I awoke suddenly with my heart racing and came to the conclusion that I might as well be dead. I know it’s a stupid sounding way to start a story, but I won’t be going down in history for my writing skills, so consider cutting me a break. I know that my introduction sounded really cliché but I can’t help it. I had been driven awake by my usual nightmare, one that consisted of me being forced to kill everyone that I had ever cared for, it wakes me up every time for obvious reasons. At the time I don’t think I was even that messed up. This was of course back then, anyone that could pass a psych evaluation before what I experienced would probably be considered at least a little crazy afterwards. I felt a sharp pang of hunger in my belly(where else would I experience one?) and concluded that I need to head upstairs from my bedroom and go to the kitchen. In my experience there’s nothing like a nightmare to make you hungry. I reached up on the fridge and grabbed a hold of my Life. Life has always been a favorite for me, especially Life Cinnamon. Next I grabbed a bowl, and then I proceeded to open the fridge and yank out the milk. I was in the process of pouring cereal, when I saw my dad storming down the stairs. He barged into the kitchen and shouted. “What in the hell are you doing?” So I being a smartalec replied. “Having a bowl of cereal Dad, is it not obvious?.” Then I looked at the clock and I saw what enraged him. It was 3:00AM, how did I not notice what time it was? I love knowing what time it is. So I confessed that I hadn’t realized the time and mentioned that I had that wonderful nightmare of mine again. Being the great guy he is, he gave me the go ahead to eat my cereal, I mean I did pay for it myself. Once I was finished with eating my cereal I went back downstairs and began mentally preparing myself to go to school, I’m a student at Wichita State University by the way. I pay my dad rent every month to rent his enormous basement, and on the bright side it means I don’t have many other bills to pay. So I’ve been saving up to rent or buy an apartment for a couple years. I was majoring in the theatrical arts, and minoring as what I like to call a master of the arts, and by that I mean culinary arts, digital arts, fine arts, and the more traditional arts. I’ve always felt a connection to arts, even if most of my paintings had obtained a description that suggests they’re creepy (Like severed heads and stuff). I glanced down at my watch and saw two hours had passed. I had class at six, so if I was planning on not getting a zero for the day then I’d best get going. I quickly grabbed a bagel (eating again already?), and dashed out the front door. I then hopped into my Blue 2002 Toyota Corolla and headed out. It is an approximately twenty-eight minute drive from my house to WSU. At the moment I still had plenty of time. As my car was cruising along I realized that I didn’t have any music playing. So I glanced down for what seemed like a moment, and popped in some Rush. Apparently I need to look up moment in a dictionary again. Because while I was looking down this huge tanker pulled in front of me, if I actually had replaced my brakes like my dad had said I needed to do, then I might not have hit him, or just tried evasive driving. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with. Unfortunately I had no clue how to take care of a car when I first got my car, and by the time I figured it out I didn’t want to cough up the cash to fix my mistakes. But right before I hit him I saw the familiar yellow and black radioactive symbol standing out on the rear of the tank. I already knew that I was screwed, but that killed any doubts I had about surviving. I experienced what will always be the strangest sensation I’ve ever experienced when I crashed into the tanker, I had assumed it would blow up (I watch way too many movies), but apparently whatever was in the tank wasn’t flammable. Lucky me right? Wrong. Sometimes I wish I had died that day, it would have been much better than the events that followed. I recall fighting to not go under, but have you ever tried staying up when you probably just fractured your skull and got the world’s most serious concussion? It’s not an easy feat. I guess it’s safe to say I’m getting a zero in class today. Once I awoke I was lying in a hospital bed, and based on my surroundings I wasn’t in a normal hospital. There was this sort of military environment, that sort of strictness you don’t pick up on anywhere else. It really leaves me feeling concerned about the contents of the tanker. The only thing I know is it feels as if my stomach got ripped out, tossed into a blender, got blended together, and then someone tried to put it back and still call it a stomach. I noticed a nurse entering the room, and quickly began to pretend I was still asleep. Once she got to my bed she jammed a needle into my arm. While I was pretending to sleep the world around me started going to that peaceful deep black again. As it all faded away a I overheard who I’m assuming was the nurse, say, “He’s back under sir.” I guess my acting classes haven’t been worth the money. Though her words weren’t exactly reassuring. The next time I awoke it seemed I was allowed to be awake. I did the smart thing and took note of my surroundings, and I noticed an older man who appeared to be some sort of officer in a branch of the military. He stood up and got right into my face. “So, I guess it didn’t kill you, how are you feeling today Jase?” (more clichés I know) I wasn’t sure if I should be shocked, if this guy knew my name then that would