Welcome to the New Normal

Mapping the Shape of Things Already Come

Trying to get a handle on it all

A Denny McCloud Story

Thursday, 06 May 2027
In a car, en route to Tyler’s
Morning, still

Denny sat squeezed in between the mute lady— Deirdre, wasn’t she? —and Cassie, the banker lady with that really annoying but kinda cute brother Mark. Also in the vehicle were Miriam (of course!), the professor dude Jason, and the smart jock Alexander.

Huh. Mixed bag. We’re all over the map for talents. And we’re in deep caca with what looks like the mob over an obscene amount of money and oh, no pressure or anything but I just saw an angel slice one of the good guys in half after coming out of a rip in the fabric of time and space. Geez, this is like a mash-up of Stargate, the X-Men, and the Keystone Kops. With a touch of In Nomine and Spirited Away thrown in. What’s next? Magneto and Xavier duking it out on the top of City Hall?

Denny frowned.

It was clear to her that something had happened, that people were randomly granted weird powers, mutant or not, and that those powers were … well, powerful and right now, with the exception of the two briefly showcased on the tv screen, in the hands of people who had no clue how to use them. Drawing on her admittedly short lifetime of reading science fiction and comics and watching movies and drawing about them, Denny reasoned that if the powers were real, then the world would be very quickly divided into those that had powers and those that didn’t. And given human nature, to say nothing of a gazillion tropes, that within the people who had powers, you’d have people who would use them for good and people who would use them for evil. That much was already shown—that TV reporter had some guts filming that angel, as well as doing everyone a favor in showing the superhero flying in and saving those people.

It’s funny, but sometimes stuff just doesn’t seem real until you see it on CNN. And it was real. It wasn’t ’shopped or greenscreened in. It was the real deal. That angel was gunning for that guy. If he found that guy, he can find others. Others like us

A grue ran down Denny’s spine. It sank a shard of ice into the pit of her stomach and lodged there. How did the angel know about the superhero and why did he feel the man had to die? The powers must be cleansed, the angel had said to the camera.

What does that mean? Cleansed of what? From what? From the wrong people having powers? Like the powers have a light side and a dark side and we’re the Jedi and that angel’s the Sith? Is the angel, like, recruiting for the Dark Side? Or eliminating the Light Side before everyone realizes what’s what? Where’s Obi Wan Kenobi when you need him? On second thought, he did leave Annakin to die on that lava planet instead of trying to save him. So maybe he’s not the best person to call.

So … now what? How do you hide your powers from a freakin’ angel that can rip the fabric of space and time, for pete’s sake? How’s he finding out who has powers in the first place? How does he know if they need Cleansing or not? And he didn’t kill the guy that was falling. Just set him down on the sidewalk. Does that mean he didn’t have powers and therefore wasn’t supposed to die? Or did he have a power that didn’t need Cleansing?

And where does that put us? We’ve got a … huh, gonna need names for the talents. Okay, Cassie’s a teleporter, Mark is … um, really fast? So … a speedster. Alexander is some kind of kinetic energy sponge/converter. Deidre is able to manipulate sound. Not cool, God, doing that to a woman who lost her voice. So no cool. Miriam can see the power auras around people. And Jason is, um … I don’t know what he does, except he seems to be really strong. And I can make paper animals come to life. So that makes me a … what? A modern day reincarnation of God off the Sistine Chapel, giving the Spark of Life to Adam? Denny shook her head. Get over yourself, girl. You aren’t THAT powerful.

But what am I? Besides scared and trying to make things less scary by labeling everything? A creator of sorts, but of what, exactly? And where is the matter coming from? There’s no such thing as a free lunch in Physics and if I’m mucking around with the universe by violating the Laws of the Conservation of Energy, the bill at the cash register is going to be huge. You know, if this were a comic or a graphic novel, I’d seriously be thinking about getting my money back. Only this time, I’ve lost the receipt and I’m stuck with it.

Fragmented images from her dream came back to her. Numbers and ropes and manipulating both. Clearly her subconscious had a better handle on what she was doing than she did, and just as clearly it was trying to tell her something. Either way, it didn’t negate the fact that she had a power and it would either be something she would control and use, or it would be something that would get her killed. Or suborned into serving the wrong side.

And as long as I’m stuck with it, I have to be responsible about it and learn to use whatever it is without making things worse. How do I do that? It’s not like I can put an ad in the paper for a superpowers tutor. Although I’m gonna need a calc tutor if I’m gonna pass that exam.

Geez, Den. Focus, willya? Powers. People getting them. People getting killed for having them. Angel with a sword. Rips in Space. Tyler as an applied Physicist. Telling his mom not to be worried if she doesn’t hear from him for a while. In dutch with the mob over 50 million dollars. Who tried to kill us.

So, we have the mob and an angel after us. We have a missing person who may or may not have run off with 50 million dollars. And we have us, a rag tag bunch of newbie superheroes who don’t know what they’re doing.

Great. Denny sighed. The world’s turned upside down, people are killing or being killed, and everyone in this car’s got superpowers. If this is the new normal, I don’t ever wanna see what abnormal’s gonna be.

And thanks to the TV report, Denny wasn’t convinced that that she hadn’t already just seen it.

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