[WP] Everyone is born with a super power. That is, except Barry in Accounting
“Can you imagine?” a stifled giggle floats over the cubicle wall as Barry rolls his eyes and tries to focus on the ledger of numbers in front of him.
“You can’t be serious. Nothing? Nothing at all? How awful.” a second voice dims as its owner continues away from Barry’s desk.
“Nothing? Nothing at all?” Barry mocks as he flips back and forth between the spreadsheets opened side by side on his desktop. “Can you imagine? When are these morons going to get over it.”
“32 years buddy and they still seem to be fascinated by it,” a voice says, startling Barry’s attention away from his computer screen. A tall, muscular man stands in front of Barry’s desk, trying to fix the edge of the cubicle he bent when he leaned on it, the now unhinged door in his other hand.
“Jesus Wes, you’re going to give me a heart attack. Gladys is going to kill you for destroying another cube.”
“If they would invest in half decent structural walls, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Wes replied, flashing a brilliantly white smile at Barry. Barry’s attention was already back on the screen.
“If we had it in the budget I’m sure they would love to do just that,” Barry huffed in annoyance, inputting a few more numbers into one of the columns.
“About that,” Wes started.
“No.” Barry replied before Wes couldn’t even finish his request. “I don’t care what you’re about to say but the answer is no. You can’t bypass the system by coming straight to Accounting. If you could see the black hole I’m looking at then you’d know our finances are hell.”
“Are you sure you can’t read minds?” Wes said with a raise of his eyebrow.
“Not you too,” Barry turned to face to him, raising an eyebrow. “I’m sure I have a paper cut somewhere. Want to pour lemon juice on that?”
“You know I’m just kidding Barry, lighten up dude.” Wes said, pulling out the old office chair in front of Barry’s desk and taking a seat.
“Lighten up?” Barry said incredulously, “did you just say lighten up? How would you like to be the only person on the planet that can’t do anything? I can’t lift things. I can’t read minds. I can’t walk through walls. I can’t glow, morph, catch things on fire, change colors or fly. Shall I continue? No? I didn’t think so. I do math and at the moment, I don’t even do that very well.”
Barry flashed back to the last time he agreed to hang out with Wes and the others after work. They had all gone to a bar down the street. He told himself it was a terrible idea before he even went. He had learned to recognize when Sayra was manipulating him and could usually avoid her hold on his personal free will. That night he ignored the signs and decided to follow them anyway. He had been right. It was a mistake. As soon as they walked in, Wes was surrounded by women as usual. They all tried to show off for the blonde haired, blue eyed man of infinite power. Well maybe not infinite but you get the picture. A redhead had tired of trying to get Wes’s attention eventually and floated to his side.
“What is it that you do?” she had asked seductively.
“Math.” He responded deadpan.
“Aren’t you funny!” she declared and playfully swatted him in the shoulder.
“No really,” Barry said glumly, “I don’t do anything.”
“Nothing?” she asked, her head cocked to the side in confusion.
“Yep. No flying. No strength. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” Barry confirmed, finishing the rest of his beer in one gulp.
“Oh you poor dear,” she said, patting his arm in pity, “I had heard that was possible but I never.”
“Yeah, well thanks. Nice to you meet you,” Barry said, cutting her off. “Wes, I’m out of here.”
Nights like that never ended well. It was always the same. Without some kind of power, he was only a pariah. After 32 years of being overlooked, pitied, or intentionally avoided, Barry had to admit his fuse had grown a little short.
“Dude, you need to lay off the caffeine. Or drink more maybe,” Wes said, snapping Barry back to reality.
“No.” Barry said again, pointing to the door. “We have no money. Whatever your new project is, go bug Delilah for the funding.”
“Okay, okay,” Wes admitted in defeat as he rose from the chair. “The next time you need a bookcase lifted off your back.” He trailed off as he walked out of the small space.
“It was one time!” Barry shouted after him, “And you’re telling Gladys about the door!”
Barry fumed as he turned his chair to look out the window over the city. A woman waved as she flew by his office window and he scowled in return. Was there ever going to be a day when he wasn’t reminded just how little he could do? Growing up as the only kid who wasn’t normal had made his life very difficult. He couldn’t count how many times he had been dumped into the top of a tree, helpless until someone took pity on him and flew him back down again, or tripped with rubbery arms or liquid or invisible feet. That’s how he ended up in Accounting.
Numbers were just numbers. There was nothing special about them. It didn’t take a special ability to understand them. Math either was or wasn’t. The rules were concrete and long established. It was the one place where he wasn’t constantly reminded there was something lacking in his very being. He spun back around, contemplating his fate, and went back to work on the figures on his screen. As he was hitting send on the updated file, a sudden flash of light erupted behind him.
“What in the world,” he exclaimed and spun frantically back to the window. All around the city people suddenly fell from the sky. He could hear exclamations of cursing from down the hall. Barry walked around his desk and stuck his head slowly out into the corridor. A short man with jet black hair went running by. “What happened?” he called out, but the man just kept running until he slammed into wall and fell into a heap on the ground, dazed and confused.
The phone in Barry’s pocked started beeping with the sounds of the emergency warning system. He pulled it out to read the illuminated screen.
“WARNING! THERE HAS BEEN A SUDDEN FLARE THAT HAS HALTED ALL ABILITIES. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION. WARNING! THERE HAS BEEN A SUDDEN FLARE THAT HAS HALTED ALL ABILITIES. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.”
Barry stared at the screen in confusion. Halted abilities? What in the world were they talking about? He turned on the radio that sat on the corner of his desk and tuned to a news broadcast.
“We are sorry to interrupt this broadcast for a special announcement. There has been a sudden flare. It is yet unknown where it came from or how long its affects will remain. We are receiving reports that people everywhere have suddenly lost their ability to fly, dropping out of the sky like deadweight. I’m sorry, poor choice of words. CUSHA, the Center for Understanding Super Human Ability, has issued a warning that any particular power you possess may be inoperable. Please plan accordingly. They are working on a cure for this condition but as it spreads, be careful out there. If anyone knows Barry Horowitz, please have him contact CUSHA immediately.”
Holy crap, Barry thought. Did he just hear that correctly? How does CUSHA know who he is and what would they want with him? He suddenly heard footsteps coming from the hall and men in suits burst through his doorway.
“Barry Horowitz?” the man in front asked.
“Um, do I know you?” Barry asked in confusion, the hairs standing on the back of his neck.
“It’s him sir,” someone said from the doorway.
“Barry Horowitz, I’m Agent Sierra from the CUSHA. You need to come with us.”
“Me?” Barry asked in confusion.
“Yes. As the only person not affected by the Flare, you have just become our number one priority.”
“How could I possibly be of any service?” Barry said skeptically.
“You’ve just become patient zero for the New Normal.”