I walked down the deserted main street, exhausted, after a long night of delivering presents to orphans. It had been an easy but tedious mission, the kind that was only assigned to the lower members of the League. At that point, I wanted nothing more than to get home and sleep. However, as the rising sun began to cast light on the mansion at the end of the street, I thought of an idea that could earn me some brownie points with the higher league members.
I approached the colossal dwelling, rang the doorbell, and stood a few feet to the side. Nobody answered at first, so I rang it a few more times. Finally, a middle-aged balding man opened the door. From the bleariness of his eyes and the wildness of his thinning hair, I could tell I had woken him up.
“Who’s there?” he asked sleepily. I smiled because I knew I was invisible to him. With great pleasure, I imposed a strong dose of paranoia upon him. My signature move. Too bad about the equal and opposite reaction I would experience.
“I know you’re out there!” the man yelled, pulling a small pistol out of his pajamas pocket.
“Goodness!” I giggled quietly, letting the confidence wash over me. There is nothing like the euphoria of pure confidence. I walked through the still ajar door of the mansion, feeling that nothing in the world could go wrong, while the man began a painstaking search of his yard.
I became visible again, figuring it was okay since I was in the house and the man was outside. I strolled through the many rooms of the mansion, admiring paintings and carefully placing some in the sack I held, formerly containing gifts for orphans. I ascended the spiral staircase and explored some more rooms upstairs.
One of the rooms I entered was what appeared to be the master bedroom. My eyes immediately jumped to a small table next to the window. There was a chair at the table and a mirror above it. But what had caught my attention was an ornate jewelry box, which I figured must belong to the wife of the man outside. She was probably on vacation in Toronto or some other exotic location.
As I walked toward the table I glanced out the window beside it. I saw that the man was still out there currently pointing the gun at his mailbox as he slowly pulled on the flap and jumped back when it fell ajar.
I turned my attention back to the jewelry box, a jewel encrusted, hand painted antique. It looked beyond expensive. I had just picked it up and opened it to examine its contents when movement in the mirror caught my eye. I looked up.
Behind me was a tall, thin woman with long blond hair. She was raising a frying pan over her head threateningly. I spun around, cringing, and held the jewelry box over my head like a shield.
“Just calm down!” I frantically beseeched her. The woman lowered the frying pan to her side. The expression on her face suddenly turned from murderous to tranquil.
At that moment, the reality of the situation hit me. There was a woman in front of me with a frying pan and a man outside with a gun. And there I was, inside their house with a bag full of their belongings, which I’d obviously intended to steal.
I quickly set the jewelry box back on the table, dropped the sack, and sprinted out of the bedroom, shoving the woman aside as I went. But as soon as I got to the hallway, a thought occurred to me: What if they find my fingerprints on the paintings? I ran back into the room. The woman was still standing there watching me serenely as I pushed her out of my way again. I threw the jewelry box into the sack and once again made my swift exit, giving the woman one final shove.
I was halfway down the staircase, swag bag on shoulder, when the man reentered the house and pointed the gun at me.
“Calm down!” I shrieked again. Like the woman, the man immediately lowered his weapon. A peaceful look came over him.
I was bombarded by full-blown panic. I tried to pick up my speed and tripped down the last few steps, just able to brace my fall by releasing the sack. It flew several feet ahead of me, ejecting its contents in all directions. A Monet was speared by a statue of a sword wielding Charlie Sheen.
“These are my things,” the man said calmly from the doorway, picking up a painting that had slid all the way to his feet. I suddenly realized that the time for being visible was long past. “Where did you go?” the man asked when I disappeared. I ignored him and quickly threw everything back in the bag. Then I yanked the painting out of his hands and gave him a shove with my right shoulder on my way out the door.
I sprinted away from the house at top speed, hoping that no one would notice the random bag floating down the street. I could only turn small things, such as clothing, invisible; something as big and bulky as that sack was beyond my abilities.
I ran out of breath quickly, but my state of panic prevented me from slowing until I saw the familiar one hundred foot shovel jutting out of the desert floor ahead of me. Considering the fact that I had just frantically run a marathon distance, my relief was so great at seeing my destination that I collapsed then and there.
I felt the sun, hot and dry, beating down on my back like a thousand fists. My face was pressed against the earth which radiated heat. The skin touching the ground felt scalded and worn, so I attempted to prop myself up. The sudden change in posture left my mind reeling and I dry heaved. I groaned and felt dirt, gritty in my mouth, coating my tongue, shredding my last bit of dignity as I turned and saw my superior officer, Sunny D, yelling at me. His aura was always sunny and blinding, unlike his disposition.
“…Oia…anoia…paranoia… Phantom Paranoia! Are you really more worthless than I thought you and your groupies were? How could you bring back these rubbish paintings with the best of the lot, a Monet, completely ruined? You finished your other mission and then decided to act freelance, on your own, with no results whatsoever other than a very unhappy couple. If they trace this back to us and cause a stir, it’s your job to silence them. Now get your butt back in gear and in that building for isolation,” he finished with a flailing of his arms in the general direction of the S.H.O.V.E.L. headquarters.
Sullenly, I heaved myself from the ground, shaking off dirt, grime, and numerous bugs, before hobbling from stiff muscles to the elevator entrance.