High Voltage leaned over Julieta in the dingy alleyway. He was freaking the hell out. Was she concussed? Dead? He hoped neither. He had run back as soon as he heard the sickening thud of head against brick. He told himself repeatedly that it wasn’t his fault. He went back to check, didn’t he? He could’ve kept running, but he stopped when he heard her run into the end of the alleyway. He was okay. He wasn't a villain, or a monster. He noticed her stirring, saw the little flutter of her eyelashes as she gained consciousness. She’d finally woken up. Whew. He reached out a hand to her and inquired,
“Hey, you alrig-” She quickly leaned up and scrambled out from under his reaching hand.
“Who the hell are you?” She said as she grabbed a partially broken bottle. She held it up defensively in front of her. She repeated again, “Who the hell are you?!” He was taken aback with her sudden aggression. She seemed so peaceful earlier. High Voltage sighed and shook out his wavy hair.
“My name’s Reggie. But some people may know me as High Voltage.” She paused for a moment, in a thoughtful sort of way, as if taking in the new information and carefully considering it. The blur of a fist heading towards his face made it abundantly clear that she was, in fact, not mulling over what he had said, but instead wondering what spot on his acne speckled face would hurt the most to be hit. She must’ve decided that the nose would nicely fill that role, as she quickly shot her fist up against it, releasing a long list of curse words that he’d get in trouble for saying if his parents were around. “Jesus! What the hell’s wrong with you? Is this how you greet everyone?” He clasped his hands over his throbbing nose.
“No, just supervillains, Reggie.” She raised her fist to strike again but Reggie cried out,
“Wait, wait! Let me explain.” She paused her incoming fist.
“Make it fast, Reggie. I don’t have all day, and this fist is itching to collide with your stupid face.” She lowered it slightly, still on guard but less so. He should get this out, fast. He didn’t wish to feel the bite of her fist against his face again.
“I’m not the real villain here.” Her fist rose just slightly, enough to remind him to hurry it up.
“I only dress up as High Voltage to keep the peace. Without me, the heroes “defending” this city would decimate it. You’ve seen the damage they cause with me around, and I’m sure you remember what it was like befo-” He’s interrupted by the ear splitting sound of shattering glass.
“WHERE IS HE?!” Radical Randy cried as he tore a bus stop out from the ground. He slammed his fist through another window. And another. Grillin and MacFlurry had somehow both snowed in and set to blaze every building in the downtown proper. Julieta looked frighteningly at the scene playing out before them.
“They're-they're like toddlers!” She sputtered, gesturing wildly to the city’s protectors. “Has it always been this bad?”
Reggie took the short break from the aggression to steer the conversation in the right direction.
“Yeah, that’s what I was trying to tell you. They’ve been doing this since-” The horrible screech of crushing metal interrupts him again. Radical Randy shredded the metal gate to the alleyway in half and casually tossed it over his shoulder.
“HEY! Guys! Come check out these normies!” With a start, Reggie realized who Randy was referring to. It couldn’t be anyone else. The most powerful superhero of the Merriweather Masked Marauders was referring to them.
Radical Randy advanced down the alleyway, stomping glass bottles and newspapers into dust as he did. Reggie could only watch as the towering mass of muscles stumbled closer. But, Julieta, who dealt much better in split second decisions than Reggie, shouted,
“RUN!” As she grabbed Reggie’s wrist and dragged him to the sewers.
The sewers aren’t as interesting in real life as they are in the movies, thought Reggie, as they slid on the slick sewer tiles. The air reeked of decomposing things and despair. Throughout the whole dash through the sewers, Radical Randy, Marble Movie star and now terrorist, had been gaining on them. Every five steps that Julieta and Reggie ran, Randy was able to cover in one. Reggie looked to Julieta hopelessly, mouthing, “What do we do?”. Julieta did not share the same hopelessness that Reggie possessed, even though the other three members of the Merriweather Masked Marauders had joined Randy in his dash through the sewers. This was because Julieta had a plan forming in her 14 year old mind. She’d overheard her mother once, who was on the city council, complaining to her father about the newest discussion they’d had in the town hall.
“It was the most pointless council meeting I’d ever been to! All we did was argue about whether or not we should remove those old lighting fixtures in the sewer. I said no, of course, with how dangerous those live wires are next to such contaminated water. But just the thought that anyone would vote to keep them! It boggles my mind, Carlos!”
Hopefully, Julieta thought, those lights will still be there.
