Rogue Telekinetic – Crotch Rocketeers

A high pitched whine sounded from behind Jack Davis as he drove to the beach on a Saturday afternoon. The whine increased in volume as he progressed further down the highway. With the low traffic, Jack was making good time, and so was the sound. Glancing in his rearview mirrors, Jack saw only a few cars behind him.

The whine reached the highest volume and a motorcycle darted by his window. Jack made out the dark form Another passed him on the passenger side. Three more appeared and zipped by him and the other drivers on the road. Four more spiderwebbed over the lanes, narrowly missing cars and each other. The last rider darted past another driver and disappeared from view, taking their high pitched whine with them.

“Out for a Saturday joy ride,” Jack said. He looked at the driver next to him, who was shaking his head. The car in front of Jack slowed, and he noticed the driver was looking around. “Yeah, that was full of joy.”

Jack continued driving for the next three miles, and took the exit for the beach. As he pulled to the intersection, the light turned red and he stopped. The familiar whine sounded again, and Jack looked for the source. He didn’t see it in his rearview mirror this time. Instead it was off to his right. The group of seven motorcycles zoomed to a screeching stop at the same traffic light holding him up. “Well now, what are the chances of that?” He took a deep breath and stilled his mind, lowering the urge to do something rash inside him.

Jack’s signal turned green and he turned left. Maneuvering to the outside lane, he continued on his journey to the beach. Several blocks away, another traffic light halted his progress. The whine, though not as high pitched, came up on him from behind. All seven motorcycles occupied three car lengths of the left hand lane. In random turns, the each revved their engines, making it hard to think, let alone hear.

A check of the cross walk signal showed a count down from five. Jack focused on the left lane across the intersection. In his mind, he put a fluffy ball of clay exactly where the lane across the way began. On his next exhale, the power released and put the invisible device across the intersection and in the path of the motorcyclists.

The the light turned green.

Jack didn’t bother with taking his foot off the brake.

Every motorcyclist revved their engine. The leader’s front wheel zipped into the air as his motorcycle darted into the intersection. Six motorcycles followed in his wake. As the last two entered the intersection, Jack applied pressure to his accelerator. When Jack’s car crossed the white line, the leader of the motorcycle gang passed the intersection.

First the leader’s bike collided with the fluffy ball. It hovered, then rotated as if it were rolled forward. The next two stuck at an available empty spot side by side. Again the invisible ball of clay rolled, this time to the side. With the leader upside down and facing the other way, the next two stuck into the unseen force. With five of there compatriots floating in the air, the remaining two motorcyclists slid and dumped their bikes. Their momentum carried them into the flailing mass to be stuck as well.

Jack continued to focus on the clay contraption he made as he dove by. With a flick of his fingers, the ball rolled further down the road, bringing the bikers with it. The traffic behind the floating motorcyclists, as well as Jack, slowed to a crawl. When the invisible ball approached a side street, Jack darted his eyes towards it. The ball followed his gaze, dragging the screaming motorcyclists.

As Jack passed the road, he envisioned the ball of clay disappearing. With a blink of his eye, it did.

The motorcyclists landed in a heap of bodies and machines. There were several pieces of plastic laying to the side. Two of the motorcycle gang members had arms bent at awkward angles.

“The group that causes chaos together,” Jack muttered to himself as he drove on to his appointment.

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Sibling Rivalry

Janice stood by the food vendor’s open door. “One deep-fried candy bar for the lovely lady.” The vendor leaned out with a smile on her face. With a deft hand, he swapped the food for the five dollar bill in Janice’s hand.

“That stuff is gonna be the death of you,” a man said approaching Janice. “Not to mention destroy all those workouts you do.”

Janice turned with a scowl on her face to face the voice. The grimace turned to a smile as she connected eyes with the man. “Harold! You made it.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Harold said. “One of four times we get together without fighting.”

“Yeah,” Janice said around a mouth full of melted candy bar. “Plus it’s public, so plenty of witnesses.”

“You’re my sister,” Harold affected a stunned look. “I would never dream of hurting you.”

“Putting me in the ICU is another matter.” Janice rolled her eyes as she tilted her head, still munching on the candy bar.

“I’ve apologized for that.” Harold leaned in close. “And I made sure Shox paid for it.”

