A flash fiction piece by Tasha Coryell
It was his destiny to save the world.
“You can do anything,” his parents told him. This was the truth. Daniel could do anything. He could fly, morph into a different person, freeze things, burn things, electrocute with his eyes. He could be invisible, read thoughts, lift with his super strength.
His parents enrolled him in a boarding school for the gifted and talented. Some of the children had powers like Daniel and some of the other children were merely intelligent.
Daniel didn’t like school. He acted out by erasing the words his teachers wrote on the board with his eyes and by sending his peers to space with his mind.
“He’s just bored,” his parents said. “He has so much potential.”
Daniel made friends with a boy named Billy. Billy had no powers at all. Billy’s parents also told him, “You can do anything.” Daniel knew this wasn’t true about Billy. Billy couldn’t really do anything the way that Daniel could.
Together, Billy and Daniel played a lot of video games. They played video games instead of doing their homework, instead of talking to other people, instead of honing their other skills like flying and x-ray vision in Daniel’s case and math and computer science in Billy’s.
“It’s improving my hand eye coordination,” Daniel told him parents when they threatened to take away his gaming systems. It was hard to punish Daniel because he could control thoughts and just when his parents had their minds made up, he swayed them to do something different.
“Okay, Daniel,” they said. “You can keep your X-Box and your Playstation and your Gameboy and your smart phone, but we expect you to do better in school. How are you going to save the world if you don’t prepare yourself?”
Daniel didn’t understand why he had to prepare himself for his destiny. Destiny was something that was going to happen regardless of how he spent his time.
Daniel had never had a girlfriend. One time he asked out one of his classmates who had the power to control time and she’d moved time backwards to a place where he’d never asked her out and never would. Even though Daniel could do virtually anything he still had insecurities about sex.
There were days that Daniel wondered if he was in love with Billy. He spent more time with Billy than he had ever spent with anyone else. Billy had seen him in his underwear. Billy had seen him cry with rage. After some deliberation Daniel decided that he did love Billy, but not like a love-love but instead something brotherly. People who were destined to save the world always had to give up something they loved: their girlfriends, their parents, normalcy. Daniel was okay with giving up Billy. He could always find someone else to hang out with.
The aliens invaded and Daniel’s parents said, “This would be a really good opportunity for you to save someone.” But where he lived was unaffected. Everyone just continued their lives as though there were no aliens on the earth and Daniel couldn’t be bothered.
The robots took over the earth and one of them viciously killed Billy in order to take his place in the video game. “It’s my turn,” the robot said in an eerily human voice. Daniel didn’t mind this so much because the robot could heat up pizza in its belly and had the ability to turn into a vacuum cleaner.
An asteroid was headed towards the earth and Daniel’s parents said, “All you have to do is fly up there and destroy it.” Daniel had illegally snuck alcohol into his room and gotten drunk with his robot friend the night before. This had inadvertently killed the robot and left Daniel with a hangover. He was struggling to leave his bed to throw up in the toilet, never mind flying to space. Instead, some people that couldn’t fly got into a giant metal rocket ship that looked as though it couldn’t fly either and blasted the asteroid to bits. Those flightless humans were heroes and Daniel was still vomiting water.
The humans killed the world and it was up to Daniel to find a new earth. The doomsday preppers pulled out their weapons and everyone died besides the self-proclaimed killers. Daniel’s parents were murdered by a wandering gang of bikers who had once rode motorcycles and now rode bicycles because there was no more gas. Daniel lived off a giant pack of bottled water and bulk ramen that his parent’s had purchased for him the last time that they visited. He was sad they would never visit again. He missed Billy and he missed the robot.
When the power went out, all of Daniel’s video games died. He couldn’t recall how long the air had smelled like burning plastic or the last time he’d had something to eat. He had a moment of panic and began devising ways to fix the earth. But he remembered, several moments into his planning, that he had the power of electricity in his fingertips. The electricity flowed from him into the gaming system and the gaming system flowed back to him. He forgot about his hunger and his parents and all of humanity. They fed each other as the world burned.
Tasha Coryell is an MFA Candidate at the University of Alabama. Her stories have been published in [PANK], The Collagist, and Word Riot. Excerpts from her novel “This Isn’t Really About Fishing” have appeared on Hobart and Cartridge Lit.
Adrian Rotzscher is a Berlin-based artist working in a variety of formats. We love his collages, his modified nudes and the intricacies of all his work–which can be found on his website, aptly named Random Precision. Precise, indeed. Peruse his Instagram and soak it up.