Word Count 490
By Mike Cecconi
They told us that it was our choice, of course, when we were kids. The government had scanned our genes and said we had the potential to manifest our superhuman abilities if we were able to expose ourselves to The Process.
Only three percent of the population even gets the chance to try but what do you have to lose, right? Even after that, so many come out of exposure to Process only superficially changed, no powers, just orange skin or horns or now they’re two feet taller.
A few people, The Process will cripple or kill, a few will get godlike powers like Superman or Thor from the old moviefilms, most folk just grow longer thumbs or are able to talk to voles or their hair’s blue now.
There are some of us who are in-between, though, with powers useful in certain situations but not in crime fighting ways. I know a woman who can make plants grow ten time faster if she looks at them funny. She can’t kill Dr. Metalface when he’s trying to steal the Statue of Liberty, sure, but she feeds half of Africa just by meditating on a veldt somewhere. That’s real power. That’s changing the world, not just punching a guy in a gimp mask.
After the Process, I was an initiate in a support program to help us identity our gifts and how to use them. Eventually we figured out my enhancement was that I could dampen the effects of mental illness within a certain range. After years of practice, I can extend a bubble hundreds of yards in all directions where every single person’s mental illnesses are temporarily tamped down and evened out.
At first, they had me cool off hostage situations or drove me to potential suicides to calm them down. Sometimes they needed someone made sane enough to remember their crimes or some otherwise forgotten password. I wasn’t a superhero but I was a useful tool.
Finally, I asked if I could just have a sanitarium and live with all the craziest people in the world, all their terror and fear shut down by my gift until the day I died. I thought it was how I could do the most good in the world. The government told me no, though, they have more use for me as a military asset. But I disagree.
I’m leaving on a train for D.C. in the morning. I learned what my power really means, I can pull people up out of their madness! I’m going to get within a mile of the Capitol then just sit down. Give me a week sitting on the green of National Mall, making brain-sick people sane and we’ll save the world by lunch that Thursday.
Maybe not every superhero punches the moon in the face. Maybe only sanity itself can save the world now. Maybe sanity is our new superhuman power, maybe it’s our last. Maybe.