Short Story: Her Hidden Power

Tiffany Winter sauntered through the door of her town’s lone department store. Flanking her were three of her best-friends, girls in their own right whom had nothing deeper in their minds then boys, clothes, and celebs. They would argue over and discuss all three subjects nearly incessantly, and none the wiser that Tiffany alone was the only one with a mind above (or rather to them, below,) all of these things. Indeed, Tiffany’s mind was quite unique, but only she knew it. She saw to it too that no-one else did. If they had, her secret would be out.

Most people in her position would fear the other popular girls learning they were actually a brain. That wasn’t Tiffany’s fear. In fact, that was the reason she’d developed the gaggle of slack-jawed plebs that followed her day and night. She somehow possessed both Einsteinian-level intelligence, and hollow-brained grace in a combination that made her socially lethal on a level none could hope to reach.

If she’d been asked, she’d have guessed that the girls that always followed her, and the guys that sought her out, were so intensely stupid they couldn’t comprehend how smart she was. “No matter,” and “No offense,” she’d say, before carrying on with, “Not all of us can grasp that the square root of the speed of light is inversely proportional to the speed and quantity of your intelligence.”

Whatever she meant by it, it certainly wasn’t any normal person’s meaning– even one of moderate intelligence and understanding of the terms therein. Simply, they couldn’t know it. Only she could. That was just how her brain worked. And why should she suffer when it was everyone else that was too stupid to understand her?

She and her gaggle sauntered through the store’s merchandise detectors and toward the “women’s” section. Lately, she and the others had taken to calling themselves women, despite still being teenage girls with less life experience than most insects. All their families were wealthy enough that not even Tiffany, with her fabulous brain, could comprehend living on little to no money. Even if she’d been forced to, she’d have used her secret weapon– the one that no-one knew about– to somehow get her way.

For most girls and women, that secret weapon would be their body, or some special trick of sexual or mental prowess they reserved for themselves. Tiffany had something much greater than that, and she’d known not to flaunt it, lest someone learn of it and the game be up. A proper explanation, she knew, was impossible. It was one of those things that needed to be seen to be believed. That is, if she’d have allowed it to be seen.

After three hours of giggling over boys and different outfits, Tiffany readied to treat herself to the sweet taste of her boon. She and the other girls stood in the check-out line, the gaggle empty-handed, but Tiffany with a cartful of shirts, jeans, dresses, and most important of all, shoes. There were more shoes than anything else, enough that they filled the main body of the cart and its bottom rack, forcing the clothes to hang off the sides and stick out at random angles.

Any onlookers would have thought this a problem. Not for the cart itself, but rather for the girl whom might need so many when she possessed only two feet. There were enough shoes there, an onlooker might suppose, to shoe a third world nation a few times over. Sneakers, pumps, stilletos, flats, boots, dress shoes, sandals, even a pair of cleats or two. The fetish had clearly skyrocketed to addiction levels.

But there were no onlookers around, no balkers, not even a few elderly shoppers to watch skeptically. Thus Tiffany remained free from criticism. For a half hour, the haggard cashier made light conversation as he scanned all of Tiffany’s clothing and shoes. Before he’d looked tired, now he looked outright dreadful. Tiffany and the other girls gossiped with the effeminate man as he grew all the more hunched. Clearly, though his shift had only just begun, Tiffany’s obscene load was wearing on him.

And thus, as the other girls went outside to causally await their leader– spurned not only by Tiffany’s hidden power, but also her wizened insistence– she revealed the power to no-one and the cashier was none the wiser.

He read off an amount in the thousands, a hefty charge even for her parents’ considerable wealth. She met his eyes with a wild look; that was all she need. His face went blank, hypnotized. She made a motion to mock handing over a credit card. He slid the invisible credit card through a reader, never breaking eye-contact. Even the computer was fooled enough to process the transaction. How? Tiffany wasn’t sure, but she didn’t care so long as it printed the receipt.

It did. The long receipt spooled out for near-on five minutes, her and the haggard, effeminate man never breaking eye contact. Had anyone been around, it would’ve given her away. Fortunately, Tiffany had seen to that too– by emanating a mental command that passively kept everyone away from her. Meanwhile, the cashier snapped from his trance, his memory of having swiped a credit-card as recent and solid as it was false.

He tore off the receipt, folded it several times, then handed it over with a smile and a pleasant wish of wellness. She heaved against the cart, steered out to her brand-new car, procured in the same manner as everything else. Her dad had always said she had a way of getting whatever she wanted. If only he knew. If only anyone knew. Then again, if they did, the game would be up.

Tiffany gave herself a sly smile.

She stopped at the car and began to load the trunk. Fleeting guilt bubbled in her gut. It always did. Technically, it was stealing. Then again, if no-one saw it, or knew about it, was it? The feeling was always supplanted by the knowledge of what someone had once said to her, “Use your resources. Be smart. Be proud of you inborn-gifts.” Maybe that person hadn’t meant, “use them to manipulate late the human mind,” but how could they argue with a girl using her talents?

She wasn’t sure what others would’ve called her if they knew, but she called herself a Psionic Thief. Or at least, she would’ve had she told anyone. She never did. Mind manipulation was science-fiction nonsense, no matter what clique you belonged to. No matter, not everyone can grasp that the square root of the speed of light is inversely proportional to the speed and quantity of their intelligence.

Whatever it meant to others, to Tiffany, it meant she could do whatever she wanted, and her hidden power made damned sure she could.

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