“It’s good to see my big brother still looks after me.” Janice pulled in the last of the candy bar and tossed the stick in a garbage can. “Does he still not like midway rides?” She glanced in the direction of a large sign pointing to the rides.

“You know they make me sick.” Harold moved for the sign, following Janice’s lead. “But you are welcome to ride them all you want.”

“Let me get this straight,” Janice said walking towards the midway. “You fly at high rates of speed. Perform complex maneuvers in fights. Free fall from great heights and pull off fantastic feats at the drop of a hat without practice. But a little hurky jerk on a rollercoaster and up comes lunch.”

“What can I say,” Harold said with a smile. “I’m just born this way.” He continued to walk with his sister.

“Speaking of being born this way,” Janice said, moving closer to her brother. “Have you heard about the bill that Senator Carlton is pushing?”

“Yup,” Harold answered. “My team is working on a rebuttal as we speak.”

“The last time you rebutted something like this, six people died.” Janice by ring toss booth.

Harold handed the attendant a five dollar bill and took three rings. He tossed the first ring and it landed on the neck of a bottle. “Correction. Six bigots died.”

“They were still people.” Janice looked around. No one was really paying their conversation any attention.

“They even whined when you and your team saved the rest.” Harold tossed the next two rings in rapid succession. Both sunk onto a bottleneck. The barker handed him a large stuffed dog. Janice gave a mock golf clap.

“You didn’t have to fill their lungs with gas.” Janice reached for the dog. “They didn’t even have filters or masks.” She continued on her previous path.

“It was self defense.” Harold walked next to Janice. “They shot and killed Lariat. Even the news had that one on video.”

“OK,” Janice said. “I’ll give you that. But being violent doesn’t help.”

“Passive is too slow and the results are flakey at best.” Harold pointed to another game of chance. This one the milk bottles.

Janice put down a ten and demanded six balls. The attendant handed over seven. “Good luck lady.”

“You’ve barely managed to stop legislature and deter riots over civil liberties off Meta-Humans.” Harold, holding the large dog, watched Janice’s technique.

“Well,” Janice said, flinging a side armed pitch that knocked over all three metal milk bottles. “At least no one get hurt.”

“Are you kidding?” Harold laughed. “You’ve put people in the hospital. Even dished out a few permanent limps.”

The attendant stepped back from setting up the bottles. Janice flung her next ball. “OK, so people get hurt. On both sides.” All three bottles crashed again. “It seems that both of us are gaining ground, but just very slowly.” The attendant moved to set the bottles up again.

“True.” Harold nodded. “But I don’t have to keep reminding people. I say something once, and they get it.”

In a quick fire motion, Janice sent the next three balls at three other pyramids of milk bottles. The attendant looked at the mess of bottles, then back to Janice. She waved the last ball. Letting out a heavy sigh, the attendant set one set of bottles. No sooner had he stepped back, then Janice let the last ball fly, once again knocking them over. The attendant looked at Janice and she pointed to an extra large stuffed panda bear. The attendant handed the bear to Janice, who handed it to Harold.

“How’s the intimidation thing working for you?” Janice held the prize Harold had won for her. “You are a wanted felon and murderer.”

“I’m not a wanted felon, Smoke is.” Shifting the large panda under an arm, Harold added, “And I never killed anyone without provocation. All of them are pure selfdefense, provable in any court of law.”

“Harold,” Janice said, walking down the midway. “We both want the same thing, I get it.” She moved to allow a young couple to walk by. “It is our approach that separates us.”

“Which makes you the hero and me the villain.” Harold stepped next to his sister. “I love these outings. Peaceful and they remind me what an endearing sap you are.” He smiled and kissed her cheek.

“You’re not a villain,” Janice said. “You’re my brother.” She smiled as Harold walked through the exit and into the dark of the field beyond.

Rogue Telekinetic – Red Sports Car

The small red sports car darted from one lane to the next. With the top down the driver and passenger were visible. Their heads tossed back and laughter on their face. With the heavy traffic, the car did the impossible, it sped up. The small red sports car drove over the line splitting two lanes.

Two kids dove back to the sidewalk, ditching their soda cups. The small red sports car dashed through the intersection and under the red traffic light. It swerved into the oncoming traffic lane, even though no traffic was on the original side.

