Tuesday. It was one of the oddest days of the week. It wasn’t the first day of the working week, and the weekend wasn’t any closer.
The alarm had been ringing since 7AM; blasting it’s repetitive tune in Aiden’s ears. He rose out of bed, shoved an old shirt on and found a pair of joggers lying on the floor, and walked through into the sitting room, where his Dad was waiting for him with a bowl of cornflakes at the couch. He turned his head to greet him. “Morning, son.”
Aiden smiled and yawned. “Morning, we got any other cereal left?”
“There’s some of that sugary stuff in the cupboard, or some more of these if you want?” He pointed at his bowl of cornflakes.
Aiden laughed. “I could use the energy, sugary stuff it is.”
“You got in pretty early last night, can’t remember the last time that happened.” Andrew said.
“Yeah, had a thing, just wanted to come home, it was late for you though, you were sound asleep.” He brought his bowl over to the couch with his dad.
“Yeah I was, thanks for the blanket by the way.”
“You’re welcome, what are you watching?” Aiden asked, tucking into his cereal. With each bite he could feel more energy surging through his body, best to take it slower than usual.
“The Christopher Reeve Superman, they’re doing a marathon on the telly now.”
Aiden looked at the screen. “Holds up surprisingly well.”
Andrew nodded. “You used to love this when you were little. I remember, one day, your mom brought you home from school. You were in tears because some kid was bullying you. It was early, and I put this in, man, you couldn’t wipe the smile off your face for days.”
Aiden took a moment to let the memory sink in. A warm feeling sank in his stomach, remembering the first time he felt hope. “Dad, what do you say makes someone a hero?”
Andrew raised his brow. “Oh, I don’t know. Tights and a cape, I guess. Why do you ask?”
The doorbell went, and Andrew immediately got off his seat to go and answer it. Aiden put down his bowl and sighed in his seat. “Dad, it’s okay I could have gotten it.”
“Oh, don’t start that again, I’m fully capable of answering a bloody door.”
The doorbell rang again, this time it was multiple times. “Alright, alright, I’m coming for gods sake”
Aiden continued watching the TV as his dad tried to keep a conversation with the next door neighbour. She held a newspaper in her hand, it didn’t take him long to realize the mailman had got the copies wrong again.
Andrew shut the door and went back to his seat. “I swear to god, Aiden, if growing old means losing your sense of humour, I don’t ever want to get old,”
Aiden got a lump in his throat and didn’t respond. Andrew looked up from the paper. “Oh come on, you know I didn’t mean it like that.”
“It’s okay Dad, I actually think I have a way to help us now.”
“Oh and what’s that? Did you become Superman all of a sudden?” Andrew asked, pointing at the TV.
Aiden grinned. “Not exactly, but I signed up for that contest, the parkour thing.”
Andrew chortled. “Finally let go of your contest ego, I see.”
Aiden shrugged. “Well, there’s a cash prize, and something’s happened that makes me think I could win it. Maybe help us out a bit, you know?”
“What happened to you?”
Aiden’s face went blank as he scrambled for an answer. “I got better at parkour.”
Andrew smiled and patted him on the back. “Told you practice makes perfect, didn’t I?”
Aiden laughed. “You didn’t, but I’ll take it anyway.”
Andrew put his cornflakes down and took his bowl back into the kitchen, whilst Aiden’s eyed stayed glued to the screen. It was cool seeing a part of his childhood again; it brought out some of the nostalgia inside of him.
“What made you bring up the hero thing, by the way?” he asked.
Aiden’s eyes moved away from the TV as he looked over at his dad. He clearly didn’t think this through, how could he tell him that he suddenly had superpowers? It wasn’t exactly breakfast conversation. “Just...the thing is, it’s for...
Aiden looked around him, desperately looking for an answer. His heart began racing as he noticed the newspaper sitting on the table.
...a school paper” he said.
Andrew sniggered at him. “A school paper, in the last week of school?”
“Yeah, you know I was never good with getting things done on time.” Aiden said.
Andrew smiled, throwing water onto his face. “That, you were not. Well, son, if you’re thinking of the kind of hero that prances around in tights and shoots lasers out of his eyes, despite all the people that think they can do that, it’s not possible. I think a true hero, like a fire-fighter, a policeman, a soldier, is just a normal person who can push themselves to do extraordinary things, it’s as simple as that.”
Aiden realized this was pretty much what he had expected from the question, but he needed more. “I got that as my opening paragraph, what else do you think a hero should do?”
Andrew elevated his eyebrow. “This is meant to be your paper, isn’t it?”
“You know I was never good with words.”
“Is there anything you are good at? Oh wait, don’t answer that, I know the answer.”
Andrew smirked. “No, being a cheeky smartarse” Aiden laughed too, it was nice to share a bit of banter during breakfast.
Aiden took a deep breath. “You ever think I could be a hero?”
“Is that a part of your paper?” Andrew asked in return.
“Just a bit of extra credit”
“Anyone who’s got good in them can be a hero.”
