They were on the news again.
Jesslyn thought bitterly as she looked at the television. She stared down at her carrots then pulverized them with her fork. The screen flashed in her periphery and she shot it a baleful glare as she watched her parents waving at the cameras.
She forked the now mashed carrots into her mouth and washed them down with some water. School would be hell in the morning. All anyone would want to talk about was the latest stunt her parents had pulled. Jesslyn hunched her shoulders just thinking about all the stares and whispers that would follow her around school. Once again, she would be the odd one, the normal one.
Putting her plate in the dishwasher she started the cycle and clicked off the television. Flopping on the couch she glared at the ceiling. Her parents were probably celebrating or being debriefed. Their work was never done. She resented their long absences and even more the sad looks that sometimes passed between them when they were home. Reaching over she lifted a history book from the coffee table and flipped it open. She should at least study for her test.
After fifteen minutes she covered her face with the book and groaned. Bucky, their gray and black tom cat hopped onto her stomach and began purring. She absently stroked his silky fur with one hand while she thought.
Maybe I can call out sick. No. That will only delay the inevitable. They’ll just bombard me when I return. Maybe I can wear a disguise? No. I tried that last time and it didn’t help.
The sudden growl that rose in Bucky’s throat frightened Jesslyn. She lifted the textbook in time to see their large golden retriever, Steve, leap to his feet and begin growling at the door. Bucky hopped down and began hissing beside Steve whose hackles were raised. Jesslyn looked at the front door where they focused their ire and carefully rolled off the couch and crawled toward her bedroom. In case someone was watching she didn’t want to make herself a target. Her parents had taught her to remain small, close to the ground and keep to the shadows. The years of training kicked in as she slipped into her bedroom.
The room was black and Jesslyn closed her eyes for three seconds to allow them to adjust. Everything was as it should be, not a shadow out of place. She slipped to her bedside and twisted the knob beside her bed. The silent alarm that would bring her parents back to the house. She heard Steve’s growling increase in volume and fear clutched at her belly. What would she do if someone came in?
She didn’t have any special powers like her parents. She’d been born normal. Average. Common. Never had she hated being normal more than she did in that moment. Her brain raced as she heard Steve begin to bark and Bucky’s hissing rise to a keening yowl.
Fear got the better of her and she crawled under her bed. She bumped up against a long wooden box and her eyes widened. Of course! Her uncle had begun training her when she was ten but she hadn’t used the weapons since he’d moved away when she was fourteen.
It’s been three years…Do I remember? Of course, Uncle Tim always said it’s just like riding a bike.
Jesslyn kicked the box out on the far side of the bed. She followed it out and crouched behind her bed, hidden from the door. She opened the box and carefully removed the magazines. The two weapons nestled inside were as dark as the night. She heard loud cracking in the living room and Steve snarling and barking. She couldn’t hear Bucky any more.
Her fingers raced as she checked to see if the AR-15 was loaded, it wasn’t. She slammed the magazine with its .223 rounds home and racked the bolt to seat one in the chamber. Jesslyn slipped the strap over her head, muzzle pointing at the ground like Uncle Tim had taught her. She then lifted the .45 colt 1911 from the box. She checked the chamber, empty too.
Steve yelped and whined.
Everything went quiet.
A chill ran down Jesslyn’s spine. She slammed the magazine home and racked the slide on the .45. Turning she faced the door to her bedroom. She clicked the safety off and laid the 1911 on the bed spread within easy reach. She swung the AR up and clicked the safety off too. Kneeling she braced her arms on the bed for stability and aimed at the door. She could feel her arms shaking in fear but at the same time she was oddly calm. Whatever walked through that door had probably just killed her beloved pets and intended to harm her.
Whoever they were, they wouldn’t walk out.
She might not be a super hero, but she could still catch a bad guy.