Shimmer #05 – Year One (Part 3)
“My name is Dr. Fellows,” the bearded man said plainly. “Teddy if you like, though most refer to me by my professional title.”
He offered me his hand and I shook it nervously, all the while his cool unblinking gaze rested on me like a cold, wet blanket. There was something about him that threw me off center, something perverse. His eyes seemed to go right through me: it was almost as though he could see my naked soul twitch.
“Uh… hi, doc.”
The title didn’t seem to gel with his sensibilities, but there was no way I was going to call him ‘Teddy’ or anything else that familiar. All I wanted was to answer his questions, leave and forget all about him, though that didn’t seem likely.
Dr. Fellows cleared his throat and pulled himself feebly back into the cart to rest. He was probably still weak from the accident which led me to wonder why he wasn’t still in hospital.
“Mr. Crowe. Could I have a moment alone with Mr. Cade here?” the doctor asked.
Artemis folded his arms and cocked his head suspiciously. Evidently he wasn’t too fond of this guy either. “No can do, I’m afraid. My job is to monitor your condition at all times while you’re conducting this investigation.”
“Then please monitor it from outside of decibel range.”
“When I say ‘monitor your condition’,” Artemis explained slowly, “that means mental as well as physical. The last thing we would want is for anything… inappropriate to happen.”
“Inappropriate?” I squawked in terror. I knew he was a creepy perv!
Dr. Fellows huffed at his colleague’s insinuation. The last thing that he needed was for me to dislike him anymore than I already did. “Very well, Mr. Crowe. Do stay, but please refrain from projecting your own wicked thoughts upon me.”
“Apologies, gov,” the spy nodded.
“Now,” the doctor began as he set his attention once more on me. “From the beginning. Tell me everything you know of the shimmering girl beginning with your first encounter.”
I turned to Artemis for his approval. His distrust of the creepy physicist gave him solid points in my score book. When he signaled that it was alright I told him everything I could from being chased by Adrian to falling in the drainpipe to meeting the shape-shifting shimmering thing and finally to my fight with Death Engine.
He hung intently on every word and called for me to clarify my point several times. This was all fascinating to him, but whatever. All I wanted to know was if he could turn off my powers or drive them out somehow.
“We’ll see,” he said. “One way or another I promise that everything will be soon remedied.”
Somehow that didn’t bring me a lot of comfort.
“Now let me ask you some personal questions. Some of them may be uncomfortable to answer, but all are important,” the doctor continued. “The form that the shimmering girl had adopted: was she familiar to you?”
I shook my head, “no.”
“It didn’t adopt the form of a friend or a relative, or a fictional character, perhaps?”
“Was she the product of a sexual fantasy?”
I blinked unsure of how to respond. What kind of a question was that? “Er,” I protested, or would have if I had the nerve.
“You are a virile young man who has just entered his sexual adolescence. The entity took its current shape upon physical contact. This is not an unreasonable question.”
At the time I didn’t understand how invaded I’d felt and could only answer sheepishly, “no…”
“I see,” the doctor mused. He didn’t care one way or the other how humiliating his questions were, he merely wanted to probe my words for the sake of his own understanding and benefit. “Well then, Justin, what, if anything, do you think you might have done to prompt the shimmering girl to take this shape?”
“Maybe that’s just what she looks like.”
Dr. Fellows searched my expression for any sort of sign. He probably knew that I wouldn’t tell him the whole truth, especially if he was going to ask things that were usually so private. I could see the each question forming in his mind which he intended to lay down with surgical precision. At this rate I knew my poker face wasn’t going to last.
The next one struck like a hammer in the dark. “Have you ever fantasized about being female or derived pleasure from wearing female attire?”
The bottom fell out from under my chest and left me feeling hollow inside. My response was an automatic and defensive “no” that had been sharpened over many, many years of denial followed by the expected “that stuff is gross.” I fought very hard not to argue anymore: there was a saying about he who protests too much.
