Zero Hour – Flurry I

Hello to all of you, my name is Flurry-or at least my Alias is. As you can probably guess from the fact that I’m writing about myself, I’m a superfreak as well. I’m not sure about HOW exactly I got my powers, but I do know that I have hydrokinesis and cryokinesis. I can manipulate water, not only in shape but also in temperature. I guess I should tell you my backstory, from my childhood to figuring out I had powers to today… Here goes nothing…

—-

       “Hello! This is your co-captain speaking. We will begin our landing into McCarran International Airport in about fifteen minutes. As we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. Flight attendants will move around the cabin to make final landing preparations. Thank you.”

       I was squirming around in my seat. We had been on the airplane for about five hours, and I couldn’t sleep in the seats. I turned to look at my mom. “Why are we moving? I miss my friends! I want to go home.” Throughout the entire flight I kept clutching the little stuffed bear my friends signed and gave me as a going away present.

       “Relax, you’ll make new friends in Beaver Creek, and I’ve already told you why we’re moving. Your dad’s boss offered him a better job here.”

       “That sounds idiotic.”

       “Don’t say that word! You’ll understand when you’re older.”

       I’d heard that way too many times in the past few days.

       “Mom, I don’t feel good.”

       She rummaged through her bag and took out a bottle labeled Advil. From it, she removed what looked like a mini M&M.

       “Here, put this on the back of your tongue, and then swallow it whole with water. You’ll feel better.”

__

       Fifteen minutes later, we landed, got our luggage and were on our way to the new house. I still felt ill. “How long until we get to the house? Is there a lake nearby? Even a pond?”

       “We’re almost there, go back to sleep.”

       I pretended to fall asleep, but more and more thoughts filled my mind about the town. After a while I did manage to sleep, but it felt like I only had time to blink before someone poked me.

       “What?”

       “We’re here, come see the new house!”

—-

       

       It was about a month after I took my first steps into the new house. Since then, I had been to the Spring Valley Medical Center five times. They had poked me with needles about twelve times. Every time my mom was on the phone with them, she said the same thing. ‘What’s wrong with her? What do you mean you still don’t know? It’s been a month! You’ve never seen it before? What should I do? Water? She gets plenty. She can’t be dehydrated.’

Then she hung up, sighed, and, still fretting, went to take a nap.

That day, the call was late, but I could still hear it from where I was “sleeping.” The day before, my mom had made me start keeping a water bottle with me at all times. It sat next to me on the nightstand.

 I couldn’t fall asleep.

 I kept thinking about everything.

 The calls.

 Stupid Nevada.

 The first day of school- wait, what? I had completely forgotten. I looked on the calendar on my wall. Clearly marked, the first day of Sixth grade was circled. August 28th. The date was August 27th. I could make friends the next day. This was my chance to forget about the hospital visits, the calls, everything. I sprinted downstairs.

       “MOM! SCHOOL STARTS TOMORROW!”

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s on my calendar!”

My dad stumbled down the stairs. I had woken him up. Woops.

“What’s going on?”

“Dad!! I start middle tomorrow! I can’t miss the first day. It’s SUPER important!”

He broke into a grin. “We better go to sleep now so we can wake up early then; can’t be late on the first day! Why don’t you head upstairs?”

I made my way back upstairs, eager for morning to come. While I fell asleep, I repeated the same phrase to myself a bunch of times “Tomorrow, I will make friends.”

In the blink of an eye, my alarm went off, and the smell of pancakes cooking filled my room.

I got ready as fast as I could and managed to eat a pancake before I rushed out the door.

About thirty minutes later I found myself outside the front door of Beaver Creek Middle School. I saw a bunch of nice-looking girls, but my dad quickly dragged me inside and to the main office. My dad had knocked on a door labeled “Principal.”

“Come in.”

My dad opened the door, and I saw a woman in her late 30s sitting at a desk.

“Hello, what can I help you with? Please take a seat.”

“Hi. This is my daughter, she’s entering 6th grade. I just wanted to make sure that my wife enrolled her in classes, because we moved here just over a month ago.”

