I remember where I was when the Snap happened. I was in the back of a cop car. I had shifted to lay across the seats, much to the amusement of the officers. Officer Dan and Officer Melody were old hands and they had arrested me half a dozen times at this point. Not for anything serious, I assure you, unless you think graffiti is the greatest sin a girl can commit in the Tri-State area. Which it isn't.
So I was laying back, waiting to get to the station. My dad had insisted, after my first arrest and subsequent slap on the wrist, that I was always taken to the precinct to put the fear of God into me. It didn't work, but Officer Dan was a friend of my dad's, so he dutifully took me in. He also usually gave me a stern lecture and change for a candy bar from the gas station on the way home. I was ready for my lecture and already thinking about what candy I wanted to get once they let me go.
Then, in an instant, I was slamming forward into the back of the seats. I fell into the gap between them, a tangled mess of limbs on a floor that was probably dirty in ways not worth thinking about. I set about cursing quietly as I heard the front doors of the car open. Confused and rubbing my sore nose, I sat up to get a look at what had caused our sudden stop.
Dan was leaning into the car in front of us, looking around what appeared to be an empty space. Melody had run several cars up, where it looked like another car crash had happened. When she looked back, the concern on her face was enough to make me get over my quiet complaining. Dan was pulling back too. He poured a handful of black dust onto the street. I swallowed hard, wondering if that was all that was left of the person from the car.
There was a scream to the left of the car and my head snapped around to see what was going on. That was when I saw it happening. The slow dissolve of a human being into black ash. It was a man, about in his thirties, with glasses and an Ohio State hat on. He looked like he was about to be ill, but it was unlikely since he no longer had a stomach. Or even most of a face.
And then, just like that, he was gone. He fell away completely into ash, dusting the sidewalk and blowing into the street from the gentle breeze.
I covered my mouth with one of my paint stained hands, holding back the sudden nauseous feeling in my gut. I just saw a person die. Death is a persistent factor of our lives, but the thought of it is always milder than the reality. Someone just died before my eyes and it was terrifying.
"Dan!" Officer Melody's shout reached me just in time to see the face of Dan, a family friend... my friend... as he crumbled away. I banged my hand uselessly against the barrier between the front and back seats of the patrol car. A wordless cry tumbled through my lips. Then I met Melody's eyes through the window as she, too, began to fade away into ash. Up and down the street, it was still happening. I could see people disappearing.
Hot tears broke past my tenuous hold and cut tracks down my face. I looked at my hands. Partially sprayed with black and blue and purple from my mural, but not disintegrating.
I only had a moment to think 'When? When? When am I going?' before a bus came careening through the cars at the intersection ahead. People screamed. I winced. Then I pieced together what had happened. The bus had just come down a steep hill that I used to walk every day to school. It was weaving wildly, without a driver. More people would get hurt. More would die. I had to do something. Anything.
I had never shared my secret with anyone. Only I and my murals knew. My starry skies, flooded with galaxies and fuzzy looking planets clustered too close together to make sense. That was the only way I had ever shown it. My super power. Even if I did show it, no one would understand the murals. No one would know about the multi-sectioned face with the glowing eyes. That place. That scary place that I was about to go. If only for a split second.
In an instant, I flashed out of the patrol car. For seconds; aching, stretching, gaping seconds, I was in the place from my murals. Alien planets around me and a multi-colored cadre of galaxies and clouds swirling over head chaotically. Then, poof! Well, maybe not poof, but in a jarring moment like the too loud snap of fingers, I was at the front of the out of control bus.
I was thrown sideways by the momentum. My shoulder came into immediate contact with the metal bar behind the driver's seat, giving a resounding gong sound that I tried very hard not to dwell on. I had other problems. Namely, controlling the bus that was currently throwing its passengers against the walls and seats like a bad theme park ride. I threw myself into the driver's seat and grabbed the wheel. I fought my instincts to slam on the brakes and applied them in careful bursts as I got the bus back to some semblance of a path, then I pressed down harder on the brake when I finally got some control.
