"Come with us," two burly men in gray suits say, grabbing me by the arm and handcuffing me. "You know what you did." But I have absolutely no idea.
I think I’m a pretty decent person. I try not to break the law, I volunteer at animal shelters, soup kitchens, etc., etc. I haven’t dropped out of school. I’m unfortunately not dating anyone. I’m nice to my sisters, mostly. I always meet my deadlines. And I definitely don’t deal with creepy, kidnapping psychopaths!
I struggle against the handcuffs and open my mouth to scream for help, but the men shove a cloth into my mouth before I can. “Shush, birdie. We can’t have you alerting anyone.” one of the men says, flashing me a smile. I shudder.
I press my tongue against the cloth, trying to get it out. I clench my fists. Maybe there is one thing they could be mad about, but I’ve hidden it so completely no one could find out about it. Not superheroes, or computers, and definitely not these guys. They don’t even look smart. I spit out the gag and said so.
For some reason, they didn’t like this. A fire burned in my stomach, fueled by an adrenaline I had never felt before. The type of adrenaline surge you get when your life might be on the line. This let me get my secret weapon ready, even though I really, really hoped I wouldn’t have to use it.
“Shut it, birdie! I have orders not to kill you, but I sure as hell can hurt you pretty damn bad!” The same man says. He had a fedora on.
“Language, Tommy. There are kids around.” the other man, who was wearing a Sherlock Holmes-style detective hat, says, motioning at me. I scowl. I was not a kid! Maybe I wasn’t an adult exactly yet, but I wasn’t just some kid! After all, they took the time out of their surely busy psychopath schedule to kidnap me!
“Can we just get this over with? I have school in the morning, you know.”
“After we take you to the boss.” Detective Hat says. I groan.
“Mom will kill me if I’m not back by curfew. She’ll assume I was doing something I’m not supposed to. Like getting kidnapped. Very specific rule in our house.”
“Don’t worry. Where we’re going, birdie, time isn’t much of an issue.” Fedora says. I start to protest, since time was always an issue for me, when Fedora holds up a baby pink napkin, probably filled with chloroform. My guess was proven to be correct when Fedora says, “Nightie night, birdie.”
He holds the cloth over my nose and I pass out.
Something slammed against the back of my head. I had to strain to stay conscious. “Wake up, birdie. The boss is ready for you.”
“Couldn’t you have tapped my shoulder or something?” I grumbled. Fedora pushed me to my feet and led me through a dark hallway to a darker room.
“Thank you, Thomas. Go away, now, ve vant to be alone.” a new voice said in a vampire-type accent, which kinda freaked me out. As soon as Thomas, A.K.A. Fedora, let me go, I backed into a wall. Way to make an impression, Hunt, way to go.
“Now, vhat is your name, child?”
“Why do you care?” It slipped out of my mouth before I could stop it. Thinking about it now, being rude is probably part of the reason for my future situation. Too late now, I guess.
“Because you have something I vant.”
“And you need my name because…” Again, rudeness.
“Because it’s polite to ask.”
“Fine. Hunt to my friends, but you’re definitely not my friend, so Hunter is good.”
“Very good, Hunter. Now, you know vhat you did.” the vampire dude stared at me, probably expecting an answer. Since I still had no idea, I did the most obvious thing and began making stuff up.
“Well, of course I do. It was atrociously atrocious when I, um, did what I did. And it was clearly clear that I didn’t not not not not not not not not steal a car and run someone over with it.”
The vampire dude looked at me in confusion. “So did you or did you not do that?”
“I didn’t not not not not not not not not not do it.”
“Very vell. Be that way.” Mr. Vampire Dude crossed his arms and looked away for a moment. I sincerely believe he was sticking his tongue, but since that’s unprofessional, he was forced to turn away.
“Do you know what I did?” I asked. I gotta admit, I was curious to know what I didn’t do. That last time I got in trouble was when I stole some cookies Mom made for her mean sister. Honestly, Aunt Jaden hates me. I’m pretty sure she’s just sour that her parents gave her a boys’ name while her sister was named Gabriella. And the time before that, I caught fire. Which wasn’t actually my fault.
Anyway, moving on, since Mr. Vampire Dude was facing me again. “Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s going on. You are a monster that needs to be controlled. You are destined to destroy. You will be the cause of doomsday.”
“Won’t Doomsday be the cause of doomsday?” I said. The more ridiculous the joke the more shaken I was. And that was pretty bad. I mean, Doomsday? He was powerful, sure, but seriously.
Mr. Vampire Dude stared at me angrily. “I have seen the future. You vere the cause of Armegddon! What part of that do you not understand?”
“So, what’re you gonna do about it?”
“Does it involve killing me?”
“Vell, no, but--”
“Then why do you need me?”
“BECAUSE I SHOULD KILL YOU! BUT I VON’T! I WILL IMPRISON YOU AND ALL OF YOUR HEROIC FRIENDS!”
“Ah, I see. The only problem is I have no idea who you’re talking about. My friends are all pretty average. I mean, they’re clearly above average, because they were smart enough to be my friend, but, you know, not in that way.”
