March 25, 2012
This is the world we live in now. The greatest champions of our time shut away from the public and forgotten. But I haven’t forgotten, no I remember every act they ever did. The days have made me older and weaker, if some of the old crew could see me now. After the heroes left the world to protect itself, the military took over the government and now the law is final. This was not what those champions wanted for this world. It only worsened with the development of weapons and the power that led to the corruption of the government. The people looked to the skies and said help us. None answered because they were gone. The Bullet didn’t speed up and stop the fascists, the red queen didn’t blast anyone away, Stretch didn’t save anyone when the bridge was bombed, Mr. Invincible didn’t shield anyone from the bullets that were fired, The Black Hornet didn’t arrive and multiply himself to match the army that they had ,and the Nightmare, where was he? He was sitting alone, doing nothing as the world turned to dust. I can’t believe I just let it happen. This damn country never knew who we were, still don’t, but Robert believed we were getting old and I guess at the time I thought we did all we could for the city. We were wrong.
Suddenly a voice I heard shouting from an alley for help and I felt like I should do something. Then like a sucker punch to the jewels, it hit me. I’m not the Nightmare anymore I can’t help anyone. I hung up my gas mask ten years ago along with everything I believed in. But, but I couldn’t just let it happen….could I? I decided to do something and quickly ran down the alleyway. A girl was laying in a trash pile while three men surrounded her, one could see from the look in their eyes they did not have good intentions on their minds. I wasn’t as fit as I was twelve years ago, but I had to do something.
“Hey punks! Pick on someone your own size!” I said raising my fists.
“This don’t concern you old man! Why don’t you walk away before you get yourself in some trouble” One of the punks said.
“I like trouble” I said looking at the young men.
One of the young men swung at me, I ducked and punched him in the gut. The other two decided to attack together. Big mistake! Griping both their throats I choke slammed them on the ground. The adrenalin I felt at that moment passed quickly as I felt sharp pains in my chest and fell to my knees. This was it wasn’t it? This was what a heart attack felt like. The woman got up just in time for the police to arrive and see this old man griping his chest, surrounded by young men on the ground. Of course the cops arrive late as ever. I watched as the cops savagely beat the men who were already down on the ground and took the woman away. Even we didn’t beat someone anymore then they had to be.
“Hey Geezer are you ok?” One of our “fine” men in uniform asked me as I got up.
“I’m fine officer” I said as I walked past them.
“Move along sir” He said as I walked down the street.
I decided to walk to Robert’s house and see if the black hornet was interested in talking politics. I was the only one of the Guild to know everyone’s identity. They don’t know I have this knowledge and believe their identities to be safe now that they are out of public eye. Now look at what it’s got us. Robert told the rest of the team who he was because he trusted us. I admired that in him. I saw his apartment and slowly walked inside of the complex and up the three stories to his floor. I started walking towards his apartment when I saw the door was opened. I opened the door and saw signs of a struggle.
“Robert! Robert?! Are you there?” I shouted as I looked around the room.
I was shocked to see his belt was against the wall with a blade through it. He was trying to use it. My stomach twisted as my mind went to the worst of scenes. And just as I turned the corner into his bedroom I saw him. His body covered in blood and his costume was right next to him. I felt my body go numb. Robert was dead and someone wanted his body to be seen next to his suit. My train of thought was stopped by a beeping noise coming from behind me. As I turned around I saw the bomb that the killer or killers had left. Without thought I picked up Roberts body and ran out of his apartment. As I reached the second floor the explosion went off and people began running out of their apartments and running into me. I don’t blame them. Panic is the greatest and most dangerous effect that the human body can feel. It makes us unpredictable. As I reached outside I saw emergency services arriving, so I ran down the alleyways to avoid anymore questioning or worse accusation. Somebody did this to him and knew who he was. I couldn’t think about this now I just wanted to get home.
When I got home, the door was opened. I cautiously stepped inside. Breathing heavily I walked into the hallway and looked at all the damage that was done. There was no bomb that in sight for the moment. I looked into the living room and saw it was in worse shape than the rest of the house. Was this coincidence? I picked up a cigar and lit it. Of course it had to be I kept my identity safer than anyone of the guild. Suddenly I heard something, the sound was faint but I quickly ducked as an assassin’s knife hit my picture. Two assassins appeared in front of me. The one with the knives was apparently the Robin Hood whose knife was now in my picture. I would hope acting ignorant would avoid trouble.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my home? Please just take whatever you want!” I said trying to sound as helpless as possible.
“Cut the crap Nightmare. We know who you are!” One of the assassins said.
