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Authors: Jane De Suza

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BOOK: SuperZero
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17. Discover the truth. In a smelly sack

Have you ever felt like this—when you hate something, when it's gone, you miss it and really want it badly? That's the way I felt about my superpowers. I'd just never believed I was super somehow. I hadn't thought of myself as a hero at all. It was just so much easier to just be a regular dude, a smart-ass, a wimpy no-good boy next door, a kid who was trouble. But now I wanted so gigantically badly to get my superpowers. And I had no clue how to!

I walked over to the back garden to find Gra. He's the only one who'd understand, even if he couldn't hear half of what I said. But Gra wasn't around, not in his turnip or carrot patch. Not even at the side around the house, where he sometimes went to sleep in the sun. Not on the roof, repairing the dish antenna (he kept turning it around so that he could ‘talk to Mars'). I guessed he'd be in his garden shed then.

I opened the door of the shed—it was almost falling apart. I don't know why they didn't just break it down and build a fancy whatchamacallit—pergola? Mom's
always saying pergola in front of her fancy friends, who wear high-heeled shoes and make holes in Gra's vegetable patches. She likes the way pergola sounds. She also says ‘zucchini' and ‘terranium' and ‘hors d'oeuvres' and words like that when her fancy friends come.

Anyway, Gra was not in the shed. Phoooo! What did he keep here? It smelled like rotten, dead bodies. (If you watch police videos, you'd know what that was like—well, you can't smell the videos, you'd just know!) So of course, I had to go poking around. If you suspected your grandfather was a secret mass murderer who kept dead bodies in his pergola, you'd have to find them, right?

Most of the smell I guess was coming from the sacks he kept manure in—ugh! I opened up a few and almost puked. In the corner, behind stacks of sacks, I found a rusty wheelbarrow, and when I managed to pull it out, I saw a small door in the floor.

I was totally excited now! I yanked at the door knob, and the stupid thing, of course, came off in my hand. So I took one of Gra's rakes and levered up the door after much huffing and puffing, and discovered a dark (and very smelly) hole in there. A secret tunnel?

‘Grrrrr!' I almost fell into the secret hole—I was so surprised. I whipped around to see if my mass-murderer grandfather had come to axe me. But it was only BigaByte's stomach growling. I felt a bit safer.

It was too dark to see inside the hole, so I lay down on the floorboards, and pushed my hand in—it touched something rough. I screamed again. A dead body?

After I'd swallowed my scream, I pulled at it. The thing came up easily, with a whole cloud of dust. I began to cough and sneeze, staring at the sack in my hand.

Another smelly sack? Why all this hidden, secret mass-murderer pretend stuff for another smelly sack?

I opened the string that held the sack together, and I saw something purple in there—clothes.

No way! After all this . . . the hidden treasure was a bunch of old clothes? C'mon Gra, that's not fair. I could
understand if it were Mom. I mean, she's just the kind of loony who would keep clothes for years and years (she thinks someday she will fit back into them), but Gra!

I pulled out the purple smelly thing—phew, it really stank! And I almost fell backwards. To my shock, it was a spandex suit, a bigger version of the one I was wearing. What? Why? There was a cape too! Along with a pair of smelly boots . . . and smelly gloves. And then right at the bottom, there was a brown cardboard file that had almost turned into dust.

I pulled out the file and sifted through some ancient newspaper clippings.

‘The Grazor foils the Kangaroo Kidnappers!'

‘The Grazor saves the city from the Spying Saucers!'

‘The Grazor stops the Great Train Robbery!'

I had to squint to make out the images of the purple spandex man, rippling with muscles, the sun slanting off his shiny black hair as he raised his hand in triumph.

The Grazor! It was true then—those stories the kids in Superhero School told in whispers—of the greatest superhero in this part of the world who just disappeared one day.

Why was his suit in here? Had Gra murdered him and dumped him here, under his turnip patch?

A shadow filled the door, along with a cough. I screamed (for the tenth time that day) and turned around. ‘Don't kill me please, I'm underage!' I begged of the mass murderer who had silently appeared at the door.

Dad coughed gently again. ‘Hmm, so you've found it. I was afraid you would one day. I guess it's time you and I had that little talk.'

18. Dig up some roots. Turnips, preferably

Dad's talked to me lots of times before. Like about bike engines and basketball games and guy stuff, y'know. Not about where I came from and all that . . . yucky stuff. It's bad enough I have to live with my family, I don't want to know their secrets!

‘Don't tell me . . . YOU were the Grazor?' I stared at my father. I couldn't imagine him swinging out of trees—I mean, he sprained his shoulder when he tried to lift his tennis racquet too high!

‘No!'

‘Then . . . you killed the Grazor?'

‘No!'

‘Omigosh! Mom killed the Grazor! That makes complete sense. She's always walking around with that kitchen knife. Omigosh, my mom is the Grazor-murderer, wait till I tell . . .'

‘No. Will you listen to me for a second?'

‘No, I won't. Dad, why didn't I know about all this?'

Dad sat down on a sack and looked down at his toes.

He said, ‘Because I didn't want you to ever know. I didn't want you to be a superhero. It's no life!'

‘How do you know?'

‘Because I am a superhero's son.'

‘Cool! Your mom was a superhero?'

‘No! (And they accuse me of always saying No to everything.) No, my dad was a superhero.'

‘But your dad is Gra! Omigosh, you were adopted?'

‘No! Gra was the Grazor.'

