Chapter 6: The truth about heroes
“I am Groot”
It was Tuesday afternoon when I finally caught up with Oliver Storm.
You see on Monday I was still freaking out, so I did not contact Oliver. This morning I was still in shock, so I did nothing. It was only after school that I was able to gather up the nerve to go and see if Oliver could keep his promise that he would help if anything weird happened after the accident. I didn’t know what some popular junior could do to help me with whatever was happening, but I hoped it was good.
“Umm . . . Oliver?” I asked, catching up with him outside after school.
He turned around, surprise on his face. “Yeah? You need anything, Aden?”
Wow, I’m surprised he remembered my name.
“Actually, yes. You remember how you said to come to you if anything out of the ordinary happened after the accident? Well, something kind of happened.”
He narrowed his eyes, curious. “What kind of thing happened?”
“Well,” I paused, trying to think of a good way to say the truth without sounding crazy, “You know how the administrators are trying to find out the kid who broke the sink in the boy’s bathroom? Well, it was me.”
Oliver’s face fell. “Look, Aden, when I told you that you could come to me if something strange happened after your accident, I didn’t mean if you got angry and smashed a sink with something heavy-“
“That’s the thing.” I cut him off. “I did it with my bare hands. Do I look like the kind of kid who can break a sink in two with his bare hands?”
Oliver suddenly got interested again. His eyes brightened and he looked me over. “Has anything else like this happened since the accident?”
“Well, I carried a forty pound box like it weighed nothing. I also accidently broke my mother’s favorite statue on the front lawn. I kind of was testing my own strength and punched it in two. She thinks some burglar broke it for fun.”
“I think I have something to show you. Would you mind coming back to my work with me? There’s something I have that I think might help you out.” Oliver offered.
“Really? You know what’s happening? You aren’t just pranking me?”
He chuckled, “No, I am not pranking you. C’mon.”
We walked over to his car, which was in the senior parking lot. Oliver might not have been a senior, but everyone treated him like one. Normally any car in the senior parking lot not belonging to a senior would be egged, but not Oliver’s.
His car wasn’t expensive, like most in the lot, but it wasn’t trashy. It looked just like another random car you’d see in the DC traffic, nothing flashy or memorable.
We got in and he started driving. I was confused because he was heading towards the eastern parts of DC, which were not exactly what you would call the rich neighborhoods. In fact, that was one of the worst parts of DC, why would an Eldredge kid be going in the opposite direction of his patron rich neighborhoods?
“Why are we heading towards East DC?”
“I said we were going to my workplace, which just happens to be right below the apartment building in which I live.”
“You live in southeast DC?”
“Yes. I am a scholarship kid, if you must know. Full ride to Eldredge Academy. My place of work is the Comic Book Shop, which isn’t too bad if I had to say so myself.”
I was in shock again. Oliver Storm was not a rich kid with influential parents. He was dirt poor. There weren’t many families in these parts of DC who weren’t dirt poor, or at least around the poverty line, unless they were drug lords or something like that. Oliver certainly didn’t look like he lived in the rough parts of DC. In fact, he looked like a stereotypical rich kid. Blonde hair, blue eyes, white teeth, cocky smile, and laid back attitude. But now that I knew, it was easier to spot the inconsistencies. His uniform was not pleated like most were, with a hole in the collar and a stain on the edge of the pant leg. His dress shoes were shiny, but were worn. His hair also wasn’t full of expensive products.
“I don’t know why everyone always gets surprised when I tell them I’m a scholarship kid. I mean – everyone already knows I’m smart. Besides, why should it even matter if I’m the son of an aristocrat or not? All that should matter is my character.”
No wonder Oliver was so nice. He was showing people the kindness he thought everyone deserved. Living in the bad part of town, he must’ve known how it felt to have nothing and be helpless.
The nicest kids always turned out to have not so nice life’s. What better reason to be nice to people than to give the gratitude to others that you never got?
I looked out the window and nearly had a panic attack. I remembered from the news that when Captain Impossible died, his identity was discovered. He had been Daniel Jackson, owner of this very shop. It was why everyone was all over Oliver after Captain Impossible’s death. He had worked for the former hero at this place.
Maybe Oliver knew of some of Captain Impossible’s old things that would help me understand.
He opened the door and walked inside. The man behind the counter perked up at the sound of the door opening, eyes brightening at the sight of Oliver.
“Hey, dude. You here to relief me of my shift?”
Oliver shook his head. “Not yet, Eric. I’m here to show my friend Aden the Man Cave.”
Eric almost fell out of his seat in surprise.
“What? But, he’s not . . . are you sure? Can we trust him?”
“Alright.” Eric agreed doubtfully, sitting back down on his seat behind the counter.
Oliver led me around the back of the shop until we reached a door labeled, STORAGE.
“Alright, are we goanna talk about that strange encounter back there?” I asked.