Studying me further the doctor gave pause. He was a shark sniffing out my shame like blood in the water, but I didn’t give way. Soon he was satisfied and moved on to something else.
“Well then,” he continued with a forced smile, “perhaps it’s time to see what these powers of yours can do.”
The doctor looked around at the wide concrete space provided us and was bewildered. “Why else do you think we brought you here? If we simply wanted to exchange words we could have stayed back at the hospital. At least there I could be enjoying a Jell-o snack while Mr. Crowe chats up a young male nurse named ‘Bradley’.”
I spun around to Artemis and wondered how literally to take what I’d just heard. The spy didn’t flinch at all like nothing serious had just been said.
“So this is like… my testing grounds?” I asked. It really did seem like too much trouble for a kid like me: after all, how important was I in the grand scheme of things?
Dr. Fellows grinned coldly. “In a word, yes. Welcome to TASK, Mr. Cade. It’s going to be a long road ahead.”
* * * *
The Red Wraith massaged his nose through the red and black shroud with stewing contempt. Through it his solid yellow eyes placed in his skull by demonkind projected his hatred from one end of the table to the other.
“Let me get this straight.” He gestured with a gloved hand for the simpering clown to come closer. “You’re saying that this little sunspot took my heaviest hitter, flew him up into the sky and then what?”
“Dropped him straight into a garbage truck, Mr. Wraith, sir,” Punching Judy whimpered while cradling her arm in a sling. Though her strength and knowledge were both formidable they were nothing compared to that of her boss, master and all around dictator in chief.
“Head first,” he concluded from the previous telling. Pressing his tie down the Red Wraith leaned forward with mild interest. “Can one assume that he survived this fall?”
“He’s banged up pretty bad,” she said, “but he tells me he’s had a lot worse.”
“What about the job I sent you to do?”
Judy shook her head, prompting several fearful glares from the villains lining the board room. She bowed her head, gritted her teeth and protected her white and purple head from the certain brutal punishment about to be inflicted upon her.
Leaping to the top of the table the king of the villains marched back and forth kneeling down only to froth in the faces of his underlings. The Red Wraith roared as he reached down and flung his chair to the wall, then began to evangelize like a preacher to his flock with a sermon of destruction. Words slathered from his mouth like hate-infused morsels jaded by the thought that his society was not actually indestructible.
“Friends! Deviants! Sinners all! The fated day has come upon us in which a hero will try to ‘save the day.’ All that we have fought for to bring this microcosm that is Milestone City into being may yet crumble around us all because a stupid little cheerleader believes in the status quo! Will we stand for this!?”
The gathering sat in hushed pause fearful of making themselves a target for their master’s anger. What fate beheld the first to speak was too horrifying even for the greatest of all nemeses to imagine.
“No, we won’t,” their leader said simply as he turned his attention once more on the clown. “You must understand that we, dear Judy, represent something far greater than that. We are not merely a team of villains, rogues, thugs and hoodlums: we are a society in and of ourselves, a society of sin! Freedom! Justice! The nature of man… and woman… unfettered! Hell, the American dream itself! Do you agree?”
“Aye!” the clown whimpered tearfully.
Spinning to the other members of his table the Red Wraith declared furiously “I can’t hear you!”
“Aye!” the furious dozen roared, prompted by the surge of anger and palpable vengeance flowing through their leader’s words.
Shifting about the villainous leader took stock of the evildoers under his command. “We’re going to find that little sunspot,” he said to the mob, “and we’re going to bring the war she just started right to her doorstep! We didn’t start this, but I’ll be damned if we’re not finishing it!”
The group began to whisper among themselves. Milestone City hadn’t seen a hero in the many years since the Red Wraith took power. Most were hungry for a challenge.
“So, who’s going to volunteer to flush her out?” the big boss asked as he collapsed back into his chair. He scanned the eager grins stretching across the desk from Dyna Might through to the glass-skinned Acid Sprite and to Eldrith and Sylvana, the satanic Six-Six-Sisters. “I only need one, but rest assured you will all get your chance.”
