Manny woke with a groan. He felt a dull ache in his head, but the pain doubled when he opened his eyes. The bright sunlight coming in through his window forced him to shut his eyes again. He rolled over in his bed to face away from the window and groaned again; the sudden, quick movement did not do his stomach any favors.
“You awake, Man?” Manny recognized the raspy whisper from the floor by the bed.
“Yeah,” he replied. “Last night must’ve been something else, I can’t remember crap,” Manny chuckled. “owww.” he held his head.
“Damn, me neither,” Malcolm replied. “But, uh… we need to go find out.” Manny heard a bit of worry in his friend’s voice.
“You okay?” Manny crawled toward the edge of the bed.
“I dunno, I’m feeling kind of blue,” Malcolm replied. Manny looked over the side at his friend on the floor and immediately burst into laughter.
“Haha, OWhahaOWwww” His best friend of 15 years lay on the floor in his jeans and a black t-shirt. Every bit of skin that Manny saw was a bright royal blue. “What the hell happened to you last night? Malcolm chuckled on the floor.
“No idea, but…,” he held up a finger to give Manny pause. After a moment the blue color drained from his skin leaving it the normal olive color Manny was used to. “…that’s been happening,” he said. Manny still heard traces of worry. He moved, gently, off the bed and offered Malcolm a hand up.
“Let’s go find out.” Malcolm accepted the hand and tried to lift himself up while Manny pulled. As Manny strained to support Malcolm another hand emerged from his wrist to give him a better grip. Both of them noticed it at the same time and Malcolm grinned.
“It’s not just me then, awesome.” Once Malcolm stood on his feet Manny let got and tried to look at both of his right hands. The second one disappeared when it was no longer needed.
“You think one of us is dreaming?” Manny asked as he looked over his two remaining hands. Malcolm’s olive skin transitioned to a bright, neon green color and he shook his head.
“The last thing I remember is the bar, what about you?” He asked. Manny nodded.
“Yeah, same. Let’s start there.”
The drive to the bar was quiet, each of them lost in their own thoughts. Malcolm’s skin changed to yellow and red at different points along the way, but always changed back. He was thankful for the cold weather. He wore a hoodie and gloves, but the colors still showed on his face.
“I’ll wait here,” Malcolm suggested, once they parked at the bar.
“No way, you’re coming in too.” Manny tossed him a pair of sunglasses and a scarf. “Cover up.”
“Looks like I’m robbing the place,” Malcolm complained, but he pulled the hood down. He wrapped the scarf around the lower part of his face and put the sunglasses on, then put the hood back up. “Ready,” he mumbled through the scarf. They walked in and went straight to the blue-haired woman at the bar. She smiled and greeted them before either of them said something.
“Hey, guys! Welcome back.” She smiled at Malcolm and giggled. “What’s with the getup?” Manny took larger steps to reach the bar faster.
“You remember us?” he asked.
“‘Course. You guys were the life of the party last night. Between Mr. Chameleon over there and your card tricks, everyone was buying you guys drinks,” she smiled. Malcolm did not waste any time taking his scarf off. It was hot and scratchy inside and he did not need to be wearing it anymore. His skin was currently shifting from purple to its normal color. “Yeaaaaaah!” she smiled broadly at him with a thumbs up gesture.
“Wait. We had these powers when we came here?” Manny asked. He looked at Malcolm, but only got a shrug in return.
“I don’t remember having powers when we came here,” Malcolm replied. The bartender laughed and slapped the top of the bar.
“Wow, you guys got totally wasted, huh?” She smirked. “You don’t remember me? My name’s Mundo.” She stretched a hand out to Manny across the bar. Both men shook their heads.
“Sorry,” Manny shrugged but shook her hand. “I’m Manny, that’s Malcolm.”
“It’s a good thing you guys came back today. I told you to, but I guess you don’t remember that either,” she giggled. “About your abilities,” she shook her head. “No, you didn’t have them when you got here. You got them here. I do tattoos in the back sometimes and you guys wanted tattoos.”
“We got tattoos?” Malcolm, currently maroon, asked. She nodded and pointed at him.
“Yep, yours is on your back, and yours,” she pointed at Manny” is on your chest. I’m surprised you didn’t notice it yet.” Malcolm took the hoodie off, followed by his shirt, then he turned his back toward Manny.
“What is it?” He asked.
“A red heart with the number 27 in it,” he responded. He snapped a picture then handed the phone to Malcolm. “I’ll check mine later,” he looked around the empty bar. “I don’t need to pull my pants down here.”
“I’ll tell you. It’s a fist,” she made a fist and held it straight in front of Manny’s face. “Like this, with the number 21 on the two middle fingers.”
“Okay, but can we go back to why Malcolm is changing colors? You said we got our powers here. How?”
“I told you. Tattoos,” she smiled.
“What, you do magic tattoos?” Mundo shook her head.
“No, silly. The tattoos aren’t magical, you are. You guys are Unique Souls. You’re numbers 21 and 27,” she pointed at Manny, then Malcolm respectively. “La Mano, and El Corazón.” Manny sat down on a bar stool and Malcolm followed suit.
“I don’t know what that means, but I hope you can tell us.” Mundo nodded.
“There are 54 different Unique Souls, numbered 1 – 54. Each number has a different item, plant, animal, person, or heavenly body associated with it. And each one has abilities based on what it’s associated with,” she pointed at Manny. “#21, La Mano means ‘the hand’. I’m sure you can figure out your power,” she turned to Malcolm. “Yours is trickier. You’re number 27, ‘the heart’.”
“What does that have to do with changing colors?!” he asked.
“Well, that’s where things get complicated. It’s not always as straightforward as an extra hand. Corazóns can be very powerful, but unfortunately they can almost never control their powers. They need to adapt to live with their powers as opposed to adapting their abilities to their own life,” Mundo explained. She paused when she noticed Malcolm’s eyes glaze over slightly.
“I’m going to keep changing colors?” he asked.
“Probably not!” Mundo replied with a smile. “Your abilities will fluctuate, that’s the ‘not being able to control them’ aspect. You’re changing colors today but you could be on fire tomorrow! Anything can happen.”