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Blood dripping from his mouth, Raito, points at his opponent. Raito’s white bodysuit armor is filled with rips revealing bruised and bleeding skin. A helmet cracked in half lays by his feet. Sweat drips from his black hair as he locks his hazel eyes onto his opponent. His opponent appears to not have a single scratch on him as he laughs with confidence towards Raito. Raito shouts out, “I may be down but I’ll never forfeit this fight! I rather die trying to defeat you!”


Then a mysterious voice shouts out from above, “You won’t have to do this alone!” Falling down from the sky, a man appears wearing the same type of armor as Raito. Once he made his landing, stood next to Raito. The man gets into a fighting position ready to help out.


“Hiro! I thought you were dead!” Raito says with excitement.


“We are heroes! When evil is around, justice will be there to stop it! So until there is no longer villains like Vile, I can never die!” Hiro shouted. Vile appeared to be annoyed at the fact that Hiro wasn’t dead like he originally thought.


“You could have lived a normal life and continue to let me believe I killed you. But now I’ll make sure you stay dead!” Vile said as he began to go into a fighting stance. Vile then charge at both Raito and Hiro.


Raito and Hiro look at each other and node their head in agreement. “We will end this with one attack!” They both yelled. As they both begin to pull their right arm back, they start to gather power into their fist. “Juuuuuuustice…..punish punch!!!” They shout as they throw out their fist towards Vile. A blast of energy starts heading towards Vile, and as the attack was about to land…….  


“Raito! You’re going to be late to school. Get up, you don’t want to start slacking off when you only have two weeks left of this semester,” said Raito’s father while drinking his own coffee to start the day. Upon hearing his father voice, Raito, jumps up only to realize that the entire fight was nothing more but a dream.


“I’m up I’m up!” He says as he rubs his eyes. He looks over to the wall next to him to stare at a poster with Hiro and Vile about to fight. This wasn’t the first time Raito has dreamt of fighting alongside his favorite fictional character, Hiro, and always becomes slightly disappointed knowing none of it was real. Realizing it was starting to get late, tries to look for clothes to wear. With comics and drawing paper all over the floor, it took longer than it should have to find clean clothes. As Raito tries to run out of his room, he ends up slipping on some of his papers that were on the floor. “I really need to start organizing my drawings,” he said to himself.


Once he made his way downstairs, he swung by the kitchen to see his mother sipping her tea and his father switching from bites of toast to swigs of coffee. Raito stopped by his father and picked up his own piece of toast to hold him till he got to school. “I’ll eat something at school. Love you,” he said to his father with a one-armed hug. He turned to his mother, who was still waking up, and kissed her cheek. Still learning to speak japanese he tried his best to say goodbye to his mother and to have a good day.  With the final goodbyes to his parents, Raito practically shot out the door and ran down the block.


Raito has had a passion for creating fantasy stories since he was five when he first saw an action packed anime that left his little eyes sparkling. From that day forward he has tried to imitate those characters by trying to fight, act, and talk like his childhood heroes that were on TV and comic books. Thanks to his mother and relatives in Japan, he learned how to read and write in japanese to keep his heritage alive. But still struggles speaking it and understanding it when being spoken too, in japanese. Funny how something as little as animation can change a whole person’s life in an instant.


While at school, Raito tends to daydream about living in a more exciting world. During lectures in class, he would spend most of his time drawing his favorite fictional characters. In order to improve his drawings, he took several art classes which is where he would practice drawing his own characters. He’s always been a reserved guy when around people but this didn’t stop him from making friends at school. The friends he did made at school though were just that, friends at school. Outside of school, Raito would lock himself up in his room to continue drawing but also to practice his japanese. In all honesty, he never really mind being by himself but did grew envy of kids at school that would hang out outside of school. This type of jealousy only got bigger when he found out his friends were spending time together without inviting him. The only time they would ever invite him is if they needed a ride since he had his own car. The way he found out is what makes this story more interesting. Ever since he turned sixteen, his hearing somehow increased to the point where he could clearly hear people whispering that were several feet away from him. This turned into a problem because certain loud noises felt like people were shouting directly into his ear. He never thought twice about it and just figured he had sensitive ears when really, he possessed a Gift….


