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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lawbreaker - Chapter 2 by Azriel Johnson

    If there was one thing that Peter didn’t love about Civitas, it was the lack of personal responsibility.
    Peter watched Maggie’s parents take her by each hand and walk away from the destruction.  They said they were ‘literally five minutes away in the head shop.’  They didn’t want to bring Maggie into the shop so they told her to stand at the door way and they would be right back.
    Admirable, Peter mock-reasoned, except the part where the daughter has the destructive power of a tiny tornado.  Maybe that would be her code name when she got old enough to register.  Tiny Tornado.

    Another issue with Civitas, and the general populous really.  People who developed powers after being injected with Curasol, they had to register with the CED (Crisis Evaluation Division).  The CED assessed each registered person with powers and their threat level.  The top most level was 10.  These were powered individuals with high destructive potential.  It was a sliding scale, not just determined by powers, but by their temperament.
    Powered individuals who were given a clean evaluation (5 or below), were allowed to pick their own code names and could participate, or not, in local law enforcement proceedings if their powers were appropriate for the actions.
    So, for example, the police came by to survey the mess Maggie made, Repeat (Peter’s code name), told them the situation and how it was handled and the police would handle the paper work after.
    Powered individuals with a 6 and above were given an opportunity for probation to prove themselves willing to be helpful and not a nuisance or a threat.  Over time, even a level 10 could work themselves to a threat level 5.
    Peter was a level 1, a general all around good guy with a power that was not inherently destructive.  When he witnessed a power being used near him, he could inhale and replicate that power until he breathed out.  Fine, as long as he kept his feet on the ground.  Less good if he were trying to fly.
    Flying would be good right now, he thought as he tried to make it back to his apartment to meet his niece and sister.  Sam Rhee was strong willed.  She’d also had some hardship in her first 13 years.  She was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5.  No one thought she would survive a year, but she made it three before things looked bleak enough that her mother, Kimberley, started covertly making end of life arrangements.
    If it hadn’t been for her Uncle Peter, they might have lost her.

~ * ~

    “You’re still quite underweight, Justin,” the doctor said as the young man sat up perfectly straight, with no sign of the cancer in his body.  “How much do you eat?”
    “Not much, really,” Justin said.  “I don’t really like food.  I drink a lot of water.”
    “My recommendation would be to schedule yourself a time to eat a balanced meal of carbohydrates, proteins and greens at least three times a day to make sure your body is getting enough nutrients.”
    Justin shrugged.  “I’ve been unemployed and homeless for the past two years.  I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to choose what I eat.  I just kind of adapted, I guess.”
    The doctor sat back in her chair.  “Tell you what, we’ll go down to the cafeteria, I’ll get you anything you want.  There are jobs in Civitas for people willing to work.”
    Justin smiled.  “I am definitely willing to work.”
    For someone who didn’t like food, Justin ate a lot in the cafeteria.  The food wasn’t great, but that didn’t matter as the corn, beef, bread, potatoes, broccoli, carrots and more all slid down into Justin’s stomach.
    Finally, he was full.  He looked at the doctor and thanked her, profusely.
    The doctor smiled.  “No worries.  Go to the Civitas City Hall to find the Job Services division.  Let me know if there are any complications associated with your treatment.”
    Complications, Justin thought.  He’d heard people had some interesting reactions after being injected with Curasol.  Extraordinary abilities.  Justin just hadn’t wanted to die, but with the injection a world of possibilities might be open to him now.
    He wasn’t worried about this now.  He left the hospital, stuffed his discharge papers into his back jeans pocket and slinked down the sidewalk.  He knew he had to cross the street.  10 feet from the corner he hopped off the sidewalk and into the street right between two cars inching along the busy streets.
    He weaved his way through the cars like he was playing a video game bent on avoiding cars.  He reached the other side of the street and a whistle ripped out from behind him.
    A police officer raced up to him and grabbed him by the arm.  “You just did a dangerous thing there, son.”  The officer boomed with authority.
    “Did what?” Justin asked.
    “Jaywalking,” the cop said.  “That’s against the law.”
    “Oh, uh,” Justin said.  “Sorry?  ‘Kay.  Bye.”
    “I’m not done with you yet!”
    The police officer tried to turn Justin’s arm on the fulcrum of his elbow, but Justin’s arm bent out and around as he turned toward the cop.  The cop tried to put a handcuff around Justin’s wrist, but Justin’s other hand snatched the cuffs from the cop and popped it on the officer’s wrist instead and pulled him toward a bike rack, hooking the other cuff to the bike rack.
    “I don’t have time to be arrested right now,” Justin said.  “I have to get a job.”
    Justin patted the cop down.  He found and unhooked the officer’s keys.  “I’m going to take these and hang them somewhere.  In the mean time, you can think about what you’ve done.”
    The police officer pulled his gun.  “Stop right there.”
    “No,” Justin said.  He held out his hand and the gun slammed the officer’s hand to the ground.  The police officer struggled to get his hand from beneath the gun.
    “Weird,” Justin said.  “Okay, bye.”
    Justin crossed the street again, going diagonally, avoiding the crosswalks and the traffic.  He wasn’t even thinking about it.  He twirled the keys on his finger and flung them into the air, about five feet behind him, where they stayed suspended in the air.  He turned the corner out of sight of the cop and gun and the keys.  The cop could lift his hand again and the keys dropped into the middle of the street.

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