By Peggy McFarland
Dick punched Jack in the jaw hard enough that Jack spun around, lost his balance and hit his noggin on the pavement, a process that cost Jack a full eighty-nine seconds of his life. Jack blinked at the nervous Dick-face in his vision and remembered the exchange of ninety seconds ago. Rage filled his mind. Jack pictured Dick with a black eye and a bloody mouth and before the image fully formed, Dick's hands clenched into fists. The right fist shot up and walloped Dick's own eye socket while the left fist clobbered his own kisser, knocking out both front teeth.
Cool, guess Dick did me a favor, Jack thought. I've got a superpower, which was his only viable conclusion since most of his education was garnered from the television screen. Jack felt wonder and a bit lightheaded. He could revenge everyone who told him he was a no-good-high-school-drop-out. He could redeem himself, fight evil forces and become a hero. No, make that a Superhero, capital S, thank you. His mind skills would not only stop criminals but force them to punish themselves. Yes! He now had purpose.
Jack hoisted himself off the pavement, ignored the dizziness, spit on the moaning Dick and stepped into the street directly in the path of a speeding city bus. No problem. He would test this new Superpower. With his mind, he would bring the looming city transport to a screeching halt a mere inch from his nose, just like in the movies. Power coursed through his veins. Excitement filled his brain. Pride allowed him to stand straight and tall, arms extended, jacket billowing with the oncoming rush of wind. Yes, the portrait of a Superhero, Jack thought, and hoped Dick paid attention. Every Superhero needed one awed witness. Jack faced the vehicle and concentrated.
Tires did not screech. Through the bug-eyed windshield, Jack saw the bus driver mouth, "Move it, jackass." Characters on television, when confronted with danger, said time moved in slow motion. Or maybe slowing time was a Superpower bonus.
Jack's life did not flash before his eyes, but every Superhero movie he ever watched did. A bead of sweat blinded his right eye. A warm liquid washed over his right leg. The acrid reek of urine mixed with car exhaust tang. Horror replaced excitement as he learned a Super-lesson.
New skills could not be used on command; a trigger was necessary. The trigger released the power plus practice -- tons and tons of practice -- allowed eventual control and mastery until the Superpower truly transformed the individual into a Superhero. Jack focused harder. The bus wobbled… but no screech. The millisecond before impact, Jack experienced fright, resignation, embarrassment, regret, even disappointment, but he did not summon rage. He heard a giggle from the pavement. Aw, jeez, Dick saw I peed my pa….