Authors: Lucas Flint
Tags: #Superheroes | Supervillains
Turning back to face the metal block, I started focusing again on making a mental image in my head of me lifting the metal block. That was pretty easy, but what was hard was not admiring my own awesome self. The mental image of myself raising that half ton metal block above my head was just way too cool for me to look at neutrally.
But I remembered what Dad had said and so I tried as best as I could to not admire how awesome it looked. I bent down in front of the metal block and slipped my fingers under it again, getting a good grip on it. I didn't feel the super strength flowing through my body yet, but I knew it was only a matter of time before I felt it.
Taking a deep breath, I began trying to lift the metal block off the ground. This time, I actually felt it budge ever-so-slightly. Excited, I opened my eyes and tried lifting it all the way above my head, but as soon as I did that, the metal block suddenly became too heavy for me to move again.
“Damn it,” I said as I stood up. “I thought I got it this time.”
“You were too hasty,” said Dad. “You need to really focus on that mental image. It can't just be a brief moment. It needs to be in your mind long enough for it to become a part of you.”
I turned to look at Dad, feeling annoyance rising in me. I wished I could see Dad's face, but his helmet made that impossible. “Why didn't you tell me that before?”
“Because I thought you would understand that,” said Dad. “But I must have forgotten how hasty you are. We'll try again.”
“Try again?” I said. “Can you guarantee that I will move it this time?”
“I can't, but that's because it all depends on how much effort you put into it yourself,” said Dad.
“I feel like I have been doing that already,” I said. “How much harder am I supposed to try?”
“It's not about working harder, but about working smarter,” said Dad. “You see, Kevin, learning how to use your powers isn't easy. Lots of neoheroes struggle in the beginning to master their powers, even when they have a mentor to teach them. You are no different from them.”
“Oh, yeah?” I said, finding it harder to control my anger. “How do you know there isn't another way to learn how to use my powers?”
“Because I've trained other neoheroes before and this method has worked with them,” said Dad. “It does require some effort on the part of the student, but—”
“But it doesn't seem to work,” I said in frustration. “Can we try something else?”
“Two attempts isn't when I would call it quits and start looking for alternative options,” said Dad, shaking his head. “You need to try at least a few more times before we should try something else.”
“Define 'a few more times,'” I said.
“As many as it will take until you are able to control your powers,” said Dad.
I groaned. “Oh, come on!”
“Whining about your problems won't fix them,” said Dad.
“Whining?” I said. “I'm not whining. I'm just trying to make you understand that it isn't as easy as it looks.”
“Nothing worth having ever comes easy,” said Dad, shaking his head. He gestured at the metal block again. “Now get back to focusing on that mental image in your head. We have no time to lose, because Master Chaos could show up any day now.”
I scowled, but turned around anyway. Instead of doing what Dad told me, however, I decided I was just going to kick the stupid metal block. I was too angry to focus at the moment and I needed a way to blow off some steam. And if that pissed off Dad in the process, well, that was just a bonus.
So I kicked at the metal block as hard as I could. I expected to break my foot by kicking it, but to my shock, the metal block flew into the air. It soared through the sky before coming to a loud
hundreds of feet away from where I stood with my foot still out.
I stared at the block, stunned for a moment, before looking over my shoulder at Dad. Dad, however, was not staring at the block. He was just shaking his head, his hand on his forehead, like he was starting to lose his patience.
“I didn't mean to do that,” I said, lowering my foot. “I—”
“It's fine,” said Dad, interrupting me before I could finish. “You got frustrated and it made you lash out. That happens pretty regularly to young neoheroes.”
I sighed in relief. “So are we done for the day?”
Dad shook his head and pointed at the metal block. “Nope. Instead, we're changing up the training. Because you obviously can't lift heavy things just yet, you should instead pull that block back to where it was. You didn't kick it very far away, so it shouldn't take you very long.”
