. He brought his hand up to rub it and his black t-shirt felt wet. He pulled his hand away and noticed it dabbed with red. “What the hell?” He opened his shirt and looked down at his chest. He saw a bloody number 14 carved into his skin. “What did you do!?” he raised his voice at the woman. A cacophony of voices joined his; time started again.
“I awakened you. You can start time now,” she gestured at the flowing crowd around them. “You’re welcome.”
“Whoa… what else can I do?” he asked while massaging the pain in his chest. The woman lifted her hand and made a gesture in the air at the same time that Billy noticed time was stopped. A tall black hole opened in the air next to the woman.
“Would you like to find out?” She asked. Without waiting for an answer she stepped into the hole and disappeared. It took a moment for Billy to understand the invitation. He realized the hole was left open for him and dashed through to follow her.