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   Chapter 25 Fangirl

Blog of a Teenage Superhero By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 18596

Updated: 2017-12-05 19:04


Drafted in broken pen on a strip of white cloth:

Ive found them. I dont know where I am or how i got here but there are traces of them and if youve found this or ive typed this up someway, help. Bleeding. Internal damage. If only someone cou

The girl is found slung against the beams of a broken door, her cape dripping blood and ink, a black puddle oozing from her torn side. And so she seeps on the cold, concrete floor alone in enemy territory. The words are buried in the watery shadows. Max rubs his aching neck and pops his jaw back into place, the bruises already faded, the cracks in his skull fused neatly back together.

She didn“t have to do what she did. He could“ve saved her, loved her.

The Preston sighs as the red creeps over the ruts in the floor. Eases toward him, a dark velvet sheen. The girl“s breath is shallow. He leans over her. Her pulse is weak.

The room is cold and dark and damp, the type that seeps under the skin and gnaws at the marrow. Max crouches, picks up her limp, dusky body. Her eyes flicker under shut lids.

To save himself, to save his family legacy, to save everything he has calculated and plotted and arranged for so meticulously, so diabolically, she has to die.

"But I“m glad it was you," he mutters. "Of all people who could“ve unmasked me, I“m glad you were the one."

Her thick lashes flutter, her warm eyes glazed with sleep. Bloodied and braced in his arms, she stirs, mumbling strains of twisted, incoherent words. They“re muddied with delirium, adrift in the quiet and cutting antiseptic smell of the air. The closest Max can figure is "Crap."

He cups her face in his hands, her chin resting neatly in the curve of his thumb and index finger. Monet reels back, falling hard in a puddle of her own blood. It splashes him, as she flops and flails. Red drips from the button of his nose. She wriggles back, breathing heavy.

"That“s it?" she groans. "You“re just going to kill me? No ingenious death traps? Nothing?"

Her eyes are dark and hooded, the fear hidden in the shadow, enough to give her a look of casual resistance. Like she doesn“t care. But he can still make it out. Her hands are shaking, drenched in dribbling red and black.

Max hesitates. Maybe it“s because he knows she“ll die anyway, maybe this is his show of mercy. The line he won“t cross. Heck, maybe he doesn“t want to crush the skull of the girl he still likes. Maybe he wants her to win. Even though she has to die, some sliver of him wants her to be okay, to beat the odds.

Or could it be the thrill of the chase?

Is there some excitement in giving his prey a sporting chance? Some thrill at chasing down the girl he cares about so much, the girl that bangs on his window and asks him out on dates, the stupid, obsessive, kind of cute girl who thinks she“s a hero. Keeping her alive just for someone to connect with, someone to fight, a super. A challenge.

Is this what Max is? A criminal? A villain? A monster?

The questions whip up inside him, his stomach knotted. "I“ll give you three minutes," he says, but she“s already gone, a screen of black stumbling through the darkened halls, leaving streaks of blood on the dusky concrete floor.

But she“ll never find what she“s looking for. Not before she dies.

The lights flicker in the hall, casting shadow in spindly branches. He hears a thud, and a slow smile creeps over his jaw. Not much longer now. Not at all.

***

So, it turns out I“m dying.

I don“t know how long it takes me to come to the brilliant conclusion, what with the fainting, the dizzy spells, and, oh, I don“t know, the gouges in my side dumping blood all over the floor. Even my cape can“t plug up the holes for long, and so I stumble, looking over my shoulder in a vague hope of finding Percy in the darkness.

All darkness. I can hear the vague moan of the wind and the hiss of rain on a rotting plank ceiling, can feel the cold drip of the storm hissing on my skin, hear Max“s quiet footsteps, dogging me. But when I turn around, all I can see is the trail of blood and superpower concoction I leave with every step.

There are too many abandoned motels left in Silver Dollar than anyone knows what to do with. Only so many can be torn down or turned into cheap apartments, the rest are left to rot or became hives for petty criminals. Like Max, though his crimes are far from petty. A sucky place to die, I think.

The halls are dark, the carpet torn up from the concrete floors. Shredded velvet drapes hang over the windows. The only flash of light comes from the slash of lighting that precedes the crack of thunder outside. The doors are all boarded up, graffitied over, and all I can smell is the reek of blood and decay. My heart flutters up weakly in my chest as the blackness edges into the corners of my vision. But I can“t die here, not now, not yet.

