(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Derek was written by Ted Covey.)
The Pier of Glacier Peak Outdoor Shopping Center
District 5, Matoma, Greenland. Year 2543
A continuous stream of blackened energy mixed with white spirals collided with the pier before Derek. Snowflakes trickled through the girl’s body he saw in front of him—he froze while he held an oozing lava cake in front of his mouth. His jaws remained an inch above the cake until he recognized a familiar face—he dug his teeth into the cake as a smirk formed on his face. As the singing of killer whales echoed from the coast of the Greenland Sea, Derek scooped a chunk of powdered sugar with his index finger from one of his five lava cakes before him. He beckoned her to sit in the rounded mesh stool in front of him. He stared at the sky with a blank expression as a flurry of snowflakes beat against his cheek then immediately transformed into steam.
“Sorry, I’ve been gaming all night…” He brushed his hand across his blemished cheek as more snowflakes evaporated when they came in contact with his skin. “Want me to get you something? Lava cake? Cream cheese bagel? Mocha? I get a discount today from a majority of the food vendors.”
Kelly approached the stool he had motioned to and took a seat. “I’m fine. Thanks.” She smiled at him then offered him her hand to shake. “I’m Kelly, by the way. You must be Derek. Nice to meet you. How are you doing today?”
He brushed the chocolate from his hand onto his pant leg then shook her hand, while at the same time he was careful on how much strength he exerted. “I’m starved and tired… but I’d have to say I’m quite well. It’s nice to meet you. How about yourself? How are you doing?”
“I’m well. Thank you for asking.” Kelly smiled at him, but this interview wasn’t about her, so she purposely didn’t go into detail. “So, tell me about yourself. What is it that you do? I understand you’re…gifted in a way?”
“You’re the first person to actually ask me about myself…” he inhaled the remaining lava cake before him. “When you say “gifted” it reminds me of a movie about mutants. Anyway, I don’t do much with my life: I stay up all night and play MMORPGs, sleep the whole day, smoke, and every once in a while hang out with friends. boring, right? As for my “gift”, I presume you’re mentioning the fact that snowflakes are evaporating whenever they touch me. From what my sister told me, I have a couple of superpowers—one being the ability to teleport, one being supernatural strength, another being that my wounds will regenerate way faster than that of a normal person, and I can’t really explain what the last one is—every once in a while when I’m pissed, things around me begin to heat up. There’s always people bitching about it—pardon my language. And whenever anything liquid comes in contact with my skin, it’ll evaporate.” He wrapped his hand around his wrist only made of skin and bone. “You wouldn’t expect someone with my build to have super strength, huh?”
“I’ve learned not to underestimate people,” Kelly told him simply. “So, you have all these powers, and all you do is play a game, sleep, and hang out with friends?” She raised her brows.
“Lately, I’ve been thinking on this as well…” He dragged another plate of lava cake before him. “On my birthday, my sister bought this topic up, asking me why I don’t do anything with my abilities. She was mentioning I could revolutionize the world of importing and exporting, be a perfect addition to any construction crew, join the military or the police force. Or even become a vigilante. But I prefer escapism…I don’t like interacting with people, let alone having to socialize with them on a daily basis in real life. They’re rude, arrogant, cocky, and a majority of what they say pisses me off. If I were doing jobs for robots, then yes, I’d use what I have more. Other than that, I prefer to stay in my cave, where all I have to deal with are my sister and parents, which I’m content with.”
“By the way, I don’t know if it’s an issue with my thyroid—” He took a huge bite from the cake as pudding dripped onto his plate. “But I tend to eat a lot as well”
Kelly arched a brow. “I think the eating part has to do with you having lots of power, and you should probably use them accordingly rather than just let them be idle.” She set her elbow on the table then rested the side of her head in her palm as she regarded him. “Do you have any training or such to control your power?”
“Thank god…my mom kept telling me it was a thyroid problem—my dad said it was because of my metabolism—and my sister said it was because I’m fat. That makes sense, though—whenever I’m around cold, or when I’m angry, I feel like I’ve been starved for days.” He mirrors her arched brow while he finished off the lava cake and pulled the third plate in front of him. “Training? Not professionally. I’ve actually nearly killed some people with my abilities in the past while learning what they were. The first time I used my teleportation, I accidentally teleported an entire bathroom in an airport into an ocean—thankfully no one was in there. Then when I was learning to give firm handshakes, I accidentally broke all of the bones in someones hand because I didn’t know how much strength I was exerting. Then when I realized about the heat ability, I melted all of the playground toys around me and forced all of the families to evacuate the park. From there, I’ve had to train myself. Every once in a while my sister, Rainy would help me.”
