|Influences||Graeme Simsion and Gail Honeyman|
|Bio||Born and bred on the far north coast of NSW, my first bachelor degree 20 years ago was in Social Science. I married, had six children and fostered a few more. I also worked during this time casually as a private counsellor, youth worker, a disability Support Worker and a Pilot Officer in the Australian Air Force Cadets. Now I have returned to study to complete a double degree in Education/Arts.|
Sixteen year old Michael was almost convinced he possessed superhuman powers. Standing over a saucepan, stirring red liquid rhythmically, he contemplated how to prove this. He had followed his mother's instructions for making tomato soup countless times with complete success but tonight the task was difficult to concentrate on. A storm was approaching from the west and the energy-charged air pricked at his skin. Westerly storms were his favourite as they carried in them something different from the rain soaked clouds that rolled in from the east. The air tasted acrid and unavoidable.
“Mum, can you stir?” He yelled into the house, as lightning flashed through the darkened window. A slow rumble of thunder followed shortly afterwards.
Michael’s tired mother hurried into the tiny kitchen and took the spoon from his hand. Michael sprinted towards the back door.
“Don’t get wet this time!” she called after him. Michael flew out the wooden screen door, smashing it backwards and plunging into the overgrown grass.
Raising his face to the sky, Michael threw back his arms and breathed deeply, his chest expanding upwards and outwards. He shuddered, feeling the vibrations deep within. Every hair on his body stood to attention, leaning into the storm as if on command. He could feel pure energy rushing around him. Michael lifted his eyes upwards, casting his gaze across the cloud-streaked sky, owning it all - master of every light gathered there. He was connected to this universe, part of its centre, certain at that point in time of nothing more than his own divinity - confirming again the truth only he knew.
Michael was no mere mortal.
His whole life Michael had been told he was special, part of a spectrum. This detail, once revealed to others, explained something to them he could not quite understand. He no longer wished to understand it either. This description left him feeling wanting. He had decided that if he had to be part of a spectrum, he would choose the colour spectrum. He would be red: strong, brilliant, powerful. Red was not wanting. At school, when he overheard others refer to his position on the spectrum, he would concentrate as hard as he could to emit a deep, thick aura of red. It worked: they would all stop and look at him, they could see something was happening. He was sure they could all see his red.
His influence was not limited to extraordinary skills either. Michael was not chatty, but often when he did speak, all obeyed his commands. When the volume in a space became unreasonable, he would put his hands over his ears and ask everyone to be quiet in his sternest voice. Silence followed, with every face snapping towards him. This had failed very few times.
He had checked, and this was not normal. He was the only one he could find in his neighbourhood, or on the internet, who possessed these kinds of superpowers.
Rain began falling on Michael's face and outstretched arms, drawing his attention back to the present. Heeding his mother’s earlier warning, he moved quickly inside where she appeared at the kitchen door smiling.
“Soup’s ready, but we are out of bread. Could you pop down to the corner store and grab a loaf, please? You are the only one who enjoys walking in this weather.”
Michael could never understand why an event that brought him energy and power would cause others to cower and hide.
Unfounded fear seemed like the greatest waste of life force he could imagine.
Michael moved to the front door and shrugged on a raincoat. Accepting the change offered and stepping off into the rainy night, he quickly covered the eighty four paces to the corner store. The bell to Sam’s Convenience was the only sound to greet Michael as he entered. He shuffled around crowded shelving displays to the rear of the building and collected the bread then methodically wove his way towards the front counter, noticing for the first time, he was not alone.
A man and woman stood clutching at each other while the shop owner Sam stood with her hands raised above her head behind the counter. All three faced a man with a gun in his outstretched hand. The mechanism at the rear of the weapon clicked as the gunman swung his arm smoothly around and pointed the weapon at Michael.
Michael heard a sharp intake of breath from Sam as the gun was levelled at him.
“Please, don’t.” she breathed almost inaudibly.
In one startling motion, the gunman's arm swung around to Sam and the sound of a blast filled the air. The impact sent her frame crumbling out of sight. The man and woman let out frightened screams.
“Please, you can’t kill us.” the man pleaded in a panicked voice, trying to manoeuvre the woman behind his own body.
“Yes I can.” said the gunman, in a detached even tone, firing off another two shots. Their stunned expressions froze as the impact of bullets pushed them backwards to the ground.
The gunman turned to Michael, the weapon levelled at his head once more. Michael held his hands over his ears blocking out the painfully loud shots. With everything in him, he radiated deep, thick red towards the gunman. He then locked his eyes on the gunman's and declared loudly,
“I. Have. Super. Powers.”
The gunman’s expression shifted, a hint of surprise registering. He stared at Michael for as long as the thunder took to arrive after the lightning earlier that evening. Then he cocked the gun upward, inclined his head to one side and with his eyes never leaving Michael’s shrugged,
The gunman did not look back once as he turned and moved toward the exit, walking calmly out into the night.
Michael stared down at the bodies, unmoving beside him. Widening pools of black-red blood expanding across the floor. In that moment any lingering doubts he had about his superhuman powers simply fled.