I took a moment to try and figure out just where I went wrong. Was it when I spent two minutes dodging his knife slashes and spouting off insults? Or could it have been when instead of shocking him, I attempted to roundhouse kick him in the face? I think it was probably the latter. I mean yeah, all that dodging tired me out, but even so, I wasn’t a martial artist, so I really should have known that attempting to pull off something I’d only seen in movies wouldn’t end well for me.
At the current moment, my assailant had me pinned against the ground with a knife at my throat. This was the seventh crook I’d taken on since I became a hero, but I’d never been in this kind of immediate danger before. The first guy I’d almost fried immediately because I still wasn’t sure how to modulate my powers. Baddies numbers two through four I’d had to take my time with to ensure I didn’t severely harm them, and they got a couple punches in on me. And then there were numbers five and six who went down without a fight. While I did enjoy personally bringing criminals to justice, my current situation was making me really look forward to the point where I was well established enough that crooks would back down from the second they saw me.
Even so, there was one thing of which this guy clearly wasn’t aware. I mean, no one but me was, and that is just how my powers worked. I never thought I’d be so happy to be scared for my life.
I closed my eyes, and imagined him slitting my throat. I thought about Shay being devastated by my death, and anymore Medians or Demigods becoming too scared to try and become heroes. No, I wasn’t going to let any of that happen.
“Closing your eyes, eh? Tell me bug, are you afraid of death?” The mugger who had me pinned down asked, breathing heavily on me.
I opened my eyes and I decided to respond in as relaxed a way as possible. “Why yes, I am absolutely mortified by the idea of death. And you should be ashamed of yourself for being an awful enough person that you would actually kill someone.” I had a big grin on my face, even larger than the one I’d been wearing throughout most of the fight.
“You’re still making fun of me, bug?” He chuckled. “Are you forgetting which one of us has the knife?!” He was getting angry. Good.
“Look buddy, my name isn’t bug, and that’s not even a good insult.” His face was turning red and he had an angry frown that said “Hi, I’m going to kill you now.” Yeah, it was time to act. “Like I said before. My name is Lightning Bee.”
I lifted my hands up in open palm position, aimed them at my opponent, and fired two electric blasts at him. My lightning was yellow with hints of white in it. The crook was sent flying by my attack, dropping his knife along the way, and landed around 20 feet away from me.
I got to my feet, and got a good look at the guy laying on the ground. He was a pretty rough looking white guy wearing brown shorts, a white tank top, and a black bandana. He looked like he was in his late 20’s, and I could see tattoos all over him. There was a cartoon devil on each of his arms, a nude anime girl on his left leg, and the word ‘PUSSY’ on his right cheek. There were smaller ones scattered all over but I couldn’t make them out.
If you asked me, he didn’t look like the nicest guy. Now me, I was looking cool. The main part of my costume was a black body suit with yellow lightning bolts along my arms and legs. I was also wearing black combat boots and goggles along my forehead. Shay had been asking me why I wore them if it wasn’t to cover my face. The answer was simple: I thought they looked cool.
My enemy was slowly rising. I thought for sure that I’d discharged enough to knock him out. Just because I could summon lightning didn’t mean I had a built in voltmeter. Hell, I couldn’t even feel the electricity. I wonder if that meant I couldn’t get shocked by plugging my “SNES” into an old outlet, because that’s happened to me quite a bit over the years.
As he got to his feet, I took notice of the crowd forming around us. They should have known better than to stand around watching a fight, but to be fair, before I came along, it had been 14 years since the people had gotten to see a superhero in action. So yeah, I guess if I was a bystander, I’d want to watch as well.
“I get it now. You think you’re all that because you’ve got powers?” The mugger started saying. “Well you’re not. Plenty of people have powers. But they’re smart enough to know that the age of heroes is long gone. And crime is coming back to Bluejay!”
