Previously in Comic Superhero…
Emily comes to be in possession of an autographed comic book that Andrew so desperately wants. She lays down a challenge to Andrew. At the next English assessment, the winner takes possession of the comic. The stakes have never been higher for Andrew…
Andrew threw the comic he was reading in disgust. “I can’t believe she’d be so low as to hold me to ransom over a comic book.”
An emergency council of war had convened in Jackson’s room. Jackson looked over at his friend, with his arms crossed, eyes focused on the floor.
“I’ve never seen you this angry before. A game of Halo might get your mind off things,” said Jackson.
Andrew began to play but couldn’t focus. “I can’t believe she’d do such a thing. Now it’s even more important that I do better than her.”
Jackson paused the game and put down his controller.
“And what gets me even more angry is that bat-freak Josh probably sold me out. Next time I see him I’m going to cut that long black fringe.” Andrew mimicked Josh’s fringe flick, making Jackson laugh.
“But why would Phat Albert sell it to Josh if he knew that you wanted it?” asked Jackson.
“Don’t know and don’t care, really. Phat Albert can sell whatever he wants to whoever he wants. All that matters now is that I beat Emily.”
“So what are you going to do?”
Andrew shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea. I’ll study my butt off and hope for the best, I guess. But I so want that comic.”
Jackson paused, chewing over his words carefully. “Would you ever cheat? I don’t think you would, and I’m not suggesting that you should. But everyone has something they are willing to give a whole lot for.”
“I couldn’t. A mark of ‘zero’ on a paper is not worth a comic book. Even if it is autographed by Sy Barry.”
“Sorry for mentioning it. Man, I’d give anything to get your grades sometimes.” Jackson looked down at the game controller still in his hand, slightly embarrassed at his comment.
“Nah, grades aren’t everything. Once you start doing well people expect you to keep doing it.”
“Want to keep playing?” asked Jackson, raising the controller in Andrew’s direction to change the topic.
“I’m going to head home. Catch you later.” Andrew high-fived Jackson as he walked towards the door, picking up his school bag on the way out.
That evening, Andrew sat as his desk and tried to complete his homework. He flicked pages backwards and forwards in frustration. Each time he looked at his boxes of comics, he thought of the one he didn’t have. He pushed the thought aside and stuck his nose back into his books.
At school, Emily was almost unbearable. She would remind Andrew of their deal, tapping at her watch as she glided past with Joshua and her minions in tow. Andrew tried not to react, but it was hard. His anxiety over the test festered and simmered. One morning he baled up Joshua in the corridor, who had his attention firmly on his iPad.
“How could you buy the comic knowing I wanted it?”
“I never bought the comic. I simply passed on information.”
Andrew stepped forward with anger in his eyes but a hand restrained him.
“Come on. Walk away.” The pressure of Jackson’s hand did not relent and Andrew let himself be moved away.
He turned his attention to revising his notes for the English essay. He pulled his fingers down his face, stretching the eye lids and cheeks in a mock grotesque mask, saying to himself, “I am The Dread Pirate Emily and I am here for your soul.”
In the back of his mind, Jackson’s comment on cheating popped up. He refuted the idea as the coward’s path, the way of least resistance. Jackson would have been appalled at the very thought.
As the days ticked over, he entertained the thought again and the more logical and reasonable it seemed. He thought of ways of slipping his notes into class. It wouldn’t be hard to avoid being caught.
After all, one small action would reap a bounty. It was worth the risk for an autographed Phantom comic.
The night before the English test, Andrew finalised his notes and prepared to pack them into his folder. He hadn’t even told Jackson of his plan to cheat. The thought of keeping a secret from his best friend stirred his stomach. Glancing at the boxes of comic books he reminded himself of the reason this course of action was necessary.
He lay in his bed and tried to sleep, but it eluded him. He did his best to clear his head but he slept in fits and starts.
The next morning Jackson sensed his friend’s unease.
“You alright? Missed you at the corner on the way in. I waited but kept going when Stuart and Nathan arrived.”
Andrew shuffled from foot to foot. “I wrestled with this all last night, but I just can’t do it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I was going to cheat. I was going to take my notes in with me and use them.”
Jackson’s brow wrinkled as he took in the confession. Andrew continued, “I figured it was the only way to beat Emily and get the comic. Take these and throw them away.”
Andrew handed over his notes to Jackson and watched his friend tear them in half, dropping them in the bin. “No comic is worth cheating for, Jackson. I will stand or fall on the work that I have done.”
Striding towards the classroom Andrew went to embrace his destiny.