Chimeras are one of the most intriguing creature in mythos, and not just one in particular. You have a single creature described as having the (insert body part) of an (insert animal) all across its body. Its hind legs differ from the front, the torso is mismatched with its head, and the tail clashes in style with the wings. It's as though Frankenstein mixed and matched the first animals that came to his mind and forced them together...yet this creature is born as such. It's the perfect imperfect being that is on the cusp of not having its own identity, as without all of the elements of the varied animal kingdom meshed together, it can't exist.
There's a mysterious aspect to it that always intrigued me, and while there might be some answer rooted in mythological fact, it's a fun idea to toy with. What if the chimera came first? A test subject by the gods to see what body parts would be most effective in specific situations, and after this amalgamation of a test subject was thrown through the trials for each piece of it, it was separated or evolved into it's different animals and creatures. And the one's who remain throughout mythos are just remnants of an odd experiment?
This is pure speculation of course.
The chimera is also an interesting case because it can be anything. Something as old as the minotaur or as contemporary as Bigfoot all have general description and looks that identify it as its species, but the chimera could be anything as imaginative as the god or writer can think of. Yes, the idea of a chimera will exist with the idea of being created by multiple animals, but the look itself will always differ. Any person could create a unique chimera if you wished, for example.
-Head of a rhino
-Body of a whale
-Legs of a spider
-Tail of a cow
This would look more than goofy, but regardless this is a result. There's a high level of creativity involved in a chimera, and there's a good chance that if a writer were to create their own sort of creature, the idea of a chimera, while perhaps not the intention, has a chance of coming through in the final design. If someone is creating a new creature, the description of it in a story is almost always rooted in trying to relate its pieces to something familiar to the reader. Things like "horns like an ox" or "claws as large as a lion's" are descriptors of one beast. It's as though any new creature is subconsciously bound to the idea of a chimera when being created, and to me, there's something amazing about that.
I wish I could tell you that you're going to survive this--I wish I could be the beacon of light that you need in your life right now. It hurts because I know you know that I'm going to be here every step of the way, but you're not going to turn to me despite this. I've told you countless times that despite your venomous words from stress, and your cold shoulder towards me at every corner, I'll be standing right beside you. Hell, I WANT you to take advantage of me, use my kindness and care as much as you need, I don't care if it's too much pressure on me, I just want you to use the resources you have. Forcing yourself to be alone won't help you, trust me I've tried, and you know this better than anyone because you elbowed your way into my life despite me pushing you away and trying to break our friendship for your sake. You were there for me way back when, so why won't you let me return the favor? I guess it's ironic to ask considering what happened when our roles were reversed.
I'm running out of things to say. There are only so many ways I can say that I'm here for you. You're a man, subjected to the demands of society and furthermore your father, but for Christs sake, I know you can show emotion! You've cried in my arms, screamed beside me, and shown me every piece of you, so why close yourself off now?
I don't even know if you'll ever actually read this, I think this letter may be more for me to just let it all out about what's going on. I struggle to get out my thoughts, especially when I'm emotional.
Why am I even saying this? Both of us now how horrible of a speaker I am.
Part of me wants you to read this as an even further emphasis of my love, but the other part of me knows it's not going to mean anything to you right now. I know I'll come back to this every night, re-reading it in hopes to change my words so they're more convincing so that one day you'll be able to read it and it'll flip a switch in your mind. I know that's too much to ask.
I just care about you, and I'll be right beside you until the end. It's the least I can do.
Why do we write?
I achieved my goal and have monetary proof now. What am I to do?
I start simple and buy my dream car, which thankfully in my simple nature, I purchase a Subaru Baja which isn't expensive. It's an average sized station wagon, but instead of a large hatch on the back, there's an almost useless truck bed on it for hauling something giant like a whole two suitcases. It's a strange Frankenstein of a vehicle, the front half of a Subaru Outback wagon, the back half of an old El Camino, and miscellaneous other tidbits that look as though it went through the back alley of a car show and beat up other vehicles for spare parts. It's ugly, lacks true utility, doesn't excel in any category, and is an all-around enigma in the car community.
I use the rest of the money to go on sabbatical, but a sabbatical where I can be in the headspace I need to be without all the distractions of a metropolis and everyday life.
I take my Subaru Baja up into the mountains with all the necessities to last me a month. I'm up here where the mountains peaks kiss the clouds and the morning fogs sets like a cool blanket upon the warm earth. I nestle in the corner of the firm bed with my laptop and a window overlooking the forest right next to my head. I'm stress free, the money covered all my bases.
I begin to write in my secluded, well-tempered, and stress-free environment that is tailored to my every need.
I start to write, I've come all this way to do so after all. I bust through the first few pages of the sequel easily. I know how to follow up my first book, and I know how to end it.
But then, my fingers stop flying across the keyboard and a realization hits me. I don't want to write a sequel right now. And I don't want to go through the hell of publishing quite yet.
I smile as I pull out my journal of story ideas that I'd had since I was young and look through them like a Christmas list. "What do I want most?" I think as I flip through the pages of stories that have no connection to one another. They're just ideas on a page.