“Oh, of course! You must be Mr. Azul. Yes, your daughter has been enrolled in classes. I will print out a copy of her schedule for her, and then I’ll bring her down to the auditorium for orientation.”

“Great! I’ll be on my way then- but first, could you point me to the nurse? I need to leave some forms with her.”

She pointed down the hall, and then led me off in the other direction to the auditorium. I went off and sat in the middle next to a group of girls who look my age. One of them turned around to face me.

“Hi! I’m Jessica Blanc, but everyone calls me Jessi. You must be the new girl. What classes do you have?”

I handed her my copy of the schedule, and I noticed that her smile grew with each class she read.

“Other than Art, we have the same classes! I’ll show you around.”

I had a feeling we were going to be good friends.

As soon as the orientation assembly was over, the room became chaotic. People pushed and shoved through the crowds to get to their classes. Jessi and I got to our first class, and took seats next to each other. We did that in every class that we had together. Lunch block ended up being my art class, so I said bye to Jessi.

“I’ll come get you for lunch, have fun!”

The bell rang for lunch, but I wasn’t hungry, so I told Jessi to go while I kept working on my project.

“Don’t be stupid! I’m not gonna let you sit here and be alone. I’ll eat here and you can work. I’ll get to see if you’re any good!” she said, sticking her tongue out at me.

“Okay, but I will warn you, I kinda zone out when I’m art-ing”

“Did you just make art a verb?”

“Maybe.. Now come inside.”

 

A few days later, I invited Jessi to the house. My parents were happy that I’d been making friends. At the end of the day, Jessi and I walked to the house. I still couldn’t call it “my” house. My mom got us some snacks and we went up to my room to talk and play. From habit, I brought my water bottle with me. At that point, it was nearly destroyed.

“Why do you always carry that water bottle around with you?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. My mom told me to carry it around because I was getting sick when we moved here. All I know is that it makes me feel a lot better.”

“That’s so weird, but cool at the same time. I wish a bottle of water was all I needed to feel better.”

 

Weeks passed, then months, and by late November I had perfected my daily routine. I studied hard during the week, and Jessi and I alternated between which of our houses we went to on fridays. Our group of friends had grown, and now there were 6 of us. The only class that we all had together was Social Studies, but I saw at least one of them in every class. Naturally, we got in trouble for talking, but we just lowered our voices and went back to making plans. There was one day, however, when Mrs. Brown’s announcements actually stopped our conversation.

“Class, may I please have your attention.”

All of us kept talking, but that day Mrs. Brown had a way to get us to listen.

    “Class! Thi- this week we will be learning about metahumans.”

    The entire class froze at the mention of the recent discovery, metahumans. We all started talking at once.

    “Why are we learning about-

    “Who cares, it’ll be fun!”

    “Imagine if I was a-“

    “Shut up, that’s ridiculous.”

    Mrs. Brown handed us slips that our parents could sign in agreement, and then the bell rang for the next class. All the students could talk about was the metahuman lessons, but I chose to keep my gushing to myself. What if I’m a metahuman? The thought filled my mind for hours. It kept me thinking until I finally got so exhausted that I fell asleep.

The next morning, the entire class was quiet and ready to learn even before the bell rang to announce the start of the lesson.

“A metahuman, as they are sometimes referred to, is any individual who demonstrates superhuman abilities.  Typically, their powers are internal.  They generate  energy, their will determines its movement.  Rather, regardless of the source or their amount of control, their abilities are their own.  There are also those who have the ability to use magic.  Magic is omnipresent energy, that people have varying amount of ability to control.  Magic potential is very widespread.  In fact, in your senior year of high school, you will take the MET to determine your potential.  Magic users can be divided into a variety of categories, based on which natural elements they manipulate.  However, that’s a lesson for another day.  Today, we’ll be talking about standard powers…  by talking about an exception.”  A laugh ran through the class, and Mrs. Brown smiled.  “Can anyone tell me what a power switcher is?”

One guy in the back of the class raised his hand, and said, “Someone that switches powers?”

