Superhero School: Prelude
Vee has a plan to make the world a better place. We need superheroes for that. But where would they come from if everyone wants to become lawyers, singers and football players?
Back off and let kids become superheroes!
Jay: Hey! ... Why the hell should we save all these freaks? Let 'em go to hell! The coming apocalypse... (dreamily) Ah-h-h-h... what could be more wonderful?! And, if you want, we can get front-row seats for the spectacle. I can arrange that. (smiles maliciously)
Vee: Are you serious? Don't you understand that if the world comes to an end, you'll have nothing to do? You won't have a job and you'll die of boredom. No police chasing you, no explosions, no big adventures and none of the stuff you love so much.
Jay: Oh, you poor naive aristocrat... Jay will always have a job. And you can go save this rotten world (waves his hand at it)! You fan of reanimating half-rotted corpses (smiles broadly and looks at Vee)! If not this world – then a different one. If not these sheep – then other ones. Everyone will be there at my party! (laughs)
Vee: Start all over again? Go down the very same bloody path of wars and medieval savagery? To come up against the same wall one more time? No, we’ve got to do something now!
Jay: Hey, you pain in the ass, wake up! (snaps his fingers in front of Vi) Right now, there are 8 billion idiots in the world sneering as they march into the abyss! Are you planning to save the world with them?
Vee: You're right about that. The world needs superheroes! They're the only ones that can save the world. But where do we find them?
Jay: Yeah, it's tough to find a superhero on the labor market nowadays... but there are plenty of lawyers and economists! I guess they get paid better. (he makes an evil grimace)
Vee: So the only thing we can do is create superheroes. To create people who can lead humanity along the perilous ledge to the world of the future…
Jay: Oh, God, nooo, no! (rolls his eyes and covers his face with his hand) I don't want to listen to this: perilous ledge, world of the future, blah, blah, blah. It's just pure propaganda from the "idiot box"! I feel like I'm at a presidential election campaign...
Vee: It's not propaganda. The world of the future might really be different. It can and should be better than ours.
Jay: And just who are you going to make superheroes out of? Cashiers or stock brokers?
Vee: Out of children. Their brains aren't corrupted with universal and social values yet. So there's a chance that they can become real superheroes.
Jay: Do you think that the "honorable gentlemen" will give you their children? (thinks for a moment) I wouldn't give you mine ... (smiles maliciously) They would rather kill them. And you know why? Because you're right! Children and young people are the ones who can change the system. Take their children away, and in 20 years the whole world will change.
Vee: That's exactly what I want to do. But that’s for the future. We're not ready for this yet. For now we just need to conduct an experiment. We'll try…
Jay: (mockingly, looking round sharply, looks at Vee in amazement, points at himself, then at Vee) Hmm... we?!! You assume I'm going to participate in this monstrous, sinister plan? You... you understand that this is very, very dangerous? (gives Vee a long, serious look) We'll get caught and sent to jail. (whispers) And I have a wife, by the way, and three children, and a sick old mother! Did you give them a thought?! Look, look here (points a finger at his eye) – my eye is even twitching at how super-evil you are.
Vee: Stop it, Jay, I'm serious. (pause) No, Jay. We have to try and do something. You do what you want, but I'm going.
Jay: (as Vee goes out) You arrogant goon!
Vee disappeared into the dark.
The alarm clock went off at 7:45. In a single, well-practiced movement, without lifting his head from the pillow, Tom turned it off.
Miss Collins: Too-om, dear, get up! I know you can hear me. Enough sleeping, sleepyhead!
Tom continued to lie still. After another five minutes had passed, Miss Collins walked into the room and sat down on Tom's bed.
Miss Collins: Tom, honey, come on, get up, or you'll be late for school.
Tom:Mom, I don't feel too good. Can I stay home?
