The Warrior by Casey Murphy
Synopsis: All Charlie ever wanted was to be a superhero and join the elite group The F.I.V.E. in fighting crime. When a want ad appears in the paper, he decides to sign up even though he is far from super.
About the Author: Casey Murphy has been writing fiction since the fifth grade. She currently has 7 short stories and 1 creative nonfiction piece published. You can find her at: www.simplydelete.wordpress.com .
In this action packed adventure, superheroes get saved by the power of human determination.
Sure enough, it was happening again.
As Charlie crouched in the air vent, his cape had snagged on a screw and was tearing. “Shit!” he muttered as he tugged at the fabric, but instead of setting himself free, he was only creating a bigger hole. Finally, the fabric came loose, leaving behind a small scrap from the edge.
He wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing in the air vent to begin with. He was no superhero. But even as despair clouded over him, he continued moving forward, trying to be as quiet as possible, which was a hard task for a klutz.
Charlie had seen the want ad in The Chronicle close to two months ago, just like everyone else who read the paper.
One superhero with extraordinary superpowers to join The F.I.V.E. (First-class Icons of the uniVerse Ever) in fighting crime. Must be prepared to start immediately. No previous experience required.
Well, Charlie didn’t have any experience because he didn’t have any superpowers. But he had worshipped the F.I.V.E ever since they had saved him from being bullied, and he was determined to show them that he was just as good as they were. Even without superpowers.
The sound of his elbows banging against the bottom of the air vent reminded him of the sound his shoes made as he walked down the linoleum hall heading toward the auditorium where his interview was being held. He remembered how he took a deep breath before pushing open the heavy metal doors.
And there they were. The four of them, waiting for him. Light seemed to shine around them as they looked over at him. Really looking at him.
He ran over to the table where they were sitting, slamming his hands down on the surface to stop himself plowing the table over. “Wowie! It’s really you guys!” he screamed, his excitement getting the better of him.
“Who else would it be?” Lightning Girl asked, sounding slightly annoyed.
Inflated Muscle Man was staring at him real close. “You look familiar. Do we know—“
“It’s me! Charlie Graham.” His smile was growing wider by the minute.
“Wait, aren’t you that kid—“
Inflated Muscle Man paused. “Don’t we have a restraining order against you?”
“Look, kid, what are ya doin’ here?” Leprechaun Lad asked. “We’re kind of waitin’ for someone—“
The four exchanged skeptical glances. Inflated Muscle Man looked down at the sheet in front of him. “You’re the Warrior?”
Charlie nodded enthusiastically. Lady Illusion laughed. “A warrior of what? Teen angst?”
“What Lady Illusion’s trying to say is, what exactly is your superpower?” Lightning Girl asked.
“What can you do?”
Charlie quickly racked his brain. “I can… uh…”
“See, he can’t do nothin’,” Lady Illusion said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms. “He couldn’t do nothing’ to save his sorry ass back then, and he can’t do nothin’ now.”
“No! I can!” Then it hit him. “I have telekinetic powers!”
“Do ya? Show us.”
The room was so quiet Charlie could hear the crinkle of Inflated Muscle Man’s muscles as he leaned across the table. “You have to give us something, Charlie,” he said, sincerity in his voice.
“He can’t cause he can’t do nothin’,” Lady Illusion insisted.
With the pressure on, sweat began to form at Charlie’s hair line. There was only one way he knew how to respond. “OKAY!” he shouted. “I don’t have telekinetic powers! Or any superpowers!” Lady Illusion let out a quick, harsh laugh. “I just wannna join F.I.V.E. so badly. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
“Sorry, but you need to have a superpower to be part of F.I.V.E.—“
“Now wait a minute, Lady Illusion,” Inflated Muscle Man said. “Maybe we should let him join.” The idea of Charlie getting what he wanted for the first time in his life lit up his face.
“But—“ Lady Illusion tried to protest.
“He’s the only one who answered the ad anyway.”
“That doesn’t mean—“
“And it would be kinda nice not worryin’ about being impaled by some newbies uncontrolled power,” Leprechaun Lad said half to himself.
Lady Illusion opened her mouth again, but was cut off by Lightning Girl. “Not to mention we can’t really be F.I.V.E. without… well… five.”
Lady Illusion stared at the other three incredulously. “Fine. If all y’all wanna hire this… kid, then go right ahead. I’m not stoppin’ ya’ll!” She stood up quickly, almost knocking her chair over as she headed toward the doors. As she passed Charlie, she made sure to bang into him. “Welcome to the team, Warrior.” Flames trailed behind her as she left, her anger showing through her powers.
“Don’t give her any attention,” Lightning Girl advised. “She’ll grow on you.”
Charlie was still waiting for that to happen. He spent the month and a half in headquarters fulfilling the duties of sidekick apprentice, which was mostly cooking, cleaning, and taking out the trash, all things he turned out to be pretty good at. What he really wanted to do, though, was fight crime, but every time the call came in he was told to stay behind. Until today.
