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.

Special Delivery – The Corpse

Jason stepped from the dark van with his bag slung over his shoulder and walked to the scene. Doctor Reymark signaled the two officers to let Jason through.

“Excellent! Jason, you know the drill. First blush.” Doctor Reymark stood back, letting Jason view the area immediately around the prone form.

“Hmmm…Discolored skin,” Jason said kneeling on the road. With a snap, he put on a rubber glove and pushed at the corpse’s cheek with a tongue depressor. “Rigor hasn’t set in,” Jason called out. “These look like scars.” He ran the wooden probe over the face. Flicking the device through the hair, Jason added, “He dies his hair this putrid color.”

Doctor Reymark inhaled a whisper when Jason reached for the arm of the corpse. Jason fumbled in his bag for something and pulled out a hemostat. With a scissor motion, Jason gripped the cuff of the sleeve and pulled the fabric back.

“That would have been an experience.” Jason looked at the device strapped on the corpse’s arm. “This seems to be multipurpose.” He ran the wooden probe over different levers and under some straps. “Is that a tube?” Jason tugged on the flexible pipe and saw the lapel flower move. “A squirting flower. Really?”

Doctor Reymark laughed. “It is one of his trademarks. So, any guesses as to cause of death?”

“There’s bruising on the face, neck and arms.” Jason moved the collar back. “This one here,” he traced the mark from the jaw, over the neck. “Broke the collar bone. It also looks like his nose is broken.”

“You’re better than this, Jason.” Doctor Reymark rocked back on his heels.

With a heavy sigh, Jason moved to the waist of the corpse and spread the shirttails out. “This is a puncture wound.” Jason pulled out a penlight and shined it on the pale skin. “It looks like a bite, possibly an insect or something. But this right here is too uniform.” Using the tip of the hemostat, Jason touched the two small holes. A black circle on the outer edges was evident once he pointed it out. “This was caused by a device. The punctures have been cauterized by heat, and thusly it burned the skin. It was done pre-mortem, so he was alive.”

Detective Morris stepped over to Doctor Remark. “You mean to tell me that those two iddy-bitty holes are what killed him? Really? You know who this is?”

“Yes.” Doctor Reymark looked at the detective. “To all three of your questions.”

Detective Morris tilted his head. “So that means that-”

“Nope,” Jason answered, standing from the corpse. “He’s accounted for.”

Detective Morris turned to the younger man. “Then it would be-”

Doctor Reymark interrupted, “That is for you to prove.”

Detective Morris pulled out a notebook and flipped several pages. “He lives in-”

“Another town several hours away.” Jason pulled a body bag from the satchel at his hip.

Morris ran a hand through his thin hair. “What about the girl?”

“She’s in prison.” Doctor Reymark waggled his eyebrows.

“Not her,” Detective Morris said waving a hand at the corpse. “The other one.”

“Oh.” Doctor Reymark put a finger to his chin.

“It’s possible.” Jason signaled for two EMTs to help him lift the corpse into the body bag. “However, who is she?”

“That we don’t know.” Detective Morris closed his notebook. “But we do know that to date, none of them have ever killed.”

Doctor Reymark moved out of the way of the gurney. “Do we know that, Detective?”

Jason moved for the dark van he arrived in and opened the back door. The two EMTs put the gurney into the back and locked the wheels in place.

As the dark van drove off, Detective Morris muttered, “Not sure if I would call killing that guy a crime. Funny, sure. A crime?”

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.”

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.

Special Delivery – Anders

Anders Brady switched from his large gorilla form to his human appearance. Once in the locker room, he stripped his uniform off and covered himself with a towel. After grabbing his shower kit, he picked up his bottle of body wash. The feel and heft of the bottle was off, and he looked at it. A very different label read Homer’s flea & tick shampoo.

“Hilarious. Just so funny,” Anders said while rolling his eyes. Shaking his head, he tossed the bottle into the nearby garbage can, then reached for the real body wash.

Twenty-five minutes later, Anders walked out of the locker room.

Amanda Charles waved him over. With a heavy sigh, Anders detoured in her direction. “Good job on the Fisticuffs call, earlier. He said you were fast and thorough.”

A corner of Anders mouth twitched. “Yeah, well, I am a professional.”

Amanda cocked a hip, lowered her clipboard, and tilted her head. “Look. You know-”

“Drop it,” Anders held up a hand. “I get it. My report needs to be filed and my shift isn’t complete.” Without waiting for a response, he turned on his heels and headed to his workstation.