Miss Collins: (putting a hand on Tom's forehead) Of course, you can stay home if you don't feel well. But you haven't forgotten about the test today, have you? It's very important for your final semester grade, you remember that, right? Your forehead doesn't seem too warm. Could some hot tea and breakfast help you feel better?
Tom: (displeased) Yeah, screw this damn school!!!
Miss Collins: Tom, you can't talk like that! What, do you think it's better to lounge about, twiddling your thumbs? Have you started reading that nonsense again?
Tom: What nonsense?
Miss Collins: You know what I mean. About that school where no one forces kids to study, and they do whatever they want all day long. What was the name… Summerhill? Tom, baby, that's just a fairy tale, just like Hogwarts.
Tom: No, it's not! Summerhill is a real school. It's still operating today, in England. Neill has made incredible breakthroughs in the psychology of education and upbringing.
Miss Collins: If your Neill had really achieved such incredible success, then his education system would have been spread all over the world long ago. Or do you think Congress is full of idiots who don't want to make our education system more effective?
Tom: I don't know... probably not.
Miss Collins: That's what I mean. So, get dressed quickly and go have breakfast. Mom's made you the world's most delicious breakfast. (She kissed him on the cheek and went out)
Five minutes later, Tom was already sitting at the kitchen table. Miss Collins placed a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon and a glass of milk before him. Tom gave his breakfast a scornful look and sighed.
Tom: But Mom, you know that milk is bad for you, not to mention bacon and eggs.
Miss Collins: Did you read that online? Tom, don't believe everything they write. I grew up on food like this, and so did your grandmother! And she almost never got sick, by the way. Jesus, the entire America grew up on food like this! You need the strength to learn and absorb new knowledge.
Tom: But grandma actually died from cancer, doesn't that count?
Miss Collins pretended not to hear the last sentence. Tom picked at his breakfast with his fork as it cooled off.
Tom: Mom, listen, I'm going to tell you something. Just don't yell at me, okay? Mom, I'm having such a hard time right now. I don't want to go to school, I don't want to go to hockey practice... but you have to understand me – I like learning new things, but for some reason I feel oppressed at school... and at hockey. It takes a huge effort for me to go there. Why should I force myself to do things I don't want to do?
Miss Collins sat down at the table across from Tom.
Miss Collins: Tom, honey, I understand. I didn't like school at your age either.
Miss Collins: But you know, in real life, we have to do things that we don’t really like all the time. I don't want to go to work either, but I have to, so that I can feed you and Jill. And everyone in the world lives like that. And you, whether you want to or not, need to go to school and study so that you can become successful, and not a loser like your father. Surely you don't want your friends to go off to college while you're working in the back room of a supermarket. You're 13 already, and it's time to get used to the fact that you're the only one responsible for your life.
Tom: Do you really have to do things you don't want to?
Miss Collins: Tom, you're just as stubborn as your father. He didn't want to do anything he didn't feel like doing either. And what happened there? He left the two of us before you were even born. And I raised you alone. Your father was selfish. And I really hope that you won't become anything like him. Believe me, Tom, I'm bending over backwards so that you have everything you need to be successful. And if I have to get a third job in order to do that, I will.
Tom: Does Uncle Nick live with us for my sake, too?
Miss Collins gave Tom a surprised look.
Miss Collins: Nick is a part of my personal life, and that has nothing to do with you!
Tom: But what about my personal life?
Miss Collins: Your personal life will start when you turn 18, and you start earning your own living. In the meantime, you’ve got to be polite and respect those who care about you. Including Nick. (she looked at her watch) Damn it, Tom, I’m late for work because of your ranting. That’s it, I've got to run. And Tom, don't forget that you have to pick up your little sister from kindergarten today, okay?
Miss Collins ran out. Tom poured his milk down the drain and threw his breakfast into the garbage.
Late in the evening, Tom walked up to an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of the city. It was a notorious place – legend had it that the former owner had killed his wife and their four children, and their ghosts are still there. Tom's heart was in his mouth, but he made a great effort and entered the house. A hooded man was standing in the huge living room.