When it finally stopped, I heard some cheering from behind me. It almost covered up the sound of someone throwing up in the back. I sighed, not looking back, and put on the parking break. I did not want to give the community an eyeful of my face, preferring they think it was just a random hoodied teen that BAMF-ed onto the bus and saved them. I opened the bus doors and hurried out. I could have teleported, but... I really didn't like the freaky space place. I only painted it to get the pretty parts out of my head so I could hurry up repressing the rest.
Someone shouted 'Hey! Wait up!' from behind me, but I was running the second my feet hit the pavement. I jogged down an alley and turned into an adjacent one, then walked back out onto another street. When I hit the next street, I slowed to a walk and took my hoodie off. I tied it around my waist, knowing that if anyone from the bus saw me, they wouldn't recognize me with it off.
Reassured of my safety, I took the chance to look around. People seemed to have stopped dissolving, but the people that were left were in anarchy. Many had phones to their ears, probably calling the police, while others merely stopped and stared. A few had taken to running scattershot down the street, like they could escape whatever invisible force was eliminating people. I had a feeling that wouldn't help.
Fighting down panic and depression, I turned towards home. There was no enemy to fight and without any more careening busses that would benefit from the intervention of a teleporter, there was nothing I could really do. Nothing, of course, besides going home and getting out of the way for the authorities when they arrived.
I remember where I was when the Snap was reversed. I was on the roof of my apartment building. It was a place only I and a few risk taking urban climbers could get to because of the constantly locked roof access door, which my landlord had lost the key to. I was sitting with my back to the lip of the roof, a sketch pad on my knees, and trying to focus hard on drawing anything. Anything to take my mind off the fact that my dad hadn't come home.
I had waited. Too long. It was way too long for him to be gone. So I had to start accepting the fact that he was never coming back. Or, at least, that was what I thought then.
That was when, suddenly, the city was filled with noise. Sharp cries of surprise. Shouting. Chatter. Voices calling out to each other. Confused, I got up and peered over the edge of the roof. My eyes widened when I saw the hundreds of people on the streets. Stretching off into the distance for miles, vanishing into the city in all directions, were people. More were pouring out of the buildings, finding and embracing members of the crowd.
It took me a moment to understand why. But that understanding came when I saw a familiar face among the crowd. Tears prickled at my eyes and I teleported without a second thought. Well... that's a lie. There was a second thought. The thought of 'Don't teleport into a group of people you colossal moron.'
I appeared in the space place with a whisper of noise that I could never place, spent the agonizing few seconds there, spotting the haunting eyes looking at me from the distance, then I was down in the alley beside the building. I gave a cursory glance around to verify that I wasn't seen, then hurried my way out onto the street. It took a painful few moments to locate him in the crowd again, but when I did, I raced to my dad and pulled him into a hug. It only took him seconds to hug back and then we were there, two blips in a crowd of hundreds, embracing each other so hard that there would be bruises that neither of us cared about tomorrow.
I remember where I was when I was told not to teleport any more. It was almost a year after the Snap. I had been on the roof of a building, spraying down a layer of purple for my mural, when I heard a cut of scream from behind me. I spun around, the spray paint can hanging from my suddenly lax hand as I looked for the source of the sound. It took me a second to realize that the scream had come from the alley beside the building.
I dropped my spray can onto my duffel bag and hurried over to the edge to look down. There was a man there, standing a little bit away from a young, terrified looking woman. He held a knife horizontally, pointed at her in what could only be a robbery attempt. My brows knit together and I frowned deeply. I had to stop him.
Silently, I pulled my hood up and teleported. My brief flash into the space place felt shorter than usual. Which surprised me, because it usually seemed to take longer when I was trying to do something fast. But in a blink of an eye, I was landing on top of the attempted robber. He yelped as he went down, crushed under my sudden weight appearing on his shoulders. His knife skittered away down the alley. The victim gave a startled cry, then took advantage of her opportunity and ran.
