Gunslinger Gal: Part II

Gunslinger Gal

Part II

Dad and I went out to McDonald’s for breakfast. Once that was done, I got a message from my probation agent asking to meet me. Dad drove me back to the hotel.

“Who is that?” She asked, seeing my dad.

“My dad, he made the trip to bring my stuff.”

“I see, well you will have to ride the bus, it’s part of the requirement.”

“It’s alright.” Dad said. “We understand.”

We drove to the bus station, there were dozens of people, maybe close to a hundred. Some normal, some otherworldly. I’d never really sought out the parahuman community before, this was something new.

Ravenhold students packed into two busses.

“I’ll see you when we get there?” I said, turning to dad.

“Of course.” He kissed my head and I wrapped my arms around him

After one long hug, I went into the crowd and joined the line coming into one of the busses.

Most seats were already taken, about halfway in I saw someone sitting alone, dressed in a beige wool sweater and jeans. Although I’d first thought of them as a girl, I’d later learn they were non-binary. But most importantly, they were cute.

Their eyes were set on a worn paperback book.

“G’mornin'” I said, “Would you mind if I sit by you?”

They looked up, brushing their medium length hair away from their face and smiled. “Not at all.” They removed their earbuds and closed the book.

It put my bag on the rack above us and sat down, offering my hand.  “I’m Penelope Henry, but you sugar can call me Penny.”

I have one true weakness; I can’t stop myself from flirting with cute people… And I can’t count the number of times that didn’t work out well.

They took my hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you. I’m Deryn Evans.” On their lap, they had a bag, I looked at it only for a little kitten to poke their head out.

“Quite a lovely name,” I said, “and who might this fluffy critter be?”

“Thank you.” Deryn opened the bag and their kitten popped their head further out, with finely manicured hands, they scratched the kitten’s chin. “This is Hermès.”

“Hey little olympian.” I said to the cat, taking that voice I only used for Piper. “Hope you,re comfortable cause this is gonna one long road, kitten.”

Deryn laughed softly. “It’s a good thing he’s fine with car rides. Do you have any pets?”

“That I do, Piper’s ridin’ with pa out back in the truck. I’d be too but ’em legal folks say I have to be on the bus proper.”

“Is Piper a cat? It would be nice for Hermès to have some of his own here.”  Deryn keep scratching and Hermès started purring like an engine.

I chuckled a little, people always thought I was a cat or dog gal. “She ain’t a cat, she’s a ball python. But I tell you, sugar, she’s a sweet an’ innocent little noodle.”

“My mom had a ball python named Rudy, but he died a few years ago. Lived to be about thirty though.”

“Piper’s seven now. Got her when she was this tiny little adorable noodle.”

“Hermès is about three months now. I remember when he used to be so small you could hold him in one hand.”

“Look at that cutie.” I gave Hermès my hand and let him smell me. “If it ain’t too pryin’ how did ya get onto this bus? Did ya get volunteered too?”

They shook their head. “No, I applied. I want to learn how to control my abilities better.” They paused for a moment. “How about you?”

“I introduced some unlikeable fellows to these here ladies.” I tapped my revolvers. “Not fatally, just a few broken bones from gel rounds. An’ let say ’em police ain’t too kind on that. They volunteered I do some paroleging rather than juvie.”

Deryn nodded, their expression remained pleasant. “Ravenhold seems nice though so maybe you’ll like it?”

“Well I ain’t against it even if I wasn’t the type to really think ’bout becoming a cape.”

“Yeah. I’m not interested in the loud, flashy cape deal myself. Doesn’t really fit me, or my powers.”

Hermès rubbed his head against my hand and I scratched his neck. “What might those be if I may ask?”

“I’m an empath. It means that I can sense and influence people’s emotions. What about you?”

“Hypertech, it’s how I made my gear. And I’m stronger, tougher and faster than most folks.”

“That’s really neat. I’ve never met anyone with hypertech. It sounds very useful.”

“It can be, but it ain’t like people think, we don’t just magic up gear outta nowhere, we gotta work for ’em,” I said, “and we ain’t all versatile, I don’t know nothin’ ’bout medical stuff.” I felt my smile fade for a moment, but put it back up.

Deryn nodded. “That makes sense.”

“Although, I don’t mean to be rude, but if you don’t wanna be a cape, why apply to Ravenhold rather than look for an apprenticeship with another empath?”

