The final hangout, the first time when
It bosted many of planet Aerths national treasures. This includes the tower of Effle, Pisa's tilted tower, Times Square, Statue of liberty, etcetera.
Businessmen, tall and headstrong, marched under levitating houses or boomed through sleek roadways in their swift shiny cars. My city, which was once considered the pinnacle of evolution and ingenuity, was the product of decades of technological reinvention. My home was wrapped under one legendary name; Ripley.
It held the majority of the world's treasures. Such as, but not limited to the Eiffel tower,
A tall, slender two-bedroom house was what I and my mother called home. It hovered over seven-eight-two-three-eight Geronimo Street. In it, was everything else you’d expect to find in a typical house, but it floated about twenty feet in the air. The gaps created under the houses were used as communion areas for the public. The idea was dubbed the “Tyler bent proposition“ after the dummy named Tyler bent who kept getting smacked by cars even when walking on the sidewalk.
I was born and raised there, so call me a Ripley native. I loved it. The marvelous escapades I embarked on, the wonderful three-sunned skies and two mooned nights, the bustling and tall businessmen. My friends and Mother, everything. I was happy there.
I am Ekule, which is pronounced with an emphasis on the Eh, followed by cole, thank you very much. People see me as a short rascal with an affinity for overanalyzing. I see myself as an average, goal-oriented smart guy who’s with chocolate skin. I’ve decided to log my thoughts, actions, and emotions as they occur in this green and white notebook I discovered in the back of my closet when I still lived there.
Every line of hair I have on my body is cobalt blue. I don’t know why, and I don't really care anymore since it's been this color for twelve years now. I spent my formative years prying my mom for answers. Over time our quick discussions accumulated into her giving me the cop-out of an answer that was I was born with a genetic anomaly. She always tried to sell me on the idea of me being human with blue hair.
That’s impossible. I know I’m not human, I’m not stupid. People aren’t just born with blue hair. Even more so, my Mother had milky white hair which stuck out against her black skin. White hair isn’t normal to have either, but no one raised an eyebrow at her, she was a lawyer after all, thus higher on the social hierarchy. She had deep pockets, deep enough to reach the pools of vegas. This was how we were able to afford a stable small house in the illustrious Ripley.
My hair can dull scissors and jam clippers by getting intertwined in them, rendering it uncuttable by conventional standards. It stopped growing once it reached five inches long and as you can imagine, I have a surplus of it on my head, which makes me a communion gesture more often than not. Think of me what you want, just don’t talk to me.
Living life as an only child, and with a mother, I never saw eye to eye, forfeited the idea Video games are something I’m good at, though, so that’s nice.
In school, I feel everyone assumes a pseudo role. There’s the pretty class girl, who never does any of her work. Then some guys try to do it for her. There's the teacher’s pet, who sucks up for good favor, and the weekly dude who gets with the cute girl and consequently gets his theatrical heartbroken. Then there’s everyone else, who’s everyone else. This is why I say I’m analytical because I can quickly understand someone’s personality.
I eventually cultivated my first critical two friendships when I attended my first middle school. They were two personalities named Al and Ty.
Al met me first, rather than me meeting her. She spontaneously asked me to help her with homework one day. I was at the top of my class at the time. This was a common request I usually refused. I fancied Al, though. And I’m pretty sure she was curious about me too. I met up with her after school, and our friendship grew after that. I didn’t know what to say.
She was a short gal who wore dark clothes like black jackets and grey skirts. I remember her being an enjoyable person, but her personality lacked the special pizzaz popular girls had. I don’t believe anybody actually tried to know her. I asked her once about makeup and why she liked it, and her answer was “It’s a pretty complicated question to ask, but I see it as an art form, like dressing up, but on your face.” So I think they’re like video games, but more for girls, maybe.
Ty was taller than both of us. He was a white guy with blond hair so straight it looked like uncooked spaghetti when it wasn’t flipped back with gel. He wore the same uninspired outfit every day: cargo shorts, sandals, and a white or blue T-shirt, and was the type to throw caution to the wind in favor of whatever idea spawned in his mind. Not only was he the class clown, but he was also what’s called a daredevil. In other words, his personality is the opposite of mine.
It was only two, but it’s the best I had, and I was happy with it. Having too many friends is distracting anyway. We hung out after school, per Ty's idea. I didn’t care much for hanging out after school, but it beat sitting at home all day especially when I got bored of video games.
