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Story Time Contest: Hero Edition
25th Jul 2012 at 10:26 PM
Running Out of Hero
Previous Round Summary: While being robbed at gun point during work, Helena Raye, a convenience store clerk, tries to save a customer from being shot. In the process, a blast not only knocks out the robber, but causes an uproar when the customer, Lorie Pierce, is believed to be the long lost superhero, Brio.
“Every day I ask myself, 'is this worth dying for?' The answer is always 'yes', so I keep fighting.” That was the reply Helena's father gave when she asked about his job in the military. It was what he lived by. As he trained his young daughter to control her powers and develop her other skills, the mantra transferred to her.
Helena had taken her duty to Delkarta as seriously as her father took his to his country. At the time, the world had never seen anything like her. She was only 8 years old when she accidentally thwarted a kidnapping and was “discovered”.
The media dubbed her “The Child Wonder”. One article, praising her spunk, described her as having lots of brio. Liking the sound of it, she took Brio as her name. For the next ten years, she dedicated her life to serving the citizens of Delkarta. She fought against many criminals, but the worst came out of an organization called Aron. They had powers that were similar to hers like manipulating fire or water; some had mind abilities, and others were demented geniuses. Aron wanted to control the world and used the huge city as their testing grounds.
Sitting on her bed in her old pink, blue and purple bedroom at Sarah's house, the memories washed over her. Visions of victory over evil and adoration of fans danced in her mind. Swooping down from the sky to nab dumb criminals, receiving the key to the city, giving motivational speeches to auditoriums full of worshiping students...
Scooting off the bed, she went to the closet. She rummaged through a pile of outdated clothes, shoes, and various odd things that had been thrown on the floor, before finding the box.
Holding it in her trembling hands, she pulled the lid off. Inside, still neatly folded, was the new costume. Her father had it custom made. She would have debuted her adult look on her 20th birthday.
She had never tried it on before, but nostalgia had her taking off her Pjs and stepping into the black and navy outfit complete with boots and gloves. Engineered by military scientists, the material was tougher and more versatile than anything on the public market. It would enhance her powers—to make it easier to both absorb and redirect energy—while protecting against attacks.
What if she made a real comeback? Did she still have what it took? She watched her reflection lift off the floor and hover inches in the air. Her heart fluttered. It was like riding a bike. She flew in circles around the small room. Six years had left her rusty and she bumped into the ceiling and walls. Still, she felt liberated, like her self for the first time--
Her head spun. Her vision blurred. She panted and her body shook with sweat and exhaustion as if she'd been running a marathon. Dropping from the air like a stone, she collapsed onto the floor with a loud thud.
The swirling icy waters of reality left her curled up, shivering, chilled to the bone.
The symptoms started when she was 17. She was tired often, wounds didn't heal as fast, she got dizzy flying. It was Sarah who finally realized that something was seriously wrong. Though they never figured out what it actually was, Sarah decided the disease was similar to cancer in that her body was attacking itself—mutated and good cells alike. Using her powers progressed the deterioration faster.
By the time she was 18, she was escaping fights by crawling away through alleys. If she kept being Brio, she would die by 19. That, plus her father's death, had caused her to finally answer the question of if it was worth dying for with a resounding “no”.
The episode passed. She stripped off the costume, balled it back into the box, and shoved it in bottom of the closet. Then she pushed the clothes pile back on top to keep the past where it belonged, buried.
Helena was enjoying a slow afternoon at One Stop until a man in sunglasses started taking pictures. The owners liked the publicity crazed Brio fans brought, but it was irritating to work with. She was about to ask him to put the camera away when her name was called by a grating voice. The woman had come twice before. She claimed to be a producer on a new reality TV show,
Brio: The Real Life of a Superhero
. She wanted Helena to appear in a few episodes. Preferring a year in boiling oil over any time with the fake Brio, Helena turned the producer down, again.
“Think about it and get back to me in a couple days.” She placed a business card in Helena's hand. “Remember, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.” The producer left.
As always, Helena held the card between her fingers and ripped it in half.
“Can I see that?” The man in the sunglasses asked before she could toss it.
She handed him the two pieces. “Maybe you can get a part in
Brio: The Movie
“Only if I could play Brio,” he said, “but I think that would be a bit of a stretch.” He stuffed the card in his jacket pocket. “Why won't you do the show? Money is money.”