“I thought about that, but…” They shrugged. “I do want to help people, and maybe I shouldn’t completely rule out becoming a cape, but Ravenhold fit what I was looking for better than an apprenticeship would. The social aspect, the variety of classes,” They paused for a moment. “Just seemed right.”

“That, I reckon is a very good reason, sugar.” I grinned. “I apologize for my interrogation, ain’t proper when first meeting someone new.”

“It’s alright, I don’t mind.”

“Well Sugar, I hope you find everything you need there, and who knows maybe we’re gonna be classmates.”

“That would be great.” They smiled.

“I reckon it’s be so, I know we just met, but I am getting a good feeling from you sugar.”

Now they were grinning. “You too, Penny.”

“Some people would be wary of the pieces and the shootin’ bits.” I joked, “But I guess you can see into my heart an’ see I’m a good god fearing gal from Alabama.”

They laughed. “Something like that.”

“Well, Deryn, if you ever need a tech solution of a problem, you can come and see me and I shall do my best. To assist. Ditto if you need something shot.”

“Will do. Hopefully it won’t come to that last bit though. And if you ever need anything I can help with, just tell me and I’ll see what I can do.”

“Well I reckon I can make some gag rounds if you need someone annoyed.” I winked, “Turn their hair all pink, or make ’em sound like one of ’em chipmunks.”

“You can do that?”

“I can do lots of things, sugar.”

“That’s really amazing.”

Deryn and I kept chatting, it was then they told me they were non-binary, I introduced them to my dad and brother, they told me about their mothers. It was strange to talk about these things so openly, Alabama wasn’t always the most accepting of place.

Eventually we decided to watch a movie to pass the time. Thankfully, I’d brought my special headphones I’d made for Mina and I to share. When you can’t hear anything under a hundred decibel, you need something special.

Eight hours on rainy roads and a stint on a ferry passed like it was nothing.

“That was quite a trip.” I said stretching up as the bus stopped in front of what I presumed was the school ground.

“Yes it was.” Deryn said.

We grabbed our bags and followed everyone outside, walking a little further to a wrought iron gate. One of ‘em big legion heroes came out and gave a speech, but I wasn’t all that interested. Deryn however seemed really into it.

The Hero started calling out names and assigning them to classes and Deryn turned to me.

“It was really nice meeting you. Do you want to trade numbers?” They took out their phone.

“Sure thing sugar.” I smiled and we traded numbers. “I hope we’re gonna meet again soon.”

They smiled back. “So do I.”

Not long after Deryn was called to join class four, leaving me to wait for my turn. Dad made his way through the crowd and put a hand on me.

“Are you ready for this?”

“As ready as I can be.”

“Who was your friend? I didn’t want to interrupt.” He asked, a big smile on his face. Dad was very well aware I had a preference for girls and non-binary cuties.

I felt my cheeks flush. “Name’s Deryn.”

“She seems nice.”

“Deryn’s a they, non-binary.” I corrected him. “And they are.”

“Gotcha.”

“Penelope Andrea Henry?” The Hero called out. I raised my hand.

“See you later pa.”

I went through the crowd.

“Penelope, you’re in class four.” He said, pointing at the group with a thumb.

I walked over to my group, the same group that Deryn was in.

“Well, sugar, looks like we ain’t gonna need to call each other to meet, but I reckon I’d still like keepin’ that number.” I said with a big grin.

“Me too. I’m really glad we’re in the same class.”

“Sugar, I have a feeling we are going to get together mighty well.”

“As do I.”

In Deryn’s bag Hermès meowed in agreement it seemed. Soon enough the students were all assigned to classes and we were assigned to follow a giant statuesque woman to our dorm.

“Guess we better follow ’em tutors to our new home.”

We were lead to a big brick building, there were only sixteen of us to share this big house. Two stories tall and it wasn’t narrow nor short.

“We’re in the same class, but now, let see if we have the luck of being’ in the same room. Cause sugar, if we are, that sound like a divine sign to me.”

“That would be nice.”

“What d’you say sugar, want to go in together?” I offered Deryn a hand and they took it.  “I probably ought to warn ya, I’m one of ’em touchy feely kinda gal.”

“That’s alright, I don’t mind at all.”

We went in together, the door opened into a long hallway with a half dozen rooms split to either size of us and stairs going up and down.

