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23 Self-Induced Adrenaline Rush

 Mark sat down still for about 20 minutes as he endured the pain and lightheadedness while waiting for the medicine to take effect.

He took deep breaths while calming himself. The pain in his body, he didn't really care about it too much since he is quite used to it, though it really kicked hard this time.

'I really overexerted myself.' He thought.

'When was the last time it felt like this? I don't even remember.'

Only his family knew how much of a shut-in Mark is. He only comes out of the premises of their home when buying things from the stores or when something really important should be done like paying bills. Due to this, he lacked exercise and his stamina and strength are quite below average.

Yet, all this time, since the outbreak started, he was moving beyond his capabilities.

How? It all started when he was in grade four during his elementary years. He was diagnosed with kidney infection though it was found out really early and was cured within a week of being checked-in in a hospital.

After he was cured of his kidney infection, he noticed that his heart would start beating strongly until it starts to get painful every time he gets excited or agitated. He thought that it was a reemerging heart problem since he had one when he was a baby but when he was tested in a hospital, the results were negative.

It then went like that for years making him get used to the situation and he learned that he only need to calm down, take deep breaths and control his emotions to make his heartbeat go back to normal. He also stopped feeling heart pains during the change in his heartbeat during that long period. Though, it also caused him to stop showing too much emotion on his face.

In college, however, he realized it.

He was not a sporty person and the only kind of sport that interested him is martial arts, soccer and baseball. Yet, he was never given the opportunity to experience all those until college where a soccer club started. He joined and managed to get a good progress and plays during practice though we wasn't able to actually join any official matches due to various reasons.

During practice, there are times that he would get too much into the game and his heartbeat would go faster and stronger more often.

Though one day.

During one of the practice games, when his heartbeat changed while he was focused too much on following the ball with his eyes, a teammate of his kicked the ball wrongly and the ball made a sharp beeline in front of him.

By the strength that the ball was kicked, the direction it flew and the speed it was flying, it was reasonable that the ball would just flew by and pass by him with him not being able to react or do anything.

Yet, it happened.

As his heart beat faster, his focus on the ball became sharper as the ball moved slower and slower in his eyes until it looked like that it almost stopped in front of him. His blood seemed to boil and he felt an unknown source of energy in his body urging him to kick the ball. His foot touched the ball in great momentum and it flew fairly far. He remembered that kick as his best record in terms of speed and distance. It felt like it happened in several seconds but in reality, not even single second passed.

After he kicked the ball he stood in the middle of the field surprised. The club members were also surprised but what he did was dismissed as a lucky kick. But to him, there was more to it.

He then started practicing, trying to stimulate his heartbeat by purposely controlling his emotion and impulses. Mark managed to get a few results though he was far from being able to do it with control. Soon enough, due to needing time to finish his thesis and concentrate on his studies, he quit the club.

After a few years of practice, even after he graduated, he reached the point that he can finally do it, control its activation and use it whenever he wanted. Though at this point, he would just use it when playing games when things get difficult or when he is on the losing side.

Mark also learned about what is happening to him.

It was Adrenaline Rush and due to years of practice, he was able to self-induce it.

Though, it doesn't come without limit or side effects. He would feel fine during the duration it is activated but depending on how long, how much activity or which part of his body he focused on, he would receive a backlash at the same intensity after the duration was over.

From being lightheaded, sleepiness or headaches to muscle pain and severe muscle spasms, he would experience those depending on how he used this ability.

When he actually raise his adrenaline levels while playing games, his eyes would feel fatigued and his arms would go numb afterwards.

And that is what happened to him. Ever since he saw the zombies below when he was on the second floor of the mall, he grew really excited and subconsciously activated his ability and it remained activated as his subconscious and senses continued on detecting danger around him.

Now that he managed to reach a safe area, his adrenaline levels started to drop on its own.

Then the backlash triggered.

Fortunately, he would always bring medicine for muscle pain and headaches ever since he managed to get this ability.

Even though it came with quite a heavy backlash, and would surely become worse in the long run, it is one of his few 'abnormal' abilities he could boast about.

***

The pain lessened though far from actually ceasing and Mark finally opened his eyes as the medicine reached the peak of its effect.

He looked at Mei who beside him and he don't know what to do with her. Mark had never experience receiving this much of concern from another person, so, he was not used to it. Mei really looked like the sky would fall on her as she watched him writhing in pain.

The two locked their gazes making him raise his lips into a weak smile.

'I really can't abandon such a weak rabbit, can I?'

His right hand is still clutched so this time, with his left hand, he patted Mei's head.

"I'm fine now. We should join them, alright?"

Mei nodded and helped the pained Mark stand up and the two walked towards the group.

The group watched Mark approach them. Even though his exhaustion, pain and weakness are visible, he walked calmly towards them like it was nothing.

But before Mark and Mei can even reach the encircled chairs, Ange already jumped off her seat and approached the two.

"Hey! What happened to you? We're really worried you know that?"

"You're too close."

Mark grabbed Ange's forehead and pushed her away.

"Wah! Your hand is dirty!"

"What are you talking about? I properly wiped my hand on my shirt."

"Grrrr!"

Even though Ange was complaining, she was smiling.

Then, aside from Bernard, Joseph and Calvin who were unfamiliar with Mark, the rest followed Ange's lead and circled around him.

Fernan happily clutched his neck but then retreated in quickly after Mark complained in pain.

Reyah, carrying her daughter, Sariya, just stood to the side also smiling.

Then, Paula went in front of him.

"Welcome back." She said.

Mark froze.

He never expected to hear something like that. Even in his family, no one says something like this to him no matter how long he left before returning home.

Feeling warm inside, he decided to reply.

"Yeah, I'm back."

Mark then looked at the three men behind the group.

"Who are they?"

And as it he knew that it was the cue for them, Bernard approached.

"Bernard Macaraeg. It's nice to meet you. We heard a lot of what you did from them."

He then held his old right hand towards Mark. Mark accepted his introduction and shook the old man's hand.

Then, another round of introductions followed, though it's just the group introducing themselves to Mei and Mark.

"We already introduced ourselves! It's you two's turn now!"

The always impatient Ange urged the two to tell their names.

Mark glanced at Mei who is hiding behind him before looking back at the people in front of him.

"This girl, she's Xiao Mei. No, it should be Mei Xiao. As for me, it's Mark, just Mark."

"You're not gonna tell us your family name?" Ange is being nosy.

"I don't really need to, right? Not like it's important."

"Wah, it's unfair!"

"Just what are you being noisy about?"