mean that I had been searched. Granted my clothes were covered in radioactive waste, so it was probably for the better that they took them off and if I wanted to get my stuff back then they would have to remove it from my old clothes. “I’m alright, sir.” I replied after a brief moment of thought. “That’s good son, we were feeling worried you weren’t going to make it.” Something about his voice suggested he was faking concern, but at least he was trying. “So how much longer do I have to be stuck here?” I asked, hoping to be told soon. “Not too much longer, can you stand?” I stood, and then fell back down (yes it hurt). As the general looking guy helped me up I took note of his name tag, General Alec. Alec is an odd last name. “Walk with me Jase” Alec said. I slowly took some steps to regain my balance, Alec waited while I became sure of my footing. Once I was ready we set off out of the room and into the hall heading left. I noticed that there was a sign calling this the radiation ward, so I guess that means I saw that symbol correctly. (Hooray I guess) “You may not realize this Jase, but you are one of nine people who survived expose to the contents of the tanker you collided with two weeks ago.” It was concerning to discover I’d missed two weeks of school, granted that’s not nearly as bad as the fact that my family might even think I’m dead so.”Because of the promise you’ve shown I’ve been asked by my superiors to make you an offer, join us and let us research you. You’ll go down as a hero who helped us understand trying times, and we’ll pay you double what you were making at your old job.” I stopped walking for a moment, and considered Alec’s offer. “Can I get some time to think about this? It is a big decision.” Within moments Alec replied. “No, you either decide now, or become an enemy of the United States.” Wow, nothing like that to help make a decision tough. “After taking a moment to think about it I’ve decided to help.” For a brief moment I saw a smile appear on Alec’s face. “Good, I’m glad you said yes. Now we don’t have to kill you or take you prisoner.” I knew I made the right choice. “That makes two of us sir, so now what?” After a brief pause Alec replied. “For now, nothing, go back to your room, and once you’ve recovered from your injuries you’ll begin training.” I stumbled back to my room slowly, and on the way I took a peek into one of the rooms of another patient who was also exposed to the radioactive stuff in that tanker. Things looked grim, the guy kept on flickering, I’m not sure what was going on, but every few seconds he just vanished. I entered his room, and placed my hand on his arm to see what would happen next time he flickered. I was still in the same room, but I was invisible. Which was definitely pretty cool. It left me wondering, if this guy got invisibility from being exposed to that stuff, did I have cool powers too? I didn’t have time to find out, because he woke up and told me to get the hell out of his room. As I finished the walk back to my room I resisted the urge to peek on more people. (Makes me sound like a pervert) Finally after what felt like thirty minutes to my sore muscles I made it back to my room. I fell onto the bed and immediately started to sleep. I woke up feeling even more sore than before, which was confusing to me I thought that sleep was supposed to help mend wounds. Not make them feel like they were happening all over again. I spent the next twenty minutes just convincing myself to get up and out of bed. It’s not that I’m lazy, I just was in a lot of pain. Once I finally did get up and get dressed I figured I’d wonder around the complex as much as I could without getting caught. Here’s a hint for you, I get caught. Now let me tell you how. I was wondering around looking at signs that seemed to serve as a directory, when I noticed a sign that lead to a laboratory. I know I’m not going to school for science, but I loved science fiction, so this could be an opportunity to see something I’d only ever dreamed of before. I tugged on the door to the lab, just to find that it was locked. Which is not fair at all, I mean why have a lab in a base, if the only people that will see it probably have access anyways? Luckily, the door had one of those rectangular windows that so many doors have, so I shrugged off my jacket and wrapped it around my fist. Every time I ever saw this in the movies, it had worked great, but the movies forgot to mention that the glass can easily cut through the material, and as a result also cut up your hand. Needless to say, I was now keeping my jacket wrapped around my hand for entirely new reasons. On the plus side, I was in the lab. I started looking around inside, when I realized, I just cut up my hand to look around in an empty room. I have terrible luck, because now uniformed soldiers are entering the room, and I’m being arrested. “Come with us, the General will want a word with you.” One of the men said, I had no idea what rank he was, I only knew how to recognize a few of them. As I was escorted to what has to be General Alec’s office I noticed labs that had stuff in them. Where were those labs ten minutes ago? At least then I’d have cut my hand up, and gotten in trouble for something cool. Finally we arrived at his office, the handcuffs were removed, and I went inside, and immediately started to get into a shouting match. I lost. I now get to spend the rest of my time until I’ve recovered from my injury confined to my room. Hooray! Obviously you don’t want to hear about me spending weeks sitting in a little room doing nothing, so I’ll just skip ahead.
