The Companion Short Stories
The Complete Series (includes all novels and short stories)

John Black

My name is John Black and I have no idea how to be a hero.

Was it dumb luck or cruel fate that gave me power? I’d love to say it was just chance, but that seems too convenient. All I ever wanted to do was eat pizza and play video games, but the world had other plans. I ended up not just a superhuman but part of a superhuman war, with the destiny of the planet on the line.

They say that a butterfly can flap its wings on the other side of the world and change your fate. Well, there must have been a crapload of butterflies flapping their wings in my case. I would have been happy just hanging out with my friends, but instead, I somehow gained an archnemesis, battled giant monsters, flew through the air, and dove into the deepest caves of the earth.

Through it all, one question kept coming up: Is it worth it? Well, I’ll tell you this. When superpowers and supervillains threaten the lives of your father, your mother, your sister, and your friends, yeah. Yeah, it’s worth it. Even though I’d rather be doing a million other things, you can bet I’ll do what’s needed when the time comes.

You can bet I’ll fight.

1 – For I Could Lift My Finger and Black Out the Sun

My name is John Black. I used to be your typical nerd, a total weakling, letting bullies like Bobby Graden push me around. Then one day, Bobby and I got hit by a car. Somehow, the accident changed us, as if something inside us responded. It made us strong. More than strong, actually.

It gave us power.

That power brought us together, our shared secret creating a friendship despite our differences. Bobby and I could do things no one else could, and it was exhilarating, fun.

Until the day we found out we weren’t alone.

And that, for others, power can be deadly serious.

1.5 – If Only Every Moment Were Black and White

My name is John Black. I just happen to have mental and physical abilities that most people would call superpowers. I can push people’s minds to do things I want. My body can twist and change to avoid injury and burns. But you know what? That doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a nerdy teenager. I struggle with school, bullies, and even hormones. Hormones, maybe more than the other two things. And I make mistakes. Like thinking Carolyn McGregor, my science fair project partner, wanted to go with me to the middle school prom. Now she just thinks I’m a freak. Which I suppose is the truth anyway.

2 – And It Arose From the Deepest Black

My name is John Black and I’m a monster. I’ve killed, and not just by accident. I’ve started to wonder if my powers make me dangerous, or if it’s the other way around. I don’t want to be a killer like Sol, be another bad guy, but I can feel myself turning.

What choice do I have?

There are other monsters besides just me, some human, some not. Big things that came out of the water, destroying everything in their path. Creatures from the bottom of the sea, or maybe outer space — it doesn’t matter, because they’re coming.

What choice do I have but kill?

2.5 – The Night is Black, Without a Moon

The superhuman known as Red Hope is of course none other than my friend, Phillipa “Pip” Siva. Bobby tried to call the three of us The Triangle Gang or some other sort of ridiculous name, but thankfully that never stuck. We were just three people brought together by shared abilities. Maybe a shared curse.

Pip came from the middle of nowhere, and went through hell long before I ever met her. She loved her parents; she hated her parents. More than anything, she had to get out of the tiny little town that was her home for as far back as she could remember. She just had no idea how to actually do that. But power can change many things. Power can change a life.

This is her tale.

3 – On a Black Wind Blows Doom

My name is John Black and I have a date with destiny. Actually, I had a date with Carrie, but it got postponed due to destiny. That’s probably not an excuse most girls hear, even though it’s true. I need to go to the city, to try to finish things once and for all.

But there’s a problem. A new type of power has been discovered, and it’s exactly what people like me don’t want. Exactly what someone could use to shut us all down, permanently. So what do I do? Abuse this new power to fight my enemies, or live in fear they’ll do the same to me? Either way, I don’t think everyone’s getting out of this alive.

Destiny sucks.

3.5 – The Black Eye of the Beholder

Even the most despised person in the world had to come from somewhere, right? Sol was once just a kid named Jose do Branco, the only child of a Portuguese family. His father worked on the water, and tried to guide Jose to follow in his footsteps. But Jose was too restless for that. He dreamed too big, wanted something more. A lot more.

He wanted to be eternal. Even if he had to kill somebody to get there.

This is Sol’s tale.

4 – In the Black Veins of the Earth

My name is John Black and my time is up. It seems like the list of my enemies is growing while I can count my friends on just one hand. I’m not sure who I can trust anymore. Maybe no one. Superpowered villains, monsters, even the government. Everyone’s out to get me.

Even my sister Holly seems to be infected with something terrible. Or worse, someone terrible. I’ve tried for so long to save her from all this, but now I have to wonder: How can you save a person when maybe they don’t want to be saved?

4.5 – Cloak of Black, Mantle of Sorrow

It’s time the world got to know me better and gave me a little respect. Me, Holly Black.

Just because I’m young, and a girl, and I use a wheelchair, why does everyone have to think I’m so innocent?