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“Be water my friend. Or, perhaps, be in water.”
Sarah Komen grabs the ledge of the pool to stay above water. The shadow offers his hand to her. She offers a light, meager smile as she pushes off the wall and returns to the swimming. Her strides are long and meticulous, perfect by any standards. She reaches the other end of the pool in mere seconds. A few seconds more, and she is back to the point of origin. She once again grabs the ledge to find the shadow no longer offering his assistance. His arms are crossed, and he is shaking his head.
“It’s a shame,” he says, “all that talent being wasted at this level. You should be swimming for medals, not scholarships.”
“Thanks,” replies Sarah. She chooses not to look eye to eye with this mysterious stranger.
The shadow kneels down besides the pool. He reaches towards the water beside her, but Sarah still flinches. He makes a little circle with his index finger.
“Don’t worry Sarah, I’ve taken care of your father.”
Sarah perks up at this news. Her face is bemused, but the shadow’s smile comforts her almost immediately.
“Sarah, I think it’s time you put your talents to better use. No more laps in the kiddie pool.”
The shadow offers his hand once again. She takes it and allows him to pull her up. Sarah’s slim figure in the one-piece and brunette hair glisten as the water drips from her body. The shadow releases his grip and walks over to grab a towel. He throws it towards Sarah.
“Make sure you dry yourself completely. Wouldn’t want to dampen the limousine when it gets here.”
Sarah knows she should be skeptical, but she can’t help but feel comfortable with this man. His demeanor welcomes her like no one ever has. She proceeds to dry herself off.
“Oh, one more thing.”
The shadow walks over and hugs Sarah. She drops the towel and slowly embraces him. The water is cold, but the warmth of the hug heats Sarah’s heart. She reluctantly lets go as the shadow pulls away.
“Get dressed Sarah. I’ll meet you outside.”
The shadow walks away. Sarah stands there with the towel at her feet. Her brain is telling her to be careful. But her broken heart pushes her forward. It feels right.
OH SNAP, BEGINNING OF A SUPERHERO PROSE THING. READ IT PEOPLE. (It will all come together…)
“As far as I’m concerned, second place does NOT make you the first loser.”
Brian Hines sizes up the shadow. It’s a white man in a white suit. The tie is black, a stark intrusion on the blank sartorial slate. His smile is a soft, crisp curve across his chin. His eyes are a sharp blue, reflecting an ocean thousands of miles away. His hair is a dirty blond, carefully trimmed to perfection. If he were a car salesman, you’d have bought the Pinto already.
“Who the fuck are you?” asks Brian. Brian Hines is a physical specimen, long, lean and toned. His weary eyes belie his steadfast heart. But it’s late, and he’s been training all day long. He is, after all, the fastest man alive. Or he would be, anyway, if not for the Jamaican runner that leaves him in the dust. Every time.
“I’m just a man. A man a lot like you Brian,” responds the shadow.
The shadow moves closer and sticks out his hand. Brian inspects the hand. It’s gloved in the same white as the suit. Instinctually, Brian reaches for the hand and shakes it. It is firm, but casual. It’s tailored for Brian’s grip.
“You did so well at the trials, I was surprised by your performance in the 100,” says the shadow, as he pulls his hand away.
“You with the media? I don’t do interviews.”
“The media? How banal!” Brian smirks at the accusation. “However, you could consider this an interview.”
“Look man, I don’t have time for this creepy guy shit.” Brian turns back to his locker. The locker room is empty save the two of them. “If you’re gonna pitch me on a new shampoo or a watch, just do it already. I got shit to do.” Brian slams his locker shut and grabs his backpack off the bench. He swings it around his shoulder.
“Of course! You are such a busy athlete. I can’t be wasting too much of your time,” says the shadow. “But I am here to pitch you something far better than a watch. I’m here to pitch you success.”
Brian laughs. “Man, you are the cleanest drug dealer I’ve ever met. Whitest too.” He starts walking away.
“I already know about Wilson.”
Brian stops and turns back around. The shadow is smiling.
“Don’t play dumb Brian, it doesn’t suit you.”
“Do you want money?”
“Hardly. I want to invest in you Brian,” says the shadow. “What does second place feel like Brian?”
Brian lays down his backpack on the bench and crosses his arms. “Second place? Second place is pain. It’s suffering. It’s the furthest depths of Hell. Second place is pushing your body, your heart, and your soul to its limit… then discovering it still isn’t good enough. Second place is the greatest failure one can achieve.”
“Which, I imagine, would push you to try anything? Even at the risk of losing it all?”
