This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Pain radiated from my muscles as I jolted awake, the fading echoes of my own screams desecrating my ears. I could feel the sweat running down my forehead, my hand subconsciously moving to wipe it away before it could mutilate my eyes. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins, making me shake involuntarily as my eyes flicked around the room for any signs of movement. As I began to calm down I realised I was back in my bedroom and away from the laboratory which presented the landscape of my nightmares. The messy clothes hanging over every surface and the comfortable bed contrasted heavily to the sterility and cleanliness of the laboratory along with the cool solidity of the metal operating table I had been lying on in my nightmare.
I focused on calming my body before I sat up, trying to make out any detail possible, but alas, it was to no avail. Instinctively, I reached for the bedside table to feel for the familiar shape of my glasses, my fingertips found the aid quickly and I placed it on my face. I blinked a few times to help my eyes adjust, and soon enough I was able to see the clean-cut lines of my desk and the door. It was clear to me that Sleep would not take me by it’s strong grip again tonight.
A hot chocolate, that would surely help me calm down enough to sleep again. It always does. I got out of bed, finding a pair of track pants before walking on the cool floorboards and into the kitchen. Methodically, I got out a mug, hot chocolate mix and milk from the fridge, calmly making a hot chocolate before migrating to the lounge room for some late night television. The screen took it’s sweet time to wake up, flickering to life and showing immediate vision of a late night battle between a superhero and a supervillain. It would be too simple to say that it was a television show, but this was real life. A live broadcast if you will.
“As we can see here, Ghost is locked in a tight battle with a new villain calling herself ‘Trickster’. From what I have seen so far, she seems to be displaying powers of telekinesis, which could very well mean that telepathy is on her side.” Karen, the brilliant journalist who focuses her entire life on heroes, stated. She got about as much sleep as the Supers, maybe even less, due to her commentary on every battle she can get herself to, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You can’t deny her passion.
You also can’t deny her assumption of Trickster’s powers, telekinesis and telepathy are usually a combined package, even though there are only an extreme few that have those abilities. In this city of Dimeran there are only two I am aware of, Mindbender, who is a retired hero, and now this Trickster girl. She seemed to be in her early twenties, with her skin tight cropped top and leggings displaying grey and pink colouration as a grey mask hid her identity from the world.
Ghost had a different description altogether, he was aged at nineteen, a strong built body behind a dark grey, almost black, spandex costume. Most hero costumes consisted of dark colours, due to the colours being harder to see during a night raid. Ghost didn’t really need to worry about that though, his own powers consisting of teleportation and invisibility, providing constant stealth when wanted and a quick getaway no matter the situation.
The battle soon ended, Trickster running away from the fight, before Ghost gave a quick speech to Karen, summarising her powers and fighting capabilities leading up to his quick disappearance from the scene. He flickered back into view directly in front of me, jumping as he saw me sitting on the couch with the same expression as a zombie.
“What the hell are you doing up at this hour?” he asked me, I sipped some more of my hot chocolate before I took the liberty of answering.
“Could ask you the same question, Ghost.” I mocked his alias, he laughed as he took his cowl off. Everyone in this city knows him only by that title, whereas I know him as Grant Gold. Best friend since high school, and partner in justice fighting since the before that.
“Well, I was saving lives… and you’re drinking hot chocolate.” He responded, teleporting out of vision again before coming back a few seconds later in track pants and a shirt.
“Isn’t that the usual?” I questioned rhetorically, simply continuing on the conversation from before. This had become the norm for us since moving in together three months ago.
“I suppose so.” He answered, dropping next to me on the couch, I looked at his face and spotted a bruise forming on his cheek. I decided on bringing it up without actually bringing it up.
“So… that one took a while. What kind of training do you think she’s got?” I queried.
“Definitely Judo, possibly karate. I don’t know actually, but she really packed a punch.” He answered, rubbing his shoulder before gingerly touching his cheek. I looked back to the television to see the aftermath of Trickster’s work, there was rubble everywhere from the shattered side of a building, probably from the use of her mind. I wish I could have helped, I would do anything to get back in the game. “Do you miss it?” Grant asked just as I thought of it. I swear that he has telepathy sometimes.
“How could I miss getting beat up all the time? My life has been a lot calmer without having to deal with all of that hero bullsh-”
“Don’t swear!” Grant cut me off. I suppose I still hadn’t gotten used to that yet. “And your life isn’t calmer, it’s boring. You miss it.”
“I do not miss it. You just got your ass handed to you, I definitely don’t miss that.” I laughed, thinking he would leave the subject alone.
“Jett, you miss it, quit lying.” He smiled at me, but I had suddenly lost the humour in the conversation. The reality of my situation was hitting me like a nuclear bomb.
And to think I was finally possibly over it...
“Well, I couldn’t get back into it if I tried.” I stated my predicament, staring into my half-empty mug.