THREE WEEKS LATER
Today when I woke up, it didn’t hurt to move, which is probably the greatest thing ever. That also meant it was time to start training, and I was no longer confined to this tiny room. I had been discussing things with Alec when he found time to stop by and he confessed I probably did have some sort of power now. That was actually the first part of my training, finding out what wonderful gifts I got for not dying when I got exposed to what was now being called Retron. I think it’s an odd name, but apparently the science geniuses that the military has on payroll had their reasons. I finished getting dressed in to training fatigues, and started to walk briskly to training bay three. Once I arrived I saw some unfamiliar faces, and two familiar ones. The first being Alec, the second being the guy with invisibility. “Would everyone who hasn’t yet identified any of their abilities please go to the left half of the room, and everyone that has go to the right.” Everyone but the guy with invisibility went to the left. “To start, we will try to expose you to a few different materials to see how your body responds.” Alec started by whipping out a lighter and flicking at the flint until it lit. “Everyone, put your right hand out in front of you.” Then he took the lighter and placed it under my hand until the flame was touching my skin, I could feel the flesh as it melted and popped. It hurt, a lot, and then it stopped hurting, the lighter went out, and the little flame was dancing in the palm of my hand. Somehow I had absorbed the fires energy and made it mine. “Pyrokinetic.” Alec called out. One of the soldiers in the room marked something on a clipboard, and I was told to go to the right. Alec tried the test on the other two people in the room that hadn’t been tested. They got burned. But when the chick who was standing next to me had a rock placed in her hand, it slowly got absorbed, and her hand started to harden like rock. Alec did the lighter test again, just to see what would happen, she didn’t get burned. So she got sent over to the right as well. After at least twenty more tests, the other guy still didn’t have a discovered power. In a moment of anger Alec whipped out his knife, and sliced open the guys arm. In a panicked attempt to slow the bleeding he pressed his other hand to the wound, a soft light began emanating from between his fingers and the blood started to flow back into the wound, and then began to mend itself. “Alright, now that we’ve discovered what abilities all of you have, it’s time for you to be assigned code names. In order of discovery, Flicker, Pyro, Resolve, and Ward. You are to return to your quarters until tomorrow at 0500 hours in training bay four.” Giddy with excitement about me actually having superpowers and a cool code name (even if it wasn’t very creative) I ran back to my room with fire in my hands the whole way. Once I got back to my room I extinguished the flame, flopped onto my bed, and started to sleep. I thought my dreams got intense before the accident and before I discovered my powers. Now my dreams and nightmares were insane. Instead of killing my family with a knife or some other melee weapon, I was turning them into ash, and burning the house down. But in my dreams I was flying a lot and saving people with my fire too. I preferred the dreams to the nightmares. Sadly tonight was a nightmare night, so there I was, shooting beams of white hot flame at my parents, turning them to ash in seconds. Horrifying I know. But after awhile you do get used to it.