Nightmares

As part of my commitment to writing more things, have a few hundred words on this idea that I came up with a few years ago.

Harry woke with a start, still vivid memories of the war drifting off into haze as his mind awoke. The same dreams hit him every night of buildings crumbling, some vaporised right in from of his eyes…of people always falling.

To his side the phone alarm was blaring its usual ascending staccato and Jim was grumbling about it waking him up early again. Groaning, Harry pulled himself out of bed, slipping a kiss onto his cheek as he shimmied into his trousers. His happy sigh told him all he needed to know.

Leaving them to go back to sleep he dashed through to the kitchen, shirt being pulled on and buttoned up as he tried to sort out some breakfast. Deciding, he shoved some bread into the toaster and left the jam out ready, which gave him time to adjust his tie and comb his hair in the kitchen mirror.

Damn, he looked good. For the first time in his life (and after a year in the gym) his body was something to be proud of. The form fitting white shirt with a deep red tie and unbuttoned grey blazer, it matched his thin… no, lean body. He finally felt comfortable in himself, which helped him cope with the long days at the office. God, the area manager Dean was in, which meant a day of being tasked as handler duty so everyone else could work in peace. Still, it was in his nature to protect people so he did it happily, shouldering Dean’s incessant talks on the latest American Football news and trying to stop him hitting on the office staff in a way that was guaranteed to earn him a lawsuit one day.

The smell of burning toast filled his nostrils, which reminded him why he shouldn’t spend time thinking about the office before he got there. His life outside of that was rich and fulfilling, so why spend time worrying about arseholes?

Packing the last few bits into his Mirage Systems bag and with toast in mouth, he shouted a muffled farewell to Jim through his now food-filled lips. This was the part of the day he always loved- it didn’t matter what the day held, the trip to and from work more than made up for it. Moving to the window in the hall of their flat and pressing his finger to the omni-scanner to open it, Harry climbed outside onto the balcony and leapt.  Then, arms straight out ahead of him in The Pose and a grin on his face, he soared.

People always asked him if he regretted having the power of flight after it came to him and though he could see the appeal of something more exotic, there really was nothing else like it. Plus, from up high he could avoid the normal daily grind of traffic that only those with super speed were otherwise immune to. Super strength and invulnerability were great party tricks, but not exactly useful when you were a hour from work trapped in a gridlock.

Looking around to make sure he wasn’t bumping into anyone else on their way to work, he marvelled at the criss crossing flight plans of everyone. To the right of him, Mr Jamerson from the floor below sped past with a wave, blue electric energy racing over his body, a cheery hello wave his greeting.

Returning the gesture and leaving his neighbour to trail off into the distance, he turned his view to the ground below him. That was almost his favourite thing about flying – watching everything, from the blurred lines of colour that showed the superfast couriers crossing the city darting in and out of traffic almost faster than the eye could follow, to those with the strength and athleticism to do so leaping from building top to building top to try and avoid the commuter rush. He swooped down towards to BT Tower to see if Alice and Shahid from the office were taking their usual route across the city, racing one another via webbing to see who would be able to claim bragging rights for the morning. He let out a triumphant whoop of joy.

He was so intent on scanning below him that he completely missed the first few fliers falling from the sky. It was only when he heard a scream and looked about that he saw a woman plunging from above downwards. Not even thinking, Harry dived to try and catch her. But before he was even half way down he saw it was too late. He knew what was coming next and looked away, the distance between him and the woman obscuring the sound of her impacting on several cars.

But that wasn’t the end of it. More people started to fall, each cry of terror as they dropped a fresh note to add to the cacophony. Harry was paralysed with shock. All around him the world was going to hell, as people used to running at high speed found it cutting out mid rush, their legs buckling beneath them now they weren’t equipped to handle such speeds. Cars swerved erratically and the pile ups began, even as their drivers tried to manoeuvre them away to safety.

Everywhere there were fires springing up, smears of people on the ground and the sounds of people reduced to newborn infants in the wake of such devastation. Then Henry came back to himself as realisation slowly crept up his body. The powers he had possessed for most of his life were draining away.

It started at his toes, a prickly, creeping sensation as they lost the ability to suspend themselves in thin air. It slowly spread to his ankles, then his legs and began to creep up to his waist. By now, Harry was trying to head towards somewhere – anywhere – that would let him land safely. Anything to avoid the fate he had witnessed. But his body was sluggish, the rapidly shrinking powered portion trying to drag the part of his body that no longer responded to his urgent commands to soar away.

And just like that he was in gone. The ground was rushing up to meet him. The nightmares that had haunted him for years came to the forefront of his mind. Around him people joined him in hurtling towards to earth.

He was falling.

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