Watching the streetlights flick by one after the other, down the highway in a flipbook of light, Jan tried to contain his excitement. The bus roared smoothly over the bridge, each pool of sodium vapor glow a warm yellow pocket between black unknowns.
Jan flicked his eyelid with his finger, trying to get the tic to stop its incessant twitching. Had to calm down. Too strange, too much to assimilate. He thought about testing his new power again, but instead settled for looking out the window with his left eye closed. Calming, the world in slightly blurrier lines, the lights fuzzy and soft around the edges. Then close the right, nice and slowly. The insides of your eyelids, like a warm red blanket. Open the left eye. Feel the twitching, but let it come, don’t try to clamp it down.
The big green city limits sign flashed by at the end of the long, flat bridge. Home, again. Jan fingered the new phone in his pocket, wondering if he should call; or maybe just let it be a complete surprise. Twitch, his eyelid said.
He turned to look out the opposite side, but accidentally made eye contact with a girl sitting in the seat across the aisle. The tic went crazy, he instantly flushed a nice beet red, and swiftly looked back out his window. He sat there feeling silly as the bus rolled into the stop at the edge of town.
Jan lay there, a strange smile on his face, twitching as his eyes blinked rapidly.
The security guard wanted to help, but she didn’t know what to do. She stood confused, as snow slowly fell, and wondered how she was going to write this one up in the daily. Kneeling down, she felt for a pulse. Jan was fine. He was whispering something, over and over.
The guard stood up, shuddering; creeped out, she shook her head as if to ward off an evil spirit. “I’m sorry, man. I don’t know what the heck you’re on, but I gotta call the cops.” She waited for some kind of response. “You’re trespassing.”
She gave him a nudge with her boot. Still he just lay there, looking almost joyous. His eyes wouldn’t stop blinking, but his smile was peaceful, at rest on the cold concrete. It didn’t look like any epilepsy she’d ever heard of. The guard looked up helplessly at the camera, through the fat flakes, and then stalked off through the yellow flickering pools of excited sodium light, feeling jealous of the man and then silly by turns.
“No, Samuel, I mean… how do you know I’m wrong?”
“Look, man.” Samuel shook his head. “You bust in unannounced at like, 2 in the morning. So I’m sleepy, and I can’t think this through. But there is no frickin’ way you have figured out a way to slow down time. Explain it again?”
“I figured it out the other day. When I blur the world by looking through one eye, and then I flip to the other, it slows things down. The faster I do it, the more time I get!”
“Riiight. So, look. What’s uhh, something you could do to prove you get more time than me? Like what about a math problem?”
Jan’s tic flinched and he jumped up. “Yes! Give me a problem! Hit me!”
Groggily pulling out his phone, Sam punched some numbers in.
“Uhhh, okay. Three four five six times two three four.”
Jan immediately began flicking his eyes really fast for a second, and then blurted: “Eight hundred thousand eight hundred and twenty four.”
Shaking his head blearily, Samuel said, “Nope. Dude, Jan. I think you need some help. Well, how about just some sleep. Just crash here tonight on the couch, Betty and I will make you breakfast in the morning. Everything will be better then, I swear.” He ran his hand through his greasy hair, sighing.
“No. Screw that. Man, I should have known you wouldn’t believe me.” Jan blinked a few times with a sneer, and then jumped up. Grabbing his bag, he swung towards the door.
“No man, no! Just stay and get some sleep!” Samuel begged him as he strode off down the sidewalk. “Crap. I didn’t even get your new number.”
As he marched through the warehouses, Jan began muttering to himself. “Maybe I can just slow down time and steal something. That’ll show ’em! It’s how all super heroes or villains get started!” The tic flared up and he poked his eye shut with a finger. Red glow, red blanket. Snow was beginning to slowly swirl in the cones of the streetlights.