Anders took several deep breaths before sitting down.

Logging in, his monitor flashed three names. Boulder, Xanx, and Damsel. Each name associated with a series of vitals, all within normal range. Following his normal routine he checked their locations and plotted potential paths to them.

While munching on his lunch, Anders read his email then filed his report for the Fisticuffs call. Checking on the vitals, he saw Boulder’s change, but not enough to warrant him paying a visit. Xanx’s vitals changed and stayed at the new level for over ten minutes, then lowered to normal.

Damsel’s vitals spiked. At the first beep, Anders had the map up and plotted the route. On the second beep, he switched over to his wrist panel and headed for the flyer’s launch area. At the long steady tone Anders called out, “EMT First Class Anders Brady responding to Damsel call.”

The tingle started in his gut then spread out. Hair sprouted over his body and his uniform stretched to fit his adjusted form. Anders’ arms became the size of tree trunks, his legs doubled that of his arms, and his face morphed to that of a large gorilla. He planted his two shovel sized hands on the pavement and pushed off.

With two loping strides, Anders leaped the distance to the next building. With this motion he cleared the four lane road fifteen stories below. His hands gripped the bar placed there for him and spun around it once before launching over to another building. Bounding off the side of the third building, Anders cleared a block and kept going.

Through his ape-like movements, Anders cleared the distance to Damsel’s last known location in a few minutes. A glance at his wrist panel showed the next building over to be his target. The next vault put him two floors below the roof of the building. His toes gripped the window ledge and his legs pushed him higher. Thick-fingered hands curled around the edge of the roof, then pulled him up to stand on it.

Anders’ head swiveled until he found the set of double doors leading to the maintenance area. A sudden yank, and the doors went wide. Lunging in, he bounded to the next landing. His wrist panel showed he needed to travel seven floors down to Damsel’s location.

Anders also noted that her vitals were declining. “This isn’t good,” his voice rumbled low in his throat. He gripped the hand rail and vaulted to the next landing. Next, he repeated this process until he was level with the blue dot that represented Damsel.

The door opened with an easy push and Anders went into the hallway. His wrist panel didn’t show a map of the building, but it showed how far away Damsel was. Dashing down the hallway, Anders approached an intersection. He turned to the right while checking his wrist panel. The blue dot moved closer as he strode the length of the hallway.

Several people darted for open doors or side halls as Anders stormed through. More than one called out “EMT coming through, clear the way!” Anders picked up the pace after hearing this.

Eventually, Anders stood next to the dot on his wrist panel. He found himself in a dead-end of a hall. He turned around,  didn’t see a door.

His wrist panel beeped, and he saw that Damsel’s vitals indicated she was asleep. “Or passed out,” he muttered. Anders placed a hand on a wall. Moving his fingers over the surface, he squinted as he slid his thick fingers over the dull grey paint.

An audible click sounded and a black line formed on the wall. A panel receded, then slid into the wall.

A man wearing a dark costume with various colored lines stood in the secret doorway. Six palm-sized flying devices wreathed his head. “What the..?”

“Out of the way,” Anders’ simian features growled. “I’m an EMT sent to get Damsel and take her to a hospital.” One of Anders tree trunk arms pushed the costumed man aside. He squeezed his bulk into the tiny walk way and advanced into a room the size of two closets.

Damsel slumped forward. The only thing keeping her in the seat were her hands tied behind it.

“Damsel,” Anders said with a loud stern voice. “I’m  your EMT. I need to transport you.”

A groan exited her rosebud shaped lips and her eyes fluttered open, then closed again.

“You aren’t going anywhere,” the nasal sounding voice said. Anders looked at the costumed man from before. “Damsel, and now you are my prisoner.”

The man flicked a hand. The small flying devices converged on Anders’ location. One sent an orange beam at Anders’ head.

“Owww!” Anders clutched his cheek. “I’m an EMT doing my job. She’s in critical condition and needs medical attention.” The sausage like finger extended at the blond haired hero.

“Possibly,” the costumed man said. “But I’m not letting her or you go. You’ll tell the Society. Then I’ll have to shut down my entire operation.” The man spread his hands wide. “I’ve worked too hard to get here, and no one is going to stop me.” The costumed man’s teeth clench and his nostrils flared as he pointed at Anders. “Put that monkey down!”

The machines encircling Anders zoomed in, each one letting out a beam.

Anders moved as best as the constricting room allowed. Several beams hit him, causing pain and making him flinch.

