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Authors: Jane De Suza

SuperZero

BOOK: SuperZero
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Jane De Suza
 
SUPER ZERO
Illustrated by Jit Chowdhury
PUFFIN BOOKS
Contents

Welcome to the superlatively super book of Superness! By the time you finish reading this, you will have learnt how Spidey runs up walls, how the Incredible Hulk turns green (without eating spinach!) and how Superman bashes up the bad guys without messing up his hair. Don't try anything at home. (Especially, especially, don't try eating spinach!)

Here are the RULES of being a superhero:

1. Never lose your undies

2. Don't trust women. Or worms

3. Never fall asleep on the job

4. Go get something to bite you

5. Remember it's always Ladies First (especially when there's danger)

6. Don't attack the good people

7. Superheroes shouldn't use the stairs

8. Befriend an alien

9. Don't go too close to a UFO

10. If you can't solve the problem, add to it

11. Every superhero must have a sidekick who won't eat him up

12. Look (and smell) before you leap

13. Pick on a dinosaur your own size

14. Don't gift-wrap the friendly alien

15. Choose the biggest crowd to perform in front of

16. Don't get kicked out of your own story

17. Discover the truth. In a smelly sack

18. Dig up some roots. Turnips, preferably

19. Find friends with loud voices to protest for you

20. Superheroes must NOT faint

21. Jump into the jaws of danger (only when they're closed)

22. Always (almost) listen to your mom

23. Pick someone who can tell your story well. Without spelling mistakes

24. Don't let your best friend get the main role

25. Pick the right villain

26. Get a ‘brainweave'

27. Be the hunter, not the hunted

28. Be warned that sometimes a superhero's job stinks

29. Every story needs to end with a big fight

30. Some things should always be a secret

Superhero School Admission Form

Acknowledgements

About the Illustrator

Follow Penguin

Copyright

PUFFIN BOOKS
SUPERZERO

Jane De Suza, like Vamp Iyer, comes to life at night, which is how she's written stories, children's books, articles for international magazines and the comedy thriller
The Spy Who Lost Her Head
. By day, she dons her serious face and consults in advertising and creative thinking. An alumna of Sophia College, Mumbai and XLRI, Jamshedpur, she now lives in Bangalore with her family and a dog who gives her career advice by regularly chewing up her pencils.

To my parents,
for a magical childhood.

1. Never lose your undies

I got my undies stolen! On the very first day of Superhero School. You know that tight spandex thing you have to wear to look like an invincible superhero? With your underwear OUTside? (Ha, and all along your mom told you never to let your undies show.) Well, I
lost
them!
How can I be a superhero without undies?

And what kind of an evil school was this? There I was, so, so freaked out because I was the new-boy-in-new-school and all that I had to run to the loo and struggle to yank off my tights and stuff. When I finally slung them over the cubicle door—
whoooosh—
just like that, my undies got pulled off. Right in front of my eyes!

‘Hey thief, give me back my briefs!' I yelled in anger. (In poetry, too!)

Then in panic.

Then in tears.

No briefs came whooshing back. Only a flush whooshed somewhere and the door closed. So I spent my first day in Superhero School shivering in the bathroom till the bell rang and everyone went home.

I gotta tell you here that going home is not that bus thing you regular guys do. Superkids come from all four corners of the world to this school, and going home only takes an instant. They're like email—they just close their eyes (I mean, email doesn't close its eyes, but you know what I'm saying) and just like that Dub Lee is back in Hong Kong and Vamp Iyer is back in Chennai.

Back at home, Gra, my grandfather, made me new briefs from an old shower curtain. ‘They're waterproof,' he said chuckling, ‘you don't need to take them off to go to the bathroom.'

Ha. Ha. Very un-funny.

The shower-curtain briefs have little yellow duckies on them with huge eggs. I was sure I'd have to flush my head down in shame. I was a ten-year-old superhero in the making, off to school to learn to save the world . . . with yellow duckies on my undies?

