Lunch tray in my hands, I walked toward the table where Cassie sat. It was on the other side of the cafeteria from where I usually sat and just a few tables away from Kayla and the girls Cassie generally ate with. Kayla glanced in our direction as I sat down.

“You got my note,” Cassie said brightly.

I had. It came in the form of a paper airplane to the back of my head during our only shared class—government.

“You’ve got good aim,” I said.

“Looks like you made national news last night.” She put a printout on the table. Headlined “The Rocket Returns?” an Associated Press article gave a brief description of the incident and went on to speculate about whether it was the 1940’s era Rocket or a new one, including a quote from a “superhero historian” that said, “but if he is the same person, he has to be in his eighties or nineties...”

“Where’d you find that?”

“Yahoo’s got an RSS feed for superhero news, and besides, it’s been on the local news all morning. Don’t you listen to the radio?”

“Not this morning.”

I eyed my lunch. In honor of the year’s first football game, the hamburger had been renamed “The Central High Burger,” dyed blue, and placed on a yellow bun.

I suppose I should be thankful our school colors aren’t orange and green.

I took a bite. It tasted normal.

“So,” I said, “how did things go for you?”

She grinned. “Boring at first, but remember Syndicate L? We found them. They’re here in Grand Lake.”

“Where and… How do you know?”

“Daniel,” she said. “They’ve got an old warehouse downtown. He happened to pick up something from the mind of a truck driver making a delivery.”

“Did you tell his dad?”

She rolled her eyes.

“Of course not. We’re going to do this ourselves. And by we,” she said, “I’d like to include you.”

I nearly spat out my burger. It’s not that I was surprised. I could hardly be surprised since she’d be going on about this for a while now, but at our level of skill, I thought we shouldn’t be taking on organized crime, we should be taking down muggers and working our way up.

She didn’t wait for me to reply. “I know you’ve got mixed feelings about this and I know we’re not experienced, but we’re not going in without a plan. Daniel found out that something big is coming in tonight and it’s not legal. Fortunately they’re not guarding it with much. Ten people, maybe. Normal people. We can take them. Then we call the police.”

“And if you can’t handle them…” I said.

“Then we call Daniel’s dad or maybe even Larry.”

Larry is better known as “The Rhino.” He’s a nationally recognized hero--though that’s less because of his powers and more because of his nationally branded beer. It’s not that he’s not tough, he is. He’s just better known for his portrait on the bottle and an over the top Superbowl ad than he is for any villain he’s ever fought.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“You don’t know?” She put her hands on the table as if she were just about to stand up and leave, but didn’t.

“I wasn’t going do this,“ she said, “but Daniel tells me that whatever’s going on with you is because you feel like I’m making you do this. I’m not making you. You started training with sensei five years ago. You’ve been working with your grandfather longer than that. Whether or not you intended to, you’ve been preparing longer than anyone but Daniel and he’s had powers since birth.”

I opened my mouth to interrupt.

“No,” she said, “Don’t say anything. Just think about it. You could have done anything last night after we left, but instead,“ she lowered her voice, “you went out for a run <em>in costume</em>. What does that tell you?

“You want to do it too. That’s what. You—“ She looked up at the clock in the middle of the lunchroom wall. “I’ve got five minutes to eat all this stuff.” She indicated the tray in front of her. It held at least three trays worth of food.

“I’ve got a fast metabolism,” she said.

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About the author


Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.

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