Shimmer #30 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 30)

GlimmerGirlI’d only ever been to one funeral before; my Nana, on my Mom’s side of the family.

It was the first time I’d ever realized that life ended. You’d have thought the revelation would be shocking for a kid, but I was able to accept it; maybe because none of it felt real. The body in the box had her shape, but to me it looked like plastic, like it was a dummy.

Mr. Drew’s funeral was exactly the same. It wasn’t that he had passed; he was just somewhere else, and he was fine, even if he’d never come back. The emptiness was there, but I don’t know; it didn’t feel as final as it should.

Tanya and I went together, as had half of the senior class. It turns out Mr. Drew didn’t have much family to speak of, but he had a lot of friends, colleagues, and former students who cared enough to pay their respects.

My fists balled in my lap; I wished I had some kind of cherished memory to hold onto. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like such an imposter.

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Shimmer #29 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 29)

GlimmerGirl

It was 11:39 when I pried my eyes open; pm.

Tanya’s car had pulled to the curb, and my neck was stiff from sleeping upright. Still, there were worse things, like the million and one aches, scratches and bruises scattered across my body. Hopefully the long skirt and cardigan could hide them; there wasn’t enough energy in reserve for answering questions.

The engine sputtered and groaned to silence while Tanya and I sat. What was there to say? Words didn’t compare to the night we’d just lived through; no matter how many times I would tell the story it wouldn’t cover the danger, the confusion, or worst of all the uncertainty of what would come the next day.

Was this the way things were going to be from then on?

Tanya leaned forward and rested her head on the steering wheel. “Are you okay?” she whispered. She knew the answer, of course, but you know how it is; sometimes you need to say things out loud.

“I guess so, yeah. You?”

She nodded. Her body collapsed back into the driver seat and she sighed.

My eyes were over by the front door of my home, or what remained of it. The lights were on and there was movement behind the living room curtain; thank the gods my parents were okay. No doubt I’d get inside and they’d tell me all about what happened, as though I hadn’t been there.

“Go on,” Tanya urged. “I’ll text you in the morning. We can do something real chill as a reward for saving the city; maybe go see a movie if there’s anything good on.”

I smiled and gave a nod. Tomorrow; gods, I had no idea what tomorrows even looked like anymore.

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Shimmer #28 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 28)

GlimmerGirl

Dr. Vortex stood before me, though was also a million miles away. With every charge he slipped through my fingers, like an eel running down a pipe, leaving me grasping at air, or worse, setting my blasts to fly in stray directions.

He wasn’t doing much better. With only one arm of his suit still active he had his hands full trying to keep me, the light speed girl, at bay. Every time he closed his palm the world would blink with it, and the chasm dividing us was renewed; each time it grew smaller, inch by inch, and would until his jaw met my inevitable fist, or that was the plan.

I needed a way to take control, but how?

“Give up now,” he jeered between jumps. “How long can you keep this up? Twenty minutes, maybe an hour? In time your focus will wane and you’ll be exhausted; meanwhile I’ll be able to carry on. I could do this all day!”

I tried not to listen. He was trying to get under my skin; that, or he just loved the sound of his own voice, which seemed weird for a guy who sold himself as a pragmatist. Next he’d break out into his ‘new universe’ spiel to sell the gospel according to Ted. Gods, I needed to stop him, if only to be spared from that.

Screw it. Time to invent a Plan B; anything would do.

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Shimmer #27 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 27)

GlimmerGirlI shook my head to make sure I wasn’t delirious, or seeing things, or something; because what stood before my eyes just wasn’t right. Could it really be her, sneaking around the hideout of a nigh omnipotent supervillain, and coming to my rescue? To think, of all the weird things that had happened the last few weeks this was what took me off guard.

“What are… you doing here?” I whispered. “How did… you find me?”

Tanya poured over the benches and brushed tools aside in search of something; a key, maybe? Not that there were any locks on Dr. Vortex’s machine. I was bolted in tight; letting me out was probably never an option for him.

“You know you’re internet famous, right?” she laughed. “The Glimmer Girl hashtag is pretty hot right now. People have been posting sightings since you started. All it took was a search engine, registering accounts to some networking sites I’d usually never touch, and voila!”

“That’s… the stupidest thing… I’ve ever… heard…”

The sounds of destruction bellowed nearby; sirens crackled into silence, and shots fired. Dr. Vortex had started his rampage anew, and he wasn’t wasting any time.

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Shimmer #26 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 26)

GlimmerGirl

I woke hanging by my arms, contorted and aching. Trying to move was agony; there were clasps on my limbs that pulled in every direction. It was like waking up in a nightmare BDSM video, only worse.

Dr. Vortex looked up from his work station and wandered to my side. Either he was moving very slowly, or I was groggy; funny, I didn’t remember passing out. Maybe he’d drugged me; that seemed like the sort of thing he’d do.

He pried my eyes open, leaned close to examine them and pulled away before I could shake him off. A rough palm double tapped my cheek, and then pressed my forehead to make sure I was facing him.

