Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4
Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
He had gone perhaps a mile when a vehicle rolled by him, then slowed and stopped. A Jeep with a camo paint job. Reverse lights came on, and the Jeep edged back and stopped alongside.
“Need a ride?” a man called from the open window.
“I guess,” said Steve. If the dude turned out to be a perv, he could pop away fast enough. He climbed in, and the driver wasted no time getting back up to speed.
“Where you headed?” the driver asked. He matched the vehicle: muscular, buzz-cut hair, wearing a light camo jacket.
“I dunno.” It was out of his mouth before he could stop it, and he realized it was true. He couldn’t go home; there would be too many questions. Hanging out at Chris’s or Lashaun’s house was a possibility for a day, but there would be phone calls (and the questions again) if he tried to stay there. Maybe he could find some of those homeless kids he’d seen on the news. Maybe he could steal food for them, that would get him in with them—
“One place is good as another, huh? I guess the thing with the big Zero didn’t work out?”
The question jerked Stevie out of his thoughts. “What? How?” Can I pop out of a moving car? “Who are you?”
The driver grinned. “I’m the Warmonger,” he replied. “I got a nose for trouble, and it smelled something going down out this way, so I came out to have a look. I didn’t figure it would be Zero’s boy wonder flying the coop, but what the heck.”
Anger flared up inside Stevie. “Let me out. Now!”
“Whoa, whoa, don’t do that!” Warmonger braked hard, almost throwing Stevie into the dashboard. “Get out. Do it now!”
Confused, Stevie jumped out and ran to the back of the Jeep. Warmonger did the same, but grabbed the bumper and lifted the Jeep off the pavement. “This is my superpower, kid,” he said, puffing as he pumped two tons of iron. “I feed on anger. But if I’m not in a fight, I gotta blow off the energy somehow. It can get kind of awkward. As you can see.” He slowed, then stepped away from the Jeep. “Better. But don’t do that again, okay? I just want to talk. Explain how things really are, out here in the real world. Hey. You like Dari-Freez?”
“Yeah.” Stevie was still wary, but interested all the same. It’s not just my superpower that’s a pain in the butt, he thought.
“Okay. Let me take you there. We’ll get ice cream, cool off, chat like two supers, then I’ll take you anywhere you want. Including back to Zero’s place. Fair enough?”
Stevie thought a moment. What could it hurt? Free ice cream, and he could pop out of there any time if he didn’t like the situation. “Yeah. Sure.” He and Warmonger got back into the Jeep, and Warmonger got rolling again.
“You think we’re the villains, right?” Warmonger asked after a long pause.
“What? You are, aren’t you?” Stevie regretted saying it, but it was already out, as his mom would say.
If Warmonger was offended, though, he did not show it. “That’s what you call us. What the media calls us. Hell, we even call ourselves that, we’ve heard it so much. But think about it. You ever hear about one of my side rolling a little old lady for her purse? Nope. How about knocking over a gas station? Restaurant? We ever kidnap a regular person?”
Stevie shook his head. “But you rob banks and jewelry stores. And what was that thing with the oil refinery last year?”
Warmonger barked a laugh. “Yeah. Way back when, they asked one of the big-time outlaws why he robbed banks. You know what he said? ‘That’s where the money is.’ True, but that ain’t the point. You ever get the feeling that the game is rigged against normal joes?”
Stevie thought of Mom, struggling to keep a roof over their heads while Grimes Financial kept breathing down her neck. Every time they almost got on top of things, something happened and they were right back in the soup again. And that was why Mom hadn’t lived a little just yet… “Yeah.”
“Remember that thing with Pulse last year? When he messed up those big banks, everyone thought he was a hero all of a sudden? Yeah, it’s true. We’re the heroes, kid. My side. Your side takes on the mob, sure, but so do we. In our own way. You know it was one of ours that gave Captain Heroic the info your friends needed to take down Republic, right?”
Stevie jumped in his seat. “I didn’t know that.”
“That’s because the media didn’t want you to know. Or the ones who run ‘em, anyway. The real villains are the one-percenters, the ones who own everything and still want your stuff, too. That’s our targets. Not because that’s where the money is, but because it’s the right thing to do. They own the government, so the government won’t break their grip on stuff. It’s up to us. Hey, here we are.” Warmonger pulled the Jeep into the Dari-Freez parking lot. “What’s your poison? Don’t worry about the money. My treat.”
“Choco-Peanut Explosion,” Stevie replied without thinking. That was his absolute favorite, the one he’d only had twice in his entire life.
“Good taste. I kinda like that one, too. But I’m going old-fashioned tonight. Banana split. Grab us a table, and I’ll order.”
to be continued…