La Fuega woke up in her chilly apartment, steam billowing off her red hair and red cheeks. She sighed as she stretched, and little tongues of flame lashed out from between her red lips. She slipped on a comically threadbare robe—it was purely for modesty, not warmth—and shuffled over to her calendar. “3 p.m.” she said to no one in particular. “3 p.m.” Her voice was quivery with anticipation.
Today La Fuega (Tabitha to her friends) would officially be inducted into CAPES. She would finally belong to an organization where she could do some good with her freakish mutation. All her life it had been a problem. Her mother died giving birth to her; when Tabitha emerged squealing from between her legs, her mother’s temperature spiked to 110 degrees. Before she had learned to control her heat, Tabitha frequently burned holes in her clothing, the upholstery, the carpet. She set her childhood home on fire twice. When she kissed her first boyfriend, she scorched his tongue right off.
Once she tried to commit suicide, but the noose she made burst into flame and dropped her, dejected, to the ground. The cursed torch that burned within her ribcage wouldn’t let her die.
Everything changed one cold evening a few weeks ago. Tabitha had been walking back from the grocery store when she heard crying. She lifted the lid of the nearest dumpster and found a wailing baby boy. This baby hadn’t killed his mother; his mother had tried to kill him. And he certainly couldn’t keep himself warm. Tabitha set her groceries down and scooped up the infant. She wrapped her arms tightly around him, and brushed his forehead with a kiss. She rocked him back and forth, fire pulsing through her veins.
“Well that’s certainly an interesting way to help the kid.”
Tabitha turned to find a thin man with a thin face staring at her. “I don’t know what you mean.”
He grinned. “Oh, come on. I’ve never seen anyone burn as bright as you.”
Tabitha almost dropped the baby. “How the hell do you know that?”
“You’re not the only one with a gift. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the Great Seer.”
“Right. Because that’s a name.”
“Can’t give away my real identity. That’s not how superheroes roll. You know, you could do a lot of great things in this city with a talent like that. Especially during our miserable winters.”
Tabitha blinked and shifted the child, who was sleeping soundly. “Superheroes. Superheroes?”
The Great Seer picked up her groceries. “Look, you’re going to have to take that kid to a police station or a hospital at some point. Let me walk with you and I’ll explain everything.”
Because she didn’t know what else to do with her life, she agreed.
Another CAPES story! Dedicated, as always to the lovely Leta, since they are her favorites. If you want to read more stories about the Chicago Avengers & Protection Encouragement Society, just follow the CAPES tag. And if any of you think La Fuega is too close to the villain Solaris from this story, you are wrong! Solaris is full of radiation. La Fuega is full of literal fire.
Guess what? In just a little bit, I am going to head to the post office. There I will send off the rest of my paper grad school applications, and then I will be OFFICIALLY DONE APPLYING! Then I'll just have the long wait for an answer to deal with, but at least I have the holidays and my birthday to distract me. This evening I will celebrate by playing zombie video games and eating pizza with Ben. Because I'm a mature adult.