Panting, gasping, and struggling to hold air in his lungs, Mark kept on running. The fire in his legs had intensified to an unbearable pitch, and his sides felt like they had burst. Even his vision had blurred to a cacophony of trees, bushes and branches, as he bolted through the forest, paying little regard to his battered clothes, and the blood flowing from his innumerable cuts and bruises. Yet he ran on. It was a futile objective; Mark knew this all too well. This was not a situation that he was any stranger to, even now in the back of his mind he knew that he could not keep running away forever. But he paid no attention to his pragmatic side, narrowing his focus completely into fulfilling the objective of escaping.
It was not that Mark was a coward, or a criminal. In fact, he would have loved it if his life was simple enough to be defined by such labels. At least then there would be a chance of redemption. The truth is he was perfectly capable of handling the situation he was currently running away from. The problem with that, however, was that he was too capable of handling the situation he was currently running away from. To be more clear, Mark had always been “special”, the kind of “special” that was hard not to notice. It was exactly because of the flashy nature of this specialness that he found himself being wanted by many people who wanted to do more than be afraid of him, hence the situations where he had to run for his life.
This time, however, was different. The people who wanted to examine Mark more closely had quite unique members of their own, as he was promptly made aware of by the line of trees that suddenly ripped themselves from their roots and hovered in front of him, as if to make a barricade he could not run around. Without missing a beat, Mark dove forward, rolling under the gap made by the still-forming deterrent. Getting back to his feet in an instant, he carried on, quickly regaining his desperate pace.
Mark was actually glad to see those trees. From the flashy, abrupt way that they were mobilised to bar him, he could tell that his would-be captors were hoping more for him to be shocked into inactivity, than for their trap to actually be effective. Which meant they were still underestimating him. Now he knew for sure that he had a slim chance of getting away or that was what he thought before his legs gave out from under him.
Maybe it was the lack of oxygen to his brain causing his vision to fade, or the fact that his leg muscles felt like they were a Sunday stroll away from tearing, or it could have been the stray root which managed to evade his vision that made him fall. Whatever it was, Mark now found himself crashing through the forest, his face making itself familiar with the various shrubs and inhabitants of the floor whilst his back was given an abrupt introduction to the sturdiness of a weathered oak tree.
Slumped to the base of the trunk, he felt the exhaustion all the more clearly as the adrenaline slipped out of his system. He was likely to blackout any second now. Mark cursed to himself as his fatigue finally hit him full blast. Had he kept on running he could have found a hiding spot, or something to hide his trail. Even if it amounted to nothing in the future, he had really hoped he would be able to get away this time. But it was not to be, as his would-be captors emerged, hot on the trail he crashed through half of the forest to make.
It was the same 2 telekinetics who spotted him earlier, adults who appeared to be in their early twenties. They were marginally less disheveled than he was, seeing that he had already cleared a path for them to follow. Despite that handicap, they still seemed to be struggling for air, to Mark’s delight.
If there was any opportunity for him to take care of business, it would be now, with his targets unprepared and in view. And he was going to garner his focus to do just that, but then an image of what their broken bodies would look like invaded his mind; the shock of their own deaths plastered on their frozen faces. Mark hesitated, unsure what to do. Was he really ready to have blood on his hands again?
That moment of indecision had not gone unnoticed, as one of his pursuers, a woman with sharp eyes, suddenly made a grabbing motion in his direction, causing vines to suddenly spring out from the shrubs around him, binding his hands, neck, chest and legs to the trunk he crashed into.
“Oh no, a team of telekinetics.” Mark said, too tired to feign surprise.
“You gave us a lot of unnecessary trouble” stated the other pursuer, a man with a face a bit too accustomed to smiling, as he ripped a thick branch from above Mark with a casual gesture. The branch hovered over Mark’s head, as if poised for an action. In response, the woman clenched her fist, binding Mark even tighter to the tree.
“Limbs successfully restrained. Target’s abilities have been neutralized,” she stated. He was neutralized just because they tied him up? Mark knew for sure now how much he was being underestimated.
“You’re … wasting your time”, he replied.
