Even though this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and even though the money was worth it… and even though it was about the only legal way I could ever be any kind of a superhero, there was no way to shake the feeling that this was a mistake.
The others were all probably excitedly unpacking, whereas I’d spent the last hour sitting on my new bed being completely overwhelmed by the fact that I was here.
Don’t get me wrong, our new house was gorgeous and the other three had seemed nice but they’d all been so happy to talk while we paraded ourselves into the house that I just felt out of place.
It was impossible to not feel awkward when you knew every word, every movement was being recorded to be broadcast to the world.
“Hey, …Mars? Did you guys find your rooms?” One of the guys called out as he joined me in the kitchen, breaking me out of that thought.
I’d just come down to get a glass of water before I planned to slink back into my room and listen out for when everyone was together so I wouldn’t have to be the one making conversation. That plan was ruined.
The guy who came down the stairs was Saint, although he told us that was his only surname and everyone just called him that. He was tall, dressed in the button-up shirt and chinos combo that every guy dresses in when he wants to look like he’s trying to dress nice but not too nice, but his messy hair and half untucked shirt were a bit too perfect to be an accident.
“Yeah, both of them are on the top floor.” I waited for him to say something back. There probably wasn’t an easy way to run away from this, especially since we were now flatmates and I needed him to not think I was weird.
“Ours are on the second floor. Separate the boys and girls, I guess.” He shrugged as if that had been a surprise.
“It makes sense. I kind of assumed they would.” I didn’t add the ‘for so many reasons’ that I thought.
“They’re pretty cool rooms, wayyyyy better than the one I have at home. Ours were the same just on different sides of the house, so I’m guessing they’re probably all the same?”
I hadn’t even thought to peek into Grace’s. We’d seen the signs with our names and immediately headed straight into our own rooms to check them out.
“Yeah, that would make sense.” Shit. I need to stop saying that.
The conversation stopped, even though Saint kept looking at me expectantly. I’m pretty sure he took the opportunity to check me out, which come on guy, we have other things to worry about.
“So, are you just… setting up your room?” I asked.
Look, it’s hard to make small talk when you know every word is going to be second guessed across the nation.
“Nah, I’ve mostly been looking out over the city from my balcony and thinking about this whole thing. I opened my suitcase but I figure I’ll take things out as I need rather than try to unpack.”
That’s something you’d do in a hotel, not your new house. I’m not sure how you could feel at home doing that…
“Yeah, I haven’t unpacked at all either. I just started reading the pamphlets and things they left for us.” That sounded better than being in a state of shock over actually being on a reality tv show.
Lying on the pillow of the perfectly made bed had been several papers that seemed like an introduction manual to the show. I could just imagine the hosts running through each one on television as we picked them up, explaining the concept of the show to the viewers.
Everyone hates them, yet everyone wants to be one. Brought to you by Netflix, in collaboration with the Australian Government, The Helpers follows the lives of four people authorised to be superheroes.
It’s time to meet the everyday people who dream of being a hero, and what that really means in this decade.
Later tonight I’d actually read through all of them, even though I knew not a single one of them would tell me anything more than the network’s lawyers had gone through in excruciating detail with me and my family.
“I was going to suggest that we all go and get groceries after we’re unpacked, maybe get some beer? One of us can cook and we’ll all get to know each other. It’ll be less awkward if we’re around food and alcohol.”
So I was making it that awkward already.
“Yeah, that sounds good!” I tried to sound excited. I knew I’d have to do things like this signing up for the show but now that it was here… It was just so awkward to be living through.
“Cool,” Saint grinned. He patted his pockets several times, checking for something. “Alright, I’m going to go outside to have a smoke then go back to thinking about how I’ll style my room.” He waved at me as he left.
I took a deep breath, and then another. I finished my glass of water quickly. The first real interaction with one of my new housemates was done. They had to get less awkward from here.
Saint stood outside in our small courtyard at the back of the house, his back turned towards me. It seemed like he was trying to be polite to not make us both awkwardly stare at each other and that was my opportunity to escape back up the stairs and into my room.
This was my new home for the foreseeable future. The new people I lived with. I just needed to deal with the situation. Every word, every step was being recorded. Hiding in my bedroom right now was being recorded.
I know, I know, I signed up for it but I never expected to get selected. Out of the thirty million people who could have applied, why did they select me…? And why did I say yes!
This is meant to be the next big thing. The first real superheroes in twenty years. I’m one of them. And here I am, jotting down some notes on a piece of paper about conversations I can force myself through with the others so it’s less awkward for people to watch when it goes to air.
Here it goes, I guess.