Celebrate Friday with chapter four of DarkLight Redemption!
And don’t miss out on getting The Alpha for $0.99 – only two days left on this KDP Countdown Deal.
I try to have dinner with the family at least once a week.
Sure, I catch plenty of grief for my questionable life choices, but I know I’m lucky to have them. I’ve run into too many super-powered nutjobs who have a traumatic upbringing to blame for their issues to bemoan my own situation.
My folks still live out in the ‘burbs, and I’ve got an apartment in the city, so it’s a bit of a trek to see them. I don’t have a car, so I usually just fly over there. Since they don’t know about my abilities, I naturally have to lie to them, and I touch down at the train station nearest the house.
It’s only about a mile away, and I always tell them that I’d be happy to walk over and get some air, but they insist on picking me up at the station. Truth is, it’d be quicker to just land closer by, but I’ve got appearances to keep up.
So I fly to the wooded area just behind the train station and walk out to the tracks. Pretty sure everyone who sees me thinks I’ve just finished taking a leak in the woods. The crooked looks and head-shakes confirm as much. From there, I walk to the parking lot just in time for Dad to pull up.
We make typical small talk on the short jaunt to the house. How have you been? Anything new? Did you catch the games on Sunday? The usual. We pull up to the house, and I can smell the pot roast in the oven as soon as I walk in.
My mom always makes pot roast when I come by. Or prime rib. I suppose she feels like she wants to make something nice, but I’d just as soon sit down and have some meatloaf or mac and cheese.
Maggie’s not here. My mom tells me that she’s out with her girlfriends. She’s rarely around when I come over — at least that’s how it’s been the last few years. At first, I figured it was the standard pouty teenage girl thing. But she’s out of her teens now, so maybe there’s something more to it.
I’ve already decided that this would be the night I finally come clean with my parents. Since I’m leaving the whole superhero/supervillain game to people less jaded and more interested, I might as well let the people closest to me in on my secret.
Some Posties claim that they keep their secret identities hidden from their loved ones to protect them. I guess I sort of understand that, but my reasons were a bit different. My parents have always been the worrying sort, so I mainly kept my work as LightBlast and DarkLight to myself to keep them from having a monthly nervous breakdown.
At least that’s why I kept my life as LightBlast secret. I really kept the whole DarkLight thing to myself out of shame. It would also raise questions about why I switched allegiances that I didn’t want to answer.
We stick to small talk through dinner, but once the coffee comes out, I decide that it’s now or never.
“So there’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you guys about for a while now,” I begin.
“What’s on your mind, son?” asks Dad. “The bar’s not in trouble, is it?”
“No, I’m doing fine with the bar,”
“Is there a special lady that you want to tell us about?” asks Mom. “It’s been too long since you brought someone over for us to meet.”
“No, it’s not that either,” I reply.
“Have you finally given more thought to going back to school?” Dad jumps in, and I ignore what I recognize as a light jab.
“What I want to tell you is that…” I pause for one last second to make sure I want to go through with this. “I’m a Post-Human.”
They look to each other curiously for a moment before turning back to me.
“Oh, honey, we know that,” my mom says with a shrug.
“You do?” I ask as the shock I was expecting backfires on me.
“Of course,” Dad adds. “Have for quite a while now.”
“If you can’t recognize your eldest child when he’s flying around shooting lasers out of his hands, then you’re not a very attentive parent,” Mom explains.
“You know, they’re not exactly lasers, per se,” I start.
“But that’s still no excuse to not get a college education,” Dad says, ignoring my last comment.
“People go to college to get better career opportunities,” I say. I end up going on the defensive about a completely different matter than I’d expected.
“I’m already a successful small business owner. What would be the point?”
“Because knowledge gives you real power,” Dad says. This is a line that I’m sure he’s rehearsed numerous times before.
“The alien warlord Grytlepletarch The Indomitable has real power,” I counter. “And I’ve used my powers to help stop him from conquering the Earth on more than one occasion.”
“Don’t be so literal, sweetheart,” my mom gently insults me. “Your father and I just want you to understand more about the world.”
“I’ve been all over the world,” I insist.
“Having super-powered fistfights in the Roman Colosseum or over Tokyo don’t count as knowledge-gathering trips,” Dad states.
“I read!” I exclaim. “I watch plenty of History and Discovery Channel. Hell, I’m probably more prepared to win on Jeopardy! than any college graduate.”
“That sounds more like an excuse than a reason,” Dad says in a very Dad-ish fashion.
“So you’ve known about me for a while.” I scurry to get the conversation back on point. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”
“We respected your privacy,” Mom says. “And we figured that if you wanted us to know, then you’d tell us yourself.”
“Wait, you said you’ve known for a while.” I dread the answer to the question I’m about to ask. “Does Maggie know?”
“Of course she does,” Mom replied. “She’s a very bright girl.”
“College graduate,” Dad adds as an aside.
“Does she know why I…” I search for the proper phrasing. “Went bad?”
“No,” Dad says flatly.
“But we do,” Mom preemptively answers my next question. “We’re well aware of how difficult it would have been to get her into one of those treatment studies. God knows we tried our best.”
“And we wish to hell that you weren’t the one who had to make that compromise,” Dad adds with a mixture of anger and embarrassment.
“I know you do,” I say. “So why does she think I started committing crimes?”
Mom looks over at Dad again before replying.
“For the money.”
“Then let’s leave it that way,” I say. “I don’t want her feeling guilty or somehow responsible for my actions.”
“We agree with you on that,” Dad mutters, still with some shame.
It breaks my heart to see my dad — who was always such a strong, proud and noble man — wrestle with a horrible time in our lives that he simply had no control over.
“I suppose that explains why she’s not usually here when I come by,” I say with a sad smirk.
My parents both struggle with how to reply to that. Dad finally decides to get the discussion moving forward again.
“Why have you decided to tell us about your secret identity now?”
“Because I’m finished with it,” I say with some pride of my own.
“All of it. I repaid my debt, and I’m walking away.”
“I’ll be honest with you, son.” Dad looks to Mom again, this time with a smile. “We’re very relieved to hear that.”
“Well, I’m relieved to say it,” I reply, even as the whisper of a doubt creeps into my thoughts.
“You know,” Dad begins, sitting up straight and taking a satisfied sip of coffee. “Since your full attention will now be on your business, perhaps you should consider getting an MBA?”