“Rooming arrangements are in the kitchen!” Our teacher informed us.

Deryn and I went in, and the kitchen was something else entirely. It wasn’t even big rich folk’s house kitchen level, it had everything you needed to start a restaurant! I could see myself making many meals there.

By the entrance was a cork board and on it was the rooms. I checked the list and found my name next to someone named Lumas.

“Well, darn. I’m rooming with some folk name Lumas.”

“I’m with someone named Lucy.” Deryn said, It was fair to say we were both disappointed.

“It’s quite a shame, sugar, but at least we shall see each other all the time, after all we just a few doors down.” I offered with a slight smile.

“You’re right.” Deryn smiled. “We’re also in the same class, so it’s not like we won’t see each other during the day.”

“But I guess for now, we ought to start unpacking.”

“You’re right.”

We went upstairs and found our rooms. “See ya ’round sugar.” I said before going into mine.

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Grant Origin 1

Grant Origins

Part I

June 2016, four months ago

I dug my fingers into the hole in the skirt my father forced me to wear as I waited for him to pick me up from school. My near empty stomach churned and growled and sticky Pepsi ran down my back from when someone dumped it on my head on their way past me. I ripped the skirt further, he’ll beat my ass for that… oh well… not like it matters.

My watch started ringing out an alarm but I didn’t move to shut it off. Or even look at it.

Sierra’s funeral was happening now. Right this very moment. I felt like I should be crying but really I just want to scream. I ripped a piece of my skirt off and threw it on the ground. I wanted to fight someone, hurt someone, get back at the people who did this to her, to us.

A small noise caused me to look down. A strange creature sat at my feet, holding the scrap of my skirt in its mouth and staring up at me.

Is that a fennec fox… What the fuck is a fennec fox doing here?

It cocked its head to the side, then turned around, pointing off into the distance.

I crouched down, “Wanna show me something?”

It turned back towards me and seemed to nod.

Then my father honked his horn impatiently, forcing me to leave the fox waiting, feeling vaguely guilty.

Freaks Like Me: Part V

Freaks Like Me

Part V

We came downstairs, looking all about. There was lots of noise coming from the kitchen so that was a no-go for me. I could feel several minds in there, buzzing.

“I think the living room is over here,” Drew said.

I turned to the right where Drew was motioning to. Inside, I could feel only one mind.

“Yeah, it looks like it’s right there,” I said. “Do you want to go see if there’s anyone there?”

“Sounds cool. Have you met anyone else yet?”

I shook my head. “I saw people in the hallways, but then I ran into our room as fast as possible so I didn’t have to talk.”

We walked into the living room and as I felt there was one person there, a teen about my size with dark skin wearing a patchwork overall and a tee shirt. They were sitting down and looking at their shoulder, whispering… They turned around and their colorful afro wiggled with the movement.

“Hi! I’m Drew. What’s your name?”

“I’m Riley! It’s nice to meet you!”

I’d hoped for a moment to think, sort out my scripts, thankfully, Drew was there to buy me some time. I stood back and walked to a bookshelf, sorting through the books while I ordered my thoughts.

“You too!” Drew said, walking over to me. “They seem nice. You okay?” She whispered.

“Fine. I’m fine.” I wasn’t. “ I just don’t really like meeting new people and I know I said I wanted to come but it’s scary and I’m just so tired.”

I sighed I was being dumb, everyone else could do this stuff easily… Why not me? Drew put a hand on my arm, making me freeze. People never touched me, not when they knew what my power was…

“Come on over when you feel more comfortable.”

Drew walked over by Riley’s side and sat down next to them. Why was Drew so nice and thoughtful? People always thought I should get over myself…

I listened to them while looking at the books, they had good ones. Dad had a large science fiction collection, I’d read most of the, but dad never wanted to talk about books… Or maybe he didn’t like how I talked about books…

“What do you think of Ravenhold?” She asked Riley.

“Ravenhold is so great! This house is nice! The people are nice! They even gave us pizza!”

“I know! I’m so excited to be here. Do you have powers?”

“Yep! Wanna see?”

“Sure!”

“Do you mind if I touch you?”

“No, I don’t guess,” I felt a little spark of worry from Drew’s mind.  “It’s not going to hurt, is it?”