I pick one at random and being to write. I'm not intending on creating a masterpiece this time. I'm writing for me, writing how I want to write and not to appeal to a demographic or for a cause. I write like I'm the creator of the Subaru Baja; I leave in the ugliness of freehand writing, there isn't a designated purpose to its creation, it doesn't excel in anything, and compared to my public writing, it doesn't make much sense.
But it makes me happy to write, and this is the break I needed.
The Chicago Tylenol Murders
Setting the stage: The murders involved a series of deaths involving Tylenol laced with potassium cyanide due to drug tampering, and while there were prime suspects, there was never anyone charged, and it still remains unsolved.
These deaths were unconnected. Simply, it was a specific batch of Tylenol that was shipped out that had been laced with the poison, so whichever unlucky person picked up a bottle from this batch was inevitably doomed to death. Targets? There weren't any due to the random nature of the marketplace, which leaves a murderer and a motive to solve.
Perhaps this was birthed from the need to make a statement. There are some who openly oppose the use of pills and supplements to aid in human health and wellness, opting for natural ways of healing and pain prevention. Perhaps this person in particular held this type of belief in high value, and wanted to deter the populous from consuming product that they openly rejected. What better way to deter the use of pills than to poison them and create a false correlation between the use of pills and death? Furthermore, Tylenol is one of the most popular painkillers and over-the-counter pills on the market, which means the tampering of such a prominent pill would create lasting after-effects.
Of course, with laboratory tests, one could easily deduce that a batch was tampered with by a third party, but would the average consumer be aware of this? It's similar to the reaction when there's a recall on lettuce due to an outbreak of E.coli in grocery stores; people won't want to purchase lettuce, or will be hesitant to, if they know there's an outbreak going on.
There are caveats, but the motive still stands.
We'll look a snapshot of a character in a book I finished... The Sin of Sloth, Elyse. A witch with the appearance of a little girl, who lived centuries believing she was the cause of the extermination of a Native American tribe, even until she joined The Sins in the modern day. She was convinced by her peer at the time that she caused them all to burn, even though her peer was the puppet master behind it all. She emotionally secluded herself as a result of this lie, separating her self from her own team, and at their eventual disbandment by the hero of heroes, Sun Keeper, she hid herself physically among the wreckage of the tribe she thought she destroyed. She was doused in pain and sadness, and because she never talked to the rest of the Sins, they all assumed they were the cause of her seclusion, and she started feeling guilty about this thought, and became even more secluded, until a tribe-decendant out for revenge captured her and trapped her.
As The Sins slowly found each other amidst a nationwide man hunt for them, they found her before the heroes of the National Hero Association could, and were able to free her from not only her physical prison, but her mental one. She came face-to-face with her peer and the woman who had captured her, and made her amends with both. Her sadness had plagued her for years, but at the behest of her team, she finally found her peace. She no longer kept the lie in the back of her mind.
What do you mean I can't hold it? You use it all the time when you're building things in your workshop. You make those big pieces of wood half the size with a single cut! Is that not something worth sharing with me? Yes, I know that zig-zaggy tool is sharp and as tall as I am, but that sort of technology should be shared! Especially with me! How dare you keep the cool things away from me.
Wait, I spilled that container of silver toothpick-looking metal things on the floor? I don't remember doing that, how do you remember it? It was days ago. Quit dwelling on the past. Wait, the dog ate some, why would he do that? Even I can tell it's not food, that's on her if we're being honest. Don't yell at me for something that could have been prevented with better training... not not with me, the dog!
Okay, but why wouldn't I touch the thing that spins simply by pressing a button? That's a recipe for my interest father. It spins and if I push hard enough, I can make holes appear in anything. I don't understand how this spinning of metal makes these hols in the wall, but boy do I love it.
Alright, maybe I shouldn't have made a hole in the jug holding all that water.
Why blame it all on me? I'm doing nothing more than indulging in my own curiosity, how dare you interrupt the advancement of my mind! Not that I can actually say any of this to you, I can barely explain what I'm thinking when it involves more than ten syllables. But hear me! You never hear me! I am tactile old man, I have to touch it to understand. You don't understand me, none of you people do. The dog will indulge me in my endeavors, but you won't! And she's clearly not as smart as me! What does this say about you, evil warden?
If you ever say that again I will never forgive you! No, I won't understand when I'm older, I refuse to be anything like you adults! Acting like you understand the pain and turmoil you put me through on the daily. You think I need to eat those tiny green trees to be healthy? You never eat yours, so how dare you put such a thing in my lap. Why don't I eat more of those candies that Nana gave me? If you want me healthy, me being happy is the best route for that, and that sugary goodness is what brings me the most happiness, and you refuse to feed them to me at every meal! You've relegated them to being a reward for eating my final meal of the day...a cruel torment, but I'll hand it to you, it's effective. The more I think of it...most of your trickery is effective. You've confused me... I both admire your parenting, and shake my fist at it. I will raise my kids better than you, no trickery, all candy.
You said the same thing when you were my age? Damn you.
You and This Moment
Relationships are hard, even if you think in the moment that they're good. There's a lot of a sacrifice involved when people are intertwined with one another in love and go through life with the each other hand in hand. Of course, relationships hold good moments, maybe even eye-opening revelations about both yourself or your partner as you work with one another to achieve what you hope is perfect love.
But the opportunity of love can breed the opportunity for heartbreak.