Up until this day, I lived under the assumption that I’d lead a normal life. I would go through school, get a job, buy a car (and insurance), pay rent, or get what’s called a mortgage, and have kids like my Mom.
It was an arid Friday, the type of summer afternoon where you’re hesitant to pull hot the air into your lungs as it burned. School let out for the summer, and I planned on staying up on games per usual.
Ty gave my home phone a ring saying he wanted to hang out. I thought it meant we’d be visiting Ripley plaza, the heart of Ripley. We usually went there. He explained he already met up with Al, and the two of them were waiting for me on the sidewalk not far from my home. I asked him where we’d be going and he told me he found “this really cool spot no one's been”, and that I just had to come with. His idea of “fun” was always alarming to me, but I decided to go with them because I was afraid of missing out. I met them where we usually met, at the shoulder of the sidewalk where the road bent. It was our unspoken rule to meet there.
It was evening on Geronimo street, which provided new golden-lit scenery to me. Mother prohibited me from leaving after the streetlights came on. I only pieced together what I could from the upstairs window and put those parts together in my imagination. That’s how I charted out my neighborhood.
Naturally, I’d be busted if Mom found out and she’d subsequently force me into a suffering lecture about my lack of time management skills. Then I’d have to pull up a chair in front of the kitchen clock and watch it tick by until it was my bedtime. When I was a younger boy, she’d punish me by making me suck on a bar of soap drenched in hot sauce at the slightest utterance of a curse word. Needless to say, she was counterproductively strict. But she didn’t get back from work till near midnight, two hours after my bedtime. I knew I could make it home in time.
Ty led us away from home. Seeing the outside world at this time was wonderful. Slender businessmen dressed in white and black bustled past me on their way home. They seemed headstrong and driven by the success which inspired me. Everyone there in Ripley seemed like they were just trying to find their way, like fish flowing through the ocean.
My mother was like them, she blended in well aside from her white hair. I’m willing to admit that my mother and I lived in two very different worlds, even though we shared the same roof. Omni-corp, the manufacturers of adorable assist-focused robots, did a street release of their new janitorial robot model. They hovered near the ground and swept plastic trash with their mechanical arms.
We came to a split in the road where there were no cars. Ty pointed to the right and started walking that way expecting us to follow suit. We did and kept walking so far it looked like we evacuated Ripley as a whole. There were no floating houses or bending sky-scrapers, just eerie silence and stuffy summer air. We had drifted into an abandoned roadside flanked by expansive yellow fields of tall dead grass.
The road we were on was peculiar to me because most roads in Ripley were made of anti-magnetic metal for future cars to hover on. This one didn’t have any metal in it. Rather, it looked like it was decaying apart with how many cracks it had. Two faded yellow lines were in the center of it, and it felt hot, very hot. I imagine the two yellow lines acted as a divider for two directions of traffic, but I’m not very sure.
We still had time to burn, so we continued on it till it led us to an object I later learned is called an overpass. Just like the road, it looked like nothing I was used to. It was simply a cement shaft sprouting out from the middle of the road like someone giving a thumbs up. It stuck up about forty feet. Compared to the overpass, I was a speck.
Large green vines tightly twisted themselves around revealing how old they were. The steel girders, which were intended as internal support, were peeking out from the cement enclosure. I cautiously entered the yellow fields and analyzed them. The shaft seemed to lean forward about thirty degrees.
Gray chunks of jagged cement larger than myself were scattered about in each field. This told me that it once stood like a capital T with two arms on either side. Once helped people by directing traffic in two ways. But its arms fell off as time went on. We were left with a sad armless chunk of a highway. Sunlight bled through the cracks of what remained.
Furthermore, the rusty brown tractors left behind told me that it was under construction at one point. There was scaffolding off to the side that led up it, but other than that, there were no robots, no businessmen, or cars, just the silhouetted skyscrapers standing before the sun.
It had a menacing and looming figure. Its shadow consumed and hid anything that stepped into it, and its rickety grey mass lingered in about every corner of your eye. If I had your back to it, I could feel its presence, as if it was aware of me. Like it was watching. I thought it to be about one hundred and fifty years old. I decided to ask Ty and Al about it.
“What place is this?” I asked.
“It’s Ripley, but the old Ripley,” Ty said.
