[Prompt: A mysterious race of beings has appeared on Earth. They’ve come with the promise of granting super-human abilities to a limited number of people. You are the last person chosen, and find that all they have left are the “not-so-super-human” abilities. ]
Picked Last. It was all Kayla could think about as she stood among a group of her peers that were selected from all around the world. When the benevolent beings, known as the Alovians (originating from the planet Alovia), appeared on Earth promoting peace with a sweetening deal of gifting powers to a limited number of people, Kayla had never thought she would be chosen. She stood on the line of average as a whole, neither standing out or falling behind in comparison to other humans. The odds of being selected by the Alovians were higher than winning the lottery so in retrospect, Kayla had no room to complain. Yet her annoyed grew as the room began to empty and she was the last among three to still remain.
The first person chosen, a man by the name of Raul, had returned to show off his new-found ability. He flew by the window outside the room and proceeded to loop and twirl through the sky while they looked on with gaping mouths. When Raul departed, the room had erupted with voices. Everyone was talking about the powers they wanted. They ranged from wanting to turn anything into gold to be rich, to wanting to make plants rapidly grow to end world hunger. A fight had broke out between two men who both wanted to be super strong. Kayla wasn’t sure who won because she had quickly retreated for the far side of the room to avoid being caught up in the dispute.
She sat down near the edge of the window and reflected on her lack of knowledge when it came to super heroes. Her younger brother had been a Marvel/DC fan and she could recall a series of Halloweens where he had dressed in brightly colored suits with weapons and catch phrases. Kayla, having never been the most imaginative person, had been content to wear a white sheet and proclaim herself a ghost. Now she wished she had paid more attention to the movies her brother had adored.
The Alovian had appeared out of nowhere, just like they had from the very beginning. They were a quiet, watchful people with skin the an iridescent hue between white and blue. They shimmered when they moved through the sunlight. Their eyes were narrow but wide which gave them a wide field of vision and they rarely needed to turn their head to change their point of view. Over-all they could be considered humanoid, for they had the same number of appendages and physical constructions, but no one would ever mistake an Alovian for a Earthling.
A woman stood and approached the Alovian with her hand outstretched. They all knew the drill after watching the others go through the same process. The Alovian curled his (or her?) slender fingers around the woman’s hand and wrist and then they were gone. There was no flash of light, no puff of smoke, or any noise to accompany the phenomenon. In the blink of an eye, they were gone from the room.
Kayla found her gaze shifting to the only other person in the room, a man with dark hair and well trimmed beard. He sat directly opposite from her, hunched forward to set his elbows on his knees while nervously wringing his hands. He caught her looking and tried to smile. Kayla tried to return the gesture but the anxiety that was making her stomach upset soured the expression.
“It feels like school,” His words were English but laced with an accent she couldn’t place.
Reluctantly Kayla returned her attention to him, “I’m sorry, what?”
The man looked uncertain with himself before he spoke again, “When I was a child we use to play baseball in the field next to our village. We would stand and the two captains would take turns picking the other children from teams. I always feared being the last one.”
“Oh,” She knew that feeling all to well but didn’t want to confess it. “At least here we all know that we get to have something special, something that no one else in the world will have. It doesn’t matter if one of us is picked last.”
Despite her words, Kayla couldn’t help but hope that she was the next to be chosen so that she wasn’t indeed the last one.
“You are right,” The man smile and bobbed his head in a gracious nod. “We get to be real life super heroes.”
Kayla forced smile she hoped was friendly before turning her attention back to the window. She couldn’t even imagine what she might do if she had a super power. If she could fly, what would she do rather than make some trips faster than it would be if she were to drive a car. Everyone would be jealous and probably make her feel bad that she was special. Then the government might lock her up and try to extract the super power from her to give to someone else more deserving than her.
Kayla kept her grimace directed toward the window, but surely if they looked they could see her disappointment reflected in the glass. She would be the last person to be gifted with a power. Maybe they would surprise her with a power they had been keeping for the very end. The best fireworks were at the end of the show, not at the beginning or the burst in between. It was always the end the people wanted to see. This Kayla told herself as she watched the mirror image of the Alovian and Labid disappear. She would be special. It didn’t matter that she was last.
Closing her eyes helped to calm her nerves. Or so she thought. Her feet still bounced inside the off-brand tennis shoes, and her hands clasped together in earnest, so whatever calm she felt was a bold-faced lie. She couldn’t hold on to her thoughts despite her efforts to concentrate. As soon as she brought a topic to distract herself, it would disappear to the far corners of her mind and her eyes would open and she’d stare at a time at the empty room before she realized what she was doing. Again she would close her eyes and repeat the process.
Jumping to her feet, Kayla nearly stumbled as she approached the alien. Her heart raced as she extended her hand and his(her?) warm hand engulfed her own. The air shifted around her, blowing the bangs from her forehead, and when she looked they were in a new room. It was circular with a raised dome. The Alovians stood on raised platforms ahead of her, all of them facing the glowing podium in the center. The Alovian next to her gestured, urging her to walk the small lighted path to stand before the centerpiece. It was rounded at the top and as Kayla passed her hand close to the surface, she could feel it hum with energy.
“Place your hands upon the vessel.”
Eagerly she laid her palms and fingers against the cold surface of the orb and felt the power pulling at her very core. It pulled and pulled until some part of her reached its core and then it pushed back. It began in the very tips of her fingers, a chill that worked its way up through her body like an eel swimming through the rocky reef of the ocean.
“Three profound abilities have been found to be compatible with your mind and body. You may choose only one.”
She looked up at the faces angled down to regard her, wondering which of them was speaking.
“The power to cook, conceive, and the power of silence.”
It took her a moment to recover her wits, and even then she couldn’t quite take in what she had just heard. “What?”
The faces regarded her with an unnerving silence.
“How are any of those super-human? People can do those things anyway? We cook. We have babies. What am I suppose to do with.. “ She paused to recall the last of the three powers. “The power of silence?”
The orb responded to her words, warming and replacing the chill in her body with a searing warmth.
Kayla panicked and tried to pull her hands away but found herself stuck as if the orb were a magnet and she the piece of metal. “Wait!”
When at last the orb released her, Kayla collapsed to the floor and covered her face with her hands. The Alovian approached to remove her from the platform, but she struck an open hand at him to keep him at a distance. She opened her mouth to yell at him but, to her ultimate horror, her voice no longer worked. She screamed, the sound lost to all but her.