Brightstar: The Rising Superhero
[Once again, the heroes of the city are here to help us in our everyday life. Sure, we miss our legendary heroes: Silver Cloak and Delta, but we respected their choice to retire. Even though it’s not fair to us. However, new heroes are popping up, and they are here to stay or at least for a bit while. Ok, enough ranting. This has been Calob from 99.9 FM. Your go-to news for trends, heroes, and cooking tips. For today’s tips, Mayo is great with eggs. Who could have guessed?]
“A HERO!” I stood up after pushing the stool back while raising my fist in the air. However, my aching neck causes me to lean forward against the counter. Mom stood beside me with a raised eyebrow. She proceeded to place a plate of hefty serving of bacon and eggs in front of me.
-What are you talking about?-
“I know what to do with my life!”
-And that is?-
“I want to be a Hero!”
My mom laughed so hard that she snorted a cough between her laugh.
“Sure, laugh away. It's not like you ever support me in anything, anyway. Hmph.”
Mom raised her eyebrows and glared at me. “I was just joking. Please don’t hit me.”
-I’m not trying to discourage you, but we are not a crime battling family. I’m a librarian, and you are just a regular boy which I love so much and don't get me wrong. You are special in every way except for being a Hero. Now eat your breakfast, or we will be late for your school.-
I pulled the stool behind me and sat with pouty lips. “I know that we are just a regular family. Yeah, there’s indeed nothing special about us, but I just thought that I could help people with my power.”
-Power? I think it’s better you call it a magic trick because all your so-called power does is ‘glow’ around your hands and that’s all, nothing more. Now can we stop talking about this and eat your breakfast? I don't want us to be late.-
Mom took off her apron and walked back into the kitchen with a small frown. She must be worried about me, I know it's tough for my mom to watch me get myself in danger. However, it's not fair for me because being a Hero just felt right to me.
I stared at my breakfast for a while before my stomach growled. After shaking my head, I grabbed a fork and used it to munch down on the delicious meal.
Breakfast was delicious, but it's time to leave. We headed out from our apartment with tons of books from mom’s workplace and rode her old Prius to my school. It wasn’t that far, but the traffic was horrendous, so we barely made it there on time. I guess it could be considered one of the cons of living in the city.
After being forced to receive a kiss from my mom, I grabbed the door handle and turned it, yet, nothing happened. I looked back at mom with a raised eyebrow. She gestured at me to turn it harder. I did and it broke. She laughed and gestured at me to use the back door.
As if I can fit through all the books in the backseat, I groaned and lowered the window then pushed myself out through it. My foot caught on the seat causing me to fall face-first against the pavement. The worst part is that my boxer is out of the open. I sighed.
Those watchful eyes around me. If only I could turn back time and avoid this kind of embarrassment.
“You know? You should ask that pavement out first before kissing it”
“Ha Ha. I’m glad my suffering brought you joy.”
A hand was offered to me, I took it and was greeted by a buzz cut Asian adolescent teen with the usual school jacket but with a bit of twist. A loose tie and cargo shorts, comfortable, and rebellious.
After I got myself to stand again, I tightened my lips and brushed the dirt off my knees.
“Bring me joy? Pfft… It only amuses me. Also, nice pink boxer, bro.”
I quickly pulled up my pants and let out a heavy sigh. Jake leaned down against the car frame and with his dashing smile. He gazed upon my mother as a jeweller stared into a rare diamond.
“You look as lovely as always, Miss Catty.”
-You such a sweet talker. I would love to spend more time here, but I am a bit in a rush. Can you please take care of my idiot son, would you?-
“Your wish is my command.”
“Take care of me? I’m not a little child, you know…” I groaned.
“By the way, my driving class is coming up. When I finally get that licence, I’m gonna take you out to the finest shindig in town. So, how’s that sound to you?”
I don't mind Jake being the Ladies’ man. However, I do mind when every time he meets my mom, he tries to ask her out. It’s awkward as hell not for them but for me. I don't want to see them flirting with each other,
-It sounds lovely, and you are totally my type, but I think you are a bit younger than me.-
“Love is blind, my beautiful angel.”
“Jake, can you please stop flirting with my mom, and mom stop indulging him! Also, eeeewwww...” I walked toward the school entrance with Jake in tow.