“No, no!”  Riley did something, I wasn’t watching. It had to be cool because Drew seemed impressed.

“Wow, that’s really cool!”

Then Riley clapped. “Amazing!”

Now I was just way too confused. I should have looked, but I didn’t want to seem like a stalker spying on them…

Drew’s brain washed over with relief. “Thanks!”

“I wanted to make cookies for everyone tonight for our first night together,” Riley said, “but the kitchen is too crowded. I’ll have to do it tomorrow night. Any requests?”

They discussed cookies, Drew really wanted chocolate ones, and once more the excitement in the air was getting to me.

“Can we have oatmeal cookies? They’re the best.” I asked.

“Right?!” Riley said, “they’re underappreciated! I love to make them with butterscotch, though I’m not sure if they’ll have any.”

“Oatmeal is great, especially if raisins are involved. I’ve never heard of putting butterscotch in them but it sounds interesting.” Drew said.

“Butterscotch would be awesome!” I said. “We should make them together one time if there aren’t enough. A group baking party! Riley, Drew, what do you say? We could recruit others and have a baking party!”

I’d never tried baking before, but I’d read plenty of cookbooks and every bit of information was forever written in my brain.

Both Riley and Drew agreed with my idea.

“Great! Now we need to find more people. Oh, and the kitchen. We need a kitchen to bake stuff in, because as appealing as it sounds, we can’t just get Drew to cook them with her firey powers.”

I came closer and looked at Riley. I’d forgotten to introduce myself… I’d been told many time that was rude.

“Oh, also, I don’t think I told you my name. I’m Avery.”

“Riley.” They extended a hand and I looked at it for a moment.

“No thanks. I don’t like touching people.” I said, I knew that was supposed to be rude too. Plus Riley didn’t know about my power, if they knew they wouldn’t want to touch me. “We should make quite a few batches, since I know that powers can be tiring, and cookies are delicious. Maybe we should do a survey to figure out how many we want to make!”

We started making plans, agreeing to add snickerdoodles and sugar cookies to our list. We agreed to meet up after classes the next day.

The energy I’d just felt passed and my head got numb,

“Do you guys mind if I go to my room for a little bit?” I asked. “Drew, you can hang out here but I’m just really tired and have absolutely no more socializing energy.”

“Rest up!” Riley said. “Tomorrow’s a big day, if you need anything that I could help with just ask”

I nodded. “Alright, thanks! Same to you.”

“I’ll probably be up in a few, Avery,” Drew said, “I’m pretty tired anyway.”

“Okay, bye guys!”

I climbed back upstairs and lied down on my new bed. It was okay in term of softness. I tried to shut down my brain, but there were so many thoughts and feelings in the air. This was going to be harder than I thought…

Lucy Origins: Part II

Lucy Origins: Part II

I’m going to beat this dumb cancer and be a superhero.

Those thoughts drove me through treatment, mom didn’t seem to happy, but I think she didn’t want to break my spirit.

In the next weeks, I did everything I could; I was the model patient, took all my medicine, did what exercise I could and worst of all, ate mom’s so-called superfood that was meant to get me well.

Then on January 14th, I’d beaten Leukemia once again, or at least for the moment. It would be two years before I’d be truly cured.

When I went to school the next day, there was cake to celebrate my recovery. In a way, it was an early birthday present, a few more days and I was going to be thirteen, also known as the youngest one could apply to Ravenhold. Ravenhold wasn’t just any superhero school, it was Malkie’s!

***

January 19th, my birthday, came about and I invited my best friends: Gabriella and Annie to a sleepover to celebrate. They’d packed their school bag for the occasion and the moment the bell rang we raced home, Mr. Kibbles in tow.

“Now that I’m thirteen, I can be a superhero!” I said. “I’m going to be… Top dog!”

The girls laughed. “That’s a silly name.”

“Well I’m Mr. Kibbles’ master, isn’t that right, puppy?” I asked, he barked positively in answer. “See, he agrees with me.”

“He’s a dog, he can’t understand you.” Annie said.

“I don’t know, Mr Kibbles pick after himself when he goes potty.” Gabriella said.

“I taught him to do that.”

“If he’s so smart, couldn’t he use the bathroom then?”

“Mr. Kibbles doesn’t like bathrooms, I don’t know why.”

We came to my house and went in. We went to drop our stuff in my room.