None dared raise their voice except the one who chilled the marble table as she rested her hand upon it. “I will, sir.”
Red Wraith stood and walked to the side of the frozen beauty with silver hair and pale skin. Frost formed on his glove and the arm of his jacket when he placed his hand on her shoulder and gave it a brief squeeze: an uncomfortable action she was not nearly brave enough to deny him.
“You, Lady Snow?” he mused foully.
“Unless you think I am unable, sir,” she said as she stood to meet him. Her hand brushed up his arm as she proceeded to give the Red Wraith an entirely different kind of cold shoulder.
From under his shroud the villain smiled. “Not at all, Lady Snow, not at all. You are one of my most capable, fine, well trusted lieutenants with an extremely well rounded…”
“That’s not a good place to get frostbite,” she warned.
She had a quick wit and dared to speak back: he liked that a lot.
“Well then, you have work to do,” Red Wraith told her. “Go now, find the girl, and lead us to victory.”
“As you say, sir,” Lady Snow said and then bowed before immediately starting her mission.
* * * *
Things had changed for the weirder, there was no denying it, and I was quickly getting used to the idea that life was never going to be normal again.
The track team had moved on with a new sub-captain, Adrian Dempsey seemed to have discovered a semi-legitimate reason to hate me and the two spooks from TASK were constantly calling me in to be their science experiment: and then there were those weird dreams of flying and the soft fire that transformed me into the shimmering girl.
It would always start the same way, with my foot striking the ground and propelling me from the earth, forcing me upward to the embrace of a wide, empty sky. Then I would stop and panic and remember how the last time it all went horribly wrong.
There wasn’t much chance of my sleeping after that. How could I when my dreams had potentially devastating real life consequences?
After a while of staring blankly at the ceiling I stood and walked to the wardrobe. I furrowed around in a cavity beneath the lower drawer, my hiding place where I’d once hidden a trove of shameful things but I’d since been rid of them. In their place was only the gold, orange and white costume that had materialized out of nowhere.
I stared, bewildered and amazed, and pondered all of the unanswerable questions put to me during those long interrogations. What had the shimmering girl done to me? Was the costume her creation? And if it still dwelled in me why did it become a superhero? I didn’t want that kind of power or responsibility, so maybe she was doing it for kicks.
Funny, she didn’t seem to have a sense of fun in the storm pipes. Maybe it was something she learned while inside of me. Yeah, right.
“Yeah, good one, goldie,” I huffed spitefully and threw the costume into the corner in a brightly colored wad.
Casting myself back down under the sheets I stifled a scream. That #&$%ing shimmering girl! Damn that gods-damn shape-shifting thing! It had taken away my refuge and left me pressed against a wall of misery and doubt.
I couldn’t run from my problems: not anymore, and now they were going to eat me whole.
Time passed in a blur. In a long, tired blink I found myself suddenly at school listening to the muffled sounds of students chattering away about their trivial lives. It was like I was listening to them talking underwater.
Suddenly there was a hand that made me jump. It said “are you okay, JC?”
Snapping to I suddenly remembered that twelve hours had gone by and I’d managed to sleepwalk through every single one. I was sudden aware Tanya and the table between us where we sat with a tray of Sloppy Joes. Maybe it was the insomnia or something else entirely, but I felt like I was losing my grip on reality.
Tanya leaned forward still expecting an answer. “Earth to Justin. Is there life in there? Do we need to call a rescue party?”
“Sorry,” I groaned and pressed my head against the table.
“Let me guess,” my b.f.f continued, “you haven’t been sleeping.”
“What was it that gave it away? The dark rings under my eyes? The zombie lurch? The way I nearly fell asleep in history class?”
“Maybe you need the home version to get a better night’s rest,” she said. “Actually it’s because we’ve been sitting here for five minutes and you haven’t touched your food.”
I pushed the tray away. “You want it? You can have it.”