I scrambled to get to my feet before the robber could get his bearings. I was just realizing that I couldn't detain this guy or take him to the cops, when glowing golden light coiled around the robber and pinned him to the ground. My eyes widened and I looked around in shock.
I saw the weirdest guy I'd ever seen standing at the end of the alley. He wore some kind of blue robes and a red, flowing cape. And he was floating. I was just thinking about running when he spoke.
"That was very short sighted; what you just did." He said, his tone of voice telling me that he was one of those 'I know everything' kind of people. I huffed and leaned back against the wall, feeling a little safer with the robber all tied up in glowing coils of... I wasn't sure what it was.
"What did you want me to do? Let the lady get robbed?" I asked incredulously. The man tilted his head curiously and I squirmed under his scrutiny.
"I wasn't actually talking about jumping on the robber, though that wasn't very safe either." He replied. I stared at him blankly, not knowing how to respond to that. He sighed, a look of exasperation decorating his face. "I meant opening the wormhole through the Dark Dimension like you just did. It's a very dangerous place."
That tripped my curiosity. He knew about the space place; this 'Dark Dimension'. I crossed my arms over my chest and fixed him with a frown. "I don't know anything about a Dark Dimension. I just kinda... teleport. I don't know how I do it. It's not like I want to go through the space place, though."
The man's expression melted into thoughtful contemplation. "You don't use magic?"
Magic? Magic was real? Yes please! I wanted to be a part of that! I had been in love with magic since I was eleven. Then something else occurred to me. "Umm... no... I don't know any magic... Wait, are you some kinda superhero?" I asked incredulously. His rolled eyes gave me a quick impression that he didn't like that term.
"Not really. I think we should have this conversation elsewhere." He inclined his head and I heard the sound of sirens approaching in the distance. My eyes widened. I panicked, for a brief few seconds at least. Then I was back on the roof, stumbling slightly as the wall at my back vanished. The man was still standing a little ways away from me, looking amused by my discombobulation. I huffed at his amusement.
"You're kind of a dick, mister." I said when I got my coordination back.
"Doctor." He corrected. I got the feeling it was automatic. "Doctor Stephen Strange."
I tried to hide the laugh that was bubbling up in my chest, but it came out in a small burst anyways. He looked exasperated again. "Sorry." I chuckled. "I couldn't help it. That's just a really cheesy name."
He waved a hand absently. "Yeah yeah. Get it out." That line only provoked more laughing, but I managed to pull myself back into line in, I think, a reasonable few seconds.
"Okay. Okay I'm good. Now you were saying...?"
"You don't use magic, but you go through Dormammu's dimension." He tilted his head. "That's a very dangerous place. Especially when you have no way of defending yourself."
I shrugged. "I dunno, I throw a pretty mean right hook."
"That won't get you anywhere if Dormammu decides to attack you." Strange replied.
I contemplated this for a moment, then gave him a big grin. I had a solution. I knew he wouldn't like it.
"I guess you had better teach me some magic then."
I saw his annoyance skyrocket. His eyes rolled up to the sky, like a silent prayer for strength, before falling back to me. "Has that attitude of yours EVER gotten you anywhere?"
I grinned. "It got me out of detention in tenth grade."
"I assure you, learning magic is not something you can take this lightly and come out on the other side. It will chew you up and spit you out." Strange frowned at me. I could tell he wanted to be more irritated at me than he was. Which was a good sign. It meant I was wearing him down. And now that I knew there was magic on offer, I wasn't giving up until I got to learn it. Plus, if I didn't have to teleport through the "Dark Dimension" any more, all the better.
"Who's to say I take this lightly? Who's to say I take anything lightly, Doctor? I can be serious when I want to be." I schooled my face into seriousness, despite the giddiness fluttering in my gut.
Doctor Strange watched my expression. It felt like forever that I had to hold that face, but I wasn't giving up. This guy could float around and make glowy robber-tying ropes. I wanted to do this stuff. Finally, Strange spoke again.
"I'll give you a chance."