“This will not end well,” Jack Davis said stepping out of the restaurant. He was in time to see the small red sports car careen through a turn and slow to a stop behind the semi-truck tuning onto the Interstate.

The small red sports car let out several exasperated high-pitched beeps. The driver shouted and waved his fist. Twice the driver looked behind him to see another car coming alongside him, blocking a lane change.

Jack walked passed his car, out of the parking lot, and down the sidewalk towards the small red sports car. In his mind he pictured the car a mere inch off the ground. He felt the power build, then released it.

Approaching the passenger side of the car, Jack said in a loud voice, “Nice car.” The passenger and driver turned to look at him. “It seems fast.”

“It is,” said the big shouldered driver. “At least when I can get on the Interstate.”

“Aren’t you worried about tickets?” Jack looked at the driver. “I mean the insurance on this thing has to be high to begin with.”

“Never been caught,” the large man said with a nod and a grin. “Never will.” He knocked the car out of gear and revved the car.

“I see,” Jack said. “What about you, young lady? Someone as beautiful as you must be worried about an accident. The damage it would cause?”

Worry flashed across the pretty young woman’s face. A hand waved it away, but her eyes never changed. She did a double take towards the driver.

The large truck cleared the corner and proceeded up the entrance ramp.

“About damn time.” The driver shifted the lever and stomped on the gas pedal. The car revved as before only at a higher pitch. And it didn’t go anywhere.

“Hmmm,” Jack said looking at the car. “Seems something is wrong.”

“I just got this hunk a junk,” the man shouted over the roar of his engine. “What the-“ The driver looked at his feet. “The gas is stuck.”

Shouting, Jack said, “Fortunate for you. Imagine if it stuck while you nearly killed those kids back there.” Jack tossed a hand in the direction. The woman and man turned to see the kids crossing the street.

“They look fine to me,” the man said.

“Except for the scrapes and cuts,” Jack added. “And they ditched their drinks.”

“So what.” The driver pounded on the steering wheel. “Go, you piece of sh-“

“Do you kiss your Mother with that potty mouth?” Jack turned to the woman. “Does he kiss you with that potty mouth?” The woman turned a deep red and turned to the driver.

“Shut up!” The man swore. “I’ll get it fixed.” He pulled on a lever and pop sounded from the hood and it lifted an inch. Next he pulled on the door, but it didn’t budge. “No! The door’s stuck.”

The engine revved louder, and the hood slammed shut.

“Personally, I would recommend you use manners and class over false bravado and insecurity.” Jack pulled on the passenger side door, holding it open for the woman. “As for you, make better choices.” A shout exited the driver, and he squirmed in his seat. He pulled his hands, but they were stuck to the steering wheel.

The woman stood from the car and walked away from the small red sports car.

“You know how you said you’ve never been caught?” Jack said, closing the door.

“Yeah.” The driver clenched his hands on the steering wheel.

“First time for everything.” The sounds of sirens sounded. Jack let the car drop to the pavement.

The tires on the small sports car squealed as the driver was thrown back into his seat. A loud scream and the car turned onto the entrance ramp. Two police cars blocked his escape.

Jack shook his head and walked back to his car.

Bad Kid

Vic dashed into his living room and scooped up his crying son. “Bart, it’s ok. You’re not hurt. Daddy’s here.” The words flowed soft and easy. Vic cradled his child and showed affection.

Marsha entered the room watching the scene in front of her. “You’re an excellent father, Victor Gaines. And I love you for it.” Marsha joined in the hug-fest of their son.

***

A bright sunshiny Saturday on the playground, Vic sat on a bench watching Bart play with other children.

“Is that your kid there,” another man asks. “The one with the Champion cape?”

“Yup,” Vic smiled. “He likes to pretend he’s the hero. Swoops in and saves the day.”

“That’s cool,” the other man nodded. “Mine likes Badger or Chance. He says they’re awesome.”

“They give me the impression of media hounds and pretty violent.” Vic said as he looked at the man.

“Yeah, but I don’t want to push them too hard,” the man said. “Then they automatically go the opposite direction.”

“Good point,” Vic responded. Checking his watch, Vic said, “Ohh. Lunch time. Nice talking with you.” He stood and called Bart over.

“Dad! I want to be like Champion. A hero!” Bart bounced as he walked next to Vic.

