“Send in number three-sixty-one!” Dr. Aiken called out.
The door was pushed open and in walked a woman who, to say the very least, made quite a first impression. It was a petite young woman, barely five feet tall and with a slender gymnast’s build. She looked to be in her early twenties and of Asian descent, but it was difficult to be sure thanks to the distracting outfit she’d chosen to wear. She was dressed in a skintight latex catsuit with white and red star burst pattern. It was an outfit that would have been lewd if not for the fact that her slender frame was almost completely devoid of curves. On her feet were massive work boots that had been painted to match the suit, and on her fists were red gloves of the padded kind worn by MMA fighters. Her black hair was pulled into a single lopsided pigtail and was streaked with white and red highlights, and black lipstick had been carefully applied to her smirking lips. On her face was a pair of goggles that would have looked more in place on an old fashioned motorist. She also wore a canvas belt, poorly dyed red to match the color scheme of the rest of the outfit and weighed down with various pouches and holders for everything from a cell phone to what seemed to be some sort of martial arts equipment. With what could only be called a cocky swagger, she strutted up to the interview chair and took a seat.
“Oh?” she turned her head with a flourish of pigtails, glancing at the door. “The guards are wearing their uniforms. Why shouldn’t I wear mine? And no, they aren’t nunchucks. They’re Non-Chucks.”
Aiken took a deep breath. This was going to be one of those interviews. “Very well then. It looks like you didn’t fill out your application fully. Please state your name. Your real name, please.”
“You mean my secret identity? No dice, doc. Classified.”
He sighed. “We’ll go back to that later. Now, about your codename…”
She spread her hands out in front of her, as if presenting her answer on a marquee. “Non-Sequitur.”
“Yes. I’m afraid that’s already taken.”
She dropped her arms and shot him a stern look. “What?”
“That name has been assigned to another applicant.”
“Of course. Of course that would happen.” She clucked her tongue and muttered under her breath, leaning over to rummage through one of the pouches on her belt. “Frickin’ perfect name. Perfect name. Already taken. Of course.”
“What would be your second choice?” Aiken asked, tapping his pencil on the form.
“Hold your horses. I’m getting it.” She pulled a bundle of loose papers from the pouch. Each seemed to have a sketch of an outfit and a name drawn out as a logo. One by one she flipped through the bundle, discarding pages as she went. “No… No… Ugh, what was I thinking? No… Tsk. I guess we’ll go with Nonsensica. Madame Nonsensica maybe? No. No, just plain Nonsensica. At least that way I don’t have to come up with a new name for the Non-Chucks”
“Okay, Nonsensica. You’ve written under special abilities ‘Distraction’. What exactly do you mean by that?”
She leaned toward him. “Get this. I’ve got the ability to cause mental misfires.”
“Could you elaborate?”
“I can do better than that. I can show you.”
The guards at the door put their hands to their pistols and Dr. Aiken drastically waved his hands. “No no no! The sign!”
She turned to a large placard on the far wall that read “Any demonstration of powers on interview personnel without the specific request and permission is grounds for immediate disqualification.”
“Oh,” she said in disappointment. She leaned back and crossed her arms, then her legs. Thanks to her outfit, the motion produced a sound like a party clown furiously constructing a pair of balloon animals. “Let’s see. How do I explain it? You know how sometimes someone says something so bizarre that you have to sort of shake your head and blink for a second.”
“I can do that on demand with a one hundred percent success rate.”
“How do you achieve this effect?”
“I say two words in rapid succession that are so completely, so fundamentally, so drastically and conceptually different that the act of attempting to comprehend them causes a momentary mental overload.” She leaned back with a satisfied nod.
“Interesting,” Dr Aiken commented, scrawling three question marks on the line. “Under ‘other abilities’, you’ve just written ‘ass kicking’.”
“Care to expand on that?”
“Jeet Kune Do. Seven years.”
“Ah. And under origin you’ve written, ‘None.’”
“That’s right. I was born this way, baby.”
“You’ve always had your powers?”
“As long as I can remember.”
“And have you always wanted to be a hero?”
“I’ve always been a hero. Until now it just wasn’t likely to pay the bills… You guys are planning to pay us, right?”
“I believe there is a salary, yes.”
“Then I’m your girl.”
“Fascinating… So far you are the only applicant who hasn’t pinpointed a single event in his or her past as the launching point for their hero career.”
“Always was, always will be.”
“Not to offend you, but I would have thought if there was someone with your… uniform running the streets fighting crime, I would have heard about it by now.”
“Well, I haven’t fought any crime, you know, formally.”
“So how exactly have you been a hero all of your life?”
“Because I am, okay? A poet is a poet even before she puts her pen to the paper. If you’re meant to be something, really meant to be, then its all there waiting for you to let it out.”
Dr. Aiken nodded and made some more notes. “Now this power of yours, does it have any peculiar limits? Can you do it to more than one person at a time for instance?”
“No. Just one. I mean, I think I did it to a group once, but it was pretty weak and I’m not sure how I did it, so we’ll say just one. But one’s all I need, because then these come into play.” She threw three punches with considerable speed. “And then this!” She thrust a foot upward. “And then that’s it, boom. Another evildoer vanquished.”
Aiken wrote ‘extreme confidence, compensation?’ on the application’s margin.
“And you say that you can achieve this effect with just words?”
“Yep. It really is much easier to understand if you let me show you.”
“I really don’t think that’s–”
“Is it safe?” Summers asked.
“Oh, yeah. Perfectly safe. I do it to folks all the time, and they’re fine after.”
“You can demonstrate on me then.”
Aiken gave her a concerned look.
“I think it would help with the evaluation… and I’m a little curious,” Summers explained.
“If you’re sure,” Aiken said uncertainly. “Nonsensica, do the honors.”
The applicant turned to Private Summers, seeming to measure her up. Finally, she drew in a breath and said “Temple woodchuck.”
Summers squinted and tipped her head.
“You want me to do it again?”
“Oh, was that it? Sure do it again?”
Summers shook her head. “It is the strangest thing, sir. It’s like she flicked me in the nose.”
“And it works every time,” Nonsensica added.
“Okay, thank you Nonsensica. You can report back two weeks from today at 9 AM for your initial assessment or else leave us with a call back number.”
“Oh, I’ll be back. You’re gonna want me here,” she said with a cocky smile.
She stood and paced out the door. The guards shut it behind her.
“Care to weigh in?” Aiken said to Summers.
“You keep throwing the term ‘hero complex’ around. In her case it doesn’t seem so complex.”
“She’ll certainly be dedicated to the cause. She doesn’t seem terribly unbalanced, at least not in a dangerous way, but it is tough to tell with all of the glitz and the attitude. My concern is that she’s too much about the spectacle.”
“Heh, if you think she’s about the spectacle, you didn’t take a good hard look at that line out there. I think about a third of the women out there are just using this as an excuse to dress in stripperific outfits.”
“It’s a community term.”
“In what community?”
He furrowed his brow for a moment. Finally he shrugged. “We’ll push her along and see how she does in the physical and aptitude exercises. Next!”