“Oh, what are you talking about this time?” Al questioned him.
“Don’t you know that Ripley was literally built on top of another city?” Ty exclaimed.
“Another conspiracy theory I guess?” She added.
“Oh, come on,” he begged. “This is something they don’t teach you in the history books. Before Ripley, there was Champloo city. Then we invaded them and took their land” He said.
“Do tell me more, Ty,” I said.
“You guys never take me seriously,” He said, offended.
“Where did you even learn this?” Al asked.
“Somewhere on the internet, of course,” He said.
“And you believed it?” I asked.
“Well no, not all of it. Just the parts that sounded cool,” he continued.
“I came here for one thing and one thing only,” Al said as she flipped through her sketchbook.
Ripley was the capital of Lafornia, a state that, in its entirety, was prone to earthquakes. Now, it makes sense to me why a construction crew would abandon the site since even a small quake can undo a lot of work. Eventually, scientists created an alloy. The is the combination of two metals, named it Silvermetal. I remember everything in Ripley was made with it since its versatility was unmatched. you can recognize Silvermetal by the apparent very silver gleam it radiates when it’s hit by direct sunlight. By now, I bet all Silvermetal is nonexistent.
As you can imagine, the overpass could easily frighten three small kids like us, but we stayed anyway. We were strong together. We three of us sat down on a red and black checkered tablecloth Al laid out for us and started talking. He eventually told us casually that he was close to transferring out, and wanted this to be one last big hang out. I thought it was foolish but bittersweet. I noticed Al had her arm through the wooden handles of a weaved basket.
“What’s in the basket?” I asked.
“Oh, that right!” She said excitedly. “I forgot about these!” She yelled as she undid the top of the basket.
She then flicked us off the tablecloth with her black painted nails. Ty and I watched as she set up a wonderful picnic for us. She summoned three paper plates and sporks, juice boxes, ham sandwiches wrapped in plastic, and a tub of meatloaf with some asked potatoes mixed in.
“Mom made the sandwiches. The meatloaf and mashed potatoes are just leftovers, though” She said.
“You didn’t have to do all this Alice,” I said, trying to assure her.
“It’s fine, and don’t use my first name,” She demanded.
“Don’t use my first name either,” Tyler yelled impulsively.
“Besides, it’s Ty’s last week, so I kinda had to, right?” She asked with a sweet smile.
“You mean knew before I did?!” I yelled while embarrassed. I hate being left out.
“Ty and I talk over the phone every night,” Al said.
“If you didn’t ignore me so much you’d know too, Ekule,” Ty said.
“Damn, my bad,” I said.
“You just play games all day. That's why I had us come here. To get you out of the house” he said.
“Thanks,” I said.
“Why an overpass, though?” Al asked.
“Oh, that's because one time I bet you I could climb it in under three minutes over the phone,” He said as he sized up the overpass with his hands.
“You can’t,” She asserted.
“Ekule, second opinion?” He asked.
“Keep me out of this,” I told Ty.
“You’re always a stick in the mud,” He uttered.
“Whatever,” I continued.
“I mean why not right? Why not go out with a bang, yeah?” He asked.
“So you want an adventure before you transfer out? One last thrill?” Al Asked.
“Yeah!” He replied with excitement.
“Ty. You can’t climb it,” Al said. She sounded like she was talking down to him. “Literally you cannot. It’s dangerous and insane.” I nodded with her in agreement.
“If you think I can’t, just crush my dreams and say so,” He said under a sad mien.
“It’s not that we think you can’t-” said Al.
“Oh! but I bet you a pack of gum that I can!” Ty interjected.
“Don’t be so impulsive!” I demanded.
“Guys, I’m just playin’. I’m not gonna climb the overpass-” Ty said with a tone that made us sound like we were being overdramatic. “I’ll climb the scaffolding right next to it!” He continued with potent enthusiasm.
“Ugh, there's no convincing you. Go ahead, put your life at risk if you want to!” Al said with aggression.
“I wasn’t asking for your permission, but I’m gonna do it anyway” He continued.
After that, he hopped off the picnic we were having and made his way to the scaffolding off to the side. It had four iron poles on each corner that made it stand. On the inside, there was a platform accompanied by a staircase in the middle that would lead you up and onto the platform suspended above. He was going to follow the stairs till it took him to the top. When he passed the first level, I started to get nervous.
