Short Stories

Crash Landing

It took a bit of restraint to not title this “Crash Landing on You” (k-drama reference, which I have not watched). Nevertheless, we continue the saga of Robert dealing with his non-powered status in a school of powered heroes-in-training.

May 2, 444 EoP. Thursday 17:12

If only occasionally slippery hallways were the worst of his problems.

As Robert began to settle in more, he found out that the culprit for the invisible ice hallways was actually a girl from his class, Anise Corrater—a girl from the south of the Southern Republic with coal-black eyes and what looked to be piebaldism on her rough black hair and dark skin (he confirmed it later on).

Apparently, she’d heard about his accident and profusely apologized for it.

“I’m really, really sorry, Ashanra,” she’d stammered. “That wasn’t a prank meant for you…”

That had been an unexpected shift in the conversation. “It’s okay. There wasn’t any big harm done.”

“Yeah, I’m so sorry,” she’d repeated…and that conversation had been reiterated a few more times until Robert had found an excuse to leave it.

Of course, Denise had heard about his conversation with Anise and laughed. “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you. I found out about Anise’s rivalry with the Art Club’s vice president…that was probably for her—she’s a speedster, Lili Devensir in Class 2 of Year 2.”

Not really sure why Denise was telling him this, Robert merely nodded. So there are rivalries and all that stuff, huh? And they apparently have clubs as well…interesting. So it was to him, who had never experienced a school hierarchy beyond the last years of elementary and the first two years of middle school.

The two were walking towards the library, as Denise had finally cornered him after school before he disappeared and, in a rather threateningly cheerful way, invited him to join them on a study session for midterms.

I don’t really need to do midterms, but I guess I could do homework, he’d privately thought before agreeing. A spark of irritation flashed across his mind when he remembered Jovan’s “encouragement” to spend time with people instead of disappearing. Argh, I really hate it when Jovan gets what he wants. I may be crabby but he is a crab. Pinching people. Being able to get away with it cause that’s how he is…

At least study groups meant that he could see the impressive library again.

There, Denise led him into a group-study room, where six other kids were seated on cushions around a study table. He recognized Sofi and Ausma there, and the others he recognized as Gerald Kineli and Wilbur Theryal from his class. But he didn’t know the other two girls.

“Robert, this is Hali and Elena from the Flight Club.”

Is that supposed to mean something? Robert thought dryly, smiling in greeting at the two girls.

“Elena’s in Year 3 and kindly offered us help to study for our midterms,” Denise added as she sat down on a leathery brown pillow next to the radiator.

“You’re the one Hyonju told us about, right? The one who has no powers?” the Northwestern girl introduced as Hali stated, lifting her eyebrows slightly at him.

“That’s me,” Robert said as he seated himself far away from her. I guess I shouldn’t blame her for being intrigued, but her presence gives me Jovan vibes. Maybe it looks better on a girl than on a grown man?

Her face splitting into a grin, Hali leaned diagonally across the wooden table, covering some of the bird paintings on it. “That’s awesome,” she laughed, spreading out a hand. “I’ve been wanting to meet you! You sound like a cool person.”

Stop having friendly assumptions, he wanted to tell her. But Robert shook his thoughts off and took the offered handshake. “Likewise…thanks for letting me crash your study session, I guess?”

Sofi, who was sitting on Hali’s right, grinned at Robert. “Of course…but speaking of crashing, where is Hyonju?”

“She’s probably late, as usual,” Gerald spoke up. His voice, which Robert had to replay in his mind for fear of having heard wrong, was a lot deeper than what his rather boyish appearance belied.

Wilbur smirked at Robert. “Hyonju’s always been pretty…flighty,” he laughed, side-elbowing Gerald.

Is that a pun for her flight powers? Clever. He gave Wilbur a brief smile.

“Don’t encourage—”

Ausma’s words were broken up by a high-pitched scream from outside their study room. The unexpected noise made the students in the room jump towards the sound coming from outside.

“Oh, dear…” was the last thing Robert heard before he saw stars.

Papers and books flew all over the place, and a gust of wind followed the force of whatever had landed on him, making him cold as well as hurt. The door clicked shut, likely to muffle the mumbles and muttering that rang in Robert’s ears.

Never mind. I can go back to hating my life. Ow, ow…that’s another bruise in addition to the ice-hallway one.

Robert, are you okay?!?!” Denise’s voice was the first clear one he heard.

