Monday, July 27, 2015

Super Hero

A super hero short I whipped up with little forethought for a contest... It would seem the judges prefer some forethought! ;)
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“What does the green blinking light mean?”
“It means,” Fisk muttered distractedly. “Wait.” His head snapped up. “Blinking?”
To my surprise, he dropped the vials he was so delicately mixing, leaving them to bubble over, as he darted through the messy lab with familiarity. I stepped aside as he approached the computer that took up the better half of one wall. Lights from the army of screens and buttons lit up his eyes as he scanned the digital wall. Instead of biting his tongue—the usual look of concentration I was used to seeing on his face—he chewed his lip with a thoughtful wrinkle to his brow. I was beginning to suspect that there were more layers of personalities to my new friend than I had originally given his oversized lab goggles credit for.  With an experienced hand, he directed a lever towards a blinking dot on a holographic map, while his left hand spun a dial zooming in on the screen. I stepped closer and craned my neck to see over his shoulder, but he seemed to anticipate my move, as a subtle shift of his body blocked my view of the screen. He pushed a few more buttons outside my view, before turning around with an almost guilty expression.
“I, ah, have to …step out. I’m sorry Courtney.”
“Okay,” I said, eyeing the now blank screen behind him. “I’ll just stay wait around here.”
“Ah, nah, better not,” he stammered, seeming to notice where my attention was focused. “Hey, want to catch a movie later? Seven o’clock?”
“Okay…” I answered slowly. He handed me my bag and held the door. His too-big feet shuffled in awkward impatience and he offered a sheepish grin in response to my suspicious look as I passed him. This was more like the nerdy chemists personality I had gotten to know in my first year lab partner.
“Is everything okay?” I had to ask.
“Yeah!” He answered too quickly. “It’s all good.” His mysterious grin enticed more suspicion than assurance from me. If there were a polite method to pry, I would’ve attempted it. Instead, I stammered, “oh. Good.” My nervous chuckle escaped as a loud snort that hurt my nose and pride together, but he was thankfully too distracted to notice as he closed the door.

I was still considering my new friend minutes later, as I stepped out into the street. I’d known him for only a few weeks, since a shared infatuation in chemistry had brought us together as lab partners. Recently, a tour of his own private lab had blown my socks off like one of our chemical experiments gone wrong. Despite my flattery of his incredible private lab, he still seemed kind of jumpy having me there. I got the feeling he didn’t share that private space very often. So he secretive and reclusive, so what? Most chemistry nerds were. I could respect that.

Suddenly a sensation like a wave rose under my feet, catapulting me through the air. Screams and popping sounds were loud in my ears as I hit the wrinkled concrete of the street and held on, fearing another unsettling quiver of the earth. When none came, I looked up and noticed a thick gas pouring from the drain on the curb next to me. Not an earthquake? As an aspiring chemists, I knew enough about chemicals to be suspicious of such a dense vapor. my bag and tying my bad-hair-day bandanna over my nose and mouth before I was even conscience of doing so.
Something was happening at the end of the block, but the gas was densest there, so I could tell what. People were running and screaming from the commotion, however, so it couldn’t be good.
Naturally, stupidly, my curiosity pushed me towards the scene.
Despite my bandanna, the mysterious gas was already making me feel heavy, like gravity was increasing. Digging in my bag, I pulled out a bottle of purifying vapor. Something Fisk and I had been working on to aid in cleaning up molds leftover from the spring flood downtown. My head was instantly clearer as I liberally soaked my bandanna.

Regardless of the recent evacuation, the intersection was mayhem. Squinting through the fog, I could make out a figure in the sky, moving with inhuman speed. Flying? The unlikeliness of that seemed minuscule compared to the even less humanly possible figure forming out of the gas that was seeping up from every manhole and drain in the street, merging into a more or less solid form. Bursts of purple smoke were popping around the base of the figure, each one dissolving him slightly. The chemists in me was too stupidly intrigued to be scared. The purple vapors looked and smelled oddly familiar. I was moving closer, trying to identify the substance when a manhole burst only feet from me in the street, the green gas bursting up like a solid arm thrusting the lid off the drain directly towards me. I heard a shout, but I couldn’t even blink before the iron plate was directly in front of my face. Oddly, the impact didn’t really hurt. The air around me seemed to unnaturally thicken, cushioning the blow and even as I fell back, I remember thinking that the pavement didn’t feel as hard as it should’ve.

It could’ve been hours or just minutes later, when I opened my eyes. A masked figure was bending over me, somehow making something that resembled a gas mask look cool. Like, Super Hero cool, but the muscular body that was nicely accented in the accompanying outfit probably aided to the overall look.
Though he tried to hide it, I recognized the spray bottle of purifying vapor Fisk and I had invented in his hand and realized my bandanna had been recently soaked.
“All good?” he asked, helping me sit up.
“Yeah,” I answered, looking around and noticing the gas had mostly dissipated in the street. Further away, police and ambulance sirens were wailing with increasing volume.
“Good.” His voice held a familiar shyness as he moved away.
And then it hit me.
I grabbed his arm, wondering why I had never noticed how muscular those biceps were before. “Wait.”
His masked face turned to look at me. I took a deep breath.
“Still on for seven?”
“What?” He feigned innocence incredibly poorly.
“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. It’s all good,” I assured him, borrowing his own line with a nervous snort honking in my nose. My damp bandanna felt cool on my suddenly hot face.
“Good,” he said, then after a pause, “but I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I heard a grin the voice behind the mask.
A squad car pulled up at that moment so I was distracted and didn’t actually see him leave, but I still can’t believe he could actually fly. It was probably a gimmick hidden by the gas or something. I wasn’t going to ask him though, or even bring up the ridiculous idea that my lab partner was hiding a Super-Hero alter ego. Regardless, I couldn’t stop grinning and suddenly, I couldn’t wait for seven o’clock.

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