“Maybe we should stop him now?” I asked.
“If he wants to put his life in danger like that, that's on him,” Al said in a dull voice as she watched.
“Well, he’s your friend too, right?” I asked.
“Pretentious morons can get what they deserve,” She said.
Then I stopped talking to her. I didn’t like where that conversation was headed. When Ty was halfway up, she laughed at him, and by the time he reached the top, he was too high up to be seen. Only when he walked over to a ledge and leaned over it was when we could make out his torso and head. He planted his hands at his hips and jutted his chest out. We let him entertain us for a beat.
“It’s like a flat mountain up here! You guys are like ants now,” Ty yelled from the top of the overpass. “It’s the thrill of the craft, you two wouldn’t understand,” He continued.
“I just realized I don’t want to be here anymore,” said Al as she started packing everything up. Okay, Ty, you win. I’m going home now” Said Al as she got up and dusted herself off.
“Not cool Ty. Not cool.” I added.
“Oh, c-come on guys, don’t be like that,” He uttered while looking back and forth. “It’s boring up here anyway, I’m comin’ down now” he continued.
When he found the scaffolding, he started his way down. I thought I felt the soft rumbling of an earthquake originating from under the tablecloth. For a moment I questioned if three was an authentic earthquake happening. But then I thought there was no way an earthquake would happen. Not then, not there. Not while Ty was atop of the dilapidated overpass. So, I naturally chalked it up to my imagination. Then the road shook me adamantly, as if it was sentient, and trying to contradict me. Al sprung around and looked me in the eyes. She was terrified, and that was when I knew.
“Al, we’re in the midst of an earthquake,” I said, terrified and matter of fact.
She didn’t give me a response. Instead, an unnervingly moment of silence drifted by where we waited for the earth to make another move. We were waiting for further confirmation, so Al and I could both realize what was happening.
Waiting tired me, it stressed me out too. We accomplished nothing by just standing there. It was best to get Ty down as fast and as safe as possible. So I swelled my chest with hot summer air and pleaded with Ty to come down, but I was interrupted partway through by the sound of a thick twiggy metallic snap, and the overpass beginning to slump on itself. The I-beams split from inside two from the inner bowels of the shaft.
“Al,” I said as if trying to wake her up.
“What?” She asked in a matter-of-fact tone.
“We have to go,” I told her.
“Yeah, I guess we should go,” she said mindlessly.
The small distance between Al and I ripped open like a yawning mouth. A deep crevice exposed steaming layers of earth as the road split itself. I later learned we lived near two tectonic plates, and at that moment, they decided to abruptly divorce.
I peaked my head above the trench and curiously gazed down into the abyssal crevice. The earth gusted me with its blistering breath. Hot air opened my pores as it blew past me. The plunging crevice was deep enough to inner plates below us. The constantly shifting orange and brown rock resembled the look of peanut butter being ground up.
Al was tossed to the ground on the opposite side of the crevice. I backed up a few feet and ran as fast as I could towards it, and for some reason, leaped over the terrifying crevice. I imagine, when I saw my friend in peril, I completely forgot about myself and my safety. If I didn’t clear the gap, it would have been an agonizing death in the jaws of our planet Aerth. I landed in front of her, then the road shook me again, tossing us to the ground again. I fell over her stomach.
“Get off me!” She demanded.
“An earthquake is happening! That’s why I was saying we need to go,” I exclaimed.
“I know, so get off me!” She yelled as she shoved me off.
She hastily pushed me off her, but I brushed it off. We found our balance shortly after. We could deal with the shaking road as we weren’t close to the split anymore. The recurring problem was Ty, and how to get him down.
I studied the overpass. It had a conspicuous yet subtle sway to it now. The sudden earthquake had ripped the shaft from its “last legs”. Loads of jagged cement launched themselves at us like throwing knives. I covered Al by curling my body over her and shielded her from the shards with my back. The shards stabbed themselves into my back but it didn’t hurt. They just ripped through the back of my school shirt.
Ty, still atop, reached the scaffolding but as soon as he seemed to put any pressure on it, It shattered. I felt something warm on my back, which brought me back to the light. I spun around and found out it was Al’s.
“Let's just go.” She said.
“And what about what about Ty?” I asked.
“Not our problem,” she said.
“But he’s a friend,” I rebutted.
“Oh well,” She said.