“Control. This is EMT Anders-”

“We’re aware EMT. Help is on the way,” the panicked voice over the earbud cut Anders’ words off.

Anders swatted at the small machines. His large flat hand batted two, making a hole for him to step through. In a single motion, he scooped Damsel, chair and all, and shouldered towards the door.

The devices targeted Anders expansive back as he squeezed into the three-step corridor. Their random bursts sent a steady stream of pain into his body, making him wince.

Anders pushed through the hall, then out the concealed door. The jam, plaster, and two potted plants crumbled as he muscled into the hallway.

The whir of the devices increased. The nasally sounding voice screamed behind Anders, “No! You’re not getting away. Theta-Epsilon!”

Several devices detached from wall, out of offices, and various other places. They converged behind and over Anders, making a dark machine-cloud. The machines morphed and merged into four basketball-sized devices.

Anders made a turn by bouncing off a corner and planting a hand on the floor. Two green beams pelted the walls, leaving softball-sized holes in their wake.

The machines made the turn, keeping close on Anders backside. Another shot a beam. Anders shifted, and the beam went over his shoulder. The window in front of him exploded.

“Control, this is Anders,” Anders shouted. “I’m transporting hero Damsel. My location will be the outside of the building I am presently located.”

The voice in the earbud responded. “Understood, EMT. Be safe.”

Anders paused at the open window and turned to face the machines. He reached an arm out the window and pulled himself out and up.

“NO!” The costumed man chasing Anders screamed. “Don’t let them get away!”

The devices zoomed after Anders.

Climbing the outside of the building was difficult. Anders managed to keep Damsel in the crook of his arm and rested her head in his palm. Using his free hand and both feet, he worked his way to the top of the building.

The devices zoomed around Anders. He couldn’t swat them away, instead he moved to the sides as best as he could. On more than one occasion, his handhold was shot out before he could take it. When this happened, he leaped to the side and repositioned.

Clearing the last floor, Anders reached the roof ledge. A blast rocketed through him and he bellowed at the top of his lungs. Damsel squirmed in his hand and her eyes flew open.

“Where am I,” she screamed. “Who are you? What are you doing?”

“I’m EMT Anders from Special Delivery,” Anders puffed out. “I’m trying to take you to a hospital.”

“What happened to Technix,” Damsel asked her head looking around. “Oh my God!” She pointed to one of the basketball-sized devices careening towards them.

Anders turned in a smooth fashion, jumped into the air, and volleyball spiked the device into the roof. It broke into several parts, each one sparking and two igniting on fire.

The maintenance doors burst open and Technix ran through. He extended a hand and the three remaining flying items merged into one larger item.

Anders’ eyes went wide, and he sucked in air. His uniform was torn and there were scorch marks. He spun his head around, looking for an escape route.

“We need to go,” Damsel shouted. “He’s going to kill us.”

“No shit, lady,” Anders growled.

Anders’ eyes went wide, and he grunted. Using both legs and his free hand, he bolted across the open space of the roof in a simian trot. “Hang on. I found one.”

Damsel rolled her head over and saw the tiny gap between the two buildings across the way. “You can’t be serious.”

“Unless you know something I don’t,” Anders retorted.

The large flying device shot out several electronic blasts in rapid succession. Each blast bit into the roof, scattering debris. More than once, a few blasts were close enough to singe Anders’ fur.

Damsel sat up as best as she could, grunting with pain. She pulled a device from her belt and tossed it over Anders’ shoulder. The arc the handheld device traveled carried it in front of Technix. Biting into the roof, the device erupted and spewed gelatinous fluid. Technix stepped back, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from getting covered. In the next second the fluid hardened, encasing Technix’s arms, one leg, and the front of his torso.

Anders planted both feet on the ledge, feeling his toes curl over the corner of the building. Compressing both legs, he leaned into the open air. He caught a glimpse of the traffic below. Six lanes of morning commute traffic. Gravity pulled on his heavy frame and he went past the point of no return. Extending his free hand, he pushed his legs straight.

Anders and his patient took to the air. Bestial roars coming from both mouths. The power of the jump carried them past one lane, then the next. Damsel’s hair fluttered behind her as the wind blew by. Spit flew from Anders’ open mouth.

With the third lane cleared, the duo also descended four floors of the building.

Anders’ body extended to it’s fullest when they cleared lanes four and five.

Halfway over six, Damsel saw what Anders aimed for. A cross bar set between the buildings. At the moment they were several stories above it, but they were falling faster.

The cement of the sidewalk and faces of the pedestrians blinked into focus. Damsel felt her ears pop.