Fear gripped my body. How did they know who I was? This wasn’t a coincidence at all. Someone killed Robert because he was a hero and now they were after me. Acting the fool wouldn’t help me here.
“So, are you two responsible for Hornet?” I asked as I looked at both men, inspecting them.
“Does it matter? You will be joining him soon!” The other said as he pulled out his gun.
The one with the gun was apparently cocky and inexperienced from the way he stepped closer, wanting to kill me at point blank range; while the knife guy was more experienced he didn’t seem to be in control of his actions and would act impulsively. This could be gathered from his attempt to kill me soon. Or I could be wrong and my sixth sense has finally deceived me. I knew I wasn’t wrong.
Stepping closer to me was his last mistake. I grabbed his arm and punched him in the face. The pistol fell on the ground and let off a round. In a panic his partner threw a knife at me. That was the second mistake. I pulled the man in front of me to block the knife. It was a kill shot all right. It hit him right in the head. As his body grew limp I quickly picked up his gun. Hoping my heart wouldn’t give away like the last time. I shot the knife guy in the leg and he dropped his knife. I ran over to him as he put something in his mouth.
“Don’t you swallow it you bastard!” I said as I grabbed his neck.
It was too late, he started foaming at the mouth and within seconds he was dead. Someone was out to kill me and I wasn’t going to let them do it without putting up a fight. Nightmare would have to return. Running upstairs I broke the floorboard I hid my suit under. The gas mask looked as if it had been waiting for me. It shone in the moonlight and was ready to be worn. My revolver and gas pellets were just as welcoming. Packing cloths into bags was with my suit was difficult. I knew I couldn’t stay living here and that I had to disappear. Looking in the mirror I saw the angry man and his mask. Age had done a number on me. I wouldn’t let them think I was easy pickings. I let the gas run on my stove and waited outside. The funeral for Robert would be in a few days and I would be there ready to say goodbye. I lit the fuse id led out of my house. It went up in flames and I walked away from my quite life into the darkness of the world.
The funeral was small, but I recognised the guild members at glance. The rain was adding to the sadness of the atmosphere and the priests melancholy sermons. As they left I looked at his grave and waited for everyone to be gone before I started. I began talking to my friend remembering all the old talks we had.
“So I guess you know now huh? I was Nightmare. Then again I bet you knew all along didn’t you. You just wanted me to say it. The Smug smartass you are. So I guess you kinda wanted me to admit it?” laughing softly as if he was actually here I looked down at my feet.
“Remember how we used to always save each other’s butts when we were in deep. I guess I kind of let you down on that deal huh? Last time I checked we were pretty even in the score” I said as I looked at the tombstone, I bowed my head to look at what was written on the bottom.
All of a sudden a bullet grazed my shoulder. A young woman was holding a gun behind me and started shooting. I ducked behind the grave and shot back at her.
“Die you son of a bitch!” She screamed as the bullets hit the tombstone.
Pulling out my gun I stood up and fired at her while she was reloading. She hit the ground before firing another shot. Looking at the grave I felt like a coward hiding behind it.
“Even in death you want to win huh? Ok you won. Happy?” I said as i saw the words written on his grave.
“The Power of One man, can help the many” it said.
I started running toward the meeting place, they would be there later and then I would have answers.
They arrived in the quarry one by one. I knew who each one of them was, but they had no idea who the strangers next to them were. As they got closer I put the last of my suit on, my mask. I stood up and turned on one of the lights. William Humphreys, Scarlet Robinson, Scot Rosenberg, and Patrick Hopkins were all here and I was going to get some answers from each one of them. They all looked at each other and I turned on the next light to illuminate my position.
“Looks like we all have arrived.” I announced as they looked up to me.
“Whose there?” Scott said from below.
“It s the Nightmare!” Scarlet said as she looked up in shock.
“What’s he want?” William said as he stepped closer.
“You step any closer William and I will shoot you. Or is that what you want?” I said as he stopped in his tracks.
“How do you know His name?” Scott said as he stared at me with a nervous look in his eyes.
William got closer to me. I loaded my gun and shot William in the chest. They all grew quite as he hit the ground.
“Why did you kill him?!!” Scarlet asked me as her face showed anger and disappointment.
“That was an exploding round if it had killed him his torso would be in pieces. Isn’t that right Mr. Invincible?”I said as I saw William get up from the ground.
“How long have you known?”He said getting up.
“Longer than I’ve known about the rest of you.” I said as I looked at each of them.
