Ernie Kerrny was not psychic, psionic, telekinetic (or even very smart). His special talent was limited in comparison to his friends. Oswald could control dogs by whistling. Almost any dog would follow him. Angie could move her hands in a confusing manner. Sometimes people even fell over if they watched her long enough. Larry could digest plastic. Once he’d eaten an entire bag of army men. And Lisa could unleash a furious stream of curses that could make almost anyone cry. People on the playground didn’t mess with her.
But Ernie, the only thing he could do was fart backwards. It was a disgusting power, and one that usually only activated when he was nervous. For his entire life he’d waited for his power to activate, just like they all did. It usually came around puberty for some reason. The hormones, said the Doctors, forced the mutant genes into play.
Some kids grew spines. Some kids could jump really high. Some kids grew gills and could breath underwater. But most kids got much weaker abilities. Very few of them could do anything cool. Most of them were like Ernie. Or worse…
They didn’t have any abilities at all.
Which meant that Ernie should be glad he’d been blessed with a mutant ability. When the doctors had first seen what he could do, they were fascinated. There had been endless speculation about what use his power might be put to. How could it benefit mankind? But, after months of analysis and computation, none of the Doctors had come up with one single use other than allowing Ernie to give himself a rapid and powerful enema.
Therefore today, the day in which they would be assigned to return to regular school or to stay in Xylax’s School for Slightly Special Kids, was a day of much anxiety for Ernie. He didn’t need to be a genius to know what was going to happen to him. No one needed anybody with the ability to fart backwards. And so he stood in line with his friends that day, against the wall in the schoolyard.
The wall of shame.
It was against this wall that they stood when they were selected for dodge ball teams. It was against this wall that they stood when Professor Xylax threw water balloons at them to see if any of them had any special dodging ability. It was against this wall that they lined up to go back inside from recess. And it was against this wall that today they had gathered to talk amongst themselves about the coming announcements.
“At least we’ll all be together,” said Oswald. “I mean. They’ll move us to the same school right? It wouldn’t be fair to split us up. We’ve been together all our lives.”
Ernie’s butt made a rude noise as it sucked in a bunch of air. “I don’t know,” he sighed. “I think they’re going to just send us home and you’ll go to whichever public school is in the zone for your house. And since we don’t live near each other, we’ll probably never see each other again.”
“I don’t care,” snapped Lisa, who was obviously in a bad mood. “I never want to see ANYONE from this school ever again.”
They all raised their hands and did their best to calm her down before she started cursing. After a few minutes, Lisa assured them that she had her powers under control.
“Well I think they might keep me here,” stated Angie. “Unlike the rest of you, my powers are actually useful.”
Larry let out a large plastic smelling belch. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out several Tupperware lids, ripping a bite out of one of them. “Look, Angie, sure you can make people confused, but they gotta look at you. It ain’t like you’re gonna stop any bank robbers or nothin. They’ll take one look at you and blow your head clean off.” Larry always liked to say “clean off” in conjunction with the “blowing of a head” because he’d seen Clint Eastwood say it in a movie.
“Not if I do this!” Angie declared, starting to move her arms.
Ernie’s eyes went wide, and his butt sucked in a huge amount of air. “NO” he cried. But it was too late, Larry started stumbling around. He’d looked dizzy and could fall down at any time. “Quick!” Ernie shouted at Oswald, “whistle up a dog for him to fall on!”
Oswald whistled loud and clear, but the nearest dog was a long way away. Too far for Larry who hit the ground hard and then moaned in pain.
“My stomach!” he cried. “I feel like I’m gonna. Like I’m gonna. Like I’m gonna…”
“He’s stuck in repeat mode!” declared Ernie. “Quick, someone slap him in the face several times to snap him out of it.”
Angie stopped moving her hands and sighed, rolling her eyes. “He’s just confused,” she told them all. “This sometimes happens when I expose people to my powers for too long. The more time they are exposed to the motion, the longer they stay confused. Poor Larry was just too stupid to look away.”
