Shimmer #20 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 20)


“My head is killing me…”

Tanya lifted the gauze on my forehead and reeled. “Well, you did just get your ass handed to you,” she sighed.

I rolled in her bed, still in costume, and ached. “Did you see?”

“Everybody with a TV saw,” she said and patted the blood away; “and now all the local channels are talking about this Vortex guy, who they think he is, and where they think he comes from.”

Every time I closed my eyes I felt my body sink. The world kept spinning and I would slip under until I opened them again; my stomach kept turning. More than the pain, more than the nausea, there was the ever lingering thought that he would show up at any second to finish me off.

Tanya stroked my hair and drew strands from my eyes. “Kaira, listen to me.” Her tone weighed my thoughts to the ground. “You have to go to the police,” she said. “They’ve got people who can handle this. Maybe they can call in one of the big name heroes.”

“I can’t go to the police,” I whispered.

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Shimmer #19 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 19)


The punch landed somewhere downtown, around thirty floors above it. Next thing I knew the ground had vanished and I was snatched by gravity. I screamed before I remembered I could fly, and then turned on the power to halt in mid-air.

“Where the-?” I scanned the rooftops; Dr. Vortex was nowhere to be seen. What did he just do?

Before I could investigate I saw a shadow crawl, and looked up to see a semi-trailer whine as the carriage twisted in the air. Where did it come from? That didn’t matter as much as where it was going; straight through me and to the sea of commuters below.

I jerked to the side and scraped the hood as it flew by. How was I going to stop that thing? Maybe if I had super-strength…

Without thinking I shot after it and flew in tandem, and inside of seconds I was shooting light blasts at the pavement, bringing traffic to a halt and making room for the inevitable crash. I stopped, and the truck continued to fall; it smacked against the ground, splitting the asphalt and shattering glass with a deafening echo.


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Shimmer #18 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 18)


I felt bad running out on my Mom mid-argument; you’d think that flying toward a disaster at the speed of sound I’d have more important things on my mind, but no. All I could imagine was the anger, bitterness and disappointment that would be waiting for me when I went home for round two.

Soaring down to street level I skirted the pavement and made a fast lasting behind a car at the police barricade. The officers on either side jumped at my sudden appearance and fell on their asses. They crawled back to their cover, wounded only in ego.

“Sorry,” I told them. Note to self: next time give people a little warning.

One of them grabbed the receiver on her shoulder. “Captain, we’ve got Glimmer Girl on scene,” she said. Her eyes danced between me and the literal train wreck with carriages folded over one another; there was crying and screaming coming from inside.

“What’s the situation?” I asked, but she didn’t appear to be listening.

The radio squawked back; “Glimmer Girl is a civilian. Get her the hell out of here!”

Before she could act our shield vanished with a heavy fwoom. We were sitting out in the open, and while the two cops dashed in opposite directions I was still crouched, wondering where in the hell our cover had gone. I stood, looked around, confused for a moment; and that was when I saw him.

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Shimmer #17 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 17)


“You’ve been cutting classes,” she said. “Don’t bother trying to lie about it, because I’ve been talking to your teachers.”

I looked down, exhaled, and sunk into the sofa. The next few hours were not going to be fun.

Mom paced back and forth, every so often stopping to sigh and cradle her brow. “I’m going to assume that you’re not out there doing something terrible, like taking drugs or some such,” she started. “You’re much too sensible for that.”

“Thanks.” Credit where credit’s due, I guess.

Her glare fixed on me and scanned me over, as if somehow she could just know without my saying; you know, Mom powers and all of that. After drawing a deep breath she arched back and sighed. “It’s about a boy, isn’t it?”

The look on my face must have been priceless, because I’d never seen her so smug.

“You don’t have to hide it, Justin,” she said. “I’ve known you were gay since you were very, very small, and so does your father. It’s not a problem. One of my best friends at work is gay, and I love hearing stories about him and his husband.”

These were words I never thought I’d have to speak, but “Mom, I’m not gay… I think.”

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Shimmer #16 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 16)


School was out; finally!

I met Tanya by her car. She didn’t ask about Adrian, probably because she knew I wouldn’t listen to another lecture; not like he mattered once the last bell rang.

She lifted a brow and drew out her keys. “Oh, you’re wanting a ride today,” she mused. “No more flying for Ms. Kaira?”

“I had to come down sometime,” I quipped.

Tanya paused and leaned on over the driver’s door. “You know, you never answered my questions. Where did you get that costume from; and where do you keep it when you’re, you know, in disguise or whatever?”

“Nowhere, really,” I told her. “It was there. Maybe it was something I dreamed up subconsciously, I don’t know, but it’s like whenever I need it it’s there.”

“Completely?” she pressed.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean like, when it changes you, is it just your costume, or…?”

Oh my gods; she didn’t.

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Shimmer #15 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 15)


They say everyone loves a hero; boy, they weren’t kidding. Talk of Glimmer Girl was everywhere! On TV, on blogs, and especially at school, everyone was chattering non-stop about the hot new cape that had come to our town.

It was weird to think that they were all talking about me. I’d even heard some of the guys on Adrian’s basketball team saying how much they’d “love to bang her.” Can you imagine what they would say if they knew the object of their misdirected desire was the same “queer thing in senior class” that their teammate had been beating on?

