So You Want To Be A Superhero?
© 2006 Stuart B Baum
Illustration by Molly A. Baum
Ages: 6 and up
My story is different from what you might have read in the comics, but it’s real.
I was walking home from school one day (I live in the city, but the walk is only a couple blocks) when I see an old lady surrounded by two big men and some sort of overly-large dog. Maybe a wolf. Now, I am not stupid enough to get involved. I am just a kid, but I figured I had to do something. The old lady did not look afraid. She was darting her eyes around as if she were looking for a way to escape. But I didn’t see a way, since she was backed into a corner of a building under construction. Yet another CVS.
She and I made eye contact and she waved her head at me, as if to say ‘You will only make it harder for me.’ But this couldn’t be true. I had to do something.
“Look down. In the crack between the sidewalk and the grass.”
It was a voice in my head. Odd, you may think, but to be honest, I didn’t even think about it. I just looked down and saw a silver necklace with a large marble pendant.
“Don’t look at the marble.”
But I already had. It was black, but began swirling with yellows and pinks and seemed to grow larger and dizzier and I started to feel nauseous…
I did. Happy to do so. I felt better instantly.
“Ball the necklace up in your hands and throw it to Glor-, hemm, the old woman. Make it a good throw. This is our one chance.”
I was scared. I was not a good thrower. It was too far away. I looked to see if Lee or Jordan were around. They were good at baseball and maybe they could help.
“You can do it.”
I could do it. I could make the perfect throw. And, just like in the movies or in comic books, I swung that necklace around three times and I sent that necklace careening through the air, across the street and right into her hands. She caught it in her fist. She winked.
“Nice throw. Now run and do not look back!”
I started to run, but, of course, looked back. Instead of an old lady, there was some sort of yellow and pink tornado of fabric. I only caught a glimpse before everything went dark and I realized I was falling. I landed on the sidewalk, skinning my knees pretty badly, but more worried about why I was suddenly blind. Really, everything was black. And I hadn’t even hit my head.
By the time I got back to my feet, my eyesight had returned and the old lady, two men and the wolf were gone.
I realize now that the voice in my head gave me the confidence to make the perfect throw as well as blinded me briefly so I couldn’t see the lady turn into a super hero. At the time, though, the voice seemed about as normal as when you are talking to yourself in your head. And the throw, well, the voice did give me the confidence to do it, but the throw was all mine.
To make a long story short (too late, I know, ha ha), I heard the voice in my head again the following Saturday morning. Very early. Just after the sun had come up and many hours before I normally even wake up on Saturdays.
“Go back to the spot where you found the necklace and you will find a note. It is your reward. You did well.”
“What is it?” I asked, ummm, myself. But the voice in my head was gone.
So I dressed quickly, didn’t waste any time brushing my teeth or washing my face, and ran to where I found the necklace. There was a small piece of paper balled up and stuck in the crack. It was light yellow, an odd color. I opened it and inside was a hand-drawn circle (about as big as my hand) and the words: reach into the circle and take out your reward.
I stuck my hand into the circle (it was like reaching into Jello) and pulled out a larger piece of paper that looked like one of those certificates you get when you write the winning story in the school contest or are awarded for having perfect attendance at the end of the school year.
I cannot remember what the scroll said, since I do not have it any more, but it pretty much congratulated me for serving the greater good and said that the PSL (I still do not know what that stands for!) wanted me to join.
To join, it said I needed to do two things:
- Decide what I wanted to be my super ability
- Come up with a name, for starters anyway.
Again, it wasn’t in these words. The words it used were all fancy and teacher-like, but I could understand them well enough.
There were some details on the bottom and some math equations, which I found sort of odd, but one of the notes read: The smarter you are naturally, the less power you will receive.
I read a lot of comics, so this made me laugh. It made sense. In fact, Ash and I had a joke about superheroes. With great power comes great stupidity. It sort of evens things out a bit. So it was very funny that this was, in fact, a rule.
Finally, the letter said I had a week to decide if I wanted the power at all and what the power would be and that I could ask no one for advice. If I did, the deal was off. Not in those words, of course.
I stuffed the scroll into my front pocket and ran home to my room. When I got home the scroll was gone. I didn’t bother to look for it, since I knew it hadn’t fallen out of my pocket. It had disappeared. Nothing falls out of front pockets.
You can guess what I did next…
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