I close my eyes as I reach for the piece of blank paper sitting on the hardwood floor in my room. I carefully set my hand down on top of it, holding my breath. I know that if I don’t learn to control what’s going on inside of me soon, they’ll come for me. The air rushes out of me as my hand finally touches the paper. Too cold. I open my eyes, though I already know what I’ll see. The paper is now just a slat of solid steel. But I’m surprised, and mortified, to find that the steel coating is slowly spreading across the floor of my room. I rip my hand away from the paper, hyperventilating, and push myself up off the floor. By the time I’ve grabbed the piece of lead that I always keep in my dresser drawer for emergencies just like this, most of the floor is pure steel. I’ve learned that lead bullets, lead pencils, lead paint, etc. are the only things that can dull my power and render me mortal and vulnerable. I was relieved when the news announced, a few years ago, that new and improved guns were going to be using steel bullets alone, and lead bullets have now become very rare.
I squeeze the small rod of precious lead against my chest and grit my teeth. It’s not working. It’s not working. I swallow the enraged scream that is rising in my throat and turn away, walking out of the room and closing the door.
Just as I’m sliding the cylinder of lead into my pocket, just in case, I tell myself, the front door bursts open down the hall. I hear my mother yelp and I’m torn between hiding and running to her aid. But then I hear the deep, gravelly voices in the hallway, roughly questioning my poor mother. “Where is the boy?” They repeat, and I immediately turn and tiptoe back into my room. They know, I panic to myself internally. They know what I am. But before I am able to crawl out of my tiny window and into the bright afternoon sunlight, my door is broken down and they’re rushing in, grabbing me, pointing guns at me. I yell and thrash and beg for mercy, but they don’t listen, they don’t care; they’ve gone through this procedure enough times to be immune to my desperate exclamations of innocence. I attempt to use my power against them, anything to escape this doomed fate, but then I remember, with a jolt, the lead that is still weighing down the pocket of my trousers. I sob, going limp as they drag me out the rickety front door. My mother follows us, begging for my release, and my eyes widen as I notice my small, courageous younger sister at her heels. I try to yell for her to get back inside, but everything is chaos, and my voice is drown out. She bravely steps out from behind my mother, grabbing the sleeve of one of the enforcement officers, a plea for mercy sparkling in her big, brown eyes. I watch as the officer turns and carelessly slams the butt of his huge gun into the side of her temple. I open my mouth in a silent scream as she falls, almost in slow motion, at my mother’s feet. I know instantly that her tiny, fragile brain wouldn’t be able to handle the hit, and with only a small cut left as evidence of the blow, she is dead.
Everything is quiet. My wrists ache from the handcuffs that were locked onto me amidst the chaos, and my ears ring from the utter silence that followed all the yelling and screaming and crying. I’m locked in a dark, damp holding cell. My body is numb; my mind is numb. I hear voices outside of my cell. “How old?” A nasally male voice asks. Papers shuffle. “Fifteen, Doctor,” another voice replies, somber but uncaring. A third voice chimes in, high and musical; a female. “I’ll take him. I don’t like the abilities listed here; odds are he doesn’t know how to control it, and people could get hurt. What else do we know about this boy?” More papers shuffle. “Besides turning things to steel, he’s robbed a couple banks and whatnot for his family; claims they’re living in poverty. Guess he can fly, but we don’t have much else on record for him.” Silence. I squirm, trying to see through the darkness. Anger flows through my veins, tears stream down my cheeks, my eyes are swollen and stinging. My throat aches and my head pounds; my jaw has been clenched for so long that I’m unsure if I still have the ability to open my mouth. I try anyway. “They killed my sister! You murdered my baby sister!” I yell into the darkness. My voice cracks and shakes, the words barely escaping my raw throat. The woman sighs, either oblivious, indifferent, or both to my agonizing accusations. “Alright, we’ll run some tests, see what he’s been hiding from us. Doctor?” The nasally man agrees, and the door of my cell is heaved open.
Next thing I know, I’m in a room: bright lights, white walls, the smell of disinfectant burning my nose. My hands are still cuffed. The woman belonging to the voice I heard outside my cell looks me over. “You’re big for a fifteen-year-old.” She pauses when I don’t respond, and pulls something out of her lab coat pocket. I look away. “Found this in your pocket. Kind of a strange thing to be carrying around, don’t you think?” My lead. She smiles, but there’s no kindness behind it. I say nothing. “Alright, we both know how this is gonna go; you won’t respond to any of my questions, and you won’t show me your abilities, so eventually I’ll have to bring in some handymen to help me get information out of you. Nevertheless, blood tests and basic dissection should show us about as much as you could tell us. So we’re just going to skip the ‘eventually’ part, and get right to it.” She turns and walks out of the room, just as a small, fat man enters, pushing a cart full of procedural tools. He pulls on his bleached white lab coat and a pair of gloves, carefully rearranging his tools. He presses a button that lowers the seat I was roughly pushed into so that I’m lying on my back. He gives me a sickly sweet grin. “I ain’t gonna promise this won’t hurt, because it will, kid.”
As the echo of my screams fades in the absence of the fat little surgeon, the only thoughts I can keep in my mind are control. I have no control. My powers give me no power. I will get revenge. I will see the day Chicago falls into my hands, pays for my pain and my sweet sister’s death. They will bow down to me one day. I will have a heart made of steel; a Steelheart.