Three years ago, I could send a fountain of sparks into the air with a snap of my fingers. Three years ago, the night became invisible to me. Three years ago, I learned to fly.
But yesterday it was all taken from me. Yesterday my nemesis found out my identity, and stripped my powers from my body with a silver gun.
I was left, broken and shattered like a fallen china teacup, to go home, shower in the frigid darkness, and fall asleep.
This morning I woke in a cold sweat. My bones ached in at least twenty-seven places from my battle with Daze.
Just thinking her name made my jaw clench as every nerve in my body shivered with an anger that, on any other day, would have sent a myriad of sparks crackling off my hair, my shoulders, my fingertips.
She took everything from me.
My eyes shot open to view total darkness, swarming around my ears and pressing against my forehead. I hated the dark. I hated her.
My night vision, my electricity, my flight. In less than a moment, it had all been sucked out of me.
I could still feel despair shuddering in my bones as all my power had been torn from my skin, ripped away by whatever was in the rays of her silver gun.
I thrust myself out of bed, still wearing my armored suit from the night before, and left to find her.
It took me eight and a half minutes to realize I had no idea where to look for her. I didn’t know her identity, so I couldn’t find her house, and I had no way of contacting her.
But I also knew there were ways of attracting a superhero’s attention, ways that would be sure to get me on tonight’s news.
With this in mind, I french-braided my hair down my back and secured my full-face mask around my eyes and mouth, matching up the holes so I could see and breathe.
The mask was a simple black, with no detailing, contrasting with my icy-blonde hair. My suit was simple as well, plain gray and dark blue.
I had stolen it from Daze’s old hideout several years before.
I left my house and started down the sidewalk, wondering at the amount of people who were so consumed by their phones they didn’t even notice me.
If they had, surely they would have screamed or tried to run or at least stared at me as I passed. I walked a whole block before I came upon someone who actually saw me.
Her dirt-brown hair swept against her shoulders as she met my eyes, her gaze harder to break than a diamond. I knew she was the hostage I wanted.
I always kept several pairs of handcuffs in my pocket. I pulled one out now, fastening it to her wrists.
“Scream and yell all you want,” I hissed in her ear, “but you won’t get away until Daze shows up to save you.”
She rolled her eyes and followed me down the sidewalk, her compliance surprising me. Maybe she was Daze. Maybe in my hurry I had picked the very person I wanted to see.
But I tossed that idea out of my mind in moments. Daze’s eyes were blue; my hostage’s were dark brown. Daze was tall and strong, whereas my hostage was short and thin.
I needed a public building. Preferably a place with cameras, so Daze would see and come as soon as possible.
I decided on the library; it was a place I had always avoided because I knew it would attract Daze’s attention and bring her to spoil my plans when I didn’t want anything to do with her.
But today, my motives were the opposite.
The library was closed, but the back door was unlocked.
I pulled my hostage in, hit the light switch, and stepped to the elevator, which had a sheet of paper taped to it, written on with shaky, childish letters.
Out of order.
My heart sank and scraped against my rib cage. Normally that sign would’ve been an invitation to me. I would have used my electricity to reanimate the elevator, zooming us up to the top floor.
Or, better yet, I would have flown to the top of the building while we were still outside, instead of wasting my time with doors and bookshelves.
I sighed as I started up the stairs, and my hostage laughed. She laughed. The noise echoed up the empty stairway.
“Is something wrong, Sparks? You don’t seem your usual villainy self today.”
I turned to glare at her. If I had my powers, I would have shocked her into silence. “You don’t seem very alarmed, considering you’ve just been kidnapped by what you call a supervillain.”
She was still laughing. “You don’t have your powers, do you?”
“Is that what you think?” I laughed too. “Keep thinking that if you want, but it might go badly for you later.”
“Want to know how I figured it out?” Her grin was obnoxious. “Normally, I would’ve thought breaking into the library and taking the stairs were just a part of your newest crazy plan.
But you hit the light switch, Sparks. You would never do that for one of your hostages, so you must not have your night vision any more.” Her laughter was really getting to me now.
“You’re not half so threatening without your sparks, Sparks.”
My anger caught up to me then, and I found myself stomping on her toes with my heavy boot, satisfied by the grating crunch of her bones. She shrieked and fell to her knees.
I yanked her up the stairs.
After three flights, the stairway widened and a door opened to the rooftop. Thankfully, this door wasn’t locked either. I shoved it open and dragged my hostage to the edge of the roof.
A view this high had never bothered me before, even before I obtained my powers. But now, I was terrified of the thought that I might fall and I couldn’t fly. I wouldn’t be able to save myself.