“Son,” Vic said rubbing Bart’s head. “You can be anything you want.”

***

Vic turned into the parking lot and found a spot at the back. Getting out of the car, he dashed to the auditorium of Brownstone Middle School. Vic yanked his work ID off his shirt and shoved it into his pocket.

“Dad! You made it,” Bart ran up to Vic on the sidewalk.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Vic smiled at his son.

“You are a great father, Victor.” Marsha smiled at her husband. “Let’s get in and find a good seat.”

“Right up front,” Vic said. “Do your best.” He grinned at Bart.

“I will,” Bart said and waved as he moved with the other students into the auditorium.

Vic and Marsha took seats up front and watched as the Brownstone Middle School Orchestra walked on the stage. Using his phone, Vic took videos and pictures of his son.

After the hour long performance, Vic drove his son and met his wife at the local ice-cream shop to celebrate.

“You were fantastic, Bart,” Vic said. “Musics a great way to relax. Plus you learn timing and re-inforce your math.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Bart beamed up at his father.

***

“Dad,” Bart walked over to his father. “I need this permission slip signed.” Bart held out a piece of paper.

“What’s this for,” Vic read the paper while he sipped his morning coffee. “Football, huh? You want to play?”

“Yeah,” Bart answered. “You know to help with controlling the powers I inherited from you.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Vic said. “But be ready and be careful. You have some of my abilities, but you also have some of your mom’s. Her’s will be better for you.”

“I know,” Bart said, rolling his eyes with a big sigh. “Mom’s healing is good. Just don’t use it unless absolutely necessary.”

“Good.” Vic pulled a pen from his jacket pocket. He leaned over the table, pulled his tie out of the way, and signed the permission slip. “Keep up on practice and keep your grades up. No slacking.”

“Got it, dad,” Bart smiled as he bounced on his toes.

“I love you, Vic,” Marsha said as she encircled her arms around her husband. “We did right with Bart.”

“Yup.” Vic moved to grab his wife. “We did.” He kissed her.

***

Bart came into the living room. His mother sat on the couch watching the late news.

“We won!” Bart jumped up and put his palm on the ceiling.

“Excellent honey,” Marsha said as she patted a spot on the couch next to her. “Sit down and keep me company.”

“Where’s Dad,” Bart asked. “I know he said something about working late, but I never saw him at the game.”

“I don’t know,” Marsha said as she slipped an arm over Bart’s shoulders. “But you know your Dad. He can be a work-a-holic sometimes.”

“Yeah,” Bart smiled. “Still, it would have been nice to see him.”

The television flashed a large graphic across the screen. The words Happening Right Now in large fonts with a red background took the entire screen.

“This is Paula Anderson. It seems that Champion has taken down the archvillain Strong Arm.” A clip showed a dark clad man dragged behind the brightly clad Champion.

“Alright! Champion!” Bart shouted. “He’s the bes-”

The camera zoomed in on the man being dragged.

“Isn’t that dad’s super suit,” Bart asked, pointing at the television. “Why is he being dragged?”

“Yes, Bart,” Marsha answered. “That is your father.”

“But dad isn’t evil,” Bart shot to his feet. “Why is Champion doing this? He’s got the wrong man!”

On the screen, Champion hefted Strong Arm to his feet. A microphone appeared in Strong Arms face.

“Strong Arm. Do you have any comment,” the reporter off camera asked.

Strong Arm lifted his head. A spot of blood showed on his lip, and an eye was swollen shut. “Bart. Never forget. I love you.”

Champion jerked on Strong Arm’s arms and moved him to the van with open doors.

The camera panned back to the reporter. “There you have it, people. Strong Arm’s terror campaign is now at an end. We can all sleep peaceful tonight, thanks to Champion.”

The screen went blank.

“Champion!” Bart shouted through gritted teeth. “I’m gonna kill you.” He ran from the room and cleared the stairs to his room. Loud bashing and crashing noises followed seconds later.

“Vic, I love you,” Marsha whispered. “We did it. Bart is ready.”

Part-Time Job

“Anderson,” Jack Abernathy’s rough voice called. “How’s the Stein project coming?”
“I can finish my part by the end of the week,” David Anderson said looking up from his laptop. “The numbers are entered and the scripts are in place. Waiting on the graphics to finish loading.”

