“I don’t want to be here.” Billy said to his mother.
“And I don't care. This will be good for you. You’ve been putting it off for long enough.” She replied, placing her hand on his shoulder. “Look, see it this way. You'll at least get over your superhero phase by the end of these sessions.”
“If you say so.” Billy sighed, walking into the empty room. “See you at home.”
His mother turned and left.
He glanced around the room, looking at how clean it was - not a spot of dirt in sight. It was clinical, it looked wrong. Nothing should ever be that immaculate, so tidy that it looked like a fresh build. The odd scrape marks on the floor from the twelve chairs placed in a circle gave him immense relief. He wasn’t just dumped in a strange hospital room, waiting for others with “problems.”
Within ten minutes, all but two seats were in use. The doctor’s seat – a nice leather chair that screamed premium quality – was empty. This in comparison to the hard, grey plastic chairs that Billy and the others sat upon.
Five minutes later, a man dressed in a purple and blue plaid shirt hurried into the room. His hair was a mess, looking abused and pointing outwards in random clumps. His lanyard swayed about as if it was alive, holding a clipboard tight between his right arm and body. He sat down on the leather chair.
“Apologies for being late. I had to handle an emergency with another patient. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.” he said to the group. “As you can see, we have a new member of our little family. This is William. He’ll be with us for the next few months.”
Walking over to Billy, he reached his hand out for a handshake. “I’m Doctor Grimes. You can call me Percy if you want.” Billy grabs it, ineptly shaking and squeezing it too tight.
“I know this is all new to you William, these “powers” of yours, but we’re all in the same boat as you.” Doctor Grimes said. “We all believe that we’re special.”
Billy looked around the room with an uncomfortable gaze, avoiding eye-contact with the others in the circle. The other “delusional people” as his father would call them. The lost. The mad. The attention seekers. But Billy knew better; it wasn’t the case. Not for him.
“I’d also like to take the opportunity to inform you all that Amanda won’t be able to make it for the foreseeable future. She’s sadly relapsed into her episodes.” Percy said. “Anyway, on to today’s discussion.”
“William, since it’s your first time with us, it would mean a lot if you introduced yourself. Make yourself comfortable. No one will judge you for what you say or do, as long as you’re in this room. Your secrets are safe with us.” Grimes continued, with a smile.
He walked back over to his chair and sat back down, quickly scrawling down the date.
Raising his hand in a half-hearted attempt to wave, Billy opened his mouth, about to speak, only to snap it shut before anything other than a sharp breath escaped. He paused to think over his words.
“My name is Billy Kaplan. I have super-powers.” Billy heaved, completely disinterested in the conversation.
“See! It wasn’t that hard. Small steps. You don’t have to contribute during any of these sessions. Just listening helps.” Grimes said, jotting notes down on a clipboard.
"Who wants to go first?"
Leaning back into his creaky, uncomfortable chair, Billy closed his eyes and sealed himself into his own world as he tuned out the dreary voices of those around him.
Six Hours Later
Billy, stood alone, surrounded by darkness, his body glowing with a pulsating aura of azure-blue energy. He walked through the unending nothingness, with no destination in mind, only able to see no more than five feet in front of him due to the glow of strange energy.
It felt odd, wandering on instinct - it was as if he was being drawn towards something, perhaps searching for it. Something was calling out to him. Not a voice, but a feeling. A source of immense power. He perceived it as wrong just thinking about it, even though he knew nothing of it. It radiated with the unadulterated energies of a darkened spirit.
To Billy, hours had passed, yet it had only been a few minutes of walking in the void of darkness. His mind played tricks on him as whispers of voices echoed across the nothingness.
The sensation of being caressed by a guiding unseen entity urged him towards the source of power. Stepping closer to what’s calling out to him, he moved until he saw something in the distance. He saw a dark crimson light lingering in the darkness… There was something residing within it, floating above the ground. Hovering in place, unmoving.
He hadn't noticed how easy walking was until now. Each step was effortless and weightless, as if there was nothing to walk on, floating through the void. Using his body to propel himself where he wanted. With each stride, the object within the light became clearer. Clearer and clearer until it became visible.
It was a closed book.
No more than what seemed like a few feet away, Billy could make out details of the object. The book was thick, thicker than any book he’d ever seen. Old as well, ancient enough that a light touch could turn it into dust, yet somehow in pristine condition for its age. Inscribed on the leather cover was a single word, stitched into the leather with an unknown yellowed material. A word that for reasons yet unknown to Billy, sent fear racing into his mind.
Billy reached into the crimson light, his aura vanishing from his hands as they broke into the light. For the first time since he entered the darkness, he could feel sensations again. It was something that he wished could go away. Sickening dread coursed through his body, turning his stomach inside out. Then, the realisation hit him: the realization of how isolated he was that made him sweat and shake, the realisation that he had no clue if he was truly alone within this darkness that set him on edge.
He moved to pick up the book.
But before his hands touched the book, a source-less boom echoed through the void. Followed by a wave of emerald smoke swarming towards him from the darkness, beyond the light. It passed through his body as if he had no physical presence, fading into nothing as it left. The feeling of being alone left Billy in an instant, replaced by the fear of what has joined him within the void.