“Are there others like you? I mean, your sister doesn’t seem to bat an eye at your powers.” While waiting for him to respond, Kelly glimpsed around to take in their surroundings–a pier, snow, and people going about their day surrounded them. Nothing much held her interest, so she shifted her gaze back to Derek awaiting his answer.
“While looking around on the dark web, some hackers have leaked videos of others like my sister and I.” He gazed towards the eastern corner of the pier at the statue molded from copper to resemble the provinces favorite bird, the Blue Jay. “She does every once in a while, but she’s in the same situation as me—doesn’t know much about what she has. Furthermore, she’s been busy with school and boyfriends ever since she was a kid, so she doesn’t have much free time. I have attempted to visualize the people I saw on the darknet and teleport to them, but nothing happens.” He signed then ate 75% of a lava cake with one bite. “Daniel, bring me more moltens!” The breeze carried his voice towards the snow blanketed mountains in the distance.
“Does your sister have powers too?” Kelly raised her brows as she watched him finish off the lava cake.
A man who wore a clean white apron bought over five more plates of lava cakes, then coated the tops with sugar. “Can I get a Ballistic boost as well, man?” Derek pulled a plate before himself then affixed his attention back to Kelly. “Yup—” he took a bite. “She has the ability to manipulate moisture and create it out of thin air—I wish I would have gotten her ability, then I wouldn’t have to deal with the bull—” He cut himself off while staring at her with a blank expression for a split second. “Stuff…that the powers I have come with. Though, I do like the cell regeneration I have a lot more. One time, we both got into a car accident because of her bad driving and were cut up pretty badly from the glass. My wounds recovered in less than an hour, when hers took a couple hours to heal themselves.”
Kelly nodded. This made sense. “And what about your parents? I’d suspect they would have powers since the two of you do.”
“Here’s the thing Rainy and I always found strange, they don’t have any abilities… they’re normal human beings.” He cracked the seal on a can with a logo of an ouroboros phoenix on it then took a sip—his eyes opened a bit wider as he heard his heart thump at 100 beats per minute. “Whenever we approached them about it, they shrugged and said it could have been a miracle…”
“And they don’t think it’s strange at all? They’re not scared or anything? If mean, if I had kids, and they displayed any superpowers, first off, that’d be totally unfair. Why don’t I get powers too? But then secondly, I would want to know what’s going on. I wouldn’t just shrug.” She met Derek’s gaze. “Of course, things could be different here…wherever ‘here’ is.” She then furrowed her brows. “Where are we, by the way? I’m assuming Earth—sometime in the future. I’m from the 21st century, so things are different. What’s changed?”
“I can’t read their minds, plus some things are better to be left in the unknown, otherwise my life might go down the—drain…” He crossed his arms as he stared at the plate before him. His stomach emits a rumble. “What I’ve learned is that you’re better off being a normal person, especially after people learn about the history of the Deity War, then everyone will be rude to you and give you strange looks. Which is why we aren’t advanced as we should be nowadays, between the Deity War nearly ending the world in the 2100s’ and the solar flare of the 2300s’, we’ve had to re develop everything quite a bit until now. Which is the year 2543, by the way. I believe in history class they told us you used paper books, LED tv screens, and rollers, what our slang is for wheeled vehicles, back in the 21st century. In addition, people have only lived on Earth. But nowadays, space travel is a norm. We have five or more colonized planets in the Andromeda galaxy, in addition to Mars being terraformed in the Milky Way galaxy. Then if you pay 100 thousand points a year, you can live in a bio dome on the Earth’s moon. Going back to what I said about paper books and such, they’re extinct, now we only use holograms based reading programs and tablets, in addition to hologram based computers and television source. We also use hover vehicles and vacuum trains as our main sources of transportation.”
“Very interesting.” Kelly wasn’t surprised by the advancement of technology. She sat back in her chair and regarded Derek. “The Deity War—what was that all about?” She furrowed her brows.
“Oh yeah, and nano technology is very popular nowadays. It’s mainly used for military weaponry, civilian vehicles, and anything pertaining to space travel.” He inhaled the cake in front of him them coughed. “From what I remember in high school history, the Deity War happened in the 2100s’ because an unknown man with superpowers slaughtered all of the United Nation’s leaders during a conference, which instantly infuriated all of the world’s militaries. They labeled anyone with super powers as a terrorist associate, and began slaughtering them by the hundreds. In about a day or 2, the people with super powers divided into 3 groups: one being called the “Four Horsemen” which was a group of the 4 most powerful superpower users, another being an army led by a man named Zeresh, and another being led by a man who had the ability to bring people back to life who called himself the “Warden”. So the 4 horsemen and the warden’s people fought against Zeresh’s group and all of the world’s militaries. Then Zeresh’s group just killed anything that moved. Eventually, a man named Martin something said a speech talking about how supernatural beings and normal people shouldn’t be at war, instead they should live together in peace. So after two-thirds of the world’s populated was wiped out, thousands of cities were annihilated, and a lot more, the 3 groups disbanded and everyone went their own ways, and never seen again.”
