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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2212962
My first assignment and I'm simply not ready. Screams!!! 2/14/2020.
First Day Nerves

"I'm really not ready," I said, shifting my weight from one foot to another. My nervousness about the job outweighed my nervousness about speaking to my trainer.

"You're not ready? You've got to be kidding me." He spoke quietly but I could feel the heat of his gaze as it bored into me.

"That's right," I said, desperate now to make my case. "Just another month or two and I'll be fine. I'm sure I will." The begging tone I heard in my voice made me sick with shame. How could I allow myself to... wheedle?

Mr Sparks looked as though he was considering it, my plea. I should have known better for the words that followed spewed forth in a steaming torrent. "Your training is done. Complete! You are ready to go out and earn the cost of it back. Or would you like to take it up with the boss?"

The boss? I'd never seen him, never wanted to either. What I'd heard made me certain that an interview with him would end up with me getting burned. And badly, too! "No, not the boss; but surely you could extend things a bit without involving him." I hated to try flattery but this was a crisis. "Someone of your high standing must be able to make these decisions for yourself."

Mr Sparks looked down and nodded his head. He definitely looked as though he was giving my idea some consideration. He looked up and met my eyes, but I could not get even an inkling of his thoughts.

"Yes, of course it is within my power to extend your training. But," he flexed his fingers and I was sure that I could see tiny flames shoot out from the ends of them, "in your case... I won't"

Before I even had a chance to take in his words, he had flung open the door, put his hand on my shoulders and shoved me through it.

It was a weird sensation, falling upwards. If I hadn't already been sick with nerves I'd have become sickened by the motion. When I finally stopped moving I stayed slumped, eyes tightly shut. I was not ready and there was no way I was going to be able to do the job. Maybe, if I wished hard enough, I could make myself fall back down, then keep out of sight of Sparks for a while.

Even if I could, I realized, that was never going to wash. As soon as he had pushed me out of the door, the reception committee would be readying themselves for my return. There was no way that I could return unaccompanied. I'd find a way to get back at Sparks! I would! Or better yet, perhaps I could just stay where I was, without attracting any attention. The coldness of my skin, the lethargy of early hypothermia told me I was no longer acclimatized to this place. I would not be able to survive for very long.

The voices intruded on my thoughts. Two of them, both male and both raised in anger. They were heading my way. So that suggested that the positioning system had been pretty much on track. I backed into the shadowy spot against the wall to watch, to wait, to find my nerve.

There was a loud grunt and one of the men landed on the ground beside me. Don't look! Don't look! Before he had a chance to turn my way, another pair of feet stepped forward, aimed a kick at the guy on the ground's head.

"Watch out!" I'd shouted the warning before thinking what I was doing.

Both men froze, looked towards the wall. I tried to become one with the bricks and I must have been slightly successful as neither of them seemed to see me. That was close. I nearly broke the second rule: never meddle with fate. I clamped one of my hands over my mouth to try to stop any more words slipping out. The trembling of my hand made my face feel like jelly.

One went down, then the other. This was crazy; there was no way I was going to be able to take either of them back with me. They both dwarfed me, and their ferocious rage was making them incredibly strong. This was no task for a beginner.

I knew which one of them was my target. Jefferson Vale, the guy that was currently receiving one hell of a pummelling. At any moment I was going to have to step forward, do my job; and I couldn't even move, I was so scared. I heard the smash of the bottle, saw the jagged shape of the glass as it passed beneath the light from the street-lamp.

"Look out!" Oh, boy, I'd done it again. How big a mistake I'd made I didn't realize until my eye caught the glint of a steel blade.

Jefferson Vale stood up, wiped the blade on a piece of rag he had pulled from his trouser pocket, before tossing it to land at my feet. The other guy was on his knees, his hands clasped against his throat. He was taking his final breaths and I was going to have to act now.

I stepped forward, trying to ignore the smell and the slipperiness of his blood. I pushed my hands into the dying man's chest, and pulled his soul, his essence, his life-force, whatever you want to call it, out out of him and struggled to keep a hold of him. With the greatest of effort I heaved myself downwards, dragging him with me.

As much as the upward fall had been bad, the downward one was even worse. I had to cling, to grip and to grasp something that was trying to make a last escape. The only thing that was keeping me strong was the welcome return of the heat. As much as it strengthened me, it seemed to weaken my companion, making my task that bit easier.

Coming in to land, I allowed myself to feel a small bit of accomplishment. My first job and I'd done it! I'd actually managed to bring someone down to the boiling, steaming, lava-filled home of mine.

Then the nerves began to kick in. I had brought someone back with me, true, but the someone was not Jefferson Vale. My blood ran cold and I began to shiver in spite of the hot temperature. How in Hell was I ever going to explain that?

(1090 words)

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