by Abby Gayle
A superhero battle from a different perspective, ten minutes before the New Year.
|I glance down at my watch. Again. But really, what would you expect? It is ten minutes until the new year. Ten minutes until we can all share some momentary peace, hope, and excitement about an arbitrary day of the year that we decided a "new" year began.
I'm standing in the outskirts of the crowd outside. Goosebumps rise on my bare skin as the wind blows by, reminding me once again that I left my coat at my house. Fifteen minutes there, fifteen minutes back. I'd never be able to make it in time.
In the distance, an early firework pops. I check my watch again. Still ten minutes.
A shadowy figure joins the group. I narrow my eyes. Glancing around to make sure no one's paying attention to me, I sneak over. The perfectly fit black suit and dark top hat. It's him. I don't think he sees me yet. My mind is racing. How did he get here? How can I get him away from the crowd before he notices me? I take a deep breath and pretend I'm coming out of the center of the crowd, brushing by him as I "come out".
"Linda?" he asks, turning around. I stop, grinning while he can't see me. My grin fades as I turn around to face him.
"Oh, it's you," I reply. "I wasn't expecting to see you here. After all, a man like yourself, here. Really? I really never would have thought of you as the type who actually celebrated anything."
"I assure you, back at the secret lair, all my henchmen are counting down to the new year, same as everyone here."
"The fact that you have a secret lair concerns me," I hiss. I glance around at the crowd. Grabbing his arm, I pull him away from the crowd.
"It's the only place I can go to rest," he whispers, shaking his head. "I'm in more danger even here than you might imagine." He adjusts his top hat, pulling it down lower over his eyes.
"I don't want to see you in jail, but . . . sometimes I think it might be better than running like this," I say.
"It's not my fault, Linda. And you know that. But if I let him capture me, then I'll never get to prove that I'm not guilty."
I hear a whoosh of air. Dr. Darkness and I turn our heads at the same time. A muscular man in bright blue and green tights walks toward us.
"Back up, Linda," Dr. Darkness says.
"Do it, Linda," he hisses. "Get back into the crowd."
I do as he says, backing up into the crowd, just as the masked man stops, no more than three feet from the dark villain. They have a short conversation, which I can hear whispers of, but no actual words. Dr. Darkness presses some sort of button, I assume, and a jetpack unfolds onto his back. He then begins to fly toward the sky, his jetpack apparently on a silent mode.
The strangely-clad masked man, the Flying Man, floats up into the air, matching Dr. Darkness's height off the ground. I can't see them very well. I dig through my purse and pull out a pair of binoculars.
The fight is not pretty. Dr. Darkness will have bruises for weeks, if not scars that will last their whole lives. The villain scores a single self-defensive hit on the Flying Man, blowing him backwards into the sky. It only takes a couple seconds for the Flying Man to jet back, using the extra momentum to throw an extra hard punch on Dr. Darkness.
Before he can dodge, Dr. Darkness is hit. The force pushes him down toward the ground. I watch, anxious as the villain plummets toward the earth. He can't seem to get his jetpack to work. I squeeze my eyes closed, but I can still feel him hit the ground.
I open my eyes. He's not getting up. The Flying Man rushes toward the ground. My heart races. He's going to attack Dr. Darkness when he can't stop him. I take a deep breath and run toward Dr. Darkness. I get there a split second before the Flying Man.
"Stop," the Flying Man says, gently landing on the ground beside Dr. Darkness. I don't listen. I remove Dr. Darkness's tall hat, stroking his hair.
"Please be okay," I whisper. "Please, please. Come on, wake up."
"I need to take him away now," the Flying Man says. "No interaction with the prisoner."
"You don't even fully have him, yet," I snap. "Let me say goodbye."
"You know him?" the dolt of a superhero asks.
"No, he's some random stranger," I roll my eyes. "Johnny is my brother."
My brother groans, opening his eyes. As soon as he does, the Flying Man snaps handcuffs around his wrists and carries him off.
"Goodbye," I shout. Tears sting my eyes, threatening to pour. No wonder Johnny was fighting such injustice, disguised as justice. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't even give him medical attention before dumping him in a prison cell.
I walk away from the crowd someone announces, "Happy New Year!" Everyone cheers, and the fireworks begin. With the ten worst minutes of my life over, I glare at the sky where the Flying Man disappeared.
I pick up Dr. Darkness's top hat off the ground and place it on my head as I decide that the last year of my identity as Linda James has come to an end. Now I am Ms. Darkness, and I will never cease to repay this city—and especially the Flying Man—for their cruelty to my little brother.