I've been in a handful of relationships so far, two of which have meant everything to me in those times, and both of which have ended in what we all try to avoid in love. The break up.
I am a month fresh out of what I thought would be my end-all-be-all woman, but it didn't end how I hoped it would. I won't go into the nitty-gritty, but there are important things to take note of that may apply to many relationships, and you may even be dealing with it now.
Mental health is something that a lot of people don't want to accept is an issue, rather it's the world around them that makes them act in specific ways in specific moments. More people than you think are struggling with mental health as a result of past experiences, trauma, and so many other factors that plague them wherever they go. Yes, it's a bad thing, but is it a stigmatic bad thing?
Mental health, especially with men, is seen as something one can work through on their own as they are told to quietly recite to themselves "be a man" when trials occurs. As an early twenty-something man myself, I can assure you that you don't have to rely on solely yourself to work towards happiness. I'm in therapy and taking anti-depressants. I have grown my connections and found people to talk to about my problems, and these people will call me out on my bullshit. Having a "yes-man" as a friend is not helping you grow. I'm on pills to help me throughout the day...am I any less of a man for doing all this?
My journey into depression, anxiety, and the trek to escape this began in the form of my first girlfriend, who I loved more than anything. When we separated due to unfortunate circumstances, I thought I would never feel anything nearly as horrible as the emotions I felt in the years that followed. I fell into depression, distanced myself, and did nothing to fix the state I was in. Why would I? I was a young man, I could do it myself.
For two years I was depressed and only took in girlfriends for the sake of just having one, which was unfair to both me and the person I saw as "girlfriend" and not the actual person. I was trying to fill a hole in my heart, and clearly, it wasn't healthy.
But then my latest ex-girlfriend appeared, and I saw her as more than that. Here she was, the woman who encouraged me to find therapy and work on myself because she too, was dealing with mental health issues. Here she was, the woman who I saw a future with, and cared for more than anything.
I started my mental health journey, but she didn't. She took pills she knew didn't work, and did nothing to help or mentality, nor did she take advice from others. I am not here to bash her, so I'm refraining from doing so. Essentially, her lack of care towards herself ended up having a negative effect on me, and all the sudden I seemed to be back tracking my mental health journey. Call it whatever you want, manipulative, toxic, whatever, it was what I received in various ways. It was getting bad, but I couldn't bear to break it off.
But I wouldn't fall into that same depression I went through the first time. I am worth more than that, and I know that.
So I ended the relationship, and while those first few days were hard, The weeks since the time of me sitting in this cafe and typing this have been some of the most revealing and relieving time of my life.
Hard times will come, and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. At the end of the day, as my father says, it's not what you go through, it's how you go through it. My first relationship made me depressed because I chose to be sad and wallow in my own pain, but this time, I refuse to let myself fall into that pit again.
Mental health is no joke, and even if you don't want to accept it, there's always the possibility you may be dealing with it. My advice, don't shy away from it, don't see it as a hinderance or something to be ashamed of. Take it in stride, and make the moves to change. Utilize the people around you, friends, family, even the internet if that is what comforts you. You are worth it, and when something or someone comes up that says otherwise, you'll know what you need to do even if it's the hard path in the moment.
You're worth more than what your mind tells you. After all, you're a man. You're a woman. You're anything and everything in-between and outside of those societal concepts. You're you, and you're worth taking care of.
The short man introduced himself as Hermes, and he apologized on behalf of our benefactor for not being here to personally deliver the message to us. “He sends his regards” is all he said before he handed a black disc no larger than an old CD to me and brushed past me into our place of refuge.
Hermes shouted at me to rally up my “crew” and gather around so he could give us the information related to whatever was on the disc, though I insisted he refer to them as my team rather than some ragtag term like crew, but he wasn’t listening.
With a heavy sigh the sound of my shouts rang throughout our base of operations and one-by-one my team filed into the main room where I was, some of which hadn’t been given the pleasure of fully waking up and their displeasure was clear as they eyed the short man with disdain. But under the disdain was clear understanding of what was going on, so they all promptly sat down at a U-shaped table that held seven chairs, one for each member of my team.At the end of the table was a glass board that towered over Hermes who, after realizing he couldn’t see all of us, slapped the closest member of my team and ordered him to stand up so he could take his chair to stand on. My teammate rolled his eyes and followed suit knowing the consequences of arguing with the likes of anyone from the group that Hermes hailed from.
He rolled the chair over to the side of the screen and shouted at me to put the disc in the slot underneath the board so he could get this over with and go home. While I wanted to question why he even handed the disc to me in the first place, I kept quiet as I walked to the other side of the table and inserted the disc.
Immediately the board exploded with color but quickly turned completely black with the familiar “PANTHEON” sprawled in blocky letters in the middle of the screen.
“What are these all these lines for?” He yelled as he pointed to the right side of the screen.”
“That’s our completed mission tally-“
“Forget it, I don’t care.” He reached up and wiped away ninety- nine lines that had digitally been drawn on the side of the board was he waited for the Pantheon logo to disappear. When it had faded away, on queue Hermes began speaking about what our latest mission offer was, and immediately put us all on edge as the all-too familiar acronym NHA left his mouth.
He explained the mission in a little too much detail and even had slides to go with everything he said including the layout of where we were going and what kind of security was expected, all of which was timed perfectly with what he said and how quickly the slides switched. There was no way he hadn’t practiced.
