Chapter 2

Vince froze in place, staring at the room’s owner and wondering how to explain the mix-up. It wasn’t his fault after all, but this still wasn’t the first impression he wanted to make on his new dorm mate. Vince groped around his head, looking for words to break the silence. Luckily, the boy in the door did it for him.

“Dude, that is some rocking hair,” he said.

“Um, thank you,” Vince replied softly. “I’m sorry I’m in your room. The door opened and I didn’t know...” Vince just trailed off, the look of confusion on the boy’s face making him more unsure with each passing second.

“You’re not in my room, neighbor; you’re in your room. I’m in two,” the boy told him. “I heard you trying to buzz into mine and realized someone else was here, so I came to say hi.”

“But this can’t be my room,” Vince said, trying to explain. “It already has sheets and clothes and everything.”

“Yeah, my guess is that’s because they thought you needed those things,” the boy with sunglasses explained. “The doors are keyed to us; they only open for the right person. If this room opened for you, then it’s because it’s your room. Did you even read the letter they gave you?”

“Letter?” Vince asked with a sense of dread. He did remember a slip of paper that had fallen out of his pack when the taxi had dropped him off, but he had just dismissed it as an old food wrapper or something.

“I’ll get mine,” said the boy. “Hang on a sec... Um, what’s your name?”

“Vince,” said Vince.

“Nice. You can call me Nick,” he said as he stepped out of the room. He came back mere moments later, holding a white piece of paper with fold lines across it.

“Here we go,” Nick said. “‘Rooms have been set up for each attending member by the program. These will be stocked for members as deemed necessary, and are keyed to each attendee’s individual fingerprints. Communal areas are open to all, but will be under the jurisdiction of your administrators. You are expected to be in the central common room promptly at seven PM on move-in day to meet with your administrators and go over dorm rules’.”

“Huh,” said Vince. “Lucky you held onto that, or I wouldn’t have even known about the meeting, let alone about my room.” Vince plunked down on his bed, shedding his pack at long last.

“Good choice of words,” Nick commented, pulling out the chair from Vince’s desk and helping himself to a seat.

“What do you mean?” Vince asked.

“Eh, it’s nothing. Just... well, you said lucky,” Nick said.

“And... What about it?” Vince kept prodding.

Instead of answering, Nick pulled a set of dice from his jeans. He closed his eyes, an act only visible despite sunglasses due to the over-exaggerated scrunching of his face, and breathed deeply for a moment, then tossed them on to the desk.

“Double sixes,” Vince observed.

Nick nodded. He then took the dice, closed his eyes once more, and a deep breath later threw them on the table again.

“Double sixes. Again,” Vince said. “So you use trick dice?”

“Try them,” Nick replied. He scooped up the dice and offered them to Vince. Vince got off the bed, took the dice from Nick’s hand, and examined them. They had six different numbers on each side and felt as though they were weighted normally. Still, Vince wasn’t sure enough in his tactile perception to trust merely holding them for an answer. He threw the dice on the desk for himself.

“Three and five,” Vince said. “So you know how to spin them?”

“Do it again,” Nick told him. This time he closed his eyes  and didn’t exhale until Vince’s throw hit the table.

“Double ones,” Vince noted. “So?”

“Again,” Nick instructed him.

Vince repeated his own throws three more times; each time, Nick closed his eyes and Vince wound up with double ones. After the third time, Vince let the dice rest on the table, then went back to his bed and sat on the edge.

“Are you telekinetic? Is that how you control the landing?” Vince asked.

Nick shook his head. “I can’t move things with my mind, at least not on purpose. My power is luck. It can be good or it can be bad, but if it’s luck then I’ve got some say over it.”

“Luck? How does that work? Not to insult, I just tend to think of luck as more of an abstract concept than a viable ability,” Vince said.

“No insult taken,” Nick assured him. “I don’t really know how it works. The docs tried to explain, something about quantum probabilities and minute alterations in the fabric of reality, but at the end of the day all I know how to say is that it’s luck. And mine is a lot better since I got it under control.”

Vince winced inwardly. “That must have been pretty terrible. Before.”

“It was and it wasn’t,” Nick said with a shrug. “At least my ability came in two flavors. You know I kissed a supermodel once? She was out with some friends and they played spin the bottle at the restaurant we were both at and, well... it pointed to me. Of course, then I went outside to find my car had caught fire, but hey, you got to take the good with the bad.”

“You’re upbeat about this,” Vince said.

“Sure I am,” Nick replied with a smile. “That’s all in the past. We’re not like that anymore. We’re the first people in history to go from being Powered to being Super. I still don’t understand what they did to us for those months and I don’t care. Far as I’m concerned, getting into that program was the best stroke of luck my ability ever gave me.”

“So, why the sunglasses?” Vince said to change the subject. He didn’t want to rain on Nick’s parade, but he been dealt too much disappointment in his life to just trust that his abilities were under control now and forever.

“If anyone in authority asks, it’s because using my power can give me headaches that leave me sensitive to light,” Nick explained. “But between you and me, I just think they make me look cool. What about your hair? Natural?”

“Unfortunately,” Vince replied. “One of those weird traits people with abilities sometimes get. The damn stuff basically drinks dye, too, so there’s no way for me to change its color.”

“You could shave it,” Nick pointed out.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” Vince countered. “I tried that once. Some guys can pull off the bald look. I am not one of those guys. I’d rather be the weirdo with silver hair than the freakish man-baby.”

“An understandable choice,” Nick conceded. “Well, with you here that rounds out the boys’ side. I wonder if any girls have gotten here yet.”

“Wait, who’s our third roommate?” Vince asked. “I haven’t met anyone but you so far.”

“Our third got here early and went out to explore campus,” Nick told him. “You’ll see him tonight at the dorm meeting. He’s an... interesting fellow.”

“That doesn’t sounds good,” Vince said.

“No, but it doesn’t sound bad either,” Nick pointed out. “Come on, you just arrived and I’m famished. Let’s go hit up a dining hall for lunch.”

“Do you know where one is?” Vince asked.

“Not really,” Nick admitted. “But I bet we get lucky.”