“You got a poster of her?” Gabriella laughed, seeing the big poster of my hero above the bed.

“Yeah! She’s so cool!” I said. I’d done lots of research to learn everything I could about my hero. “Her name is Blur, well not her real name, that’s her cape name. Don’t tell anyone but I heard her friend call her Malkie.”

“You’re serious about this hero thing, are you?”

“Dead serious.”

“Did your parents agreed to it?”

My eyes darted away. “Not yet… ” Mr Kibbles rubs his snout against my hand. “But first we have a party to go through and plan.”

We sat down and made plans for the night; makeover, truth or dare, twister, we were going to bake our own cake, we had plans for everything. Except sleep, we didn’t leave time for that on our schedule.

Soon mom called us for dinner, she’d made steak for the occasion. After dinner came the presents. I got all kinds of new stuff; dozens of nail polish colors, a New Nintendo 3DS with pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, but most notable of all was a shirt.

The shirt with ‘I’ve kicked cancer’s butt!’ written in sparkling letters. It was cool, but not quite accurate.

“It’s missing something!”

I went to the nearby cabinet and took a magic marker, came back to the shirt and added a little something: a big underlined ‘Twice!’ Mom looked a little horrified at first but then she laughed.

“Much better!”

I ran to the bathroom and changed shirt. Once presents ran out, Gabrielle, Annie and I started working on our cake, no mere birthday cake would suffice, our eyes were firmly set on a triple chocolate layer cake with hazelnut spread and lots of sparkles.

We set it in the oven with a prayer and went off to play.

***

Exhausted, Annie and Gabrielle fell asleep long before me. I on the other hand had five months of energy suddenly bursting through me. I stuck out of my room and found mom finishing up the dishes.

“Hey mom.”

“Can’t sleep?”

“I’ve been on my butt and back for months.”

Mom smiled. “I’m glad to have my conejita back.” Mom came and kissed my nose.

“I’m glad to be better. Also, now that I’m better does that mean we’re done with Kale smoothies? Or kale in general.”

Mom laughed. “It’s healthy.”

“Mom, even coco wouldn’t drink it and she’s literally a rabbit.”

Our family was pretty pet heavy, in addition to Mr. Kibbles, there was Coco the bunny, Kiwi the cockatiel and Muffles the cat.

“But I guess we can take the smoothie off the menu for now.”

I quietly thanked God and kissed mom on the cheek.

“Mom, there’s one last thing…”

I went to my room, under a whole pile of scrapbooking stuff, I found what I wanted; the Ravenhold application, I went back to the kitchen and gave it to her.

“I filled everything, I just need a parents signature, then I write my essay and introduction letter.”

“You’re not going to let this down, are you?”

“Never, I found my calling mom. Malkie, Blur, she made me realize I want to help people.”

Mom sighed. “Luciana,” that was bad, my full name was the worried-mom name, “you’re just one girl, you’re young… ”

“I have Mr. Kibbles, he’ll watch over me.”

“I couldn’t bear the thought of you getting hurt…” She shuddered.

“Mom, I could have died last month, tomorrow I could have a seizure and fracture my skull… I’ve lived with the knowledge I could die any moment since I was young. Cancer could come back any moment and I might not make it.”

“Luciana!” Mom hugged me. “You shouldn’t be having such thoughts…”

I held her back. “It’s okay mom, I know life is precious, and I want to make the most of every moment, no matter how long or short mine might be.”

She held me quietly for one long minute.

“You’re too young to be like this…”

“I’m not sad, people waste so much of their lives worrying, I just want to pack as much excitement as I can into mine.”

Mom laughed sadly. “Are you sure you’ve just turned thirteen and not thirty?”

“I wish, then I’d have a car! I could drink and go without your permission.”

Mom smiled slightly. She took the papers and signed them. “Promise me you’ll stay safe, don’t go running into danger because you want to be a hero?”

“I promise, mom.” I held her again.

“I love you Lucy.”

“I love you mom.”

With applications due by July first, I had a little over five month to write the perfect essay and letter. I knew I could do it!

Gunslinger Gal: Part I

Penny’s Story: Gunslinger Gal

Part I

Without further issues, September sixth came, Mina had forgiven me a little bit from my dumbness and I’d resigned myself to go to Ravenhold, I had one year of probation, then I could go home… And maybe within that year, I could learn how to fix her…

When I was making breakfast for my brother, Matthew caught my attention reaching out from his wheelchair to pat my hip. “There’s someone knocking at the door.” He signed.