Ignoring his emotions, he picked up the Darkhold. The cold, sticky leather of the cover made his hands numb upon contact.
“I’ve found you…”
A voice that was not his own entered his mind, deep and feral. It felt as if it was drilling into his brain, searching. Seeking for something to latch onto.
A sharp, warm and humid gust of wind brushed against his neck, setting his hairs on end. Unable to look around, his eyes locked upon the Darkhold, his fingers forcing their way towards the edge of the book. He was so close.
Two ashy elongated hands wrapped around his shoulders, yanking him away from the light and revealing two empty, snow white eyes staring into his own olive eyes, looking straight into his soul.
The freezing hands moved onto his neck with centipede like movement, fingers inching towards his eyes until they came into view.
Then his vision went dark.
Billy screamed at the top of his lungs, jolting upwards and out of the eternal darkness of his mind and into the more comfortable one of his bedroom. Lit by a dim streetlight, sweat dripped down his body as he glanced around the room for the figure, only to see an emerald blanket on the other side of the room. Yet, something else felt different. The room wasn’t as dark as he remembered it being. It had a strange blueness to it. Looking down at his sweat drenched body, he saw the same azure-blue glow, extending over his body and out into the room, flowing like water.
The aura swathed around various objects; cups, trophies and pictures, lifting them into the air as if they weighed nothing, floating in place. They swayed like feathers drifting in the wind.
Calming himself down, he slowed his breathing to a relaxing pace. Confused, he stared at the floating objects, following the glow from the objects and back to his body.
He stretched his right hand out to touch the light, only for it to pass straight through it, followed by a heavy crash.
Looking up, he noticed that everything had slammed into the wall, matching the direction of his own movements. Moving his arm as slow as possible, he watched the objects as he moved, hoping that they would follow. They stayed where they were.
“Okay… How do I put it down?” He mumbled to himself, with a confused smirk. “I want to put you down?”
Nothing happened - the objects kept floating as if they had a mind of their own.
“I want to put them down… please?” Billy said with determination.
He focused on the floating objects moving towards the ground. The object dropped simultaneously with a heavy thud and shatter of glass, himself unaware that he picked up a glass cup.
Leaping out of bed, he grabbed the blanket and laid back down. He gazed at the ceiling as he realised that he wasn't making it up. Not anymore.
The Next Morning
The smell of bacon and eggs wafted through the air. Billy’s father, Jeff, was making his infamous Friday breakfast. Overcooked eggs and burnt bacon, with a hint baked beans mixed in for good luck (and to hide the taste).
“I heard you screaming last night, is everything okay?” Rebecca asked, her eyes locked on the Daily Bugle.
“Yeah, the nightmares again, Mom. I don’t want to talk about it.” Billy replied.
“You know that you can talk to me about them. I was the one who got you to see Percy on such short notice. I work alongside him, I recommended that you see him specifically.” Rebecca retorted; her eyes unmoving from the front cover.
Jeff peeks fondly over his shoulder from the oven at Billy, swearing under his breath as hot oil spits onto his hands.
“I get it, I really do. You want me to open up to this guy, tell him my deepest and darkest worries, and hope that he manages to get through to me?” Billy said, stuffing burnt bacon into his mouth. “But it’s not gonna happen. I don’t have any problems. They're only nightmares, that’s all it is.”
“William… Billy, you believe you have super-powers. That’s not normal. People with powers don’t exist. Look at what your mother is reading!” Jeff says, nodding towards the front cover of the Daily Bugle.
A prison mugshot of a bruised and beaten crook, his face marked with a crescent moon on his right cheek. Covers most of the front page, headlined with “Moon-themed vigilante strikes innocents at the docks!”
“They’re delusional. Going out into the middle of the night, attacking people at random, hoping and praying that they might just be the real deal!” Jeff said. “Are you going to do that?”
Billy pauses to think. “No… But I do have powers. I just can’t use them that well. I can show you them if you want."
“Billy, please. Enough of the super powers.” Jeff replied.
Rebecca slams the paper onto the table with careless anger, straight onto her breakfast, her face turning beetroot.
“Enough! This is why you should’ve been seeing him once you started to get bullied. You’re making up these fantasies so that you can hide away from real-world problems. You can’t keep doing it forever.” She screamed. “I’m calling Percy, you’ll be seeing him right after school.”
Storming out of the room, Jeff quickly plates the remaining burnt food and follows her promptly, asking his wife to calm down, only to receive angered responses.
Billy continues to eat his breakfast, his hand slightly shaking, eyes welling up with tears. He held them back. “I just want to be anywhere but here. I just want to go to school… I just want to go to school.” he mumbled to himself.
The azure aura that once encompassed him within his dream exploded from within him with a silent crack of blue lightning. It surrounded him with the strange blue energy, enveloping him within in. In a matter of moments, Billy was gone from his kitchen.
In a blink of an eye, Billy was standing before his school. Hundreds of students walked past him into the building as if nothing unusual happened, oblivious to the sudden flash of blue light. Looking around, no one noticed him, they looked straight through him as they shuffled, bumped and pushed passed him as the bell rang.
Unprepared, Billy walked into the school alongside everyone else. unaware that someone was watching him from afar.