Doing Nothing. Effectively.
It was another boring day in Nowheresville. The sun was shining, the grass was mainly brown, and the snow had almost melted completely from the ground, leaving only a few lucky rinds by the edge of the road. Ah, winter in Virginia. You get wind, you get thin ice, you get cold, but the snow almost never sticks. Maybe up in the mountains it does, but not anywhere near where I live. Of course, there are some advantages- the snow cleanup crew is so inefficient, a good inch or decent rumor of snow and the schools were all shut down. So, I was thus on the nice dry streets on a cold, boring Friday.
It must have been much more interesting when the heroes were around. I mean, you might have someone flying above your school, or even have a real superfight to watch—if you were lucky. Nowadays… it seemed so much duller. No, I wasn’t around when the supers disappeared-that was a good thirty years ago! The toxins that My/ine’s ship released that had killed all the heroes had only dissipated enough in the last five years for the few survivors to come out of their hiding spots. And it’s not even like the survivors were that important! There was Shifty, known as Shifter in his better days, who was half on the run right now. He’d rob a bank one day, and then stop a robbery the next. He’d spent the last thirty-ish years as a fish. Then there was Steely, who was the strong-but-stupid super villain sidekick type, who, rumor has it, had passed the years having a breath-holding contest with a corpse. I heard he won. The others were even less significant, if it was possible. And none of them wanted to go back into active duty, even as villains. They just wanted complete amnesia for their former acts and a house in some nowheresville like here. But I’d checked the records-only my aunt and Andrea’s family had moved here in the last ten years. Bummer.
To make up for the astonishing lack of anything interesting in this little town, I had convinced my aunt to buy me rollerblades. I’d been aiming for a gift card, so I could “accidentally” buy the wrong thing, but my aunt had gotten all excited about the skates and she’d decided to visit the sports shop with me. Thus, rollerblades. The skating rink had shut down a month before I’d gotten them, so I had to skate around the mile-long badly paved circle that ran around our neighborhood. It wasn’t in any way flat, either, with little hills rising out of nowhere like localized foothills for a tiny mountain. Nothing special about these hills, not even a mountain- they were just little hills in the middle of nowhere doing nothing.
I heard the irregular patter of running feet and turned as my only friend came up from behind me.
“Hey, Alex! What’cha doing?” they called.
“Oh, hi, Nick. I’m not doing anything in particular. Just skating around. You?” I replied.
“Nope, nothing. Just hanging,” he said.
“Yeah, there’s nothing to do in Nowheresville,” I agreed. Nick and I had long ago changed our little town’s name so that it was much more accurate. Unfortunately, the petition to officially change the name had never come through. “I bet this wasn’t a little nowheresville back when there were post-humans, though. There were so many fights here, they were certain some hero lived here.”
“That’s what you’re always thinking of. C’mon, Alex, move on. We missed the heroes and we’re never going to get them. They’re dead. Or they’ve given up. It makes no difference.”
“Alex! I remember when we were little and you had action figures instead of plastic dress-up dolls. Heck, you had more action figures than I did.” He laughed. “I remember coming into your house and being all annoyed because you had more heroes than I did. And you were a girl.”
“So?” I asked.
“It’s time for us to move on. That was when we were little. This is now.”
“Nick. Do you really expect me to believe you?” I said. “You’re as obsessed as I am.”
He smiled, then couldn’t help himself and started to laugh. “You should have seen yourself! You were getting all offensive and…” Nick couldn’t keep going, as he had started laughing so hard he had to sit down.
“C’mon, Nick. Get off the ground and help me find something to do.”
“Do you… hehehehe… want to go melt your action figures?”
“Aww, shut up,” I said. “I’m gonna go find something to do without you.”
He caught up with me before I’d managed to leave the neighborhood, running to keep up with my skates. “So, where are we going?” he asked.
“How about the park?” I suggested. “They’re putting up some new monument in time for the Fourth of July. I heard it’s something about the heroes.”
“I heard it was something about Iraq,” Nick challenged.
“Wanna bet?” I said.
“Race you there!” he said.
We ran or skated out of the neighborhood, down the road, and down the concrete sidewalk in the wooded park. A “playground,” really just a broken swingset, announced the entrance, and just beyond it was a huge tarp-covered something.
“Iraq!” yelled Nick.
“Heroes!” I replied.
Nick sped up, just barely passing me. I started to go faster to catch up… and he stopped dead. I ran into him, and we tumbled head-over-heels-over-head-over-heels, right into the tarp-covered object.
“Owww,” said Nick, rubbing his head. “Ow-ow-ow-ow-owww!”
“Ahhh man. Ahhh man,” I said, rubbing my back.
“Let’s not do that again,” Nick said eventually, once we’d helped each other up.
“Yeah,” I agreed, leaning on the very hard tarp-covered object.
“So… Iraq or heroes?” asked Nick.
There was a moment of intense silence as we peeked under the tarp. Then…
“Who on earth is Durham Klemmings?!” he said.
“Um… well, according to the plaque, he was…” I started unhelpfully.
“I don’t care! He wasn’t a hero or in Iraq! That’s not right!”
“He ruined our pointless argument!”
“Yeah, but now we can start a counter-rumor and be right!”
He paused in his rant. “You’re right. I wonder how much we can get off of this one. Nobody will expect it to be… who was it?”
“Durham Klemmings,” I said
“Right,” he said. “What’d he do, again?”
I wrinkled my bow. “Ummm…I can’t remember!”
“Why make a statue of him anyways?”
“Don’t know. I don’t even think the guy who wrote the plaque does.”
“Hey!” someone yelled from across the park, “Get away from my sculpture!”
We took off, splitting immediately down two different pathways through the wide park. If the man had chased us, he would have soon realized that the paths hooked together, but it seemed that he had just wanted to chase us away from his sculpture and couldn’t be bothered to chase us any further. I waited at the center of the little loop for Nick to catch up.
“Are you sure you don’t want to take those skates off?” he panted.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure,” I said.
He crouched there for a minute, trying to get his breath back, hands on knees and head hanging down. Then he looked up, smiling, and made a vague gesture with his hand. “Come on, let’s go home.”
The only sounds on the way back out of the park were the scraping-and -rolling sounds of my skates and the gentle susurration of the trees’ leaves above. Nick was happy to just pant alongside me, and I enjoyed the relative quiet. It gave me that hard-to-come-by time to think.
“Do you think there’ll be any others?”
Nick’s sudden question startled me. “Huh?”
“Superheroes. Do you think they’re gone? Or will they just start appearing again, like they did so long ago?”
“I don’t know. They said that any powers were… oh, what’s that word?” I said.
“It means inherited. Starts with an h,” I said, mentally running through all the words I knew that started with “h.”
“Umm…” Nick said helpfully.
“Heretical...no…Hereditary! That’s it! Their powers were hereditary. So… it’s not likely.”
“Yeah, but there had to be a first person to get superpowers. How’d they get them?”
“So you’re saying it could be possible?” I said.
“Yeah,” Nick nodded.
“Heh. I hope I’m one of them.”
“What would your power be, superskating?” Nick replied skeptically.
“Yeah, and you’d be my sidekick. I’d be Skater and you’d be Rink.”
“Hey! I don’t want to be the sidekick!”
“Too bad you have no powers!”
“Hey! Who says that?”
The rest of our argument brought us to our respective houses, and resolved no more than we had already. Nick headed right inside, but I drifted around the circle a little after he had gone.
So I might have hidden superpowers, huh? It wasn’t impossible? Now I had something to look forward to!