The teacher smiled indulgently and said, “Yes, basically.  Good job, Grey.  Now, what makes power switchers unique is their variety of different ways to use their energy.  While most metahumans only need to know one or two ways to use their power, power switchers need to instinctively know how to use many.  There’s no way that one brain could contain all that information.  So, there are things called companions, which store information and help the power switcher control their changes.  Companions are…”

 

That day, nobody started packing their things until the bell rang. We were all engaged in the lesson, and as soon as Mrs. Brown dismissed us the room became a blur of friends coming together and chatting about Metahumans.

“I wonder if-”

“Shut up, don’t be ridiculous.”

“But-”

“No.”

I heard those phrases from about 10 different people in the 5 minutes that it took me to find my friends and start walking home. As soon as we got off school grounds, our conversation began, with everyone speaking simultaneously. it reminded me of the chain of surprised yelps when someone pops a balloon.

“Guys, I want to be a metahuman!”

“You’re not alone, I’m pretty sure everyone wants to be a metahuman.”

“I wonder if any of us are metahumans!”

“We need to promise to tell each other if we are!”

“Deal.”

“Deal!”

“Deal.”

“It’s a deal.”

I got home and immediately sprinted up to my room.

“Where are you going?” That was my mom.

“I need to find out if I’m a metahuman!”

“Don’t hurt yourself!”

I spent the next four hours testing everything that I could possibly think of. I tried moving objects with my mind, lighting lightbulbs by holding them, lighting coal in a bowl, and even jumped off my bed to see if I could fly. Nothing worked. Defeated, I continued with my afternoon and got ready for school the next day.

“Guys, I spent all night trying to find out if I had any powers, but nothing worked.”

“Me too! I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I gave up.”

“Can you guys stop for a minute? I think you’re forgetting something very important.”

“What could possible be more important with finding our superpowers?”

“How about the fact that winter break starts tomorrow and we haven’t even planned what we’re going to do!”

The rest of the way to school, metahumans were nearly forgotten, and we pitched ideas for sleepovers, trips, and other get-togethers. In fact, the entire day passed as a sort of blur, and I went to bed that night in record time.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of the original “Let It Snow” by Sammy Cahn. I knew it would be a good day. My friends and I gathered at the oak tree that acted as out daily meeting point. We were filled with pre-vacation excitement, and the holiday spirit kept us smiling and laughing all the way to school.

“Good morning class! We have shortened classes today, so we’re going to spend this class making Holiday cards.”

The entire class erupted in cheer. Could this day get any better? The rest of the school day we spent fooling around, the entire student body giddy with the feeling of 2 weeks without school. Finally, the clock struck 12:30. We were free. I met my friends by the door of the classroom, and we started heading home. We had all decided to go eat lunch and hang out at Lilly’s house, so we headed towards her street. As we were walking, I noticed that my water bottle was getting extremely cold. This gave me an idea.

I grabbed my water bottle and focused all of my energy.

I waited.

I waited some more.

And then it happened. The water in the bottle was heating up. I could feel it.

“Guy!! Guys!!! Did you see that!! I have a power!”

“Stop being an idiot. That was probably just your hands warming it up.”

“I swear! It’s a power!!”

Suddenly Jessi spoke up. I had almost forgotten that she was there, she’d been so quiet. “Guys, I think I should take her home. If you want to keep walking to Lilly’s, I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Jessi grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me off in the direction of my house.

When we arrived, she ended up staying and we just hung out and played as if  nothing weird had just happened. Inside, I was itching to talk about my newfound power, but Jessi seemed uninterested.

Later on, when Jessi’s mom came to pick her up, Jessi whispered something into her moms ear. Mrs. Blanc let her face contort into a happy grin. She asked my mother to speak with her privately. I was worried.

 

 

When they finally left, my mother and father- after my mom had a long talk with my dad- sat me down on the couch.

My mom explained that Jessi had told her mom that I discovered my powers. Also, Jessi had realized I was telling the truth because she was a Metahuman too.