If my hostage hadn’t figured out I was missing my powers, I might have been able to hold her over the edge and she wouldn’t have dared to try and pull me over too,
assuming I would just fly and save myself. But as it was, I had to hope just standing with her near the edge would be enough to attract Daze.
I glanced at my hostage, who was holding her foot in her hands and rocking back and forth with her eyes closed.
Content that she was too distracted to push me off the building, I peered over the edge again.
My blood froze as I wondered what would happen if I jumped. It would put an end to all this nonsense. After all, was there a point to living now that I didn’t have my powers?
I knew little about suicide. I’d seen a boy interviewed on TV once after he was talked out of jumping from a bridge.
The only reason I watched that story was because Daze was the one who had convinced him to stop.
Would Daze do the same for me, even though I was her nemesis?
The voice came from the other end of the roof as Daze landed, after manipulating the air around herself to fly up the side of the hundred-foot building.
Her flaxen hair danced in the air behind her, and on her thumb was a diamond ring. She wore fingerless gloves with holes in the palms, from which she could shoot waves of wind.
The first time I’d been hit by one of her windy blasts was in the midst of a battle several years before.
I remembered being caught off guard as the wind knocked me onto my back and scattered the thoughts from my mind.
At first I felt betrayed by the air, for hurting me after it taught me to fly, but then I realized it was her fault.
Daze used the air to achieve her goals, manipulating it when perhaps it didn’t want to bend to her will.
But I was a friend of wind, which lifted me up when I needed to fly and caught me before I could ever fall too far. That was the moment I had decided to take Daze down.
To teach her that air was not something to be manipulated, but to be trusted.
Now, I tightened my grip on my hostage’s wrist. Daze might have sucked all the flight out of me, but I could still fight.
“Finally,” my hostage -Rebecca- sighed. “I was beginning to think I’d be sitting here with Miss Sparks for days before you found me.”
Daze crossed her arms. “Days. Ha-ha, I get it.” She rolled her eyes. “Honestly, with those puns, I don’t know why I came to save you in the first place.”
Rebecca shrugged, and Daze shifted her gaze to me. “Really, Sparks? Threatening my best friend?” She crossed her arms.
“Are you sure you want to have this one-sided battle? In this state, there’s no way you could ever hurt me.”
It was the truth. Even if I were to throw Rebecca off the side of the roof, it would take Daze moments to fly down and save her. Then where would I be?
“I want my powers back.” I lifted my palms over my head and stepped away from Rebecca. “I won’t hurt her, I just need my powers back. Then I’ll leave you alone.”
“Even if I wanted to help you -and I don’t- there’s no way for me to return your abilities once you’ve been shot by the Stifiler.” Daze shrugged.
“I guess you’ll just have to learn to live a normal life, Sparks.” She grabbed Rebecca’s wrist and flew her down to the library lawn.
Then she returned to the rooftop. When she spoke, her words came too easily, rolling from her lips as if they had been practiced a hundred times before.
“I’m sorry about how desperate losing your powers has made you, Mia, I really am.”
I jolted at the use of my real name, and she smiled, sickeningly sweet.
“I knew you would resent that. Listen, I know it must be hard to lose your abilities after relying on them for so long, but you were abusing them.
I’m sure once you’ve had some time to get over it, you’ll come around. Maybe we can meet up for tea sometime and talk about it, if you want.”
She widened her smile, turned on her heel, and left.
That afternoon I set up electricity in my house for the first time in three years, shocking the electrician when I was forced to tell him that.
“Candles,” I lied. “I use candles at night and charge all my devices in my car.”
His eyes were wide. “That I understand. But you’ve gone three years without using your fridge? I can’t even imagine.”
Over the next few weeks, I sent in applications to become a teacher at almost all the schools in my city. I was accepted at one I had worked at three years ago, before I received my powers and quit to become a full-time supervillain. I began work on August 13th, a week before the students started their school year.
The long days in the classroom with my rowdy students and little pay exhausted me. I’d been losing my temper over the smallest things lately, and I knew it.
But I couldn’t help thinking I would never be in this situation if it weren’t for Daze. If she hadn’t taken my powers away from me, I would still be…
I would still be a wanted supervillain.
I would still be using my public identity as a mask, hiding the truth of how much harm I could cause these people before they could even blink.
Now this identity, this “Ms. Schnapp,” as my students called me- it had become all I was. The only side of me.
It was no longer a mask put on to deceive others; it was an identity whose other half had been torn off, taken away.
It was me, in my most vulnerable form.
I had come to hate the name Mia Schnapp, and I had come to hate the name Sparks, as well.