All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
My bicep ripped. The jolting burn in my upper right arm made me wince, but I ignored it. I watched as the burly, black-clad man hurled through the air and landed with a sickening crack against the brick wall. He moaned, reaching for his crumpled left leg. I glanced at Tim, who was sprawled on the ground next to me. The bewildered look on his face told me he was impressed, but he’d never admit it. Strength was not my specialty. I grinned triumphantly and shrugged.
“I guess even superheroes have adrenaline rushes,” I said.
Tim looked annoyed as he got to his feet, ignoring my attempt at humor. I knew he was embarrassed, having to be saved by a girl and all, so I tried to cheer him up,
“He totally caught you by surprise.”
He rolled his eyes as his annoyance deepened.
“It could’ve happened to anybody,” I pushed. My ship of encouragement was sinking. In desperation, I blurted, “Dang, is my arm still attached? It’s gonna be sore for the next two weeks!”
I carefully watched his face and glimpsed his crooked grin. If I had to cheer him up at the expense of my own dignity, then fine. I despised my lack of super strength. However, we both knew that my arm would be well within the hour.
“The cops will be here to take care of him,” Tim gestured toward the crook, who appeared to have passed out. “Let’s go.”
I smiled wickedly. “Race ya.”
Speed was my forte. I skimmed over the massive strait that separated our island hideaway from the South Carolina shore and arrived a good ten minutes before Tim, who would have to swim (he made Michael Phelps look like an amateur). My arm still aching, I skidded to a halt in the kitchen. I pulled my long brown hair into a sloppy ponytail and opened the freezer. A green ice pack peered at me from behind my forgotten Lean Cuisine pizza. Nearly everything of mine in the mansion was green – my ultimate favorite color. Why else would my superhero suit be this bright emerald? Ahem. Sidekick. I grimaced at the word as I reached for the pack and Velcroed it to my upper arm. Tim was the superhero. I was merely his sidekick. At least I had him beat with super speed – one of the few super powers that he lacked.
I went to change clothes, gingerly sliding my sore arm through my favorite “Joe’s Crabshack” T-shirt. One-handedly pulling on my old holey blue jeans was a bit trickier, but I managed. I tugged the quarter-sized emerald pendant from around my neck. The leather string on which it hung sometimes made my neck feel itchy. My grandfather had given me the jewel six years ago when I had visited the Philippines, searching for some of my family. He was the one who had told me I was superhuman (before then, I had just assumed that I was extremely talented at running). He had known because he himself contained superpowers – he could read minds and make himself temporarily invisible. I haven’t a clue where he had obtained the octagon-shaped emerald. He wouldn’t tell me. But it held an odd capability; a power that I had originally thought to be useless, though impressive, until a few weeks after I had teamed up with Tim.
I walked outside and lazily plopped into the hammock that was strung between two palm trees. Gazing at the landscape before me, my eyelids drooped and my breathing deepened. The grass below the hammock stretched on a few yards before it gave way to the sandy beach. The brackish blue ocean waves churned and crashed against the wet, packed sand. A warm breeze rustled my hair and the palm leaves overhead, gently rocking the hammock. Sunlight sparkled and danced on my face, warming every pore in my tan skin.
“What’d ya think you’re doing, Punk?” A strong hand grabbed onto my left knee cap and pinched hard.
I nearly lurched into the air. Hot blood suddenly pulsed through my veins as my head felt light and fuzzy.
I could’ve slapped him. “Don’t you dare!” I screamed.
“Pay back,” he repeated.
I cocked an eyebrow, frowning.
He exaggerated a shrug and turned to walk toward the mansion.
“Yeah,” I mumbled under my breath. “You’ll think ‘pay back,’ you…”
“What was that?” Tim turned as he opened the front door. His red and black suit was dripping with salt water. From that distance, it would’ve been impossible for a normal human to have overheard me.
I rolled my eyes. “Nothing, Baby Doll.”
In that instant, a near-by gunshot cracked deafeningly, rattling every nerve in my body.
I darted to Tim’s side, trying to shake the fear that engulfed me. I glanced up at him. We were both thinking the same thing. No one but us knew about our hideaway, which Tim himself had built, on the unknown island. And that gunshot was too close to have been on the distant mainland.
Tim looked down at me. His piercing dark eyes and tense jawbone revealed his horror.
“Circle the island, La,” he said in a quick, almost inaudible voice. “Look for boats. Footprints. Scuba gear. Anything.”
I knew what he was saying. We needed to know if our intruder was either human or something else. Something supernatural. Without another word, I ran through the mansion with nearly invisible speed. In my haste, I could not recall where I had put the emerald. I probably wouldn’t need it there on the island anyway. When I shot out the back door, I was clad in my green super suit, sore bicep completely forgotten. At first, I dashed around the outskirts of the isle. My quick eyes caught no signs of human existence. Next, I made my way through the interior of the land, crossing the terrain in a checkerboard pattern. I snatched up the only peculiar item I found and headed back to Tim. He was still standing by the door, eyes scanning the shoreline like a guard dog. Less than a minute had passed.