I’d heard that last part from the previous few guys I’d faced as well. As distressing as it was for me that my home was going to be facing more danger, at least it meant there was plenty for me to do. “Is that it? Are you done?” I asked in a nonchalant way.
“Your tights are dumb!” He shouted as he spat on the ground.
That was the last straw. This guy had attempted to mug a young woman, threatened to kill me, and now he was making fun of my costume. I did not spend the last 15 years becoming an excellent sewer so I could be made fun of by crooks. I did it so in the event I ever developed powers, I would have no problem making my costume look exactly the way I wanted it to look. It was time for this guy to go down. He wasn’t proving to be much of a threat at the moment though, so first, I figured I should connect with the people.
I turned around and saw a kid who couldn’t have been older then eight. “Hey there buddy. What’s your name?” I asked him, attempting a deep booming voice.
“Ben.” He said in the most adorable voice ever. “I just got here and I want to help.”
“Sorry kid. This is the kind of thing that needs to be left to a superhero.” Just in case I ended up having a chance to talk to a child, I’d worked up a list of things that I thought King Power would have said.
“But I have a power.”He said sweetly.
“Really?” I asked surprised, losing the deep voice. It was pretty common for people to have their powers from birth, but it was rare that kids actually knew how to use them.
“Yeah. Watch.” Ben said, and in the next two seconds, he had a full mustache grown. “Not helpful in this situation, but that’s pretty awesome. Now, just stand back and watch me. I’m the people’s hero Lightning Bee. And you can tell all your friends that so long as I’m around, no harm will come to any innocent, and…”
“Look out Lightning Bee!” He cut me off, and for good reason. I turned around and saw the mugger, having retrieved his knife, running towards me. He looked really pissed, and unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to react fast enough, and he slashed me across the chest.
“Fuck!” I shouted. Wait, now that I was a superhero, was I allowed to swear? No, I don’t think so. Especially not around kids. Mental note: No more swearing.
Thankfully, it was only a shallow cut, and while it still hurt like Hell, I figured it would probably be a good idea to get used to pain. What I wouldn’t kill for Demigod endurance. But yeah, no more distractions. This time, for real, it was time to finish this.
He raised his arm up high, preparing to stab me, and while I was tempted to try kicking him away, going off of what had happened before, I decided it would be a better move to knock him back with a small blast.
He was knocked a few inches back, clearly startled, and with him out of range from killing me, or possible recoil from my blast getting a civilian like Ben hurt, I raised both of my hands, thought about this guy killing Shay, and fired. I figured that would be a good thought for a knock out blast because while the idea was scary, I seriously doubted this guy could take her.
He went down, and after a few seconds of waiting, it seemed pretty clear that he was staying down this time. I bent down to check his pulse and I was happy to find that he was still alive. There was always that brief moment of fear that I might have killed someone. But hey, I was as careful as I could be and I was doing good work. So yeah, I think it was worth those terrifying instances.
The crowd started cheering. I didn’t care what any criminal said. There was always room for heroes in the world. I started looking around for the woman who the guy had been mugging. I didn’t see her anywhere though. I guess she was pretty spooked from the whole thing so she ran off.
The crowd was starting to break away, and traffic on the sidewalk was returning to its usual state. I figured someone had already called the cops, because that’s what had happened the last few times. I would wait around, and hand the guy off to them. I was starting to get a bit bored with the waiting though. Crime wasn’t very common here in Bluejay so the police were still working on being fast responders. Maybe I should make some sort of calling card to let the cops know I was there. Though maybe that wouldn’t support the image I was trying to build. Whatever.
“Thank you for stopping the bad guy.” Ben said, hugging me.
“Anytime kid. Wherever there’s trouble, I’ll be there.” Even I knew that sounded cheesy, but hey, what kid didn’t want to be reassured by a superhero?
The cops came around five minutes later. They saw me with the unconscious criminal, and that was my cue to let them handle things from there. By this point, my presence was enough to let them know what had gone down.
