HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 63


The bus was packed with half-drunk young people in a wide variety of costumes, ranging from creative to inane. Wedged between two frat bros dressed as ethnic stereotypes, Frederica wished she had just flown to the bar. Or, better yet, stayed home.

Nila sat across the aisle, wearing a tattered hospital gown with a black wig covering her face in the style of a Japanese ghost. Josephine stood between them in the leather jacket and white t-shirt combo of a 1950s greaser. Frederica didn’t bother with a costume at all; seemed kind of pointless when she could just shapeshift into whoever she wanted to be, anyway.

The bus jerked to a stop just up the street from Valhalla. Frederica squeezed through the crush of passengers and popped out onto the sidewalk, followed by her sister and Nila. They headed down the sidewalk and approached the size-shifting bouncer. He didn’t recognize Frederica from her last visit, now that she could actually wear her own face.

A band dressed in 1980s fashion belted out cheesy hair metal from the stage as the girls stepped into the club. The room was packed with people drinking and dancing. Josephine looked around, beaming, and punched Nila lightly on the arm.

“Dude, this place is awesome!” she said. “I can’t believe you actually got my sister to come here.”

“It was a moment of weakness,” Frederica replied.

They stepped up to the bar and ordered drinks. John Arthur Owens sat a few stools down, watching the crowd. Nila glanced his way a few times but managed to avoid outright staring.

“I recognize that guy,” Josephine said. “Used to be a rock star, didn’t he?”

“He still is in my eyes,” Nila said. “If he weren’t gay, I’d totally throw myself at him.”

Josephine chuckled.

“Whatever floats your boat,” she said.

John Arthur noticed the girls and stood from his stool.

“Evening, loves,” he said. “Enjoying yourselves?”

“Oh yeah, I love it here,” Josephine said. “I’m Jo. It’s nice to meet you. My dad has a bunch of your albums.”