Tanya grinned widely and pulled it in front of her. “Really? Wow, thanks. I don’t know why, but I’ve been starving lately.”
“Maybe you’re pregnant.”
“Not unless you crawled into my room to do unspeakable things in the dead of night,” she quipped and took a huge bite from the burger.
As hard as I tried to lose myself in the humor I was still plagued by the same questions over and over again. Who was the shimmering girl? Why did she pick me? None of it made any sense and it grated constantly on my nerves.
“Hey, Tanya, can I ask you something?”
Her eyes beamed the message right back combining ‘you just did’ and ‘you can ask me anything’ in one sarcastic glare.
Feeling like an idiot I chuckled weakly and scratched my head. “Yeah, um… I know this is going to sound really stupid, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot.”
“What is it?”
“If I was a superhero,” I began cautiously, “what do you think I’d be like?”
Taking a hard gulp Tanya smirked and shook her head. “Wow, JC. Weren’t we having this conversation months ago? I must have really gotten to you, huh?”
She had no idea.
“Well, you’re no dark avenger, so urban vigilante is right out,” she speculated, “and the adventurer type is not you at all, so you’d probably be one of the goody good compassionate to all shining beacon of hope kind of guys with a strong moral compass, concrete ethics and all that junk, like Captain America or Superman…”
“Or Wonder Woman,” I muttered.
Of course she didn’t get the joke. “If you say so. Still, if you had your way you would be truth, justice, humility and compassion all wrapped up in one neat little package.”
I was quick to laugh the idea off: Tanya not so much.
“It’s true,” she argued. “Believe it or not underneath the sarcasm and the broodiness there’s a really good person who just wants to do the right thing. It’s just that doing the right thing seems to be terrifying a lot of the time.”
Yeah, right, I thought. “I don’t feel that good a person.”
Turning back to her burger Tanya sighed and took another bite. “You’re not the one who gets to decide that, you know. Trust me, if you had superpowers you would make a great hero.”
Slumping further forward I was swimming in a thick soup of thought. Was that who the shimmering girl was: the good person that I was supposedly afraid to be? It was one idea, and probably the one I’d most been trying to avoid.
* * * *
Every so often it seemed like time would stop. It didn’t matter what I was doing: I could be doing homework, watching a movie or sitting in the middle of an exam and there would suddenly be a well dressed Englishman driving a different European sports car each visit to drag me off to somewhere outside of reality for the purposes of science.
I was the government’s guinea pig and there was nothing I could do about it. The few times I did protest Artemis would immediately tell me that “we can do this here or we can do this in the Chamber. Either way we need to know if you’re any kind of a threat. It’s all standard procedure.”
The Chamber, he explained, was a superhuman detention facility at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Residents had little to no human rights and were regarded as nothing more than loaded weapons waiting to go off. San Quentin apparently had nothing on that place.
Over the weeks we managed to work our way into a routine: a silent car ride led to the underground facility where an eerily straight faced Dr. Fellows would ask me if I’d brought the costume. After that came uncomfortable hours of poking, prodding and cold examination that sought to bring the shimmering girl out.
This session was going to be no different.
“You need to wear the costume, Mr. Cade,” he told me just as he had dozens of times before. “Whether you know it consciously or not this mere garb may be the key to releasing the shimmering girl.”
“But it’s humiliating,” I whined knowing that it would be no use. Soon, however, I would have no choice but to give in and pull myself into the stretchy tight bodysuit.
Satisfied, Dr. Fellows sat behind a monitoring relay and examined me on multiple spectrums. Meanwhile Artemis lingered behind and tried his best to break down the readouts into something a layman could understand.
I covered up as best I could but continued to feel violated by the sensor nodes positioned around the room. They were catching me at my most vulnerable and were recording it all for geniuses to pull apart like meat from a roasted chicken.
A twisted reflection stared back from the sheen of Artemis’ car of the day: of me garbed in brightly colored tights and a ridiculous looking skirt that would draw more attention than I’d ever want. This, I mused to myself, was how the shimmering girl manifested itself: not by transforming my body into something that I was able to comfortably live in, but instead to taunt me by becoming the trappings of an unattainable identity.