I gaped at him. I had to be sure he wasn't joking. Dad is always joking about really serious things, like when I had to go get my milk tooth pulled out, and he said they had this technique where they'd staple up my mouth, and then pull it out through my nose. He sounded so serious, I cried for two days. Mom was mad at Dad, because she was the one who had to take me to the dentist, and I made it really difficult for her, even trying to jump out of the car window on the way there.

‘You're joking, right? Gra can't hurt a fly.'

‘Well, actually, Gra's best superhero friend was the Fly.'

That got me. The Fly! No wonder he was so nice to me. Did he know who I was? Did he see the spark in me? Or did he see the resemblance? Did I have Gra's bent nose or bushy eyebrows?

‘Dad, why didn't you want me to join Superhero School then? You must have known I had something super in me? Right, Dad?'

Dad looked down at his sandals. He squiggled his toe. Finally, he said, ‘Look at my toe.'

‘Dad, get serious!'

‘No, really. Look at my toe! Is that the toe of a superhero? It looks like an overripe potato.'

‘DAD!' I screamed. ‘I don't want to talk about potatoes right now.'

‘Okay, okay. Don't fly off your broomstick . . . oh, that's witches and wizards, not superheroes—got them mixed up.'

I glared at him. ‘Fow-cus, Dad!' I sounded like Masterror.

‘Yup. Look, I did not inherit the super genes. That's all. I don't know if I was adopted. I don't know if YOU are adopted . . .'

‘DAD! Am I adopted?' I screamed.

‘I hated being a normal kid. I didn't think it was fair that my dad used to fly around and zoom through windows and break walls, and I couldn't even hit a tennis ball over the net. I had arms like matchsticks, and yeah, toes like potatoes, like I was saying.'

I had to get him to stop talking about potatoes and back to the point. ‘But the Grazor died, disappeared—everyone knows that.'

‘The Grazor just gave up being the Grazor and got a job in an office, that's all. His wife and son couldn't bear to see him go flying off every morning and not
know whether he'd survive and come back home in the evening at all.'

I stared at him.

‘The Grazor chickened out?'

‘That's one way of looking at it. I think he just did a much braver thing. It's tough work in an office, you know. There are barracudas out there in the fish tanks, and they feed under-performers to the barracudas every month.'

I stared at him, horrified, and then saw him grin. ‘Dad! Get serious! It's not funny!'

And on that note, another shadow filled the doorway. Gra stood balancing on his shovel. ‘It is sunny! Shame on you both for sitting in this shed while I gotta do all the work out there in the sun.'

‘I love you, Dad,' said my dad to Gra. I gotta tell you—he only said that because he knows Gra can't hear him. He never ever says these things otherwise. Mom says it around ten times a minute, especially when she's botched up big time. She goes ‘Baby, I am so sorry I ironed a hole in your uniform, but you know I love you, right?' But not Dad.

‘Eh?' said Gra.

‘I love you, Dad, I was telling my son,' shouted Dad.

‘If you love the sun, you go out and do the gardening,' grumbled Gra.

I remembered the pictures of the formidable Grazor and suddenly felt a huge sense of awe for my granddad. Respect! I remembered stories of the Grazor holding up a car with one hand, punching five baddies together . . . how'd he do it? Were they just stories? Or did he have some superpower that—OMIGOSH—I had inherited?

I was so excited for a moment that I forgot I was mad at my family for keeping this awesome secret from me all along. I danced around, quite forgetting also that BigaByte had followed me in. I heard a crunching then and we turned to look at the sack of secrets I'd found. BigaByte had started chewing up the cape! No, no, no! That's my legacy, you dumb dog! I'll feed you Gra's turnips—just leave those alone!

I tried to pull the cape out from BigaByte's unwilling
jaws, and suddenly Gra's eyes lit up. He reached out and passed his old wrinkled hand over the fading purple suit, and I thought his eyes teared up for a second. Then he chuckled, ‘This will make a good scarecrow for my turnips!'

Did he really not remember? Or was he good at pretending not to?

Dad said, ‘I think you both need some time together.' He pulled BigaByte out by his collar.

‘Gra,' I said, ‘I want you to tell me how you did it.'

Gra roughed up my hair and smiled at me. He hadn't understood a word. This was going to be tough work.

‘Gra, tell me about being the Grazor!' I tried shouting louder.

‘About my razor? Ah, it's as blunt as a bad joke! And you have a long time, young man, before you need to start shaving.'

I smiled at him. This was impossible. I held up the brown cardboard file—maybe the pictures would jog his memory. I opened the file and showed him the newspaper picture of the Grazor getting a prize from the mayor.

‘This is you!' I pointed out. ‘You got it for saving the city.'

‘Shaving?' Gra squinted at the picture. ‘Why do you go on about shaving and razors? You're too young.'

He went closer. And stared at the photograph for a long time. Something passed across his eyes, and he suddenly
straightened up. ‘Put it back where you found it. There's a time for everything. And this is the time for gardening.'

‘But you will tell me your secret?' I asked softly, hopefully, placing the file back in its sack, along with the Grazor superhero suit.

‘Cigarette? Young man, does your mother know you want to shave and smoke?'

I put my hand out, and he held on to it, and we both walked back out into the sunshine.

‘You know it's pretty cool to know my roots,' I gave Gra's hand a squeeze.

‘Okay, let's start with the turnip roots, shall we?'

So I spent the rest of the day helping my awesome retired superhero granddad with his gardening.

BOOK: SuperZero
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