I walked alone in the park. I could see the buildings downtown rising behind lush trees, flanked by clear skies and the afternoon sun, but the quiet grass and pockets of shade helped me forget the city all around me, helped me forget–just a little bit–what I had done.
My fist felt fine. The muscles in my arm were sore, and I kept running my fingers over my hand and looking at my knuckles up close, but I couldn’t see anything on the surface. Whatever I had done, whatever had happened at the Underground, it was not human.
I clenched my fist again, and kept clenching, trying to get back to that moment before, but nothing I tried got me any closer to reenactment than a toy can move to play with itself. And there wasn’t even a glove this time–whatever had happened, I had done it myself.
Unless one of the other supers had used their powers on me. There was that orange light right before it happened. But if I could believe that, was it such a leap to believe I had done it myself?
I was glad today was a Thursday. Nobody comes to a city park on a Thursday, so I had the entire place to myself. The wannabe pond just west of its center. The benches all in a row along the eastern sidewalk. The cement block at the end of the path where charity bands played and dances were held. So much space. All for the taking.
So I tried something new. If I couldn’t recreate the moment on my own, by clenching my fist until I turned orange, I’d just have to recreate the moment as I had felt inside–bombarded and ambushed, furious, adrenaline pumping through my veins.
I started running.
I lapped the park three times, but still felt nothing. My legs were starting to ache and I was losing my breath, but I kept going. I had to know, finally know, if I had done something or if I’d been tricked–if I was super, or just like everyone else.
I saw the benches and jumped onto the first one, and when I reached the end of it, I jumped onto the next. The brief moment I was in the air brought me closer, set my insides flying as a spark of fear burst inside me before I landed. I kept going, faster and faster.
The benches ended. The cement path opened into the courtyard, sunlight heavier upon me as the trees’ shade disappeared. I felt a bead of sweat splash down my forehead and land on the back of my hand. I kept going. I felt hot inside, furious, enraged—something had to happen already!
I leapt clear over the stairs onto the cement platform, clenched my fists as I ran for the other end, tightened my entire body and yelled as I jumped off the higher end, then started to fall. My anger flared and instead of flailing, I pulled myself in tighter.
I struck the ground and stuck my landing. Something inside me had clicked right before impact, filling my sight with a burst of orange light, like I was looking through colored lenses, and I didn’t feel a thing when I hit the ground. No pain, no jolt, no distortion like they show on TV in slow motion. And as I held myself there, as I took in the moment, the energy drew itself in and intensified. The orange haze turned into an orange glow beneath my skin, so vivid I was certain if anyone had seen me, they would’ve thought I was burning from the inside out.
Then I tried to move.
All the energy rushed out of me, propelling me forward out of control. I hit something–hard–and was out before I knew what had happened.
Night had fallen by the time I woke up. My body ached all over, like after waking up from a really deep sleep, and it took me a few moments to remember what had happened. I recalled the orange light, trying to move, then crashing into something. Hard.
I looked around and realized I was under a tree, and in addition to a bunch of scratches and bits of bark strung through my shirt down my side and back, there was a large break in the tree where it was missing its bark entirely. That held my attention, but what held my thoughts the longest was that I had done it, and that aside from the tears in my clothing, I was untouched.
But everything that I’d done to get there cast a shadow over my sudden excitement. Had I not caught myself, had something not happened, I’d have broken a leg, or both, or more than that after jumping off the block. And if I had to do that every time, just to do anything, maybe it’d be better to do nothing–to go back to being normal–than trying to be super.
PART 9: The Revelation