Answers be damned, I wanted to go home. It wasn’t as though Dr. Fellows had been willing to give them, or even share with me what had happened leading up to his coma. Yet as hard as I tried to protest I was either ignored or silenced with a single word: “wait.”
Day by day rolled by where I gave in and ran their stupid tests. It took nearly a week just to consciously access that alien energy that dwelled inside me, and from there the mad science began.
With each experiment we seemed to discover a new power. First was flight, then came projecting force bolts and heat blasts, then finally we learned about more complicated abilities like sharing power and turning invisible, both of which used science beyond my high school comprehension. All I managed to grasp was that I was a living hologram running on a short timer: the longer I used my powers the more difficult they were to control.
Ultimately they only had roughly a three to five hour charge before they were exhausted for the day, though Dr. Fellows theorized that my endurance would increase as I became more practiced. As if. That was the very last thing I wanted.
You’d think it would be every kid’s dream come true to get powers, but not me, and it wasn’t as though they were mine anyway: they belonged to the shimmering girl who lived inside of me. Which lead me to the important question: “so how do I get this thing out of me?”
The bearded physicist stopped, paused and considered me curiously. “Pardon?” he asked quizzically, though I had a feeling he was playing dumb again.
“The shimmering girl,” I told him. “How do I get her out so that you can put her in a Petri dish or nuclear accelerator or whatever it is you guys do so that I can get out of here?”
Dr. Fellows blinked, scratched his facial hair and made even more effort to avoid eye contact than usual. “Well, truth be told I’m not sure that we can, Mr. Cade. The shimmering girl is like nothing we’ve ever seen before and it seems to be fully integrated into your physiology. It’s not even detectable out of hard light form, even as background radiation.”
Great, I thought. One more piece of crap to add to the stink pile I call a life.
“You should be happy,” the doctor continued. “I thought it was every little boy’s dream to grow up to be a superhero.”
“Yeah, well not me.”
“And why is that?” he pressed, suddenly completely invested in every word I had to say.
I fidgeted about shamefully, not sure how to explain that the words ‘little boy’ were often uncomfortable for me: and that like every child I had fantasies about the amazing, unrealistic things I wanted to be when I grew up, but a strong, muscular hero reveling in the glory of his accolades was not one of them.
“Have you ever read Spider-Man?” I asked him.
“Yes,” Dr. Fellows admitted, “as research for my thesis on the superheroic god complex and the cultural factors that perpetuate it.”
“Well, his uncle had a saying-“
“That with great power comes great responsibility,” he continued. “Yes, I’m familiar with it, Mr. Cade.”
I shrugged, figuring my point was made. “And that’s why I don’t want to live that kind of life, because I know I couldn’t handle it.”
The physicist averted his gaze and continued his work. Yeah, like his life was any better than mine: like his problems were any more important, especially given the situation we were in. Sure, he had impossible numbers to crunch, but those life changing abilities had fallen onto me and I was the one who had to turn my whole world upside down to deal with them.
Suddenly he stopped and pressed a finger to his ear. His lips stiffened tightly as he turned to me. “Justin,” he ordered, using my name to assure my attention, “we’re going to perform an experiment. I need you at the riverside power station immediately.”
“You’re going to battle a super-villain.”
I froze in fear. He wanted to throw me to Death Engine again? “No way, doc. I kind of like living.”
“You have a better understanding of your powers now,” Fellows reasoned, “and a TASK assault division headed by Mr. Crowe will be behind you all of the way.”
Artemis raised his eyebrow as if to ask ‘I’m doing what now?’
“No,” I told him again firmly and stomped my foot on the ground for effect. I could hardly keep myself from shaking. Did he really know what he was asking? I would have sooner walked a tightrope over a pit of spikes than throw myself into a superhuman crime scene.