“Reggie! Go left!” She actually wanted him to go right, and only told him to go the opposite direction for the heroes chasing close behind. She herded him to the right corridor. “Shhh! Don’t make a peep!” As the heroes neared the right corridor where Julieta and Reggie hid, she said,
“On my signal, we run out in front of them.” He turned to look at her and nodded in agreement. At the last moment, Julieta dashed out in front of the heroes, leading them off down another corridor as she turned her head back to Reggie and shouted, “NOW!” He jumped out behind the heroes, setting off a chain reaction that would’ve had no possible way to work if the heroes hadn’t reacted as they did. MacFlurry, frightened by the sudden appearance of Reggie and Julieta, snowed in the entire sewer. Grillin, in an attempt to escape the snow-in caused by MacFlurry, melted all 9 feet of snow in the sewer, causing the “water” levels in the sewer to increase exponentially, soaking all four heroes to the skin. Julieta shook out her sopping wet hair and moved in to whisper to Reggie. “Show me the city’s power box.” Reggie turned to her and nodded, grabbing her wrist. They dashed along the walkways of the sewer all the while being trailed by four extremely angry, drenched superheroes. After a short while, Reggie seemingly pulled them to a dead end. “What now!” Julieta shouted, shocked and angry that Reggie had led them to a dead end with four super-beings on their trail.
“Over here!” He pointed to a large, ancient looking control panel covered in switches and buttons of varying sizes. Julieta looked up above her. A frayed looking strand of wires hung limply on the ceiling.
“You guys can run pretty fast, but we can run faster.” Said Randy. He turned to the other heroes. “How 'bout we kindly ask these normies what they’re doing down in the sewers,” He narrowed his eyes at them, “and why they ran from us.”
Julieta sidled up to Reggie’s ear and whispered,
“Stay calm. I have a plan.” Reggie turned to her and raised his eyebrows, as if asking, What is it? Randy’s eyes all but turned to slits.
“What are the little normies gossiping about? You wouldn’t want to keep secrets from us, right?” He said in a mocking tone. Julieta smirked at him.
“Why don’t you come over here and find out, Randy?”
“You know, I think I might just do that.” Julieta watched closely as the heroes slowly approached them. They were most likely relishing in their victory against two scrawny teenagers. A few more steps, thought Julieta. Just a little more. Then she shouted,
“Stop!” Everyone turned to look at her. Her eyes quickly flitted up to the ceiling, where the limp strand of wire hung. Right under that stood the group of dripping heroes. Perfect. “Reggie! Let’s turn on some power!” Before the heroes could react, Reggie dashed over to the control panel and fiddled with the levers and buttons that covered the panel’s surface. The frayed wires began to sputter and flicker, and suddenly a flash of blue white electricity lit up the sewers. The heroes contorted and shook as the electricity coursed through their bodies. Reggie and Julieta looked on in horror, until Reggie, snapping out of his stupor, rushed over to the control panel to turn back off the power. The heroes collapsed onto the floor in a tangled mass.
“Oh god, Julieta, oh my god! Did we kill them?” Reggie shook uncontrollably, and thick beads of sweat smothered his forehead. Julieta rolled her eyes.
“No, they’re super-beings, Reggie. Getting shocked for them is like hitting your head against a tree for us. But we should get out of here quickly. They’ll be waking up soon, and I don’t think that they’ll be very happy to see us. Can we flick the lights back on again?”
“Su-sur-sure.” He stumbled over to the control panel and fidgeted with the buttons. The machine sputtered to life, and a steady mechanical hum began to emanate from it. Dim, yellowish light came from the lightbulbs hanging on the ceiling.
“Now,” Said Julieta, “What were you saying earlier?”
Julieta and Reggie sat on the brick wall surrounding the city park, sipping Cokes and eating chips.
“Honestly, I’m not surprised that they were evil. I mean, they destroyed half the city whenever they fought with you.” She took a sip of her Coke that she’d gotten from a deteriorating vending machine.
“Honestly,” Said Reggie, “They were more fighting with themselves. I mean, tonight was like the first time they’d ever seen me directly. Like, they’ve seen little glimpses of me to like, make them think that I was a real villain, but they’d never seen my face before tonight.” He started to take a sip of his soda, but spat it out, a look of horror unfolding on his face. “Will they recognize me? Will I have to move?” Julieta rolled his eyes at him.
“If they do, I’d be surprised. That sewer was so frickin’ dark, they probably won’t even remember what the backs of our heads looked like. Don’t worry, dude.” She patted him on the shoulder supportingly. “Now, don’t spit out your soda like that again. That was super gross.” He punched her in the arm and laughed. “Do you know what time it is?” Reggie pulled out a phone from his back pocket.
“7:30.” Julieta sighed and hopped off the wall.
“My parents are probably super worried about me. I- I should go home. It was super nice meeting you Reggie.” She looked warmly at him. He returned the favor.
“I’ll see you at school?” At this, she mischievously grinned at him.
“Totally. You’re not escaping from me, Reggie.” As Julieta walked back to her apartment, she stole a quick glance behind her. Reggie had disappeared. No wonder he’d made such a good super villain all these years.