Run, by Donovan Hill
Fifteen-year-old Emma Wilson coughed as she breathed in the harsh winter air of New York City. Ouch, she thought as she continued down the beaten down street. She felt a tug on her thick winter coat.
“Hey sis, you alright?” her sister, Eliza, said.
Emma looked down to the nervous-looking girl and did her best to nullify Eliza’s fears. “Don’t worry,” Emma replied. “This cold is just a real bitch.”
“Mom said you aren’t supposed to swear.”
“Well, she’s not here. If you want to, I won’t tell anyone,” Emma told Eliza, who almost stopped in place with surprise. “It’ll be our little secret.” She winked. Emma’s mischievous behavior instantly spread to Eliza, making her let out a small laugh.
“Maybe later,” Eliza said, still giggling. “How much longer till we get there?”
“You really can’t be patient, can you?” Emma chuckled at Eliza’s antics. “We’re almost there.”
“What’s so special about a park anyway?” Emma looked down to meet Eliza’s eyes. “I mean it’s cold as . . . uh,” Eliza stumbled, as though she were trying to think of the right word. “Shit. Yeah, it’s cold as shit.” She sounded excited and nervous at the same time.
“Hey, you cursed. Congrats.” Emma patted Eliza on the back, although she did have to admit that it was extremely weird to hear the word “shit” coming from her little sister’s mouth. “And what’s so special is something you have to see for yourself. Trust me. Central Park is amazing during winter. Which you would know if you’d ever bother to come down with me.”
“I’m here now, aren’t I?” Eliza retorted in an insulted tone.
“After like a month of badgering you into it.”
“So you admit you were badgering me?”
“Of course. I have absolutely no shame in that,” Emma said, a broad grin on her face. “I was never gonna get you down here otherwise.”
The two walked side by side for the next fifteen minutes. Finally they arrived where they wanted to be. Or rather where Emma wanted them to be.
“Wow.” That was the only thing said as the two approached the park.
The snow cascading off the trees coupled with the frozen lakes. The thick blanket of snow on the ground. It looked beautiful. Something Emma knew Eliza was thinking too. She could tell Eliza was trying to hide it, but there was no way she could hide that giant smile.
“It’s a winter wonderland,” Eliza said, clearly trying to sound sarcastic, but failing miserably. Emma knew Eliza. She was practically dancing with excitement.
“So, is this still a waste of time?” Emma smirked widely.
“I hate when you’re right,” Eliza replied.
They spent the next several hours there absorbing everything. They had time to truly take in the magnificence of winter. They enjoyed every minute of playing in the snow until, as Emma feared, the inevitable happened.
“I’m ready to leave now," Eliza said simply.
Emma sighed audibly. “I figured.”
“Hey!” Eliza shoved Emma. “I was here for a long time you know! It’s just that it’s late. And the cold has made me start to lose feeling in my,” she paused for a moment, “everywhere to be honest.”
“I mean seriously, it’s freezing out here. And the worst part of it is, we didn’t even bring any money for that!” Eliza pointed at a hot chocolate stand, practically being mobbed by its surrounding customers.
Sigh. “Alright, wait here.” Emma walked towards the cart, before feeling Eliza’s small hands tug on the sleeves of her jacket.
“What’re you gonna do? We didn’t bring any money before we left the house you know!”
“I’m gonna ask politely if I can get one for free.”
“You never know. Now wait here.”
Emma walked up to the stand and looked at the price. Ten dollars for a cup! Even if I had cash, I wouldn’t pay for this. She walked closer to the surrounding crowd, then looked back to make sure nobody was looking. It wasn’t like it would matter if they were. She’d done this kind of thing about a thousand times, and she’d never gotten caught. Not even Emma’s family had seen it.
