I just shocked a man's heart back to regular rhythm. That wouldn't be too unusual for me, after all, I'm a nurse, except for the tiny detail that I didn't have a AED at the time, or any defibrillator of any kind. All I had was my own two hands.
Something has been going on with me the past couple of weeks. At first it was like I kept building up static electricity. Way more than usual. I'd discharge it accidentally on anything and everything conductive I touched. But then I realized it wasn't happening randomly. If I was upset the static would get worse. Last week I was crying in a supply closet after we lost a patient I was close to, and the static got so bad it tripped a breaker or two and we lost power to the whole ward. I forced myself to calm down, lest we lose the back up generators.
After a little practice, I realized I could control the static. I could shock things by touching them, or just being close enough for a spark to arc over the gap. I figured it was just some sort of internal electrical anomaly. Sure, it's weird, but I'm still learning new things about the human body every day. Being able to defib someone, though? That's new. And as far as I know, not possible.
But, this guy is alive. And now I can't stop staring at my hands. What's happening to me?
"You really should sit down, darling, you don't look so good."
I nearly jumped out of my skin. The guy on the ground who I just zapped out of a cardiac dysrhythmia was looking at me like I was the one in need of medical assistance, instead of the other way around.
"You, uh, yeah. Maybe I should." I replied. I slumped to the ground next to him and concentrating on breathing. That's the fastest way for me to calm down.
"I'm Jubal," the man said, holding out his hand to me from where he was still lying on his back.
"Uh, Jasmin." I shook his hand.
"You're still a little freaked out, huh?" Jubal said, matter-of-fact. "Would you like something for that? I'm sure I've got a chill pill somewhere around here." He released my hand and patted his pockets as if looking for his car keys.
"No, thank you. I'll be fine. It's just been a weird few weeks."
Jubal pulled himself to a sitting position next to me. I had the hint of a notion that he really should be on his way to the hospital now to get his heart looked at, but he waved a hand at me dismissively as if he read my thoughts. "I'm fine, darling. Really, truly am, after your little trick there with my ticker." He patted himself on the chest above his heart.
"I didn't know I could do that," I said softly.
"Let me guess, you OD'd on something and they took you to the hospital and gave you a drug called Praxolone, and then you felt better than ever, except now strange things are happening and you can't explain it?"
"No! I never--" I started to say I had never used drugs so I certainly never overdosed on anything, but then my brain caught up to what he had actually said. "Wait, Praxolone. Yeah, that's the newest drug to reverse overdoses. We have that at the hospital right now. You're saying Praxolone caused this?"
Jubal shrugged. "That's the best guess anyone can cobble together, but you're the medical professional. At least, I'm assuming because of the scrubs."
I looked down at my purple scrubs. The knees were dirty from where I had knelt on the pavement. "Yeah, I'm a nurse. How do you know any of this?"
"Two weeks ago I od'd and was brought back from the brink with Praxolone. Ever since, I've been able to feel what people are feeling by touching them. I'm not talking empathy, or sympathy, or whatever, I'm talking literally feeling exactly what the other person is feeling. If they're high, I feel high, if they feel guilty, I feel guilty. It's emotions, sensations, all of it. At first I thought it was the pills I took that caused it, but I met someone else went through the same thing, and we were able to put two and two together."
I stared at Jubal. "You can tell what someone is thinking by touching them?"
"Feeling, more than thinking, but since a lot of thought is emotions, yeah, more or less."
"And someone else had the same thing happen to them after they took Praxolone?"
"Well, not exactly. I developed the touchy feely thing. He developed super strength."
"And I developed the ability to shock things," I watched a small spark flit over the palm of my hand.
"It would appear that way, yes," Jubal said gently.
"But I never took Praxolone. I've administered it to patients, but it's an IV drip, I would have noticed if I somehow came into contact with it."
"Maybe just being around it is enough. Or maybe it's not the drug at all, maybe it's something at the hospital. You said you're a nurse, right? Do you work at St. Mary's?"
"Yes," I bit my lip. If there was a drug at the hospital right now capable of giving people abilities like this, we needed to get rid of it. Now. But also study it, because the scientific implications were potentially huge. But also, dangerous. Super dangerous.
"I know you're kind of freaking out again, but please calm down. You're starting to, uh, frizz."
I realized he was right. My hair was standing on end, and little tongues of electricity were dancing off my skin. I took several deep breaths until I could feel the static subside. "Sorry," I said.
"Say, um, why don't I take you to meet my friend? The strong one? There's rumors of other people like us, people affected by the drug or whatever. I was on my way to him, actually, before I, well...before ended up here on the ground."
"You almost had a heart attack, you lost consciousness, you should go see a doctor!" I protested.
"No offense, love, but last time I went to see a doctor I was given a superpower and I whole lot of unanswered questions that I never asked for."
"Fair point." I sighed. This wasn't a good idea, but I didn't have a better one at the moment. "What's your friend's name, anyway?"
"Alacran. Big guy, big heart. Looks scary on the outside but he's all kittens and puppies on the inside. You'll see."
"Alacran, huh? Scorpion. Sounds intimidating, but I guess if either of you tries anything I will just shock you again."
"That's the spirit!" Jubal jumped to his feet with way more energy than someone who was passed out on the pavement only minutes before should possess. He offered a hand down to me to help me up.
I took his hand and got to my feet, feeling a little better than before. At least now I had a purpose again, and maybe a way to get an explanation for what was happening to me. To us. "Thanks," I said.
"Don't mention it. Remember, you did just save my life."
I laughed in spite of myself. For a moment, I had already forgotten.
Maybe this was going to be okay after all.
Credits: Overlay edit, profile, and story by Faber, background from pexels.