by Timothy Mudie
Superheroes usually get their powers when they’re about my age. Something to do with puberty I guess; no one ever really gets specific about it. But about thirteen, fourteen, around there, is where it happens. Like how all the original X-Men were teenagers when they started. And so I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting mine any day now. I’m ready. I’m waiting. I’ve practiced. Like right now, I’m staring down at my hands, palms up, focusing really really hard. Like, so hard I can feel this tightness in the very center of my brain and a tingling in my palms and I can already picture what’s going to happen. How the tingling becomes heat then little tendrils of smoke start to rise until suddenly there’s fire in my hands and I’m holding it like two tennis balls.
Just pointing my hands forward and flicking them a little I can throw the fire and it smashes into the wall, denting it in and sending plaster dust drifting to the floor. I hold my hands out with the palms up and concentrate. Now the fire isn’t balls but dancing columns that reach almost to the ceiling. If I went outside who knows how high they’d go before they broke apart. Maybe when that happens the fire will fall down like rain. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt me even if it fell on me though because it’s from me in the first place. Well, maybe if it got in my eyes. But I’m inside anyway and I swear I can feel it starting.
It’s a school night, but I’m going to leave my house and go out anyway. There’s no car at the house because my mom is still at work, but I don’t really know how to drive anyway so I take the bus and pay even though I could probably just make a ball of fire appear in my hand and tell the bus driver to take me wherever I want to go. But I won’t do that. The bus driver never did anything to me.
Soon, I’m at the bowling alley. It’s got a bunch of pool tables too and a snack bar and arcade. The older high school kids pretty much all hang out there after school and on weekends. The popular kids are usually out behind the building, actually, smoking. Cigarettes I think, but probably pot too. And I heard they drink back there and the popular girls and guys are always hooking up in peoples’ cars. I’ve been to the bowling alley once or twice, but only ever to bowl.
Straight out back. I don’t even bother to go inside first, even though I don’t care if anyone sees me because they can’t do anything about it anyway. But I go straight out to the back, like I would never even dare to normally. There’s the usual kids from school, like Tom Marcotte, who knocks my books out of my hands every time he walks by me so that I take the long way to class just to avoid him now. He’s probably making out with Kelly Sullivan, who when I asked her if she would come to the semiformal with me just walked away and didn’t even answer. Bobby Totaro, who sits behind me in homeroom and flicks my ears and kicks the back of my seat and once made up a rumor that I’m gay even though I kissed a girl at camp last summer. He’s probably smoking or maybe just holding an unlit cigarette like a prop. Before they even have a chance to say What the hell are you doing here? I’ve got my hands up. I say something clever, like Need a light? or something and then the fire is shooting from my fingertips right at Bobby Totaro’s face. It knocks him back, but it’s like in the comic books and doesn’t really burn him. I don’t know why that’s how it is, but that’s the way they do it in comics. So my fire is the same way.
I’m sure that everyone else screams and runs. Maybe I knock down a few more or smash up some of the older kids’ cars. I could probably even make one explode if no one is in it, by shooting flames at the gas tank. Otherwise, just wrecking them is good enough. Maybe someone would call the cops but who would believe them and besides I would just run away, maybe try and find somewhere like Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters if something like that really exists. But I’d get away, that part is for sure. I’d get away and maybe I’d even go back to school and everyone would sort of know what happened, but wouldn’t really be sure. But they’d know not to mess with me any more. They’d know there’s something special about me. So I’m sitting here and I’m concentrating as hard as I possibly can on connecting my brain to my hands. I’m waiting because I just know, I can feel it, that any second now fire is going to blast out.
About The Author
Fast-Paced Mini Interview (risking dire consequences! in Tim's freakin' rocket car!)
The Squid: Who would you invite for roadtrip on SHIELD's hovercarrier?
TM: If I could invite one person with me, it would be my girlfriend Maggie, because she is way tougher than me and wouldn't put up with any super-villain crap.
The Squid: So, you're a science fiction or fantasy action hero. That's pretty cool.
Now, tell us which one you are most like, and why:
a) Conan the Barbarian (from the book, but you knew that already)
b) Han Solo
c) Captain James Tiberius Kirk (not that new guy pretending to be him)
d) Buckaroo Banzai
e) Rick Deckard (from the book... or the movie)
TM: I guess that I am most like Buckaroo Banzai because I like to think of myself as a Renaissance man. Also, I have a rocket car.
Timothy Mudie was born and raised in Worcester, MA, and now lives outside of Boston, where he works as an editor. His fiction has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Spinetingler, The Colored Lens, The Worcester Review (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Deimos ezine, The Fifth Di..., and several other magazines and anthologies.
More by Timothy Mudie
About The Illustrator
TRBlastoff from Fiverr
My name is Jill, I live in Florida, and I like coming up with designs for alien species. I have pet snakes. More of my work can be seen at: http://fiverr.com/trblastoff