Julio glanced at the driver sitting in the high cab; the trucker’s eyes were on his phone. Even if he looked right now he wouldn’t have time to stop. Time seemed to slow to a crawl and Julio became aware of everything around him. He was the only one crossing at the moment; it eased his mind that no one else would get hurt. It was a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon. He was headed home after spending the morning with his wife and children. They had a great family breakfast before his wife took the children to a playdate. All things considered, he felt like the important people knew he loved them. Julio was ready. The red semi was three feet from him when he closed his eyes and relaxed his body to wait for the end.
“I hope it doesn’t hurt too long,” he had just enough time to think. After another two seconds, he was still standing in the middle of the street with his eyes closed. “This adrenaline rush is weird, time is taking forever.” Then Julio became aware of footsteps hitting the blacktop behind him.
“He’s not that bad,” a woman said. Her voice traveled from left to right as she walked by behind him. “We’re here, aren’t we? Aury has to be kind of a jerk because of his position but he’s not mean-spirited about it. Did it ever occur to you that he’s making you do easy jobs before we can hang out?” The voice continued to travel past Julio, even though a semi should have been rolling through him. He peeked open one eye and saw the truck stopped in place. The driver also seemed stuck in place staring at his phone. “He doesn’t need you to do a server reset for him.” Julio heard the woman say. Her voice grew distant as she reached the other sidewalk. “HEY!” she yelled suddenly. Julio couldn’t help but turn around. He saw a dark-haired young woman standing next to a pale, lean teenager in black clothes. He had a sharp widow’s peak in the center of his forehead and looked sullen as if he were being reprimanded.
“Yeah?” Julio asked. As he took in the view he noticed everyone else was frozen in time.
“I’m going to start time again. Are you really where you want to be?” she pointed at the semi. Julio shook his head and immediately bolted across the street to the pair of strangers.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” Julio immediately began showing his appreciation. “You saved my life!”
“Yeah,” the pale teen nodded. “So return the favor and leave us alone.”
“Oren!” The woman hit his shoulder. “Don’t be mean, he’s just being appreciative.” She turned to Julio and extended a hand. “I’m Sonia, and this is Oren. Don’t mind us, we’re just passing through.”
“But.. but you stopped time. How’d you do that?” Oren grumbled and wiggled his fingers at the air; he opened a black portal in the air beside them and walked through it without another word.
“Don’t take it personally,” Sonia said. She smiled at Julio but moved toward the hole in the air. “He’s grumpy about someone else. Bye now,” she said as the portal closed with her on the other side. The hole disappeared completely then time roared back to life.