“NNNNnnnnnnggg,” groaned Larry. He clutched his midsection and writhed around in obvious agony. Turning his head to face Angie, he opened his mouth and suddenly unleashed a stream of hot plastic puke that sprayed through the air and nailed the blond girl right in the head. With a great and mighty splash, the polyvinyl bile coated Angie’s hair and sent her stumbling backwards, clawing at her face. She tried to scream, but couldn’t breath through the goop, and ended up hitting her head against the wall and collapsing to the ground.
The others stood around her, amazed by this. Shocked really. Stunned. Neither of them said anything for several seconds when suddenly a noise came from behind Ernie. Actually it was from the general vicinity of Ernie’s butt. “Hey… you dummies gonna DO something about this, or you just gonna let her suffocate there on the asphalt?”
Larry, who had regained his feet, Oswald and Lisa all looked at Ernie.
“Did your butt just ask us a question?” asked Lisa.
“I…” stammered Ernie. “I think maybe it did.”
“Hell yes I asked you a question,” said Ernie’s butt. “Y’all gonna just let that girl die down there? Sure seems like a perfectly good waste of a blond chick.”
“Ernie’s butt is right,” grunted Larry. “We better get that stuff off of her.”
A group of barking dogs tore around the corner while Larry and Lisa tried as best they could to tear the plastic vomit from Angie’s face. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a man appeared above Angie and fell straight to the ground. Larry and Lisa barely had time to get out of the way. Whomever he was, he was fortunate that Angie broke his fall. If it weren’t for the obnoxious gasping plastic-coated blonde, the man might have been injured.
Leaping to his feet, the man declared that he had the power of teleportation, and asked them what was going on.
Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, said the dogs. It was difficult to hear with so many dogs barking all at once. Oswald turned to the dogs and let out a shrill whistle. They all shut up and proceeded to form a pyramid based on size with the largest dogs on the bottom and the smallest on top. “That’s better,” said Oswald with satisfaction. “It’s the most efficient use of space you know.”
“Uh… the pyramid?” asked Ernie.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on!” exclaimed Ernie’s butt to the man who had suddenly appeared. “This is Professor Xylax�s School for Slightly Special Kids, and these kids are preparing to be tested for determination of the strength and intensity of their mutant abilities. Yessir, this is IT for these little Keeblers. Ain’t NO WAY any of these twerps is gonna be good for a stinking thing. Each and every one of ‘em is gonna be sent back to the projects fer reintegration with the rest of society.”
“NO!” cried Angie, still huffing and trying to pull the sticky remnants of plastic out of her hair. “Not ME. My powers are WAY powerful. I can make people fall down when I wave my arms. You saw what I did to Larry,” she told Oswand and Lisa and Ernie. “All HE can do,” she snarled, indicating Larry, “is vomit plastic at people. You sick jerk.”
“HEY,” protested Larry, “I wouldn’t have done ANYTHING if you hadn’t made me fall down waving your arms around like that.”
“You guys are pissing ME OFF!” warned Lisa. “You KNOW you don’t want me up in your face man… But it’s coming down. You better consider shutting it in an upward direction or I’m gonna lay such a line of smack on you that you’ll wish you were born with earmuffs…”
“Somebody chill that chick out,” said Ernie’s butt. “She’s really freaky.”
“Hold on,” said Ernie to his butt. “Just when did you start talking? And how come you never said anything before? I don’t understand this. Are you a manifestation of my power, or am I, like… hearing things. Does anyone else hear my butt talking?”
Oswald raised an eyebrow. “You know Ernie, I used to think your power was strange, but now it’s just…”
“Man, there’s no word for it. Your butt talks on its own. That’s, like… beyond my ability to insult.”
“Alright then dog-boy,” said Ernie’s butt. “We get it. You’re shocked by my massive vocabularization. Just wait until I bust out with a rhyme. Your head is gonna explode with the flavor of my unholy verbiage boi. Now… what’s your name Mr. Teleporter Dude?” Ernie’s butt demanded of the guy who had just appeared out of nowhere. “Or do we just call you “bad luck?”
Larry narrowed his eyes and rubbed his chin. He suspected that Ernie’s butt might be politically incorrect, but he wasn’t sure how to prove it.
“My name is Will,” said the man.
“Hey dere Will,” exclaimed Ernie’s butt. “I love you too. K’mere and give me a kiss.”
“Uh… ” muttered Ernie. “Sorry about that Will. It looks like my butt is something of an ass.”