“You getting slow on me, La?”
Shocked, I searched his face for any signs of playfulness. None.
“You usually could’ve made that trip in about thirty seconds,” he explained. “It’s been thirty-eight.”
“I wanted to be thorough,” I said a little too loudly. “Plus, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in forever.” I faked a yawn.
His facial expression didn’t budge. It made me nervous.
“Here.” I held out my hand and gave him the item.
He stared at it in his large palm. An antique-looking bullet. His brown eyebrows crinkled as he studied it.
“It was still warm when I found it,” I said.
“The pineapple grove.”
“Nope. Not even a footprint or a broken leaf.”
Tim nodded slowly.
“I think we have a ghost on our hands,” I said quietly.
There had only been one time a couple of years ago that I had wondered what it would be like to die. Sure, the thought had vaguely passed through my mind before, but now, there it was, staring down at me menacingly. Death. The word itself sounded cold…empty. But in a strange way, I felt peaceful as I faced this monster called Death. It was like a mental numbness that crept throughout my body. For the first time in my nineteen years, I was unable to run away.
I watched as the ghost walked by. He had an inhuman gracefulness. He walked, but his feet barely seemed to touch the ground. His movements were precise and controlled – but somehow effortless. His pale skin had no veins. He didn’t breathe. Even though Tim and I had encountered a great number of ghosts before, I could never get used to their eyes. Glassy and lifeless with no pupils. They never failed to freak me out.
Today, there were five of them. I’d never seen this many at once. Being the history buff that I was, I could name all but one of them. I recognized the ghosts of Thomas Sumter, Henry Laurens, William Drayton, and Thomas Lynch. Interestingly, all of these men had been involved with the Revolutionary War in the 1700s. They donned their old navy blue wool coats with big brass buttons, beige britches, leather boots, and three-cornered hats. If they had not been about to kill me, they would have had my utmost respect.
The ghost I watched, Sumter, had been known as “The Gamecock” in his lifetime, famous for guerilla warfare. He had crossed us once before. Apparently, he was still holding a grudge. I knew he was mostly after Tim, who had stopped him from murdering the British ambassador three years ago. However, if I could distract him until Tim arrived with the misplaced emerald, it was the least I could do. Tim needed to live. That was more important than me. Oh, why had I taken the pendant off? An itchy neck seemed like nothing compared to this.
I sat on the damp grass, exactly where I had fallen. My leg tingled as it fell asleep underneath me. I automatically shifted my weight to straighten it out. Biggest mistake of my life. A horrendous pain shot up my leg that pierced the core of my stomach. I moaned as a wave of nausea swept over me. I didn’t think ripping my ankle completely off could have been more painful. I longed to take my boot off to relieve some of the mounting pressure, but fear told me to sit still. My broken ankle would be forming a huge knot and be turning weird shades of red, blue, and purple right then. I probably couldn’t have stomached seeing it anyway. I struggled to fight the nausea. I had to stay awake. Tim needed me.
I noticed that Sumter’s ghost held an old pistol. He stood still as the others moved about. We stared at each other. The dizziness and nausea began to smother me. I started to slump as my head spun. My stomach churned violently as I imagined my warped ankle swelling inside my boot. I was going to vomit. But I didn’t.
Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of all five ghosts moving toward me. This jolted me momentarily out of my stupor. Drayton’s ghost held a knife that glistened in the moonlight. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be shot or stabbed to death. That bothered me. Four of them stopped while Drayton kept coming. Sumter said something that I couldn’t decipher. All I saw was the knife. I closed my eyes. I heard a distant yell followed by a choking whimper. And consciousness finally slipped away.
White. Isn’t that the color one sees when one dies? But somehow, I wasn’t dead. I blinked and realized I was staring at a ceiling. I slowly turned my head to the left. My nose grazed the suede back of the sofa that sat in our living room. I twisted my head to the right. On the mahogany coffee table sat the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. Against the south wall, the empty stone fireplace emitted a faint ash smell.
I looked up to see Tim walking into the living room from the kitchen. He bit into a blueberry muffin. I frowned as I tried to recall yesterday’s happenings.
Or had it been yesterday?
“How long ago…” My voice sounded dry and froggy.
Tim paused in mid-chew. “Hm?”
I swallowed and tried again. “How long have I been out?”
“Two days,” he said with his mouthful of muffin.
I bugged my eyes in surprise. “What happened?”
He ran his free hand through his short, dark hair and took a deep breath. “Let’s just say, if I had been one second later, it would’ve been too late.”
I looked back up at the ceiling. “It’s my fault. Shouldn’t have taken it off.” I said, referring to the emerald. “Where’d you find it?”
“In your bathroom.”
I was suddenly aware of the small weight of it sitting on my chest, where it should be. I remembered being astonished when my grandfather had told me of its bizarre power. Within a yard of the jewel, a ghost would dissolve; melt straight to the ground.
Tim changed the subject. “I thought you were never gonna wake up. Just how sleep-deprived did you say you were?”
I laughed. “A lot.”
“Come on, Punk, let’s go to the beach.”