She was also pulling off the heavy object that landed on him, and then slapping his face. Ow, ow, ow, Denise STOP!

Robert realized, as the fuzziness in his head cleared, that he was thinking the words rather than saying them and pushed himself up. “Oof, that’s gonna leave a mark,” he coughed, clutching at his stomach.

He glanced around for the culprit of his near-death experience and found himself staring at the blurry, round, alarmed face of a Friesdaian girl—her almost supernatural beauty at least spoke of some Friesdaian blood, that is. “I am so sorry,” she apologized breathily, her too-long sleeves floating around as she waved her hands erratically.

“This is why you’re still on the beginner level in the flight club, Hyonju,” Robert thought he heard Elena’s alto voice chide.

Oh, Hyonju. I think she has super strength. And flight. Of course she does.

“We’re so sorry!” Denise called out to the library, earning a loud shushing from the librarians. “Sorry…” she repeated in a whisper before the door squeaked to a close again.

When his sight caught up to his ears, Robert focused his gaze on Hyonju and gave a thumbs up. “It’s fine…the pillows and carpet cushioned my back.” But not my stomach…

Hyonju breathed a sigh of relief and held out a hand. “I am so sorry, Robert,” she repeated, yanking him up with more force than necessary. “Sorry again! I realized I was late to the study session and then I decided to boost my speed with flight except of course I don’t know how to land and—”

“Maybe you should start picking up your stuff, Hyonju?” Wilbur prompted the girl, handing her a few scattered sheets around him.

Sure enough, the carpet was littered with textbooks and notebooks and a few stray sheets of paper.

Hyonju straightened, her long skirt flying as she snatched her stuff from the floor and Wilbur’s hands. “AH! Apologies! Again, again!”

“Right…then,” Elena loudly declared, clearing her throat. When all eyes—except Hyonju, who was moving to sit between Wilbur and Gerald—fell on her, Elena continued, “Shall we start the study session, then? I brought practice tests and my notes from Year 1, if that helps…”

Impressively, Elena managed to bring back some semblance of order to the chaos. And to their credit, they did begin to study and review over the tests and texts.

Except then, as Robert had expected, they began to talk about other things—things that consisted about stuff he didn’t know, like what their superhero parents/guardians were up to or what was going on in the superhero groups or school gossip.

Eventually, Robert gave up on completing his math and did his best to not die at the social exertion.

They’re all really nice, I can admit that, he thought to himself with a slight smile, twiddling his pencil as he watched the students talk. But I’m not going to tell Jovan that. Especially not when I’ll probably be fine with this school eventually.

“So, Robert, have you noticed Mr. O’Lest with any mood swings or shifts?”

Robert mentally reeled at this unprecedented question directed towards him by Hali. I have no idea what they were talking about…He internally screamed, blinking slightly at the group. “Sorry, what?”

“Mr. O’Lest…you take Basic Philosophical Codes with him, right? I’m pretty sure he and Miss Elagi—she’s my Combat teacher—have a thing going on,” Hali explained, her smile wide and her eyes shining with mischief and curiosity. She leaned forward again despite the fact that her jacket was bunching up around her shoulders.

Oh, great…I agreed to give up my afternoon to see someone I regret calling the female version of Jovan gossip about teachers, Robert inwardly choked, unsure if this was irritating or incredibly funny. “I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to know what counts as a mood swing,” he answered safely.

“Bummer…” Hali sighed. “It almost makes me wish I’d signed up for that class…”

She still peppered him with questions, though, and the others—equally invested in this school drama, and apparently the fact that Robert took Basic Philosophical Codes—did the same.

Yep. In the end, Robert had to sacrifice his video game hours to finish his Math and Civilian Survival 101 homework.

But on the bright side, he actually found himself going to sleep before midnight.

Piebaldism, by the way, is basically when parts of your skin or hair lack melanocytes, the things that make your melanin…which are the things that give stuff color. It’s different from vitiligo. It’s more something you’re born with and doesn’t always mean health issues. Anise doesn’t really experience any problems with that (except the occassional question of why she dyed her hair so weirdly like that). It’s a little present on her skin, but her hair is what draw most people’s attention.

Anyway, why did I include this? For representation and all that stuff?

Nope. I just saw a video on it and was like, “huh…that exists.” And as is my experience with things that exist (people, races, cultures, even stinkin languages), *inserts somewhere*.

Yeup. I’m terrible.

See you next Thursday! :DDD

©Lemon Duck, 2021. All rights reserved.

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