Chapter 4: The Man of Steel?
“It’s The Flash? Did I know we knew The Flash? We know The Flash. OK. I didn’t know we knew The Flash.”
~ Thea Queen (Speedy)
This past week has been crazy.
First, I get in a car crash because I had the audacity to save Dylan from being crushed by a truck. I ended up straining my arm and sitting in the hospital for almost a week because of him. And then Dylan gets away without a scratch. He isn’t even any nicer to me. I mean – you save a guy’s life and how does he repay you? By bullying you even more.
Secondly, that girl Elise Howerton in Oliver Storm’s grade gets kidnapped. Of course, White Lightning saved her, but my dad was convinced it wasn’t the whole story. Elise’s father sold the story to Dash Corp, so I would expect that any day now the terribly exaggerated story of Elise’s kidnapping would be published in the magazines, websites, and papers my father owned.
And then, Oliver Storm and Ian Thompson were kidnapped and held for ransom by some Remedist Extremists. (But, if you asked me, there was nothing extreme about them. All Remedists were just as crazy as those guys if they thought getting rid of the superheroes was a good idea.) And then Delinquent saved them. Delinquent, the girl my father was still trying to sell as a villain. I mean – when you save the Secretary of the State’s son, you’re not really a villain anymore.
It was Monday now though, thank god. The weekend at my house had been horrible. My mother kept bugging me to see if I was alright, and my father kept offering to invite Dylan over. The last thing I needed was his face smirking and laughing at me after a traumatic incident.
At least at school I had friends to hang out with and a way to hide from my family.
I turned around at the sound of my name. Standing under the Freshman Tree was my best friend, Tyler Thorne. He was rebelliously wearing combat boots instead of the uniform dress shoes and his dark hair was crazy and wild, per usual. It was a relief to see such a familiar face.
“So, you survive the weekend with your folks?” Tyler asks.
I shrugged. “As much as I could. All I had to do was barricade my door shut and survive off of old pizza and soda.”
He chuckled. “Yes, because you’d rather hide away than face your folks and tell them what’s really on your mind.”
“Would you do it if my folks were yours? Besides, the last time I tried to tell them how I felt, I got hit by a truck. I think that was a message from the universe to stop trying.”
“At least Dylan also got hit.” Tyler offered.
I scoffed, “No. I pushed him out of the way, for some strange reason. All he got was a couple scrapes and bruises. He was more worried about that green goo from the barrels ruining his nice shirt and hundred dollar shoes. I mean – he didn’t even thank me for saving his ass from being crushed by a truck.”
“Some people are just assholes.”
Ever since we were little, Dylan hated me. His father and mine were the best of friends, so we had to see each other a lot more often than either of us actually wanted to. Like the dinner that Friday when I got hit by that truck instead of him.
I had been fed up with my father’s constant nagging at me to be more like Dylan. I yelled at them and stormed out of the overly expensive restaurant, unknowingly leaving my book inside. Dylan chased after me, book in hand. He taunted me and then ran out into the street. I ran after him, only wanting to get my book back, when I noticed a swerving truck heading straight towards Dylan with no sign of stopping. I made a split second decision and dived at Dylan, pushing him out of the way of the truck while I got most of the impact.
Delinquent and White Lightning showed up soon afterwards. They helped get me out from under the truck’s rubble until the ambulance got there. The Doctors said it was amazing that I didn’t break any bones, except for a couple of ribs, especially since I got hit by a truck. I had to stay in the hospital for a week anyways, just in case.
I had saved my bully’s life. You would think it would make him more sympathetic to me, but no.
Dylan was as much as a jerk as usual. He and his friend, Burke Mathews, were both sophomores who thought they were better than me just because I was a nerdy freshman. I mean – they were freshmen too once, so why did they find it so easy to pick on me?
It was unfair, but, then again, so was life.
By the time we got to chemistry class, I was thinking that maybe I actually could survive another day at Eldredge. Well, until I found out it was lab day.
You see, both Tyler and I were a class ahead of our grade. That meant that we were both in a couple of sophomore classes. Sadly, that meant that we also had classes with Dylan and Bryce.
Lab days were the worst. Dylan and Bryce always found a way to ‘mess up’ their lab and blame us. Sometimes they even made sure whatever destruction was ever made by their destructive lab ended up on us. Like the time when they ‘accidently’ caught my jacket on fire during a lab involving a Bunsen burner.
Long story short, I was not looking forward to the lab.
“Alright, class,” Mr. Tier greeted. “Today we will be experimenting the causes of rusting. You all have your worksheets in front of you, so I expect you to be done by the end of the period. The first group to finish the lab will get a little prize.”
Mr. Tier was probably the most interesting teacher I’ve ever had. He taught chemistry, AP Biology and AP Biochemistry. The rumor was that he had at least five degrees and even spent some time in the rainforest during his summers frpm college. He was the fun teacher, the one that normally understood the students. He was also a bit obsessed with the supers, as most of his students were. Apparently in his AP Biochemistry class they actually got to research the reasons supers exist.
But, for now, I was stuck getting my credit for regular old chemistry.
The lab was honestly simple. Tyler and I were already halfway done when Dylan and Bryce, who were in front of us, had only just figure out which metals they were supposed to be using.
“Mr. Tier?” Dylan asked suddenly about thirty minutes into the lab.
“I think we need a new piece of . . . whatever metal this is. Ours is melted.”
