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Superpowers Suck

People think there’s nothing cooler than superpowers. I’ve seen the documents of Old about the people who revered super-powered folks. The Old Ones were kind of obsessed with the whole thing. They had temples and religions and stuff.

And, of course, there are very cool powers – James can fly, who wouldn't want that? There are lame ones as well – see Garry, who turns into a freaking tree every time he's nervous. You’d think there’s nothing stupider than turning into a tree. Well, I’ve heard about this guy that turns into a patch of daisies. Some ancient dudes spent a few millennia turned into stone statues and have recently awoken to find missing limbs. That’s pretty ridiculous, too. There are powers that people can turn on and off, like Garry’s and James’. But others cannot: like most of the Mind-Readers. Or the healers.

I’m a healer, and let me tell you right away that being one sucks big time. I’d rather be daisy-patch-dude than a healer.

Since superpowers started making an unexpected appearance around regular folks, this nice society of ours had to adapt pretty quickly. For some folks, nothing changed. Some powers are useless – like Garry’s. Garry’s future is pretty much up to him. James will probably be sent around as Peacekeeper. Sonja, with her telekinesis, will be forced to learn how to deactivate bombs or terrorist cells. Lucia is a telepath, so she’ll be shipped off to one of the government facilities to train her telepathy and make sure we are all safe from ourselves. And that everyone is fulfilling their role in society. I think that’s probably why I hate Lucia so much. It's because people like her exist that I have no choice but to go to a hospital as soon as my 25th birthday party is over.

I am a healer. A very good one, if I’d say so myself. Most healers have to maintain physical contact to cure people. I can walk down a street and get the cataracts of a guy 10 meters away from me, the cold of the woman on the other side of the street, and a few stray cancer cells from the cute girl over there. The government says that’s why healers have to stay in hospitals. Not only to cure our fellow citizens but also to be safe from their illnesses. The only reason healers aren’t sent to hospitals as soon as their powers appear is the Children’s Protection Act of 3720. Thank you, great-granddad…

The CPA is there to ensure every child gets a chance to be a kid, instead of being automatically exploited for their powers. A way to protect us from the Powerless and then from the government. Healers would probably strike if we weren’t so freaking easy to overpower.

And you might be thinking that being a healer is terrific: there’s no illness we cannot cure. We can even set death back for old people. Some can even heal mortal wounds – I don’t know if I’m one of them, and I’m not very keen on finding out. But that is only what people think we do. We cannot errase an illness. What we do is we take the wound into our own, nearly immortal body. We keep it for a while, and our immune system heals us. We cannot switch it off, we automatically absorb anything other people have.

It sucks. Thanks to the CPA, I might have had a semblance of a childhood. Still, I’ve spent most days at home, suffering colds, pox, cataracts, arthritis, and a very long etcetera.

I don't think of myself as a rebel. I’ve always been kind of a coward and very happy to be one. I am fine with following the rules, and I don’t want to defy the government. I know they keep us safe, and I know what a war between super-powered individuals would do not only to the already-battered Earth but to the whole human race in general, so… Not much of a fighter.


But I’ve been to hospitals. My mom is also a healer, and I’ve visited her a lot of times over the years. And I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life there.

Of course, I’m not the only one who’s not thrilled with their future. My girl, Sonja, doesn’t want to go fight crime. Her dream has always been having a flower-shop. I myself don’t know what I could do other than going to the hospital. Since I was small, I’ve always known that’s what I had in store. I try to be positive, but the older I am, the less I like the idea of the pain. The more bitter and angrier I am. Today is the day I’ll be sent away. Sonja and I haven’t left our small one-room apartment for the better part of a week. Sonja has been acting weird.

I look down at my cell.

Lucy has called. Again.

Telepaths’ are like another species altogether. Everybody hates them, and they’re usually mean and cruel in return. I get it’s not their fault, nobody knows where these super-powers came from, and they can’t help snooping around in people's minds. I think Lucy means well. It’s not her fault that she found a place where she was actually liked among her fellow brain-readers.

She went to the government facility for telepaths as soon as she was eighteen and legally an adult. I think she doesn’t get how anybody can not love the idea of having a set future. As I’ve gathered, most brain-readers are like that.

“I should get going.”