Here Mr. Vampire Dude quoted Alice in Wonderland. “Curiouser and curiouser.”
“You seem to be quite forgetting good English, Mr. Vampire Dude.”
“Vha-- My name isn’t Mister Vampire Dude, it’s Jozsua.” he said ‘Mr. Vampire Dude’ like it was an insult. FYI, Mr. Vampire Dude was NOT an insult, just a perfectly apt description. I mean, he had the hairline and the accent. What more do you need?
“Whatever you say, Mr. Joshua Vampire Dude.” Like I mentioned before, my mouthiness didn’t raise me in Mr. Vampire Dude’s view.
“It’s Jozsua, not Joshua.” he said coldly, like his anger had frozen into an ugly mound of ice. I said his name right, and he nodded in approval. “It’s Hungarian.” he explained to me.
“Now, we have a pretty little prison cell ready for you. You might even be able to see your friends.” Mr. Vampire Dude said, giving me a not-so-reassuring smile before screaming, “THOMAS! REDFORD!!”
Fedora and Detective Hat came in. Mr. Vampire Dude instructed them to escort me to my room, then slammed the door in all of our faces.
“How rude.” Detective Hat said, frowning.
Fedora ignored the apparent rudeness of Mr. Vampire Dude and began taunting me. “So, birdie, did the boss scare you? Huh?” he poked my back.
“Really? You afraid of prison?”
“He said my friends would be there.” Insert cliche quote about how with friends you can do anything or that friendship is magic here.
“You afraid of doomsday?”
“I’m gonna cause it. I assume I’ll have a good reason to.”
Fedora backhanded me. “You little brat! If I had my way you would be tortured everyday until you died.”
“Oh?” At this point I probably should’ve stopped mouthing off, but it would be fine. I’m here telling you this story, aren’t I? So clearly I lived. Unless I'm a ghost. OW! Confirmed, I am not a ghost. I repeat, I am not a ghost. And I definitely didn’t just try to walk through a wall. Uh-uh, no way. Never have I ever.
Detective Hat had to stop Fedora from seriously hurting me. Both Fedora and I learned our lesson, at least for a little bit, and the rest of the walk to prison was silent. Fedora had me lead the way since the hallway had obviously never been cleaned. Or used. I hear spider webs are good for your skin. Or was it hair? I can never remember.
Eventually, we reached my cell. As promised, it was very cozy. There was a cot, shelves, toilet and sink all squeezed into about 24 sq. feet. There were also three doors which took up most of the wall space, which I bet led to other cells where my supposed friends were.
So, as soon as Fedora and Detective Hat left, I knocked on the doors hard. I heard a groan from the door on the left.
“God, what time is it? If it’s the middle of the night it can wait.” a girl said, reminding me that I had no idea what time it was.
“Um, hi? I just moved in next door, I was wondering what time it was?”
“Wait, what?” the girl sounded more awake now. “Hold on, I’ll be right there. Move out of the way.”
I did, and then the door was falling to the ground. I leapt forward to catch it, since I figured a loud noise would alert whoever was watching us. Instead of me catching it, the girl ran up the door, flipped over the side, and grabbing the door, lowered it to the ground.
She turned and smiled at me. She looks familiar. Someone from school, maybe?
“Give me one moment please.” She said before turning to rap on the other doors. Her dark hair swished. “Come on, you guys. Seriously.”
More groans and moans came from the doors. “Katie, what on Earth…”
Two more girls walk through the doors like regular human beings, instead of flipping over it. All three girls turned to face me.
“Hey, I’m Katie. Angelica and Cara…” She motioned at the other two girls who gave me small waves before she continued talking. I mostly ignored her, since I was busy doing double take. Katie and Angelica… they were the twins from my school who claimed not to be identical. As if anyone would believe that. No one could tell them apart except the girl standing next to them, Cara, who I had a desperate crush on. She had cut her long, blonde hair into a sort of punk, choppy pixie. I thought back to a few weeks ago, when my friend had written a prank love letter to her while she was in the hospital. My cheeks definitely got red.
Katie elbowed her sister. “Look,” she hissed. “He’s turning red!”
“Yeah, it’s definitely him.” Angelica whispered back. I’m pretty sure I just got even redder.
“I can hear you, you know.” I said. These girls weren’t shy at all.
“Me too.” Cara said. “Guys, we’re literally locked in prison. Can we focus on something other than that stupid note?”
“Absolutely not.” Katie --as long as they didn’t switch positions I knew which was which-- said, grinning devilishly. Cara seemed to share my thoughts, since she was glaring at Katie stonily. Katie shrugged. “If you fess up, we’ll move on to escaping. I mean, three superheroes plus one, we got this. But me and Angie are staying here if you don’t.”
“I could escape on my own, easy.” Cara said. Logically, I shouldn’t believe her, but she sounded so determined, I wouldn’t bet against her. Plus, she definitely could beat me up. All of them could, actually. Suddenly I was really sad, but then I realized what Katie had said.