My team wasn’t an enemy of the NHA, but by no means were we friends either. We’d hurt them on a few occasions sure, but it was always for whatever profit was offered to us and not any real vendetta or disdain for the National Hero Association. Granted those jobs were never the most fun nor the easiest for us, which said a lot considering the countless hardcore tasks we’d taken in the pursuit of reward.
He even mentioned our task would involve an assassination which wasn’t uncommon for us even if some of us liked these missions more than others, we were all used to it. What made it interesting was the before-mentioned NHA, which meant we were after a hero, or at least, a self-proclaimed one.
Hermes mentioning the NHA wasn’t the part that hit us hard though, rather it was two back-to-back statements that closed off his briefing that brought our hopes up but immediately frightened us.
“The bounty for this mission is upwards of a mil’ depending on how clean the mission goes, plus the income from the impact of what this will do.” We all gasped at the sum of money offered to us, it was substantially higher than anything we’d gotten recently during an annual dry spot of missions we were getting. It was a lot of money, but his second statement gave us an idea as to why. “There’s a catch though, and I don’t really know what to think of it.” He gulped. “Outside of the boss and some of the people he holds in high regard, no one knows who the target you have been given is, the only thing he said was that you’d know him when you saw him.”
He left abruptly after and the rest of us sat in awe as we silently contemplated every aspect of the mission. Deep down we had all decided to take the mission simply because of the amazing sum of money we’d receive in the end, and given our almost poetic track record, this would be our hundredth completed mission in a row if we did it, a huge milestone for all of us.
But even deeper down was a bigger worry that almost had the power to overcome the feeling of victory the hundredth completed mission would give us.
There was no way our target was him.
We were just outside the door to the chamber where our unnamed bounty was, all we had to do was get rid of a handful of tier- three heroes that were coming at us from each direction. They were a hopeless last stand compared to all the other heroes we had defeated within every twist and turn of this place.
Hero HQ was the location of the National Hero Association, a group that dedicated its life to building an enormous range of heroes to protect the citizens of the United States. Each registered hero was placed upon a scale, tiers one through five, tier one being the strongest, and most morally “right” heroes. They'd send all these heroes out to face threats from villains and people with ulterior motives from their own, telling the public to allow these heroes to do as they needed to protect them, and they were praised for it. The absolute tyrannical rule was praised, the population acted as if heroes were a higher-level of being than their own, practically worshipping them...people were blind. I wasn’t an enemy of the NHA, but I still held a good deal of hatred towards them.
Yet here we are directly in the heart of it all, and us being here meant our target wasn’t going to be an easy one to eliminate.
“Fear not everyone, I got this. Threes don’t stand a chance against me.”
“Go for it big guy.”
With a smile, Allen, our group-chosen sin of Pride, walked confidently towards one of the heroes who was running towards us. Allen was one of the tanks of the group, with muscles so defined and toned, that a single punch of his could cripple a submarine...but the only drawback was that he was well-aware of his strength, and he made sure we knew too. With slicked black hair, a facial structure chiseled from stone, and the frame of an elephant, he had an ego to match those of the tier one heroes.
As one of the heroes was within arm’s reach, Allen snagged the man's arm, broke it, then with an unnecessary amount of gracefulness, hurled the man at one of the other heroes. The third hero then appeared from behind him and tackled him, with what looked like all his might, but only enough to budge the sin of Pride an inch or two. Laughing, he threw his elbow directly into the face of the hero behind him, sending him crumpling to the ground instantly.
“I hope that’s not the best they got here! I didn’t even have any fun!”
“Do you have to be so loud, you big oaf?” Said a high-pitched feminine voice.
“God forbid they send more threes to fight me! Afraid they’ll hurt your stone pets little girl?”
The high-pitched voice did in fact, come from a little girl. At least she looked like a little girl, but she was older than all of us by about four-hundred years or so. Elise had a curse given to her as a child by some witch she had been in conflict with, now cursed to walk the Earth as her nine-year old, blonde-pigtailed self, which struck fear into hardly anyone bigger than an insect. She was our sin of Sloth
“No, I just don’t want to fight more than we have to, I'm getting too old for it. And they’re not pets you buffoon, you know they’re called guardians.”
“Hey so, can we like, move on? I just hear two little girls arguing now.”
“Shut up Danny!” They yelled in unison.
“Sorry, some of us want to actually complete the mission.” Our sin of Envy, Danny, gave me an annoyed look and I responded to it with one of my own, partly due to our shared annoyance of the two arguing and partly from looking at his new soccer-esque haircut, short on the sides while long and spikey on top, like he was some pro athlete. He knew I hated it, but he said his black hair was built for it.
“He’s right, let’s get a move-on so we can get that mil.” I said, interjecting in the pointless argument.
“Only worried about the money as always. Greedy son of a gun.” Allen said laughing.
“Well, I am the Greed sin, aren’t I?”
He shrugged. “Fair enough.”
We approached the door, which showed no signs of a lock or
defense mechanism, it was just a simple door. Before anyone did anything, Allen slammed the door open with a quick punch that broke the door right off its’ hinges and flew backwards. He turned back to look at us and smiled. “Looking at it won’t open it.”
