Author's Note: This is just a piece I've revised for my creative writing class. Just a short story fiction assignment. I hope you enjoy. (:


Blood Reader

The shrill scream filled the midnight sky and I stopped in my tracks. Oh no. A distress call. A distress call unknowingly calling out to me.

I could have ignored it. Gone about my night and headed home, curled up on my couch with my fat pug and wiry ferret next to me, a hot cup of Abuelita chocolate in my hands because hot chocolate is perfect at any hour, including witching hours. I would have avoided all the annoying complications that came with being the superhero.

But nope. The heroic urge to rush and save the damsel in distress and be Superman yet again overpowered my reluctance and instead of keeping my steady stroll back to my flat, I rushed to the aid of the frantic woman in need. Goddammit. I was going to regret it once the consequences came.

It wasn't always bad, though. I remember in second grade a bully shoving me out of the way in the lunch line so he could get in front of me. That push gave me access to his entire life story, including his worst memories. I'd used this to my advantage, gaining my retaliation by shouting out at him, "Well at least I don't wear diapers still!" The entire school erupted into laughter and never let him live it down, however I was sent to the principal's office and sent home for the day. My parents were upset and took away my Super Nintendo, but I was still relishing in the fact that I had embarrassed him in front of the whole school.

But, as I mentioned before, there were consequences. When I was younger, I didn't know that being able to read everybody's thoughts after physical contact wasn't normal. In kindergarten, my teacher shook my hand on the very first day of school, and when I told her that her grandfather was in Heaven with my dog Patches, she stared at me for a long time and the next thing I knew my mom was sitting with me in the principal's office.

After that, my parents told me I wasn't supposed to tell anybody about the things I read from them, that other kids weren't like me. I was a special little boy. Later I came to realize that I wouldn't want to tell anybody about these things. I wouldn't even want to read all the stuff I picked up from that one touch. Even after that one touch, I couldn't ever have a quiet moment because I was always connected to that person and could hear them go about their daily lives, like a soft annoying whisper in the back of my head.

I slowed my pace when I could make out voices, the woman sobbing and pleading while a gruff man snarled and cursed at her. They appeared in an alley between tall old buildings. How creative. There was even an old dumpster pushed against the wall. A typical scenario for a mugging … or a murder.

Both the man and woman turned to me when I appeared in front of the alley. She stared at me with wide pleading eyes, yet I knew she was also afraid that I wouldn't be a friend to her either. The man glared at me with just as much hate as he was staring at the woman.

"Get the fuck out of here, fucktard!" he spat at me. Wow. What a colorful and … interesting vocabulary.

When the woman realized I wasn't a friend of her enemy, she called out to me.

"Please, HELP ME!" she screamed, struggling to jerk away from the tight grip the man held her in.

Oh man. Here it went. Here's to another invasion of thoughts I'd rather do without.

I walked towards them and the man became more aggressive.

"I said get out of here!" he cried, crushing the woman's arms in his large beefy hands. She howled in pain as he squeezed her.

I ignored him and when I was within arm's reach, I extended my hand to him. Startled, he jerked away, but not far enough out of reach.

"Hey, don't you fuckin' touch—"

My hand grasped his forearm and suddenly his jerking stopped. His other hand let go of the woman and she moaned and continued sobbing. His angry face fell into a neutral expression.

At that moment, I had every ounce of control over his body. He was calm because I was making him calm. His blood had slowed its speed and instead of racing at such high velocity, it smoothly sailed throughout his body. I was in tune with his body rhythm, the fierce pumping of his heart, his tense muscles, and even the drunken state his pitiful brain was in. He was heavy with alcohol, his body practically drowning in it, and I could feel how destroyed his liver was from a childhood of drinking. He seriously had some problems and really needed to get himself checked out at a doctor.

This was a part of my "skill" that I hadn't learned about until my teenage years, because of all the years I'd shied away from physical contact. My first and only girlfriend was my guinea pig, my experiment. Using her I learned that I could control her movement and read not just her thoughts and memories, but her body, her organs, and especially her blood, the power source to my ability. When I finally had the guts to tell her, well, that was the end of that relationship … and the rest of my social life.

I traced his blood all the way to his brain, and, reluctantly, reaching into his hippocampus, the memory storage part of the brain. It only took that one touch to know what was really going on between him and the woman. Fights like these weren't uncommon between these two, but this was the worst he'd gotten. Their problems rooted from all sorts of things, from cleaning the house to disagreements on how to raise their two-year-old. Apparently this had been the final straw and she was running away to her mother's house, where her baby was staying for the week to get out of the house. I also knew that he had turned into the exact replica of his father, who was just as bad a drinker and violent towards his mother when he was younger, and eventually towards him as he grew older. I knew his name, where he was born, his darkest secret, his favorite holiday, where his mother was buried … everything he knew now belonged to me. I knew his entire life story just by touching his arm for a couple of seconds, and that was exactly what I wanted to avoid by ignoring this distress call.

The woman stared at him as he stood like a frozen body.

"Jerry?" she whispered in fear. "Jerry?" she called louder. She turned to me and screamed in my face, "What did you do to him?!"

Should have just gone home, I repeated in my head.

"What did you do to him?! Stop it! Stop it!" she shrieked.

This woman was such an idiot. I didn't have to read her to know that she still cared about this monster who had spent the last five years beating her until she could barely move. I should have released my hold over Jerry and let him continue doing what he was doing.

But no. My "superhero" subconscious was telling me otherwise. So instead of releasing him, I used the control I had over his body and forced him to walk away, an image of the police station in my mind as I directed him to go.

Tell them what you did, I mentally told him, and without a doubt I knew he would.

"Jerry, where are you going? Jerry! Stop! Make him stop!" she cried, and her hands pressed against my shoulder, shaking me in her demands. I sighed heavily as another wave of thoughts and history crashed inside my mind and, once again, I could see everything she ever knew. No matter how cruel he was to her, she still felt that he loved her and that they belonged together, they just needed some time apart. Her stupidity was making me angrier but I kept my feelings to myself.

As soon as she had laid her hand on me, once again I had full control over her. She'd stopped her shaking and sobbing and screaming. She was still with the same blank expression that Jerry had worn. Her speeding heart rate suddenly slowed to normal and the blood inside of her flowing peacefully. And as I read over her status, I realized that she never knew she was pregnant, just two months along, and had miscarried. Now I couldn't help but feel sorry for her, because I knew all the abuse from her boyfriend made this happen. This was why I hated this stupid ability. I was always stuck with the short end of the stick of knowing everything and anything about everyone I came in contact with, and most of the things I knew I didn't want to know.

"It's okay, Trisha," I said calmly to her. "My name is Peter, and I'm here to help you."

I did the same thing with her as I did for Jerry, manipulating her into walking where I wanted her to go, except instead of the police station I directed her towards the hospital. I followed her there, prepared to explain what I found out to my fellow medics.

This was what I got for getting involved, for having a conscience, for having sympathy. There was a certain urge I had for needing to help people who desperately needed it. I stayed with Trisha while the nurses took her to an emergency room because she needed me, explaining her miscarriage and her abusive partner. The control over her would soon let up. She would need some clarification. It was moments like these that made it difficult to not help. But developing that bond that made me feel like I needed to take care of them, that was the worst. Worse than having someone's entire life story flash before my eyes. I had connections to millions of people in the world, each one I had helped in some way. Why wasn't that an honor? The more people I helped, the more I was miserable. But I couldn't just stop for that exact reason: people needed my help. Trisha needed my help. Even jerks like Jerry needed my help. I could help everybody with their health problems, help them escape violent situations, help them get better.

The only person I couldn't help was myself.