Ashes 2 - II

In The Flesh

Let’s start with the invisibility, 
I thought. It seems like it only works on things that are close to my skin, so clothes and glasses, but not the mirror. Is it permanent? I took off my glasses, and as soon as they left my face, they became visible. So no, I put them back on and they disappeared again, it’s proximity based. Or is it? I held the mirror as close to my stomach as I could, slipping it under my shirt. Oddly, it remained visible, hanging in the air.

So it wasn’t as clear cut as that then. I set that aside for later, it wasn’t important right now. Next point.

Although I’d been a little distracted by the, you know, freaking superpowers, I did still have a life to live, and pretty soon, my dad would be coming up those stairs to check if I was awake. So with that in mind, it seemed like the most important question was,

Can I turn it off?

Permanent effects weren’t uncommon when it came to powers; we’d been learning about it just last week in school, actually. Every Dragon-class had permanent invincibility of some kind, of course, and there was that one guy in Pakistan who exuded a constantly fluctuating magnetic field. So it was possible.

But…

It didn’t feel like it. The buzzing, no, it was more like a two-tone humming really; it felt active somehow, like being connected to a live current. Like I could turn it off, to extend the simile, if only I could find the switch. Except the room is completely blacked-out, there’s junk all over the floor, and the switch doesn’t exist because the switch was actually inside you all along.

Huh. That ended up way more appropriate than I’d intended.

Anyway, I had to figure this out somehow. I closed my eyes. Try to feel the humming, let it wash over me like a wave, roll with the current aaaaand I’m a hippy. No, no, feel the vibrations, feel it in your – nope, I can’t do this.

I huffed out a sharp breath. So scratch that idea, then. Umm, what had Miss Richmond been saying in Superhuman Studies? Something about… the brain trying to make new connections, because it doesn’t have the wiring for powers? Yeah, that was it; she’d talked about how gestures get tied up with powers a lot, because it’s easier to adapt existing wiring than create new ones.

So maybe what I needed to do was try and harness the humming, rather than tune into it. If that even made any sense. I reached down in my mind, which felt like trying to move a muscle that didn’t exist. I actually heard it when I found the humming: it expanded to fill my head, the twin tones perfectly harmonized. I got the distinct impression that they were two different things, that one tone did one thing, and the other another. Invisibility and the duplicate-me, respectively?

I reached for the higher note, and, not quite knowing what I was doing or how I was doing it, tapped it-

The humming ceased. Both tones silenced immediately, leaving no echo or remnant behind. But more importantly, I became visible once more.

At the exact same moment, the duplicate exploded into wisps of lavender-grey smoke, which quickly dissipated into the air, fading to nothingness.

I breathed a long sigh of relief. Not being visible forever, while potentially useful, would’ve put a real damper on my life.
The bed creaked as I thumped down on it. I wasn’t tired, exactly; I’d just woken up, after all. It was just that, now that things were back to normality, my mind could finally catch up to what was going on.

I had superpowers.

Gosh-darned superpowers.

That was just freaking insane. I could barely even comprehend it. My mind was running around in circles, like a track-runner with one weighted arm. Possibilities, questions, dangers, all swimming around and filling my head, to the point where I was having trouble keeping track of it all.

Thankfully, real life intervened before I could get caught up in an identity crisis. “Hanners?” came the voice of my dad, muffled by the closed door, “Are you up?”

“Yeahhhhh,” I stifled a yawn, “yeah, I’m up. Be down in a minute, ‘kay?”

“’Kay,” he replied, and I heard his footsteps track back down the stairs.

Right. School. Reality check, a boring one. Though, I probably needed it, I acknowledged.

“You know, it’s cool that we have powers and all,” my brain said, “but maybe we should just leave them alone for now.”

Oh joy, you’re back. What do you mean?

“Well, we just got them, and we don’t know what they can do. At all.”

That’s not true, I protested. I can go invisible, sort of.

“Congratulations, we can sneak into locker rooms.” Sometimes I worry about the voice. Not that I’m crazy; I know I imagine it as a method of keeping my thoughts organized. But occasionally, the stuff I come up with is a little… off.

Oh, so now you’ve expanded from rational cynicism into libido too?

“Shush. Anyway, what about the smoke-double thing? What if another one of those pops up while we’re at school? Love to see us try to explain that away.”

If one appears, I’m pretty sure I’ll go invisible, actually.

“We don’t know that.”

Then let’s find out. I reached back down and tapped again, and-

Nothing. Huh. I could feel the hum again, but I could still see my hands.

“See, what’d we say? We said that-” I stood up and turned around, “…oh. Well.” Sitting on the bed in the exact spot I'd been when I'd tapped the humming, was another perfect replica of me.

It was holding the pose I'd been in; legs apart, hands on knees, eyes closed. Once again, it didn't move an inch. This time, though, it was wearing a copy of my glasses. I leaned in to get a closer look, and when I couldn’t see my reflection in them, I realized that I was invisible again.

See?

"Great. So now instead of people thinking we have superpowers, they'll just assume we've had a stroke."

It's progress, alright? Stop being such a downer.

"We're the same person. I'm only as much of a downer as you are."

Shush. I reached out to try and grab the glasses from its face, but my hand went straight through it, passing out the other side. Little wisps of the same grey-lilac smoke were dragged behind my hand for a second, before snapping back into it.

Well, that's weird. Why had it been solid before, but intangible now? Perhaps it was because I'd created the last one unconsciously, but this one intentionally. Of course, that would mean that I could-

"Hanners?" came the muffled cry from downstairs, "what are you doing up there? You'll be late for school."

Seems I'll have to figure this out later. I tapped the top string, and cut the power.

"Yes, later, when we're alone. Not at school."

I'm excited, not stupid. I turned and padded over to the cupboard, grabbing some clothes. I considered my usual jeans and a t-shirt, but after consideration, decided a day like today deserved a bit more consideration, and grabbed the nice blouse my mom had bought me for Christmas a few weeks ago.

Washed my face, combed my hair, brushed my teeth, and padded downstairs to begin the first day of the rest of my life. 

"Drama queen."