Four o’clock arrived, and Keegan started to walk home from work. He tried to leave quickly, but Rick rushed to catch up with him.
“Hey man, why don’t we do something?” Rick asked, panting.
Keegan continued to walk as before, not even looking up from the sidewalk in front of him. “I really don’t feel like doing anything right now…”
“Come on, ever since… well you know, you’ve hardly done anything but come to work and go straight home.”
“If you want me to start fighting crime the answer is still no.”
“No, I’m not talking about that. I just want to do something, anything really. Pretend the accident never happened and just hang out like we used to.”
“Look,” Rick interrupted, “we can even do something you wouldn’t have objected to at all. How about watching a movie?”
Keegan stopped walking and sighed. “I guess we could do that.”
“Great!” Rick rubbed his hands together excitedly. “How does tonight work?”
Keegan started walking again. “What movie are you thinking?”
Grinning, Rick held up a poster. Stopping again, Keegan shot an annoyed glare at his friend.
“It’s a movie about a superhero with regenerative powers.”
Rick shrugged. “So?”
“You know exactly what’s wrong with that.”
“Hey, it’s exactly what I would’ve wanted to see even before… you know what… happened. It has nothing to do with you, I promise.”
“Whatever, we can go see it.”
“Great, I’ll get tickets for 7 o’clock. See you then?”
“Sure, see you then.”
“Dude, that was the coolest movie EVER!” Rick exclaimed as they left the movie theater.
“You say that for almost every movie right when you first see it…”
“I didn’t say it for—”
“Almost. I said almost.”
“Don’t you think it was cool?”
“Oh it was cool, it’s just there’s a lot of competition for the” Keegan made air-quotes. “coolest movie ever.”
“But you’re happy you came?”
“I will admit, it was—”
The sound of gunshots cut off their conversation and everyone in the parking lot started running.
“Shit, where was that?” Rick asked after they ducked behind a nearby car.
“I don’t know, it sounded like it was by the plaza, and that’s the direction everyone is running away from, so…”
Another shot rang out. Rick turned to look at his friend, a grin slowly filling his face.
“Dude, come on! It’s your chance to do something!”
“I’m not deliberately walking out there to get shot!”
“But you can get shot and be perfectly fine! What if someone else gets hit?”
Grumbling, Keegan stood up and looked toward the plaza.
“I think I see the shooter. She’s going after some guy who tripped.”
“Well what are you waiting for!”
Keegan shot a quick glare at Rick, then —having decided that the distance was short enough that running was the faster means of travel— sprinted off in the direction of the shooter.
As he got close, Keegan shouted to get the shooter’s attention, but she wasted no time shooting him in the leg.
“Back off, this doesn’t concern you,” she said as Keegan stumbled on his healing leg a few yards in front of her.
“You’re making this much harder than it has to be,” she said turning back to the person getting up. “And now innocent people are getting hurt. You don’t want that, do you?”
Keegan stood back up. “Who says anyone is hurt?”
She fired at him again, this time hitting his side, splattering blood over the brick walkway behind him. After briefly grimacing, he closed the remaining distance and —grabbing at the gun— pushed it aside.
“I mean, it does hurt, but I’ll just walk it off.”
“Aren’t you a resilient one,” she said, before noticing the blood on the walkway disappearing. “Or…” Before saying anything else, she vanished in a flash of dark energy, taking the gun with her.
“What the…” Keegan exclaimed, frantically looking around.
“Holy shit!” Rick exclaimed quietly from behind the car where he was watching.
In another dark flash she reappeared on the other side of the fleeing person. “You aren’t going anywhere.”
“Who the heck are you?” Keegan asked.
“I could ask you the same question. Wait, did your shirt heal too?”
“Um…” Keegan looked down at where the bullet had hit his side. “Yeah I guess it did. Huh.”
“Now that’s just weird… Regardless, you’re interfering with the retrieval of Initiative property. I suggest you stand down.”
Keegan started to glow and was soon entirely dissipated. The two stood there glancing around awkwardly for several seconds.
“So did he just… leave? Well, I guess we can get—”
“Property?” Keegan interrupted as he jumped from atop a nearby street light. “I thought slavery—” He fell past her as she stepped out of the way, hitting the ground on his hands and knees. “Ow.”
“You’re new to this, aren’t you.”
She disappeared, reappeared between him and the street lamp, grabbed him, swung him head first into it, and disappeared again. Before he had a chance to orient himself, she landed on top of him, having dropped from the lamp.
“You’ve never been in a fight before, have you?” she asked, then looked up to see her target running away in the distance. “Look, unless you want a rogue AI to escape and destroy the world, I have to get back to my job.”
The dark energy flashed around her again, but this time as she disappeared it lingered. As she appeared again a few feet away and fell on her face, a shockwave shot out of the lingering energy. It hit Keegan, who cried out in excruciating pain. Time slowed, and the shockwave inched along behind him. Struggling to breathe, he looked down at his chest to see everything below his waist glowing more brightly than he had ever seen before, so bright he could hardly look at it. He began to slowly sink as the bricks beneath him melted. Behind him, the street lamp cracked in two as the shockwave passed through it, with each side falling to the ground opposite each other. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, the dark energy dissipated.
As the still sinking Keegan gasped for breath and sirens approached, the woman grabbed her gun, stood up, and shot Keegan in the head.
It’s good to be back! Also, make sure to check out this weeks bonus post, Ergo Sum: Prologue.