“I can see what people don’t like powered people then.” Kelly nodded, but she was confused. “But how can three group of superpowered people just disappear?” She gave Derek a perplexed look. He was still eating.
Derek shrugged then pulled a vapor cigarette pen from his inner jacket pocket—he took a puff. “I don’t know… I would assume a lot of them were killed off, so after the war, there was so few of them, that they just split up around the world, then traveled to one of five habitable Andromeda planets or mars. They have plenty of places to hide. The world isn’t small, anymore.” An awkward silence surrounded the two for a minute as he inhaled yet another lava cake.
“True.” She had forgotten there were other habitable planets in this time. “So, you have no motivation to really do much with life? If you had it your way, you’d keep it the way it is right now? Or would you change something?”
“As I’ve said” He stretched his arms. “I don’t like people. I prefer escaping into other worlds where all I have to deal with are idiots using microphones. Though I’ve had times where I’ve considered doing something else with my life, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. When I was with my ex girlfriend, I was thinking about a job, but after she cheated on me, I just went back into my relationship with my gaming avatar.”
“You said everyone’s an idiots. Okay—fine. Am I an idiot?” She locked eyes with him firmly refusing to back down.
“You and my family—maybe a couple of my friends, are exceptions.” He smiled while he affixed his eyes on her glare. “Personally, you come off as one of the most intelligent people I’ve met. Even though I don’t know much about you, but I’ve heard that just by listening to how a person speaks can tell you a lot about them” He shoved a cake in his mouth, not swallowing or chewing. “So don’t take my comment about idiots personally.”
“Well then, Derek, you just met me, and you’ve deemed me not an idiot, and now, let me give you my assessment of you, and you must pardon me because I will be very blunt.” She maintained eye contact. “You are self-centered. If the world doesn’t go the way you want it to go, you have a bad day. If people don’t jump when you tell them to jump how you tell them to jump, you get in a bad mood, but guess what? None of the worlds revolve around you, and you need to stop just thinking about yourself. You are wasting your time and your powers if all you do is play games, sleep, and maybe hang out with friends. I’m not saying you need to go and be absolutely social, but for once, you need to go through the day and not think about how people treat you or don’t treat you. Rather, you should think of how you can treat them and help them and be of service to them. No one owes you anything. Do you understand?” She raised her brows.
The lava cake fell out of his hands. “Ouch…” He took a puff from his vapor pen. “Another reason why I don’t like getting out and being around people. While in elementary and middle school, before anyone actually found out about my super powers, I was made fun a lot. Most of the time for no reason, false rumors were always spread about me, which made no one like me. So there’s a reason why I’m “self-centered”. I understand that none of the world revolves around me, it never has and it never will. When I go out I try to act the best I can—for instance in this situation, I usually swear, a lot, but since I was with you, I managed to refrain for the most part because I was thinking of you. No one owes me anything, but at least all I could ask for is a little bit of respect once in a while, is that so hard to ask from billions of people?” He dug his fingers into the metal mesh of a table. As he lifted his hand, molten metal along with crinkled mesh replaced the once pristine table top where his hand was.
“Respect is only earned. Being a respectful and honorable man is most evident when no one resects you because you, at your core, have a moral standard, and you know where you stand, and you will stand firm—but respectfully. Someone who is respectful, will respect others whether or not those people respect them. If you started respecting your fellow person regardless of how they treat you or have treated you in the past, regardless of what they say or do, but you prove yourself a stand up man….people won’t be able to deny that, and they will come to admire you.” Kelly rose to her feet. Their time was about up anyway. “So, consider what I said, but unfortunately our time here has come to an end. I hope you the best in all your endeavors, but I also hope you have something to think about. Thank you for this talk.” She bowed her head to him then turned and walked down the pier. A short ways away, she gestured with her hand, opening a portal in the air, and stepped through, closing the portal behind her.
Ted Covey’s story is titled ‘Initium’ is part of the ‘Aeternum universe’ and the first of his ‘Heroic Trilogy’. He’s posting it as a web serial online now, and you can find it on his blog.