I watched the small guy with the big gun creep from shadow to shadow in the abandoned warehouse, shipping containers towering over him. He would have looked like a little kid playing in his dad’s clothes but his face was all soft and wrinkly like one of those sharpei dogs. “Get out here, you stupid bitch!” he yelled. I decided to call him Spanky. He looked like a Spanky.

“Where is she?” asked the other guy. His name was Maurice, and he was a lot bigger than Spanky. Or me, for that matter. I pressed against the side of a container, waiting for him to pass so I could kick him in the head.

He was not being cooperative. He stayed alert, checking around corners, moving slowly and carefully. I gave up and turned my attention to Spanky, who shook like a Polaroid and kept spinning around to look behind him, his arms sticking straight out. He had to hold the gun with both hands, it was so big. He was good and lost in the maze of giant boxes, coming up on a dead end just around the corner.

You’d be surprised how close you can get to someone if you move really slowly just beyond the range of their peripheral vision. You can get close enough to grab their gun and bring their elbow down to meet your knee coming up fast in the opposite direction. After that there’s a lot of screaming and cursing but the important thing is that the gun is now in your hand. If it’s a semi-automatic, you can push the magazine release with one hand and kick the offending clip into the shadows. I was watching from the rafters by the time Maurice got to that crybaby Spanky.

“Where did she go?” Maurice asked.

“I don’t know,” Spanky whimpered. “She broke my fuckin’ arm.”

I discharged the bullet that was still in the gun and tossed it as far away as I could. It clanked loudly as it bounced on the concrete floor. Maurice went to investigate.

Swinging from one jutting metal tress to the next, I kept an eye on him as he tiptoed and sidestepped his way to the source of the noise. Then he did something nobody ever thinks to do: he looked up. I hung upside-down, staring back, glad that my mask hid the dopey expression I was making.

The secret to dodging bullets is that you are not dodging the bullets. You are paying careful attention to where the gun is pointing and then making sure you are not in the way. It helps to duck behind something large like a shipping container. Unfortunately, that meant I could no longer see Maurice. He had only fired at me twice so he had more than enough ammo left to make me regret my career choice.

If someone had told thirteen-year-old me that I would be doing this in five years, I would have thought they were crazy. Back then it was all glitter and pony tails and sequin-covered leotards. Now, I was sneaking around in the dark wearing skin-tight urban camo, trying to catch a couple of thugs who had killed two cops. Time flies. Me, I just jump good.

Silently, I leaped to the top of the container and crawled to the edge. No sign of Maurice. I jumped to the top of the adjacent container and peeked again. Still nothing. I got that creepy feeling that someone was behind me and glanced over my shoulder. It was just a creepy feeling. Where had he gone?

That’s when I heard the sound of a door opening and closing, followed by the far-off but increasingly loud wail of police sirens. The place would be totally up to its nostrils in cops any minute now. They probably wouldn’t be eager to hear my side of the story. I climbed out through a ventilation window, skulking around on the rooftops of the other warehouses crowded together in the industrial neighborhood, slowly putting distance between me and all the Officer Friendly types.

I wish I could say I was the kind of hero who never let a bad guy get away, but like my dad always said, sometimes you have to know when to fold ’em. Maybe Batman would have nailed one of the goons with some kind of tracking device, but I wasn’t the damn Batman. I was a real person. I was Soliton.

The moon was hiding behind a mess of clouds, so no one saw me jumping around from roof to roof. Once I was far enough away that I could barely hear the sirens, I checked my cell for missed calls. One, from my mom. I sat down on a big metal air conditioner and listened to the message.

“Hey Gracie, your dad and I wanted to wish you a happy birthday,” she said. I hated when she called me Gracie. “Call us back when you get a chance. Love you!”

Lying back, I stared up at what few stars I could see. I’d call them in the morning. They’d ask what I did to celebrate. I would lie. Then I’d go to class and pretend to be normal.

Stop being such a baby, Grace, said the voice in the back of my head that always sounded like my old gymnastics coach. It was not a voice you argued with. So I didn’t. I got up, dusted off my dirty ass, and headed home.

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5 Responses to “Super”

  1. Marisa Birns says:

    I think the parents would laugh and say, “Ah, Gracie, what an imagination you have,” if she told them the truth about her birthday celebratory endeavors.

    Soliton! Love it. 😀

  2. Aaron says:

    “Me, I just jump good.”

    Awesome. A lot of depth to her character shows through even in such a short story. I also like how you managed to achieve a flow to the writing that reflects the smooth ease of the characters own movements, even in what probably would have been a rather chaotic scene. I liked the call from her mom, too . Good stuff.

  3. Gracie says:

    Gee, I was never like that as a kid… (ahem)

    Very nice job. Really good flow and character development. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I liked the call from her mom, too.

  4. Valerie says:

    I’m glad you all enjoyed it. Thank you for reading.

    Sometimes I think this character needs a longer story, and sometimes I think this is enough. The trials and tribulations of a teenage super hero has been done a few times already, after all.

  5. V.R. Leavitt says:

    This is awesome!! What a terrific voice. This totally should be made into something longer.

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