Toh Zhi Han loved driving.
In fact, there was nothing in the world that he enjoyed more than a quiet drive through the streets at night in his metallic white Aston Martin DB 9. And his mutant ability made the experience much more enjoyable.
Zhi Han had the ability to control any machine or technological device at will, even if the said machine wasn’t functioning. He could make it work. He could also automatically interpret the functions and operations of any machine or technological device, understanding what made it… tick.
His preferred field of expertise was in automobiles and it was indeed a natural progression for him to rise to the top of the vehicular technician field. He was now the proud chairman of Vice, Eccentricity and Madness Automotive Technologies.
He was about to drive back home when he noticed the car behind his. He hadn’t really noticed it but it had been trailing him for quite some time.
Is that guy following me? he thought angrily. He had half a mind to speed off; there was no way that the pathetic car could compete with his self-modified one. Still, he couldn’t be sure that it was following him and he instead stopped at the side of the road and waited.
His suspicions were confirmed when it stopped a distance away. Zhi Han cursed under his breath and got out of his car. He was going to teach that guy a lesson, whoever he was.
Or in this case, two of them.
His former lecturers Mr. Ai! and Mr. Andy (who was currently his rival in the car industry with Mulberry Automotives) got out of the purple car.
“OIE ANDY WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT?” Zhi Han shouted. “WANT TO COMPARE YOUR UGLY PURPLE CAR WITH MINE IZZIT? AND HOW DID YOU KNOW I’LL DRIVE AROUND HERE?”
Mr. Andy put his hands on his hips, an indignant expression on his face. He was about to say something when Mr. Ai! held up a hand, silencing him. Mr. Ai! took a few steps forward, a look on his face so calm that it bordered on the sinister.
“We have our sources. The way I see it Zhi Han, you have two options. You can come quietly,” he said, gesturing at the car. His lips suddenly curled into a sneer. “Or you can come by force.”
Zhi Han was beyond pissed now. “YOU WANNA FIGHT COME LA!” With that said, he started running towards the duo, hands clenched into fists.
Mr. Ai! shook his head ruefully before holding out a palm, smiling as Zhi Han’s movements started to slow down to a trickle.
What’s happening? Zhi Han thought, confused. He had never felt so heavy before and even the slightest motion felt like he was wading through underwater with lead weights on him.
“Big mistake, young man,” Mr. Ai! said. “I can increase the mass of any object or person as much as I want.”
Zhi Han yelled out in pain when he fell facedown, his skin pressing hard into the gravel of the road, Mr. Ai! continuing to apply more pressure.
“Now tell me, are you still going to fight?” Mr. Ai! asked.
Despite the tremendous pressure being placed on him, Zhi Han concentrated hard on Mr. Andy’s car and immediately its engine started up. Before the two men realized what was happening, the car roared forward and knocked them off their feet, sending them flying a few feet away.
Mr. Ai’s hold on him now gone, Zhi Han forced himself off the ground and ran to his car. He wasn’t even going to bother to check to see if he had killed his ex-lecturers.
A mental command sent his car speeding away from the scene.
They just ruined a perfectly good drive!
Joan and Marcus were shopping in town when Marcus’ cell ringed.
It was Zhi Han.
“Wait, what? Can you speak slower? And stop yelling! You want to WHAT tomorrow?! Eh, wait---!”
The conversation was over in a minute.
“Who was that?” Joan asked.
Marcus turned to her with an exasperated look on his face. “The King. He said the lecturers attacked him. He wants to hold a meeting tomorrow.”
Joan rolled her eyes. “Like whatever.”
The next morning.
Awesome! Dance Studio is the most elite dance school in Singapore. Located at Telok Ayer Street, it was the IT school for aspiring dancers.
And in one of the practice halls of this prestigious place one of the school’s more renowned teachers was in the process of teaching her students a dance routine.
Charine Tan beamed encouragingly at her students who were going about the routine. She loved teaching dance. She reaped satisfaction in the watching of a roomful of students moving about gracefully to a rhythm, all the result of her teachings of course.
“Erm Miss Tan?” came a voice from behind her.
Charine turned to look at Hazel, the receptionist who for some reason had a nervous look on her face. “Yes?” Charine asked.
“There’re some people here to see you,” she said, her eyes cast downward. “They’re waiting for you in the guest area.” With that said, the receptionist scurried away, leaving a very confused Charine in her wake.
She informed her class that she’d be gone for a while before making her way to the guest area. The people awaiting her there were the last people she wanted to see.
Seated comfortably on the plush leather sofa in the guest area were her former lecturers Clarenge and Kin-chin.
“What’re you doing here?” she asked coldly, not bothering to hide her disdain.
“Ahhh, Charine,” Kin-chin said. “So glad to see you doing so well for yourself.”
“Cut the crap,” Charine snapped. “What the hell do you want?”
“That’s no way to speak to your former lecturers dear,” Clarenge said, disapproval in her voice. “But we’ll just cut to the chase. We want you to come with us, preferably without any resistance.”
