Brightstar: The Rising Superhero
I woke up to the sound of beeping. Now, this seems familiar. A hospital ceiling, a machine that beeps, and this firm bed with along with long tubes attached to my body. Someone walked into the room, and I chuckled when I saw who it was. “Hey, Doc.”
Doc sighed as he looked at the clipboard in his hands. “I don’t know how you could act so casual. You do realize you lost an arm?”
“I did?” I looked at my right arm, and it was true. I did lose an arm. “Well, I would be lying if I expect a few injuries here and there. So, where am I, Doc?”
He got closer to me, uncomfortably close. “You’re not in a regular hospital. E-HAD took you away. I volunteered to treat you when I heard your name from top management,” whispered Doc.
“It’s not surprising. I did ask Jake to call E-HAD.” I leaned back against the bed and sighed.
Doc slid a piece of folded paper into my hand. He backed away and nodded his head as if I understood the gesture.
I raised my eyebrow at him. “What’s this, Doc?”
“A friend of yours asked me to give it to you.” He winked. “Well, anyway, your condition is stable. We treated most of your injuries, but there's nothing we can do about your arm, I’m sorry. Occasionally, you might feel pain near your stump. It’s mostly because your brain is adjusting to the missing arm, but if you feel the pain is overwhelming, just press the button and someone will come in and give you a few meds for it.”
“Thank you, Doc.”
“No problem.” He paused for a moment as if he was trying to say something.
“What's with the look?”
“I heard about your mom. She was a good woman. I’m sorry…” There was clearly a tinge of pain and sadness beyond his gaze. He cleared his throat and nodded his head with a faint smile before leaving the room.
I unfolded the note and a smile grew after I read it. “You’re the best, Zanny.”
The door to my room opened once more. A familiar woman walked into the room. I perked from the bed and greeted her with a smile. “Sister, it’s been so long.”
“Kenn, I tried everything to convince The High Table, but they want a black sheep. I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”
“It’s okay, Sister.”
“Can you walk? They want to meet you.”
“Doc, can you come in and help him?” called out Sister.
Doc walked back into the room and removed all tubes except for the important ones. The rest he moved to the moving pole. Sister and Doc lifted me out of the bed and sat me in a wheelchair. She brought me to the door and opened it for me. Outside the room, thirteen soldiers and the so-called paladins were waiting for me. So much security for a teen without an arm.
Sister led me through a winding hallway until we stopped in front of a wooden double door. She opened it for me, and a poorly lit room awaited me on the other side. Sister escorted me inside while the rest remained outside. The door closed on itself after we got in.
Under the spotlight, I raised my sight to meet the three beings cloaked with thick veils and robes. A sudden creeping dread crawled up my spine when they finally turned their attention to me. These beings are more than what they seem to be. Still, I have to put a brave front if I want to get out of here unscathed. “You called for me?”
“Kenn Tashikawa Johnson. Also known as Brightstar. You are charged with multiple transgressions. Your trial will begin now,” spoke The Middle One with a monotone voice.
“Child, troubles seem to follow you everywhere you step. We are worried about what might come next,” spoke The Left One with elegance and femininity.
The Right One remained silent with his arms crossed.
“Uhm, I know what I did, but I won’t deny it. The actions I took were necessary. I didn’t do it out of a personal feeling or for a higher cause. I did it because I fear for this world’s survival. The serum would cause more harm than good, and I swear by my soul that it’s the truth.”
“We appreciate your honesty, Child,” spoke The Left One with understanding in her tone.
“However, we can’t simply bury the harm you have caused. Someone must answer for what had happened, or we risk a riot in the city. Those people with their homes and lives had suffered from your fight alone,” spoke The Middle One.
“I understand what you want, but that someone doesn't necessarily have to be me.” A grin appeared on my face. “How about a deal?”
The room went quiet. An awkward one minute of silence until The Right One started to laugh in a deep and rough voice. It came as a surprise for Juliet, determined by the raised eyebrows on Sister’s face. Even the two beings seated beside him found it surprising. “Amusing. What do you have in mind?”
“I suggest Ironhide be the black sheep. A man who’s gone crazy after suddenly receiving powers isn’t that uncommon. I know that he has always been a pain to deal with, but now, you have the chance to put him away for good. Not just for my sake, but yours as well.”
“I understand what you are trying to achieve. You intend to gain your freedom from this deal,” said The Left One.
“It’s not a bad deal. I get my freedom, and you get to be in control again.”
Without even consulting the two beings beside him, The Right One spoke up first. “We’ll take your deal.”
“It seems one of us has come to a conclusion. What is your decision?” The Left One turned to The Middle One.
“No deal. It is an illogical choice. Both of them must pay for what is due to them, or else we will be compromising our code,” answered The Middle One.
“I see. My last vote will determine the outcome for you, Child. After further thinking, I shall take your deal. Despite it being illogical, I believe the actions you took were necessary. Ironhide was a menace, he had been controlling us for his gain using his wealth and connection. By removing him, we shall free ourselves,” said The Left One.
“Kenn Tashikawa Johnson, E-HAD accepted your deal. You are free to leave this facility after your treatment is over. Ms. Sister, please escort Kenn out of this room,” said The Middle One.
Sister brought me out of the room. Her face brightened with joy and disbelief when we were far from The High Table sight and earshot. “I can’t believe you did. How did you come up with that deal?”
“I didn’t. A friend of mine did.”
Several Months Later.
I found staring into the sky during class, no less. It’s calming and refreshing to be on this roof with my back laid against the warm floor. Going back to school after what happened is never going to feel normal for me. How could I feel normal when I’ve been through so much? Still, I was grateful to be able to attend school again.
