Chapter One: Sebastian's Chapter
It all started when a spectacular rainbow appeared over the little city of Marion, California and wouldn't go away, even at night. For several weeks it shone brightly over the city, though the weather had been bright and sunny as usual.
No one could explain why the rainbow could last for so long. It was analyzed on every major news channel across America. Conspiracy theories cluttered internet forums.
The students of West Marion Middle School had their own theories on what caused the rainbow.
"Maybe the weather's just been very humid lately," said 7th grader Sara Akino.
"My dad says it's The Rapture," said 8th grader Sebastian Lavender.
Most people thought the rainbow's long duration had a perfectly logical explanation…they just didn't know what it was. Others blamed pollution. Still others thought it was all just a very complex hoax.
The country held its breath, waiting for something extraordinary to happen. When nothing did, the residents of Marion lost interest in the rainbow and moved on with their lives. But one day the rainbow did vanish, and it was then that strange things began happening to the 7th and 8th graders at West Marion.
During the first week of school, 8th grader Cesar Roman gave a presentation on his summer reading book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It was ten minutes long and delivered entirely in completely in rhyme—although he had not prepared it that way. When the class burst into applause at the end, he fainted and had to be carried to the nurse's office.
Three weeks later, an incident happened in the school's all-girl choir. The class started at is usually did, but an hour later the students and the teacher woke up on the floor of the choir room and couldn't remember why they blacked out in the first place. All they knew was that the alto section leader, Sara Akino, lipsynced in class after that.
Meanwhile, thirteen-year-old Sebastian Lavender thought he was going crazy.
It all started the day the rainbow first disappeared. On that day, he went to Mr. Roman's Chocolate Emporium to buy a gift for his mother's birthday.
The store owner, Mr. Roman, suggested he look at the Marshmallow Surprise.
"How much?" Sebastian asked.
"Two dollars each," Mr. Roman said proudly. "They are terribly overpriced and the marshmallows expired three years ago."
Sebastian thought he heard wrong, "What?"
"Two dollars each," Mr. Roman repeated.
"No, not that. The part where you said the marshmallows expired three years ago."
Mr. Roman froze. Then he said, "I said no such thing. I also never said that the chocolate was really made from ice cream topping."
"The chocolate is made from ice cream topping?"
Mr. Roman's face reddened. He pointed out the door, "If you don't like my chocolates, then please leave. I will not have children coming into my store to insult my fine gourmet creations!"
Sebastian quickly apologized, but it was too late.
"You will exit the store immediately," Mr. Roman said, "before you reveal my son never washes his hands when he dips the chocolate strawberries!"
Sebastian knew Mr. Roman's son. The two boys were in the same English class.
"I didn't know Cesar helped out at this store…" Sebastian began.
"Get out!" screamed Mr. Roman. "I said get out! You are banned from my store!"
Sebastian turned and ran.
Meanwhile, Sebastian continued to hear things that nobody else seemed to hear. The imaginary conversations sometimes blended so well with real conversations that he didn't know which was which. People's lips even moved—at least that's what Sebastian saw.
In his Science class, his teacher was showing a Powerpoint presentation and blurted out, "I can't believe that woman said I looked nothing like my profile picture. That's the last time I try online-dating!"
Sebastian snickered and then looked around to see how his classmates reacted, but none of them did.
In Algebra, he had to take a test while Matthew Cheng screamed out every answer at the top of his lungs. Sebastian tried to ignore it, but every time his answers did not match Matthew's, he double-checked his work and made some revisions. He got an A+.
Then in English…
"I don't understand why superheroes always wear their underwear outside of their pants. Who thought that was a good idea?"
Sebastian whipped around to see who was talking. Behind him, Cesar Roman was scrawling something into a spiral notebook.
"First thing's first," Cesar continued, "We need superhero names. And the first initial should be on our costumes, like Superman's S. I will be P for Poet, Camilla will be T for Teleporter, that short girl can be A for Annoying..."
Sebastian remembered the day Cesar delivered the Tom Sawyer rhyme to the class. Sebastian had been one of the students who helped carry him to the nurse's office.
P for Poet…superhero names…
Suddenly, it all made sense why he was hearing things.
"The rainbow gave us superpowers!" Sebastian blurted out.
Cesar looked up from his paper and gawked at Sebastian like he was crazy.
It was too late for Sebastian to turn back now. He explained, "You have a superpower that makes you rhyme."
Cesar kept gawking.
"I have a power too," Sebastian continued, "I can hear thoughts."
An awkward silence.
Cesar's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Forgive me but I'm skeptical, to lies I'm not susceptible."
Then he gasped and clapped his hand over his mouth.
"You rhymed!" Sebastian said.
Cesar pulled his hand away from his mouth. "Maybe it's what I like to do, you cannot prove your theory's true!" He groaned aloud after hearing his own rhyme.
"You're rhyming because…" Sebastian wondered what triggered it. "….because I made you nervous just now. That's what it is, isn't it? You rhyme when you're nervous."
Cesar's ears looked a bit pink. "I'll never admit that that's the truth."
"So it's the truth."
Sebastian decided he needed proof of his powers. "I'll show you what I can do. Think of a number."
"Fourteen," Cesar said immediately.
"You're thinking of the number fourteen."
Cesar gasped, "How did you know!"
And just like that, Cesar invited Sebastian to the next meeting of The Superheroes Club.
"My sister Camilla was the one who created the club," Cesar said to Sebastian. "She can teleport, but when she tries to take other people along with her they end up naked."
"How did you find out?"
"You don't wanna know."