That's the catchphrase of Martin Calder, a teenager obsessed with the hit television show, The Metas. On a mission to get an autograph from the star of the show, Dana？no last name given？he comes face to face with reality. Dana and her twin brother, Van, the co-star of the show, aren’t exactly from around here.
The sound of fingers tapping on my locker interrupted my private time. Said tapping soon became a drumming, and the choices of what to do were clear—give in and turn around or open my locker and take my textbooks out. From the rhythm and heaviness of the drumming I knew who it was and forced myself not to look.
Go away, already.
Now the drumming became a downpour, loud and insistent. Right, thanks Greg, for annoying me more. Then came the inevitable question and I resigned myself to listening to it one—more—time.
“Hey Martin, are you going to get me an autograph?”
My friend’s voice, high, whiny, insistent and persistent, sounded like a wounded mosquito. When I’d told him about my idea for getting an autograph from a television star, he’d immediately begged me to get him one as well.
And not just once, no, he’d asked me the one inconsequential yet oh-so-next-to-impossible favor every single hour of every single school day for the past week. While he more than likely knew it bothered me, he didn’t care.
Facing up to the inevitable, I opened my locker and did the revolve move. The sweaty, grinning face of Greg Foster greeted me. We were buds and had been since grade school. We lived near each other, knew each other’s habits well, but all the same, he could be a real dick at times.
Why can’t school be over faster? As quickly as that thought had come, it just as quickly flashed out. Lunch period had just ended, it was a dreary, cold Thursday, four days before Christmas, and Tacoma High wouldn’t officially let us leave on Christmas parole for another three-plus hours.
To make matters worse, my guidance counselor, Ms. Ward, a tall, skinny birdlike woman of indeterminate age, had cornered me in the hallway after lunch and asked me to come by her office once school was over. Why today of all days? She could have asked me earlier on in the week, but no, she didn’t, and it was too late to back out.
“Sure thing, Ms. Ward, I’ll be there.” Said it and forced out a false grin while doing so.
She’d been on my case to improve my grades for the last six months. Tell me something I didn’t already know. The phrase barely getting by summed things up.
“So, what about the autograph, can you get it?”
Greg’s whine cut through my mental trip. Looking at him, he was busy wiping the sweat off his forehead. It was winter, for crying out loud. Outside it was around forty degrees. He probably would have melted on a tropical island.
As for the autograph…scoring it was something no one had ever achieved. If I managed to get it, I’d have god-like status bestowed on me. It would make studying for courses I’d always sucked at worthwhile.
“Hey Calder,” someone called out. “What happened in episode ten?”
A group of kids had stopped by to toss out the inevitable twenty questions thing. “Dana rescued her brother from the Shadow Agency. Next.”
Call me bored, as this happened on a daily basis and everyone just had to test my knowledge of the show. Another kid chimed in with a question about Dana’s height. Couldn’t he think of something better? “She’s five-nine, same as me.”
“Ending of episode twenty,” student two said. “C’mon, you have to know this.”
I did since it had to do with Dan’s twin brother. “Van fought the genetically engineered mutant from the Shadow Agency. C’mon, give me something tough!”
Yeah, that was me, knowledgeable about the show—The Metas—and not much else. The crowd soon thinned out, but Greg stayed. On the short side of five-six and chubby, he resembled Tweedledum’s twin brother with a head of close-cropped blond hair and a round, guileless face people seemed to gravitate to.
In contrast, I stood three inches taller and weighed a slender, unspectacular one-sixty. With a narrow face, dark brown eyes, and plain features, my name should have been Vanilla.
Greg may have been a porker, but he also happened to be popular along with being one of the smartest kids in school. I didn’t fall into either category. Leaving personal attributes aside, why couldn’t he go and get the damn autograph himself?
“Dana’s a fox,” Greg exclaimed. “She’s definitely my type.” And of course, he had to ask me yet again, “You’re going this Saturday, right?”
My first thought about Dana being his type was uh, yeah, in your dreams…and as for his question, for the last friggin’ time, knock it off. “But,” I put in as a wave of uncertainty ran through me, “no promises.”
At my desk and waiting for things to start, thoughts of the show intruded. The Metas, short for meta-humans, was a cable show. It starred Dana and Van, no last name ever given, and it happened to be the hottest show around.
Geography class was a huge bowl of dull, so while the teacher droned on about plate tectonics, I let my mind drift back to where it all began.
Who were they—everyone wanted to know. The twin brother-sister combo of Dana and Van had appeared out of nowhere a year ago, and set up shop at Tacoma’s own KWPTT Network. You never heard about them, never even saw them in public. You wanted to know their secrets? Good luck. Hermits were more active.
John Morton, the station’s owner, defended their hermitage status. “They have the right to live their own lives,” he’d said in an interview. “I support their decision.”
Yeah, right on, support that. An action show—accent on the action—The Metas boasted lots of cartoon violence and gave a positive vibe of going beyond your limits. Great scripts, they often pushed politically correct topics but never sounded preachy. Ostensibly a show for young kids up to their teens, it cut across all demographic lines.