Brian nods. “Yes.”
“Heh, congratulations, you pass.” The shadow reaches into his pocket and pulls out a business card. “Meet me at this address next Tuesday. Noon. I suggest you clear your schedule for a couple days afterwards.”
Brian takes the card. The shadow starts walking away, but turns around before disappearing.
“Like I said, you are not the first loser,” says the shadow. “But your are the hungriest.”
So Doc, tell it to me straight. Is it Cancer?
Yes. The tests came back positive.
Oh man. How long do I have?
Well, even with chemo, I’d say two months, max
Oh… two months you say?
… Yes. Two months.
Wow. That’s great!
I’ve… never seen someone so optimistic.
Oh you have no idea what a relief this is!
Ummm… we do offer psychological counseling for—
Don’t need it doc. I’m all set!
Well, it could be one month if you—
Huh… I can’t believe you would be this positively… fatal? I can’t even think of the right words.
Well Doc, some days are brighter than others.
I… guess so?
Yep! Ok, I’ll see you later.
Before you go… can I ask why?
Why you’re so happy to be dying.
You gotta look on the bright side.
WHAT BRIGHT SIDE!?!? You’re dying!
So? I gotta give the best man’s speech at my stupid brother’s wedding.
… Three months from now.
… Do you watch a lot of Seinfeld?
Practically my bible.
And the stand up?
ESPECIALLY the stand up.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go tell my bro that he’s giving the eulogy.
And you would do that to your brother?
Of course! He stole my girlfriend.
Ground and Pound
All wrapped up in a nice hug at the end.
Note: This is a short based around the idea of the Injustice DC Comics video game. I have not been reading the comics, but I know the gist of the story and thought of this as an interesting approach to Captain Marvel/Shazam. Hope you enjoy.
I met Billy Batson on the playground. He was using the slide. I liked the slide. So these things have a way of working out. When I asked him to slide with me, he stuttered a bit. Guess he’d never been asked by a girl before. But he mustered up the courage and declared it would be “Ok!” He had inimitable positivity I adored. We went down the slide for what seemed like hours but only amounted to a few minutes. Then we moved onto the jungle gym. Billy wasn’t the biggest kid, but his heart and determination were twice his size, at least. So he would swing from one bar to another, fall down, wipe himself off, and get right back on there. I don’t think he ever made it the full way across, but he tried until his arms gave out. What a boy.
I asked Billy if he would push me on the swing. It was one thing to do the slide, but pushing me on the swing? Billy blushed at the notion, so I took his hand and pulled him to the swing. I hopped up and Billy gave me a nice little tap. I asked him to go harder, but it seemed like he was afraid to hurt me. I never got that high with Billy, but I sure was in heaven.
That seems like so long ago, even if it has been only two years. I haven’t seen Billy too much, always busy with his schoolwork and sports or something. But there was this one time, I saw him sitting on the swing. I was elated, but he was… what’s the word? Despondent I think. I asked him if he wanted to play, but he just sat there staring at the ground. I reached for his hand, but he grabbed mine first. He said he couldn’t play anymore. He couldn’t swing, he couldn’t slide, he couldn’t play on the jungle gym. Before I could ask him why, he asked me if I’d ever heard of Superman. Of course I had heard of Superman and the Justice League and The Flash and Wonder Woman and Cap… Billy cut me off there.
He said Superman was very strong. Too strong. And that Superman was going to do awful things. I told him that was impossible, Superman was a good guy. But Billy said good guys are only good until the world stops being good to them. I didn’t know what he meant, but I started to feel uncomfortable. I tried to leave, but Billy tightened his grip. A tear dripped down his face as his whole body began to shake. I’m not strong enough, he said. I have to stop him, but I’m not strong enough. I asked him what he meant. He looked at me and smiled through the tears. For you. I have to be stronger for you.
For the first time in my life, I was afraid. Not of a monster in the closet or the darkness of night, but of something beyond my imagination. I pulled away from Billy and ran back to my home and hugged my mother. The next day, everything changed…
I asked the wraith
Standing or floating in front of me
(I couldn’t tell)
To tell me what happened
In his life on earth
That left him in this
Less than fortunate situation.
He looked at me
His eyes vacant of light
A shifty darkness
Piercing to the soul
Screaming in agony
Locked into this suit
Of post-mortem defeat.
Out of his mouth
Came not a word
But a waterfall
Of ethereal suffering
Which of course
I took to mean
He had sinned.
I asked him again
But this time
I asked what
She had done.
With not a mouth
Smiled at me
And said but what one word
That will forever
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