Assignment - Create a new comic book character for the Marvel Universe

We were asked to create a superhero outside the normal superhero mold (male & white). I created Katy Olsen, a mutant based in the Marvel universe, who has the power to render people unconscious. Eventually Katy would transform into the hero known as KnockOut (KO). But, in the beginning she is just a sixteen year old girl who stopped sleeping.

Illustration by   Jon Hirsch

Illustration by Jon Hirsch

Illustration by    Jon Hirsch

Illustration by Jon Hirsch

Katy Olsen Journal Entry

I stopped sleeping two days after my thirteenth birthday. I think about that day a lot. I think about how it was like every other day. I woke up, had breakfast, went to school, went to practice, ate dinner, finished my homework and went to bed.

Only, I didn’t sleep.

What I remember the most about that night was the anxiety I felt. I can see myself lying in bed desperate to fall asleep. Closing my eyes for hours, alone with only my thoughts but never once getting tired. I remember worrying about not making it through school and practice the next day. I pictured myself collapsing in class or on the track. People laughing and posing pictures of me drooling on Snapchat.

Only, I never got tired.

Day after day I went through the motions and day after day I never even yawned. In fact I was the opposite of tired. I was alert, quick, and full of energy. The next couple of nights I grew tired of not being tired and decided to start reading. I remember thinking that “Great Expectations” would put me to sleep for sure.

Only it didn’t.

I finished the book around the time the sun started entering my room. “What are you doing up?” my father exclaimed, shocked at the sight of his usually sleeping daughter wide-awake at the crack of dawn. He liked to poke his head in my room before he left for work. He’d lean down and brush the hair away from my forehead and give me a peck before leaving. The past couple of days I’ve pretended to be asleep when he’d come in.  I don’t know why I needed to hide this from him but I did.

“Everything alright pumpkin?” he asked still in disbelief that I was awake and reading. “Yeah, just needed to catch up on some reading for class.” Again, I have no idea why I needed to lie to him. But I knew I couldn’t tell him. Maybe I was afraid he’d be mad at me. Mostly, I was afraid that I didn’t know what to tell him. Looking back on it now it seems so silly, so trivial. I wish I told him. Maybe things would have been different.

But I didn’t.

He smiled at me and told me not to over do it. Again, in hindsight, that was another funny request. That night was over three years ago. In that time I haven’t slept once. I haven’t felt tired. I know now that I am a mutant. But, those first few months I kept believing that I was just going through a phase. And that one-day it would pass and everything would go back to normal.

But it never did.

I knew mutants existed. I heard about them on the news and read the Time article about Professor Xavier and his X-Men. But I’d never met a mutant. There was always a rumor floating around of a kid from a neighboring high school who turned green or grew antlers. I never believed it. It felt like every school had dumb rumors like that.

The thought of being a mutant should have freaked me out but it didn’t. I wasn’t thrilled about it but if this was the extent of my “mutant powers” then I felt like I lucked out. No antlers but I was able to have an extra 8-9 hours a night to study for tests and do pretty much whatever I wanted.

I binged watched every show I wasn’t allowed to watch on Netflix first. When I became uninterested in TV I started reading everything in my house. That only lasted a month before I ran out of stuff to read. After that I became restless. I was bored. No one was awake, no one to talk to. People say the Internet never ends. I guess that’s true but speed 8 hours a night for two months on it and it does get dull.

Tired of pacing my room I decided I wanted to go for a run. No, I needed to go for a run. Even though I ran cross-country everyday after school my body still had energy to burn. I started sneaking out of my room after I was sure my parents were asleep.  Then I’d run.

With ear buds in I would work my way out of the neighborhood. I didn’t need any night owl neighbors telling my folks that they swore they saw their teenage daughter sprinting down the street at two in the morning.

When I was a safe distance away I’d come out of the shadows and start to run. I’d start these late night runs off slow. I would work up to a nice clip. Then I realized that I wasn’t getting winded. I wasn’t even breaking a sweat. Soon I began starting my run from a dead sprint. I must have looked ridiculous; sprinting down the sidewalk like something from my worst nightmare was chasing me. I would push myself every night. Push myself to get tired. Push myself to feel the slightest twinge of exhaustion.

But I never did.

One night I pushed myself too far. My mind was wandering. It traveled to a place I rarely went. It drifted from thought to thought without any real structure. This is what dreaming was like when you knew you were dreaming. Right up until the moment something yanks you from your sleep. Only I wasn’t asleep. If the soles of my running shoes didn’t disintegrate I would have run for hours. When I stopped I realized that I had run over 30 miles from my house. The sun was going to be up soon. My father would be coming into my room to give me his goodbye kiss before going to work. Even though I wasn’t tired I was still only as fast as my legs would take me. My time was improving but I was still averaging just over 5 minutes a mile. I’d never make it back in time.

So I did what any 16-year-old girl would do. I called my daddy.

Only, my mom answered his cell phone. That wasn’t the plan. Dad I could deal with but mom was a different story. If I knew she was going answer I would have risked running home. She answered the phone in an exhausted voice, "Katy? What’s going on? Where are you?”

Her tone was a mixture of confusion and panic.  I remember what it was like to feel that way. That split second of fear after waking up when you don’ know what was real and what was just your brain screwing with you.

I put on my best apologetic voice and concocted a story about sneaking out with friends. Only, they started drinking and I didn’t want to be in the car with them anymore. I remember trying to cry but I couldn’t. I just kept asking her not to be mad at me. That part of my act was true. That’s why she bought it. My mom doesn’t look it but she is a tough person to lie to. Her bullshit meter is always on and she can smell it coming a mile away.

When she asked me where I was I felt a moment of panic. I gave her the address of the 7-11 I walked to and she said she’d be there soon.

As we drove back home I did my best to place blame on my imaginary friends. My mom was calm and just nodded along with my tale. When I was done she just looked at me and said that she was disappointed in me for sneaking out but was proud that I had the guts to not ride with them. Then she smiled at me and said that if I promised this sneaking out nonsense was over she’d not to get my father involved.

I nodded my head in both disbelief and agreement. That sounded like a fantastic idea. Then I stared at her for a moment. It was like I was looking at her for the first time.

I remember thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe she bought it.” I was so proud of myself for getting away with it. Maybe I was becoming a better liar. Maybe that was part of my mutant powers. Never sleeping and lying, I’m sure the CIA could use someone like me. I spent the rest of the drive home thinking about being a super spy. A female James Bond, only not slutty and I would only drink Diet Dr. Pepper. If I could sleep I’m sure I would have drifted into a fantastic dream about that.

I was so proud of myself.

It never even crossed my mind that she never asked why I was wearing running shoes.

But it should have.