“Jessi is like a human lie detector,” they explained, “She can tell when a statement is true or not.”

The next day Jessi and her mom came over again. Her mom asked my mom for bowls of water, and she placed them in front of me on a table in the garage.

“Focus on the bowls,” she said, “Show me what you can do. Don’t worry if you splash, that’s why we’re in here.”

I concentrated on the bowls, but nothing was happening. Frustrated, I reached for the bowl to knock it over, but when I looked at the bowl, the water was not in it. I had formed a pool of water floating in midair. Just when I realized what happened, the water fell back into the bowl.

“Did you see that? I can move water!”

“Good job, let’s move onto the next bowl. Let’s see to what extent you can freeze or heat the water,” Mrs. B told me.

I focused all of my energy into my hands and placed them over the bowl, as I had seen people do in movies. The water started shaking, and after a while little bubbles started forming. Jessi touched the water and recoiled quickly.

“OWW! That water is boiling!”

I continued working until I had done something to each of the bowls, and then Mrs. Blanc told Jessi it was time to go home.

The next day, my parents told me that we were moving back to Connecticut. I was excited, but I knew I would miss Jessi and her mom. I packed my bags anyways, and we invited Jessi’s family over for Christmas dinner, which was our last meal in Nevada. After dinner, Jessi and her mom came over to me, and Jessi handed me a small box. In it was a necklace with a small vial filled with water.

“Your mom told us that you got sick when you first moved away from the coast, so we got you a vial filled with water. It will make you feel stronger, and replace that water bottle you’re always carrying around.”

I started tearing up as I handed Jessi her gift. “It’s not as helpful as what you gave me, but you’re my best friend, so I got you a necklace too. It has a balance on it, for honesty.” She started crying as well, and we sat hugging each other for a good five minutes before my mom said I had to start getting ready to leave.

We flew to Connecticut that night, and soon after my parents set to work on finding me help to strengthen my skills

Ignition

“Jesus Christ Joey, the apartment’s trashed!” Carl Peters was shouting into his phone.

“Oh fuck. Listen little brother, you need to pay attention here, is anything burned?”

Carl looked at the room, focusing. Their apartment was fairly small and shabby. Everything had been wrecked, smashed, slit, or burned.

“Yeah, there’s giant fucking scorch marks on the ceiling and floor. What the hell is going on?”

Joey sighed. “Listen, don’t get mad here, but I may have gotten in with the Suns. I just-“

“The Suns?! What the fucking hell where you thinking?” Carl interjected.

“Let me finish, Carl. I just left the Suns, I decided the thug life wasn’t for me. I guess they don’t appreciate their members bailing on short notice.” Joey responded with a tremor in his voice.

Carl clenched his hands. “Joey, listen to me. I have been covering your ass for as long as I can remember. I got you a job at the school, I’ve paid your fucking bail a dozen times, and this is how you repay me? You crossed a line this time, I’m done.”

“Wait wait wait, don’t hang up Carl. Listen, I’m really sorry for everything, you know I am. I figured out a way to fix it, though. I stole some money from the Suns, enough to get us started somewhere new, you see? And all we have-“

“You did what?!?” Roared Carl. “I can’t fucking believe you, not only did you leave the Suns of Sin, but you stole from them? Oh Joey, this is so bad. We need to go to the SVRA, or the cops or somebody!”

“No no, I’ve got a plan, don’t worry. Listen, I’m at the rental place on 14th right now, we can just-” Joey’s voice was cut off again with a strangled noise. A strangers voice resumed the conversation.

“Hello there, I’m assuming you’re Carl. Joey’s told us so much about you. He even said you like to be prepared; you hide cash around the city, just in case. He’s bleeding pretty heavily right now. I’ll patch him up, and keep him alive for now, you just bring our money to the address I’ll text you, and you can get him back. Thanks!”

With that, the stranger hung up. Carl dropped his phone and slumped on the couch, feeling a headache building. This whole thing felt unreal, the kind of situation plucky heroes found themselves in, in movies at least. Carl looked around at his ruined apartment once more with a sigh. He was sick and tired of it all, the constant attempts at reforming his brother, the constant messes he was in, the constant flow of problems in the rest of the world.