-Why not? It brings me joy to know that I still got the bod’ to tempt an adolescent teen like him.-
"You still got it, Mamacita!" He clicked his tongue and blinked seductively.
“Shoo! Mom, you’re going to be late. So can you please leave?” She laughed and waved at me before driving away.
My mom knows that I don't like when they flirt, but they do it anyway.
After that disgusting sight, I was finally able to wash it away by basking in the majestic entrance of my high school. A school that was made to save space, but also was designed to fit and accommodate hundreds of students. It was built as tall as a ten-story up, consisting of classrooms, an indoor gym, a cafeteria, an auditorium, a floor of administrative offices, a roof basketball court, and many more.
However, for me, it’s nothing more than a place where I spend most of my time, trying to study or goofing around. Still the architect did an amazing job designing this school to be efficient.
“Damn son, I just realized. What the heck happened to you?” Jake looked at me from up to down.
“Oh! The bandages? Thank you for noticing. A doctor patched me up yesterday. Don't worry about it, it’s mostly cuts and bruises, nothing that bad. Doc said I was pretty lucky, and he also gave me medication for the pain. So all’s well that ends well.”
“That’s good news and all, but you still haven’t told me what happened to you.”
The bell rang and with urgency, I made my way toward my first class. “I’ll tell you all about it during lunch. See you later, Jake.”
I entered my classroom as usual, and like usual, I took a seat at my desk. There were already students here chatting up with each other in the class. Each in their own clique or group. A student was about to pass by me, and I smiled at them with a waving hand.
The student quickly steered away from me.
"Morning to me too. Okay. Nothing new, I guess."
My smile was still intact. It doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I high-five my own waving hand. Frick yeah.
"It's a good morning, anyway." I stared through the window… like usual… and like usual, I waited for the teacher to come.
The door opened. Out and about, a strict and disappointed in life type of man. Wearing a dull-coloured sweater that exudes an aura of dejection, coupled with khaki pants and a pair of clogs. Brooding over his desk, he placed down his leather file and turned his solemn gaze at the students.
After each student dispersed from their group, each one of them took their own seats at their own assigned tables.
Starting the class with a roll call, everybody answered when their name got called except for a couple of names. The teacher moved on from the names that haven't been answered for months. He then moved on to ordering the students to open their textbooks.
I turned my gaze to the empty seats in the class and the one beside him. An empty seat that never had an owner, or did, but suddenly disappeared into thin air. I feel bad for not paying attention or trying to get to know my supposedly neighbouring classmate. I can't even remember what he looks like, or she.
“We start our lesson with a bit of history. In 2003, the world was shocked when a human with extraordinary ability announced himself as a superhero. He was called: Aegis. Only after two years from his first appearance, many others would soon follow. However, not all of them had good intentions. Thus began the era of superhero and supervillain.”
“Introduction is done. Now, moving on to our today topic: The Biology of Extraordinary Humans.”
“In 2008, Dr Makarov conducted a study on humans with mutated, remarkable abilities such as flight, super strength, supervision, and many others. In his studies, he found that an offspring of two powered humans have a 10% chance of receiving any type of power while a regular human and powered human has a 9% chance of receiving any power. Expanded from his studies, the offspring of superpower humans usually inherit the same ability as their parents. That is not true of course because a new study has found that it is random what type of power they could receive.”
“Though countless studies have been made, its origin, or why, and how, they received such a mutated ability remained a mystery to this day.”
“Teacher?” An enthusiastic student in front of the class raised his hand.
“What about The Disappearance?”
“Ah yes, The Disappearance. A few years ago, though the reason remained unknown, as sudden as their origin, so did their disappearance. Somehow every superhero that ever existed before Delta suddenly vanished without a trace.”
“Woo Delta! She’s the bomb! She can punch a meteor to smithereens without even breaking a sweat. I saw the video.” A student from the back voiced his excitement.
“No. Silver Cloak is better. Delta can’t even touch or get two feet near her.” Another student voiced his opinion.
“You all are sleeping on Crimson Diamond. She’s much cooler than either of those two. Delta and Silver cloak are just old frogs that retire because they are old as Frick.” Now another one voiced his opinion.
“Take that back!”
“Come and get some!”
“Cut the chatter! This is not the time for mindless debate.” scolded the teacher before letting out a sigh.
