Miguel-Michel Hernandez, or MM as he liked to be called, had a power. A superpower, one might call it. His power was that he was always, always able to escape.
The nineteen-year-old knew this, and took advantage of it as much as he could. He performed daredevil stunts because he knew there was no way for him to fail. He even committed crimes that would’ve landed him a lifetime of confinement—but, obviously, he escaped.
MM was the classic oh-so-clever person. He walked out in public view with a freshly stolen shirt, knowing that nobody in their right mind would mess with him, and if they tried he would just escape whatever jail cell they put him in and murder them.
Yes, life was quite easy for MM.
Not a soul knew how MM had gotten this ability. Some made wild guesses (most including some sort of deity), and some just refused to believe he had a superpower. The truth was, not even Miguel-Michel himself knew how he had come to be blessed with this superhuman capability.
There was one person MM would never hurt. He wouldn’t dream of even pinching her. His eleven-year-old sister, Miguel-Michelle, or Emmie as she liked to be called, was the only person MM loved. Truly loved.
She was also the only person that was still trying to incarcerate him.
Emmie loved her brother, but all the crime had changed him. He wasn’t the curious and kind boy she knew and loved. He was power-hungry and no longer cared who he hurt. Most people thought it was virtually impossible to trap someone if their superpower was to always be able to escape. But Emmie knew better.
One day, just as school was over, Emmie saw a notice tacked to the telephone pole just outside school grounds. The poster read:
MARIGOLD CITY POLICE DEPT.
Emmie rolled her eyes. Would the authorities ever learn? Her brother wasn’t going to get caught like this, no matter how hard they tried or how much money they offered.
That night, Emmie saw a note pinned to the refrigerator. It was from MM. He’d gone off to a “friend’s”. For some reason, MM liked to trick their parents into thinking he never murdered that guy or that the local bank getting robbed has nothing to do with him. Even if the police had a picture of him doing it. Emmie didn’t see why he bothered. He’d just get out of the situation as easily as he’d gotten into it. His moral compass had seemingly entered a room full of magnets. He likes this then hates that, saves this person and kills the next.
Being MM’s sister was like playing a dangerous game. But sometimes the only option you have is to roll the dice.
The next morning while sitting in bed, Emmie realized it was her birthday. All this crime nonsense had put a wrench in her life, and it was so bad that she didn’t even remember it was her own birthday!
Emmie got out of bed, pulled on a T-shirt and shorts, and opened the door to find her mother waiting.
Emmie’s mom was a carpenter, and a good one at that. Most of her business had disappeared after MM began his crime, but a few customers still came by. Business was really failing on Emmie’s dad’s side. Mr. Hernandez ran a food truck, but nobody bought anything for fear that it was poisoned.
Emmie didn’t think MM cared if their parents were multimillionaires or homeless. But the one thing she did know was that he cared about her.
For her birthday, Emmie got a pineapple cream cake, a nice dress from her mom, a make-your-own-bracelet kit from her dad, and a purple handbag embedded with diamonds from MM that Emmie was 99% sure was stolen.
Emmie wanted to return the bag to its owner or at least not wear it, but she knew that would break her brother’s heart.
That night, it came to her. At first it seemed ridiculous, but then again it was the only option. How else would it work? She’d have to do a lot of convincing, but Marigold City was a small town, with a population of about one hundred. Their neighbor had a power drill bigger than the man himself, which might be helpful. There was nothing beyond the City either; this was probably partially due to MM and partially due to travelers not knowing how to take care of themselves.
Over the course of the next month, Emmie put her plan into action. She convinced around three families per day, and once that was all settled, she got her neighbor to get to drilling. This of course took another couple months. Building an underground bunker for an entire city wasn’t an easy task.
The plan was to get everyone in the City to an underground bunker. There, Miguel-Michel couldn’t do anything to them. MM’s power was to escape, but that did not give him the power to choose where he escaped to. He could escape Marigold City all he wanted, escape the planet, even. In fact, Miguel-Michel had the power to escape death. He wasn’t exactly your average teddy bear. But no matter what, unless he found the bunker, he could not get to the townspeople. Then, because the City’s inhabitants didn’t want to permanently leave their homes, they’d leave a message far from the bunker. They would ask MM to swear to never use his power again. That meant no miraculous jail escapes, and he was no longer immortal.
