Zen and Zealots

Submitted for Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

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Jul 03, 2020

Fantasy

I know what you are thinking, what you are feeling, but I don’t know who I am or how I can do what I can do.  I know you probably think I am immoral or corrupt based on the people I spend time with - criminals and politicians. And maybe you are right. Sometimes I still have trouble sorting out everyone’s opinions including my own. Are these your feelings or mine? And does it matter? Why should mine be more valid than yours? Is anyone truly objective? Is that possible? I don't think so. We all have our own motivations. I just try to live by the Hippocratic oath, “Do no harm.” Oh, and don’t let anyone else do any either. 

Am I the best judge? Perhaps not.  I have my share of emotional baggage. I never knew my parents. If I did perhaps they could help me understand who, or what I am. Instead I am oblivious and untethered. I spent my childhood bouncing from foster family to foster family. Some of them thought I was a monster. Sometimes I agreed with them. At the very least I am an aberration. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I began to understand my differences and control them: to differentiate between my feelings and those of others and to be able to control my emotional response.

You see, I’m very different from you. I’m not sure what I am or how I came to have the powers that I have. Nor do I know what I will become, I can only tell you my past and my present. Ever since I can remember I have been able to feel the feelings of those around me. When I was little, those emotions overwhelmed me and I would throw outbursts, making me an unwanted disruption in the homes I was placed in. 

As I got older, I became cognizant of what was happening to me and began trying to construct a partition between others and me. Still, I hated school. I could feel the students around me, judging me. Sometimes my hatred for them was no more than a reflection of their feelings for me, but sometimes the hatred belonged to me. I didn’t like those feelings, but I wanted what all people want - a sense of belonging, and I didn’t belong anywhere.

When I was a senior, I began to sense my peers’ feelings subtly changing toward me, something I had wanted so much for so long. I didn’t know what was happening. Well, maybe that isn’t true. I suspect I wouldn’t have been brave enough to ask Daniel out if I hadn’t had some suspicion. But I asked him to prom, and he said yes. It wasn’t until later that I realized he hadn’t really had a choice. I had projected my desire upon him. And he, feeling that passion, eagerly accepted my invitation. It was at the dance when he looked at Alicia that I realized who his real passion was. It was heartbreaking and empowering. Having met many monsters, I realize how close I probably came to being just like them. I felt powerful, realizing I could have anyone I wanted. And the anger and hurt I felt could have led me down a path of destruction. But what I really wanted was someone who would love me. And so I started experimenting with this new power, finding and creating boundaries. Although I have not yet found someone to love me, the hope still lives in my heart.

But it is a lonely life. When most of my peers headed off to college, I struck out on my own. I tended to stay away from groups of people, not wanting to deal with their emotional baggage. I had plenty of my own. But eventually I realized keeping to myself wasn’t much of a life and that God or whoever gave me these powers probably wouldn’t want me to let them to waste. I started trying to make friends, get more involved in the community, and it worked. I was walking a tightrope, but I had finally found my balance.

And then one day I woke up with a vivid recollection of a dream. It was of my neighbors having an altercation and ended with the wife shooting her husband. I wondered what in my subconscious had prompted the dream - they always seemed like the perfect couple. I shook it off and went about my day, but that night I could hear them screaming at each other, could feel the hate crashing against my walls. I remembered the dream and wondered. That dream couldn’t have been precognition, could it? What if it was? Could I control their emotions to prevent the outcome I had dreamed? I tried. It didn’t work at first. I can only project the emotion I am feeling and, frankly, I was terrified and fear wasn’t improving the situation next door. But I pulled myself together and found an inner calm. I projected it toward the wife - she was filled with hate - her husband had cheated on her and she was livid, but the waves of my calm lapped against the edges of her fiery fury and after an effort that left me exhausted, the conflict ended with her with a suitcase in her hand instead of the gun.

It took me a long time to get to where I am now. My powers are muscles that need to be strengthened. At first the dreams came sporadically, but then they began to come more regularly. I don’t know how it works, but the powers seem to be interconnected. The dreams have never sent me anything my emotional manipulation was unable to prevent. Have I failed occasionally? Yes. But that wasn’t the result of my ability, it was the result of self-doubt. It took me a while to figure out my moral boundaries. I disliked manipulating others. Honestly, I still do. It feels unethical. However, eventually I came round. We all make choices we wish we hadn’t in anger. I can save virtuous people from that regret by calming the anger and prevent criminals from wreaking havoc. That isn’t wrong, is it?

As my powers strengthened and my control grew, so did the challenges set me by my dreams. Originally they were domestic disputes, but then they evolved into more nefarious and far-reaching crimes. I developed contacts, puppets really, in most of the major crime rings. More recently my dreams have taken on more global significance and so I have begun to infiltrate political channels. In a chat with the senator from New York, I had heard a rumor of tensions between us and some other nations, but had thought little of them. There are always bad feelings simmering between us and some other nation. Politics is a balancing act. But this morning I woke up to discover things were out of balance. Today I am faced with my most daunting challenge yet. Today I need to prevent a war. According to my dream, today the president will issue an ultimatum that will be disdainfully disregarded by the foreign power. The situation will escalate until a catastrophic war has begun. And so today I am going to meet the president and try to avert World War 3. Wish me luck!

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