Brightstar: The Rising Superhero
[Make sure you come back home before 10.00 P.M.] Received.
[Sure, if the rain stops early.] Sent.
[The TV did say that it was going to rain. It's dangerous late at night, should I grab the car and pick you up?] Received.
[Mom, stop worrying. I’m just gonna be a bit late. Besides, I’m weathering it out in this café.] Sent.
[Ugh, I know I should have stopped your aunt from giving you that ratchet bike. Now, I have less time to spend with you.] Received.
[Aunt did it because she wants to help you and me. There’s no need to send me to school every day, isn’t that great?] Sent.
[But that was the best part of my day! (˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ )] Received.
[Mom… We’ll talk later when I see you back home.] Sent.
With a swipe, I closed the app and looked out of the glass pane in front of me. Droplets of water hailed the streets, but the local passer-by remained the same amount as it did before the rain. I guess people aren’t that bothered by it, or maybe it’s because of The Maglev Station just beside this café. It seems this place is always busy, no matter what the weather is.
The neon signs of the shops cast a hue of bright orange on dark corners of the streets. Almost seems like a festival.
I grabbed my phone and took a picture of the scenery. Satisfied with the shot, I saved it in my gallery.
“Take the rope!” I swear I could hear a faint yell from outside the shop. I tried to find it by looking through the glass window, but I couldn't find the source of that faint scream.
Must have been nothing.
Still, it’s better to be inside this café than out there. It's warm in here and peaceful. Even though this café is packed with people, they respect each other’s privacy and try to be as quiet as they can to keep that peace. However, that was not the best part, my latte here makes it worth it to stay a bit longer. Still, my mom would be furious if I had some without her, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
A piece of paper slid out from under my phone and fell to the floor. I reached down to pick it up and sighed when I saw the melancholy title: ‘Future Career’.
A teacher had given it to me despite having another year and a half until graduation. However, it does ask a question that I never thought I would ask myself.
Who do I want to be when I grow up?
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” An office woman stood beside me while gesturing at the stool right next to me. I couldn't help but notice those two bombastic chests. It was certainly rude for me to stare like this, so I should stop right… about now.
I shook my head and reverted my gaze to the latte in front of me.
“Thank you.” She put her handbag on the long table and scrolled through her phone.
Time passed by and the rain doesn’t seem to let down anytime soon. My eyelids felt heavy, I let out a small yawn then unlocked my phone to see the time. I looked to my left and the woman was gone, but her phone is still there. She must have gone to the toilet, but that doesn’t make sense, leaving your stuff like this is reckless.
Hmm, I should keep an eye on it just in case.
I checked the chat, and not much going on, just a few contacts and no group chat. The last message was from mom, I opened it up.
[Okay, my star. Be careful out there and make sure you wait for the rain to stop before heading home, I don’t want you getting sick on a school night.] Received.
When I raised my gaze, I saw the office woman quickly walking up the stairs to the Maglev station. A maglev train just arrived, a fast train that runs on a magnetic rail system.
I turned my gaze and saw the smartphone beside me, she had accidentally left her phone here. Too late now, I had just lost sight of her after she entered the station.
There’s no way I can catch up to that train.
A few chuckles escaped my lips... I gritted my teeth and stood up with a clenched fist.
“Mom's gonna be pissed at me,” I groaned as I took the woman’s phone and rushed out of the café.
Through the heavy rain, I make my way to the stairs and up to the station. I had to bump into a couple of people, but I did apologize beforehand. As I expected, the platform was crowded to the brim with people, but I could see a glimpse of her entering the Maglev.
“Miss!” She couldn’t hear me through the overwhelming noise of chatter.
“You! The lady in the suit!”
The door closed and I was too late. I took out the woman’s phone and stared at it then turned to look where Maglev is heading. The Maglev is no joke, it moves faster than any car can drive, but it does take quite a while to set up and stop. So the only way I could catch up to her is to plan two steps ahead from now.
“Okay! The schedule.” I ran up to the information board and searched for the train route.
Three minutes to set up, three minutes to stop, two stations so give and take, twelve minutes. So a shortcut through that block and that street.
I can do this!