Panic! SOS situation!

I could NOT be seen in egg underwear!

I could also NOT be seen in NO underwear.

I could NOT spend all my school days in the bathroom.

Then genius struck! I learnt to wrap my cape all around me so no one would see the yellow duckies laying eggs.

The first time I tried walking in a cape, I fell flat on my face (go on, I dare you to try it). But I soon mastered the art of walking like a wrapped-up banana. Hop, hop.

The next day was an even bigger nightmare. I did my banana-hop into the school ground, where superkids of all ages (and shapes and sizes and colours) were hanging out before the first bell rang. Two ginormous green giants—Hulket and Hulkette I think they were called—were throwing trees at each other, while the whole school cheered on; and a thin, green girl called Eco kept replanting the trees with a zapping finger. Cool, cool!

The bell finally rang and all the kids tumbled off in a rowdy rush to their own classes—flying, sliding, climbing and ricocheting. I did my banana-hop slowly up the grand staircase, through the huge main school door, on top of which there was a sign in Greek (or Sanskrit. Or ancient Egyptian. Who knows?) On top of the sign was an impressive statue of a crow lifting its wing and pecking at its underarm. I spent many useless minutes wondering why Superhero School would choose an itchy crow for its emblem.

And then the crow flew off.

Oh, okay.

I hopped up the stairs to the second floor, where the freshers' class was. My class was full of newbies—around twenty kids who'd enrolled in the school in the hope of finding their latex . . . sorry, latent powers. All
I
wanted to do was find some friends, honestly.

So I hopped, tripped, crashed . . . right into Masterror, our class teacher, a tall, reedy man with a waxed moustache that went halfway around his head. ‘Oh sorry, sir!'

‘Wonderrrful, the new boy appears after two days of hiding! And what is your superrrpowerrr? The incrrredible hop-a-flop?'

The class began to giggle—twenty-odd chuckles, screeches and high-powered wails—while I went red. I turned to the boy next to me, who was kind of shy-looking and had a huge mop of brown hair flopping all over his eyes. Bet he had no superpowers. He looked like an upside-down broom! But I needed to make some friends in this lousy school, so I whispered to him, ‘What's with this place? Kinda spooky or what? Like everyone's got a superpower, huh! You believe that? Haha.'

He looked away . . . and then . . . there was no him! REALLY! Just that big mop of hair floating around in the air next to me.

Masterror called out, ‘Blank! Stop doing that unless I tell you to. Come back this instant!'

But the mop of hair kept bobbing around and finally bounced out of the door.

‘Lizzie Lizarrrd, why don't you show the new boy your superrrpowerrr?' bellowed Masterror.

A slim girl with popping eyes and skin the colour of a lemon stood up. ‘Hey, you didn't clean behind your ears,' she said, and—slurp—out of her big grinning mouth shot a long tongue that reached two benches forward and slapped me behind the ear.

Ow!

I was so shocked I fell backwards. And then it happened. The cape flapped open.

There, for the world to see, were Gra's shower-curtain briefs with their yellow ducks and eggs. Aargh! By then all the kids were laughing so hard they were crying, except for Lizzie Lizard, who, serves her right, had no eyelids and so no tears.

‘He has zeroes on his briefs,' she shouted.

‘They're eggs,' I said through gritted teeth.

‘SuperZero in zero undies!' she cackled. ‘That should be his super name.'

‘They're EGGS, you rotten reptile!' I shouted.

‘Name-calling will not be tolerrrated, Egg-Boy with no powers!' Masterror shook his head gravely. ‘SuperZero you will be from now on!'

And so sulking big time, I sat on my bench.

The mop of hair returned and Blank became visible again, smiling shyly at me from his seat, but I did not smile back.

SuperZero would be the blackest, angriest, strongest and silent-est superhero in the world, just watch it!

BOOK: SuperZero
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