She’s got a classroom all to herself, since apparently it’s P.E. time or something. She remembers school, but nothing as fancy as Gardner Academy. Back then it was all cramped classes and recycled rooms and over-stressed teachers. All her school had was the athletics scholarships. The jocks ran the show. Nobody could afford to leave a whole room empty like this. Jeez!
It’s pretty stressful out there, all those strange people, all these powered weirdos and rich kids and trust fund brats. Fuck, honestly, she’d just like to go out there and set fire to it all. They aren’t sports stars, but the beautiful elite are the jocks of their own world. Let them burn. Kid Kelvin would show up at his own school, right?
She distracts herself, keeps it together, by a trick. She can create small balls of plasma - St. Elmo’s fire, it’s called - and balance them across her skin. She saw it in the movie “Labyrinth”, then finally learned the name for it: contact juggling. Move the balls around, balance them against each other, manipulate them by touch and rotation. There’s a tiny core of fire in every sphere. It’s hypnotic.
She comes out of it, finding a second set of eyes on the plasma. The balls wink out of existence.
“… Hi,” she says.
The stranger blinks, looks up through a set of glasses. “Hi.”
She’s not looking this way. She’s trying to find the plasma balls. Neat. Time for introductions!
I’m Hot Mess. I just transferred to your school from Villain Academy, well, more like a tutoring program with a veteran villain from the West Coast. I’ve come here to track down my would-be nemesis and force a confrontation with him so I can finally get out of this godforsaken apprentice program the boss has me in, plus I’d really like to set fire to this whole campus and laugh maniacally from the clock tower. Say, do you have a clock tower? Any reasonably high place will do, I’m not picky. Oh! I think it would be charmingly diabolical if I could have, y’know, like a wine glass or something in my hands, flames flickering off my - no, even better, let me borrow your glasses. Where was I? Wine glass in my hands, flames flickering off my borrowed glasses, while the world turns to ash beneath me.
“I’m Emma,” says Hot Mess. “What’s your name?”
“Nono Rodriguez,” the girl says.
Nono, oh that’s wonderful. I could do so much with a name like that. Hot Mess, nooo! Hot Mess, yes. Someday you’ll have kids and they’ll have kids and they’ll be like Nana, and you’ll be like Nono, only I’m gonna set everything on fire so you need to move if any of that’s gonna happen. Okay, argh, STOP THIS. Focus. Get rid of her.
“Hi there, Nono,” says Hot Mess. Usually if you just don’t make conversation, people go away–
“Bring them back,” the girl says, rather more forcefully than her mousy demeanor would suggest.
“What?” says Hot Mess.
“The plasma. You were generating it from your skin. You electrify the air and create an atmospheric lightning effect. It’s probably your follicles. Hey, you can probably light a light bulb by holding it between your fingers.” Nono finally makes eye contact, and stares intently. “Bring it back. Please.”
Hot Mess blinks a few times. A wide, slow smile slides across her face. “Suure.” The plasma springs back to life, and she resumes the contact juggling.
Nono watches, glassy eyed.
Got a real live one here. Wish the boss had taught me hypnosis.
“Say, Nono,” says Hot Mess. “I’m new here, right?”
“So, that means I don’t know anyone, or have friends.”
“Wanna be my friend?”
“Oh god yes.” Nono looks up with the most puppy-dog expression, and Hot Mess wants to start petting her and tousling her hair and throwing sticks, it’s so bleeding adorable, god fucking damn.
“Okay! So, like, there’s someone I’m looking for. Like, maybe a superhero who goes here. Can ya help me?”
Hot Mess smiles. The two girls stare admiringly at the dancing plasma.
author: Bill G.