I looked at the metal block again, which looked like it was partially embedded in the earth now. “Do I
“Yes,” said Dad in a firm voice. “Now go and drag or push it.”
I sighed, but started walking over to the metal block anyway. Today was going to be a
raining really didn't get any better over the rest of the weekend. Although I gained better control over my super strength, it was still a lot of hard work and I still struggled with it a lot. We spent practically all day on Sunday just lifting or pushing metal blocks, only ending early so I could get enough sleep so I wouldn't be drowsy during school on Monday.
When I first learned that I had powers and that Dad was going to teach me how to use them, I was really excited. I imagined fighting criminals in the streets or at least fighting practice robots in some cool secret underground laboratory somewhere. I didn't think that most of my practice sessions would consist almost entirely of me dragging, pulling, or lifting huge metal blocks in the middle of an abandoned field in the Texas hill country while Dad criticized my every move. Hardly what I'd call exciting.
So when I woke up on Monday morning, I actually felt relieved that I had to go to school. Dad said we'd take weekdays off, although he did tell me to be home before dinner so we could review my practice sessions for improvements (which he always recorded on his gauntlets that could apparently do everything).
Because I lived in such a small town, the school was only about fifteen minutes away by foot. So I always walked there, which was kind of weird, because I was used to taking the subway to my old school back in New York. Not that I was complaining, though, because the subway was always too loud and crowded and dirty for my tastes.
But it was also very boring, because I was apparently the only kid in the entire town who walked to school. Everyone else either took the small school bus, were driven there by their parents, or drove themselves. I had a driver's license, but I didn't have a car of my own yet, mostly because I didn't need one back in New York, although now that I thought about it, I figured I would need to buy one at some point (unless I learned how to fly, that is).
The morning air was nice and cool, but I knew it would get hot soon, which is why I walked quickly. I hoped to get to the school, which was several streets away, before the heat hit, because I had learned very quickly that Texas fall was nowhere near as cold as New York fall.
Still, I hadn't had a very good breakfast this morning due to the fact that I had tried to leave in a hurry to make sure I got to school on time, so I decided to take a quick detour to the convenience store to grab a burrito or something.
So I made my way to the convenience store, which was only a little bit out of my main path to school. I had only been in it a few times before, when my family first moved to Silvers before school started, but I already had its location memorized because I liked the place.
The convenience store parking lot was almost empty, which didn't surprise me, because it was still early in the morning. But through the glass walls, I saw someone standing at the counter, a big guy wearing a ski mask for some reason. He seemed to be talking with the cashier, but I didn't sense any danger until the big guy pulled out a gun and pointed it at the cashier.
I froze. I was watching a robbery in progress. I immediately reached for my phone to call the police, just as Mom had always taught me, but then I caught myself and looked at the suit-up watch strapped to my wrist.
Could I use my powers to defeat this criminal and save that cashier's life? I know Dad said that I shouldn't try to stop criminals, but that robber didn't look like he was going to let the cashier go even if that cashier followed his every command. Even if that guy didn't kill the cashier, by the time the police got here, he might be long gone, along with all of the money and everything else he stole from the store. Besides, I was a neohero, which meant I was probably stronger than that guy and could take him in a fight.
But I couldn't suit up in public, so I sneaked around to the back side of the building until I was between the back of the store and the dumpster. It was a stinky, smelly place, but it was also the perfect place to suit up without being seen by others.
Tapping the button on the side of the watch, my suit popped out and wrapped around my whole body. In an instant, I was completely suited up, so I stood up and ran over to the store's back door, which was thankfully unlocked.
Sneaking through the convenience store's back room, I peered through the door to the main part of the store and saw that the robber was still pointing the gun at the cashier. The cashier was busily stuffing a large burlap sack full of what looked like the contents of the register and packets of cigarettes.
“Hurry, hurry,” said the robber, whose hoarse, raspy voice told me why he was having the cashier fill his bag with cigarettes. “Can you move any slower? You know what I said I'd do to you if you don't fill that bag fast.”
