When I got to school, I had a whole level up of confidence. Remember how Super Mario would get that invincibility star and blaze through half a level without getting touched by anything? That’s how I felt.
And when I made it to my locker, I saw just the person I wanted to see.
Max had picked his morning breakfast already. And it was a nice plate of nerd with a side of athletically challenged named Nate Carlson. But as I watched, I noticed something weird. I recognized Nate’s face, but I didn’t recognize his clothes. He was wearing a brown tunic and brown pants made out of some animal skin. And both of them were dirty and singed like they’d been through a fire. Why was he dressed like that? And why did that outfit look familiar?
It was my outfit!
That was what I wore in Hell! That was the demon slayer outfit! That meant that I wasn’t the only one. Somehow Nate had crossed over too. That meant that he must have powers too.
I looked around and noticed that everyone else was wearing their regular clothes. I looked down at my own self and saw my Avengers graphic tee and blue jeans. I wondered if Nate could see my demon slayer outfit. But that didn’t matter now. He needed my help.
“Aren’t you glad it’s not you today?” Gary said, coming up next to me.
“I guess,” I said. “But it doesn’t make him any less lucky.”
I crossed the hall and shouted for Max’s attention. But he kept going and shoving Nate back against his locker, laughing it up with Larry and Cid.
“Hey, Max!” I said when I was a few feet away. “You might wanna watch out. He’s not who you think he is.”
Max stopped and glanced back at me. “Look who it is, boys.”
I stopped and looked at Nate, who was slouching low to the floor against his locker. “You can fight back, Nate. Didn’t you see your outfit in the mirror today? You’re a demon slayer. You have powers. You can beat this guy.”
Max scoffed. “Yeah. Those suspenders and skinny jeans are really slaying.”
I squinted my eyes at Nate’s clothes. Max couldn’t see them? Was I the only one who could? And from the confusion that was mixing with the shame on Nate’s face, it was clear that Nate didn’t see them either.
What was going on?
“Nate, you can do this,” I tried anyway. “You’re stronger than him. Trust me.”
But Nate looked away and covered his face, anticipating Max hitting him. I’d had enough of this.
“Leave him alone,” I told Max.
“Or what?” Max said, stepping into me.
Punch me. Go ahead. And I imagined Clint Eastwood in my mind. Make my day.
“Or I’ll make you,” I growled back.
Max scoffed then pulled his arm back and swung a hook at me. My arm went up and I blocked it. Then I threw a punch into his stomach.
But again—the block hurt a lot more than I’d expected. And punching Max’s varsity quarterback abs hurt even more. Not to mention that he didn’t even budge. Instead, he swung again and this time landed the punch right in my jaw and I spun into the lockers then slid to the floor.
Max and his boys burst into laughter then walked away.
My head was ringing and the hall was spinning. What had just happened?
“Whoa!” Gary said, leaning over me. “You’ve got some balls!”
Other kids had gathered around me too and were murmuring and staring at me like I was some celebrity.
“You’re so brave.”
“That was awesome.”
“Nobody’s ever stood up to him like that.”
“Thanks, man,” Nate said next to me. “You’re my hero.”
I rolled my eyes. You had to be kidding me. I got the daylights socked out of me and now I was a hero?
Why in the name of everything that makes sense were my powers still not crossing over?
“When you’d get so brave, man?” Gary asked me.
“I don’t know what’s—” I stopped when I looked at him. His clothes. He was wearing demon slayer clothes too. “Gary…do you see your clothes? The tunic? And the pants?”
Gary looked down at his chest. “You mean my Guardians of the Galaxy shirt? And these are cargo shorts, Daniel. You okay?”
I shook my head. I didn’t know what was more annoying, that none of my powers had crossed over or that no one was seeing what I was seeing.
Photo cred: Chozley