Before you even start, before you even think about saying anything about my name, let me assure you, I have a cool superpower. It’s not super strength or heat vision. It’s not flight or invisibility. But it is a cool power.
It’s when you basically ‘jump’ yourself from one place to another. There haven’t been many teleporters, and none of them can do what I can. Usually, teleporting means you can only teleport yourself somewhere. Not only can I do that, but I can also teleport anything I touch. It’s a bunch of scientific mumbo-jumbo that has to do with my DNA, the meta-gene, and other crazy, science-y stuff. Yeah, yeah, I should know what I’m talking about. And I do. After all, I had to pass not only a physical, and run a semi-deadly gauntlet, but I had to pass a written exam to become a sidekick.
I’ve got other things on the brain now. Like finally starting high school, hanging out with my best friend, training, and of course, girls. Well, one girl in particular. But I digress.
The thing people don’t understand is, when someone teleports, that person is basically creating a wormhole in the fabric of space. So when I jump from my bedroom to my living room, I’m creating a wormhole from one place to another. And it takes concentration.
When you teleport, you’re able to see something called the “astral plane,” which is a layer in the atmosphere where wormholes can exist. You have to focus your energy to create the wormhole and look through it, to be able to see where you’ll end up. This all happens in a matter of milliseconds, which is why concentration is required.
The reason I’m assuring you that my superpower is cool is because my sidekick name is anything but. Some sidekicks get fantastic names, but it all depends on what their mentoring superhero selects for them. I already had one chosen that I was going to run by my mentor. I was going to call myself Shift. Great ring to it, right? I can shift anything I want from one place to another. But no, that’s not what happened. I didn’t even get to tell Mr. Mimic, my superhero mentor, my idea. Instead, I was handed a code name with no room to debate.
And that code name? Worm.
That’s right, my sidekick name is Worm. When I joined the Justice Alliance as Mr. Mimic’s sidekick, that’s what he picked. The meaning is sound, I’ll give him that. I am actually creating a wormhole to do what I do … but really? Worm? And it’s not like I can change it when I’m finished being a sidekick and become a full-fledged superhero—which itself could take years—because once you’re written down in the Declaration of Heroes with your name and power, that’s it. You’re stuck with that name for the rest of your superheroing life.
My only comfort is knowing I have a secret identity. No one knows that Robbie Garcia is actually the sidekick to Mr. Mimic, except for my parents. I needed to get their signature on my minor’s permission form. My dad didn’t mind, but my mom wouldn’t hear of it. Too dangerous, too late at night, and too many secret missions. It took help from my father to convince her. I barely got in my application before the deadline. But everyone else has no idea.
My classmates don’t know. My best friend, Pete, doesn’t know, and Jasmin doesn’t know. She’s the girl. I’ve had a crush on her since the fifth grade. But as Mr. Mimic says, usually speaking in a severe and deep tone, “Remember, Worm, your secret identity is a valuable asset. You mustn’t get too close to people. You never know what could happen.”
It’s a tricky process applying to be a sidekick, what with secret identities and all. I had to go to Justice Alliance headquarters, fill out three different applications, submit a blood sample, all while making sure the information was provided anonymously. They’d link all of the info together and pinpoint it back to me if I was accepted. You’d be surprised how many people apply and try to fake the fact that they have a superpower. Over the summer, I’ve been meeting with Mr. Mimic three times a week at Alliance Headquarters, in the heart of King City. With high school starting now, it’d just be on the weekends, but I’m so ready for my first mission.
“Robbie!” Pete calls out behind me.
I can’t tell you how annoying it is that I have to walk to school. Another rule from Mr. Mimic. Actually, it’s his number one rule: Never use your powers out in public.
Pete’s been my best friend since third grade. We had sleepovers all of the time, and spent whole summers hanging out and playing video games. We also got into some mischief over the years, like getting suspended in sixth grade for releasing a bucket full of frogs into the girls’ locker room.
Two weeks after eighth grade ended, only a few months before high school and I turned fifteen, was when my meta-gene activated and I got my superpower. It was the hardest thing in the world to not run over to Pete’s house and show him what I could do, but I’ve always wanted to be a superhero.
I’ve watched them fly over King City my whole life, always wanting to have superpowers, even though I never thought I’d actually get them. The meta-gene is happenstance. No one knows why or how one person develops it and another doesn’t. As far as scientists have been able to tell, it’s undetectable in humans until someone actually develops it. It usually manifests itself between the ages of ten and eighteen years old. You have no idea how disappointed I was on my tenth birthday when I woke up to find I didn’t have any kind of superpower.