“I’m afraid this isn’t a situation for negotiation. Even the strongest telekinetic needs their body to stabilize what they control with their mind. Right now you can’t even move a finger; we made sure of that,” stated the male.
“Congrats, you know how to tie a person up. Seriously, just leave now … “, Mark warned, starting to muster the little energy he recovered. That process was hampered when he was whacked across the face by the branch that hovered over him.
“Now now, have some respect for your elders,” warned the man, wagging his finger in a manner reminiscent of a schoolteacher. With a stinging face to add onto his already detailed list of injuries, Mark now had a good idea of the sort of person this man was. Even now, he continued their conversation as a master admonishing his servant.
“There’s one major reason why the last team sent after you failed. Do you know what that reason is?” queried the man, in a tone brimming with smugness.
Mark simply looked at the man with a bored expression, before giving a sigh as he shook his head. He had a good idea now where this situation could be heading, but he wasn’t going to waste his time helping it get there. From the way he acted, Mark knew he had time before this man would do anything truly dangerous.
“Simple, their ability to trap and restrain you like we did was inadequate. They were merely just human, after all. Skilled, but not unique like us.”
Mark made no response. He was almost disappointed. This was what he tried so hard to run from?
“Now you may have more raw power than us, but that doesn’t mean much if you lack finesse. That’s why you ran, isn’t it? Thought you could find a tree or a boulder too heavy for us to stop?”
Mark could not be bothered to respond. The more this man talked, the more he realized just how misinformed the organization they belonged to was. Which meant there was no non-lethal way that he could dispatch them, not if he wanted their lack of knowledge to remain intact.
“Come now, I’m not talking to myself here,” the man said, slapping Mark again with the branch.
“Gabe!” said the woman with a hint of impatience, “we don’t have all day out here. Can you cut back on the ego stroking so we can get home?”
For a moment, the man known as Gabe looked at her as if he could kill her. She returned the stare, the venom in her eyes daring him to advance. However, he gritted his teeth and nodded, turning back to Mark.
“I guess you never thought, with the power you have, you would ever find yourself at the mercy of others. How much fun was it, huh? Luring in those poor souls. Never even considered there might be others out there more powerful than you?”
“Actually, I was just using up my alternatives”, Mark replied bluntly, his focus on nothing but the space he and his pursuers occupied.
“What’s that supposed to mea-” Gale began, but he was cut off by the sudden feeling that something had gone wrong. Something strange tingled his skin, like a wave of pressure that washed over the area him, his partner and Mark were standing in. The tell-tale sounds of flapping followed, as if a large flock had decided to return south early. It was then that he realized they were completely mistaken over what they thought they were chasing. Whatever this was, it felt nothing like telekinesis. It was too large, too … heavy.
Without saying another word, he backed away from Mark and started to run. His partner, who had not paid heed to those signs like he did, called after him, her hand upraised as if to stop him herself. They were both too late. With a sound like a bomb going off, Mark solidified the wave he emanated, crushing them both along with most of the forest in a kilometer distance radius from their location. Trees bent, snapped and then crashed to the ground as if failing to uphold the weight of something immensely heavy. The slower birds crumpled in mid air, their frail bodies broken before they could fall from the sky. In the span of a second, a new clearing had been made in that nest of trees.
Mark Whittaker had always been special, and he had always hated it. His power, the ability to manipulate gravity to the point that he could crush anything with sheer gravitational force, was one that most governments coveted. The destructive potential it had was unparalleled. Wars could be ended if he thought hard enough. Even others with unique abilities could not compare to him; everything on Earth was subject to gravity. It was then that he chuckled to himself; a laugh devoid of mirth. Mark couldn’t fool himself any longer. He knew running away was hopeless from the moment they spotted him. All he did was lead them to a place where the only deaths he had to account for was their own, the rest was just his conscience fighting against a decision already made by his mind. And now, as his vision was the only thing that remained of his fading senses, and he became aware of the lone figure who managed to steadily make his or her way towards him, Mark laughed again at his own misfortune. As his body shut down for repairs, Mark could not help but see the irony in believing his abilities were not properly accounted for.