Joshua Peterson was basically stranded in Malaysia. He could use some of his figment’s powers, but he wasn’t nearly as strong. Fortunately, he was able to move much more quickly than a normal person could, and he leaped through a grassland until he came to the edge of a jungle, which was located across from a river. He really didn’t want to enter the jungle, imagining rabid monkeys and hungry jaguars. So he stayed on the grassland side of the river and leaped along it. Soon he saw a group of people in kayaks traveling along the river in the same direction he was traveling. He made bigger leaps to meet them.
“Hey!” he shouted, startling the kayakers about twenty feet away. There were three of them–a man and two women. They all appeared to be in their early twenties.
“How did you get up there?” one of the women shouted back.
“It’s a long story! Is there a city nearby?”
“Yeah!” the other woman replied. “If you keep following the river this way, you’ll get there! Where are you from?”
“Texas!” Joshua realized that the kayakers had English accents. When he looked at them, he somehow realized that they were students from Cornwall on Summer break. How did he know that?
“America? That’s so interesting!” Both women found it interesting, and they wished Joshua had a kayak so they could talk without yelling.
“Are you a cowboy?” the man asked. He felt threatened by the women’s interest in Joshua, so he was trying to belittle him.
“An escaped mental patient, actually!”
The women laughed, and the man grew frustrated. His plan had failed.
Where am I getting all this insight? Joshua wondered.
The man began to paddle, moving his kayak more quickly down the river. He wanted to get away from Joshua, and he knew the women would follow, because he had the car keys.
“Barry!” one of the women yelled. “We were going to relax and enjoy the scenery!” As she said this, she included Joshua in the scenery. He was looking rugged, though in truth, he was just tired, sweaty, and hungry. Also, he hadn’t shaven in a few days, so the beginnings of a beard had begun to darken his lower jaw.
“Find us in town!” the other woman said.
They didn’t think that Joshua could keep up with them, and normally, they’d be right. But Joshua was anything but normal, and a girl hadn’t shown interest in him since a while before he was committed. Utilizing his powers to augment his legs, he ran along the river at superhuman speeds and soon overtook the kayaking students. He kept going until he saw where they must have set off from. There was a dock and a yellow Jeep on the other side of the river. With ease, he jumped over the river and landed next to the jeep. Then he looked back at the students and realized he made a mistake.
What was that? one of them thought. At that distance, it was hard to judge whose thought it was, but Joshua heard it clearly in his mind, and he knew it had come from one of them. That guy just ran super fast and jumped across the river!
In his eagerness to show off to the ladies, Joshua forgot that he was trying to hide from William and Theodore’s group. He didn’t know anything about their reach or influence, so for all he knew, he could be exposing himself any time he met another person.
Then it struck him that he could read minds. Happy wasn’t able to do that the last time he tried. Could it be that they each had command over different aspects of their power? Would their abilities continue to expand over time?
As Joshua stood there worrying, the students made it to the dock and disembarked. “That was awesome!” one of the women exclaimed, both of them running up to him. The one who just spoke had blonde hair and looked a lot like Gwyneth Paltrow. “How did you do that?”
The other woman was short and had red hair and freckles. She was at a loss for words. Her thoughts were jumbled as well.
“It’s a long story,” Joshua said. “You’re better off not knowing. In fact, don’t tell anyone you saw me do that. Or that you saw me at all. It could be dangerous to you.”
The man had stayed behind to bring the kayaks back. He dragged two of them from the water while the third rested three quarters of the way on the muddy bank. Joshua tried to tell what he was thinking, but he couldn’t. Instead, he felt Happy starting to wake up.
Happy, don’t come out yet. When you can, take us back up.
It’s nice to see that you’re all right, too, Happy replied. Actually, it’s good to see that we’re not in the hospital again. Who’s the babe?
“Are you okay?” the babe asked. Or rather, the blonde asked.
“Yeah,” Joshua replied. “Just distracted. I should go.”
Happy became wings and zipped himself and Joshua up to the jungle canopy. The wings weren’t necessary, but Happy liked making them. In this case, however, they only served to make them even more interesting to the students.
“You’re hungry,” Happy said as he took his normal form and made a platform for Joshua to sit on. “Where are we, a jungle? There must be some fruit we can eat.”
“Hold on,” Joshua said. “There have been some new developments.”
“What do you mean?” Happy accessed Joshua’s memory. “Ah, you have your own powers that you can use when I’m out of commission. That’s handy. Hey, you can read minds? Why can’t I do that?”
“I can only do it when you’re asleep. I can also do some of the stuff you can do, but I’m not nearly as strong.”
A nearby treetop rustled, and the blonde tourist from before emerged from it.
“What the…?” Happy said. Along with the girl, an angel emerged as well. This one was darker skinned than the other one they met, and it was male.
“I am Gabriel,” he said, placing the woman on an invisible platform that he made next to Happy’s. “Peace be upon you. Forgive the intrusion, but I was commanded by almighty Allah to bring this woman to you.”
“Apparently, Allah is real,” the woman said. “My name is Michelle Lewis, by the way, and I have no idea what’s going on.”
“She is to be yours,” Gabriel said.
“What?” both Joshua and Michelle exclaimed at the same time. Then Joshua said, “She’s a person. She belongs to herself.”
“That’s right,” Michelle agreed. “Who do you think you are grabbing me and giving me to someone like I’m a box of chocolates?”
“I don’t understand your reluctance to accept this gift,” Gabriel said.
“She’s not a gift!” Happy yelled. “Gabe, you need to get out of here right now or I’ll–”
“Happy!” Joshua interrupted him. “No more fighting. Gabriel, just leave her with us and we’ll take care of her.”
Gabriel smiled, nodded, and disappeared. Happy helped Michelle over to his invisible platform. Michelle looked at both of them with awe.
“I don’t even know what question to ask first,” she said.
“My name is Joshua, and this is Happy Face. Happy, is that the name you still want to go with?”
“Yeah. I think it suits me.”
“Okay. Happy is a figment of my imagination. You can see him and hear him because I’m telepathically projecting him into your mind. Well, he’s actually doing it.”
“You mean you’re the same person but with two distinct personalities?” Michelle asked.
“Yeah, exactly,” Happy said. “I come from his subconscious.”
“So when you said you were an escaped mental patient…”
“I’m more like two escaped mental patients,” Joshua said.
“With super powers,” Michelle said.
“Well, I guess in a world where Allah is real, people with super powers can be real, too. Does this mean I need to be a Muslim now?”
“Actually, he’s a figment, too,” Happy corrected her. “He’s the product of multiple minds. The Christian god is the same way, along with probably a lot of others. You don’t have to worship any of them. You’re taking all of this well.”
“I like science fiction,” Michelle said with a shrug. “Or whatever this is. So now that I’m yours, where do we go next?”
“What?” Joshua replied.
“Well, not really yours, but you can’t just let me go knowing what I know. You have to take me with you so your secret doesn’t get out.”
“Or so people won’t torture you for information about us,” Happy suggested.
“Yeah, or that.”
Joshua lowered his head and rubbed at his temples. He’d expected Michelle to want to be helped back down so she can get back to her life and her friends. Was she joking? Joshua was never good at telling when someone was pulling his leg.
Joshua was about to tell Michelle that coming with them would be dangerous when something very dangerous happened.