Stone-cold Nerves

The view could be worse,” Elijah thought again. Every time his mind wandered he kept himself sane by focusing on the bright side. He may have been time-locked, but he was sitting outside on a beautiful orange and purple evening. There was no breeze but the weather was almost cool. He found a pleasant spot by a fountain decorated with angels to enjoy a smoke. Before he pulled out a cigarette his eyes wandered to a lovely woman in short shorts that was bending over for something. Then, time stopped.

Elijah did not know how long he was frozen, the sun never set to start a new day. It felt like weeks, maybe months. He could not move his eyes or change his focus from the moment time stopped. He spent hours, days or weeks staring at a woman he considered very attractive. His mind worked though. He filled his time replaying his favorite movies and songs in his head. Then, something changed.

A hollow, breaking sound filled his ears at the same moment a pile of bones fell from somewhere above his line of sight. Elijah was glad he couldn’t jump. Hearing such a ruckus after an eternity of silence would have sent him three feet off the ground. The white fragments pulled themselves together to form a standing skeleton as more piles started hitting the ground. Elijah heard the crashing sounds coming from everywhere around him. The skeleton that landed in front of Elijah walked toward the time-stuck man.

Well, SOMETHING’s going to happen,” Elijah chuckled in his mind. He was likely about to die, but any change right now was a good one. “Bring it on, bonehead,” Elijah was content with being brave in his own mind for his last minute. The skeleton stopped in front of him and stared. He crouched slightly to look into Elijah’s eyes; the man wished he could look away. The eye sockets were black but somehow, not empty. Elijah saw swirls in the black; it moved, flowed like the blackest, darkest tar that he’d ever seen. Then, the skeleton fell apart before him; its bones and skull hitting hollow on the cement sidewalk. With the skeleton out of the way, Elijah noticed someone else that was new.

A pale woman in a long black dress with two white horns growing out of her black hair. She was looking around the park with what Elijah guessed was annoyance. She reminded Elijah of an annoyed and entitled customer waiting for the chance to speak her mind to someone about the current situation. She seemed to notice Elijah staring at her, not that he had a choice, and walked toward him. The moment she stopped in front of Elijah a young man fell to the ground next to her; Elijah had no idea where he came from.

“Owwww,” the young man whined as he stood from the cement rubbing his left elbow. “Can I get a heads-up first?” he asked.

“I’m sorry to inconvenience you, Billy,” the woman said. “But I’ve got a time problem. Usually Vanilla helps me with these but…,” she shrugged. “… since you killed her that means you’re helping me now. Just him for now,” she pointed at Elijah.  The young man sighed and touched Elijah’s shoulder. Elijah’s body suddenly remembered how to breathe; he filled his lungs enjoying the taste of oxygen again.

“What happened here?” the woman asked.

“Who are you?” Elijah countered. “How’d you do that?”

“Billy,” she said. Elijah stopped exhaling with still half a lung full. He was familiar enough with the sensation by now that he realized Billy stopped him in time again. 

“What. Happened. Here?” she asked again to make her point. Elijah started breathing again and he got the hint.

“Some guy got the power to stop time. He got killed while time was stopped,” he summed it up as quick as he could. The woman nodded and Elijah felt time stop for him again. He tried speaking to double-check, but no words came.

“It wasn’t a Muerte,” Billy said. “Might have been a Super with time abilities.”

“A Super?” the woman giggled like a schoolgirl. “How adorable. Do you think there are any more?” Billy shrugged.

“Earths either create supers or they don’t; this one does. If there isn’t one now there probably will be.”

“This’ll be fun,” she said, then she looked at Elijah.

“What’s your name?” she asked. Elijah felt time release him.

“Elijah,” he said quickly expecting to get time-locked again. He wasn’t. The woman reached out and offered Elijah a solid black business card.

“If you hear about a Super on this Earth use this to call me. Don’t use it for any other reason, you won’t like my mood.” Elijah took the card and looked it over. It was so dark it looked like a rectangular hole no matter how he held it.

“How?”

“You’ll figure it out if you need to; I’d suggest not trying until you do,” she said then turned her attention to Billy.

“Start it up again then you can go,” she said. As soon as she finished speaking a black hole appeared at her feet and rose upward to swallow her.

“You just got luckier than you’ll ever know,” Billy said. He waved good-bye and stepped into his own black hole; it was hovering in the air next to him. As he disappeared car horns began blaring, and Elijah heard several dozen car accidents at once. He looked up to see the attractive stranger running away, presumably to home.

“Luckier than you’ll ever know too,” he whispered to himself and clenched his fists, thankful he was able to keep a calm head. His fist became solid stone for a moment, then back to tan flesh.

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