Don-E-Don’s Cat

Super Steve had trained for a lifetime, not to get stronger or becoming more proficient, rather the only power that he needed to grow was his power of restraint. His birth on another planet and subsequent forced relocation to Earth had manifested into some spectacular powers including super strength, speed, flight, and even laser vision. He was so strong and secure in his powers that he was not ashamed at all when it came to fighting villains in a cape and spandex.

Today is just another day of breaking up some neerdowells, when the scientific mob boss known as Donnie the Don aka Don-e-Don rises out of the top hatch of a tank, aims an unknown weapon at Super Steve, and fires.

Super Steve suffers from boredom and not just any boredom, with super powers comes super boredom. As he watches the spiraling beam leave the end of the barrel, he finally decides to take his power moderation from 0.1 to 0.15. Time slows down as he moves to pick up one civilian after another, moving them away from whatever blast radius this thing is going to have.

He empties all the rooms of the two buildings behind him and relocates the occupants a few blocks away. Maybe not all of them will have whip lash from this, he thinks as he sets the last civilian down.

Super Steve hustles back by power walking and takes his place in front of the incoming energy projectile. Well, I’ve gotta let them hit me some or they’ll just quit trying. He goes through several cheesy poses as if he were in a photo booth at the local mall, the settles on placing his foot on top of a gangster lying next to him and giving a thumbs up towards the camera-projectile.

Steve holds the grin for what he feels like was over an hour, waiting for the molasses projectile to reach him. He glances down to the gangster again and realizes that the criminal is scared, but it’s not of him.

Steve notices a purse clutched in his arm while extending the other to shield from danger. When he follows the man’s gaze, looking upward, he finds Cat Man descending from above in his flying squirrel suit. Steve tsks as he looks back down to the apparent purse snatchther that managed to earn the ire of one like Cat Man. “This is not your day, friend,” Steve says, then thumbs back up to the pouncing hero. “Do you have any idea how violent that guy is? You’d have been a lot better off if you only had to deal with–Oh Shit!” He exclaims remembering the molasses beam.

Steve reaches for Cat Man intending to shove him away as the honeyed-energy nudges the spandex covering his leaping calf.

Steve blinks and the world regains motion, but somehow seems to move faster than what should be possible. He looks down to see a giant hole in the sidewalk next to him and splattered blood from…someone, but he’s not sure who. “Geez, I hope that wasn’t–” he starts but is cut short as something strikes him in the back.

“Ow!” He yells turning back to find a thug more confused than he is. “What?…what the heck did you just hit me with?”

“Just,” the thug stammers, “just a rock, sir.”

I’ll show you a rock you little twerp, Steve thinks, charging.

But the thugs expression shifts into deeper confusion as Super Steve leans forward, beginning to move imperceptibly slow as he proceeds to make the first step forward.

“Am, I being punked?” the thug asks, turning to look for hidden cameras.

Not-so-Super Steve’s leg cramps and he straightens, tightens his butt, and grasps towards his hamstring. He begins putting fourth greater effort, hobbling towards the thug who just stands there, not sure what to do next. Steve swings his fist at him but his wrists flexes on the thug’s chin.

“Agh, what the hell man?” Steve complains, with drawing his now sprained wrist while continuing to nurse the knot in his leg muscle.

A boom happens, startling Steve as the thug suddenly turns into red confetti…or perhaps red beef stew. Steve wipes goblets of red something from his face. He chances a look behind him finding huge swaths of the nearby city wiped away, with his current street no longer recognizable.

There is blood, brick, trees, cars, an office desk, living room furniture, kitchen appliances, and a toilet…none of which is where it’s supposed to be.

“Steve,” calls a hushed whisper. Steve begins looking around, initially seeing nothing living except for a meowing cat that is sitting inside the toilet bowl for some reason.

“Steve!” he hears again and finally hobbles to a nearby embankment to find a naked man shivering and trying to cover himself.

“Hey–” Steve starts, then coughs and corrects himself. “Greetings citizens. It is not safe here so perhaps you should move along and go find some clothes.”

