Short Stories

Dia-mind Shields

I almost panicked, thinking I was too late. But no…I was a day early. Yay for scheduling! Also, I never realized how LONG these stories were. But eh…it’s fine. For me at least *cackles*. More also, I think I should warn you guys that April 22, 444 EoP will last for seven weeks total. Five more (boring) stories to end this day! Things will pick up after that, I think.

April 22, 444 EoP. Monday 14:00

I hate this school so much right now, Robert sighed as he rubbed his bruises again.

“I can hear what you’re thinking, you know?” Finn told him as he and Denise accompanied Robert through the halls of Laconic’s Academy for Powered Heroes.

Denise shot her brother an admonishing look with her luminescent pink eyes, and Robert noted with interest that the pink highlights on her hair fizzled into a darker shade of pink. “Finn, don’t do that. It’s impolite! And you never do that!”

Rolling his eyes and ignoring Finn’s invasion of his mind, Robert continued to collect his complaints. Stupid superhero school. Trying to kill you at every turn. Coating the hall floors with invisible ice? Actually, that is kind of lethal. Shouldn’t there be rules against this stuff?

“If you say so,” Finn’s voice broke the fury of Robert’s thoughts. The older boy smiled when his sister brightened at his cooperation. “But Robert here really has to get stronger mental shields. Sometimes, I can’t help hearing people who have a constant stream of conscious thought.”

Wind rushed past Robert, almost unbalancing him. “Sorryyyyyyyy!” the girl who had speeded past them screamed as she breezed past them into a classroom.

Robert, trying to regain some of his balance, glanced at Finn, who had blinked at the girl with some concern before turning to look down at Robert again.

“Mental shields?” Robert repeated, glancing at the crowded bright hallways just in case more nasty surprises awaited him. “Well, yes, that would be useful, except I lack the ability to generate them.”

“That’s fine. I can just make one for you that should give you the ability to feel someone invade your mind and push them out,” Finn assured him, pointing to Robert’s head.

While he continued walking and observing classroom numbers, Robert still managed to jerk to the side. First of all, how is that possible? And secondly, um…excuse me and you, sir. But I don’t care that you’re a teacher here. I’m not letting you encircle my mind with a shield no matter if it’s for my protection. I literally just met you.

“Well, that won’t be necessary,” he said instead, blinking away the shine of the windowless white walls. “It’s fine, really. It’s not like I have anything interesting going on up here.”

Finn blinked and gave him a subtle smile. “Everyone has something going on up there,” he chuckled as they stopped next to a door, which happened to be Robert’s next class. “But I’m not going to invade your mind or allow myself to control it, Robert. I promise.”

“Yeah, Robert. It’ll be fine!” Denise smiled down at him widely. She patted her brother’s arm. “It won’t hurt a bit and will reinforce what’s inside you, and Finn’s great at doing this so you’ll be really protected from other telepaths.”

Yeah, no, it wasn’t the issue of fear or hurt but more of mistrust. But seeing that they were determined to make sure his mind was protected—kind of Finn, really, to care for a stranger that had half-antagonized him at first—Robert gave it a thought.

Well, if all goes wrong, Jovan better get me out of it, he decided. At least he trusted his brother’s mental strength enough for that. So he stepped back to let a girl with a tightly coiled braid that seemed to be moving through, then nodded. “Sure, okay, go for it.”

Hands-in-pockets and stormy blue gray eyes shifting into something darker, Finn actually did it—Robert could feel some sort of thick, diamond wall going around his mind and protecting all of its contents. Wonder if I can mentally hit them—ow, okay, I can do that now. This is weird…tap, tap, tap. Yep, weird and fun and…okay, so they just expanded to accommodate me sort of walking—wait, I can’t see them or properly feel them but I…huh, this is strange. I didn’t know telepaths could do this to other—

“Robert?” Denise’s concerned tone broke through Robert’s haze of experimental thoughts, causing him to blink and give her a polite smile.

“Sorry. I was testing out the reinforcements,” he coughed, then let his eyes stray to Finn. “Thanks for that, Finn. It was…interesting.” Incredibly interesting¸ Robert internally added as he walked into the class. “But we should get to class.”

Except, Denise and Finn followed him in, causing Robert to get a rather suspicious feeling in his newly-shielded mind that he should have checked the exact class he had now.

That large grin Denise was sprouting confirmed it. “Yep!” she bounced, seating herself on a desk at the front. “It’s time for Finn’s Mental Health for Superheroes class! Come on, sit next to me! Sorry I couldn’t invite you to sit with me in the morning classes…”

Denise’s voice trailed off as Robert remembered, Right. I had forgotten this class was taught by Mr. Eridos…which happens to be Finn Eridos.

Robert allowed himself a more reserved grin at Denise and took the offered seat next to her. He glanced about the room, surveying the odd bunch of his homeroom classmates and superheroes-in-training filling the room.

The said classroom for Finn’s Mental Health for Superheroes class was surprisingly spacious for the ordinary-sized door to it. From Robert’s small experiences in schools—only a few years in elementary and middle school, as he’d been homeschooled by his parents and then Jovan—he could tell this school’s buildings were…high standard.

Finn’s class was not so very different from the other classrooms he’d been in, though the entire wall of this room opposite the door stood out as being one big window overlooking east of Mt. Laconic.

Like a normal classroom, there were cheesy academic posters strewn all over the white walls, with double-desks and wooden chairs arranged on top of—as in, floating just a millimeter above—a white-tiled floor (they did like their white in this school…his poor eyes). And Finn’s large teacher’s table sat at the front with a foreboding whiteboard at his back.