As the bell rings for school to be over, Raito can hear his friends making plans for what to do over the summer break before college starts up. Not wanting to make them invite him, simply began walking home without saying goodbye. While walking, he decided to take out a manga that he had in his backpack. The manga is part of a series called I Am Hero, which is Raito’s favorite manga series. While most kids idolize sport stars or TV stars, Raito prefered fictional characters. Instead of going straight home, he decided to stop by a comic book store that was on the way. He was sort of a regular at this particular comic book store, which happens to be a pretty popular spot for locals. He basically knew everyone that goes there and has even tried to make friends there. But making friends at the comic store never really stuck, besides their love for comics, he never had anything else in common with the people at the store. He also couldn't stand the smell in the store, so he only stayed long enough to see if there were any new comics or mangas that peaked his interest.


Upon entering the store, the manager greeted Raito. “You’re a big fan of that I Am Hero series right? We just got the sequel series, We Are Hero.

Excited, Raito walks over to the shelves to quickly pick out the new manga. Upon seeing the cover and skimming through the pages, he notices that they have a new main character. At the end of the original series, Hiro ended up dying so he was very curious on how they were going to continue to series. “Huh, this new character reminds me a lot of a previous villain that Hiro had to defeat. Hopefully it’s just as good.”


As he gets ready to leave he takes a quick look around to see who is here. That’s when he notices a new customer standing near a bookshelf of used comics; new customers were rare for the store. The new customer was wearing a tie dye shirt with harem pants, that looked liked the color of green moss, and had blond hair that was long enough to pass his shoulders. Definitely not someone you would imagine being at a comic book store. Raito pays for his new manga and leaves the store, and not wanting to wait to get home, starts reading his new manga. While walking, he could hear footsteps not too far away from him, it sounded as if someone was following him. When he stops, so do the footsteps. Then, when he starts to walk he can hear the footsteps moving again. Getting a little freaked out, turned around to see... nobody.


“So you are new the Gift of Sound,” said a voice. Raito quickly turned back around to see no one, again. “You’re getting close,” the voice continues to say. At this point, Raito’s skin starts to crawl and was thinking that maybe this voice isn’t talking to him. Maybe his sensitive hearing was starting to kick in again and the person who is talking was someone far away. Instead of trying to look around for the person talking, he decided to keep walking back home. “You’re giving up already? I’ll give you a hint. Look up,” the voice says. Once again, Raito freezes and realizes that this voice was talking to him. Wanting to solve this mystery quickly he throws his head back to look up, and to his surprise sees the same guy that was by the used comic bookshelf. Only this time he was laying on his stomach and floating above Raito.


“You found me! My name is Flight and it’s nice to officially meet you,” said Flight as he lowered himself down next to Raito.


“How… did you do that.” Raito stuttered.


“Oh that’s easy, I’m the Gift of Flight. I have the ability to fly and I’ve been wanting to meet you for a while but never had a good opportunity,” Flight said with a smile.


As Raito looks at Flight, his terrified expression slowly turns to excitement as he widens his eyes and mouth. “If I’m a Gift and you’re a Gift and you possess superpowers then that means I must possess superpowers too! I’m a Gift! I’m a Gift!” Raito says as he throws his arms up into the air with excitement and shouts out into the sky. “THIS IS SO AWESOME I’M A GIFT…..ummm what’s a Gift?” Ratio asked as he turned his head to face Flight.


It turned out that Flight had been following Raito around for about a week but didn’t know how to approach him. Raito usually drove to school and on occasion walked instead, like today, since it was only about a ten minute walk. Wanting to meet Raito without people around, noticed that he would often stop by the comic store. Originally, Flight was going to introduce himself at the comic store when Raito was alone. But since Raito was walking home, this led to the perfect opportunity to test his Gift. Flight had noticed that Raito would often cover his ears as if something was making a loud sound; even when no one was around him. This led Flight to assume that Raito was the Gift of Sound and wanted to test out his theory. “So long story short, you’re like me. A person who possess a Gift and has powers based on their Gift,” Flight said.


“So how did I ended up with these powers? Am I secretly an alien, did some magic being gave me these powers without me knowing, am I humanity's last hope?! Why is it that my power is super hearing!?” Raito rambled on as a million thoughts went through his head.


“Wow, Calm down there buddy. It’s nothing like that…well the magic being is kind of closed to the truth. Your powers aren’t limited to only super hearing but instead the ability to manipulate all sound. I guess I should quickly answer your first question on what a Gift is. In all honesty I don’t even know what Gifts are exactly. All I know about them is this; Gifts are some type of divine beings that live inside of us,” Flight said has he poked Raito’s chest. “There are a total of thirty Gifts and each Gift possess a different kind of power.”


