What once made up the walls of the office buildings now raced to the barren street below in broken chunks, reminiscent of a b-rate action movie’s beginning scene just after the hero fails to stop the bomb. And amidst the rubble and ash, reflecting the sunlight in a shimmer of purples as it fell, was an awfully vivid galaxy patterned suit.
The suit itself was snugly settled around the slender form of someone as they slide past the falling stone and glass.
He dove to the ground like the concrete below was nothing but the unbroken surface of a deep pool of water. Eager to break the surface, his black eyes were focused on the quickly approaching ground and squished upwards in an undeniably eager smile. And only once the ash had completely enveloped his form from the cameras and onlookers, and the last fleck of purple was hidden from the sun did the now-hidden individual shift.
As if he was already submerged under water, he weightlessly – against the force of the rushing air as he raced to the earth’s surface – pulled his right knee towards his chin. His leg folded just in time to rest his toes on a size of concrete twice the size of himself. Time seemed to pause for the briefest of moments at the perch of his reflective purple tap shoes. And it was in that slightest of pauses that the figure’s direction suddenly shifted to a perfectly perpendicular paradigm of his prior downward descent.
As the individual was hidden from views – by onlookers and pursuers alike – nobody knew when his direction changed, where he had gone or if he had merely vanished entirely by some unknown power. And with his swift and eager disappearance, this was the end of another battle with another hero that he did not care enough to participate in with half a heart nor remember their name. It wasn’t worth the effort when you didn’t find fun in making the hero mad.
Once it was confirmed that the villain had left the newscasters would summarize the damages, praise the hero and ridicule the villain. Just as they did every Monday morning in Tausa with the comedically unfortunately named villain, Villain, taking the brunt of their insults with a jovial laugh.
On Mondays it was usually 12 that the battle would end and Villain would emerge from his shower with an awake mind, clean body and the energy to make it through the week ahead. But as today was a special case, he had left the battle with the boring hero early and exited his apartment at 10 Am precisely. He had no reason, intention or want to stop at a café with the unsocial hero enemy he had today anyway so it was no loss. After all, today was the day that his REAL hero enemy - and best friend - would return to town from a trip.
Well... not really a trip in the sense that it was a vacation, more along the lines of a required out of town trip. This was because he was competing in an away game at an opposing school’s campus for their mutual University’s soccer team. The ‘secret hero’ was there to kick their team to victory and kicking opposing ass in the Semi-final Soccer tournament for a chance to participate in the World Finals.
And now, with his best friend Hotshot on their team, they saw nothing but gold and victory after victory. But what the coaches refused to see was that once Hotshot graduated the following year it would be the end of not only his college days, but also his competitive soccer ‘career’.
“I’ve seen too much,” Hotshot had once said, “too many of the players I looked up to and idolized grew up got caught up in something and fell hard.” besides, he didn’t want to build his career on a sport and be known as an ex-athlete who went elsewhere. As big of a man as Hotshot was, he was as smart in the same regard.
And the unspoken main reason that Hotshot didn’t pursue professional soccer was because it would contract him and limit his time to hang out with Villain – which neither of them wanted. After all, Villain was the only reason that Hotshot could still get his hands on some of the addictive quality cookies that his own Nana made.
It didn’t matter that he was her own grandson or that they were sold at a café (where usually there was no bias on who you sold the food to, as long as it was sold) but the family relationship may have been what gave his grandmother an authority complex over the confectionaries and limited his access to them. If she were to ever get upset at anything he does from home or forgets to do, she takes it out on his cookie privileges. This time, she claimed he was getting fat.
She acted like she had no idea that her grandson was their town’s own hired hero. But, in all fairness, so did everyone else in the town.
The entire town feigned ignorance to the clear display that their flame handed hero was their University soccer captain. It wasn’t that there was a risk for knowing his identity... it was more for Hotshot’s sake that they acted like they had no idea who he was.
But why do they have to pretend not to know instead of sincerely not knowing? Because the idiot refused to wear a mask of any kind. He won’t outright say why but Villain knows it’s because he thinks that the tan lines will give him away. He once told a newscaster when he was just starting as a hero that he would not wear a mask because “the anonymity of heroism itself” will protect his identity.