“Sounds like you had quite the eventful day.” Shay plopped down on the couch next to me, burrito in hand. Say what you will about the ratty little place that was Mighty Mike’s Mexican Metropolis, Shay couldn’t get enough of their stuff. “You managed to take down your seventh criminal and simultaneously make us look incompetent.”
I yawned and stretched my arms. Today was eventful but it was also tiring. It didn’t help that our couch wasn’t the most comfortable. I mean it looked really cool, being the closest a couch could be to metallic blue, but it wasn’t very soft. Shay said she wouldn’t let me pick out furniture after that. “What are you talking about? I just happened to be there when the police weren’t.”
“Maybe so, but you’ve now caught more criminals in the last month than we have in the last year. If you keep this up, we’re going to become completely obsolete.”
It was rare that Shay looked genuinely upset. She wasn’t now, but she was clearly pretty pissed. She was smart enough to realize that the work I was doing was good, but seeing as how she was a cop, I understood her annoyance.
I obviously wasn’t attracted to Shay, that would be seven different kinds of creepy, but I was still able to see her as mildly attractive. She was thin but muscular, had long brown hair, brown eyes, and an unfortunately large nose. Physically, she took after our dad. In contrast to that, I looked more like our mom with my flipped up dirty blonde hair, green eyes, average build, and a slight pudge in my face.
“You know, I keep hearing that crime is going back to Bluejay, and the amount of guys I’ve had to stop is evidence of that. That means there are plenty of bad guys to go around. And hey, it’s like King Power always said “Having powers is one thing, but those who fight evil without any special abilities; those are the real heroes.”
Shay said the second half of the quote with me. Yeah, we were kind of dorks when it came to this stuff.
“Hate to say it dude, but your King Power impression sucks” Her pissed off look had been replaced by a smile. Mission accomplished. Even so, she just insulted my impression.
“It does not. He spoke just like this!” I had deepened my voice even more so than when I was talking to Ben.
“Uh, no he didn’t. Take it from the girl who actually got to spend a day with him.”
I suddenly looked rather grumpy.
“What’s wrong Carter? You jelly?”
It was great to see her looking happy, even if it was at my expense. She’d had my back all our lives so making her smile was the least I could do.
“Um, I got to meet him too.”
“Yeah, but no offense here, he seemed quite a bit more interested in me.”
I lightly punched her shoulder. Shay was a couple years older than me, and even though she had always given me guidance, she could sometimes feel like the bratty little sister about whom a lot of guys complain.
And King Power was totally interested in me. I think he just had to give Shay more attention because of the circumstances. What I do know for sure is that the King and I created a bond that day. I think if he was still around he’d be pretty proud of who I’d become.
Now that Shay was in a good mood, I could change the topic. “Get anything for me from Mike’s?”
“Uh, lets see.” She walked over to the kitchen counter and opened up a brown paper bag. “Alright, you can have a tex mex taco, or you can have some of my quaesadilla.”
“I’ll have the taco.” It had been a long while since I had eaten anything from Mike’s. I remember the food not being too great, but there was barely anything in our fridge and I was hungry.
“Boom.” She threw the taco across our apartment and I was just barely able to catch it.
If I had missed it, it would have splattered over our floor, a mess would be made, and if we couldn’t clean it all up, our landlord would be pissed. And since our parents were still covering most of our rent, they might get called, and then they’d call us, and then I might have to talk to my dad, and I really didn’t want that to happen.
“You know you could have just walked over and handed it to me.”
“You’re a superhero now. We’ve got to make sure you’ve got good reflexes.” Her smirk and tone made it clear that she wasn’t serious and she was just screwing with me.
“Oh yeah, I am a superhero. You know, with super powers. You jelly?’
Before she sat back down, Shay turned on the TV. We saw that “Days of Old” was on. It was one of our favorite shows. Basically, it was a combination of old footage of heroes in action and interviews with people that knew the heroes well. It also had a catchy as Hell theme song…which Shay started singing.
