“Do you mind? This is a private conversation.” Sarah wondered how long the woman had stood there, and what she was doing in an area that was obviously closed to the public. People could be so stupid sometimes.
The woman looked like a hobo. Her clothes were filthy and torn, and she looked like she’d spent the night in a dumpster. Sarah wondered how she had even gotten through the front doors looking like that. Security should have tossed her back on the street. As she came rushing toward them, Manny waved her back. “Whoa there, miss. This area’s not safe. I’m going to have to ask you to get back behind the rope line.”
“I knew there was something special about you,” said the woman. “I just knew it!”
“Miss, if you don’t leave I’m going to have to call the guard to escort you from the premises.”
“No, wait,” she pleaded. “You don’t understand. I have so many questions.”
“That’s fine, but I need you to vacate the area. If you have something in particular you need to discuss with me, you can make an appointment…” His voice trailed off as a low-pitched hum began to vibrate the floor under their feet. Manny suddenly felt weak and tired, like he was getting out of bed after a long illness. After a few seconds, he felt so heavy he could no longer stand and sank down to his hands and knees.
“What’s wrong?” asked Sarah, and then she felt it too. Her body was heavy like someone had thrown a sack of potatoes over her shoulder, but her strength let her stay on her feet. “We need to get out of here.”
Behind them, the wooden frame that still remained around the pillar began to groan and crack. Before she could move Manny to safety, the crossbeams split and the entire structure collapsed on top of them. Sarah was able to shrug off the lumber that fell on her, but Manny wasn’t so lucky. The heavy post that had run up the corners of the crate had come down squarely on his head, cracking his skull.
His healing ability kept trying to mend the bone, but the weight of the column kept pressing him down. Each second that he was trapped the pull of gravity seemed to increase more and more. If he didn’t get out of that vice, his head was going to be a stain on the floor. He might heal from even that much trauma, but there was no guarantee that he would know how to tie his own shoelaces. That much brain damage would leave him an empty slate.
Sarah grabbed the beam and tried to lift it from him, but it was too heavy even for her to move. She was about to try to get underneath so she could put her shoulder into it when the humming noise grew louder and the weight pressing down on them increased. If she let go now his head would be crushed for sure.
“Sarah,” he gasped. “I’m sorry I wasn’t everything you wanted. You deserved better.”
“Shut up,” she said. “Don’t talk like that. We’ll figure something out.”
Sarah could feel the wooden post starting to slip from her grasp when suddenly the forklift rolled forward. Slipping under the end of the beam, it was easily able to lift even that load. When Manny was clear of the debris, she was able to pull him to safety on the far side of the hall. As they got farther from the obelisk, the humming stopped and the weight was lifted off of them.
She was expecting Farid or one of the other staff members to be on the forklift, but was the strange homeless woman who climbed down off the seat. “Thanks,” said Sarah. “That was some quick thinking.”
“I read a book all about forklifts once,” said the woman. “I’ve always wanted to try driving one, but I never got the chance until now.”
“What happened?” asked Manny. “And what was that noise?”
“I’m not sure,” said the woman, “but it has something to do with why we’re different.”
“What do you mean?” asked Sarah.
“First things first,” she said and extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Penelope. You have no idea how pleased I am to meet you.”
To be continued…