Here we are! The start of my new story, Empowered! I’ve been mentioning it for the past month or two, and now I’m incredibly excited that I can share it with you all today. If you enjoyed the humor and style of Wood You Be Mine?, then Empowered, the story of a world where having superpowers is the norm, will be right up your alley.
It’s going to be a fun next few months, so get your ass ready!
Decibel. Octane. Wavelength. Hourglass. Paradox. Not a random collection of words, instead these are the names of the people of this world. A world with a similar past and present as ours, except for one key difference: Everyone here is born with a superpower.
You’ll meet Spore. You’ll meet Wing. You’ll meet Elcsum and Iris and Mesmer and Insight.
And you’ll also meet Carl.
Carl doesn’t have any superpowers.
Carl’s a mutant.
“I don’t want to go to the fucking dance, alright, El?” Carl screamed in to the phone. “It’s a dumbass dance for a bunch of kids to grind up on each other to shitty music from ten years ago!”
“I don’t know how you can say that out loud and not think it’ll be an awesome time,” the voice on the other end of the line answered back. “What are you afraid of? You have absolutely nothing to lose. Come on. Get dressed and I’ll come pick you up.”
Letting out an annoyed sigh, Carl responded, “Just go yourself. I’m not gonna have a good time. I won’t ask any girls to dance, and they won’t ask me. So what’s the point? I can stay at home and have the exact same experience, except I won’t have to put pants on.”
“You’re not wearing pants right now?” El asked after a momentary pause.
“Go without me.”
“I’m coming to get you. You need to come out of your shell. Senior year starts in two days. It’s our year. Let’s start it off right.”
El chuckled, “You’re cute when you think you have a choice.”
Closing his eyes and throwing his head back in defeat, Carl replied, “You’re comin’ no matter what I say, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Now for the love of God, put on some pants and meet me outside in ten minutes.”
“Fine. Alright. See you in ten.”
“See ya soon, bud.”
Doing as El requested, Carl started getting dressed. He dug through the pile of clothes on the floor of his closet; shirts and pants and socks and boxers flying in every corner of the room until he finally found the pair of jeans he was looking for. Bringing them up to his face, he let out a sniff to see if they were safe to go out in.
Breathing in, he hesitated for a moment as the scent lingered in his nose.
“Good enough,” he said to himself as he apathetically put them on. Now moving over to his dresser, he opened the top drawer and grabbed the first button-down shirt he could find. It was crimson red and about three years old, but it still fit him well enough. A little tight, perhaps, since he got it before he started working out, but still wearable. After fastening the buttons on the shirt except for the top two and rolling up his sleeves, he trudged down the stairs, the image of how the night was sure to go running through his head.
He imagined standing next to El as his friend charmingly made conversation with girls and guys alike while he stood there like some leech who’d shrivel up and die if detached from his side. And that was the best case scenario.
“Ma!” he yelled while crouched down in the hallway closet looking for his sneakers, “I’m going to the dance! El’s gonna be here in a few minutes to pick me up!”
“Okay, baby angel, have a good time! And call me when you get there!”
Carl closed his eyes and shook his head. He was 17. He didn’t need the nickname ‘baby angel’ anymore, and he definitely didn’t need to call her when he got to the dance.
“Ma!” he yelled again, “Why do you need me to call you? The dance is at the school, where I’ve been going every day for the past three years without callin’ you!”
“I just worry, honey! Have a good time playing with your friends!”
“We’re not ‘playing,’ ” he muttered to himself.
“What was that, young man?” his mom rejoined, her tone less ‘sweet’ motherly and more ‘mother’ motherly.
“Nothing, ma’am,” he sheepishly replied back. Carl often wondered if his mom’s, known as ‘Insight’ to everyone else, real power was super-hearing. In actuality, she had the power of empathy, which Carl knew all too well. She could sense your thoughts and feelings as if they were her own, making her overly emotional and sensitive to everyone around her. Couple that with a mother’s natural inclination to be protective of her child, and you could only imagine the kind of overbearing anxiety she had towards him and his siblings.