“William Humphreys aka Mr. Invincible, Scarlet Robinson, formerly Scarlet Turner, AKA The Red Queen, Patrick Hopkins aka The Bullet, And Scott Rosenberg Aka Stretch.” I said smiling at each one of them.
“What do you want Nightmare?” Scott said as he saw no point in defending it.
“Three days ago Robert Kinsley Aka The Black Hornet was murdered by assassins and then they tried to kill me. They either underestimated me and sent run of the mill armatures or something else is going on here. I think we are all in danger. I don’t want to see anyone else murdered.” I said as I looked at my former comrades.
“No. Nightmare, there is no way I’m returning to being a hero. I have a family now I’m a mother damn it. Did you even consider that they don’t know who we are?” Scarlet said as her hands grew red.
“Who doesnt know Scarlet? The murderers or your Family?” I snapped at her, and she grew silent.
“We have new lives now Nightmare. It’s not the same as it once was. The world has changed and we have too. Robert’s death was a tragedy, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to put my suit back on and fight whoever’s doing this!” Patrick said as he walked towards the car.
“I’m giving all of you a week to decide on this offer; otherwise I’m doing this alone. If you all come to your senses meet me at this location. I’ll be here every night at midnight for one hour, expecting one of you to show. Of course I’m just being optimistic.” I said as they all looked at me.
“Goodbye Nightmare” Patrick said as he got into his car.
“I want nothing to do with you” William said as he walked towards his car.
Scarlet not saying anything got into her SUV and drove away.
Scott just looked at me and walked off.
I hoped for their sakes that this one time, I was just wrong about everything and old age had gotten to me. Oh how I hoped.
March 25, 2012
It was late when I got home and Andrew was working late again. "Working late" is his way of saying I’m going out to cheat on you with my secretary. I always acted naive about him coming home late smelling of perfume, and lipstick on his collar. But the problem at the moment wasn’t his cheating; it was that I couldn’t get Nightmare's words out of my head. Was he right? Would they be coming after my family and me? Or was his old age finally catching up to him? I didn’t know. All I knew was that Helen was asleep and I needed a coffee. Walking down the hallway I looked at the pictures of my family, as they lead me into the kitchen. I looked at the coffee maker on the counter and the cold coffee in it. Sighing I was about to turn on the pot to heat up the coffee when I paused. I looked at my hands and remembered the old days when I used her powers for anything I wanted. Now it was all a secret. I began to reminisce about the first day I joined the guild of justice.
I was seventeen and began learning how to control the powers I had. We all met each other in the city centre and began fighting. Stretch wrapped himself around the army of doppelgangers that the Black Hornet had formed with his technology, in an attempt to stop them from growing larger. At that moment I was shooting red energy at Mr. Invincible in an attempt to hurt him, it was a futile attempt thought. The fight broke out because we didn’t know who each other were. As a result we assumed that each of us was a super villain and didn’t want to wait to see what was going to happen if we let our guard down. The fighting stopped when a smoke pellet hit the ground and exploded. We all stopped and looked to where it came from. It was the Nightmare standing on a fire escape, looking down at us aiming his gun. He said we all looked foolish and revealed that each of us was a superhero and not a villain. That day we all agreed to become a team, a team that would protect the people of this fine country and as a result make it a better place for everyone. I think of that day now and wonder what if we stopped the military uprising, would the country be in such a bad situation?
I looked to my left and looked to my right. Smiling, I lifted the pot up and put the bottom of it on my hand. I let the energy flow through my body and suddenly my hand illuminated and the coffee began to boil. After ten years of retirement I still got it. Pouring the coffee into the cup I began sipping it. The sad thing was that heating that pot of coffee was the height of excitement I have had in a long time. The coffee tasted stale in my mouth, but I didn’t care. It seemed fitting for me to be sucking on stale coffee, after the day I’ve had. Nightmare was still in my head, how could I even consider going back to being a hero. I’m a mother now and married to someone. Granted that someone is a pencil neck, cheating, vain, piece of slime that would sooner turn me in to the cops for being a vigilante than lay next to me in bed. Leaning against the kitchen counter I looked out the open window at the moonlight. Wondering if I was kidding myself about trying to live a normal life, I stared at the pale moon in the sky. Then as I let my mind wonder, something struck me. I didn’t open this window.
Quickly I ran to Helens room, hoping that they hadn’t got to her before I did. My heart was racing as I got closer and closer to her room. I prayed that she would be in bed asleep and I was only being paranoid. I slowly opened the door and saw my daughters sleeping shape in the bed. Breathing in relief I leaned against the door and I began to laugh a little.