Lisa and Oswald helped Angie climb out of the dog-pile while Larry shook hands with Will’s friends and introduced himself. “Hello. My name is Larry. I can digest plastic, and – today for the first time – I just discovered that I can also projectile vomit plastic puke. I’m really excited about testing my new powers. This here is Ernie. We only just discovered he has new powers too – he can talk out of his butt. In fact, it looks like Ernie’s butt has a personality all its own. Over there is Oswald, he can make dogs come when he whistles. With Oswald is Lisa, who can swear so bad that it makes most people cry. Between them is Angie, who can wave her hands in a confusing manner and make people dizzy. Sometimes they even fall down. Like today, she nearly knocked me unconscious.” He gave Angie a dirty look. “I’m not so sure I’m going to forgive her for that.”
“FORGIVE ME!” screamed Angie. “You PUKED in my FACE Larry. If anyone is going to do any forgiving its…”
The loudspeaker outside the gym interrupted with an announcement. “Attention. Agent Smith and Agent Jones will be taking you into the gymnasium for final examinations. Please follow them and do as they ask. If you have a problem with that, then please close your eyes and do your best to pretend that someone cares about your opinions. Thank you for your cooperation.”
After this, two men wearing black suits and wearing sunglasses walked side by side from the double doors leading into the gym. They stopped after several feet, both of them putting their hands to their ears and listening to the radio receivers implanted there. Nodding at the same time, they spoke simultaneously, telling the kids to get in line.
“Abernathy Aardvark,” said Agent Smith. “You are first to be tested.”
“I guess that means we goin in alphaBETICAL order!” said Ernie’s butt.
The group watched as Abernathy followed Agent Jones into the gym. He looked nervous, the poor boy. His head was hung low, and he was struggling to keep his composure. He was an incredible martial artist. That was his power, but only when no one was watching him. When in plain sight, he was simply an ordinary kid. A pansy really – or at least that’s what his mother always told him. “Goodbye my friends!” he shouted.
“Shut up,” snapped Agent Jones, shoving him through the doors. Jones looked at the kids all gathered outside. “I’ll be back,” he told them slowly.
So one by one the children went through the doors. And one by one they didn’t come out. Or, if they were coming out, they were invisible. It seemed far more likely that they were going out the other side of the building though. Either that or they were being vaporised. Ernie and the others all hoped that this wasn’t something weird like that. It would be really really upsetting to be vaporised. And it also would seem to be completely out of character for the Professor Xylax. Everyone knew him as a kindly old man who wandered around in a walker and handed out suckers after lunch. Sometimes he fell down and the children had to help him get up. It would be shocking to find out he was vaporising people.
Finally it was Ernie’s turn. He waved goodbye to his friends that were remaining and entered the doors of the examination room. Inside he saw Professor Xylax sitting in a chair and typing away on a computer. He waved at Ernie and pointed over to a machine that looked strangely like a black beehive. It was connected via a series of cables to another identical machine on the opposite side of the room.
“Get in the transmutter please,” said the Professor. “I need to analyze your genetic makeup.”
“But, I’m not wearing any makeup,” protested Ernie. “I’m just not that kind of guy.”
The Professor gave him a strange look. “You have a multiple personality disorder that manifests itself by communicating through the vibrations released from your anus. Don’t tell me what ‘kind of guy’ you are. Just get in the transmutter. I won’t ask again. If you refuse, then Agent Jones will rip your arms off.”
“Um… Okay!” chuckled Ernie nervously. “No need to get testy on me. I’m a-goin along right now! Just getting into the transmutter now. Hey, why is there a fly-strip in here? You have a problem keeping the flies out?”
The Professor shrugged. “It was in there when I got it. I suppose the previous owner was having some difficulties with the flies. I’m not sure though. I haven’t been able to ask Professor Brundle. No one has seen him. But I did manage to purchase his equipment at auction fairly cheap. And since the fly strip was there, I assume it’s probably a good idea. Now just hold still and let me atomize you. You should be converted into energy and re-assembled in the other transmutter on the other side of the room. The process will show me your molecular makeup.”
A loud ZAP and a bright flash of light sounded. Ernie smelled something nasty. His underwear were smoking.