After years of reading about superheroes, following the ones who had profiles on social media sites, and always keeping up-to-date with the latest sidekick being promoted, you could say I’m a superhero junkie. Not that the rest of the world doesn’t love superheroes. They’re just as famous as movie stars and pro-athletes. Fan clubs, groupies, protestors; superheroes have them all.
“Can you believe it?” Pete asks. “Our first day of high school.”
Before I can answer, a huge guy walks into Pete’s shoulder, almost knocking him down. He has to be at least a foot taller than me, long sideburns, and facial hair. Not just stubble. I’m talking a full-fledged goatee on his chin. If he didn’t have a letterman’s jacket on, I’d swear he was a teacher.
“Watch it, freshman,” he grunts, pushing through and continuing on his way.
“Yeah, awesome.” I roll my eyes.
“Sheesh. I guess we’re at the bottom of the food chain, huh?”
“I guess so.”
I enter my first class and find an empty desk in the back. Pulling my books out of my backpack, I look up as the bell rings, and see Jasmin walk into class. I could call her beautiful, but it’s so much more than that.
It’s like seeing a sunset over the horizon. The rays of the sun shining over the clouds. You could describe the colors, but the words don’t do them justice. Colors you never knew existed, but when we see them, you know it’s something to admire. Something that tells you the universe is a vast and glorious place. That’s what she is.
I haven’t seen her since the last day of eighth grade, but she looks amazing as always. She’s added silver highlights to her wavy, brown hair, which complements her gorgeous hazel eyes. I nearly sigh out loud. She’s maybe an inch or two shorter than me. Liking her as long as I have, I was super embarrassed in sixth grade when she was taller than me. I’m glad that’s over. I came close to asking her out once last year, but I couldn’t spit out the right words. I ended up asking her if she wanted two dumplings. Yeah, brilliant.
Her best friend, Maria, strolls into the classroom with her, and they take two chairs on the other side of the classroom. As she sits down, Jasmin looks over at me, and smiles. I smile back, melting inside, then raise my hand to wave to her.
“Yes?” the teacher says aloud, standing in front of the class.
Eyes turn and stare at me. Jasmin’s eyes widen, jumping back and forth between myself and the teacher. I look up front to find my teacher staring at me with a questioning expression.
“Yes?” he repeats, this time with a stern undertone.
“Oh, uh.” I drop my hand. “No, nothing. Sorry.” Looking back over at Jasmin, I watch as Maria whispers something to her, and they both giggle. Perfect.
The rest of my first day of high school is uneventful. I have algebra, biology, and my last class of the day is history, with Pete. We’re able to find two chairs next to one another; we take our seats as the bell rings. My phone vibrates, and I pull it out, shocked to see an alert from Mr. Mimic.
“What’s up?” Pete asks, seeing the expression on my face.
Mimic: Worm - Priority Level Red.
Me: What are you doing texting my phone?
Mimic: Didn’t you install the Justice Alliance code protector yet?
Mimic: Worm, you need to do that ASAP. But right now, we’ve got bigger problems. Priority Level Red.
Me: Right now???
An abrupt cough almost makes me drop my phone. My head snaps up, and I see my history teacher. His stern scowl is only amplified by the thick, horned-rim glasses sitting across the bridge of his nose.
“Mr. Garcia, is it?” he asks, glancing down at a piece of paper. “No cell phones during my class.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
My eyes find my screen again, and I see Mr. Mimic’s last message.
Mimic: Now Worm! Fifth and Main!
Pete lifts a brow, no doubt confused as to why I’m looking around the room, my brain speeding a mile a minute as I try to find an excuse to leave. Deciding to use ol’ faithful as an excuse, I raise my hand.
The teacher lets out a loud sigh. “Yes, Mr. Garcia?”
“Yes, sir, I’m sorry, but I really need to use the restroom?”
“Class just started.”
“Um, yeah. Sorry.” I give an embarrassed cringe, and bob a little back and forth, hopefully selling the seriousness of my bathroom needs.
Grumbling something under his breath, he returns his attention to his piece of paper, impatiently waving his hand in the air.
“Sorry,” I whisper to Pete.
His expression is puzzled, watching me grab my backpack, and I quickly exit the room.
Stepping outside of the class, I look around, double checking for anyone in the hallways. I should probably use the restroom for privacy, but Mr. Mimic said Priority Level Red. With no one in sight, I focus on my destination and in a blip, I’m on the east side of King City.