The most remarkable thing about me is my name.
Prometheus Adolphus Black.
It sounds like the name of someone’s superhero alter ego, or like some kind of video game villain that’s nearly unbeatable. It rolls off the tongue in a way that’s a little bit too pretentious for my taste, but it sure is unusual. One in a million.
More like 31 in 325 million. One of .000008%. More people are killed by lighting strikes each year.
Other than that, I’m about as exciting as a dead squirrel on the side of the road.
“Please clear you desks of anything other than your pencils,” my trigonometry teacher droned. “If I hear a peep out of you lot after I pass out these tests, I’ll take 10 points off of your grade.” The usual threat. Nothing exciting or remarkable about it. I had always wished I was better at math. I don’t even like math. I just wanted to be good at something.
A thin stack of papers hit my desk with a satisfying thwack. I slid it towards me with a flick of my wrist and began to scrawl my name in my usual illegible script.
Prometheus Black, 5/25/2021
I picked at the staple in the top left corner of the test as I stared at the first question.
Question 1 (3 points)
Find the exact value of sin(0.5x) if sin(x) = 1/4, given that π/2 < x < π.
Maybe this would be my legacy. I would henceforth be known as the first person by the name of Prometheus to fail a trigonometry test.
I flipped to the next page of the test. But before I could focus on the question, a sharp pain shot through my index finger. My cheeks ballooned as I bit back the sting. I looked down to see small beads of blood blooming in the crease of the joint. A paper cut.
Despite my better judgement, I sucked on the cut and wiped my finger dry on my pants before picking up my pencil. Out of habit, I checked the cut one more time before hunkering down and trying my best to figure out what sine of half of x was.
It was… gone?
I frowned and twisted my wrist around, trying to get a full view of the paper cut, or more accurately, where it once was. I shrugged, and glanced around the classroom. Kaylee Sturges, the girl who always sat in the front row on the right, was already flipping the page, Question 1’s solution detailed in 5 neat lines. I cocked my head and stared at the ink on my own test. I’d worry about the mystery of the disappearing paper cut later. I had a trigonometry test to finish. A trigonometry test that I was not going to fail.
I had just pressed my pencil to the paper when a hushed conversation caught my attention. I thought we weren’t allowed to talk. Instead of working on Question 1, I decided to listen to the discussion that was apparently more important than a test score.
“We’re looking for one of your students,” an unfamiliar voice said in a hushed tone.
I continued listening, curiosity piqued. Maybe I could tell my children in 25 years that I was there when the FBI or something came and whisked one of my trigonometry classmates away in the middle of a test, never to be seen again.
“What do you not understand about the fact that he is taking a test right now?” my trigonometry teacher hissed in response. “He doesn’t have an early leave excuse anyway!”
“No, he needs to come with me now,” the first voice said. “The longer you wait, the more urgent this situation gets.”
“Well, the longer you distract my class-“
“Excuse me, ma’am.”
A tall white dude in a button-down shirt and glasses pushed past my math teacher and stood at the front of the room. I eyed the pocket knife hanging out of his pocket. Other students had begun to notice the disturbance, and I could hear a few whispered conversations taking place as the man surveyed our class.
“I’m looking for, uh,” the man said, looking down at a small device, “Prometheus Black?”
I felt everyone’s eyes snap in my direction as I came to the realization that the strange invader in my math class had said my name.
Something exciting, interesting, unusual, at least, was happening to me.
“Uh, over here,” I said, raising my hand as if I was responding to a roll call or something. I was suddenly unaware of how to act with all of those eyes focused on me.
“Ah, yes,” the man said, scanning the classroom for the source of my voice. “Mr. Black, could you come with me into the hall, please?”
A few snickers rose from my classmates. That’s what this is, I thought. I’m in trouble.
“Um, sure,” I said uncertainly. I stood up from my seat, leaving my blank trigonometry test behind, and followed the man outside of the classroom. I swept the room with my eyes one more time before turning around, taking in the stares of my classmates. A small, nagging, gut feeling in the pit of my stomach told me that I wouldn’t be returning in a few minutes to finish my test.
As soon as the door closed behind me, the tall guy began walking down the hall, and fast. I nearly had to jog to keep up.
“Who are you?” I asked. “What did I do?”
“Who I am is unimportant,” the man said. “But you, Prometheus, you’re special.”
I almost laughed at that.
“Me? Special? Dude, I don’t know if you got the memo, but I’m the most normally normal guy on the face of the planet!”
“You’re one of the One Percent.”
I did laugh at that.
“So what, you’re saying I’m a superhero? And because I’m a superhero, I’m a part of a super secret conspiracy?”
My mysterious friend thought that over for a second, and then shrugged.
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“There’s no way that’s true.”
I had heard of the One Percent before. It was an urban legend of sorts, kind of like Slenderman, but less creepy. The One Percent was said to consist of people with downright magical abilities, like conjuring fire and flying and stuff. It was the stuff of superhero comics, not reality.
“Do you remember that paper cut you got a few minutes ago?”
The humor of the situation quickly evaporated.
“How do you know about that?”
“Doesn’t matter. It disappeared, right?”
Before I could finish, the dude whipped out his pocket knife and nicked my arm.
“Ow! Dude! What the hell was that?” I exclaimed as I clapped my hand over the fresh wound.
“Take your hand away,” he responded. His calmness took me by surprise. I eyed him warily before obliging.
There was blood smeared across the palm of my hand, but all traces of the wound itself were gone.
“Your abilities are just beginning to manifest,” the man said, still calm, as he pushed the front door of the school open. “Once you know how to use them, you’ll likely become very powerful, Prometheus.”
I shivered as small, cold raindrops began falling on my head and shoulders. I didn’t want to believe this strange man, but I totally did.
“What are my powers supposed to be?” I asked. “Given that this is true, and all.”
“Well, if you’re diligent in your training, you could become partially or completely immune to virtually any physical threat.”
I looked down at my arms, currently free of any paper cuts or pocket-knife-nicks, in semi-disbelief. “Sick!” I exclaimed.
The man opened the door to his car, an aggressively normal looking silver Prius, and gestured for me to get in the passenger seat.
And despite my instincts, which were screaming “STRANGER DANGER!!!” in bright red block letters, I did.
Moments later, we were speeding down the road away from my school, fat raindrops rolling down the front windshield.
I never did finish that math test.
The most remarkable thing about me is my name, Prometheus Adolphus Black.
And second to that?
What? I never said it couldn’t be a close second...