I stood in the back of the group, which allowed me to see my six teammates. All shapes and sizes, all from different walks of life, yet here we all were, inside the NHA HQ. All of us had matching grey and black uniforms with specialized padding on to make us look more like ateam. Everyone had made little adjustments made to their suits to fit their personality to look more unique from the rest of the group.
“Alright let’s do this.” I said, nodding towards the room. Allen nodded in return and led the way inside, but what we saw when we entered wasn’t what we had expected, and that’s when we knew we weren’t on just any other mission.
It was huge, solid gray room roughly the length of a football field and high enough you could probably drag a headless statue of liberty inside. No furnishings, just a gray room lit by bright lights on the ceiling. Every surface was covered in squares like a checkerboard, and I guessed it was some sort of training room for the heroes who resided here.
As soon as the last one in our group entered the room, we heard a series of clicks and the gap from where the door had been, was covered in the same square tiles as the rest of the room.
“We’re trapped, that’s fantastic. What kind of room is this?” Allen said, clearly annoyed.
“It’s a training room. Used to train the most powerful heroes.” A booming, commanding voice came from every direction in the room. We circled up and readied ourselves for an attack from any direction. “Like myself.” More clicking came from the other end of the room, and a door opened, allowing a man with a flowing cape to come through. We all looked towards the figure as he made his way towards us, and I slowly began to make out who it was. My eyes opened wide at the realization, and gasps from behind me notified me that my team knew who it was too. It was him.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I said with a fear-laced voice, signaling my team to back-up as Sun Keeper, with eyes as golden as the star he was named after, made his way towards all seven of us as if we were nothing more than a roadblock for him.
Sun Keeper was, without a doubt, one of the most powerful heroes the world had ever seen. Claiming to have been chosen by the God of the Sun himself, his full title was Sun Keeper, the Last Disciple of Ra, and if that name enough wasn’t threatening enough, he was at the top of the tier-one category of heroes. This...man, if you could even call such a being that, single-handedly thwarted almost as many world ending events as missions that we the Sins had completed. With the powers of the sun at his disposal, he was not a hero to blindly fight. Yet my team stood before him with a facade of confidence that hid our true fear for a stand-off that couldn’t end in victory.
“We have to get out of here. What are we supposed to do against him?” Elise was trembling, and the scared look on her face was worrisome. This was a girl who had seen so many horrible things in all her centuries of living, and for this to still scare her was shook me to the core.
“He’s just another hero! We’ve taken down stronger!” Allen, cocky as always, was too stupid to realize the trouble we were in. “I think.”
“The Seven Sins. A terrifying title for sure.” Sun Keeper spoke with confidence to match the bold strides he made as he continued walking. He was taunting us by walking, I knew he could fly over here in less than a second. But he wanted to take his sweet time, absorbing every moment of fear we had. The citizens looked up to this man in shining gold armor, not unlike an ancient knight, and reports of villains trembling in his presence and giving up instead of even attempting to fight were common. He wore no helmet, not even a mask, because it wouldn’t matter if anyone knew his identity...no one would dare attack a man like him. As a result, we could see the utmost confidence in his golden eyes, framed perfectly by neatly cut brown hair on his head and a matching full beard and mustache to go with it. He radiated pure command and to me, pure terror. “You all have an impressive track record, and to be in the same room as you all is a pleasure in the highestsense of the word.” He threw his arms up in the air at his proclamation and I caught myself taking a step back even at such a trivial movement from this man. “But I'm afraid I’m going to have to force you all to disband on account of the countless...well for a lack of a better term...sins you have all committed.”
Sighing, Allen spoke “This is ridiculous, let’s get this over with. Brandon, mind giving me a hand?”
“You idiot you know he shouldn’t fight him. And neither should you.” Danny grabbed Allen by the arm. “We have to surrender and maybe make it out of here with our lives.”
“Get off me!” He shrugged his hand off. “Let’s go Brandon or I’ll kill you before sun-guy over there does.”
“This is going to go horribly.” Brandon walked up from the back, taking his shirt off and throwing it to the ground. I always forgot how thin the man was, and with his shaggy brown hair he looked horribly malnourished to the point where I always wondered how he could even stay on his feet.
“Pride and Gluttony. The strongmen of the group. The God’s have told me of your acts of strength.” Sun Keeper was only a few yards away now. He looked directly at Allen.
“You’re the one that killed Atlas.”
“He wasn’t too tough.”
“He was my closest friend.” He moved his foot ever so slightly and I heard Allen gulp, he was starting to see the situation we were in. “You’re truly an eyesore, you look just like him.” Sun Keeper then looked to Brandon. “I’ll fight you two once this one’s ready to fight.” He pointed a searing finger at Brandon, and I swore I saw the air around his hand waver at the heat. “My hope is that this won’t end in blood...like I said, I'm fond of you all and I believe with enough convincing, there could be some spots in the NHA for seven new members.”
Is this guy serious? I thought. He was advertising the NHA to a bunch of mercenaries.
Heroes really did have too much enthusiasm.
I looked at my two allies in front of me, and I had a bad feeling that my team was at a cruel disadvantage, but I couldn’t let my team know that. Brandon looked back at me and smiled, then a small hand suddenly grabbed mine.
“You can’t let him fight. His mind...”
