I hated my name. What self-respecting superhero would not? The Flying Finch…WTF? I know I can fly, but of all the bird species in the world, why a Finch! I might not have the strength of a 100 men, but isn’t the strength of two worth anything these days? I will give the Rock a beating if I have too. On second thought, maybe not, that guy is huge. His bicep is a monstrosity with a bigger circumference than my chest. And what if I don’t have x-ray vision, telepathy or a healing factor? I can frigging fly! Semi-fast. It still deserves something better than The Flying Finch!
But alas, all the ranting and raving in the world wouldn’t change a thing. When the Mystic Dome assigns a name, it sticks. It’s an ancient tradition that once your powers manifest, you attend the Naming. This is where you gather with all who cared to make the journey, in your best dressed suit, and in the presence of The Sacred One. You stand in front of this big, violet glass ball and place your hand in an opening at the bottom, wait for it to prick your finger, analyse your DNA and then award you ceremoniously with your superhero alter ego.
I was 16 when my powers manifested for the first time. A bit late, or more accurately 4 years behind my peers. I was climbing a tree to retrieve a ball and lost my footing. Instead of slamming into the ground, I hovered inches from it. I remember screaming my lungs out for my Mom to come and observe, only to fall flat on my face. Gravity is a bitch. I didn’t really have to shout at my mom as she has supersonic hearing. Yes, my mom is The Magnificent Woman, retired superhero extraordinaire.
Due to the fact that my Dad was “normal” there were no guarantees for any powers to manifest in me at all. It took its toll on my social life, as in like I didn’t have one. No-one wanted to mingle with someone who might end up being “normal”. It didn’t take long for me to sit alone during breaks, or for the name-calling and gossip to spread. I took a turn for the worst when my best friend changed into a bulk of a man overnight and got the awesome name of Admiral Power, and also became the star of our football team. He decided we couldn’t remain friends and had the decency to inform me via text. It read: Moving on, bye-bye sucker.
Dad always believed that I would amount to something, and sadly he will never see me flying, for he died 2 years ago in a car accident. Elephant in the road. Bad luck, right? He literally didn’t see that one coming. Mom never recovered 100% from the tragedy, nor did the Zoo-keeper. She wasn’t there to save him as she was prying a little girl from the jaws of the lion. All the zoo animals escaped on that fateful day, something about a penguin coup.
My parents met many moons ago when Mom saved him from a burning building. Love at first sight or some crap like that. The superhero fraternity didn’t approve and the Sacred One even came to our house to persuade her from cancelling the wedding. Fortunately she chose love and a few years later I came screaming into the world.
So the Diluted, that’s what they call kids like me, are not assured of any superpowers manifesting, it’s genetically passed on. Not like kidney stones, but during sex and impregnation. (Which is a different story) Even though the other heroes tried to ignore Mom, her powers were just to amazing. Eventually everyone got used to our little weird family. Then dad died and I bloomed late, so she opted out of the whole superhero business. For the last two years my life has gone from terrible to fucking terrible.
Mom was so proud of me at the Naming. Sitting there in a dress, burning a gaping hole in the back of Mr Indestructible who, fortunately possess an amazing healing factor. Mom sometimes lose control of her optic blasts when she cries. We have never been able to finish a Disney movie, as she would blast the television sets to smithereens every time. And don’t get me started on the destruction after she saw Mufasa die in that Wildebeest stampede! Still, I couldn’t tell her about my unhappiness and utter disgust for the feeble alias I just received. She’s been through enough for me. I sometimes grin and bear it, sometimes eat it, but mostly just suck it up. Being ridiculed for having a “normal” parent is stuff I have buried so deep that not even The Cranium, our school telepath, would be able to get it out of me.
I thought things would change when my powers manifested two weeks ago. I was so happy to realise I could fly. I was soooo looking forward to the Naming and dreamt of greatness, an awesome alias in big black letters in every newspaper, reporting on all my adventures and heroic tales. And now I ended up with a name not even worthy of a side-kick. The Flying Fucking Finch. Life is just not fair.
