Looking around Times Square, Brian began to get a bit restless. I was sure that it was the perfect place to find someone to save simply because of the number of people who walked through it every day. But I couldn't see anyone with red numbers anywhere in the whole area. Brian was beginning to get discouraged. "How about that kid?" he pointed to a gothic looking guy walking along with his eyes downturned to the pavement.
Blue numbers - a lot of them, too. "Nope."
"That woman?" Elderly lady in one of those Rascal things with a paper shopping bag in the back basket trying to navigate traffic. She had a little better than a year.
Brian sighed, "I'm bad at this..."
I shrugged, "It's not like we've had a whole lot of practice."
Brian's eyes narrowed as he looked around, scanning the streets like a crazy bird watcher. I could almost picture him all dressed up in Crocodile Dundee clothes and whispering in an exaggerated Australian accent, while crouching behind some bush. I smiled, humored by this mental image. After a couple moments, he looked at me. "I'm actually not any help at all."
"You're entertaining me at least," I said, smirking. Brian bit his lip and started rubbing his chin while I went back to searching for red numbers. Everyone in Times Square was too damn healthy, if you asked me. I dawdled a bit, then nudged Brian and started walking towards downtown, "C'mon, let's find somewhere else to look," I suggested.
"I was thinking the same thing," Brian agreed. He followed along behind me as we passed every nationality of people in the world. While some had shorter numbers than others, for the most part everyone was over a month.
Suddenly Brian spoke up, "What if you donated a lot of money to a charity that like built water wells or donated medicine to Africans or something?" Brian syggested. "Technically you're saving lives then."
I shrugged, I hadn't thought of stuff like that. "Maybe I should move to Bosnia or Sudan or something. Iraq."
"Join the army," Brian smiled.
I shook my head, jumping back a few subjects. "It's freaking New York City, dude, there should be lots of people to save here."
"Do they have to be dying to be saved?" Brian asked.
I looked at him, "What?"
"Well, you know, some people could be in trouble without dying..." Brian explained, "Like a rape victim or an abused child. Sometimes people die while they're still alive."
I paused. I found that statement quite profound actually, and I mentally wrote it down to save for another time. Again, though, I hadn't thought of things like that. "I actually have no clue what qualifies as saving a life," I answered, "It's not like this ability exactly came with a manual or anything like that, you know?"
"Sort of like everything else in life," Brian laughed.
"Yeah... So I'm still fuzzy with exactly how it works and all," I said.
Brian paused, "So... what, like you save someone and five minutes is just added onto your time?"
I nodded, "Yeah, like if I've got ten minutes left when I save them, it turns to fifteen."
I shrugged. "I guess so."
"Do other people get extra time for saving lives?" Brian asked, "Like if I saved someone's life, do I get extra time, too?"
"Good question," I replied. "Man, the more questions you ask, the more I wish I did have a handbook."
Brian laughed, "Aw.. Don't worry, Nick, you'll figure it all out. It's like a new video game or something. Before long, you'll know all the loop holes and secrets and have the thing conquored in no time."
"If I live that long," I supplied.
We rounded a corner and found ourselves in the NYU college district. I could see Washington Square up ahead, and there were students everywhere wearing the traditional blue and white school colors. Brian looked at how young they all seemed. "Maybe we should go to like a senior housing community," he suggested.
"They're all supposed to die, though," I reminded him, "Technically they're not in need of saving."
Brian shrugged, "Yeah, I guess that's true." He paused, "So ... see anyone yet?"
"Not yet..." I answered.
When we stepped into the Square, though, suddenly I saw quite a few. I stopped short, causing Brian to walk right into my back. A bunch of the students had the red numbers, all for about the same time: five minutes: I looked at Brian, "I might've found something."
"Where?" he asked, straining to look over my shoulder.
"There's about fifteen people here," I answered, "With five minutes or less over their heads."
"Seventy-five minutes," Brian whispered, "If you save all of them."
I nodded, a little better than an hour, but it was an hour I didn't have right now. I stood still, watching as they milled about in the Square, then one kid started coming our way... then a couple others. One checked her watch and nudged a girl next to her and said something. The kids coming our way turned and went down into the subway system. I looked at Brian, "Something's gonna happen down there," I said, "In like... four minutes."
Brian looked down into the subway tunnel. "What could possibly happen down there?"
I shrugged, "I dunno, but let's go." The two girls in the Square, as well as the rest of the people with the low number over their heads, were walking towards the tunnel. I led the way down the steps into the dimly lit underworld. Brian nervously followed right behind me, looking around in a paniced fashion. "Dude, Brian," I whispered, "Don't freak out... You've got a lot of time still." I watched as the students boarded a rail, all of them were on the same car. I looked at Brian, "Wait here," I told him, and I hurried onto the train. Brian bit his lip, looking concerned, watching as I ran off.