Sunday, May 7, 2017
1st 5 Pages May Workshop - McDermott
Name: Arran McDermott
Genre: Young Adult paranormal
Supranormal (adj.)—beyond the range of the normal or scientifically explainable
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. The only reason they tested anyone was to decide whether 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. We were supposed to get tested at birth, and again when we reached puberty. Somehow I had slipped through the cracks. Until now.
You see, 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. But I wasn’t scared of finding out the result. What scared me was everyone else learning what I already knew.
When I was twelve years old I discovered I wasn’t a norm. I didn’t know at the time where my powers came from. But since we never spoke my father's name at home—though my loser stepdad drifted in and out of our lives like an alcoholic wisp—I guessed he was a supra too. I had no memory of him, but his death soon after my birth broke my mother in a way she never recovered from.
That was the reason I never told her about my powers. By the time I was in 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.
One of the few times I confided in her was about Steve Peterson. He was a star athlete in the same year as me, but that wasn’t why I liked him. No, my reasons were even shallower and they involved shaggy hair you wanted to run your fingers through, dreamy hazel eyes, chiseled cheekbones, and a nice smile. You get the idea. The problem was, anyone who could make me get all wobbly kneed just by smiling was bad news. Not to mention dating wasn't my thing. That mushy crap would only cause problems down the road.
Despite my attempting to play it cool, Journey had caught on to my crush. During lunch that day, with my mind still reeling from the news of the test, she got me to spill the beans.
“Julie, he is cute, girl,” she said, in between chugging milk. “But he’s kinda weird.”
“What do you mean?”
“He never hangs out with anyone else for long. Even though he's popular—because of his looks, you know. And how he talks. All cool like.”
Whatever that meant. “Maybe he’s just shy.”
She pulled her glasses away from her dark brown eyes, giving me a dubious look. “Come on. Dude’s a basketball star, and he’s running for class president. Shy ain’t part of the package. I think he thinks he’s better than us. He’s a snob, you know?”
“Yeah, you’re right. I should totally ignore him.”
But there was no chance of that. I’d had crushes before. This was something else. I felt a connection to him, for some strange reason. It bugged the crap out of me.
However, it wasn’t Steve that I thought about that night, but the test I would have to take the next day. I tossed and turned for hours, while my two brothers snored loudly. We all had to share a bedroom in our tiny rundown apartment in the projects. 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 what I was, they would send me off to a special prison or God knows where. I had read stories of it happening to others before.
It was because of the Great Supranormal War. I still remember sitting in a semi-circle in my first grade class as the teacher, Mrs. Green, had told us about it.
“Who can tell me what a supra is?” she asked, peering at the class over her spectacles. The sunlight coming in the window gave her thick hair a halo effect.
A boy raised his hand. “They’re superheroes, Mrs. Green. They can jump up buildings and knock people into space and shoot lasers out of their eyes.”
He mimed a laser hitting him. The whole class burst out laughing, me included.
“No,” Mrs. Green said, slamming a book down on her desk to silence the class. “They were not superheroes. Supras used their powers to wage war and kill innocent people. The cities of New York and Washington were destroyed. The world might have ended if one man hadn’t saved us. Can you tell me who that man was, class?”
The fact that a portrait of this man hung over her shoulder in the classroom was kind of a big hint. Still, it took some prompting before we answered in unison, “Supreme President Stevenson, Mrs. Green.”
“Yes,” she said, beaming. “The Supreme President discovered the supras’ weakness and defeated them. He rebuilt New York into the great city we now live in, New Rome, and made it our country’s capital. The Supreme President has kept us safe ever since. But there could still be supras somewhere out there.”
She brought up a slide on the screen behind her. It showed a war-torn city, the buildings reduced to rubble. Skeletal bodies lay in the streets, their flesh removed by some terrible power. Mrs. Green stared at us unflinchingly, obviously seeing nothing wrong with exposing young kids to this sight.
“This is what happens when supra are allowed to roam free. So never think they are heroes, children. If you ever see one you must report them to a teacher or an adult immediately. If another army of supras rises, the war will start over and we will lose everything.”
She stopped, letting the weight of her words sink into our young minds. Then she smiled. “Now who would like some milk and cookies?”
In the weeks to follow, we had learned more about the orchestrator of the war, Dr. Dalton. The worst supra of all, she could supposedly make people’s brains explode just by looking at them. She died in the final battle, but the mere mention of her name still struck fear into children, like our own personal boogeyman. It was a reminder of why we had to be vigilant.
Yeah, I was innocent enough back then to believe all that.
The morning of the test, 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 probably wouldn’t get cleaned until I came home from school.