Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flash Fiction - The Hero

 Good evening.

 This is what I get for reading too many issues of The Boys and watching too many episodes of The Venture Brothers all in the same week.

***


            “Alright, what do I gotta do?” he asked, reclining in his new chair. The secretary provided by the Liberty Legion went through some documents on her clipboard.
She was skinny with a mannish chin, square and rough as though chiselled from granite. A pair of rectangular glasses rested on the bridge of her nose. Her hair was dyed auburn, tied up in a loose ponytail. The black business suit and matching knee-length skirt showed off the lack of contours in her body.
“And, what did you say your name was again?” he wondered, staring out the windows of his new office and watching the sunset.
“Ms. Claremont, sir,” she said, her nasal voice showing the emotional depth of a typewriter. “The first item on the agenda is your moniker. Paradigm himself confirmed that the name, Captain Astonishing, is acceptable and a costume is already being manufactured."
Nodding to himself, he looked around the room to see the ten-foot bookshelves, the globe, his pens, and a massive portrait of himself. His diploma rested next to it. It was a room fitting for a Captain. “Excellent. What else?”
She kept her eyes on the board, “Paradigm also wanted you to know that the LL is hosting a gala on the 15th. Your inauguration speech is a day later. You will also –”
The Captain waved her off. “Yeah, yeah. When do I get to fight some crimes?”
Ms. Claremont rolled her eyes. “Right to business, then,” she said dryly, flipping ahead three pages and tracing her eyes down, “The Stag Party is planning a bank heist on –”
The Stag Party?!” he said, eagerly slamming the desk and rising to his feet, “Hot DOG! Where are they?!”
She looked as though he had just punched the President. “I’m sorry?”
Throwing some fake punches in the air, he danced around the office, “A bunch of frat boys with jetpacks and deer masks? They won’t know what hit ‘em! Rev up my car, let’s –”
“I’m afraid that’s not how it works, sir,” she explained, raising a hand.
He stopped in his tracks. “What do you mean?”
Putting the board to her chest, she inhaled deeply. “Line fifteen, page 77: In accordance with the Ultramama-Geffen the Slayer Treaty of 1988, all criminal-on-crime-fighter encounters must occur on scheduled days and times and must follow stipulations and protocols as requested by each agency.”
Taken aback, he circled the desk. “The hell is that? They’re the bad guys! Who cares?!”
“We’re already on shaky ground as is,” she said, plainly, “This simply prevents conflicts from escalating, nothing more."
Keeping an eye on her, he went back to the windows. “Why should I agree to this?”
“Failure to comply with the conditions laid out by The Bleak Consulate will result in a series of, might I say, very steep fines. You will also be forced to go rogue should you interfere in too many Terror Initiatives, which, as I’m sure you know, is not ideal as it lacks the,” she paused for effect, “health benefits for this line of work.”
His face turned pale. “Oh,” he whimpered, sitting down.
“The same rule applies for all of your appointments throughout the year,” Ms. Claremont explained as she went through the board’s notes once again. Each point she made had him sinking deeper into his new chair.
“For example, Doctor Skulduggery and his army of Murder Men will take up much of your time near the end of the month; property damage will be on the extreme side, but we can arrange to have it centralized to one large building should you so wish. Such a request is not possible with The Sisters Malice, however, especially since that is a team-up with Benton Buckler of The Autonomy Alliance, and they like to make their ventures a bit flashy. Lastly, The Sepulchre is scheduled for a rampage in October –”
“How do you schedule a rampage?” he groaned.
“– in which we’re projecting maybe twelve to thirty people to die in the attack, and another fifty wounded, but –”
This tipped him over. “Twelve to thirty innocent people are going to die and you expect me to be okay with it?!”
She sighed, “Rest assured: the victims’ families will be compensated."
“That’s not the point!” he cried, rising to his feet again, “I’m supposed to be standing up for the little guy, not standing on him! I want to save lives, save the world! What’s the point of doing this job if I know people are going to die anyway!?”
From behind her glasses, she gave a hard, angry glare that could burn out the very stars. “You should have thought of that before becoming a superhero, sir.”

***

See you next time.

-RWI

EDIT: May 17, 2012. Made some edits and strengthed the text. Still proud of this one.

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