I sighed. I was starting to get suspicious. What secret was Oliver entrusting me with?
Oliver turned to me, expression serious. “Aden, what I am about to show you is top secret. The only other person alive who knows what I am about to tell you is Eric out there. You can never tell anyone, not even your diary. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, but what is it that I have to . . .”
I stopped when I saw what Oliver did. Past the storage room, there was a button. Oliver had pressed it, revealing a set of stairs going down.
Definitely not your normal installation in comic book shops.
I followed Oliver down the stairs. He opened one final door and I gasped.
We had arrived in a room as large as half a football field. Computer monitors filled up one wall, filled with numbers and information on super villains. Another wall was covered with training equipment and weapons. The third wall was displaying an empty mannequin. I must’ve been staring with mouth wide open for a long time, because it was seriously awesome.
I turned back to Oliver, but he had disappeared.
“How do you like it?”
I turned to the sound of the deep voice. Standing in front of me was the notorious White Lightning. In his white and silver suit, he stood threatening.
“I . . . uh . . . I didn’t mean to intrude, White Lightning . . . uh . . . sir?”
Where had Oliver gone? He had shown me White Lightning and Captain Impossible’s lair, hadn’t he? And now he had abandoned me to deal with White Lighting on my own. Great.
White Lightning suddenly chuckled and reached for his mask. He pulled it off and I was met with straw blonde hair and a cocky smile.
“That was way too much fun. Did you see your face?” The deep voice was gone, replaced with the light tone of Oliver Storm.
He smiled. “Sorry about the scare. I’ve always wanted to do that. Allow me to reintroduce myself. Oliver Storm, part-time superhero White Lightning.”
I opened and closed my mouth like a fish out of water. I must’ve been dreaming. White Lightning was Oliver Storm.
Now it all made sense. Oliver’s nice attitude, his willingness to help me after the accident, how he knew about the secret lair. Hell, he even worked for Captain Impossible both while being himself and his alter ego.
“My mind just exploded.”
Oliver chuckled. “I would expect that to happen. It’s not every day that you meet a superhero.”
“But, why would you tell me?”
He shrugged. “I have reason to believe that you were affected by the solution from the Paramount Pharmaceuticals truck that crashed into you. I think it gave you super strength.”
I doubled back. “What? Me? You think I’m a super?”
He smirked. “Yes, heads up.”
He pointed his hand up to the ceiling and a flash of lightning flew out of it. It hit something above my head, which started to fall on me. Instinct took over and I lifted my hands.
The object fell, but I caught it with my hands. It must’ve been huge gaging by the shadow it casted on the floor, but it weighed only like thirty pounds to me. I slowly extended my arms and lifted the object over my head. With some effort, I threw it on the other side of the room.
It was a car.
I just lifted a freaking car.
Oliver smiled. “I love being right.”
“I just lifted a car over my head.”
“It felt like it weighed only forty pounds.”
“You dropped the car on my head.”
“You just tried to kill me.”
Oliver shrugged. “I knew it wouldn’t kill you.”
“Remember? I said I suspected you had super strength from the accident. With time I think you’ll be even stronger than that, Aden.”
I narrowed my eyes.
“Suspected? What would’ve happened if I couldn’t lift the car?”
“I would’ve blasted it out of the way before it crushed you, trust me.”
I crossed my arms, “What were the odds you were right about my powers?”
“It was about seventy thirty.”
“And which odds were on the side of you being right?
He coughed, “Umm, let’s not go into detail, shall we not?”
I was still a bit in shock, so I barely registered the fact that Oliver almost killed me on a hunch.
“I have a proposition for you now, Aden. How would you like to be my sidekick?”
I was taken aback. Oliver Storm, White Lightning, just offered me apposition as his sidekick.
“I . . . I just found out about my powers and you expect me to be a sidekick? Don’t you think I’m a bit underqualified?”
“Maybe, but sidekicks exists for a reason. You can learn how to be a hero without actually having to be one. You can expand your abilities while under the wing of a fully-fledged hero. I don’t need you to be experienced, I need you to be ready. Ready to learn how to save the world.”
“You’re serious?” I asked questioningly.
I just found out I was a super, something I wanted to be since I was a kid. I also just found out that I knew White Lightning, the most popular boy at Eldredge Academy who was underprivileged and definitely the nicest guy you’d ever meet. And now this hero wanted me to be his sidekick.
If you would’ve told me two weeks ago that saving Dylan from being hit by that truck would put me in this position, I would do it all over again. For one time since that incident, I wasn’t thinking of going back to change things.
Something good came out of that accident after all it seems.
“Yes, of course I’m serious.”
I nodded. “Then, yes. I’ll be your sidekick.”
A sudden noise interrupted the moment. By the door stood a girl dressed head to toe in black. She had appeared in a puff of purple smoke, which was already disappearing.
“Hello, boys. I’m so glad I could make it to the occasion.” Delinquent smiled.