Unlike a normal school, however, this room and most of the other classrooms in the building, also had some sort of empty space at the back. And if Robert suspected correctly, the small empty mini-room walled by some low-shelves looked to be some sort of hands-on area. He’d had plenty of time in the morning classes to observe the hands-on area, but now that he was sitting in the front, he was faced with the foreboding white board and Denise and Finn’s smiles.

Robert sighed. I’m thirsty, he decided as the bell rang and Finn closed the door to begin his classes. I haven’t had anything to drink since Jovan’s peace and apology breakfast. Ah, whatever…at least I can admit Denise and Finn seem nice. The guy’s not as brutal as he initially appeared and Denise is fun…so far. I’ve known them for less than an hour in this life-threatening school of heroes. But why’d they have to be nice? Hopefully they’ll turn out to be supervillains and the diamond shield in my mind will be used to kill me.

As these thoughts coursed through his head, Finn began his lecture with a summary on five-weeks-worth of lessons, those five weeks being the school days Robert had missed. Honestly, the school didn’t need to give him a summary, but Robert had been offered either private lessons or a quick overview on the first day.

Of course, he thought as he quickly scribbled down some notes on Finn’s overview, he’d opted for the latter option. He didn’t really see the necessity for someone who wasn’t aiming for heroism to take these lessons close to heart. Still, he tried to listen, which was more than he could say for his classmates.

No one seemed to be taking notes, which was understandable for the overview, but he’d expect a little more studiousness for the actual lesson, considering how much this school boasted prestige. One boy even had his head buried in his arms, and one girl seemed to be playing with generated ice.

I guess I can’t really judge since I myself don’t really care, Robert internally decided as he split his thoughts between paying attention and collecting complaints. But you think they’d pay more attention to mental health when it seems to be a common thing for heroes to go insane…and die a lot! And it’s been, like, 444 years since Alyssa’s Storm? Yikes…

“I know learning about all the ways your mind can work against you isn’t fun, class, but this is important,” Finn calmly told the class after a detailed analysis of some reading Robert hadn’t done. The teacher paced a little to the desks and asked the class, “Can anyone tell me what the number one cause of a mental breakdown is?”

Fortunately, since Finn had just explained this in his brief but concise summary, Robert knew the answer and lifted a hand. To his slight shock, no one else did.

He was just about to put his hand down, given the surprised glance Denise had tossed him, thinking that maybe people didn’t raise their hands anymore, when Finn called, “Robert?”

Do people raise their hands in high school? Robert wondered, keeping his expression normal and doing his best not to scream inside. They hadn’t in the morning classes, after all…just spoken up. And anyway, were his classmates paying attention or not? This seemed like important stuff for real heroes…

Right, but the answer… “Most common cause of superheroes’ mental breakdown is caused by a combination of overwork, too much self-expectation, overexposure to all sorts of traumatic and life-threatening experiences for oneself and others, and paranoia,” he replied, tapping his desk to alleviate some of the weirdness in hearing his voice speak up.

“Unfortunately, very true,” Finn agreed before shooting his gaze to the rest of the class. “And can anyone tell me how this can be avoided and/or dealt with?”

Robert resisted the urge to raise his hand again and draw undue attention to himself when no one spoke up. He gave a side glance at Denise, who buried her head in her book but then, without raising her hand, spoke up. (Okay, so no raising hands, Robert decided.)

“There are ways to do this through some machines and powers,” the brunette with pink highlights carefully stated, frowning a little, “but it is often thought to be healthier to seek counselling, remember that you are not to blame, and…yeah, things like that.”

Stuttering at the end, Denise lowered her head, mouthing “sorry” to her brother. Finn didn’t seem to mind, if his mild smile was anything to go by, and continued with his lesson.

Mildly stressed for Finn, since the man himself didn’t seem to be, Robert internally shook his head and wondered how he’d missed the indolent atmosphere of his homeroom classmates in the morning lessons. Well, he hadn’t paid much attention to anyone except the teacher then, irritated as he’d been but that was besides the point. So these are the people I’ll have to spend my 4 years of high school with, he distractedly thought. That’s what a homeroom is, right? How do schools work again?

The rest of the class passed in a blur—not that Finn’s lecture and discussion weren’t interesting. It got a little better, thankfully, but Robert was still bothered that he—the new, non-powered guy—was talking a lot more than he felt he should have a right to.

Not that he cared.

Seriously, though. Were my four morning classes this terrible or was it not because they were just the four main subjects? Yeah, sure I was too busy thinking of ways to get revenge on Jovan earlier…but is it just Finn’s class or…

Whatever the case, Robert was both pleased to find another reason to hate this school and yet simultaneously wary of the fact that people who looked this tired would be the future heroes of the world. But it wasn’t as if anyone else was taking that dangerous, mentally-draining job…

But he didn’t care, right?

Lemon Duck is a tired student of an unspecified race and age at an unspecified location whose Christian background (current ground?) prevents her from truly going full on criminal. Her species tends to shift depending on her mood, but she is usually somewhat human. She tries to write, draw, read, watch, and study in an attempts to complete her humanity but instead found that being chaos incarnate was a more fulfilling job.

Despite owning multiple blogs, most of them are dead and one is currently being overtaken by a weekly serial she definitely would like you to comment, criticize, like, and share; she is definitely not at all writing this biography to appear professional, forego her usual end comments, or profess her love of alphabetical orders. She also sends her love to her inducktrinated minions readers and hopes they’ve enjoyed this week’s story.

P.S. Yeah….the next 3 stories (one will be a 2 parter, so technically 4 posts) will be concerning classes. If you’re a bit curious, there are 4 morning classes that tackle math, literature, science, and history. The 3 afternoon ones are more interesting…and also born out of me having no clue what to teach in a superhero school so mental health it is.

©Lemon Duck, 2021. All rights reserved.

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