And although deep down he knew that it’s better to have a mother who worries too much as opposed to one who doesn’t worry at all, Carl still sometimes toyed with the idea of slipping a Xanax in her morning coffee.
Finally finding his sneakers, Carl wedged his feet in (he never bothered to untie them), dug his finger in to the back of each to bring up the flap that was now crammed between his heel and the shoe, and stood up to leave. As he grabbed the cold metal doorknob, he let out a quiet sigh and muttered to himself, “Here we go.”
He was already regretting this.
Carl stood outside, hands in his pockets, gazing at the night sky. He attempted to whistle, but all he was able to produce was a wet sputtering noise as spittle came flying out of his lips.
After a few minutes of waiting, Carl finally heard that familiar *swish* sound followed by a loud *thunk*.
This continued about five or six times until El ultimately landed right in front of him. As he did, he whipped his shaggy blonde hair to the side and out of the way of his brilliant blue eyes.
El, short for Elcsum, had the power of super-strength. Every muscle in his body was a hundred times stronger than normal, and, as such, his legs were powerful enough that he could leap to fantastic heights.
“Hey there, little buddy!” El said with a big grin on his face. “Ready to go?”
Carl hated ‘little buddy’ almost as much as he did ‘baby angel.’
“Does it matter?”
“Nope!” El replied as he grabbed Carl and they shot off in to the air. When El said he was coming to pick you up, he meant it literally.
Carl really wished his sister hadn’t borrowed the car.
“This is always degrading.”
“Oh, stop being a baby. We’re going to have fun tonight!”
Carl, knowing he really was sounding like a baby, resolved to be positive about the situation. El was right; he was being a downer. Acting like that will only guarantee having a crappy time.
“Fine, I’ll be nice and happy for the rest of the night. I promise. Here: Big smile for ya!”
Carl then opened both his mouth and eyes wide to give El a creepy, clown-like smile.
El winced and remarked, “I hate it when you make that face.”
“What face?” Carl asked, his smile even wider, his bright white teeth glistening in the moonlight.
“I have absolutely no issues dropping you.”
“You’re just uncomfortable because of all our sexual tension. But seriously, I’m still not sure why you wanted me to go.”
“What? Because you’re my best friend! Why wouldn’t I want you there? And…”
El opened his nostrils wide and sniffed.
“…and what’s that smell?” he asked, once again wincing.
Carl began to think maybe he should’ve put on a different pair of pants.
Changing the subject, Carl asked, “So, umm…who’s all gonna be there?”
“Errrrbody gonna be there! And I’m glad you got dressed up for it,” El replied, mocking his shirt. “Baby Gap have a half-off sale?”
“Psh,” Carl replied, “I love this shirt. Haters gonna hate.”
“Well at least it shows off your new build. Little Carl putting on some muscle over the summer…”
“…I can hear the ladies dripping from all the way up here.”
“Jesus Christ, El…”
“…we’re here. Look alive, bud!” El said, followed by a pat on the back that was a little too hard, causing Carl to stumble forward.
“Dude, you really, really need to remember to hold back more.”
“Hey, Muscles, sorry! I thought you could handle it.”
“Love you, too. Also, do me a favor and, every instinct you have, do the exact opposite of that.”
“I’m here, ain’t I?”
“Fair point. Aight,” El said, “time to get our groove on.”
TO BE CONTINUED
The inaugural post of Empowered wraps up! How does it compare to Wood You Be Mine? Which intro grabbed you more? Are you excited to see where the story goes? Was Carl too whiny? Was El too inappropriate (or not inappropriate enough?) You know I would love to hear your feedback, be it positive or negative, so let me know you think one Facebook or Twitter. Next week, all of you who’ve been reading along since Wood You Be Mine? will enjoy what happens? Why’s that? You’ll just have to come back next week and see! Hope to see you then!