Katie and Angelica suddenly got really nervous. “Superheroes? Who said anything about superheroes?” Angelica said, pulling at her hair. Katie bit her nails. Cara just rolled her eyes.
“Welcome to the club. We’re superheroes. I’m Blizzard. I, uh, may have destroyed the city a while ago. But I fixed it all.”
I nodded like it was the most normal and understandable thing I had heard all day. It definitely wasn’t the weirdest. Or maybe it was. I’d rank everything later. “And them?” I gestures at the twins.
“Blindspot and Strongwoman.”
That explained the flips earlier. “Right, well, you’re not that special.”
Why on earth would I say that? I really can’t keep my mouth shut, even when my whole life depended on it! Didn’t girls hate to be shown up? Or told they’re liars? Or maybe that was just everyone. One time, in 5th grade, this guy was pretty much a genius, then I came along and just casually did the one problem no one in class could solve, including him. He hated me forever after that. I still gotta watch my back. Just last week he stole my lunch money. What if that happened to me with Cara? Wait, I could just tell the truth, how my friend wrote it as a prank. But that would probably ruin my chances forever…
“What do you mean?” Cara asked, seeming genuinely interested. The twins were also looking at me, but with less curiosity and more judgement. They thought I had sent that love letter, and now they were seeing if I was good enough. I ran a hand through my hair. This was it. I would tell everyone my power and what I had done, and they would all hate me, especially Cara. I mean, she almost destroyed the city, and I actually had… This was going downhill fast. Come on, Hunt, say something!
“Um, my name’s Hunter. But you can call me Hunt. Everyone who's not that creepy vampire dude does.” Jeez.
To my surprise, Cara elbowed Katie. “I told you he was a vampire! I told you!”
“Um, yeah. His name was Jozsua. Don’t say it wrong, he might sue you.”
Cara nodded gravely. “He mentioned. Don’t worry, I’m studying for the bar exam so I won’t have to hire a lawyer.” She smiled. “You won’t have to either. You’d qualify for the escape-from-prison-together cost reduction. It’s quite a good reduction, I wouldn’t pass it up.”
I stared at her blankly. No one ever took my jokes seriously. Seeing my face, she apologized. “Sorry, I probably took it too far. Anyways, you were saying about how we weren’t as different as we thought we were?”
That was putting it nicely. “No, I’d appreciate the discount. However, I don’t currently need legal representation right now.”
She frowned. “Stop avoiding it. Tell me what’s up with you.” Cara turned to the twins. “You think he has powers too? Then we could make our own league of superheroes!”
Both twins’ faces lit up. “Yes! Like the Avengers!” Katie exclaimed, pumping her fist in the air.
“No, like Justice League. They’re way better.”
“Nuh-uh! Marvel’s the best!” Angelica said.
The debate continued on like that for several minutes. I zoned out, wondering how I was going to tell them. How, how, how? Maybe if I just showed them… no, that would freak them out. I could tell them but they wouldn’t believe me. Now I was back to showing them. They had powers, right? Yeah, I guess that would be how I should do it. Right after I let them know.
“DC is a hundred times better. Right, Hunter?” All three girls looked at me expectantly. What did they want me to say?
“Oh, um, yeah. Sure.” I said. “And just Hunt is fine.”
“Okay, Hunt. Show us your powers. And don’t even say you don’t have any. I saw your face when I said ‘powers’. Like I had said I was setting off a nuclear bomb instead.”
Ugh, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I held my palm up and let light up with fire. The girls hopped back in surprise, then leaned forward to get a closer look. “I accidentally caught on fire when I first got these, and it was snowing really hard outside, so the fire department couldn’t get there fast enough, and I burnt down some stuff.”
Cara blushed. “That was my fault. I kinda wasn’t great about controlling my stuff either and I may have started the snow storm.”
Well, that was good to know. We worked together to cause a disaster. I looked towards the twins to see what they thought. They were looking at each other dreamily.
“It’s like we’re in a fairy tale!” Katie said.
“Yeah, one where everyone important destroyed a city.” Cara grumbled. She seemed eager to move on before the twins began matchmaking. I got the feeling it would be awkward and that Cara --and me-- would absolutely hate it.
Katie and Angelica continued plotting for a few more minutes, until Cara pushed them. “Come on, can we start planning how to break out? I swear, there was a bat outside my window last night, and I am not getting my blood sucked out.”
“Yeah, that would be horrible considering you just found your secret admirer and future soul mate!” Angelica replied. Both Cara and I blushed. I couldn’t tell how sarcastic she was being.
“Operation Prison-Break is a-go!” Katie shouted, pumping her fist in the air again.
“All we need now is a team name.” Cara said. Everyone sat down to think.I came up with the first idea.
“How about The Custodians? Since we’re going to clean up everyone’s messes?”
“Ooh, I like that idea! But it’s not very ferocious, is it?” Cara replied.
“What about the Magnificent Infinity Titans!” Angelica suggested.
“Too long.” Katie said.
“How about the Lionheart Concord?”
It was anonymous. We were the Lionheart Concord, with our first mission being to break out of a vampire’s jail.