With all my strength, I ran down the stairs and toward my bike. I hopped on it and pressed my feet against the pedal then froze to look at the bike helmet my mom gave me.
Safety first. I wore that helmet as if my life depended on it then I pedalled hard like never before through heavy rain and slippery roads. The longer I rode, the wetter my clothes became, and the colder the wind got.
“Why am I doing this?!”
“Aren't we a little too late to ask that question now?!” I shouted at the top of my lung as I rode my bike downhill with exaggerated speed.
The road I took on was a little too dark, I could barely see a few meters ahead of me. The street lamps must have been broken recently because the last time I went through here, it wasn’t this dark.
I looked to the far distance and saw a glimpse of the Maglev's train just stopping at the second station. I was about to arrive at the third station.
Aha, I can make it! Take that inner doubt.
While laughing arrogantly, I looked back at the road and two large headlights were approaching me at great speed. I yelped for danger and raised my hands to protect myself.
A bright light emanated out of my hand, signalling the truck driver to take a left and I quickly took an emergency right. Sure enough, I was quick to avoid the truck, but I wasn’t fast enough to avoid the concrete barrier. My body was thrown out of my seat and onto the pavement. I rolled onto the brick road a few meters away from my bike until I stopped when my back slammed against the store shutter.
The noise from the rain overwhelmed my deep groan, everything's hurting real bad, and I meant everything. I was pretty sure that a part of my school uniform was torn from the crash, but even after all of that, I stood up. Slowly but surely. I don’t know why, but I stood up through the pain and adversity.
I started running with every strength I got left. I don’t care if my bones were broken, or I am bleeding to my death. If I still walk and that means I could still run.
The Maglev arrived at the third station before I could even make it up the stairs. The sound of two beeps alerted me to the incoming departure of the Maglev. On the last steps of the stair, I arrived at the platform and with all strength I screamed my heart out, freezing everyone in place as they turned to look at me with a raised eyebrow.
I glanced around and around, trying to find that woman, but still couldn't find her. Yet, I didn’t give up as I pushed through the crowds as the Maglev's train closed its doors and left the station.
Did I miss it?
I looked around me again, desperately looking for that woman.
“What?!” I took out my phone, but it wasn’t mine. I took out the other phone and realized it came from this one.
If she heard the ringtone she might have noticed it.
I glanced around me, it was a slim chance, but a chance nevertheless. After raising the phone in the air, I shouted with all my heart, "I’M HERE TO RETURN YOUR PHONE!!!”
Again my scream caused people to look, but they had got used to it by now and continued like it was nothing.
“Uhm... Excuse me?”
That heavenly voice sends a chill down my spine. I turned around with a bright smile and there she was: the office woman with a nervous gaze.
“Here, I think you forgot something. Hahaha.”
She was confused by the condition I’m in. That is why she had to ask, “What happened?”
“It’s a long story...” I passed the phone to her.
The look on her face as she stared at her returned phone was satisfying. Her smile of relief as her distress washed away into oblivion washed my pain and ache. It’s a feeling that I don’t understand, but it felt good despite the amount of pain that I’m in. It’s an otherworldly feeling, unlike anything I ever felt before. I never thought helping people like this felt so good.
“I thought I lost it. Look at you, you’re a hero. Thank you very much.” The woman embraced her phone.
“A hero…? You know what? I like the sound of that.”
“Kenn T. Johnson, is that your name?” The Doctor flipped through the filled forms as he fixed his glasses with a skeptical gaze.
“Yep. That’s my name. I have had it since I was born.”
“What’s the ‘T’ stand for?”
“The ‘T’ stands for Tashikawa. It’s an old family name.”
“Your parents are Asian?”
“Nope, I don’t think so. You know it’s kinda rude, Doc, to ask me that.”
He waved his hand apologetically, “No, no, it seems weird because”
“Because I don’t look Asian?”
“Now. I’m going to be straightforward with you. So, eehh… yes.” He rocked his hand back and forth in a so-so manner.
“Nah, I get that a lot. As I said before, it’s an old family name. My mom told me that it was my grandpa’s family name, and she kinda took it after he passed away.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“No biggie. I don’t think I have any memory of him. I don’t even know how he looks. He died before I even existed.”
