Brad wore a bright yellow spandex
suit with “Clock Stopper” embroidered down the legs and arms. It
had cost him a lot of money, money he could sorely use ever since
his pay got docked for that unfortunate incident with the case
of DVD players, but Brad had heard that little details like a good
costume could make or break a superhero sidekick’s chances.
The waiting room at the Hero League
held four people. Four. Was that good odds? One out of four? Or
maybe they needed more than one sidekick? If they needed two, that
would up his odds to fifty-fifty. Brad jiggled his knee and tapped
the end of his pencil against his notebook. He really needed this
job. True, being the sidekick of a superhero didn’t pay a huge
salary, but it was certainly better than being a salesman at the
electronics store. He glanced around at his competition, trying
to figure out their special powers.
The woman next to him wore a headband
with ears on it and a tight fuzzy cat suit. The suit had stripes,
and her nails had been chewed down to the quick. She had a pet
crate next to her, though whatever lay inside must have been sleeping
or drugged, because the animals made no sound.
“So, uh, what’s your power?” asked
Brad pointed to his sleeve. “I stop
She raised her eyebrows. “You’re
not that good looking.”
“No, see?” He pointed to his wristwatch,
squinted his eyes, and the second hand stopped moving.
She didn’t look very impressed. “Can
you stop all electrical things?”
“Yeah, but I’m best at clocks.” Of
course, his aim was terrible, but she didn’t need to know that. “And
you? Let me guess, Catwoman?”
She made an irritated moue. “Can’t.
It’s copyrighted. I had to go with ‘Tabby Girl’.”
Across from her, a man in a pair
of denim overalls sat reading a magazine. No costume, no logo,
no props, nothing. Mystery guy.
The door opened, and another guy
came in. He wore a pointed hat with stars and moons on it, and
had an acetate cape that looked as though it had come with a discount
Dracula costume. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and sat down
on one of the chairs. Great. Now there were five people.
“Who are you?” Brad asked, just to
be personable. Maybe superhero sidekicks had to be able to relate
to the common people.
“I’m ‘Summoner’,” the guy in the
pointy hat said. He still had his hands in his pockets, and he
was moving them around. Brad hoped that was a wallet in there.
Brad turned back to Tabby Girl. Even
if Tabby Girl was competition, she was at least cute. “Can you
turn into a cat?”
“No, I just talk to them.”
“Wow, and they obey you?” An army
of cats would be really impressive, Brad reasoned.
“No, of course they don’t obey me.
They’re cats.” She gave the pet carrier by her side a little shake. “Wake
“Piss off, human!” came a cat’s whiny
voice. “Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep!”
“Wow, that’s pretty cool,” Brad said.
A cat in the other carrier had apparently
woken up, because it stuck a white whiskery nose up against the
metal grate. “Lemme out. I gotta take a dump.”
“I can’t, Mr. Boots,” Tabby Girl
said. “There’s no litter box here.”
“Then I’ll use your shoe,” the cat
“I’ll show you what I can do,” the
Summoner said. “Rectus, Spinatus, Peritorum.” He had taken a lump
of chalk out of his pocket, and was busily scratching a circle
on the carpet. Brad wasn’t impressed. He learned a little Latin
in high school, and he was sure he could have come up with something
that sounded better than that.
The other hopeful wore a horned helmet
and homemade storm trooper armor. He held a bladed flying saucer
in his arms. At least, it might have been a flying saucer. It had
a ring of tiny lights around the rim, and the blades looked as
though they retracted into the body of the disk. Brad craned his
head to peek into the cardboard box that Hagar the Frisbee thrower
had next to him. Sure enough. Three more saucers. Could those things
fly? That wasn’t like a superpower, but they might count it as
good enough for a sidekick.
“Is that guy summoning a Demon?” The
helmet-headed guy flicked a switch on the Frisbee in his arms.
The saucer began to hum, and lights flickered back and forth. “It
better not come after me.”
Brad leaned forward, intrigued despite
himself, as purple smoke curled around the edges of the Summoner’s
circle. The humming increased, and Helmet-head’s arms flexed as
though his bladed Frisbee wanted to escape and take out whatever
was about to appear in the chalk pentacle on the carpet. Suddenly,
the form coalesced, taking on a familiar, recognizable shape.