“Continuing on our topic, the type of Powered are split into three categories: Enhanced; people who had their bodies enhanced to the point of incredible proportions such as super strength. Energized; people who can control or even create energy, and lastly, Hybrid: people who unfortunately have their DNA mixed with animal DNA, gaining characteristics of that animal.”
“Eww, Hybrid are the worst. I saw them on TV. Rampaging like wild animals. They are ugly too with their freaky animal parts.”
“I know right? They should have kept them on a leash instead of letting them roam around. Who knows when they will go out of control and start eating people.”
That was the noise it makes when my hand crushed the thin paper on my desk causing everyone to turn their attention to me. I didn't realize it, but I had a furrowed forehead and a frown on my face. The anger inside me tried to claw out, but I kept it in. Although, I know that I mustn't make any noise during lectures. However, I need to voice out my opinion, and so I did.
“Hybrid are the kindest people I have ever known. You shouldn't say such mean things about them. They are living humans too, with emotions and all. Shame on you.”
The mood grew sombre for a few seconds before the teacher let out a sigh. “Kenn… make your way to the counsellor’s office.”
“For what reason?”
“For disturbing my class.”
“I-I was… they were saying horrible things about Hybrid, and I’m the one that got in trouble?”
“Don't make me call your parents.”
I gritted my teeth and tightened my lips. With a glare, I grabbed my things and left the classroom with a terrible ache in my heart.
Such bullshit, I was defending the Hybrid, and I’m the one who got in trouble? This school is unbelievably stupid so is every student here except for Jake.
With a groan, I walked the hallway until I reached the counsellor’s office. Taking a quick breath, I opened the door and a plume of smoke bombarded my face.
A brown skin older man with a thick lush moustache and a full set of fluffy mid-length hair pulled up into a man bun quickly put out his cigarette and let out a nervous smile.
The only person I know that would dare smoke inside the school: Mr Aariv Nutikas, The School Counsellor.
“Kenn? Back so soon?”
I closed the door behind me and took a seat in front of his table as usual.
“Did you miss me or something?”
“No. I didn't. Okay? Screw all of them. I was not in the wrong!”
“Woah… take a deep breath and relax. Do you want some tea?”
“You need one. Let me pour one out for you.”
Mr Aariv took out an empty cup and poured a hefty amount of tea. He then placed it gently in front of me with an empathic smile. He had a weird habit of tapping his finger on the table after serving me tea until I drank it.
“Our next session isn't due till next week. So what brought you here?”
“Mr Don sent me here. He said I was disturbing his class.”
“So did you?”
“Disturb his class?”
“No. I didn't… Okay. Fine. My classmate was saying mean things about Hybrid. So, I raised my voice at them, but I wasn't in the wrong.”
“Why are you angry?’
“Me? Angry? What an understatement. I’m furious.” I let out an annoyed huff before crossing my arms together.
“You haven't answered my question.’
“My Aunt is a Hybrid, and she isn't like what they said. In fact, she is one of the nicest ladies I have ever known.”
“You can't change their way of thinking by making them a villain. No one wants to be the villain. In my years of studying the human condition, there are no villains or heroes in real life. Only man. With flaws and faults of their own.”
“I’m not following you.”
“Okay. Here is your assignment for today, it's simple, no need for paperwork and such. All you need to do is look at them and look closely. You may find it surprising how much the world affects them as much as they affect the world, you dig?”
“Mmm… I think so.”
“Good enough. We’re done. You may leave the office after you drink your tea of course. Take your time. No need to rush.”
“Okay…” I grabbed the cup and took a small sip. The hot tea warmed my nerves, calming me down even more. It's like having a warm teddy bear hugging my belly.
Without me realizing it, the clock ticked, and lunchtime was upon me.
Leaving the office, I made my way to the roof where Jake was waiting for me. I took a seat near the wire fences and leaned against it. Taking out my lunch, I stared at the sky with my sandwich tucked between my lips. I told Jake what happened to me yesterday, but I never mentioned what happened earlier because I know Jake wasn't the type to take that kind of bullshit lying down.
“So that’s my story.”
The sound of students playing basketball caught my attention. So I brought my gaze down to watch the match. The view from the roof sure makes a good place to see the entirety of the basketball court. Nowhere in this school can beat this kind of view and Jake agrees with me.