His phone buzzed and Carl swiftly picked it up. It read “bring 50,000 $ to the corner of 8th avenue and Washington, we will meet you there. Come alone ;P”

Carl shut his phone and got up. The reality of the situation hit him in waves as he left the building. Joey was kidnapped by the Suns of Sin, a pretty horrible gang deeply rooted in the city. Joey, ever the blabber mouth, had told them about Carl. Carl kept stashes of money in the city, just enough to cover the 50 grand needed. He never liked surprises, always wanted to have backup plans and contingencies.

 

Carl entered the train station and opened his locker. In it was his bug out kit; a pistol, about 55 thousand dollars, and some emergency gear. Carl slid his pistol into the pocket on his cargo pants. He left the gear in the locker, taking only the money in a duffel bag. He shut his locker and left.

Carl walked the ten minutes needed, and arrived at the corner. A taxi next to him opened, and two large men got out. They each grabbed his arms and escorted him into the taxi. It drove away, and the men put a bag on his head.

Sitting in the darkness, Carl felt overwhelmed. What had he gotten into? Carl felt rage build up. His brother, always useless and getting him into trouble. The anger faded away quickly, being replaced with guilt. Joey could be dying, he needed help.

The car stopped surprisingly soon, and the goons got out. Carl was pulled along with them, and walked into a building, stumbling occasionally. The men patted him down, and removed the gun from his pocket.

“Sinistar wants to talk to you, in person. He told us to give you the tour before, so let’s get moving.” With that, the goons tore the sack off, and Carl blinked in the light.

They started walking down a fairly dirty hallway, walking through a set of guarded doors. They strolled out onto a catwalk above a large, spacious room, nearly the size of a football field. Carl nearly threw up at the sights and smells.

The room was divided into several sections. The nearest one was full of small, partitioned rooms. Men were lining up to enter and…enjoy themselves with a woman. As Carl and the men walked along the catwalk, they passed over another section. In this one, men and women lay sprawled around the room, unmoving in a haze if used needles and pill bottles. The next section had a plastic, apparently soundproof ceiling. In it, people in lab coats were experimenting on others. From the looks of it, no anaesthetic was used.

Carl couldn’t look away, his eyes were locked on each grisly scene. He threw up after passing the final section, and the smell of rotting flesh that wafted from it. How Joey had gotten mixed up in this, he would never know. But Carl understood exactly why Joey had left. This level of hell was violating every principle he had. Anger built up in his chest; righteous fury and the desire to cleanse the place.

The two burly guards pushed Carl forward, through a final set of doors. He entered another chamber, smaller than the previous. It was ornate and spacious, with high ceilings and a throne-like chair at the end.

“Hello there!” A jovial voice called from the throne. A man sat there, in a black bodysuit with a yellow circle on it.

“The money is all here, sir,” a goon replied.

“Fantastic! Well Carl, how do you like the place? Pretty swanky, no?” The man said with a grin.

Carl kept his mouth shut, not trusting himself to speak without shouting in anger at the deranged villain. That would be a mistake, he decided.

“You’re no fun,” the man pouted. “This is boring now. Kill him,”.

“Yes Sinistar.” Both goons grabbed Carl by his arms and dragged him out a side door, into a bloodstained tile room.  

Carl was in shock. Stunned and unmoving. A goon pulled his gun out and –

Carl was calm. Everything was at peace within him, he was going to die, he was going to live no more. Carl knew this, there was no will to live left in him. He thought about his day so far, all the turmoil, all the evil. At that last thought, a great inferno began building inside of him. Carl was angry, far beyond the point of rationality. He had to do something to stop the horrors he had seen. His death couldn’t be for nothing.

Carl suddenly wasn’t in shock. The man had barely moved during his revelation, almost no time had passed. Everything clarified for Carl. Light flashed inside his head, illuminating a map of the building. Every useful bit of information seemed to leap into his head unbidden, a rush of tactical data, filling his head. The weaknesses of the building and it’s inhabitants built themselves in his head in an instant, how to scourge this den of filth permanently. All he had to do was follow the plan. So, Carl acted.