In truth, I have no idea what my class was teaching. I missed so much of the syllabus that I don’t think I can pass the finals. However, I’m not that worried. I could always ask Jake and Ria to tutor me.
I heard the door to the roof open. I tilted my head slightly back and saw Mr. Aariv with his thermos and two cups. “There you are.”
“Mr. Aariv, how did you know I was here?”
“You weren’t in your class, and I know this is your favorite spot in school. So, either you’re here or you went home.” Mr. Aariv took a seat right next to me.
“Am I in trouble now? I know I’m not supposed to skip school, but it is such a good day to just relax, you know. I had to.”
“No, you’re not in trouble, and I agree with you. Today is such a nice day. Just don’t do this often.” He poured his tea into the two cups set between us.
I turned to him with an excited smile. “A crazy thing happened today.”
“What is it?”
“Did you know Jake is dating Ria? How did that happen? They hated each other.”
“Well, sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places. How about your love life, any special somebody?” Mr. Aariv took a sip of his tea.
I sighed loudly. “I think I almost found it, but… it’s just too complicated. Bad stuff happened between us.”
“Do you still have feelings for her?”
My eyes wandered the sky as if I could find an answer hidden behind those clouds. “I do. It’s weird, I’m angry at her, but I don’t hate her even though she hurt me badly. Anyway, it’s too late now. She's probably somewhere far from here.”
“She probably has her reasons, and I’m sure she loved you more than you imagined. It probably hurt her when she did those bad things to you. Do you think you can forgive her if she ever comes back?”
“It’s a hard question to answer, but yeah. Not immediately, of course. I love her despite everything that has happened. I only wish I could see her face again.” One of those clouds above was shaped like an elephant.
“What’s your plan next, after you graduate? Do you still want to be a hero?”
My grandpa went out of town to see my grandma while my aunt continued working in her workshop. Cindy and Ricky are helping Ria with her thing, and Jake was thinking of starting a small business.
There’s another cloud, but this time it was shaped like a heart. Morgana and her sons even decided to stay and start their life here.
Zanny left after what happened. I don’t know why, but she didn’t seem sad when we said our goodbyes. My grandpa also plans on having a huge barbecue for everyone after I graduate. I visit my mom’s grave yesterday and I didn’t cry, instead, I felt at peace.
“To be honest, I don’t have a plan.” I raised my torso off the floor and reached for the cup. I didn’t grab it because I instinctively used my missing arm. After a sigh, I used my left hand to grab it. The tea flowed down my trachea and softly warmed up my chest. “Also, I’m not sure about the Hero thing anymore. Hmm...”
“It’s okay. You have time to figure things out. I bet no one has ever told you this, but you’re allowed to be young.” Mr. Aariv suddenly stopped, but I can tell he had other things on his mind. “Uhm, Kenn. I’m sorry for what happened, and… never mind.”
“What are you talking about?” I raised my eyebrow at him.
Mr. Aariv left his seat and walked toward the door. He left the thermos and the cups behind. It was strange. He disappeared when he walked through the door. He must have something important to do.
After a couple of minutes, he walked back into the roof, but this time, he looked confused as if he was searching for something. I raised my hand at him, and he walked toward me with a gentle scowl. “You took my thermos?”
“I didn’t take your thermos. You left it here.”
“That’s ridiculous, I was on my way here to meet you, so we could have a chat. I left my thermos behind in my office and went to the toilet. Then, when I came back, it was missing from my desk along with two cups.”
“Wait… you were here... Jules,” I muttered. Quickly, I stumbled off the floor and launched myself into a run, past Mr. Aariv. “I’m sorry, but I need to do something first. I’ll be back. I promise!”
“Okay, but be careful.” Mr. Aariv waved at me.
My feet launched me through the door, and down the stairs. I took a risk, skipping every three steps, so I could be faster. I was so fast that I couldn’t turn properly and slammed my shoulder against the wall a couple of times. It’s hurt a lot. My body hasn't fully recovered yet. Still, I was unrelenting until I arrived outside the school.
At the sidewalk, I turned my body around with so much force that I wanted to puke, but I stopped when my gaze met her golden orbs. A strong breeze hit us, her sunlight-kissed locks fluttered in the wind. She stood far from me, several meters away, but I could feel her so close to me. She was definitely holding back tears, judging from puffed-up eyes.
“I’m leaving, Kenn!” Jules raised her voice.
“Are you going to come back?”
“I don’t know. I need to take care of him. He needs me more than ever. We’re planning to start over. He’s trying to be a better person for me, Kenn.”
“It’s okay! I understand.” I said to her with a giant smile on my face. I knew she would pick him because Zanny showed me, time and time again. That’s why I sent Haru to do it because I can’t. If I faced him that day, I would have to make a choice between her and Bradford. I took her, every single time.
“Falling in love with you was the best thing that ever happened in my life,” Tears started rolling down her cheeks as she gripped the bottom half of her skirt.
“We can start over too, you know.”
“I know. I really want to, but I can’t. I hurt you so much, Kenn. I don’t think I can forget it all just like that, and I don’t want to hurt you anymore. I’m sorry, but goodbye.” She turned around and disappeared around the corner.
“I love you. I still do!”
It doesn’t matter if I chase after her. She’s gone. I slid my hands into my pockets and raised my chin up. It’s the only way I could stop the tears from flowing out. My heart was like being crushed by a press machine. I lose a couple of breaths, trying to keep myself calm. However, this was it. I will never see her again.
I turned around, ready to go back in. Suddenly, the sound of fast footsteps coming from behind drew my attention. I turned my body around again and my lips were met with another. Jules wrapped her arms around me and took me in for a kiss.
I didn’t fight it or question it. I’m just glad.
“I know it’s selfish of me after I said.”
“So am I.” My lips pressed against her once more.