Christine skated on the empty boardwalk at top speed. She enjoyed the bright sunshine and cool breeze of a Saturday morning. The 17-year-old could skate as fast as she wanted; no one else was around. Christine convinced the entire town that none of them wanted to visit the boardwalk on Saturday mornings.
She did not know how her abilities worked exactly, but over the years she narrowed down the procedure to a touch. She could control someone’s mind after a simple touch. Whatever it was that gave her control also seemed to be infectious. If a person under her control touched someone else, they both fell under her thrall.
Christine tried not to use it too often; she could ‘turn it off’ in people and give them free will again.. at least until Saturdays. It was the one day that she let herself flex her gift for a few hours so she could skate unimpeded. She enjoyed having a relatively normal life. She found enjoyment in doing things ‘the regular way’ without forcing anyone to give her anything.
She was so used to the barren boardwalk that she slowed to a stop when she spotted a girl heading in her direction. Even though Christine stopped skating, the dark-skinned girl kept moving toward her. The stranger had a pair of afro-puffs atop her head tied with bright golden ribbons that swayed with the breeze. She wore a candy apple-red windbreaker and a pair of denim shorts; then, Christine noticed the girl was on skates too.
“Hi!” The stranger rolled to a stop in front of Christine and offered a hand.
“Hi,” Christine replied with less enthusiasm, but she accepted the handshake. She knew one other person was not a big deal, but Christine preferred being alone, even in public. She had grown used to having the beach to herself and wanted to keep the trend. “You want to go home for a few hours and come back later,” Christine willed the thought into the girl’s mind.
“I’m Britt,” she said with a smile.
“C-Christine,” she introduced herself with a stutter. It confused her that Britt introduced herself at all. “You need to go home,” Christine tried the suggestion again.
“Where is everyone?” Britt asked and spread her arms to gesture at the empty boardwalk.
“Uhh,” Christine shrugged. “It’s like this every Saturday,” she replied. She never needed to practice lying and felt glad that she could get by with a carefully worded truth.
“Awesome,” Britt said. She nodded and her smile grew from ear to ear. “Are you any good with those?” she asked with a glance down at Christine’s skates.
“I can skate without falling over?” Christine shrugged. The fact that Britt seemed immune to her ability bothered Christine more than she wanted to admit. Britt laughed a bit, then elaborated.
“I was thinking of something more competitive. Is roller derby a thing around here?” The question melted Christine’s unease in an instant. One of the more unexpected consequences of her abilities was that she won every game. Somehow even when her opponents had free will, they chose to let her win. She tried to lose dozens of times but still won. But Britt was immune and competitive and they had the whole empty boardwalk to skate on.
“I wish,” Christine replied; she finally added her own smile now that she felt comfortable. “I’ve seen some matches on TV and it looks like a ton of fun.”
“Hmmm,” Britt seemed to be thinking over Christine’s answer. “And what about the AlterNet?” she asked. Christine waited for a moment to let Britt finish her thought.
“Alternate what?” she asked once the silence started to make her uncomfortable. Britt giggled.
“You’d know,” she said. Britt stood up straighter, shifted her weight, and crossed her arms. She looked Christine up and down as if appraising her. “So you’ve only seen derby on TV and you’ve never heard of the AlterNet?” Christine shrugged. The questions seemed rhetorical and didn’t know what else to do. “I’m starting a roller derby team, how’d you like to be on it?”
“Yes!” Christine cheered and hopped in place with excitement.
“But there’s something I have to know first,” Britt said. “Are you fast?”
“Faster than you,” Christine replied with a broad smile.
“Oh yeah?” Britt asked. She moved to stand next to Christine; both of them faced the same direction. Britt crouched to a runner’s position ready to push off with her legs and gestured for Christine to do the same. “Show me.”