I was going along just fine, minding my own business, hiding my true self from the entire world.
The way I saw it – if I didn’t bother them, they wouldn’t bother me either.
And yet they came, the pack of wolves in jocks’ clothing, hunting for weaklings like us outside of school.
We had gatecrashed a party. It was Laila’s fifteenth birthday bash and my friend here was sweet on her since kindergarten. So we had to do it. Get him his first kiss and me a feel of how the other side lived like. Our bad. We got chased down the street into a dark alley. We hid behind the dumpster, but Jay’s sniffles gave us away.
They smashed us up pretty bad. Like Sing in Kung Fu Hustle or Neo in Matrix. But we were no chosen ones. Sure, I had my occasional run-ins with my brave self and turning my thumb into a lighter could sure win me some brownie points at the freak show. But taking on these hulks right here, right now, seemed impossible.
I shielded Jay; bore the full force of each blow and writhe in pain as kicks upon kicks landed on my torso.
As I lay there in the dark alley, drenched in blood and sweat, I could hear them laugh in the distance, still torturing poor Jay.
A switch inside me flipped. A primal instinct took over, one that I was totally unfamiliar with.
I stood up, in one swift motion, as if all those blows and kicks had barely even grazed the surface.
Jay was squirming in pain, clutching his tummy with both hands, his tear-stained face begging for mercy.
That soundtrack kept playing in my head – over and over again. They had it coming …
I was singing aloud.
The jocks turned. The lead wolf thought I was nuts, and a tad gay.
I should have faked being dead, he said.
We’ll see, bud, I thought as a massive ball of white light launched off my palm and sped through him and his pack, turning them into cinders.
I am a human cannonball, I thought.
My name: Supernova.
The next day I woke up in the hospital with wounds as many as Jay’s who lay on the bed next to mine.
The last thing I remember was passing out after the white light ball had left my hand. It was as if that glorious moment of victory was a dream I had pulled myself into, to survive. Nothing that I had done was real. My ability to reduce evil into cinders a figment of my imagination.
And then my folks told me about the missing jocks.
And that a letter awaited me when I got home.
It was a beautiful day.
I sat on the window seat looking at the trees in the neighbourhood shedding their leaves.
My mom came in with a huge breakfast tray loaded with toasts, fresh oranges, and a tall glass of milk. My dad followed quick on her heels, a massive grin spread across his face. He had that hush-hush, don’t-talk-about-it-till-we-get-home envelope in his hands.
He handed it to me proudly.
“This is your lucky day son,” he said. “This is your chance to be the man.”
Besides the strange-speak, he did seem awfully pleased with himself.
I dropped the toast back on the plate and took the envelope from him.
It had a strange seal on it, an eagle on a horse. Some secret society stuff I bet, but why was it addressed to me, I didn’t get.
I cracked it open.
There it was. The unheard of … my acceptance letter from Superville High School, the world’s premiere school for superheroes in the making.
“What the …,” I swore aloud.
“And I thought you’d never turn,” said dad.
I had always wished for superpowers more intense than a thumb-cum-lighter or an opera singer’s shriek. The rare instinct to deploy the power that could exploit the enemy’s weakness and destroy it within seconds definitely figured on top of my list. The enemy, as I later learnt, were countless, but I could summon powers with a snap of my fingers, only if I chose to accept the admission offer.
How cool it would be if I could read the enemy’s mind and sense its fears … and attack it with what it fears the most. Make it lose its human clothing or destroy its pure evil spirit to the core.
The hell doors, I say, will one day open and close to my command.
I will be a sort of a living legend, a part of the lore of Superville. Till then I’ll be a superhero in the making, saving mankind.
“Earth to son,” said mom. “Quit daydreaming already.”
“I always knew you had it in you, son,” said dad.
“Your friend was so lucky to have had you around,” added mom, “or the poor boy would have been steak served rare.”
I later learnt that the kids that I’d vaporized weren’t kids but were rather shadow creatures that took on the form of popular people and fed on weaklings. The tell: they burn in white light.
Ain’t life peachy!
I will miss Jay at the new school but I may need a sidekick soon…and an impenetrable suit, a cool, snazzy mobile to drive around in, loads of cash and a way to turn evil into good. Just kidding!
Till next time …
I wrote this in response to a test question: You have the choice to be a new, completely unique superhero. What superhero powers would you want, and why? What would be your name?