“Are you a reporter?” They had swarmed on her like a plague of locusts after the incident. She couldn't even go to her apartment without them pestering her. That's why she was staying at Sarah's. “I have nothing to say to you people!”
He held up his hands. “I'm not a reporter...” He dug out a small crumpled paper from the same pocket. It read:
Delkarta Center for Paranormal & Supernatural Studies
“Maxwell Eugenio, center director.” He bent down and snapped a picture of the linoleum floor. “I do have one quick question, if you don't mind.”
She huffed. They always asked the same things.“No. I didn't see it happen; my eyes were closed. No, I haven't talked with her since. Satisfied?”
He stood, a dark eyebrow raised over the left frame of his glasses. “Actually, I'd like to know if any Aron officers have come by here yet?”
She felt her mouth drop open. “Aron? At One Stop? Why would they come here? Brio lives in her mansion.”
“This was where Brio resurfaced,” Maxwell said. “Is her reappearance coincidence? Planned? Is there something here? They'll want to investigate. Have you noticed any?”
She had no idea. Brio fans came dressed up as her, as fictional heroes, and even in Aron costumes. It hadn't occurred to her that one might be a real officer.
“I'm sure Aron doesn't care.” She tried to hide her panic. “Brio claims she has amnesia. She's no threat if she can't remember anything. They should back off.”
He shrugged. “Maybe, but her powers are functioning whether she knows how to use them or not. If she can't control them, not only is she dangerous, but she's easily taken advantage of.” He looked down at the silver watch on his wrist. “If you notice anything unusual, let us know. Please.”
Soon after Maxwell left, Helena clocked out early. She couldn't stop trembling with terrible visions of the store being blown up. Or customers drowning inside unable to escape. Or cars picked up and strewn across the city. She'd seen it all before. The difference was this time she wouldn't be able to stop them... not without killing herself.
She was still walking up to the house when the front door swung open. Sarah thrust a paper in her hand as soon as she entered the hall.
“There was a rumor,” Sarah said. “I couldn't confirm it until I was able to get a copy of this.”
It was a letter that read:
Dear Mayor Karen Wu and her citizens of Delkarta,
Sorry this is late in coming. We haven't forgotten you. Promise. We are just as excited about the return of Brio as everyone else, but we have a small concern. We're not entirely convinced she's the real deal. After awaiting her return for years, it wouldn't be fair to throw all we've got at an imposter. So, to make it easier on all of us, we've come up with a little test in order to prove this is, indeed, Brio. Don't worry. It's nothing Brio has not handled spectacularly in the past. If she is Brio, great. If not, we will take our anger at her deception out on the city. Armageddon, anyone?
Hoping you have been greatly inconvenienced,
Helena re-read it three times. Then she burst out laughing. Sarah's eyebrows lifted into her hairline.
“Sorry,” Helena giggled. “I keep picturing Lorie getting knocked out with one punch... and then, it's all over for everyone.”
“Stop it.” Sarah's voice was so low, she had to quiet down just to hear her. “People will die, Helena. What are you going to do about it?”
“Me? Nothing! Everyone else in the world has to go it alone. There's nothing special about Delkarta.”
Shaking her head, Sarah stared off at the far wall. “After your father's funeral, I was about to go to Namon City. You stopped me in the doorway.
I remember you said, 'Don't leave me here alone'
. I stayed because you needed someone more than ever. Now Delkarta is in the same boat. Are you really going to leave them alone?”
Tears pricked Helena's eyes. “This is suicide.”
“It doesn't have to be,” Sarah said. “All Aron wants is proof. If we protect Lorie from being discovered, it'll buy us time. We'll do everything we can do without using your powers.”
“And when I have no choice?”
“We'll figure it out. Hopefully, we can convince Lorie to leave the city. Then maybe Aron will disappear again and... we'll move. We'll go far away, wherever you want.”
Hope. Helena had little of that left. Her helping Lorie wouldn't change anything. Aron would probably blow the city sky high regardless of the results of their test. She laughed again, dry and mirthless. She was going to die either way.
...She may as well get it over with.
Current Plot Point: Mysterious Past
Previous Plot Points: Heaven Forbid
Word Count: 1696 Pics: 17
CC Used: Yes Allowed: Yes