I knew when I woke up that morning that something was going to go wrong. Somehow I felt that in all the days of my life, today would be the worst. I stared at my ceiling, determined not to leave my bed until the last possible moment. I glanced at the clock. 7:18 am. My bus left at 7:30 and it took five minutes to walk to the bus stop. Well, five more minutes can’t hurt, I thought, turning over right as a knock sounded at my door.
“Are you still in bed?!” My mother shouted at me through the door. “You’ll miss the bus!”
“Five more minutes!” I shouted back. My mother paused, probably trying to think of how to coax me out of bed. I could almost hear a light bulb light up a moment later.
“Isn’t today Friday?”
I shot up, threw my blankets across the room, and grabbed a shirt. “Coming!” I said as I pulled the shirt over my head. My only response was a satisfied chuckle as she made her way down the hall. My mother and I had this battle every day, but she never ceased to take enjoyment from successfully getting me out of bed.
“Good morning,” my dad said as I came into the kitchen. He scanned me briefly before returning his attention to the muted tv, the morning news displaying a destroyed building. “Staying home because of last night’s attack?”
“No, it’s Pizza Friday.” Nothing could stand in the way of pizza and me. Nothing.
“You want me to make you some breakfast?”
“No, I’m leaving right now, otherwise I’ll miss my bus.” I rushed to put my shoes on and grab my bag, barely looking at what I was doing. “Besides, I want to save room for the pizza.”
“Yeah, Dad?” I said as I turned to look at him again. His face seemed to be almost twitching as if he was struggling not to make an expression. He opened his mouth, but quickly closed it. He finally resolved to smile.
“Nothing. Have a good day.”
The bus was buzzing with excitement when I got on. Everyone was whispering together with huge smiles on their faces, the promise of pizza putting them in high spirits. Still, though, were people usually so excited on Fridays? I wasn’t sure, there seemed to be something else going on like everyone was laughing at something. Maybe there was going to be a dessert today, too. That would certainly turn smiles into laughs. Grinning at this idea, I made my way near the back of the bus and slid in next to Hector, a guy I had been friends with for years, who was softly snoring with his head resting against the side of the bus. I expected it, of course. His job kept him up at all hours of the night and last night would have been especially hectic. Still, a thirty-minute bus ride with no one to talk to was a nightmare. I glanced around, looking for some form of entertainment. My eyes landed on the girl sitting across the aisle from me, a girl named Penny. She was pretty, with brown hair and hazel eyes, not to mention a gorgeous smile. I never had much luck when it came to girls, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Plus, I had an in with this one. We had worked on a group project before, so I didn’t need to do the awkward introductions. I made eye contact and gave her a smile. To my surprise, she blushed and looked away. She turned to her friend and they giggled together. Wait, what? Did she blush because of me? Is she actually into me? Would she say yes if I asked her out? Was I too hasty in thinking today was going to be terrible? What if-?
The road in front of the bus exploded. Shrapnel flew everywhere and the cars around us swerved to avoid getting hit. The bus heaved to a stop, and everyone was thrown forward. It was then that we saw him. He stood at the center of the explosion, his eyes glowing red, his face morphed into a ghoulish expression. It was him. The man who brought down a building last night. Mulciber.
The entire bus groaned. “Mulciber? Again?!” One kid yelled.
“Seriously, that’s the third time our bus has been attacked this week!” Another one pitched in.
“Don’t these guys have anything better to do than terrorize high schoolers?”
“I’ve got it, I’ve got it,” said Hector with exasperation. He yawned and stretched, then made his way to the front of the bus. “Honestly, can’t these guys give me a day off? Superheroes need sleep too.” He grumbled similar phrases until he exited, going out to face the latest person to declare war on the city.
“Alright everyone, you know the drill! Calmly form a line, no pushing or shoving, and cash only.” I pulled the pre-popped popcorn from my bag as my classmates lined up, with somewhat less grumbling than usual.
“Dude, just buy a card reader, I can’t always carry cash,” said one classmate, who despite the complaints, handed me two dollars.
“If I can carry popcorn, you can carry cash,” I shot back. He simply scowled and took his popcorn, making way for the next customer. The first five minutes of the fight passed in this way, everyone attempting to ignore the occasional shaking of the bus and explosions outside. Finally, when everyone had their snack and I had a wad of cash, the bus fell into silence as we watched the battle. It didn’t seem to be anything special. Mulciber was going on about the downfalls of our society, or whatever, and Hector was beating him up. Typical Friday morning fight.
Suddenly, something unexpected happened. The villain let off a blast that hit Hector square in the chest. I knew better than anyone what my best friend’s powers were, I knew he couldn’t be killed by it, but all the villain needed was that one second, that one instant where Hector couldn’t hold him back. The next thing I knew the window next to me exploded and I was being dragged from my chair.
“So, little hero!” Mulciber yelled, his voice hoarse and low. “Which will it be? The city, or your friend?” His face contorted into a smile, his glowing eyes fixed on Hector. I wanted to yell at him to save the city. I wanted to scream that he should save me. In the end, it took everything I had to keep from wetting myself.
“Felix!” Hector yelled, his voice breaking. I tried to give him a smile. I really tried to.
“Too late! I’ll destroy both instead.” He raised his fist and turned towards me. I saw my life flash before my eyes. I knew, at this moment, I was going to die. I didn’t even get to eat my pizza.
The next second, he was laughing. Not a maniacal laugh, not a small chuckle, but an honest to goodness, gut-busting laugh. I had no time to think about the miraculous events, I simply had to act. I wrestled free and brought my fist to his nose. He cried out and jumped back, caught off guard enough for Hector to deliver the finishing blow. He collapsed on a pile of rubble. I felt my legs go out from under me, and suddenly Hector was there to support me.
“Dude, are you okay?”
“Am I ok? Am I ok? Dude! That was freaking awesome! I just helped take down a supervillain! Did you see how I punched him? I must have looked awesome.” I smiled triumphantly, letting myself be helped up.
“Um, yeah, about that. Listen, you know how Mulciber started laughing?”
“Yeah, what was with that? Oh, hang on a second, would you?” I had felt a tap on my shoulder and I came face to face with Penny, the girl from the bus. Our eyes met, and for the second time that day, I saw my life flash before my eyes, except this time I saw what I knew to be my future. I saw our first date, the place I would propose, the wedding, the adorable children we would make. How could I have been so stupid this morning? Today was the best day of my life. I was on top of the world and nothing could bring me down.
“Um, Felix? I just thought you should know, I was too embarrassed to say on the bus, but…” I grinned. Day one of the rest of my life. “You’re not wearing any pants.”
I glanced down. Superhero boxers stared back up at me. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping, praying this was just a dream. I opened my eyes, and the cartoony boxers mocked me with their reality. I suddenly found myself wishing Mulciber had just killed me.
“This is my worst nightmare.”