Several people screamed and pointed up.

The sudden jerk forced Damsel flat on the furry arm of Anders.

Anders released the bar at the apex of his swing and pushed off a building. “Made it!”

Damsel stared at Anders. Her lips moved, but nothing came out. The fingers of one hand twined into his fur.

Bouncing off several more buildings and a few acrobatic turns, and Anders landed at the emergency room entrance. He placed Damsel on the gurney and smiled. “One Damsel in distress, rescued. I can check that one off the bucket list.”

Damsel blushed as she waved. The people in white coats wheeled her off.

Anders turned to leave. Two black boots and a fluttering cape caught his eye, and he waited.

“Are you Anders Brady?” The voice came from the well muscled form wearing the cape and midnight blue costume. Paladin landed.

“Uh..Yeah,” Anders said, his face flashing fear, happiness, confusion, and several more emotions.

“I’m here to give you this,” Paladin held out a gold plastic card. The laser hologram emblem of the Society on one side sparkled.

“Whoa!” Anders wide eyes turned back towards Paladin. “What is this for?”

“It’s an access key,” Paladin answered. “I’m pretty sure you know to what building.”

“Yeah,” Anders answered, running a large hand over his monkey head.

“Be there tomorrow at eight. Orientation for new highers begin at 8:30.” Paladin hovered then flew away.

Super Paranoid

“Oh, no,” Gina quietly gasped, as her hand hovered over her open mouth. Ronald leaned in close with a questioning look. “Uncle Howard actually showed up.” She nodded across the lawn towards the solidly build older man.

“So,” Ronald turned, looking at the man. “He was on the list your mother gave me.”

“There should have been a pink star next to his name,” Gina rolled her eyes and let out a heavy sigh.

“He might have,” Ronald swallowed a sip of his punch. “What does that mean?”

“It’s the organization thing my mom does,” Gina’s narrowed eyes darted to Ronald then back to her Uncle Howard. “It means invite to the important events like funerals, or weddings.” She clenched her teeth, “Not to ordinary things like the once a decade family reunion picnic.”

Ronald ran a hand through his hair, and hooked his neck, “Uh…I’m not following.”

“Uncle Howard is special,” Gina said with a tilt to her head. “He’s retired now, but he continues to find problems everywhere.”

Ronald blinked at her.

“Uncle Howard used to be called Cobblestone,” Gina whispered then sighed.

Ronald froze with his cup midway to his mouth, his eyes unblinking. “Wait! THE Cobblestone?” His head jerked towards Uncle Howard, then back. Ronald’s cheeks flushed and his eyes sparkled. “Wow!”

Gina let out an “Oh boy,” under her breath. “Yes. THE Cobblestone.” She shook her head with her eyes closed. “Now, it’s just sad.”

“What do you mean,” Ronald asked, shifting to stand closer.

“In his last few days of super hero duty, he defeated Brood,” Gina answered. Ronald nodded. “Brood threatened to get even, like all the villains do.”

“Yeah, so what?” Ronald’s face contorted into annoyance. “Tell me something I didn’t see on the news.”

“Well, Brood is a telepath,” Gina tapped a finger on her temple. “He uses his brain powers to affect things and attack.”

Ronald arched an eyebrow and sighed. “OK.” He drew the word out.

“If something happens to Uncle Howard, he thinks it’s Brood getting even,” Gina said, looking at her feet.

Ronald shook his head, “I’m still not following.”

“Here we go,” Gina nodded towards Uncle Howard.

Ronald turned to see a football roll away from Uncle Howard. Howard stood stiff, with his eyes darting around the lawn. He moved his head to the right, eyes scanning.

Everyone at the picnic went quiet. Several people stepped away from Howard.

Howard’s head turned the other direction.

The kids that threw the football stopped in their approach to their toy.

“I know you’re here,” Howard shouted. He crunched the plastic cup in his hand, spilling the contents to the grass. “Show yourself, you base coward.” Howard’s skin turned red. Dark outlines in random patterns formed over his skin. His shirt ripped, followed by his pants and shoes.

“Oh,” Ronald drew this word out. “I see.”

Howard dashed to the side, smashing through the picnic table that held the food. “Brood! I’ll find you!”

“Quick,” Gina said to Ronald. “Call Denise.” She stepped away from Ronald with her head turning this way and that. “She’ll come and help calm him down.” Gina bolted towards the kids. “Vince, code puppy-dog. Code puppy-dog.”

