Chapter 161

               Vince wasn’t expecting a lot from “History of Modern Cinema,” especially not after reading the online reviews about what an easy course it was. That, in fact, was precisely why he’d signed up for it to fill out a Fine Arts elective. He felt a bit guilty throwing away a piece of his education with such tactics, but the fact of the matter was that he struggled enough with school as it was. He couldn’t risk letting an elective be the thing that kept him out of the HCP.

                As he walked down the stadium-style rows, this lecture hall was no doubt chosen so the students could all watch the various films with ease, he scanned about, looking for an empty section he could rest in. Vince didn’t particularly try to be anti-social in his above-ground classes; in fact he’d often made efforts to get to know his fellow students in his earlier years. The trouble was that sooner or later they would invite him to something, or ask about his other classes, or do some other thing that required him to hide his affiliation with the Hero Certification Program. Vince wasn’t good at lying, and he loathed doing it. Eventually he found it was easier to just keep to himself, and forge his friendships among fellow HCP students. Sometimes he wondered if that was part of the reason they had to keep their identities a secret; with no one else to talk to, they were forced to become close with only other potential Heroes.

                A loud, piercing, whistle broke Vince out his thoughts. He, along with a dozen or so other students, jerked their heads around, searching for the source of the noise. They all eventually spotted it, but only Vince found the figure to be familiar. Intimately so.

                Sasha Foster waved at him, then started making big sweeping gestures for him to come over, and Vince began heading in her direction. They weren’t especially close, that ship had sailed along with their relationship, but ever since the beach trip they’d managed to be on civil, if not friendly, terms. True, they didn’t make plans or hang out together; however, they did enjoy each other’s company when occasions lined up. Having her in a class with him would be pleasant, and it never hurt to have someone to share notes with.

                “I didn’t expect you to be here,” Sasha said as Vince slid into the unoccupied seat next to her. “Figured you’d take the high road and do some Shakespearean study class.”

                “As I see it, if Lander offers the course, there it must carry some merit. And I can’t understand a single word of Shakespeare. It all reads like a foreign language to me.” Vince set his book bag down, pausing only to pull out a notebook and a pencil. This class, unsurprisingly, didn’t require any textbooks for the curriculum. “What about you? Suddenly discover a love for old movies?”

                “Nope, I just wanted a blow off class, same as you,” Sasha said. “I don’t really give two shits about older stuff.”

                “I never really got to watch many movies growing up,” Vince said. “It will be interesting to see some of the classics. If nothing else I won’t feel so dumb when people reference them.”

                “Not having seen a bunch of old flicks doesn’t make you dumb. Though, yeah, you are basically an idiot in terms of pop culture.”

                “Don’t remind me. Hershel and Alex flipped out about a new movie coming out this year, and I’d never ever heard of it. Sometimes I feel like I’m completely out of the loop on everything not related to… well you know.”

                “Smooth,” Sasha said, shaking her head. “And you should never feel bad about those two geeking out over something you haven’t heard of. They’re sweet guys, but gigantic dorks. Half the time I didn’t know what Hershel was talking about, and I don’t suffer from culture-dumbness.”

                “You’re probably right,” Vince agreed. “This Star Puncher movie is probably just another niche thing of theirs.”

                There was a clatter of wood on cheap tile as Sasha’s pencil slipped from her hand and bounced on the ground. She started at Vince with wide eyes, a few strands of pink-streaked hair masking her face. When she spoke again, it was in hushed, almost reverent tones.

                “Did you say Star Puncher? As in: someone is making a new Star Puncher movie?”

                “If they aren’t, then Hershel and Alex are doing a lot of costume planning for nothing.” Vince looked at his former flame with unexpected confusion. “Do you follow the series or something?”

                “Ever since I was a kid,” Sasha admitted. She finally regained control of herself and bent down to scoop up a pencil. “My mom liked that sort of stuff and she would show me the old VHS tapes. When the new ones came out, she dragged me along, even though I was really too young for them. The movies are terrible, don’t get me wrong, but at this point it’s a sort of terrible I find familiar and enjoyable.”

                “I don’t completely understand what you mean, but if you want to come with us you’re more than welcome,” Vince said. “Alex and Hershel were hoping to get more girls to come along anyway. But, fair warning, they’ll want you to wear a costume.”

                “That a fact?” Sasha pulled out a notebook from her own backpack and flipped it open. “One of those guys can sew, right? Because I might be able to design but I can’t work a needle for shit.”

                “Hershel has a lot of skill at it, and Chad it pitching in as well,” Vince told her.

                Sasha stopped moving her pencil and turned to Vince, raising one of her eyebrows in a fishhook shaped arc. “I’m sorry; did you say Chad Taylor was going to help you sew costumes for the Star Puncher premiere?”

                “That’s what he told Hershel.”

                Sasha stared at him for a moment longer, then let out a long sigh and turned her attention back to the notebook where she’d begun sketching. “Sometimes I forget just how weird things seem to turn out around you guys. And, to be honest, I sort of miss it.”