Stolen

Watching The Umbrella Academy (and enjoying the heck out of it) reminded me of a short story that I once wrote on superheroes. Hope it’s halfway decent. x

Stolen from their cots in the winter of 1989, five involuntary orphans grew up knowing neither their parents nor of the world outside. Instead, they were raised by nameless Guardians in the mansion that had everything they needed. Or so they had believed.

It was true that the kids had food, warmth, shelter, and Guardians who were kind to them. They even had the occasional luxury of Sinatra records, which arrived at their doorsteps in unmarked parcels. Still, they grew up lonely in the company of each other.

None of them were close; they weren’t allowed to be. The Guardians kept them apart with rumours and half truths that made them wary. They had distinctive daily schedules too, replete with studies on more languages that they needed, complex mathematics, scientific explorations, and above all, their inborn capabilities.

The only common hours they shared were meal times. Despite no rules against speaking, there was never much to say. They barely knew themselves, where they came from or why they were taken away. Much less did they know one another, known only by their aliases.

The eldest went by Salvo. He was tall, almost seven feet by the age of seventeen. The large boy was mostly harmless, so long as he was left alone. Everyone knew about his temperamental half that occasionally escaped, and once proved fatal for the first of their Guardians.

It was fourteen years back when the Guardian’s body was found lying upon a pool of spilt milk, riddled with bullets from a gun that was never found. Minor swore she saw Salvo’s fingers smoulder as he smirked in his booster seat. She kept it to herself when she saw the glimmer of threat in the toddler, his face bright with glee.

The Guardian was replaced. Her death was forgotten by all but Minor. For years, Minor stayed away from Salvo, though she barely needed to. No one ever noticed her anyway. She had always been the height of a child’s thumb, even when she died at the sole of the Engineer’s feet.

The Engineer tried to convince himself that it had been nothing more than his imagination. Yet he was certain that he had heard an itsy scream, following the soft crunch of his heavy boot. It was rather fortunate that his innate talent laid at the workings of the mind, even his own. A tweaked memory here and there, he became certain that he always had just three siblings, no more than that.

Veritas knew the truth. She always did, whether it was Salvo’s murder, Minor’s cowardice, or the Engineer’s manslaughter and subsequent manipulation. But no one ever listened to her. Instead, Salvo and The Engineer shunned her, for sometimes the truth was better off left alone.

No one, save for Pyre, who revelled in sharing the truth. In the few moments he had with Veritas, he wanted to know everything that she had to say to her rare delight. She listened to him in return. She learnt of his plans, and nodded along, even if she did not quite agree.

“Perhaps you should rethink playing God for others, Pyre,” she said when he was done, worry creasing her brows. “You were always the impulsive one.”

Her frown abated when Pyre admitted that it was no more than a passing thought. He snapped his fingers and let them flicker at their tips, letting a faint smile slip. It was a rather charming act, but was all it was – an act. Trust failed Veritas, and the truth escaped her for once.

At first, Pyre thought about Veritas’ words. He was almost convinced that she might be right. They might not want the same thing he did. But he remembered the scars on Veritas, barely faded. He knew they wanted the same thing.

Thinking back at his young self in his cot, he saw the freedom he never had. Stolen. If only he had been raised in his ordinary home by his ordinary parents, only dreaming of being extraordinary and never knowing the true cost of being so.

What a life it was to live for someone else, but himself. The thought left him, just as he snapped his fingers.

Stolen © 2019 by Jade A. All rights reserved.

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