“If we go back,” She wondered as she turned around and estimated. “Say, two hundred feet, we’ll be close to your house, and in an open area.”
“Well?” She said while waiting for an answer.
“I-dunno…,” I said while thinking to myself.
“Ty’s-my bro,” I said.
“Suit yourself,” she said, then scoffed after.
She started down the road and stopped in the opening behind us. This was my final moment to convince Ty to find some way down.
“Ty, climb down!” I pleaded.
“Just leave!” Her voice echoed far from behind me.
Then there was nothing. No rumbles. No cries. Everything and every one was drowned out. Another moment of silence where the rumbles stopped. Ty was launched off the overpass as it fell apart climatically. He was plunging forward, and twirling wildly. Watching him tumble helplessly, was what triggered the activation of my powers for the first time. I didn’t learn this at the time, but my eyes changed color and started radiating cobalt blue light.
I could then understand what it is like to be the fastest thing alive. Ty’s descent slowed, as did the shaking. Even the air froze as my body glided through it. A powerful sensation surged from the farthest corner of my being. A power, of sorts. Bodily energy instilled me with confidence that not only was my body capable of saving Ty, but it had to. I was the one who had to direct it like the driver of a car.
For once, I stopped relying on my brain and followed this new sensation emanating from my heart. I jumped off the street, and it was like I was weightless. One hop, one tiny exertion from my legs against the ground, launched me into the air like a bottle rocket. I landed at the foot of the overpass, right below Ty. A bout of energy ricocheted around in my stomach, then my arms and legs, dispersed themselves evenly throughout my body like a warm ocean wave, greatly augmenting my physical capabilities.
I leaped up, with very little effort, and snatched Ty out of the air by his shirt. I landed gracefully with Ty tightly wrapped in my arms. Time resumed and though the rumbles persisted, they were less significant as I secured Ty from mid-air.
That isn’t my only power. Not only was I stronger and could move faster, but I remember thinking faster too. I was intellectually enlightened. My powers are likely the cause of the heightened intellect I had back then. Even before that day, complex questions can be deciphered in my mind instantly.
Seeing as this isn’t a typical trait for a human, especially for someone my age, I’d say it’s a passive trait gifted to me by my powers, which I will now call The Blue Iris. Not simply because it changes my eye color to blue, but because it’s also the name of a flower I like.
Ty was astonished, which is to be assumed. What I did was unprecedented, and broke the rules of reality humans are forced to follow. It seemed to break his feeble human mind since he could not articulate a sentence for a beat. He sat there, sweating and staring at his shaky hands uttering half words and obscenities.
Finally, he spoke.
“How’d you do that?” he asked with vehement curiosity.
“I don’t have any idea. I just felt this energy” I bluntly answered.
“I think I’m going to be sick…” He confessed as he covered his puffed cheeks with his hand. The subtle shaking was probably inflicting some mild seasickness on him because he hurled on the side of the road after saying that.
“We’re going to be alright, bro,” I told him while rubbing his back in support.
The shifting plates were still pinching the bottom of the underpass, causing the portion submerged under the road to expose itself. By the time I noticed, It already sprung up from under the road and began to lead forward. Its cold shadow stretched over us as it rose.
I locked my eyes shut and threw my arms above my head. I assumed that the overpass was eventually going to erupt from under the road and crush us. I was sure I could halt its fall with my powers. I was confident in myself, which in retrospect, was extremely arrogant and foolish. I regret not swooping up Ty and running to an open area.
What remained of the overpass dumped its immeasurable weight onto me. Sharp corners of the cement gnawed the palm of my hands. The weight of the overpass plunged my ankles into the street. My back muscles and arms felt locked up as they surged with blue energy.
My body went numb, and I didn’t notice the pressure anymore. I overcame the overpass’s immeasurable weight. I hoisted it into the adjacent field. Then turned to Ty, who was already staring at me, with Al quickly approaching.
“Hello there,” I said, embracing Al.
The two of them studied me up and down like a spectacle.
“Are you alright?!” She asked inquisitively.
“I’m okay,” Ty said.
“I was asking Ekule,” She told him.
“Oh chill, you know, just chillin’,” I said.
“You just lifted part of an overpass.” She said as she pointed a curious finger at me while making a curious face.
“I know,” I told them. I wanted to downplay things because I honestly-wasn’t sure how to react.