He swiveled and swiped, hitting the gunmans wrist right on a minor fracture. The gunman dropped his weapon, and Carl smoothly caught it, and shot both men in the head. Less than ten seconds had passed since entering the tile room. Carl calmly walked out, analyzing his environment and adapting his plan.

Sinstar looked up in surprise, before the bullet caught him between the eyes. Carl proceeded to sweep through the building. He killed every single person; men, women, and children. When everyone else was dead, Carl attacked two support beams, and collapsed the warehouse. He walked out, limping from a cut to his calf. Getting hurt wasn’t part of the plan, but it was valuable to know he wasn’t infallible.

Carl looked back at the wreckage, and felt the inferno inside of him blaze just as strongly as ever. He decided to move on, to clean up the problems the country faced. America was almost as bad as the place he had left. His mind blazed into crimson light as he decided to clean house.

The Man at Midnight

The man lurked by the alley. He was average in almost every way; medium height, build, and features. The only distinguishing characteristic was hidden under long hair and a hat. The sun had set hours ago, and he became more and more excited with each passing minute.

The man stuck his hand into his pocket and fingered the handle of the knife he kept there. Tonight’s the night, he thought. Weeks of planning, of following, of observing; they all culminated with this night.

The man knew her schedule by heart. On Wednesdays, she walked the eight blocks to her friends house. She stayed there for a few hours, and got home between eleven and twelve at night. Always slightly intoxicated.

The man shuddered in an anticipation, and looked at his watch. Ten minutes until midnight, she would walk by soon. The man had watched her leave the house that day, he knew what she was wearing and how she looked. She looked beautiful, like always. She was the most beautiful woman on earth, in his opinion.

The man stepped away from the entrance of the alley and stretched. As he did, the man turned in a slow circle, checking the street in both directions. Just a few passing cars, and a loud group of guys a block up, the area seemed deserted. He sat on the cold ground next to the entrance, and slouched over.

The man was not particularly well dressed. He was not in rags either, but he could imitate homelessness with the right attitude. The man tried to position himself perfectly, to appear harmless and inconsequential at the same time. The woman was a good person. The man knew this more than anyone else. He had watched her give more than most to those she passed on the sidewalks.

The man checked his watch once more. Four minutes until midnight. Doubts began creeping into his head. Why hasn’t she passed yet? What if she changed her plans? What if something happened to her? The man gripped his knife in anger. If someone hurt her, I swear to God they’ll pay.

The man sat still for a few minutes, imagining the vengeance he would wreak on her assailants. She would surely embrace him then. They would live together for the rest of their days, grow old with each other. He snapped out of the mild trance and returned to his vigil. The man monitored the street, hoping and praying she would come soon. To his thrill, she did.

The man’s heart started to pound. He fingered the knife in his pocket with excitement. The woman approached. 20 feet. 10 feet. 5 feet. The man let out a long low moan. She stopped in front of him. The man kept his head bowed, as she unzipped her purse. She held out a folded bill, and he acted.

The man siezed her outstretched wrist and pulled himself up. She started to speak but he cut her off, unfolding his knife. She dropped her purse.

The man spoke calmly and quietly. He told her to not scream. He didn’t want to hurt the woman, but screaming limited his options. The woman started trembling; shaking like a leaf. The man professed his love to the woman, right there on the street. Naturally, the woman was confused and rejected his feelings.

The man fell to the ground as the woman kicked him in the crotch. She ran away, screaming as loud as she could for help. The woman made a beeline for her apartment, just a scant few blocks away.

The man intercepted the woman before she arrived. He grew angry at her, and hit her. She began to cry, and became even more furious. The man cut the woman with his knife, and then-

The woman grabbed the man’s head. They were still and silent for several minutes. They then broke apart with a gasp. The man looked at the woman, and the woman looked at the man.

The man was gone though. Only the woman remained.