I covered my ears. I loved the theme song just as much as I loved her, but at least I realized that neither of us could sing for our lives. I turned and saw her bobbing her head while she sang. Who am I kidding, it looked really fun. I started singing and headbanging along with her.
Shay was 24. I was 21. Shay was a police officer. I was an aspiring PI. Our friends and associates knew us as children. We saw that this episode was about sidekicks like Chloriclyde and Cheese. I wonder if I should get a sidekick. Nah, it’s not like I have anything but mooks to deal with.
“I’ve seen this one before.” Shay picked up the remote and changed the channel. Some old black and white movie was on.
I took a bite of my taco and nearly barfed the second it touched my tongue. I had been remembering Mike’s food incorrectly. It wasn’t not so great. It was, what’s the word, oh yeah, fucking horrible. The taste of the meat resembled that of moldy bread. I had no idea how Shay stomached, let alone loved their food.
“So I’ve been wondering. Why don’t you wear a mask?” Oh thank god a question. Anything to get my mind off the taste of the food.
“Why would I do that?”
“You know, to preserve your secret identity.” That was something I’d been wondering about. I’d met a few cops as Carter, and yet when they saw me as Lightning Bee, they didn’t recognize me. The weird thing was that this wasn’t just a thing with me. Heroes like King Power and Chronometer didn’t wear masks either, and yet no one could figure out who they really were.
“It’s the same reason I had no problem telling you about my powers.” I put down the taco and gulped down some water. “It’s safer for you and my friends if you all know about me, rather than if I kept it a secret. I never understood why comic book characters did that. I’m sure Stallion told all of his friends about his powers.”
She shifted around trying to make herself more comfortable on our lumpy sofa. “But you’ve talked to other cops right? Woodsol, Bugby? They told me how they met Lightning Bee, and I know that you’ve met them as you. What the Hell?”
“I wouldn’t let it bother you. I mean come on, Woodsol and Bugby? They’re not exactly the brightest duo.” I hope that didn’t sound mean. I barely even knew the guys. I pretty much just said it without thinking.
“Okay, I’ll admit it. The cops in this city aren’t the best. Maybe if Troyan would make me a detective already, they’d have one more smart head on their shoulders.”
“At least you have a job. I haven’t gotten a single case yet.”
“Carter, you’re a freaking superhero. You don’t get to complain.” Shay proceeded to eat most of her burrito in one bite. Bleh. “Why couldn’t I have developed powers?” She put down her burrito and took a sip of off brand cola. Yeah, we really were tight on money.
“You know I didn’t develop them. I was stung by a radioactive bee.” That had been one Hell of an afternoon. I was just sitting back, playing some Team Fortress 2, when a glowing bee flew through the window and stung me.
“And you know I don’t believe that. Stuff like that only happens in comic books. You either get your powers naturally or not at all.” She finished her burrito and moved on to her quaesadilla. “Not to mention you’re a freaking Demigod.”
I was pretty lucky on that front. Most people who got powers were just Medians. They could do stuff like change the color of their hair at will or turn invisible for a few seconds. Demigods? We could breathe fire, have telekinesis, or in my case, fire electricity out of my hands. Demigods also had enhanced strength and endurance. The weird part was that, as far as I could tell, I didn’t have those. I thought originally I was just a Median, but no Median had a power like mine. I guess it just boiled down to the weird way I got my abilities.
“Believe what you want. All I know is that one second I didn’t have any powers, then I was stung by a bee, and then boom, instant superhero.” Yeah, I had no problem telling Shay all about my abilities and superheroing. I mean we told each other everything. Though what I hadn’t told her was how exactly my powers worked.
“It’s really not fair. When we were kids, you wanted to have abilities like King Power’s, while I wanted elemental abilities. I got gypped bro.” She began devouring her quaesadilla. Seriously, how was she doing this? Maybe she did have a super power.