“Jett…” he tried to get my attention as I drank the rest of the hot chocolate in one go. “Jethro, you know I didn’t mean it like that.”
“I know,” I replied quietly, then leaving us sitting in an awkward silence.
“Alright, well, I think I’m gonna go to bed. I mean, University tomorrow… or today… or whatever.” Grant stated awkwardly, standing up from the couch.
“Technically today, but we’ll say tomorrow to make ourselves feel better,” I responded, standing up also and starting the trek to the kitchen.
“Okay, well goodnight then.” He said quickly before he started walking to his bedroom.
“Night,” I replied, rinsing out my cup before shoving it in the dishwasher. I then went back to my bedroom, closing the door behind me and crawling onto my bed. I took my glasses off and got underneath the covers, trying not to think of the nightmares that would be awaiting me when I fall asleep. Bringing up the topic of me previously being a hero had temporarily sucked all positivity out of my system, memories of both good and bad qualities had decided to flood my mind.
I hadn’t needed glasses when I had powers, it was an added side-effect of enhanced senses. This meant that my vision was enhanced, and the need for glasses became null-en-void when I had gained my abilities. I loved what I could do, the powers at my disposal being flight and laser vision, and I had harnessed them for good.
The alias that the city had given me was ‘Laser Eagle’, I kind of hated the name but I didn’t have a choice, and I never complained. I loved how I helped people and I loved how it felt, the rush of adrenaline, the tightness of my stomach, the nerves and knowing I had saved someone’s life.
The strongest memory that hits me was the feeling of flight. The gut feeling from the sound barrier breaking speed couldn’t be matched by anything, not even taking off on a plane. No one else would have to lose that, lose their powers. I know heroes have lost their lives to the cause, Lord almighty am I aware of that, but no other hero (or villain) has lost their powers. And definitely not the way I had.
It was my own slip up that lead to me being caught by ‘Doctor Dread’, a scientist who had a personal hatred against Evolutionaries, both good and bad. He was prepared for anything, I’ll give him that. Utensils, operating tables, entrapment devices, as well as goggles for me, all made of obsidian. The singular object of which cannot be affected by powers, and has a tendency to slowly drain our powers away. It wouldn’t have been easy, or cheap, to get everything he had in the stone, and that added to his passion of trying to dissolve the world of Evos.
He mutilated me with nanotechnology, of which was inoculated into my body through the use of a needle into my left jugular vein. The girl I had incarcerated with me due to my stupid actions underwent the same pain, the technology feeling like burning fire inside of my veins.
That was the substance of my nightmares for the past two months since it happened. But the echoes of him screaming that he would ‘end this Evolutionary disaster even if it was the last thing he would do’ haunted me every day. The fact I had barely been able to keep my identity secret also haunted me. If Night Archer hadn’t of found us before the police I could be in a much worse position. A position like Melanie’s…
I suddenly felt the urge to get out of bed and get my old costume, the black spandex was sitting in a box at the back of my wardrobe, taunting me. The electric blue outline of an eagle on the chest of the costume let everyone know who I was, the symbol suddenly flashing through my mind. I wanted to see it, but at the same time, I wanted to burn it so I never had to again. And again I was reminded of my inability to help.
Grant, or Ghost, was an Evo I worked with closely since we both started. Eventually, we trusted each other enough to tell each other our identities, we became friends and school and have basically been inseparable since. We had a trust that couldn’t be broken, one that we hope never breaks, and when school finished we decided on renting an apartment together in the centre of Dimeran so we could be closer to helping people. Not that it matters anymore. Grant can teleport and I’m out of action.
I was now just a normal young adult who was starting Univeristy in a few hours, and I hated how I was coming to accept it. I hated how I was taking this so easily. I curled up on my side and let my mind rid itself of those thoughts of grief and regret, instead turning my attention to Univeristy tomorrow. It was just Orientation day, but it was still a massive step in the right direction for me. Towards my new life of having nothing to do with Heroes and Villains.
Orientation day… it was making me hate this tertiary education already, and I hadn’t even started the degree yet. People were still flooding into the lecture theatre even though most of the seats were already taken, but luckily for me, I got one of the last ones right next to someone who smelt like they rolled in a pile of tuna and didn’t shower afterwards. The scent made me want to wretch, but I held it back as people began to fill the empty seats and start to stand on the stairs.
Business seemed to be a rather popular course, there had to be over five-hundred people in here… although, I guess there are the speciality courses that people will be moving rooms to find out more about after the general introduction.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” A gentle, feminine voice asked me, and as I looked up I locked eyes with one of the hottest girls I have ever laid eyes on.
“Not at all,” I replied with a smirk, still trying to block out the smell of fish-guy next to me.
“I’m Tiffany, by the way.” She stated as she sat down, holding her hand towards me after flicking her mahogany coloured hair over her shoulder. I took the handshake, looking into her brown eyes.