And really, the only reason that Villain didn’t call Hotshot out on his pure idiocy was because he sounded so certain and sure of what he was saying. It definitely wasn’t because of his monologue on live television about going to any length to protect his best friend “even if it meant having to lie about leading a double life to protect him”. Definitely not that. And since Hotshot hid his identity, so would Villain.
The athletic hero definitely lived up to the stereotype of blonds, much to Villain’s humor. He honestly believed in the idea that became known as the Superman or Clark Kent complex – where just because you have miniscule differences between your hero and civilian self you don’t have to wear a proper mask to obscure your identity.
Unlike Hotshot, who everyone knew the identity of, Villain remained in complete obscurity except for Nana herself. She could always tell when Villain tried to hide anything and she knew just how to pry to get the answers out of him. Other than Hotshot’s nana, no one knew that Villain the civilian was their town’s villain. He wasn’t that concerned that somebody would try to make a connection between the two identities having the same name as he was born during the great Shift and his illusive talents.
The time Villain was born, the Shift, is when powers first flooded into the world in one massive pulse. Along with the powers came the acceptance of names that were once considered irregular. While there is still a mass of normal-er, common names like Mickey, Vanessa and Paul it is no longer uncommon to run into a Polymer, Shrapnel or Clipper.
After the surprisingly quick acceptance of different powers became a common thing between people like the colors of hair and skin, it became normal and even encouraged for people to embrace those kinds of names – especially by the people of Villain’s generation. They were the kind of names that you wouldn’t find outside of the tv screen on movies or cartoons and were even mocked sometimes for the inanity and unrealistic nature of them.
So what if a word means something as an adjective or a verb? A name is a name. A rose by any other and all that nonsense! When talking about Cleave as a Proper noun, as a person, Villain thinks of the 5’9, 68-year-old, bald man who owns the carpet shop down the road with the bellowing laugh of a lumberjack – not about cutting things apart or putting them together. It seems easier to many to have such names in the roster than four or five Marys, Johns or Michaels and have to settle on nicknames to use for each of them and to remember who is who.
Besides, amongst people his age, Villain was one of the more normal names. His friends had names like Coddle, Plague and Floss. Compared to those names, Villain was about as unusual as a Vincent.
Villain’s hair was finally dry enough to settle into its usual poufy style. It was trimmed short, save for his bangs. If it weren’t for his seemingly permanent cowlick, his bangs would hang past the bridge of his nose. But as it were now, his bangs bounced just below his eyebrows like two w’s side by side at every step as he approached Nana’s café. If Hotshot were already home, he would no doubt be there trying to cajole his grandmother for a single chocolate chip or cinnamon star with a photo of him with the winning trophy in hand.
And sure enough, Villain saw his hulking friend on his knees before a petite elderly woman with phone in hand through the display window. He could barely suppress the laugh in his throat when the bell chimed above his head at his arrival.
“Villain!” The little old lady hummed with a smile, “come help me with something, darling.” As Villain approached the duo, Nana spoke again.“My stupid grandson is trying to play off an old photo for some of my cookies.” Hotshot tried to defend himself as his nana snatched the phone from his palm and passed it to Villain. “Isn’t this an old photo, dear? There is no way that Hotshot could have won another game.”
“I DID! I was VIP, Nana! Come on! I earned at least ONE cookie!” Hotshot harshly nudged Villain's gut with his elbow hoping for some help, but with the smirk that Villain gave him in response he thought he might not even get a single crumb this time.
“Hmmm. I don’t know, Nana... I’m not very good with technology myself you see.” Villain teased and passed the phone back to her, “but look at him. If Hotshot did actually lose this game....” Villain tried to think of an excuse, knowing full well that that what was on the screen was taken just yesterday, “It might just be from cookie withdrawals.”
At his words, Villain and Nana turned to look at the sulking behemoth of a man and the skinny male couldn’t hold in his laughter this time around and a loud stifled laugh filled the space of the small café with a release of air like a deflating tire.
