Sally and the Carnelian: Chapter III
“You sure you’re fine with treating me?” I ask Kat as we head off on our lunch break.
“Totally,” Kat says. “I wanna be on your good side in case that gem thing turns you into a dark overlord or something. Plus, you caught that I’d screwed up the money count at closing that one time, which probably saved my job, so… Yeah. Don’t worry about it.”
The rain’s stopped, but the sky is still cloudy and the air is muggy. The lunch hour traffic is oddly subdued today.
Or maybe everything just seems subdued compared to having a magic gem in my chest.
“Wish we’d get a normal spring,” I say.
“Not around here, Sal,” Kat says. “Oop, sorry; Sally. Sorry, I guess I just like dropping syllables off people’s names.”
“Makes sense, Kat,” I say.
“So, anyways, about the gem,” Kat says. “Does it hurt? Are you bravely soldiering on through an immense amount of agony or whatever?”
“It’s not painful, but it’s definitely there,” I say. “It’s kinda… I dunno, warm isn’t the right word, but… energizing. It makes me feel strong.”
“Can you fly?” Kat asks. “Or is this more of a Captain America Super-Soldier Serum deal?”
“Let’s see,” I say, raising a fist in the air and willing myself upwards.
To my surprise, I lift about six inches off the ground. I can’t get any higher, though; my feet dangle in the air beneath me, brushing against the concrete.
“HOLY CRAP,” Kat says as I touch back down, looking around to see if anyone else noticed. “You can just do that now!?”
“Yeah, I guess,” I say, trying to catch my balance.
“Whoa, you OK?”
“I think I’m… hungry,” I say. “Yeah. I feel really weak now.”
“C’mon, let’s go grab lunch,” Kat says. “You need me to help you walk?”
“Nah, I’m good. Thanks, though. Lunch sounds amazing. Let’s do that.”
Aegis, now totally lost, decides to ask for directions.
“Could you help me, milady?” he asks, walking up to a woman coming out of a bank.
“The convention center’s down that way,” she says, pointing.
“Yeah, you know, with the cosplay and the superheroes and what-not,” she says. “I’d be going myself if I didn’t have work. Nice costume, by the way. Who are you supposed to be? Thor? Nah, Thor doesn’t have a sword…”
“No, no; sorry, I am looking for a young woman. She is short, with tied-back brown hair and cute rainboots.”
The woman squints at Aegis. “So, you mean a quarter of the women in this city,” she says. “Listen, I don’t know if you’re just in-character or whatever, but I’m sure they can help you down at the Con. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you and your freaky drone to bother someone else.”
She turns and walks away.
“Drone?” Aegis says, turning around.
“Heya, old pal,” Thanekron says, floating up to Aegis. “Not gonna let you catch me this time!”
“You are tiresome, pestilent knave,” Aegis says, using the flat of his sword like a cricket bat to send Thanekron flying away.
“Now,” he says, “to find this ‘the Con’ she spoke of.”
“Holy geez,” Kat says. “I didn’t know I’d be paying for this much lunch. Or that I’d be watching you eat this much lunch.”
“I said I was hungry,” I said, scraping up the last of the ketchup with my fries. I feel the eyes of the onlookers as I gorge, but I can’t help it. I’m starving.
“Yeah, but… Two double cheeseburgers? Not to mention your fries, and about half of mine.”
“You said you were done!”
“I was, but still. Holy geez.”
“Hopefully this is just a temporary thing,” I say as slurp my soda. “I feel like my stomach has a black hole in it.”
“As long as it just feels that way and doesn’t actually happen, we should be OK,” Kat says.
“…Thanks again for buying,” I say, looking up as I napkin the food particles off my face.
“As long as you don’t accidentally eat me in this process, we’re good,” Kat says, leaning back against the vinyl-coated booth.
I feel the gem pulse inside my chest.
I grip the edges of the table as it pours new energy into me.
“Hey, you OK?” Kat says, leaning forward again.
I look up at her and grin. “I feel amazing,” I say. “Ooh, except…”
I lean back, flex my gut muscles, and let out an enormous burp.
Not a, y’know, supernaturally enormous one.
“OK, yeah, now I feel amazing,” I say, giggling at myself.
“You’re unbelievable,” Kat says through her laughter. “C’mon, let’s get outta here.”
As we walk out of the restaurant, I turn to Kat and say, “Watch this.”
I hop off the ground and take off into the sky, feeling euphoric as I climb higher and higher.
“Hey!!” Kat calls after me. “One, be careful! And two, I want a ride!!”
End of Chapter III