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I was reading about the researches of Stephen Hawking in the bus on the way back home. Even though the AC had malfunctioned it was quite pleasant, and the air smelled of smoke. Even the streets were unusually deserted. Shutters down and shops closed. Odd. On a busy Monday afternoon why was everything closed? I distantly wondered. The black Hole theory was becoming interesting when the bus jerked to a halt with a metallic screech and as a result I bumped my head on the seat in front. Even before the vehicle had fully stopped, the driver started to reverse and panic started to spread. My mind swam. I could not make sense of my surroundings when a shrill scream tore through the air.


Suddenly everything clicked together. The deserted roads... the closed shops... the smoke.

A cute six-year-old in first grade had joined route 49 today. He always liked to sit on the front seat and that was exactly where he sat today, probably sleeping when they grabbed him. The mere thought sends shivers through my spine. All of a sudden, the last seat didn't seem so overrated the crampedness seemed protective and safe.

The conductor, Anil, was pleading (and not freaking out like me) "Sir, sir.... please sir, they're little children, leave them...", the teacher was on the phone probably or rather, hopefully talking to the police. An intimidating bald man with sinewy muscles pushed through, "Children, huh, now that's what the government will pay attention to" he sneered shoving that poor first grader again and earning a cry of pain from him as the boy fell on the floor.

Seeing this adrenalin coursed through my veins and I could hear blood gushing through my ears. With fists clenched so hard that my nails bit into my palm, I got up from my seat and immediately regretted it (but it would have looked extremely uncool if I would have sat back down).

I still haven't decided whether that was the most idiotic decision of my life or the most courageous one (I dare you to say idiotic) but it was one heck of a decision, a life changer as I left the protection of the last seat. The world ceased to be as all my focus was the giant of a guy, my vision frayed blue on the edges, I could sense the terror of the child. The power and determination which I had never experienced coursed through me and even though the man was a head taller I felt taller, stronger than him. As if I could conquer the world with my determination and confidence. But all the while a little piece of sanity cursed me to stop, stuttering and sputtering like a coal engine.

The man, noticing me before I could do something, I went sailing through the air like a rag doll crashing into the engine. My head banged into the wind-shield but the glass didn't crack (movie action scenes are so exaggerated). He seized me by the collar (there goes a white shirt) and lifted me up, his muscles flexing just as I got a glimpse of the boy. Unconscious. The sight sent power jolting through me as I felt a searing pain on my chest. Like hot metal being pressed. I gritted my teeth pushing him letting all I had go through my arms and when he released me, I fell once again and he stumbled back, confusion registering on his face. Blood spurted out of his mouth and with an anguished cry he collapsed. My hands were matted with his blood.

I got up as the pain in my chest eased, my eyes saw a sickening sight. The man lay in a pool of blood blocking the entrance of the bus and a burn of the size of my hand was visible on his torso revealing an open wound. He hadn't died though. The other rioters backed away seeing the sight as I tried to slip back into my seat inconspicuously, wonderfully failing and stumbling on someone's foot.

Just after we needed them, the police arrived in a flurry of screeching tyres and slamming doors. The little boy had suffered serious injury while they gave me some medical treatment on the spot. Saying I was shocked on seeing the new tattoo on my chest would be an understatement. I was baffled, speechless. Last time I checked, there was nothing, and I definitely hadn't gone to, or in fact near to any tattoo shop in the past 7 hours.

Isn't it amazing! The capability of humans to return to normal after such incidents. It is a lie. Nothing was normal if you really noticed. The atmosphere was tense and the rumbling of the bus was the only noise- loud enough to fill our ears, I could see, from the corner of my eyes that my peers were stealing glances at me when they thought I wasn't looking. It was far from normal.

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