God Power by James Rumpel
God Power by James Rumpel
Mark’s incessant cry continued to get louder. His mother stared at the darkened ceiling in an adjacent room. His father pretended to be asleep next to her.
“Greg,” the mother announced, “I know you are awake. You can quit faking. I’m going to go and get the baby.”
Greg rolled over and faced his distraught wife. “Susan, we agreed that we have to let him cry it out. We can’t pick him up every time he has a fit like this. It’s not good parenting to spoil him.”
“Maybe he’s hurt or sick,” suggested Susan. She knew she was overprotective, but that being that way was a requirement, or at least a rite, of first-time parents.
“Let him be. He is fine. Once he realizes we aren’t going to come at his every beck and call, he will go back to sleep.”
The wailing from the nursery continued for another hour. Greg managed to ignore the constant barrage of sobbing and fall asleep. Susan could not find sleep. She continued to remain awake, her eyes filled with a coat of her own tears.
Suddenly the crying stopped. Mark had finally given in. Susan sighed deeply and turned onto her side. Sleep came quickly.
Early the next morning, Susan walked into the nursery and found Mark sound asleep. He was tightly clutching his overstuffed blue teddy-bear. Susan smiled to herself. Greg, despite his stick to the rules directive and tough guy routine, must have gotten up and given Mark the plush animal during the night.
Mark tore into the gift-wrapped box like a lion devouring its prey. The six-year-old loved the holidays. As the family sat around the tree on Christmas morning, Mark cackled with glee each time he was handed a present. As he finished revealing his latest gift a look of profound disappointment appeared on his face.
“Thanks, Mom and Dad,” he said. He was a good boy and he knew to display good manners, but Susan could tell he was upset about not getting the gift he truly wanted.
“It’s the best paint-by-number set they had at the store,” proclaimed Greg. “The picture is a western scene with cowboys and horses.”
Susan smiled as she watched Mark. He was already searching the immediate area for any remaining gifts. He grinned and anxiously went to grab a large box hidden deep behind the tree.
Susan didn’t remember wrapping that gift. She gave Greg a bewildered glare. Greg shrugged his shoulders as if to say he had no idea of the present’s origin.
Sheer joy exploded from Mark as he opened the box and extracted the transforming robot it contained. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” he screamed with delight. “It’s exactly what I wanted more than anything else in the world.”
After picking up the wrapping paper and bows that were scattered throughout the living room, Susan asked Mark to take the bag full of Christmas remnants out to the garbage in the garage. Mark, still grinning from ear to ear, was quick to oblige. The moment Mark left the room, Susan whirled to face Greg. “I thought we agreed that we weren’t going to get him that toy. It’s too expensive and it’s only going to lead to him wanting the rest of the series.”
Greg stared at Susan, a look of astonishment on his face. “I didn’t get it for him, you did.”
“You’re kidding, right?” asked Susan, only to be answered by Greg vigorously shaking his head.
“Maybe my parents got it for him and snuck in the house last weekend,” he suggested.
“Well, it’s either that or Santa Claus is real,” responded Susan, still confounded by the mysterious gift.
One day, nearly fifteen years later, Mark slowly opened his eyes in a state of foggy confusion. He had, as usual, fallen asleep in his off-campus apartment but he was now in a completely different location. Loud, bass driven music came from every direction; the floor shook with each heavy beat. A strobe light caused the room to randomly alternated between total darkness and blinding brilliance. Mark’s body ached and he was experiencing a headache that rivaled the pounding of the blaring noise. When he tried to move, he could not. His feet and arms were bound to a heavy metal chair.
Both the music and the lighting softened slightly and Mark was able to make out the figure of a man standing before him. In the strobe light, the mysterious stranger appeared to move in sudden bursts which reminded Mark of stop-action films or Claymation Christmas specials. Because of the distractions of the room and the groggy state of Mark’s mind he could not make out many details of his captor’s appearance. Not that he could have been able to do so in a more focused atmosphere; the man wore a large cloak. His face was hidden deep within the recesses of a hood. In his hand, directed at Mark’s head was a high caliber pistol.
The incessant pounding of the music slowed even further, though the hooded man still had to shout to be heard.
“Sit still, Mark. You don’t want to make any sudden motions. You are still under the influence of some pretty powerful drugs. We don’t want you to pass out again. Don’t worry, the effects will wear off soon enough.”
A million questions fought for prominence in Mark’s mind. Where was he? Why was he here? What were the intentions of his captor?
It turned out that Mark did not need to bring these questions forward. His host was more than willing to share every minute detail.
“Mark, you are a very special person,” began the unidentified kidnapper. “Have you ever noticed that you seem to always get what you want? We have had our eyes on you and followed your life very closely for quite a while now. You first drew our attention when your mother made that miraculous recovery from terminal cancer. We watched you closely. You got into your first-choice college despite not having the best credentials. You are dating the girl of your dreams. Yes, you are very special.”
Mark wanted to respond. He wanted to debate the man’s hypothesis. Mark didn’t always get everything he wanted. There were plenty of times he had to deal with disappointments. He, however, did not interrupt. Part of the reason for his nonresponse was his disoriented state but another portion of his silence was because, deep down, Mark knew what the man was saying was true. All of his life, when Mark had completely given himself over to wanting something, he had gotten it.
“We definitely knew you were what we are looking for when you had that rock-climbing accident last month,” the hooded figure continued. “That fall should have caused multiple injuries, broken bones, but you came out without a scratch.”
