“They say we were given a gift that day. By whom? I cannot say. Perhaps a god truly exists. Perhaps not. But with this gift, humanity may now count itself among divinity.”- Wayne Grife, International Flight Company, 1958
There’s a lot of kids named Franklin. Some people say it’s after the founding father. Others remember the first man to develop a Knack. Either way, people agree, Franklin must be a lucky name.
10-year-old Franklin “Frankie” Walker doesn’t think so. She’s very unlucky. Nevermind that she’s a girl with a boy’s name. The other kids always tease her for having a bad Knack. The original Kevin Franklin, back in 1951, could shoot fireballs from his hands. She, on the other hand, has an extra-good nose. Yeah. Lame. But it was like this since she was born. Knacks weren’t something you could choose.
Her friend Darren is lucky. He can fly. It’s a Class B Knack, according to the National Knack Registry. He’s not going to go to high school with Frankie, he always tells her. He’s going straight to the Flight Academy to join the IFC, and one day he’ll personally fly her wherever she wants to go. And in his free time, he’ll play Knack-division basketball and soar across the court.
At least, Frankie tries to remind herself, she’s not like her neighbor Brianna. Brianna is a mind reader. Frankie would have done anything to have a Class A Knack, but not one like that which makes everyone scared of her and not like her. Frankie’s mom told her that Brianna’s mom said bullies always tried to push her around, but she always knew what they were going to do before they even tried. Brianna’s family finally moved to Australia. Apparently, the U.S. government wanted to send all the mind readers to a special boarding school really far away. Frankie didn’t know why that was so bad, but Brianna’s mom looked really scared and the next day they were gone.
Frankie’s teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she was older. She doesn’t know, though. Her mom’s a freelance sidekick. She complains a lot about how the heroes who hire her are all jerks, but she seems to enjoy it. But she can also move metal with her mind. What hero would hire someone who can smell well? Frankie’s dad makes coffee in the shop down the road. He was unlucky too, Frankie thinks, even though he says he’s happy with his life and she should be too.
Frankie doesn’t know if she’ll be happy with her future. But she does know that there’s a history quiz tomorrow, and she’ll do badly if she doesn’t sleep. So she turns off The Maya Morris Show - featuring a different animal-whisperer each week - and goes to bed.
In 1951, the Helios meteorite hit Earth. It glowed blue or red or green or gold, depending on who you asked. That day, the world changed. That was the day humans first developed supernatural powers that they began to call Knacks.
Some used them for bad. It was easier to rob banks, they found, when you could turn invisible or walk straight through the vault door. Some used them for good, fighting these villains with noble heroism.
But most just used them for themselves. Because life was life. Just because cuts and bruises healed in seconds didn’t mean that bills didn’t have to be paid, and kids could suddenly take care of themselves.
So the world kept on turning.
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