“And I’m a chosen one to be the Gift of Sound!?”

“I wouldn’t go that far into saying you’re a ‘chosen one’ like in some fantasy story but if that helps you better understand the current situation...yah you’re a chosen one,” Flight said with a slight chuckle.

As he looked into Ratio’s gleaming eyes, he could feel Ratio’s immense passion of being told he was a Gift. It was like he just told a five-year-old that they had real superpowers.


Raito unable to control his happiness starts rambling to himself about starting his own origin story in life and being the main character in a new manga story idea. But after a brief period of awkward silence as he rambled on to himself, and Flight just standing next to him, decides to ask another question. “You said there are only thirty Gifts and there are like six billion people that live around the world. How do you know I’m a Gift? I don’t see any markings on my body or anything,” Raito question while checking out his arms and stomach for any marks.

Flight assures that there isn’t anything physical that Raito possesses that identifies himself as a Gift. Each Gift possesses powers based on their Gift but they also possesses special traits. Traits are bonuses each Gift possesses and these traits don’t always relate to their Gift. Flight doesn’t know why this is and they’re not always apparent. Sometimes Gifts never discover what their trait is. Flight’s trait is that he can sense Gifts within a fifteen mile radius. “It’s hard to explain but each Gift feels different, kind of like each Gift has their own unique scent. It helps me out a lot when determining if what I sense is a Gift I’ve meet already or if it’s someone new. Finding Gifts is sort of my job I guess you can say,” Flight explained. As it turns out, Flight travels around the world. Being able to fly comes in handy when it comes to looking for Gifts around the world. Since there is only 30 Gifts finding any is incredibly difficult, especially when the number goes down after every find. So finding a Gift is always exciting for Flight. “Whenever I find a new Gift I report it to Soul. He’s the guy I sort of work for but he’s not really my boss. He’s more of a friend I can trust,” Flight said.


“Man, how ironic that you have the ability to fly and your parents named you Flight,” Raito said while scratching his head as he tried to understand everything.


“Flights not my real- I mean not the name I was born with. I used to be an orphan. My parents died when I was five,” Flight said softly as he lowered his eyes to look down slightly. Realizing the sudden change of the current mood Raito tries to apologize but Flight reassured that it was okay. There was no way for Raito to know and that it happened a long time ago. “Well my job here is done, just one last thing to mention. You should never use your powers out in the opening. I only did it for a split second so you would know I was a Gift like you-” Flight began to say.


“Well of course! That’s superhero 101 because if people where to find out that would put my love ones in danger. Every time the super villain finds out the identity of the hero they always go after their family and friends. A hero must know when to use his powers and when not too!” Raito said as he cut off Flight from talking.


“That’s not exactly where I was going with this, there’s a man that goes by the name Time Keeper who wants to keep Gifts a secret. He has several Gifts that work under him and he’s not someone you want to get mixed up with ok?”


“This Time Keeper sounds like a super villain.” Raito couldn’t help but think about what kind of supervillain Time Keeper might be. “Well if I can’t use my powers out in the open then what can I do with them?”


“Generally most Gifts use their powers to help them earn some money. A Gift that goes by the name Morph uses her powers to be an actress, she only performs in plays though. She can change her appearance so it’s a great way for her to have the perfect appearance for any role she is given. The idea is to use your Gift in a way that doesn’t appear that you have powers. You’re the Gift of Sound so maybe be a singer or a musician!”


“I don’t know if I’ll be comfortable with using my powers for things like that. I should use these powers for good like maybe stopping criminals!”


“DON’T!” Flight yelled out to Raito.


Realizing his outburst, Flight went on to tell Raito to stay away from using his powers to stop crime. Despite being a Gift, he still has a human body that’s fragile and one gunshot to the chest will still kill him. He has even experience first hand Gifts dying because they had a similar mindset as Raito.


Not wanting to upset Flight anymore, Raito agrees to not use his powers to stop criminals. With Flight’s task being over he hands Raito with a piece of paper with Flight’s number on it. As Flight leaves he tells Raito that if he ever needs help, with anything, to call him and he’ll do whatever he can to help. Wanting to take a little break before he goes off travelling again, Flight informed Raito that he is going to stay in town for a couple of weeks. The two walk their separate ways and as Raito makes his way back home he couldn’t help not smiling.


