Skyler Knight Walker had been aware for some time now that he was born with a special power. He had discovered it one night, a few years ago, when forgetfully, he ventured out of his hideout without the bubble suit. At that time, he didn’t think much of it. After all, there was not too much more in the forest he could see than he could with the suit. It was probably one more thing that set him apart from others who lived in the city. It was good of course. He felt more alive because he experienced sensations that he did not in the suit. He loved the breeze as it played on his cheeks and the cool moist touch of leaves as he brushed past them. But that was about it. Skyler had not yet discovered that he tired less, ran faster and felt emotions that others did not.
So it came as a surprise when one day he discovered that he needed to keep his power a secret or he would surely be terminated.
As Skyler had grown older, he took to crossing the low wall that separated the forest from the city without his bubble suit. It was just a bit more comfortable and at night he only saw stray dogs, cats and other household animals roaming the streets. He saw no danger in it. It was strictly against the rules for any citizen to be out between the hours of midnight and 4 am but the only people out at that time were the night patrolmen and as long as he avoided them he could roam freely. They had orders to shoot curfew violators on sight. Since this was not something they really wanted to do, they would talk loudly, bang their heavy batons on the pavement and occasionally even shoot a stray cat.
By the time he was 10 yrs old Skyler knew every boulevard, building and back alley in the city. One day he gave food from his pocket to a stray dog and the dog wagged his tail so happily that Skyler found himself going to visit the dog the next night and again after that. He named the dog Rudy and started going to the same back alley to look for Rudy every night. He did not realize that his night walks became less random and a little more predictable.
It took the patrolmen about a week to start suspecting a night walker till one day they lay in wait in an alley near the dog.
Another reason Skyler could avoid the night patrolmen easily was that he could smell them long before they saw him. So that night when he found Rudy wagging his tail but smelling of patrolmen he was immediately on his guard. Still, that they would shoot at him was something he had not expected. After all, his was a peaceful country.
He ran fast, ducking behind large trash cans that pinged in pursuit.
“Catch him. He is Tribal.” He heard them yelling as they followed. “If we take him alive, even better, but we get a bounty in any case.”
Skyler eventually cleared the last hurdle to the forest road, wondering all the while. Why they were chasing him so hard for so long?
Taking shots at people was rare. It was much worse than the normal punishment for being out at night without a work pass. Skyler, realized he was doing something worse than breaking the night curfew though he did not know what.
He ran a circuitous route back, instinctively knowing that he should not reveal his hideout.
It was only after he was safely back home, taking deep breaths to slow his heart rate down that it occurred to him what the commotion was about. What had the patrolmen said? Had they called him Tribal?
What gave him away? What was a Tribal?
It must be the bubble suit. He wasn’t wearing it and they all had suits on.
That was his special power. The dog Rudy loved him for it. The patrolmen wanted to catch him for it.
Good or bad, his power was enough to get him terminated. He remembered the letter his Great Granma had given him.
Maybe now he was to embark on the journey he had been born to take.
From now on, he resolved he would be more careful. And his nightly forays took on a new purpose: to discover the mission he was born to fulfill.