Lights out

Submitted for Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt


Sep 04, 2020

Adventure Romance Science Fiction

"Hey, you want some of this jelly?"

I glanced up tiredly at Anya, who was holding out a cup of the vilest looking green goo I could imagine. "No thanks," I answered sharply, too exhausted to even fake politeness.

Anya stared at me for a moment, clearly wanting to say something, but she chose not to, opening the hospital issued Jell-O with excessive force. She leaned, holding it out for me again, her arm stiff. "You've been here for hours, eat something."

My mouth tasted bitter as I looked at the bandage circling her arm, and I leapt up, determinedly staring out of the window.

"Seriously?" Anya said behind me. "It's not your fault! I was there because I chose to be there. It's not your job-"

"You want something? I can go get coffee." I turned carefully without looking at her, pulling out my phone.

"You know, you are really getting on my nerves." Anya snapped, putting the Jell-O down with an ominous thud. "I'm not some child you have to protect, I made a mistake, and I'm sorry that you weren't able to save me and get an ego boost!"

"What?" I scoffed heatedly, unable to baby her and her stupid injuries any more. "The only thing I'm sorry about is that you have a death wish! What, did you trade drugs for an adrenaline rush or something?" I looked steadily forward, knowing I had crossed a line. But the roar in my ears wouldn't let me apologize. If she hadn't distracted me, I would still have my powers right now.

Anya swore at me, and her voice took on a steely tone. "Shouldn't you be nicer or something, Mr.Protector of the City? Oh wait, that's right, your powers are gone, and apparently, that's all you care about! While you were duking it out with your supervillain of the week, I was helping evacuate a crumbling building! Stop yelling at me because you lost your super speed, or super arrogance or whatever!" She took a shaky breath, and I forced myself to look at her. "Just go, if my desire to help people is such a burden, or us poor mortals should wait at home while you save the day and destroy the city."

All thoughts of apology went out of my head. "Fine," I said furiously, storming out.

The corridors were packed with nurses pushing wheelchairs or bumping past me to go deal with an emergency. Thankfully, I didn't have to apologize or say anything, nobody seemed interested as they raced around doing their jobs.

Eventually, I wound up in the waiting area again, pacing like some kind of maniac. My anger was reverting back to tiredness again and I clenched my fists, remembering that I didn't use to get tired until I had lost my powers. Stupid Anya. I exhaled harshly, prompting a glare from a woman holding a baby.

I opened my mouth to apologize, but again nobody seemed interested. Just like the whole city had wondered all day where the hell I was, but nobody wanted to hear what had happened. People just posted messages on social media and theorized endlessly on the news. I twisted my hands, feeling sick to my stomach. Falling down onto an uncomfortable seat, I pushed away all of that. I'd get my powers back soon enough, go back to saving people, and I'd do a better job this time. Or would I? Would I be able to do anything again?

Or would I just be the useless kid with bad grades, a broken family, and nothing of value? I pulled out my phone and then shoved it back into my pocket. Nothing there was going to help.

With my powers, even, would I screw up again? Forcing Anya to run into a collapsing building to get people out? She had some abilities, but those had been sapped too by Silas. I felt anger flickering again, and I felt betrayed. How did I lose them? Weren't my powers part of me?

I dragged a hand down my face, feeling embarrassed as I remembered Anya's words. She had powers too, where did I get off telling her what to do with them? And didn't the city mean more to me than just the praise and love I got? "Goddamn it," I muttered horrified at my own narcissism. The mother tutted, getting up and moving.

I apologized half-heartedly but knew who I was supposed to talk to. Vending machine transaction first, so I could enter bearing gifts, then I could pretend to tell Anya she was right, she would forgive me, my powers would come back.

It was time to grow the hell up, I decided internally, also deciding to do a better job from now on. I would involve Anya more, instead of both us of working separately, getting in each other's way, and creating chaos. Why was I such an attention hog? I hit my head against the vending machine lightly, unable to deal with this pent up shame.

The lights went out.

"Oh shit!" I gasped, what the hell did I do?

Suddenly, the lights flickered back on, but they were definitely dimmer.

"Please relax, everyone, the emergency power is on, I'm sure it's nothing." A nurse called out from the reception desk. She went on to say more but I pushed past disoriented people to get to Anya.

I entered her room, determined to hear her out this time. "Hey, Anya, you were right, I- what the hell are you doing?"

Anya turned from the window, raising an eyebrow. "Hi, the city's power is out." The city outside her window was dark, except for a few buildings that still had power. I could hear honking and other noises outside, the opening chords to utter chaos.

My careful plan to apologize quickly was ruined, so I stared at her warily. "Are you feeling better?"

"Yeah. " She said awkwardly, moving around her arms. "Much better, yeah. So the power-"

"Is out, yeah." I finished, forcing a smile.

"The city probably needs us," Anya said, looking down at her feet. "Should we-we should go, right?"

I resisted the urge to ask her if she felt that better again. "Yeah, get ready."

After she ducked into the bathroom, I pumped my fist in the air. If she felt better, that obviously meant she was healing. If she had recovered from broken bones that fast, it clearly meant her powers were returning.

I surreptitiously peeked out of the room, nobody was approaching. Picking one of the walls in front of me, I readied myself to punch. Lightly, I reminded myself, no need to cost the hospital money.

