“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.
“Because he’ll be waiting for me to do that,” I told her. “Anything I do he’s going to have some sort of plan for it, and then he’s going to hurt someone. I can’t deal with that. I’m just lucky nobody got hurt in the last fight.”
She inhaled and bit her lip. “Actually, the sudden shock of the truck caused one guy to have a coronary; but they say he’s going to be okay!”
“See? I gave a guy a heart attack!”
“You didn’t give a guy a heart attack,” Tanya groaned and nudged me back down, “and you’re not responsible for whatever Dr. Vortex does next. Someone is inevitably going to get hurt anyway because of him, which is all the more reason to call the cops.”
“Maybe you’re right.”
Muscles burned as I reached for my cell phone. It didn’t feel like I had any broken bones; I would have known if they were. The bruises, however, were going to stretch to my toes.
I activated the touch screen, and guess what was waiting for me. “Aw, hell.”
Tanya looked on as I scrolled down the list of messages and missed calls from my Mom, probably a hundred in total, or more.
“What does she say?” She cringed as she asked.
“Answer the phone,” I read aloud, “answer the phone… answer the phone NOW, if you don’t answer I will call the police, I called Tanya’s house and you weren’t there…”
“My Mom actually thought you were here but covered for you,” Tanya added.
I tried to sit up and went wide eyed. “Really? That’s… extraordinarily cool of her.”
She shrugged. “She knows you deal with crap at home. Anyway, what else does your Mom say?”
“Uh…” I continued to scroll down; every message was more desperate than the last. “Here she says she’s not mad, and then she says that she’s worried about me and is trying to do the right thing… oh, then she’s making me feel guilty for scaring her, and now she’s mad again…”
“You should call her.”
“After I get patched up,” I moaned and collapsed again.
Tanya frowned as she inspected my wounds and teased disinfectant at the patches in my costume. “Maybe you should tell her about Glimmer Girl,” she said.
I laughed. “Right; she can barely comprehend me not being a guy. How do you think she’d react if she knew I had superpowers?”
“Actually, yeah, maybe you’ve got a point.”
My head rolled so that my gaze rested on Tanya. Gods, what was she doing? She was playing nurse to a superhero and going along with all of my terrible ideas; I really never thought we’d be in a situation like this.
“Hey, thanks for being awesome through all of this,” I told her.
She shrugged. “Seriously, it’s no problem.”
“I mean it, though,” I continued; “you’re my best friend. You’re really going above and beyond, and even taking it when I’m being an ass to you.”
“Yeah, well, no matter how big an ass you are I’m going to be here,” she smiled. “Now shut up and let me take care of you before the painkillers make you say something you’ll regret, like you love me or some junk.”
My head was swimming, but I was smiling; probably because I’d forgotten about Dr. Vortex for all of two seconds. What was I going to do?
“Maybe going to the police isn’t such a bad idea,” I mused. “I mean they’re the police; they can be trusted, right?”
“You don’t have to be sarcastic,” Tanya chided.
I forced myself upright and leaned against the wall. “I’m not being sarcastic,” I told her, but she didn’t seem to believe me.
She furrowed her brow and sat by my side. “Worst case scenario is they tell you not to be Glimmer Girl anymore.”
“Worst case scenario is they slap me with public endangerment,” I scoffed. “This is real life. There’s no Commissioner Gordon, and last I checked I’m not Batman. Gods, I am so screwed.”
“Then you have to decide which is worse,” Tanya argued; “facing Dr. Vortex alone or facing the brunt of the law, unless there’s some mysterious third option I don’t know about.”
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Tanya and I glared at each other and worked out a plan. I grabbed for a wool cap to cover my wound while she threw a blanket over my costume; her Mom might have some questions, but she wasn’t going to probe deep.
“Come in,” Tanya called.
The door opened and there was Tanya’s mom, Tracy, looking past her and to where I lay. She twirled a strand of hair in her finger and breathed in as if she were about to apologize; the more she fretted the colder my blood ran.
“Justi… I’m sorry, Kaira; your mother is here,” she hummed. “She’s waiting for you downstairs.”
Tanya lingered between us, and then stepped up to usher the woman in the doorway out. “Tell her we’ll be down in a few minutes.”
“How does she look?” I dared to ask.
Tracy shuddered and stepped back. “Like she’s about to start World War III. I hope you have a good story, kiddo.” She looked to her daughter and shook her head. “I’ll put on some tea.”
The door closed, and we were alone again. Tanya gave me the same look you’d give a death row inmate. Suddenly I wished I was back in the ring with Dr. Vortex.
To be continued…