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|I grabbed my bag and stood up – and it wasn’t hard to figure out where to go next, not like I had a choice with the crowd shoving against me. People streamed out of doorways, headed into the street, running up Castro, yelling.
“Oh crap, it’s a BUS!”
“Shit, stay away – the hotwire is down! Touch it and you’ll get fried!”
A jumble of twisted, steaming metal lay in the middle of Castro Street, a demented modernist sculpture, painted in dingy white with the red Muni – and with horrified faces, some streaming blood, rising to the windows, pounding desperately, trying to get out. Wisps of gray smoke curled up from the crumpled engine compartments, the ominous smell of smoldering insulation, brakes…..and, I gasped, a red glow starting to show through the ripped-open vents at the rear of the bus.
“We have to do something!”
“WHAT, man? There’s a kajillion volts running through that – it’ll kill you instantly!”
I looked around desperately…..come on, there has to be something, anything….we can’t wait, those people are in danger…
“Wait – LOOK! He’s here!”
“COOL – He can handle it! Go Superbear!”
“Super—“ my jaw dropped as I saw a figure clad in a tight metallic red shirt, yellow tights, FLY down the street….stopping in front of the bus…..then reaching out and grabbing it. Stunned, I watched this apparition dig his hands into the asphalt of the street…..pulling apart the concrete, flinging it left and right, building an ersatz wall to keep away the snapping wires, his body glowing with electric energy as they touched him, but his movement continuing unabated….then almost casually rip open the front of the bus, metal shrieking as his powerful muscles flexed, moved under the tight suit, his cape flapping in the breeze. Out came the victims stumbling, shuffling out of the ruined bus, clutching arms and legs, some carrying each other, several being borne out on the strong arms of the mysteriously-masked man with the bear logo on his chest, setting them gently down on the sidewalk away from the smoking, now-burning heap of steel. Turning back, his features hardening…….he pursed his lips and an icy blast roared down on the bus, the fire immediately extinguishing, icicles forming on the blackened steel….and with a quick turn, twin beams of energy blasted from his eyes, amputating the sparking hotwire and fusing its stump with the web of dead wires above the street.
Dumbly I stared, watching the impossible, a comic-esque hero brought to life – until a loud shriek from one of the victims jerked me back to reality. “Mama…MAMA…” a little boy cried, pulling at the sleeve of a woman laying sprawled on the concrete. I sprinted towards her, the cold bile of fear rising in my throat as her chest failed to rise. I kneeled down, grabbing her wrist – and my worst fears were confirmed. “Somebody call the paramedics! This woman – she’s not breathing, no pulse!”
The little boy stared at me, his black hair streaked with ash and dirt, his liquid brown eyes streaming….. “Mama….why won’t she”…..his shoulders heaving, a wail rising from his throat. Oh God, I have to, I thought……turning back to the woman, quickly pulling up her jaw, pausing…..my lips against hers, quick breaths….nothing….leaning over, pushing down on her chest, then breaths….chest again……breaths….chest….breaths….feeling at her neck….nothing…then….oh please…the sudden flutter against my fingertips, a sudden gasp….she…she’s….oh YES.
“Mama….what’s wrong with my—“
“It’s OK, it’s OK,” I said putting my hands on his shoulders, a huge wave of relief washing over me as I saw two EMTs running towards us, the crowd parting, pointing them in our direction, quickly kneeling down by his mother and opening their kits, shoving an oxygen mask on her. “Your mom was having trouble breathing there for a bit, but she’s going to be OK – these folks will take care of her.” I hugged him close. “And I’ll make sure you get to a safe spot. Do you have someone your mama told you to call if there’s a problem?”
“My….my grandma….I know her number. Mama taught me….” he trembled.
“Great, perfect, that’ll……” I fumbled for my mobile…..oh crap, it’s in my laptop bag –
“Here, use mine….” came a voice from above.
“Thanks, I…..” My voice trailed off as I saw him again….those impossibly-soft eyes….but this time darkened with concern. He looked down at me, a worried expression on his handsome face…..then a small grin as he held up my laptop bag.
“How about we take care of him, then grab some dinner?”
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