“How about the Johnson part?”
“Ahh! That’s easy, it’s my grandma’s family name.”
“And she is?”
“Alive and kicking.” I finger gun the Doctor with a click of my tongue, and he replied with his own.
“Good to hear that.”
“Just a few more questions, but let me fill up the description checkbox. Caucasian. 16-year-olds. Black hairs with white highlights. Striking yellow eyes. Hm… Edgy look. Kids these days. Average height and weight. Whoops. Scratch the average part, short height, and average weight.”
“Ouch Doc, I’m not that short, and what’s up with the sudden burns?”
The Doctor laughed, “I’m just joking around. So, how did you get those injuries? A fight?”
I raised an eyebrow at the Doctor, “Do I look like I got into a fight?”
He leaned against his chair, “I don’t know. I’m not you. You tell me.”
“I got these from trying to return a phone to a woman, on the way there, I crashed my bike into a concrete barrier,” I groaned.
“Accident.” The Doctor air quotes with his other hand as he said it.
“Sure, don’t believe me. Like I care.” After a short sigh, I looked at him with a single eyebrow raised. “Hey! Are you really a doctor?”
“Of course I am, why do you ask?”
“You’re not like any doctor I’ve ever met. You seem cool. Should I make you my regular doctor?”
“Rejected on my first try. Another ouch.”
“Hahaha, don’t worry about that particular wound, it will heal soon. Trust me, I’m a doctor.” The Doctor laughed along with me.
After we stopped laughing, he leaned forward with a serious expression. “Enough chit-chat. I called your home before we began. Someone did answer, but I only heard a groan? So I presumed she was there. It seems odd, she never said anything.”
“What? You did what?!”
“I called your mom, Catty Johnson?”
“Did you tell her everything?”
“Yes. It’s kinda my job to tell her what happened.”
“Oh no, no, no, I can’t be here.” I quickly stood up, pushing the office chair behind me then hastily glanced around me for the exit.
“Please calm down. I know your mom is mad, but there’s no need to panic. She's just your mom.”
I grabbed the Doctor by his lapels and shook him until his stereoscope slid off his neck, “Did you hear a groan? Or a moan? Or a hum? Or anything after you told her?!”
“Oh blasted, that means she’s on her top tiers level of anger.”
After shaking him, I rushed to a cabinet and was desperate to find a weapon to defend myself from her. She must be on her way right this instant, so I need a plan, a weapon, anything, I’ll take anything to keep her at bay.
“Doc, if you can’t kill me now, she will. End my suffering please!”
Time slowed down to a crawl as the door slammed open. A menacing aura poured out from the doorway and froze my feet in place. Silver flowing hair, a chain tattoo covered her entire body, a visible scar on her throat, and two angry silver eyes.
Out of nowhere, a spatula came flying toward my face, before I could avoid it, my feet slipped on the tile floor and the spatula slammed against my forehead before bouncing back and hit the Doctor next to me.
“Why me too?” said the Doctor in slow motion.
My mom’s hands went wild with sign languages, “Mom, I can't read you if you go too fast…”
“Oh, she’s a mute?” Another spatula hit the Doctor’s forehead. “Where did you even store that thing?” groaned the Doctor.
“Logic doesn't apply to her, Doc. You might want to leave and save yourself.”
-That’s not important. I heard you got into a fight!- My mom gestured her sign language slowly and more clearly at me.
“No! Doc, you freakin idiot! What did you tell her?” I facepalmed myself before groaning and looked back at her. “Mom, listen. I got into an accident while trying to deliver someone’s missing phone! That’s all.”
She looked perplexed then instantly realized her terrible action. She felt guilty, so she bowed her head a couple of times at the Doctor before rushing to hug me.
“Mom, stop! Ugh...” but she backed away and bumped down on my head with a gentle chop. Jeez woman, I almost bit my tongue.
-I told you to be careful.-
“I’m sorry. I kinda went a bit wild, but I did deliver her phone back.” With a satisfied smirk, I waited for her compliment.
-Wait, how did you get hurt? In details please.-
My arrogant smirk went away then it was replaced by a fearful frown, “I rode my bike down a dark street and almost got hit by a truck.”
