I can’t help the cheesy grin spreading across my face as the wind rushes past, giving me a rush of adrenaline. Pete always teases me, telling me I am a complete adrenaline junkie. I tighten my hands on the handle bars, speeding up, then laugh into the wind as Mel’s hands tighten around my waist, her head buried in my back. She doesn’t like the moped. The lights of this sleepy little town zoom past. Making my heart beat faster and electricity crackle to my fingertips. We’re going too fast to see the stars, unfortunately, but I guess stargazing isn’t the most important thing on our list of priorities right now, the top spot probably goes to staying alive. I love the feeling of being on the move, whether it’s running or driving the moped doesn’t matter. It’s quite fortunate then that all we do then these days is run. I pull into the first open supermarket I see, and help Mel, who is always slightly wobbly on the moped, off of it. Squeezing the metal chain, I feel the usual rush of fire through my veins as it melts and splits in two. Looping it around the post I squeeze the two ends together, merging them together. Moped: safe. Mel smacks me on the arm, rather hard.
“Tallie! What have I told you about using your- our… abilities in public?!” She hisses, looking up at me, her soft ginger hair falling out of its practical ponytail into her delicate face. Ha. Helmet hair. Looking at Mel, you would think she is soft and girly, but she’s not, not at all. She is both strong and brave, and all of us depend on her. She is our anchor.
“Relax Mel, nobody saw! It’s like one on the morning.” I laugh down at her, but then let my face crease slightly, she looks so on edge, so… scared. I guess I should be too, I’m just not very good at it. Jay always said that was my worst quality: being stupidly brave. Mel sighs slightly, her eyes skimming the car park of the small 24 hour supermarket. Her eyes shut briefly, and I know she’s scanning for danger, and wondering if anyone saw me. I wait patiently for the verdict, whether we can go inside. When she opens her eyes, there’s no alarm or urgency in them, so I know we’re safe. As we start to walk towards the doors, she turns to me again.
“I know, I know. We still have to be careful, and you know it! Especially after what happened to Metropolis.” Her voice goes quieter, breaking slightly on the last word, despite the emptiness of our surroundings. I sometimes wonder if the Mel occasionally thinks that the voices in her head can hear her thoughts, instead of the other way round. I wince, memories of Metropolis are still painful, despite it having been months since the attack. The thought of the burning complex, which had been all four of our homes for as long as we could remember was like being chucked into a freezing lake. Running an exhausted hand through my short and messy blond-brown hair and suppressing a shiver, I give Mel a short, sad nod before the two of us walk into the supermarket together.
Me and Mel were sat, side by side, on the roof of Metropolis. We had sneaked up there to talk, and because Mel didn’t believe me that you could get up. I mean, getting to high places had always been a speciality of mine, but Mel was better on ground. Don’t get me wrong, we were all brilliant fighters. We were all strong and fast, with athletic builds and quick brains. All of us were trained, ready to fight. We all had our strengths though. Cas could fire an arrow with pin-point deadly accuracy, which helped him when it came to firing a gun as well. Pete was the strongest. He was an excellent fighter when it came to hand to hand combat. Mel was the best at sword fighting, endlessly managing to knock our swords from our hands. I worked best with throwing knives, and I was the fastest. In most of strategy plans, I was the distraction, the bait, because I was fast and light on my feet- good at escaping. Plus, you know, I had a fail-safe escape route if needs be. Mel had excellent balance on land, but up here, on the slippery slate tiles of the roof, she was a little unsteady. I would have been to, if I didn’t spend half my life up here, looking at the stars.
And if I actually had to worry about falling.
I was looking at them now, spread out like a glittering blanket above us. As Metropolis was practically in the middle of nowhere, we always had a great view of the night sky, unhindered by light pollution.
“What would you do, you know, with your life, if not for Metropolis and our abilities?” Says Mel, breaking the rare silence that had come between us. “I mean, if you had a different life, have you ever thought about it?”
The question surprised me. To be honest I hadn’t. I was far too focused on right now, on protecting ourselves from TJP, and all the other governments that would want to exploit us. I had never imagined what it would be like if I was a normal girl, going to school, getting a job.
I told Mel as much. “What about you? Have you thought about it much?” I asked.