“Give - pfft – give him some sympathy this time, Nana, even if he is lying.” Villain looked to Nana and saw that she had the same teasing mirth in her eyes. “At least for me?” He finished.
“Fine. But this is the last time I'll fall for this Hotshot. You’re even pulling my sweet Villain into your silly lies. I’ll give you some cookies only because of how much of a dear Villain is. You’re getting fat from eating these so much and it won’t be my fault when you can’t touch your toes.”
What everyone in the situation refused to mention was the fact that Hotshot was the shape that every gym jock aspired to be. It was an overlooked, blaring fact that made some of the regular patrons - who were used to this every few weeks of soccer season for years - struggle to smother their own bouts of laughter.
Hotshot was shaped like he was always wearing a full set of Football gear at all times. With his wideset shoulders and packed chest, he would have looked like a sort of bobble creature if his arms and legs weren’t as stocky and packed with muscles as his torso was. Comparing him to Superman previously wasn’t an exaggeration in Villain’s eyes, as that was the summation of just what Hotshot looked like, save for his cleft chin and rounded face and notably blond hair he would think his friend WAS - in fact - Superman.
Villain smiled and gave Nana a belated hug and she kissed his cheek before slipping behind the counter. He grabbed one of Nana’s decorated folded boxes and filled it with cookie after cookie for the now-smiling mass of muscle who sat down on the stool across from him. Villain was sure to focus mainly on the chocolate chip cookies, not because they were the most common kind of cookie in the café but because they were Hotshot’s favourite. And once full, Villain passed the box loaded with a baker’s dozen of treats to his friend and started talking to Nana about school.
The three spoke about the soccer game, their classes and Nana’s work life as she once again tried to recruit Villain into her employ. It was the pattern for their conversations, she gussies up to her two self-proclaimed grandsons and tries to get them to work for her with the excuse of them helping her hard work in the kitchen. Same as always, the two men returned her pleas with a teasing “How hard can it be? You don’t have to pick up a finger in there!” and she would huff in response “I'll get you sooner or later. You can’t always say no to little ol’ me.”
The reason that running the café was so easy on the 64-year-old woman was because of the power that presented itself when she was just entering her forties. Her hair had become prehensile, like a monkey’s tail or an octopus' tentacles. She was able to control individual hairs on her head or a group of them together to grab things and they became her secret weapon in the kitchen. She could easily gather all the ingredients and tools she needed for any of her recipes at once and was able to increase her production by almost threefold. With how delicious her cookies were, it just made her business all the more booming and at the end of the night the result was just the same, with all of the treats she made that day were sold completely.
Despite not working for her, Villain did come in to the kitchen on his off days from school to make a myriad of his own kinds of treats and help behind the counter. His specialty was fruit pies and tarts – which differ from Nana’s sweet breads and cookies. There was always a demand for the classic Cherry Pie but Villain was most proud of his Mulberry Pie and Peach Cobbler. And much to Hotshot’s chagrin, when Villain wasn’t around to convince his grandmother to share her specialties with her grandson, the cherry pie was usually what he had to settle for instead of a fresh warm cookie.
It wasn’t all that shocking to many visitors to see Villain in and out of costume – without realizing they were one and the same - in the café constantly as the semester’s term was coming closer and closer to a close with finals quickly approaching. What Nana loved was that she was the only one who knew that both of the ridiculously dressed brunets were the same person that she adored.
She played as oblivious to the youth’s identity in front of others as she did to her own grandson’s identity... and it was nice to have a place where he was accepted as both villain and civilian.
Villain is a small-town small-scale nothing in a formal suit and face mask. Almost a nobody in the eyes of the hero system. But to the acclaimed hero, Hotshot, he is a nemesis, an archenemy and someone whom he vowed to take down with his own flaming hands.
Hiding not just his own secrets, but the secrets of his best friend and the truth to those around him takes a toll on this teasingly kind guy in a world only recently changed by a surge of powers into an otherwise normal world. With these powers comes fire and floods, loss and pain and change and what can even be worse than all, memories... whether they can be forgotten is still up to debate, and that is why Villain fears them most.
This will have more serious themes in the future and is intended for young adult audiences 16 years and older.