“It’s me,” the naked man replies. “Cat man.”

Steve is confused at first but finally catches on. “Right, right, citizen and I am the Easter Bunny. Now–“
“Steve, stop being a dumb ass,” Cat man says, raising his voice, buffering Steve and causing the few remaining nearby windows to shatter. “I can’t move,” Cat Man continues, whispering again. “You have no idea how hard it was for me to stop this close to you. Every other attempt was off by miles.”

Steve smiles and nods sympathetically. “That weapon must have switched our powers somehow,” Steve says, growing thoughtful.

“Well see if you can find it and get us out of this mess.”

Steve moves back towards the rubble as survivors and locals start coming around. After far too many hobbled steps, too much time sifting through dead ends, and expending his last nerve on a cat that can’t seem to shut up, Steve hobbles over and plucks the jingling cat out of the toilet. He looks at its collar to find a name tag: Mittens. If found, please return to Don-e-Don.

“Oh,” Steve says, making the connection. “Well that makes sense.” He chucks the cat as if bailing water from a boat.

A “rawrrreyerr,” ensues as the cat travels in a flailing arc to land on its feet and skimper away.

Steve shoves the toilet over and finds a white lab coat drenched in blood and the gray dust of brick mortar. A further search yields some electronic components. He pulls two larger parts from the pile, lifts them in the air, and brings them together to see the silhouette of an energy weapon.

“Well shit,” Steve complains tossing the components and storming off.

Path of Shadow

[WP] You and your friend Lily, are chilling in class when all of a sudden there’s a lockdown, you hear the principal say “Attention students this is a code Black lockdown, I repeat a code Black Lockdown.” You hear someone mutter “Code Black means otherwordly entities, We’re dead!”

    “Hey, are you going to the dance next week?” Lilly asks while leaning towards the girl with the black hood. The black-hooded girl is slouching forward, crossing her arms on her desk with her chin resting on top.

    “Oh, what am I saying?” Lilly answers. “Of course, you aren’t going to the dance, Aubrey. Don’t you have to sacrifice a goat or something on Thursdays?”

    Can we punch her, Aubs? a voice asks in her mind. Please, can we punch her?

    No, Shades, Aubrey replies. There will be no punching of my classmates. We stay in enough trouble as it is.

    It’s Shadow Lord. How many times are we going to have to go over this? I know you’re doing that on purpose.

    Aubrey cuts her eyes over towards Lilly while ignoring both speakers.

    A squelch comes over the intercom followed by a stressed principal. “Attention all students and faculty members. I’m ordering a Code-Black lockdown. I repeat, Code-Black. Good luck, everyone.”

    Good luck, Aubrey thinks, raising her head from her desk. That’s new.

    A balding man seated at the teacher’s desk is rubbing the top of his scalp as he flips through a manual. He stops and reads through a page, then looks up, his square framed glasses making his eyes look abnormally large. He stares blankly for a moment, just blinking absently.

    “So what’s that mean, Mr. West?” asks a student.

    Mr. West looks around, suddenly remembering there are others present. “What’s that?,” he replies.

    “What-is-a-Code-Black?” another student asks slowly.

    “Oh, it means other-worldly creature.”

    “Shit! We’re dead.”

    “Language,” Mr. West scolds.

    Other-worldly creature, Aubry thinks. Is this because of me?

    Don’t go changing the subject, Shades replies. The Lord of Shadows would also be acceptable.

    Dude, focus! You can worry about your identity crisis later. Is this other-worldly creature here because of me?

    I swear, this is the last time I accept a binding—

    Aubrey stands abruptly, startling those around her. She pulls her hood over her eyes and her sleeves back down over her wrists. She is slinging her bag over her shoulders when Mr. West raises a finger into the air.

    “Uh, Ms. Aubrey, I think the principal wants everyone to remain in the classroom.”

    Shades, you’re going to have to show me how to use these powers. As much as I hate them, I’m not going to be the cause of my classmates getting eaten…well, except for maybe Lilly.

    Oh, now you want to know everything about the powers huh? Typical.