“I must be going out of my mind” I said as I took another look at my daughter
I walked over to her and put my hand on her shoulder. The quilt was covering her whole body so I decided to talk to her hoping she wouldn’t wake up.
“Honey I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I can’t escape the life I had before I met your farther. But if we are lucky maybe his genes were more dominant than mine and you will have a normal life. It’s not like I asked for this, but at the same time I am grateful for it.” I said as I put my hand on her shoulder and rolled her over.
To my shock it wasn’t my daughter in the bed, it was a mannequin with a wig. As I stood up in shock, I felt hands around my neck. Their grip began to tighten around my throat, I felt my body reacting the only way it could. It lit up like a fire cracker. My cloths burned off my body and my attacker stepped back. I dropped to the ground naked but ready to fight off this son of a bitch. He struck at me and missed. Apparently he wasn’t very familiar with choking someone who could turn their whole body into a red fiery torch. It wasn’t long before I had him backed into a corner.
“Where is my daughter?!!?!” I said screaming at him, my whole body a raging red flame.
“She’s strapped to the bomb in the garage” He said smiling, then foam started erupting from his mouth.
I ran to the garage and saw my little girl strapped to the bomb. She wasn’t screaming but she was breathing. They drugged her. I ran over to her and saw the bomb was ticking away. Untying my daughter and putting her on the ground I picked up the bomb.
Running outside with it I looked for somewhere to get rid of it. I quickly saw the sea and began running towards it. I was almost there when I felt a sharp object pierce my leg. I tripped and saw the bomb skid only to the edge of the ocean. If it blows up now I’m going to go with it. As this thought crossed my mind a women’s high heal landed in front of my eyes. Looking up I saw a woman around ten years younger than me with blades in her hand.
“So this is my target. Big deal what can you do? I would have preferred the yellow gas mask dude. Well let’s get this over with shall we?” She said as she lifted her knifes up.
I quickly blasted her back with a fire bolt. Getting up off the ground, I gripped my wound and burned it shut to stop the bleeding. I screamed in agony but ran towards the bomb. Picking it up, I threw it as hard as I could into the ocean. As I let go of the bomb I was pounced on by the mysterious assailant.
“You have fight in you! I love that crap!!” She kissed me as she finished her sentence.
“I do love to give my victims a kiss before dying.” She said as she lifted the knife up.
“I'll see you in hell” I screamed as my whole body turned into flame and set her on fire.
She began screaming and running around. I added to the flame by shooting more bolts at her. She wasn’t dead but she wasn’t gonna get up anytime soon.
“Who sent you?” I asked the burned woman.
“You think he would let me live if I told you?” She said as she started to laugh
She pulled out a knife and before I could stop her had slit her own throat. I decided to run back to Helen only to find her farther, holding her staring at me. Walking slowly over to them I didn’t know what I was going to say.
“What are you Scarlet?” Andrew said as if he cared.
“A super hero. I’m a damn superhero Andrew. Or at least I was before I met you.” I said to my husband and daughter.
“You’re a……Super hero?” He said sounding like an idiot.
“Yes now get Helen out of here and hide for a while. The drugs they used on her will wear off in about 4 hours. Go to your girlfriend’s house or something.” I said as I walked past him.
“What the hell are you gonna do? What if I tell someone who you are?! Then what hmm?” He shouted trying to sound threatening.
“I’m going to go avenge a friend and keep my daughter safe. And if you tell anyone about who I am, these people will find you. Kill you, your girlfriend and our daughter. And it will be your entire fault.” I said to my coward of a husband
“The divorce will be settled after this is over.” I said digging up the box I buried years ago.
“Scarlet, I’m sorry I hurt you.” He said as he walked towards the car.
Putting on the outfit I felt like a burden had been taken off my chest as the car drove away. The mask felt as perfect as it did ten years ago and fit like a glove. I had no time to waste Nightmare was right and he was waiting I just hope the others find out this fact before it’s too late
March 25, 2012
As he stepped into the college he wondered how the laws of the world had changed within the last ten years. First the heroes left, then the army took over, then the police force let the power go to their head and this resulted in a police state. I'm sure that I could have done something if I had tried. But then again what was the point? Would it have made a difference? Could one man change anything? He constantly plagued himself with these questions. He lifted the morning paper to read what the headlines were. He nearly spat the coffee in his mouth out as he read the headline:
It depicted how that there have been sighting of vigilantes in the last two days. Vigilantes that seemed to resemble the Nightmare and the Red Queen were seen saving some children from a burning building. As I read the report I thought about the old days. Being a hero wasn’t easy but we had a good system. Every time a villain committed crimes too serious to just be considered crazy or to be put to death, they were put in cryogenic suspension. To this day many of the villains we put away are still frozen and hopefully it will stay that way. I stopped reading my paper as my students slowly came into class, talking amongst themselves about is dating who, who made the team, who lost weight, all the typical teenage crap. I sighed and started the lecture.
