Hero Rule Number 34: Remember the day before.
As in the day before you actually started being a hero. The day that you had before the life of a hero got in the way of having a normal life. It doesn't matter what kind of day it was, the best day ever or the closest to hell you can get without dying.
Remember that day. Because whatever that person was the day before died, with only your own memory as their legacy. Now it's your turn. Time for the person you are now to make the person you once were proud.
Just don't mess up.
In San Jose California, there is a place called Mount Pleasant High School. It is a magical place, filled with mystery and enchantment... actually, the most magical thing that ever happened at Mount Pleasant is the time the cafeteria pizza didn't have the constituency of rotten yogurt.
Not to say its a terrible place. Simply a school. Most of the buildings are wrapped with a hard and rocky coating, giving the hallways the feel of a ancient cave that had suddenly become filled with red lockers and posters of cardinal birds, the school mascot. It was an okay school, but especially important or exciting.
Even now the courtyard in front of the main office are peaceful, only the wind blowing through trees to create noise. The tranquility is broken when the doors to the office open, ejecting a average sized young man in a black t-shirt and blue jeans with black curly hair. The boy steps out into the sunlight and sighs quietly.
"Well that was disappointing," he said with a sad smile on his face.
He had no other words to say. Not after that meeting. He had just went in to discuss his graduation chances with his counselor, and the answers he got weren't to encouraging.
When he first entered her office, he noticed that despite the flowers on her desk and pictures of smiling family and friends posted on her wall, she had a frown that looked like it belonged on a general who was trying to figure out how he'd gotten his ass beat by a third world country, instead of the average school counselor. The fact that her frown only deepened as he walked into the room was a little insulting.
"Please, sit down Mr. Chelsea." She gestured to a chair in front of her desk, those hard plastic ones made specifically to cause pain. He winced at the sound of that last name.
His full name is McKay Chelsea. It was strange name given to him by the mistakes of two people. His father was new to the country, and because of his hopes for his son to grow up the same as any normal kid in America would, he gave what he thought was the average American first name.
His last name was because of his doctor. His fathers last name was Shalaby, but the doctor who wrote on his birth certificate was either hard of hearing, or a really sick practical joker, because it took two years for his dad to fully understand English and two seconds to realize the problem with the name his boy was stuck with.
Rather then allow his son be embarrassed for his last name, Mr. and Mrs. Shalaby choose to simply shorten down the name, introducing the boy by a nickname to all who they met, until his original name was practically forgotten.
"Actually I like people to call me MC."
The look on her face said that she really didn't give a damn what he wanted people to call him. The youth grimaced at the sour look on her face. This probably did not bode well.
He was right.
"I'll be blunt MC." Sarcasm, MC noted, was not one of her better traits. " I'm sorry to have to tell you you have no chance of graduating this year." She took in the sadness that flickered across his face, and her harsh frown softened. "I'm sorry. I really am. But... I mean, look at this."
She spun the monitor on her desk around to reveal his abominable grades on screen. "You have F's in almost all your classes, except for Beginning Drawing, which you have a C in, and English, which you have a D in. Everyone of your teachers say the same thing. You're intelligent, but you never apply yourself. You almost never do your homework, and when you do their usually half-assed."
"And it not just this year or even this school. I called your last few schools to get some idea about this. Its the same over and over." She sighed heavily, and rubbed her forehead. I know kids like you. Come in all the time asking for miracles..." She looked at him sadly as he sat there silently. "You better hope your lucky kid. Cause life after high school is a lot tougher then you think. It's war, and hopefully the only battlefields you go are real ones."
MC gave her a weird look. "Shouldn't that be the other way around?"
She smirked. "Trust me on this. A real battlefield is more honest then a metaphorical one."
Then she gave him some flier's for some adult schools in the area and sent him on his way. She had no reason to talk to him anymore. As far as she was concerned, she had done all that was required of her, so on to the next idiot slacker who would realize that getting a full score on the expert mode for Guitar Hero didn't mean they had a chance at real stardom.
That was okay with him. MC didn't really want to talk to anyone about this anyway.
He stood outside the office for a moment before walking to the nearest trashcan and throwing away the flier's in his hand. He figured he wasn't going to read them anyway, and if he ever needed to find adult schools he'd just Google it.