“Jethro, most people just call me Jett.” My reply was standard, Jethro is such an old school name that I prefer to just be called ‘Jett’. So, when I introduce myself I imply that whoever it is can use one syllable instead of two, works like charm.
“Oh, you can call me Tiff if you want.”
“I will.” I replied, realising that I should have worn my contacts instead of my glasses today. It would have made me look less dorky… doesn’t help that since I lost my powers my muscle definition has gone down. A lot. I’d lost ten kilos just from muscle-loss. Now I looked like a lanky nerd. Damn it, I never expected to see such a beautiful girl, let alone meet one.
Every course had a compulsory ‘Evolutionary’ course. Because our city has so many Evos we need to know everything about them, in school we are given a basic rundown, but when we get to University we are given a complete history, we have to conduct our own research on them and we are forced to take a compulsory self-defence class as our 'tutorial component' for the study period.
And right now, my first lecture was part of this Evolutionary course. And for the first time in my life, I made it before the lecture began, finding a seat near the back of the theatre. My eyes constantly shifted as more and more people filled the room, the seats filling up quickly. I saw Tiffany enter and sit down near the front, obviously not seeing me all the way at the back of the large theatre. Even though it was a course that everyone had to take, I was still surprised that basically every seat seemed to be filled by the time the lecturer walked in, setting up the computer and the slides.
“Good afternoon everyone, my name is Dr Arthur Patternson, I’m here to help you delve into the history of our new world, specifically with the subject I like to call ‘the Evolution of Evolutionary Humans’. Our focus for this course is going to be on the creation and development of Evos, both the superheroes and supervillains of our world. Today we will be focusing on the very beginning, how Evolutionary Humans were created. Does anyone know the origin of Evos?” Dr Patternson asked, and that was when I heard Tiffany’s voice echo through the theatre.
“Biological testing, beginning about eighty years ago.” She stated simply.
“Correct, biological testing. People, in general, have always been captivated by the idea of supernatural abilities, and about eighty years ago underground testing began to find a DNA strand or a section of the brain which could be manipulated to allow for superhuman traits. It was soon discovered that it was possible to unlock a new part of the brain, that was when the real experimentation began…” He trailed off, allowing for the slide to change, showing a picture of a brain.
“Now, I’m not going to explain the ins and outs of how this section of the brain works, I’ll leave that until next week when we will have out first guest lecturer, a neuroscientist. Until then, I can explain how they managed to do this. There were many different drug trials, added to these drugs were situations that would put the human body under extreme stress, by extreme stress, I mean torture of many forms. Mental, physical… many subjects didn’t make it out alive, most others were left disabled in some form. However, there were a very limited amount that gained temporary powers, but there were still enough successes to find a running trait. Does anyone know what that trait was?” The red-haired girl sitting an empty seat away from me spoke up after a five-second silence.
“Youth.” She answered, her voice projected throughout the entire theatre, and even though it wasn’t shouted, it displayed a clear sense of power and influence. Her small form seemed familiar to me, her fiery hair was previously embedded in my brain. She must have felt someone staring at her, because suddenly her green-grey eyes flickered towards me, a small smirk on her face. She held eye contact with me for a split second before looking back to the front.
“Correct. Youth. The younger the successful subject, the longer the powers lasted. Of course, this was for the volunteers to the experiment, those aged between twenty and forty. After this trait was discovered, children began to go missing. They were mainly from orphanages, or from the streets. The powers again lasted longer with the younger subjects, but this was short lived. The scientists' work was stolen, the laboratory blown up to erase all evidence of the experiments. Due to the illegal nature of the experiments the scientists could not call it in for investigation, so the research went dark for two years.
“The only information found on the research was when teenagers began gaining powers. It was less than a one in a million chance of gaining these powers, the first generation of Evos only had about fifty worldwide, but ten of those were here in Dimeran. That number has now increased to a thousand out of seven billion people on our planet, however, this is just an estimation, and it equals to much less than one percent of the world’s population. Now, for those who don’t know yet, your first assignment is a two-thousand-five-hundred word assignment on the research and its development into an airborne chemical during those dark years. Now, with that on your mind, you may want to begin taking notes from now on, I will be going into the specifics of the research during those two years. To begin with…”
I felt a sharp pain in my head, immediately taking my attention away from probable, crucial information as flashes of memories came through my mind, specifically from my time as Laser Eagle. This wasn’t my doing, this wasn’t what I wanted to be happening. Holy hell, please tell me there isn’t a telepath in this damn lecture. The memories slowly faded, and so did the pain in my skull.
If that was an experience with a telepath, I don’t want to feel it again. The rest of the lecture passed quickly as I scribbled down as many notes as possible, but it was just when I was packing up that I realised there was a piece of paper folded and sitting on the corner of the small table. I unfolded it carefully, staring at the perfect handwriting on it before registering what the words actually said. My eyes began flicking around the room to see who the hell could have put it there, but every single suspect was filing out of the room quickly.
I know who you are.
Well… I’m screwed.
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