“He’s recovered before, he’ll be fine. The two of them have a chance, just get ready to help if we need to intervene.”
“This is about the money isn’t it! Is that really that important right now?” The fear in Elise’s voice was clear.
“Let’s just see how this goes.” At that, Elise let go of my hand and took her backpack off. Furious, she dug through it for a second and then pulled out a small, grey figurine of a bear no bigger than her palm. She pulled the figure close to her mouth and muttered something I couldn’t make out, and when she stopped speaking the bear glowed a bright green and she threw it as hard as she could towards Allen. In a huge bright flash of green, a huge brown bear covered in glowing green cracks roared to life, dwarfing everyone. It looked at Allen and let out a slightly calmer roar.
“Hey there big guy. Ready to go?” The bear roared again and trained its focus on Sun Keeper.
“Sloth. You and your acclaimed guardians are always a sight to behold, though I’ve never been able to see one this close... astounding.” He looked at Brandon again, a quizzical expression in his eyes.
Brandon locked eyes with him and clenched his fists. “If you don’t think blood will be shed, then you must have forgotten who you’re dealing with.” His voice had lowered as he spoke, and as if in tandem with his voice, every muscle in his body began to grow. Veins became more defined, muscles bulged from every inch of his body like a balloon, and he grew taller. Those are just the simple things I could describe...there was so much more happening that the full wonder of the transformation was almost indescribable. There was something uncomfortably inhuman about his final appearance...his top half disproportionately larger than the bottom, with the muscular presence that no human could ever have...yet here he was. When his transformation finished, he stood taller than Allen. He let out labored breathes and had a wild look in his eyes, like a beast only focused on the kill.
“There it is. Nothing but raw power. You’re just as strong as I am now, correct?”
“Y...y...yes. But I... can go...more strong.”
“Brandon don’t! You know what will happen!” Danny screamed. “James, we have to get out of here! Brandon could killhimself!”
“He’s recovered before.”
Allen, Brandon, and the bear all charged Sun Keeper at once, Brandon growing larger as he ran, slowly surpassing the raw strength of the hero before him.
“So, you’re pushing yourself to become stronger than me. Impressive, but it won’t matter.” All three reached Sun Keeper at the same time, but in two quick punches, Allen and the bear were sent flying across the room, slamming into the wall behind us. Brandon put all of his strength in his right fist and swung at the hero with such force that a skyscraper would fall in moments, but Sun Keeper grabbed him by the wrist and threw Brandon’s fist directly into the floor of the room, using the man’s own strength to throw the huge form deep into the ground. He looked down in the hole at the now unconscious being. “Just because you're stronger, doesn’t mean you’re better. Especially at your current mental state.” He seemed to know everything about us, all our weaknesses and strengths... did he know them better than we did?
He suddenly perked his head up and looked in my direction. “It won’t work.” He stood and faced me. “Your mind tricks won’t affect me sin of Lust.” I then realized what he was talking about and looked behind me at the black-haired woman who stood behind me, her arm stretched out in Sun Keeper’s direction.
Jasmine was our most powerful member, she could do practically whatever she wanted with the human mind, like it was her own playground. Right now, she had her curly black hair tied behind her which told me she was focused solely on Sun Keeper, but for some reason, her power wasn’t affecting the likes of Sun Keeper at all...which wasn’t good.
Realizing this, she pushed harder with her power and raised her other hand up, the blood from her nose running down her neck as she grunted from all the energy she was exerting. I could feel the presence of her power and I wasn’t even the target, I couldn’t imagine what Sun Keeper had to be feeling, if he even was.
When I looked at him, he was wincing slightly, which meant she was having some effect on him. Eventually both of his eyes closed, and he fell to a knee and held his head in his hands in pain, but his resolve quickly overcame the pain and powered through. He stood back up and shook his head violently. After a few more seconds, Jasmine fainted and fell to her knees. I ran to her side to see if she was still breathing and thankfully, she was. But I had made a mistake...I had taken my eyes off Sun Keeper.
He flew towards us with amazing speed, and I thought for sure Jasmine and I were done, but in an instant, Elise’s bear came sailing overhead through the air and slammed into Sun Keeper, throwing him to the ground. I looked behind myself and saw that Allen had thrown the bear.
“Hey that’s not yours why’d you throw it?” Elise cried, running towards the bear.
“Elise get back!” I yelled, but it didn’t mean anything, she was too focused on the bear. She got to the side of her guardian with Sun Keeper only a few feet away, slowly rising from the sudden hit. Smiling he made his way towards the bear and its master, walking with the same annoying confidence as before.
The ground shook, knocking everyone down, including Sun Keeper. I quickly got up to assess what had happened, and that’s when I saw Brandon, feet planted in the cracked ground beneath him.
“Still conscious huh? Round two then!” Sun Keeper was smiling again, but it quickly vanished as his eyes grew wider and he threw an open palm behind himself so quickly that I could almost see the air around him being cut by his hand. I hadn’t noticed anything at first, but then his hand hit something and sent it flying back. Sun Keeper fell to a knee, grasping his shoulder in pain. “What in the name of the Gods...”
