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Name: Arran McDermott Genre: Young Adult paranormal Title: Supra/normal
When I first saw my name on the sheet telling me to report for a mandatory blood test, I was sure it had to be a mistake. They only ever tested people to decide if you were normal, or a supra. If your blood came back positive as the latter, you were pretty much screwed.
I stood in the school hallway as the others kids passed back and forth, wishing I could reach through the glass and tear up the sheet. There were only two other names on it—both students several grades younger than me. They normally tested us at birth, and again when we reached puberty. Somehow I had slipped through the cracks. Until now.
If this was a story, I’d be one of those teenagers desperately hoping to get picked. To be chosen for something special. But having powers the average person could only dream of was no gift. If you had the cursed gene, your options were to run and hide or turn yourself in to the authorities. I wasn’t even scared of finding out the result. What scared me was everyone else learning what I already knew.
I am a supra.
I learned that when I was twelve years old. No one else knew about my powers, with one exception. By the time I reached my sophomore year at Kurtzberg High, I was your average don’t-stand-out-in-the-crowd girl. I only had one friend, Journey, and even her I kept at a careful distance. She didn’t seem to notice how little I talked about myself as long as she had someone to discuss her weirdly erotic anime dreams with.
I sat with her at lunch that day, my mind still reeling from the news of the test the next day. She caught on to my mood right away.
“Julie, you okay?” she asked.
I nodded. I looked around the lunchroom as I ate and noticed Steve Peterson heading our way. He was a star athlete in the same year as me, and my latest and most intense crush. He had shaggy hair you wanted to run your fingers through, dreamy hazel eyes, chiseled cheekbones, and a nice smile. You get the idea. But at that moment, fantasizing about him was the furthest thing from my mind.
“Hi,” he said cheerfully as he passed our table. I gave a half-smile, but said nothing. He sat down at a table with his loud buddies. I stared at him for a second, then quickly looked away.
Despite my attempting to play it cool, Journey noticed my look. “Girl, he is cute,” she said, in between chugging milk. “I can see why you like him. But he’s kinda weird.”
“What do you mean?”
“He never hangs out with anyone outside of school or games. I’ve known a whole bunch of girls that have asked him out, but he always turns them down. He’s quieter than you, even.”
“Maybe he’s just shy.”
She pulled her glasses away from her dark brown eyes, giving me a dubious look. “For real? Dude’s a basketball star, and he ran for class president once. Shy ain’t part of the package. I think he thinks he’s better than us. He’s a snob, you know?” She shrugged. “But if you wanna try asking him out, you go right ahead.”
Yeah, right. A girl like me dating the most popular guy in school.
I fell silent. Journey gave me a serious look.
“Why you so down, girl? Normally dream boy puts a smile on your face for hours.”
I checked no one close by was listening and told Journey my fears about the test. She laughed at me.
“A supra test? That’s what you’re worried about? I took mine a couple of years ago. It wasn’t no big thing. You’re the most norm person I know. If your life was any more boring, you’d be dead.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“So why you freaking out over this? Everyone has to do it.”
“Well, I hate needles. And what if they find something else in my blood? Not supra powers but something else . . . bad?”
She wrapped a braid around one of her fingers and grinned. “You been doing drugs or screwing some guys I don’t know about?”
“No. Maybe I’m being paranoid.”
“Look, if it’s that big a deal, there’s ways to get out of it, at least for a while. Just pretend to faint or throw up or something. Hell, tell them it’s that time of the month. Almost anything will work.”
“Really?” I said, doubtfully.
“Just try it.”
I spent the rest of the day thinking about what would be the best way to get out of the test and coming up blank. I just didn’t have Journey’s talent for trickery.
I left school and walked home as slowly as possible, giving myself time to think. The dirty, crumbling buildings around me looked like they hadn’t been repaired since the War. But we just accepted that living in the projects. My mood didn’t improve when I got back to our tiny, rundown apartment. I tossed and turned for hours that night while my two brothers snored loudly. We all had to share a bedroom, and privacy was not part of my life.
I lay awake and thought about how all my good grades and efforts to stay out of trouble at school would soon count for nothing. Once the authorities found out my true nature, they would send me off to a special prison or God knows where. I had read stories of it happening to others before. All because of some stupid Supranormal War that happened before my birth.
In the morning I barely ate while my brothers shoveled marshmallow cereal into their mouths. The kitchen was really more of an alcove next to the living room, and an iron girder running overhead made it seem even more cramped. I looked over at the sink piled up with dishes and realized that wouldn’t get cleaned until I came home from school. If I came home.
Justin, a year younger than me, kept talking between bites about how he had seen all these new games at the store. He flipped a large wad of money that he was going to buy them with. I didn’t ask where he got this, but I knew it wasn’t pocket money. He had a habit of ‘finding’ cash, toys, or whatever he wanted. Our mother never questioned it.
Jeffrey, only nine, just sat in front of the TV and watched cartoons as he ate. The couch, which took up most of the space in the room, seemed to swallow him. They were both small but where Justin always looked cheerful, Jeffrey was often distant and sad. He was more like me, yet I had always being able to talk more easily to Justin. I guess the fact we were closer in age helped.
I thought of pulling a sickie and skipping school, but that would only delay the inevitable. My mom rushed around in a barely closed nightgown, getting things ready late as usual, and didn’t even notice my gloominess.Her face was tired and lined with worry. My loser stepdad was MIA, of course. He drifted in and out of our lives like an alcoholic wisp, usually only showing up to make trouble.
I knew as soon as we left she would sleep for the rest of the day. She didn’t need to work, since the city paid for our rent, food, and healthcare—one of the few benefits of being a low-income family. But she still hit the streets looking for customers nearly every night. It was the only way she knew how to get a little extra cash for stuff that wasn’t a necessity.