Just then, Dad came down, “I’ll get it,”

I nodded and finished Matthew’s breakfast. That done, I went to the door and saw that dad and a police officer were talking. The officer tried to talk to me so I interrupted him, raising my hands.

“Sir, I ain’t wearing my implant and I don’t read no lips.” It had probably come all weird, speaking when you can’t hear yourself is hard.

He looked back at my dad who said something. Dad then signed to me; “Penny, get your bag.

Yes, dad.” I signed back.

I went upstairs and into my room, which was kind of a mess to be honest. Spare parts were everywhere, succulents on every surface and a big poster of Annie Oakley, who was something of a personal icon dominated the wall above the head of my bed.

But most important of all was the large one hundred gallon terrarium taking up most of the left side of my room. I walked ward it and opened it, it didn’t take long for me to find Piper, my snake, and took her out. In the six years since I’d gotten her, she’s grown to six feet in length. I put her on my shoulders and she gently curled up around my neck.

“I’ll be going now.” I said to her, kissing her coppery-colored head. “You be a good girl, okay?”

Being a snake, Piper did not feel the need to answer me.

With her coiled around me, I grabbed my things. I’d prepared a bag with my clothes, another one with my essential tools. Last was my revolvers, two boxes of cartridges and my cowboy costume, which had been graciously returned to me by the department a few days prior.

Actually there was one last thing; the cochlear audio processor. I grabbed it, put the earpiece on and then attached the transmitter to my scalp. At home, I rarely wore my audio processor, the way it works make it hard to understand who is speaking, the implant doesn’t really relay pitch or timbre.

With everything in order, I put Piper back down into her cage, told her how much I loved her and resigned myself to going back downstairs. “Matthew?”

“Yeah?”

“You’ll take care of Piper while I’m gone?” I asked. “She’s due for her meal tomorrow, just remember she likes her mouse thawed, refrozen and thawed out a second time.”

“Yes, Penny.” He wheeled himself closer to me and gave me a hug. “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too.” I kissed his scalp and held him. “Can I give your chair one last look before I go?”

He nodded and I kneeled down, the chair was of my own making as electric wheelchairs were stupidly expensive. I’d even built an elevator system for him to get to the second floor with ease.

“It’s all in order.” I said with a relieved sigh. “Goodbye.”

I went to the entrance, where the officer looked none too pleased to have waited for me, and put on my boots. The officer then took out a pair of handcuffs and demanded my hands.

“Is this really necessary?” Dad asked.

“It’s standard procedure.”

“I’ll be okay, dad.” I said, giving the officer my hands. He hadn’t even put them on that my brain had already given more more than a dozen solution to escape, but I pushed them aside.

With my hands cuffed, the officer grabbed my bags and put them at the back of the old Crown Victoria.

“I love you baby girl.” Dad said, wrapping his arms around me.

“I love you too dad.” I said.

“Get in the car.” The officer said.

“Wait one last thing,” dad took my cowboy hat and put it on my head. “You’re going to need this.”

I smiled. “Bye dad.”

The officer brought me to the back of the squad car, doing the traditional hand on the head thing as I climbed in, and drove us to the nearby bus station. We got onboard a bus to New York City and sat down.

“So, officer…” I looked down at his name tag, “Perry, do you have a family?”

He grumbled something about it not being any of my business and I lost any hope for a conversation. It took thirteen long and tedious hours to get from Alabama to New York by bus, there they handed me over to someone else who opted to remove my cuffs and led me to a hotel where I signed up for the night.

They even gave me my things and let me call home. Clearly they were more used and tolerant of vigilantism what with living in one of the world’s superhero capital. I grabbed my phone and started texting.

Hey Dad. I’m in NYC. <

> How was the trip?

Boring, Officer Perry just glared at me for 13h <

> Where are you now?

Holiday Inn by JFK <
We only leave tomorrow <

> Alright. I love you.

Tired from the trip I went to the hotel’s restaurant for a quick bite before collapsing on my bed, clothes still one and falling asleep.

I woke up in the morning to my room’s phone ringing. I reached out and grabbed it. “Hello?” the person said something but I didn’t hear anything. “Sorry, i’m deaf, you’ll have to repeat and speak slow and clearly.”

