Short Story

Existential Angst (Act I) – Esteban Mayorga

Why me?

Of all places.

Of all possible places, in all possible planes of existence, did I really have to be here? It’s not like I chose to be here, or was born as part of some centuries old legacy foretelling the horrible doom of the human race, or anything actually interesting. In fact, I was just dumped here as a baby 15 years ago and no one bothered to tell me who brought me or if I even have a family.

And if it ever crossed my mind to leave, I would simply be shot. Thank the shady, nameless, government organization that collects superhumans and stuffs them in a floating city for that. They say its because superhumans are too dangerous to be released into the “normal” population. Doesn’t make them sound any less like comic book villains.

Today is the first day of my sophomore year of high school. This is where they train us to act as everything from assassins and bodyguards to intelligence operatives and soldiers, depending on your skill set. No seriously, they’re actually doing that. The government is pretty much just a comic book villain, i’ve mentioned this already.

So the idea is generally that we’re supposed to make friends here and be all happy for a few years; before we become the world’s cutest little murderers that could at the tender age of 18.

Yeah, it hasn’t exactly gone well so far.

Well, freshman year started off well enough. My abilities hadn’t kicked in yet, so I might as well have been in training for the CIA or S.H.I.E.L.D or something like that.  My grades were good, I did well in combat training, and I generally pleased the all seeing big brother style governing body.

But then, something unfortunate happened. I started Doing very well in combat training. my reaction times got quicker and quicker, and so did everything else about me.

I started processing everything in split seconds, my body started reacting and moving faster than anyone could see, I started hitting harder than anyone else could, and they started telling me I was the most naturally talented fighter they had ever seen. I bristled with pride. I made friends, friends that respected me and looked up to me.

And then about halfway through the year, something happened so fast time stopped. I had been sparring with Daniela, the only person in class that could still beat me. I lost focus and the next thing I knew, her knee was flying towards my face like lightning, I instinctively threw a punch at her face knowing it would never have time to connect, and then…

Nothing happened.

Everything in the whole world slowed to a crawl, her knee sluggishly dragging through the air like so much molasses. I had already drawn my fist back to my face, and I realized that my strike had connected and she was dripping backwards, her knee following a new path.

I had discovered my power.

They moved me into the true school, the school for superhumans. I was classified as a speedster, rank 6 out of 10; 1 being Usain Bolt on crack, 10 being so fast you could smash atoms by snapping your fingers.

It was at here I discovered something truly, gut wrenchingly, terrifying. Teenagers don’t have souls. They are far too cruel and hopped up on hormones to have souls.

Superhuman hormones are what you would get if you threw normal hormones, crack cocaine, and the blood of a virgin in a blender and then fed it to an entire frat house. Except the frat kids try and outdo each other by seeing who can throw cars furthest.

Long story short, being the weedy kid with glasses, and being an irritating smartass in a school full of those people doesn’t mix well. I immediately started making more enemies than friends, and tensions heated until they boiled over and exploded right in my stupid, stupid face.

I got into a fight with the resident alpha jock, and we ended up demolishing the gym by way of him being a pyromancer/maniac, and I may have accidentally drunkenly made out with someone’s boyfriend somewhere in there, and there might have been some other stuff I greatly regret now…

Needless to say, Big brother was not pleased.

I was sent off to do hard labour in the worst parts of Russia for summer vacation, which was in no way shape or form fun. Or painless. Or free of head trauma.

But enough of the troubles of last year, let’s talk about how this year is going. You might say, “what could possibly go wrong? It’s only the first day after all”.

And there was a time I would have agreed with you. That time was before today.

As it turns out, i’m one of the highest ranking powered individuals in the world, and that tends to draw attention from time to time.

Today, attention came in the form of Valentina Valentine during first period, who is dedicated to damaging the vital organs of those who might question and/or insult her name. My kidney still hurts.

She sought me out  because she wants me to join a little unofficial “club” she’s starting. The objective of this “club” is to overthrow the oppressive government by way of excessive force and bloody revolution.

I told her to bugger right off and leave me alone, which she wasn’t too happy about.

Now, don’t get me wrong, i’m all for revolution, but does it really have to be so bloody? I honestly have no interest in becoming a murderer, that’s why i’m all for revolution in the first place.

She says she can’t do it without me. As someone of my power ranking, I would be a figurehead in this revolution. I would be a general, someone to rally behind. I would be responsible for all of the death and suffering and liberation and freedom and happiness it might cause. I don’t know if I can handle that.

Another option was presented to me during lunch, just 10 minutes ago.

Here I was, eating lunch by my lonesome on the roof of the school. I love it up here. You can see down to the ground below the city; and the horizon seems to stretch forever.

Sometimes I try to figure out where we are by looking at the land or the ocean. Sometimes I just think about jumping off that roof and landing in what looks like kansas. Living on a farm, learning how to herd sheep and milk dogs or whatever they do.

Anyway, my little game got interrupted by a government official, all bald headed and fancily dressed and the like. Turns out Valentina isn’t the only one who wants to put my powers to use.

The school wants to put me through an accelerated program, and turn me into an undercover intelligence operative by next year. I could be the best. I could get anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye, snatch classified information out of someone’s hands and put it into different, very wealthy and very generous hands.

So here I am, wondering which side will involve the least death and destruction, trying to choose between the lesser of two evils hell bent on destroying each other. Of all places, I had to be here?

My head sinks into my hands, fingers tussling and combing through dirty blonde hair. One of those little ticks I get when i’m stressed. While the government option isn’t exactly a moral victory, at least I wouldn’t be hurting anyone. Not directly anyway. I wouldn’t be doing any murdering.

But everyone else would. Valentina says she can’t do it without me, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try. What if she tries without me and fails because i’m not there? What if I cause her and those that follow her to die meaningless deaths? What if she fails and we keep going through this system, committing the worst atrocities known by mankind because we’re better at it?

Can I really sit back and let that happen?

No, I really can’t.

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?

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