“What’s left after that?” Jack moved into David’s cube.

Touching the button on his cellphone to silent the buzzing, David pointed to his screen. “The check-list says link checking, then stress testing on the server. We’re a little behind on the configuration, but it should only be a day or two.”

“We’re gonna meet that deadline.” Jack’s hand clamped down on David’s shoulder, making the youn man flinch. “You have my permission for over-time. Get to here by tomorrow evening.” Jack tapped a sausage finger on the checklist on the screen, leaving a smear over updating all machines remotely. The task’s original planned date was the day after tomorrow.

“Uh…” David turned his head to look at Jack.

“No excuses.” Jack pivoted on his heels and left David’s cube. It didn’t take him long to be around the corner and out of David’s sight.

“Crap,” David muttered under his breath. He flipped his phone over and entered his passcode. The number 8 appeared next to his text icon. David touched the icon. Scrolling to the last message he touched reply. A few finger taps and he sent the response stating he would be late. His eyes darted to the time in the top corner of his phone. It blinked to 7:18pm.

11:30 rolled around and David dashed from his car into the building. He touched the secret spot, sliding the door open and walked in. David’s uniform fit perfectly. The bright yellow crescent moon contrasted with the midnight blue of the rest of his outfit.

“You’re late!” Graves voice growled across the small room. “Again!”

“Yeah, I know,” David sighed. “It’s just that-”

“You know.” Graves pounded on the table top. “You realize I had to call for help from Wave Rider. Wave Rider. He’s barely a hero. So what he can talk to fish and breathe underwater.”

“Wow.” David stopped walking and looked at the grey clad superhero in front of him. “Wave Rider. Doesn’t he also have super strength?”

“That’s besides the point.” Graves spun and faced David. “I expect my sidekick to be here on time and not full of excuses.” A stiff finger poked David in the chest on his emblem. “You’re fired.”

“What?” David stepped back. “You can’t fire me. You don’t even pay me. This isn’t a job.” David held his hands, palms up and spread. “What about keeping my secret identity? You always stress that. I was doing that.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Graves said. “I can’t rely on you. You should have worked something out.”

“I have to pay my rent some how.” David’s voice picked up in pitch and speed. “I also need to buy food, repair my uniform, and the gym. Plus, there’s the martial art lessons you insisted I take. You don’t even reimburse me for that, but it’s required.”

“This again?” Graves made a rude noise. “By the time I was your age I had earning a million dollars.”

David clenched his jaws and fist. “Yeah. But you inherited five billion just by being born. What a cheapskate.”

“And this one, too.” Graves put both hands on his hips and cocked his head to the side.
“If you paid me forty-five grand a year,” David said pointing a finger at Graves. “I could quit my day job and be the perfect sidekick.”

“They only pay you forty-five?” Graves’ eyebrows shot up. “That’s a pittance.”
“Yeah,” David answered. “Ironically, I work for a subsidiary of Sampson Industries. In other words, you pay me that pittance.”

Graves looked at David and shook his head. “I have to stand by my word or it means nothing. Clean out your desk and leave your keys.”

“I don’t have a desk,” David said, walking to the door he came in. “I never had keys.” As he passed the hidden door, he banged his fist on the jamb.

“I’ll give you a great reference,” Graves shouted as the door slid shut.

“Fuck this,” David said as he slammed his car door closed. “I’ll at least get some sleep and be ready for tomorrow.” He drove off.

When the weekend hit, David was ready for it. Having spent well over fifty hours a week he wanted to relax. He slept in on Saturday. During the afternoon, he wandered the mall and other places. Normally, he would be training or some other activity that Graves would have him do. Since he was fired, he made the best of it.

When the evening kicked off, David went to a movie. It had been awhile since he had seen a first run, so he treated himself. After a few hours, he left and walked through the dark parking lot to his car. A sound pulled his attention, and he watched as two people descended from the sky. One with a rope, the other flying.

“I’ve beaten you Graves,” the flying man said.

“Not…,” Graves groaned out. “Yet.” The form of Graves clutched his midsection and spit a glob of something from his mouth. “You hit like a girl.”

“Your funeral.” the flying man darted straight for Graves, a clenched fist leading the way.