After a few tries, I finally understood: There was someone downstairs to see me. I didn’t bother changing or showering. It was still an hour and a half too early to go. I went down the stairs, into the lobby and saw dad.

“Wait, dad?”

“Hey darling.” He smiled and I ran to him, giving him a hug.

“What are you doing here?”

“Thought you could use some of the things you left back home.”

“And you couldn’t just ship them?” I teased.

“I’d probably need to remortgage the house to pay for that.” He nodded toward the door and I followed him outside. The truck’s cabin was filled with the stuff from my workshop. “There’s something in the cabin for you, or rather someone.”

I looked and saw a cat carrier, inside the carrier was a bag and a balled up form.

“You brought Piper?”

“She wasn’t happy about it. I saw there’s a pet shop on the island, we can get her a new house, I couldn’t exactly fit the terrarium and all your stuff.”

“Thank you dad. Did you drive all night?”

“For you, of course.”

I hugged dad tightly. “Why don’t you get washed, dressed and we can have breakfast before your bus leave?”

“Yes, sir!”

Leo Origins

Leo Origins: Part I

“Get up, Leo! Dammit, get up, you little brat!”

I groaned and sat up. My head hurt… “I don’t feel good, sister…”

My eyes adjusted to the light and I realized everything around me was a mess. It looked like someone had messed up the place like I did with my Legos sometimes. My sister was kneeling over me, her glowing sword in hand. Why was she crying? “Thank God,” she said, hugging me tight.  “Come on, we got to move. He might still be around.”

I was confused, but obeyed. Sister always knew best and I was just ten so I knew better than to talk back right now.

She led me out of the messed-up building – what had happened to it? – and into the streets. There were no people, but a few cars and buildings around us looked like they had been cut in half with a pair of giant scissors. My sister must have done that. But why?

“Where’s mom and dad?” I asked her. She didn’t respond, only pulling me along the road and towards a waiting man in a white and red outfit. A hero?

“Take him, Dakota,” she told the man. He nodded and took my hand. As he did, I felt my headache go away. “Could you save them?”

The suited man, who I realized was much bigger than dad even, shook his head. “I’m sorry, Leona, I just… they were too far gone. Not even my power could do anything. I’m sorry…”

My sister shook her head. “I’ll be fine, I… I need to find Carter and make him pay.” She looked at me. “Leo, stay with Dakota. He will keep you safe.”

I was smart enough to know she wasn’t telling me something. Nor would she. It was only later that I learned a criminal named Harold Lee Carter had attacked the bank me and my parents had been at, killing everyone inside and stealing the money. Dad had used his ability to teleport me into the next building just before Carter had blown up the bank and my sister had arrived just a little bit later.

After that, she and Dakota – her fiancé at the time – had taken me in. My powers developed a year later and I decided I would become a hero. I wouldn’t just be a hero, though. I would be the best hero. I would stop all of the villains, the bullies, and anyone else who threatened or killed the defenseless. I would become a beacon of justice.

Nothing could stop me.

Lucy Origins: Part I

Lucy Origins: Part I

I was three years old when I first came close with death, Leukemia came for me but in the end, I won the battle. Mom never forgot, and after my first epileptic seizure the next year, I would always be her sick little girl.

***

On my second brush with death, I was seven, we were driving up to Orlando for vacation when a drunk driver skipped a red and rammed into us.

It’s hard to forget that day, half a lifetime ago. The day was hot and humid, the AC in the car hadn’t been working properly for a month, I’d rolled down the window and Mr. Kibbles, my pup, happily had his head out enjoying the wind. I remember being bored, my gameboy battery had run out.

Then everything became chaos, I was tossed to the side, my seat belt dug into my skin, glass shattered everywhere, but worst of all, I was covered in this warm liquid, nothing made sense anymore, my head spun…

And then I saw Mr. Kibbles, his body full of glass, his side was covered in blood.

“Puppy!” I remember screaming, he’d took the worst of the shock, shielded me.

Everything went by as a blur, my head spun and I think I threw up at some point. Sirens blared and someone pulled me out of the crash. People talked but nothing made sense anymore. They examined me and left me for a moment.

“Where’s Mr. Kibbles?” I asked in the confusion, someone pulled him out but he was limp, covered in blood… “Puppy!”