Battle

Jayhawk walked the dark aisle way towards the entrance of the arena. The scent of alcohol, sweat, and perfume permeated the air, making his head swim. The blaring cacophony made it hard to hear over his earbud.

While he waited, Jayhawk clenched and unclenched both fists, checked his equipment belt, and ensured his helmet was secured. Staring across the arena at the other entrance, he saw his opponent, the Golden Sentinel.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Distinguished judges.” The disembodied voice of the announcer sounded over unseen speakers. “Tonight, we are down to the final two candidates. They are battling for the title of City Defender.” The word Defender reverberated around the arena and surrounding spectator areas.

The crowd erupted with cheers and shouts.

“So far, these two have been equally matched in each of the previous contests. They are also well known in the city and surrounding area. I present to you, the Golden Sentinel and Jayhawk.” Again, the last words bounced around unseen areas of the arena and the crowd noise swelled.

The gate in front of Jayhawk sprung open. Taking the cue, he dashed in. A rolling dive let him dodge the weapon the Golden Sentinel threw. As Jayhawk sprung to his feet, he spotted the Golden Sentinel shaking his head.

PONG!

Stars burst into Jayhawks vision and he collapsed to the surface of the arena.

The crowd gasped, then belted out a cheer with applause.

Jayhawk forced himself to his feet and scrambled for a nearby obstacle, using it for cover. He felt the back of his helmet. It was covered in spider web cracks and flexed when he put pressure on it.

The hairs on the back of Jayhawk’s neck stood up. A quick glance and he saw the shadow pressing down on him. Darting a hand to his belt he pressed a secret button.

The Golden Sentinel vaulted over the large cement obstacle and reached for Jayhawk. His entire body tensed and he fell to the ground with a loud thump and a loud scream.

“You’re not the only one that has surprises,” Jayhawk chuckled. “Electric counter-measures.”

Jayhawk looked at his target, the green flag flapping in the imitation breeze of the arena.

Scampering over several low obstacles, Jayhawk took the path of least resistance for the flag. Being the easier path, made it longer.

The Golden Sentinel moaned as he stood. He shook his cowl-masked head to clear the cobwebs. After a quick check of his opponent’s progress, the Golden Sentinel fired a grapnel line. The small wench on this belt pulled the Golden Sentinel towards his destination.

Jayhawk watched as the Golden Sentinel zipped into the air. A quick flick and a small disk shot from Jayhawk, severing the line Golden Sentinel had. The Sentinel plummeted to the arena floor amidst other obstacles.

Cheers and jeers rose from the crowd, and Jayhawk moved faster with his opponent out of commission.

The Golden Sentinel scrambled to his feet and dashed for the flag. As he climbed an obstacle, he aimed his grapnel gun again. Firing, the dart penetrated the lower leg of Jayhawk.

“Aahhhhhh,” Jayhawk screamed, clutching his leg, then collapsed on the platform.

The crowd gasped as they watched the expanded view on the jumb-o-trons placed high above their seating areas. Several booed, but a few cheered.

The Golden Sentinel activated the wench on his grapnel gun again and climbed to where Jayhawk lay sprawled. “Tough break.”

Several low sounding boo’s wafted over the arena as the Golden Sentinel advanced closer to the flapping flag.

Staggering to his feet, Jayhawk pulled a small item from his belt. With a hard flick of his arm, the device connected with the knee of the Golden Sentinel. A splat of blood hit the surface of the obstacle, and the Golden Sentinel dropped to keep from falling over the edge.

Again, the crowd expressed their amazement at what the possible heroes were doing to each other.

Jayhawk limped after the Golden Sentinel, passing the prone hero and advancing to the next platform.

Both heroes slowly worked their way closer to the flag. They both landed on the large, raised platform opposite each other.

“You’re not going to make it,” Jayhawk said and tossed a handful of pellets at the Golden Sentinel.

The Golden Sentinel rolled to the side to avoid the small projectiles, but wasn’t fast enough. The pellets exploded with little pops and a foam advanced over the form of the Golden Sentinel.

At the same time, the Golden Sentinel tossed a single disk at Jayhawk. Kicking the device, it exploded in a puff of smoke encasing Jayhawk. Within seconds he was coughing like a 30-year smoker.

Still both struggled to reach the flag.

The Golden Sentinel extended a hand, but it was covered in the foam, halting all advancement. It even covered his face.

Jayhawk felt his entire body go limp, and he fell to all fours, then to his belly, and lastly stopped. His arm, much like the Golden Sentinel, was extended, but not touching the flag.