“I SAY!” declared Ernie’s butt. “That was right-out disturbing. What’s going on here?”
“Who are you?” Ernie asked his butt. “You sound different.”
“And well I should,” replied his butt. “I’m not that disturbing irritating miscreant that was previously talking out of your butt. Oh no. I am Lord Dwindle Neuman the Third. I’m a Climatologist. Go ahead, ask me anything.”
“Uh… why’s it so warm in here?”
But before Lord Dwindle could answer, the hatch on the transmutter opened up and Agent Jones pulled him out and hauled him forcibly across the room to where the Professor was waiting and looking at his computer screen. The readout was coming through, and the Professor seemed very interested. “Hmm… just as I suspected. Every night when you THOUGHT you were sleeping, you were actually watching television and surfing the internet. The “Ernie” personality is very limited. Just a carrier really. The true personalities lie deep up your… well… your butt. Yes… it seems you are a genius young man. Your power is phenomenal.”
Ernie lit up. “A genius. Me?”
“No,” the Professor replied with a look of disgust. “Not YOU. Your BUTT. Or rather, those personalities within you whom use your butt for communication. I believe that a session of hypnosis might serve you well and give you some control over which personality is manifesting itself. Then you can pick the right personality to match the need. Yes… I thought you would be worthless Ernie, but as it turns out, your reverse farting was only a technique your alternate personalities were employing in order to gain the ability to speak. Just like a normal person must inhale and exhale air through their lungs and across their vocal cords, your butt must suck in air and then expel it over your anus which then vibrates like a vocal cord to produce speech. It’s amazing.”
Then the professor snapped his fingers and told Agent Jones to take Ernie to Dr. MacPherson, the Telepathic Hypnotist. “Have her give him the ability to control which personality can manifest itself,” he instructed the Agent. Then send in the next child.” He checked his roster. “Burt Lancaster. It says he has the ability to touch his eyebrows with his tongue. I’m not sure about this one at all.”
After the hypnosis session, Ernie found himself being moved deep underground into an area of the school that he’d never been before. There he was placed in a room with several other people. It was like a gymnasium, except that there were no basketball hoops. There weren’t any bleachers either. Nor were their lines on the floor or anything like that, just cement and a big drain. And there were chairs scattered around that had handcuffs bolted to the sides. On the ceiling large metal tubes hung down to point at the chairs. They looked somewhat like cannons.
Actually, thought Ernie, in retrospect, the room didn’t seem that much like a gymnasium after all. It was more like that room in that story by Edgar Allen Poe where the big metal blade comes down and cuts that guy in half. Yeah… that’s what this room was like. Except that there wasn’t a big metal blade in the ceiling. Nor was there a stone table with chains on it. Instead there were just the cannons the chairs with the handcuffs. Not all that different, really. Ernie wondered what it was all for.
Some time went by and a couple of more kids showed up. Then, finally, a big man wearing a skin-tight blue uniform entered the room and told them all to stand up. He was very intimidating. He wore a pink eye patch and had a loud obnoxious voice. The insignia on his arm was that of a yellow smiley face circled in red with a slash through it.
“Greetings you children,” he growled. “My name is agent Rage. I work for an organization that has no name. We’re called the Nameless Ones.”
One of the kids raised his hand to ask a question. Agent Rage stared at him. “Put your hand down you meat-bag. I’ll tell you when you can ask questions. Right now I’m in the middle of a big reveal. That’s when I tell you a whole bunch of stuff that you were suspecting but never quite sure about. You get to be astonished and have major realizations about your life and what the future has in store for you. Some of you will be given opportunities later to have epiphanies about all this, and maybe even a nice long monologue. So shut up and listen.
Now where was I?”
One of the kids raised his hand to provide an answer.
“That was a rhetorical question twerp. Get your pitt stains out of my face. That means LOWER YOUR ARM!”
The kid lowered his arm fast.
“Alright. Much better. Okay, here’s the deal. There’s this major bad guy named ‘Psycho’ who has the ability to control other people’s minds telepathically using an insect known as a ‘brain flea.’ Psycho has been deploying his brain fleas in the major government administrations across the world. As a result he’s gained control over a whole lot of stuff. TOO much stuff for us to stop him without making it publicly known that our government has been compromised. That’s where you kids come in. A super hero team from any of the known super hero teams would be identified and stopped long before they could do anything. Our only resort was to create a new super hero team composed of heroes who have never been seen before.