“It would be the perfect opportunity for the dormant psychological aspect of the shimmering girl to surface.”
“Why?” I spat horridly. “So you can advance your research and keep me in the dark? I’m really getting sick of these games, doc.”
“For all we know this may hold the key to your release,” Fellows continued in a slightly harsher tone.
“But we don’t know that, do we?”
Offering me an earpiece the bearded scientist allowed his frown to speak for him. ‘It’s this or the Chamber,’ it said in no uncertain terms whatsoever.
I took a last, heavy gulp. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire.
* * * *
Throngs of police surrounded the complex. Uniformed officers, SWAT teams and Captain Ramirez’ Meta-Crimes Division had every street cordoned off and every maintenance tunnel sealed as snipers and helicopters sat waiting anxiously above to make their move. It was high alert for them, but for the Society of Sin it was just another Thursday.
With the daylight running around my form I was completely invisible to the naked eye. Like a ghost I floated down to the building closer than the police were willing to dare. If I held my composure and remembered my training the bad guys wouldn’t even see me coming.
It wasn’t long before I was inside and hovering above the upper levels. The Society’s goons had holed up between the generators far from the walkways overlooking the ground.
Lady Snow marched in the direction of the main office, strutting like the cold tower of sex she seemed to think she was. I followed directly behind, waiting until we were alone before I took her out.
What little plan I had seemed like it was enough: stay invisible then blindside her with a concussive blast. There was no easier way to superhero recognition than that. All I needed was to muster up the courage to actually follow it through.
Suddenly the ice witch turned, and before I even blinked a violent pulse sent hard light fragments from one end of the complex to the other. When finally I pulled myself back together I could only baffle fearfully at her ability to see me coming.
“Did you really think I couldn’t feel you there?” she mused. “Pathetic.”
Of course she did. How was I stupid enough as to think it could end quickly? This was a member of the Society of Sin, for crying out loud! Sure, I’d taken Death Engine and Punching Judy down a notch, but that was a complete fluke.
Oh gods, what was I doing? There I stood finally in one piece with the villain’s chilling blue eyes slicing right through me. No more surprise attacks, first blood went to her: so would second if I didn’t think of something soon.
She began to pace in my direction. “So you’re the nameless wonder who put down my comrades. Very amusing, but you should have stepped out of the spotlight when your fifteen were up!”
No more rookie mistakes: that was my resolution, especially against an old pro like Lady Snow. I didn’t waste any more time talking. Taking to the air I hurled bolt after bolt in her direction with the realistic expectation of her taking some damage.
Instead the seasoned villain sneered as my attacks bore harmlessly into her body. It didn’t make any sense: why couldn’t I hurt her!?
“What exactly do you think it is I do, little girl?” she remarked. “By the look on your face I can tell you have absolutely no idea.”
The more time she spent talking the less time she spent kicking my ass. That had to be a good thing, right? Though she laughed off my blasts I doubted that a hard light fist to her jaw would leave her smiling.
“Cold beams, ice energy,” I said while projecting myself across the room. “What’s not to get?”
Still she cackled: though whether it was at my pitiful attack or my failure to comprehend basic science I did not know. Maybe she was laughing at my obvious lack of a plan after I failed to hit her the first three times. Suddenly a career based around saving cats from trees didn’t seem so bad.
Lady Snow was out of talk and started firing in my direction. While ducking and weaving wildly through the rafters I barely managed to avoid her blasts. Her eye was deadly accurate and it seemed only inevitable that she would hit me soon.
“You’re a fast one, little girl. I’ll give you that,” the villain called. She ran across the platforms, chasing me with her blasts in a fast as light game of tag.
What did I think I was doing? Gods, I couldn’t run all day! There had to be a plan B… plan B…
Again I exploded across the ceiling and quickly reformed to grasp my head, arms and legs to make sure they were still whole. It wasn’t until I saw the shadow looming over me that I realized that Lady Snow was poised for another strike. I turned sharply from the corner I’d been pressed into and was met with an unforgiving smirk.