“Should I call an ambulance?” Ty asked.
“I feel fine guys,” I said as I jiggled cement out of my sleeves.
“Hold up-lemme see your hands,” She excitedly demanded. The way they looked at me made me feel like I was in the spotlight, which I don’t like because it makes me feel uncomfortable.
“Yeah, let us see them,” Ty said.
Al grabbed my hands and flipped them over.
“Oh wow,” She uttered.
“You need to understand my personal space,” I told her.
“But look at your hands,” She said.
“That’s blue blood, the same color as your hair!” She added.
“You’re not human?” She asked.
“And his eyes, Alice,” Ty said excitedly.
“I just wanted everybody to be okay,” I added.
“So, what happens next though?” Al Asked.
“This place is gonna be swarming with the news, so I think it’s best if we all head home now,” I said
“Good idea,” the two of them said in agreement.
“But let’s all have a group chat about this tonight,” said Ty.
We nodded in agreement and subsequently headed back home as a group. We wandered down the path we came from until we were met by the intersection. Al decided to split up, and Ty found continued forwards. I decided to go home via the backroads. The backroads were underground tunnels that were discovered. The hot air cooled down like metal after being smelted.
Every news station in Ripley leaped at the opportunity of broadcasting what happened on every T.V. as if hungry scavengers over a carcass. Portly white news vans zoomed past me pulling leaves and twigs in the wind current that followed. zoomed above me, pulling leaves past me back in the opposite direction. They hovered with shining searchlights poised on the overpass. with the three of us split down different roads in the dead of night. and blew my hair back as they did. I felt like I escaped a civil war unscathed.
I pressed on nonchalantly, trying to ignore the advancing news stations for about thirty minutes. Eventually, I thought I heard the soft pitter-patter of someone running up from behind me. I assumed they were an interviewer, and spun around aggressively, ready to berate them. I just wanted to be left alone. I’m still a normal kid. I didn’t want attention.
It was Al who was following me. Her clear white skin was drenched in sweat like a condensing water bottle. She must have been trailing me for a while, and when she saw me entering the backroads, she decided to close the distance. If I knew myself like how I do now, I would have detected her from yards away.
“Can you leave me alone?” I asked.
“I just wanted to come to ask you-”
“What?” I interjected. “What are you going to ask? Nothing has changed,” I told her.
“But I need to know! Just how long did you plan on keeping these powers from us?” She asked. It annoyed me hearing this question. I wasn't keeping my abilities from anyone, I didn’t even know I had this ability.
“I never knew I had these powers in the first place, Al,” I told her.
“And what are you going to do about them? Are you gonna try to find out more about yourself?” She asked.
“No. I like my life the way it is, thanks. I’m just some kid, nothing special. I’m just gonna go home, sleep, wake up, and move on with my life.
“But aren’t you curious?!”
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have superpowers. I’m not some real-life comic-book superhero you think I am. I don’t know what happened today, I don’t know where the overpass was. I don’t know you or Ty, Nothings changed, It’s over Alice, I’m normal,” I asserted. She gave me a wide-eyed and sensitive look as if I offended her. I didn’t care at all. She should have been more sensitive to what had just happened to me, not act like I’m this marvelous spectacle.
“What about your mom?” She asked coyly.
“What about her?”
“I mean, what if she finds out, or...”
“That’s simple, she won’t,” I said as I turned around and left.
Eventually, I found Geronimo street and stood in front of the skinny yellow house with blue windows I called home. It was later than I expected, and I didn’t and still don’t own a smartphone, so I didn’t know what time it was. I cursed to myself, as I already knew how late it was.
My heart sank faster than an anchor when I saw my mom’s car parked, though. I knew that once I stepped out of the teleporter room, she’d be on the other side armed with a condescending lecture so pristine you’d assume she read it off a script for hours. That is to say, if she didn’t already know, she always had a knack for deciphering if I had done something bad or not. It was like she could see the future.
The teleporters outside each of our houses were built into a cramped white room. Mom once told me that they were modeled after these old things called “telephone booths”. To think humans had booths just for telephones is baffling to me. I do suppose humans are due for some credit, they did build Ripley. When it existed, it was the biggest city in the world.