"Comet...?" I teeter on nubby legs toward the staircase at the end of the hall. A flash of white illuminates the building“s dilapidated insides, the torn damp pink and yellow wallpaper fluttering up as the slats creek and the wind moans. "P-percy?" My tongue is a fat, limp sponge suckered to the roof of my mouth. The shock has sent my thoughts pinwheeling. Max, the heroes, Percy, failure. A demise I“m waltzing toward with every trembling step. My breath is hot, fingers shaking with cold sweat as I assess each door one by one, peeling away broken splinters of damp lacquerless pine. "Where are you? Someone?"

Shard by stabbing shard, my brain twisted into knots with delirium and pain, I break

hy, near purring. "I tried to save Percy. I care about you, Monet. I know you may not believe it now, but I do. All you have to do is pretend this never happened. Quit the snooping, quit the hero thing. Your powers are gone anyway, maybe it“s a good thing." He smiles, thumping the sole of his foot on the peeling trim. The rain pounds heavier. It“s all I can hear, all I can feel save for the mist permeating the strips of cedar left on this floor. There“s something smug about his smile, the way his lip pulls to the side in the gentlest of smirks. "Maybe it“s fate. You aren“t Clark Kent, and you“re certainly not Superman."

I shake my head. "I“m not going to turn a blind eye, Max." My neck aches from the pressure, each little bone brittle and stiff.

"I gave you time," he says, exasperated. "And I gave you a choice." His fingers still twisted in my cape, he whips around so fast I hit the wall swinging. Gasping and flailing, his fingers on my throat, the blood pooling into my cupped hand at my side. It spills down my hip in bright red threads. I kick, thrash, scream, squeal.

"I swear, Max, find another way to kill people! The wall thing is getting real old."

His pointer finger digs into the cleft between my chin and throat. The desperation has died in his eyes. I can“t read him anymore. He“s too close. Shadows creep through the long hall, shifty and watery. His grip tightens, the pressure cutting.

"I“m sorry," he says I can feel all the blood running back down the wrong pipes, my brains swelling up in their cavity. His fingers dig shallow pockets in the taut skin, and I feel it, the pain like talons stabbing through the bulging muscle, and then, I don“t. I don“t feel the vice-like grip, don“t feel the Oxygen cutting out if my gasping lungs. Don“t feel the struggle playing inside and out my thrashing limbs for the resuscitating kiss of sticky, September air.

I“m looking back. Back at the cottage at the edge of the woods, back at the crying boy behind the docks, at Max“s hands resting on my hips, the sky thick with the coming storm.

In this moment, every word, every gesture, every decision is the wrong one. I can try, and try, and try, and yet everything can spin out of control like this; I can throw myself into the muzzle of Max“s gun and no one is saved. Percy dies. I die. My heroes die.

And the funny thing is, it“s okay. Thunder cracks in the distance. The rain thumps the fractured cedarwood ceiling, driving a misty drizzle to my skin. The wind is softer, less of a roar and more of a rattle, as gentle as a sigh. I“m looking my demise in his glazed, white eyes, and the coldness is seeping through my bloodied costume and cracked mask. My last breath escapes me in a sigh. "I“m okay with this," I decide aloud. The shadows quaver over him. Max steps back, the blankness on his face swallowed up in a look of shock. All the color drained from his face. I blink again. No, it“s terror. I“m fading fast, the footsteps ringing out around me in clipped bursts. My world churns in a malt of muted colors, brown, black, red. Masquerade“s torn off me, slung to the floor. He scrabbles on the carpet. I collapse beside him in a shivering heap. "I“m...ok-kay..."

"Monet, my gosh, you“re bleeding!" Percy“s voice, her hands cupping my bruised throat, my torn side. I look up through the knots of white light, chemical compounds of the sweet, sweet, air rushing into my lungs. Red Comet stares down at me through the eye slits of her red mask, her hair falling in front of her shoulder in a sweep.

"How are you, kid?" asks Red Comet.

Red. Comet.

I faint. And if it isn“t from blood loss, it“s because, under the cowl and press-cap, I“m a fangirl at heart.

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