After an hour of searching we found free parking in the city. Tanya pulled to the curb and killed the engine.
“He really didn’t tell you anything?” she pressed.
Leaning back in the passenger seat I pulled my knees to my chest and sat my feet on the glove compartment; I was probably flashing beneath my skirt to passersby, but whatever. Just thinking about that creep sent a shiver up my spine.
“You don’t suppose,” Tanya thought, “he got the same weird firefly powers that you did. I mean, you were both in the same place, at the same time; you don’t really know what happened.”
I snapped. “Last thing I need to think about is that freak flying around with the power to shoot lasers out of his fingertips.”
She paused. “Sorry…”
Ugh, way to go, Kaira. “No, I’m sorry,” I sighed. “I keep thinking about all of this and… things like this don’t happen to people like me. One day I’m being pushed around, the next I can fly. Not only that but I’ve got some old freak obsessing about it, and me, and I don’t know what to do.”
Tanya grinned as she reached to the back seat. “I’ll tell you what you do. You forget about that guy because he’s boring and useless, and you do that thing we were talking about by using…” She stretched and ferreted around underneath the CDs, dirty clothes, textbooks, loose handouts and soda bottles, then returned with a black box; “this.”
The object was shaped like a small brick with knobs on top and an antenna. “A walky-talky?”
“It’s an emergency scanner,” she explained. “With this you can pick up police, fire and ambulance radio signals.”
“And then I, what, just pick out a disaster, fly to the scene and save the day?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
I took the device from her hand and looked it over. It was heavy, just like the possibilities that had been opened to me. Like so many other things I had no idea what to do with it, even as I stared at the dial where the word ‘on’ was waiting to be clicked.
Tanya placed a hand on my shoulder. “You know you don’t have to do this. We both know that playing superhero was my idea. There are professionals who can handle the world’s disasters. You’re not a bad person for not thinking you can handle it.”
The weight in my hand grew heavier.
“Yeah, but… I’ve got all this power now. What’s the point of having it if I’m not going to use it for something good?”
“This isn’t divine providence,” she added. “This was an accident. There’s no ‘meant to be’ here. I mean yeah, great power and great responsibility and all that, but… there’s also the responsibility to not use great power just because you have it. Does that make sense?”
“It makes way too much sense,” I told her, “but I need to try anyway. How else am I going to know if I don’t see for myself?”
She shrugged and took the radio. “Just giving you an out if you need one, KC. You know I’ve got your back.”
I smiled. “I know.”
She turned the knob and the radio cracked to life. The messages were hazy at first, but we soon tuned in to a frequency we could follow. The hard part was figuring out which voices were talking to whom. After a few minutes we were still having a hard time finding any sort of crime, least of all anything that would need a… well, a wannabe superhero.
“Where did you get that thing anyway?” I asked.
Tanya grinned. “Internet. Internet has everything.”
“Even stuff that lets you spy on cops.”
“Especially stuff that lets you spy on cops,” she quipped. “This is America, remember? People take the law into their own hands all the time. Having superpowers just gives you a competitive edge.”
“Except I actually want to help people; not scare them.”
We searched the channels hoping to stumble onto something; part of me hoped we wouldn’t, but fate was determined to deliver. The voice on the receiver choked out a plea. “This thing’s at least a three alarm climbing up the sixth floor of the Orange Grove Towers apartment complex. Our boys are stuck on five; ladder crew is leading who they can to the roof. Requesting an immediate chopper lift!”
“Orange Grove Towers,” Tanya gasped. “That’s like… eight blocks from here.”
“It’ll be faster if you fly,” she said.
“I have no idea where Orange Grove Towers is!”
“Fly up high enough and you won’t have to! You’ll see the smoke. A three-alarm is not a small fire.”
Fly up high, she said; like I was brave enough to go any higher than a few levels. If I was going to take this saving the world thing seriously I was going to have to lift my game.
I pulled my hair back, tied it and tucked it under my hood. The addition of sunglasses completed the disguise in the visor mirror. It wasn’t exactly a ‘costume’, but it had enough anonymity.
“Are you sure about that disguise?” Tanya pressed.
“Sure. Who’s going to guess Glowstick Girl spends most of her days as a guy?”
I shrugged and opened the door. “It’s as good a name as any. Make or break time. Wish me luck.”
“Break a leg,” she called after me. “Save the world!”
Looking around I made sure nobody could see as I inhaled. Then came the familiar sensation; warmth flowing over my senses in a flash of light, followed by gravity loosening its hold. Next thing I knew I was pushing into the sky further than I’d dared before. I climbed the windows of Milestone City with growing speed until I shot past them entirely, and then lingered with nothing save the support of my own power beneath my feet. From that height it didn’t take long to find a trail of smoke to follow.
“Save the world,” I echoed; this seemed like a good place to start.
To be continued…