“You know what, I think I’m gonna go take a shower. Using my powers kind of makes me stink.”
“Ew. well, have a wet time.” She turned away from me as I walked away and back to where I was sitting. “Wait, what about your taco?”
“All yours.” I didn’t support wasting food so if she wanted to eat it, she could go right ahead.
I began making my way to the bathroom. I don’t know why I hadn’t told her the secret behind my powers. It’s just, maybe she’d be a bit worried. And now that I’m a hero, I can’t make anyone feel anything less then great.
I stripped down and got in the shower. Frick it was cold! I hadn’t paid the heating bill, had I? I knew I’d forgotten something.
I woke up in my bed the next morning. I turned to my alarm clock and saw that it was 8:00. That meant Shay was already at work. Groaning, I turned off my alarm, got out of bed, and made myself some breakfast.
Our apartment was pretty nice. It had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a really big living room. The floors were a dull wood and the walls were white plaster. We’d spruced up the place by putting up posters everywhere. These ranged from posters of old heroes to posters of video game characters.
As I ate my waffles, I went onto my laptop and checked the news. Nothing looked too interesting at first. There was some stuff about an upcoming parade that I was thinking about going to, and a high school football game in which I had no interest. Eventually though, I came across something intriguing and disturbing.
Last night, a woman was found murdered in her apartment right here in Bluejay City. She was cut several times by a 12 inch blade before being shot through the forehead. I’d heard of something like this before so I figured I’d give Shay a call.
“Hey dude. What’s up?” From the sound of it, she was riding in a car. She was probably on her beat.
“Hey. Did you hear about the murder that happened last night?”
“Yeah. Captain Troyan gave the case to our top two homicide guys just a few minutes ago.” If this guy Troyan had half a brain, he would have Shay be one of his top two homicide guys. Though frankly, I was amazed anyone had that title, seeing as how murders have always been extraordinarily rare in Bluejay.
“That’s good. But uh, since I don’t have anything better to do, I was thinking about giving this a look myself. The killing sounded kind of familiar to me.”
“Did it? Well, whatever sicko is behind this, I’m sure either you or our guys will catch him.” I’m not sure if she was being honest or if she was just doing the whole reassuring big sister thing, but either way, it made me feel good.
“About that. The press was pretty discreet about the victim. Think you could give me some more info?”
“I don’t know. I really shouldn’t.”
“Help me catch him, and I’ll tell the Mayor I couldn’t have done it without you. You know he likes me, and if you help bring down a guy who’d dare to commit murder in the superhero capital of the world, I’m sure you’ll make detective in no time.” I think I had a pretty good way with words. If my grades hadn’t been, well, awful, and I didn’t hate wearing suits, I think I could have made a Hell of a lawyer.
“Damn that’s convincing. Alright, here’s the scoop. Her name is Diane Denson. 26 years old, average weight, average height, and as far we can tell from her DNA, she didn’t have any powers. The cuts on her were all over the place, but very shallow. And from the looks of it, the bullet that killed her was fired at point blank range.”
“Can you give me any leads to start investigating?”
“Our guys are starting by talking to people where she worked, Panda corp. If you head over there in an hour or two, you’ll probably be there without any distractions.”
“Thanks sis. I’ll let you get back to work now. Bye.”
“Wait, one more…” I hung up figuring she was in the middle of something.
An hour or two, huh. Alright, that gave me sometime to kill. I turned on the TV and switched on the news, hoping to see something about me. I mean as the only superhero in the world, I figured I was a pretty big deal. I didn’t think I was arrogant. I just wanted to inspire people.
What I saw though was rather distressing. Another woman had been killed in her apartment in the same manner as Diane. Okay, I didn’t have time to wait around. This guy was working fast, and that meant I had to as well.
I’d been dealing with thugs for a month now, but now it was time to face a real villain. It was time for Lightning Bee to spring into action.