Vee: Don't be afraid. I'm not a ghost. I'm a normal person. It seems like no one else is coming besides you. Really, no one wants to be a superhero anymore?
Tom: (he shrugged) No one believed it. Everyone thought that it was just someone's stupid prank. And besides, this house... it's scary. I didn't really want to come either. The ad that you put on the Internet... it's pretty weird and far-fetched.
Vee: But you still came? Why?
Tom: I want to be a superhero... and I don't want to go to school anymore. I'm bored there, it's not interesting. My mother says that I have to, that it's for my own good. But I don't believe her. You aren't going to lie to me, are you?
Vee: What's your name?
Tom: Tom Collins.
Vee: Nice to meet you, Tom. My name is Vee. Tom, I promise I won't try to trick you. So I have to warn you right away. If you come with me, you may never see your parents or your friends again. Are you ready for that?
Tom hesitated for a moment, but then answered with confidence.
Tom: I'm ready!
Vee: That's what you say now. We’ll have to travel all over the country. We'll get into many difficult situations. It won’t be easy. The path of a superhero isn’t easy. Do you understand that?
Tom: I understand. But it's still better than listening to parents and teachers my whole life, them telling me what's good and bad, what I can and can't do. I want to decide that for myself. I’ll go with you. Just promise that you won't make me do anything I don't want to do!
Vee: I promise.
The house is surrounded by police and the FBI.
FBI Agent: Release the boy immediately and come out with your hands in the air! We know that you are inside. Don’t make us resort to force! I will give you five minutes to decide. Then we’ll launch an assault!
The FBI agent lowered his loudspeaker. But then he began again.
FBI Agent: Tom Collins! If you can hear me! Your parents are waiting for you! Your mother loves you very much and wants you to come home! No one is threatening you!
Tom looked carefully out the window. There was a crowd of policemen outside, pointing their guns toward the house.
Vee: Well, how many are there?
Tom: A lot. Seems like we really are surrounded. What do we do?
Vee was sitting in a chair with an unwavering look and examining his dagger.
Vee: I'll take you outside with a knife to your throat. You'll play along. We'll get into a car and drive away. And we'll see what happens from there. Go pack your backpack.
Tom: You don’t think they realize that I'm with you out of my free own will? It's been almost two years.
Vee: It doesn't matter what they think. We're going to bluff. Let's hope they don't shoot that well.
A few minutes later, Vee went out into the street, clasping Tom by the shoulders and holding the dagger to his throat.
Vee: Everyone get back!!! Let me get into the car, or I’ll kill the boy!
The police froze in a stupor, not knowing what to do. At that exact moment, a gunshot sounded! A sniper!
WHAM!!! The bullet hit Vee's right shoulder. He dropped the dagger and pushed Tom to the ground with his left hand.
Vee: Stay down and don't move!
As soon as Tom hit the ground, heavy fire started. Amazingly, Vee managed to run into the house and get down on the floor. The police and FBI fired at the house, their guns blazing away. When the shooting subsided, two policemen ran up to Tom and dragged him away.
FBI Agent: Come out, you son of a bitch! I’m giving you one minute. Then we will burn this house to the ground!
Holding his injured arm, Vee tried to figure out what to do next. Suddenly clattering sounds came from the street. A huge pick-up truck rushed straight for the house, scattering the police cordon. It broke through the fence and crashed right into the wall, sweeping away everything in its path. A man with two drum grenade launchers jumped out of the pickup and began to shower the police with tear gas and smoke grenades. When he was done, he ran into the house.
Vee: Jay?! What the hell are you doing here?
Jay: What does it look like??? I'm saving your ass!!!
Jay tossed Vee a gas mask.
Jay: Put it on, fast! We have to go.
Vee: But where's Tom? Is he okay? We’ve got to get him.