Landing on his feet, Danny stood, with a golden light coursing through his veins and eyes. “Wow...you really are as strong as they say you are...” He looked down at his hands and blinked a few times at the amazing power that was flowing through him. I realized he had taken some of Sun Keeper’s power for himself as he ran towards the hero who was still on the ground with the same blinding speed as the golden hero himself, and slammed his knee square in the jaw of Sun Keeper, knocking him over. He then sent a flurry of punches into his face, drawing a small amount of blood, which, if I remembered correctly, was the first time I’d ever seen blood drawn from the hero, or even injured in the slightest.
“Samson! Mind lending a hand!? I don’t know how much longer I can hold onto his power!” Danny kept the punches going as Sun Keeper lie unmoving on the ground, alive, but not even trying to fight back...which was concerning.
The man he had called over was our last member, the sin of Wrath. The well-built black man stepped forward from the back, shirtless, as he claimed that “It hid the definition of the body, hindering the presence of the mind.” which made little sense to me, but we all went with it. He was bald, which allowed his red piercing eyes to contrast his shimmering skin without distraction.
He made his way towards Danny and Sun Keeper, who still remained unmoving, and he lifted his arm, pointing three fingers in Sun Keeper’s direction.
“I don’t think so, sin of Wrath.” In barely a second, Danny was left punching holes into the floor beneath him, startling him. Suddenly. Sun Keeper appeared next to Samson, and broke one of the three fingers just as blue beams of light shot from his fingertips. But as the broken finger went limp, the two remaining beams turned red and hit Danny directly in the face, knocking him over. He lie on the ground unmoving, and everyone paused, which gave me a moment to evaluate the field.
I stood up and began walking, concentrating hard as a faint pop in my left arm went off, and as I did, all sound went mute and everything stopped moving, including every minor twitch of the eye and tremble of a limb, yet I remained in full motion. I slowly ran around to everyone to see their condition, taking note of the unconscious Jasmine as I left her side.
Behind me was Allen, on his hands and knees from the single blow that Sun Keeper had delivered to him, and I could tell that he was in rough shape, physically and with his confidence. I then jogged over to the bear and Elise, who was holding the bears head in her tiny arms, tears streaming down her face. I reached out my hand to wipe a tear away, but my hand phased straight through her face as if she wasn’t there. I knew this of course, but still, I couldn’t help but try to cheer herup.
A few yards away to the right was Brandon, his towering figure lumbering towards Elise. His eyes were distant...his mind wasn’t all there because of him pushing himself. Hopefully he could recover quickly once we were done here. I looked to the left where Danny lied unmoving, the golden power of Sun Keeper flowing through his veins. I walked over to him to see how he had taken the hit, and that’s when I figured out what happened. His eyes were pure red like Samsons, but with no iris, which meant he had been hit with the beams second setting. My mouth slacked open as I looked back towards Samson, whose hand was in the grip of Sun Keeper. This isn’t good. I began running towards the two but stopped about a foot away when I looked directly at Sun Keeper’s eyes which were following me as I took steps around him.
He can react fast enough to see my movements? Sun Keeper slowly shoved Samson to the ground as if it were in slow motion, and started to move towards me with gradually increasing speed until it almost matched my own, everything else still unmoving except for the two of us and Samson, who was slowly falling to the ground like a thick layer of molasses was under him. I stood still as he reached me and threw a punch, but it went through me like I wasn’t there. He can’t touch me, so what can he possibly do? He raised his hand to his face, at first in awe, but then he smiled, closed his eyes, and started trembling as he crossed his arms over his chest. I backed up a few steps, but I wasn't fast enough to avoid the power he released when he threw his arms up, allowing an explosion of heat energy to knock me down and make everything around me go back to normal speed.
The intense heat radiated from where Sun Keeper stood, and I could feel the sweat dripping from my brow just by being near him, even the ground beneath him was scorched. I looked up to Danny who was now standing up, his eyes still solid red. He looked around the room, breathing heavily, and when his eyes set on Allen, who was still down, he screamed and ran at him, the power of Sun Keeper still flowing through him. Before Allen could react, Danny slammed him in the face with his fist, sending him skidding across the floor and hitting the adjacent wall.
Sun Keeper was on his knees now breathing heavily, the speed must’ve drained him, but he’d be recovered soon enough...but we had another problem on our hands. Danny was blind with anger and wrath, and I knew that whatever he saw, he would attack.
“We have to go...now.” The frail voice came from Jasmine, who was now up. She then looked towards Samson, who was also slowly getting up. “Samson...shoot him with setting one, then three.” The man struggled to steady himself from the shock of his broken finger, but he managed to point a single finger from his fully-functional hand at Danny, and a green beam of light hit him in the head, and Danny’s shoulders sagged as he began to relax. His eyes were probably green now, which meant he was calming down.
“What...what’s happening?” He looked down at Allen and jumped back. “Allen! How are you man? It’s good to see you!” His voice was high-pitched and friendly as a result of the green beam from Samson, but before he could continue speaking, he fell to the ground,
and I could hear him beginning to snore. I looked back to Samson who now had three fingers up, blue beams coming from each one.
“Commander!” I looked in the direction of the pain-filled voice and saw the beastly figure of Brandon in the opposite corner of the room standing next to a huge hole in the wall that I assumed he had made, and I could see some of the surrounding trees just outside. Brandon then slowly began to shrink back down to his thin self and fell to his knees. That was our way out. I ran to Danny and threw him over my shoulder.