“Surely there’s gotta be more of it to that.”
“A true hero will always do the right thing, no matter what the cost. That’s all a hero is, think you can get me an A with that?” Andrew asked, smacking his son on the shoulder as he walked past.
“Probably, we’ll find out eventually.”
Andrew rushed to the chairs. “Oh my god, I love this part.”
It was the part in the movie where Lois Lane was holding on for dear life from the helicopter, and the public of Metropolis got their first look at Superman. The way the music pans up with Clark Kent turning into Superman was always done perfectly, no matter where he went, this scene and the music to accompany it always stuck with Aiden.
“It’s the best part, he’s about to run into the revolving doors, and there we go, it’s Superman!” Andrew yelled, excited like a child on Christmas Eve. “See Aiden, that may be what you view as a hero, but having different abilities than others doesn’t automatically make you a hero. It’s ultimately what you do with them that defines you, in the case that you had his powers, would you do what he does?”
Aiden cracked a smile. “I don’t know Dad, I don’t think I could rock those tights like Reeve did.”
Andrew sighed with a laugh. “You know what I mean.”
“But if I had those powers, realistically wouldn’t I just cause more harm than good?”
“Realistically Aiden, you probably aren’t Superman.”
“Oh, you have no idea” Aiden said.
The door knocked again, ultimately turning the smile on Andrew’s face into a frown. “If that’s the bloody neighbour again, I might just get a letterbox”
Andrew opened to the door to reveal Alison standing in the hallway. She was in her school uniform and her beanie, smiling.
“Hey Mr. Malcolm, how are you?” she said.
“Alison, Mr Malcolm was my father. Please call me Andy, or Andrew even, whatever you prefer, come on in” Andrew said, letting her in and giving her a hug.
“Always good to see you here, darling. Aiden, look who’s here.”
She timidly walked over to the couch, waving with barely a smile. “Hey, Aiden.”
Aiden’s heart raced. “Hey...you okay?”
She took a seat next to him and lowered her voice. “Yeah, I figured I’d come to you today, we need to talk about what happened...yesterday.”
“I thought you weren’t talking to me.” Aiden whispered back.
She shrugged and glared at him. “Well, what am I doing now?”
“Whispering very loudly.”
“Oh, look at you two, you’re like an old married couple” Andrew said, laughing.
Aiden immediately got up. “I’m going to my room.”
“I’ll go with you, I need to talk to you anyway” Alison said, getting up and following her.
Andrew could not stop laughing to himself in the background. Ignoring the giggles, Aiden walked into his room, and Alison followed, shutting the door.
“So did you find out anything?” she asked.
“What are you doing here? I thought you wanted to stay away from me,” Aiden asked.
“It’s fine…look it’s complicated, what are you doing?” Alison asked, seeing Aiden was taking his shirt off.
Aiden didn’t look back at her, grabbing his shirt. “Getting ready for school, and why’s it complicated?”
“It just is, look I’m sorry if I over-reacted but you were kinda out of line too. Do you know anything else?”
Aiden sighed. “I know enough already,”
“Yeah? Well tell me then.” She sat on his bed.
Aiden groaned, rubbing his face. “It’s pretty self explanatory. That serum changed me into some kind of living battery.”
Alison crossed her eyes. “A living what now?”
“Battery, like I can hold more energy than a normal human can, and keep it down will you? I don’t want my Dad to hear us”
“So…you’re a living battery?” Alison asked.
“You were never really good at science were you?” Aiden said, putting his school uniform on.
Alison smiled. “I wasn’t the one who fell asleep in class.”
A sinking feeling sat in Aiden’s gut as his mind wondered. “Well, it’s like this, the human body, like yours can only withstand so much energy, with this thing that got inside me. I don’t get tired as easy now, so the things I can do with energy are just advanced. It’s like a more powerful battery. I don’t know, it’s sciency shit.”
She crossed her arms. “I guess we know as much as we did yesterday. We should get going if we want to get to school.” She pointed at her watch.
Aiden pulled on his uniform and sighed. “I don’t feel like running today. Can we get the bus?”
“Okay, if you say so” Alison replied.
As Aiden walked out of the room with Alison behind, he headed over to the counter, pouring a glass of water. “You guys heading out now?” Andrew asked.
Aiden quickly drank the water and put the glass down. “Yeah, gotta hurry to catch the bus”
“You? Taking the bus? There’s a first,” Andrew said.
“Very funny, Dad.”
“Well, if you are, on the way to school can you pick me up some stuff from the chemist? Here’s my prescription, the guy should give it to you.”
Aiden took the prescription from his dad’s hand.
“You did say you wanted to help out around here after all,” Andrew said.
Alison looked curious. “What’s wrong with you?”
Andrew took a deep breath. “Oh nothing, it’s just some painkillers Alison, for a headache. Little bit too much of the old drink, I reckon”
Aiden let out a sigh of relief. “I’ll get them Dad, see you later.”
“Alright, see you two kids later.” Andrew said, resuming the movie.