Emma took a deep breath. The snow falling from the sky had all but stopped. The bustling streets of New York, the conversations going on among its residents, even the tiny whistle of air moving through a nearby sewer grate suddenly went completely silent. Time appeared as if it was slowing to a crawl, but in reality she was just moving much, much faster. Emma casually made her way through the line of people so still they might as well be mannequins. When she got to the front, she gave a smirk of victory to the person running the stand, before lifting a cup out of his hand. She knocked down the price sign on the way back, just to further cement the win. For her, the whole ordeal took maybe a few minutes. In reality, less than two seconds had gone by, and she was there, holding a cup of hot chocolate in her hand. As she walked back to Eliza she heard the people in the crowd.
Did anybody feel that?
Where did all that wind come from?
I saw some kind of blur! What was that?
Emma stood straighter as a confident look plastered itself onto her face, and handed Eliza the cup.
“Seriously? That worked?”
“Never doubt your big sister,” Emma simply replied. “Now, you still want to go home?”
“Fine,” Emma said as she rolled her eyes.
Just as the two girls began walking home, however, Eliza stopped.
“What is that?” Eliza’s voice turned high-pitched.
Eliza grabbed Emma’s hand. “This.”
The veins on Emma’s hand could be seen clearly through her skin. They were red. Very red.
“I have no idea.” She tried to hide how much that scared her. “Maybe it’s just because we’ve been in the cold for so long.”
Eliza still wore a worried look on her face. Emma understood why. She’d been, to put it bluntly, abnormal for months, but this . . . she’d never seen it before. It wasn’t like she knew what exactly these abilities did to her body, but this couldn’t be healthy.
Emma snapped out of her musings, upon seeing Eliza’s fear driven look, and swept into action. She lifted her sister up and started tickling her.
“HAHAHA!” Eliza’s laughter rang through the city. “PUT ME DOWN!” she said through her raucous laughter.
Complying with the wish, Emma put Eliza back down on the icy snow. “Don’t you dare go worrying about me ever again,” Emma said as she beamed at Eliza, bright enough to melt the snow beneath their feet.
The look on Emma’s face soon dissipated, however, as she felt her wrist begin to burn. She snuck a glance at the veins on her arm to notice they were burning even brighter. To make matters worse, Emma noticed something out of the corner of her eye. A man was standing nearby, and he seemed to be watching them.
Not wanting to make Eliza panic too, she quickly plastered the best reassuring look she could manage on her face. “Alright, sis. Let’s keep going.” Emma took Eliza’s hand and walked at a faster pace.
“Jeez, where’s the fire?” Eliza asked, nearly tripping over herself at Emma’s new speed.
“Just getting cold is all,” Emma lied, still keeping up the pace.
She could hear footsteps behind them. Getting closer, she thought.
Emma peered back and saw that the man was following them. He stopped as soon as she looked at him. Emma steadied her nerves and kept walking. The burn on Emma’s wrist was even worse, as though she’d placed her hand in a burning pit. That didn’t matter now, though. Nothing mattered except making sure Eliza was safe.
Emma pulled Eliza closer and whispered to her, “We’re only a little bit from home. Listen to me, when I tell you to, I want you to run home okay? As fast as you can.”
“Em, what’s going on? You’re scaring me.”
“Someone’s following us. He has been for the last seven minutes. Now listen, in a few seconds you’re gonna run, okay? Go home, wait for Mom and Dad. And stay safe.”
Eliza was now visibly shaking. “What about you?” She looked up at Emma.
“I’ll be fine. You know I can take care of myself.” Emma patted her younger sibling on the shoulder trying to reassure her. It didn’t seem to work much.
“Go!” Emma shouted as she pushed Eliza forward.
Eliza began sprinting with all her might, moving as fast as she could, as far as she could. Emma, however, simply turned around and walked toward the man. After all, he couldn’t do anything faster than she could move. He was only human.
Donovan Hill currently lives in both Villanova and Orlando, Florida. He enjoys writing short stories, specifically those involving science fiction and fantasy. He has always been inspired by superhero stories and young adult novels, and he always strives to put his own spin on the genre.