The bell for the end of the day rang as MC walked through the freshman quad that acted as the courtyard for the main office to get to the sophomore. The school was basically shaped like a large plus sign, with the library as the center and the quads and classes acting as the "arms" of the plus sign.
Kids came out of classes like a flood of hormones until the the quads were filled with student. MC was only interested in two of them. He walked over to his favorite table at school, where he could see his best friends, Marcus and Carrie, sitting next to each other.
Marcus was a really big guy, taller then everyone around him by at least a head, and wider by at least a foot. He had brown hair that often lead MC to tease him about being like one of those girls in hair commercials, the ones with magically flippy hair. He was a friendly guy, who's dream was to one day become either a warrior of justice, or a mass murderer.
Don't ask. MC regretted doing so.
Carrie on the other hand, was a small girl, looking even more tiny sitting next to Marcus's enormous body like a small bear cub being guarded by its mother, a good metaphor for their relationship. She was often dressed in dark clothes, with black hair dyed purple at the ends and Metallica t-shirts, but had a personality so nice and sweet that would make the average Disney employee look like Charles Manson. Carrie was what would happen if the spirit of innocence was a fan of rock.
The real surprise was who was sitting with them. Sonny Rodriguez. He was pretty normal guy in MC's opinion, about the same build as him, with straight black hair. He wasn't exactly a social kind of guy though, always avoiding the crowd. He dated of course, in fact girls couldn't seem to get enough of him, and he asked for help with classwork from classmates, sometimes cheered at games. But overall he liked to stay to himself. MC only knew him through a couple of classes they shared, and the only reason they even talked was due to a shared fascination for comic books.
But while they were cool with each other, Sonny wasn't as close with Marcus and Carrie as he was with MC. The one time MC asked why he was so standoffish with everyone Sonny just stayed silent, staring until MC took the hint.
Deciding decided not to question Sonny's sudden social needs, MC walked over. Carrie turned and smiled happily when she saw him walking up.
"Hey MC! Over here!" She waved him to the seat next to her, nearly bouncing out of her seat with excitement. Marcus smirked at him, an expression that was almost a permanent feature on his face.
"Where were you last period?" He said. "Mrs. G wouldn't tell me."
MC decided not to tell about his encounter with the champion of sympathetic counseling, sitting down next to Carrie. "I just skipped class. I had something I needed to handle."
Carrie pouted in a comical way that let them know she was kidding. "And you didn't invite me?" He chuckled before turning to Marcus and Sonny.
"So what's up?"
My overly large friend shrugged. "Nothing much."
Sonny had a strange look on his that MC couldn't really identify. "Actually I've been wanting to ask you something."
MC blinked. "Ah...sure, go for it. I guess."
He leaned forward with a serious expression. He stared strangely, like he was trying to read MC's mind, before speaking.
"In The time that I've known you, you've said that you a certain love for comic books, video games-" Marcus cut in.
"You mean he's a nerd." he said with a roll of his eyes.
MC nodded happily, folding his arms mock-arrogantly across his chest. If there was one thing he could be confident about it was his nerdiness. He was probably the only guy who could read a novel, a comic book, and a manga in the same week, and still know everything about each one.
"And proud of it! But uh," MC cocked his head to the side. "Why does it matter?"
Sonny stared MC in the eye, black eyes nearly hidden by his bangs. Later Carrie would say they looked like complete opposites. Sonny with a brooding expression that gave a slightly threatening appearance, while MC sat there with a slightly confused face, head cocked to the side like a little kid trying to do his arithmetic.
"Out of all the things you've read before, all of the thing you've ever played or watched...who do you believe carries the best possible traits for a person to have?"
MC blinked again, not because of the question, but the seriousness in his voice when he asked. It seemed like a casual conversation sort of thing, but Sonny was asking it in a more philosophical tone then was called for.
"Uh..." Marcus grinned at MC's confusion.
"He asked us the same thing when we got here." Marcus said
"How did you answer?" MC was pretty sure he knew the answer though.
He smiled devilishly. "The Joker of course. You were expecting someone else?" MC held back from sighing. He loved the guy like a brother, but couldn't help wondering if his larger friend was insane. Who would pick the Clown Prince of Crime as their hero? Carrie had the same idea.