Charine stared at her incredulously for a full second before she spoke. “Are you stupid?”
Clarenge’s cheeks flushed a deep crimson, clearly reflecting her embarrassment. She glared at her former student. “I wonder if you’ll continue to take that tone if you know what’s in-store for the students in this school if you don’t come with us.”
A look of concern crossed Charine’s face and Kin-chin spoke up before she could say anything.
“The entire west wing of this building is wired with explosives. That’s where most of the classes are right?” he spoke, a sinister gleam in his eye.
Charine stared at the two lecturers for a long while, feeling disgust like she’d never had before. It was a long while before she spoke.
“Fine,” she said quietly. “I’ll go with you.”
Marcus was not having a good morning.
First, his account manager had told him that the latest ad by his company Batey was being laughed at by fellow creative directors in Singapore. Then Zhi Han had called this meeting and was going on non-stop about how his nose was now scarred when it was forced against the road.
And Joan was gaining weight exponentially.
“Eh Marcus you listening or not?” Zhi Han asked hysterically.
Marcus rolled his eyes. “You very lame leh, don’t want to join the team last time, then when the lecturers attack you come looking for us!”
“I WAS BUSY BEING RICH! AND THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE NOW!” Zhi Han yelled. “I WAS NEARLY KILLED LAST NIGHT!”
The others who were present at the meeting – Joan, Sanjay and Zul – sighed.
“From what you said, it sounds like you might have killed them,” Zul pointed out dryly.
“SO?” Zhi Han screamed again. He pointed at the small purplish scar that ran across his nose. “LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO ME!”
Marcus ignored him. “I’m more worried about what the lecturers are up to now. I have a feeling that Zhi Han wasn’t the only one who was attacked. Let’s contact the rest of our classmates.”
Everyone except for Zhi Han agreed and started to walk away.
His cries fell on deaf ears.
Charine was surprised when she was shoved into a cell together with her two former classmates Juliet and Christina, who looked like they had seen better days.
“What’re you guys doing here?” she asked.
“Enjoying the atmosphere,” Juliet replied sarcastically.
“Well at least we have more company now,” Christina quipped.
Charine looked out of the cell but all she could see were machines of all sorts with two operating tables in the middle. Funky-looking devices hung above the tables.
“What’re they going to do to us?!” Charine cried.
“Experiments?” Juliet offered.
Charine turned to her incredulously. “And you can say that with a straight face? Why haven’t you used your powers to get out of here?”
“Because we can’t use them. I think the cell somehow blocks them,” Christina said.
Not wanting to believe it, Charine grabbed one of the vertical iron bars imprisoning them and tried to rip it out.
“What're you trying to do?” Christina asked.
“I… have… superhuman… strength!” Charine grunted, straining from the effort.
“Well not anymore I guess,” Juliet said sourly.
The trio turned silent when the door to the room opened and Ms. Loley, Ms. Nan and Naraj walked in.
“Ms. Nan! Why did you kidnap us?!” Christina shouted.
Ms. Nan turned to the girls and grinned like a Cheshire cat. “Hi girls. Oh and hello Charine, glad you could join us.”
“What’re you going to do us?” Charine asked.
Naraj stepped forward, hands behind his back. “Well you see girls, we’ve come to the decision that you and your classmates are abusing the powers that we gave you,” he said in a very PR way. “So we’re just going to have to take them back.”
“I think it’s better to just showl them,” Ms. Loley said.
“Bring her in!” Naraj yelled.
On Naraj’s command, a guard carrying an unconscious Stefanie came in and placed her on one of the operating tables. He began to secure her arms and legs with the leather straps attached to the table.
“Hey it’s Stef!” Juliet cried. “What’re ya'll going to do to her?”
“You girls should be pleased,” Naraj said. “You’ll be the first to witness the transfer process.”
“Transfer process?” Charine inquired.
“Ms. Nan, if you will,” Naraj said, gesturing at the other table and walked over to a machine.
Ms. Nan walked over and laid herself on the table, nodding to Naraj to signal that she was comfortable.
Naraj looked at the three imprisoned girls. “Please don’t scream. You might wake your friend up. And who knows how she’ll feel about all this?” he said before pressing a button.
They watched, horrified, as bright white surges of energy shot out from the machines above the operating tables and engulfed Stefanie and Ms. Nan.
They screamed anyway.
They lie together, in the old abandoned factory that they had thought no one else knew about.
It is now their deathbeds.
She had known them.
She looks around at the devastation, wondering if it was a trick. But the smell of blood and flames intermingling are very much real.
And like the demons of hell itself, her lecturers stand over them, laughing as the flames illuminate them.
In the corner, cloaked in shadow, a small figure crouches down, its head in its hands. She tries to get a better look but the flames are suddenly everywhere.
It engulfs her.
Juliana Saleh woke up screaming, perspiration dripping down her face.
Her heart was racing. Normal people would have been filled with relief at that point, realizing it hadn’t been real.
But she wasn’t.
She had just seen the future.