Life was paused for a moment. Both of us planned for the same scenarios. The best case: we found the other first. The worst case: they found us first. What happened: we found each other at the same time. Apparently: each time you make a plan you have successfully eliminated a possible reality.
Crammed into our seats aboard the bus, I in the back and she in the front, we were aware. I thought of the passengers and how they had no stake in the fight. I thought of the images I had pulled from their minds without their consent. I thought of their hopes, their wants, their problems big and small. I thought of how they were like me and not like me. And I thought about how in reality, I was more like her and she was more like me – and yet we were forced to be in opposition.
She pushed forward with her mind. The wave of energy slapped against the walls of the bus and blew out all the windows. Glass streaked through the air. All of the passengers screamed – all of them – and the bus took a jarring right turn. As the tires wailed and the riders did the same, she threw a fireball at me. It set my skin ablaze for a moment, but I put it out easily enough. I was ready for fire magic.
The bus collided with some signage which dotted the permitter of the roadway. The collision knocked us both off our feet, but she was clever. She knew it was coming. She used it to her advantage. The instant my body started to plummet towards the floor I saw her hand radiate and I knew the heat would be punishing. But not how punishing. Especially when the fire contacted my face.
I was fortunate to hit the ground face first. The impact helped to snuff out some of the flames. My fortunes were compounded when I noted her bloodied hand. It had slapped against the remains of the fractured window. Her hand shivered, independent from the rest of her body – like a phone bejeweled with glass, set to vibrate, now receiving a call.
A man stood and threw himself from the bus. Right out the window. Others were following suit. Yelling. Crying. Heavy breathing and tangible panic. Some were cradling others. Some were dragging themselves across the sticky and unkempt floor. None were safe. All were afraid.
I seized the opportunity to throw my first punch. The attack was two-fold. On the surface, a powerful wave cast in an attempt to knock her backward onto the shards of the windowsill. This, she deflected with relative ease. What she failed to detect or protect from was the hex I placed on her heart. Which was now beating about twice as fast as normal. As blood sped and wound through her veins, more of it found its way out through the surface of her hand. She was in pain. But the feeling was mutual.
With her uninjured hand, she clasped the bloodied one. Firm. Tounges of flame shot directionless from the center of the handshake inferno. She was cauterizing her wound. But I knew it would not be enough. And, as if she had infiltrated my mind, she knew as well. Hands still together in a burning blood red, she fled.
No. She was not about to escape. She was not about to get away. No. Not from me.
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