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   Chapter 10 I'll Protect You

Blog of a Teenage Superhero By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 10096

Updated: 2017-12-02 19:05


Unpublished blog post—Title: It“s okay, I“m a superhero

You can picture it perfectly. A lone damsel, clutching her purse as she strides through the dark alley. The click of shadowing footsteps. Her heart pounding, adrenaline pumping. The sudden touch of cold steel against her temple, the gruff whispered demand of a hoodlum. Then, just when you think you“ll need to break out the tissues and stuffed cuddle buddies for emotional support, bam! The hero swoops down like an avenging angel, the shimmer of their bright cape the only color in the dark world, a flicker like flame in the muted glow of the moon. She—or he— hits the ground with a smirk and kicks the hoodlum“s butt in a flash of “kapows“ and “kablams.“ The hoodlum runs. The damsel collects herself with a gush of thanks to the hero. The hero follows her (him, in my case actually). Protects her.

The question is, as a superhero, how do you do it? You can climb up the side of her house, perch on her window sill, even do a little breaking and entering if the situation calls for it, so long as you don“t cause a noticeable amount of property damage.

But it“s creepy. Standard hero behavior, maybe, but any damsel would be thoroughly freaked if a shadowy figure just showed up in their bedroom. You would be thoroughly freaked if you just got out the shower and I was sitting in your bed with a wave and a creepy smile. Screw witty banter. Police would be called. I“d be running for my life.

Come to think of it, this is a terrible way to introduce myself, but no take-backsies! No regrets!

I“m Onyx, your new neighborhood superhero. And I“m not a creep.

(But if anyone has an answer to the perplexing how-to-break-into-someone“s-bedroom-without-looking-like-a-perv riddle, please drop me a comment below.)

Thanks.

x Onyx

***

I type this while perched in the branches of the ancient Oak behind the school, hood drawn up over my head, mask digging into my face. The headache it brings on even beats out the pain in my ribs, the constant throbbing pulse and ebb, like I have a second heart beating through the bone. I smile through the hurt. By the time I hit “publish,“ I have it all figured out.

I bolt for home, dew splattering my exposed ankles, the world a whoosh of darkness and chirping crickets and the distant bellow of car horns. The faster I push myself, the more the earth begins to tremble and the sky quivers around me like the air itself is filled with lightning waiting to strike, the molecules stretched, snapping, pulsing with static heat.

When I arrive in front of the complex, I clear the second-floor railing in a single bounce. A man with a cigarette stump hanging over his lower lip stares bug-eyed out at me from his door frame. I slip through my open window and am in and out with the seventy-six dollars I keep in the shoebox under my bed. The man is still staring. I wave.

The air is frosty and cool. I hit the ground, spraying gravel and grit. The near-forgotten pain in my side flares with a sharp an

k against the pillows. "I only like the fictional ones, Onyx, of course—"

"Yeah, yeah. Don“t sweat it. I“d take Joker over Batsy any day." Max flinches when I pick up Jared Leto, but his shoulders relax. I ease back toward him with slow and shuffling steps, like I“m approaching a feral creature. "But the truth still stands. Your dad is consorting with Masquerade. You“re a good person, Max, and I“m sure if you knew anything you“d tell me."

He stares down into his root beer. "Is this an interrogation?"

"I“d call it a “friendly chat.“" My voice is still as husky as I can make it, and it“s just as hard to maintain with a straight face as you“d think it would be. "I can take you flying if you need a little something to convince you," I add with a wink.

He takes another slow, deliberate sip, and then: "Are you flirting with me?"

I hold up both hands. "Hey, I“m just a sucker for Superman references."

Max laughs. His voice is surprisingly deep. "Me too, Onyx. I wouldn“t happen to know you out of costume, would I?"

I shrug at him, though my heart is pounding so fast the room is spinning. "Not the point. I“m asking if I have an ally in you. Do you know anything about your father that I should? Do you know anything about Red Comet“s disappearance?"

His hand begins to tremble. "If I tell you, Dad will kill me."

Considering he sic“d Masquerade on me, a sixteen-year-old, unarmed girl, I know he means this very literally. I“m putting him in danger, being here. I step to him, listening to the crack of fresh vinyl in the wind, feeling nothing but adrenaline and pain.

"I“ll protect you," I say, a promise I“ve been making an awful lot lately. He“s small against me, his chest nearly pressed to mine. He levels his breath, and then his mask is back on. That winsome smile. That heart-melting sincerity that seems to ooze.

What“s behind that facade?

"Alright," he says, and his eyes are lit up in the dim lamp light, but his voice is soft, hardly a whisper. "I“ll show you."

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