    Aubrey walks to the front of the class with her thumbs under her bag straps. Mr. West is still holding his finger in the air and his head is tracking Aubrey’s walk as she continues ignoring everyone.

    “Great,” Lilly declares. “Where’s the schizo heading off to?”

    Aubrey stops at the door while reaching for the light switch. She turns back, meeting Lilly’s eyes. “I’m going to tell the monsters where to find you of course.” Aubrey winks and turns off the switch.

    Her form becomes obscured, shifting into a black smoke, then passes under the door.

A Better Class of Villain

[WP] You are a villain, but you have standards: when lesser villains try to hurt your arch-nemesis’ wife and kids, you show them why you are the biggest fish in town.

“Karl,” he calls, bursting through the door, onto the rooftop.

Karl stands at the edge of the roof with his arms crossed. He turns back casually and nods. “Stan, so good of you to join us.” Karl gestures to a corner of the roof. “Your family is just there and are otherwise unharmed.

Stan rushes over to embrace a scared wife and two young daughters. They are sobbing and eagerly welcome Stan’s open arms. “It’s alright,” Stan insists. “The way is clear. Get our girls back inside and head back down to the lobby. I’ll be there soon.” His wife nods and Stan leans in to kiss her on the forehead, then brushes the cheek of his girls. The two of them hug against their mom’s leg, concerned only about their mother being upset. “Go,” Stan says with a head gesture and they’re off. Stan closes the door behind them, then bows his head as he places his hand against the door.

Stan turns to see Karl still standing in the same place, looking over the building’s ledge. “Are you a fan of calisthenics Stan?” Karl asks without looking back. “I dare say, I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I hadn’t enjoyed them so.”

“What’s this about Karl? Why get involved like that?”

Karl grits his teeth but still doesn’t look back. “Lazy is what it is Stan. No one wants to work for anything anymore. Everyone’s after a handout. It sickens me.” Karl then gestures towards the street with his forehead. “This city deserves better, and I won’t tolerate cowardice. You and I work too hard for our ideals to have them trampled on by those vision-less worms. Let them flounder around in the dark, I say. Whenever they break through the surface in the rain or in the night, we step on them, driving them back where they belong…or sometimes, we drag them out and let them wither in the sun. It really doesn’t matter as long as everyone is in their proper place.”

Stan shakes his head as he approaches Karl wearily. “What are we talking about here Karl? You seem a little…off your normal.”

Karl finally turns to face Stan. “Oh Stan. I’m sorry about that. I suppose I’m just not in the mood for our usual lighthearted banter.” He pauses. “Circumstances have me in a bit of a foul mood.” He looks at Stan appraisingly. “I’ve always appreciated you, Stan. You should know that. You work hard for your ideals, and I see that, I really do…it’s why you are my one true rival. But,” he raises a finger, “I am a fierce competitor, and I don’t like underhanded tricks.”

Stan finally sees beyond Karl, to his powers in play. Tethers have materialized from portals in the air and strands run down the face of the building. “What have you done Karl?”
Karl shrugs. “I restored order. Nothing more.”

Stan rushes past Karl and looks over the building’s ledge. Two men are restrained at the end of the tethers. They are six stories above the ground and swung together, like two pendulums poised to swing away from each other. The only thing keeping them from doing that just that is the death grip that they have on one another. Stan’s eyes them move away from them and sees another two other portals in the trajectory of their swing…a wall of spikes for each of them.

“The only thing they can rely on now is one another and their calisthenic aptitude is about to communicate each’s worth. That sort of muscle failure has a unique way of putting your strength in perspective because once it’s gone, you can know its limit.” Karl turns to walk back towards the door. “It won’t be long now, Stan.”

Stan grips the ledge of the building, helpless as the two men cry and plead for anyone listening. Their grip on one another begins to fail and they start to hyperventilate. Suddenly, they fall away, then stop abruptly as they slam into the walls. Stan closes his eyes and looks away. He rises again and looks to Karl standing in the doorway. Karl nods and lets the door close behind him.