A response to Deb Markanton's "Saturday Metamorphosis" in Flashy Fiction.
The assistant showed Salvador through the burled walnut door with the ornate paneling on the edges of flower petals carved with dark veins crisscrossing from flower to leaf to flower tying everything into a single combined whole.
"Salvador Romero?" Dr. Lorraine asked.
The psychologist's honeyed dulcet broke Salvador's reverie before he slipped into slow stream to analyze every nook and bole surrounding the door. He looked at her freckled cheeks briefly before looking away trying not to focus on anything while clearing his mind and nodding to answer the psychologist. She waved an arm at the leather reclining seat as the strawberry blonde hairs on the back of her wrists wavered like a field of wheat. Salvador ground his teeth and leaned back in the chair.
"I am pleased to meet you in person," Dr. Lorraine said. "During your phone consultation you told me that you were one of the lucky ones with a superpower."
"Not exactly lucky," Salvador said.
"We'll see about that." Dr. Lorraine sat erect with a moleskin notebook perched upon her knees. "Tell me about your superpower."
"It's useless --"
"Tsk, no editorializing."
Salvador swallowed. It was useless and adopting a positive outlook wouldn't change it. "My power is the ability to enter a split second, to take a brief moment in time and play it out for days as I witness my world altered forever."
"How do you enter this split second?"
"I don't know." Salvador calmed himself by glancing at the leather spines of books in the office's floor to ceiling bookcase with titles such as "Theoretical Systems, Biology of the Supernatural" and "Integrating Superology into Poverty Alleviation and International Development Efforts". "It's more like walking along a tight rope where a misstep or an unexpected breeze can blow me away dropping me into slow stream."
Dr. Lorraine raised an eyebrow. "You can't control it?"
She scribbled in her notebook the sound of the pen nub rubbing against the pages was a third above the drone of the air-exchange pump. "Have you tried to think about it like you described it, balancing on a tight rope. When you first get on that tight rope, anything will knock you off until you develop the skills to balance yourself and fight the winds that blow."
"No, don't worry about it. What do you do when you enter this..." Lorraine glanced at her notes. "Slow stream?"
"That is the problem. It lacks power, I'm..." Salvador struggled to find the word he wanted.
"Yes. When I drop into slow stream, there isn't a thing I can do. It's like the whole world has stopped around me. Everything except my brain and my senses has stopped."
"Can you move?"
"And how long does this last?" Dr. Lorrain asked.
What was this? Twenty questions. "How should I know. Time stops when I enter slow stream."
Dr. Lorraine nodded as she jotted some more notes. "I wouldn't characterize you as impotent --"
"But, I'm locked in time all I can do is think." Salvador swung himself up out of the chair. She was a quack, all books and no learning.
Dr. Lorrain held up a hand. "Stop. You're placing too much value on action and too little on thought. Slow yourself down to fall into slow stream and think about my words."
The world froze with Salvador stuck halfway standing up and he let Dr. Lorraine's words play out in his memory. She couldn't be right. All he could do in slow stream was observe his surroundings and think. He looked at her and counted the strawberry hairs below her suit sleeve, eighty-three of them catching the light, but what was the purpose in that. Anyone could think but what mattered was the actions they took. The actions they took. He played it over and over in his mind, trying to understand what power Dr. Lorraine saw in his thoughts. They didn't affect anything beyond him. His mind wandered to the books on a shelf, he was no longer in a position to easily read their titles. No. He concentrated on thoughts and actions. Actions required thought. That was it. He swam up out of slow stream.
"I've got the time to make my actions count."
"Yes." Dr. Lorrain smiled.