“Allen, can you get up?”
“Y...yeah I can. Pipsqueak don’t got nothing on...” He rose to get up, clearly struggling. “...me”
“Good. Grab Elise and run to the hole over there. I’ll grab the others.” Allen nodded and ran limping towards Elise, who had shrunk her bear back to its normal figurine size. He said something inaudible to her, then scooped her up and continued towards the exit. Sun Keeper was still on his knees after his sudden burst of energy which had taken a toll on him. I ran to Jasmines side. “You okay?” She nodded slowly, got up, and followed me towards the exit where Samson was already headed.
“Not so fast.” Sun Keeper had stood up straight, but I didn’t have time to look back and see where he was. Brandon, Allen, Elise, and Samson waited for us to join them, but they needed to go before anything happened.
“Don’t wait for us just go!”
“But...what if commander die?” Brandon’s voice was frail...and the way he spoke was childish...he’d pushed himself too far.
“Go!” I screamed. Allen nodded and motioned for them to jump through the hole, down to the sidewalk below. We were still a few yards away when Sun Keeper caught up to us. He tackled me to the ground, forcing me to drop Danny, who was still fast asleep.
“You still have some of my power boy.” He crawled over to Danny and had a tired look in his eyes, the release of power had been intense for him. His brown hair was growing more unkept from having to fight us, but I knew he still wasn’t close to being defeated.
I could barely move from his heavy tackle, and I stared hopelessly as Sun Keeper made his way to Danny and raised his fist high in the air above him, slamming it down directly into his face and the ground beneath Danny’s head cracked apart.
Danny’s snores stopped.
“James, we have to go!” Jasmine grabbed my arm. “Now.”
Tears began to flow down my face as she pulled me away and jumped through the hole in the wall, dragging me behind her. The drop was about twenty feet, and we landed on the ground hard. We saw the others running towards the direction of the jet we had taken to get here, and after what seemed like forever, we slowly met up with them at the ramp of the jet.
“Where’s Danny?” Allen looked me dead in the eyes. “Where is he James?” I couldn’t speak, and when he realized this, tears began to flow down his cheeks. He turned and punched the wall of the jet, rocking it side to side. “Samson...get us out of here.” Samson ran to the controls and began to lift the jet up. Jasmine grabbed my hand and led me up the ramp and into the main section of our jet, but I shrugged her off as I knelt at the opening of the jet.
As the back door slowly rose to close, I saw Sun Keeper standing in the hole of the fortress with one of my closest allies lying unmoving on the ground behind him.
As the door to the jet closed, so did my eyes, and I passed out.
The Power of Food
There were three friends who all worked at the same factory, who cares which one. Every day they'd sit together on their lunches and eat their food, having joyous conversation as they did. In the factory they're nameless, but I'll have a heart and give them some fun names. We'll say Ed, Edd, and Eddy to keep things simple (subject to change).
Every day Ed brings in a nice, juicy burger than internally he can't stand. He bought a giant pack of burgers and felt the need to go through them as fast as possible, so he always had on in his lunch.
Edd always had two tacos with him, packed with care so the hard shells wouldn't shatter if he dropped his bag.
Eddy always had a pizza. He liked pizza.
One day they were around the table and Ed spoke something odd.
"I'm tired of having burgers. If I have one more in my lunch, I'm jumping off the roof of this building."
Edd nodded and slapped his tacos off the table. They crushed loudly against the wall. "Poor tacos, but you're right. I'm done with these, they're awful. I'll join you if I get the same."
Eddy laughed and set down his slice of pizza. "I'm not even Italian."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Nothing, but if I get this one more time too I'll join y'all."
The next day comes around, and they all get the same meal.
They climb to the roof and jump. I didn't think they were serious.
The next week their wives are all standing at their funeral, sad over the event that took their husbands.
Ed's wife speaks first. "If he had just told me that he didn't want burger's, I wouldn't have packed them for him."
Eddy's wife speaks next. "Exactly. He just needed to speak up and now I feel bad."
Edd's wife finally speaks. "He packs his own lunch."
It's not as cold as you thought it'd be. You'd seen the movies, it always looked like the only material they used was metal that never saw the light of day, so the inmates would be in perpetual cold. But here, there's some bare amenities that are helping, you are a human after all. The always perceived the guards to be rude and narcissistic towards you, but again, you're as human as they are, just on the opposite sides of the bars. You crack a joke about the jumpsuit you're in, wishing it was orange like in the movie, and you see them allow themselves to smile.
You have a bed, it's not fit for a king but it suffices. You have to be in your sad bedroom by a certain time at night, and you arrived to the prison right as they sent everyone to bed. When morning comes, you expected them to wake everyone up by banging their batons along the bars, but it's not nearly as annoying as that. They make you get to the cafeteria before the food runs out, there's a hint of thoughtfulness that you know they won't admit. After you eat, the yard and what passes for fun is open to you. You can mingle with the other inmates within reason, and you always see someone getting dragged off due to being just a little too rowdy, but it's usually the same person.
At the end of the day, most of there inmates are legitimately kind. It's hard to be haughty when you're all in jail, so for the most part, you don't have to worry about the others unless you did something unspeakable, especially if it involves kids.
You'll be here for a while, but when all is said and done, its not the hell you thought it'd be.