And that is why I am here. For once in my life I will take care of my own destiny, construct my own future, take control of the driving seat and become someone, anyone, even this…
The red fire of the Anti-Dome flashes theatrically and licks the air, quenching a dark thirst. I look up at the glass window and in the dusky light I see my reflection, crimson red in the light of the fire. I am scared. Not monster-in-the-closet scared, no, good ole shit-scared. And I am alone.
If a superhero decides to opt for a life as a villain, this is the place. A private ceremony. You relinquish everything and adopt your new fate. It’s called the Choosing, a specific choice to be bad ass. Most villains don’t even attend the Naming, they just come here. Like the kids who kick cats, scorch ants and scare lizards just to see their tails fall off.
And if I do it, I will get a new alias. Something that will fit my chosen darker path. I have so much resentment and anger in me, that I am convinced my name will be awesome. Mom will never understand, and even more, she will be devastated. But how can I not? How can I face anyone of the hero fraternity with a pathetic name like the one I got? I have lived with the lashings of their tongues for long enough. No more.
A small droplet of sweat finds its way down the side of my face, runs along my cheek and hangs on the edge of my sharp chin. I nervously shake my arms, brush my black hair back and place my left palm in the flame. They say it doesn’t burn and I sincerely hope that “they” were right. I don’t consider third degree burns to be very cool. Luckily they were right, it’s actually freezing. I jerk when I feel a small prick. I pull my hand out of the flame and wait anxiously for my new name to appear somewhere, anywhere. Nothing happens. Then suddenly a bright green light shoots from the flame and a very ominous voice says: THE BLACK ANGEL.
How cool is that? THE BLACK ANGEL! I could not have imagined a better alias. Why couldn’t the Dome come up with that? It’s not brain surgery. I fly. Easy.
I run out of the cave and take to the skies, celebrating my new identity, knowing that I could face anyone and everyone. Beware the BLACK ANGEL. Don’t fuck with me! I fly back to the city, at the speed of a really fast bird, and hover in the twilight. How is that possible that a name can make you feel so different, so alive? I wanted to scream ny new name for everyone to hear, but since I don’t have enhanced vocal cords, the two pigeons sitting on the ledge, just looked at me with stupid beady eyes. What do they know!
Then I hear shouting and screaming, the sounds of chaos. Something was happening on the bridge. I move closer and see the young couple standing outside of their car, frantically calling for help. It seems they lost control of their vehicle, which is now teetering dangerously over the edge, moments away from tumbling into the dark waters of Snake River. Oh shit! There is a baby still strapped to the car seat in the back! What to do?
I know I can help them, fly in and out with my skinny-ripped body and save the day. But I am a villain now. I am THE BLACK ANGEL! Why help anyone? Why help people who have been on my case for so many years? (I know, relax, I am not stupid, it’s not those actual people who bullied me, I’m only referring to them as a figure of speech.) I have the chance to go out there and show my revenge, show them what a fucked up sixteen year old can do with an ability to fly and the strength to beat up 10 men. (Provided each one wait their turn.) It would be some real bad shit, I tell ya.
The mother screams again, a bone chilling cry of desperation that cuts my soul. The father has helpless-anxiety written all over his face. I suddenly remembered my dad. The “normal” parent who never put himself first. Who I know would try to save that baby, even if it meant risking his own life. And his words ring in my ear: “That’s what firemen do. We save lives.” Shit. And I can fly. Thanks dad. I know I can be in and out of that vehicle, save the baby, with no risk to anyone.
The vehicle shrieks loudly as steel on steel action takes place. It’s hanging dangerously close to falling. The mother screams again, (Calm down woman, this is huge for me) and then starts sobbing uncontrollably right on cue. My body takes over. I forget about the bullies, the embarrassment, the loneliness, my new identity, my revenge and only see my dad. I swoooooooosh in, yes I know, I am not the fastest flyer in the universe, that’s Miss Speed, but a few nervous moments later I hand the precious, oblivious, laughing bundle back to the crying mother. The Father looks at me with so much appreciation that I thought his face might explode. He struggles to find words and then only manage: “Who are you?”
There was a moment, I must admit, but I swallowed my spit, vomit and pride before I said: “I am The Flying Finch.”
And then somewhere in the great unknown of the hereafter a proud Fireman winks at his superhero son.