"Why would you pick someone like that?," she said condescendingly. MC grinned, glad to have someone on his side of sanity. Until she continued.
"When you could pick Edward Cullen!"
Cue the disturbing gushing, and hands clenched to chest from Carrie. MC groaned theatrically. Not for the first time he wondered why he hung out with people who thought a homicidal maniac overly angsty pretty boy were the perfect symbols of humanity.
When he looked up Sonny was still staring at him, serious as death. MC took a moment to think about his answer. The problem with asking someone who read and watched as many things as MC who their favorite character is, is that he had a list that could stretch around the equator to choose from. After a second of thinking it over though MC had his answer.
"Prometheus." His answer was met with three confused faces. The faces looked at each other, then back to him.
"Who? Is he in a comic book?" Carrie said quizzically. MC looked at them in shock.
"You're not serious are you?"
Still confused. MC rubbed his forehead in frustration. "Alright then, I'll tell you the story. Prometheus was a Titan in Greek myth. When the children of the lead Titan, a guy named Cronus, was rebelled against by his son, Zeus-you know him right?"
Marcus rolled his eyes. "Yeah yeah. Get on with it dude."
"Fine, fine! Anyway, when Zeus rebelled against his father and the other titans on his father's side, Prometheus was one of the few Titans who stood at the Greek gods side against his brother. After kicking Cronus's ass, it looked like things would be cool between Prometheus and Zeus. But mankind came between them."
"So Prometheus was gay or something?," Carrie said confused (Actually she was joking with him). MC jumped in his seat and choked in shock.
"What! No!" He took a second to calm down and scrub the sudden imagery from his head. "Basically every time Zeus tried to shaft humanity in a deal, sacrifices and things like that, Prometheus would step up in our defense. And when Prometheus stole fire from him, Zeus finally had enough. He had Prometheus chained with adamantium bonds to a rock by the ocean, ignoring all Prometheus had done to help him. There he was to stay for eternity, under the heat of the scorching Greek sun by day and beaten by freezing cold waves at night ."
"Sounds like a real hard-ass," Marcus said with a smirk.
"Yeah. But Zeus tried to get one more thing out of him. Zeus knew that just like how he had taken down his pops, one day one of his Zeus's own sons would rise up to defeat him. And since he was a guy who loved his women, a little too much, he had a problem. No birth control back in the day and all that."
"Prometheus knew who the woman who would give birth to that child was. If Zeus could get the information out of him, he could avoid his fate by killing the woman and rule for eternity if he wanted to. Basically he gave Prometheus a offer, sending Hermes, messenger of the gods, to give it to him. If Prometheus would give Zeus the name of the woman who would conceive super-baby, then he would go free. Prometheus refused, knowing what would happen to the innocent woman if he said anything."
Carrie grinned mischievously. "That's actually pretty cool."
"Yeah, but Zeus didn't see it like that. He was pissed off at being blocked, so he decided that Prometheus's punishment wasn't harsh enough. From that moment on,every single day, a huge vulture would go to Prometheus and devour his organs. Then they would grow back during the night, only for the cycle to be repeated." All three of them winced. I smiled now, coming to my favorite part of the story. "No one really knows how it ended. The most popular version is that one of Zeus's children, Hercules, was the one who broke the chains. Another is that someone sacrificed his own life for Prometheus. One thing for sure though."
MC smiled wickedly.(At least he thought he did. Later Carrie told him he looked constipated.) "For Prometheus to have gotten out would mean one thing. Zeus gave up. There was no way for Prometheus to get out unless Zeus willed it. The king of the myths, ruler of the heavens...lost to a lowly Titan chained to a rock. That why he's my favorite. Prometheus is the hero that all heroes are held up to, even to this day. Someone with abilities beyond those of normal people, who uses those powers to help them instead of rule them."
" A person who, when his power isn't enough to defeat his opponent, uses his wits instead and sometimes embarrasses the bad guy in the bargain. But most importantly... Someone who doesn't give up. Who, when all seems lost, when every option has been used, and there seems to be no way out of a situation, sticks it out. They put themselves through flames, pain, and death for whatever is most important to them. Family, causes, or even just themselves, they don't give up for any reason. In other words..."