1..2..3.. I punched straight ahead- WHAM!

"What the hell?" Anya's voice asked surprisedly.

I looked up, cradling my arm to my chest. "Ahh, nothing." I wheezed out, pain shooting up my arm.

Anya burst into laughter. "Oh no, you thought your powers-that's so funny-" She covered her mouth, tearing up a little.

I glared at her, feeling deeply wrong-footed. "Oh shut up, then why did you heal?"

"You healed too, dumbass." Anya giggled. "Where are all the bruises you got? I just meant, let's go out and help as much as we can, maybe something will come back."

The storm clouds gathered again in my head. Help how? Help as a human? All the meant was comforting people and being terrified of riots, mobs, and anybody who looked threatening. We would be useless, not to mention, completely incapable of anything real. I don't want to feel pain as a human, it was bad enough as a hero. What if Silas appeared again? Worse, what if any ordinary idiot with a gun showed up?

In minutes, I could've cleared this up, lifted up cars, beat criminals, and helped the police. Anya would've taken seconds to fly from one place to another, distributing supplies.

All the news tomorrow would be about how the city survived or broke down without me. A little part of me didn't want the city to survive without me. I liked being needed by someone, anyone.

"Listen to me," Anya spoke, unusually serious. "We can only help, right? Help get people to get information, protect them as much as we can. I know you won't be able to sit here and do nothing. You help people when they need it the most, and there have been times both of us could just pack up and leave, but we stayed. Even when Silas was beating the crap out of you, you didn't speed off or escape, you stayed. " She paused, seeming to be searching for something to say. "So don't chicken out now, use your brain to help people, help even one person get home tonight safely, okay? You are not just special because you wear skin-tight suits or you've got some strength. I'm not gonna say hope, because you inspire exactly nothing, " She grinned at my annoyed expression. "But you do help people all over the country, maybe the world. So, yeah."

Was she only saying this because her powers were weaker than mine, she needed me to come help or something? I felt disgusted, she was stronger, apparently, if she was ready to run out into the city during an outage and do something.

I did inspire hope, I know I did. People were happy just to see me, I ended crises. I need to help with this one. God, I'm so lazy, to even consider doing nothing, I chided myself, but I knew I had come to a decision.

I pushed my injured pride and nonsense aside. "You're right- don't say anything," I warned her as she opened her mouth. "I'm sorry for before, okay? I don't just want to help people because they like me for it." Even if that was a nice side benefit.

Anya tilted her head knowingly, smiling amusedly. "Right then, shall we?"

I smiled, feeling the surge of energy and adrenaline I felt anyways as a hero. The purpose. "I'm sorry about before," I repeated again, as we quickly ran down the stairs. "I didn't mean half the stuff-"

"Like I was listening to anything you said." Anya scoffed, but she bumped her shoulder into mine lightly. "Race you outside!"

"I'm gonna let you win," I said, smirking as I saw her annoyed expression. "You were the one in the hospital, after all."

"You are lucky we are in a hospital," She threatened, throwing me a filthy look as she hurried down the steps. "That way medical assistance won't be too far after I kick your self-pitying ass."

"But don't I inspire something, Anya? I mean, wasn't it you that said I was special?" I taunted, my laughter echoing off the walls.

I vaulted over the railing, joining her on the final landing.

"Special in the sense that you are a moron, all those punches to the head must be getting to you." She fired back, pushing open the door, "Please, incompetent losers first."

"Don't hold the door for yourself," I replied, but ran fast. "Race you outside!"

I pushed open the unmoving doors, my ears assaulted by the sounds of sirens, honking cars, and anarchy. The streets smelled of smoke, and I could see hundreds of people on the streets.

Anya and I shared a look. "Where to first?" I asked her, the feeling of worthiness returning to me. This was my city, after all, it wouldn't look good if I didn't help.

Anya grabbed my hand, shaking me out of my thoughts and a nice moment of contemplation. "Downtown, there's a fire."

I clenched my fist, and I could've sworn I almost felt that thrum of power again. "Let's go then, my car's in the parking lot, we'll ditch it if we have to." Anya nodded, leaning in for a moment, but then pulling back, walking faster towards the car park.

I moved faster, inhaling the smoke, the pain, and everything that was the city. Tonight, I was going to be the reason we survived, powers, or no powers.

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Vrasti!!! 🌺
19:06 Apr 06, 2021

I think you should do a part 2 for this story. I don't know, I just really liked the characters and the story plot.


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John Del rio
02:52 Apr 05, 2021

I like your take on the prompt. Very literal. They are powerless because they are super heroes who have somehow lost their powers. I like how she questions whether He is only Heroic because he wants to be liked/needed/worshipped? But in the end they show that you don’t have to have Powers to be a hero.


Moon Lion
06:05 Apr 05, 2021

I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read and comment on all these stories! It is really cool to see someone interpret them, so thank you! I will definitely read your stories too :)


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Show 1 reply
03:39 Sep 16, 2020

I love how the characters learn that their powers are not what makes them special - it's simply who they are. I feel this is a very important lesson to keep in mind. The story was very well-written. You mastered the dialogue. Great job! Please comment on my story! It means a lot. Thanks! :)


Moon Lion
23:35 Sep 16, 2020

Thank you so much and for sure!


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