“This next part requires you conscious,” he instructed. “It will be very painful, but if it brings you any comfort try and remember that it’s for a good cause.”

I wheezed more than I laughed. “So you can… change the world… right?”

The villain paused, and sighed. “More than that, in ways your pedestrian mind could never hope to comprehend; but for the purpose of our arrangement let’s say yes.”

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Shimmer #25 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 25)

GlimmerGirl

Space is big; I mean really, really big. You’d think after growing up on Star Trek and re-runs of Cosmos (you know, the old one) that I would have understood, but it’s not the kind of thing you can grasp until you’re out there…

In the void…

Further from home than you have been… or will be again.

I shot toward the distant marble with all the force I could. What if I didn’t make it? I’d choke or burn or freeze or explode in the vacuum, or something!

My chest grew tight; if I’d needed to breathe I’d have spent all my oxygen on panic. I tried to reason that it wasn’t too far; that it only took seven or so minutes for the light from the sun to reach the Earth, and I was a lot closer; it still didn’t dull the ache of the expanse.

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Shimmer #24 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 24)

GlimmerGirl

The dock was silent under the twilight. Concrete stretched between a labyrinth of crates, each stacked a dozen high. As evening waned the floodlights came on and cast shadows of heavy machines across the yard. At the end of it all by the water’s edge was a row of ships, each of them the size of an upturned building. Finding one person, or even a hundred, would be impossible; assuming Dr. Vortex deemed to hold them there.

They could have been anywhere! The last time I fought Dr. Vortex I’d only gotten a taste of his space-bending power; who knew how far he could reach? Moving trucks one minute, plucking hostages the next, all with a wave of his hand; it’s like playing chess with a god.

I perched on the arm of a crane and scanned the area. The wind ran chills through my costume and threw hair in my face. Gods, not even the elements were on my side.

Dr. Vortex didn’t make a sound when he appeared; he just stepped out of the thin air that ran off his body like quicksilver. He stood with legs apart, positioning himself on the bars of the crane, and folded his hands in front of him. He appeared neither pleased nor displeased, and lifted his head.

“Well?”

The wind knocked me as I found balance. My eyes were locked on him, searching for whatever weakness had evaded me, or something else. Did he have some kind of secret weapon; something up his sleeves?

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Shimmer #23 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 23)

GlimmerGirl

The message I sent was vague enough: “rly need 2 talk @ my hous asap.” More would have been too much to risk over text.

Sure enough 3:30 rolled around, and so did the green beetle by the curbside. Tanya stepped out of the driver’s side blinked at what remained of the door, and ran in to where I was sitting on the stairs.

“KC! What the actual hell!?”

“Dr. Vortex,” I told her. “He was at school, then here, and when I tried to go to go after him…”

Tears burned down my cheeks as I gasped for breath. Funny, but the rest of me was freezing, like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. My arms trembled as they supported my forehead, the last thing keeping me from collapsing into a ball. The sobbing was uncontrollable; not even Tanya’s support could stop them.

“Tell me everything,” she said.

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Shimmer #22 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 22)

GlimmerGirl

Traffic screeched to a halt as I sprinted across the road; no time to say “sorry, buddy; supervillain on my tail.”

I needed cover, I needed to change into Glimmer Girl, I needed to get away from innocent bystanders, and most of all I needed to do it before Dr. Vortex got the drop on me!

My feet were screaming somewhere around the Maxi-Mart; I’d made it a whole three blocks before the stabbing in my ribs made it impossible to run. Gods, how was I going to stand up to him when I was in such bad shape? If I was lucky I could keep my concentration up, and my hologram form could numb the pain.

I slipped into an alley and scoped for security cameras. If there were any I couldn’t see them, and screw it, I was already wasting too much time on my “secret identity.” In a flash I transformed into Glimmer Girl, shot into the sky like a firework and made for the edge of town at ten times the speed I could manage on foot.

The pain died away and made room for rage. “Where are you, you monster?” I spat into the wind and scanned the clouds, but save for the birds I was alone.

From my vantage I could see everything from Milestone Heights to the inner suburbs and to the city, even the dock yards around Portside; nothing. Traffic was smooth, there was no fire, smoke, sirens or destruction; it looked like any other day.

“Come on. I know you’re here!”

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Shimmer #21 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 21)

GlimmerGirl

I’d somehow managed to hide the cuts and bruises from my Mom; save for the screaming in my face the rest of the night was a blur. The words “grounded until college” lingered, though I didn’t grasp their meaning until I woke again the next morning. I was also nursing the worst headache of my life.

She drove me to school, and I pretended to not be half-dead. Gods, I could barely stand; my stomach was churning, my muscles aching, my ribs were on fire, and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. No problem, right? I just had to hide the pain for seven hours, and then I could go home and sleep.

That was, of course, if Dr. Vortex wasn’t coming for me. Ugh, screw my life.

It wasn’t until I was inside that I saw Tanya again; she was waiting for me, and noticed me first. She stepped up to make sure I could hold myself upright, and pressed a hand to my back, the one spot that didn’t feel like it was going to erupt into flames.

“Tell me everything,” she said.

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