“I’ll never forget the time I chased a mugger into an elevator. He shot me five times after we fought a bit. The bullets passed through me and broke the controls behind me. You should have seen the look on his face when he realized that he was stuck in the elevator with me kicking his ass! I knocked him out, busted the hatch open, and left him there while I took the belongings back to the victim and called the cops. I heard that the cops were totally confused when they got to the scene, since my blood kinda splattered all over from the bullets, but the victim was able to identify his mugger who got sentenced to seven years!” exclaimed Portentia. Alma, Portentia, and I had already waited over ten minutes to be rescued, so Portentia started telling me stories of her other elevator mishaps. By her account, most of her experiences were pretty uneventful compared with the mugger, but she did help a woman give birth while stuck once. Then there was a claustrophobic man whom she talked through the wait. The worst in her opinion was dealing with a group of high school boys hitting on her. There were too many of them for her to catch what all was being said, and a couple of them had wandering hands until she got forceful with them. Still, Portentia shrugged off the experiences saying, “A superhero
has to deal with all sorts of unusual situations.”
“The police must have a room filled with your DNA samples by now though. Don’t you ever worry about cleaning up?” I asked. “I couldn’t get a viable sample from her hair, skin, or blood, so I can’t imagine that being a problem for her.” commented Alma. I looked at her in disbelief for a moment. “What?” she asked, her eyebrow raising slightly. Before I managed to find the words to explain that trying to get someone’s DNA sample was weird, Alma said, “Oh, please. Portentia doesn’t even know what she is, so I made an attempt to check.” I really didn’t want to know where Alma got her samples. “I don’t mind, James. Really.” claimed Portentia as she hugged my arm. She looked at me as I turned my head, so I asked “Did you give her your consent?” Shrugging, she replied “No, but had Alma been able to get a DNA sample from me, I would need to start being more careful about that sort of thing, so she was, in a way, helping me.” I looked back to Alma in time to catch her rolling her eyes. Something about her stance made me feel like she was irritated again. “I gather that you were already aware that your cells are exceedingly odd.” stated Alma. “Well, yeah. A number of doctors have tried doing tests on me before. A couple weren’t very friendly about it, but all of them said my cells are weird in one way or another.” explained Portentia. “That is the understatement of the year. How much do you know of genetics, James?” asked Alma.
“Well, about as much as you’d expect from high school biology.” I replied, feeling a bit embarrassed. I needed to get studying soon. Alma sighed and told me “You really need to read more. Simply put, Portentia’s cells look as if someone made an extremely crude model of a human cell. There’s no way for them to receive any sustenance by normal means. They’re dead, meaning you’re letting something akin to a zombie hug your arm.” That sounded rather unusual, but I was a bit caught up on the zombie part. I said, “Wait. So you’re saying she’s a zombie?” Shaking her head, Alma told me “No. I clearly said ‘akin to a zombie’ if you’d pay more attention. She’s obviously distracting you. Zombies can’t heal like her, and they’re not nearly so unlucky.” Portentia stiffened a bit, and I felt dumbfounded. “Pardon, but are you saying that zombies are real?” I inquired. “Yes, James. There are ways to animate flesh with magic, but practitioners of such disgusting arts are fortunately rare.” replied Alma. “I’m not that unlucky.” added Portentia. “Yes, you are. Getting stuck in as many elevators as you’ve claimed is highly improbable. I’d have called you a liar had I not witnessed your misfortune for the past couple days.” declared Alma.
Portentia let go of my arm and looked really offended. “I admit that my life has been harder than most in a number of ways, but there’s no reason to blame my luck. There are many bad people in this world that cause misfortune to others. If I manage to rid this world of its villains, you’ll see far less people being ‘unlucky’. Besides, I met James. How much luckier could I be?” she stated defiantly. “You two are completely oblivious, aren’t you. Since we’ve arrived, Aaliyah has gone out of her way time and time again to subtly help people. I’ve never seen her bump into anything by accident, but she maneuvered at least twenty people yesterday alone while pretending to stumble in one way or another. She saved several from falling objects, one man from being impaled, and another from getting his hand smashed between a trolley and a display. I stopped the strangest case of accidental magic I’ve seen to date just this morning. As James, at least, should be aware, residual energy, when left alone, floats about until it reaches a state of equilibrium. Over the course of the night, drifting energy from Ai and Mai’s water buffoonery nearly formed an explosive spell which could have destroyed the entire suite. The odds of such precise patterns being formed on accident are ridiculously poor.” explained Alma as she cooly met Portentia’s angry gaze .
I never really considered there being a reason behind Aaliyah’s trips, but I should have. She always had a reason behind her actions. Portentia didn’t know her well enough to realize this, so I said, “I think Alma has a point. Aaliyah has been up to something.” Portentia gaped at me before saying, “How can you take her side? Little girls trip all the time!” Shaking my head, I told her “Aaliyah can dance acrobatically on a curved footboard that’s not even two inches wide while playing music on her violin that’d make angels weep from its beauty. She doesn’t trip. Get to know her better, and you’ll believe me. I promise. I can’t, however, agree that you’re definitely the cause of these mishaps, since nothing has happened at home during your stay.” I had rested my hand on Portentia’s shoulder as I spoke, and she visibly calmed, though her expression still seemed a bit stubborn as she stared at Alma. “I do have reason to believe Portentia’s the cause, James.” stated Alma, somewhat defensively. “Oh? What?” I asked. “I’m not going to say. You’ll figure it out if you keep her in your employ.” she replied. Why couldn’t she just be more helpful? The two of them were still being moody half an hour later when we finally got out of the elevator.
The hotel’s manager apologized to us and promised a discounted rate for our stay as compensation in addition to free room service, which I accepted on Aaliyah’s behalf, since she was the one paying for everything. We made our way to the booth in plenty of time for my shift, but I got to hear Portentia arguing how the elevator breaking down turned out to be a lucky event as we walked. I didn’t think she had any concept of how wealthy Alma was. More than likely, Alma regularly blew far more money than we saved for convenience’s sake. The expense she surely paid while tricking me was certainly more than our weekend’s stay by a great deal. “Boss-man, sir! You made it!” exclaimed Aaliyah as she hopped onto the counter to the surprise of customers who looked excited upon seeing the girls and me. As Aaliyah related what I missed to me, Brenna asked Portentia “What’s bothering you?” Glancing over at them, I didn’t see Aaliyah slip off the counter until Portentia was diving to catch her. My attention was quickly diverted by a cosplay halberd shattering against the counter and barely missing Brenna. The owner was apologizing repeatedly as I helped him off the ground. He explained that his costume had come apart midstride. After assuring him nothing was harmed, Aaliyah gave him a sticker of his character, posed with him for a picture, and wished him luck with his armor, earning some applause from those gathered. Whatever she was doing, Aaliyah certainly knew how to work a crowd.