“You almost get hit by a truck?”
“You’re crazy, man. If it were me in that situation, I would keep hold of the phone and wait for her to come to me then I would ask for a bit of cash for all my trouble.”
Jake took a piece from my sandwich and munched on it.
“It’s not all about the sandwich... Aish, I mean money.”
“It is always about money. Money makes the world go round. Money, bill, capital, cash, our bread, and butter. Money helps you pay the bills and provide you food on the table.”
“I don’t think you get it. That moment when I handed her the phone, it felt like all my hard work is being paid off in triple. Say what you want, but it felt really good and exhilarating.” I leaned back against the fence and turned my head to stare deeply at the street below us.
I took a long sigh before asking, “Guess what, Jake?”
“The world is a lie and that everything is some weird-ass novel of a delusional and lonely writer?” commented Jake with a bitter tone.
“No. What? Where did that even come from?”
“I’m going to become a Hero!”
“A Hero? Pfft, what? Stop joking around,” Jake laughed.
Jake took a deep look into my eyes, and he was surprised.
“Oh my word, you are serious. Kenn... your only power is that your hands glow. You are not going to help anyone with that. Even if you try, you are going to get hurt, and I’m pretty sure your mom is not going to like it.”
“My mom may have been right about everything in her life, but my gut is telling me otherwise. I want to do this.” My fingers dug into my palm as my determination soared.
“How? You’ll need a name and a costume to hide your identity. Even if you have all of that, you know what will happen if you appear on the TV, your mom is going to instantly recognize you.”
“A name and a costume? Hmm…. A good place to start and don’t worry about the TV. I’m not trying to be famous. I’m here to help people. Besides, I got myself a trusty sidekick right by my side, surely I can rely on you?” I wiggled my eyebrows at Jake.
“I’m going to punch you if you call me a sidekick.”
“Jeez, I won’t then. Here, I thought it was a compliment.”
“If it were anybody else, I would charge them money for this.”
“You won’t because there’s nothing more important than the power of friendship. Come on, Jake, you’re the only one I can trust to help me with this.” I kneeled before him, begging him with my big wet eyes.
Jake sighed loudly, “Fine! We’ll do it after school. At your house!.”
“Of course. But why my house?”
“I don’t want any of your shenanigans at my house.”
“Understood. Also, Yesss!”
“Ugh,” Jake groaned as always and kept eating my sandwich as he pleased.***
After my daily dose of education, Jake and I were heading toward my home using the bus. Why the bus? Because mom texted me that she was busy and couldn't come to pick me up. However, it did give us a chance to buy snacks for the secret meeting at my house.
It wasn’t a long ride.
Like I said before, my apartment and the school were pretty close. However, the turn-off about it was the traffic. It was horrendous to get to my school from where I live. However, thanks to my good luck today, the traffic was manageable when we rode the bus.
As safe as we could be, we arrived at my humble home. I buzzed us in and then took the stairs up to my floor. Arriving at the front door, I turned my head to see Jake taking a huge breath with a perverted smile on his face.
“Dude, seriously?” After we entered, I threw my school bag on the sofa and left it there.
“What? Can you blame me? Your mom is hot! I can’t help myself.”
“She’s an old woman, and the only thing hot about her is her temper.”
“Mature and fiery. Just my taste.” He showed me a thumbs up, and I quickly locked the door to my mom’s bedroom.
“WAIT!” cried Jake.
“Cut it out,” I said with a flat voice.
“Okay…” Jake sighed and looked around the living room. “I always wonder. Don't you have a picture of your dad or other relatives besides your mom and you? Don't get me wrong, I like seeing your mom’s pics, but it's kinda weird that you don't have a picture of your dad, cousin, or your mom’s mom.”
“Dude, you have been to my home like a gazillion times. Now it seems odd to you that I have no other picture of my relative?”
“You know It’s rude to ask about family stuff.”
“Rude? You’re like my best friend if I had any others. I don’t care if you want to ask me about sensitive stuff.”
“Sure, sure. Hmm, still can you answer my earlier question?”
“Hmm, mom doesn’t have that many family members. Also, my grandma and aunty don’t really like getting their pictures taken. Mom also doesn’t like getting her picture taken. Grandpa, however… I don’t know. He passed away a long time ago even before mom got married. There was a picture of dad, but I think she stored it away. I think it’s hard for her to see him after he passed away.”