“Holy shit,” muttered David. “I better do something.” He looked for his car and found it two spots away. “Wait. I don’t have my uniform in there.” Standing there he watched the fist connect with Graves. “Plus I was fired.” Graves trajectory carried him over several cars and crashing into a light pole. “Plus, that guys a dick.”

“That wasn’t so hard.” The flying man hovered over to where Graves lay on the cement. “Let’s see who you really are.” He reached down and pulled the mask off, ripping the cowl off the cape. Staring at the prone figure, the flying man pocket his trophy. “Huh. I don’t recognize you. But someone will.” The flying man jumped into the sky and disappeared.

Standing over Graves, David looked at the unconscious body. “Yeah. He’s a dick.” David got in his car and dove off.

The Breakthrough

Brad moved through the series of maneuvers. Concentration and focus plain on his face. With a loud yell and tensing every muscle he completed the last move.

“Excellent!” Howard Franks clapped his hand on Brad’s shoulder. “You have it down. Your test should be a breeze.”

“I hope so, Mr. Franks,” Brad said as he relaxed his posture. He walked to his bag, untying the long black belt around his waist. It showed small signs of wear and a few white threads poked out at an edge. Taking a few seconds to fold it up, Brad placed the belt in his bag. He pulled a towel out and wiped the sweat from his face, neck and arms.

“So,” Howard said, approaching Brad. “As your instructor, I have to ask. What is your biggest dream? If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?” Howard grinned at the last question. It always got a few standard answers.

Brad paused, put his hands on his hips, then locked eyes with his teacher. “Superpowers.”

“What?” This was not what Howard had expected. Especially from someone as well put together as Brad Michaels.

“I know,” Brad smiled and grabbed his bag. “I would like to have, or gain superpowers.”

“You have those.” Howard followed Brad to the large double doors. “You are a martial artist in every sense of the word.”

“I know,” Brad said. “With superpowers, I could be more. Do more. I don’t fear knives or clubs. Guns I respect and know that the wielder is the most vulnerable point. Being outnumbered would only slow me down.” Brad pushed through the doors. “Being strong enough to lift a car would let me chop through burning buildings that had people trapped. If I could fly, I could be in places fast. With superpowers, I would change the world.”

Howard paused a beat. “Heroes and villains have that same goal. It’s not the goal that is the problem, it is the means.”

Brad chuckled. “I know that, Mr. Franks. I wouldn’t be a villain.” Brad bowed to his teacher, shook his hand and walked to the parking lot.

“Villains don’t seem themselves as bad guys,” Howard muttered to the departing figure.

As he drove home, Brad reflected over his teachings and training. Mr. Franks, along with others, taught him not just martial arts, but life. He learned to persevere, be honest, and help others. Brad worked hard at the beginning to incorporate these things, along with other things, into his life. The last few years his life improved. He landed a great job, found a fantastic apartment, and had a date in three nights time.

The loud boom snatched his focus back to driving. A tanker jackknifed a few yards ahead. The two cars in front of him had glowing tail lights. He turned, avoiding a crash with the second car. His choice kept him from the collision. The other two cars weren’t so lucky.

Slamming his car into park, Brad scrambled from his car. He opened the driver’s door and helped the woman there out. She had a cut on her forehead, so he walked her to the curb. Once she was settled, Brad turned back to the accident.

The remaining car had a woman behind the wheel, a kid in the back seat, and an infant in a carrier. Brad pulled on the doors, but they didn’t give. He saw the collision had damaged the car enough that the doors were sealed. Looking in, he saw the kid was screaming, and the woman was groggy, but looking around.

“Cover your head!” He stepped back and clenched both fists at his waist. Inhaling, Brad flushed his mind of everything. With a fluid motion, he lunged forward and shoved both bullet-fists to the windows. His knuckles connected and penetrated the safety glass of the windows.

Both panes of glass spiderwebbed, then fell out of their frames. He reached in, unbuckled the kid. “Get over there. By that lady.” The screaming kid ran to the woman who held out a hand.

Next, Brad repeated that for the driver.

“My baby!”

“I got him.” Brad didn’t hesitate and climbed into the back seat. He had never dealt with a child seat before. The big red button stood out to him, and he pushed it. A loud thunk sounded and he pulled on the handle. The heavy plastic carrier separated. He looked in and saw the sleeping infant, peace covering his face. Brad move to the window and handed the cradle to the woman. “Over there.” He pointed to where the people were gathering.

