Here’s the thing, people: We have some serious problems. The lights are off. And it seems like that’s affecting the water flow in part of town. So, no baths or showers, okay? But the situation is that we think Caine is short of food, which means he’s not going to be able to hold out very long at the power plant.How long? someone yelled.Sam shook his head. I don’t know.Why can’t you get him to leave?Because I can’t, that’s why, Sam snapped, letting some of his anger show. Because I’m not Superman, all right? Look, he’s inside the plant. The walls are thick. He has guns, he has Jack, he has Drake and he has his own powers. I can’t get him out of there without getting some of our people killed. Anybody want to volunteer for that?Silence.Yeah, I thought so. I can’t get you people to show up and pick melons, let alone throw down with Drake.That’s your job, Zil said.Oh, I see, Sam said. The resentment he’d held in now came boiling to the surface. It’s my job to pick the fruit and collect the trash and ration the food and catch Hunter and stop Caine and settle every stupid little fight and make sure kids get a visit from the Tooth Fairy. What’s your job, Zil? Oh, right: you spray hateful graffiti. Thanks for taking care of that, I don’t know how we’d ever manage without you.Sam…, Astrid said, just loud enough for him to hear. A warning.Too late. He was going to say what needed saying.And the rest of you. How many of you have done a single, lousy thing in the last two weeks aside from sitting around playing Xbox or watching movies?Let me explain something to you people. I’m not your parents. I’m a fifteen-year-old kid. I’m a kid, just like all of you. I don’t happen to have any magic ability to make food suddenly appear. I can’t just snap my fingers and make all your problems go away. I’m just a kid.As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Sam knew he had crossed the line. He had said the fateful words so many had used as an excuse before him. How many hundreds of times had he heard, I’m just a kid.But now he seemed unable to stop the words from tumbling out. Look, I have an eighth-grade education. Just because I have powers doesn’t mean I’m Dumbledore or George Washington or Martin Luther King. Until all this happened I was just a B student. All I wanted to do was surf. I wanted to grow up to be Dru Adler or Kelly Slater, just, you know, a really good surfer.The crowd was dead quiet now. Of course they were quiet, some still-functioning part of his mind thought bitterly, it’s entertaining watching someone melt down in public.I’m doing the best I can, Sam said.I lost people today…I…I screwed up. I should have figured out Caine might go after the power plant.Silence.I’m doing the best I can.No one said a word.Sam refused to meet Astrid’s eyes. If he saw pity there, he would fall apart completely.I’m sorry, he said.I’m sorry.
Michael Grant