“Not really, I was just thinking, like, what if we weren’t here? What would I want to make of my life if this wasn’t my reality? Metropolis only tell us so much about where we came from, our parents, and families, how we got here… How do we now it will ever be safe for us? Will we always live like this?” She shakes her head. “Not that I don’t love this, but, it just makes me wistful, or something.”
That night, when I was lying in my bed, listening to Mels’ soft snores across the room, I thought about it. With a sinking heart I realised that if I was a normal teenager, going to school, I would not have as good a life as I did right now. . I couldn’t imagine me being focused or successful. I would probably be a D grade student, in detention every other week for pranking… I could imagine Mel and Pete and Cas all living there lives to the full, being famous, well-loved, having big and beautiful families They could all be revolutionaries, leaders of the free world. Me? Not so much.
This, this mad, crazy life is all I have. This building, these people, this life. This is all that I am. I have nothing else.
I shake away the memory. Metropolis is gone, I am going to have to deal with it. I focus on the here and now, a trick Jay taught us long ago, and walk through the brightly lit supermarket entrance. You would perhaps find it odd, how something as mundane as grocery shopping could make me feel so happy. Then again, you would probably find more than one thing about my life odd. The fact is that my life is so strange, so odd, is the reason I love boring, mundane things. Feeling like this, like I’m just another face in the crowd, another life, not important, is so amazing. Especially because for the last few months, the four of us have been so… rushed. It’s been a swirl of running and hiding and training and tears and anger and- just surviving. Just trying to stay alive, trying to keep each other safe.
Of course our training on the run has not been as rigorous as it was back at Metropolis. There we sat for gruelling hour after hour of meditation, time after time of being thrown onto the mat, of fighting until my knuckles bled. Physical Training, Mental Training and Special Training. Those three are what I have grown up learning, not English, Maths and Science. Physical training is what you would expect it to be; running, fighting, with and without weapons, a range of sports, even dance to help our balance. Mental Training was meditation, using our supposedly ‘enhanced’ brains to improve our abilities. Strategy class, my personal hell, was also part of this. Special Training, was individual most of the time, Jay taking us in turns to tutor us each, getting us better and better with our abilities. We also trained together, the four of us fighting together until we were an unstoppable team. Metropolis was my home. It always has been and it always will be, despite it having gone up in flames and smoke. I can still picture it in my head, as vivid and clear as if I were walking down the wood panelled corridors now. There were classrooms and the training room and the Meditation Room and then there was our rooms, special and bizarre. I do miss our rooms.
The four of us each had our own room that was specifically designed to help with our specific ability. Mel had a meditation room, but it was filled with animals, and often had people walking through it. It was full of plants mainly. It was relaxing and peaceful, just like Mel. Using the room, she was able to control her consciousness and send it out to the living things surrounding her, she could learn about their thoughts, emotions, anything. It was incredible, and incredibly useful.
Pete’s room was bizarre. It was a maze of passageways and tunnels, all wallpapered and covered in different pictures, colours and textures. And mirrors, lots of mirrors. Pete, you see, could change his appearance. He could practically turn invisible, because he could disguise himself as anything, and he could change his looks. It used to make us all laugh when he would walk through a door looking like Dumbledore or something. He would occasionally change into one of us, but Dumbledore was his favourite.
Casper had a kind of boring room. It was plain, due to the fact that all the wall, the floor and the ceiling were covered in removable paper. It looked just like the meditation room, but even plainer than that it had to be. Cas, you see, could see the future. If he mediated long enough, he would see flashes and that what all the paper was for. So he could scribble and daw, letting is mind wonder without focusing on memorising something. He gets feelings, too, psychic ones, that we all knew to follow without question. Cas was always right.
And then there was me. My room was possibly the weirdest. It was huge, to begin with, it was light and airy, with platforms and different points up the walls. The floor was covered in blocks and lumps of… stuff. Metal, wood, plastic, rubber, glass, paper, clay, plants, stone… The list went on. I should explain. I could control fire. And produce it out of thin air. The materials were for me to practise melting different substances, and the high walls, well, they were for me. This is the thing that I had a bittersweet relationship with. As much as Mel, Pete and Cas were my best friends in the world, this set me apart. We were all different, all unique, all freaks, but I was the most different, the most abnormal, the freakiest.
I had wings.