That’s you, in case you were wondering. You’ll each be given really cool code names, and tight fitting uniforms. We’ll train you on how to use awesome high tech gadgets and how to use catch phrases properly. You’ll learn how to taunt your enemies with witty insults and thrilling dialog. And, of course, you’ll be taught how to operate as a team, but still be composed of rogue elements and mavericks who will oppose government control and ignore my instructions.
My job will be to be harsh to you. To give you incorrect information that will put you into situations where you’ll have to rely on your instincts and problem solving skills. It’s also my job to chew you out when you come back, and to yell at you when you fail to follow the idiotic and unnecessary orders that I give you. If you’re successful as a super group, then by your third mission something horrible will happen to me and I’ll die a nasty death that will give you motivation to seek revenge upon my killers. Of course, after that one of you will be in charge and will have to deal with my superiors directly. At which point you’ll all learn how hard my job is, and come to have respect for me as a person – even though I’ll be dead.”
He pointed to Ernie. “You there, you’re going to be named “Butt-Boy.” Your multiple personalities make you the perfect choice for a leader. So from now on, when I’m not screaming at you or giving you incorrect information or stupid redundant commands, it will be Butt-Boy’s job to tell you what to do. Of course, I expect most of you to resent him immediately and treat him like crap because he doesn’t have any really COOL powers.
“Yeah,” shouted Ernie’s butt.
Agent Rage’s lips splattered spittle as he spun in Ernie’s direction. A wild look was in his eyes. He’d been just looking for an excuse to cut loose on someone, and here it was. That obnoxious little Butt-Boy had been brainless enough to spew some senseless drivel. The maniacal government agent glared at Ernie, anticipating the fear that the boy was soon to feel. Anticipating the suffering and humiliation that was about to emanate from the brat. Rage’s sadistic nature would be satisfied by the sorrowful wailing that would fill the chamber.
“Did you ask a question Butt-Boy!?!” he bellowed. And as he blasted out the words “Butt-Boy” he made certain to hyper-pronounce the “Bs” so that with each syllable he powered out a spray of spit that watered every corner of poor Ernie’s face.
“Not me…” said Ernie shyly. Okay… maybe it wasn’t shyly. Maybe it was in terror. But Ernie was too filled with pride to admit anything like terror. Okay… maybe that’s not true either. Ernie was horrified and he knew it. If Agent Rage got in his face any more than this, he was liable to pee his pants and drown whichever personality happened to be speaking out of his butt. It was a problem. Ernie knew he had better switch personalities fast, so he accessed that portion of his mind that he used to control the multiple personalities that controlled his anal verbiage, and selected a new one.
“You pickin on this kid?” said Ernie’s butt to Agent Rage.
“Ah,” declared the agent. “So it’s your BUTT that’s doing the talking. Well, that’s very wise of you Butt-Boy. Obviously your butt is far more intelligent than you are. So who is it I’m talking to?”
“Name’s John Wayne Rambo Eastwood,” replied Ernie’s butt.
“What’s that?” asked Agent Rage. “You some kind of composite personality formed from the assumed engrams that Ernie has encoded during his hours of watching old and unrealistic action films?”
“No,” snapped John. “That would be Rock Schwarzenegger Norris. I’m a much nicer guy. I’m only gonna kill you once. Rock would kill yeh five times and then give you to Snipes. Now listen up, cause I’m only a-gonna say this once. The boy don’t like the name you picked for him. You better think about pickin another one or things are gonna get rough on yew.”
Agent Rage raised his right hand and snapped his fingers. The cannon mounted in the ceiling near Ernie cut loose with a stream of water that sent him rolling across the floor and into the wall. Trapped there by the spray, he sputtered and coughed until Rage snapped his fingers again and the water stopped.
“You SURE you don’t like your name?” asked Agent Rage. “Cause… I’m pretty sure an aquatic enema will fix that.”
“You ain’t even got me started,” said Ernie’s butt. “Bring it on!”
“NO!” screamed Ernie. “Please!”
His screams were swiftly drown in a blast of water.