HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 44

“See?” he said. “Told you she’s nice.”

“Yeah,” Frederica replied.

But, somehow, she wasn’t sure.


A crowd had already gathered outside the old theatre by the time Frederica arrived. A red carpet ran along the front of the building, cordoned off with a row of metal barricades. The reporters milled about on the other side, waiting for celebrities to arrive.

Frederica touched down at the back of the crowd and worked her way through. She set off the ringtones of several reporters’ phones to distract them as she squeezed by. Eventually she ended up leaning against the barricade as the first limousine pulled up to the curb.

A middle-aged woman climbed out of the back seat, wearing a sleek black dress and stiletto heels. She flicked a strand of blonde hair from her pale face and paused for the cameras. She maintained a tight smile as lights flashed in her face. Frederica took a few pictures, too, floating the camera over her head with telekinesis.

As the woman walked along, her eyes passed over the crowd, and for a moment she was looking directly at Frederica. A rush of memories flowed into Frederica’s head; fighting with her husband, signing divorce papers, arguing with her publicist over when to reveal the split publicly. The actress continued on into the building.

More celebrities arrived. Three were having extramarital affairs. Two were secretly gay, including an action star who was terrified of how his macho audience would react if they learned the truth. One young musician moonlighted as a masked vigilante in her spare time. And then there was an assortment of tax evasion and DUIs and traumatic childhoods.

Frederica wrote everything down, filling a notepad with all the details she could dig up. She alternated between several languages, both human and alien, in case anyone happened to be looking over her shoulder. She felt powerful, like some kind of spy on a mission, but at the same time, the whole thing made her uneasy. Dirty.