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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lawbreaker - Chapter 4 by Azriel Johnson

            Peter didn’t take it personally.  “You’re a failure as an uncle” was not delivered with malice.  He could tell she was only barely containing her excitement.  He understood her reluctance to show appreciation.  She was 13, it was to be expected.  He also understood her agitation concerning her powers, or lack thereof.

            Peter’s former job as a drug counselor brought him into many dangerous situations.  He was never a large man, so at first, none of the people he worked with showed him respect.  This changed in the addicts that wanted to change, but in others it just inspired anger.

            He was at a home visit... well okay home was stretching it... one of his clients asked him to meet off the beaten track where a lot of homeless folks stayed.  It was a large, abandoned factory at the edge of town, before Peter moved to Civitas.

            A good thing about Civitas was there were no large, abandoned factories.

            He knew it was a bad idea, especially when you have to climb a wood pile and go through a chain-link fence to even get into the complex, but sometimes you have to meet someone where they are.  He did not forget to let the office know where he was going and when to expect him back and if he didn’t answer his cell phone in an hour to come get him.

            The factory itself was expansive.  The creep factor was low, but risk for tetanus was high, but Peter wasn’t worried about accidentally cutting himself on anything.

            He walked around quietly.  The expanse seemed mostly uninhabited.  Generally, he figured the homeless folks who lived here were out begging or otherwise occupying their time around the town.  Some were hopefully trying to find jobs or scraps of food or maybe shoplifting from the local thrift store.  Anything was preferable to the potentiality of wrapping themselves in drugs.

            He found his client passed out on a dirty, patchwork blanket on a wooden platform in an upper level of the factory.  A needle stuck out of his arm with a tourniquet released and left Peter pulled out a bottle of water from his knapsack and put a bit of water on his hand to put on the client’s face.  To rouse him.

            “C’mon, buddy, snap out of it,” Peter said.

            Peter pulled the Narcan out of his knapsack.  He peeled back the package, put the device under the client’s nose.  He inhaled, then pressed the plunger up and into the client’s nose.  Peter sat back and breathed out, trying to relax.  He pulled the syringe out of the client’s arm and put it to the side.  He crouched next to the client, waiting for them to snap out of the high.

            The client shook his head and his eyes opened.  He blinked rapidly for a few moments, then looked at Peter.  Anger crossed his face.  “What the shit.  You sonofabitch.”  The client’s head turned to the side and saw his syringe.  He grabbed it and jammed it into Peter’s inner thigh.  “That’s what you get for waking me up.”

            Peter sat backwards with the syringe in his leg.  There were no drugs, but he remembered earlier visits with his client and knew his ‘positive status.’

            Peter inhaled.  “What the hell, Justin?”

~ * ~

            The three police officer’s had powers and tried to use them.  The first cop, a thin, white man extended his hand and electricity flew towards Justin.  He raised his hand and the electricity entered his body.  His nerves did not react the way someone normally would, by contracting and falling over.  Instead, Justin absorbed the energy and it focused at his heart.  His eyes immediately struck red with the vessels bulging.  He ran at the first cop and punched him in the chest, lifting him off of the ground and into a teller window.  He lost consciousness as his head smacked off of a desk behind the divider.

            The crowd in the job office ran from the scene, screaming.  In the confusion, Justin moved towards the other two officers without them attacking, for fear of hitting some of the bystanders.

            The second officer, a black woman inhaled and breathed icy exhalation at Justin.  Instead of freezing in place as intended, Justin gathered the cold breath around his left fist and backhanded the officer.  She flew backward over a table, into a computer and onto the floor.  She didn’t move.

            The third officer, extended both arms out and down, away from his body and was surrounded in fire.  He must have had a specialized suit because it did not burn off of him.  He ran at Justin with both hands extended.

            The fire hands clasped Justin’s shoulders.  Justin expected pain, but it was as if the energy from the fire was just being flung off into space, displaced or maybe... destroyed.  Justin looked into the blackened eyelets of the police inferno.  He concentrated and the fire extinguished over the cop.  The cop fell to his knees and looked up plaintively at Justin.

            “Is murder against the law?” Justin asked the cop.

            The cop blinked.  “Yes.”

            Justin held up his right hand, covered in flames, as if created from nowhere.

            A greyish-beige hand caught his arm and the flame extinguished.

            Justin followed the hand that held his arm and grunted.  “Who are you?”

            “Someone stopping you from doing something stupid.”

            “What are you talking about?  I’m just here for a job.”

            “What job is that?  Murdering innocent police officers?”

            “Police are hardly innocent.”

            “These officers are.  They were all tops in their class.  They regularly engage in public outreach and help the homeless find work.”

            “What do I care?  They attacked me.”

            The greyish-beige person pulled Justin away from the defeated police officer.  “You are not in a position to not care, because the more problems you cause, the more likely you’ll attract the wrong kind of attention.  I can kill you now, or you can come with me and we can help you get a handle on these abilities you have.”

            “What makes you think I need a handle on my abilities?  I have them under control!”

            “No,” the condescendingly calm voice said.  “I have control over them.  You were about to murder someone with no reason.”

            “Oh.”  Justin breathed out as if snapping into sudden realization.  “Oh, shit.  Okay, take me with you.”

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