Portal – Chapter 55

Amira Sadiq was a happy woman. She just had her best night ever for tips before the power went out and she got asked out by a really cute guy, an Enhanced with the JTF. As she said goodbye to her papa and headed home, she noticed the police cars and fire trucks next door. The entire restaurant felt the ground shake, when the electrical equipment and transformers next door exploded. Her friend, Salima, was there trying to get an autograph from Justice. She came running back describing a crazy scene after the explosion. Amira wanted to go too but she was the only waitress on staff tonight. When the power company said the electricity would not be turned on again for several hours, her papa sent her home rather than pay her to sit around doing nothing. He had to stay behind and try and keep all the food from spoiling.

She did not tell Salima that she had already met the Enhanced group. She was afraid to explain why. No one knew she was Enhanced herself, her papa forbidding her to report her powers to the government, fearing the reprisals from the community and the loss of his business. Before emigrating to the United States, he watched many families in Syria slaughtered when they refused to turn their Enhanced children over to the new Caliph.

 With all the people on the streets and the police blocking off walkways, Amira had to take the back alleys and shortcuts to get to her housing building six blocks south of Broad Ripple. She normally only took this route during the day to get to work but now, she had no choice. It was either this way or take the long way down College Avenue.

She thought about the Enhanced group that came in with Khaleel. She had a huge crush on him as teenagers but he never noticed her. He was a very good-looking man now but only interested in the blond girl with the funny accent. Amira noticed Jason when he walked in the door and smiled at him. He appeared very shy but managed an awkward smile in return. During the dinner, the others encouraged him to talk to her, especially the dark-haired woman from Cuba and the red-haired woman, Lady Justice she guessed. Justice was well-known and she was sitting next to him, but she did not seem to enjoy his company. She looked very angry. Amira did not like Justice either. He harassed her the entire time with request after request. She got so behind on her tables, she used her power to race back and forth to keep up until her papa spotted her and told her to stop. When they were leaving, Justice thought her service was unworthy of any tip but the red-hair woman added a fifty dollar tip anyways with an apology. She wrote down her number for Jason and gave it to him before he left with his friends.

The sound of footsteps approaching her awoke Amira up from her daydreaming. She looked behind her, a man was closing in and breathing hard. As she turned to escape, she ran into another man who grabbed her by the arms. He picked her to keep her feet off the ground and pulled her in one of the dark corners of the alleyway. As she tried to scream, he dropped her and hit her hard across the mouth, knocking her down.

“See, I told you I could find her again,” said the first man still out of breath. His hands were resting on his hips as he recovered from his late-night exercise.

“And I told you I knew exactly where she was going,” the second man said pointing south. “All those damn ragheads live in the same building.”

Amira sneered at the second man as he insulted her culture.

He looked back at Amira on the ground. “Oh, don’t think you were selected because of your people. We saw you in the restaurant. We know exactly what you are.”

The first man smiled. “A hot piece of Enhanced ass,” he said while leering at Amira. “I always wanted to nail one of you.”

Amira remembered these two. They were one table over from Jason and his friends. They were also drunk when they left the restaurant after several glasses of whiskey.

“You see, sweetheart,” the second man said seriously, “I’m with the JTF. I’m trained to spot you little freaks from the normal people, you know, the God-fearing people of the United States. You are a Speedster, very low powered, but you are still Enhanced. And I’m willing to bet my underfunded salary that you are also unregistered.”

Amira spit at him. She knew she was in serious trouble. These people could get papa’s business shut down for knowingly employing an unregistered Enhanced and papa would go to jail with her.

The second man hit her again. “Now, now, we’ll have none of that. Here’s the deal. Either you can be our date tonight and we’ll forget we ever saw you, or we’ll drag your pretty little ass over to Butler right now. You decide.”

Amira could feel the tears flowing down her cheek. Papa would never survive prison.

The sound of trash cans falling over startled the two men, as well as Amira. Maybe she could call for help before these guys dragged her away somewhere. She doubted they would take no for an answer.

The second man spotted the intruder first, a tall, lean man from his outline in the moonlight. He was walking right at them.

“Hey asshole, this is official JTF business. Go somewhere else,” the second man ordered.

The man continued to approach, oblivious to the shouting of both of her attackers. The first man reached in his waistband and pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and pointed it directly at the interloper.

“Hey dickhead,” yelled the first man, “we said get lost. This is JTF business!”

“I know,” the newcomer responded, his inhuman voice sending a chill down Amira’s spine. It was then she noticed he was not wearing a shirt. And those eyes…

—–

High above on the rooftop, the man looked down in the alley with great interest as his cloak flapped briskly in the wind. He knew this day was coming. He had seen it a thousand times.