I remember there always being this small black camera hanging down from the top left corner of the teleporter room. Once it scanned me down, a sharp twinning sound emanated from under the tile floors, then the room subsequently beamed me inside my home. I stepped out of the responder room that was adjacent next to the open pantry filled with chips. I took a silent step, rolling my feet, deeper into the living room. Closing the pantry door, was my furious mother.
She had always been a strict parent. Someone who bosses me around with a firm voice. Mom told me things I didn’t want to hear, like how I was gaining weight for my age. Her words cut deep like razor blades. Her being an accomplished lawyer enabled her to ascertain whether I was being honest or not almost instantly. And with her tall and powerful stature complete with broad shoulders, she was not someone I enjoyed angering. She made her mistakes when I was a kid, but I understand now where she was coming from. I truly love my mother though. She worked three jobs for me. Lawyer, Mother, and Father. I think she did her damnedest.
“Hello mister, where have you been?” Mother probed aggressively as she slammed the pantry shut.
“Out,” I mumbled, turning towards my bedroom.
“You will look at me when I’m talking to you,” She demanded.
I felt our floors vibrate as she stomped after me. I avoided these situations the most. The ones where I’m being lectured. I’m the smarter one. She grabbed my wrist and twisted it till the pain forced me under her will.
“Are you serious? Ditch the attitude!”
“I don’t got an attitude! I got stuff to do!” I yelled.
“You’re supposed to be back before the streetlights turn on! Where were you?”
“Library,” I uttered.
“If you’re going to lie to me, it better not be like that, especially for someone smart like you,” She told me
“Just let me explain.”
“No Ekule! I told you you need to come home when the streetlights come on!”
She jolted me in closer.
“And what's all this crap on your face? Is this cement in your hair?” She asked while pinching a pebble of cement out of my hair.
“Get your ass in the shower! You stink too,” She said as she pinched her nose shut and shoved me to the bathroom at the end of the hallway.
I didn’t respond to her as she did. I didn’t know what to say, but I always hated the way my mother spoke to me. Mom pissed me off, but I was still terrified by her when she got like that.
I stood in the middle of the bathtub with steaming hot water spouting out and cascading off my chubby body. I was enveloped in rage. Why do I have to come home to this, after the day I had? was what I was questioning.
When I finished drying off, I re-entered the living room, where I could smell the aroma of savory popcorn mom made. She was crunching on it from the couch to my left, a typical act she did when the news came on. Mom’s homemade popcorn could beat any store-bought brand. Corals, butter, salt, vegetable oil, and a spit of water was the recipe. Mix it all in a microwaveable bowl and that was it. The smell of popcorn always puts me in a nostalgic state. It’s what brings me close to her memory.
The kind and confident voice coming from the T.V. was reporting the earthquake and the subsequent collapse of the overpass. I was still in the bathroom, if I wanted to make it into my room without another confrontation with her, I would need to sneak through the darkroom lit solely by the T.V.
I took one step, and when the overpass was mentioned by the lady, it set in. The emotion, the realization of what I experienced. I knew what happened, but was trying not to acknowledge it. I was frozen, mid-step in the hallway.
“Instead of playing games all night, come and join me?” She said. Hearing this made me go cold. She detected me. Of course, she did, she heard the shower turn off and the door opening. But I used to think I was slick. She was always three steps ahead. Faced with no options, I sat near her, but not next to her.
I sat with her and watched the news. The fallen overpass was showered in the spotlight from a camera mounted on a helicopter. Almost nothing left, just simple chunks of cement in the yellow fields. I truly realized what happened to the overpass, how I saved Ty and Al, life, and how I thought I could smoothly continue life as is afterward. She looked at me. She could see it on my face.
Externally, I looked like a middle schooler watching the news, but Internally I was dumbfounded, and even more, terrified. The news lady reported a fabricated story, filled with real events, and events that never happened. I was waiting anxiously, for the moment where she mentioned our involvement. She droned on about the earthquake my friends and I were never mentioned.
“Are you telling me another fib? What’s up with you today?” In a calming, yet direct tone. I got the feeling that she wanted me to tell her, but she didn’t want to frighten me.
She pointed at the Television.
“You know that happened earlier today right?”
“I do not,” I told her.
“Whatever,” She sighed dismissively, then continued watching. The lengthy program finished, and I left for my room. I just wanted to end the day. As I walked down the hallway, I felt the glare of my moms’ eyes burning a hole in the back of my head.
“Hold on, mister. Let me see your face again,” She demanded.