-You did what?!- She took out another spatula.
“How many spatulas did you bring?” asked the Doctor.
-Not enough. Now, clench your teeth, my reckless son!-
“Wait, mom! WAIT!”
After a gruelling session of my mom’s lecture, I was made to wait outside the doctor’s office while mom dealt with the paperwork. A loud sigh escaped my lips as I stared at the ceiling, trying to keep the pain at bay.
Suddenly, a girl sat right next to me, she groaned out of anger causing me to turn to her. From her messy chocolate hair, her sandy skin, her deep purple torn flannel shirt with a black undershirt, and scratched denim hotpants to her black high boots; she looked like she has just been in a fight. That and the black eye gave it away.
This girl looks rough, hardcore even. Some would say it's a mix of punk and goth. As I was checking her out, yes, I know it was rude of me to do that, but herself just the type of person who grabbed anyone's attention. I was probably staring for way too long as her fiery eyes turned to me.
"What’s your problem, ha?!"
"Shit. Ah, sorry, didn't mean to stare," I coughed it out as I turned my gaze away.
"Ria! You need to stop!" An older man, but slightly younger than my mom came out from the other room, glaring at the girl.
The girl stood up with furrowed eyebrows, "Stop what, ha?! Stop helping people from losing their homes?"
"It's not about helping people. It's about you breaking the damn law!"
"I don't break any law! Why can't you understand that?"
"Yes, you did, those men you got into a fight with had proper permits and authorization."
"You meant those thugs? They were forcing Grandma Bria out of her home, breaking her stuff. She was old and didn't have much stuff, to begin with, and yet, they treat her like garbage. They are not the good guys here."
"And you are?! A man is in the hospital because of you! For what you did."
"Why can't you just take my side for once? You're my older brother for god’s sake… Mom would take my side."
"I'm not doing this here right now. Get in the car."
"Get in the damn car!" His shout would echo down the hallway causing people to stare.
"Damn. Shit. Damn it! Fine." The girl cursed as much as she could then start kicking things until she calmed herself down and walked away.
So this man was her brother. He looked different from his little sister. A baseball cap, short hair dyed in chocolate, a homemade oceanic sweater, black pants, and a pair of classic sneakers. I mean way different from his fiery little sister as he cleans the mess she made with a saddened gaze.
He turned to me with an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry you had to see that."
"It's okay, I wasn't paying any attention anyway, hahaha."
That was awkward, why did I even laugh anyway? He nodded his head and walked away without saying anything. Mom suddenly came out of the room, looking at me. She raised her eyebrow.
"I don't know. Family trouble I guess."
My mom shrugged her shoulders and nodded at me toward the exit. I let out a small groan as I left the bench and walked beside her. Mom put her arm on my shoulders then pulled me close to her side. It was embarrassing, but I gladly welcome her warmth.
A cold breeze greeted us along with a beautiful starry sky after we left the hospital. As we walked through the puddle-filled car park, my mom stopped me in front of her old Prius. She smiled at me as I turned my gaze at the passenger seat filled with books, even the back seat was filled with books.
"How many times do I need to remind you, mom. Clean your car. Where am I going to sit if you keep forgetting to clean your car?"
A pair of puppy eyes melted my heart, I could never get angry at my adorable mom so once again my will was broken. I reluctantly clean the passenger seat before taking a seat. Even after I moved the books, there was still a bunch of rubbish in the feet area. Empty Unicornia ice cream cups and Starbucks cups along with some food packaging to boot.
I really want to clean her car and I can, but nope. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of a clean car if she's not willing to do it by herself. So, no.
I sat there with my feet buried under a pile of garbage and a crossed arm along with a pout. She noticed my unruly mood to indulge her, but I had a suspicion that she didn't even know I was mad about her dirty car.
-What's the matter, baby duckling?-
"Nothing …" I know my mom, she needed to figure it out by herself, or she won't learn.
-Come on, just tell me. You know I'm not good at guessing this kind of thing.-
She let out a sigh before starting the car. We drove out of the car park and into the streets where buildings that stab the skies pass by us like a common sight. Nirvana, the city that separated its districts with numbers, a city of technological advances, and a melting pot for cultural diversity.