Raito has always dream about having superpowers and now, just like a story in a comic book, he has been given an opportunity to be a hero. Even though he said he wouldn’t stop crime the idea of being a hero still roamed in his mind. With fantasy starting to mix with reality, Raito is starting to become blind in his ambition to be a hero. The idea of being shot, beaten up, stabbed and all other dangers that can happen when playing hero didn’t even register with Raito.


Once he made it home, he quickly ran up to his room to stare at the poster with Hiro and Vile fighting, “I’ll be just like you Hiro,” he said to himself. Fantasy and reality is about to become one of the same for Raito, and so does the dangerous of living in a fantasy world.


Raito, a boy who wishes to create fantasy worlds is now about to enter one himself. But there is one more story we must visit. The story of a man that every Gift fears. A Gift so powerful that his mere presence will make anyone beg for their life and his name is Leech. Unlike Raito, Leech has had his powers awaken at an early age. But his Gift didn’t reach true potential till he met Time Keeper, the man Flight warned Raito about. Leech’s Gift is the ability to steal other Gifts power by consuming their heart and as of now he contains six other Gifts. His relationship with Time Keeper is simple, when he wants someone gone he calls for Leech to deal with the problem and Leech is very good at his job.




“Please man! I’ll double whatever Time Keeper is paying you! What’s so wrong about us running a side job? He makes so much money that losing a few thousands bucks is like cheap change!” A man said while on his knees with tears coming down his eyes; afraid to look up and face the man who was about to end his life. The man can hear a hysterical laugh above him. He then sees a foot swing back and kicking him in the face, knocking him back. “Please Leech don’t!” The man continues to shout out. Now on his back he can see Leech standing over him, with his signature smile. Leech has been known to constantly smile, in fact he was once known as the Smiling Killer before being known as Leech. His smile has been known to be incredibly intimidating because no one can ever tell what he is thinking of or what his true emotion is. This has led people to believe that killing was like ecstasy for Leech, and his smile is genuine, because nothing gets him off more than seeing someone die before his hands. Above his smile is his mask that he never takes off, a cheshire cat mask that is grey with turquoise stripes. The bottom half of the mask was broken off but you would never notice.


“I don’t want your money, besides like you can double what Time Keeper pays me,” Leech says as he laughs. He then proceeds to sit on the man’s chest, grabs him by the hair and pulls it back so the man’s face is inches away from Leech’s face. “If I let you go then the next guy is going to ask for the same thing and then the next guy and well you get the point. Besides I have to make an example of scum who try and go behind Time Keeper, he knows all and sees all remember?” The man too terrified to speak a word couldn’t break eye contact with the piercing eyes on the mask knowing that behind it, are the eyes of his soon to be killer. All of a sudden he hears a finger snap and his body begins to feel hot.


He then hears Leech asking him how long he thinks his body will survive after being set on fire. Leech lets go of the man’s hair so he can turn his head to see his body on fire. He struggles to get up but with Leech sitting on his chest he couldn’t. He yells out to Leech to stop but all he gets as a response is Leech’s laughter. Leech then turns his head to look at three men paralyzed by fear with their backs against the wall. “Now while he’s being burned alive what do you think I should do to you guys for helping this piece of shit sell drugs in areas that have been declared a no drug sell zone,” Leech says as he gets up from the man he was sitting on.


“He made us do it! We’re innocent!” one of the men pleaded.


“You see I feel like you’re lying to me because if he made you, all you had to do was report it. I detest liars like you can’t believe,” Leech said as he walked over to the man who spoke up.


Leech then proceeds to grab the man by the hair and slams the man’s head into the wall, “Because liars will say anything to get out of a situation they know they fucked up in!” Leech says as he bashes the man’s head into the wall, only to stop once the skull was completely shattered by Leech’s inhuman strength. “As for you two, I’ll let you go under one condition, you never show your face to me ever again,” Leech said to the men, “considered it a second chance.” As the men ran out of the warehouse, they can still hear laughter.


The men then proceeded feel a sharp pain in their chest as they flopped down onto the floor... motionless. Unknown to them, Leech sent an electric shock wave at them that forced the heart to burst and die right where they stood. “Like I would leave any survivors.” After a kill like this, Leech would call in the cleaners that worked for Time Keeper and the deaths would go unreported as if they never died or even existed.


Life is not like a comic book and soon Raito will learn this lesson. The life of a Gift is to either use their power for wealth and fame or end up dead by the man who seems to control the lives of all Gifts, Time Keeper.


Submitted: August 20, 2017

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