The cashier didn't say anything. He was clearly too scared of the robber to talk. It angered me to see that robber bossing around a guy who was clearly just trying to make some honest cash. That cashier was going to be the last cashier that that robber ever stole from.
So I burst out of the storage room, shouting, “Hey, jerk! Leave him alone or you'll have to answer to—”
I didn't get to finish my sentence because the robber whirled around and fired his gun at me. Because there were a few aisles of food, drinks, candy, and other assorted things you usually find in a convenience store between me and the robber, the bullet ended up hitting a bag of potato chips and sending it into the air, but I still fell down anyway just to get out of that guy's sight. My heart was hammering, because that was the first time anyone had ever shot at me; it was even louder than I thought it was going to be.
“Where did you go?” said the thug's raspy voice from the front. “Who's there? Show yourself or I'll shoot you again!”
I wasn't afraid of him at all, but I wasn't sure if my suit was bulletproof or not, so I didn't think it would be a smart thing to try rushing him. I sneaked through the aisles doubled over, listening to the robber, who as far as I could tell was still at the counter, probably because he didn't want to give the cashier a chance to escape or call the police.
“Keep filling the sack,” said the robber's voice, probably addressing the terrified cashier. “Otherwise, I'll put a bullet in your brain, got it?”
All I heard in response was a terrified whimper. I took this moment to peer over the aisle to get a good look at the robber, but he must have noticed me because I heard another
and a bullet whizzed by my head. I immediately dropped down to the floor, my heart hammering again as I tried to get over the shock of almost getting shot again.
“Saw you, you stupid kid,” said the robber. “Why don't you come out and play? I got no problem beating snot-nosed brats like you into pulp.”
Snot-nosed brats? What, did he think I was six or something?
Regardless, I didn't think I could fight him directly just yet. He still had a gun and I still wasn't sure if I could survive a bullet to the chest or other parts of my body. But then an idea occurred to me, an idea Dad would probably disagree with, but Dad would disagree with this entire situation I'm in, so his opinion didn't matter right now.
I turned to face the aisle I was hiding behind and then, pulling my fist back, punched it as hard as I could. The aisle ripped off its foundations and flew into the robber, who I only caught a glimpse of before the aisle crashed into his midsection, instantly knocking him out. His gun flew out of his hands and fell onto the floor with a clatter, but I didn't touch it, mostly because I wasn't comfortable with touching guns.
I walked up to the robber and looked at him closely. He was still breathing, which meant I hadn't killed him, thankfully, but I doubted he would be waking up anytime soon. Most likely, he was going to be out until the police arrived and arrested him.
Then I heard the click of a hammer and looked up to see another gun pointing at my face. This time, however, it was in the hands of the very scared-looking cashier, whose grip on the gun was actually very steady, even though he was obviously scared out of his mind.
“W-Who the hell are you?” said the cashier with a stutter. He nodded at the unconscious robber. “That guy's accomplice?”
“Accomplice?” I said. “Dude, I just knocked him out. I was
your life. No need to shoot me.”
I was almost certain that the cashier was going to pull the trigger and shoot me anyway, but then he lowered the gun and sighed in relief.
“Oh my god, I thought I was a goner there,” said the cashier, wiping sweat off his forehead. “Thanks for the help.”
“No problem, uh, citizen,” I said, although I wasn't sure if that was exactly how superheroes were supposed to talk. “That's what neoheroes are supposed to do, after all: Protect the innocent from criminals and ensure that justice is served.”
“Wait, you're a real neohero?” said the cashier. “I thought you were just some weirdo in a jumpsuit.”
“Uh, yes,” I said, nodding. I glanced at the clock above the store entrance and realized that school was starting in five minutes. “Uh, I must be leaving, good citizen, because I have other innocent people to save and other criminals to fight! For justice!”
I turned and ran to the storage room, but before I got very far, the cashier shouted, “Wait!”