A thunderous roar boomed across the sky, I took a peek through the window to see who it was. A streak of red and silver, it was none other than her, the number one superhero: Crimson Diamond. They also named her The Diamond of Nirvana.
-Oh, I passed by a pet store today. I was thinking of getting us a dog.-
"Oh yeah? Was it cute?"
-It was! The dog kinda reminds me of your friend.-
She nodded her head vigorously.
"Haha, he does look like a dog sometimes."
-Don't say that about your only friend.-
"It's okay, mom. He won't take it to heart, I know him."
For some reason, my eyelids were getting heavier by the second. It could be the drug just started kicking in, or I'm just tired overall. I did crash my bike today in the rain, I hope that I didn't get a cold from that.
-Grandma and Aunty Kusagi also called today.-
My mom kept on talking like usual. I tried to stay up as much as I could, but my body just won't let me. I fell into a deep slumber like an apple fell from a tree, very hard and subtle.
When I opened my eyes again to find myself inside a small boat. Rocking side to side as I looked around me. I'm at a river of some sort, there doesn't seem to be any flora at the riverside, only a thick fog covering both sides of the river. A skeleton in a dark hooded robe stood on the riverside, staring at me. I turned again, and this time, a man with his back facing me, sat in front of me. He seemed to be holding a fishing rod.
Slick black hair, yellowish skin, and a Star Wars hoodie. His ethnicity seems to be of foreign origin but at the same time familiar to me. I tapped on his back and that caused him to yelp in surprise.
He turned to face me. Almond-shaped eyes and thin lips. Slick black hair with a ton of grey on each side. However, he looked remarkably normal compared to where I am right now. I just noticed that a crow is circling above us.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Kenn. Wait! Did I die?"
"I don't know that. Why would you be asking me that? Do I look like someone who knows anything? "
"No…" He didn't need to be angry. I was just asking a question.
"I'm kidding. To tell you the truth, I don't know even why you are here. However, there are two possibilities that might answer your question. One is you are currently dreaming because you are so mentally exhausted that your mind made this half-assed world."
"That’s it. The first one! I might be tired. I remember that I was heading home with my mom. How about the second one?"
"The second possibility is… you're dead, and this is a purgatory of some sort."
"Can I pick the first one?"
"Sure, whatever. It's not like it made any difference. Anyhoo, do you fish?" He extended a fishing rod to me.
"No. I never learned how.” I looked around the boat and a gym bag piqued my interest. “Hey, what’s in the bag?"
"Nothing important. Back to fishing, it's easy. Just cast the hook, you'll be fine. Try it."
I took the rod and cast a line, it didn't go as far as I expected.
"A bit of practice goes a long way, nevertheless, good effort."
"Now, we wait."
"For how long do we wait?"
Not long enough when the line suddenly sank deeper into the water. I quickly tightened my grip around the rod and tried to pull it out. It fought back. The more I pulled, the harder it was to keep a hold of it.
"A little help?"
"Nah, you'll be fine," said the man with a smile.
"This is way too strong. I can't do it alone."
The man suddenly let out a terrible cough.
"Are you okay? Should I let go?"
"You're never alone, Kenn. There are always people by your side. Good people."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"So does life, Kenn. So does life…" The man stood up with a comforting smile.
He slapped my back, the boat swayed hard causing me to lose footing and dropped into the river. My body was enveloped by a thick sludge, and I lost the rod entirely. With all my strength, I tried to wiggle out of it but found myself slowly losing consciousness.
I woke up again, breathing hard. I turned to my side and saw the familiar wall of my bedroom. Filled with posters of my childhood hero and cartoon, and a few are hot babes. I let out a sigh as I looked at my desk clock.
It’s weird, I can't seem to remember what I was dreaming about. However, there’s nothing I can do about it now, and trying to sleep after what happened seems impossible now. I glanced around and was surprised to find myself on the bed instead of the car. I must have dozed off along the way. That doesn't explain how I got here, it must have been my mom.
Reluctantly, I got out of my bed and sat on the bean bag near my bed. With the window facing me, my sight wandered at the other apartments and the sky. Somehow, I was getting sleepy again, and without me realizing it, I fell asleep again.