“Well, at least you have a loving mom, unlike me, but your mom does have tons of books stacked everywhere.”
He pointed at the thousands of books stacked everywhere around the living room, around the TV, the coffee table, even in the bowl she once bought for me to keep my pet goldfish.
Old fishy died a long time ago, he will always be remembered, but on the topic of books, sure she has a lot of them, but a lot is the understatement of the century. She kept bringing home books as if she was trying to find something, or she just loved books in general.
“Yeah, she’s kinda a book nerd. I always clean up her books. It's so weird, she always cleans everything except for her precious books.”
“Everyone has flaws, you know that. Let’s change the topic, you always talked about your aunt, I wonder what she looks like.”
“She is so cool and awesome looking. I bet you’ll fall in love with her the moment you see her.”
“I don’t think so, my taste is very, how do you say it? Exquisite. Where is she anyway?”
“Somewhere in Egypt, I think. She likes to travel around. Anyway, we should hang in my room, I don’t want my mom finding out about our secret scheming time.”
We entered my mediocre room and locked the door. With gusto, I quickly jumped on top of my bed and stood there with my hands on my hips. Jake glanced at the broken bike hung behind my bedroom door.
“Damn, you did a number on that bike. Jeez, you weren't kidding about the crash thing.”
“Yeah. I really need to fix that. My aunt gave me that bike as a present. I feel kinda bad for breaking it. Anyway, we need to focus on it now. So, let’s do this!”
Jake took a seat on the bean bag across from me and placed his bag beside him. He then took out a notebook along with a pen from his bag. “Should we start with a name?”
“A name, haa?”
“Anything pops into your mind?”
“I got nothing!”
Jake sighed as his gaze wandered around the room.
“Good that you have confidence, but it’s still meaningless if you have nothing.”
I fell onto my butt then I leaned back until my back was against the bed, “Name. Name. Name….”
“Still got nothing?”
“Nope. Why is it so hard anyway?” I groaned and rolled around the bed.
“I think it is because you are trying to make sense of a blank canvas, we should make a costume for you first before coming up with any names.”
“Yeah, your right!"
“Now I think about it, the story you told me about the reason why you want to become a hero made a pretty lame origin story."
"No… ah, wait... I don't want to admit it, okay? Moving on to our earlier subject: what do you have in mind?” I sat right back up.
Jake pulled up his smartphone, “Most heroes wore these tight like suits. With a big symbol on their chest to show people who they are and what they are about.”
“Who I’m about?... I want to help people.”
“Yeah so does every other hero. What makes you different from them?”
“I don’t have any awesome power, so you could chalk me up to an almost normal human. Also, I don’t think I look good in tights.”
“You’re absolutely right! I never want to see you in tight, ever.”
“Ouch, you just put a dent on my confidence level.”
“No! I mean, you’re technically a normal human. So, why not wear something normal? Like a jacket, a pair of jeans, you know, normal clothes.”
“But I wouldn’t look heroic in those clothes, people are gonna think that I’m just some random weirdo.”
“Hear me out, I can make something out of this. Mix something a bit flashy but modest, something that people would recognize, and something to cover your face to hide your identity. Don’t think about it, pick a colour!”
“Yes, yellow… the colour of sunshine, hope, and clarity… enlightenment. Just like your eyes. Fit the concept of your power. You also need a pair of gloves, you know just in case, fingerprint and stuff, but not a full one just enough to cover your fingers. So it doesn’t get in the way of your power.”
“Where are you going to get this stuff anyway?”
“I can sew up the small things. You know what? I think I have some of my old clothes you can wear.”
I walked up to him and placed my hands on his shoulders, “Oh, I wish I could smooch you right now.”
“If you lay any of your lips on me, I’m gonna break your arm.”
“Ok. Dope.” I quickly backed away and sat on the edge of the bed.
“But if it were your mom, hehe.”
“Dude, it was weird then, but now, it’s just plain creepy.”
The sound of the door unlocking itself caused us to turn toward it.
It couldn’t have been mom, she was supposed to be at work. Grandma never showed up unannounced, it couldn’t be a coincidence, but could it be?