Building an underground bunker is easier said than done, as Emmie learned. She was the chief architect. Boy, did it feel good to be in charge of all that. Most people had looked down on her for being MM’s sister, but now they looked up to her with a fresh perspective. A few brave people stayed at the City to distract MM from the project. A few of them died, but not in vain.
After six months of nonstop building and drilling, the bunker was complete. Everyone moved in at once, while MM was asleep in bed. Quietly they tiptoed down the hand-built wooden stairs, small bags of luggage in hand.
The move was hardest for Emmie. Yes, the whole operation has been her idea, but it hurt to leave MM. As she was tiptoeing out the door, she hesitated a moment. Quietly she snuck back to her room, rustling through her closet a bit, and left with a certain purple diamond-studded handbag.
One year later, MM was depressed. He stomped through the barren and empty City, kicking away trash and crying. Sometimes he just wailed out loud, crying for his mother, his father, his sister, and for forgiveness. He replayed the memory of waking up to the ghost town in his head over and over until he just couldn’t take it anymore. He wished he could escape this nightmare, but MM knew there was no escape to it other than death, and MM knew he would not die until he saw his sister again. He’d turned twenty a couple months ago, but nobody was there to celebrate. Miguel-Michel was alone, painfully alone, and there was nothing he could do about it.
One day, a few weeks later, Emmie sat on her makeshift bed in her makeshift hut in the makeshift bunker. It was almost time to go outside—outside! Emmie hasn’t seen a drop of daylight for almost a year and a half, and boy was she excited. There were trees out there! And the sun! Emmie had brought pictures of the outside world with her, but she’d forgotten what it actually looked like. Years of dimly lit living does that to you. She grabbed the note she’d written and walked out to find a group of townspeople cheering for her. She smiled gratefully and began climbing the steep stairs to daylight.
A townsman gave her a pair of sunglasses to wear, and Emmie was very glad to have them. She felt like her eyes might have evaporated without them! She marveled at the trees and how bright everything was. She corrected herself and crept toward the village. It was pretty easy to find where MM was most—it was the dirtiest. The deserted supermarket lay trashed and broken. Emmie carefully placed the note by the store’s sign and left as quick as she’d come.
MM was ransacking the candy isle of the supermarket when he noticed a little note that seemed particularly eye-catching. He took it from its place and read it. The note said:
This is Emmie, MM. We left the City because you’re a danger to us and yourself. You’re murdering people! Taking lives isn’t something you can just do. You need to be punished, and this is the only punishment you can’t escape. We will come back, though, if you meet me noon tomorrow at our house and swear to me you’ll never use your power again. That means no jailbreaks, no immortality, no nothing. But if I come back to or hiding place hurt in the slightest, or don’t come back at all, or come back without your sealed promise, we’re never coming back.
MM cried and cried, ruining the note. He ripped it to shreds, collapsing in a pile of hot tears and paper pieces. He sat like that for hours, not knowing what to do. He had 24 hours before he saw Emmie again. And yet MM could not five a way to be mad at his sister. He had murdered many people, and stealing wasn’t exactly new to him either. But give up the ability he’d depended on for his entire life? How could he do that? Could he do that?
Emmie’s return to the bunker was a joyous one. The townspeople cheered and cried happy tears. They were this close to being home again. The former museum manager already had plans to make the bunker a historical site. Everything and everyone was happy. That was the happiest Emmie had been in months. Now to wait until noon tomorrow…
MM was both ecstatic and depressed and angry. He’d finally see his sister again, after more than a year. It had been torture without anybody to talk to. He was depressed because he didn’t know what he would do. He was angry because they hadn’t given him more time to think. And then he was depressed some more because he realized that that whole year was meant for self-thought. Twenty-four hours was nothing compared to how long he’d been in solitude. There was only twenty minutes to noon, and MM was already at their house, waiting. Soon he spotted her, climbing over a hill with a sad smile on her face. MM ran to Emmie and she buried her face in his neck, hugging him. All the tears came crashing down, all the emotions crashing out. Through his tears Miguel-Michel whispered,