The man put him down on the ground, not far from me.

“He’s dead Lucy…” Mom came to me and held me.

“He can’t be!” I cried.

I broke off mom’s embrace crawled toward him, he didn’t move or react… I held onto Mr. Kibbles’ body with all my strength, mom tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t let him go…

Then something clicked in me, there was this pressure in my head and then my arms became so warm, the blood and fur faded, instead I could feel the whole of Mr. Kibbles like he was a part of me, his body shook and cracked, the glass came out…

And then he licked my hands.

“Woof?” he let out. He licked my blood stained face.

That was the last thing I remembered before waking up in the hospital, I’d suffered a concussion, broken a rib and suffered a few cuts, but I was alive. And so was Mr. Kibbles, but he was different; bigger, stronger, his legs were larger and his front paw now resembled hands… But he was still my puppy.

That night at the hospital, I learned I was now a mutant; my blood test had come back positive. Many kids wish they were mutants, had powers and could be superheroes, but that wasn’t me, I was happy being Lucy the girl with the strange dog.

***

It wasn’t until my third brush with death that I decided to be a hero. August was ending, the first day of seventh grade was just around the corner and after a summer at camp I was looking forward to seeing my friends again.

But when the first day came, I was struck with a fever. I stayed home that day, the next day the fever didn’t go away, nor the next. Dr. Valdez had prescribed me antibiotics but the fever didn’t relent.

One morning I woke up, still weak and practically crawled into the bathroom. I removed my nightgown only to see the bruises all over my body, I knew what it meant… My lymph nodes were swollen…

I started crying, and mom heard me, she rushed into the room.

“What’s wrong, conejita?” She asked.

“Mom… I think the cancer’s back!” I collapsed into her arms.

After an emergency room visit, the doctors confirmed my fear; my white blood cell count was through the roof. After almost a decade, leukemia had come back…

***

The next months were hell; my hair fell out, I was constantly sick, I couldn’t eat or keep anything down and lost so much weight. I knew I was going to die…

Then one day as I was at the hospital for treatment, passing in and out from the exhaustion, I was woken up by an alarm. It wasn’t a normal hospital alarm, the last time I’d heard it had been during the Tzari invasion…

The ground shook, people screamed and Mr. Kibbles barked at something. Then something went crashing through the wall. Only after a moment did I realize it was a person, clad in a red and white costume.

From the new hole in my room, I saw a monster, like a giant ape mashing and fighting, there were people fighting it.

“Get the civilians out!” Someone shouted, but not in the same panic as everyone else.

Then a blur filled my room, it was blue with a red streak at the top, I blinked and rubbed my eyes and a tall girl stood next to the hero who’d crashed. She wore this blue armor and goggles covered most of her face, her hair was a dyed dark red and held into a ponytail.

“Are you okay, Patrick?” She said, she had this southern twang to her voice.

“I’m fine Malkie.” He answered as she gave him a hand up. “Get the girl out.”

Mr Kibbles growled at them.

“Puppy, do as they say.” I managed to say, it was weak but Mr. Kibbles obeyed.

“Well, girl, this ain’t gonna be fun. You might puke.” She said, I didn’t get to answer that she’s become a blur again, encompassing the whole of me. The next thing I knew, it was like being in a really bad rollercoaster.

We stopped and only then did I realize we were in the street a few blocks away with other beds. She disappeared into another blur and Mr. Kibbles appeared, he threw up and collapsed on the ground.

“Sorry darling  for the rough ride,” the girl said. “You ought to be safe here, now if you excuse me I’ve got others to save, stay safe, you too pupper,” She finger gunned me before disappearing back into a blur.

I’d seen superheroes before, but nothing ever as cool and amazing…

But now, my eyelids felt heavy and everything went dark again… I woke up in another hospital room, mom was there, on the chair by my bed.

“Mom?” I said.

“Luciana! You’re okay!” I nodded and she jumped out of her chair, holding me tight. “I was so scared, I went out for a few minutes and then the alarms blared.”

“I’m okay mom.”

She practically choked me with her hug. Mr. Kibbles came and licked my face in support.

“Mom?”

“What is it dear?”

“I want to be a superhero.”

Mom didn’t answer, we’d had the conversation when I had first become a mutant. Back then I didn’t care… But now, I wanted to see that girl again, pay her back for saving my life.