Chapter 68

Thomas hunched over his kitchen table, a large piece of paper with multiple written entries to his side and a laptop directly in front of him. His other roommates were there as well, their own checklists present, however they had not brought out personal computers.

“Okay,” Thomas said with a deep breath. “So we’ve found a good deal on some kegs, we’ve located a place two towns over that sells plastic cups in bulk, and we’ve alerted our neighbors to the impending disturbance. What’s next?”

“Food,” Stella replied.

“We have to feed them too?” Will asked.

“You guys really haven’t been to many parties,” Violet commented. It was one point that she mentioned at least once an hour. She’d been shocked when Thomas told her he’d been tasked with throwing the party the freshmen were invited to, and even more floored when he said he’d decided to do it. Despite having dated him for a few months, there were times when Violet felt she never really knew her tan-skinned friend. He’d approached it with his usual meticulous voracity, and now that they didn’t have a midterm to worry about, it seemed like they’d be able to get it on track in a matter of weeks.

“Food is there to help people sober up if they overshoot their limits,” Violet explained. “You make it things like pretzels and bread to help soak up the booze.”

“That’s actually a common myth,” Will corrected. “Food existing in the stomach before alcohol is introduced can affect the rate of absorption; however, once the alcohol has been ingested, new food would have no discernible effect. It is simple biology.”

“Fair enough, but you just said yourself it’s a commonly held myth, right?” Violet asked.


“Then people who believe it will help calm their stomachs and make them less intoxicated could very likely see those effects since they’re expecting them. Same as sugar pills in place of painkillers.”

“Ah, you’re referencing the Placebo Effect.”

“It is simple psychology.”

“Point taken,” Will said. Other men of his intelligence might have balked at being bested by a girl who specialized in brawn over brains, but Will had long ago learned that intelligence in one area didn’t make him infallible in others. He was a mechanic: he looked at the body like a machine and often forgot the less tangible components the mind could present. “I believe we can get sandwiches from The Mayo Hut at a sizable discount thanks to the owner’s infatuation with my sister.”

“Pimping your own sister to the cause, that’s dedication.” Stella said.

“It is something of a family tradition to place one another in uncomfortable positions,” Will replied. “Besides, with as much patronage as she gives that establishment, I’d think it only good business to provide her preferential treatment.”

“Jill does love her sandwiches,” Thomas agreed. “So we’ll let her take care of that and I can pick up a few jumbo bags of pretzels from the same place from which we’re getting the cups.” Thomas scratched a long line through one of the items on his paper as Will jotted down the details of his new task. “What’s next?”

“Guest list,” Violet said.

Thomas shook his head. “I don’t think we pick and choose. I’ll just spread the word through the freshmen and anyone who is brave enough to show up is welcome. That’s how Angela did it and I feel it worked quite well.”

“I’d agree, but I wasn’t talking about the freshmen.” Violet looked at her friends and carefully framed her next words. “Look, there’s a bit of an elephant in the room here that none of us has brought up. We need to talk about it. Are we going to invite the Powereds to this thing?”

“They’re not-”

“I know they aren’t, Thomas, but you get what I mean.”

“I thought we agreed at the beginning of the year to treat them with the same friendship they’ve shown us,” Thomas pointed out. Stella and Will nodded in agreement.

“We did, and I still think we should, but despite the fact that we’re throwing it, this party isn’t really about us. It’s about the freshmen, and introducing them to the Lander community as a whole.”

“All the more reason to show them that we are accepting of people who may come from different backgrounds than ourselves,” Thomas rebutted. “We will set the standard for them to look to.”

“We are accepting - ‘we’ being the key word,” Violet said, softening her voice so as not to seem aggressive. “Not everyone else is, and they may not want to socialize with people who started life as Powereds. It’s prejudiced and ignorant, but there’s a lot of unspoken dislike and hate for those five even if we choose to ignore it. Now, if this were just us putting together a shindig, I’d say fuck ‘em if they don’t like our friends. But again, this is about the freshmen, and what impression do you think they’ll take from a party populated solely by the people who live in the house and the school’s pariahs?”

“She makes a valid point,” Will said. “We’re supposed to be bringing them into the larger community of Supers. Inviting the residents of Melbrook could very well limit that community.”

“I don’t like it, but I think I understand your concern,” Thomas admitted. “So what’s the right thing to do?”

“I’m not sure,” Violet replied. “That’s why I brought it up. It seems like either decision is morally wrong in some aspect.”

The four sat silently in contemplation for a few moments. Each was lost in a maelstrom of their own ethical quandaries, a tornado of possible decisions and uncertainty. Curiously, it was Stella who provided the insight that allowed them to move forward.

“You know, you guys keep talking about how we’re bringing them into the Super community, but that’s not actually true,” Stella said, breaking the kitchen’s unhappy silence. “We’re not Supers, and we’re not a community of Supers. We’re a community of future Heroes. Of course not all of us will make it, but all of us are striving to earn the title. Heroes don’t cave to the pressures of hate. Heroes do what’s right, no matter what. So what if some people don’t show up? I say it’s more important to set the example of acceptance even when, no, especially when it’s an unpopular decision.”

“That was... surprisingly eloquent,” Will said, mustering his own words through the fog of surprise.

“I gots my moments,” Stella quipped back.

“Right then; we invite everyone in our class, no exceptions,” Thomas said. “Agreed?” He received three nearly synchronized nods from his roommates. “Glad that’s settled. Next item of business: plastic sheeting for all the carpeted areas. Anyone have a clue where to get that stuff? Because otherwise I see no way we’ll be getting our security deposit back on this place.”