A swirling mist skimmed the outskirts of the growing mob. Sensations of fear, rage and pain rioted above the escalating voices. A shadow hovered among the multitude of faces, descending to transform the erupting emotions into something less. Fear, rage, and pain mutated as a gentle breeze dispersed tolerance, understanding and compassion into the small crowd, lingering over each precious face.
“It’s too strong,” a pained voice whispered. Fire light glinted on toppled statues as flames licked hungrily at the few buildings left in its path. Sulphur and smoke filled the air. Dark liquid dripped and pooled beside bodies littering the streets. Screams resonated through the night as a mother found another injured child. The cycle started again.
“You can do this,” she told herself, wiping the sweat from her dark brow. “Please, help me to do this,’” she begged looking toward the stars.
A fog sparkled and danced, taming, and lifting the madness from each participant of the angry mob. It went on for hours. Into one and onto the next. Only when the emotions calmed, the vapor condensed into a solid form and leaned against the cold hard brick. Her head throbbed. She leaned into the alley and vomited.
“When had the world lost its mind?” she wondered. “How could one person make a difference, even with an unusual gift.”
“You had the gifts for empathy and clairvoyance. Now you have the power to heal,” the familiar voice in her head answered. “Use your power. Only you can change this.”
The riot began to gain momentum. Small explosions detonated in the streets. People scurried like hunted animals looking for a place to hide. She groaned and moved on to the next crowd.
“How?” She screamed. “This isn’t working. Why couldn’t I have super strength… or that vampire power … what’s it called? Compulsion.” She sighed, “That one would come in handy right about now.”
Six months earlier she had been infected by Covid19. She had not even known about the virus until she lay on her deathbed, alone. While she lay gasping for what she had thought was her last breath, a brilliant white light had suddenly appeared, enveloping her body. The light had surrounded her, pulsing and pushing her body up and out of her apartment. As she drifted along in the warm, vibrating light, she was pulled into something she could not identify in the deep void of space.
When she woke, soft purple and gold lights snapped around her. She was in a place she had never dreamed could exist.
"You are to be an instrument of great change," A voice told her. "All you have to do is believe."
She experienced an amazing sort of peace, a calmness she had never known before. Disembodied voices spoke to her inside her head like some form of telepathy. Visions flashed of the future to come. Warned her of the limits of her gift and promised there were others that would help her. Videos played of others sent to different cities to help people attain clarity.
She watched as a group of people turned on each other, brawling in the streets like MMA fighters. Gunshots rang out in the distance. People screaming. Children crying. It was too much. Where was the help that had been promised? Her energy was fading.
"Of all the people in the world to pick from, why her?" She wondered. All she had ever amounted to was being a huge disappointment. She had never been good enough, even to be a part of her own family. Her parents had reminded her at every opportunity. The scars still remained.
She woke to Fox News blaring about the death count. Every country had the numbers posted and rising by the second at the bottom of the screen. The coronavirus had nothing on this pandemic. Between the two, it was difficult to see if anything would be left of the world she had once known. She ran into the bathroom and vomited. An after effect of using so much of her powers. The negative energy had to be released somehow. She reached for the sink and pulled herself up.
"The world meets no one half-way." She gritted her teeth. Her favorite Stallone movie. She couldn't give up now.
She walked the short distance to her workplace and slid into the DHS records room. Her alter-ego, a lowly file clerk, until the world turned upside-down. Now she got to go on interviews in the homes of unfit parents, her least favorite thing to do.
She went through the motions and tried to block the rising emotions that surrounded her. When voices raised and arguments broke out in the lobby, she peered through her window. This insidious emotional parasite had invaded her normally quiet workspace. His name was Chaos. Sighing, she cracked open her door and sent a pulse of calming energy through the large office. Immediately the atmosphere changed.
Intake workers manned the phones with less emotion and more professionalism. DHS was overwhelmed with calls. It used to be easy. Go to the house, read the parents, save the kids. Now everyone was a risk. Each caught in their own personal war. Each had some truth. No one had compassion or understanding for any other way but theirs. Eruptions were inevitable.
She was alone in her crusade. By day, she picked the worst cases. The children most at risk to not survive another day in their current environment. By night, she roamed the streets, trying to keep the worst of the violence that was ever building it at bay. It never ended. Murders, human trafficking, arson, rape, destruction; she couldn’t be in two places at once. It was like pissing on a forest fire.
People were out of control. Everyone was angry at the government, the police, the virus, the economy, the mandates on being in public and each other’s difference of opinion. People were tired of the never-ending quarantine, of having children underfoot and out of school.
If there had ever been a true Gotham City, she was smack in the middle of it. In these uncertain times, villainizing the police made everyone's jobs a million times more difficult. And that was only if others could access the problem areas without being attacked or killed. Chaos reigned supreme.
Where was the Flash when you needed him? At least he could speed up enough to stop something before it happened. If there were others like her, where were they? She had tried reaching out with her thoughts, hoping to connect with someone, anyone that could help her. No one ever answered her cries. If she hadn’t seen with her own eyes the difference she could make and the nearly invisible form she could morph into, she would have gone to the nearest mental hospital.
She had learned through her limited experience that she could change more than one person’s emotions at a time, but crowds drained her and had stretched her powers to their limits. Using them twenty-four hours a day without a break was making her sick. Some superhero she was turning out to be. More and more people were reacting to the fear and pain around them. Reason had vanished.
CNN woke her from her power nap. Riots and murder had taken hold of the streets. She watched as another child fell. Shot in the back by the same group he had been supporting. She rose and opened the balcony doors that overlooked her once proud city. Tears streamed down her face. Waves of rage pulsed from every pore of her being. She fell to her knees and screamed.
“Stop, hurting each other.” She yelled.
Everything went silent. Sirens stopped wailing. Mothers hugged each other. Not even a dog barked. The entire mob stopped as if frozen, then turned to help each other. Anger, pain, and rage had been forgotten.
From high above, she watched in amazement as all the poison that had invaded her fellow man was replaced with tolerance, understanding and compassion.