The sun was high in the sky as families headed towards the beach. Summer vacation was here. Well, summer vacation for the Power family was a bit different. Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie went on a space epic at the beginning of their vacation to save their parents using powers they received from a dying alien. Now, their biggest challenge awaits them. What could possibly be more dangerous than an alien planet? Simple, moving to New York, the superhuman capital of the world.
The kids were gathered in the living room. They have not exactly set up the television, so Netflix and cable were out of the picture. They had to do the dreaded, talking about their day to each other. Alex, being the oldest, would naturally be the first to volunteer and exercise the privilege of being the oldest sibling.
“So, Smart Alex, why aren’t you going first,” Julie questioned. The younger two, Jack and Katie, giggled at their brother who was shrinking.
“Um, nothing happened,” Alex said while turning away.
“And I don’t believe you,” Jack continued to giggle. He was turning red from a mixture of holding back his laughter and the humiliation he felt for Alex.
Still, he just shook his bright blond hair. “No, nothing happened.”
“Streisand Effect,” Julie said.
“It’s when you cover something up, but ultimately shed more light on it,” Julie explained.
“Alright, fine,” Alex huffed, “I got a wedgie today.” A normal family would get angry, laugh at his misfortune, or show some concern, but the other Power kids just groaned.
“Again?” Katie pretty much expressed what everyone else wanted to express.
“Alex, I thought we weren’t going to do this anymore,” Jack groaned, “It’s always the same cycle: you don’t cover up your tighty whities, some jerk grabs them, you don’t punch him in the face the moment you feel him, you get a wedgie, your clothes are stolen are destroyed, and you run home in the nude after your underwear breaks.”
“Keep quiet,” Alex shushed, “This isn’t our old house in Virginia anymore. There’s a family next door who can hear us.” While cold, he understood it was true. After the first month’s worth of underwear, his siblings grew more apathetic towards his little problem. It’s even worse now since he has superpowers and can defend himself.
“Anyways, my day was much better and more exciting than Alex’s,” Julie said, “So I went to a junior book club and we were reading ‘A Modest Proposal’. Anyways, there was a fight that broke out because one of the girls thought it was horrific that someone would propose to eat babies.”
“Ew,” Katie said, “Why would you want to eat babies?”
“It’s not meant to be taken literally. It’s supposed to sound so horrible and extreme so that people wouldn’t like it.”
“Then why is it called ‘modest’,” asked Katie.
“That’s irony,” said Julie.
“What’s irony,” asked Katie.
“It’s when you say one thing but mean the other.”
“Isn’t that just lying?”
“No, it’s not lying because it’s not meant to be taken at face value and … Jack, why don’t you tell yours?”
“Well, I met some superheroes.” All eyes and ears were now on Jack. Which ones did he meet? The X-Men? The Avengers? The Defenders? The Fantastic Four? Well, they all met them when they attended their dad’s tour of his new job. The Guardians of the Galaxy? X-Factor?
“Prestige and Cryptic.” Then their shocked expressions faded into eyebrow-raising and head-scratching. Who?
“Who are they again?” said Alex.
“They’re superheroes our age who derailed a superhuman trafficking ring,” said Jack, “But that’s not the point. The point is that there are superheroes just like us. They’re a couple of kids around Alex’s age.”
“That’s … amazing,” Julie exclaimed. It was rather shocking. Really, the only time the kids heard her raise her voice was when she’s angry or over a book. Her being thrilled at superheroism is something new.
“One’s a psychic and the other has weird powers,” continued Jack. He elbowed Katie. “Top that one.”
“I can,” Katie said, “But I’m going to need a while.”
“Take as long as you like,” said Alex.
Well, she did take as long as she liked. In fact, most of the siblings had forgotten about that day at worst or vaguely remembered it at best. It was the day before school started, so the kids decided to go pick out their clothes for the next day.
“Kids,” their father called, “Our bedroom. Now.” When they all rushed down, it frankly looked like a mess. Everything from new giant sponges to clothes were on the floor and covering the walls. Even the winter blankets were strewn about. To say the least, this is the weirdest blanket fort they ever saw.
“Why did you --”
“It’s to block out sound,” their mother explained to Julie. Alex froze. His parents were looking directly at him.
“I would have never believed what Katie drew out, but then she then started glowing and creating orbs of light.” Dr. Power handed the comic Katie drew to Alex. The siblings looked at it. Katie had drawn out everything from their parents getting captured by the lizard aliens called the Snarks to receiving their powers to destroying their father’s work to prevent the Earth from exploding in a wave of antimatter.
“So, how long have you had these powers?”
“Since the beginning of summer vacation. We’ve really been superheroes once and used them to … do our chores. We’ve never been superheroes again and the whole secret keeping was Alex’s idea. And I once used Ruth’s clarinet to unclog a toilet after hearing about it from some cartoon.” Julie smiled as she began sweating.
Wow, she would be terrible in court. Alex thought.
“Alex,” said his mother in the voice she used to force them to do their chores.
“Okay, I did tell them to keep it secret because I knew Dad got the job in New York and thought about how many telepaths there were and the less people knew, the better and --”
“Okay, stop,” interjected Dr. Power, “I’ve been saving this speech for a while in case one of you is a mutant. I suppose this is close enough. Have you ever heard the story of the Sword of Damocles?”
“Kang’s ship?” Dr. Power shook his head at Jack’s answer.
“It’s not that one. It’s the tale of a king who is in constant danger because of his power. Peter Parker simplified it in one of his speeches by saying that ‘great power comes great responsibility’,” said Dr. Power, “When at school, you need to keep your powers in check at all times, but if you ever feel overwhelmed by needing to control them, we’re always here. I could ask my boss for an arrangement with Avengers Academy.”
“Don’t worry. We learned to control our powers while doing chores,” assured Jack. For obvious reasons, the parents did not have any less fear than when they started.
“Kids, you know we love you. Unlike your father, I grew up here in New York. I saw the X-Men grow up,” said Mrs. Power, “I saw Sentinels burn down entire buildings just to kill one mutant. I can’t imagine and don’t want to imagine that happening to you.”
“We understand,” Alex said.
The reason why they didn’t entrust their kids to Avengers Academy is that they simply weren’t going to uproot them again. They already tore them from their friends in Virginia to his more constricted space in New York. Constricting them within a dorm in Four Freedoms Plaza was maddening.
Still, this was a leap of faith they needed to make. Just hope they don’t regret it.