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Fiction Fantastic 2018 Winning Story: “My Superpower” by Lexis Sixel

The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.

You can purchase this story in the 2018 Winners Anthology, Secret Keepers here.

“My Superpower” by Lexis Sixel, Sheldon High School

Second Place, High School Level, 2018


My Superpower

Lexis Sixel

Sheldon High School

Everybody chose flying. And while I’ll admit, a generation or two of flying people was pretty funny every now and then, I didn’t really see the originality. Then again, the world’s pretty much run out of that. But what did you expect? The year 5000 had to happen at some point.

About a thousand years ago, some very smart people in the entertainment industry created what they called “Upgrades” for human beings. Today they’re more of a rite of passage. When you turn eighteen, you choose which superpower you want. The world certainly runs more efficiently with super strong, telekinetic people running about, leading us into the new era. Or so they say.

Today is my eighteenth birthday, and I have no idea what I want at all.

I could blame that on my age, and the never-ending angst running rampant through my veins, but I’d rather think it’s just because I honestly don’t know.

All my friends, of which there are very few, know exactly what they want to add to themselves. After all, there are only about ten choices, and you usually choose the one that will aid you the best in life. That works great if you happen to know what you’re doing with said life.

My brother Max knew, and my sister Hannah. She chose mind reading on her eighteenth birthday. Max picked shape shifting. Both are very happy with their choices. Well, they say they are. You can’t get rid of your Upgrade once it’s a part of you.

A few other people in my city who happen to have the same birthday as me stand in the line to get into the building. It is a normal office building; they have one just like it in almost every city now. Bright letters display on the sides of it, and advertise the different powers available.

The crowd around me buzzes with excitement. All of us teenagers, still freshly out of high school, trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing here.

“Move up,” I hear someone say from behind me.

I don’t bother to look. I just step further up the line, realizing my daydreams had caused me to once again faze out.

I hear laughing from behind me, so I glance over my shoulder and see a few girls from my school, some I knew, some I don’t.

One of them stare at me like I was an alien.

“Happy Birthday,” I say to them.

The one giving me a dirty look holds up her middle finger and the two others giggle and look away.

I smile. “Nice. Classy,”

The main one smirks. “Who said you could talk to me? Honestly, people like you are a reason why they should have two separate offices. One for my kind, one for yours,” she says disdainfully.

“Are the reason,” I correct her.

She raises a perfect eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

Her friends frown at me.

I swallow. “People like me are the reason they should have two separate offices,” I say.

“Yeah, that’s what I said,” she laughs. “Got a problem with that?”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I just think that if you feel so strongly you should make me the reason, not just a reason.”

Realizing that she couldn’t come up with a fast enough response to that, I turn back around in line and sigh to myself. I hate idiots.

When it comes to be my turn to step through the doors into the building, one of the guards nods at me in a friendly gesture.

“Have fun,” he smiles.

Right, like I wasn’t just about to make a life altering decision that could possibly change the world…. I’m telling you, people are brainwashed or something if they think this is normal.

I’m led by someone wearing red up some stairs and into what looks like a small classroom. A single window, a single light, one desk, chair, paper.

“Take all the time you want. The instructions are on the table,” the person says, closing the door behind them as they leave.

Alrighty then. I sit down at the table in the middle of the room and look at the paper in front of me.

Sign your full name across the Upgrade of your choice. One permitted, no erasing.

And below that, a list of my choices.

Advanced Strength

Flight

Invisibility

Telepathy

Shape Changing

Astral Projection

Pre-Recognition

Pyrokenesis

Magnetism

Elasticity

I feel my heart beating in my chest, and am reminded of a poem I’d heard in literature class one time. There is a line in it about how our hearts are beasts, unknowable, untamable. And that’s why our ribs are cages.

I’m feeling a little caged now. God, is this what it feels like to be an animal in a trap?

Okay, calm down. Take as much time as you want, I remind myself.

A pen appears on the desk next to my hand, and suddenly I feel like the walls are closing in.

Curiously, I ponder the idea of how long I could actually spend in this room. Who holds the record for taking the longest to choose their superpower? Pretty sure, that would be me.

No way out, no way back. I can’t say, no thanks I’d rather just be boring. Normal. Human. This was what is done. Why does that scare me so much? What is wrong with me?

Breathe…

I decide I’ll choose through the process of elimination. That was a good way to go about this, right? Since I have no idea what to do.

No strength, don’t need it, don’t want it. And flight is too obvious. I don’t want to be another one of those people.

Invisibility. Right, like I need another reason for people to walk right past me like I’m not there.

And no, very much no to hearing people’s thoughts. A part of me shutters at the idea. Wow, that could be dangerous. I also don’t want to become a toaster or a llama… or be in two places at the same time.

I smile to myself all alone in the room. One of me is enough.

I didn’t want to see the future, or burn buildings down, although I am briefly tempted to burn this one straight down to the ground.

No metal objects flying at my face, please and thank you. And that leaves elasticity. It is last of course because it is the stupidest. There is maybe, eleven percent of the population that chose that, and honestly, I’d be interested to meet them and know what they were thinking when they signed their name.

The pen feels heavy in my hand. Sign my name. Sign the paper, seal my fate.

I blink out of a daydream and realize that I’d drawn a little seal on the corner of the paper with laser eyes. I smirk.

Great waste of time. Focus. Concentrate. This is your future.

Future is stupid.

With my heart beating like the caged animal I feared it was, I suck in a breath and sign my name on the paper.

It is my best signature yet.

And it isn’t over any of the Upgrades.

I’ve signed my name at the very bottom of the page, under all the superpowers that everyone else chose. I sit back and look at it. It looks like my name could be another power on the list: it falls right in order.

I don’t think I am breathing when the same person in red comes back in the room. I guess they can tell when you’d finished signing.

They look down at my paper and do the one thing I didn’t think possible. They smile.

“Good for you,” they say.

I stand up, same as always and nod. “Thanks. Have a nice day,”

And damn it, I meant it.

A weight lifts clean off my shoulders as I stroll calmly out of the building.

I pass the girls from before and they sneer at me once again. Good for them. Fly and burn buildings down, my friends. My generation thanks you.

I myself am content to spend the rest of my life as me.