Brad shimmied out of the window and dashed over to the big rig. A dark green liquid spewed from a gash in the tank. The cab and surrounding road were covered in the thick film. Without thinking, Brad flexed his knees and moved over the near slick surface.

Reaching the door, he yanked on the handle. The door flew open and the driver, a heavyset man, fell on him. Brad collapsed with the excessive weight to the goo covered road.

“Mister!” Brad jostled the dazed man laying on top of him. “Mister. I need you to get out of here and off me.”

“Uhhh..” The heavy man blinked a few times. “Oh shit. Sorry.” The driver pushed off Brad and stood. In a lazy staggering step, he moved to where the others were standing.

Brad got to his feet and moved to the huddling people. They all expressed their thanks, and the women went in for hugs. He held them at bay as he was covered in the thick green goo.

Ambulances and a firetruck arrived several moments later, followed by three police cars. In a hours time the scene was cleared. EMTs checked everyone out and informed them to check in with a doctor within twenty-four hours. They all agreed they would.

At home, Brad ravaged his refrigerator and pantry. After eating three dinners, he felt satiated. Soon after, he felt drowsy. Taking the hint, he showered, then went to sleep.

“The light is coming,” a voice whispered.

“Yes, the light is coming,” another voice whispered.

“Shelter is here. Come.” This was a third voice.

“Who’s there?” Brad sat up, throwing the blankets and pillows off him. His head turned different directions looking for the source of the voices. Sliding from the bed, he landed cat-like and even distributing his weight. Both hands floated in front of him, fingers light and ready for anything.

“The human is moving,” a deeper voice from a different direction said. “It will come in here and turn on the brightness. Find shelter.”

“I will defend myself and my home.” Brad curled his fingers into fists and moved for the deeper voice. Approaching the bathroom door, he nudged it open with a foot. When it spread to an arm’s width, Brad darted a hand inside, flicked on the light, and shouldered into the small room.

“Run! Scatter!” The deeper voice screamed in panic.

Spinning in place, Brad looked around. He only saw his reflection in the mirror. The shower curtain hung open, and there wasn’t anybody there.

“Hurry! Go faster!” The panic in the voice reached a newer height.

From the corner of his eye, Brad picked up movement. He jerked his head and arms in the direction, then stomped into a favored stance.

Two cockroaches scampered for the toilet.

“Here it comes,” the deeper voice said. It came from the direction of the roaches.

Brad gritted his teeth and raised a foot. With deadly accuracy and a loud thump, he stepped on the trailing roach.

“Hruthergha!” The lead roach stopped moving and turned. The antennae twitched, then lifted. “Human, you killed my mate. I will avenge you with my family.” The antennae twitched again, then the roach darted for the cover the toilet.

Brad moved to follow the roach, but it squeezed through the smallest of gaps between the floor and wall.

“Did I hear that right,” Brad said rubbing his ears. “Did that roach just threaten to avenge it’s mate? Against me?” Brad shook his head.

Reaching into the shower, Brad turned on the cold water, then the hot. He dropped his sleeping shorts and t-shirt, then climbed into the cool water. Letting it run over him, he woke to the briskness. The water slowly heated, and he showered. Once he cleaned his body, he dried himself, then continued on his normal routine.

An hour later, Brad headed outside towards his car.

“No! The winged demon dives.” This high-pitched voice came from the trees next to his apartment building.

Brad moved to check the area. He only saw a bird land and peck at the ground. Squinting into the shade, he didn’t see anything.

“Bigger jump, Lughrty,” a bright voice said.

“Like this papa,” a similar bright voice said, only a different pitch.

“Yes.” The first voice sounded proud and happier. “Excellent. Longer instead of higher now.”

Brad watched two grasshoppers bound over the sidewalk in front of him. One smaller than the other.

“No,” Brad said. “No, no, no, no, no.” He remembered the accident. Then he remembered how Crush, a highly respected superhero, developed his powers. Exposure to radioactive chemicals had turned a simple bike messenger into the powerhouse known as Crush. Crush worked as the strong man of the Vindicators.

“This isn’t what I meant,” Brad screamed at the sky.