Sonja looks up without moving her head off my lap. She doesn’t say anything.

“I don’t want them coming for me.”

She still doesn’t say anything. But the pressure of her head on my leg grows heavier. If she wanted, she could paralyse me on the spot, and I wouldn’t be able to leave. She’s done it several times, and it’s always kind of thrilling to be at her mercy like that.

But not today. Today I want to walk away on my own and climb into the car. I don’t want them to drag me away. I don’t want Sonja to remember me like that.

Sonja’s angry silences have always grated on my nerves. She’s usually quite vocal. I don’t want to fight either. I want her to stand next to me by the door, kiss me goodbye, and smile. I want her to wave from the window as the car pulls away. She won’t do it.

In the end, we end up screaming at each other, and I am too angry, too tired to look out the backseat window to see if she’s at the door.


The hospital is like any other hospital: white and stale. It has a beautiful garden and tall windows. Each healer gets their own room, and we are allowed to decorate it however we want. There are a nice library and a cafeteria where we have free meals that are pretty good. There’s also a small cinema where we get three different movies a week. And three little stores for clothes and decoration and personal stuff. My room has a nice view of the city, a small sitting area with a flat-screen, a table with a state-of-the-art computer and a bedroom. The bathroom is sweet, too. But it’s clearly meant for just one, and I miss Sonja as soon as I enter it.

We work 10-hour shifts four days a week, except when we have night watch – a week every three months. After this, we get a whole week's rest. It could be a lot worse.

Except it couldn’t.

It doesn't take me long to discover why the little cinema and stores are always empty. My cute little room turns into a place to lie awake coughing, and spitting blood, and feeling awful. Three days is barely enough to recharge your batteries and get rid of all the filth that gets pumped into our bodies for ten hours a day. The food in the cafeteria could be award-winning for all we care about. It usually tastes like ash.

Yesterday one of the healers hung himself. Apparently, he could heal from a broken neck.


I miss Sonja. And my friends. I even miss school, where the worst I got was smallpox. Next week, we’re getting the visit of the Minister of Health. Every once in a while, someone comes to take pictures of us – selfless heroes of society that fight for the betterment of life for our fellow humans. The Ministry of Health is always telling us how proud they are, how we’re the true heroes of our society. I hate them.

The minister is a strong man, with yellow hair and a kind face. He’s soft-spoken, has soft green eyes. He commends me on my selflessness and my kindness.

“I’m not kind,” I tell him, my voice raspy. I’ve lost nearly twenty kilos and next to all my muscle mass. The minister tries very hard not to, but he flinches a little bit every time his eyes wander over my body. He’s been looking very hard at something next to my left ear. Everything to my right: the reporters and security guards and so on are a soft blur. My voice is soft. So much so that they had to put a few more mics for the interview.

It’s streaming live. It usually is.

But, as I said, I was the only one available.

“Of course you are,” the minister puts a soft hand on top of mine. His calluses are the first thing that was transfered to me when he first entered the room. Then came the chronic pain on his left knee and the cavities. My teeth ache. The reporters were all pretty healthy, thank God. “You’re one of the pillars of our society.”

He’s trying. I can tell. He totally believes it. I know. It’s not his fault.

“No. I am not.”

He smiles and indulges me. “How come?”

“Because I hate you.” The words slip out without my consent. I should shut up, I should smile and be grateful that they made a health check for the reporters and go back to bed. But my tongue seems to have a mind of its own. “I wish you’d die already so that I could sleep at night. I wish I could leave this place. I wish I could have a girlfriend and that food would have a taste again. I wish I didn’t have scars. I don’t like being a healer; I don’t want to be one. You have robbed me of my life and my future. You don’t notice, but you have tortured me and will keep doing so until I die.” The minister’s hands are freezing. “I am here not because of the kindness of my heart. I’m here because I am a prisoner. And I would like to know why?”

His eyes are very green. I wonder what’s his superpower.

“Because the wellbeing of one individual is not as important as the wellbeing of the majority. You are here. Your life has been made a misery so that others can have one.”

“That is not fair” He doesn’t smile. He is very, very serious. I can nearly hear my father saying life's not fair, like he used to when I complained about being sick again.

“I am sorry for your loss and your pain. But it is necessary.”

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