Mr. Tier walked over to their table, confused. When he looked over, he saw the same thing I saw. The piece of metal they had, iron, wasn’t the flat slab it was supposed to be. It was all warped and glowing red.
“Well, that sure is interesting. I could’ve sworn I didn’t leave any of these near the burners. But, there is nothing I can do about it now. Don’t touch the metal, kids, you might burn yourselves. I’ll just go get you some more.”
That was strange. From what I could see, it was only that one piece of metal that was warped, but if it had been in the same box as the others, then wouldn’t all the metals be warped and hot? Besides, how would they have even not noticed the warped metal until now?
“Mr. Dashner, can you please help me reach this top shelf? It seems that I am not tall enough.” Mr. Tier asked.
It was true, I was taller than most freshmen were, but that didn’t give to reason why he chose me to help instead of one of the other sophomores. I walked over anyways, ignoring Dylan’s snickers.
“Now, son, before you get me my metals, I want to alert you that Mr. Danvers over there sneaked something in your jacket pocket.”
I sighed. Of course Dylan would do something, and to my new jacket too. My last one had gotten ruined by the truck crash. At least Mr. Tier wanted to warn me. Now I would know.
“Thank, Mr. Tier.”
He shrugged. “What kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t warn you? Now, my box please.”
I nodded and reached up to the top shelf.
“Now, it might be a little bit heavy.” He warned again.
“I’m not good with heavy, Mr. Tier.”
He tsked, “Nonsense.”
“I’m not really very strong. I’m scrawny, not sporty.”
“I doubt that, son.”
I picked up the box, but Mr. Tier must’ve been wrong. This box was almost weightless. I doubted that there were any heavy metals in here at all. It felt like a box of feathers.
I set it on the counter and he opened it, revealing what should’ve been thirty five pounds of iron.
“See, Mr. Dashner, I had no idea that you were such the strong man. Remind me to call you over next time I need something heavy taken off of that shelf.”
“Yeah, of course.” I answered, walking back to my table a bit confused. I wasn’t strong. In fact, I was about as weak and scrawny as they came. Maybe Mr. Tier had been wrong and there was only like two pounds of iron in there. That still wouldn’t explain how it felt light as a feather, but it was closer.
I took a look at my jacket, which I had left on my chair. The pocket did look like it was filled with something. Not wanting to take any chances, I asked to go to the bathroom.
By the time I got there, I was a bit angry. I mean – of course Dylan had to ruin my new jacket. I couldn’t catch a break.
I placed the pocket under the faucet and turned on the water a bit forcefully. And, what do you know? The handle came clean off.
(I knew the funding for most schools was bad, but this one too?)
I tried the other faucet, getting quite annoyed now, but it came clean off too.
Maybe it was some sort of insane prank or something. I doubted that our private school finding was so low that the bathrooms were this broken. In fact, I never remembered the bathrooms being this easily broken.
I sighed and turned on the next faucet, this time using a little bit less force to turn the handle. This time water actually flowed out of the faucet. Bringing my jacket pocket to flowing water, I prepared for whatever was in it.
What looked brown sludge was washed out of my pocket. I was hoping it was just melted chocolate, and not something atrocious.
When the mystery substance was washed from my jacket, I turned off the running water and clutched the edge of the sink. Of course, my jacket would be unwearable today out in the cold November air. Dylan just had to make it his life mission to ruin my life.
Even when we were kids and he would trip me at lunch, causing me to spill my cafeteria lunch on my white shirt and get laughed at by the school. Or that time when he took my clothes from the boy’s locker room and tied them to the flag pole in middle school. I had to walk out of the school in only a towel in the middle of winter.
Dylan had never even gotten in trouble.
I hated how the world was like that. I mean – why do the good people always get treated badly? Why do the bad people always end up at the top of the food chain?
Adults would always tell you that the tables would turn eventually. The nerds and geeks would be running the businesses and the bullies would end up old drunks. But they forgot to count the bullies whose fathers owned big businesses, or the ones who had too much money to ever be left at the bottom of the food chain.
It was unfair.
I clenched the sink. It wasn’t good to get angry. I didn’t need to let my ‘anger issues’ surface. There was no reason to get angry over something I couldn’t change.
All of a sudden, I felt something break. I opened my eyes and saw the sink still in my hands, but the half I was holding had broken away from the rest of its marble.
Ah, that’s definitely not normal.
I freaked and dropped the marble on the floor. There was no making excuses for what just happened. There was no way it did happen.
I picked up the marble again, surprised to find it weightless in my hands. Marble like this shouldn’t have been weightless though, just like the box full of iron from chemistry class. I shouldn’t have even been able to rip the marble in two, but I did somehow.
I looked on its sides, surprised to find indents in the shape of my grip. Had I caused that?
I attempted to put the marble back where it came from, but it was too broken. I resulted to just leaving the sink right underneath where it was supposed to be. I hoped no one would notice, but if we were being serious, eventually either a janitor or a student would tell someone.
I let out a strangled sigh and ran my hand through my hair. This wasn’t normal. Something was wrong with me. I was a scrawny and skinny child. I was not strong by any accounts.
Had it been the strange green goop that had landed in my clothes off of the Paramount Pharmaceuticals truck? I knew some of those kids who took the medications ended up having powers, but I didn’t have ADD or ADHD. Whatever was in that truck, it must’ve given me powers.
I almost fainted at the revelation.
I remembered Oliver Storm on Friday. He told me to come and talk to him if something strange happened. Did he know that I might get powers from the truck?
All I knew was that something was happening, and I had no idea what it was.