At this point Marcus seemed a little bored, just listening politely. Carrie was more interested, leaning forward with her face in her hands, while Sonny was listening intently, smiling unnervingly at the word "flames". They all looked at MC in surprise at his next words though.
"I just like characters to stubborn for their own good."
They stared at MC with slightly staggered expressions. He rubbed the back of his neck, a habit he picked up awhile back and does whenever he's nervous. Marcus spoke up.
"You're so weird MC. All that build up and then... nothing." He shook his head with a smirk, while Carrie just shrugged, used to MC's weirdness. MC laughed.
"Sorry, I just really hate being serious for that long-" He was cut off.
"You're a fucking idiot." The three of them turned to Sonny, who had the look of someone who had just stated absolute fact to a moron. It took a moment for MC to realize just Sonny had said. He felt anger rush through his veins like acid. He always had a problem with people insulting him, worse then what would normally be the reaction. Well, not really him. I someone was insulting his hair, his looks, whatever, he could shake it off with a laugh. Insult his ideas and he would be seeing red.
"Will the jerk please restate his previous words?" He spat out furiously. Not the best of comebacks, but its hard to make an intelligent remark when one is mad. And right now he was resisting the urge to smash Sonny's face, friend or not.
Instead of answering, Sonny got up and walked off. As he stalked off, there was strange smile on his face. One that sent a strange feeling up MC's spine. He shivered a little.
"What the hell is up with him?"
Carrie shook her head. "No one knows. He's been acting weird all week. He broke up with Janice last week, and it seemed like they really liked each other."
Marcus snorted. "It's high school Carrie. Nothing stays the same around here, relationships least of all. You can't expect love to stay eternal around here. Except in really special circumstances." MC nodded in agreement, calming down a little.
"You're right. He's probably just freaking out about graduating." MC said
She frowned, looking in the direction Sonny had stalked off to.
"I guess your right... it's just kinda weird is all." She suddenly brightened up and turned to MC. "I forgot to ask! What school are you going to after graduation MC? You never told us."
Blindsided by the suddenness of her question, he sputtered helplessly. She looked at him innocently, waiting for the answer that he knew she thought she would hear. Before he was forced to lie, (Badly) there was a huge clamoring of noise all over the quads.
Literally saved by the bell.
Carrie got up quickly and ran for class, since she had already been yelled at twice for being late and wasn't eager for more spit to land her face from the mouth of an overly gung-ho teacher. MC gave out a sigh of relief, only to turn to Marcus. They just looked at looked at each for a moment. Then with a nod of understanding Marcus walked off. MC sat for a couple of more seconds, thinking to himself that Marcus was more perceptive then one would think. Then he left for class.
Sonny watched silently from a hallway that lead outside of the school as MC walked into his last class of the day. As he stood there silently a teacher noticed him in the hall.
"Hey kid! Hurry and get to..."
Before he could finish, Sonny spun around and grabbed the brown haired man by his neck. The man choked silently in his hands as Sonny looked at him with an unimpressed expression.
With a strong push Sonny shoved the man into a nearby bathroom. The man landed on the floor painfully, trying to catch his breath as Sonny locked the door. The man finally caught his breath, and looked angrily at the expressionless student standing in front of him.
"What the hell do you think your doing!?" He got up slowly as Sonny stared at him apathetically. "Do you know what could happen to you for this!?"
Sonny stared at him for a moment longer. Then, unnervingly slow, a grin began to stretch across his face. It kept growing on his face as he stepped towards the teacher. The man backed off with every step Sonny took forward, dread on face.
"Kid back off, o-okay. I-I'm warning you okay, j-just... please..." Fear hit him like a truck as he felt his back brush with the cold wall behind him. He pressed himself against it, futilely trying to gain more distance. Finally Sonny was right in front of him, allowing the man to look into his eyes. The fear almost overpowered him as he realized that despite the sickening grin on his face, the boy's eyes were blank, empty of emotion yet burning with power. He started when the boy suddenly spoke.
"Tell me," His smile widened, looking almost painful. "My friend... have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
Fear was replaced with confusion in a instant. "What..."
