Runaway is a short original story about a man with spontaneous teleportation powers.
Word count: 1,523
I used to have a home once, it was a long time ago, but I’m reasonably sure I used to wake up in the same place day in and day out like everyone else. And then I was put in the school Nativity play when I was six years old. I had only one line, and I screwed it up. Yeah, instead of saying “frankincense”, I said “Frankenstein”, it’s cute now in hindsight, but when I was six, I was mortified. The whole audience laughed, I wished I could just disappear in that moment. And so, I did.
The next minute I found myself at a train station. In Leeds! Imagine, a small Vietnamese/Australian boy dressed in some cheap ass stripey fabric robes spontaneously appearing out of nowhere. And somehow no one actually saw me appear, they only noticed when I started crying. One woman took pity on me and she took me onto the train to the nearest police station. Me being a kid, I immediately assumed I was in trouble, I got scared and snap! I disappeared again. I’ve been bouncing all over the planet for the past thirty years.
Why don’t I just go back home, you ask? Oh I’ve tried, believe me. And I have been home a few times, but it never lasts. It took me a while to figure it out, but I only teleport when I am experiencing some kind of emotional pain or even just discomfort. I have absolutely no control otherwise, it’s a real pain in the ass.
My powers seem to have my back in their own weird way, I sometimes wonder if there is some puppet master working me behind the scenes. If I’m hungry, it brings me to food, if I am tired it finds me a bed. I have never jumped to anywhere dangerous, not the Antarctic or an active volcano. And if this was all pure chance, the odds of me ending up somewhere in the middle of the sea would be very high, right? It seems to have some awareness, no, omniscience, I think that’s the word. Yeah, it always seems to know which houses will be unoccupied for the night, I’ve never had someone return home to find me in their bed.
But I can’t get too cocky, that almost killed me. I was on a flight once, one of my numerous attempts to get home, the plane started plummeting into the ocean and while everyone was freaking out, I was strangely calm. I’ll be fine, I thought, I’ll just teleport out of here before things get too out of hand. Well, because I was so confident about that, I was in freefall and about 100 metres above the sea when I finally panicked and jumped, crashing into a sand dune somewhere outside of Dubai. The jump decreased some of the impact, but I still busted a good number of my ribs when I landed.
So how do I spend my time? Well, I’m mostly just trying to survive. Quite literally, sometimes, I was stuck in the Amazon rainforest for three days. I don’t know how my powers thought that was going to be useful. But it’s not all bad, I have never had to pay for anything, while you’re out for the weekend, I might be sleeping in your bed, using your Internet, eating your food and watching your streaming services. It’s wonderful being able to step into someone else’s world for a little while, I like to try to figure out who this person is based on their belongings, their interior decorating style, that kind of thing. It’s about as intimate as I can get with another person. I always try to clean up after myself, but I never know when I’ll disappear again. So, I’m sorry if you’ve slept in sheets I’ve used, or I didn’t flush. No, I am not going into more details about that particular incident. It was regrettable to say the least. I’m sorry, Amy of Philadelphia. Actually it’s surprising I don’t get sick often, I jump all over the planet, interact with all kinds of germs, eat all kinds of food, and I’ve mostly been okay. Maybe I don’t teleport diseases with me, who can say.
As you can see, I don’t write like someone with only a first year education, I have made a conscious effort to teach myself. I could never go to school and what kid would choose to go when no one was forcing him to? I’ve learned things out of necessity, I was already computer literate, so as soon as I got access to a computer after my first jump I emailed my parents and explained the situation. You can imagine how skeptical they were at first, it took a long time for them to believe me. They were angry initially, thought I was playing a prank on them. Now we stay in contact as often as we can, we have video chats on birthdays and Christmas and so on. Sure would be nice to be there whenever I wanted, at least my powers let me go home sometimes when I really want it badly enough. They placed a big priority on education, so they emailed me all sorts of home schooling modules to work on as I grew up. Thanks, guys. I can also speak half a dozen languages, not fluently, but I’ve picked up a lot just to get by. That was scary the first time I was somewhere that didn’t speak English, thankfully it was only France, so there were plenty of English speakers around, but for a good half an hour I felt lost. You know, more so than usual.
You’re probably wondering, if it’s emotions that are causing me to jump, why don’t I do something to control them? I’ve tried that too, first of all it’s no small task obtaining prescription medications when you are officially declared “missing, presumed dead”. Secondly, it was a really miserable experience, sure I got to stay with my folks for a whole month, but at what cost? I may as well have not been there, I was so flatlined mentally. I think I am a fairly chill guy otherwise, but sooner or later I’m going to be startled by something, a car backfires, I slip in the shower, I have a nightmare, I accidentally say something embarrassing (which is often), anything that gets my heartrate up. It’s impossible to avoid. But again, it’s not all bad, sometimes I end up at a sold out stadium concert in the front row, or I find myself at an exclusive event or a comic convention. Those are fun.
Sometimes I think about the future, but there’s no point in making plans or having goals. It gets harder and harder for me to relate to normal people, just as they probably couldn’t ever relate to me. I’ve never had a job, never been on a date, not really, just brief hookups. Never had any lasting friendships, in person at least. I’ve made quite a lot of friends during my travels, but once I teleport out of their lives, I know we will probably only ever see each other online. There are so many little things you people take for granted, just the concept of reading a physical book and putting a bookmark in it because you can return to it whenever you want, absolutely alien to me. Having photos documenting your past, I virtually don’t exist. Oh and I loved video games, but it’s nearly impossible for me to play them all the way through. It’s not like I can start installing a game onto someone else’s computer without leaving a very obvious sign I was there. I just play what I can when I can. Owning any material possessions must be nice, I tend to grab what clothes I can as I go. I usually opt for coveralls or high visibility vests, it helps when I accidentally find myself in places where security is tight, I can always look like I belong. I have a backpack sometimes, but I don’t always have it on me when I jump. I’ve been through quite a few bags now. I do have a phone, finally, my parents set that up. I keep it on my person at all times, hopefully I don’t jump without it. I am paranoid about someone finding some trace of me, but I don’t know why. What are people going to do if they knew my secret? It might actually allow me to get some help, I’ve tried contacting the physics departments of a bunch of universities. None of them believe me and I have no way to prove it.
I think that’s my goal now, to prove to the world that I can teleport. I dream of what kind of house I would live in, what couch I would buy, I’d super love a collection of sneakers. I would have a pet too, I don’t even know if I like dogs or cats more, I sure would like to find out though.