Mark recalled the moment he had hit the ground after falling nearly thirty feet. He had been bombarded with excruciation pain. He had instantly begged whatever powers controlled the universe for the pain to go away and it had. Mark had assumed that the fall had not hurt him and he had just over-reacted at the initial jolt. He figured he had gotten lucky to avoid serious damage.
The stranger lowered the volume further. Apparently, he was growing tired of shouting. “You see, Mark. We believe that you have what we call the ‘god power’. It is unfathomably rare. By our calculations, less than one person in a billion has this gift. We don’t know where the power comes from. It may be the result of some recessive gene from alien visitors. It might simply be God’s way of playing with mankind. We do know that you have the ability to magically acquire whatever it is that you completely and utterly desire more than anything else in the world.”
Mark finally spoke. “That can’t be true. Look at me, I’m a simple college student. If I had that power, I would be rich or powerful.”
The man shook his head, though the strobe light made it look as if his head were spinning around like some character in an exorcism movie. “The power only takes effect when you totally want something. If there is any doubt or lack of conviction it does not work. Your mind has to be completely focused on the desire. That’s why you are drugged and being exposed to the noise and flashing lights. We don’t want you to wish yourself away or use the power to do me harm.”
If Mark truly possessed this power, his captor’s plan to disarm him was working. Mark was having difficulty concentrating on the conversation. It would be impossible for him to give his complete focus to any wish.
“Who are you? What do you want from me?” Mark was grasping for any information that would help him make sense out of his current predicament.
“We are a world-wide society that has been searching for someone like you for a very long time. I think what we require from you is very obvious. You are going to use your power to help us.”
“Why would I ever help you. And if what you say is true, I don’t want what you want, so I won’t be able to make it happen.”
“But you will,” said the hooded man. Mark could not see his face but his tone caused Mark to imagine his captor’s mouth curved in a menacing smile. “When I turn off the strobe and the noise you are going to want to have one thousand pounds of pure gold appear in this room. And you will want it more than anything else.”
“No, I won’t,” stated Mark. “I don’t want that at all.”
The man shook his finger in Mark’s direction. “Remember how I told you we were a world-wide society. We are also very resourceful and quite numerous. If you do not make the exact wish we want, your parents will both be dead in a matter of seconds.”
“I don’t believe you,” shouted Mark.
“Yes, you do,” replied his adversary. “You know we are powerful. You know how easily we abducted you. You can’t risk being wrong. You need to do what I ask. And don’t think about wishing me dead or all of my society away. First, killing me won’t stop the death of your parents. Second, you have no idea who is or is not in my society. You can’t wish them away when you don’t know who they are.”
Mark still considered trying to make a wish that would free him or destroy this mythical society. However, he had to admit the man’s words had planted a seed of doubt in his mind. He didn’t want to risk the lives of his mother and father. There was no way he could give his thoughts over to wanting to destroy the man or his people with his parents at risk. The society had thought this out completely.
“What if I don’t want anything? What if I just sit here and keep my mind blank?”
“I’m patient. I can wait,” was the reply. “However, there are those in our organization who might not be as patient. I cannot guarantee that they won’t take action against your parents. You need to want the gold to appear.”
“I could wish myself to wherever my parents are and protect them …”
“Or be killed instantly along with them,” concluded his abductor. “You don’t want to take that risk.”
The man looked at a clock positioned on an adjacent wall. “We have to move things along. The drug should be worn off sufficiently. I will turn off the lights and music and you will bring the gold.”
He kept the gun pointed at Mark as he reached for the control panel in front of him and quickly flipped a couple of switches.
Mark hesitated for a brief moment, thinking of the strange, horrible twist his life had taken.
“Ahem.” Mark’s kidnapper motioned with his pistol for Mark to proceed.
Mark concentrated. He wanted nothing more than to get this trauma over with. He tried to want the gold to appear and save his family. He looked for an empty area on the floor for the gold to appear. He wanted the void to be filled with treasure. Nothing happened.
“You know your parents are about to die because of your delay, don’t you?” shouted the man, anger undeniably present in his voice.
“I can’t,” cried Mark. “I am trying. I don’t think I have the god power like you think I do.”
“We can test that,” replied Mark’s caped foe, suddenly much calmer. He reached down next to the control panel and grabbed a pliers. As he approached Mark he opened and closed the claw, creating a clicking sound. Circling behind Mark’s chair, the assailant soon took hold of one of Mark’s tied hands and enclosed the claw on Mark’s thumb.
“I believe you are going to want the pain to stop more than anything else in the world.”
Mark awoke to find himself in a hospital bed. Memories of his last waking moments flooded his mind. He tried to move his hands and soon realized they were no longer bound by tight restraints. They were, however, enclosed in plaster casts.
A delighted squeal came from the bedside and his mother grabbed him in a tight embrace. “Mark, you’re awake. We were so worried.”
“What happened to you?” asked his father. “You were found unconscious near an abandoned warehouse downtown. You appeared to have been tortured…”
“The police are waiting to interview you,” interrupted his mother.
Mark slowly shook his head. He did not think his pounding brain could stand any sudden movements. “I think I was kidnapped,” was all he said.
Mark was not going to tell his parents or the police the true story. They would all think he was insane. He would just say someone had taken him and was going to hold him for ransom but then figured out he was not who they thought he was.
In a way, that was the truth. The realization of what had happened in the warehouse came without bidding. He recalled the moment of hesitation before trying to make the gold appear. At that moment, he had thought that he did not want to have the burden of god power. He wanted to be rid of that power more than anything else in the world.
Copyright James Rumpel 2020