“I was hoping that last shot would put you down for good,” she mused. “No matter. This time I’m going to finish you for sure. There’s nowhere left to run.”
It was no use. I’d given her everything I had and it was all for naught. I tried to think of a fast escape plan but the callous Lady Snow wasn’t going to allow that either.
Through the roof I could hear the passing of helicopters and with it a chance at salvation. Lady Snow might not have been afraid of me but I was certain she would think twice before engaging the police. Beams from my fist exploded the ceiling, giving the snipers hovering above the clear shot they were searching for.
“Bitch,” she hissed before taking refuge behind a wide steel cabinet. If I was going to make an attempt at fleeing I should have made it then while I was out of her reach.
Something stopped me. Wasn’t this my chance to prove myself as a hero? I should have let it go: after all my powers were useless. She’d wipe the floor with me. Yet still I couldn’t bring myself to run: not before it was over. Gods, I must have been suicidal!
Under the noses of the gunmen I inched invisibly closer toward Lady Snow’s hiding spot. Chances were she knew I was coming, which only made my approach even less rational. It had to be some kind of temporary insanity, right?
Okay, I thought, now that I’m close what am I going to do next? My powers + her powers = bad news for me.
As the helicopters made another sweep I wondered what harm they could do that I couldn’t. Were bullets her one weakness? That’s all they had. What could bullets do that my hard light laser show couldn’t do ten times better?
Suddenly I could feel myself getting weak. I didn’t know what was happening. Was I running out of juice? It had never happened before. It must have been Lady Snow…
“I’ve got you…”
‘…Cornered,’ I’d meant to say. It was supposed to sound impressive and intimidating, just like when it was spoken by a real hero. A pity that I didn’t have a chance to say it before the icy cold hands wrapped around my larynx.
“Actually, I’ve got you,” she retorted. Clichés aside I was completely at her mercy. I could feel the amount of energy flowing directly into her.
The villainess seemed impressed. “Oh my. You really are a strong one. I was going to charge up once I got to the basement, but your power should do quite nicely.”
Only then did it click. “You’re a… le-leech…”
“How very astute. You may have determined this before if your head weren’t full of ‘cold energy’ and other things that defy the laws of physics. A quick lesson before you die: cold is what you get in the absence of energy, which I absorb in mass quantities: and that’s what you are, isn’t it? Soon I will absorb your light, and when that is gone there will be only darkness.”
Lady Snow carried me as easily as she would a ragdoll with one hand grasped around my neck. Her touch was burning with cold and like a balloon with a hole in it I felt myself being drained away. I could see in her eyes the intense charge she was receiving and how it made her even more fearless.
“Won’t… let you… get… aw-w-w-w…”
“But I already have, darling,” she proclaimed as she stepped out into the open. The villain was wary about being exposed and wasted no time in clearing the choppers away with a few wide shots.
This was it: the end was coming. I was no hero after all. Who was I trying to kid anyway? Just because I had powers didn’t mean that I was going to win every fight, or even my second. If nothing else I only hoped that my death would teach somebody that living out power fantasies will sometimes blow up in your face.
My last thoughts were about my Mom and Dad standing in the morgue looking at my remains and wondering why I’d put on such a ridiculous costume. Would they cry? Of course they would cry, but would they be tears of shame? Disappointment? Somehow I didn’t foresee them understanding any of it.
It couldn’t end this way: least of all for the ones I loved. There had to be something I could do to get away.
All I could see from where I was dangling was Lady Snow’s satisfied grin. So badly I wanted to raise my arms and blast her face but I was too weak. My limp wrists hung below me aimed at the floor: exactly where they needed to be.
In one desperate attempt I blasted the ground beneath her feet. That alone was not enough, but a second, third and fourth caused the level to give way, leaving both Lady Snow and myself to plummet to the station floor below.
Everything was black. Had Lady Snow won after all? If so I at least wouldn’t have to live down my defeat.
* * * *
TO BE CONTINUED…