She flipped the lights on and sternly pointed near her toes. I came to her, and she pulled my cheeks out and stared deep into my eyes like she was scanning them. I don’t think she was looking at my eyes, instead, she was searching for something beneath them. Something in my biology that might have changed.
I gazed in at her brown pupils too. In fact, I had no choice. I couldn’t pull my eyes from her. She froze me in an intense gaze. I hated being forced to stare at her for so long, eye contact makes me uncomfortable. Then, I felt like I was stepping out of my own body. I woke up in an open wide open room, large enough to fit a house, with a glass floor and populated by nothing but white light. Then I snapped out of it. I still don’t know what this was. I simply call it, the abyss.
“Jesus Christ, and to think this would be the day,” She said while putting her palm on her forehead. She squinted her eyes and it almost looked like he had a headache. “You found out today, didn’t you?”
Based on her response, she did the same to me, but instead, she stepped into a blue abyss. I don’t know how big it was, or how you can induce this state.
“I found out nothing,” I asserted.
“It’s alright, everything is okay,” She told me in a calm voice, as if trying to comfort me.
“It was the earthquake, right? You felt scared yeah?” She seldom talked this kindly, so I knew she was trying to lure me into telling her more. I didn’t want to acknowledge what happened, and if I was, I definitely wouldn’t discuss it with anyone. Especially not Matilda. On top of that, I was still in a trance-like state, not even able to talk.
Her eyes popped open as if remembering this, She glanced at me once more, setting me free.
“I knew it,” She uttered.
“What did you just do to me?” I asked. It felt violated by her did, even though I was not entirely sure what she did. I know she stepped around my physical form, and looked deeper.
“Ascertaining,” She said confidently.
“I thought I saw it earlier, but I wasn’t sure.”
“Saw what?” I asked.
“You. You have changed. You’ve taken your first steps into who you are. There is much to talk about, Ekule,” She said as she welcomed me into the dining room. I ignored her and in spite, and angrily stepped into my room.
“It’s no big deal!” I screamed from inside. A moment of silence drifted by, but I know she heard me.
“You know you can act like this doesn’t change anything, you can act like things are the same, but there won’t be any going back here. Whether you like it or not,” She asserted.
She sounded matter-of-fact as if what she was saying was definite. Serious, and lacking emotion behind it, like that of a robot. At a moment’s notice, her voice boomed closer. Somehow mother was a few inches in front of my door rather than the kitchen. I could hear her walking usually, and I could even tell her mood by how carefully she closed cabinets. But that night, I was sure she made no noise.
I took a peek at the light under the door. Usually, I could tell if someone was on the other side by the shadow of their legs, but her legs seemed to be casting no shadow.
From the other side, Mother relayed information to me. She told me that we were not, in fact, human. She told me that I was born with brown hair and brown eyes like a normal human, but it fell out when I turned two bald and started growing blue hair after that. My hair stopped growing when I reached eight years old, and it's virtually uncuttable. Our eyes shine the same color our blood is.
My mother, and I, belong to an entirely different being. We’re a species whose Iris and hair color is always brown at birth but changes in color and apparently radiates light when our powers are summoned during a flight-or-fight conflict. When we calm down, our eyes revert to brown, but our hair stays the same.
“How do you know this,” I asked.
“I am your mother,” She said.
I didn’t reply. Instead, I rolled over towards the wall and tried to sleep. Naturally, I couldn’t. The concept of me not being human bounced around in my head the entire night. I already knew, but this was confirmation, which was significantly more impactful. When I turned back over, Mother was on the other side of my bed. I would have heard the door, and she never entered without knocking as I was getting at that age. She startled me initially, then pinched my cheeks and kissed my forehead then wrapped me in a warm, cozy blanket burrito.
I love my mother. I miss her.
“Goodnight,” She told me.
“Ninite,” I replied happily.
I realize now that I have an infallible recall. This memory is especially vivid. I can pull any experience no matter the size from the back of my mind in great detail. This must be a passive of my Blue Iris.
That is everything I can remember from the time I discovered my first two powers: Super strength, and agility. It happened two years ago when I was Ten. I’ve decided to log this in my journal today because should someone read this, they’ll know when and where my powers awakened. During my last years in Ripley, I decided to practice my powers under the dark cloak of the backroads when I had time after school or during weekends