Charlie stopped moving and tried to wipe the sweat off his forehead, but it was hard to do in the cramped space. He could hear voices up ahead.
“Just a little further,” he whispered.
Reaching the end of the vent, he stared down into the room from behind the metal grate. Everything was dark except for the center of the room where a giant hole in the floor revealed a bright, bubbling purple mixture. Leprechaun Lad was suspended in mid air above it, his tiny body rotating in different directions. The other three were standing nearby, watching.
“This is pathetic,” a woman standing off to the side said with a laugh. “Fight back!”
“I can’t with ya tossin’ me ‘round like that!”
“No, you just can’t.”
With a small flick of her fingers, Leprechaun Lad went flying, creating a leprechaun sized hole in the far wall. At the impact of his body, a spider the size of a baseball fell from the roof of the air vent onto Charlie’s head, and crawled onto his face.
With a yelp of surprise, Charlie somehow managed to break the covering of the air vent off and tumble onto the floor of the room without breaking his neck. As if a sensor detected his movements, overhead lights came flickering on. Slowly, Charlie sat up rubbing his head. For a second the room swam around him before coming into focus and he saw they were in some kind a warehouse, with large wooden crates surrounding them.
At the sound of Inflated Muscle Man’s voice, Charlie was up, rushing toward them. “I came as fast as I could!” he said, his breath coming out in big gasps.
“And who is this?” the woman asked, playful curiosity in her tone. “Your rescue squad?”
Charlie puffed out his chest and pointed his thumbs at himself, like he had seen so many people do on TV. “I’m the Warrior,” he said. “And I’m here to destroy you.”
Silence filled the room for a split second before the woman threw her head back in laughter. “Warrior, eh? You don’t look like much of a warrior to me.”
“Don’t be deceived.”
“Well then, Warrior, welcome to Ossicles’s lair. I hope you prove to be a better fighter then your… ah… friends.”
“He’s not my friend,” Charlie heard Lady Illusion mutter under her breath.
“Now,” Ossicles continued, “let’s see what you’ve got.”
Without further warning, two of the smaller crates came flying in his direction. It was one of those times where Charlie was thankful he was actually good at dodge ball. Unfortunately, the third crate thrown his way was bigger and it bowled him over.
“Too easy!” the woman laughed.
“You can do it, Charlie.” From the ground, Charlie looked up at Lightning Girl, who was smiling warmly at him. “I believe in you.”
“Can’t you help me?”
She shook her head, a small frown on her face. “She’s got our powers under lock down.” Leaning her head back slightly, it was the first time Charlie noticed the silver collar that clasped her neck. Lady Illusion had one that looked similar, but Inflated Muscle Man didn’t. Charlie did notice that his inflated muscles had two gashes in them, and they were slowly deflating. “It’s up to you.”
“But I’m not a superhero!”
“That’s odd. I didn’t know the F.I.V.E. took on people without powers.”
He couldn’t help but stare at her, confused.
“Are you done already?” Ossicles said. “That was too quick. I didn’t know warriors gave up that easily.”
Charlie stood. He opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by another flying crate. He quickly scrambled out of the way, and it fell into a tower of crates behind him, making them rock dangerously back and forth. Ossicles was smiling. “Oh, we’re playing a game now? Alright.” And two more crates came his way.
Charlie kept his ears and eyes open for the sound or sight of flying crates. He ran around in circles, weaving in and out of crate towers, not exactly sure what he was doing, but knowing it was better than standing still. Finally, Ossicles made her mistake. As Charlie rounded a corner close to her, she hurled a crate toward him. Again he skillfully dodged it, and it knocked down a tower of crates right into another tower, creating a domino effect. It was then that Ossicles realized what she had done. She screamed as the crates crashed down around her, until she was no longer in sight.
As the dust and dirt settled, Charlie was glad to see the other four unharmed. With Ossicles’s fall, the silver collar’s around Lightning Girl and Lady Illusion’s throats had come undone. From across the room they could hear Leprechaun Lad stirring.
He groaned. “What happened?”
“We were saved,” Lightning Girl said with a smile.
“By this punk?” Leprechaun Lad asked in shock as he pointed to Charlie, who was sweating.
“Somehow,” Lady Illusion muttered, not sounding too happy about it.
“I don’t believe it,” Leprechaun Lad said.
“It was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments,” Inflated Muscle Man agreed.
As they all left the warehouse, Charlie helping Leprechaun Lad who had a terrible limp, Lady Illusion announced, “Don’t think that one victory means you’ll be joining us in fighting crime. You’re still only our apprentice.”
“Of course,” Charlie said, nodding his head. “If I come along you won’t have anyone left to save your asses.”
As flames radiated off Lady Illusion, the other three laughed at Charlie’s response. Secretly, though, he was thankful he would still get left behind. Maybe he wasn’t cut out to be a superhero after all.
**** THE END ****
Copyright Casey Murphy 2012
Image Courtesy: Ebenezer