Even the girls were getting in on it. I’d heard one of the school captains say that Glimmer Girl was a “feminist youth icon of the twenty-first century.” Tanya had even heard of one girl crossing her fingers chanting “please-be-a-lesbian, please-be-a-lesbian… or at least bi.”

All this after just two weeks of flying around, literally pulling kittens out of trees, helping the elderly cross the street; oh, and the one time I actually did chase down a purse snatcher on the street! Funny, but being a superhero was just like being a girl scout, only with a cooler uniform. I never would have imagined it to be this easy.

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Shimmer #14 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 14)


My body hovered as I curled through the jags of the former window pane. The smoke was no obstacle, but the infra-red spectrum was flooded with searing red. Layer upon layer lined the maze of the apartment building; how was I supposed to find one man in the middle of all the chaos?

I pressed further; past what was once a bedroom and into the blazing kitchen. Tiles cracked like egg shells and shards of glass littered the ground. Wooden stakes like spears toppled across the main hall, then withered in the intense heat. Gods, if I couldn’t fly over them…

The apartment numbers seared like brands on the doors. D086, D088, D090; each fell with a clumsy blast from my finger cannon, and I called into each of them. “Mr. Geong! Mr. Geong, are you in here!?” I was screaming over the crackle, but there was no sign of him.

Soaring as fast as I could I scoured the other side of the hall and searched the apartments one by one. Suddenly the roof collapsed and I jerked back, narrowly avoiding the porcelain bowl that split on the concrete beside a melting polyester sofa.

It was no use; my search was taking too much time. How did I know I hadn’t missed him? Maybe he was unconscious, choked out on fumes. I had to keep looking.

“Mr. Geong!”

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Shimmer #13 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 13)


Do you know what it’s like to stand twenty seven stories in the sky with nothing to hold you up? There’s no real way to describe it. My stomach braced itself waiting for the fall that wasn’t coming; instead I kept climbing and thrust toward the gathering I could make out on the roof.

The smoke did nothing to stop me; shouldn’t I have been choking on it? Funny, but with the powers turned on I didn’t seem to need oxygen. How much had they changed me?

Even through the blackness as thick as it was I could see the people on the building as clear as day; the heat of their bodies lit them up like neon against the backdrop of what I guessed were radio and wifi signals.

Bright red licked the guts of the building as I glided by; the heat must have been intense, but I couldn’t feel it. There was only the warmth of whatever had taken me and nothing more. If I didn’t know any better I would have sworn it was a dream.

The gathering on the roof seemed confused when I scaled the ledge. Of course they were; I mean, how often do you see a flying girl with a hood land right in front of you? Women and men of all ages and their children stepped back, not sure what to make of the mysterious figure.

“Maybe it’s an angel,” I heard from the whispers.

I reached out and shot what I hoped was a trusting smile. “No, I’m a superhero,” I told them. “I’m here to help, if you’ll let me.”

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Shimmer #12 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 12)


After an hour of searching we found free parking in the city. Tanya pulled to the curb and killed the engine.

“He really didn’t tell you anything?” she pressed.

Leaning back in the passenger seat I pulled my knees to my chest and sat my feet on the glove compartment; I was probably flashing beneath my skirt to passersby, but whatever. Just thinking about that creep sent a shiver up my spine.

“You don’t suppose,” Tanya thought, “he got the same weird firefly powers that you did. I mean, you were both in the same place, at the same time; you don’t really know what happened.”

I snapped. “Last thing I need to think about is that freak flying around with the power to shoot lasers out of his fingertips.”

She paused. “Sorry…”

Ugh, way to go, Kaira. “No, I’m sorry,” I sighed. “I keep thinking about all of this and… things like this don’t happen to people like me. One day I’m being pushed around, the next I can fly. Not only that but I’ve got some old freak obsessing about it, and me, and I don’t know what to do.”

Tanya grinned as she reached to the back seat. “I’ll tell you what you do. You forget about that guy because he’s boring and useless, and you do that thing we were talking about by using…” She stretched and ferreted around underneath the CDs, dirty clothes, textbooks, loose handouts and soda bottles, then returned with a black box; “this.”

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Shimmer #11 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 11)


When people think about Milestone City there are certain images that come to mind; like new glass skyscrapers that rose from streets as old as the first colonies. People still talk about the corporate sector like it’s a new thing, like it hadn’t been there since before I was born. They’re also quick to remind you that the problems of the ‘old world’ are still hanging like an old smell; you know, street crime and all that.

“It’s dangerous at night,” my mom always told me; not that I had reason to be there after dark. Technically I was still a kid, too young for clubs, too young to hang out with the college crowd; best there was for Tanya and I were the department stores, and even then we’d only go a few times a year.

“Parking costs a goddamn fortune,” she complained, “and screw taking the bus.” She had a lot of horror stories about taking the bus; so we stayed married to the suburbs, because it wasn’t like we had anything better to do.

Where my science teacher, Mr. Drew, was taking me was a whole different experience. It was one thing to know that your hometown had some of the finest technical facilities in the country, but it was another thing to see them up close. The hybrid cars by the road, the geometric architecture and fresh laid grass looked like a world just born.

“Welcome to InfiniTech R&D,” Mr. Drew hummed, the taste of sentimentality in his tone; “where the future comes alive or some such.”

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