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Last Week’s FFF: Bird of Paradise


It all started with Kennedy. I think somewhere, deep down, everyone knew that he was different. When those bullets bounced off of him like kernel being popped, those suspicions were proved valid. My mother saw the whole thing. Sure, it was on television, not in person, but they didn’t have the same kind of movie magic that we’ve got now. She was just a child, but she knew what she saw. And she knew to be afraid. 

Sure, in the beginning, it was fine. It was American to be a superhero. Kennedy came out of the phone booth along with half a dozen others. He addressed the nation and revealed to us all that there had always been super humans, or, at least as far back as the history goes. It was an extremely rare gene, passed on but often forgotten. These super humans evolved along side the Homosapien and Neanderthal. They all intermixed. Strange that what we perceive as average was the strongest of all the genes. But those others, from both sides, exist deep in our DNA.

When the heroes first revealed themselves, there was almost a Nazi resurgence. They spouted that clearly there was a superior type of being and that all other races must be cleansed from the Earth. And then the attempt was made on Martin Luther King, Jr. Pop, pop, the bullets puffed like corn. Just as they had for Kennedy. It was a major push for equal rights. If anyone, of any race, could be a super human, the country instantly saw each other in a different light.

And, for a moment, things were good. There was peace in the world. True, world peace. Or as close as you can get it. A handful of superheros, great as they were, couldn’t patrol the whole world, continuously. And, I think that’s where the downfall began. In that very idea.

They say that power corrupts absolutely. These great men, and the others like them, they were used to having extra abilities. They controlled them all of their lives, never knowing what might happen if anyone found out. But the admiration that came with it, the unceasing belief from those around you that you are all mighty and can do no wrong, it eventually went to their heads. Beyond that, if they did fail, if even one person died before a natural time, then they were chastised. I suppose that’d be enough to make anyone go insane.

The world was divided into sixteen sectors. For every one, there was a superhero in charge. They patrolled and ensured that everyone was safe. My mother was in her mid-twenties at this point, and I was months away from being born.

She’s told me this story a million times. I never met my father, but I can imagine him through her words. They were in his truck, and a car rear ended them. The damage was minor, but my father was fuming. He had a pregnant wife in the car, after all. He turned on the hazard lights and got out to confront the other driver.

The driver stepped out, denied the damage, then began blaming the incident on my father. He began saying nasty things, and clearly had no concern about my mother’s condition or his obvious guilt. My father raised his hand to punch the man.

That’s when the hero arrived.

The hero of our sector had gained no notoriety in his former life. If not for the revelation, he may have gone his entire life unknown. But now, he wanted everyone to know he was here. He barely blinked as he snapped my father’s neck. Capital consequences for non-lethal actions.

A line had been crossed. A taboo broken. A hero had killed. Not just that, he killed without there being an immediate threat to another life. Things escalated from there. Other heroes took his cue, deciding that the fate of humanity was in their hands. Sure, they’d keep people safe from harm. Well, from being harmed by anything other than them anyway.

People were forced into constant compliance. There was no aggression allowed. Countless thousands died from their inability to just turn it off. It wasn’t in our nature to be consistently nice, to never lose our cool. But it was stay calm or die.

Those who couldn’t adapt, or simply refused to, went underground.

It was a difficult task, hiding from those who are super human. But lucky for us, we had a couple of heroes on our side.

Kennedy and King wouldn’t stand for the cruelty. They had fought all their lives against it. But they were outnumbered. Best they could do, at least in the beginning, was help people like my mother find somewhere safe to go.

We started living underground. Subway tunnels and sewers mostly. My earliest memories are of dank, dark places. We stayed nomadic to maximize our chances of survival. Through out the years, the tunnels got some creature comforts. Electricity, radios, bathrooms, even kitchens. It’s a constant running mega-city now running all along the underside of the US.

The heroes don’t know we’re here. It’s possible that in some sectors, they just don’t care. They hardly communicate with each other and don’t see us as a threat.

And that will be their downfall.

Kennedy and King donated their DNA to us to study. Our best minds worked on the problem. They even created a few new ones by sending them to school under the guise of a native surfacian.

And now, I’ve cracked the code. These beings aren’t immortal, after all. Now that we’ve found their posion, they can be killed.

And I’m just the right person to get it done.