Thursday, July 8, 2010

THE LOCAL HEROES: Mint Condition

Mint Condition
Al Bruno III

Everyone said this was no city for heroes that it was a city of lost opportunities and broken promises. Clusters of tiny homes separated by wide gulfs of foreclosed properties and long abandoned factories. Few people lived here by choice anymore, most were stranded here by economic or personal misfortunes. The ones that did live here by choice were either criminals or citizens hellbent on bringing River City back to its former glory.
Bill Kane was one of the latter, he been born in River City and after making his fortune in the energy drink business he had returned there, determined to make a difference. There were butterflies in his stomach that first night as he scaled the wall of the old Palisades movie theater. Once he was there he stared across the Hellenbeck River to Megalopolis- the sprawling, gleaming skyline of towers and twinkling lights, a city of high finance and outrageous rents, a city where the Legion of Protectors watched over the citizens like a pantheon of 4-color gods.
Those caped and masked guardians had long ago abandoned River City to its fate, they had more important things to concern themselves with than shellfish-themed crime syndicates and disgraced mad scientists. No one expected anything to be done about it, no one cared.
His hands were shaking when he stripped out of his street clothes to reveal red and blue tights with a matching cape. Not everyone could pull off tights, but Bill had spent years honing his body to the peak of physical perfection. No molded plastic bodysuits for him! He hoped the stylized logo on his chest with the its letter H inside of the letter C would soon become instantly recognizable.
There were some who went so far as to say that this was no world for heroes, not when there was a security camera on every street corner and in every store, not when the worst crimes were committed with accounting tricks instead of flying robots, not when fanatics and politicians murdered women and children in the name of democracy and a loving God.
The red cowl fitted neatly over the top of his head, the eyepieces had infrared capacity, there was an earpiece that allowed him to monitor police bandwidths and not only did it conceal his true identity but it covered up his premature balding. He ran his hands across his bulky utility belt making sure he remembered where everything was; there would be nothing more disastrous than grabbing shark repellent when you needed smoke bombs.
Law enforcement bureaucrats, ambitious politicians and newspaper editors frequently called the very nature of costumed men and women into question; ever since the 60's they had decried the rise of what they called masked vigilantes and hooded menaces. It seemed like once a generation there would be an attempted purge followed by some kind of crisis or another that would restore the status quo. It didn't matter the result was always the same-the most super-powered became more entrenched with the government and while the lesser known or more edgy daredevils and low-powered adventurers suffered the brunt of the public's suspicion and anger.
His street clothes were secured in an air duct. This would have to do until he got his headquarters completed. If he ever got his headquarters completed. What kind of contractor did you go to if you wanted to build a secret base? Bill stepped out onto the ledge of the Palisades movie theater's roof and stared out at the city. He told himself these were concerns for another time, he had to survive his debut first. Statistically speaking most costumed avengers died or suffered a critical injury on their first night.
Of course if his career prospered, death and dismemberment would be the least of his worries. The Hogan Principle stated that every masked avenger that appeared would lead to the creation of at least three super-villains, those arch nemeses that dwelt in the strange twilight between holding a grudge and stalking. There were also lawsuits for false arrests, property damage and the occasional hostage afflicted with emotional trauma to think about. Most of the major super-teams kept a cadre of lawyers on retainer, which usually led to them having to embrace merchandising and public appearances. That might be all well and good but how could you be expected to strike fear into the hearts of evil doers if they've already seen you cutting the ribbon at a mall opening? The only other option was robbing the villains you fought but that was even more of a slippery slope. These were the kind of things that led many to say that this was no age for heroes.
The earpiece hissed to life telling Bill about a robbery in progress just a few blocks away. He grabbed his grapple line from his utility belt-the third pouch to the right from belt buckle- and spun it over his head. The hook caught in a nearby flagpole and he paused for a moment.
The sound of sirens filled the air. He leapt from the roof taking a wide swing through the air and landing on a ledge on the opposite side of the street with practiced ease. In that wonderful and terrifying moment Bill Kane ceased to exist and Captain Hero made his way into the night and through what would soon be his city.


  1. Nicely worded and descriptions were great.

  2. Loved the descriptions. Including the part where Captain Hero has a balding spot!

    Every River City needs heroes. :)

  3. I love your superhero universe because it has this great grit to it - and not necessarily "gore" grit but it feel authentic. If superheroes were real, I think they'd be like this. I like how you're focused on the a town that's moved on, the forgotten one. Captain Hero seems like an everyman sort of guy - and I like him for that. He didn't get blasted with powers or anything, he just wants to make the world a better place, but he's not naive about it either, he knows the risks and hardships. That's the best kind of hero.

  4. Your characters are always so amazingly unique. Captain Hero is no exception. I heart his heart. Peace...

  5. Ha - I was wondering what CH stood for!

    "the worst crimes were committed with accounting tricks instead of flying robots" - so, so true! Wouldn't it be a better world if we had flying robots to contend with instead on Enron type things