Jay: I'm afraid they've already gotten him. So, are you coming with me, or are you going to sit here and feel sorry for yourself?
The street was filled with smoke. Jay and Vee jumped into the pickup truck.
Jay: Oh, I almost forgot! A napalm-filled baby doll. My own invention! (he laughed wickedly)
Jay grabbed the baby doll from the back seat and threw it at the window of the house. As the pickup drove away, an explosion sounded. The house was engulfed in a fireball.
Miss Collins: My little boy! Tommy, baby!!! Are you okay?
Tom's mother threw herself at her son, hugging and kissing him.
Tom: I'm fine, mom. Don't cry. Everything's fine.
Miss Collins: I was so worried, Tommy. I thought I would never see you again! Did he hurt you? Did he beat you?
Tom: No, mom, it's all right. I missed you too. Forgive me for having done this. I had to.
Miss Collins looked at her son.
Miss Collins: What had he done to you?
Tom: Mom, he gave me the freedom I always wanted. He is a superhero. And he made a superhero out of me.
Miss Collins: A superhero!? He's a typical thug and a liar!
Tom: Don't say that! He's my friend, and you don't know him at all. He never lies, unlike you.
Miss Collins looked with horror at the son she could no longer recognize.
Miss Collins: Tom, what did he tell you? They said on TV that he is a psychopath and a murderer. He's wanted by the police in England.
Tom: And you should watch less TV. Not much of what they say is true.
Miss Collins: Honey, I don't understand ...
Tom: Mom, I've changed a lot. I’d grown up. In these two years that I've spent with Vi, I learned what it means to be free and to do what I want. It's simply incredible! And that's what I'm going to do from now on.
Miss Collins: Tom, this villain almost ruined your life.
Tom: No, Mom, it's you who almost ruined my life. He gave me a chance to become a real person. He helped me understand what I want from life and what I want to be.
Miss Collins: And what do you want to be? A robber and a criminal?
Tom: There you go again... I want to be a superhero!
Miss Collins: Tom, there's no such thing as superheroes! They only exist in comic books.
Tom: You're wrong, Mom. They exist in real life. And now I'm a superhero too.
Miss Collins: And what are you going to do now? Run around on rooftops in a stupid costume all day and save kittens?
Tom: I will if I want to.
Miss Collins: What about school?
Tom: I'm going to go to school. But only when I want to, and only to classes that I consider necessary. And I'm going to do it not because I should or because you want me to, but because I decided to myself.
Miss Collins: Well, fine, superhero. And how will you earn a living when you grow up? Have you thought about that?
Tom: Mom, you don't have to worry about that. Basically, I'm going to open a school, just like Summerhill. It'll be called "Superhero School." And then I will become the youngest president the United States has ever had and I'll hold an educational reform, I'll introduce similar schools throughout the country and make children happy. I need to learn a lot in order to do all that. So I will study.
Miss Collins: Okay, fine, Tom, we'll talk about it later. Let's go home. I baked a cake to celebrate your return.
Tom: No, Mom. We're not going to talk about anything later. If you're going to push me, I'll leave home again.
Miss Collins looked at Tom sadly and nodded.
The crowd by the podium cheered and roared. There were people were standing on the podium. Flickering on the huge screen above the podium was the phrase "Tom Collins – 48thPresident of the United States!!!".
Vee and Jay were standing somewhere in the crowd.
Jay: Wow!!! Your student had made it! Now we have our own man inside the government! You must be overwhelmed with pride, huh?! (pause) How touching!!! (he pulled a face, pretending to wipe tears from his eyes)
Vee handed Jay his white handkerchief.
Jay: He's such a good boy! Son!!! (with relish, he blew his nose in Vee's handkerchief). Maybe we'll get jobs in the President's administration, huh??? I can teach him a lot (looks into Vee's face with a broad smile).
Vee: You're just jealous.
Jay: Me???? Not in the slightest!!! ... (he disappears in the crowd instantaneously)
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