I was overcome with the smell of coffee as I stepped into the staff room. Most of the teachers were sitting down either eating or talking about whatever the day’s topic was. Sometimes it was the students and other times what was happening in their own lives. I found that the topic of the day was the Vigilantes return and how they made the authorities look like idiots. This description brought a smile to my face as for a split second I thought of what would it be like to go back to being a hero. That moment quickly passed as Ms. Simmons, the school principle, came over to me. Ms. Simmons and I had been close for some years before my accident and as of late have rekindled our old acquaintance. She was an attractive woman for her age but did not allow her body to hold any authority when it came to her cold, serous and strong willed image.
"Mr. Rosenberg. I wanted to ask you something. Do you have any free time this evening to have a discussion with me?" She said as I felt like there was a fist in my throat.
"Um. Yes Ms. Simmons I do have some free time. May I ask what this initials" I tried to hold back my nervous feelings as I talked.
"Good. I’d like to see you in my office after school if that suits you fine." She said without any hesitation in her voice. This could mean anything from your fired to we found a better teacher.
"That is fine" I said as she slowly walked away leaving me with a look of confusion and fear on my face.
I waited outside the office of my employer as she stepped out with a suitcase. She had her hair down which was a seldom act for her. She preferred to look as professional as possible when she was working but was a little too casual when it came to her life outside school.
“Are you free Friday night Lawrence?" Melinda said in a more cheerful voice.
“I prefer Scott you know that Mel" I said looking at my boss and friend.
"And yes I am. Why?" I said feeling my stomach twist in ways id never be able to do with my powers.
Blushing she said "I've been thinking. Would you dinner with me?"
"Like a date?" I said sounding like one of my students.
"Kinda" she said smiling at me.
"I'd love to. How’s Lorenzo’s sound?" I said becoming more confident in my appearance.
"Amazing. Pick me up at nine. You know where I live don’t you?" she said as I nodded to agree with her.
With that said we went our separate ways and I felt like I could do anything in the world.
On the drive home I thought of how it seemed like everything in my world was going right. There was nothing that could go wrong today that would ruin it for me. I pulled up to my apartment complex and saw that none was at the front desk. I didn’t pass much thought about it and just walked to the elevator to my room. There was a cold wind in the air. It made my skin stiffen, the only down side to having a body that’s able to expand like plastic. Smiling I stepped out of the elevator and into the hallway. Somehow it had gotten colder as I got closer to my room. When I opened the door it was as if the skin on my back was as thick as bark. I looked around and heard movement in the room. Someone was here in the room. I stretched my eyes out of my head and searched around the room. All of a sudden one of my eyes was stepped on by a big foot. I screamed in agony as I felt the pain surge through my body.
"Well looky here what I found." A voice said from the other room
A huge man with a tank on his back walked towards me from the room where he must have stepped on my eye. I screamed further as my eye retracted into my skull.
"So you’re Mr. Stretch. Gotta say it’s an honour to be killing ya. See I’m ya number one fan." He said as he gripped my neck.
Hearing this I tried to stretch my neck so I could breath but due to the cold my body refused to stretch for me. This was it. This was how I was going to die.
As I felt his grip tighten I suddenly felt a warm sensation run up my body. I lifted my hand and threw a punch. It didn’t do much to him but just enough to let me knock him to the ground with a swift kick in the jewels. I found that he was using a liquid nitrogen spray to freeze the room. I quickly threw it out the window as he recuperated and got to his feet. He got up and grabbed my neck once again. He threw me down the hall with great force. Despite his intimadating stature he wasnt very strong, and as a result only managed to land me two doors down. This was his biggest mistake, and my advantage. As i landed down the hall my body began to warm up. It was nowhere near as cold here as it was in my apartment. I stretched my arms out and punched him across the face. He didint know what hit him, until it hit him again and agian.
"Well here since you’re my biggest fan. Let’s see if u knows what I’m going to do now." Spinning him around in a circle I threw him at the wall.
I stretched my arms over to him and started punching him fast and hard. As I walked over to him he quickly leapt out the window. There was no chance that he survived. What made this much more troubling was that not only did he know who I was, but Nightmare was right. Unlocking my safe I took out my suit and went to meet my former comrades.
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