Anyway. Last time, Callie stopped a mugger in his tracks- literally; with her songs, she left him stuck in the floor of a Foundry City subway. This week, Callie gets a bit of downtime and contemplates both her past and her future. As per usual, comments, critiques, suggestions, and questions are welcome in the comments.
Chapter 3: Past and FutureThe remains of my adrenaline rush coursed through my veins as I trekked back to my apartment, meandering a bit in case anyone happened to be following. I sipped my coffee as I walked. It had gone lukewarm, and I probably should've tossed it, particularly if I wanted to get to bed early, but I couldn't stand the thought of wasting good Starbucks.
At least the evening had been a productive one. I knew who I was looking for, and would hopefully get more information on him soon. And my encounter with the mugger proved that all my practice had paid off. I could control the effects of the songs, not just as a party trick, but effectively. Next time Welsh and I met, I'd be able to defend myself and, if necessary, his intended victim.
All the same, the encounter left me-- well, not drained like the first few times I ran into this kind of thing, but off-balance. The mugger's insults stuck in my head even when I finally turned down the street to my apartment. "Think you all that just because your mother sold herself to some mad scientist?"I knew it wasn't unheard-of on the streets, a pregnant woman or new mother with no home or money letting a crackpot scientist more interested in what he can do than what's right experiment on her child in return for enough cash to pay rent and buy food for a few months, even a few years. Usually the experiments were unsuccessful. Those that weren't, well, the kids probably would've been better off if they had failed.
I reached my apartment building and started up the steps. Just because that happens to some people doesn’t mean it happens to everyone. The mugger had just been plain wrong about that. Dad was a scientist, yeah, but a legitimate one, working for the government on some kind of space-y thing that had nothing to do with supers. And sure, there had been that one time when I’d been visiting and something weird happened— I’d been too young to understand what— and everyone freaked out, but my powers hadn’t showed up until years later. Dad had nothing to do with it.
Of course, that didn’t mean I didn’t get tired of people assuming he did.
I dug my key out of my pocket and opened my apartment door. No one greeted me, naturally. Uhjin, my roommate, would be out celebrating until tomorrow morning. I'd learned that well in our two years of friendship: if there was a social event, or an excuse for a social event, Uhjin would be the first there and the last to leave.
I, on the other hand, still wanted to fall into bed early. But I had things to do first, and my coffee had kicked in at full power. So instead I fetched my ancient laptop from my room, scrubbed off the heavy makeup I wore to keep from being easily recognizable, and settled on our worn couch. Opening my email, I skimmed the list of unread messages. Nothing important, so I typed a quick note to Jonathan: Sorry about tonight, but thanks for the info. Can we meet again tomorrow? Same time, same place? By then, I'd be off work at both my music and craft store jobs, since I changed my hours now that class was over. And I should have time to eat and hopefully practice too before I head out.
Next I checked the news. Nothing much there was especially interesting either. I scanned headlines and clicked a few articles: one about refugees from the Middle East, one about Starlight and another superhero, Swordsman, chasing off a not-so-Big Bad who very briefly tried to establish his rule over Foundry City, and one editorial wondering just how many unknown supers are out there, living ordinary lives and trying to keep out of the public eye. The author reached the conclusion that there could be that many, that anyone with powers was guaranteed to take action as either hero or villain eventually. I laughed at that, yet I had to admit: she might not be wrong.
After all, look at what happened tonight. And this was hardly the first time. Freshman year, these kinds of incidents had been rare. I'd spent most of my time on-campus, and though I'd tried to search for information on Welsh, I really hadn't known where or how to look. This past semester, on the other hand . . . Well, Uhjin and I had moved to a cheap apartment because it cost less than dorm housing, but as my search started to bear fruit, I spent more and more time out and about. It was easy to stay out late when no one but Uhjin asked where I'd been, and half the time, she was out later than I was. And the longer I stayed out, the more I saw or heard trouble and found myself getting involved. At several points, I found myself actively seeking it out. I felt I could make a difference that way.
But I knew it couldn't last, not like this. I wasn't a real superhero. Not like Starlight or Storm in real life or Black Widow or Wonder Woman in the movies. Eventually, someone would see me and recognize me, and I'd have to go into hiding or something in order to have a halfway normal life. Or else I'd cross the wrong person and have someone hunting me while I hunted Welsh. Or I'd mess up and get myself hurt or killed. There were so many things that could go wrong, and I knew something had to change.
I just didn't know what.