Sonny grabbed the teachers face with both hands roughly and brought him inches from his face. He chuckled for a moment before the smile dropped instantly from his face. His right hand wrapped around the man's throat. Emotionless, he spoke.
"I thought not." The man struggled fruitlessly against Sonny, trying desperately to scream. Then a thought began to race across his mind. Why did it feel so hot? Why was it so hot? Then the man realized where the heat was coming from, and fear nearly stopped his heart.
No one heard the screams from his choked throat as he burned.
After school MC walked up to the driveway to his house. It was a small place, green with white trim, and a backyard the size of matchbox. But it was his home, and he loved the place.
Lately though it had been feeling kind of empty, due to the fact his mom and sisters had flown off to visit some family back in the homeland. That left him and his father, Jaber Shalaby, who worked as a novelist. was currently working on a novel about a old mans travels through the places he had been to in his youth, and MC was his main critic until it hit the shelves. For now though, his dad was watching TV, watching Discovery Channel.
MC smiled as he threw his backpack on the couch next to his dad and grabbed an apple off the table. "Hey Dad."
His father grunted in response. "How was school?"
MC winced. "Uh, yeah, about that... I went to see the counselor about graduating."
His dad responded with a raised eyebrow. "Oh? And what did she tell you?"
MC stopped for a moment, hand just about to grab a milk carton out to pour himself a glass. Something in his dad's voice... He decided it was nothing and continued to talk as he grabbed a cup out of the drawer. "Well uh, things look, you know, good. No problems, I just have to do some stuff and I'm good!" He froze as he heard the near panic in his voice. 'Oh crap. There is no way he'll believe that.'
But when he turned to his dad, the only expression on the senior mans face was one of polite interest. "Oh really? That's really is good news!"
MC was confused. Then he realized what was going on, and felt his entire body droop in depression.
"You already know don't you."
His dad smiled, albeit sadly. "Your counselor called and told me. But I can't say I didn't see this coming."
MC sat down heavily, looking at the TV, but not quite registering the images. "It would have been nice if you could have warned me then."
MC's dad turned and gave him a skeptical look. "You wanted me to warn you that not doing your work in school would lead to bad grades?" His son responded with a groan as he sat down on the coach. He turned to his son and watched silently as the boy pretended to stare at the TV. Finally MC looked at him.
"Why aren't you yelling at me?"
It was true that Jaber had a way of exploding whenever one of his children did something wrong. Around others he was the picture of calm, the eye of the storm, and other such metaphors. With his family he was a powder keg. When MC was younger he believed it because father resented him, even hated him. For years he would dream of running away, leaving his father to cry as he finally learned to appreciate him. Later he realized that the reason his father got mad at his family wasn't that he hated them, but that he worried about them. He yelled because he was terrified of what would happen if they didn't listen. Still, it was strange that Jaber hadn't freaked out so much about something this serious.
Jaber simply reached for the remote and turned off the TV. Then he spoke. "I am mad. Furious in fact. But I trust you." MC listened silently as his father continued to speak. "I know that you make mistakes. You screw up sometimes. But in the end you always came through. That's not to say your a hard worker. In fact it sometimes embarrasses me that people talk about how lazy you are."
Jaber smiled sadly at the flash of shame on his sons face. "But I know why you act like that."
MC laughed. "Well I wish you would tell me."
The father leaned forward to look his son in the eyes. This time when he spoke, it was with kind of conviction and wisdom that made him so respected in his community, the kind most politicians try to emulate and fail miserably at. "You haven't found anything that you can be truly passionate in. You're the kind of kid that can't find focus if he isn't interested. And that is pretty bad I'll admit. But the reason I'm not as mad as I could be, is that I know for a fact that when you finally find it, find that one thing that brings out the best in you... you'll become great. And the world will just standby and watch as you amaze them."
MC looked at his father, utterly stunned. The level of faith that his father had in him was more then just shocking. It was nice. He felt like a sap for being so overwhelmed, but still. It was great, to know his father believed in him.
Then his dad had to kill it. "That doesn't mean you shouldn't go to school tomorrow."
Jaber chuckled as MC groaned in disappointment.
"Nice dad. Nice."
Authors Note: Added some extras for you. Hope you enjoy!